Homeschooling, Parenting

Experiencing Disorganization

The Spring race season brings the anticipation of both familiar and new race venues. In June 2018, my husband and I looked forward to a 10-Miler an hour away. The advertised course was unique.

We started before sunrise to have plenty of time. It was a good decision because the directions were confusing, which resulted in us exiting and re-entering the highway twice. Upon arrival, there weren’t signs for parking. We wandered the complex with other cars. After parking, there weren’t directions to the race-packet pick-up. There was no visible start line and no signs pointing the way.

How could a race with over 1000 participants be so disorganized? Our confidence in the race organizers dropped and our stress mounted with each challenge. And our race-morning adrenaline was already high.

This was one of those times I experienced the result of someone else’s disorganization rather than mine. It was a lesson I did not forget. Disorganization has real costs to others.

My children were grown, but I was still teaching. If I was disorganized, I not only wasted my students’ time, but also reduced their ability to learn. Their confidence in me as their teacher diminished. Sobering.

A Successful Ending

Decisions, Homeschooling, Parenting

Choosing A Pace

Snow is lingering—if not on the ground, then in my mind. I dread its loss. My husband sees its exit as the start of the race season.

Training matters, but winning races involves strategy as much as physical fitness. My husband was not yet a runner when he learned this truth from a collegiate, cross-country roommate.

2014 Kent Island Start Line

Runners have pulled ahead too soon and been unable to maintain their speed. Or withdrawn. Runners have not followed the leaders’ surges and later been unable to close the gap. Runners have won by staying behind before their own late surge.

Pull ahead? Stay with the group? Hang back and wait?

Successful runners know when to leave the pack and when to let the pack leave them.

Along the way, I learned that the same strategies applied to parenting and homeschooling decisions.

Should I stick with standard curricula and goals? Was I falling behind and dragging my children with me if I resisted the latest parenting or homeschooling trends—especially when acquaintances were on an accelerated track? Would matching their pace lead to victory? Or defeat? Our optimal strategy was occasionally unclear.

How do you choose your pace?

Homeschooling, Parenting


February was one of the hardest months when my children were living at home. Some days, nothing worked. I didn’t like my kids or my spouse or certain friends or homeschooling or my curriculum or my house or perhaps all of the above. And none of them liked me back.

All of us lived and eventually liked each other again. (The love never stopped.)

No one ever said that they learned their deepest lessons of life or had their sweetest encounters with God, on the sunny days. People go deep with God when the drought comes.

John Piper

How is your February?

Book Recommendations, Parenting

Untidy Books: Gordon Korman

I like tidy books—especially when my family and house aren’t. Good morals. Tight endings. Families you wish would adopt you. Or you could adopt. But, regardless of how satisfying tidy books are, they don’t necessarily change readers.

Last Fall, I discovered and binge-read five Gordon Korman messy, middle-grade novels. We leave some characters on a better—but still rocky—path.

My favorites were Restart and The Unteachables because they explored what I have long believed. Bullies and other wounders are unaware of the damage they inflict. After thrusting their swords and exiting the stage, they forget those left behind—bleeding people with wounds that may leave lifetime scars.

In Restart, Chase has amnesia after falling off a roof. Why does his four-year-old stepsister scream when he is near, and classmates avoid him? As his memory returns, he is appalled at the bully he used to be.

In The Unteachables, teacher-of-the-year Zachery Kermit was shunned and relegated to the worst assignments after an eighth-grader’s folly.  After twenty-seven years, Mr. Kermit’s former student learns the consequences of his behavior and wants to make amends.

Although the themes are serious, the creative plots and memorable characters entertain.

Have you discovered an author?

Decisions, Homeschooling, Parenting

Showing Up

Races are unpredictable. Even after consistent training, sometimes, a runner’s best long-run strategy is dropping out. (See here) Other times, their best strategy is simply showing up.

2021 Colorado Half-Marathon Start Line

Whether I was running the parenting marathon or the homeschooling marathon or the care-giving marathon, there were days when showing up at the start line was the best I could do.

Elite runner Des Linden made history at the 2018 Boston Marathon by showing up—and continuing to show up—mile after mile. Des told another American runner that although she had started, she would probably drop out. It wasn’t her day. Des offered to block the wind—or anything else—to help Shalane Flanagan win.

The icy weather was epic. Given the forecast, race organizers increased their medical assistance along the route. For 26.2 miles, Des showed up until she broke the tape at the finish line—the first American to win the women’s Boston Marathon in 33 years.

I might not have broken a race tape on the days I simply showed up, but I like to think I made a difference.

Which is the best strategy for your current race? Showing up or dropping out?