Monday, May 28, 2012

True North

I have no sense of direction.  Except for up.

I’m like a hound dog that way—I can figure out where the sky is with my eyes closed.  That oughta count for something. But it doesn’t. 

I’m not kidding when I tell you I can get lost leaving a parking lot.  It’s happened.  Twice.
The first time, it was July in Phoenix.  Bet you’re sweating already just thinking about it.  I opened my car door and stepped out of the way while 300 degrees of built up dry heat escaped. Then I loaded up that bad boy with a year’s supply of produce, ice cream and poultry, and drove around the parking lot for half an hour trying to remember which exit had been an entrance when I arrived.  By the time I figured it out, I had a trunk full of steamed spinach, chocolate chip soup and baked chicken.
Men don’t understand this at all.
See, in my mind, True North is always whatever direction I’m facing.  There’s a geometric grid in my brain with north at the top.  And, since I’m a visual person, I refer to that grid with my mind’s eye whenever I picture the way home, i.e., from my local Safeway.  I knew that Baseline Road was north, and Alma School Road was east, and the exit I just pulled out of was on the right and I had arrived from the right, so if I closed my eyes and pictured the True North grid in my mind . . .  I had no idea how to get home. 
I can’t do maps in reverse because True North is always on top, and east is always on the right. I had to turn the virtual map around in my mind then, so that Baseline Road, which runs east and west but is north of where I was shopping and south of where I lived, would suddenly become a yellow brick road and I wouldn’t wind up in Canada.  I thought I was driving north, but none of the buildings were in the right places and I didn’t know how to fix my grid.
This is really frustrating.  And scary.
When my husband and I got married, we left the logically laid-out grid work of the Phoenix freeway system and moved to his hometown on the gulf coast of Florida which had once been small and aspired to stay that way by refusing to improve its roads.  They figured that way frustrated snowbirds wouldn’t build nests. Therefore, to this day, no roads lead to Rome, most of them loop back onto each other, and if you’re not careful you’ll wind up floating down a lazy river in your little boat, the S.S.Chevy Tahoe, wondering why no one told you Siesta Key Beach is a road and a beach.
So my new sisters-in-law tried to help me out with my bearings. 
“Okay, avenues run north and south. Streets run east and west.  If you see moss growing on a tree, that’s the north side.  Usually. The gulf is always on the west and the sun rises over the trees.”  And the mockingbirds only sing while flying north and the manatees dive south into the bay and Little Boy Blue blows his horn and the sheep run away with the spoons.  At least that’s how I remember it.
After a while, we moved back to the land of freeway grids and I breathed a sigh of relief.   For a minute.  I grew up on the west side of the Valley of the Sun and now we were living on the east side.  Everything except north and south were in reverse now. Major street names were completely different. And the Gulf was no longer on my left.  So my husband tried to help me out with my bearings.
“Okay, the sun always rises in the east—that’s the side we live on.  Then it sets in the west, right over there behind South Mountain.  If you’re headed north, you’ll see the Phoenix Mountains which are in East Mesa.  If you’re driving south, to Tucson, be sure to take I-10 East or you’ll find yourself headed west to Phoenix.  But that’s the long way.  Okee dokee?  Everything make sense now?”
I just stared at him blankly.
“Baby,” I answered, “you lost me at north/south/east/west.”

Thursday, May 24, 2012


It looked like an innocent box.  Blank, inviting, embellished with one simple word, “Comment”.  They really want my opinion?  I'm full of it!

I rubbed my hands together gleefully, filled up the little box with complete sentences, and clicked the virtual button marked “Submit.”
That’s when everything went wrong.
I get it.  I know I have to ‘sign in’ before they’ll let me leave my electronic John Hancock on somebody’s blog.  I have to sign in before I can leave something on my blog.  Once in a while I’m even successful. 
But now there’s an extra hoop they make you jump through—you have to make sense out of two globs that look more like Egytian hieroglyphics than letters, reproduce them correctly, and then, and only then, will your forgettable remarks be displayed on somebody’s cyber wall.
Nobody cares about my opinion that much.
They didn’t want me to get grumpy about the extra step, so they tried to make a joke out of it:  Please prove you’re not a robot . . . Type the two words.” 
Why? Do I look like a robot?  Do robots really have freckles and wrinkles?  And what do you mean those are words?  Are you serious?  Those are not words.  Those are leftover letters in a Scrabble game.  Soggy pasta in my alphabet soup.  Or maybe the VIN number on an early Ford.  But they definitely are not words.  Therefore, I cannot type them. 
I know this because I tried.
And I failed.

"The characters you entered did not match the word verification. Please try again.”

So I did.  Again.  And again. 
ccolso or ccol8o  or ceol8u?   space space space   cciuona or ccivrSomething  or ceiuqrn. .o. .a ???  
My gosh!  Can anybody figure out these fonts?   Well, that’s my best guess.  So I’ll click:

“Three out of four of us think your real name is R2D2.  Try again. Type the two words.”

Wise guys.  Fine.  You want a code, I'll give you a code . . .
MtaiMA  space space space   OnLu  no, wait, Onl1A , Ah, geez.  Squint, turn laptop to the side . . .  OnLAxuC, I mean, lXzC . . .
Forget it.  I don’t even remember what I was doing here in the first place.  And now I’m blind.
I think the only people who can decipher these alien codes are aliens.  And why am I taking orders from Google anyway?  Don’t they work for me?  I think before I sign in or decipher or trust them with my free opinions, Google needs to prove to me that they aren’t robots.
Oh.  Right.  Never mind.

Okay, Google the Hut. Just—take me to your leader.  Maybe he speaks English.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Butterfly Wings

“YaYa, I went to dance class today and we saw a yellow butterfly on the ground.  It couldn’t fly because its wing was broke.  It was soooo sad.”
That is sad.  Butterflies are supposed to fly, not struggle on the hot asphalt with a broken wing.    Desperate to fly, longing to soar in freedom, but grounded by brokenness, even grownups can feel like broken butterflies.  Allie and her mommy told me how they tried to pick up the injured butterfly, but it was too delicate and they couldn’t save it.  Allie has a tender heart, her mommy says—it’s easy to see that.
I so love my granddaughters.  Still babies, their innocence is like a sweet breeze, renewing my soul and reminding me of the pure joy of life we all had before we learned how hard living can be.  On especially tough days, Chief and I turn to the miracle hugs of our grandbabies with a quick phone call that asks hopefully, “Can we drop by and see the girls?”
There’s just nothing like being a grandparent.  I was told that for years, but when my kids were small I didn’t see how anything could compare with being a mother.  Now I finally understand—there’s no comparison. 
There’s no pressure now that I’m YaYa instead of Ma-ma.  I don’t worry that I’m too strict or lenient—I’m just hangin’ out with the girls. I don’t care if the whole house is covered in baby dolls and dress up clothes. Sometimes I let sleeping toys lie after the girls go home—they’re place savers, waiting for our little playmates’ return. I don’t need ‘just a little peace and quiet’ anymore—I have it in abundance.  Instead, the sound of little girl laughter and even the occasional grumpies that echo through our tiled halls is sweet music when the grandbabies come to play.
Now when they drop by, little Juliet comes running through the front door, right behind her big sister, Allie, ready to be swept up in the arms of YaYa or ‘Chee-chee.’  That one cracks me up—it’s Jules’ toddler rendition of ‘Chief.’  When it’s Allie’s turn, we brace ourselves for one of her ‘best squeezie hugs’ around the neck.  They’re worth every breath of air crushed by her embrace.
I know how precious and brief is this time with them. We soak up every vaporous moment, so aware of how quickly childhood disappears.
Just now, days after they last visited, I opened the pantry in search of some sugar, found treasures hidden by angels in disguise, and laughed in delight.  A smile is almost as good as a squeezie hug. 
My granddaughters—even when they’re not here they make my heart soar.  
It’s no wonder they care about  butterflies with broken wings.  Flying comes naturally to angels.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

In A Pickle

This will probably cause a fuss. I know I’m in the minority, but that’s pretty much my normal MO anyway, so I’m used to it.  I just need to know why, here in the land of the free and the home of the brave, there’s no tolerance for my choices.
I.  Hate.  Pickles.
I don’t dislike them—I hate them.  I’m a purist. And an equal opportunity pickle hater. There’s no place for dill or sweet in my menu.  I don’t do pickle relish or thousand island dressing or sandwich spread.  I don’t want tiny pieces of pickle in my potato salad or deviled egg. If you put a juicy spear on the plate next to my hamburger and it soaks into my potato chips and bun, you might as well throw the whole thing away, cuz I’m not eating it.
Burger King used to say “special orders don’t upset us”, and I could have it ‘my way’.  But the last time I ordered a Whopper Jr. with no pickles—emphasis on the ‘no’—I bit into three of them at once.  That’s what trust will get you.  I tried to get back at them with a class action lawsuit, but it was more like a home school lawsuit – I was the only one in attendance.
I guess I’m alone in my principles.
It’s not that I hate cucumbers.  Big cucumber fan here.  It’s what they did to it while its back was turned that I’m against. 
It’s the whole process that has me in a pickle.  Whose bright idea was it to put hard boiled eggs in a jar of vinegar, for example?  And how did they convince people to eat it?  Just because things are preserved doesn’t mean they’re improved.  Ever heard of King Tut?  I rest my case.
I’ll admit, some foods deserve to be kept in a jar of vinegar where they can’t hurt anyone. Beets, sauerkraut, and pigs’ feet come to mind.  But open that jar and all bets are off.  I had a nightmare like that once. Complete with spooky fog and creepy music, a creaky metal lid twisted off a dirty  quart size jar, and as the contents floated out menacingly, a six-year-old boy’s voice whispered, “I see dead pickles.”
That's the only good kind as far as I'm concerned.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Justice And The Peace

More than anything I crave peace. And serenity. And calm. 
With a little crazy on top sometimes, just to shake up the status quo.  Like, ketchup on mac and cheese.  Mmmm . . . get me some of that! Comfort food with red icing. 
I don’t want too much crazy, though.  Just a little.  Which is why I don’t get involved in politics—that’s a whole lot of crazy. 
I’ve dabbled on the nutty side a few times.  Picture me, four months pregnant, as I helped chaperone a bunch of teenagers on a canoe trip down a Florida tributary misnamed The Peace River. I’m not being snide here. Listen—there were alligators in that river. That’s not peaceful.  And when a crazy rainstorm came up—dumping half of us into the freezing current where we walked our canoes back up that gator infested water way—our adventure was cut short. I learned my lesson, though. Now I only wave at gators in a zoo.
After that, I kept the crazy to a bare minimum.  Raising two kiddos changed up the definition a little, and sometimes made me feel like I was back in that river.  But in spite of broken wrists, broken hearts, copycat cuts (identical chin stitches the same month), and other assorted catastrophes, for the most part I’d say we maintained calm in the eye of our storms.
There have been exceptions.  Like the summer our fourteen-year-old son was arrested in our own living room for allegedly shooting a neighbor’s yappy dog with a bb gun. Turned out he just had really bad aim. But he learned what a dumb idea it was to walk through an alley with his finger on the trigger of a loaded Red Ryder. It's good to know there are good judges in the world.  But I’m still not fond of yappy dogs or bad neighbors.
Peace is so valuable it’s against the law to mess with it.  Reference the last paragraph and picture sixty hours of community service.  Here in America we protect our peace.
So that's why my jaw dropped one afternoon while visiting with a friend. Constantly interrupted by the relentless ringing of her phone, we couldn’t finish a sentence. It was like Chinese water torture, and she finally reached her breaking point.  Instead of screening the call, she answered it, and staged her own intervention.
Lord, have mercy.  Hell hath no fury. . .

“No,” she said over and over to the invisible pest on the other end of the line, her voice rising with indignation, “I don’t want an upgrade.  I don’t want to downgrade or downsize or start up or upstage.  What do I want?  I want you to stop calling me!”  And she hung up her own phone.
Which really messed with the peace of the caller from New Delhi with the ethnic name, ‘Bob’.
So he called again.  And again.  And again. No longer interested in making a sale, he focused instead on making a point.  He told her how insulted he was by her attitude.  It would have seemed comical had it not been for the part where he said he knew where she lived and that he was never going to stop calling. Suddenly it felt threatening.
So on the next ring, I took a whack at it. I figured, now that the day’s tranquility had been shattered, I might as well get in on some of the crazy. He never suspected I wasn’t the same woman he’d been harassing.  I asked Bob what his last name was and how to spell it—information he gave willingly, if not intelligently. I double checked his phone number and asked for his manager’s name.  Finally, I asked Bob why he refused to stop calling.
“Because,” he shouted in his best American jargon, “I’m trying to disturb your peace!” Then he hung up.
Well, you'll have to try a lot harder than that, I thought, as I put down the phone. 'Cuz buddy, you just can't compete with gators or guns or hormonal women who survived child birth and adolescence.
Still, how can you stay mad at somebody who gives you an answer like that?  It was the best laugh I’d had in a month.
Peace out, BobYou sounded a little stressed.  What you need is a vacation.  Time to chill.  Ever thought about taking a nice, quiet trip down a peaceful Florida river?
Give me a call sometime.  I know just the one. 

Saturday, May 12, 2012


Can I just, pick a bone here for a minute?
You’ll probably think it’s no big deal.  But, trust me, if you were Parisian and heard something like this, you’d turn up your nose and mutter, “Vous n’avez pas intelligence” which roughly translated means, “what a dope”.  You probably figured that out already.
Ok, enough warning.  Here we go.
It’s Vwah-lah.  Not wah-lah. 
There’s a V in it, for crying out loud, and it’s not supposed to be silent.  If I hear one more news anchor say 'Wahlah' and chuckle at her deluded sense of wit, I’m gonna eat my English/French dictionary.
And that’s not the only word commonly massacred for lunch by Americans.  Here’s a short menu:
Let’s start with dessert.  Maybe a little sugar will help the rest go down easier.  The opposite of ice cream is not sher-bert.  It’s sher-bet.  See?  There’s only one ‘r’ in it—admittedly harder to say, but so satisfying to know you did it right.
It’s not noo-Q-ler.  It’s noo-clee-er.  For Pete’s sake, leaders of the free world who hold our future in their hands can’t even figure out where the “l” goes!  Stop listening to them, I beg of you! Let’s try this again: nuclear is pronounced noo-clee-er.  Rhymes with . . . well, nothing actually.  Just . . . make a note of it. Maybe the secret service could do something for a change and drop some hints to the big guy.
Nor is it al-u-min-i-um.  If you’re gonna throw in extra ‘i’s like that, I’m gonna start charging for them.  I know the Brits say it that way—heck, they even spell it that way (like that’s an excuse.)  But here in the colonies we’re frugal.  One ‘i’ is enough.  All together now:  ah-loo-men-um, accent on the loo.
And while we’re at it, Herb, there’s no ‘h’ sound in your vegetable counterpart.  In this case, the ‘h’ is silent.  The French will like us better if you’d figure that one out, too.
This may seem like much ado about nothing, but listen—there’s a whole new generation of Americans coming up through the ranks and we have to get our collective act together for their sakes! And I admit—there are a couple of words I can’t quite get my brain around.  For example, is it ‘Jag-warr ‘or ‘Jag-U-Arr’?  I always thought it was Jag-wire. I got laughed out of the zoo with that one.
This afternoon I helped my four-year-old granddaughter compose her first phone text. It was a favor I owed her—after all, she taught me how to play Angry Birds. We were sounding out words, making progress, until we got to ‘aunt’.   Here in the west we say ‘ant’.  Back east they say ‘awnt’. Allie decided not to make waves and settled on ‘Ant Aunt Lynette’. Future diplomat, that one.
I realize all of this will be a surprise to some of you, so I really regret any feathers you feel have been ruffled.  Not enough to actually apologize, but still, I regret having to address this issue at all. I learned to read the old fashioned way—phonetically—as should everyone. So if you have any questions, feel free to ask me—just don’t acks me. 
Are we all on the same page now?  Good.  Class dismissed.

p.s.  Lying face first on the ground is described as ‘praw-straight’. Notice the ‘r’ in straight.  Anything else is just embarrassing and I will point and laugh if you trip over that one.
Word to the wise.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Plants Shmants

I’ve warned people.
I’ve been blunt, honest, straight forward—even harsh.  It doesn’t matter.  People think what they want to, and no amount of pleading will change their minds. 
But I am not who they think I am. Just because I’m soft spoken doesn’t mean I’m a softy. So for the last time, I beg of you.
If you like your philodendron—then for the love of Mike, don’t leave it with me.   
I. Kill. Plants.
I mean, I know my reputation.  What I can’t figure out is why no one else does. I have a house full of fake flowers and dead roses, for crying out loud, so why do people think I can cater to their chrysanthemums?  
Do I look trustworthy because I have red hair?  It’s fake.  And, for the record, just because I raised two kids to adulthood doesn’t mean I can raise petunias.  Isn’t it enough for me to love tomatoes without needing to know where they come from?  (It’s a figure of speech. Yes, I know where they come from.  Sheesh.  The grocery store.)
I’m having a guilt attack.  A shame haboob has engulfed me. I didn’t enforce my personal boundaries and now I’m saddled with the care of my friend’s hibiscuses.  Hibisci?  Whatever.  Two codependent plants now sit lazily on my back patio (where I can’t pretend not to see them). Their very presence is a constant reminder that they are thirsty. And I've heard plants like that need to be watered at least twice a week! Doesn’t that seem a little excessive to you?
What do I need to do to convince people I’m not nurturing?  Asking me to babysit foliage is like asking Sylvester to give Tweetie Bird peck on the cheek.  No good can come from this. But nobody listens to me.  Now I have to take a picture of these two little houseguests, and show it to the real pros at Home Depot.  That way I can replace them with exact duplicates after they gork this summer in our Arizona blast furnace.  With any luck at all, the stand-ins will look so healthy my neighbor won’t even recognize them.
All this trouble because I didn’t want to disappoint her in the first place. I don't think she's worried about them, though. She’s been gone for two months and hasn’t written to the twins even once.  I’m beginning to think these bushes have been abandoned. 
And I figured it out.  She could have taken them with her to Wisconsin if she wanted to, but something got in the way.  I think she’s been two-timing her roses back home, if you want to know the truth, and doesn’t want them to find out she’s been fooling around here with hibiscus.
I think it’s time for an intervention.  Someone needs to put the needs of these plants ahead of their own, and I’m just the one to do it.  I’m not going to photograph these babies—I’m loading them both in the truck and dropping them off at Home Depot. Honestly, it's for their own good. And when she's ready to see her hibiscus next fall, she can explain to the experts there why she left her bushes in foster care. 
Now that my conscience is clear . . . I can’t wait to see an empty patio again.

Friday, May 4, 2012

A-Blogging I Will Go . . .

I usually hang out on my own blog—writing, editing, tweaking, snickering at my incredible wit—aha, aha, aha . . . .
Today I decided to venture out onto other people’s blogs for a while.  You know, to broaden my horizons, scope out the competition, compare notes.  But it wasn’t quite what I expected, wandering away from my own backyard. 
I strolled past the photographic journals of young moms and sweet babies, a couple of sports stops with no pictures at all, and mouth watering websites from cooking enthusiasts.
But barely had I begun this journey when the whole terrain changed suddenly, and no one spoke in English anymore. Page after attractive page was written entirely in Spanish, including a site promoting an Asian boy band (I’m so confused.) It doesn’t do me any good to follow foreign blogs--not only is my passport expired, but I was a rebel in high school and took French instead of sensible Spanish.  Je ne fait pas hablas espanol.  But don’t quote me on that.
I thought if I kept going, I might find a detour back to blogs written in my native tongue.  But on the thirteenth click of the ‘Next Blog’ button, poof!  Just like that—a dead end. No pretty graphics or catchy titles or modest bio’s. Just an atheistic stop.  Total nothingness. It was as though there were no more blogs in existence anywhere else in cyberspace. 
Do you know what happens when a blog dies? It’s like a collapsing star, leaving a black hole in the internet. There’s no forwarding address at the top of a deceased blog.  Only a notice that no one else can use their blog name.  Well, who would want to?  It sounds like an Amityville horror.  Move to this site at your own risk.’ I can take a hint.
It turns out, after a quick yet scientific scan of the average homemade blog, that most of them have the lifespan of a common house fly. It’s almost epidemic. In fact, in the minute it took for me to come over here and make notes, a blog actually expired.  Seriously!  It was there one minute and gone the next. By the time I got back, all that was left was this eulogy: ‘Page Not Found . . . this blog has been removed by the author’.  Tragic.  What kind of a writer would DO something like that to their very own blog? It’s just so . . . heartless.
And where does that leave us, the innocent bystanders?  We don’t know where to go from here. The back button just leads to all those foreign language entries.  Who knows what they’re talking about there.  They’re probably making fun of my hairstyle and shoes.  There’s no forward button to click, no ‘next blog’ tab, not even a coupon good for a consolation cookie.   
Thinking that a running jump would send me soaring high OVER the dead end blog, I went backward really fast and then clicked the forward arrow even faster. Pointless. I landed square in the dead letter file again.  Only now the page read, “I told you three times already, there’s no blog here.  Go home and leave me alone.”
Blogs got attitudes.
I only uncovered twelve blogs before crashing into the death star blog Whose Name Must Not Be Spoken. There were two with entries over three months old, one with a Dear John blog announcing the author had grown tired of his fling with journalism and wished it well, six written in a language I can only assume was foreign (although the photos were nice), a tenth from a young mother announcing she was expecting again and would now be too busy to update, another from a year ago with the short entry, “I’ve moved on. yup. for a long time.”  And the twelfth belonged to a sports fan whose final post prophesied the outcome of the 2010 World Series.
Wow.  This blogging stuff isn’t for lightweights, is it? Finally, I headed back to the safety of my own blog. 
I guess Dorothy was right—there’s no place like home.  Even if it’s a winepress.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

We Homeschooled . . . The End

Somehow the kids survived all of my imperfections and grew up to be intelligent human beings.
But I made some mistakes. They did take some remedial courses in college because, to be honest, I insisted we could conquer the foreign languages of biology and algebra on our own, when I should have hired tutors to help with the subjects that were just beyond me. Algebra Wars saw casualties on all sides. If we hadn’t run out of kids to teach, I would have done some things differently after learning these lessons.
Fortunately, my kids are still speaking to me. 
The best part was how much we loved having them at home.  Educating them there gave us scads of time to enjoy them. There was plenty of time for long talks around the table. While we chased rabbits, they learned to be critical thinkers. We spent long hours in the library, where they checked out every single book on their favorite subjects.  For our son, that meant pursuing his interest in all the weapons mankind has ever produced. A couple of years later it became clear he’d developed an unshakeable grasp of world history, world geography, ancient world geography, and world culture while reading about arms and armor.  But this was no hidden agenda from a book list. He just had time to pursue his passion with the side benefit of education.
We didn’t completely leave the public school system in the dust.  One irony of home education is we purchased all of our own expensive supplies and curriculum while still funding those same items for our neighborhood school, just like every other citizen.  In other words, we paid twice. On the up side, since paying our taxes gave us the right to make use of local programs, we enrolled our daughter in chorus classes in junior high and high school. You can’t have a chorus experience with only two kids, believe it or not, so we’re thankful for the great music teachers she had during those years.
The reactions of the general public were always interesting when we told people we were a home school family. Wide eyed surprise was usually followed by the almost scripted comment, “I could never teach my kids—they’d drive me crazy!  I don’t have enough patience.”  True enough. I wasn’t always patient and sometimes we drove each other crazy.
So why did we do it?  What’s the bottom line, the short answer, the 4-1-1?
Here it is—we brought our kids home so we could be the main influence in their lives.  The education they were getting around the corner was good, but it didn’t take a genius to see they were fighting for their lives on the playground.  And at the end of the day, that was not only unacceptable, it was unforgiveable.
The number one criticism—disguised as a question and directed at home educators—is this, “Aren’t you worried about socialization?”  Our simple answer was, “Not anymore.” 
More than forty years after the resurgence of homeschooling, and with two generations of guinea pigs now grown to adulthood, the evidence supports what the research has always shown—homeschooling works. It even outperforms conventional education.  And nowhere is this seen better than in the area of socialization.  All we need to do is google ‘socialization of homeschoolers’ and the proof is there.  Research shows homeschoolers are more comfortable in a wide range of social settings than are kids in public schools. That’s because kids behave like the people they spend most of their time with.  If they spend all their time with ten-year-olds, that’s the behavior they’ll mimic.  If they spend most of their time around adults, their behavior will reflect that instead. 
It was a no-brainer.  And I met that criteria.
Now that our kids have kids of their own, sometimes the question comes up, ‘will they or won’t they . . . home school?’  Whether or not they decide to home school is between them and God.  It’s not a decision to make lightly. It’s as serious a commitment as deciding to become a parent in the first place.
There were days—okay months—when I thought my own home school retirement would never come. But the second time around this education track proved to be the right one.  We stayed the course and saw it through.  Both of our kids graduated college with honors.  Our daughter graduated summa cum laude with a music degree in three years instead of the normal four. Our son went on to earn his master’s degree in theology, and I don’t argue with him about anything anymore. He could call me a dope five different ways in English and it’d take me a week to figure it out.  
The main thing I want to say here is home schooling works. It’s a valid option which deserves the same respect as its counterparts of public, private and charter schools.  It works even if parents don’t have college degrees.  At its mediocre best, it gives kids a good education.  At its more common norm, the education received is on a level with that of Plato. It produces socially well adjusted men and women who are self-disciplined and know how to think for themselves.  It graduates responsible adults who care about the world in which they live, and generates gratitude in the hearts of parents who are given the gift of extensive time with their children.
It even produces mature mothers whose character weaknesses are exposed and dealt with while they teach their children at home.
Imagine that.

(Photo by permission, Kevin Dooley's Photostream, Flickr. com creative commons,  (Dr. Larry Shyers, "Comparison of Social Adjustment Between Home and Traditionally Schooled Students," unpublished doctoral dissertation at University of Florida's College of Education, 1992. Dr. Shyers is a psychotherapist who is the Chairman of the Florida Board of Clinical Social Work, Marriage and Family Therapy, and Mental Health Counseling.)