Homeschooling is just one of the many things that define me. Before I ever began homeschooling, I was a reader with an inquisitive mind. I have always had to search and find answers to the many questions that fill my mind. I was a wife before I was out of my teens and a mother soon after I turned twenty-five. By the time we began homeschooling, I had been a mother for twelve years. We already had three children and were anxiously awaiting the much-delayed arrival of our daughter from Korea the year we began homeschooling. When our daughter arrived, it was in March of our first year of homeschooling.
Besides homeschooling, I wear many hats. I have worked part time at a number of jobs even during my homeschooling years. I have done background checks for a private investigative firm, for high security employment, mostly in nuclear plants. I was a night shift manager in a discount shoe store. I am a writer. The first article I had published with by-line and for which I received a paycheck, described how our kitchen became our classroom during many of our homeschool days. I took the pictures which accompanied the article. Over the years I had several articles, including interviews, published by Home Education Magazine, HomeSchool Dad, and other home education publications. I was also published in city publications like San Diego Parent, Toledo Parent, and on-line publications. I wrote articles about alternatives in education, healthcare, parenting, and do-it-yourself home renovations. I freelanced for two years for two newspapers, covering school board and city council meetings, and developing human interest stories wherever I found them. I also had a book on homeschooling published in 2001, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Homeschooling.
For two years I ran a home renovation business, buying neglected houses in good neighborhoods and turning them around for sale within a six-month period. I employed my children. Our reward after a sale was a family vacation (and a little higher balance in each of our bank accounts). Presently, I work part-time doing payroll and accounting for the business which my husband and second son, Aaron, own. I also have a part-time office management position outside of the home for a small local business. In my spare time, I am updating and revising my homeschooling book, which is out of print. It will be republished by Home Education Magazine’s small press. I am also a field editor for Reiman Publications’ Taste of Home magazine.
I am a volunteer. I’ve taught classes for our homeschool group in writing and publishing articles, grammar and language arts. I am a retired La Leche League Leader and started a group which has since disbanded. During that time, I helped certify a new leader. I was on a NATEF recertification board for the county Intermediate School District Automotive Technology program and the Advisory Committee for the AutoYes program there. As a “No” millage voter, I sat on the Ad Hoc Facilities Committee when our local public school needed input into whether to remodel or build new school buildings. When we had a friend and a nephew in a rehabilitation center after automobile accidents, the children and I went weekly to visit, encourage, entertain, and cheer them during their long stays. I was the accompanist for the local homeschool choir one year.
I am a student. When my two oldest children were six and three, I began taking classes at our local community college. Over the years, I have taken classes with two of my four children, as well as many solo classes. One of my children started taking classes at fourteen and the other at sixteen. I enjoy having the experience of taking these classes, studying with my kids, and feel I am modeling “lifelong learning” as a side benefit.
I am a teacher. When I say I am a teacher, I don’t mean that I stand in front of a row of desks and lecture. I have been known to lecture, but usually not on the three R’s! I feel that my best teaching has been modeling how to learn, modeling how to study, modeling how to find time to do the things that are important to me, modeling how to say “no” when life’s pressures make it impossible for me to take on one more task. Modeling life. My children have learned at my side over the years, and yes, even before we homeschooled. When the kids leave home they know how to balance their checkbook, change a tire, manage their money, do basic car maintenance, and basic home repairs. They can clean the house (whether or not they choose to once they’re on their own), cook basic meals, and survive! My teaching doesn’t usually look like “school.” We usually have a reason for learning something, or are exploring someone’s passion. Although I have been credited with teaching my children a number of things, I feel that more often I have facilitated the learning that is happening naturally, by providing time and resources, or helping them track down a mentor who can help them explore. Ben Franklin is credited with this quote: “Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.” If I were given the privilege of choosing one aspect of parenting at which I have succeeded, it would be involving my children in a variety of activities which have taught them valuable things. A friend of mine sometimes reminds me that I once told him, “My kids are never bored. If they think they are bored, they will soon find themselves unbored. There are always floors that need swept, windows that need washed, and bathrooms that need cleaned.” Learning to care for our home, and learning to assuage boredom are valuable life lessons I am happy to teach!
I am a craftsperson. I quilt, sew for my home, upholster and slip-cover furniture, crochet, and embroider. I can paint walls and trim, sponge-paint, hang wallpaper, and stencil. I scrapbook and enjoy making gifts and cards for people’s special events. When the children were small, I sewed many of their clothes, made “cut-up cakes” for their birthdays and planned many “themed” birthday parties for the kids and their friends.
I am a collector. My collections are many and varied, including postcards, tea cups, souvenir plates, china cats, miniature vases, teapots, Fiesta Ware, rose-patterned china, Red Rose animal figurines, hand-made doilies, and vintage linens (especially ’30’s through ‘50’s floral and fruit print tablecloths and hankies). I enjoy decorating my home with my tag sale and flea market finds.
My life is full. As Robert Louis Stephenson said, “Life is so full of a number of things, I’m sure that we all should be happy as kings.” I am.
A freelance writer, Marsha serves as a homeschool resource for her local library and has written articles for Home Education Magazine and a column for Home Educator's Family Times. She has served on the planning committee for her local homeschool cooperative, taught creative writing, edited the newsletter, and been a member of the HUB (Homeschoolers United Building) advisory committee. Her book, The Complete Idiot's Guide to Homeschooling, was published in February 2001, and she has spoken at homeschool conferences and curriculum fairs in Texas, California, and Michigan. She is presently working with HEM Books to update and republish her now out-of-print homeschooling book. She also holds down two part-time office management jobs, one outside the home and one for the family business.