A little about me…
My name is Amy Dulock, and this is my first endeavor into the blogging world, so bear with me!
So first things first, I grew up in Gainesville (born in OKC…don’t hold it against me), and made it safely and successfully through the Gainesville school system. From there, I went on to Austin College (our mascot? The fighting kangaroos…vicious) with the hopes of becoming a band director. However, in the middle of my junior year, I switched majors from music to English, and wrote more papers in those years combined than I will write for the rest of my life. I graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in English in 2006, then took advantage of AC’s 5-year Master’s program, and graduated in 2007, with a Master of Arts in Teaching. I taught 8th grade English for one year (2007-2008) in inner-city Arlington. I was married in Nov. 2007, became pregnant on my honeymoon, and resigned from my teaching position the following year, a few weeks after my first son was born.
At the moment, I am blissfully married to my high school sweetheart. We were friends all the way back in 1997 (in that awkward way that 12 and 13-year-olds can be friends with the opposite sex!), and were married in 2007. Although I have absolutely no intention of letting my boys date (until they’re married, of course…that’s reasonable, right?), oddly enough, neither of our parents felt the same way, and we were dating before either of us even had driver’s licenses. Nothing like going on dates with your parents! (As a side note, I happen to agree with the idea of courtship, and
awkwardly willingly sat in my parents’ van, holding hands under a blanket after 6 months of “dating.”). Steven and I have 2 boys – Noah (born July 29, 2008) and Greyson (born February 21, 2010) – and they keep me busier and more exhausted than I ever thought I could be. In the same vein, however, these two nutty boys have given me more uproarious laughter and more tears of joy than humanly imaginable. They fight (a lot), they hug (a little), and they enjoy themselves (always). If only I enjoyed playing in the dirt as much as they do…
Steven is the praise and worship leader at our church, New Life Bible Church, and I sing with him. I clean the church, practice music, do a women’s book club, and multiple other things at the church, and that, combined with the incredible hearts of the people there, have made it a second home. In fact, when I was teaching Noah his address the other day, I wanted him to repeat it back to me. I asked him, “Where do you live?” He said, “At home and at church.” And I’d say that’s a pretty accurate perception.
There’s not much people don’t know about me – I’m a pretty open book. When I have a passion for something, I tend to be somewhat (ha!) vocal about it. God is continuously working with me on discretion and tact! My current
obsessions passions include attempting to keep constant communion with God. After reading the books, “1,000 Gifts” by Ann Voskamp and “ Practicing the Presence of God” by brother Lawrence, my life has been somewhat turned upside down (at least my thought life has – that would explain the somewhat distant look you may see on my face frequently. Well, that or the fact that I have 2 toddler boys…po-tay-to/po-tah-to). My second fixation is with childbirth. I have a slight obsession (is there such thing as a “slight” obsession?) with pregnant women…when a baby’s born, I am somewhat ashamed to say that my first thought isn’t, “How precious – a baby!” Instead it’s, “I wonder how the delivery was!” Yes. It’s sad, I know. I teach childbirth classes, and I spend more time than I would like to admit researching, then researching some more, then if I have more time, I research. I can’t help it. God has given me the passion, who am I to suppress it? ;)
My homeschooling journey…I’m not sure I’m even on the journey – maybe still marking the trail!
Initially, Steven and I decided we would homeschool our children based solely on the fact that we were watching the school systems in our area decline into an abysmal state. Our reasoning was strictly academic. As Noah grew, we quickly realized that he was far ahead of his age, academically speaking. I worried about his future in a public school system. I worried that he would be bored, and would cause trouble out of boredom, and that he would be one of those highly intelligent kids sitting in detention every day. Since then, we have come to a different realization: it’s ok to say that you want to homeschool your children for religious reason! *gasp* (Sounds so elementary when it’s typed right in front of my face!) We had always said that no, in fact, it wasn’t because of our adherence to biblical doctrine, or because we wanted to shelter our children that we would homeschool…but as I’ve grown in my relationships with my children and with Christ, I can say that YES! That has had a colossal impact on our decision to homeschool! Children are so impressionable and so vulnerable, that we feel that it is our responsibility to shelter them from worldly things, until they are mature enough to process them. (A disclaimer: I wholeheartedly understand that homeschooling is not for everyone. For some, it’s not desirable; for others, it’s not possible. I am merely speaking of my own convictions and experiences – no judgment here!).
I have started slowly with Noah, with very little “official” schooling. He is an eager learner, and his favorite thing to do around 18 months was to sit and learn his letters, shapes, colors, and numbers. So that made things easy for me! As he gets older, he is still an eager learner, but I’ve had to find things that are a little more creative than just using the MagnaDoodle he got for his first birthday. I’ve used many ideas I’ve seen online, but none of them consistently. Greyson is not as eager of a learner, so I haven’t pushed it. He would rather play with a Mr. Potato Head than learn letters, and I’m fine with that. I knew Noah was ahead of the game at age 2, so I don’t feel the need to push Greyson into doing things the same way Noah did. I love the fact that with homeschooling, you can be God-centered in everything, especially with little ones. Just going for a walk presents so many opportunities for drawing little hearts to Christ, while educating them in an academic sense as well. Observing a rainbow and telling the story of Noah (a big hit in my house) opens the door to so many heart and head lessons. We can make bread in the kitchen, and teach that a cookbook gives us the ingredients and instructions to help us achieve our end result, and at the same time, show how the bible is God’s recipe and instruction book for our lives, with the end result being a Christ-like heart. Also, I love that we can use anything that comes up as a teaching moment. We interrupted school on a fall day to watch the Tuff Shed guys build our shed from the ground up. Noah was fascinated. Finally, it is a beautiful thing for me to be able to watch my children “get” something…that look in their eyes when you see that the wheels are turning, and suddenly they tell you five more words that begin with “guh-guh-G!” that you hadn’t even brought up. And then when one of those words is “guh-guh-give,” which is followed by a memory verse from months past, “Guh-guh-Give thanks to the Lord, who made the great lights: sun, moon, and stars” from the mouth of a 3-year-old – it’s priceless. If I felt like a failure for everything else that day, I knew that THIS was a success, and I was present to witness it.
I LOVE to teach letters and math and shapes (remember, my kids are 3 ½ and 2 at the moment, so the math is still easy!). I DO NOT love to do art projects or anything crafty or messy. Sad, I know. I just feel like I have so many messes to clean up already, so WHY would I want to willingly add more messes? It seems masochistic to me…which is why my sister and I have pledged to trade off these teaching duties. I will gladly teach her children the academic subjects that she doesn’t want to teach, provided she will let my kids fingerpaint and get rice or glitter everywhere (at her house, of course…I’m not crazy…er, well, not THAT crazy).
Since we’re still very unstructured in our schooling (I’m working on it, cut me some slack!), our day is somewhat (ok, let’s be honest, it’s COMPLETELY) structured around meal times and naps. Breakfast, errands (or playtime), lunch, nap for Greyson while Noah does school, “rest time” for Noah, movie time for the 5:00-6:00 hour (lovingly referred to as the witching hour in my house), dinner, playtime with Daddy, bath, books, bed. And that pretty much sums up our day. My goal for the next month is to have a more structured playtime. A new (but what I hope will become a very dear) friend advised using activity bins and changing activities and locations every 15-20 minutes. This made so much sense to me that I nearly slapped my own forehead. So I’ll keep you updated on that front…
My children are so socialized, it’s a often too much for me at times. Noah seems to be a bit socially awkward, but not in the stereotypical homeschool way (no offense intended there…but c’mon, there *is* the stereotype)…he’s awkward in that he gets too close to people too fast. He tends to hug strangers, share all of the details of his life (real or imagined), and has even kissed a stranger’s leg after discussing the book he was reading. So, yeah…socialization? Check that off the list. Enrichment classes, church, and family (we have 7 cousins within3 ½ years) are their main sources of socialization – something I am SO grateful for.
Keeping it Real…
I haven’t had much need thus far to separate the mom from the teacher. Since my boys are so young, they have only learned from me. And since they have short attention spans, learning takes place in the moment, whenever I can make it happen. If I’m changing a diaper (being mom) and Greyson hears an airplane outside, I can immediately switch to teacher and show him how he hears with his ears and sees with his eyes, etc. I know that as they get older, there may be more of a need for that separation, but I’d like to put it off as long as possible!
Bad days? Uh, yeah. I have 2 strong-willed boys within 18 ½ months of each other, and the oldest is 3 ½ . Yeah, there are bad days. Those bad days consist of the boys fighting, some more fighting, rough-housing, a little bit more fighting, a wound or two, then back to fighting. Those are days that I am NOT proud of…I yell more than I would like, swat more than I would like, and threaten more than I would like. But alas, God’s grace is sufficient, and each day begins anew. My new friend has also inspired me with her morning prayer: “Lord, give me a meek and quiet spirit today. Give me a meek and quiet spirit today. Give me a meek and quiet spirit today.” I will be praying this every. single. day. before my feet hit the ground. How can I not? It’s these bad days when the burnout occurs, but it has nothing to do with homeschooling! If I gave them more structure, they wouldn’t have time to fight (as much…c’mon, I’m a realist). Since I am so new to homeschooling and haven’t really gotten into the thick of it, I don’t feel that there’s a lot of advice I can give to the burned out homeschooling mom. But I AM a woman, mother, wife, and child of the King, and I can speak to that a bit: I’ll say it again. God’s grace is sufficient. Always. It’s when we fail to see His grace that we feel burned out. And burnout is just that: a feeling. It is not a state of being. While we can feel burned out, we can rest in the assurance that God has brought us this far, and that as long as we are totally dependent on Him, we can handle anything that is thrown at us. (Now, if I can remember this in about 12 hours when my boys are trying to kill each other…)