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An inspirational and practical book for parents who are trying to create a warm learning environment in their homes. No worksheets, no flashcards, just authentic learning experiences.  This book is meant for parents whose children will go on to traditional school, but homeschooling parents will benefit as well.

My two favorite quotes:

Referring to a class of 5 year olds: “I need my kids to talk.  After all, these kids can’t think with their mouths closed.” (p.9)  My son is constantly talking, muttering, and whispering to himself.  But that’s just how 4 year olds think!

“The love of reading and the ability to lose oneself in another world are gifts we give our children when we read aloud to them.” (p. 34)  My parents gave me this gift, and my husband and I are giving it to our kids as well.

It’s always nice to read a book in praise of something that you’re already doing.  So this was a nice “pat on the back” for our family.  A few things Dr. Laura said also challenged me.  First, she addresses the loneliness and feelings of drudgery that a stay-at-home mom (SAHM) can feel feel.  She says

The “Is that all there is?” feeling isn’t there because you are a SAHM.  It is a natural phase of life when the planning and hoping has largely come to fruition: you are married, settled, have children, responsibilities, challenges, problems, and disappointments, with the “sameness” that goes along with those.    p. 53

I confess that in the day in and day out of being a SAHM, there are many times when I wonder, “Is this all there is?  Diaper changing, endless dishes and meal prep, wiping sticky faces, potty training and whining children?”  It’s nice to be reminded that this is normal for me to be feeling, not so much because I’m a SAHM, but because of the phase of life that I’m in.

The second challenge I discovered was that as a SAHM, I should learn to think about my job as bringing The Good, The Bad and The Unforgettable. While The Good is nice, and The Bad makes me want to quit, The Unforgettable makes it all worthwhile.

The Good– sometimes goes unnoticed:  Time to play with my kids everyday; eating breakfast, lunch and dinner together; lots of hugs and kisses whenever needed; seeing my kids first thing in the morning and last thing at night; not having to worry whether they’re being well cared for and safe during the day; less stress on our marriage.

The Bad–I tend to focus on:  Potty training, temper tantrums, whining, long days without talking to another adult, potty training, endless tasks that are never complete, potty training

The Unforgettable–Hearing my son say repeatedly, “Mommy, I had so much fun at the park with you.”  Watching my daughter (only 11 mos old!) develop an absolute passion for books and hearing her say “moon” as she points to her favorite, Goodnight Moon.  Going outside on a beautiful summer evening together as a family to say goodnight to the full moon, the stars, the sky and the noises everywhere.

Thanks for the reminder Dr. Laura that I have the best job ever!

I initially read this book from sheer curiosity.  Why would a couple choose to have 18 children, and how do they possibly survive each day?  I expected a crazy family, and instead, I was privileged to read a heartfelt testimony of how God has and is working in their family.

This book is a combination autobiography, Q&A, testimony, parenting tips and organizational hints.  The Duggars are strong Christians, with firm convictions in many areas.  However, they are quick to note that their convictions about birth control, style of dress, homeschooling, etc. are not for everyone.  Each family should discern for themselves how God is calling them to act in those areas.

I think the sections of the book I enjoyed the most were the ones about the Duggar’s parenting philosophy.  They have a well thought out approach to Christian parenting and discipline.  Michelle also shared some organizational tips, one of which I’ve already put into practice to organize our mass of toys.

The contrast between this book and Mommywood, which I read a few weeks ago, was striking.  Tori Spelling is trying desperately to provide a “normal” childhood for her children, by giving her kids physical things:  parties, trips, homes, friends, experiences.  The tone of her book overall is one of “It will never be enough.”  The Duggars don’t care about “normal.”  They are providing for their children’s hearts by teaching them what is important: worshiping God, following His will, and spending time with God and family.  The tone of their book is one of peace, trust and contentment.

So often, chick lit is centered either on a single girl trying to find love, or on a married woman trying to find a new love.  It was refreshing to read a great chick lit story in which a married main character “finds herself,” without abandoning her family.  Moms of young children looking for a great summer read with an uplifting message will enjoy this book.

The Millman family made the decision to homeschool when their daughters were young.  To date, they have homeschooled their three older daughters all the way through to college, and are still homeschooling their three younger sons.  As with all of the books I review, I just don’t have the time to do this one justice.  However, here are a few quotes that stuck with me:

One of the most portentous decisions we made on the road to homeschooling was the decision that our children should have a very costly “luxury”: a full-time mom.  It seemed to us that a two-income lifestyle, then the norm among families in our age and education bracket, would require our children to make a sacrifice we didn’t want to demand of them–namely, the sacrifice of a mother at home.  p. 20

I love the idea that I am a “luxury” to my children, and I’m so thankful that I enjoyed that “luxury” when I was a child.

One of the greatest advantages of homeschooling is that it allows a parent to develop a curriculum tailored to the child instead of tailoring the child to the curriculum.  p. 48

I was a teacher for 8 years before I quit to raise my children.  I believe that there is a general body of knowledge and set of skills that children should learn.  But I also know well the limitations of the classroom setting.  How awesome and amazing would it be to teach your child what he needs and wants to learn, instead of teaching him what he needs to know to do well on a standardized test!

We don’t yet know what form our children’s education will take.  The Millman’s book was the first of many that I hope to read about homeschooling, and their story was an inspiration and encouragement to me.

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