Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Parallel Story

There is a whole other side to the story behind the story. And that is the story of Mack and our Homeschooling journey. We do a type of homeschool called "Thomas Jefferson Education" (TJED). It is based on the premise of Classics and Mentors, just like the education of Thomas Jefferson.

I've always known that educating my oldest would not be as easy as loading him on a school bus every morning and sitting him down to homework every evening after soccer.
He has ADHD and Aspberger's, making it virtually impossible for him to focus in a public school environment. So while he was still in first grade I started looking of other options. A friend suggested I read "A Thomas Jefferson Education" by Oliver DeMille, and after I did, I realized that that would be the only way to give Mack an education.

I've always been a great fan of reading the "Classics" in literature, I myself have had the privilege of learning from the classics, so I knew that it would work.
There's a saying in Spanish, "Del dicho al hecho hay largo trecho", which translated means: From saying to doing, there is a long road.
Homeschooling is not easy, especially when you have to shed so many preconceived notions about how schooling should be done. Here I had to trust the process, that if you "inspire and not require" your child will willingly learn to love learning.

As you can imagine, this is not something that happens in a week or a month--it takes years and it's been a bumpy ride. But I've learned a few things along the way.
One, you need mentors. So if you can't be a mentor, find one.
My sister-in-law Heidi, came to my rescue when we were just getting started. She took Mack on Fridays and played Math games with Mack and her kids. She loves math, so she was the perfect mentor for him.
Heidi got him out of his mental math block and freed up the way for me to do math again with him.

Then we had to tackle reading. This I could mentor him in, because I love to read.
I started to read to him out loud every day, from a children's classic. We read "Black Beauty" first, because he was taking Horseback riding lessons. Then we read "The Chronicles of Narnia" all of them!
He started reading on his own, books like "Ready Freddy" and "The Magic Tree House" and from there he jumped into "The Lightning Thief" and "Fablehaven". We still read books out loud, and we are currently reading "Johnny Tremain".

The last issue with school that I had to address was his complete refusal to write, and this is where my book comes in. As you can imagine a lot of these things have happened simultaneously for us, and writing has been one of the these things.
It was incomprehensible to me how he could hate to write, because I've always enjoyed writing. Right at the same time I started reading Oliver and Rachael DeMille's follow up book called "Leadership Education: The Phases of Learning". Here they give those trying to educate a recipe, their recipe. They say "you, not them" meaning if you want them to do something, you do it. If you want them to play the piano--you play the piano every day. In short, model the behaviour that you want them to have.

This gave me the courage to work on a dream of mine, that elusive dream "that one day I'll write a book". I always thought that I would have to put that dream on hold until I was retired or had all my kids in school! Well... that was not going to happen now, so I decided to start.
Every time I sat down to work on my book I would tell Mack, "I love working on my book! It's so much fun to make up stuff and write it down.". Yea...I laid it on really thick, but it worked!

A few months ago he came up to me and said: "Mom, I want to write a book too. Will you publish me, if I write a book?"
I told him that I most certainly would, and he has been writing on his own; full sentences at a time! I know that this might not sound too miraculous for you, but it is for me.

For him to sit down and willingly and happily to pick up a pencil and write is nothing short of a miracle! It is a thing of beauty that brings tears to my eyes.
If nothing else, this alone makes this journey worth it.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The rest of the Story

I first got the idea for Veiled while reading the scriptures one morning. Yea... I know it sounds very churchy, but it's the truth, so...there.
I was in fact reading about pre-mortal life, something that us LDS (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints) people believe in.

I wondered what it was like, to be there in the Spirit World, waiting for our chance to live. I wondered how we might have felt at the thought of crossing the veil and forgetting all we knew. All our loved ones, all our knowledge, all about God and Heaven....

That's when I saw them. The two main characters standing before this great mass of whiteness (made that up, no one knows what the veil looks like). They were holding hands, they loved each other, they wanted to be together but they knew that as soon as they stepped through they would be born into this life and forget!
They were looking at each other for the last time, wracking their brains trying to figure out how they were going to remember...

From that moment on the story spilled out. It was like I had just turned on the faucet full blast, and I only had a teaspoon to fill my bucket. I immediately wrote the last chapter of my book by hand.

I set up a schedule for writing, because I have a life--a very full life, complete with three homeschooled children and a husband. I only wrote for two hours a day, at first during nap time. When that was done away with, and I grieved its loss, I started waking up two hours earlier--not an easy task for me.
When the story was done, I started learning about the publishing industry.

Fortunately for me, my great friend Naomi Delatorre--also a writer and a blogger (www.organicmotherhoodwithcoolwhip) and a homeschooler--patched me through a blogger friend of hers. Swatti had just recently been picked up by a publishing house , and was kind enough to introduce me.

So that--my friends--is the rest of the story.

I skipped a lot of parts, like the many friends and family members who kindly read my manuscript and still are reading it, so it could be the best.
So thanks Mom, Naomi, Jen McG., Erin C., Allison B., Allison N., Lexi M., Brigitte H.(I hope you guys read my book for book club--I'll host!), both my brothers and the girls (Ally H., Isabelle M. and Stephanie W.) who participated in my target audience experiment. And of course to my hubby, who is my rudder,the one who steers me in the right direction and slows me down (in a good way).

There is parallel part to this story as well, but I'll save that for another entry.

Thank you! Thank you! for your warm congratulatroy facebook comments, they mean a lot to me! And thank you Linda Boulanger for picking me up!