Review: A Mom Just Like You

When I began homeschooling I became a "homeschool magazine junkie". I loved the dream that someday I, too, would have a family like those pictured on the covers:  a gajillion kids all dressed alike in home-made outfits, each holding their own musical instrument, and mom and dad proudly and lovingly looking on...yeah, right. I quickly learned that that wasn't us and "I'm ok with that now" (as spoken wonderfully by "the worm" in Jonah and the Whale).

What I love about this book is that, even with 10 children (!), Mrs. Farris does not claim to have her act together. She's transparent about her short falls and foibles...but she's just as transparent about passing on what she's learned over the years, to the benefit of us all. Vicki Farris (in case the name rings a bell) is the wife of Michael Farris, past-president and founder of HSLDA, and has tons of real life experience in so many areas to draw from. (She actually co-wrote this book with her daughter, Jayme, which I think makes it a truly lovely labor-of-love.)

And what I treasured most is what I learned in chapters 7 through 9 (see below). I guess I could summarize it by saying it all has to do with priorities. She refers to a speech she had to give at one point on the "Top 2 Priorities of a Homeschool Mom" - and they weren't at all what I was expecting! (p.192) Her cure for burnout (a common feeling and/or phase we all go through from time to time)? A gentle reminder to seek the Lord and cast all our cares on Him (p.174). Her practical advice on teaching a large family lessened my anathema of canned-curricula, by explaining its appropriate use and emphasizing the importance of not becoming enslaved to it (p.124). Chapters 5 and 6 are filled with useful ideas on choosing a curriculum, creating/maintaining a daily schedule, handling chores and keeping the house clean. Only the most hard-hearted will not be touched when reading how they came to trust God with their family size, and..."the rest of (her) story".

Her conversational style, the passion and earnestness that shines through, and the generous amount of tips and suggestions she provides from her own experience, makes this 287-page book a sweet and easy read.

Chapter 1 - Dispelling the Myth of the Super Mom
Chapter 2 - Why Am I Doing This Anyway?
Chapter 3 - A Matter of Surrender (family size)
Chapter 4 - Surrendering Again
Chapter 5 - Home Schooling a Houseful
Chapter 6 - Soap Suds, Shopping Trips, and Soccer Practice
Chapter 7 - Mary vs. Martha
Chapter 8 - To Love and to Cherish
Chapter 9 - When Do I Get a Coffee Break?
Chapter 10 - Planning a Wedding When Your Baby Won't Sleep Through the Night
Chapter 11 - Exchanging Ambition for Service
Chapter 12 - Strong Trees from Small Seeds

Pat Fenner encourages homeschoolers - both newbies and veterans - from her site "Help 4 Your Homeschool". Having graduated their 2 eldest from high school, and shooting for the same with their 3 elementary-aged children, Pat helps others look "outside the box" of standard curricula for educational resources and inspiration.

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