Monday, August 22, 2011

Educational Choices

Having been asked by many young mothers recently about homeschooling and reading one friend's recent blog, I just thought I would post a little about homeschooling since our family chose to utilize that educational choice for so many years. First of all, I don't necessarily think homeschooling is for everyone. Sometimes people are shocked by that! There were definitely times I steered certain people away from homeschooling. Overall, I see homeschooling as just another educational alternative that does become a lifestyle and has great benefits for families. It has challenges, requires a certain level of sacrifice for most families and may only be right for some of the time.

Our children all had some time in public school and we loved the elementary school our oldest ones attended through 2nd and 3rd grade. Wonderful staff there still! One of our children seemed to need something more and after two years, with much prayer, we gave home education a whirl for a one year period We enjoyed it so much and saw so much good for our family we continued on.

Homeschooling has become much more acceptable in society than in the early 90's when we started. Our homeschooling pioneers had it rough before it became legalized in FL. Now FL is one of the best states to homeschool in with many options and tremendous support.That did not happen by accident but was painstakingly built up by certain people in the state. I will do more on another blog about that. In fact, I will just try to blog a little bit each time because there is so much good to share about homeschooling. I have found the subject is very interesting even to people who would never consider it for their own families.

I will share my personal mantra in this first blog on the subject. "Every family home-educates to some degree" Vicky Evelo

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Chieko Okazaki - BYU Women's Conference

With the recent passing of Chieko, I came across this talk on another blog and copied it for my own. Chieko spoke and wrote so much that strengthened women. She lives on in her words and legacy.

“Well, my dear sisters, the gospel is the good news that can free us from guilt. We know that Jesus experienced the totality of mortal existence in Gethsemane. It’s our faith that he experienced everything- absolutely everything. Sometimes we don’t think through the implications of that belief. We talk in great generalities about the sins of all humankind, about the suffering of the entire human family. But we don’t experience pain in generalities. We experience it individually. That means he knows what it felt like when your mother died of cancer- how it was for your mother, how it still is for you. He knows what it felt like to lose the student body election. He knows that moment when the brakes locked and the car started to skid. He experienced the slave ship sailing from Ghana toward Virginia. He experienced the gas chambers at Dachau. He experienced Napalm in Vietnam. He knows about drug addiction and alcoholism.
Let me go further. There is nothing you have experienced as a woman that he does not also know and recognize. On a profound level, he understands the hunger to hold your baby that sustains you through pregnancy. He understands both the physical pain of giving birth and the immense joy. He knows about PMS and cramps and menopause. He understands about rape and infertility and abortion. His last recorded words to his disciples were, “And, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.” (Matthew 28:20) He understands your mother-pain when your five-year-old leaves for kindergarten, when a bully picks on your fifth-grader, when your daughter calls to say that the new baby has Down syndrome. He knows your mother-rage when a trusted babysitter sexually abuses your two-year-old, when someone gives your thirteen-year-old drugs, when someone seduces your seventeen-year-old. He knows the pain you live with when you come home to a quiet apartment where the only children are visitors, when you hear that your former husband and his new wife were sealed in the temple last week, when your fiftieth wedding anniversary rolls around and your husband has been dead for two years. He knows all that. He’s been there. He’s been lower than all that. He’s not waiting for us to be perfect. Perfect people don’t need a Savior. He came to save his people in their imperfections. He is the Lord of the living, and the living make mistakes. He’s not embarrassed by us, angry at us, or shocked. He wants us in our brokenness, in our unhappiness, in our guilt and our grief. “

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Changing of seasons!

Life is amazing with all the different stages we hopefully exist long enough to go through! Since the death of my mother in March, I have changed jobs. Changing jobs was not something I wanted to do. I grew to understand that I was there for a season and now this is the season for more changes. I miss my former coworkers and direct patient care. I love my new coworkers and while not doing hands on nursing anymore, really feel that I am helping patients in my new job. So it's all good.

Our youngest son will soon be leaving on a mission and our nest will be empty. At least until he returns home in two years. We anticipate he will live with us for a bit to launch into his transition back to college life. Although he doesn't have to do that. We have always had that standing offer to our children to live at home and save pennies while they're obtaining education.

So my husband and I will have our season, once again, to be in our home, just the two of us. I am so thankful that our friendship has endured these 33 years. I came across this quote by James Dobson the other day that is so appropriate to us. "The relationship between a man and wife is less strained in the mid-life years if they have protected and maintained their friendship since they were newlyweds."

We've been very fortunate to not have too many bad moments over the years. Our worst time came from outside interference. We learned to communicate, communicate and to not give in to the temptation to utilize passive-aggressive behaviors. We are each other's cheerleaders. That's why I will sit in 90+ degree heat and cheer for him at baseball games. That's why he has done all the wonderful things to support me in my personal endeavors over the years. Participating in a healthy marriage is wonderful and beautiful!

Monday, April 11, 2011

A Time For Memories

I had the privilege of sharing our family's memories of my mother, Peggy Sue St.Mary at her funeral service recently. I have decided to post the memories here. Our family, like all families, was not a perfect family. Do those really exist anywhere? We had our share of dysfunctional behaviors and situations. In the pulling together of memories, I realized our family had been a family that kept working through the dysfunctions and conflicts because we all truly loved each other through all of it. We almost lost our mom 42 years ago. That always stayed with us.When her health issues escalated so quickly that we lost her in just days, what we had all feared for years had happened. What buoys me today is that we all pulled together to support her, to love her, to determine together she would be kept comfortable and not suffer anymore than she already had. We were gathered in a prayer around her bed towards the very end. Please understand, we were not a practicing religion type family. That time with Mom at the end of her mortal life was sacred time and we all recognized it. It continued to be sacred time as my older brother,Bob, Lindley and I sat together with my mom's body in the hospital room waiting for the funeral home to pick up her body.

"A time to be born, a time to laugh, a time to dance:

Marlene: 1. Vicky is learning to room...Daddy and Mom, they had company...they were all having a cocktail,laughing...Bob and I were sitting in a chair together,had been told by Daddy to behave and be quiet..Vicky is wobbling...Mom looks at us and says "show sister how it's done"...Bob and I helped Vicky learn to walk by leading her around a glass topped coffee table. 2.All of us kids in the car..Mom is driving..all the windows are's really hot..Bob is in the front seat crying..Mom looks at him, turns the radio up high and sings "Baby Love" along with the Supremes to him...Bob is laughing..Mom is wearing a yellow A-line dress, scarf around her neck, big sunglasses..she was beautiful. 3. We have been living in Holly Hills (Columbus, Ga)for a short while..not very long into the school year...doorbell rings..Mom answers the pulled up into a short ponytail...pedal new neighborhood friends ask if her little sister Marlene is home...she was the cutest, most popular Mom on the block. 4.Last time I was home..very hot,early evening, Dad's resting, Uncle Ed's gone home, Mike just pulled out of the driveway, Donna just joined Mom and I on the back porch, Mom goes to the kitchen for iced tea, we are all on the back porch listening to the crickets...laughing, drinking iced tea.

"A time to embrace"

Bob: The welcome home I received when I was 11 or 12. We had been at our grandparents for a couple of weeks and Daddy brought me home early. I have never forgotten the welcome I received from Mom and that alone time with her.

"A time to build up"

Vicky: So many memories! What really stands out in my mind is how Mom would welcome people into her home. When we were teenagers the house was filled with other teenagers. A quote from one of my friends, " I was very sad to hear of Peggy's passing. I have very fond memories of playing canasta during the very cold winters at Ft. Wainwright. I also remember how she loved her Coca-Cola in a glass bottle." Another friend was readily welcomed to travel from WA state to AL with us in a motor home the summer I was 16. Our brother in law, Gary, was a lonely Southern boy in Alaska who Mom quickly adopted and brought into our family. Mom always had extra room at her Thanksgiving table. Dixie, Donna's mother in law and Ike, her brother in law became a part of our family too. Mom had a generous and open heart.

Mark: My memories will always be of Thanksgiving. I remember the first Thanksgiving meal with my wife's family. I thought I had died and gone to heaven! There's nothing like good ole Southern cooking. No offense to my mom. I was born in the north; yes I'm a Yankee. For whatever reason, the Southern cooks know how to do it right.

"A time to plant"

Donna: When we were waiting to hear Dad's diagnosis, we dug Mom's flower bed out front. I remember how we worked together and it helped ease both of us and that same flower bed helped at Dad's passing and today at Mom's it is in full bloom.

"He hath made everything beautiful in his time."

Freddy: I enjoyed making Peggy the raised flower bed that she put her herbs in and watched them grow. I also loved her cooking, especially her cooking the Thanksgiving turkey. Going to miss her very much.

"And also that every man should eat and drink and enjoy the good of all his labour, it is the gift of God."

Mike: It's very difficult to come up with just one memory to describe Mom. There are many. I remember how she loved her kids and family. How great a cook she was, how she went without so others didn't. How she worried about us kids, especially me! How she was always there for me no matter what! How she loved her Cokes and cigarettes, black walnut ice cream, Fifth Avenue candy bars. How fiercely loyal and defensive of her kids. How she missed Dad, Ed, Mikey and Murphy after they died and never got over it! May God take her in His arms and ease her pain and suffering.I feel a piece of me has died with her and will miss her until the day I die!

"A time to keep"

Jason: remembers all the puppy chow Mom made for him over the years.

Christy: remembers riding along on the Fuji route with Mom and them singing country songs together.

"A time to love"

Jared: Thanksgivings in AL will always be important and cherished memories for me. Everyone involved would do so much to make them special, but grandma especially. I know it took hours of preparation to get that meal ready every year and will always appreciate the hard work and love that she put into each one of them.

Ashley: I will always remember Grandma and her cheerful attitude. Whether it was Thanksgiving or Christmas time she was always there with a smile greeting me at the back door. Even before I was officially an Evelo she treated me like family. I will always love her and know that I will see her again in the future. Her home was full of warmth and love. Love you Peggy Sue.

"A time to embrace"

Shelley: I have many memories of Grandma;probably one that will always stick with me is her Coca-Cola's. Whenever I see a Coke, I think of Grandma's house. I also will always remember how comfortable I felt at her house, even with living out of town. I always felt welcomed, like I had just seen her the week before. Grandma always made sure to "hug my neck" whenever I arrived and left. Grandma also loved to read, which is a love that was passed down to me. I loved going to visit my "Alabama grandparents" and I will miss Grandma very much, just as I already miss Grandpa, but I look forward to when I get to see them again.

Brad remembers the Thanksgivings Grandma put on also and the welcoming atmosphere.

"A time of peace"

Lindley:1.One time when I was younger-5 or 6- Shelley and I were up staying with Grandma and Grandpa. In the middle of the night I got really homesick and wanted to go home. Grandma comforted me and then took me into the living room and sat on the floor and watched cartoons with me until it got light outside. I didn't get homesick at all the rest of my visit. 2. Grandma made it seem like we were never apart for long when we saw each other, even if it had been awhile. 3. I always loved walking in on Thanksgiving and Christmas. Grandma would be in front of the stove cooking dumplings. She would always put down the spoon and walk over and give me hugs. She was never too busy for hugs.

"A time to keep silence."

Matthew: I'll always remember how good she was at catching brim whenever she went fishing. I'll miss you Grandma!

"A time to die, a time to weep, a time to mourn."

A time to heal, a time to build up (the family will go on) a time to embrace, a time to love".

Saturday, February 19, 2011


I have been pondering the topic of community lately and what it means in my life. I am a small town girl at heart and I believe it is important to have a community around you. The feeling of belonging seems to me to be instinctive in at least most of us. I observe others to see the ways in which their needs for community are being met.

Besides the most common sources for community such as family, church, friends,and neighbors, I realized another source of community that is important to me. As I walked into Mahan Publix and greeted Bob, who has worked there a long time now, I realized Bob and Mahan Publix are a factor in my sense of community. 3 of our 4 children worked there over the years. We know many people who have in the past or are now working there. Bob is a mainstay and is one of my heroes for good examples of handling the aging process and its challenges.

I feel a sense of community with a man I'll call Mr. W who monitors the household area at the county dump. As I drop off my trash, I've struck up a friendship with him and I enjoy chatting with him for a few moments as I'm taking care of that task.

I have felt like the group of people I work with are a community. I draw strength and encouragement from them. I learn from them. I hope they learn from me. We pull together and get through tough situations.

Through our years of homeschooling, I used to refer to that community jokingly as "in the world of homeschooling". Homeschoolers are very diverse in spite of the one thing they share which is homeschooling their children. I sometimes haven't liked some of the interactions that have gone on in homeschooling world as diversities clashed. Usually everyone would work together for the best of the children and resolve clashes or come to some kind of uneasy truce. Occasionally, some homeschoolers would stop speaking to and working with other homeschoolers over differences of opinion. This was and is always sad to me. I feel people who fall into this kind of behavior are basically showing a lack of respect for others and their opinions and need to grow up a little.

I worry that America may be losing its sense of community. People seem so polarized into their different points of view. When I see disruption in a country and people on the streets fighting and killing each other, I pray for America. I pray we will not ever come to such as that. I hope that we can keep having respect for each other even in our differences of opinion. America is still a great place to live in spite of its imperfections.

How do you meet your needs for community? Is it important to you?