Saturday, January 24, 2009

Lost in a Crowd

At about 5:00 this morning I was clinging to the edge - both literally and figuratively. Figuratively, because I have had an absolutely insane week where I have been surrounded by tens of thousands of people, following a week where I was blissfully out in the middle of nowhere with very little to do.

And I was clinging literally, because there were three humans (and one big dog who thinks he's a little dog) sharing one bed. There was a foot in my back that belonged to my horizontal son, pushing me to within 1 millimeter or so of actually falling onto the floor, and my knees were pulled up under my chin (yes, we're talking fetal position) because the dog had taken up the lower half of the bed. Since sleep was not really possible at this point, I had time to ponder the past week and all of its goings-ons.

On Monday we participated in the nation's largest Martin Luther King March. I LOVE doing this. There were an estimated 85,000 people taking this 3-mile stroll with us.This year, obviously, there was a lot of excitement and energy infused in the crowd. People were crying and shouting in celebration of a REALLY BIG PART of the realization of THE DREAM. The next day would be Obama's historic inauguration.

I say "part" of The Dream is realized, because I don't think it has been fully realized, even with the inauguration of the first African American president. Dr. King's dream was for all of God's children. And all of God's children are not walking in the light of justice and equality. Not yet. Our family marched with the San Antonio Interfaith Darfur Coalition. My kids carried the banner with their STAND chapter. STAND is the student-led division of the Genocide Intervention Network. Ellie and Joel are core members and co-founders of the first homeschooling chapter in the nation. We hoped to raise awareness about the ongoing genocide in Darfur, Sudan and many of our fellow marchers signed postcards to be sent to President Obama. Of course, you do not have to go all the way to Africa to find people fighting for justice and equality. Some of our very good friends marched for Gay/Lesbian rights, and various other causes.

Mostly, I believe, people participate in this march for the opportunity to reenact some of our nation's history. San Antonio's MLK March begins beautifully and symbolically. It is kicked off as a trash truck, followed by the "Rosa Parks Bus", drives silently down the street. (This is not the "real" Rosa Parks bus, by the way.) The marchers line the street, waiting for the vehicles to pass so that they can jump in behind the first line of arm-linked marchers (usually a line of VIP's that includes the mayor).

It is a beautiful feeling to march along singing "We Shall Overcome" with 80,000 of your nearest and dearest friends, most of whom you've never met, before. And even though you're marching in joy and celebration, or at the very least, without an ounce of fear, it is very easy to imagine what it must have felt like to have marched during the Civil Rights Movement. You can almost feel those brave souls walking along beside you, almost hear their voices raised in song...the crowds lining the sidewalks and streets, however, are not yelling angrily at you - or throwing things at you - or spitting on you. They are smiling and cheering and the horns on the big trucks on the overpasses are honking in support...and you're so glad to have these ghosts marching along with is nice to think that they know what has come to pass...

At the end of the march the crowd gathers in a large park to listen to speakers and enjoy entertainment, food, etc.
The march is a beautiful way for me to show my kids the past, present, and future all marching side by side. They are able to see with their own eyes that struggles for human and civil rights are not to be undertaken, overcome, and cast aside. They are ongoing struggles to be dealt with on a daily basis, both at home and abroad. Luckily, we have people like Gandhi and King, who paid the ultimate sacrifice so that we might know how to achieve our goals peacefully, through non-violent means. If you're of the Christian persuasion, you can add Jesus to that company, as well.

The rest of my week was not nearly as exciting, but just as exhausting (and crowded). This is what's known as "the Odyssey time of year" around here. So I have two separate Odyssey of the Mind teams meeting at my house twice a week. This means there are up to 19 and 20 children spending several hours at my house, armed with paint, hoola hoops, bubble wrap, and glue guns.
The younger siblings add to the mix by being armed with NERF you can see from the pic below:
Yes, this is what is known around here as the "Madonna and Child Portrait". What can I say? She was the first baby. Jasper has never had his portrait taken.

I would tell you what the Odyssey teams are working on, but then I'd have to kill you. They go to competition in February.

In addition to Odyssey of the Mind meetings at my house, I also host our homeschool co-op. This involves four families. It is not too bad - just a mere 11 children and 5 adults.

I enjoy co-op immensely. I love being with the kids because, with the exception of Jasper, they are all enthusiastic learners and it is just flat out a ton of fun. I also enjoy the hectic "lunch hour" where we run around like ants in my kitchen between the microwave and the table - talking and laughing and occasionally solving the world's problems and learning a little bit of Latin or Greek.

I guess what I truly love about homeschooling (besides being with my kids and being active in their educations) is the fact that I am constantly learning, too. It seems that my intellect is always engaged in one issue or another - thinking about how to answer any one of a multitude of questions on a daily basis.

The teens and I discussed Alexis de Tocqueville - the middle kids and I finally advanced to the fall of Rome (which left me teary-eyed, I swear!) in World History and are thrilled to be moving on to the Middle Ages. The little guys and I tried yet another unsuccessful science experiment but it required cutting gluing so they were happy.

My dear friends spent their time teaching my children computer programming, art, and Spanish, while my dad spent his day off (as he will be doing every Friday) teaching the high-schoolers biology. Even though it is a tad bit exhausting, co-op is the perfect way to start my weekend because it tends to wash away all of the doubts and frustrations experienced throughout the week. In short, it reminds me why I love homeschooling my kids. (Yes, sometimes I need to be reminded that I love it).

Look at that! One little blog post and I'm feeling less crowded. My week was busy. But it was good. I was surrounded by friends, family, and hopeful people. I'm going to uncurl from the fetal position now...get a cup of coffee and let my life engulf me.

Thanks for looking and listening! And let me hear how you've spent your week. And if you want to read more about our Odyssey teams and see some cute pics - go to 9 Texans and check it out. For more pics and purdy words about the MLK March (and probably some Odyssey stuff, too) visit my friend and her "Shaggy Boys".
Sardine Mama

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