Monday, May 16, 2011

Unexpected Blessings.

About a year ago, I was accepted as a member of the Old SchoolHouse Magazine Product Review Team, also known as the TOS Homeschool Crew.  I really had no idea what to expect.  I had come across the crew as a new homeschooler.  On the crew blogs, I found the most helpful curriculum reviews and wonderful support for homeschooling families.  I found myself using the resources quite frequently.  When I heard that there were openings for the 2010-11 year, I tried out immediately.  When I was accepted, I was thrilled!   I had been doing product reviews for years, and I thought, Wow!  What a great fit!

Well.. that was  until I found out I had to start a blog of my own.  A BLOG?!?  ME??  I was a little intimidated.  I thought, well, okay, I can do this.. I bit the bullet, and "Our Village is a Little Different" was born.  I figured I'd do a few reviews over the course of a year and that would be it.   At first this was a poor, neglected blog.  Then, as the school year got rolling, and the Crew became busier, I began to see the value in it.  This wasn't just a few reviews!  I suddenly remembered why I was drawn to the Crew to begin with.  It was not the products, but the crew members! I read their blogs, and I learned about products, homeschooling families, different teaching styles and curriculum.  I was encouraged, and supported, and informed.  I did buy some items based on reviews I had read, but as a new homeschooler, I was really drawn to the community that the crew provided.  It suddenly dawned on me that *I* was possibly that person for another new homeschooling family.

It's now almost one year, and many awesome products later.  Each item we have used as a Crew family has been a blessing.  My boys are better writers, more confident with drafting tools, they have learned the beauty of the Psalms, know their math drills forward and backward, and are beginning to understand the importance of a strong faith foundation in a secular world.

In other areas, I have become a very confident review blogger, and I'm much less reluctant to add personal posts to my pages.   I have added new words to my vocabulary like meme, blog button, linky, and blog hop. I have made many new friends, learned so much more about what is available to use in our schooling, new ways of working with autism spectrum disorders, and the many different styles of homeschooling.

Every area where the Crew has touched my life, I have grown, and become a better person.  I am very grateful for that.  The Crew has given me an opportunity to reach out to crew mates and other homeschoolers.  I don't think I could have hoped for more.

As this year draws to a close, I'm so glad I was chosen, and I look forward to the new year ahead.

This week's Blog Cruise is a look back over the 2010-11 Crew voyage.  Several other Crew members will be linking up with posts about the blessings this year has brought to them.  It will be the last entry for this school year.

Thank you to Jodi who has done a great job with the Cruise all year!  I haven't had much to contribute as a fairly new homeschooler with only two children in the same grade level, but I have learned a lot from each week's entries!