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My oldest daughter wants to be an illustrator. Well. . . that’s what she wants to be today! Once upon a time, she planned to be a panda hugger. You read that right . . . a panda hugger. I don’t know if this is a legit job any longer, but before the pandemic, a person could apply to be a panda hugger and get paid close to $40,000 to do it. Location- China. Job Description- Hug pandas.

Once the dream of panda hugging began to fade, said daughter decided she would be a vet. Mind you, I knew she was not going to be a vet. One day, some animal left the gift of a bird… dissected and in pieces on our front sidewalk. My daughter took one look and between gags asked, “Is that what the inside of a bird looks like?” She was horrified, but still held to the idea that she would one day be a vet. As a good homeschool mom, I arranged for her to shadow a local vet. She visited the office for a day. When I picked her up, the dream of being a vet was securely put behind her. She described with a hint of nausea in her tone how she witnessed an abscess from a dog’s ear being drained. She was invited to come back and observe a surgery a couple of weeks later and politely declined.

I love the dreams. I love the excitement and freshness that my kids bring into this world. They are wide-eyed and wondering what their place in all of this is. It is my honor as their mom to help guide and support them even when I know the direction they are taking probably isn’t the one.

This daughter in particular has big dreams to impact the world and I believe she will! Whether it be through illustrating, graphic novels, baking, teaching, acting, mothering, or all of the above. . . this girl is going to leave her mark.

The current dream is to write and illustrate graphic novels. In the Fall, I jotted down a story about a little girl who is starting her homeschool journey. Her name is Livvy. She has watched her brother and sisters and heard her mom talk about homeschooling, but now it is her turn. The story is all about Livvy’s first week as a homeschooler. She visits the library and the park. She builds with blocks while she listens to her mama read aloud. She plays at the park with friends. This curious little girl begins to learn the lesson that homeschooling is not a separate act, but a way to live life.

I gave the story to my daughter and tasked her with illustrating it. She chose to illustrate in a “coloring book” style. That’s her description. She drew the pictures and colored them in as one would color in a coloring book- broad, fast strokes.

My girls sitting in the Vendor Hall at the NCHE Thrive Conference. The oldest was reading the book aloud to garner interest.

I gave her the goal of having the book finished and ready to publish by the end of March. I was scheduled to speak at the NCHE Thrive Homeschool Conference in Winston Salem, NC at the end of May and thought it could be special for her to have a completed book to offer for sale.

We went through the steps of self-publishing through Kindle Direct Publishing on Amazon. I know people have varying opinions on Amazon. And honestly, the finished product wasn’t as polished or pristine as I would have imagined. However, we finished! The process was very simple to follow. I used Adobe In Design to put together the book. I’m sure there are other programs that can be used, but I have access to In Design through our Adobe Creative Cloud account.

This is one of my favorite illustrations. Mama is reading while the children are quietly playing and listening.

We started and completed a project together. A friend of ours graciously edited the manuscript and gave wonderful encouragement. My daughter was ecstatic when we received the proof copy. Seeing her name on the cover made her giddy with possibilities for the future. Knowing that publishing a book was a possibility gave feet to the dream.

Whether or not we sell many copies of our book is to be seen. Selling and making all the money was not the point. The point was to give my daughter a chance to explore this dream just like she explored being a vet. Being an author and illustrator might not pan out, but now she knows it can be done.

As homeschoolers, we have the immense privilege and task of studying our children and helping them on their way. We may have children who are more academically gifted and are college bound. . . so we help them by lining up the courses they will need for college acceptance. We may have artistically minded children who need wide margins for creativity. . . so we help create those margins and teach them to tap into that creative process and hone their giftings. We may have young entrepreneurs on our hands so we set up opportunities for them to start a business, work at a craft fair, babysit, mow a lawn, etc. Some kids just need to take one day at a time and not rush into things. Some kids might need to be held onto so they don’t run headlong into the world without any tools.

What a joy. What a weighty, weighty joy to do this life alongside our children.

And for real. . . it’s a cute book and you should totally go buy it! Livvy Goes to Homeschool is on Amazon as a paperback or on Kindle. Get the Kindle version if you’d like, but just know that it doesn’t really do the illustrations justice.

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