Category Archives: homeschooling

Waiting For SuperMom…

I’ve been waiting for the time to be right, hoping that I would know with unequivocal clarity.  Hoping that I would make it,  to be the best mom ever for my babes.  To be the Supermom that they deserve.   At the end of each day I sit, hoping that the next one will be better.  I  mistakes constantly. I pray that my children are strong enough not to be scarred by me, since I know that there is no way around them being hurt.  I’m just not perfect.
I fold laundry at 2am, I do dished a 4am ever so quietly, hoping not to wake the locals.   Then I sleep till 10am because I pushed too hard  and my body isn’t what it used to be.  So I feed them whatever I can get my hands on, and don’t make dinner until the last minute so the kitchen is a mess. Because I have to make everything from scratch. We have  various food allergies and housing upheaval. I have fibromyalgia, a herniated disk, a para-esophageal hernia that is going to require major surgery in a few weeks… A whole pot of crazy going on.

I spend my days trying to school them.  I love these days, but they don’t feel like enough for them, around my health and other needs. Each and every day I wonder if school would be better.   Not that I feel like a failure, but the thought is just always there. I am very aware that there are ways that school would NOT be successful, but then I worry about my inability to hold to structure and how it is affecting them.
My children are brilliant, and inspiring! Says-every-mom-ever. And I mean it!  They amaze me even more than they concern me. We are in a season of complete upheaval with construction on our home, changing our family budget, and getting health stuff taken care of.
One big change for our family happened about a month ago when we did send one of the babes back to school.  Over December we thought and prayed a lot about it.  It basically came down to this. Lucas needs clear structure and routine.  I am not very successful at either.  Lucas needs a full evaluation for insurance to pay for his therapy needs for Asperger Syndrome.  Insurance does not cover the evaluation which is anywhere between $2500 and $5000.  In public school he can be evaluated for free and provided the structure and support he needs.  Sounds like the perfect answer!!
It was still hard. So, so hard.  Lucas is the one I always keep with me. Mostly because he’s so much for other people to handle.  So dropping him off for others to care was overwhelming.  The school staff spent several hours over  2 weeks with us, in preparation for bringing Lucas in. They were wonderful.  We went over his need for support in the bathroom, and talked about his Sensory Processing Disorder. Because of his SPD, he is likely to be in pullups until he is 10-12.  The created a special plan and routine for him, based on what we suggested, with supervised bathroom visits and help with accidents. Their attention to detail for his needs was such a relief.  In his 504 plan for special needs, they also allowed him to have his chew necklace, wiggle seat and fidget toys.
Lucas has been there for a month now, and he is thriving. For the first time!  I can say he is thriving!! We still pick him up every Tuesday and take him to his OT appointments and he is in the middle of the evaluation process. In spite of my fears, it was absolutely what he needed.
Things come up with each of our children where we have to re-evaluate what we do.   We have to look at their needs. We put them above ours, and even above our ideals. We shift those ideals, as each process with our children changes the shape of our parenting; changes the priorities we thought we knew were “utmost” ten years ago.

I absolutely, despise the question “How do you do it all?”  Actually, even more than I despise the movie. The question is lame. No one really wants an answer. What they really mean is that you just have too much, way more than they would ever want. And it implies that they really have a clear preference for their own life.  Well, touche.  I prefer mine.
The truth is that NONE of  us do it all.  We choose in the moment, we grow with their needs. We stretch the muscle of our heart, the tissues of our brains… and they both ache and quake through the process.  We don’t do it all. Ever.  No one does.  Wed on’t have to.  We just have to do today.

I caught myself waiting again.  Waiting for something that will never happen. Something that doesn’t exist.  There is no Supermom.  I will never be her, and neither will you.  We have no cape and no need for one.  Who we are is who we are meant to be, and it is what our children need.   I mean, Edna said it and I agree.

Join me in putting the cape envy away.  Let’s put down our list of expectation. Of what we would look like if we were Supermoms.

The next few months look like climbing Mount Everest to me, and I don’t know how to do it. I just know, without a shadow of a doubt, that this sweet family of mine will make it to the other side… regardless of my lack of cape.


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Husband Hijack and Daughter Stalled-Contest to Come

I’ve failed you all!  I didn’t post the contest last night for two reasons.

1. My dear loving husband did our taxes and submitted them yesterday. YAY!!! Sadly, we have only one laptop and it was commandeered for the grunt work the entire evening well into the night.


2. My usually wonderful and mature 9 year old went to bed early for the day’s behavior and I had promised her she c0uld help with the post and the photos because she was instrumental in making the prize set. So I agreed to wait for her.  Sounds confusing, I know.  These kids NEED their sleep.

As you can see. It’s serious…

Please bear with me. The post WILL be out late tonight. I have to honor my promise to the mini-perfectionist, who does not seem to think it is “ready” to be revealed. And she’s the designer.

Before midnight at least….  Look for it by tomorrow morning. Today is full of schooling. 😉

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If My Life Came With An Owner’s Manual…

It would look like this.

And it would most certainly have, hidden somewhere between it’s well worn pages, one of these.

I used to be really organized, always on time, always wore makeup…That was soooo 2 kids ago.  I’ve had lots of ups and downs, typically congruent with pregnancy, but I was doing well for awhile.
Last year something unexpected happened. I got sick, and I re-injured my back. Not going to go into detail on that, other than to say that my usual ability to hold things together disappeared.  I was incapable of working, cooking, cleaning, teaching… of being me.  Over and over, I wished that I had followed through and made a User’s Manual for our house so that people COULD help. So that if I was in a car accident or otherwise unavailable all of the people who depend on me wouldn’t be completely lost.
Over the last two months I’m finally feeling like myself again and I think it’s time to do it. I’m making an owner’s manual for my life and my family.  I know many people call it a Home Management Binder, a Family Organization Binder.  I googled all of these and didn’t find anything that quite fit my style. So last week I decided that for the beginning of my new year I would make my own. And then I decided that I’d share them, which I’ve never done before. Maybe someone else out there is looking for something like mine and they can’t find it. And maybe they don’t enjoy playing around in Excel as much as I do… Yes, I’m that strange.

So I invite you over the next few weeks to get organized with me, starting today..

This is my binder.  I really wanted to buy a cute one, but sadly they are only available in 1 inch.  I thought about it. I really did. But I can’t see how all 6 of us and our daily “Dos” are  going to fit in ONE inch.  So, I bought this two inch in the prettiest color I could find, with a sad sigh.

 I bought one of those page turners so that it wouldn’t get as messy.  The idea is to NOT add more messy to life, right? You can’t tell from the photo but the colored tabs are my Monthly tabs.

 In each month I have a Monthly calendar and a weekly agenda.  Both I designed myself and are available for download.   I found some great ones online, but NONE of them were 2 page.  Also I must have cuteness in my life, like birds and trees. Take a look!

There’s just no way I can fit a whole month on one page, so here ya go.

For my weekly sheet, I wanted something that gave me space to write scheduled items, but I needed it to be flexible. I also wanted a place to put my menu plan, without having to waste another sheet. Once again, it didn’t exist. So, introducing…
Keep in mind that this is my first attempt at  sharing a free printable.  If you use them, please comment and tell me what you think! PLEASE. I really want some feedback!

After my monthly tabs, I have a simple tab sheet for each family member.

For Travis he can have his own To Do sheet and a scribble sheet for things he doesn’t want to forget.  (Those printables will be available tomorrow, so come back for them!!) For the kids, I have their weekly school agendas, chores, and behavior chart (that’s another post coming, too!). For the younger two, they have a Potty Chart that we put stickers on every time they go.  Nice. I know.  Sadly, it’s a big issue in our house.  Read these if you’re new to the blog and want a laugh at my expense. 😉

Urine In Contacts= Not a Good Substitute for Saline
Today- A Pathetic Tale of Miserable Hilarity and The Quest For A Shower
Extreme Potty Training Makeover
#8 Is it Possible That I’m Thankful for Food Allergies

Last, I bought pocket files for my binder, and sticky tabs to attach to them.  Why in the world has no one made these yet? Here’s a shot of my pocket tabs. First one holds the stickers for Lucas and Irie to use on their potty charts.

Now it seemed like every blog post I found on making one of these said something like “decide what tabs you want, and label them.”  Ok, I need a little more than that and it took me several tries to get it right. So, I will say decide what tabs you want, but here are mine as an example, in this order (after the month tabs and the people tabs).  I chose the order that I thought I would use most often.

Stickers/Stamps– So I can find them, because we use them often.
School– Homeschool papers, notes from classes, events fliers, etc.
Routines– Our Morning, School, Evening, Weekly routines typed up with directions/addresses and contact info where necessary.  For accountability and for babysitters, who happen to LOVE this.
Meals- Recipes I want to try, the rare coupon that we’re not allergic to,  What’s in the freezer (again for babysitters, when I’m on call I never know when I’ll have to run to the hospital!)
Home/Construction–  Notes on progress, ideas, budget, receipts, photos of designs and such… Someday this file will be much lighter…
Doula/CBE– Notes for the new program I’m putting together, receipts, contact info, paperwork to be filed
Gluten Free Rebel– All of the same type of stuff for my baking/cooking business HERE
4GiggleQuacks– My kids crazy idea in the works… HERE
Bills- I just like to leave this toward the end… But the bills go here and I have an amazing husband who balances them for me so this is HIS tab.
Receipts- For any others that need to be kept around, returns that need to be made, extended waranty…
Medical– I really don’t like this tab.  But it gets a good bit of use around here.  Sometimes it’s notes from the doctor, or magazine clippings to research.
Miscellaneous- Because there’s always something.

 So now it’s your turn. What tabs would you need? What’s missing?

Don’t forget to come back tomorrow to see what I’ve got for you to add to your User’s Guide for Life!

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Kindergarten, not Kindergarden.  It’s one of those little pointless things that get to me.  Same with people spelling Congradulations instead of congratulations. It’s misspelled to be cute on a few greeting cards and our whole country is confused over it for eternity.  The “garden”  is cuter, the “grad” seems clever. I know, I know….  I think about how often it’s misspelled every time I write one of these two years.  So, that’s what I’m thinking about now, of course.  Spelling quirks, with the irony that I misspell very often and claim exemption (see bottom of page here) from editing my posts based on the brood of kids hanging over my should, or loads of laundry, or sink-full(now, let’s be honest counter-full) of dishes. My poor best friend Kathryn can hardly bear to read me because it’s so bad… Ah, well.  She loves me anyway…   These two words Kindergarten and congratulations.  They irk me when misspelled.  And both of them are on my mind today.
This morning I attended my sweet Jake’s kindergarten graduation from a public school. Somehow it has me feeling introspective on this unorthodox and unexpected journey of educating our children that we’ve gone down.  With my four little ones dancing around and displaying their best “SCHOOL’S OUT!” antics I sat on the couch this afternoon and revisited my old blog post about making the decision to put Selah into kindergarten. It was such an emotion decision at the time.  After years of saying that I would do it if I “had to” I realized that I hadn’t really “expected to”.   To be honest, when I wrote that post, it never occurred to me that 3 years later some of my children would still be in the public school! And with 2 more years to go.
As much as I wanted to be the mom who could do it all, I’ve learned over the past few years that balance is something that you have to fight for on a daily basis.  And what I’m fighting is my own feelings of guilt, insecurity and dread of making mistakes.  We’ve taken it one step at a time and each year I really have had to “Put my money where my mouth is” like  I posted about three years ago.  I said I’d never HS just because I wouldn’t “not homeschool”.   I can’t keep my kids home for school if I know that it’s not best right now.  We have four kids in one bedroom.  I work a very “full” part-time calendar as a labor doula. I absolutely LOVE what I do. Each birth and each family that I serve blesses me beyond what I could ever put into words. And if we are ever going to finish this house before our children are so crammed they become physically conjoined, I need to be bringing in some income for that. And I also have to dedicate several hours a week to cooking for the allergy crew since we are unable to rely on anything typical without causing serious consequences to my and my children’s health.  Anyone with 4+ children can also understand the time and energy that laundry, bath times (1 tub/6 people), hair cuts, clothes supplying, patient disciplining, and loving on can take out of you!!  I have moments where I feel disappointed. My heart wants them home. Then my exhaustion reminds me that I am VERY blessed to have an amazing elementary school with wonderful teachers and staff that I really can trust my children to for a short time.
Selah completed first and half of second grade at the elementary school.   We intended to hold off on homeschooling until this fall but decided in December to bring her home.   Oh the phone calls and emails I got! The questions from other parents at the school!! What HAPPENED!?!?!  Well, ultimately, not much.  There were a few small issues. I’m not gonna lie. Things that I knew could be easily corrected by talking to teachers and/or principal. Nothing serious.  Really, it was just time.  What I kept reminding them was that our original intention had always been to homeschool.  The fact that we sent her, and are now sending each of the boys through K and 1st is what they should be asking questions about!  Because we never thought we would.  Ironically, the school is more understanding and supportive of the way we are doing this than I expected.  Selah and I even went and “volunteered” there this week for the Annual Fun Run as part of her homeschool day!
I’ve  been HSed and seen HSers for 28 years now. Yeah. TWENTY EIGHT since my mother started homeschooling me.  Clearly I’m thankful for having been HSed. I know that it’s made me who I am, and my husband (HSed middle and high school) the man he is.  But, we saw plenty of it done wrong, too. I’ve seen “unschooling” destroy education for children who’s parents just couldn’t dare make them learn anything if it wasn’t their own personal choice. I’ve seen children  so structured and/or overly  ” homeschool socialized” that I think they had ulcers before they hit puberty.  I’ve heard “Oh he’s getting it, he’s getting it” for years and years, time lost because a mom in denial holds the key to an education where letting specialists help could have changed her child’s future.  And I’ve seen HSed children  excel beyond belief to be the most amazing, powerful, confident people I’ve ever met!!!  In my own life, I know that it’s what makes me able to go beyond the constraints of “But I don’t know how.” to “Well I can figure that out.” because knowing how to self-educate is a gift that will last my whole lifetime.  I know that it gave my husband the work ethic that had astounded his employers past and present to the point that he has gone much farther in  a career path than he ever thought possible 10 years ago.  It is STILL what I want for my children.
Once again, I go back to that post 3  years ago, where I determined to lay down my self and trust God to guide  us.  I really thought it would just last a year so that I could get my feet under me.  My feet are under me, but to keep them there I know that I can’t teach the time consuming fundamentals that my boys are getting in K and 1st which will prepare them to come home when I am able to add it into the balance.  I refuse to make homeschooling my identity, even if it is a huge part of my heart and where I want to be.  It will not become my pride or my badge of honor. It has to be what is right for my kids, each of them and I have to keep searching out God’s will for each season individually.  We will take it slow and follow the plan. I am so, so proud of my sweet little man who graduated Kindergarten today. I am so thankful that we have a school where he can  attend 1st grade and that Lucas can now attend Kindergarten!  There’s a part of me that’s sad about it. It’s not my “ideal”.   I get treated like an unexperienced half-a@$ homeschooler, and I get looks from parents at school for pulling Selah out. It’s hard to explain and confuses people.   I know that. This is not where we expected to be. But it is where we are and my children are thriving.  And, as always, I am blessed and thankful for not conforming, even if it has it’s own hardships. The end.

Jake with his amazing Kindergarten teacher

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Ready to Read?

Here is a fun ‘Reading Readiness’ test for 4 year olds.  I had Jacob do it and he got 17 out of 20, most likely because he’s around when Selah is reading and is very interested.  He didn’t get the rhyming question.  Selah wanted to do the test too (even though she already reads) and got all of them rapidfire and correct, except the rhyming question!  I think I know what we’ll be working on this week!

 I don’t have any intention of starting any work with him other than we already do or anything.  The test is just a fun little quiz and I was pretty happy with how he did at only just having turned 3 in January.  See, my kids learn something…

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