Tag Archives: homeschool

Change of Pace

Change, starting over, life, repeat. And then again. And again. I think this is normal, or at least normal for me.

I have been absent on this platform for awhile now. I can chalk that up to the aforementioned mini-list that is my life. Marriage, children, divorce, relocations, etc. I think I am paraphrasing from the movie The Edge when I say, “Challenges never come in the form or manner in which we expect…” But it is through those unexpected challenges that we are supposed to grow as a person. I’m going to go with that, as an alternative thought process would be a bit too depressing for me to digest.

As a mommy of 7 children, who I homeschooled and was a stay at home mom to for most of their lives, the idea of them not being with me while still minors was not something I ever would have imagined. Yet, here I am. Sitting alone in an apartment ten minutes away from my children, picking up the pieces of my life and starting over. As with any major life change, it is daunting, to say the least. Looking for work, seeing them as much as possible, all while battling depression that is, at many times, debilitating. Then there are the ancillary fallouts from my life’s recent directions: the nearly lost relationships with my siblings and parents. It is NOT EASY. I cannot stress that statement enough.

I am sure I am not alone in my struggles. I am sure that other moms have had to leave their kids to get back on their own feet after a divorce. But to be clear, I did not actually leave them: all 7 are with their dad and are doing well, for the most part. And I see them as much as possible. The recent loss of my car has made that a little more difficult, although I am very grateful to their father for facilitating visits with them.

I have been open recently in conversations about my struggles and my depression, although I do not think I have ever used this platform to convey that reality. I wanted to share that now in case there are any other readers out there going through similar struggles. Struggles that caught us completely off-guard, or those that we “signed up for” and are simply navigating.

There have been so many days in the last few years that I think I cannot possibly take any more. No more challenges, PLEASE, let me deal with these first! Yet, they seem to keep coming. As a mom, I have had to act stronger than I am many times. I did that for years until I all but had a nervous breakdown a few years back. Then another one when we relocated to Arizona. Then another when that marriage also failed and I found myself for the first time in my life alone. As I previously said, perhaps there is some growth that is supposed to happen through all of this, or some sort of spiritual path I need to find or be on. Regardless, it does not make the pain and suffering much easier to digest.

I hope to be able to return to crazy kid antics soon, but for now, I wanted to get this out there for anyone else who may be struggling.


Homeschooling During Stay-at-Home Orders

If you have followed me for awhile, you know that I homeschooled my kiddos for 8, wonderful years. Sadly, due to life changes, homeschooling came to an end 3 years ago. Ironically, many parents around the country are now lamenting the opposite: forced to educate their children at home who would otherwise be in a public or private school setting. Teachers, parents and kiddos suddenly found themselves forced into a situation of continuing with educating while forced to stay at home. The teachers have done an amazing job setting up online assignments and being available for virtual tutorials and class discussions. Students and parents, for the most part, have tried to take advantage of the time together and navigate through learning at home. However, I have also read many reports of frustrated parents and children saying it was simply too much to take on. This is valid: the situation we find ourselves in is not truly homeschooling.

Homeschooling is the result of a choice. That choice allows for flexibility because the parent chooses the subjects and publishers of each, arranges for play dates, co-ops, field trips, daily “classroom” schedules, e.t.c. The parents of public and private school children now forced to educate their children at home are not privileged to the same. There are no play dates, co-ops, homeschool groups and choice in lessons and curriculum. They are trying to understand what the teachers would be presenting themselves, and in turn, relay that to their frustrated children, already used to a classroom setting.

Let me explain it this way: Mom and Dad plan a weekend away. They hire a babysitter, or relative, and write out a list for the care of their children while they’re away. Chores, rules, permitted TV/screen time, dietary needs and/or restrictions, bedtimes, e.t.c. It’s just a weekend with someone else’s kids following someone else’s rules for those kids, while getting paid on top of that. There might be little hiccups and frustrations from staying in their house; Mom and Dad might get a phone call or two asking questions or needing backup, but for the most part, things run smoothly and there’s an end in sight.

Our current situation is so much different and the “end” or outcome is unclear. Throw in job loss, little or no social interaction, stiffness and fear when leaving the house for necessary items, and trying to carry on months of school for potentially several children at a time during a global crisis. I truly applaud everyone doing their best with their families during this period. There’s no clear idea of how grades and attendance will be determined, and would-be graduates face serious uncertainty of how their high school to college transition will play out.

As a former homeschooler of my 7 kiddos, I found myself also in a unique position of educating again at home, but using a public school platform. I was grateful to the availability of teachers to help understand the online program and expectations. I also gently assured my kids that they are not failing!

Social Studies project with my 4th grader
Business as usual for my 6th grader who was the only kiddo still homeschooling previously

Angry Mom Rant Part II

While listening to the self-help book, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F***, I’m simultaneously failing, or at least having my new found life methods put to the test, by a never-ending need to vent about the public school system. In my defense, they are helping me right along by supplying me daily with new things to give a **** about – as hard as I’m trying not to (read the book and you’ll get what I’m saying).

If you read my previous post, you will recall my great frustration over the excessive nature of the school supply lists and the insane cost of these supplies.

Day one of the new school year came, and so did their backpacks – stuffed with more papers to sign, forms to fill out, and requests for money everywhere.

The district is completely online. All enrollment forms are done online; schedules and test grades are posted online; and class news and teacher communications are also online. Yet, each teacher wants the parents to fill out information packets on their children again. Yeah, I just spent a week doing it, running back and forth from three different schools for residency verification because the online system wasn’t working (enter eyeroll here). But now I get to hand write it all out again for each of the teacher’s files. Maybe they don’t communicate with the office and the online system in that capacity. Whatever. I’ll let that one slide.

But now there’s more and more stuff to buy, things to volunteer and sign up for, and more supplies to buy. I’m seeing red now. It’s only the THIRD DAY!

My middle schooler is in Art. While I already bought supplies for this free, public school-provided class, I must send him with a $25 check for Art class by the end of the week for a grade! So he’ll fail if I can’t pay? What if I can’t? He has to pick another elective?

On the way to school this morning, the 5th grader started haggling me for $5 for a “mandatory” student planner. Funny, the middle school gives them out for free. That must be where the art fee comes in – to offset the cost of these “free planners.”

I lost it. I said, “No way. I don’t believe it. They can provide that. Tell them your mom can’t afford it. Tell them I went broke buying school supplies for the rest of the grade!” And by the way, I’d rather go to Office Max and spend $50 on a fancy planner for her than buy their branded ones they are using as fund raising.

Schools are good at convincing our impressionable youth of a few things, many of which deserve their own post. But right now, let’s focus on how the child must buy everything thrown at them, or be made to feel left out. After all, what’s $5 for a planner? Don’t I want my kids to keep track of their assignments? Don’t I care?! So right now, that’s the measurement: the parent who can volunteer for everything, buy every piece of spirit wear, planner, and contribute to each fundraiser and donation request, cares the most. More than me. I’m not personally in competition with Mommy Do It All. I’m pissed that my pockets are expected to be bottomless or my child probably isn’t loved enough and will fail in life.

Oh! Did I mention their tennis shoes aren’t allowed in P.E. unless they tie. Yeah, I got a demand for new shoes from two of the kids (the third, autistic, I was emailed about). My kiddos run around all day in their tennis shoes just fine. But now they’re not good enough for 30 minutes of jump rope and situps.

I’m sure there’s a life lesson that my children and I can learn from all this non-education related nonsense. So far, they don’t appreciate me singing The Rolling Stones: “You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you just might find, you get what you need!


Angry Mom Rant

The title is a warning.

If you’re a teacher, on the PTA, or someone who doesn’t mind going broke buying school supplies, this blog is probably not for you.

I’m none of the above, except I used to homeschool, so I was an underpaid teacher.

We went school supply shopping for only 4 of the 5 kids attending school this year. The list for one of those kids was just the “basics,” meaning next week he’ll come home with more lists from all his individual teachers (the 5th, the high schooler, will do the same). So really, I bought for 3 1/2 kids. I’ll cut to the chase: $600. SIX HUNDRED F****** DOLLARS.

I sat in my closet, drowning in bags upon bags of school supplies, sorting them by child. Never mind that as I did, I realized I missed a few things. So let’s add about $50 to that 600 (enter every four letter expletive here). What I also realized is: This is the most disgusting, excessive experience I’ve had in FOREVER.

You know what’s even more maddening? 3/4 of everything I bought goes into community bins. No names, no nothing. Just bins that the teacher will store away without knowing who bought what. I’m not sure they care. Just as long as they have their Expo markers!

Before you even suggest that I’m against helping out the less fortunate and that’s what the bins are for, stop right there. Ask me for help and I’ll gladly give it! But do not make these ridiculous lists that send parents (or at least me) into a tear-inducing shopping frenzy that spans several stores, across several days, with all 7 children in tow. And before you begin to suggest I should have stopped reproducing at 1.5 kids, you don’t want to go there either.

Here’s how I know it’s excessive bullshit: I homeschooled for 9 years. We did science projects and art classes and everything else you can think of. And it was not “free education,” so every expense was out of pocket AND I was still paying taxes for Bobby down the street to go to public school. Sure, we went through pencils and erasers like crazy, but I can guarantee I never had to get so much crap like I just purchased over the past weeks. NEVER. And we got along just fine. I had a little stash of supplies that I pulled from now and then. But in 9 years, I never went through as many school supplies as I just sent with my children for their free, public education.

It actually made me sick. I felt wasteful. And I’m enraged that I had to spend so much to feel wasteful!


Mom Talk

This school year I will put my oldest five into public school after 8 years of homeschooling. It’s sad and not really a choice I wanted, but it is what it is and I’ll make the best of it (catch me at the gym with my little two working out, or wasting money at Target ✌). 

I realized first and foremost that I must learn to start speaking again in intelligible sentences and not Spongebob Squarepants quotes. Otherwise, attempts at making mommy friends and attending parent – teacher conferences, ARD meetings, etc, could be very awkward:

“Hi, are you Jacob’s mom? I’m Mrs….”

“I know you are but what am I?” 

I’m sure it won’t be all that bad. Like riding a bike again… After all, I believe I spoke in complete sentences and not one word commands before I had 7 children back to back. 

But I have noticed myself rambling on and on like a child monologuing about the 20th Transformers movie (or whatever number they’re on now) in repetitive, cringing detail. So far, while trying to get the kids successfully enrolled and placed, the counselors have been polite and simply smile while I drone on in a series of loosely threaded answers (complete with irrelevant and long – winded back stories)… But I guess they are counselors and are used to doing that…
SEE! There I go again! And I’m just blogging and not actually talking to anyone! 

I’m screwed. 

Maybe they have one of those books for dummies like “How to Start Talking Like an Adult after Years of Shut-In Mommy Speak.”

I’ll keep you posted on any progress…


Happy Valentine’s Day!

From our chocolate covered faces to yours 💕 YAY FOR CHOCOLATE!


When There’s No TV…

Kids do STUFF! As in non-couch required activities that include playing chess, catching geckos, reading FOR FUN, exploring the great outdoors, and making up new games to play. 

No, I am not putting them through some weird experiment, it just kind of happened that we didn’t move with a TV. Not that I’m never getting one again, but I’m really liking this new form of creative recreation! And not hearing them fight over what to watch is an added bonus 😉 


Give and Take – A Love Story of Sorts

A little over three weeks ago, I promised my 12 year old son something I was sure I never would. A pet tarantula. A few years back, I blogged about this very subject: a promise I made to his dad before we got married – no matter how many boys we have NO SNAKES OR SPIDERS EVER. Ummm, we have 5 boys.

My son was obviously very excited about the possibility. I thought surely I’ve lost what was left of my mind and sane decision making. 

This week we ordered a Mexican Red Knee from an online store. The next day we went anxiously to the Fedex store to pick it up. I announced to the lady behind the counter that we were there to pick up a tarantula. She got very excited, as the employees had all been curious about the box labeled “Live Harmless Reptile.” So much so that she asked if we could open it right there so she could take a peek. I agreed because I was guaranteed live delivery and should probably ensure it was still alive! Within a moment, there were a few other eager onlookers. So we opened the box, removed the Styrofoam lid, then the few pieces of newspaper and then… a small plastic container. 

“Did we get scammed?!” I asked. No way was a giant, furry creature in that small container (the container also had a few squares of toilet paper). We carefully poked around until we saw a tiny spider, no bigger than a child’s thumbnail. I was not expecting a baby, but I was secretly glad I was now going to grow with the spider, so to speak, instead of diving head first into eight, huge legs.

We took it back to my parents’ where we were staying for the night… and also where it promptly escaped. We found it by some miracle and put it back into its habitat. We wrapped that up for extra precaution, but again he escaped. I looked for HOURS. Needless to say, my son was very sad the next morning when I had to tell him. 

But then something happened. He found a small garter snake and was very happy with it, as were the other kids. Each took turns washing their hands before and after holding it. Crazier still, I let him bring it home in the container that was supposed to be for the spider.They made him a little habitat, collected some bugs and fed it. This morning they decided to release it. 

After church today, we went to an exotic pet shop. I had spoke with the owner for quite awhile the night before about which spider was best, and he told us that babies are very difficult to care for. So today we saw their collection of rose hair tarantulas, and my son picked one out.

I admit that while we were in the store, I was having some SERIOUS second thoughts about this all. And again questioning my sanity. But we got the spider and she is now adjusting (I think) to her new home. 

Yep. I must have lost my mind… but hey, the kids are happy!


Happy Days

When life is chaotic and uncertain, it’s important to be thankful for the beautiful things (or people) we’re surrounded by. They are easy to overlook, especially in difficult times.

Deer in our backyard!

Turning boxes into forts 🙂

Peanut butter and jelly – yummy and fun!

Sister time, just missing one 💕

What do I say? I appreciate his love for bugs that I’ll never have!

And that love he’s passed on to his brothers…

Precious moments 💜

Nap time with Grandpa.

Eager helpers 👍


First Birthday

The other day, the baby of our family turned one. Everyone says this, but I want to strongly repeat: They grow up so fast.

Yes, many of the nights are long, and some in the beginning are sleepless. There are the daily ups and downs with bringing up children. But each child is so precious! And in the blink of an eye, they go from tiny and helpless in our arms to bouncing about with their own distinct personality.

Happy first birthday!

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