How’s the Homeschooling Going?!

Buahahahahha!!!!!

That’s usually  my first response when someone asks.  I mean, it’s not like we’ve done nothing.  But we have done almost nothing.  There were those games of Go Fish we played, and some computer games, and making a grocery list and shopping, and the other day I taught Lou what “rookie” meant.  So….  Yeah, not quite the vision I had of our unit exploration lessons, field trips, novel reading, and excessive journaling.  I still think we can get there.  But we sure as heck aren’t there yet!

If it weren’t for my pride, I might even just toss her back into school until we leave.  But no.  For as long as our trip is delayed , she is home with me, and it hasn’t been all bad, or even a little bad.  As a matter of fact, it’s been awesome!

First of all, she’s HAPPY!  She doesn’t want to go back.  I ask her daily, just to be sure.  “Do you miss your friends”?  (Yes)  “So do you want to go back to school”?  (No).  She likes staying home, even if it means having to “play with babies” all day.  And believe me, she’s not deprived of her big kid friends either, whom we see just about every day after school and I think Lou is booked 3 weeks out now for weekend sleepovers.  Poor thing!

And I like having her home!  I LOVE her!  She’s funny.  And clever. And fun!  Sure, she’s another kid to keep happy, but she keeps ME happy!  And it just feels right to have all the kids together all day.  It feels right to all of us!  Before, Lou didn’t really know what we did all day, and vise versa.  Bean and Jonah were super close, and that bond was weaker with her.  This feels better!

Lou has had more time to learn “other” things now that she’s not in school.  Joe and her are working on sewing Darby a dog bed, and she’s really excited about it.  Today she made us all breakfast while prancing around the kitchen in her sparkly red high heels.  She was very proud over being so adult.  She was a big help in planning and shopping for our Farewell Party too.  She’s finally had time to make all those pot holder crafts too.  So she is doing “stuff”.

But the GREATEST thing about keeping her home, has been the change in her emotional well-being.  Our girl was so worn out from getting up at 6:15 in the morning  and doing school all day long!  I didn’t even realize how  much so, until she had been home for a week.  One day we were all just hanging at the house, and it hit me……OMG!  I like this kid!!!!  She was everything I hoped she would be….someday; polite, patient, sharing with her siblings, helpful, and HAPPY!  I actually LIKED being around her!  I didn’t realize how worried I’d been about her before that moment.

Before, when she would get home, we’d greet her at the door walking on egg shells, ask her about her day, and shove food into her face as quick as we could, to hopefully tame the beast that was sure to rear its ugly head soon.  While she ate, I’d usually listen to how the world had wronged her when a kid told her to stop singing on the bus, or how we were terrible parents because I didn’t have a friend waiting for her to play with the second she got home.  She was just worn out!  I’d give her some time to play, which would usually include her arguing with her sister, and then began the “Do your homework, while I cook dinner” time.  Uhg!  Homework SUCKS!!!!  She’d whine through that, usually with some bribes thrown in too.  Sometime there was crying and a lot of “I can’t!  I can’ts”.  And God forbid if we had to go somewhere or accomplish anything else on a school day!  I’m a little embarrassed to say, but we actually switched bath time to once every 3 or 4 days, just to free up some more time for us all in the evenings!  As long as she passed the head-smell test, she was good for another day!  Then it was dinner, teeth, read, little bit of play, and sleep, accompanied by more crying or huge monster fits.  And that in a nut shell, were our week days with Lou.

Yikes!  I know.

So it took me a week of having her home and liking her again to realize how OVER THE TOP, STRESSED OUT she had been!!!  It was making her act horrible!  I was actually SURPRISED to see her getting along with her sister! And to be able to tell her “No” and for her not to go into a raging fit.  I could reason with her again!  There have been NO fits since keeping her home!  I can not express how much of a different kid she is!  She had told me in different ways that she didn’t like school, or things people said to her there, and she didn’t want to go.  But what do you do?  I work, and kids go to school.  Period.

Well the trip changed that in my mind.  And for the sake of her happiness, I’m glad it did!  She’s awesome!  And I had lost sight of that, even if I wouldn’t admit it to myself even.  I had been way more  worried about her than I realized too.

Turns out, I didn’t need to worry.  I needed to take her out of school.  It’s done a complete 180 on her!  I haven’t failed completely as a parent….yet!  Yay!

So yeah, we haven’t done much.  But my kid is the happiest she’s been in a long, long time and THAT is good enough for me!  I mean, for now…..we will get to multiplication tables….we will!

They are totally working on a reading program here, and not watching La La Loopsy!
They are totally working on a reading program here, and not watching La La Loopsy!
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So…..we’re still here.

The question I keep asking myself lately is, when do you STOP aiming for perfection, and settle for good enough.

Just as we check something off the list, we find another thing that needs to be done, or could be done better.  Like after having our farewell party on our back lot this weekend, I got a good look at our shed for the first time in a long time, and noticed how badly it needed painting and how terrible that our neighbors had to look at it all the time…..add to list.  Or how once all the pictures were taken off the walls, I thought, we should just repaint the entire house!

Right now I’m drowning in the To Do’s and honestly, it’s pushing me out the door faster than any Deaming Big is.  I just want to get away from all the…pack, clean, mow the lawn, pack some more, unpack to find this or that, and then figure I don’t need that after all and pack it again, and by the way, the yard needs to be mowed again.

Emotionally, I’m pretty rocky.  Most days wondering if I even want to go on a cross country trip.  We have ideas of places we want to visit, but generally, there’s nowhere specific planned for any certain dates.  I worry about my kids and how they will adjust.  They are so emmersed in their friends here.  Everyday is a playdate.  Every weekend, at least one party.  Nana lives in the same yard and they are in and out of her house as much as their own.  I even worry about Darby Dog.  I keep picturing her running out of the RV to chase a car and getting run over or we never see her again.  I worry about leaving my mom and sister and friends too.

So I try to focus on the good possibilities and try so very hard to remember our last 4 month trip and who I was for that when we left  on that April Fools day in 2012 to take off into the great unknown.  But, I can’t.  That woman seems like a shadow that’s just out of reach, no matter how many old photos I look through and how many times I reread my old blog posts.  It’s hard for me to even put my finger on how that trip changed us now; changed me.

So I tell myself I’m just swimming in fear and doubt and that I do want to really go and once we set out on the road, this fog of doubt will clear and I will enjoy our time abound.

But in the mean time, I just worry.  Will we be able to deal with 3 kids 24/7?  Did I budget right and will we really be able to afford this?  How will this effect mine and Joe’s work?  Will I really have the time to homeschool, and write, and cook, and read, and, and, and?  Will we be lonely?  Will the house fall apart for our renters?  Who will our renters be?  Will we even get renters?  Oh God, please let us get renters!  Will we be able to sell the van?  And where the heck to go first?!

Why is it so hard to rise above all the horrible “what ifs” and focus on all the wonderful “what ifs”!?

One part of our 2012 trip that I keep recalling is the first time we saw the Oregon coast.  We had just set up the RV at an Oregon state park and it was late afternoon.  We hadn’t yet seen the beach on this trip, so we all took a short walk down to the beach just to see the water.  We didn’t really know anything about low tide/high tide at this point, but somehow ended up at the water just at low tide.  Loralai ran to the water with me and we waded around in the freezing cold, just so happy to be there, in that place!  I felt like a kid.  Joe held back with Bean on the beach, more hesitant to plow in.  He followed us down the beach to a jetty and that’s where we discovered all the sea creatures exposed at low tide.  We just stumbled upon it!  That’s what it took for Joe to be a kid again too.  We crawled all over that jetty, ogling at all the forgien creatures on the rocks, star fish, sea anemone, mussles, and sea urchin.  We didn’t care if we got wet or if it was getting dark.  We didn’t think about being cold or hungry.  We were playing, and that’s all we cared about!  It was magical.  The tide coming in was the only thing that pushed us out of the water and back to the RV.

It was a complete accident that we made this discovery, completely alone on this beach in Oregon.  And it changed us.  I knew these creatures existed, but at 31 years old, I had only seen them on TV or in an aquarium.  And I didn’t realize it before, but they were so much less real to me in those places.  Here, on this beach, seeing those creatures in their natural habitat, I felt that the world still had some magic in it.  And it thrilled me and woke me up!  In later days and weeks, I would try to take the kids to the beach at low tide to see what we saw before, but we never made it at the right time, or we didn’t see much when we got there.  It was the accidental adventures we had that were the most jolting.  And we had many of those experiences.

Like just happening to be in Yosemite during peak water fall week, which also collided with a full moon, when photograpers were lined up to take photos of the moon-bow that was caused just once every few years at night by the two meeting.   We had no camera, and didn’t even think to bring a jacket for when the cold nights arrived.  But I bought a hoodie on clearance and we ate sandwiches on a blanket under Half Dome and watched the moon-bow while deer grazed in the meadow near us.  Magic.

Or when Joe and I on a whim and 1 days preparation, picked a hike in Yellowstone and ended up at the most amazing camp site ever where two streams split and walked down to the river and caught 4 trout in less than an hours time with no one else around as far as we could see.

And another time we just decided to stop for lunch in a small town, Roslyn, WA, because one of our favorite TV shows had been filmed there and it was on the way to where we thought we needed to go, and ended up falling so in love with the place, that we stayed for a week and found our favorite campground of the entire trip, that I still think of today when I need to quiet my mind.  Magic.

Or our time spent in Ashland, OR with my Godmother Patty, that was so special and yummy and sweet, and reunited us all as close friends and family so much so that we thought about staying forever.  Simply magical.

Not every stop was so, but many were.  And especially the accidental ones.  Not planned and controlled and put together by ME.  It was the ones where we just chugged along and went where the road took us, that were the most magical.

So, I’ll take a deep breath now.  And relax just a little, if even just for now, remembering that it’s not me that’s MAKING this happen.  It’s me, that’s being just brave enough, to let the magic happen.

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