27 October 2011


Debating, arguing, listening, following, praying, reading, trying, failing, trying, wondering, deciding...

I'm worn out.

I do not want to follow my Lord on this topic.  I AM following, but my feelings are not there.  Yet.  (Feelings are not really the issue, here, though.)  I am obeying, because I'm sure I've had people wearing out their knees on my son's behalf and my heart is incapable of following through on my threats. Tomorrow is my self-imposed deadline.  But the decision is made perhaps because I have more fear of the backfire from making my son climb aboard a bus and leaving him open to lashing out at strangers than I do of failing at my efforts at home.

So, at least through the end of 2011 he will be here.  Plugging away with me.  I was persuaded that it was not fair to send him to school because of his behavior - definitely true, but what is fair?  Besides, I didn't say I was playing fair.

And it still remains: something has to drastically change or I cannot go on.
I challenged my Lord to make some changes and He did answer.  Not as completely as I wanted, nor as dramatically as I'd hoped. But I see some light and there is enough for me to muster through. The Lord definitely has his own agenda, and it clearly does not line up with what I was seeing in my mind's eye (ie, a windfall of money for private school or, even better, an exclusive tutor. . .)
Instead, He shed some light on some things to try to address:

1) - Seasonal Affective Disorder. I knew it by experience with my son, not by name.  And I see with some research that like the sensory issues and other needs, it clearly overlaps with the whole kit and caboodle of things he struggles through every day of every year.  A light box is apparently a great tool for this and I am currently researching how to go about finding the right one.  The doctor wasn't sure how to recommend one and essentially told me I could figure it out.  So, that is my first next step.  (If anyone knows anything, please do shed some light here!)

2) - Shaking it up.  I never completely figured out how to crawl out of my "school box" so to speak.  I have tried.  Valiantly.  I ask questions, I dream of doing it, I just never feel secure enough to carry through.  But for this to succeed, I have to figure it out.  I really do.  I feel lost, though.  I am not as far into unschooling as to let everything fly out the window, but I am very much into helping my son succeed.  And so far most of my ways are not working out as well as I'd like.  I have thoughts and ideas on it, but I think it's time for a week's vacation from our routines in order to figure some things out for myself.  I had truly hoped by now I'd have a better handle on this homeschool life.

3) - Taking a walk.  Twice a day would be best.  I need it.  My kids need it.  We need the exercise and the sunshine and the positive together time.  Regardless of the temperature (I draw the line at rain, however).  I am horrible at walking and outside time.  Horrible.  I am a homebody through and through and content to sip my coffee and gaze out a window and read a book.  I just am.  It's after 3pm now and my plan today was to walk before lunch.  I even have a good street for it.  Just failed.  If it wasn't the baby napping it was the growling bellies and then I effectively forgot.  Until now.  And now. . . other than writing this blog I have another excuse but still not a good one.  I desperately want to make this consistent.  I. Must. Do. It.

I think I need to take a week off and address some potential changes curriculum, expectations, routines, hopes, atmosphere (remember, we're still in un-packing mode and there is a lot I have not finished getting set up the way I'd like....life keeps getting in the way!)  I have some resources and thoughts and am even considering some "mentoring" that is available at 7sisters.  There is a pull to that direction for me.  I need back up in this.

That is where I am for today.  And right now, my kids are still waiting for a walk - perhaps that will be the best tool for doing it each day. . . . .

25 October 2011

i give up

I think I'm about to quit.  Homeschooling, that is.
At least in part - only one child has been threatened with an appointment at the local elementary school (on Friday).  And I'm not bluffing and I don't care anymore.  Friday is my deadline for something to give.

My whole being is burned out right now.  And no, I cannot take a break - there is no break from the people who have me worn out, whether schooling or not.

I feel like a quitter - but I don't care.  And I'm not posting for moral support....just to say what is as it is.

I have had too many weeks, months - and now years - of incessant arguing over what I ask someone to do.  This year we've added a whiny voice to the mix and I'm a bit too preoccupied with the one who really gets belligerent to give her what she really needs and explain the work to her.  Hardly her fault.  But my patience is shredded by the time I can sit down at her desk.

Burned out?  Try a hollow cavern.

Here's the catch.  I'm getting angry at my God.
I completely believe my kids need to be homeschooled.  I do.  And I think He has asked me to do it.  I love so many parts of it and have such huge aspirations and dreams and . . . . the reality just crumbles like a sandcastle when the ocean waves close over it.  I have truly reached a point where  my responses to the attitudes are not what I want them to be.  It makes me sad.  And mad.  And angry.

I'm angry because I know this is the best option.  But I have poured out every single thing in my being for so long that there is nothing left.  Not a drop in the bucket.  There have been heart-rending times in the past year, and while that's not where we are today, it's still an uphill battle to an extreme.  It's not about getting the work done - that happens when he finally sits his tail in a chair and stops arguing - and he does it well. But the fighting beforehand about why we do certain subjects or how we do them or if we do them or whether it can be a half day or a day off or skip a subject - there is no end and it takes up my morning.  Even if I ignore it.  Or punish it.  Or send him out of the room.  And then the whole crew is miserable.

I'm angry because I need a break.  Not a mommy's night out (though they help a lot usually), and not even a mini-vacation (as phenomenal as that would be) - I need time with my almost-four year old who is getting in more and more mischief, and I'm guessing he needs the fighting to stop and a little more loving - something I'd be happy to offer if I wasn't about to crumble by lunch time.  I need time to snuggle my almost-one year old before her baby moments are gone forever.  I need time to be more hands-on with and explain math and phonics to my eager 1st grader.

I'm angry because I cannot figure out another option to keep him homeschooled without destroying our relationship permanently.  Because that's what I'm afraid of.  I'm afraid that in 8 years he will walk away and be so glad to never return.  I'm afraid I will ruin our relationship forever.  My mom mentioned that when he was little, we were so close. That drug my heart to my toes - I miss my little boy.  I'm not talking about the changes that will come with growing up - I'm worried about how he sees me.  When he yells he hates me, sometimes I think it's mutual and we both mean it.  Just for that moment.  My heart is breaking.

So I want to keep him here and homeschool him.  But I'm not willing to do it at the cost of our relationship and the detriment of the other kids - or my sanity.  It's not fair or acceptable for him to need 90% of me and the other people in the house split up the remaining 10%.  And I can't afford a tutor, or one of the supplemental options like Classical Conversations (that would require me 100% anyway), or the other places that have classes once a week even if they're cheap.

This leaves me challenging the Lord to find a solution that I cannot fathom.  Not a small one, not a temporary band-aid, not a patch - a real solution.  By Friday.  That is three small days.  I've told my son he needs to step it up - that he can change the outcome of Friday's decision with dramatic attitude adjustments.  So my child and my God - they are the only two people who can make me keep him home.  And I see him trying.  But it's not there yet.  His glass has been half empty his whole life.  I need it half full.

And I don't even want the public route.  It brings dread of all the teacher calls, the notes home, the millions of problems that always came up when we did this before.  I don't have energy for that any more than I do for this.  I feel like I lose regardless.  But maybe those few hours a day for my daughter will at least help her. 

No, I don't think it's right.  I think it could be an awful decision.  But I am past that.  I will forge ahead if something doesn't give (so feel free to pray - I'm in a pit and can't climb out).  Every single fiber of my being wants something to change so I don't have to follow through on Friday.  I cannot argue with him any more.  I can't.  It's been too much for too long - I know that partly it's a cycle that starts every single fall and gets deeper and worse until spring decides to peek around the corner.  But I cannot wait that out any more and it's depressing me.  I need it to change.  Now.

21 October 2011

life unplugged

I have had a dozen posts in my head that never make it to the keyboard - I just can't find the time (and I just noticed almost as many in my draft folder!). But today the other day I read a post by Mommy Made Green called The Truth that made me want to post my own reality. So here it is.

I realize I am already fairly transparent, but the craziness of our life is what stops me from having so much blog time these days - so I thought I'd like to invite you over for just a glimpse of my day...

As you know, I now have four children - Bitsy is already 9 mos old and on the move; Baby J is no longer a baby, now well past the 3 1/2 year old mark and a blend of delicious smug grins and deep mischief that runs me ragged; Miss C is 6 1/2 and a blend of tomboy and feminine that I find wonderful and refreshing; Little B is 10 1/2 and not at all little any more, rather growing like a weed with a tender heart (and pre-puberty hitting me hard). I may need to rethink the boys' names on here soon!

And. I homeschool. Just the older two for now.

I cannot get Baby J to be still while I teach the others - pouring liquids is a favorite pastime for him (think entire water bottles on the new carpet kind of pouring liquids), and markers on things other than paper (I really thought he'd outgrown this!), messing with the computer buttons, coloring IF the book is in my lap, snuggling, talking and talking and talking, sneaking under desks for a myriad of reasons, wires being only one of them. A handful to be sure - but a charming one no doubt.

Bitsy is easier to work around with a few toys and nap time, though the new crawling thing is beginning to present a challenge. We now step on Cheerios all day long, hence a bigger need for vacuuming around here!

A day in my home is a day like no other - but I like to believe I'm not alone.

I begin our homeschool day in pj's with at least my 2nd cup of coffee in hand. More often than not I am still writing out the day's assignments in their spiral notebooks when 9am rolls around. I juggle the assignments and questions with the cries for attention from my younger ones. I battle the arguments of why we do certain subjects and the quieter whines of not wanting to do more phonics.

Laundry is usually in many stages in several rooms - piles (sometimes merged as one large pile) in the laundry area, sorters long forgotten because they are not so easy to reach now. There are at least 3 loads finally cleaned and dried waiting to be folded or already folded but knocked down thanks to my favorite mischief maker. My husband wore khakis on his day off this last weekend - when asked why, he told me none of jeans were clean. Oops.  (I have since remedied that problem.)

I use cloth diapers - but it's Luvs on her bottom right now because the laundry is behind (and Baby J's car seat cover is getting an overdue cleaning - the sour smell made it a priority). - but sometimes Luvs land on her bottom because the laundry is piled high and there are other things that take precedence. And sometimes you'll just find one or two of those lying around, having lost it's way to the diaper pail.  Or trash can depending on the day.

The dishes did get rotated today (and the day I initially tried to write this), but they are still piled up in the sink for the next round - sorry, I do not know how my grandmothers had so many kids with no dishwasher. I'm not as strong as they, perhaps. Oh, and if the wrong thing goes into the sink, we have tiny little ants that love to come and play.

Dinner plans go awry frequently at 3pm or 4pm when I suddenly realize that I forgot to put it in the crock-pot AGAIN (today, it made it in there before noon - but it was on the menu twice this week already). Instead, it's usually still in the freezer so crock-potting it no longer applies. Then I scramble to solve it or thaw it or hope someone will bring me Chinese food and make it all go away. (Usually I have to solve it and scrambled eggs frequent our dinner table.)

Vacuuming happens a little more right now since Bitsy has earned a new nickname - Shark. AKA Hoover. She really does try to keep the paper off the floor for me. And pennies (seriously, the floor was clear in that room - where did it come from??).  {Oh, and little side note: I really do call her Bitsy.  All the time.}

Mopping is a chore I cannot find time for - I hand-mop the bathroom floor right around the commode on a very regular basis because I have a three year old boy.  Enough said my friends.  My kitchen is much lower on the totem pole of necessary things to do - clean underwear ranks near the top.

I will say that having kids who are chore-aged is very helpful.  Between them the trash goes out, the dishwasher gets emptied, the bathroom counters get cleaned, certain floors get vacuumed. . .etc.  If they were not doing those things, I would buy stock in paper plates right now.  The good, sturdy quality ones.  And I promise that when I realize the ring around the toilet is getting noticeable, I clean it (within a couple days).  And the sheets - they've got a schedule to follow for when to come off the bed and get washed.  Not super obedient, those sheets, but we work at it.  Eventually, right?

Do you remember that we moved this summer? Then started our homeschool a few weeks later? Can you deduce what that implies? Yeah, we still have a lot of boxes stacked up. And shelves waiting to be attached to walls whenever my hubby has some time so I can unpack said boxes (lots of books in those boxes - the friends who help us move always comment.. . .).  I won't complain, though - the truth is we are so comfortable here that I know we'll get it done on the days off. (I LOVE the space God provided in this home!)

Speaking of days off, it is finally Friday!  I live for Friday - we never school unless someone asks to (Sometimes Miss C asks, I provide, she changes her mind, we move on).  It's my day off - to catch up on household chores like folding laundry, to lounge around, play Legos, read books, watch too much TV, vacuum again, and right now I'm longing for a nap.  And I may try for one since the middles are happy with Timmy Time and I'm happy they're happy.

And now, I am on my way again - there is some popcorn and a book in the other room that just called out to me.  Perhaps I'll doze there, too. . . .

Have a lovely weekend my friends.  I hope I make it back to visit soon. . .