Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Four weeks into homeschooling...

This is our first official year homeschooling.  I've worked with each of the kids when they were three on their letters in lieu of sending them to preschool at that age.  We learned colors. letters, the numbers 1-10, fun crafts and lots of read aloud time.  But while it was planned and organized it was also easy going and a follow the lead of the kid type of thing.  Because of that I thought I had some inkling to what homeschooling full time with four kids was like.

I.  Was.  Wrong.

Oh my word was I wrong. 

You know those blogs where you stop by and see pictures of the kids doing their  work?  And you see all these lovely printables that the author of the blog created and set out for your use?  And they still have time to do other things as well? I love those blogs. I am incredibly thankful for those blogs.

This is not one of those blogs. 

I love reading those blogs.  but now they kind of make me feel less than somehow.  And I KNOW I shouldn't compare.  But at the same time I keep thinking why?  Why can't my homeschool life be like that?

Well for one this is my first year.

For another I have four kids ranging in age from 2 to 8.

I have a 6 year old who is not having an easy time learning to read. 

I have an 8 year old who is working on adjusting her attitude.

And I have a 4 year old who deserves a post all of his own. 

Oh and let's not forget the 2 year old who has made it his life's mission to create chaos whenever possible.  (Okay its not that bad.  Most of the time.)


We are adjusting.  The days are becoming more routine.  I like being with my kids.  They are adjusting to not seeing school friends every day.  We are branching out and finding a new network of homeschoolers in our area.  And we are all making new friends.

It's been four weeks.  From what I have heard it takes time, much more than four weeks. That can be hard to hear, that it might be like this for awhile and we need time. Time to get adjusted.  Time to get to know my kids as students and them to know me as teacher.  Time to find curriculum that works for us.  And lots of patience during this time. 

We'll get there.  I'm learning to better prepare things for Wyatt.  I am learning how to handle Madeline's meltdowns.  And I am slowing down the reading for Owen.  Ben has his jobs and we work through his letters and numbers slowly.  We are teaching each other.

And as long the chaos doesn't get too uncontrollable we will all be fine.

I still wouldn't trade it for anything.  Even on the hard days, where I have questioned if I did the right thing.  I truly do not want to re-enroll the kids in public school right now.  I want to continue this path and see where it leads us.  I am eager to learn more and grow more. 

With time.

Friday, August 22, 2014

7 Quick Takes volume 17

Another title for this post would be "where did summer go?"  How is it the end of August already?  Labor day weekend, which for the past few years has marked the beginning of the school year, is only a week away.  Jon is on his last week of summer break.  We are busy signing the kids up for fall activities (also known as "How will Melinda divide herself into three people?").  And we started our first year of homeschooling this past Monday!

So how did we spend our summer?

 1.  Making s'mores.  Because summer just isn't complete without them!

 2. Packing for our annual trip to Maine.  That is just clothing for the kids.  Not to mention my clothes, Jon's clothes, towels, and other assorted necessities for a week away with four kids and a dog. 

 3. Traveling at night. It's the quietest way to go!

 4.  Hanging out by the water.  "This is the life!" was hear by this guy.  His dad agrees.  Mom prefers locations with access to washers and dryers. 

5.  Fishing.

6.  Playing on the rocks in the water. 

 7.  Lots of swimming!

 And I know it's 7 quick takes, but here is #8.  We saw the Wiener Mobile parking in a near bye grocery store parking lot.  We were running errands but had to take the time to jump out and take a photo.  It's not everyday you see the Wiener Mobile out and about! 
I have no idea what is with the model pose Madeline is striking there!

Linking up with 7 Quick Takes  Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The garden is producing food!

Okay, so its only a few ripe tomatoes and some nice green beans to add to our salads, but still there is food ready to be picked.  The kids are excited to help with picking the current available produce and the older two are actually trustworthy enough to pick only what is ready.

As you will see in the pictures the garden is very green and resembles a small jungle.  We stayed small this year and still tried to plant as much as we could in the small area.  Lesson learned.  While it works, we have space in the yard and will devote more to our garden next summer.  Then maybe you could look at the next picture and see that there are several plants growing, and not just a sea of green! 

Madeline directing Owen where to go to pick the beans.  She likes to instruct him and he usually is pretty easy going about listening to her (even when he shouldn't!)

Trying to avoid stepping on plants in order to get at other plants which is not an easy task.

 The pepper plants are staying small but two are producing some peppers, so maybe they are supposed to stay small?  I don't really know as I have had little success with them over the years. But peppers are peppers and these are growing so I am happy
The peppers are growing.

And there are a few more hiding out under the leaves. 

And the mystery of the viney plants in the corner of the garden is solved.  They are all pumpkins.  And we have four pumpkins growing round, which is good since we have four kids.

It's a pumpkin!
Another pumpkin!
And a third pumpkin!!

I found my cucumber plant growing on the other side of the beans, not where I marked it.  Next time I need to mark the seeds when they are planted, not a few days later!

I am excited to see how many tomatoes we get (not pictured since most are still green).  I have never made my own pasta sauce but with the amount of green tomatoes growing in the garden it is on my to-do list this year.  Now I just need to find a really good, and preferably simple, recipe. 

Monday, July 28, 2014

The Happy Wife Project: Expectations vs Reality

Go Forth and Mother

Sometimes I feel like I am ungrateful for not being as happy with my life as I should be. And that I should be grateful everyday for the life I have.  I mean it is what I wanted right?  And now that I have it shouldn't I be overjoyed and thrilled all the time? 

I'm not sure what I expected daily life to be.  But I know I was better at it all somehow.  The house was cleaner in my expectations.  I always had things for my kids to do and I wanted to play with them endlessly.  Dinner was always perfect and everyone loved it.  Homeschooling never entered into my expectations so of course I had kids ready and out there door to school on time every day and I always had time to help the PTO. 

Chaos did not have a place in my expectations.

I'll let you in on a little secret- my life is not exactly like I pictured it. 

And I feel somehow less because of it sometimes.  Not quite as happy as I should be.

But when I stumble upon bloggers like Amy, I read posts that make me feel less alone. 

Yes I should be more grateful for what I have, and think less about what I don't have or what others do have.  But it is okay to feel down sometimes.  It is okay for reality and expectations not to be the same thing.  But it isn't okay to wallow in it.  It isn't okay to throw up my hands and say "that's it.  I give up.  I am bound to be unhappy."

I guess I never expected to get tired just doing the things that are daily obligations when you have a houseful of people that need looking after.  I did not expect that there would be days that I would just want to run away for a few hours and not have the responsibility sitting on me.  I don't think this makes me a bad person or mom.  I really hope it doesn't. 

I did not expect that I would miss seeing my friends but that when I did actually have time to see them I was so tired that staying home in bed seemed like a better option. 

But then there is the good stuff.  The reasons I smile when I do. 

I have people who love me, most important the four little loves that live in my house and drive me batty on what feels like a daily basis.   They are so free with their love, it's amazing.  My kids routinely and randomly tell me that they love me and want hugs and sunggles.  And amazingly they also seem to know just when I need it most.  I didn't expect that.

I have a husband who goes to work every day to "bring home the bacon" as we like to joke.  Jon loves his job and I am so incredibly grateful for that.  But he also is the one who has supporting us financially sitting heavily on his shoulders.  I don't.  He works a second job during the school year and teaches classes during the summer as well.  This year he is adding courses for his Masters onto his already busy workload.  And he still makes time to help around the house and be an awesome dad to our kids.  How can I not be grateful for all of that?  I didn't expect that I would love him more after ten years of marriage then I did on our wedding day.

I have a part time job that provides me with the flexibility to work only when Jon is home.  I can arrange my work nights around his classes and the kids activities.  I work with women who are funny.  I get an awesome discount that comes in handy when clothing four children.  I didn't expect that.

I have a good, solid house in a quiet neighborhood where we actually know our neighbors and our kids have friends to play with.  In the next year, hopefully sooner, the house will expand to include a very large open room upstairs where at least two of the boys will sleep.  This will allow Madeline to have her own room and allow us to simply spread out a little more.  But even without the additional space it is a good house. And we make it into a great home.  I didn't expect to live in the town we chose. 

It isn't what I expected.  It is loud, and chaotic.  It is messy and silly.  It is also rewarding, loving, and full of the choices that we made.  Jon and I chose to live the life that we are living.  And there is something rewarding and fulfilling just in knowing that. 

And I didn't expect that.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

I participated in the Mommy Wars (and I am ashamed)

I was at dinner with friends the other night.  As always work came up as a topic and they were talking about schedules.  My husband was jokingly saying he has a really hard schedule this summer- working 2 hours a day at summer school.  Others were talking about how long their days were.  And then I did it, the thing I hate. 

I said "Well I work 24/7."

Now to be honest I was half joking in saying that.  But still...

I hate the part of me that feels the need to make those comments, even jokingly.  Because parents work 24/7. Working(out of the home) moms work their day job and then come home and work their mom job.  Stay at home moms work their mom job day and then night again.  Dads are the same, whether working out of the house or staying at home.  All parents work 24/7.

But still I felt the need to point out my 24/7 job.  And I know why.  Because a small part of me(that part I really dislike) felt the need for validation.  I work hard dammit, notice it!  But why?  Why should anyone notice how hard I work?  I do it because I want to, because I love my kids.  And because it works for MY life. 

And then yesterday I was reading a friend's Facebook post about having a rough morning.  The kids were bickering and just generally giving her a hard time.  And to top if off, while dealing with them her coffee got cold.  She posted on Facebook and others responded with sympathy and some empathy because many of us have been there (more often then we'd like I think).  Well someone felt the need to point out it could be worse because she could be heading out to work too.  This friend (with the rough morning)is a fellow stay at home mom.  She likes being home with her kids.  She can be home with her kids.  This kind of comment gets to me because its like looking at a person complaining about having a rough day at work and saying "It could be worse, you could be unemployed for months on end."  We all KNOW it could be worse.  But sometimes we need to complain a little anyway.  I don't know the person who made the comment, it is a friend of my friend.  She could have been a work out of the house mom who wanted to be a stay at home mom.  She could have simply been trying (and most likely was trying) to make my friend feel better as we all were.  But I read it as a not-so-helpful comment.  Because of that small place inside of me.

I participated in the mommy wars and then I judged someone who I saw as doing the same.  I often feel like I need to justify what I do and why I do it.  Not to those who are close to me, they have all been supportive of the life choices Jon and I have made.  But to society as a whole.  To those who make small comments about my being a stay at home mom.  And I don't know why.  I don't know why I care what others think, I wish I didn't.  But at times (when I made my comment or read that of another) I participate in the mommy wars.  And I dislike it.  It isn't often, in fact it probably comes down to rarely.  But I wish I could say I never did it.  Because in the end I am doing what is right for my family.  I work hard all day and at night as well.  My work out of the house peers work hard during the day and at night as well too.   But no matter how often we day things like that, the mommy wars still exist. 

And I need to stop participating in them.