Category Archives: The Chicken Fried South

Random thoughts on living south of the Mason Dixon Line.

The Half-Way Mark

Do you see the end? Me either!

If I compare this one-year journey to a marathon,  I suppose I am officially “half-way” through.  I’ve just finalized our 2nd quarter grades. I’ve printed them (A’s =  free doughnuts, YO!), filed them (for my OCD), logged them at our online reporting site (because I’m required to) and NOW I’m ready to move on with Christmas crafts, holiday baking, and enjoying this season with my kids!

But honestly? If I had to look at our days and number them according to the yearly planner I have on my desktop, I think I would lose it! Why? Because I’m just now realizing this journey isn’t half-way through. It isn’t even half-way begun! For real! At what point does a parent look at their child and say to themselves, “I’m officially half-way finished with raising you”? Is it 9? I mean, technically, 18 is adult enough to vote, go to college, consume alcohol in a variety of states . . . I’ve heard. Or how about 10 1/2 – my newly 10 year old would probably love that! Wow, she’s half-way to 20! Yet the idea of thinking or saying that to my 8 or 10 year old is preposterous and inconceivable!

So instead,  I sit and ponder what the meaning of “half-way” for us really is. Does it make me any closer to defining the length of this journey? I don’t  think it does – at least not in the concrete terms I assumed it would by this date. “People” (you know, the ubiquitous ones who comment on everything and nothing inside your head?) all told me I’d feel a certain way by Christmastime. Instead, I find myself wondering how I could ever begin to put a date on this experience? How do I possibly determine the end of something that I feel like I was called to be to my babies all along (and just didn’t realize the seasonal and practical out-working of it until this year)?

These thoughts don’t necessarily translate to never putting our children back into a traditional, Christian school environment. It just means that homeschooling has evolved into far more than the “schooling” experience  I was prepared for . . . and for which I subsequently prepared the children! I feel like I’ve just recently gotten a hold of the super-secret homeschooler’s dictionary,  and I’m finally able to define terms I never understood before! I’m grasping the concept of “lifestyle” and not “school at home”. I’m living vicariously through my more “relaxed” and seasoned homeschooling mama friends, and taking mental notes for “next year” without even realizing I’ve just run smack past the finish-line of this imaginary race!!

So, no. I’m really not half-way to anything. Well, we might be half-way to summer break . . . then again, we might not! We might even take a walk on the wild-side and jump off the “year-round schooling” ledge while we’re at it! Why not? I grew up schooling like that, half a world away in the pacific where it’s actually the norm and not nearly as renegade an idea as it seems to be here above the equator. I’m not saying we will school year-round, but the freedom that comes from removing my finish line I think is what we all needed to do at the end of this calendar year.

It’s kind of a big step for me. At the beginning of this process I was panic-stricken about even committing to a WHOLE YEAR!!  What if I irreparably damaged my kids before then and they didn’t want to live here let alone attend school here any more?!?!  But as you can see, I’m firmly off that ledge. For now. At least until I start looking at curriculum options for next year. (Then I begin to open and close my mouth in imitation of a goldfish gasping in air.)

But, if it’s any consolation – and it was for me – my 10 year old recently asked a high-schooler at the dance studio what curriculum she was using for science, I suppose because the book the student was holding looked interesting. Unfortunately, the high-schooler couldn’t tell her. Instead she looked confused and asked my sweet E, “What’s a curriculum??”

I tried not to laugh when she told me, and casually suggested she might want to try the word “text-book” next time.

PS Merry Christmas, Everyone!!

Homeschooling ROCKS - it's true, even if I made them do this!

Just kidding . . . here you go for realz this time!


Blood, Candy, and Other Related Subjects

I need to take a moment to thank the BTDT (been there, done that) homeschooling moms who recommended we look into Apologia Science for our kids this year. It has been the most wonderful journey for all of us!

Still,  I remember wondering after the first few days if we’d made a horrible mistake! This book was NOTHING like our previous science books and we’d had plenty of them! The only science our kids took prior to this year was Abeka, and while there’s nothing wrong with that, we knew we needed to change things up a little this year for homeschooling, based on a request from our rising 6th grader.The science-y part of what we learned . . .

After we settled on Anatomy and the book arrived,  I was very concerned that it would be WAY more than our 2nd grade student could handle and WAY more in-depth than our 6th grader would care for (given anatomy isn’t her fave to begin with!) – BUT it has turned out to be nothing short of a perfect fit for all of us!

Each chapter covers some aspect of the human body. So far we’ve studied cells, the skeletal system, the muscular system, the digestive system, nutrition & vitamins, the respiratory system and last week, BLOOD! This format changes things up enough to keep everyone interested, but it’s thorough enough that I don’t feel like we’re just skimming the surface of these very important subjects. To say I can’t wait to order and teach the rest of this series would be an understatement. We don’t know what the Lord has for us in the years ahead, but suffice to say, if He continues to lead us to homeschool our children, Apologia Science will be a staple! Did I mention that science has never really been my favorite subject? I don’t mind it, but I tend to glaze over when things get *too* scientific and I cap out at about 2 hours of wandering around the various Science Centers we’ve visited as a family. (Which just makes it all the more miraculous that I enjoy teaching this subject to our kids!)

Anyway, when we came to the chapter on BLOOD, we were especially excited for 2 reasons –

1. The kids have always wanted to know their blood types


2. Since my Dad is the manager of our community Blood Bank, we knew a field trip would be in order!

Here are some pictures from our recent adventures . . .

First we had to make a model of blood, because who doesn’t love a good edible model? We included the 4 components: Plasma (corn syrup), Red Blood Cells (red jelly bellies or cinnamon red hots), White Blood Cells (we used a white tootsie roll since you’re supposed to show that it’s larger than the red cells), and Platelets (candy sprinkles!).

Mmmm, blood!

Who knew all 3 would be so excited about making blood??

Later in our study we took the kids on a tour of their local blood bank. Here they learned how the blood bank separates blood into the 4 necessary components, and how they store them for transportation to local hospitals. Everyone also had blood typing done – turns out all 3 have the same blood type! A special shout out goes to the retired science teacher turned lab technician who graciously included our kids in his work. They learned so much!

Getting a lesson in how to separate the red cells

Examining the bags to be sure no plasma or white cells got in!

Putting the newly separated plasma into the blast freezer!

The 'girl with the purple gloves' is ready to tell Ems her blood type!

It was the perfect end to a very interesting science chapter and yet again reinforces why I’m so happy we chose this curriculum (and this lifestyle) for our family this school year! Thanks to all the participants who made this lesson possible. 🙂 Not only do we know all our blood types now, but the kids have an increased awareness for the need to donate blood (when they’re old enough) and what happens to it when they do!

For anyone in Florida, Georgia or Alabama interested in donating blood or learning how to host a blood drive, click on the Life South logo below to locate your nearest Life South Community Blood Center!

Unlocking the ‘Mommy Guilt’ Code

I never knew there was a choice!

I don’t make New year’s Resolutions. As one friend of mine so eloquently put it – “Why should I set myself up for one more opportunity to fail?” I think we’ve all felt like this at one time or another. I felt like that last year. In lieu of resolutions, however, another friend of mine revealed that each year she selects a word, just a single word, to represent what she is hoping to focus on in the coming 365 days.

ONE word? As a writer, I wondered how on earth I would ever do that? (Which was the key, really, because it meant the gauntlet had officially been thrown down – by me – and I had to do it.)

I sat down and discussed it at length with my better half. We both came up with words for the year. His word apparently scared me so much that I didn’t write it down. Anywhere.  (No doubt it was “CHANGE” and not in the presidential way. 😉 Because we all know how I feel about that word.) After much pondering, I went with “Deliberate” for my word in 2011.

Here is what I had to say about my selection on the day that I came up with it:

My word for 2011 is going to be “Deliberate” – as in, on purpose, intentional – particularly as it pertains to parenting and my routine here in the home. My goal is to avoid the “accidental parenting” that happens when I fall into patterns I don’t even especially like but are easy and familiar. I want to seize the opportunities presented to me by my children in these current ages and stages in an effort to minimize any regrets later that I “missed” so much of this or that. I’m sure I’ll still be able to think of plenty of things I could’ve done differently when I’m 50 and reviewing these early parenting years, but my goal is to be present and engaged and, well, deliberate.

Here is the irony of this whole process – I have not thought about my word from that day to this. In fact, if another friend hadn’t brought up HER word for the year earlier this week, I probably wouldn’t have even remembered it again before next January! (Yes, another PRIME example of why I don’t make resolutions. But anyway  . . . ) I looked up my word and was stunned to see how closely it aligned with the parenting decisions we’ve made this year – most notably our decision to homeschool – although in making these decisions, I can honestly say that I never even considered the word. So, apparently it played no part at all in my “deliberate” parenting other than being the initial articulation of something I’ve had stirring in me as a mommy for several years now.

Can I please read the clif notes instead?The thing is, as parents, we find so many opportunities to beat ourselves up. We continually feel we are making the wrong decision, even when 5 seconds before we were confident it was the absolute right one. I’m not sure why this is, but after 11 years of parenting, I learned to refer to it, without affection, as an undeniable case of “mommy guilt” that cropped up anytime I least needed it to.  All difficult parenting decisions came with a nice , warm cup of it, and any awkward conversations with my tween, her teacher or a fellow parent had the potential to further convince me that I was NOT making the grade in this Parenting 101 class.

However, in the days I have spent homeschooling this year (all 60-whatever of them, so don’t be thinking I know what I’m doing or anything) I think I’ve finally determined why I was so quick to feel like I had the words “epic fail” stamped on many of my parenting missteps.  Don’t get me wrong, homeschooling comes with it’s own, built-in fail-o-meter, and it’s a HUGE one. Fail at this, and you can potentially ruin your kid’s chance at getting into a good college, being successful or worse yet, being a productive member of society! Umm yeah, no pressure.  So why is it that I’m feeling far less guilty these days than I did last year. The year that prompted me to select DELIBERATE as my word for the parenting days ahead? I think it’s because it isn’t the act of failing that makes us feel like we’re not making the grade. It’s the times we wonder if we’ve done enough. Otherwise identifiable as the fear, regret, guilt cycle. Did we really put all our effort into that conversation, decision, project, study session, etc etc etc? Did we? (FEAR)  We decide we did not (typically when we make all our sound mommy decisions, circa. 1am), enter REGRET. Finally we are engulfed yet again by the ubiquitous and inevitable MOMMY GUILT. *Ugh!*

No. This lifestyle isn’t a perfect cure-all for the modern mommy guilt. I don’t want to portray that myth and add to the guilt! Yes. There are definitely days I’m almost comatose by 4pm just as it’s time to take everyone to swim, dance, soccer etc. HOWEVER, there are far MORE days when I am finally satisfied with the effort I’ve put in to my day with our kids.  I don’t lie awake at night anymore wondering if I’ll regret saying “no” to that last bed time story. Instead, I remember that I said YES to several other opportunities to make memories today – including reading aloud from a variety of books. I now plan our time together – I am deliberate in creating the moments we will spend in each others company. We will take trips just for fun. We will spend time reading. We will bake together (and clean the kitchen)! We will take walks to enjoy the sunshine and bundle up when we realize it’s really freezing cold instead! We will  have a range of discussions on every subject – scheduled and unscheduled – because we simply have more TIME together.

Taking time to smell the roses - or wildflowers in this case

I wish I had known, for the last 11 years, that what I really needed to do to relieve myself of heaping amounts of mommy-guilt, was just to say NO to the pressures around me, and take more TIME tending to the things I constantly felt like I could be doing better . . . instead of habitually feeling like I didn’t have enough quality time or questioning if we were spending it the way we *should*  (who decides that anyway?!).

Yes, we took family trips before. Yes, we ate dinner together as a family most nights. Yes, we sat on the ends of our kids’ beds at night while they discussed their day or their friends or their homework. Yes, we cheered them on at their soccer games and swim meets. Somehow it still didn’t feel like enough to me.

And that’s how I can quantify this decision to be more deliberate. Because now I feel it’s enough. I feel like they finally SEE the effort and care that I want them to know we put into this endeavor. Into THEM, not just their education. I’m not saying at 11, 9, and 8 I expect them to really “get” it, or even articulate their appreciation for it, but I know that they see it. And that’s finally ENOUGH for me as a parent.

I didn’t realize that my desire to be more deliberate was really synonymous with homeschooling – but that’s exactly how it has played out for me.

I guess it means I need to be more aware of whatever word I select for 2012?!

It’s not you, it’s the other idiots!

Here is a slightly blonder visual aid of my weekWhen I was learning to drive, my cool, calm and collected drive instructor (a.k.a Dad) told me the most valuable piece of driving information. He informed me in no uncertain terms that he was in fact not worried about whether or not I would be a good driver, because (and I quote): “It’s the other idiots on the road you need to worry about!” And so began my illustrious first driving lesson that ended with me running over a snake sunning itself in the road, almost hitting a mailbox in my attempt to avoid the snake, and finally returning home with a solemn vow to enlist the aid of public transit to get anywhere I needed in life as I would almost certainly never again be behind the wheel of a car.

Of course I moved past that disastrous first attempt and went on to become a very conscientious driver, but the message of that day has stayed with me. Sometimes the things that cause the most trouble in your life (or day) are the other drivers – and unfortunately, there’s not much to be done about them.

Today was one of those days.

Wow. I missed this gem in my training all those years ago.

Without getting into specifics, I will say that the drama in our homeschooling adventures these past 2 days has had almost nothing to do with the students in my house (almost). Instead we have fallen victim to the distractions that present themselves in the form of frustrating phone calls that MUST be made during bankers (aka schooling) hours, frustrating letters that generate these phone calls, having to retell your tale more than once and receive multiple call backs with conflicting instructions on how to resolve the issues, and an overwhelming lack of SERVICE of any kind!

I spoke to more than one of these peeps today.

Now while I don’t allow my children to use the descriptive word in my title, I can honestly say that my vocabulary choices today are a reflection of the fact that I’ve had it. Plain and simple. I’ve had it with the lack of customer service in almost every area of my life. I’m just plain OVER it. Oh, and if I could go back in time and tell myself what I’ve learned over these past few weeks of homeschooling it would have nothing to do with school and everything to do with Home Management 101. You see, B.H. (Before Homeschooling) I was a fairly organized Home CEO. I menu planned, grocery shopped with coupons, kept a detailed budget spreadsheet, handled all Dr. appointments, service calls, mail and bills, made sure all the floors were cleaned, the tables and other surfaces regularly sanitized and the washing was done on time.

Enter homeschooling.

Now while I’ve managed to keep up with pretty much everything on this list, I’ll confess there is ONE set of recurring issues that I just can’t seem to manage. Because it can’t be done!  And the reason it is literally impossible to manage, is because while I can anticipate needs and bills, thus budgeting my time and money accordingly, I cannot possibly anticipate the inane conversations between myself and the creditors, lenders, repair personnel, bankers, or customer service representatives I have to deal with nationwide. No. That is an impossible feat. However, if I could bottle and sell the secret to managing this enormous time-waster in my day, I’d be a wealthy homeschooling mom, because surely Every. Single. Homeschool Family on this PLANET has to be feeling my pain here?!

These things that used to be an annoying blip on the radar of my day, are now cataclysmic cyclones that blow through our time together,  derailing schedules, lesson plans, and reading assignments, leaving a trail of  frustration in their wake! They represent the tyranny of the urgent and I can’t get rid of them even if I wanted to. Why? Because do you have any idea at all how much research it takes to fire your bank? Turns out it’s HOURS and HOURS!

So tomorrow, I’ve vowed I’m not picking up the phone. If I can help it.  Because the alternative is frankly too demoralizing to consider!!

My day on the phone x 180 = No graduation. No pressure!

Burnt Toast and Miranda Rights

Oh yeah, it was MONDAY.

So today has been a MONDAY – in every CAPS LOCK sense of the word. There was basic non-descript bickering after breakfast, a staggered start to school work (not really the kids’ fault), more sibling irritation, and finally, a broken vacuum-cleaner that totally derailed the rest of the academic day. But as I was driving my 3 kids, their school work, and my broken vacuum cleaner to the repair shop (again – but that’s another story), I began to think about how few people I could actually tell about my horrible morning. I know that most of the issues I now relate will sound far-fetched and hypothetical, but it has been brewing in my subconscious for a while, so here it is.

I feel like when we decided to homeschool our kids, I signed away my rights to complain. About anything. I am no longer allowed to comment that my kids had a bad day at school. Or that I’m struggling with their schoolwork. I’m not allowed to sigh that no one was able to focus this morning (even me). Or that despite my best efforts, some of the material we covered today probably went right over my 2nd grader’s sweet head.Nope, I'm fine. Nothing to see here!


Because it is now, officially and forever, and ever amen, MY FAULT if any of these things occur.

Melodrama, much?

OK, let me explain how it works: When parents (with kids attending a traditional-style school) have a hard day with their kid’s homework, they tell other parents (in the same class or school) about their dire situation . . . then the other parents nod and agree about how difficult the work is, how they wish the teacher didn’t assign so many pages, how the tests are too frequent, and how they are frustrated about the whole system. However, now that I’ve gone ahead and ditched the system, I apparently have no one to blame but myself (or my kids?) when things go awry in our day. (I do find this assumption to be both limiting and preposterous, but there you have it.)

It’s as if there is a certain commiseration chip that no one feels compelled to employ with homeschoolers! In fact, the sentiment I find heartily expressed among the general population is that I brought this on myself and my kids with our decision to homeschool and if I don’t like it, I should go back to regular school. No matter that NO ONE would EVER suggest the opposite to a parent complaining about a day in regular school. Ever. Just saying.

This guy? He's for SURE a homeschool parent!If I sound like I’m a tad bitter, I’m really not. It’s more of a sad observation, really. I know I could simply call up one of my homeschooling buddies and share these thoughts with them, but somehow it smacks of deprivation or bias that I can’t just unload on my other friends the way we’re all accustomed to! I miss it, in a way. Not that I NEED to complain, my kids are great and typically I don’t have much to complain about, but when we have a tough moment, I miss the camaraderie.  Also,  it takes time to build up a solid network of local homeschooling peeps to turn to in the throws of this new endeavor; I had over 6 years experience in the other field. 😉

I suppose the other reason I feel more secure in keeping my mouth shut, is that I’m acutely aware of how many pairs of eyes are watching our every move. In very much a “watched piece of toast in the toaster” kind of way. Only instead of waiting for it to pop up, I feel as if all the pairs of eyes are all waiting for the toast to burn. Waiting for me throw my hands up in the air and say “OMG! What was I THINKING?? Why would ANYONE want to do THIS??” In that instant,  there would undoubtedly be throngs of people nodding their heads in agreement and commiserating with me that they had those same fears and how glad they are I’m returning to “they system” so we can all complain about THAT together again.

I should pause to note that I DO have a variety of supporters in both camps (homeschool and traditional school) who have been amazing throughout this journey and done nothing more than their absolute BEST to encourage me no matter the circumstances — and our kids’ closest friends have been amazing too.

Maybe this will silence the naysayers?

But the fact remains – my toast is not burning. The eyes grow increasingly curious as our school year evolves and I’m still not having a melt-down. So I’ll be darned if I let my “Monday” be known to the masses. Not to put on a ‘front’ or anything, but today I’m realizing why I should exercise my right to remain silent. And why there are probably many homeschool Mom’s feeling the same way.

The Grass isn’t Greener

Same grass and plenty of it!

I heard a quote recently that made me smile:

“The grass on the other side of the fence might be greener but it still has to be mowed!”

I love this! It sums up a lot of my sentiments on homeschooling and life in general, lately. In order to examine it, I think it’s important to note that we didn’t “jump ship” because the grass on our side of the fence WASN’T green. It was. It was very green and we liked it! We miss our friends from our former school a lot. I mean A WHOLE LOT. The only issue with the grass on the other side of our fence, was that our family never had any time to enjoy it.

So if anyone were to ask me, “is the grass is greener for you now?” Well, it would be a complicated answer, because in many ways we feel that it is. We have more opportunities to enjoy spending time as a family. However,  I would never want the illusion to be that homeschooling is the ‘cure for all that ails the modern family (over) schedule . . .’ because it isn’t! The grass on this side of the fence does indeed require mowing. Lots and LOTS of mowing. But the truth is, I feel like a greater number of families shy away from homeschooling because they are far more in tune with the amount of mowing required (or their perception of the mowing schedule) than they are with how green the grass is.

In some ways it’s like deciding to avoid having babies because you don’t want to change all those diapers (I know, there I go with the baby analogies again! I’ve had 3, what can I say?) –  few people would really do that!! Why? Because they see the bigger picture. They are excited about the little LIFE they could bring into the world! Diapers pale into insignificance beside that, right? But it’s still the reason I’ll spend more time blogging about the grass and less time blogging about the mowing. Just don’t lose sight of the fact that it’s as much of a surprise to me as it is to anyone else!

I may not have shied away from having babies, but I came perilously close to ignoring all my instincts and going with the grass I already knew. Sticking with the safe, green grass on my current side of the fence.  I’m happy we didn’t. I’m happy to be mowing the grass on this side of the fence for now. But it doesn’t mean I don’t occasionally look over the fence at my peeps over the there and wonder how they’re enjoying their grass.  I miss them. But we’re happy.

C'mon over! Enjoy the grass and drink my kool-aid while you're at it!

**OH, and my caveat for today is this: I realize this isn’t a “one size fits most” situation because no matter how much you like green grass or are willing to mow it, homeschooling is not a choice that everyone is able to make for reasons ranging from employment constraints to paralyzing fear of failure and everything in between. I’m just holding out the truth as we’re seeing it for the first time from this side . . .

What we’re NOT doing

Lots of people have been asking me what we’ve been doing lately and how the homeschooling is going. While I blogged a few weeks ago about how I really thought it was too soon to tell (and in some ways, it still is), I thought I’d share some things we’re NOT doing during this season of home education.

So here is my TOP 10 list, if you will . . .

Top 10 Things We’re NOT doing while Homeschooling

#10. Getting up at 6:30 am. Ever.

#9. Going to bed really, really early (like, before the sun sets). Why? Because we don’t have to. (See #10!)

#8. Carpool. (Epic)

#7. Saying NO to every extracurricular activity that comes along. Why? Because we have time now to do them! (See #9?)

#6. Writing checks for $2 – $10 every 5 minutes. Yes, it’s true! Why? Because there are NO candle sales, fundraisers, or wrapping paper catalogs involved in homeschooling.

#5. Saying NO to playing outside. Or playing in general. Playing happens here a greater % of the time than it has since probably all 3 of these kids were in diapers. I love it.

#4. “Wogging” in 100* heat. This lovely PE ritual will soon be a part of our homeschool day, but not until the temps dip into the 70’s.  Why? Because I don’t approve of heat stroke. And I said so.

#3. Building life-sized models of amphibious creatures, 3-D models of South American terrain, or writing 10 page research papers ON THE WEEKENDS. Why? Because that’s not what we want to do on weekends.

#2. Homework. All work is homework now – and yet, we’re all down with that. Why? Because it’s over before 1 pm most days!

And the number ONE thing we’re NOT doing while homeschooling is . . .

(drumroll please) . . .

#1. Missing out on LIFE because we’re too busy to enjoy it!!

To that end,  here are some of the things we’ve been busy doing instead:

Field Trip to Moundville, AL. Why?

Because Daddy had a business trip nearby and we thought it would be fun! It was.

We climbed Mound B. It was WAY better than wogging for PE!

Do not adjust your screen, this is NOT the Smithsonian. But it was fun!

Nail painting after dinner. On a school night. Why?

Because who doesn’t want lime green and silver crackle at 7:30 pm?

(Oh, and because *whispering* we’re not doing anything else . . . like homework!)

Oh yes we di'id.

Spontaneous dinner guests. On a school night. *gasp*

Playing outside around sunset and taking cool pictures of the cloud formations – while discussing what type they are and how it is NOT a funnel cloud.

Woah. Nice artwork, God! :)

“Back-to-School” Movie Night with our main peeps! Why?

Because we miss them, and we want everyone to remember that we’re just homeschooling,  and have not, in fact, relocated to Mars.

Yo, yo, the gang's all here!

I know there will be days when I blog about “the darker side of homeschooling”, but for today  I ‘m admitting that even with the emotional peaks and valleys of this journey, choosing this road less traveled by is indeed making all the difference.

P.S. For anyone new to our blog, I tag our photos – I find it more secretive and sneaky and delightful than captions. Plus I just like to make you all hover over the images. And then I know you’re really looking at them and not just scrolling past them! Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to work if you’re viewing the post on an iPad. So you’ll miss out if you use one of those. But I won’t feel badly for you, because, after-all,  you’ve got an iPad! Geesh!

Homeschooling in the Forest

We’re all familiar with the saying, “If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?”

What I’m wondering, is how many other homeschooling families feel like their lives in many ways resemble this remark? I don’t mean that I’m lonely. In fact,  I’m not currently struggling with ‘missing out’ on the hustle and bustle of being in the school parking lot by 7:25 am  (altho’ I’m missing my early-morning peeps something terrible). BUT, I have to admit, it lends a tinge of “unreality” to this whole situation knowing that no one other than my spouse and our young students will notice if I don’t roll out of bed and show up for ‘morning duty’.

The fact is, we DO get up, we finish our work, we take recess, we work some more, we eat lunch, we go to our activities – but by week 2, it’s beginning to feel a little bit like we’re actually homeschooling secret agents leading a mysterious double-life: Relatively normal mom + kids by afternoon/evening . . . Fringy, off-grid mom + unsocialized kids by day!


Agent P probably homeschools - but we'd never know . . .

The irony is, it’s not nearly that secretive! In fact, we are out and about, for errands, hair-cuts, dr. appointments, grocery store runs, trips to the gym etc., more than even I thought we would be, simply because we have the flexibility to do things when they work for US (Woah! Novel! Score one more for homeschooling! Is anyone keeping up with my tally or should I be doing that?!).

We’re also about to jump headlong into our fall activities, which will include an unprecedented line-up of swimming, dance, and soccer . . . because we can. Our afternoons and evenings are free now that we aren’t spending them doing homework. I’m grateful, but the “secret” schooling thing still has me feeling a tad metaphysical.

As it turns out, I’m probably not the best candidate for moving to one of those towns in Alaska where they film amazing documentaries about things like The Iditarod Race. (Altho, I’d say they definitely get more press than homeschooling.)   And maybe it would make a difference if I simply let someone know – “Hey! Yes, we’re here, in the forest, doing our work, I promise!”

I don’t know.

But since I don’t have a ready solution to this quandary, I’ll end by offering to anyone out there feeling the same way, gimme a heads up and I promise to take note of your trees falling!

Because it’s different . . . and that’s NOT (always) bad!

First of all, I need to address a fact that most of us are familiar with.

Kids are amazing!!

Plain and simple.

Their seemingly endless capacity to adapt to any and every new circumstance never ceases to impress me. Maybe this is made even more impressive than it otherwise would be because I’m the type of person that takes weeks to adapt to change. Even small change, like a new toothpaste flavor – and then I’m likely to be secretly planning how to return to the old flavor.

Our inside joke used to be that my motto rejecting all things new (and potentially scary) was “because it’s different . . . and that’s bad.” OK, not very funny – especially when you’re married to someone who loves change and embraces it for all it’s goodness – then again, maybe that’s why I’m like this, because after all, someone has to be the brakes of this operation, right? (I tell myself that. It makes me feel better about the toothpaste situation.)

Awww, don't they even look like they must be learning something?

Back to kids . . . they are adaptable! These past 2 weeks are living proof of that. For 2 weeks,  I have spent time working on breathing deeply, sometimes holding back the tears related to my own feelings of “what if . . .” and “why are we doing this again?” while watching my Facebook and real-life friends/family send their babies back to school. In contrast, for 2 weeks, my kids have spent time embracing our “one-room school house” for all that it is, and somehow glossing-over all that it isn’t. They have taken geography tests in their bedrooms, worked math problems on the computer, they have made nomadic cave paintings on construction paper, read about cell organelles while sitting on beanbags in the living room, and traced maps of the Nile at our kitchen table – all of it (mostly!) without complaint.

So 2 weeks are down (if I were counting, I’d say 34 to go, but I’m not feeling like that just now) . . . and at the end of these first 2 weeks I’m beginning to figure out that this journey is bound and determined to present multiple learning opportunities for me, at least as often as it will for my young “students.”

Hey look, we do ART at our school! ;)

If I’m being honest, though, the first thought that enters my head when people ask me, “So, how do you like home-schooling?”, is that I’m really not equipped to answer that question! Answering that question, either affirmatively or negatively, would be almost as ridiculous as the parent of a newborn baby answering the question, “So, how do you like being a parent?!” Really? After 48 hours of changing diapers, sleepless nights, and adorable baby spit up (didn’t want it to all sound negative!), there are no words to describe the emotional state of a new mother, and it definitely doesn’t translate to an understanding of “Parenting”! Parenting is so much more and yet it’s all related, isn’t it? The diapers, the feeding, the potty training (can I get an AMEN from anyone who’s made it through the line-up so far?), the tantrums, the finger-painting, the stain removal (there should be a class in this, no?) etc etc etc So how can anyone really discuss “Parenting” (with a capital P!) after 48 hours? I feel much the same way. Yes, I realize it isn’t the same. I can change my mind. I can send them back . . . to school, that is. But I don’t want to – at least not until I’m prepared and equipped  to answer the question. It’s a fair one, after all. I’m just not there yet.

I figure in the meantime, I’ll just enjoy the view. It’s pretty good . . . unless of course you’re whatever animal is featured in the cave paintings below – *ouch*!

Yo - these Nomad peeps know how to paint!

Well the weather outside might be frightful (depending on where you live)

Spencer: Mom, I thought it was supposed to rain today.

Mom: Well, it said “scattered” thunderstorms so maybe we just didn’t get any.

Spencer: What does scattered mean?

Mom: It means it rained somewhere else but not here.

Spencer: (in his most genuine small boy voice) Like in China?

Mom: (laughing) No.

Spencer: How about Australia? Or Peru? (not pausing for breath)

Mom: (Laughing so hard I can’t even correct him now)

Spencer: OH, I KNOW! How about our nearest neighbor, Mexico?

At least I know he’s paying attention in Spanish class.Feliz Navidad - we're not dreaming of a white Christmas.