transitions

transitions

This fall is going to be a huge year of transition for our family. Three out of four of our kids will be entering one of those milestone years in the school system. Our oldest son is going to high school. Our oldest daughter is going into junior high. And our youngest is going to kindergarten.

I’m trying very hard to remain calm.

We know for sure that the two boys will be going to public school next year. The private school the kids attend only goes up to eighth grade. Our second son made the leap to public school in the fall, so he will be staying there for seventh grade. We are praying about what to do with the girls.

On Tuesday, our fifth grader got to go check out the junior high her brother attends during a “Step Up” day for incoming sixth graders. If you know our daughter, then you know she thought is was cool and awesome and exciting!

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Last night, the school had a similar event for parents. After last year’s craziness of registering our son a day before school started (he actually wasn’t even allowed to go on the first day), I wanted to make sure I was completely prepared this year by soaking in all of the available info. Surprisingly enough, I was kind of bored at the Step Up night and even left a bit early.

After having a son in the school this year, I felt like I already knew all of the info they were explaining. After all we’ve been through with private school, then home school, then private school again, I was pretty proud of myself. When other parents were asking questions, I wanted to raise my hand and give the answers. 🙂

Overall, I’m amazed at how much peace I have about the big transitions coming this fall. I wish I could slow down time. I’m not ready to send my bookend kids to HIGH SCHOOL and KINDERGARTEN!! And I can’t believe the two middles will be in junior high. But I also know all four of them are ready. Whatever path we choose for the girls, we know it will include challenges. If there’s one thing we have learned from our crazy schooling journey, it’s that no choice is perfect. … And you can always change your mind.

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How about you? Do you have any big decisions to make about the fall?

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Going baaaaaack!

Going baaaaaack!

I didn’t even realize it until a friend clued me in, but Monday was a big day for us.

It was the day we could find out which teachers our kids got for the school year. Even after she told me, I didn’t bother to rush over to the school to find my children’s names on the class lists. I wouldn’t know if it was good news or bad news.

Instead, my friend messaged me with the names of our teachers. I got a big lump in my throat when I heard the news. It really didn’t make a difference WHAT the names were. I was just so happy that they HAVE teachers. That’s right. They have actual certified, bonafide, living, breathing teachers. And NOT ONE of the teachers is ME.

If you are new here or you haven’t stopped by in a while, let me just catch you up with the news: I resigned from home schooling.

I’m a home school drop out.

Back in January, I finally faced up to the fact that it was not possible for me to continue trying to educate my own children AND work a part-time job. Something had to go.

We prayed and researched and made lists and spreadsheets. We considered every option. Public school, private school, co-ops. A mixture of those. I assumed that I would probably end up home schooling again, so we starting doing our best to live on only my husband’s income.

At the same time, we were challenged to dramatically increase our giving to our church. So, for the past six months or so, we really have been changing our habits and changing our view on having money. (This is the subject of another blog post, but I just wanted to mention it quickly here.)

To say I was feeling burn out about home schooling would be quite the understatement. I know what burn out feels like. And I know that getting away for a few days or taking a summer break can revive me. But I had dug down deep into the innermost part of my being and I could not find one drop of creativity, excitement or energy for home schooling. It was all gone.

The hard part for me is that educating my own children is very far outside of what comes naturally to me. It takes me about three times more energy to do it than it does to do the things that I love. Many people ask me what’s hard about it, and I always try to explain it the same way.

I LOVE the “home” part of home schooling. I love having my kids with me everyday. I love the freedom. I love the lifestyle. I love the field trips and the community. I love our home schooling friends.

It’s the “school” that’s hard. (Yes, this is meant to be a little sarcastic.) It’s getting up every morning and being organized and finding the discipline to do school with three children in three grades while also being a mommy to a toddler. I’ve heard of other people who say they can get through school in a few hours. For us, especially as the kids got older, we were consistently starting earlier than the public school kids and still working when the school bus pulled around the corner in the afternoon. Add in a part-time job, a house that’s a mess, dinners that need to be planned and mountains of laundry, and it completely overwhelms me.

I’m on e-mail lists and Facebook pages, and I subscribe to blogs with tips and info about home schooling. And each time I read one of those, I would end up feeling more overwhelmed. I would delete the e-mails without even opening them because I just couldn’t handle one more conversation about curriculum or one more fabulous tip about getting organized. I would avoid the huge home schooling conference that should be such a source of encouragement because it would leave me feeling exhausted at the thought of all that I should be doing.

While other moms seemed to choose their curriculum with excitement, I would dread the decision and put it off until the week before we started school.

It could be my personality. I know it would be different if I had one child or two, rather than four. I know that I set standards that are very high, and it’s sometimes impossible to live up to them. But it’s equally difficult for me to do something at a lower standard and feel at peace that I’m doing well.

Once my husband and I agreed that something had to go, it made it much easier to make the choice. At some point in the process, we ruled out sending our oldest son to public school for the first time in his life in sixth grade. We also ruled out several private schools because it was not be possible financially. We looked at a private, Christian school that is near us that we had looked at several years ago. For some reason, I knew that school wasn’t the right choice for us when we looked at it then. This time, we all had a very positive experience.

We went back a week later so the kids could sit in the classrooms. We only planned to stay for the morning, but the kids begged to stay for lunch and recess. “You can go home and pick us up at the end of the day,” one of them suggested.

One big positive about this school is that its multiple child discount was far better than any of the others we had considered. When we did the math, we realized that instead of quitting my job, (which I LOVE), to home school, (which exhausts me), it made more sense to just give my paycheck to the school. 🙂 It would be the same difference either way.

So, we filled out the paperwork in May. But I wondered if we would think differently when the time was REALLY here. Would we all regret this decision?

We’ve already had to do lots this summer to get ready for the school year. We bought uniforms. (YAY!! I LOVE uniforms!) We bought the school supplies we were told to buy (rather than roaming the aisles getting all the cool markers and crayons that WE wanted to buy!). We have studied the hot lunch menu 100 times with eager anticipation! We even paid tuition. And now, with one week left, we found out the teachers’ names.

I worried that I might be feeling dread as we did all of these things. Instead, with each step closer we get to the school year, we all feel more and more excited. Our daughter absolutely can’t wait. I’m sure the transition will be hardest for the sixth grader. But even he is ready for the change.

I know that the toddler and I are going to be lost on Aug. 23 after we drop them all off. Figuring out how to organize our day is going to be one of the hard parts. I have absolutely loved having the kids home the last three years when she was born and allowing them to see her each day as a baby and toddler.

But I think even we are ready. It will be good to be able to really spend time with her, rather than seeing her as a distraction to the others who are trying to complete their assignments.

It won’t be long until those names we received on Monday will be a big part of our daily lives. We can’t wait!

 

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I can’t think of a title for this post

I can’t think of a title for this post

Was it seriously just ONE week ago that I wrote a blog post mourning the fact that summer is half over? How could my mood have changed so dramatically in just SEVEN days?

Before I go on, let’s get one thing straight. I love summer. I love spending time with my kids. I love the lack of schedule. I love long days and hot weather and running around!

But I’m having these moments when I’m really looking forward to the start of school. Wait! What? Wash my mouth out with vinegar!

It’s just getting harder and harder to keep everything in balance. We’ve finally reached this point in life in which the pre-teen doesn’t want to do little kid stuff anymore. The toddler loves to do little kid stuff.

The boys have developed very diverse interests. One is obsessed with sports. The other loves making movies, drawing and creating things with Lego.

The girls are five years apart. As hard as they try, a toddler and a 7-year-old, who is going on 14, are not always going to agree on what would be the best way to spend a day. The two middle children are always, always, always driving each other crazy. Of the three older kids, one is extremely relational and can make a new best friend anywhere we go. Another child is a homebody and wants to stay home every. single. day. The third is just easy going and can adapt to almost any situation.

As the mom, it still seems to fall on me to come up with ways for us to spend our days. I try to keep structure by giving them chores, worksheets and reading assignments in the morning. I try to balance a few outings each week with playdates and time at home just doing nothing. I try to work it all around a 2-year-old’s nap schedule.

But I can’t make everyone happy.

We’ve had a really low-key week this week. I had to get caught up on a lot of stuff for my job, so I haven’t had time to schedule and arrange and plan stuff to do. This morning, I suggested that we either drive an hour one way to a really cool state park or an hour the other way to a beach. I didn’t have time to find friends who might want to go with us, so everyone voted to go to the local pool where we have been 100 times before! (Get over your first world problem, right?!)

The hubs won’t be home until later than usual so I suggested we take our dinner and go to a nice forest preserve to eat. “Do we have to?” one moaned. (Again, tough problem. Boo hoo.)

I’m kind of glad that I’m starting to have this second half of summer mood shift. I’m sure that in four or five more weeks I’ll be ready for school to begin! After three years of home schooling, it’s going to be a dramatic change for us. In the past, I dreaded the start of school because of the added pressure that I was the teacher! As we get closer to the first day of school, I find myself feeling more and more relieved at the choice that we made.

I’m ready for everyone to go off in the mornings to their own classrooms with their own friends. I’m ready for them to do their thing during the day while the toddler and I do toddler stuff. People keep asking me what I’ll do with myself all day long. If this were my firstborn, I don’t think anyone would ask that!!

I’m really looking forward to signing her up for some classes at the park district and having time to maybe go to the grocery store (gasp!), schedule a play date for HER (what?!?), or go to a morning Bible study with other moms (really?!?). Whoa.

So, this is one of those blog posts where I’m just hoping someone can relate. I probably sound as whiny as my children right now. Is anyone else out there in radio land able to relate just a tiny bit?

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Kickball game

Since school is out, we decided to invite a bunch of our friends over for a game of kickball! It was one sport that we figured everyone would be able to play.

It turned out to be a real nail-biter. The Nationals were up 12-6 at one point, but the Super Sonics game back and almost took the title. In the end, it was the Nationals 15-13.

 

I haven’t moved these photos over yet! You can view them on my old photo page.

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Sky high

 
 Today we joined a bunch of home school friends at an indoor trampoline place. The kids had a ton of fun! They had big spaces full of trampolines. Even the walls were trampolines.
The boys spent the entire time on the dodge ball court.
Alayna loved jumping in the foam pit.
Even Jayda got in on the fun. She has stopped complaining about her broken arm. After six days of being cooped up in the house, she was begging to go somewhere today. She only lasted about 30 minutes on the trampoline, but at least she was happy and smiling for a while!

aug2011emily

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