Monday, January 30, 2012

Problem Solved

I couldn't decide if I should call this post "big problem, small solution" or "small problem, big solution."  So I just went with "Problem Solved!"

I woke up one morning last week to find this in the kitchen: 

I guess Jim got tired of listening to me grumble about how cups are continuously scattered over every surface of the kitchen, and he came up with this for us to try.  It's working beautifully!

After me sending him a thank you, you are a genius, you should market this, text.  He did a little digging and found this on Etsy.  Shucks, cuter than neon green post-its.  Oh well, post-its are practically free, and do the job.  I also like the place holders on the backsplash better, rather than on the counter directly.  The cups are little more out of the way, and less likely to get knocked over.  Of course this only works if your kids are big enough to reach the back of the counter.  Either way, the idea is the point.  It has cut down tremendously on the counter clutter, and freed up valuable dishwasher space.

A big thank you to my smart hubby for this, and for caring about the little things that make my day go more smoothly. 

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Lemon Bars

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Just Keep Swimming....

....just keep swimming...

Our new family motto for so many reasons.  We are back to school routine, and it feels good.  I wouldn't say any of us are totally energized and ready to tackle something huge, but we are plugging along.

Marney had a swim meet this past weekend.  She had fun and swam really well.  We wanted to share some video with Grandmas and Grandpas who were not able to watch her in person.

Double checking her schedule.

Keep up the hard work Marney, it's paying off!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Crash and Burn

I can't do it.  I can't let them go.  The girls are staying home, where they belong.

Yesterday will forever go down in our family history as the day Marney went to school and taught her class about Venn diagrams.  Then came home to stay.

Over the weekend while I was cleaning and purging the school room and the girls desks, I was reminded of how much we really have done, how much they really have learned.  More importantly, I was flooded with memories of the wonderful moments we have shared together through home schooling.  I was reminded how much I love seeing their faces light up at something new they had learned.

Although Jim and I have worked hard to Fireproof our marriage, we paid no attention to burnout proofing our home school.  Some early plea's for help went unnoticed by both of us.  The effects of the events of the last 8 months finally piled up too high.  I couldn't take the load any longer.  I crashed.  Something had to change.  I thought the answer was to send them to school.  That they we would be better of  there, where the qualified teachers are.  Not stuck at home with their obviously crazy Mother!

But crazy as I may be, no one loves my kids like I do.  No one else knows them like I do.  No one cares about their future like I do. 

Having their hearts is more important than getting them to Harvard.  

Ivy League has never been our goal, but I do want the world to be our children's oyster.  I want them to be able to do what ever it is that God calls them to do.  I don't want lack of education to be an obstacle that they have to overcome.  

State testing is coming up soon, my kids have not been tested since leaving public school.  Will they measure up?  Fear and doubt crept in so slowly, I didn't see it until it was too late.  


Eight months ago, Jim called me on his way home from work.  Through tears, he told me that he had been let go from his job.  He was devastated.  I was stunned.  First of all, he never cry's, second, those were words I never thought I would hear from my husband.  That happens to other people.   My husband is a hard worker, always going above and beyond at his job.  He truly enjoys working.  I pray for him daily.  I thought this was enough to keep him safe.  I was arrogant.

The job hunt and the financial worries that followed were very difficult.  

But the decision to move far away from everything we knew and kept us safe was even more gut wrenching.    

The move went smoothly, thank goodness, and the kids transitioned nicely.  

I was busy trying to get the house settled, keep the kids busy and happy, (and probably myself  too) so that no one would have time to be homesick.  To fill the hole in our hearts that was created when we left.  What I didn't do was take time off to let every one take a breath, heal, and get used to the idea of our new normal.  

I should have taken some time to just let things be.  Instead fear and doubt drove me to continue along as if nothing had happened.  To demand our old schedule from the kids and I.   They must keep up with their studies!  That little voice kept reminding me.  I was trying to keep all the balls in the air, to not let anything drop. 

I wasn't taking care of myself.  I didn't aknowledge everything I had lost, my family, our home, a job I loved.  I didn't give my self time and permission to grieve those losses.  I had to be strong.

Then came the holidays we had company, we traveled.  We were busy again and off our schedule.  

Then we all had the flu, of course we did!  We were exhausted. 

All of this created a perfect storm, a recipe for disaster, the perfect formula to create burnout.  I crashed and burned hard.

After lots of tears, and soul searching, I'm in a better place.  I'm reminded of what our priorities are.  I'm ready to finish this year with enthusiasm.


So what's our plan moving forward?

I have to stop thinking about what we are not or should be doing, and start concentrating on what we are doing.  What is going well, and how can we change the things that are not.

We need to remind each other daily of the big picture.  That our success may not come in the form of a big grand finish, but in the little every day victories along the way.

I need to exercise regularly, take my vitamins, and take a break every now and then.  While I doubt I'll get the weekend in Tahiti I've been hoping for, I can take time away in some (budget friendly) form or fashion.

We also sat down to tweak our schedule, what's working, what's not.  I think this one will be better.

I started reading some wonderful books about Homeschool burnout, and imperfect homeschooling, they are helping!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

My Girls

Three and a half years ago we scooped our girls out of school, and became a home school family.  It was a radical change, but one I can easily say was the best thing we ever did for them, and our family.  Madeline was a struggling reader, falling farther and farther behind.  Marney was plugging along just fine.  We decided to try it for one year, and before we knew it, three and a half years had past.  We went into things with an open mind, and a year-at-time attitude.  As long as it was still working for everyone, we would continue.

After the dust settled on our move, I came to realize it just wasn't working anymore.  I don't know if it's because we are dealing with homesickness, been under too much stress for too long, or the culture shock and isolation of being new in town, but there it was.

I hoped things would be better after Christmas break.  It wasn't the kids, it wasn't anything anyone did, my heart is just not in it anymore.   I feel like I'm giving up, I'm disappointed in myself in so many ways.  I wish I could make it work.  I wish we could be one of "those" homeschool families who do.   I'm guilty of comparing my family's bad days to others glory days that are portrayed on so many home school blogs.  Maybe that set us up to fail, my expectations were too high.  In reality, we are just a wonderful "our kind" of family.  Imperfect in so many ways.  Doing what is best for us.

The decision was made, and they will start at the local public schools this month.  The girls took the news with maturity and grace, much better than I expected.  They are excited!  This was another one of those parenting decisions that is harder on us than it is on them.  I didn't expect to be the only one crying and agonizing over this for days.  It kind of reminded me of the days of taking away pacifiers, potty training, or making them sleep in their own beds.  Deciding to finally bite the bullet is so hard on Mommy, and the process can be tough on everyone.  But when all is said and done, little someone comes away proud of her accomplishment, more confident, and on her way to becoming a big girl.

The boys will continue to spend their days with me, they need a little more time to marinate in home.

Best buddies.

Learning together always.

Our first day of Home School 2008

We had many great moments, memories locked in my mind forever.

I'll miss moments like these...

But something tells me with Marney around, we'll still have plenty of moments like this...

(fake finger nails on your toe nails type moments)

They are growing, changing.

These butterflies are ready to spread their wings, and fly.