Sunday, February 24, 2013

Big Changes

First of all, just wanted to mention that the "exciting thing" that I was talking about in the last post that I couldn't comment on just yet was the fact that we finished our basement!  Woohoo!!  And the reason why I couldn't say anything before was that Nathan had made a small bet with a friend over who was going to finish theirs first so he didn't want him finding out beforehand but now we are pretty sure he knows :)  And Nathan won :)  So anyway, that's super exciting for us because 1) we just doubled our square footage 2) we added 2 bedrooms 3) we added another bathroom 4) we have a cozy movie watching room with another fireplace and 5) we have a huge playroom with lotsa room, a trampoline, etc for the kids to go crazy in!....and not to mention a place where I can demand the kids go now!  While the basement was getting finished, ALL their junk was upstairs gettin' tripped over and ate by Jaeger and shoved in our already too tiny garage, making for a mess EVERYWHERE.  I can't even explain how nice it is for everything to be in it's place once again....ahhhhh. :)  And it only took us 4 weeks.  Everyone we talked to about it (contractors, etc) said at least 6-8 weeks and even our main worker was surprised that we finished that soon. My first contracting job and I finished under time. Nice.

Ok, so onto the other big change!!!....We have decided to put the 2 older boys in school for the remainder of the school year!!!  This has been an ongoing thought for us for a l.o.n.g. years.  But this year we got really serious about it since we are "back" and not on the road.  This decision has been on my mind day and night, everyday, haunting me until we finally made up our minds.  I (we) felt like we couldn't go either way....the thought of sending my kids to school made me sick but the thought of homeschooling them (esp right now) made me just as sick.  I felt trapped, like I was stuck between a rock and a hard place.  I didn't like either choice.  I've always (ok, always as in like once we had kids) thought I was going to be a homeschooling mom, forever and always, no matter what.   Everyone has bad days, I get that, but this was more. 

Tiernan has always been a people person.  LOVES people, loves big groups, loves chaos, loves activity.  We've thought from the beginning if he would end up needing something other than us during his days.  As this year went on, him and I...who happen to have a lot of the same personality...started to butt heads.  He didn't want to learn from me and frankly, I didn't want to teach him.  I wasn't going to fight him everyday to get some school work done, with him in tears and both of us yelling and frustrated just for the sake of "homeschool".  And honestly, I was starting to not like being around my kids because I knew eventually the attitudes about school would start and I knew that something needed to change.

My mom still teaches my kids once a week and for that they will all sit (for the most part) for a good 3 hours and listen to instruction and do whatever my mom has planned for the lessons that week. At church, he (they) goes to sunday school and to a program called RAD every wednesday where they are instructed by a teacher. Not one problem.  He would learn from anyone but me.  Now, that only goes for school-type work.  Instruction on sports, games, legos, etc we have no problem with.  We have fun together in those areas but at some point the kids have to actually sit down and read and write and that's where the problem lies.

It was so hard for us (well, me esp) to make this decision because I had thought that I was a homeschool mom.  I had visions of being the coolest mom, going on all these cool trips, doing all these neat activites and crafts....and then I had kids....and several of them.  And I began to realize that I am not an elementary school teacher.  Some people are blessed with that gift and love for teaching reading, I was not.  And that's okay.

I was told once that there are 2 types of homeschoolers: ones who want to homeschool their kids and ones who think they have to.  After MUCH prayer and processing all of these battles going on in my head, I began to realize that I was homeschooling because I felt like I had to instead of because I have an absolute love for it.  Of course in a perfect world, I would love to be able to have everything organized and have 72 hours in my one day to get everything accomplished and babies who don't need to be fed the same time as the math lesson is going on, etc, but my reality right now isn't that.  And for now, I'm okay with that.  I know that my children can still thrive and learn to love the Lord, even if they aren't under my wing 24/7.  We will not stop parenting just because the kids are in school.

Could it change later? Absolutely! Could we end up homeschooling later? Absolutely!  Could we end up homeschooling some kids while sending others to school? Absolutely!  I think each family needs to evaluate what is best for their child and their situation and go with that.  Not focusing on what others are doing or that each kid has to fit the mold of the other just because we had some silly notion in our heads that we were going to do something.  Do I feel a little anxious about what some of my homeschooling friends will think or say?  Yes.  But I hope they can understand and know we are doing what we feel is best for our family at this time.

And where are they going, you ask?  Well, that was another thing we debated back and forth about and what made this decision so hard (until I actually found the school that they will be attending).  We knew we didn't want to throw them into the big public school who's district we are in because it's huge.  Class sizes are big and I didn't want my kids being lost in the crowds, plus we weren't exactly sold on public schools yet.  But on the other hand, the private schools around our area aren't exactly cheap, esp for the size of family we have.  Once you figure sending 3, 4, 5, kids to one of the major private schools here, yikes, that's big bucks...and for elementary school?...didn't really wanna go there.  So what gives? 

Well, one day I had remembered that I swam with a girl in high school that had gone to this school in her younger years.  I had no idea if it was still open or whatever so I did some searching.  Yep, it was!  I called it up and that same week they were having an open house.  The boys and I went to the open house where they got to spend time in the classroom and immediately it felt like home.  It teaches k-8th grade and it's super small....ONLY 15 students in the WHOLE school!  There are only 2 classrooms, k-3 in one class and 4-8th in the other.  So the teacher kind of acts like a homeschool parent would in the fact that they are teaching mulitple grade levels but the students are all integraded.  I loved it.  The boys will still be in the same classroom and only with about 7 other kids.  The whole school eats lunch together and outside play ends up being like one big family where the older kids always include the younger kids in whatever they are doing (sledding, etc).  Younger siblings are invited on field trips, where the parents drive.  It really does feel like just one little step up from homeschooling and that is what is so nice about it.  It's a private christian school so my kids will still have our faith intertwined in what they are learning, which is important to us, but tuition is much more affordable than other local private schools.

We will be able to test it out for the next 3 months of the school year and then re-evaluate over the summer, but for now we are excited!  And I feel weight lifted because we made a decision.  Life sometimes ends up a little different that we think it's going to go.  But I'm learning to trust God, and I'm okay with that.