Thursday, November 12, 2015


I don't know about you, but time is flying for us. November is nearly half over already, and I'm still stuck in October.  So where are we now? We're in week 14 of school. We've got a contract on a beautiful house. Everyday I pull up the pictures and redecorate it in my head.  This is what Pinterest was made for, friends. I've imagined 5 different counter top options, light fixtures, paint color schemes, DIY kitchen islands with tile, copper, slate, or butcher block on top. I've pinned landscaping ideas including plans for an "easy diy weekend pergola". Jon is worried. I can't blame him for that.

Otherwise, we've continued on with our busy-ness. At least one kid has an activity on Monday, Tuesday, or Thursday evening. Church is Sunday. Our homeschool group is Tuesday. I've kept everything under control well enough (understand that I have a lower standard of "well enough" that most), and kept that balance between too much spare time and simply too much. The only trouble is that the house buying has tipped me towards too much. Everything else is a rhythm, but buying a house is not a rhythm. It's all nothing, nothing, nothing, DO THIS THING RIGHT NOW, nothing, nothing, SIGN THIS PAPER ASAP, nothing, nothing, nothing, OH NO! WE MIGHT HAVE A PROBLEM! Nope, nevermind. Everything is fine. More nothing, more SIGN NOW!!! 

The good thing with this process is two-fold. First and most obvious, I will end up with a beautiful house that I LOVE; a house that surprises me every time I look at its picture because it's so much more than I ever allowed myself to imagine for myself. Second, I've finally learned what my threshold is for commitments. A few years ago, I had too many. Then I went to almost nothing, and I've been slowly adding things one by one until the house pushed me the tiniest bit over the edge.

I don't know how other moms do so much. Actually, I do. That's why they're losing their minds. I've finally come to terms with the knowledge that I can do school, some cooking, some cleaning, tutoring, church, and chauffeur my kids to a limited number of activities. Everyone is asking for volunteers, but I just can't. I'm not the uninvolved mom. I'm the "No. I'm not going to be guilted into overloading myself" mom. I've reached my quota. If anyone needs more than baked goods from me at this point, the answer is no. It's very freeing actually. I'm not the slacker mom, but I will be the zen mom that is available for last minute coffee and phone calls. =)

And that's it. Things are very happy and calm here. I can't even believe I can say that, but I do. Be warned that the next few months are going to be full of DIY projects. =)

Monday, October 19, 2015

Houses and hurdles

We've been busy. What else can I say? It's been 2 months since I've written anything worth sharing. We've been busy. First and foremost, we've been doing school. We're on week 11. My planning notebook clearly shows the downward slide in the last few weeks which means it's about time we kick things back into high gear to get as much done as possible by Thanksgiving. School gets really spotty between Thanksgiving and New Years. Any homeschooler that denies this is lying to you.

We went to Maine. It was beautiful. Instead of  spending 6 days in hotels, we were able to stay with friends most of the time instead which was great. It's much better to spend time with friends than in an anonymous hotel room. It's a gift that I hope to be able to give to other people one day which brings me to our biggest news...

We're in the process of buying a house! Just writing that sentence was hard. This is a decision that has brought me great joy and anxiety in the last few weeks. I had joy when I was thinking about the prospect of buying a house. Now that I have to actually do house buying things, I'm surprisingly anxious about the entire process. The what-if questions are killing me. What if Jon has to be transferred soon, and I have to turn around and sell the house? What if we can't find the right house? What if we're settling in a life that isn't the life we really want to have? I can't say that I feel like I'm ready to settle here. It's much more of a choice. We are choosing to settle here. I know we're tired of moving. I know that this is where Jon has a job. I know the kids are sooo over the moving, and I'm pretty sure they'll seek emancipation if we try to relocate again. So...we are buying a house. 

If I'm going to buy a house, it's going to to be to the glory of God or there's no point. I want a house that we can host people in. I want all the people that have invited us into their homes to be able to stay in our home for a change. I want to be the person that has an extra room for people that need a resting place when life gets a little bumpier than they expected. That's all. A house big enough for us and others. =) Nothing huge, nothing ostentatious. I don't need granite counters although I would not be disappointed if they happened to be in our future house. I am hopeful that God will provide the exact house we need at the appropriate time.

I think the house search has dredged up some fears from last year, namely, that our lives will blow up again like it did last fall. Nobody knows when their life is going to blow up. That's kind of the point. You're going along being you and doing all the things you usually do when BAM! Your husband loses his job. Or someone dies. Or hurtful secrets come to light. Cancer. Whatever it is, we all know there's a metaphorical bomb buried in the road just waiting to blow up our lives in some way. I'd be lying if I said I didn't have some comfort in the thought that if something huge came along, we could easily pick up and run away from the disaster.  Buying a house means I'm choosing to be attached to something else in my life. After being very selective in my attachments over the last few years, this is the hardest hurdle for me to jump.

But...I'm jumping it. We're buying a house. Probably. Unless something else happens. But almost definitely. As you can see, I've developed a bit of a commitment phobia. I'm praying about that. =)

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Starting yet another school year.

The last month has been...weird. After nearly 2 weeks of some serious fatigue and even weirder breathing issues that had me in bed most of the time, the doctor has brilliantly (ahem, sarcasm alert) decided that I need to take a few extra vitamins and use an inhaler for a few weeks. Yes, vitamins. My problem is not really vitamins, but whatever. The random fatigue thing is gone to once again hit me another day.  Unfortunately, those were supposed to be my two weeks of obsessive housecleaning, menu planning, and freezer cooking to get me fully prepared to start our 2015/2016 school year. Sigh. I had such beautiful plans.

For my non-homeschooling friends, this is how the school year starts every year. No, not with weird health symptoms that come and go, but with something that wrecks my sparkly, shiny dreams of getting ALL of our schoolwork done, the house cleaned, and healthy, home cooked meals every day. It's not a realistic dream. It's just not. Still, every year I hope that THIS will be the year that it all gets done well and on the same day most of the time. Realistically, there will be exactly one day this year where the stars align into the perfect day. It's good that my dream get smashed early before I have time to actually start to believe this particular one is possible for me. =)

So where does that leave us now? Well, we've finished two weeks of school (only 34 more to go!). Tommy has started his Challenge B class with Classical Conversations. He's started algebra *gulp*. Algebra along with formal logic, Latin, and the other normal 8th grade subjects. Charlotte started 4th grade on Homeschool Lite until her CC group starts on Tuesday. Matthew is 5. I'll probably teach him to read this year. In general, school takes a lot more time than it used to, and I'm a little resentful of that. I miss the days of packing up and going to the park in the morning with our friends for "Physical Education".  I'm sure that will happen occasionally, but Algebra and frequent last minute park days simply aren't compatible.

We've eaten out more in the last few weeks. We've had more pasta with jarred sauce for dinner than I'd care to admit. Laundry? Honestly, it's been a few weeks since I've done that. Jon and the kids have taken that completely over for which I am very appreciative. If you see me in a t-shirt though, it's because Jon doesn't do my laundry quite as often as I'd like it done. I'm not complaining because, like I said, I haven't really done laundry in about a month. 

And that's it I suppose.  We've officially started another school year. I take homeschooling one year at a time. If it ever really doesn't work for us anymore or Jon decides he can't do anymore laundry, I suppose  we'll stop and do something else. Like finally hire the personal staff I've always wanted. ;)

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Homeschool Planning Weekend 2015

I just finished my 4th Homeschool Planning Weekend, and it was hands down the most effective weekend yet. I think that's mostly because I was half a state away from my kids. They were not taking up any brain space so I was able to completely focus on my school work. My kids are not so little any more, and my husband was able to take a day off of work to watch them so I could do what I needed to do. He's awesome. =)

I am not one of those people that does well chipping away at a giant project for 15 minutes a day for months at a time. I'm naturally a project person, not a maintainer.  Give me a weekend of uninterrupted time, and I will get my head wrapped around teaching formal logic, literature, latin, science, and history to three kids ranging from Kindergarten to 8th grade. Give me 2 months of 15 minute moments every day, and I'll get almost nothing done. And you know what? Homeschooling is no joke. Did you read those subjects I'm covering? LATIN? LOGIC? Seriously. Subjects for 3 different kids on 3 different grade levels. Do you think that's easy? Because it's not.

So this is how my friend and I do this. First,  make a friend do this with you. You need to do this with a friend. Not only does this give you a dinner companion, but you will automatically get more done. She's like your workout buddy. It's harder to put down the logic books and take a nap when your friend is busily typing her assignment sheets right next to you. Second, go to a hotel. It might sound silly or extravagant, but it's not. You won't get interruptions, breakfast is ready for you in the morning, and you don't have to clean anything. All you can do is work.  Next, use gift cards and hotel points if you have them. I had hotel points that allowed us to stay at a better hotel for less money. My friend had an Olive Garden gift card. We are a match made in heaven. =)

And that's it. My family is still trying soooo hard to stay on an all cash budget, so I drove my husband's car with much better gas mileage to our hotel that was just over 2 hours away. My husband's paid for car that's less than 2000 miles away from joining the 200,000 Miles Club. The car that has no radio and no AC. In July. In South Carolina. And I would do it again in a heartbeat because Homeschool Planning Weekend is that important!

And that's all. I really wrote all this out so I could humble brag about driving the car with no AC in the middle of summer in SC. It was a long setup. =)

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Dumont Summer 2015

 What can I say? It's summer. We've been busy. I have tried my very best to be the fun mom for at least month. I've had no updates for the last couple of months because I've been trying to stay away from anything remotely emotionally or mentally difficult. Since that was a real life impossibility, I at least refused to write about it.  Some people would call this putting up a front. I choose to call it keeping everything below the surface of my life private. =)

So what have we been up to for the last month and a half ? I'm so glad you asked. We have gone to the pool a lot. So much that the kids don't even get that excited about the pool anymore. They're spoiled. We've gone to the waterpark. We've had friends over. We've kept a friend at our house for nearly 3 weeks while said friend's parents went on an envy-worthy European river cruise. We've had a lot of ice cream in various forms: homemade by me, homemade by other people, milkshakes, ice cream cones, with chocolate chips, from the store (which reminds me that I haven't had any Good Humor Strawberry Shortcake bars in weeks. I need to remedy that). We've had too many desserts in general. The kids played lots of video games. Seriously. An obscene amount of video games and netflix. Most of you would judge me if you knew how much I let them get away with. We also signed up for summer reading programs to balance it out. We went to a few movies. Jurassic World was AMAAAAZING.

How does one follow up weeks of Charleston fun?!?  By sending the kids away, of course! Tommy went to his friend's house in Greenville for the week. He probably doesn't want to come  home. Charlotte and Matthew went to our other friends' house in Raleigh. I'll stop right here. I know a lot of people don't do the sleepover thing and are probably aghast that we would send our kids to other people's houses. And to that, I say my husband and I had the most fantastic few days alone. ALONE. We did whatever we wanted. We were people, not mom and dad. It was quiet. We didn't even turn on the radio in the car. The silence was glorious. The kids were happy and safe with people that are like our second family. These kids of ours will only be here a short time, but Jon is stuck with me for life so it's a relationship worth investing in. And that's all I'll say about that.

Finally, the only other thing going on is very boring and has generally cramped my style. We've switched to using all cash. No debit cards. It hurts. We've tried this many times before, but I'd still use my debit card for gas because my kids were too small to leave in the car. And it's a hassle (a first world hassle). It ruined me every time. I'd lose track with how much I'd spent on gas and after a couple of weeks it was too easy to pull that magical card out and swipe it for other things too.  But now my kids are big. My youngest is 5 and my oldest is almost 13. So I've switched to paying cash at the gas station too. I have a love/hate relationship with this all cash concept. I love that I feel like I have more control over what I'm spending. I wasn't a frivolous spender before in most things, but it's certainly been an eye opening experience. We've had to say no to things that we would not have said no to before. We've totally blown it a few times because we both underestimated how much certain things would cost. Still, it's a good change.

So that's it. It's only July, but our summer of fun is already about to come to an end. This week I will finally let myself think about school starting back. I will start planning, and I'll finish buying the books we need. I will watch hours of dvds on writing and logic. I'll start studying Latin so that I'm ready for the fall. Sigh.  It was fun while it lasted. 

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Matthew on nudity, female anatomy, and death.

Because I have a boy, I have to say these kinds of things....

On nudity...
Matthew: "MOM! Can I get dressed on the patio?"
Me: "The patio that faces the entrance to our apartment community? No. No son, you cannot change there."
Matthew: "Why not? It's the patio!"

On female anatomy...

Matthew: *gives me a big hug then starts poking my boob* "Mom, can this pop?"
Me: "Um, no. It can't pop."
Matthew: "It feels like it could pop. Are you sure it won't pop?"
Me: "Yep, I'm sure. It definitely won't pop. Now please stop poking."

On Death...
Matthew: "Have you ever almost died from a whale shark?"

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Homeschooling 2014/2015

I made it! I made it to the unofficial end of our school year. Yes, we'll still be doing math and grammar and other basic stuff, but it's Dumont Academy Lite for the next few months. I've never been in this position before. Never. I usually claw myself to the end of May until my will to continue has completely and totally shriveled up and died. But not this year! I've been so happy today. Giddy even. Me. I was giddy.  In spite of all the life that happened to us this year, here I am. The middle of April. Doing some light school because we FINISHED most of our subjects. You can't see it, but I'm doing a really ugly happy dance right now.

And how did we manage this feat in our family? I must admit it's because my resolve crumbled, and I rejoined Classical Conversations. That's it. I can't deny it or take too much credit. Homeschoolers can hate on it as much as they want, but it saved our year.  I will never be a CC Kool-aid drinker. There are things about it that I will never like (ahem...TIN WHISTLE, I'm staring you down hard).  Christian businesses always make me nervous. And I do not in any way, shape,or form think that CC is the only way to do things. But it's worked for us. I can actually feel really good about our year instead of feeling defeated because I didn't meet every goal or check every box.

So I'm sharing what we did this year and what I learned in case anyone cares...or even if you don't care. I just want to write it down to see it one place. =)
  1. We did CC as our curriculum. For Foundations, we did the memory work, read books from my collection or the library on the weekly topics, did copywork or coloring sheets from our books or memory work, did field trips relevant to our studies (science museums, history museums, art museums, etc), watched movies/doctumentaries/animated TV shows that were relevant to our topics. That was it for history and science. was enough. Part of me still wants to pull out one of my Apologia sciences for next year, but it would be extra. It's taken me years to feel okay with knowing that this is really enough.
  2. I learned that I have one kid with lots of natural ability but needs someone pushing pushing pushing to make him do everything.  I also learned that I have a kid that has to work a little harder at things, but she's the one that sets her eyes on a prize and works until she gets what she wants. Her persistence is kind of scary. I already knew these things, but it especially stood out this year.
  3. I still don't care if my 5 year learns anything in class. He's 5. I'll care more in 1st grade. Probably.
  4. Challenge A (7th grade for us)...I admit, I had no idea what I was doing. If I could do the year over again, I would do so many things differently. I didn't get how much memorization was still involved with Challenge A. I wish I had joined the online CC site for Challenge because I think it would have given me a better idea of how to help my son. I spent way too much time trying to understand Lost Tools of Writing. Actually, I didn't spend nearly enough time trying to understand LTW, but I wish I would have realized much earlier that I could teach the writing concepts my own way. LTW in Challenge isn't my favorite. It just isn't. But my son can write a paper because I know how to write, and I can teach him what I know. I wish I had been more confidant in the beginning to teach my way. 
  5. I need the accountability of having to be somewhere every week. I just do. I wish I could be one of those people that doesn't need the push, but my son gets his need for "motivation" from me. I can't even deny it. So CC made me get up and go every week. I think that was the most important part of our success this year. Even when my husband lost his job just as school was starting, we had to keep doing the next thing. When we had to move, we still kept doing the next thing. Sure we were in a hotel room for the first two weeks of CC in January while we waited for our new home to be ready. We still got work done. I don't, I know that wouldn't have happened if it had been up to me to keep things going. I would have melted in a puddle by Christmas.
  6. I learned how to make CC work for me instead of trying to make everything fit CC. The first time I did this, I was a newbie homeschooler with all these ideals and unrealistic expectations. It burned me out. Now that I've been able to use my oldest as an ongoing, personal, homeschool guinea pig, I'm much more confidant in what really needs to be done. I don't care what everyone else is doing. We're doing our thing and it's working.
  7. Oh, and it's awesome that even though we moved to a different state over the holidays, I was able to switch to a new group without missing a beat. The kids were able to pick up right where they left off without me being the only person providing continuity. I can't even express how much it meant to me and my kids to be able to switch to a new group and continue. Everything else had to be dropped, but this one thing was able to be consistent.
So. When people hate on Classical Conversations, I can either explain or not explain because I know it's worked for us. When people tell me CC is the onlywaytodothingsandifyoudon'tdothisyou'reWRONG!, I can't gently use my favorite line, "Isn't it great that as homeschoolers we can find what works for our individual family needs?" =) Then I can move along and keep doing what we're doing.

Basically, I had every reason for this year to epically fail. But it didn't. I thank God that He directed me to change direction this year. He knew what was coming, and He put me in a support system that would keep me moving. Praise.