Where the Bruised Cucumber meets the Sippy Cup!

A Loud Mama with a loud family, living imperfect lives glorified through God and breaking free of the bondage of politically correct Religion. We do things differently around the Viking Homestead, and hope that, by sharing our lives, we can help others feel more comfortable with their differences as well.

07 February, 2012

Headfirst into Homeschooling

Homeschooling.  Just saying the mere word can evoke all sorts of opinions.  I had my own opinions.  Several times when I met someone who was awkward in any manner, I was somewhat relieved to hear that they were homeschooled.  'Ah', I would think, 'so thats why they are odd and sheltered and can't have a normal conversation.'  Now, that being said, we're talking about people who are in their 30's so these would be some of the 'original' homeschooled.  Yes, people did it before then, but quite frankly, it wasn't a luxury that everyone could take part in.  After the oil-bust and stock market blech of the '80's, it was a generation of latch-key kids who saw their parents after 5pm during the week and, sometimes, for a stretch of time on the weekends.  Parents of that time period were of a generation that heavily bought into 'me' time.  Children of parents who came out of the Great Depression, they were hoping to live 'better' lives that the ones their parents endured growing up.  By better, I mean more fun.  More indulgent.  More focused on what was 'supposed' to make them happy: things.  This required 2 working parents so that there would be more money for more things.  Homeschooling during this time would have been considered something that only super conservative evangelicals or total fringe of society nutjobs would do.  However, It's been quite a few years and over that time, public opinion has softened....to an extent.  Now that children who were homeschooled in the '80's and '90's are grown up and are homeschooling their own children, people are starting to realize that not all who choose to homeschool are wackjobs or super sheltered religious hermits.  People decide to homeschool(or not) for several reasons and there are pros and cons on both sides.  Ultimately, its a family decision.  You have to do what is best for you and your children.  There is no one right way.  There are several paths and its only right if it works for you.  My Little Valkyrie went to some form of school from the time she was 18 months old.  She went to a Mothers Day Out program which we both loved.  It's at a local church and she loved her teachers.  The nice part was, they actually cared for the children.  It was a very nurturing environment and we were both happy with that setup.  She would actually cry when she had to miss a day.  I was going to college at the time, less than 1/2 mile away, so it was a great situation for me.  Little Valkyrie continued to go there through to their pre-k program during which time I gave birth to her brother, Little Viking.  It was wonderful during this time for her to be involved in the program, to get to see her friends every day, and to allow me some time to recover and tend to her brother, since he had a rough go adjusting to being earth side.  After her pre-k graduation, I alternately dreaded and longed for her to start kindergarden.  She had been looking forward to going and riding the bus....she'd seen it come through the neighborhood daily for 2 years and couldn't wait.  So, when the time came, I registered her for kindergarden and she was so proud that, on the first day, she didn't cry like some of the other kids and found her class all by herself.  I was working at the time, and would leave work daily in time to meet her at the bus stop with her little brother.  This worked so far, but it was a huge drain.  She loved her teacher and had a fun time so I didn't worry too much about it.  However, I soon learned that she was having a much harder time than I thought.  One day I was speaking to the school nurse and learned that Little Valkyrie was in the nurse's office more often than not...usually at least 3 days a week if not more.  For nothing serious....stomach aches, head aches, etc.  I talked to Little Valkyrie to make sure that nothing bad was happening at school and I was reassured by her, her teacher and the nurse that she was doing well, had several friends, no 'mean girl' situations, etc.  She just really didn't like to be away from home for 8 hours a day, especially being that we have crazy circadian rhythms in our house.  It was a strain on her entire system when, left to her own sleep rhythm, she would naturally fall asleep around 10 or 11 and wake up around 9.  To wake her up at 6 knowing she wouldn't be allowed a nap during the day was a huge shock to her system.  Even now, with Little Viking being 3, he is now starting to fall into a similar pattern as his big sister.  He now prefers to go to bed around 8 or 9 and will wake up on his own around 7 or 8 the next morning.  (if only I could get the baby to do a midnight-6 stretch as soon as possible, then I might actually get some decent sleep!!)  I even took her to the doctor just to rule anything out, and her pediatrician reassured me that all was fine, and the biggest problem was that Little Valkyrie was a people pleaser at heart...she was putting pressure on herself to make everyone else happy.  I pondered homeschooling as I had several friends who did it, but due to some strain on my marriage, some of it from outside influences, I felt pressure to take a new office job, farther away from home instead of staying home with my children.  I, for whatever reason, left a job I loved with co-workers and a boss that I considered to be my friends, and took a job an hour away from home and therefore had to also put my son in someone else's care.  Luckily, I was able to get him a spot at the same Mother's Day Out program that my daughter went to and so, at the start of the next school year, I began dropping two kids off and school.  It was hard, but they both seemed to adjust really well and were thriving.  Learning new things, making new friends.  However, I was miserable.  I hated being so far away from my kids because, as you know, kids like to get sick at the absolute worst of times.  One time Little Viking asked me to carry him, which was unusual behavior for that particular time of morning and that stage...he didn't want to be restrained at all.  So I picked him up and he proceeded to throw up all over me.  several times.  It happens! :)  However, when it happens after you drop your kids off at school and you've already made it to work and there is NO ONE else available to pick up your suddenly sick child so you have to drive an hour to get there while they are sitting there feeling unwell is a horrible feeling.  Initially, the plan was to go back to my old job after the summer, however, that didn't work out.  I didn't know how much longer I could take it, but I jumped ship the first chance I got.  Once I took a job where I was in town, and only about 20 minutes at worst from both schools, I was much more relaxed.  I could go have lunch with my daughter, and there wasn't such a rush in the mornings.  On days that I didn't have to go to work, I wouldn't even bother taking Little Viking to school....we would come back home and play in our jammies until naptime and then go wait for the bus to greet big sister.  I thought that things were really good at that time, and that maybe they could get even better.  I really started to get even more interested in homeschooling the littles during this time. After much prayer and thought, I realized that keeping my children home and homeschooling them was what I was being called to do.  So, after this past school year ended(with my daughter spending even MORE time in the nurses office than the prior year :/), I sent in a note withdrawing my daughter from the school district.  I was especially pleased with my decision when I learned that they had re-zoned and she would have had to switch schools anyhow.  However, I was terrified to have my son home all the time.  How on earth could I manage that? I was also going to go to college, so there was no way.  So, I enrolled him at the same Mother's Day Out program for the year.  God had other plans! :)  Before school even started, I turned up pregnant! :)  I was amazed!  I didn't really think we'd have any more children, and over the span of time since I'd given birth to my son I had a miscarriage and two chemical pregnancies.  However, this one stuck!  I felt like hell and it was so reassuring!! However, I knew there was no way I could handle everything I'd put on my plate, so had to reprioritize!  I decided that college would have to wait!  Homeschooling and working were going to have to be enough.  That was not to be the plan though.  Little Viking NEVER settled into school this year the way he had the year prior.  He NEVER had a good drop-off and, even though he had good days, he got to the point where he didn't even want to leave the house in the morning because he thought I was trying to take him to school.  Shortly after school started, I was so ill that my manager agreed to let me take leave from work until after I give birth.  So, I cut Little Viking down to two days a week.  However, even that wasn't enough and started to feel like a waste of money.  Other parents weren't following the rules for keeping sick kids home and, consequently, Little Viking had his share of whatever went around.  So, it was also starting to feel like a waste of money since some weeks he wouldn't even make it at all.  I also found that, once I learned how to deal with him being home, I actually enjoyed having him around!  Thats part of where school will get you....society expects you to enjoy having your children gone more than you enjoy having them home.  It just doesn't work that way for me.  For now, while they are little, I LOVE having them home.  So, on November 1st, I officially removed my Little Viking from the Mother's Day Out program and was a homeschooling mama to my two littles!! :)  I definitely couldn't do it on my own.  I'm cranky and impatient and, more often than not, VERY tired.  Not just 'I'm preganant and have two kids tired' but as I have health issues on top of that, pregnancy makes me EXTRA tired.  It is only by the grace of God that I can do this.  I don't know that I will do it forever and there is a steep learning curve!  I'm lucky to have input and help from several fab mama friends, some who homeschool and some who don't, to help me get through this period.  There is quite a period of adjustment to homeschooling, especially when your children have been in public school.  A good rule of thumb I've heard is to not expect to have things really settled for 2 or 3 years.  This is NOT a bad thing.  I've never done this before and I don't know what will or won't work for my children and for me as well.  We all have to settle into this together and so things will get changed, added or taken away and it takes TIME to sort all of it out.  It takes time for me to sort out how my children learn best, how to engage them, how to balance teaching what I want them to know with what they want to learn.  I still have moments where I fear I am doing them more harm than good by homeschooling them, and pray daily that I am doing the right thing....that they won't grow up to be socially awkward and uneducated.  My daughter, well, I'm not So worried about her because she's had so many experiences in a school or church setting of meeting new people and making new friends.  My son, however, well, that scares me.  I know I'll find a balance, and that I have time and that its not like he never plays with other kiddos, but its still hard to be reassured that I'm doing the right thing for my family.  However, I feel at ease when I realize that I'm doing this for reasons above and beyond textbook education.  When Little Valkyrie pointed out with dismay that they didn't pray before lunch at her new school, or that they didn't have bible stories, it really upset her and me.  I knew that she wouldn't be allowed to hear Bible stories at snack time anymore as long as she was in public school.  At home(or where ever we happen to be) we are free to pray openly before eating, to read a bible story while playing at the park or just to discuss God in the context of whatever we are learning for the day.  This was the push for me to homeschool.  My children are smart, and my daughter is gifted.  I will find a way to get them the education they need but I'm not going to sacrifice raising my children to the glory of God by sending them somewhere that isn't going to first and foremost encourage and teach based on a Christian worldview.  For now, the best way for them to get all of that is for me to homeschool them.  Its not always easy.  I feel like I've stumbled and started over a million times and its only just been 6 months.  However, I constantly tell myself that If God brought me to today, He will get me through today.  The past is done.  The future doesn't exist.  God will get me through today.  And for today, that is enough! <3

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