And Now, We Homeschool

 

As happens whenever I take a nearly yearlong break from blogging, a lot has happened.  Right now, the main change that we are experiencing is that we are now homeschooling Asa (6) and Kael (8).

When I talked with friends and family about our decision, I said something to the effect that it was the longest quick decision we’ve ever made.  Before Kael started school, it was something that I considered very seriously.  At the time, Jason and I ended up deciding it wasn’t the best decision for our family.  Kael had a great kindergarten year with a teacher he enjoyed very much.  The next year, Asa was supposed to start kindergarten.  Because of his summer birthday, he was going to be one of the youngest kids in his class.  I had questions about his readiness.  I thought very seriously about homeschooling Asa.  In the end, we decided not to do it.  He had a great kindergarten year.  Kael had a good first grade year.

Over the summer, I loved having them home, and I think that they loved being home.  I watched them grow both physically and emotionally.  I watched them develop their relationships with each other.  When it was time for them to go back to school, they weren’t ready.  I was sad.  Jonas was *so* sad.  He cried for Asa and Kael every day after they left and before they came home.  As the days passed, he seemed to miss them more and more.  As the days passed, it also became more and more evident that there were certain things that weren’t working for the boys at school.

A friend of mine asked if I was going to blog about our reasons for choosing homeschooling.  I thought about it for awhile.  In the end, I think that I’m going to let this be it.  We had many good experiences with the boys’ teachers and the school.  We also had some that left us very concerned.  By November, Asa was telling me that he didn’t talk at school and that he knew the teachers liked it when he didn’t say a word all day.  Kael was telling me that he knew he wasn’t smart enough for second grade and that he knew he wasn’t a very good reader or writer.

At one point, I started thinking “if only we could homeschool.”  Then, I realized that we could.  We could homeschool.  I started talking with friends who had been homeschooling their children.  I started reading blogs.  I started researching curriculum.  The more I read, the more excited I got.  We talked to Asa and Kael about it.  We weren’t going to let them make the decision whether to continue at school or start homeschooling, but we did want to know if they were excited or anxious about it.  It turns out they were really excited about the idea.

The boys’ last day of school was the day before Thanksgiving.  They have been home since then, and so far it is fantastic!  The hardest part about homeschooling so far has been holding back and not trying to teach them EVERYTHING.  History, math, writing, reading, poetry, literature, Spanish, engineering, geography, chemistry…

Just A Picture For Fun

 

I love Kael’s green soled shoe in this photo.

 

I Didn’t Want Girls

Nor did I not want them.

When Jason and I got married, we had some premarital counseling through our church.  During the premarital counseling, we had to do a couple compatibility tests.  One of the tests asked us how many children we wanted.  We were supposed to answer without talking to each other.  When we revealed our answers to each other, we found that we had both written that we wanted to have four children.  Over the years, I obsessed over when to start having children and how far apart our children should be.  I think I attributed more control of the situation to myself than I deserved.

When I was pregnant with Kael, we did not find out his gender at the ultrasound.  The Monday before he was born, I sent Jason an email.  The subject line said, “boy.”  The email said, “I’m calling it.”  When I was pregnant with Asa, we also did not find out his gender at the ultrasound.  This time, I had a general feeling that he might be a boy, but I wasn’t as confident.  After he was born, I told Jason that we were going to have a family of boys.

With the first two boys, we had not found out the gender at the ultrasound because that was my preference.  Jason preferred to know the gender.  So, with the other two boys we found out the gender.  It wasn’t because we had hoped for one gender or the other.  We simply wanted to know.

Over the years, people have come to the assumption that Jason and I wanted to have girls or that we were disappointed to have our family of four boys.  That’s not true.  It’s not that I preferred boys over girls, but I also didn’t prefer girls over boys.  We didn’t have a preference.  I know that some people have a preference for gender. I didn’t.  I really didn’t.

At one ultrasound, the doctor said to us, “I’m sorry I can’t give you your girl.”  One friend said to me, “Every time I ran into you, and asked you about the new baby, you said, ‘it’s *another* boy!'” (This was not said in a positive tone.)  Lately, many people have asked us if we are “done.”  Yes.  I am done having babies.

However, I am not done having children because of the likelihood of having five boys.  I am done because continuing would lead to the certainty of having five (or more!) children.

Would I be happy with some other gender variation in our family? One girl, three boys.  Two girls, two boys.  Three girls, one boy.  Four girls.  I’m sure I would be.  I’m sure that raising girls is wonderful.  I’m sure they are fabulous.  I’m sure that parents of girls think they are the most wonderful kids on the face of the planet.  I’m sure that if we had daughters, I would love them with all my heart and soul.

But, I don’t.  I have four sons, and I am happy, pleased, content, thrilled, and satisfied with our family just the way it is.

It might seem funny to some people that I wrote those post.  If I’m so happy, why bother, right?  If what I’m saying here is that gender doesn’t matter, isn’t it a little too much protesting to write and write and write about it?  I’m writing this post for four reasons.  Kael, Asa, Jonas, and Kellen.  While friends, family, and doctors might think that they understand how I feel, and they might think they are reassuring me that they know just what I’m thinking, I’ve got four sensitive souls also listening to the conversation.  Kael has asked me a few times about having a sister.  He has wondered about why his friends have girls in their families and he doesn’t.  All it takes is one well meaning comment misunderstood by one sensitive child.

It’s possible that over the years, I’ve heard some of these comments about wanting or needing a girl in the family and not corrected the person saying them.  Though, as they seem to be coming a bit more frequently now as talk of us being “done” also comes up, I feel as though I should get this out and make it clear.  Girls are great.  Daughters are wonderful.  Maybe somewhere down the road I’ll have daughters-in-law or granddaughters.  That would be fantastic.  I don’t wish for them now, and I don’t want my kids to think that I did.

Yummy Sloppy Joes

The last time I started blogging (and then quit), I intended to add some recipes to my blog.  I have no intentions of becoming a food blogger.  I do, however, like to have a link for the recipes I use regularly.  I use a google spreadsheet for my meal plan, and it’s so convenient to have all the recipes hyperlinked in one place when I go to start a meal.  No sorting through pin boards.  No searching favorites.

Several years ago, I was a part of an online message board.  There was a woman on the board who shared this recipe.  I cannot remember her name, so if by some chance you know who it was, please tell me.  I would love to credit her for this delicious recipe.

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Sloppy Joes
1 pound ground round or extra lean ground beef
3/4 cup minced fresh onion
1/2 cup diced green bell pepper
 1/4 cup diced celery
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup ketchup
2 tbsp. brown sugar
2 tbsp. tomato paste
1 tbsp. vinegar
1/4 tsp dry mustard
1/4 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp black pepper
6 hamburger buns
 
1.  Combine the first 5 ingredients in a large nonstick skillet. Cook over medium heat until beef is browned, stirring to crumble.  Drain well.  Wipe drippings from skillet with a paper towel.
2.  Combine beef mixture, water, and next 7 ingredients (water through pepper) in skillet, and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat, and simmer mixture 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

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Again, obviously not a food blogger.  🙂

Yum.

You Know You Need to Write a Blog Post When…

  • You think to yourself, “Wow.  I’m really happy. ”  Not just today.  Not just right now, but with my life.
  • You find yourself diagnosed with an auto-immune disease (celiac disease) and so many things begin to make sense.
  • You think to yourself “I’m awesome” after you walk/run a 5k.
  • In the same day that you don’t get more than 5 minutes in a row to work on any one thing, you also know that you can’t wait to go back to school to get another degree.
  • You may have finalized the design for your very first tattoo.
  • You are reading an amazing book and want to tell everyone you see about it.
  • You have lost 20 pounds and feel better than you can remember feeling in over a decade (see previous point about things making sense after a diagnosis).

 

I have realized that the empty box of the Add New Post page feels very overwhelming to me.  It also feels like a long term commitment I may not be ready to make.  I used to blog regularly.  I also got into the Twitter/BlogHer/social networking world of blogging.  I felt more and more pressure to have page views and to blog regularly.  When I mentioned to some “big” bloggers that I didn’t feel like I had anything to say all that regularly, the advice I got was to write one or two posts a week and do memes two or three times a week.  That’s probably great advice.  Unfortunately, for me, it didn’t resonate, and instead of blogging less, I stopped altogether.

I’m not sure what happened.  I don’t know if it was the celiac or if it was something else.  Whatever it was, *something* happened this spring.  I feel like so many things in my life are coming together.  I finally have the motivation to go with my efforts to get back into shape.  I am eating very well and feeling no deprivation.  I feel more patient with my children.  I have a timeline for going back to school and working toward a degree.  I have wonderful friends.  With three friends moving away this summer, I was feeling a bit melancholy about having lived here for almost 15 years, but lately the awesomeness of my friends has overwhelmed me.  You know you have good friends when someone can tell you that the new bra you bought makes “the girls” look really nice.  😉

The final straw that got me back to this empty box and helped me get words into it was realizing that two of my very favorite blogs are updated irregularly.  They aren’t every day bloggers.  There might be three posts one week and then not another one for three weeks.  Regardless, when the posts do come, I am really happy and excited to read them.

So, with that, I begin again to share my attempts to live a life of intention while being content with what I have right now.

P.S. Now I want to go back and link to ALL my favorite blogs.  Maybe I’ll do that down the line.