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.

I’ve Got To Stop Doing This

It’s hard to pick back up after a year.  I know that bloggers aren’t supposed to blog about why they weren’t blogging.

 

So, instead, I’ll post a cute picture or two of the reason(s) I haven’t blogged.

100 Days of Kindergarten and First Grade

 

 

He Gets Things Done

 

 

Baby4 – Kellen

 

 

I’m working my way back into real posts.  Next time it’ll be more than just cute pictures, I hope!

Letting Go of Self-Imposed Rules

Sometimes creating a self-imposed rule is a good thing.  For example, I will only eat one cookie or I will drink at least 70 ounces of water a day.  Sometimes though, I think that we get ideas that certain self-imposed rules are expected.  I find this happens to me most often in parenting.

Instead of trusting my instincts and using moderation, I find myself wondering what other parents like me are doing about a particular issue.  How are they handling screen time?  Bedtime?  Toys with batteries?  Plastic toys?  Sweets?  The list can go on and on and on and on!

Enjoying their screen time (in moderation!)

About a week and a half ago, I was part of a discussion with a friend where she said, “Letting go of self-imposed constraints is so freeing!” in the context of parenting.  I had never thought of it, but I think that parenting Jonas as an infant is the first time I was really able to let go of many of *my* self-imposed rules.  Kael was born 4 weeks early, so doing everything right seemed even more important to me after he experienced difficulties nursing and jaundice right off the bat.  I remember setting him down for a nap one day because it was “time.”  He laid in his crib and babbled and talked for about an hour without falling asleep.  By the time Jason got home for lunch, I was near tears!  I didn’t know what to do.  He was supposed to nap so he could wake up and eat.  If he didn’t eat, he wouldn’t gain weight.  He was already early and small.  What was I going to do?!?!?  Looking back, I think there were probably two options in this situation.  One, he was perfectly content, so I could have left him.  Two, he was awake and not seeming sleepy at all.  I could have picked him up and brought him back into the other room with me.  It seems so simple now, but it was very stressful at the time.

When Asa was born, I knew what to expect (Ha!).  He was the second child, so I knew that he would be easy going, a good eater, and a good sleeper.  He was going to spend lots of contented time in the swing or playing on the floor.  He would be able to sleep anywhere and through anything.  It turns out that Asa was a wonderfully perfect addition to our family, but he was also none of those things I described.  He had separation anxiety from the time he was born.  He had reflux, was sensitive to dairy, wanted to be held all the time, and did not sleep well or for long ever.  I spent a lot of time in his early months trying to figure out how to change my parenting to get the results I expected I should be getting if I had been doing things right.

When I was pregnant with Jonas, I ran into Jason’s boss and his wife at a restaurant one evening.  They were both really excited for us to be having another baby.  (They are wonderful by the way!)  They both assured me that even though I was going to have 3 children and only two hands, it would be alright.  They also said I would enjoy the infancy of the third baby more than I had with the other two, because I would finally be able to sit back and enjoy.  It sounded good, and it definitely gave me hope.  It turns out they were right.

Having a new baby is wonderful, and it is also stressful.  Even in the midst of the adjustment to a family of 5, I felt as content and relaxed with how things were going as I can remember feeling about a new baby.  When Jonas used to wake up and just hang out for 45 minutes or an hour in the middle of the night, I was able to remind myself that it wouldn’t last forever and soon that time would be a memory.  When he went through the phase of the 40 minute nap, I reassured myself that at some point he would sleep longer than that if he truly needed it.  He did.

Now, as I think about my friend’s wise words and those examples in my life, I wonder what else am I holding on to as an unnecessary self-imposed rule.  This week, my goal is to know my children, see their needs, and respond to them without worrying what other parents “like me” might do in a smilar situation.