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Monday, December 15, 2014

the confessions of a homeschooling mom



 

fuzzy early morning deliciousness

And, right on cue, a week before Christmas, nearly halfway through the school year, I start googling local schools and private school tuition costs and daydreaming about having hours a day to write and do work on a nonprofit I want to start....

The secret homeschooling moms don't like to say out loud.

The terrible truth.

And really, the secret that any stay at home parent will fear to admit to.

Because we aren't ALLOWED. Because THERE ARE SCHOOLS and TEACHERS you could send your kid to, so you CANT ADMIT IT...

The terrible truth, is this...

IT IS HARD.

DAMN HARD.

And sometimes, sometimes, I DONT WANT TO DO IT.

And sometimes, like this morning, a my kids whine and pout and I threaten and cajole and feel like a terrible mother/teacher/person, I go down into dada's study, and pace, and wring my hands and yell and swear. About how I GAVE UP MY CAREER, to do this whole homeschool mother thing, and I'M NEARLY FORTY with NOTHING to show for it and THEY DONT APPRECIATE ME. And, WHAT IS THE POINT, they are WHINING children who will NEVER learn to LOVE LEARNING.

And I stomp away, as he offers to come and holler at them for me, and I say NO THANKS, and shut the door, and STORM AWAY. Because I AM MAD. And, MY THINKING IS ALL IN CAPS, JUST LIKE THIS POST.

NEVER.

WHY DID I DO THIS?

And I google schools.

And I suck.

And I, worse than yelling, get that chilling whispery mom-voice and demand my children come and sit and DO THEIR LESSONS.

And they do.

And I know I suck.

And this, all this, happy denim-clad homeschooling moms aren't supposed to say this out loud. They are cheery and happy and think in platitudes about how great it is to sacrifice for their children.

For why? Why again?

Because. Because.

And I remember, as we sit down at the table, and I see how little miss is fighting a cold, and we send her to nap, and she does - GASP.

And little man reads his next chapter of Treasure Island, and after much coercing he reads it, and likes it. And I think for five seconds of hopefulness, well, there is that, because that, that reading of Treasure Island at age 8, I helped him do that.

Oh, even now, as I write, I think, I cant actually post this. One, that sounds snotty, braggy. And two, people are sensitive about educational choices. And three. I will sound so whiney and terrible and people will think, then duh, send your kid to school!

But...even so.

I know, and we chose to do this with our family, for good reasons, that had to do with what our kids needed, at the time. And maybe that will change, even next year, but for now, this is good, and what they need, and I do love that its raining and we are cozied up drinking tea and reading about pirates.

But its still hard.

But because we homeschoolers - and stay at home moms too - make that choice, an against the grain choice, it is almost this unwritten rule, that it is not allowed to be hard, we are not allowed to say it is hard.

Teachers have it hard. And we say this, as a society. We can say it. The working mom does too, and we let her say it. We write articles on Huffington Post and admire their diligence.

But, I don't see this for the stay at home mom, the one with the graduate degree, the one who is a social person and misses going to work, for works sake, the one who has given up a lot, to do what she thought best.

Hey, the attitude seems to be amongst general society, she chose to be at home all day, so tough cookies, cookie.

And even more, among the homeschooling ranks anyway. We are supposed to bravely smile and say how lovely family time is, how we cant wait for tomorrow, how everything is going swimmingly.

So, maybe its not kosher to say in staying at home/homeschooling ranks. But this mama has gotta just say it.

HOMESCHOOLING IS HARD.

BEING WITH LITTLE PEOPLE ALL DAY, IS HARD.

And sometimes, sometimes, I DONT LIKE IT.

I had a friend say this to me the other day, "No seriously, how do you do it??"

Its just one of those things, I said. You do it.

But that answer wasn't enough. Because, how do any of us do it?

So, society might say to someone like me. Put your kid in school and go back to work! But, but, I think, THAT IS HARD TOO.

And really, we need to step back and say, procreation and the raising of children - in whatever form - IS HARD. The choices, of education, of lifestyle, of parenting style. All of it. HARD STUFF.

Frankly, I don't know how working mamas get up at 5am, rouse their sleeping child, bundle up in the dark and gloom, get into the car with snacks and packed lunches, drive to daycare/school, drop off kid, drive to work, work all day, drive to daycare/school, get kid, get home in the dark make dinner, supervise homework, get kid to bed, do more work, sleep, finally.

Oh. My. Gosh.

That makes me admire and shake my head in disbelief and want to hug you all.

THAT seems hard to me.

And yes, homeschooling mama day is hard too. Some days, it isn't very fun. Some days, it stinks. Get up, make coffee, get dressed, kids dressed, Cheerios, playtime, call/cajole/yell to get kids to school table, read a book, do a math lesson, read a history lesson, simultaneously fending off requests for snacks, reading "Biscuit," story time and circle time for little girls, calling little man back in for his book report writing, no Legos at the table, please, for the love of God. Lunch. Alphaphonics with the little miss. Feeling guilt for not doing that cloud dough project with the toddler. Clean up lunch, call/cajole/yell for kids to do chores. Begin dinner as kids eagerly sit for Ipad time - trying not to resent Ipad - ha - then dinner, bath, bed, whilst intermittently settling squabbles, pulling toddler off the table, doing laundry, and trying to write an intelligent email to a colleague.

Yes, dada, I would like a bottle of wine tonight.

This is when I realize, its time for Christmas break.

HAHAHAHA.

No seriously though. And this is why I love our homeschool/work from home lifestyle. We need to regroup, re-center, breathe, do some fun Christmas projects and make cloud dough. Lets let go of book work, and just be.

So.

My confession and simultaneously, my admonition.

IT IS HARD. ALL OF IT.

We mamas, we gotta stick together.

Cheers to that, eh?

my guys.

in addition to a confession I am daringly posting a picture of me, in pajamas, BEFORE COFFEE

stinky little belovedly dear hooligans...
Saturday, December 13, 2014

in the dark of december

I heard a bird sing


In the dark of December

 

A magical thing

And sweet to remember

 
"We are nearer to Spring than we were in September"

 I heard a bird sing


In the dark of December

-by Oliver Herford
Wednesday, December 10, 2014

anti-recipe #72 the best brownies ever

No really. You don't believe me? Try it try it and you may! Try it and you may I say! (Um. Dr Seuss)

Once you make these you will realize packaged brownie mixes are unnecessary. Seriously. 

Okay. 

Um. 

Oh my gosh can I just say I've had the longest week??? And, IT IS WEDNESDAY. And dada is working restaurant job the next three nights. Hi solo parenting. 

So, you see the need for brownies. 

First off. You can't just try to make this recipe healthy. I mean, if you don't want to eat sugar and butter and chocolate then DONT MAKE BROWNIES. Right???? I've seen dubious recipes on Pinterest using figs instead of sugar or coconut oil instead of butter. Okay that one does work. Or using gluten-free flour. Just, no. Don't do it. 

And these are truly so good you will want to horde them for yourself and hide them in the microwave like I do. I assume I'm not the only one who uses the microwave to hide treats, right?

Okay. 

Brownies. 

You have to melt the butter. A whole stick.  You can do this in a saucepan, or if you are fancy in a heat resistant bowl in a saucepan of barely simmering water. This is the proper way. Once the butter is melted add roughly a cup of granulated sugar, I added less last time, a teaspoon of vanilla, 3/4 cup or less of cocoa powder and half a teaspoon of salt.  Stir until smooth, heat on low, until the sugar has dissolved. You can do this by melting butter in the microwave too but then the sugar doesn't dissolve as well. A note. I have made this for my lactose intolerant friend using a combo of coconut oil and veg oil. It worked perfectly. 

Now let cool for a bit then whisk in two eggs, quickly. Now add half a cup of flour. And a handful of chocolate chips. No nuts. I mean, you can if you want to but to me there are two kinds of people in the world, those who eat brownies with nuts and those who, properly like myself, do not. If you must, add just a handful. 

Now bake for 20min at 325. Or longer, but not too much longer. This will fill an 8x8 pan. Make sure you butter it. You can tell brownies are done when you can smell the chocolate in the air. I'm not joking either. A friend told me this twenty years ago and darn if she's not totally spot on. 

Seriously. I eat a tiny corner and I can barely take it, I'm so sensitive to sugar these days, but sometimes, man, it's worth it. 

You must try and report back. 

Cheers mamas!!! Happy Wednesday!




Tuesday, December 9, 2014

finding your christmas crafty mojo

As in, I can't find mine.

Which is really bizarre for me.

Last year I seriously had a ten mile list of things I HAD to craft for the kids in order for Christmas to occur, at all, as in, otherwise the world would implode and the stars thrown off course, etc etc.

Big dramatic things would have happened if I had not managed to craft ALL THE THINGS.

So, being three weeks before Christmas I'm kinda browsing through Pinterest and my reaction? Eh. Eh. I just don't feel the need to craft.

WHAT????

You should see my kids lists this year. Not to be braggy or anything, but as in, its crazy strange, they each want like two things. TWO. Little man must have Star Wars Lego kits. Little miss asked for her own big kid Legos. Baby Green wants a purple Sophia princess dress.

That's it.

So dada and I are wracking our brains. Um, slippers? Pajamas? Woolen long johns? Books? Playmobil fairies? A new Ipad game that, GASP, we actually pay for!? That is my actual list for them.

I am the most boring parent in the world.

And its happening with the crafty things too. I have a crafty block.

Last year we made wooden blocks, wooden creatures, an elf house kit (which was never assembled, AHEM, DADA) felt gnomes and houses and on and on.

Good grief.

I don't want to do that. Any of it.

So, after an hour on Pinterest the other night, you know what I came up with???

Hooded bath towels.

One for each of them.

HA HA HA.

I have seriously lost my crafty mojo!

Okay. I might have to remedy this. Um. What can I make? Ummmmmmm........

Ummmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

Ohmygosh. I got nothing.

They have felt crowns. Play silks. Wooden animals. A dollhouse. Waldorf babies. Waldorf dolls. A playstand. Stick horses. Gnome families. Felt mice.

Seriously. These kids DONT NEED MY CRAFTY SKILLS ANY LONGER.

They wont even wear wooly pants made from cut up sweaters anymore! NO MORE SWEATER CRAFTING???? GASP!

You know what this means, don't you????

No, not that I need to have another baby, my God, why do people keep suggesting that, HA HA. Get out of my uterus!! HA HA HA.

Okay, side track. HA.

Ummmm....Where was I??

Oh yes.

Do you know what this means???? It means...CRAFTING FOR MYSELF.

I think this is where I am at. JUST FOR ME. I've got a ton of birch bark downstairs. I think I may just need to make myself a birch bark fairy house, a la Pinterest, that children DO NOT TOUCH.

Or maybe, I might knit myself a hat. I did actually knit little miss a hat last week. She loved it. I think I will aim to make them all hats for this winter.

Or maybe, oooooohhhhh, one of those Katniss Everdeen wool cowl shawl things???

Imagine that???!!!

Maybe I should take up cross stitching pillows or something too.

Naaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhh...........

Ha. So, if anyone comes across some adorable Pinterest craft for kids for Christmas, LET ME KNOW. Knowing me I am going to end up a week before Christmas, panicked that I NEED TO CRAFT FOR THE CHILDREN OTHERWISE THE HOLIDAY SEASON WILL EXPLODE IN A CACOPHONY OF GLITTER AND TINSEL AND LIGHTS!

AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!


Below, please find witness to the fact that I have not ENTIRELY given up on my crafty mojo. The girls and I making an army of pinecone Santas for a church fundraiser.





Tuesday, December 2, 2014

tree cutting in the bitter cold and other thoughts on winter

I'm listening to the Bon Iver station on Pandora right now. I highly recommend it.

It's Tuesday. Tuesdays haven't been the same since LOST ended. You think I'm joking. I'm not. I should start rewatching it, every Tuesday night. Tuesday's need that.

Also. Its cloudy out.

And I don't do cloudy.

And, well, I started realizing this again, around early November. And I had a doctors appointment scheduled, to get my thyroid levels checked, maybe that was why I was feeling so grey this fall? And yes, they were off, but, you know, I started telling my doctor about the foggy-head, snappish feeling, and well, the anxiety of winter, and the cloudy day blues I get every year. And he patted my knee, and said it wasn't necessary to struggle on, and yes, Sara, that is called Seasonal Affective Disorder, and yes, honey, you have it, so, let's get you feeling better, this winter doesn't have to be a struggle.

So. I said okay. Because I agreed with him. And little man, the other day, asked me if I could please find "nice mama", my way of joking off my dark moods, in an effort to switch it around, and I cried three days in a row because of grey skies and, well, I didn't want to do that anymore.

Not a fun game.

So. Happy pills it is. A low dose. A tiny dose. Enough to make it easier.

And so its grey out, but I am not crying. So, there is that.

And I felt the need to write it here, even if some might disagree with my choice. Especially as I post these Christmas tree cutting pictures from the other day, remembering the me of three years ago when I was dealing with post-partum depression and the seasonal affective thing, and did nothing for myself and I want to hug her, poor girl, and tell her its okay. And here is the thing. I'm all about self-healing, trying to make it, healing foods and changing lifestyle, and so on, but, but, but...Here is the thing. I could be mood-swingy "artistic temperament" writer lady were it just me, lying around at home, being artistic, writing books in front of the fire, cat on my lap, etc. And I am sure lots of supplements and diets could help (I've probably done or am doing most of them) but, I can't sit around waiting for that to help, you know?

So.

There it is.

Cat's out of the bag.

Its been a few weeks, enough I think to make a difference thus far. I think. I'm willing to give it a go, in any case.

So. Winter. Go for it. Do your thing. I bought new curtains, a jungle of new plants, happy Christmas lights twinkling against the grey skies outside of the window, and a frigging gym membership.

No worries. Its gonna be a good winter. Dammit.

HA.




















Tuesday, November 25, 2014

a mother's poem of thanksgiving

Thank you God, for strong coffee
Thank you for healthy children, so healthy they rise at the break of dawn to welcome the new day
Bouncing and screaming in glee, running in circles - so healthy and strong! - cackling, broom in hand as they try and get a sticky hand toy off of the ceiling, before I've barely cracked open my eyes.
And, thank you God, for strong coffee

Thank you God, for strong coffee
Thank you for a house, with carpet the color of sand, to hide the spills and stains of last week's squeezie yogurt, newly discovered under the ottoman
Thank you for strong walls and wood stoves and windows, upon which to have smudged noses and hand prints, and doors, to remind little man not to slam,
And, thank you God, for strong coffee

Thank you God, for strong coffee
For mothers to call about rashes and coughs, who reassure that we are indeed, not ruining our children's lives forever by not letting them sleep in our bed until they are 47
For sisters, and a brother, who text the whole live long day about everything under the sun, including cocktails and Pinterest plans
And, thank you God, for strong coffee

Thank you God, for strong coffee
For this three year old, lovely sweet head of curls, who just now insists on climbing onto my lap, wiggling and writhing and talking and, indeed, wiping her nose on my sweater, thank you for that.
And, thank you God, for strong coffee

Thank you God, for strong coffee
For the five year old at the table, insisting on writing love notes to me, in Sharpie, so they never go away, who cuts out snowflakes and shrieks in delight, leaving a powdery snow of paper remains underneath her, who despite multiple warnings has now dotted up my table with said Sharpie.
And, thank you God, for strong coffee

Thank you God, for strong coffee
For the eight year old boy, wrestling my new wool fleece like a cat, pouncing - GOD, that was HIGH - from ottoman to the couch, approximately four feet into the air, before plummeting on his prey, who loves to read and Lego it up, leaving strewn remains all over the house
And, thank you God, for strong coffee

Thank you God for strong coffee
Thank you for the near misses all day, for almost kneeling on a Lego, seeing it staring at me, as I look under the couch for the missing sippy cup, for watching out of the window as three year old nearly lands head first in snow, but rights herself, fat little dumpling in her snow gear, and keeps walking on. Keep walking on.
For dada, making it home late at night, when it was icy and windy and foggy out
For not having my leather slippers on, just now, when I dumped yogurt all over my feet. That was good. Thanks for that God.
And, thank you God, for strong coffee

Thank you God, for strong coffee
Thank you for sunshine, when it decides to come out, for a nice day of 41 degrees when the snow nearly melted and I was able to run errands without wearing a parka. Thank you for the green beans I dug out of the freezer, just now, grown from the dried up plants now covered in frost in my garden. Thank you for hard work and land and sun and rain and wind and the whole world of it out there. Even snow. It IS pretty.
And thank you God, for strong coffee

Thank you God, for strong coffee
For siblings who love each other, even as they tug at the iPad, wanting their turn (also, thank you God and Steve Jobs for the iPad), for siblings who play, creatively, beautifully, who fight, ferociously, wildly (are they cats??) who call each other pet names and kiss each other's heads when I am not looking.
And thank you God, for strong coffee

Thank you God, for strong coffee
For a partner who works hard, at parenting, jobs, and life, who does the dishes and folds laundry and gently disciplines and stacks wood right alongside me, laughing about child antics and incomprehensible (to me) YouTube videos, who gets angry at injustice, and who informs me four nights in advance of his intentions to stay out late playing volleyball tonight.
And thank you God, for strong coffee

Thank you God, for strong coffee
For a brain, that is unfoggy and coherent most of the time, that is creative and thoughtful, even if melancholy, for the thoughts and ideas and the passion. And, for weirdly pale green eyes to see three year old, chasing the cat - again - for hands to pour the crabby eight year old his Cheerios and ears to hear the five year old screeching out my name and a voice to calmly respond.
And thank you God, for strong coffee

Thank you God, for strong coffee
For friends near and far, around the world even, for the memories and the connections and the random texts and five minute phone calls, in between yapping children, and the thoughtful messages of hang in there, you too mama, we are sisters in this together.
And thank you God, for strong coffee

Thank you.
For all of it.
It's good.
And especially, for strong coffee.




 
Tuesday, November 18, 2014

operation peaceful parenting

So.

So.

Its been a stressful summer, a stressful fall. And as I type that VERY sentence five year old just dropped a giant tub of beads on the floor.

I smile and shrug. But a painful shrug that is something more like a wince. Something more like someone just pinched me. Hard.

I AM TRYING TO REMAIN CALM.

Operation Peaceful Parenting at work.

Our lovely pastor this week spoke about peace on earth, as we enter the advent season soon.

Peace on earth, she reminded us, begins with peace in our homes. Peace in our relationships. How can we encourage peace if we aren't at peace in our day to day interactions with people we love?

Yes.

Yes.

And so. This week. With temperatures 20 degrees below the norm. Bright sunshine streaming in. Soothing Gregorian chants on Pandora (cant stop.) I pledge. No shouting over spilt beads. No yelling over kid shenanigans. Calm. I will be calm.

So.

Anybody with me? A renewed effort to bring peace in our home.

I would write more about this now but five year old is now hiding in the fridge because big brother is chasing her, making grunting ogre noises. Their latest game is ogre. It's SUPER fun.

Peaceful.

Peaceful.

Peaceful.

And not shoving it away, not ignoring, not NOT instructing, but, keeping it all in perspective. Sun is shining. Kiddies are healthy. Coffee is plentiful.

You know?

Also, Operation Clean Sweep is going to be part of this. Simplifying the house and actually GETTING RID OF SHIT. Not just throwing it in the boxes in the garage.

More on that later this week.

And now three year old is screaming for an Oreo.

HAHAHA

Ha.

Ha.

ha.

(laughing/not laughing)

Sun. Coffee. Gregorian chants. Do your thing.




so its winter, which means our bird feeder is full and my posts are once again going to be full of pictures of birds
because one day I am going to be a crazy bird lady, tuppens, tuppens, tuppens a bag....HA HA.
 
 



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