Tuesday, August 20, 2013

In Which I Reject End of the School Year Guilt... Before School Starts

It's our second year to homeschool, and we haven't started yet. Like last year, we're starting in September instead of August. I made this decision months ago, but I still feel a bit left out and "behind" as I watch all of the photos of backpack-toting children fill up my Facebook and Instagram news feeds. It's all so new each year - the notebooks are flat and unmarked, the pencils are hazardously sharp and ready to go. The backpacks are free of sharpie marks and crinkles and lunch leftovers from the week before. I love it. Even though my kids don't really use new backpacks (since school happens in the dining room), each new box of crayons sings to me of possibilities. I'm still a child like that.

In all of my excitement, there is an undercurrent of realism. Last year was hard. It was also great. A newborn, angry and tormented with colic and silent reflux layered over our first school year experience. There were a lot of sacrifices made, and a lot of items on my list that had to be removed or adjusted. Fun activities weren't as frequent as we'd hoped, and field trips were practically a joke. But we finished, and at the end of the year when I assessed Micah's understanding of all of the skills we'd learned that year, I was absolutely proud.

But I know - I know that my fun activities will start strong each new school year and there will be fewer of them in the second half of the year. I know that even though everyone clears their calendar for the first weeks of school year, the supplemental commitments and activities creep back in and that is life. I understand that in the first part of our school year, lunches will be more interesting, lessons will be more fun, and everyone will be more excited.

And I don't feel bad about that anymore. Something clicked for me last year. Even if we are eating ramen noodles for lunch and having pizza for dinner by May, I will probably still be on Pinterest looking for fun First Day of School activities come the end of June. Despite the jokes about getting lazy toward the end of the school year and our humorous self-deprecating remarks, I think maybe it's just supposed to be this way. I won't feel guilty for being tired as we pull the rear wagon wheels over the finish line at the end of the school year - my kids will be "done" and weary, too. We're in it together. Whether it's public school, private school, or homeschool.

We start strong because it's a new beginning; a new start. There will be hard days, but we anticipate and celebrate the good moments we can immediately appreciate and the memories we gain from pushing through the hard ones. We start strong because our kids are important to us and their education and future is something we invest in fully and unapologetically. We finish tired because we worked hard.

So here I am, excited for our curriculum to arrive on my doorstep, deciding now not to let the guilt creep in right on cue after Christmas break. Whether lunch is sandwiches cut into the shape of diagrammed sentences or ramen noodles with sausage thrown in so we feel like we've had some protein. We're going to do it, and we're doing it together. All of it.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Moving and Changing

I'm sinking into my husband's video gaming chair (which is actually just a lawn chair) and waiting for the long silences that signal that the children have fallen asleep. JJ is softly snoring in the crib near me and Micah and AJ are listening to stories on an old tape player and CD player respectively.

Today we had the luxury of Daddy coming home between work and work. Mondays used to be his late day. He'd leave by eight or nine, usually, and come home between nine and eleven. Since our recent move, work is close enough that his one late task doesn't necessitate that he be gone all evening. Now he comes home for dinner and the typical evening rituals and dashes back to work for a brief moment before coming home to go to bed.

This move has been so fantastic for us. There's the obvious fact that I was dying to get out of the country (I know -- there will be no Hallmark Channel movies based upon my life, apparently), then the lovely blessings that just make life a million times easier for a mom of young children. More immediate access to... everything. Parks every few miles. Shorter commute to work and church, therefore lessened gas expense.

Our lovely little backyard is home to at least one bird's nest that we know of, and the bird bath in the middle of the yard predates our move here, so we have lots of flying guests in and out of the yard all day, feasting on our apparent abundance of earthworms. A glass jar for a growing feather collection sits in our dining area. So far our specimens appear to be blue jay and sparrow. But we've seen robins, so we're holding out for a real, vibrant robin feather.

Neighbors on three sides of us are grandparents. My social (chatterbox) Micah is absolutely in Heaven! It's been a great learning experience on the proper addressing of adults. A favorite moment was when he burst through the back door to report, "Mom! I met our neighbors! And they're reeeeeaaaaally nice. And I showed 'em my karate moves. And they were very impressed!" His story held up - they were really nice. I hope their days of peacefully relaxing on their back porch aren't behind them. We'll work on it. ;)

The other two sets of neighbors offered welcome gifts in the form of homemade spice cake and garden fresh okra. Both of which have been duly "accepted" with gratitude and the licking of lips.

I'm going to try to blog here more often, if the internet is ready for intermittent verbal vomit sprinkled with passion and sincerity, with just a little snark. Just a teensy. :)

See you soon.