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How a Cupcake {among other things} Pulled Me From the Homeschool Abyss

Last week something just wasn't right in our house.  

It seemed that everyone I was in a funk, which definitely trickled into our homeschool.  We had one really good day (a field trip), but other than that I was very discouraged all week. 

I had to step away from blog reading for several days - simply because it was upsetting to me.   I was starting to doubt our increasingly interest led learning style... there have been so many "curriculum" posts out there lately that it makes my head spin.   I wanted to shout:  

"Don't you get it?   Read to your kids!  Foster their interests!  Make learning exciting and real to them!!  No one curriculum will do that for you!"

It's hard, though, when lots of people are talking about CURRICULUM for next year, or this shiny new CURRICULUM they are reviewing.  I have to remind myself that LESS is MORE and not to fall into the curriculum trap!   

(Ok -- I just stepped off the soapbox.)

Add to this the fact that everything in my house felt disorganized.   No one was "getting" the big things we had been working on all week.  I (being very selfish) felt unappreciated.   I was basically holding a pity party for myself all week, but no one else wanted to attend.   

Have you ever done that?

I had thoughts of enrolling the children in a local Classical school (one day a week - but still "school" in my opinion) and even went so far as to contact the director and get more information.   

In my head it boiled down to my children needing more STRUCTURE and more ACCOUNTABILITY.    .... or so I thought.

It's amazing how a little organization, a lot of prayer,  some encouraging texts and calls from other homeschool moms, an uplifting homeschool mom book club meeting, and a couple of days of nothing helped clear my head and give me some much needed perspective.   It is so true that God's promises are new each morning.  Why, though, is it so hard for me to remember that? 

Saturday my husband took Miss B with him to work (he never works on Saturdays, but they are having a huge software rollout next week and needed to prepare).   She helped watch some of the other little ones that had  come with their parents for the day.   Meanwhile, I had a very quiet day at home with GMan.... spent the morning cleaning (and making plans for our Disney surprise trip in just a few weeks!!) and then met friends for lunch and ran errands with my sweet boy.

A huge cupcake will always make me feel better!!  We have a Gigi's Cupcakes here... I had resisted the urge to go, but finally gave in. 

 {Coconut Macaroon - oh.yum}

Sunday I declared a NOTHING day -- and while I did accomplish more cleaning and organizing, it was relaxed and productive.   We had a dinner of meatloaf, carrots, and crescent rolls (my family loves this meal) in the dining room and ended the day with the first few chapters of  The Railway Children.   (I know I've said this before, but I think a good read-aloud cures a lot of ills. Did you see this great blog post by Sally Clarkson about reading aloud?  Go read it... now! )

I knew everyone needed to be in bed early because we had to be up and out by 7:30 a.m. Monday morning.   The dog had a grooming appointment, followed by a doctor's appointment for me.   After lunch GMan's Lego class met in Midtown Atlanta (about an hour from our house) from 1-4, and Miss B and I would go to IKEA to get some much needed Expedit shelves for our family room.  

It turns out Monday was just the day we all needed.   It was one of those magical days that reaffirmed  WHY WE HOMESCHOOL in the first place.

Being at the doctor at 8 a.m. on a Monday morning isn't the most exciting thing in the world, but I'm thankful for my two bookworms who read the entire time.

After the doctor, groomers, and a few errands we had enough time to come home and do math and spelling, plus roller skate for a bit.  

In the van on the drive into town we listen to a fabulous audio science book!!   I would HIGHLY recommend this book if you want to laugh and just learn some really interesting (and gross) stuff!    This book was given to us by my sister-in-law who is a public school science teacher.   She thought we would enjoy it... I would never have bought this on my own, but I'm telling you - it's informative and funny!   Your boys will really like it, too.

We laughed the entire drive there.... and back!

Once downtown Miss B and I dropped G off at his Lego class (which he LOVES) and headed to IKEA.  First order - LUNCH!!  I couldn't get her to try the Swedish Meatballs, but mine were great!

After finishing at IKEA we still had an hour before GMan was done with his class.   We parked and started walking to the building where his class was going on - but instead I decided to take a detour.    I have always seen the First Church of Christ - Scientist when I am in Atlanta.   I have wondered about it, but have never gone in.

We changed that today.   We visited the Reading Room and met a very nice woman who told us all about her religion and invited us into the reading room.    I must say that while we do not agree with many of their beliefs, we do share some similarities.   

It is important for my children to know that there is more to the world than being a Lutheran in suburban Atlanta!   Yes, I hope they adopt the faith they are raised in, but I want them to have an awareness of other beliefs.  

We perused the reading room and learned a little about Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of Christian Science.    

When the woman guiding us through the reading room walked us out she told my daughter how lucky she was to be homeschooled.   She looked her right in the eyes and said, 

You are so lucky to have a mom who wants to spend so much time with you.  I hope you know how lucky you are.

I could have HUGGED THIS WOMAN!!    How did she know my daughter and I had been struggling last week?  How did she know this is just what we BOTH needed to hear?  

As we left to pick up G we stopped for frozen yogurt.  While sharing it, my daughter asked me if she'd been extra good and what she had done to deserve such a fun day?    I told her she deserved it just because I loved her - and because every now and then we just need to break out of the mold and do something different.  

When we got to Camp MODA, GMan was having a great time (as usual).  He had made a Lego WeDo airplane this week.    He had time to "free build" and play Lego games with his friends.   He was in heaven.  

By the time we got home from downtown it was nearly 5:00 - just enough time to feed everyone and send my husband and G off to baseball practice.   

That left enough for me to.... BUILD THE SHELVES FROM IKEA!    I got two Expedits done in an hour.  Woo hoo!    

Now some of the homeschool clutter is under control in the family room.   Yes, we have a schoolroom, but you know how that goes.... we school all over the house!  We especially love to be downstairs by the fireplace and with a nice view of the bird feeders on the back deck.  

The baskets contain all of our card and board games (that get used frequently).    Can you tell that we love notebooking?  The far shelf contains science, history, 50 states, and writing notebooks.    I have another large bookshelf in the music room that houses our classics, and the shelves in the schoolroom hold all the other books.

I have a serious addiction to books!  

 I know it's just 2 shelving units, but it sure gave me some peace of mind!    My husband and I sat downstairs when the kids went to bed and just enjoyed the organization and QUIET.


Homeschool isn't always a bed of roses.  Some days it is the LAST THING I WANT TO BE DOING.   But I always know that it is what I SHOULD BE DOING.    The best things in this life aren't easy.  We were never promised easy though, were we?   

I'm thankful for those magical days that make the hard ones fade into the distance!

How is your homeschooling going right now?   Are you in the late winter slump?  I'd love to know...


Reader Comments (18)

Oh Mary. I so understand where you are at right now. In fact I have been sitting on a post for about a week now not sure if I should put it out there or not. I am going to. My house was a wreck and Greg and I were seriously considering school. I realized I had over structured us. I thought I was helping the girls get organized. What I did was effectively squash their creativity. I pulled back, relaxed and things have gone back to our version of normal. Somedays you just need to eat the cupcake. It has a way of making everything better. That....and a woman who was the voice of God working in your life!

February 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJessica

Great post. I've had those very same moments with my little superheros and have enjoyed our homeschool experience so much more when we do just what comes natural...hang together, read together. Then there are those special times when I try to take each child on a date...just to remind them..that I do this just because I love you!

February 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSuperhero Mom

Amazing post! Always amazes me how the posts I happen to read in the early morning relate just to what I'm going through. (Thank you, God!) We are SO there right now. Yesterday I had a pity party because for the last few days the kids have wanted nothing more than to be outside in the garage with their dad working on their go-cart. So whatever time was spent with me was rushrushrush Mom, we have to get out to be with Dad! I was so crabby about it, and fell into the "How come Dad gets to do everything fun with them!?" instead of "Gosh, isn't it great you have a husband who will take every waking moment of his days off to build something with the kids when there's a million other things he could be doing???" Anyhow, I had some cookie dough, sat down and knitted...and figured things out, much like you. But that's coming in a blog post in a few I won't write it all here! Great post, Mary. And how amazing to have people out in public affirming the choices you've made! :)

February 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMamaTea

Many moms in our fun, laid-back, enjoy your kids and homeschooling freedom co-op have signed up for classical conversations next year. Not only is it expensive, but it has someone else telling you exactly how to teach your kids. But I had fleeting moments of wondering if I was doing "enough" with my kids. I am and you are. The love you have for your children oozes from your posts. We ALL have bad days, even weeks. But our kids are interested in what they are learning and are enjoying it! Isn't that why we make this sacrifice to do this?

February 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterNicole

Thank you for this post! I have been stressing out about what curriculum we will use next year. There are too many choices, it makes my head spin! Sometimes I have to step away from blog reading also because I find myself trying to do things like everyone else. I needed this post- thank you!!!

February 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAbby

I bet if we're honest about it, we'd admit that we all feel like this from time to time. I always feel it this time of year when it's time for mandatory state testing and everyone talks about the wonderful curriculum they have ordered for next year. We all just need days like you've described where we are reminded why we do this in the first place:) And a cupcake wouldn't hurt either;)

February 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJenn

Thanks for this post, Mary. We've been going through a hard time in our homeschool as well. We're making some changes and it's getting better.

Thank goodness for the good days to remind us this is all worth it.

February 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKC

I get into slumps every few weeks! I use a unit study type curriculum and sometimes I feel like it's not enough but then I listen to my kids talking about things they learned and realize they enjoy learning. That is my main goal, for them to enjoy learning. It is really hard since I have a 3 year old (as of Fri.) who likes attention and I struggle with keeping him occupied long enough to do school. So most of the time I feel like we are way behind but I am sure we will catch up some day and it will get easier.

February 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMy Captivating Images

I think the biggest thing I need to remember is that homeschooling is an ever-evolving process. There is no curriculum that you can buy or technique you can use or style you can adopt that is good for all time, for every member of your school. It is always a process of tinkering here, or trying this or adjusting there. Once I realized this and that it was a process not an end-point, I had a lot more satisfaction and was able to relax and enjoy it more.

February 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPhyllis

Mary, this post touched me, just like it did all the others who've already commented. The curriculum posts always get me frustrated, too! I react in much the same way as you. And, I am known to have a pity party for myself from time to time ;) Thanks so much for sharing your honest feelings here, and letting everyone know how you turned it all around.
BTW, that cupcake looks amazing!
We have The Railway Children, and other books by Edith Nesbit on our e-readers, and I'll be checking out the science book you mentioned :)
Have a wonderful day Mary!!

February 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSusan

Oh I can relate! Our Monday (which was only yesterday!) was much the same. Funny, I sat down and read with the kids and the whole hecticity of the morning just evaporated! Hmm, dr's office visits are GREAT opportunities to get in more reading :D Thanks for sharing your heart on this!

February 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMomLaur

SLumping here, too, Mary, with a terrible cold to boot!

It's February. . . it's when all the "can't help its" (as my Granny would've called the bad feelings we're having) come out!

You're doing a great job!

February 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAmy @ Hope Is the Word

What a kind thing for that lady to say! That is awesome.

Things are going pretty smoothly for us right now. Co-op starts up next week, though, which adds another outing to my week. The kids love it, but it'll take me a little while to adjust.

February 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterNichole

Thank you, Mary! Honesty is one of my reasons for going back to mommy blogs. I think if we were all transparent we'd feel a lot better about everything. We are still working on the organization stuff, but it is getting better a little at a time :) And I do not think it is possible to have enough books, ever. We are in need of some more shelves here, but I have no idea where to put them!

February 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLara M

I have gone completely unstructured too a few weeks back. The only things we got "scheduled" are meals and their ballet and karate classes, everything else is going with the flow.

Amazingly how much we have done and learned once I let go and let God. We did more science experiments, read more books and played more games. We went to the park today and did a nature walk totally on improve, we even had a picnic and played in the rain.

My DS6 is asking to do Math on his own. Yesterday we did subtraction with borrowing using our play money bills. He loved it and grasped the concept quickly and without a fuss. Oh, I love it!!

My DD9 who pretends not to like Math (she actually doesn't like her pushy Momma) has been doing a lot of drawing and crafts lately as well as reading a ton of books.

I am enjoying the ride and learning to not stress and worry. Eating cupcakes. :D

It's so good to know that I'm not the only one struggling with schooling. The last couple of months have been hard and I was about to put my children in public school. Life would be easier but I know in the long run a would regret it because I wouldn't be doing what God wanted for me or my children. Thank you so much for this post.

February 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJen

Mary, I am just reading this now. We have been watching the Waltons and reading the Bible together every night at the time when I used to read blogs...and I just don't have time during the day to read and well, after being nice and cuddly I pick up my book instead of my ipad...

Over the last few years there have been many times that I felt homeschool blogging was not healthy for me. When i read reviews of products I second guess what I am doing--I have a closet full of stuff that I bought based on reviews! I could go on vacation for the amount I spent! It always seems like someone else has a better idea, better way...or they claim they have all the answers and I think they are full of beans... I've been more focused lately on intentional parenting blogs, blogs about teaching values...I have a homeschool group of moms that I can "talk shop" with in a give and take that seems healthier...we borrow each other's books when/if we want to check out curriculum. But reading some blogs I start to think I am doing it wrong or not enough or whatever...we use curriculum for math and we love story of the world; but we found science and writing are best left to our own exploration.

I am glad that you came to a place where you felt better about things...showing that is so important and encouraging to others!

March 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTheresa

I have also had a rough year, for numerous reasons. I don't like to read about others struggling, but it helps me to remember I am not the only one. I pray homeschooling and life become less hectic and more enjoyable for you.

That looks like one awesome cupcake!

March 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMartha

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