Thursday, December 11, 2008

Heading for the Holidays

Wow, sorry I haven't been around for so long ... I had PRK vision correction surgery done a whole month ago and I still can't read well. It's very frustrating!

But I can see a tiny bit tonight, so I thought I would drop in to let you know I hadn't completely dropped off of the face of the planet.

Things have been going very well lately with school. I'm ashamed to admit that I've found my boys' price: video games. If I let them have half an hour of gaming time for having a good attitude during school, then they will work hard and quickly for me. Amazing! Ta Da! It's a price I'm willing to pay.

As a result, they've been working hard and not only do they get that coveted game time, but they also get done school pretty quickly. So what before would take four hours or so, now takes only two, if that. Amazing again! 

However, now that we're heading to the holidays, I'm having a harder time keeping school going. I'm distracted and 'busy' and it's hard to focus on school. How are you doing? Are you staying focuses, even with the busy-ness of the holidays? 

I hope you have a very Merry Christmas! 

Sunday, November 9, 2008

You Know It's All Worth It When ...

My Charlie, who I've pegged as a generally contrary child (albeit generally a good boy, he doesn't like many things) has truly been a changed guy lately. For about a month (so pretty much around the time I started to have a complete melt down because I wasn't getting through to him) he has been the most affectionate, loving guy.

This is new.

He's always been pretty retiscent and not the first one to jump in line for hugs, or for time with Mom (although he liked spending time with Dad). However, all that has changed.

The first time I noticed that Charlie's demeanor was changing, was when he had to do a Public Speaking assignment as part of one of his Language Arts lessons. He has never before been able to memorize poems and such and to deliver them in front of people. 

However, he's twice now memorized a poem and delivered it, not just to me during class time, but later for his Dad and brother too. He's been very proud of his excellent public speaking skills. 

He is seaking out hugs, asking for snuggle time and speaking up during family discussions. He is smiling and laughing, and his contrary self has been nowhere in sight for a while now.

Tonight, while I was tucking him in, I said I thought maybe aliens had abducted him and replaced him with a new and improved model. Of course he thought that was hysterical, but was quick to assure me that he was still just Charlie.

When I asked him why, then he was seeming so much happier and snugglier, he said (and this is gold)

"Because I'm believing in myself more."

And that, boys and girls, is what makes all of it - everything - absolutely and undeniably, worth it.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Why We Do The Hard Things

This homeschooling thing ain't easy.

It is probably the hardest thing I've ever done. It's certainly the least selfish thing and I'm just about the most selfish person I know. I'm all about 'my' time, my writing time, my photography time, my, mine, me.

Maybe some moms choose to homeschool out of a sort of selfishness--because they believe they can do better, or they want to control what happens in their kids lives. I have some of those reasons, I'm sure, too. My biggest selfish reason for homeschooling is that I wanted to have more times with my boys. But that's kind of one of those gray selfish areas, it serves a good and generous purpose too. A win/win. :)

But I wanted to share the good that my husband and I have been recognizing from our efforts, especially on the heels of my recent struggles. 

  • There have been far fewer fights between my two boys. Less hassling, more sharing and cooperating. Charlie even called Xander his best friend today. That was huge.
  • The boys no longer turn into zombies when they watch TV or play video games. (more on that later)
  • Charlie has grown in his confidence by leaps and bounds. It is truly amazing. He speaks out more clearly, speaks his mind more often, and shares his insights when he used to just listen and take it all in. I have loved getting to know him better. 
  • Xander has been able to expand his mind by reading whatever he can get his hands on--he has the time, now, to do that and he loves it. And I love seeing a book worm grow right before my eyes. 
  • The boys are generally far more compliant and quick to respond to my requests for help or for them to do chores. (I think this also relates to the zombie thing)
I'm sure there are many more, these are just a few that quickly come to mind.

About zombies. It used to be, when the boys were in a traditional brick and mortar public school, that they would come home exhausted and want to 'zone out' in front of the TV or computer. It truly was zoning out, and they only did those things because they were minimally participatory and they were too tired to do anything else--and heaven forbid they take a nap. Big kids don't do that sort of thing.

I would typically let them have a short time to decompress after school, however they needed to do it. But I had to be careful not to let them have too much 'screen time', because otherwise, they would turn into zombies. You could recognize when they had had too much screen time and they were now zombies because they couldn't hear you when you spoke to them, their eyes had a dazed and far away look, and they had a hard time tearing themselves away from whatever was on the screen.

Now, I would imagine they get a fair amount of screen time, and yet there have been no zombies at my house except for at Halloween.

I let them have computer breaks during school time. They work well for me for a while if they know they will be rewarded with ten or fifteen minutes of screen time. They willingly set their timers and jump right back to work when their time is up. No zombies in sight.

Here's my theory why they are not turning into zombies even though they are still getting screen time: When they leave for school and are gone all day, they are disconnecting from me, from home, from mom and dad. Many times, even, forces at school are working against the home mandates. For instance, your child might come home and say "so and so said they get to do THIS or THAT" and so they are already defensive and ready to fight you before they even get home.

Then, when they get in front of that screen, they are further disconnecting. More time to pull away from home.

However, because they are always with me now, they are fully connected, fully engaged with me from morning until night. Now, when they get screen time, or play time they are not disconnecting from us, but feel it is simply an extension of their home life. They are always safely and securely wrapped up in the arms of their family, that even when they take time for themselves, they still feel safe in their sense of belonging to a family.

I have given up my photography business, one of my writing jobs, and I still barely have time to work on my current writing projects. This is a hard thing, make no mistake. It is a sacrifice. A sacrifice of id, but not a sacrifice of anything important. My id will grow and be made so much better because of this sacrifice. Truly, it's barely a sacrifice at all--only superficially is it any kind of sacrifice. 

This is why I do the hard things ... to see my boys shine.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Getting Your Spouse Involved

After my meltdown last week, my husband realized he could help. On Saturday, Xan had a karate tournament, but because Grampa was coming to visit, David (my husband) had to stay home to care for him. So, while Charlie and David stayed home, David decided to work on a couple math lessons to help catch Charlie up.

So while I had a fun time cheering Xan on to first place in forms (YAY XAN!) David helped Charlie with his math.

By the time I got home, my husband was a changed man.

He'd always been supportive our my decision to homeschool, but really didn't have a big opinion on which program I decided to go with to teach the boys. Whatever was easiest for me, he trusted I would make the best choice for our guys.

But while he was poking around the K12 website helping Charlie with his math, he discovered what an awesome program it is. He was very excited to tell me that had he been making the choice given Charlie's current problems, he would totally have chosen K12.

This was very exciting and encouraging to me. Hurray! Not that I had a problem with my husband in any way, but having him have a taste of what I was doing, what schooling the boys was like was very, very comforting to me.

And not only did he approve of the school I had chosen for the boys, but he also now had a first hand understanding of Charlie's behavior when doing school work. It felt so good knowing I was understood, that my problems with school were understood. A VERY good feeling.

David has offered to teach the boys Science on Saturdays, and to help with the occasional lesson (particularly for Charlie) if the boys fall behind, or as I need it. So now I have an extra day during the week to use as catch up if I fall behind or a day OFF to use as I need. Such a relief and gift.

I feel like such a burden has been lifted from my shoulders. Just knowing I am NOT in this alone, NOT caring all this burden alone ... it feels really, really good.

Friday, October 24, 2008

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

The other day, in the heart of my own personal emotional tornado, I wrote down some thoughts on what's going on in my head. I thought I'd share it here because maybe someone will recognize themselves and know they are not alone.

Why did I decide to homeschool?
  • I love my boys.
  • I wanted to spend more time with them.
  • I want what's best for them.
Why do I feel like I'm failing?
  • I'm afraid Xander is becoming weird.
  • Charlie doesn't seem to be able to learn anything.
  • I feel like I'm constantly fighting against the boys, or it's Me/School vs. Them.
  • They are dirty (have poor hygiene habits.)
  • I find I'm folding easily and giving in on the things that are important to me because they're not important to them.
  • The house is a mess.
  • We've been eating out too much.
  • Dinners are stupid. (They hated everything I was making, so we made a list of all dinners that were acceptable to them, and once a week only we'll try something 'new' ... their choice of dinners are kraft dinner and weiners, grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup ... that sort of thing.)
  • I'm not getting any exercise and I'm getting fatter and fatter.
  • I'm lonely for friends.
What's going right?
  • There really has been an increase of love between me and the boys.
  • Charlie seems to have increased confidence.
  • I like having scripture study with them.
I'll write more about my thoughts on these things ... but you can stew on that for now!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Our Struggle

I have been struggling this past while. I've been feeling like I can't, in fact, do this homeschooling thing. I could give you lots of excuses and reasons, but none of them really matter. I know I have to work through this bump in the road.

But the thing that is really getting me down is my struggle with my dear boy Charlie. 

I am beside myself trying to figure out what to do with him, or rather, for him. 

Charlie is capable of many things, but he hasn't found his special thing yet. With a brother like Xan, what's a boy to do? How can he make his star shine when Xan seems to have monopoly on shine.

With school, Charlie just plain feels like he 'can't'. He can't do math, he can't do language arts, he can't do anything.

Whole days have been spent when only one lesson is completed. There is often much crying and frustration.

I am just tapped out and don't know what to do for him. Two teachers, one being our K12 teacher, has suggested that we continually point out to Charlie what he's great at. Thing is, he is honestly not great at many things. The only thing he is really great at is hard physical work. 

He is the best worker and helper I know. Even among men. His work ethic is truly to be admired. I just wish I could help him transfer that awesome work ethic to schoolwork.

I am praying so hard for my little guy. I hope I am granted some sort of inspiration and guidance for how to help him. 

Friday, October 3, 2008

An Increase of Love

I've often read about how much homeschooling moms love their children, that I figured it was a prerequisite. I mean, of course I love my kids, but thought these moms had access to a type of love I couldn't hope to have.

I grew up in such a way that loving people doesn't come naturally to me. Scratch that, I love people, but I think I hold a lot of it at bay, and I have difficulty showing and receiving love. I am much better with my sons than I am with anyone else, but still ... I felt I still wasn't giving them everything I had within me.

Until now.

Now, my heart bursts with love for them. I must sound like a broken record because just about every night I tell my husband how very much I love our sons. It's just such an amazement to me, that I can't help but point it out, in awe over how such a thing could be happening to me.

Who would have believed that spending all day with your children could actually help you love them more?

And it's not just me feeling it for them, it's them feeling it for me.

For instance, the other day I was feeling exceptionally tired after we were done schooling. I laid down on the couch while the boys headed outside to play. A moment later Charlie came back in and lyed down beside me. He just wanted to snuggle, he said.

A few minutes later, Xander came in and wordlessly lyed down beside me too.  

We lay there together for a good twenty minutes. When they finally stirred, it was not to leave me, but to gently stroke my hair. 

Then they finally left to go play again, and I was left wonder what had just happened. Don't get me wrong ... we are a very affectionate family, but usually such things have a time and a place. After school time, when freedom is allowed and friends are home to play with is usually not that time. 

That they chose to come and snuggle me, to quietly give and receive love without asking for anything in return, was something sweet.

And it helped me to see that this increase of love I feel for them is not one-sided. They, too, are feeling an increase of love for me, and for each other.

There is far less bickering happening between the two boys. I would have thought there would be more, being cooped up together for so long.

Rather, homeschooling has been a great blessing for us, in so many ways, but the most cherished of all ways is this increase of love we are experiencing.

Now I understand why those homeschooling moms expressed such love for their children. It wasn't a requisite nature that made them good homeschooling moms, it was the companionship, the closeness and time spent together that yielded the love. 

I expressed my faith in this homeschooling lifestyle, by planting the seeds, covering them with warm earth and providing them with needed sunshine and water. And now I'm seeing, much sooner than expected, those precious seeds bearing fruit, and the blossoms are fragrant and beautiful and far beyond my wildest dreams.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Household Chores

One of the things that seems to bog down new homeschoolers is household chores. There's this falacy out in the popular world that moms have to do it all. We have to work, we have to make gourmet meals for our kids, we have to keep a Martha Steward style home perfectly clean all the time. 

Whether you're homeschooling or not, this just isn't true!

As I writer, if I was concerned for domestic perfection, I'd never get any writing done. But now, as a homeschooler too, there just isn't room for my inner Martha Stewart to have her say.

But whether you're a homeschooler or not, you've got to let go of some misperceptions that might still be bogging down your inner psyche. First of all, household chores, are not only for wives and mothers to perform. Don't you remember Little House in the Prairie? Everyone pitched in with their share of the work. Even the Beav had to do household chores. It seems to be a rather modern day phenomenon that lets children get off scot free.

Sometimes I wish I lived on a farm because then it would be easier to identify chores my children could do. But let me brainstorm a few ideas here of suggestions for things your kids could be doing, day by day, to not only lighten your load, but strengthen their spirits. Some of these chore ideas are ones that my own kids do, others are gleaned from friends and online sources.

  • keep room clean
  • keep bodies clean
  • set table/clear table
  • feed/water pets
  • walk or exercise pets
  • vacuum
  • wipe down bathroom
  • swish and swipe toilet
  • wash walls
  • wipe down light switches and door knobs
  • windex windows and mirrors
  • pick toys and rocks off the grass before it gets mowed
  • mow the lawn
  • weed the garden
  • harvest vegetables
  • wash dishes/load dishwasher
  • help prepare a meal
  • help with grocery shopping
  • unload groceries
  • sort/fold laundry
  • put laundry away
  • wash their own laundry
  • always pick up after themselves
  • dust
  • wash base boards
And many, many more that I'm sure I haven't listed. If I've missed something you think is great for kids to do, please leave it in my comment trail. It would be cool to compile a list of household chores children can help with.

Now that you have an idea of all the myriad ways your children can help, it's time to let go of your inner perfectionist and let them help

It's true things won't be done to perfection. It's true that they may only be able to accomplish one or two things (and imperfectly to boot) in the period of time it would take you to do many things. But think of the benefits:
  • you can begin to let go of resentment you may be feeling about always having to do everything yourself
  • you are training up your children in the way to help in family ... creating men and women who will know how to pull their own weight in a family
  • you're also teaching them basic life skills that will serve your children well in their grown up lives
  • your children will grow to respect and love you all the more because they will have a real understanding of all you do for them
So let go of your Domestic Diva and become a Marvelous Mom. Your children will one day thank you for it, and you'll be grateful for it today.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Your Homeschool Schedule

The first couple weeks we were homeschooling, I had a very lazy schedule. I knew we 'needed' a schedule, but, well, I love to sleep and without a 'need' to wake up at a certain time, I enjoyed a few more sleep-ins than I should have. There, I admitted it. *sigh*

Then a couple weeks ago I was visiting with Tami, Carin, Aly and Kim (all K12'ers) and I asked the dreaded question of them: "How's it going?"

Carin and Aly both were feeling much like I was. Tami, having always homeschooled her children, was doing just fine. Kim, however, was a first timer like me, and yet, inexplicably, she was doing just fine.

Well, perhaps not inexplicably, because there was a perfectly good explanation. A schedule

Kim shared with us her schedule. I've been following the same schedule now for two weeks, and holy moly boys and girls, it's totally working for me!

It's not rocket science, but I thought I'd share it with you. Perhaps it will help you, as it did me.

7:00 I get up, get showered and ready for my day. (My boys are usually up, but they like to ease into their day with some play or TV. I'm okay with that.)

8:00 Breakfast

8:15 Scripture Study

8:30 Boys get ready for their day, including walking the dog and having a bit of outside fun, like basketball. I get online and check a few blogs, email, log into K12 and get my head around what's coming up for the day.

9:00 Boys come in and school gets underway.

10:30 We take a break. A snack, a bit of outside play. And I get to feed my blog habit a bit more.

11:00 Back to school.

12:30 Lunch and a play break.

1:00 School!

2:30 Done for the day! Whew!

3:00 We like to go to the gym most days. We found a gym where I can work out and the boys can play basketball or swim. It's very handy and cool. I like it!

4:00 Now we're home and I get some writing done before dinner.

You might ask how I find time to get housework done, right? I fit it in, in little bits of time. If I didn't write, then I'd get more done, but it's a choice I make. Definitely my home is not what it once was. But as they say, there'll be a time when I can keep my house as clean as I want it to be ... and that day will also be when my children are not home to love, to care for, to cherish.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Homeschooling and Socialization

This is probably the biggest concern friends and family express when I tell them I homeschool. What about friends? they ask. So let's see about friends ...

  • We live in a neighborhood of many friends whom the boys freely play with after the public school gets out. 
  • Once a week they go to Scouts where they play, interact, and serve in a group of ten boys.
  • At least twice a week they go to Karate where they interact with boys and girls in the age range of 8-13.
  • Each Sunday they spend two hours at Church in a group of boys and girls their own age, learning, and doing activities.
  • In between Sunday and Saturday each week, the boys may participate in as few as one or as many as several playgroups, field trips or other 'out' activities.

Do they sound undersocialized to you? Umm, I think not ;)

Dr. Laura wrote an excellent article in May of this year summarizing a study by the Department of Psychology at Bellhaven College in Jackson, Mississippi. In their study these researchers determined that homeschooled university students adjust as well, or even better, than their non-homeschooled counterparts. 

In addition to all that I listed, my boys are also getting time with me, their mom, to feel love, to learn and to grow and to find themselves in the safety and security of a loving home. I don't know about you, but while I spent my school days in the company of hundreds of other children, I only felt further away from who I was, from who loved me. I struggled to find my identity in the halls of my school, between the good girls, the bad girls, the boys, the brainiacks, the jocks ... you name it. 

I think my boys have a tremendous advantage because they can figure out if they are smart, funny, attractive, capable ... in the safety of their home. And the answers they find for themselves will be answers for their life, not just for the moment they are with their friends, but in their hearts, their heads, their lives. 

There is one point about socialization I'd like to make, though. And that's the importance of socialization for MOM. 

Sitting in Tami's backyard last week, I realized that I would be there even if my kids weren't, lol. I need the time to sit with others who are of the same mind as I am. I still talk with my friends from 'before', but they don't really get where I am right now. They don't get why I chose to homeschool, or what unique challenges I face day to day.

However, my homeschooling friends, though they are new, are fast becoming special people in my lives--friends I don't want to go without.

So if you're considering homeschooling, or doing it now, don't forget the importance of friends for yourself as well as for your children. You will get ideas and help from your friends, and the strength and courage to face another day. And your kids will make new friends too!

Now, that's a win/win situation, right?

Friday, September 26, 2008


Last week I went to Tami's Friday picnic and talked with the other moms about Acountable Kids (or something like that.) The point was, that the child knows what they're responsible for and they receive consequences or rewards based on their ability (or lack thereof) to follow through on what they've committed to do.

Today at Tami's picnic, I realized that I have not been accountable for my blog!

I started this blog so that I could keep a record of my journey, both for my sake and for the sake of others who are going through the same thing, either now or down the road. And I've been doing a mighty poor job of it, darn it!

So I'm renewing my committment to you, to myself and to Tami (who is a faithful follower even though I let her down all the time. She just tells me really nicely.)

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary (I remember when it was just Webster's Dictionary ... how old does that make me? For me to know and you to find out. So there!) says accountability is "an obligation or willingness to accept responsibility or to account for one's action for one's actions." 

I have lots to tell you, and have a plan in place for keeping my blog regular with all the things. Some things I plan to talk about in future posts are:
  • socialization
  • schedules
  • household chores
  • pacing
  • love
Does that whet your appetite? I hope so! 

Now that I have a plan, I'll be sure to follow through. That ought to be the first thing we talk about next because I've discovered it's the key to our homeschool success and that is HAVE A PLAN.  It sort of goes under schedules but ... we'll see where we end up.

Thanks for being patient with me! Especially you, Tami ;)

Thursday, September 4, 2008


This has been a hard week.

Life piled on top of me. Squished me pretty good, too.

We had computer problems with K12 - a rarity, from what I hear - but for a newbie like me, it was death. I couldn't function without the online school step-by-step instructions on what to do for each lesson.

That, on top of my life-pile, and I felt like I could hardly breathe. I wondered, really for the first time, what in the world I was doing. I was crazy! What was I thinking? I couldn't do this! I'm too psychotic to be able to pull this off!

I had a good cry (or two, but who's counting, really. No one saw. Doesn't count.)

And today I felt better.

Today I decided to let go of things. Not just figuratively, but literally. I called up people and got out of things I was committed to. I canceled activities or appointments that weren't necessary. I took a good long look at the K12 lesson plans for my boys and figured out how I could make them work and saw that we are not as behind as I had feared.

Today the OLS (k12 online school) was up and running and I could breathe again.

One thing I did that I want to share with all you other newbies or wannabes out there is that I asked for help. In my deepest, darkest moment, I did not crawl into my cave like I wanted to, but I reached out for help to other k12 moms. I asked for help and they gave it, freely, with love and kindness and with real been-there-done-that experience. It helped tremendously.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Our First Two Days

Lots of big feelings going on inside. I wasn't feeling any regrets as we approached our first day, only ... a sense of loneliness or something. I'm not sure. I'm still working through the feelings.

I followed the advice of K12 and am doing the 'gentle start' program they advocate in the "First Five Days" Elluminate Speaker Series. Thank goodness for that, because the academic start has been manageable. What's getting to me is, again, this emotional aspect.

My boys are missing their friends. We live very near the elementary school and always pass it if we leave for errands and even can hear the children playing when they are out for recess. They are very aware of what they are missing. I feel sad for them. I know that what I'm doing is the right thing for them in the long run ... it's this darn short run I hope I have the patience to see them through.

I wish I could take a picture of our little office. Up until a day before school started I still hadn't decided on where would be best to store the material and such. Finally I managed and so far it's working very well. Just wish I could show you.

On Monday we started with Language Arts. Though both my boys are in grade three, Charlie tested lower in language arts and math, so he's doing second grade coursework in those classes. Since the first lesson or two are review, Charlie's were very simple, whereas Xan's were a bit more challenging.

I was extremely surprised by what I saw. Charlie (my usually contrary boy) got right to work. Xander, (my usually dilligent boy) however, talked incessantly, danced around, couldn't focus, wouldn't work and took all day to complete only a fraction of his work.

I'm hopeful that Xander will quickly come to see the benefits of getting his work done - I'm praying I don't strangle him before he gets there!

Thankfully, today was better. We did math and both boys breezed through it. Yay!

Tomorrow is History and Science. I think they will both like that because there are games to be played online and outdoor activities. But, we'll also be doing two subjects so ... a little yikes! at that one.

I spoke with an acquaintance this morning and when I told her I was homeschooling the boys, she said "Good for you!" My response was startling, even to myself. I had to fight back the tears, and all I could say was "Thank you."

No one else has had that reaction. Everyone I've talked to around here, is well, rather discouraging. It's kind of hard to see my neighbors going about their lives feeling so much like the one on the outside.

I'm not expressing myself very well, but my purpose in this blog was to share my journey, so maybe my inability is telling as it is.

Onward and upward, right? I sure hope so.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

An Interview with Summer Miller ~ K12 Mom

Summer has a great K12 blog of her own where she shares her experiences. Check it out to learn more about her and her family. I'm grateful that she agreed to stop by today and answer my questions.

I hope to interview other K12 moms, so if there's something else you would like to know that I haven't already asked, please feel free to post it in the comments and I'll be sure to add it to my list of questions!

Why did you choose to home school your kids?

I was spending at least 40 hours a week working with the school on PTA and making sure that they were servicing my sons IEP, and protecting my daughter from the evils of middle school. I decided that I should listen to my gut and try doing it myself. After all, I believe in Love and Logic and who better to do that than their mother.

Why did you choose to use the K12 curriculum?

I had looked into traditional home schooling and the amount of information out there was overwhelming. When a friend told me about k12 I was so excited. I liked the idea of everything being done for me so I could spend my time working and playing with my kids instead of trying to come up with the next lesson.

What are the ages of your children?

14, 12, 8, 5

What is a typical school day like in your home?

I like my sleep so when I get up (about 730) we have prayers and scriptures, breakfast, clean up whatever mess we left from the day before and then the kids hit the books. Sometimes we find ourselves running errands in the morning and then school work has to wait until we're done. We are extremely flexible. If we want to go to the fair, we do. If it looks like a great day to go sledding then we just finish our school work after we've thawed out. I try to remember that the most important part of schooling is learning, sometimes that happens better outside or on the aisles of the grocery store.

In your opinion what are the strengths of the K12 program? What are its weaknesses?

They take the guess work out of what to teach. I know my kids are learning what they need to for state testing but in a way that better suits their personality. I like their literature program that focuses on the classics. Sometimes the lessons can be so in depth that we don't finish them. That is one of the best things about k12, I can make that decision and not feel guilty.

In regard to your home school, what do you plan to do differently this year from last?

I dropped a couple of classes this year. I am supplementing the program with stuff that is specific to my children's interest. Bailey loves to cook and decorate cakes so that will be the primary focus for her art this year.

What advice would you offer a prospective or new K12 parent?

Relax. Trust the curriculum. Have fun with your kids. Remember that learning to learn is more important than regurgitating a bunch of facts.

Friday, August 1, 2008


Yesterday I got to go to another K12 get-together. Thank goodness for Tami and her family because she is always setting up these playdates and they are so good for me--oh yeah, and good for my boys too ;)

Yesterdays' playdate was the best one yet for me. Kelli, Tami and Summer were there, as well as Roxanne. This was my third time seeing Tami and Summer and my second for Kelli--first for Roxanne. And yesterday I felt like I was IN. I felt like I knew these girls a bit better and I felt like I got some real help and understanding from them.

And yesterday, I really needed it.

On the way to the park, the boys started complaining about doing K12. Up until now they've had a really good attitude about homseschooling so this really hit me out of left field. Apparently, the other day they were out riding bikes when Miss Crump, our schools' most popular teacher, was visiting a neighborhood friend. She saw the boys and waved the over. They know her and like all kids at the school, adore her, so they went to talk to her.

She asked which one was Charlie because she was so excited to have Charlie in her class next year. Charlie felt proud that she said she couldn't wait to have him and so he felt sad to tell her "We're going to be homeschooled this year."

"What?? But I want you in my class!" was Miss Crumps' reply.

And so then Charlie, and Xander by extension, are feeling sad about home school. And so was I. Big Time.

When we arrived at the park, I told the other ladies what had happened and they all comforted me. They've been there. Their kids have been there. They admitted, maybe it won't work out. But won't be so glad we tried? And for them, it's all been worth it and their kids all prefer K12.

It just felt so good to be understood. I didn't even tell them about the lunch out with neighbor friends the other day in which they all looked at me like I was a total freak. We went around the table telling our latest news and part of my news was that I was getting ready for school. And the table just fell into dumbfounded silence. No one knew what to say. And so we just moved on. I felt like I was completely alone.

Have you ever felt that way? If you're a homeschooling mom, or if you're thinking of becoming one, I bet you have. How could you not? I think only another homeschooling mom would understand. But that's a post for another day.

For today I wanted to talk about why I continue to feel like I am doing the right thing by keeping my boys home this year.

Oh it would be so easy to send them back to school! They've got great teacher assignments this year and they've got lots of friends and besides, our school is right across the street. How much easier could it get?

But that would be a cop out. I know it in my gut. It's not right for me. There are no guarantees of course. I have no real way of knowing whether homeschooling will be right for us either, but it's something I've got to try.

At the end of my days, I may regret never trying to homeschool my boys when I've had so many feelings that have told me I should do it. However, I'm quite certain I'll never regret trying. Trying will tell me if it's right or not. Trying will teach me so much about myself and my boys. Somewhere deep down, trying will let my boys know that I love them and I'm well, willing to TRY ... for their sake. I choose to try and to have no regrets.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Do I have to be a SuperMom to be a super mom?

This is something the worries the heck out of me.

I think I am just a 'normal' mom; there are some things I do really well, and a lot of things I think I need improvement on.

Recently I met a few K12 moms and first impressions tell me they are SuperMoms. They put their vegetable gardens in on time and take good care of them. They bake bread and put up awesome freezer meals for the month. I could go on and on.

Me? I love my kids, but that's maybe the only thing I'm Super at. And even then there are days I just want to mentally check out, ya know? Some days when I wish my job title was not "MOM". Sometimes I fall behind on housework or groceries or laundry or something and I'm playing catch-up for a whole week (sometimes longer!) trying just to get to a good level playing field where I feel I'm in control again.

Sometimes my boys ask me a question and I just stare at them, my face blank and my only response is "Ahhh. I don't know?"

"I don't know" a lot.

Can I still do this thing? Still have a successful homeschool? Is it really for us regular, average, or even slightly below average, moms?

This was the question first and foremost on my mind when I recently joined the K12 Parent to Parent yahoo group. The responses I received were wonderful, uplifting and encouraging. Basically they all said “you can do it!”

Most of their advice can be summed up in the following quotes that they shared with me:

"A hundred years from now it will not matter what my bank account was, the sort of house I lived in, or the kind of car I drove...but the world may be different because I was important in the life of a child." ~ Author Unknown

“My theory on housework is, if the item doesn't multiply, smell, catch fire, or block the refrigerator door, let it be. No one else cares. Why should you?” ~ Erma Bombeck

"The work will wait while you show the child the rainbow, but the rainbow won't wait while
you do the work." ~ Author Unknown

So rest assured that you are not alone in thinking that you are too imperfect to be a successful homeschooling mom. One mom said to me, “loving your kids is ALL you have to be super at” (Linda D. in PA) And that’s the best advice I have to pass on to you.

Love your kids, do what you feel is right and you already are a SuperMom!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Before the Boxes Arrive ~ K12 Speaker Series

Today I attended my first online K12 Seminar with Lori Beverage and Heidi Higgins. It was really good! Up until now when I've thought about the upcoming school year, this has been my response:

"Ahhhhhhhhhh ..................................."

Yeah. That about sums it up!

So I was grateful for today's seminar because it gave me the kick in the pants I needed and taught me just exactly what needs to be done "before the boxes arrive". And I'm going to try to share what I learned with you!

Your To Do List:

Family Routine:
  • Think about what might work for your family and plan for it.
  • Be flexible and don't expect your days to go exactly as planned.
  • Your first priority should always be to your husband and your children.
  • Household chores, laundry, dishes and all those things are just distractions from what's really important.
Phone/Door Messages:
  • Let callers know that you are busy homeschooling your children between the hours of ... and to call back later.
  • Leave a note on your door that you aren't available until after school is done.
  • Don't let yourself get distracted by callers on the phone or at the door!
Trim Down Outside Activities & Obligations
  • Learn to say "no" when you get those inevitable calls for you to help.
  • Limit your childrens activities also to those things that are most important.
Family Preparations
  • Family councils or planning sessions prior to school starting can help children, spouse and extended family members come to understand what might be expected once school starts.
Home Preparations
  • Food prep ~ you'll have children home all day so you'll need snacks and lunches planned for. Consider crockpot dinners ~ these will help make dinner run more smoothly plus they make your house smell yummy!
  • Location for books and school supplies. Where will you put all of your materials? Book shelf? Loose bins? There is no set way to do this, you just need to find what works for you.
  • Distractions ~ turn off the T.V. and set aside the remote. Put away all things that might tempt your children away from their studies.
  • Clutter ~ this is another distraction thing, but the more clutter/distractions, the more difficult it is to concentrate on the school work.
  • Laundry ~ this can be a major hurdle for a lot of families. Consider letting your children do their own laundry! If you're not ready for that, at least work on it together so you don't carry the burden of all the work on your own.
  • Chores ~ the same goes for chores. Be generous in considering what your children might be able to do to help with the daily chores.
What Space You Will Use:
  • You will need access to your computer.
  • You'll need space to spread out.
  • Some families spread out to the couch, using T.V. trays even for their work. Some use the kitchen table, while others have rooms or offices set aside for their use.
  • In the end, do whatever works!
Materials You Will Need:
  • You'll need regular school supplies, including pencils, notebooks and loose leaf paper, etc.
Time You Will Spend:
  • Print daily or weekly schedules for you to share with your children.
  • Make meals a part of your schedule, i.e. snack time is at 10:30, etc.
  • Be careful not to over schedule!
  • Consider using a dry erase marker on your window or sliding door to write out the schedule.
  • has an education plan for your children which you can print out. Add daily chores and other activities like piano practice.
  • Be sure to have a cut-off point when you'll be done school for the day and it doesn't drag on and on.
  • Consider calling this your kids' Ticket to Freedom, as Heidi calls it ~ when your kids have completed their tasks for their day, they're free~
Best Strategies:
  • Plan your school days at the best time for your family, not what works for other people or traditional school. It's all about you and your family.
  • Plan 'down-time' activities.
  • Make your plan in advance of school starting, so it's ready to go as soon as you need it.
  • Plan your meals and snacks in advance.
  • Read your education objectives so your goals can be renewed in your mind.
  • Materials prep ~ be prepared for each day, it will help you to stay on top of things.
  • Don't loose sight of the the PLAN (see Family Routine.)
  • Have Fun!
  • Read.
  • Have a list of friends you can call or talk to online when things get tough.
  • Go to the OLS (online school on for help.
  • See the online tutorials for help.
  • Take advantage of yahoo groups ~ you can see the link for the K12 group in my sidebar, but you could also search for k12 groups in your state for more local groups.
Contingency Plans:

You will have your bad days. Or days when school doesn't run to so well, or you're not running so well - or your kids.
  • Re-evaluate your priorities.
  • Help someone else ~ service.
  • Do some different sort of work, preferably physical work, like gardening or household chores.
  • Focus on your health. Exercise. Play.
  • Read good books together.
  • Have a good support group of friends for yourself and your children.
  • Music ~ put on some fun, happy music to do your chores to.
  • Endurance ~ hang on! Think and act positively and your children will follow suit (plus you'll feel better too.)
  • Goals ~ keep your progress sheet handy.
Most of all, 'down days' are a great opportunity for you to model how you can overcome life's challenges!

Lori encouraged us to remember to have fun. She discouraged us from becoming 'box checkers' - so focused on completing the work that we forget what we're doing this for. Enjoy the journey!

Why Homeschool?

This is the question I get all the time from friends and family. I even have to ask myself from time to time!

First off, I have to say, I don't know. I do it because I feel it is right.

But that's just not enough information, is it?

I don't do it because I think the public school system stinks or anything like that. I have a great local school with awesome teachers and administrators.

No, our reason is much more personal and intangible.

I do it because I love my boys and I want to be involved in their learning. I want to see them grow and cheer along with them when they've mastered something and hug them when learning is hard.

I do it because I believe one mom who loves her kids is worth a zillion teachers. Not because I'm the brilliant person on the planet (far from it!) but because I'm capable, willing and--I can't say this often enough--I love my boys.

No one else will love them and therefore want the best for them, as I do. No one else knows their potential, their strengths and weaknesses, as I do.

One of the reasons I went with the K12 program is because they provide the curriculum and they also provide certified teachers who will touch base with my children from time to time and also answer our questions at any time. So I know I won't 'break' my kids or 'ruin' them.

But I can love them, better than anyone else. So between our K12 teacher and a mom who loves them (did I already say that?) my boys are sure to succeed!

So the real question then becomes, Why not homeschool?

Considering the Homeschooling Alternative

I've always been attracted to homeschooling and always thought that I would homeschool my kids. But when my twin boys were learning their ABC's and learning to how to read, their distinct differences really through me for a loop and I didn't feel up to the challenge.

Xander learned from me, and everything was great. He learned his ABC's quickly and grasped the concept of reading right away.

However, Charlie fought me at every turn. And worse, he seemed to take the low road when compared with Xander. The more Xan mastered something, the more Charlie pulled away from that subject or skill and went the complete opposite. He refused to learn from me, and his mantra became "I can't."

Oh how I came to hate those two little words!

On top of it all, the boys were developing a strong dislike for one another and I worried about their relationship in the years to come. They were each others only brother--I felt they needed to be friends, they needed to be each other's support, love and encouragement in their lifetime.

So, I did what I might have said I would never, ever do. I put my guys into preschool.


And you know? It was the best thing I ever did.

They only went for the second semester of one year and I put them into a developmentally challenged preschool as the 'typically developing peers'. This gave them the opportunity to feel really great about their own skills, but also to develop some compassion and empathy for others. Oh, and they were in separate classes!

By the end of the school year my guys liked each other again and there was harmony once more in my home.

But my experiences trying to teach Charlie had made me doubt myself and I was afraid to try again, so I sent them to public school (we have an awesome school right across the street from my house) which is where they have stayed for the last few years.

Through it all, I have always told the boys that one day, I might homeschool them. And surprise, surprise, they came to me toward the end of the school year this year and said they wanted to be homeschooled!

I know! Imagine my amazement! Happily I took them up on it. Little did they know I had already been taking some steps toward the same end, but our public school has such awesome teachers in grade three, I thought my homework and research would be put into use for the next year. I had no idea my guys would request to homeschooled so soon.

While researching homeschooling in Utah, I found the K12 site and entered my boys into their enrollment lottery. They lost. All this was before the boys' big announcement so I thought it was just as well. Amazingly, shortly after they told me they wanted to be homeschooled, I was notified that two spots had opened up for them and the boys had been accepted into K12's Utah Virtual Academy.

So that's where we are today! My boys are almost eight years old and will be going into grade three in the Fall. Well, August 26th, actually, as that's when school starts with the UTVA. I have made one small adjustment, and that is that I have chosen to transfer to the Washington County Online School rather than the UTVA because I have found some wonderful people to work with at that school and I feel more comfortable with the chain of communication. It's a small change though and really impacts little in terms of the type of school experience we expect to have.

I have started this blog in an effort to document our K12 adventure for your interest and for my sanity. I really find it helps me to write things down--always preferring to sort my problems out through the written word than in any other way.

If you're a K12 mom or a homeschooling mom, or any kind of mom, feel free to post your comments or questions. We can learn and grow together!