The Road to Failure and My Misguided Intentions

homeschoolI suppose that I should start out by explaining why my husband and I chose to homeschool in the first place. We have decided that the public school system is going downhill quickly. Over where we are, it’s not uncommon to have 35-40 kids in a single class, the ridiculousness of Common Core is beginning, and teachers have been brainwashed by union heads into thinking they are underappreciated and underpaid. We simply believe that homeschooling our four-year-old twin girls, Allie and Kristy, is now a no-brainer. This was a decision that we made because we think that allowing a child to flourish and blossom at their own pace is important and can be hindered in the normal school setting, especially with the ever increasing class sizes.

The first year of homeschooling, I started preparing months in advance. I arranged for there to be a dedicated room in the house for the schooling and installed every item I could imagine would be in a classroom. I created detailed schedule plans for the school year and researched forms of curriculum. I visited every homeschool support forum available at the time and by August, I was all nerves. The strict schedule and responsibility of what I would have to do for the next 12 years was already taking its toll on me. When the alarm went off at six on the first scheduled day of school, I jumped out of bed like someone had shot at me.

Allie and Kristy were little troopers in spite of their crazy mommy. I followed my plans to the letter and they did their best to see me as their teacher instead of just Mommy. We followed the same routine for a couple of weeks and from the outside looking in, I was the perfect homeschooling mom who had it all together. On the inside, however, I was a wreck. The grueling routine and schedule that I had created was getting to me, my husband, my children, and even my home that had been terribly neglected. In a few weeks, I had transformed from the fun loving wife and mother to a generic person who just filled a spot at the dinner table.

graduateIt wasn’t until mid September that my husband saved me from my own self-propelled madness. As I sat in my pajamas at the edge of the bed, crying because I thought I was going to have to give up homeschooling, he said, “Tammy, how is what you are doing any different than what the girls would have in real school?”. It was then that it hit me. The whole time I’d been going about this wrong. I mimicked everything I thought school should be and had abandoned the idea that school could be different, which was our point in the beginning. Homeschool was a way for us to allow our girls to have a choice my strict planning and routine was leaving no space for freedom.  From that point, everything changed. I relaxed my rules, my schedule, and integrated schooling as part of the daily activities in the house, instead of only focusing on education.

Allie and Kristy now love their school at home. Allie is creative and spends more time on her artwork, but Kristy loves to read and is allowed to spend as much time as she wants reading new stories. Homeschooling is not about a strict routine, but about happy children who get the chance to find out who they are and what they want to learn. If this is your first year of homeschooling, be sure to use my experience to remind you of this fact and you will find that this task is actually no task at all, but only part of being a good parent.

Space Issue Debunked (or Bunked)

bunksWhen my twin girls were four, my husband and I purchased our first house.  We moved in two weeks after our five year anniversary and it was such a  wonderful change from the apartment.  This new place had more bedrooms, allowing our daughters to each have their own space in time, and the ability for us to begin trying for another baby in the near future.  The twins certainly are not ready to sleep alone yet and have never spent the night apart since conception.   The one bedroom they wanted to share was a decent size, but really seemed suited to one bed not two.   The girls were in their cozy Merino sleep sacks which we splurged on from the Sleep Sack Store and still in toddler beds for the first month after we settled in, and the two toddler beds side by side were okay, with just a little bit of space for a night table in between, but it did not allow for much morning play space or wind down room at night.   I recall when I was young that I had a twin bed against the wall, looking across at the  corner with my  very own bookshelf  and a nice comfy bean bag set in the nook and I really wanted that for Allie and Kristy.   Continue reading

Allie’s Guardian Angel – A trip to the ER

Emergency Room SignWhat an awful experience!  Scariest weekend  Jim and I ever had to encounter since the twins were born four years ago.  I remember Jim wanting boys when we first found out we were pregnant with multiples but secretly I was glad they were girls because I knew that they would be easier and gentler when playing.  Turns out I was wrong though, as Allie and Kristy are both showing tomboy tendencies and Allie is definitely the more adventurous leader.  She climbs on furniture and jumps off, giving me a heart attack a couple times a day. Strong discipline had been implemented with both of them and it seemed to be working as she was getting better  until yesterday.

Allie and Kristy know they are not allowed into our bedroom to play but when I was pouring coffee yesterday morning I heard the absolute worst crash and ran to find Allie screaming and blood on the side of her shirt.  My tall dresser was tipped on the floor at an angle and a bottle of perfume was spilled on the floor.   Kristy was crying in the doorway.    I scooped up Allie and noticed a huge gash behind her left ear and I was in shock as I saw her white skull exposed.   Jim was working so I grabbed a towel from the bathroom and applied pressure with one hand while calling 911 with the other hand.  Rushed to the hospital after an ambulance ride I hardly remember with Kristy in my lap and Allie on the gurney.   Continue reading

The best toys are for outdoor use

toy-tractorKids really need more exercise these days. You will discover way too many obese children around which can affect their health and well being. So, just how can we get little ones to get away from the video games and TVs and go and play out of the house in the sun. The answer is to have a few fun outdoor toys they can enjoy.

How It Was

Growing up, I remember all the fun times I had playing with several of my most loved toys. We had an inflatable swimming pool in the back yard and we enjoyed splashing around in the summer. Too bad we couldn’t use our small air compressor back then to quickly inflate it. Even in the chilly weather we were outside having fun with our action toys including He-Man, G.I. Joe, Transformers as well as others. We used to pretend to have war games and have them in the sandpit. My brother and I in addition enjoyed playing on our swing set. Those days, we were rarely indoors. Continue reading

Composting 101

compostI’ve always heard about how great it is to start your own compost pile. My husband and I decided that it would actually be a great learning experience for the whole family. The kids really loved getting involved in this one. Again, one of the many benefits of homeschooling.

What is Compost?

Compost is an organic matter, usually garden debris, that has been allowed or encouraged to decay. To be a successful organic gardener, you will want to take advantage of the benefit of using a compost. It is useful in improving fertility and texture of planting beds and is an important constituent of greenhouse and potting soils. Its nutritive qualities depend on the fertilizers and other nutrient-containing materials added to the compost pile as it decomposes. Continue reading