Monday, January 7, 2013
Many of you who have actually read this blog across the years are doubtless wondering what in the world happened to my posts. I went from fairly regular writer/researcher to nearly complete vacuum status starting September last. What has happened indeed?
In March of last year, my husband David and I made a long-desired purchase of an acreage in a small town east of the city. Though a truly perfect piece of land on which to build the farm of our misty, water-colored dreams, the home on which it sat could really only be completely appealing to anyone with a moderate case of 'beer goggles' and - at least in our case - a rather overactive imagination.
For weeks before and after the purchase of the house, we created and poured over extensive plans for its renovation - including removal of the roof and addition of a second story. The scope and depth of the plans never really phased us much, as we believed they would be carried out in an empty house while we bunked elsewhere. Ahhh...the best laid plans of mice and men...
And so it was that in August, Dave and I, the three kids, two dogs, a parrot and some fish, moved from a 3200 square foot home made nearly perfectly comfortable over a ten year period, to a 1700 square foot home previously inhabited by a young couple with a predilection for drug abuse, and quite possibly a Sasquatch.
It must be said that while we all (even the children) understood the move was guaranteed to come attached to a certain amount of frustration, none of us really understood exactly what that would look like.
Moving from an idyllic older neighborhood replete with local public elementary school and playmates on every corner, to the near-equivalent of Little House on The Prairie, has caused numerous arguments, an enormous gasoline bill and an organizational level necessary to complete tasks while 'in town' akin to Seal Team 7.
"Mom, can Kaitlyn come over to spend the night?" Gosh, that sounds like an innocent enough question, but when Kaitlyn now lives 50 miles away round trip and the drive is made in a Ford Expedition that gets 16 if we're driving with a tail wind, Mom's and daughter's end-games don't always line up! Thank goodness the boonies has wi-fi! Since we don't allow TV watching (other than oldies-but-goodies on Netflix) if it weren't for the X-Box and "Just Dance", she might wither and die for lack of stimulation!
The boys, as could be imagined, have gone missing for hours as they scout the 20 acres of woods next door (they have yet to locate the Sasquatch) and assist their father and I in our endless quest to modify our landscape with hoop houses and chicken coops and giant gardens and loafing sheds for goats and horses and alpacas (?). They don't really complain much (thank you Jesus!) and beyond hoping they might be able to play a sport in the spring - I think mainly to feel as though they're not the only children in the world - they are pretty easy going.
The re-construction (it's beyond a remodel at this point I fear) of the house is loud. Period. The dogs - a combination of old, cataract and cancer-ridden red healer mix and a very young, very energetic, VERY PROTECTIVE, Catahoola (tall blue healer) - are convinced that anytime the contractors move from one place to another, they are a different person completely and therefore not to be trusted, so they bark and bark and bark and bark and bark...My sanity is definitely being tested just with the noise. I can't wait until the guys tear the ceiling out in my living room and kitchen and all that insulation and gypsum flies out onto my already-dusty bare cement-slab floor. How exciting that will all be! Of course I am the middle-man in the whole deal, working between the general contractor and the inspector - copying, pdf'ing and emailing endless documents all the while keeping a running total of costs and any possible overages in my head!
But wait, this was the year that I began schooling all three kids at home! We use a program called Classical Conversations (CC), and that really helps a lot, frankly. We all go to 'school' one day a week. There, tutors (not teachers, parents are the TEACHERS) guide the kids through the lessons that will need to be reinforced for the rest of the week at home. We learn mainly English and history, but science, art and music are also covered. It is a classical, Biblically-based program - something I long to be returned to PUBLIC school - with basic memorization of facts, oftentimes sung to a fun tune that helps aid in retention.
I add spelling and Math at home for now, but though the 7-year-old is able to keep up in Spelling, I have to do two separate math programs - one for him and one for the other two (10 1/2 and 11).
Most mornings (flexibility is a hallmark of home schooling and that definitely applies to ours!) we start with a devotion and brief Bible study (we're using Jesus Calling for kids right now), then on to spelling and math. We're usually finished by 1, so we then have lunch. After lunch, the older kids work on their writing and grammar assignments from CC. I try to work on ROPE business during this time, all the while knowing I will be interrupted for 100 different reasons - certainly to include, "Mom, I don't get how to write this paragraph!"
Of course, days when I have meetings, or we have doctor appointments or household errands, this schedule goes right out the window and we have to carve out a different strategy for getting the work done. Still and all, the day goes on and we go right along with it whatever that looks like!
And so, thus is the way of the world for me at the moment and I haven't even gotten my garden in, or my animals capably installed on the land, so it can only get MORE hectic if that's possible!
It should be said, as I close, that I wouldn't have it any other way. In fact, I weep for the years I spent believing I couldn't educate my own children and it was better to have them in school so I could have time to get 'my stuff' done.
Last December I reached the milestone of 50 years. I've been through a lot in those years (marriage, child, divorce, marriage, child, loss of a child, child, cancer, adoption of two girls - one of which we've been unable to parent...). I've changed a LOT across that span of time and I have lots of regrets, but my true regrets are two; it took me until I was 41 to know Christ, and I turned my kids over without even a second thought to public school starting in Kindergarten.
Oh, yes, there are days I want to run screaming from house and live in the woods with the Sasquatch, but the days that everything clicks, Heaven on Earth seems possible and I wouldn't trade my hectic, farm building/renovation-laden/kid intensive way of life for anything!
So it goes that just as God put me on the job four years ago of bringing public education to the public eye through ROPE, He hasn't seen fit to let me quit yet. Consequently, I will be continuing on in life juggling as many balls as I can get into the air at one time, doing the best I can at everything I can, but all the while knowing I'll fall short somewhere. Hang in there with me. Read our Facebook page. It is most often updated with the stories I still try to read everyday because it is the easiest to do in the shortest amount of time. If you keep up with the literature, it will be easier for you to understand our emails when I have time to get them out!
More than anything, though, thanks for your time, patience and understanding. Our kids - and the society they will create - are worth our time, energy and attention and the girls and I (board members Julia Seay, Lynn Habluetzel, Danna Foreman, Stacy Willis, Jo Joyce and Lori Womack) will need your help to continue our work whether I have time to blog or not!