Back From Nebraska Again

We’re back from a short week at the fabulous home of Tiffany and company again.  Most of us went this time (me, Fiona, Alex, Toria and her boyfriend Gabe this time!), leaving Daryl home with Jack and Rhia.

We only went for 5 days and bunked in different spots around the house, but we had a fabulous time.

It is so fun to have kids so well matched.

When we visited for the very first time (10 years ago!), I was pregnant with Alex.  Tiffany had Jessie and Jack, and I had Victoria, Annalee (who now goes by Rhia) and Jack.  Her daughter was right smack in the middle of the ages of my daughters, and our Jacks were just about the same age (her Jack has Downs Syndrome and is a year older, but they were really wonderfully matched).

Tiffany and Jack, 2009

Tiffany and Jack, 2009

Our kids were stair-steps in ages, but Tiffany lost baby Jacob the year before I had baby Alex, and that was such a terrible loss.  It left a gap in our families, in every way.

When I got pregnant with Fiona years later, she was very much an “oops!” baby, and then a year later, a wonderful “oops!” miracle happened for Tiffany too– Millie.  She was born a year after Fiona and we were back in stair-step.  🙂

Jessica and Fiona, 2011

Jessica and Fiona, 2011

Millie, 2012

Millie, 2012

Now, after all of these years of friendship, our kids are still so well matched up:

Victoria (18)

Jessie (17)

Rhiannon (16)

Jack (theirs) (14)

Jack (ours) (13)

(Jacob would be 10)

Alex (9)

Fiona (5)

Millie (4)

Their Jack and our Alex are now good friends too, and happily play Minecraft and bounce on the trampoline and have all kinds of wonderful fun.

It is surreal and special to see these two new little girls of ours, starting their homeschool adventures in our bonded families.  They have really grown up with each other as family, which means so much to me.  My kids couldn’t ask for better homeschool cousins, so to speak.

It’s a pretty magical homeschool.

Now if we could just get back to more science lessons….

(Excuse the absence of any current photos!  My devices were all dead and I always happily abandon them all when I get there.  I planned on swiping photos from someone else’s Facebook or Instagram to blog, and there are none to swipe!)

 

 

Burned Out After Only 14 (or 41 Cumulative) Years of Homeschooling…

I’m really struggling as a homeschooling mom lately.  I’ve lost my motivation and I feel increasing pressure to get it back for the sake of the younger kids.

Toria has now officially finished homeschool.  She was educated at home from preschool through 12th grade, minus a few notable days in her junior year where she tried a public arts school three hours away (and promptly asked to leave it).

That’s 14 years done with child number one.  And there are 12 years done with child number two, 9 years with child number three, 5 years with child number four and now a year of preschool for child number 5.

If you could add them together cumulatively, you could say I’ve now homeschooled 41 years.  I know that’s not how it works, but it feels like it some days!  🙂

That’s a lot of educational games, historical adventures, science projects, read-alouds, lapbooks and lesson plans.

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And also a lot of math programs purchased that were never used, failed attempts to start curricula, projects never finished and abandoned lesson plans.

It’s September, and that used to mean a renewed excitement about a new school year.  I think the first 12 years or so, we always did something fun for the first day not back to school.  There were cakes and carnivals, not-back-to-school pajama parties and trips to the zoo.

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This year, I didn’t even remember that I was blowing that off for two weeks.

I’m struggling to fit a new writing job into the mix, along with more and more jobs around the house — preparing for house renovations, canning hundreds of pounds of pears and applesauce, keeping up with laundry and cooking and with what’s left of my garden after the slugs descended.

I also miss my old homeschool communities.

When I started homeschooling all those years ago, I started a yahoo group for homeschool moms and dads who practiced attachment parenting.  I found that I really needed a support system of other parents like myself, who weren’t homeschooling to avoid something negative in schools but just for the love of our kids and a desire to give them a happy educational life in addition to a happy childhood.  I found that I got along fine with parents of other faiths and other homeschool styles but I didn’t get along at all with the punitive homeschoolers who forced their kids to do hours of schoolwork and punished and controlled their kids.  That yahoo group became a large, vibrant group that really kept me company on this adventure over the years. It’s also how I met friends who became “real life” friends around the country, such as my friend Tiffany whom we visit so often.

Unfortunately, Facebook has sort of meant the end of email groups.  While the group still exists, we rarely chat.  And yes, there are many homeschooling groups on Facebook, but they feel like large crowds of arguing strangers more than an intimate group of friends to talk to about the day.

Blogs have changed, too.  Back then, we homeschool moms didn’t start blogging as in order to make money the way it seems most do these days.  We just wanted that connection and support (and to document it all for ourselves and loved ones), and there were so many moms who poured hours of work into creating free lesson plans for each other to use, making up educational games, scanning fun activities, sharing advice, you name it.

In the first years of this blog, it was hosted at Homeschool Journal and many of us would visit each other’s blogs on that site to check in on each other.  I’m still friends with some of those bloggers on Facebook now, but I don’t think most of them have blogged for years (or not about homeschooling any more).  Life gets busy and changes.  The new generation seems concerned about making things to sell on Teachers Pay Teachers or earning affiliate links or hits for google adsense.  People don’t talk about what their meal plans are for the week and the embarrassing thing their child said in the grocery store, it’s all professional and polished.

And many of my homeschooling friends are almost done with this homeschool business, or at least at a very different place than I am.  I went and kept having more children, so I have a child about to start kindergarten when most of my old homeschool friends are down to just high school kids.

I guess I feel a bit like the middle aged mom who gets unexpectedly pregnant and no longer fits in with friends about to enter their empty nest years but also doesn’t fit in with the young 20-somethings at the park.

I miss my tribe.  And I miss my passion for it all. 

My kids deserve that same enthusiasm that their older siblings got, though, so I’m determined to find it again — or fake it till I make it.

I’m not sure how I’ll do that, but I’ll keep you updated in case it helps someone else.  That’s what I originally created this space to be for, after all.  🙂

(Note:  I wrote this over a week ago and have been so busy with History Fest and other events that it’s been sitting on my dashboard all of this time!  I’m not sure what that says about this issue, but History Fest certainly does bring me back to my homeschooling passions and I can’t wait to share some of this year’s fun with you all!)