All posts for the month January, 2012

Defining Moments and Missed Opportunities

Published January 23, 2012 by sortitclickitdone

How many defining moments and missed opportunities have you had in your lifetime?  Almost every decision we make could be a defining moment or a missed opportunity.  How do we keep the balance from questioning our decisions to going along peacefully with the tide of our lives?  Sometimes it is hard to make an important decision.  Do you ride it out?  Do you make the decision after careful thought? 

When I decided to leave my job in 2010, this was a defining moment.  Figuring out what to do next was the hard part.  As parents, we are torn between taking care of our kids and being available for them and putting them in the hands of others to take care of for us.  Obviously as a homeschool parent, I have been home for them most of their lives.  Working evenings full-time then 75% of the time was just a way to meet my goal and have it both ways. 

Since 2010, I have had the opportunity to explore what is important to me.  I first followed a friend’s advice to “say yes to every opportunity”.  Three volunteer jobs, a home business, and a part-time job later; my husband complained that I was busier now than I was when I was working nearly full time!  At the end of 2011, it was time to back up and evaluate.  After a faith community sermon on “saying no so that you can say yes” I was justified in letting go of some of my commitments so that I can focus on others.

What is important to me? 

  1.  Helping other preserve their stories primarily through photos.
  2. Helping others through major transitions in their lives.
  3. Ensuring my children enjoy learning and providing them an individualized education.

Ok, no small order there but a start.  I can look at any request of me and ask myself if it meets any of the goals above.  If not, I say no.  Of course, I left out my marriage and ensuring that stays healthy…is there room?  Ok, add goal number four, ensuring the family unit is happy, healthy, and loving.

Whew…now I am getting exhausted thinking of this.  I still have my part-time job, I still have my home business, I am still volunteering through my faith community though have dropped other volunteer commitments, I still homeschool my kids.

So I have it all planned out, right?  Well one kid said to me at the end of last year, just as I was figuring it all out, “maybe I would like to go to public high school”.  Another said to me, “maybe I would like to go to that private school nearby for a year”.  UGH!  Don’t you know I have just figured everything out?  Don’t you know how hard it was to get to this point?  Anxiety creeps back in, that unsettled feeling that things are about to change in a big way.

I love the fact that the older children are separating and becoming these wonderful adult-like creatures.  I love the fact that they want a peer group and not wanting to play with mom every second of the day.  But does this mean homeschooling is over?  Does this mean the 3rd child has to go to school too because his siblings have shaken the apple cart?  Does this mean I pursue a higher paying job to pay for all of this? 

2012 looks like it will be another year of sorting it all out again.  We roll with changes, evaluate options, make decisions.  It all works out in the end…


Creating Spaces

Published January 19, 2012 by sortitclickitdone

All of my life, I have been attempting to create my own space.  From my bedroom closet floor in the room my sister and I shared to the entry way closet in my family home when the bedroom closet became too crowded, I was trying to make my own space.  As an adult, my apartment that I shared with two other women that were there first, I quickly utilized my extra large room and made that my bedroom, desk, living room, and sometimes dining room all in one.  I stopped caring about my own space as the years went on.  During my first marriage, I had no space of my own and as I reflect, wonder if this was a symptom of a larger problem.  From our apartments to our first homes, all of the space was taken up by “our” things, “his” things, and then finally “kid” things.  After the divorce, I again had my own space in the duplex I rented.  Never meaning to fall in love, I met the man I was to marry and quickly we began talking about combining spaces.  I resisted this invitation at first after all I went through to GET my own space again.  But I was quickly won over by the love and affection shown to me by my wonderful husband.  We squeezed 5 people into a home built for 3.  I was in love…but I didn’t have any space.  After a couple of years, my husband was feeling the lack of space and made the ultimatum, “move or remodel”.  We created wonderful spaces in the remodel for the kids, a wonderful bedroom for us, and my husband reclaimed the “man space” he had lost by the marriage.  While my bedroom became a peaceful refuge for me, I was missing something.  As my husband worked on another space for the kids, “the game room”; I began to have this longing for my own space.  After all, I was running a business from home, homeschooling the kids—wasn’t I entitled to some space?  I was told I could share the “man space”.  Well, my friend, the man space is in the basement where it is cold and where I am away from the kid space and at any moment, the kids would be fighting because I wasn’t near enough to respond.  Today I took charge.  I have been slowly emptying the mud room that we created when we remodeled under the guise of “organization”.  I put a work table in the room, my computer, a chair, and some of my scrapbook supplies.  Ahhhhh….my space.  My space so that I don’t have to clear it off every time we eat like I did at the kitchen table.  My space is a place where I can leave my creativity and come back to it without unloading everything only to put it away again.  Everyone needs a space, whether it is a closet door taken off of a room and made into a little alcove, whether it is an area of a kitchen that is not used.  Or it could be a bedroom closet floor when you and your sister have to share everything…

Hot Cocoa Mornings

Published January 18, 2012 by sortitclickitdone

Very little has stayed the same in my life over the years.  I have grown up, went to college, got married, had kids, got a divorce, met the love of my life, and got married again.  The one stable friend in my life has been hot cocoa.  Much like a warm cup of coffee (which I don’t like—sorry dear husband who tried to convince me when I met him to start drinking it) or tea (which I occasionally substitute) which warms your soul on a cold Wisconsin morning, I cradle my cup and look out into the big world.  I think about choices, choices that every mother has to make.  Do I work full-time and spend most of my income on a day care setting?  Do I work part-time and see parts of my family at a time?  Do I forego work for the greater good of the family? 

When I was pregnant with my first child, my then husband and I toured the highly rated hospital day care where I worked.  There were 3 or 4 babies in the room with 3 or 4 cribs lined against the wall.  Both caregivers were attending to babies so that left 2 of them in the crib unattended for the moments they were busy with another child.  I imagined what it would be like with quadruplets where you had to meet all of the babies’ needs at once and I quickly put that out of my mind.  After calculating the finances, we quickly realized that we could provide our own child care and I could work part-time.  So began the hot cocoa mornings….

15 years later, I sit at my kitchen table 6 or 7 living arrangements later and a wonderful new husband of 4 years, drinking hot cocoa writing this blog.  I have seen other children run off to school in the bitterly cold mornings grateful that we chose to homeschool and let our kids be kids for just a few moments longer.  While holding my hot cocoa and watching my children still in their pj’s happily playing, I would point out just how lucky they were to be able to stay warm and have more free time than the little grownups we turn our children into because we convince ourselves they need that in order to support our desire to work outside the home.  I see the same kids in the afternoon.  One little girl really stands out.  She gets off the bus 3 blocks from my house and runs, every day, runs to her home.  I haven’t figured out where she lives yet.  I wish I could get to know her mother and let her know that her daughter runs home in fear of the unknown stranger lurking behind every corner.  I would like to tell that mother that I am here if her little girl gets scared and she can come to my house where she can get a cup of hot cocoa and play with my children.

There are many homeschool myths.  Not all homeschool families are the same—in fact I would imagine that all families have a different story to tell.  I loved elementary school.  In fact, I loved it so much; I would ask to stay after school.  I would ask when I could help during the summer.  My grandmother was a teacher in a different district so I would even ask to go to her class when I had the day off of school.  I couldn’t get enough.

When my oldest son was 2 1/2, I was a case manager working with children with mental illness.  I had to occasionally go to the schools.  I saw a teacher roll her eyes and throw up their hands as a child who was not my client blatantly shows disrespect as if to say, “I cannot do anything about this”.  Parents are often under the misperception that school will teach behavior as evidenced by a mom who walked into a toy store where we often frequented to play with trains and tell the owner, “I cannot wait for him to go to school so he can learn how to behave”.  My decision was further enhanced by a sign posted on the elementary school where my son would have gone, “Carpool parents, please wait for your child outside”.  The school staff explained that they could not always know who the custodial parent was nor did they want angry parents in the school.  What?  No school involvement?  No volunteering?  This was not for me.  We toured a very nice private school but I now had my daughter—how could I meet her needs and afford the tuition?   Homeschooling was the answer and as the years pass, I am very happy I made this decision.  I want my children to love learning and I was able to give all 3 of them an individualized education.  Am I going to homeschool for the rest of their education?  I don’t make that promise to them or myself.  We reflect on how the schooling is going from year to year and make changes if necessary. 

Has it been easy? No.  When I was a single parent after my divorce working full-time 2nd shift so that I could homeschool during the day, it was exhausting.  Choices.  They are what we make in this brief life.  We hope we are making the right ones.  Hot coca in the morning helps to make it seem like everything is alright.