Monthly Archives: October 2013

The C Word

My mom has bladder cancer. One of the easiest cancers to fight and “overcome.” Hers is stage 4. She is dying. She will soon be gone. 

Quick backstory on my mom: my parents divorced when I was 10. They shared custody of us, but my mom was the one who moved out and lived her life. I have never been close to her and there is a lot of anger. I’m trying to move past that so that I can show her compassion in her last days. I love her. But it’s hard. 

Right now we are facing putting her into a nursing home. It isn’t what she wants, so I feel bad for even entertaining the idea. She is on hospice care right now and lives with a roommate, plus my aunt and I trade off on caring for her. She has taken a huge turn for the worse and the amount of cares she needs are rising. She is incontinent and has a urostomy bag, so there is always a mess to clean up. She is still aware, but confused at the same time. 

I feel selfish. I am not a good decision maker. My brother says he doesn’t want to force it on her. I see it as I am the primary caregiver, the primary decision maker, and while it’s all fine and dandy for him because he has a job so he can’t be the main caregiver… it’s hard on those of us who are responsible for the day to day care. I homeschool. I have a family. I live over an hour away. But I’m not allowed to feel that way. Because I “don’t have a job” so I should just stand up and do it. 

And then I feel selfish for even thinking that. I feel like I am all alone in this. None of my other siblings do anything with her care. My one brother gets the details about it, but isn’t a caregiver. The other 2 hear about it from us, but that’s about it. 

I don’t know what to do. I feel bad for her. I feel bad that she knows her kids are angry with her. I feel bad that sometimes I wish this wasn’t my problem. I feel bad that she is so young (58). I feel bad that my kids won’t know her very well.

I just wish it wasn’t happening. 

Homeschooling Our Way

I had a question on a previous post on how we homeschool. First, I’ll be honest. I’m still figuring it out! This is our first year homeschooling with both of the girls. M is in 5th grade and K is in 2nd. We brought M home last year, but she started out on an online public school. So even though she was home, she still had PS guidelines to follow, standards she had to meet, tests she had to take. So this is our first year where we aren’t tied to any outside school. 

First, I’ll explain our reasoning for wanting to homeschool. I will be the FIRST to tell you that I have NO patience. I could never be a teacher or a daycare provider. I love kids. I DEFINITELY love my kids. But I can deal with my own (sometimes) way better than I can someone elses. Probably because I can be my “true” self in front of my kids, without being afraid of pissing off the parents, because I AM the parent, haha! I will admit right now that I have told my youngest (who I have the most trouble with, in terms of attitude and head-butting) that “I’m not the same as a school teacher. I don’t have to be so nice.” LOL… not the right attitude to always have with your kids, and DEFINITELY not the norm around here… but let’s be real. Kids are hard. All of that said just to say that if you want to homeschool but feel like you “just couldn’t…” I am one of those “just couldn’t” people. And this actually works out way better for ALL of us!  We pulled M out because of her math and me wanting to be able to give her that one on one attention she needed. I was SICK of my child thinking she was stupid. SICK of her thinking that she didn’t measure up, that something was wrong with her. So I took matters into my own hands. We threw K into the mix because I didn’t want all of us to have different schedules, always running in opposite directions. LIFE DOES NOT NEED TO BE LIKE THAT. 

Right now our schedule is pretty laid back. We use two resources heavily with some other stuff thrown in. Our first resource is a website called http://www.time4learning.com. This website offers a full curriculum, which can be used for homeschooling or “after-schooling,” which is people who want their kids to use it after school (duh, lol)… It covers math, language arts, science, and social studies. They just added a high school program, but it was started with the intention of going up to 8th grade. I try to make sure that the girls do this every day. They do a couple of lessons in each subject and are done in a couple of hours, if that. K usually works faster than M. I have M’s math tailored to fit her needs, so she is actually working on 2nd grade math while all of her other subjects remain at a 5th grade level. The way the site works, because she is in 5th grade, she has access to both 4th and 6th grade curriculum in all subjects, except math. For math, she has access to 1st and 3rd grade material. So she can go back and review if she needs to or work ahead if she needs to. The same goes for K, just pertaining to her grade level. Because this is a full curriculum (meaning that it provides the average amount of material they would learn in a PS for a full school year), I want them to at least accomplish this to feel like we are getting somewhere. Our other resource is called Story of the World, by Susan Bauer. It’s a full history curriculum that comes in 4 volumes and can be used with all ages. The reason why we are using this is because I like history and want to go through it, lol… there really is no reason other than that. We are only a few chapters in, so I can’t really say if we like it or not… actually, I can say that we do like the story. And we like a lot of the projects too, but I’m a procrastinator so I don’t always have the materials needed, which means no projects get done. Hey, I never said I was perfect. 

I think one big misconception people have about homeschooling is that you have to do what a PS does, taking up the entire day with academics. The reality is that a school works that way because they have a ton of kids. If your child was the only one they had to teach, a regular day would be done very quickly. Honestly, if we get up and at ’em right away, our day could well be done by 11a or noon. If not earlier. Reality here is that we wake up a bit later and dink around, so our work is usually done in the afternoons. But we are still only busy for a couple of hours. More so if we throw in extra projects, watch a movie about something, go on a field trip, etc… the reality is that homeschooling frees up your schedule SO MUCH, so that you are allowed to learn using different methods than just a book and paper. 

I’m still trying to find our groove though. Sometimes I feel like I’m trying to jam in too much, sometimes I feel like I’m not doing anything at all. They say that the first year is the hardest, and I am beginning to find that true. But I am also beginning to see how rich of an experience this can be. 

I’ll answer more questions as I think of them, or if you have anymore, V… I’ll keep on going! I like talking about this! 

All about Me- The Homeschool Side

I said yesterday that I would be back today to introduce myself more fully.

I’m married to one of the best people I’ve ever met. He drives me crazy, but I really don’t know what life would look like without him. It kind of pains me to think about it, lol. We have two girls. Our oldest is 10 and in the 5th grade. Our youngest is 7 and in 2nd grade. We started homeschooling them this year.

Our main reasons for wanting to homeschool stemmed from our oldest daughter. She was falling further and further behind in public school when it came to math. Because she was not a behavior issue, she kind of just slipped through the cracks. Because of mandatory testing and low test scores, Minnesota schools seem to focus strongly on reading. And we all know that reading is one of the basic blocks of LIFE. We need to be able to read, it’s a great skill to have, and obviously one that should be taught in schools. However, this happens at the expense of other subjects. History and science are usually the first to go. Math gets more attention, but they don’t have the same sorts of intervention in place for students struggling in math that they do for reading. Our oldest daughter reads at a high school level. She struggles with the simplest of math.

After finding out that they placed her at the behavior table (yes, they have one of those) in her classroom, not because she was having behavior issues, but because she was “slow in math”, I met with the principal. I had been researching online public schools and was seriously considering it, as I thought it would be a way to slow the math down a bit and get her skills back where they needed to be. And I never want my daughter to feel like she is stupid just because she has struggles in certain things. That’s when all of the promises for help started flowing in. As soon as they realized they were going to be losing the revenue they get for her, they wanted to “be there” to support us. I pulled her anyway.

The online public school did not fix the issues though. It was more of the same, except now she was at home. So we unenrolled her from there in March of last year. At the start of this year, we brought our 2nd grade daughter home as well. The main reason for that was because we are already here and I didn’t want all of us going different directions and having different schedules.

So far, we love it! Like I said, this is our first year, so we haven’t really smoothed out all of the bumps. We enjoy our time together and the girls like being able to go at their own pace. At the moment we are using Life of Fred (GREAT math series, told within a story… look it up, even if you don’t homeschool), Story of the World (still figuring that one out), and Road Trip USA by Confessions of a Homeschooler.  SOTW and Road Trip USA are a history and geography curriculum, respectively.

I can’t say that our path is perfect yet, because it’s nowhere near that. Today I am struggling with finding a schedule that works for us. I’ve thought about “deschooling” for a period of time, but as someone who doesn’t do well without any structure, I’m not sure if I will just end up feeling like we are doing “nothing” or not. I already know that unschooling is not the answer here. It’s a good choice for those who can make it work, but my brain does not operate like that, and I would be doing all of us a disservice.

I promise I’m not weird (ok, I am. Just not because of this), abusive, or a hermit. Well, I can be a hermit because of my depression, but not because I homeschool. I don’t hide my kids under a rock. They get out more than they did while in school. We don’t homeschool for religious reasons or because we are “training up our children” a certain way. This just works for us, and I’m so glad we made the choice.

A blog by any other name…

Hello, blogging world! This is my attempt at a real “grown up” blog. Maybe I will lose my fear and share it with the entire world, including people who know me. I’ve always blogged as anonymously as I could so that I wouldn’t hesitate in sharing more about myself. Let’s face it, if we know that people we know in real life are going to read our words, we might hold back a little bit. Not because we want a private place to talk about people behind their backs, but because that is such a… vulnerable place to be. I’ve spent a lot of time in my life building up walls to keep people out. I fear being judged, looked down upon, and ridiculed. I guard my heart because I am so convinced that people want to tear it apart. I was bullied a lot as a child, and to say that it doesn’t affect me as an adult would be a flat out lie. It affects me a lot. I don’t do things I want to do. I don’t talk to people I want to talk to. I worry constantly that I’m not good enough. That people don’t really want me. That no one really cares about me. That if you’re my friend, I have to work for it. I have to impress you. I have to be you. And it’s exhausting. As an adult, I’ve learned to drop some of these feelings. I know that my real friends love and accept me just the way I am. I know that my husband loves me (woohoo, I have one of those!). I know that my children love me. But I don’t love myself, so it makes it really hard to accept that from others. I blame myself for every problem we have. I think everyone is blaming me for every problem we have. I hate myself for being the way I am. But I am so paralyzed in my feelings that I don’t know how to branch out and make it right.

Please don’t think that I live a terrible life. I don’t. I go out into the world. I do things with my friends and family. I laugh and smile. I enjoy things. And this blog is not going to be about depression alone. But it is a scary thing to walk with. And as much as I like to build walls, I also have a deep desire to be truly KNOWN by people. I don’t believe in being fake. We all are, for various reasons. Don’t try to lie and say you aren’t. Maybe not overall, but we all have it in us to bring a false persona to the plate. 

I want this blog to be about ME. The real me. The one who hurts, loves, cries, laughs, dances, hates, plays, etc… and maybe I will one day feel free to invite all of you in. 

In the next post, I’ll introduce myself more fully.