An Unexplained Absence

Hello there, Stranger! Or am I the stranger? I forget. Either way, Hello! I have missed you, though the fault is all mine. My absence was caused solely by the realization that I am not super-woman (who knew, right?), and unfortunately I cannot do everything, though believe me I have tried. My desperate attempts to accomplish more than humanly possible in a day have resulted in my picture under the word insanity in the dictionary. My list of “things to do today” was becoming unbearably long and something had to give. A few somethings actually. And a seemingly normal blog post was my wake-up call.

I have a tendency to leave the computer on during the day, and whenever I manage to find a few minutes, I will sit down and work on a post. A normal post usually takes me about 12.5 sit-down sessions before I manage to get it somewhat done. Some days I cannot even get that far. I can live with that. Most of the time. But on one sunny Saturday afternoon, after 19.28473 failed attempts at blogging, it hit me: I was spending far too much time attempting something. Even when the attempts were (somewhat) successful, they still consumed too much time. Not to mention the days when they were not even close to successful. And while I was spending my time grasping for the impossible, my three kids were here. Right in front of me. Requesting, demanding, my time, as they have the right to do. What I found was that my specialized time with them during our home school lessons was not enough. They wanted my time all of the time.

So I decided to compile a list of my daily goals and expectations. Homeschooling is my top priority, followed closely by sleeping (’cause nobody likes Mama when she’s a bear), regular household chores (you can only fit so many dishes inside an RV), working (have to support the RV lifestyle somehow), and showering (per Rob’s request.) After running out of time day after day after day, I realized that I was spending too much time reading, running and blogging. Three things that are not high on the priority list.

So I had to simplify. The three items at the bottom of the list were on the chopping block.

Running. I walk an average of 10-12 miles a night at work, possibly even more now that we have hit Peak Season, so even though I am not out there running every morning, I am getting more and more fit every night I go to work. I am getting stronger, healthier. I can feel it. When the season is over, I can hit the road again, and I know I will be in the position to do so.

Reading. If only I could make a living reading books… Getting lost in a good story or learning about somebody else’s fascinating life is one of my favorite things to do. Not to mention that reading the classics is helping me to better educate my kids. But finding the time is a little challenging right now, so I read aloud to the kids a lot. I have always read to them, but lately we have been reading some great classics. They loved Summer of the Monkeys and are currently enjoying The Secret Garden. And every now and then, when I can keep my eyes open for just a few more minutes, I sneak in a chapter or two from my own personal book. So even though I am not devouring the books the way I might like, I am still getting in some quality reading time, and I cannot complain about that.

Blogging. This is the big one for me. And the hardest to let go. I compromised with myself and decided just to blog on my days off, about once or twice a week. That way I can stay up after everyone else is in bed (like tonight) and I can let my mind wander at will and not feel guilty about neglecting anyone. During the day I have not been turning the computer on at all, which has helped everyone. I have come to realize that I was depending on it a little too much, and I do not want my kids to think that it is a necessity in life. I think this is why my absence has been so long, I needed to make sure I was taking myself seriously, which I fail to do most of the time.

I have found that if I don’t set out to do more that I possibly can, then I feel better at the end of the day. Trying to accomplish certain things and failing always leaves me feeling defeated, and that wears me down. But being realistic about my goals and expectations, and actually being able to finish everything I start, well, that makes me feel good about myself. It boosts my self-esteem. Makes me feel like a rock-star. All right, perhaps that is pushing it a little bit. (Or a lot.) But I think you know what I mean.

So while I value your amazing companionship, I hope you will understand if I don’t come around every day. At least not for the next month or so. When Peak Season is over and things slow down a little bit then I will be back for our almost-daily visits. Driving you crazy as usual. That is, after all, my specialty. 🙂

Deep into the Night

I have so many things to do, and yet, I do nothing.

I don’t know where to start.

I get up, determined to begin, and find myself pacing back and forth. Accomplishing nothing.

So I sit back down and reach for my book. Always my book.

I don’t know what to do in my own story, so I get lost in someone else’s.

And slowly, the hours of the day pass, one by one.

Darkness falls, and still I read, deep into the night.

Another day ends.

A new one begins.

I am wasting time.

I am running out of time.

I am beginning to panick. 

And still, I read.

Deep into the night.

At Ones Own Pace

“The aim of education should be to teach us rather how to think, than what to think – rather to improve our minds, so as to enable us to think for ourselves, than to load the memory with thoughts of other men.”  ~Bill Beattie

Back when William was entering kindergarten, Rob tried convincing me that I should home school him. While it may have been a good idea, I wasn’t up for it at the time. It’s no excuse, but I was just coming off five of the hardest years of my life, and I didn’t have the patience or desire to add homeschooling to my list of things to do. So, like a majority of parents do, I sent him off to school. 

Living 2o miles from the school, I didn’t make my way out there very often. So I stayed home, tending the twins and the farm and assuming school was the perfect place for my son to learn.

When we moved back to Montana, it was time for the twins to start school as well, so I took a job as a Teacher’s Aide. With everyone in school, and me gainfully employed where I could see my kids from time to time during the day, I was content with how things were going.

But then something began to change.

I started to doubt myself and my decisions.

We had William repeat 1st grade because his old school was not nearly as advanced as the new one, and he had had some struggles as it was. Rather than risk him missing out on important learning blocks, we opted to have him repeat the grade. While I was convinced that we made the right decision, he still wasn’t thriving the way I had hoped. 

I watched Nathan struggle in every aspect of school. He was so far behind all of his classmates that he was put into extra reading and math classes. They started him in speech in hopes that it would help with his learning. He had a wonderful teacher, and I think she was exactly what he needed, but still, he fell further and further behind.

Catheryn was the only one who seemed to fit perfectly into the square mold that is public school. She was learning at a nice level and had a good relationship with her teacher and her peers.

As the year went on, I began questioning whether Rob had been right from the get-go. I began having very strong feelings about homeschooling my kids. So much had changed in two short years. But then, perhaps I was just ready for summer vacation. Maybe I needed a break from all the kids at school and would feel differently once fall rolled around again.

I didn’t.

The kids went back to school after the summer and I went back to work, but I never fully embraced it. I counted down the days from day 1. I told myself to give it some time, but as the school year went on, I became more and more confident in my decision.

Suddenly, I didn’t doubt my abilities quite so much. I became aware that I, too, was capable of teaching my children.

After watching Nathan struggle for another year, and William never quite find his place, I knew in my heart that I was fully willing, able and ready to teach my kids at home. Rob and I discussed it with the kids many times, and they were just as ready as we were.

So, at the end of the school year, the kids and I said good-bye to public school. The best way for our kids to thrive and succeed is to allow them to learn at their own pace, in their own time. At home, they will be able to do just that.

The Sweetest Sound

I sat in the big chair tonight, one twin on each leg, and I listened as they read me a story. “Ann sat with her cat,” they read, almost together. Nathan follows Catheryn’s lead.

These are my babies. And they are reading. Where has the time gone? I wonder as I sit and listen to their sweet little voices.

I knew it would happen eventually. They used to simply ask what signs said. Then, as they started learning their letters, they began asking questions like, “What does S-P-E-E-D spell?” Then it turned into, “Hey! I know what that says! That says STOP!!!” And now, they can sit together and read me an emergent reader book. 

Catheryn is a stronger reader than her brother. Nathan struggles more in school, and I wish there was a way to make those struggles go away. But, we are all different. We all have our strengths and weaknesses. Nathan tries. Hard. He is too stubborn to give up, and I am grateful for that. 

Hearing my children read makes me smile. It is one of the sweetest sounds I have ever heard.