The holidays are over and we’re all starting back to school. Although, as homeschoolers, everything is school isn’t it? Those cookies you baked? Home Ec. Wrapping presents? Geometry. Christmas caroling was obviously music class. Opening presents on Christmas morning was Etiquette 101 (now whether my kids passed or failed is a different story!).
Whether you are the type of teacher who counts a trip to the grocery story as an Economic field trip, or if you’re like me and don’t (but only have 170 days of planned lessons), the kids feel like they’ve been on a long break, and that makes the first Monday back a doozy. Mondays are typically bad enough on their own. Monday after a break? Don’t even go there.
I got up early to make sure we would at least start on time. The stress of the holidays, combined with my youngest having a breakthrough seizure the week before had given me multiple migraines and I was determined to stay calm and relaxed and pain free for the day. Relaxed, for me, means staying on schedule. And we were off to a good start.
Everything was going smoothly. Sure, my nine year old had forgotten how to convert measurements, and my eight year old had forgotten how to add 7+7 (he’d also forgotten the million times I’d told him to NOT repeatedly click open on a computer file and he crashed the laptop—again). My five year old had forgotten what sounds “Ch” makes and was inclined to throw herself dramatically out of her chair wailing, “It’s too hard!”, but all in all, we were making it.
The two year old and the four year old were happily playing for once. They weren’t even in the school room, where they like to take every available surface for their coloring books and crayons and fight with anyone who actually might need space for say—school work. (That should have been my first warning sign.) I was going to make it through a Monday, and a first Monday back, nonetheless, without raising my voice.
I was so close to achieving my goal of teaching school like Maria Von Trapp. Pretty soon we’d be skipping through the Alpine meadows, singing together in perfect harmony, as we reveled in the joy of learning.
Has anyone experienced this nirvana of homeschooling? I’m curious. It feels like it should be possible, and yet, I never seem to reach it. The closer I get the more cruelly it is snatched away. Perhaps I should set my goal a bit lower. Goal: To have my children graduate from 7th grade without being arrested as juvenile delinquents. I might be able to accomplish that.
As you can guess, the calm and peace lasted about as long as it took me to walk downstairs to heat up the baby’s mid-morning bottle. That was when I saw the Lego Mindstorms EV3 robot that we had painstakingly built the week before. It was supposed to be a Christmas present and school curriculum all in one. $400 of Lego programming and the hope that one day at least one of my children would get a degree in something STEM related.
The brain of the robot and a few scattered blocks were lying on the floor like the death of the future. Delinquency, Fine Arts degrees, and hipster clothing were looming on the horizon. (Well, maybe not hipster clothing. But the equivalent, I’m sure.) I lost it. There was screaming. There was yelling. There was demanding that a two year old who thinks a motorcycle is called a basketball explain where he had been playing earlier. There were time outs along with vague threats and angry eyebrows. Not my finest moment.
In the end, we found the pieces. Most of them. I haven’t had time to check the brain, since we were then eight minutes off schedule, but hopefully it’s not damaged. The future might yet be saved, but this Monday is lost. There will be no clothing made out of the curtains today. I probably need to go apologize for yelling.
And I think I feel my migraine coming back.
Welcome to Life in the Big House. I’m Erin Evans and I’ve volunteered to become the new blogger for Common Sense Press. I’ll admit, I’m a little nervous about starting off and so I spent a while searching the internet for how to write the perfect first blog post. That left me more confused than anything else so I decided to go with the simple introduction. Who I am, what I’m writing about, and why that might be interesting to you.
This is a homeschooling blog, so I am, of course, a homeschooler. I have 20 years of homeschooling experience. When I put it like that it sounds impressive. Actually, I have 12 years of experience being homeschooled, and 8 years of experience actually doing the teaching myself. For those of you who are as bad at math as I am, that means that my eldest child is currently in 7th grade. (Umm, math check here, I guess since she’s only half way through 7th grade that means that I only have 19.5 years of experience, but I’m pretty sure she’s the only one I did pre-K with so it might be more. Let’s just say “about” 20 years experience.)
My mother, Diane Welch, was one of the founding authors of Learning Language Arts Through Literature and my sister and brother and I were the guinea pigs for the curriculum. In fact, to hear my mother tell it, she wrote the program because I couldn’t use punctuation to save my life. Yesterday, my 3rd grade son wrote an entire page long paragraph without a single period. Perhaps punctuation is hereditary.
So, I’m very familiar with the homeschooling world and just learning to teach myself. I’m currently halfway through kindergarten for the 5th time and finally feeling like I’m getting this. Either that or my current kindergartner is really smart. Probably from watching her older siblings go over and over this stuff all her life. Lucky me, I still have 3 more kids to go after her, so I should really have it down by then.
Yes, I have eight children. No, that wasn’t the plan. The plan was 4, but, like I said, not so good at math. Actually, that’s a joke. The plan was 4 and then after a lot of prayer number 5 came along and we realized just how wonderful she was and how we would have missed out on her if we’d stopped. So, we decided to trust God and accept whatever He wanted to give us. I won’t tell you it’s been easy. There have been a lot of tears and long nights and a lot of doubt, but God is faithful and there has also been a lot of joy.
Currently, I am homeschooling my oldest 5: 7th grade, 5th grade, 3rd grade, 2nd grade, and Kindergarten. My next two youngest, 4 and 2, alternate between trying to kill each other, tearing down the house, or playing on top of the school room table while we’re working, so at least they keep themselves busy. The baby has special needs, so, even though he is completely chill, he still requires a lot of attention. You could say things are a little crazy around here.
To this pandemonium, we’ve added two bearded dragons, which live in a tank on the school room table, one 16 year old Maine Coon cat, and 2 young Bengal cats who believe that any school book can be enhanced with the presence of a feline lying on top of it. After the new year we will also be adding a Goldendoodle puppy to the mix. I know. I’d think about getting my head examined if I wasn’t already convinced that I’d lost my sanity years ago.
My husband is semi-self employed, which makes taking off work to take kids to the dentist or doctor much easier. He is also the worship leader at our church, which means that I get to dress everyone and get them to church by myself. (I’m not complaining. I’m just making sure you appreciate my level of sacrifice here.)
When I used to have free time, four kids ago, I rode horses. Hunter/jumpers. Which means English saddle jumping over fences. Now, in my much less copious moments of quiet, I write. I’ve written 9 novels and am working on my 10th. It takes me a long time, writing a little bit at a time, but it helps keep me sane. (Or, at least, something somewhat resembling sane if you look at it from a long way away and squint your eyes.)
So, we’re wild. We’re crazy, and we had to put acoustic foam over our entire dining room ceiling so that the decibel level at meals didn’t deafen us. We love our kids, we love the Lord, and we’re surviving the homeschooling experience. I hope this blog can be a place to laugh, be honest, and be encouraged as we all try to train up our kids.
You know that family that shows up to church in the 15 passenger van? The one that homeschools? Ever wondered how they make it through the day or wished you could be a fly on the wall of their house? Well, I'm inviting you in. I'm 36 and I ride herd on 8 children (oldest is 12), 3 cats, 2 bearded dragons, and soon to be, one puppy. It's loud, chaotic, and imperfect. Welcome to Life in the Big House!