Columbus and My Children

I have two children in school now. My oldest is in 2nd Grade, and my second oldest is in Kindergarten. With Columbus Day coming, my oldest is learning about him in his history book and marking him on the timeline we’re creating about the discovery and settling of the Americas.

There is a huge controversy over Columbus. I never gave much thought to it before, but I have become very aware of it as a homeschooling mother these last couple of years as I look up and purchase school books and create crafts and teach my sons.

There is argument over the day celebrating Columbus. There is argument over what we should teach out kids, and even talk of striking him from the history books. I’ve thought about it long and hard, since what we tell our kids shapes them. In 2014 I wrote about my oldest’s first learning about Columbus, and our run in with a critical family member who ruined the experience for him. So this year, when the explorer appeared once more in my son’s history book (in greater detail), I wanted to think about how to present him. As a hero? As a murderer? As an explorer?

What is Columbus Day about?

I think it would be wrong to strike him from the history books, or to remove his day from our year. Here’s why. Because what we are celebrating is not the man himself, but the first time the continent of America made its appearance on the maps of the world. Before then no one knew of America, no one knew that the world they knew was actually only half of the world God created.

Was Columbus a hero? No. Was he a murderer? Yes, and a slaver. Many ship captains were back then. For some reason there was this prevailing thought that if a being was not white and did not speak one of the white languages, they were meant to be enslaved. It was their purpose, and it was okay. Sin makes people do awful things. His greed took him to dark places, and he did wicked things for his love for gold and power.

Was he an explorer? Yes. He went where others were too afraid to go, and explored and explored, originally for a greater cause. He encouraged those who were frightened. He mapped where he went so that others could follow safely. He was brave; one would have to be to take on the journey he originally took… setting off into an unknown vastness of ocean that he might never return from, in an effort to find a safe route to Asia so that merchants could retrieve and deliver their goods more safely than they could across the vast continents where they were besieged constantly by robbers and thieves. That is a noble cause.

And in the end, we learn about him because he’s the one who put the continent of America on the map. So in the end, that is what I am teaching my 2nd Grader. How the Americas were found.

He can learn about the murdering and enslavement later. When he’s older and learning about slavery.

Signs You May Have Kids

Signs You May Have Kids:

• Your toothbrush tastes like hand soap.

• Your spouse’s voice: “Why is there a stuffed dog in the toilet?”

• A child streaking through the hall into the living room from the direction of their room/the bathroom, stark naked. They see you and freeze, and immediately say: “I didn’t do anything.”

 

 

Presenting… The Unpluggable Beast! \(˚o˚)/

The toilet…

… is plugged.

NOOOOOO! \(˚o˚)/

The beast glared at me, daring me to try the plunger that has, for two years, proved useless against the beast’s might. Formed in an oval, curved shape that could only have been designed by a maniacal madman, the bowl is resistant to any attempt to get a seal with the rubber plunger. What happens, instead of the plug dislodging, is the water burps and sloshes on either side of the rubber ring where the rubber and porcelain fail to meet. No effort of mine, however vigorous and determined, is ever successful. Only Sackett Man, my plumbing hero, has ever beaten the beast.

It chose its timing to strike well.

The disassembled remains of our basement bathroom mocks me with its silent, ghostly voice. To fix the water leak that happens every spring in the only finished room in the entire basement, Sackett Man has torn the bathroom down (walls and all), and jack-hammered up the raised concrete pad that housed the floor drain (which meant if a water flood happened, the water would have to be at least three inches deep before it could even reach the floor drain). Bags of cement wait in the garage for him to mix and pour a new, even floor, with a drain low enough to actually drain. A carpenter is on standby, ready to rebuild the walls. Other tools and materials for fixing the water leak are ready. Waiting.

But for now… there is nothing. Nothing but a room-sized, gaping hole in our basement floor. Bare dirt. A silent testament to what was and what will be.

There is only one toilet in the house now. One, for the use of a woman in her ninth month of pregnancy and her desperate, hourly trips. One, for the use of two potty-trained children, who often need to use it at the same time.

One.

And it plugged.

It was only 10:30 this morning when it happened. My mind raced. What could I do? I was facing an entire day, with little kids, with no working toilet!

It is in the 50’s today, bright and sunny, but did I dare send my two sons outside every time nature called, into the mud and melting snow? Did I dare go outside, every hour, hiking entirely too far to get to our woods so that I could answer ‘the call’ in privacy, beyond the curious eyes of three little kids and the many windows of our house? I couldn’t hike that far. I’ve had three false labors already; I didn’t need to have the real one out in the woods!

No. While my oldest could stand on the edge of the deck, my second was too young yet… I didn’t want to think what the state of his pants would be!

What else? I could throw aside all shower rules and have them go in the shower. It had a drain, and could be easily cleaned. I was pleased with this solution. No muss, no fuss. But then my eldest posed a very dark and disturbing question: What about… number two?

Oh no. There was no plan for this. No good way to fix it. What about Two? That was NOT happening in my shower!!! I couldn’t see any good way of having the two little ones going outside for it, either. Not in the mud and barely-melting snow, and we certainly didn’t want a surprise of that sort in our yard when spring really, truly came!

I could line a pail or a bucket with plastic bags, but then I would have to help them perch by holding them up above the bucket so they didn’t fall in. Kids are heavy. Not pregnant, I could do this. Nine months pregnant? This was not a good plan. I scratched it immediately.

And then it came to me. The potty chair! The one we had put away months and months ago! The boys could easily use that! And if I lined the bowl with a bag, that would make any cleanup the easiest thing ever!

With more delight than a scientist discovering renewable, unending world energy, I set about my task. I made my single trek downstairs to the basement (my doctor has limited me to stairs once a day). I found the potty chair, brought it up, and cleaned the dust from it. I lined it lovingly with a plastic shopping bag. I set it gently against the wall in the bathroom, and put the free-standing toilet paper holder beside it with great care. I took blue painter’s tape and taped the toilet-beast shut. And then I called in my two-member troop of boys, and explained to them what to do when they needed to go. I was met with approval, but not the applause I was hoping for.

Oh well. I thought. Someday, when they are grown and have children of their own, they will understand.

Silently, I cheered.

The toilet, unpluggable beast that it is, thought it had finally beaten me. But I have risen victorious and found a way.

The day may be long. The hours will not be the easiest. But we will survive.

And when evening comes, so too shall Sackett Man, riding up the driveway in his noble green pickup.

With his toilet auger.

Pregnancy Advice, from the Experts(?), to a Mother of Three

The holidays are over. Fun, food, gifts, family, visiting…

… wait… where’d my SLEEP go?!!! I’m sure one is supposed to get at least ONE morning to sleep in during the holiday break!

You mean I missed it? I missed my chance?

I’m going to lay my head on the table and cry now.

Sackett Man kindly told me the other day that my being tired right now, in this third trimester, is good practice for March. If I think I’m tired now…! Ohhh, just wait! Of course I refrained from pointing out that we have three children already, so I am well aware of the malady that afflicts twelve out of ten mothers who have new infants. Somnus Privatio is the technical term. We know it by it’s common name: sleep deprivation.

I have been feeling the effects of Somnus Privatio most acutely this pregnancy, and was interested in the possible causes. I first looked up the effect on the mother’s body of growing a human being from scratch. It’s actually quite incredible and also a bit… well, almost unbelievable. Did you know that in order to successful nurture and grow another human being, the energy output of the body is equivalent to running a marathon? Every day? Without having trained first?

No wonder I’m tired. I’ve been running a marathon every day for 202 days!

I also have kids. Three of them. Did you know that kids are a major cause of Somnus Privatio among parents?

I’m pregnant, and a stay-at-home mom of three, and I homeschool. I have Somnus Privatio coming out of my ears.

To combat this fatigue, experts say one should get plenty of safe exercise, lots of sleep, and naps. One should schedule one’s nightly routine so that one always goes to bed at the same time, and make sure you get 10-12 hours of sleep. Don’t eat 2-3 hours before you go to bed, but a eat a snack right before lying down to combat any heartburn or queasiness! Don’t work too much in the evening as that will keep your energy levels up and mess with being able to go to sleep. If you’re tired, sleep! 30 minute catnaps through-out the day, whenever you need one.

Now I realize that much of this advice is for new mothers who have the luxury of owning their own schedule. But what about for us veterans who lost said ownership years ago?

Safe exercise? I’ve decided that taking care of three children under the age of six counts.

A scheduled nightly routine? My kids have a nightly routine. Mine consists of ‘get done what I can now that the kids are in bed, fit in time with Sackett Man, and hope I remember to brush my teeth before I topple over on the couch in the middle of what I’m doing!’

I’m kidding. It’s not really that bad.

(Yes it is.)

10-12 hours of sleep? That sounds lovely! When I’m retired and mature that luxury will at last be mine! Mwa ha ha! For now I’ll have to do with 7-8 hours. Chopped up into little bitty pieces with bathroom breaks, little kids, and a teething toddler. (So make it 5-7, depending on the night.)

Don’t eat too close to bedtime, but eat something so that you don’t get heartburn? Well, because I’m efficient and organized… (don’t laugh! I heard you laughing!)… I like to combine the two and just get it over with in one go.

Don’t work too much in the evening? A) If I have work that needs to get done, guess what… it needs to get done. My husband and children like having clean dishes to eat on and clothes to wear. B) By the time evening rolls around, if I don’t have to do any work (aka: Sackett Man did the dishwasher, and no one is in danger of needing to wear a pillow case or towels  the next day) I’m usually way past the point of of even contemplating more work, much less doing it.

“If you’re tired, sleep. Take as many naps as you need.” Okay, this is my favorite one. Really. Because in my experience, unless you’re lucky enough to be staying at home even before children, you can’t sleep whenever you want. Much less when you have kids! I can’t even take a 2 minute bathroom break without something happening. What would happen if I checked out for 30 minutes?!

“Sir, do you have any idea what happened here today?”

“No, officer. I came home to a pile of smoking ruins, my kids in a tree looking like Call of the Wild, and my wife standing in the middle of it all in a crazed daze muttering ‘I just took a nap. All I did was take a nap!’ ”

I even get this advice from the nurses and doctors when I go in for my prenatal appointments. I’m tired? Take a nap. Get more sleep. Take a relaxing bubble bath. Go in for a spa treatment. Read.

Again, I know that 99.9999999999% of the advice is for new mothers. You know what is lacking? Practical advice for the rest of us. What can we do when we’re tired?!

Someone needs to write a book.

Here are some things that I do:
A) Sackett Man and I had several conversations, and I ‘accidentally’ left some web pages open on the exhausting effects of pregnancy upon the woman. So he knows, is aware, and I ask for help. I don’t whine about my aches and pains and weariness and the kids and whatnot, and then expect him to magically know what I need. I ask for it. I say: “I did this and this, and we (I and the kids) did this and this. I’m really tired and sore now, and really need to sit down. Could you switch the load that’s in the washer, and load the dishwasher after supper? That would help me so much!”

And guess what? He’s happy to do it!

B) I drink tea. No, I’m not kidding. I avoid almost all herbal teas as there’s this whole what’s-safe-and-what-isn’t thing. I drink: black tea, green tea, and peppermint tea. I am quite serious when I say that a cup of hot peppermint tea is relaxing and rejuvenating (I don’t care if it’s only in my head; it works).

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C) I try to stay organized. I get up one morning, and sit down with a steaming cup of coffee. One cup of caffeine is not going to kill you or harm the baby, I promise. Just don’t drink 3 or 4. I open my planner and my computer, and I take the time to organize my calendar and plan my son’s school, my doctor’s appointments, the grocery lists… whatever I can think of. One day of organizing can take the stress (and thus weariness) out of a dozen weeks.

D) I cut back on sugar. No, I’m not on a sugar-free thing. I just try to eat smart. I eat lots of vegetables, good grains, hearty proteins… I don’t put sugar in my coffee anymore (sadness) because it’s one daily thing that can make a big difference. No harm in indulging a bit during the holidays or if you get that sweet-tooth craving, but all in all… moderation! Moderation! Moderation! Also, if you can’t or don’t eat a lot of that good-fatty-fish doctor’s like us to eat, take fish oil. I get the enteric coated fish oil (the coating keeps that fishy after-taste from happening!). Fish oil does amazing things in regards to health and mental/emotional feel-good. I started taking it when I suffered postpartum depression after my first pregnancy, and I’ve never stopped! A healthy diet can help more than you realize when it comes to weariness.

C) I don’t ‘exercise’ when I’m pregnant, but I don’t just sit back either. Firstly because I can’t. I have three children depending on me. And I firmly subscribe to the belief that: If you don’t use it, you lose it. Lift those laundry baskets and keep your arms trim! Use your abs when you do things, not so that it hurts and you end up with sore crampy muscles, but so that you can feel them working. When you lift things or do stairs, use those leg muscles and buttocks! Tighten it up! You’d be amazed at how much you can stay fit just doing the everyday. And when it comes time to have the baby, you’ll be so glad you did. Keeping yourself moving does actually help combat weariness (even if it does nothing more than distract you!).

D) Realize and accept that you won’t get it all done, and that’s okay. Pick what needs to be done. Your family needs clean clothes. Clean dishes. Food. Your kids need your time. Your husband needs your time, too. (A healthy marriage makes for a much healthier, happier family.) The floors should be swept once a week. Clean the toilet every week or two. Change the bedding every couple of weeks. Make sure the cat gets fed every day. You know, the important stuff. Because you know what your kids will remember the most later on? You. Not the corners of the carpet being crumb-and-fuzz-free, not the house being Martha-Stewart-perfect. You. Did you take care of them and love them? Or were you crabby because you were over-stressed trying to do it all?

E) Do set a time of evening when you stop moving. If someone needs underwear and socks, throw them in the washer earlier in the day so that all you need to do is throw them in the dryer that evening. They can rummage in the dryer the next morning for their clean underwear. Somewhere between 8:30 and 9:30 at night is when I stop. And I mean stop. I don’t think about the work around me, the next day, the next week… (unless there’s something that needs to be thought about)… I just relax and be. I open my eyes and look at my Sackett Man. I breathe. I recline against the couch pillows. I watch whatever it is we choose to watch. I talk with my beloved about whatever (the day, some frustration I have, a problem, the new movies coming out in theater, what our favorite foods are…). I rub his neck, he rubs mine. My thoughts wander hither and yon, or just settle and I go blissfully blank. I let myself get tired and drift off. And after a while Sackett Man gently rouses me enough that I can walk to bed, and I crawl under the covers and return to sleep.

And pray that none of the three critters in their rooms wakes up before dawn.

The Excited School Child vs. The Opinionated Adult

There is such a thing as a child’s age-appropriate lesson being derailed and confused by an unthinking, loud-mouth adult.

Christopher Columbus discovered America. My son Roman was thrilled, soaking in a ton of new knowledge like a sponge. He was fascinated with how they sailed back then, with no electronics whatsoever. No gps, no phones, no internet or google maps or anything. Using hand-drawn maps, of only that part of the world that had been explored so far, and hoping the maps were accurate? Using only a compass (and a few other tools) and your knowledge of the stars to tell where you were on the big, open ocean and hoping you didn’t make a mistake? Setting out to cross an ocean there is no map for and hoping to find land? Roman was fascinated, in awe, and excited to learn all of this. Studying the map that Columbus had and comparing it to one of today’s maps blew his mind. His understanding of continents and where they were and how people traveled was like discovering a new world. His confusion as to how Columbus could mistake the Americas for India morphed into wonder and then glee as his mind suddenly connected the dots and he got it.

We visited some extended family the week after; a somewhat large gathering. Roman couldn’t wait to share what he’d learned with them; surely they’d find it as amazing as he! Who wouldn’t? So he began to tell them, his big eyes shining and a grin on his face. He barely got beyond saying “I learned how Columbus found America…” before one of these extended family members, one whom Roman looks up to and loves a great deal, interrupted.

The man exploded out with a scoff and declared loudly: “Yeah, and then he murdered more than half of the Indians.”

Roman froze. The joy fled from his face to be replaced with confusion, doubt, and mortification. He was wrong? This man who he’d thought was brave to cross the ocean was really a murderer? He’d been about to share his excitement over a guy who was actually horrible? Roman clammed up and refused to share anymore.

I took a step closer to my son, and said, politely but clearly: “He’s in kindergarten. We were just learning about how the continents were discovered, and how people explored back then. Columbus put the Americas on the map. That’s all.”

There was this long, uncomfortable pause.

Conversation soon flowed again onto other topics, but Roman stayed back, hardly smiled, and barely talked (he’s usually a talker). I, for my part, was furious. Yes. Furious.

I don’t know much about Columbus as a human being; his character, his morals, etc. There are too many figures in history to study every single one of them in such great detail, and for my part he didn’t make the list. There were other men whose character intrigued me more, so I’m not going to talk about whether or not Christopher Columbus was a stand up guy or a butcher.

Roman is six. Six. When he’s fifteen, sixteen, seventeen, he will be old enough and mature enough to learn about some of these issues, how some people we credit with great things in history also did morally questionable things. He will be mature enough to struggle with it, ponder it, think about it. Even debate it.

But right now he’s six. At age six: “In 1492 Columbus sailed the ocean blue.” That’s it.

This man, who I’m learning has a very, very low opinion of America and American History (much of which I take issue with, because a lot of it seems to be his perspective and opinion rather than research or fact), was more concerned with making a loud statement for everyone to hear than he was in listening to this little boy’s excitement for learning. He didn’t actually care about what Roman was saying. He just nabbed an opening to spout his own opinion and squashed my son under his soap box.

I wish adults wouldn’t do that. We’re at a point, obviously, where we know so, so, so much more, and understand or at least recognize the different complexities and contradictions and grey areas that make up history and life, but we have to remember that for a young child there is: right, wrong. Yes, no. Up, down. Day, night. They are still learning the basics. Sometimes, too often, an adult forgets that and says something that turns, for the child, everything they’ve just learned upside down because they’re not ready for it. They will be, in time. But not yet.

We need to remember that. When a kid is sharing with you something they learned— unless it’s glaringly wrong (misinformation), just be quiet and listen. This is how the love of learning is nurtured, not just by teaching them things, but letting them share what they’ve learned. Listen to them. Bask in their wonder with them. Be excited with them as they talk.

So I will teach my kindergartener that Columbus was brave enough to sail into the unknown, and that he found the Americas, and because of him this great land is now known and on the map.

We’ll discuss his status as a butcher and murderer a different time.

“Stories of Our Children: Part Two”

We may not have been ready before to become parents, but after our little lost one, we were more than ready.

We began trying soon after for another child, with no success. I have always had some problems with hormone levels, which meant that I have always worried that I would have trouble conceiving. Three years passed, trying to conceive, and failing. During that time I learned I had polycystic ovarian syndrome, a confirmation for me that there was something wrong with me. I was broken.

I struggled. At times I had such feelings of brokenness, inadequacy, and failure, a sense of something being broken and wrong with me inside, as though I’d been made wrong. Sackett Man was always there, no matter how up or down I was, loving me and encouraging me. I thank God every day that He gave me Sackett Man as my husband; without him, I don’t know what I would have done.

Then came news, deep in the middle of winter, that would change our lives. We learned that one of Sackett Man’s relations was expecting a baby boy. She didn’t feel she was ready to be a parent, to be the kind of mother she wanted her child to have. She was still young, still unsure of where she wanted to go with her life. Her then-ex boyfriend was also not in any position to raise a child. She wanted her child to have a stable, Christian, married father and mother, with a good and steady home, who she felt would raise the child as best as possible. So she decided to put her child up for adoption.

The moment she told us about her decision I felt an instant connection that I didn’t fully understand. I ignored it, and we supported her the best we could, but it quickly became a matter of desperation for me. After our loss, I could not imagine giving up your child. She remained fixed on adoption, and my feeling of desperation increased; all I could think was that another child was going to be lost. I knew it sounded irrational, and tried to fight against it, but finally I told Sackett Man that I thought we should offer to adopt her child. At first he was against it, worried about the adverse affect it could have on the family relationships. Would it be too awkward for her, when we visited? Would she have a hard time letting go? Would there be trouble if she still felt maternal urges even as we tried to be the baby’s parents? Were we ready for such a big step? I didn’t know; and at that point, I didn’t care. The connection I felt was so strong, as if it were my child she was carrying. All I knew was that if she was serious about going through with adoption, then I wanted him, with a passion.

For two months we prayed and talked, and I cried. She was nearing her seventh month, and we still hadn’t asked. I felt like time was running out.

And then it happened: she asked us. She had been hesitant, she said, because she didn’t want to create an awkward situation for us… but then she thought about how much we wanted a family and how hard it had been for us, and she finally decided it was better to ask and leave it up to us.

It was such an answer to prayer! I laughed and then I cried. We said yes!!! Absolutely, we wanted to adopt!

I thought that would be it, we would move forward with all of the legalities and red tape and in the end we would have a son. If only I had known. The ex-boyfriend still hadn’t even consented to adoption. If he did, then he had to consent to us being the adoptive parents. They lived in a different state than us, so we had to comply with two separate states’ adoption laws. We still had to be evaluated and looked into in order to receive approval for adopting. We had to find lawyers. We had to figure out if we needed just lawyers (since it was an in-family adoption) or if we had to go through two adoption agencies and lawyers.

Then one evening in late summer we got a phone call. She was going to look into other families, because she was too afraid that if her ex-boyfriend found out we were the adoptive couple, he would back out of the adoption deal altogether (because then she would have the upper hand, so-to-speak, since we are her family).

I have rarely felt such horrible desperation and anger. We thought that the ex had known about us; to find out he was okay with adoption, but hadn’t been asked about us, was a complete shock. We prayed, begged, and waited. I went from being completely fine (because I refused to think about it) to being a complete mess. I ranted and raved between bouts of tears.

A week later we got another call. She had decided to brave her ex-boyfriend’s unpredictable nature, and told him. Not only did he agree to us being the adoptive parents, he was excited about it! He had met us and gotten to know us the previous Christmas, and actually felt relief because he knew us. His child was not going to disappear into the void, given to some strangers.

At this point we only had three weeks to finalize all of the legal details, go through a home inspection, get approved, and get ready for a new addition to our lives. I went into a nesting phase to end all nesting phases; my office was completely emptied of everything. I swept, mopped, and then got on my hands and knees with a toothbrush and a sponge and scrubbed until you could have eaten off that floor. I cleaned the walls. My mom gave me a dresser she’d had in storage and the baby bassinet she’d carefully stored in her attic for years. I cleaned it all and set it up in the room. I added a changing table and a rocking chair.

And after those two  days I turned to the rest of the house, whether it needed it or not.

Being a family adoption, we learned that the process would be naturally faster. And we only needed lawyers, no adoption agency, which sped everything up even more. The home inspection was all of one hour long. The inspector, before she left, assured us that– although she had to submit the paperwork– our approval was pretty much guaranteed. Another blessing from God!

The same day, that same hour even, we got the call that our boy was born, eight pounds of long-limbed beauty! The moment the inspector left we threw our things into the car and drove three hours across the state line and to the hospital. I was shaking as we entered the hospital room. He was laying in his little hospital crib, sleeping, but the moment he heard Sackett Man’s voice he opened his eyes and searched the room until he found the source, and then he couldn’t stop looking at Chris. He quieted and snuggled into my arms whenever I held him. I couldn’t believe how beautiful he was, how big his eyes were, how his fingers curled around mine. I had been dreaming about him for three chaotic, crazy months, and now everything just stilled as we looked at each other.

We named him Roman.

I was a mother.

I was a mother.

We stayed with my in-laws that first week. I was honored and so, so happy when she (the bio. mother) let Roman come home from the hospital with me. I slept in a twin bed by his crib, and I fed him with a bottle throughout the night.

Needless to say, that first night was long. He woke up every hour and a half, and finally I just pulled him into bed with me and wrapped him in my arms and held him close. Then he slept. He’d just wanted me.

I quit working full time, to stay home, and I was so happy! Roman fit into our lives as though we’d had him ourselves. I couldn’t believe how natural it was; our lives had been turned upside down in a matter of months, but we couldn’t imagine it being any other way.

Three months later we had the final inspection (that insured that we were being good parents and that Roman was thriving), which lasted all of ten minutes, and then we went to court and the papers were signed off and filed. Roman was officially ours.

All we ever wanted was our own child. God answered our prayer in a wonderful, beautiful way.

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Enter Wonder Woman: The Homeschooling Mom

My oldest started kindergarten this year, and we’re homeschooling. This Summer, with great excitement and much trepidation on my part I mentally began to prepare for schooling him. I was giddy and nervous. Was I going to do a good job? I love teaching kids, but I’ve never taught one to read before. What if I didn’t know how? What if I couldn’t do it? What if I couldn’t find the resources I wanted/needed? What if there were too many resources to choose from, what do I do then? How would I know what to get? What if I got something terrible that didn’t work at all and just made him miserable? What if I was so unprepared that we got to Spring and he didn’t know ANYTHING?

I took a deep breath and made myself a cup of Earl Grey tea. Then I huddled away on pinterest for a while till I had calmed down enough to be rational.

I was going to be fine. I would plan, research, and organize the way I always do. I had all Summer to do so, and my mom — who homeschooled me and my six siblings from kindergarten through highschool — was happily hauling out everything she’d saved and sorting through it for me. I was going to reach September with a folder of weekly school lists ready and every book/craft/project/resource I could possibly need all filed neatly in my bookshelf. That’s what I would do; I was going to plan the whole year and have stress-free schooling. I was going to be the On It Mom.

Turns out I’m more of the Almost On It Mom Who Plans The Day Before. Actually it was two weeks before, sort of, and mostly the week before, when I showed up at Mom and Dad’s for the weekly visit and frantically, with Mom’s help, figured out my first week’s schedule and went home with boxes of stuff from her. I have accepted that I am the Almost On It Mom, because even though I have an overall grasp of what the year will consist of the actual schedule only gets made on a week-by-week basis.

And that’s okay. To Roman I’ve got it together and he’s happily learning away, and that’s what is important.

Then, going into the year with renewed confidence, I decided I would be the Make It Yourself Crafty Mom. Flashcards? I’m an artist, I can make flashcards! Pictures for coloring? Who needs to spend all that time researching printables on the computer! I can draw those! Crafts? I am crafty enough, I can figure it out and spend the time to make shapes, draw and design, and cut everything out. Such as this week: we’re learning about leaves for science; what chlorophyll is and why the leaves change color in the fall. For the craft we’re making leaves to either turn into garland or tape on the windows.

I can do that. I’m the Crafty Homeschool Mom who is so amazing I make everything at home!

Turns out I’m more of the Find Printables Online Mom. Because really… when you have three children, all under the age of six, plus laundry, dishes, house care, and schooling… who has TIME to completely do it yourself?! I glared at the inner crafty me who was wailing with guilt, and gagged her. It is plenty crafty to print templates off the computer for school crafts. Think of all the time it saves so that you have the time to actually DO the craft with your child! Think of the time saved to plan other parts of school and take care of your house and other children, instead of being hunched at the table trying to get his next coloring picture done!

Flashcards? That I only, in two months, had time to create four of? I found an awesome printable for that! In color! He now has the entire alphabet in flashcards. Easy peasy.

Fall leaves to decorate the house in? I found an awesome printable for that! I took colored paper (I chose red, orange, and yellow) and printed out a whole bunch of sheets of gorgeous leaves for Roman to cut out and tape all over the house. Shazam.

I utilize many things I never thought I would. I use youtube all the time. Learning about Columbus, I found a wonderful 15 minute video done in dramatized storybook format for him to watch and learn about Columbus. Today, being our weekly Library Day, we’re going to look for some Columbus books. And maybe some other fun exploration books. And a Dr. Seuss or two.

So I’ve made my peace with not being the ‘Perfect’ On Top of It, Awesome, Make-It-Yourself Wonder Woman Homeschool Mom. He’s learning to read. He’s learning a bit of history. He’s learning some science. He’s becoming a whiz at math! (I wish math had been that easy for me to pick up!)

As far as my son is concerned, I am the Wonder Woman Homeschooling Mom.

He’s learning, and he loves it. And that’s what matters.

He was having trouble understanding how Columbus could have made the mistake of thinking he'd reached the Indies. So I found a map and printed it twice: a full one, and then just half of it (the Eastern half, which is the world as Columbus knew it). I taped them together so he could see the 'roundness' of the world, and then pointed out the similar distance between his starting point and intended/real destination, and voila! With the visual aid, he got it!

He was having trouble understanding how Columbus could have made the mistake of thinking he’d reached the Indies. So I found a map and printed it twice: a full one, and then just half of it (the Eastern half, which is the world as Columbus knew it). I taped them together so he could see the ’roundness’ of the world, and then pointed out the similar distance between Columbus’s starting point and intended/real destination, and voila! With the visual aid, Roman got it! He even got a good giggle out of it. That night he nearly ran Sackett Man over holding the two ‘globes’ and explaining about Columbus. 🙂

“I’ve Got It!”

Every good day must and always shall be tempered with a little excitement.

We are in the middle of an aggressive potty training routine for our second son. With a fourth child on the way and him reaching three and a half years of age, we decided his relaxed comfort with where he was diaper-wise needed to be shaken up. So Sackett Man and I planned. We drew complicated diagrams and battle plans. We rendezvoused  in the dark of the night and whispered together secretly. Supplies were gathered, the preparations carefully made.

On Sunday we took the kids shopping. We wooed them with pasta and meatballs and breadsticks  at their favorite restaurant, then we went to the store, and marched our oldest to the boy section to pick two packages of awesome underthings in just his size, and then… gasp!… our second boy was taken to the aisle where, wonder upon wonders, there were undies in HIS size! And… he got to pick his very own package! Screen Shot 2014-10-15 at 12.21.12 PM

Monday morning dawned. The nighttime diaper was changed, and he was slipped into a pair of undies. He thought it was cool. His potty chair was put in the little back room off of the kitchen, within fast and easy access as he played (restricted as he was to the dining room/kitchen area, the only place in the house without carpet). A Potty Chart was taped on the wall. Whenever he tried, he got a smiley face drawn with a red crayon. When he was successful he got a sticker on his chart and a treat (consisting of one jelly pumpkin, one of his favorite treats). It got to the point that even our youngest 16 monther would throw her hands in the air and cheer “YAY!” whenever he announced a success. We only had one accident, early on, and not again after.

It was my turn: “YAY!”

Must to our son’s chagrin he learned, as the day wore on and the novelty of undie-wearing wore off, that this was a permanent deal. The only diaper allowed to him from now on was his nighttime one. We had a few tears; he wanted the comfort of routine back, but I was gentle and firm that this was the new routine. I wiped his eyes and kissed his forehead, and gave him another candy pumpkin.

Screen Shot 2014-10-15 at 12.21.42 PMThe boys played with duplos all day, sitting together on the kitchen floor. In the afternoon I made popcorn and set up a movie on my computer for them.

All three happily sat at the table and watched Frozen, munching away on buttery, yummy popcorn.

Around 3:30 I started on supper. I pulled the thawed beef soup bones from the fridge; they still had a good amount of meat on them, so I browned them first in my dutch oven and then I added water and slowly began to cook them through, watching as a delicious broth began to form and rejoicing as the fantastic scent of rich meat filled the room. I was going to make a rustic beef stew for the night. Satisfied that all was well on the stove, I hurried off to pick some things up and put things away and organize and… well, you know, mother stuff.

“What did you do today?”

“I… well, there was… You know, stuff!”

Sometime after four I heard James announce he’d had another success. I, with my arms full of something (I know longer remember what) quickly checked the location of my three children. All three, oldest to youngest, were back at the table watching Frozen. Good. I had time to quickly dispose of whatever I have in my arms so that I could go take care of the potty chair (this is a very important thing to take care of with all possible speed when you have a curious 16 month old). I emptied my arms and hurried to the little back room barely a minute later.

Rose had beaten me to it, and was now industriously cleaning.

Enter the excitement.

A box of baby wipes was sitting, open, next to her, and she was crouched before the chair, scrubbing the inside of the bowl vigorously with a thoroughly-used/soaked wipe. The seat was covered with many splashes, liquid dripping and running down the sides. Rose herself was also soaked, and crouched in a puddly mess that spread out across the floor from the base of the potty chair. The soggy remains of two wipes were left in the bottom of the now-semi-dried bowl.

I stood for a second in amazed horror and mind-numbing shock. My first thought was: How am I going to clean this? My second thought was: How am I going to carry her through the house to the shower?

Rose noticed my presence and looked up at me. She paused in her scrubbing and the biggest, cheesiest grin split her little face, as if to say:

“Don’t worry about this, Mom. I’ve got it!”

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