Why I Chose Home Schooling

At 6:45 the alarm woke us up with it’s horrible bark.  With indignation I would get out of bed, smack it silly, and then head upstairs to wake up Renna and Sam, inevitably waking the twins as well.  I tried to be nice about it, truly I did, but my patience is thin in the morning, and if I have to be up, they better jump up and MOVE.  I yelled at them to get downstairs and brush their teeth.  I yelled at them to get their clothes on.  I yelled at them to get to the table and shove food in their faces while I frantically searched for school appropriate snacks and made lunches.  I yelled at them to get their shoes.  Why are shoes so difficult to find?  Where did you take them off?  Why can you only find one?  Did you take each shoe off individually in separate rooms?  They’re a set.  You should really take them off together!  WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?  You’re going to be late!  Where is your jacket?  Why is it covered in mud?  Get outside, the bus is coming!

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They would board the bus at 7:30.  They got off the bus at 4:15.  They were exhausted.  I yelled at them to get their homework done.  I yelled at them to get changed for their activities.  When we got home, even more exhausted, I yelled at them to keep them moving and eat their dinner, shower, read, and go to bed.  And we did this…every day.  5 days a week.  But this is what we knew.  This is how it goes, right?  There isn’t another option, right? There are a million things they HAVE TO get done in a day…right?

 

In September of last year, Elliott got sick.  Like really sick.  The doctors kept telling me it was just a tummy bug and there was nothing we could do.   We just had to wait it out.  We were sent home from doctors 3 times.  And let me tell you, we don’t go to doctors unless I think there is something seriously wrong.  I stuck to my mom gut (always trust your gut, you’re their mom for a reason) and finally got some testing done.  My sweet baby, my 3 year old had Salmonella.   But not just salmonella, untreated major salmonella and he was septic.  His renal system was slowly shutting down.  He went to Children’s Hospital of Michigan by ambulance from our 4th visit to a doctor, where he stayed in infectious disease isolation for 5 days.  Hint 1, tomorrow is not promised.

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While Elliott was still in the hospital, I called my dear friend Kelly, to complain…  I was whining about being there and being tired when she gave me a shock.  She was undergoing testing because she had some major back pain and they found a mass.  After Elliott was healed, I went down to visit Kelly in Toledo Hospital, where, on the day we visited, she was diagnosed with Stage IV Primary Mediastinal Lymphoma.  She was 32 and one of my dearest friends.  It was in her chest, her back, her arms, and her legs. Hint 2, you never know what tomorrow may bring.

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Three days after Kelly’s diagnosis, my friend Bob, a part of my history and my adolescence, passed away of a massive heart attack at 41.  He laid down on the couch to take a nap because he didn’t feel quite right and he never got up.  Hint 3, LIFE IS SHORT!

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The next week, I pulled my kids out of school.  This might sound crazy, but we had debated it before and just never would have pulled the trigger.  This series of unfortunate events, spoke to me in such a way that I could not ignore it.  Life is short, you will never know what tomorrow brings, and it is not promised.  So we made a choice.

I cannot speak for Lewis, but I don’t have anything against the public schools.  I think teachers are remarkable people who dedicate their lives to educating children and helping build the future.  I was a public school kid, and I happen to think I’m pretty darn smart, well-rounded, and I have a love of learning.  I had amazing teachers who were able to reach me and helped me find myself.  But this isn’t about the school.  It was about us.  It was about FREEDOM.

I was tired of yelling.  I was tired of my children being gone 9 hours a day, and fighting their exhaustion when they were here.  I was tired of this grind, this mold we stick them into and expect them ALL to fit.  As a mom of 4, I can assure you that all children are created uniquely and none of them fit a one size mold.  I wanted the freedom to explore together.  I wanted the freedom to teach them life skills, and teach them what it meant to serve others and volunteer.  I wanted the freedom to stay up until midnight to learn about the stars, sleep late, and do math in their pajamas, because let’s be real, when I have to do math, I want PJ’s on and a comfy chair to do it.  I wanted to take them to museums, and adventure.  I wanted them to touch the earth and not just read about it.  When they did read, I wanted them to choose books and subjects that interested them and inspired them to learn something new.  I wanted them to make choices.

Here we are, 9 months later, and I think some people might call what we are doing “unschooling”.  I prefer to think of us as some sort of hybrid just finding our way.  We have workbooks and curricula, but we don’t use them all that much.  We do go on adventures, but we also learn life skills, and we work a lot on just discovering what we do and do not like to do.  For instance, I have discovered that I am not a huge fan of geocaching…the mud in the swampy woods ate one of my favorite boots and it never recovered….I’m not sure I’m built for the woods…  But I learned I love science.  And my kids have seen through my eyes and excitement that learning is fun.  Baking is math.  Animals teach you responsibility and biology.  Planting a garden can teach you about the earth, photosynthesis, the life cycle, and patience.  Trips to the library ignite a love for reading and reading opens the door to any education you wish.  Being able to touch things and break them apart and see how and why they work has done more for them this year, than any amount of table work they could have done, in my opinion.  All this said, I do recognize a need in the coming months for a little more structure.  It’s possible we gave ourselves a little too much freedom 🙂  But all in all, we yell a whole lot less.  We aren’t nearly as exhausted.  And we’ve given ourselves the gift of time in a life where tomorrow is not promised, you cannot tell what it holds, and LIFE IS SHORT.

I leave you with one of my favorite quotes which I submit to you as my home schooling mission statement:  There are but two lasting bequests we can hope to give our children.  One of these is roots, the other, wings.

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-Mary

What I Didn’t Expect

When I fly, I sit in the emergency exit row.  I do this for a multitude of reasons.

  1. I have super long legs and there is a LOT more space there.
  2. I actually enjoy feeling cold.  I find it relaxing and this is by far the coldest seat on a plane.
  3. I’m actually REALLY good in an emergency.

So let’s focus on 3.  If you’re going to sever your finger, or a car crashes into your house, or you get robbed, or have to execute a water evacuation on a 747, you want me in your corner.  DURING an emergency I’m extremely reliable and fairly calm.  I will lose my mind when we are safe and everything is complete.  The aftermath will hit me like a ton of bricks but by then the coast guard has plucked you out of the water and you’re already air drying your leggings somewhere.

What I didn’t expect working for myself and being the sole income provider for a family of 6 is what that pressure would feel like!  My calm and reliability sometimes has an expiration limit and in this role, it’s not allowed to expire.  We CHOSE to bring my husband home from work.  He did not love his job.  It did not make him a better person.  It did not make him happy and he was missing EVERYTHING.  All of the time.  With my business taking off, we felt confident cutting back our income and living off of LuLaRoe sales and commissions.  It was a necessary arrangement in order for us to pursue our accidental homeschooling.  (I already have a blog post in mind to tell you WHY we chose to home school, but that’s a whole different topic for another day.)

If you don’t know our backstory, we are perfectly capable of living on nothing and coming out the other side unscathed.  We’ve eaten more Ramen noodles than we care to share, and I’ve sold plasma for gas money…so we’re not fancy.  But in this new life, this life we dream about and try to create, things are slightly different and this pressure is INTENSE.  We’ve always both worked.  Always.  So even when we were poor, we were happy and we were sharing a burden evenly.  I knew if my waitress shift didn’t bring in what we needed we would survive until Lewis’s next check.  And he knew when his check ran out, I would be headed to the restaurant to work a double and pick up extra shifts so we could buy food.

We have moved far beyond this financially and far beyond our wildest expectations just 2 short years ago, but I have to admit, every single month I get concerned that the 747 is making a water landing and I am somehow going to screw it up.  The pilot is screaming at me in my head and I’m like WHAT THE HECK DID WE DO?  I need a new seat assignment please!  Then the plane levels out and I’m like, oh, ok it’s fine.

I now know how my husband felt when I was on maternity leave or medical leave for babies (4 times).  I know how he must have felt when he looked at his check and he wondered who the heck FICA was and why they stole all of his money.  I appreciate his calm under pressure more.  I appreciate how hard he worked for us.

What I love about this business is that my answer is easy.  I sell more skirts.  I work a little harder.  I AM good under pressure. And I’m scrappy.  Tell me I can’t do something and I will do it just to spite you.

As women, we put a lot of pressure on ourselves at home I think.  And we feel like we’re failing…a lot.  I’ve heard it said that wives are the dream weavers.  We teach our husbands and our children how to dream.  So when silly things like facts get in the way and you’re trying to pull yourself up by your bootstraps and they snap in your hand, you kind of want to take The Crying Game shower.

Having a family business is not easy.  But it is beyond rewarding.  So it’s worth the pressure.  The pressure is not stronger than the gift of time together that it has given us.  I will live off of eggs from our chickens every single day if it means my kids are happy and we are cleaning that chicken coop together.

-Mary

 

PS I know this was a little heavy for a second blog post…but it was on my mind.  And I’ve learned nothing if I haven’t learned that so many people feel like I do at different times and just need someone to say it out loud.DSCN1494

We Have Barnes & Boutiques

Choices.  Every choice we make changes the course of our lives.  Just over 1 year ago, I told my husband I would never move north of Hall Rd, which for me was the end of convenience and civilization and everything I thought I wanted.  Why would anyone want to live so far away from stores, and museums, and the happenings?  Then he showed me a garage…  A garage that could house an entire boutique full of clothing and fitting rooms.  A space just for me with no kids, no pets, no scary basement lighting; and I was sold.  This garage was about 10 miles north of the magical barrier I had put on our housing search and it was attached to a house built before William McKinley took office (if you don’t want to google that, it was 1897).  Somehow, this family of mine sold me on a dream. A life that I didn’t know I wanted.

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Who are we?

I’m Mary.  I recently turned 29 for the 6th time.  I am a retailer and coach for LuLaRoe.  I have an uncanny ability to make rash decisions and keep my family on their toes.

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This is Lewis.  Lewis asked me to marry him in 2005 and I said, “Are you sure?”  And he seemed kind of sure so we got married.

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These are our children:

DSCN1545 (2)Renna is an 8 year old who is so sensitive I swear to God above she cannot possibly be mine 😉  She loves with her whole heart and she will take care of us all someday while simultaneously fighting for justice.

Sam is my animal guy.  He’s kind of shy and sweet, unless you are his sibling.  He gets overwhelmed by the noise and hustle of the world sometimes.  He just turned 7 (for the first time), and if he could choose a place to live it would be the Detroit Zoo.

Elliott & Lorelei are the twins.  And I feel bad even making them share a text section, but that’s what happens to twins.  Twins have to share that name, The Twins.  For a long time we called them “The Babies”, until we realized they were 4 and spoke in sentences and had opinions.  We retired “the babies” and we stick to “The Twins”.  Truth be told they could not be more opposite one another.  Elliott does everything with joy and a smile.  He does awful things, stupid things, but he has not a drop of malice in his heart.  His main goal in life is to be a party everywhere he goes.  Lorelei is a little princess.  A heart string puller.  She’s cute…and she knows.

Why do we have a blog?

When we moved the kids out of the city, we promised them a “farmhouse” which in a child’s mind comes with an actual FARM.  So being the level-headed good decision maker I am, we are now accidental homesteaders, accidental homeschoolers, and living purposefully.  We wanted to share a little piece of ourselves and our journey with you.  We want to connect with people and leave a mark on the world.  We want you to laugh with us, at us, and celebrate the tiny successes, the massive failures, and this thing called life.  Lewis, Renna, possibly Sam, and myself, will be contributing authors to our family blog.  Follow us if you’re interested in fashion, homesteading, homeschooling, DIY projects, and adventures!

See you again soon!

-Mary