A Surprising Choice

I have a lot of friends who don’t know this about our family yet. That’s because I’ve surrounded myself with people who have very strong opinions on this topic, and I didn’t want to have people telling me their very strong opinions unless it directly affected them or they are family members. We sought out wise counsel and have made the best decision for our family… for now.

When we moved to Wisconsin, we had no intention of changing the way our family does things. We still eat organic, we still put Jesus first, and we still spend as much quality family time together as we can. However, one major thing has changed– we decided to put the big kiddos in public school.

Homeschooling is our first choice for schooling our children. I even researched and joined several Wisconsin homeschooling groups on Facebook before we moved. We were set on continuing along with our plan, and I have been gathering books and resources for the past year in order to prepare for Hula Girl and Monkey Man to learn some really neat stuff this year.

But the move has been hard on the kids. Like, really, really hard. I believe I mentioned that the kids and I lived with my parents for about a month and a half while Jonathan stayed at our former house, packing and cleaning and getting it ready to sell, before we moved to Wisconsin. Now we are staying in a temporary (wonderful, but temporary) house, and we have been house hunting and dragging the kids all around the area to find a house. We have one that will be ours in October, but in the meantime, we’re not exactly settled.

At first, it was a fun adventure for the kids– staying at Grammy and Grampy’s house! Camping! Staying in a new house! Sharing a room for the first time ever! Eventually, it turned into a real drag. The kids got sick of each other and were bickering nonstop all day. I had to make millions of phone calls and try to learn all about the new area (where to grocery shop? What kinds of insane winter gear do we need to stock up on? How do I get to the nearest Starbucks– it’s PSL season, after all–?). And Sugar Plum is still a baby who needs tons of naps.

We were all getting sick of each other, really. So. I took the opportunity to put the kids in a wonderful public school. I went and toured it before I made the official decision. If I were still teaching, it’s a school I’d be proud to be part of. The teachers are so engaged, the principal is extremely supportive, and the parents are very involved. The school is a 4K-4th grade elementary school, and it offers a wide variety of research-based programs and interventions that are actually really cool. (I kind of geeked out a bit on the tour and I even got jealous of the teachers who get to work there!)

The first week of school was just the two days prior to Labor Day weekend. Both kids were so excited. We got all their supplies and attended the open house the week prior to school opening. We met teachers and saw the classrooms, and the kids were happy and ready for the change. The first two days were wonderful; both kids raved about their teachers and their days.

The following week was not so smooth. Monkey Man made it clear he did NOT want to go to school. He just barely turned four in August. I was having a hard time with him being in school, anyway, due to multiple drop-off and pick-up times and Sugar Plum’s napping schedule. We made the choice to pull him back out of school and just keep him home with me. That has been a wonderful choice for him, and I plan to write a lot more about that soon enough.

Hula Girl, however, is thriving. I feel like we must have won the teacher jackpot! Her teacher is very structured and organized, and she is extremely communicative with parents. She researches and implements new approaches as fitting, and she is super engaging for the children, to boot. Hula Girl is a child who appreciates wit, routine, and structure. She loves knowing exactly what to do, how to do it, and why. Her teacher meets provides all these things while challenging her to better herself.

Hula Girl is above average academically; this was a huge concern for me. My personal experience of skipping a grade because I tested high is one I wouldn’t trade for the world (I had a few wonderful friends and there was a lot of very healthy academic competition in my graduating class), but I wouldn’t want to put the social struggles I encountered at the younger ages onto Hula  Girl. She is already a bit socially awkward as she is still working her way out of her extreme timidity around strangers. I couldn’t imagine sticking her in a public school classroom with second graders!

I have been very pleased to see the proactive ways her teacher and the school are working to support her and engage her academically. My ultimate goal is not to have her earn Valedictorian of First Grade status; rather, I want her to be somewhere she feels is safe, enjoyable and engaging while we sort out our living situation. I want her to make friends and practice treating others like Christ. I want her to walk away with self-confidence AND humility.

Public school is the current means to these ends, and I am so thankful for all the prayers and advice we were given when debating this idea for our kiddos. We plan to re-evaluate our decision at Christmastime, and see if we feel settled enough by then to bring Hula Girl back home so we can start fresh with our Charlotte Mason homeschooling experience. This is truly where we feel God is leading us as a family; we just want to make sure to go at the right time and in the right way. We’ve seen God’s hand in a very vivid way over the past six months, and we are eager to see how and where he will direct us next.

10 in 10

Well, I’ve done it. I have sent my letters of intent to enroll Hula Girl in Kindergarten in 2015.

Yes, I know it’s a bit early. I also know that I’ve spoken with many of you and have told you that I think homeschooling is the best idea for us. However, that will just not be possible.

As I mentioned previously, I viewed the film Waiting for Superman the other night. If you’re not an educator, it’s probably not the choicest film for you. But as a teacher, it really struck a chord. It rekindled a fire in me and reminded me that I have to be in a classroom. That’s where I am meant to be. I don’t feel like I reached my full potential in the short three years of teaching that I was able to do before Hula Girl came along. In fact, I am 100% positive that I can do so much better, so much more.

Therefore, I sent in the paperwork and emailed the directors of the two schools I would consider sending Hula Girl to in the future. (I will admit there might be other schools I’d consider; however, this was all done on a whim and without much time to research, these schools are the only two I could identify off the top of my head.) One is the school where I was employed for those three years; the other is in a college town north of where we used to live, where Jonathan is currently applying to work as a counselor for the university.

Yep, he’s applying. I found this really awesome counseling job the other day while I was doing a short search online. I am always looking around for potential job opportunities for Jonathan. We do not want to stay where we are forever. In fact, Jonathan will be eligible to apply for his license in December; we’ll probably try to move away from here around that time. It all depends on jobs, cost of living, and just how quickly paperwork can be processed.

This job seemed really great, and when I showed it to Jonathan, he got really excited about it. He thinks college-aged kids would be great to work with. (I feel really old after writing that sentence.) He knows there is so much change happening in their lives, and he can see himself in a supportive role for people going through those types of changes. The application is due April 1, so we’ll have to really work hard on getting it in on time. I did just find the job the other day, and Jonathan is working a bit extra this week because of the training he’s part of at work. It will be a mad rush tomorrow night to make sure everything is filled out properly and all references are listed correctly. But it could be a really good opportunity!

I would be pretty excited to move to the town where the university is located. Anything is better than where we are. Anything with a Target, at least. I am really tired of having to go to WalMart for all our household needs. It’s fine if it’s a choice. But when it’s the only option, the excitement really fades.

Speaking of WalMart, Hula Girl and I have to visit this afternoon to get some cabinet and drawer latches. She’s getting really adept at pulling them open, and I’m getting slow at catching her. It will be a much greater problem when she starts walking, which is just over the horizon.

I also had a minor freak-out earlier today when I realized she will be one year old in 10 weeks and 1 day. That is far too soon. She’ll be 10 months old in 10 days. That, too, is far too soon. I am not ready for this.

Given the choice, do you choose to shop at WalMart or Target?

Oy, with the Poodles Already!

The title is a quotation from my favorite TV series, Gilmore Girls. They took the funniest words they could think of and combined them to make a phrase. Well, the phrase seems to fit today. Except, replace the word “poodles” with “TEETHING” and you’ll have a great idea of what’s going on around our neck of the woods.

Yes, teething. Apparently I am raising Hula Girl to be a sissy when it comes to pain and sickness. She just does not handle them well. I will give the girl a little bit of credit. She IS getting four teeth in at the same time. Four. All four top center teeth. I think they’re called the incisors? She already has the bottom two teeth, and has since Thanksgiving. I’m not sure why she’s decided to sprout four more today. It seems like they’ve been a long time coming and that they could stand to wait a few more weeks, until after our trip to California. But perhaps Hula Girl’s genetic disposition for tooth growth follows the “when it rains, it pours” idiom, and since she’s been so sick, it’s time for teeth!

Regardless of the reason for the timing, they’re here. Well, almost. I can see all four of them, just sitting there, right under her gums, waiting to pop out at any moment. In fact, the right center tooth has poked through- a smidge. Actually, less than a smidge. About a half of a half of a half of a millimeter is sticking through. That’s about an eighth of a millimeter of pure tooth. And an eighth of a millimeter of pure tooth equals a lot of pain for Hula Girl.

She’s been very good during her wake times. She’s played well, crawled happily, and pulled herself up heroically while grasping her teething ring and flailing it around like it’s some kind of prize she’s won. (Short anecdote: after briefly munching on her teething ring this morning, she decided to share it with me by whacking me on the nose with it repeatedly. This elicited peals of laughter from said whacker. Thank goodness her drooly little gums melted it a bit before the whacking commenced.)

However, sleep has been fitful at best since last night. She first cried out around 7:15, or 30 minutes after I put her down. Very strange timing, indeed. She then proceeded to moan in her sleep about five or six times during the night. (I only know because I was awake coughing-still!) Then she woke at 6:00 a.m., crying as if something was wrong. Of course, teething still didn’t occur to me at that point- I was thinking it must be a diaper issue related to the antibiotics. Jonathan dutifully got up and changed her… not poopy… diaper. He put her back down, but she was up at 6:45. I figured 15 minutes early wasn’t going to kill our schedule, and she most likely would make up the missed sleep during her first nap, as long as I got Tylenol in her first. She didn’t make up the sleep, but she did take a good nap.

Her second nap, however, just started… an hour and a half after Jonathan put her down. Those teeth.

Last night I watched the documentary Waiting for Superman and I realized I absolutely must get back into a classroom. It’s where I was meant to be. More on this topic later.

Would you rather go to the dentist or get a flu shot?

Practice Eggs

Well, I think we’re finally on the tail end of this week-long nightmare. Jonathan is feeling about 90% healthy today, Hula Girl seems to be functioning at about 80%, and I’m back to 50%. I’m not sure why, but I definitely had this waaaaaay worse than Jonathan or Hula Girl. Maybe it’s because I haven’t been sick in so long? No matter the reason, it really knocked me off my feet. Literally- I’ve been in bed for days.

As I typed that last sentence, Jonathan walked in and surprised me with a plateful of pancakes and turkey bacon and a cup of chamomile tea. How sweet!

Lately I’ve been thinking about my old school and my students a lot. I checked out the website this morning www.vcsk8.org ,  and I found out that this school is doing amazing things this year. They’ve grown into a school that does fundraisers, family nights, principal’s coffees, before-school “jam sessions” in the music room, before-school “mileage club” with the PE teacher, after-school sports, student government, and parents curriculum-training nights. They’ve truly developed a sense of community, and I am so proud that I was a part of establishing that environment. Congratulations, Vanguard Classical School! I miss you!

We don’t know where we’re going to end up once Jonathan is finished getting his license. We will be able to move away from the place we live now by December. If we move back near where we were living, I want Hula Girl to attend Vanguard once she reaches Kindergarten. Therefore, I called and asked the front office to send me a letter of intent. Am I planning too far ahead? I don’t think so!

Speaking of planning ahead, I went ahead and did some practice eggs for our Easter Egg Contest.

Love 'em!

Oh, my poor sister-in-law. She never really stood a chance against my Easter Egg spirit. I wonder if I should tell her how I did such an awesome job, and give her a fair shot?

Do you have any fun holiday traditions in your family?

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