Whoa, it’s been busy around here. We had a good Christmas with lots of family, and we’ve been hard at work with school. This school year has easily been our toughest ever. We have had, all at once:
- The move in the summer, including buying a house, consuming 100% of my time that I needed for preparation.
- Needed curriculum changes from our Catholic conversion.
- The kiddos moving into a bit of a new phase where I now have 4 grade schoolers and 2 high schoolers.
- The two littlest ones, ages 1 and 3, are both very high maintenance children, far more than most of my other ones were at those ages. The two of them are quite a team, and leave me feeling like a rookie as often as not.
- Other significant life stressors cropped up in the past year, too, and my heart is tired. You know, because a major faith transition coupled with a midlife career change and moving a family of 10 to a completely new place within one year isn’t enough. I guess. Apparently.
It’s been the first year where I really thought we might just hang it up and send them to public school. It was definitely on the table, for a while, and that’s not something I’ve thought twice about since we decided to homeschool an adorable 5 year old Erin, 12 years ago. But, if all I can do is run around throwing worksheets at people with a shrieking toddler wrapped around my head, well, that’s not going to cut it.
But, before we quit, I wanted to try changing some things around. Sometimes that’s all you need, really, is just a new approach. Since I was getting worn out trying to keep up with all the separate coursework (plus two crazy monkeys), I decided to try some unit studies. I had done this once before when Erin and Anna were little, but neither of them enjoyed it much. They didn’t like the hands on, lapbooking type stuff, so I ditched it.
But, new times. New kids, and it turns out purchased unit studies have been a fabulous breath of fresh air. Less prep for me, since it’s all put together already, with good ideas for the projects and field trips that are so hard for me to think of when I can’t find time to visit the bathroom or throw in a load of laundry. This batch of grade-schoolers loves the lapbooking. So, we’re interspersing week-and month-long studies as a supplement to our foundational coursework.
We’re getting a lot more done and enjoying it more. We even took a school tour of Pizza Hut and got two free pizzas out of it, so clearly it’s a win.
So now, I’m optimistic we can carry on. It’s a relief, because I was worried about laying still more life changes on all of us.
The running…oh. That. It’s cold out there, you know? So I do kettlebell. (Sometimes). I love me some kettlebell. 10 minutes, 200 calories. Done.
The kids even get into it, now. I happened on a 3lb bell at a thrift store a while back, and now my 3 year old is perfecting her swing.
The kids are settling in a bit. Rebecca is doing well at dance, and has been invited to be on the Oireachtas team for this year. It’s pronounced oh-ROCK-tus, and it’s a regional competition that will be in Florida this coming December. She’s super excited. Becca has a lot of goals, and one is to go to the World Championship in Ireland someday. Who knows? If Becca can give me an excuse to fund raise for a trip to Ireland, well, hmm. I’m good with that.
We’ve also started the boys in Cub Scouts. They are adorable in their uniforms, but I know nothing about scouting, or about most of the things that scouts do (which is one reason I wanted them in scouts. Right?). Their poor leader has to talk me through everything. My hand has almost healed from helping them make Pinewood Derby cars a couple weeks ago, though, so that’s something.
And, to my complete shock, my three year old has forgotten Utah. She no longer recognizes photos of our house there, or her old room. She remembers people, friends and neighbors, but not the place.
Also, Becca is going to be an altar server. I’m happy that she can do that, both for its own sake and also as a good place to find some friends her age in the church.
We got a dog! Meet Margo. She’s a Great Pyrenees/Labrador mix obtained from a rescue up in Virginia. She is our second try – the first dog we brought home from the shelter sadly had to go right back the next day, after it became clear that he had an incurable taste for cat. He was a sweetie otherwise, but I do like our cats an awful lot.
Margo is another story. She is so much fun and has fit right in, and after a chilly start with the cats has become best buddies with Rhys. Erin, who has wanted a dog pretty much forever, still can’t quite believe she’s here.
Timothy isn’t really a baby anymore. He’s a tempestuous, insanely lovable and lovably insane toddler, now. The whole house has been claimed by him – most especially anything I am eating. And the stove timer, which no one can figure out why it makes him so angry. When it goes off, he becomes enraged and yells “NO! My timer! Mine!!”
While Emily has forgotten Utah, I have not. We have moved to a good place, with good people and good opportunities, and I’m grateful. But leaving Utah behind left a deeper hole in my heart than I expected. I’m finding life to be that way, the last few years. We’ve left much behind, both physically and metaphorically, and life is different than it was in so many ways.
“It does not do to dwell on dreams, and forget to live,” said Albus Dumbledore. It seems strange now, but I never realized how much that can apply to dreams of the past as well as dreams of the future. It’s always been a priority for me not to waste what I have for want of what I lack. In the past, what I lacked was stability, prosperity, plans for the future beyond getting that much-needed job. But we lived there, and made a life there, and a darn good one.
I’m determined to do that here, too. To roll who I was into who I am, and be present, and live here. Utah and its breathtaking beauty and its kind, generous, and hardworking people are stamped on my heart, as is Pennsylvania where I grew up. Starting over is hard, but I won’t waste this stretch of my life gazing back at the last one. Even if I have been very busy framing old pictures to hang up around the house.
For more Quick Takes, visit Kelly at This Ain’t The Lyceum.