Friday, December 1, 2017

Why I Haven't Been Posting...

I can't believe it's been almost five months since my last post on this blog.  When I last wrote, I had lots of exciting horse-related things going on and was expecting to document them fairly frequently on the blog.  Life intervened, and in a word, the reason I haven't been posting is: Homeschooling. 

I have always expected to homeschool my daughter, in part because I'm really not happy with the way public education is conducted, in part because I have completed almost all the coursework for a Masters degree in secondary education and I really love education, and in part because I think it really is the best choice for her.  However, I didn't expect to be doing it quite so soon.  You see, in Virginia, a September birthday (which my daughter has) allows parents the option to enroll their child in kindergarten when they are 4 or wait until the following year.  After exhaustively polling lots of people who had a choice about when to enter their children into the school system (including my own mother), I determined that everyone who had entered their child "early" regretted it and anyone who had "held back" their child was happy with the decision.  So my husband and I had decided to wait to enroll Gemma in kindergarten until she was 5, almost 6, which would be next year.

Gemma, as is typical, had her own ideas, and began pestering me about starting school over the summer.  I tried to explain that even if she was going to the school down the street, school wasn't in session anyway, but she was having none of it.  School must start NOW!  For those of you who do not have much experience with toddlers, toddlers usually have an attitude of "Things must be done how I want, when I want, and as frequently as I want or I will be forever devastated and I will make your life miserable with my horrifying temper tantrums."  They are also persistent little things and brilliant negotiators.

Given that homeschooling is not for the faint-hearted, I decided that doing some "pre-school" type homeschooling might not be the worst idea.  I figured that I could experiment with curricula, schedules, and documenting to come up with a system that would be doable once the state started paying attention to what I was doing.  (In Virginia, parents who homeschool must show evidence of their child's progress each year and my understanding is that many parents hire independent evaluators to essentially score their child's work to report to the school system.)

So the month of July was dedicated to researching curricula (thankfully, I had already done quite a bit of work in this area and knew what I was looking for) and then reading said curricula, revising it to better fit what I wanted to do, looking at other resources, and structuring learning objectives and lesson plans.

Being a teacher requires a lot of planning!
I used traditional and not so traditional sources for lesson inspiration:)
A new way to learn letters!
I even learned how to play the Native American style flute (NAF) because it is pentatonic and widely considered to be a better choice for a child's first instrument than the recorder.  I also thought it would be a great way to bring in another culture to the curriculum without it being something written in a textbook. Learning to play the NAF wasn't a huge stretch for me because I've been playing a concert style flute since I was in sixth grade, but it still took some time for me to adjust to the different way that notes are written and learn new fingerings.

I really love playing this instrument!
"School" started on July 31, which was as long as I could hold my daughter off, and we really had great fun doing nature walks (Gemma adored the huge spider webs, mushrooms, deer, fish in the creek, and just being outside).  We also did animal care, cooking, cleaning, reading, singing, crafts, and painting.  I have to admit that both of us probably loved doing watercolor painting the best out of everything.  I have no memories of watercolor painting in school, although I can't believe that I never did it.  And since I was basically just as clueless as Gemma, we learned together.  We practiced both the more theoretical techniques (carefully blending different colors on paper) as well as super fun stuff like dusting the painting with salt and blowing the extra paint to create designs.

Four-year-olds can paint too!
The problem with all the fun we were having was that I realized I wasn't doing much else.  No cleaning, cooking, laundry, running errands, and not nearly enough riding.  So after a month of educational bliss, real life intervened, and I joined the millions-and-growing throng of women who try to do everything and fail miserably at all of it.

I spent about three months basically feeling like I was gasping for air internally.  It wasn't so much that I was unhappy or thought that my life sucked.  It was just that there was so much to do...and my child's future was at stake.  I mean, if she didn't learn to read or write, it would be my fault for being so insistent that I could homeschool and wear clean clothes simultaneously.  And apparently I still needed to work part-time, and my job is just stressful by nature, so that didn't help.

I had to let some things go and one of the things was my blog.  I also didn't do much scrapbooking, watch much TV, or read any books.  I mostly stayed off of Facebook and made Instagram my social media of choice because it was significantly less time consuming and honestly, much less negative.  (You can follow me at @scrappychick11 if you are so inclined.)  I still kept trying to clean the house sometimes, but my husband did a lot of the cooking.  I did keep riding, but it was tough a lot of the time.  I persevered, though, because that's what modern women do.  I did feel increasingly isolated because I didn't have much time to see or talk to friends and when I rode, I felt guilty about all the time I was taking from other things.  But when I did the other things, I was bitter about missing riding time.

October was crazy busy with me trying to fit in a birthday party, Halloween stuff, riding competitions and conditioning work (plus a bunch of other stuff I'm sure I don't remember) and then all of a sudden it was November and I still felt like my schedule was too much.  So I started stripping my schedule.  But it was a case of too little too late.  On the Sunday before Thanksgiving, my body decided it had had enough, and insisted I was done for awhile.  I managed to get a cold and a migraine and muscle spasms at the same time, which left me feeling pretty miserable.  Over-the-counter medication was ineffective and so I spent three days basically in bed, getting up only to take care of Nimo for a few minutes each night.  As I started feeling better, I would try to go back to what I thought was an "easy" schedule, and each time, I would relapse and need to spend another day recovering.  Finally, almost two weeks later, I am able to work my usual schedule, ride my horse, feed myself and my child, and attempt to overcome the avalanche of laundry that has been building up (my husband has been helping, but he works full time, so there is only so much he can do).

I tell you all of this not so that you can feel bad for me or remind me that I need to take care of myself or offer time management solutions.  It's more just an explanation of the place I've been in since I last posted.  And I really don't regret any of it.  I was looking through my planner for the year and printing out some pictures and I realized how much I've done this year and how many wonderful experiences I've had.  Yes, I lost some sleep.  And yes, I got really sick because I overdid things.  But I lived my life.  I had to balance a bunch of different things just like everyone else does, and I had to prioritize a bunch of things that are all important to me.

For the next month, though, as is my custom, this blog is a priority.  I love documenting memories in December in a scrapbook for my daughter, and if you have been reading my blog for awhile, you know I carry that tradition over to my blog.  I plan to do that again this year because I have so many experiences to write about, and I don't want to forget them with the passage of time.  Despite my busy schedule over the past few months, Nimo and I have managed to do a whole lot of stuff together and my plan is to do some catch-up posts this month to let you know what we've been up to:)

And so, let December Daily begin...


  1. I'm glad to see you back for the time being. I've missed your posts. It sounds exhausting, but I think homeschooling would actually be a ton of fun once you got in the rhythm! Planning the lessons and gathering materials sounds like it would be very satisfying....

    1. Thanks, Dom:) I'm glad to be back posting too! And yes, homeschooling is actually a lot of fun. As adults, I think we often repress creativity and doing projects with a five-year old can bring some art and fun back that wouldn't normally be part of life.

  2. Wow, go you! This is really great and thanks for sharing it.

  3. Homeschooling sounds like so much fun! And seeing some of your materials and your schedule makes it sound even MORE fun. Gemma's such a lucky girl to have a mom like you <3

    1. Awe, thanks, Liz:) And yes, it is a lot of fun! Which is part of my problem:)