Journaling #2

Post number 2:

Good morning, blog!

I have only ever had Jordan in public school and have always homeschooled the rest and currently Jordan too. There are lots of reasons why… homeschooling is really a fabulous and flexible way to get and give an education. I’ve been able to maintain closer relationships with my kids, develop personalized education plans, give them opportunities for more play and more time outdoors, and overall felt we were successful and making the best choice possible.

But about nine years ago, I realized I had developed depression. And I’ve always had struggles with chronic fatigue and brain fog. I was managing the depression and fatigue well enough, with both better and worse months as life goes, for years. My pain levels have been increasing, my chronic fatigue and brain fog became more intense, and the depression really smacked me hard several years ago. The work of becoming more myself… more whole, inside and out, has become a focus of my attention and, I think, is helping me become more resilient and healthy.

That said, something had to give. Homeschooling is a lot of work. It lacks the stress of interacting with and performing for half a dozen teachers, aides, nurses, and bus drivers… and it allows for a lot of stress-relieving autonomy instead. But the all-day nature of being a family in the same space together does grind. Not to mention specific individual difficulties with kids that I am going to keep off of the internets. I needed a break. Pretty desperately. Brian and I have lived a life in deficit mode for years and we both are weary and showing the wear.

To send kids to school, i had to be free from the fear of the state. If you’re not aware, barely two months after Daniel was adopted, while we were still in the thick of learning feeding tubes and settling Daniel into our family, we began a school assessment for him and they called CPS on us, because Daniel tried to plug a cord into an outlet. Tiny children with disabilities plugging things into outlets is obviously startling and we had spent lots of money and energy into baby-proofing our home, but Daniel was almost five years old and dismantling all the baby proofing we could put up, so we were switching gears to teaching him how to use outlets safely instead. Anyways… CPS. We got a phone call and two home visits from a woman with the power of taking our children away from us. We were in a place with even the potential for having our children traumatized.

And it traumatized us as parents.

A month later, the case was finally closed (she said she’d close it the moment she met us, but she didn’t actually do the paperwork for a month – over Christmas).

And for years, I carried fear. I still do, but it’s not the same as it was before. I’ve recovered, at last, my sense of self confidence, even in the face of professionals who may press me to defend my choices.

And I’ve also successfully latched hold, for now, on the potential of, “What if it works out.” What if it works out!? What if it works out?

And so – I have a high schooler, a middle schooler, and two grade schoolers in our local public schools. They’re riding busses, learning from teachers, interacting with the community kids, and… after a long 18 months of covid… seeing other humans besides their household. The mornings are a bit hard and we don’t know how to manage our time when the kids are home yet, but I have margin. Potential.

To heal.
To grow.
To explore.
To rest.
To exercise.

And that’s why I’m blogging today.

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Day 1

It’s on my wish list to begin writing again. It’s so hard to start after so long absent!

A few years back, I began to get a hold on my depression and turn my thought life around. I held onto a word for that year – the word was “hope.” I remember making a hard medical decision for Daniel. It was one of those decisions where I wasn’t confident that I was making the right choice. It was risky. It definitely would involve pain. The possibility for failure paralyzed me. As it has paralyzed me so many times before. But I made that choice… by laying CLAIM to hope. I claimed it. It was mine. I would hope for a better outcome than I feared.

A more recent year, I chose a new word: Joy. This one felt right and I even received some confirmations from something bigger than me (God?) that this was my new word. That it was something for me to claim and be blessed by. Joy. Joy? Joy. How? And what is stopping me? I don’t supposed I’ve ever been a particularly chipper person or a huge joker and I’m rarely very playful. But this depression… it’s been here for a long time. Joy. I’ve been carrying so many rejections and a lot of lost faith and questions about my identity as a fundamental, conservative, old fashioned, Christian, woman. So many questions. So little faith. So little… hope? Joy?

I’ve re-claimed the hope again with a new phrase: “What if it works out?” What if it does? What if the things that might fail… might work out? What if this blogging, which I’ve failed to add to for months and months… becomes a place I can work out my thoughts again? What if I can begin to untangle a lot of my inner thoughts here and what if I’m brave enough to share it here? Why would I share it? Because authenticity is a core value of mine. And if I cannot be open about my inner self… I don’t feel like I’m being myself. And I need, more than some, to be fully myself all the time. The public “face” has never fit me well and I hate it.

I think this is enough for today. I’m going to go put some frozen fish in the oven and some broccoli in a steamer basket. Then I’m going to eat dinner, drink the last beer, and listen to the audiobook (36 hours long!) of book five of The Wheel of Time, because I’m nerdy and I got so excited about their being a tv series of it with awesome costumes and a fabulous looking cast! EEeee – I’m so excited!

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An Unusual Defense

An unusual defense… for me, anyway.

I have proudly and confidently defended our choice to homeschool for nine years. I love just about everything about homeschool. The flexibility, the freedom, the relational strengths, the trust, the scheduling freedom, the extracurricular freedom, etc. etc. etc.

But I’ve never been anti public school.

How can I be? I know and love teachers. I know and love students. And the majority of my country believes in and support the public school system. You know… the PEOPLE in my country. My neighbors and friends.

Sure, I prefer homeschool and I love that I have the freedom to pursue it.

A friend of mine just spent months defending her choice to begin homeschooling. Goodness…. so many naysayers! And here I am today… about to defend our family’s probable choice to send most of our kids to public school next year. Reminds me of feeding babies: Somebody will say you’re doing it wrong no matter what you do. I just can’t win that game, so I’m not playing it.

Support each other. Believe in each other.

“If you love homeschool so much, why are you sending kids to public school next year?”

Short Answer: Because I need help.
Long Answer: My health has been in continual decline and we’ve exhausted every other avenue for help reducing our stress load. Even though I am experiencing a sort of grief at even the thought of an era ending… I am sagging with relief. Maybe this will help. Maybe this will be successful. Maybe we’ll be matched up with amazing, skillful, invested teachers who can pour some new life into our family.

Somebody I love said that they couldn’t celebrate with me, because they don’t like what public school stands for.
Right now, it’s standing for hope. Celebrate that. Either that, or come help five days a week.
I believe in community support. Organized community support. Government sponsored community support. It’s me. I’m the community. I’m a voter. I voted for this. And I hope that this will be a boon to our family and not a battle. Cuz friends… I haven’t got battle left in me. I get up when I fall, but I’m not swinging punches any more. Call me a hugger. Let’s lean on each other and hug instead.

Anna has been developing her natural artistic skills with her free time.


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Surgery Trip 2021

Daniel has a major surgery planned for the end of April on the east coast.
We live on the west coast.
Brian and Daniel will be gone for over two weeks and will return with Daniel in a toe-to-waist cast and with a plate and screws in his bones.
After over a month of uncomfortable recovery, I’ll fly him all the way back to get the gross cast off and bring him home again to begin rehab.
I’ll be very happy when July is here and this is behind us.

Daniel in spring 2019 when he was in stretch casts.

So, I’m doing what any mother like me would do in these circumstances:
I’m making endless lists that basically comprise, “How do I make this less shitty?”

Kittens make life better!

What things would you put on these lists?
Please share!
I’ll start typing up the ideas!

Surviving Major Surgery – Family Version

Surgery & Travel Survival: Child
Cute face masks
Electric toy drill
LCD Tablet (we have one already – should bring it)
Water beads. Daniel can’t get his cast wet, but he loves water.
A clock radio
Padding and blankets and pillows
Extending list on Amazon
Surgery & Travel Survival: Parent
Solo Parenting and Shut In Survival – Kids are ages 8, 8, 11, 12, 14
Easy food ideas:
Chicken Taquitos

Learning shows:

Cool crafts:

Chore relief ideas:
Buy a stack of paper plates
Lengthy Recovery: Family – Kids are ages 8, 8, 11, 12, 14
Favorite movies and TV Shows
Feel-good snacks
Afterward: Fun Summer Plans
Beach Trip

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What a Year! – August

This month, we replaced the furnace filters (only worth telling you, because we replaced them less than two months later and they were disgusting! Why? Forest fires.). Brian and most of the kids also went on a driving marathon to John Day, Oregon for stargazing and sightseeing. Brian took the kids backpacking overnight, I went to the beach with the girls, Silver Star was hiked, Maggie and Carrie had regular phone calls with their new best friend River, and our A/C needed serviced on a 100 degree day.

Look! I have photographic proof!

Brian and I took a stab (a whack?) at cutting some of the brambles down to size. Nothing like extensive blackberry brambles to make us wish we owned a tractor!

The mighty blackberry killer!

The mighty blackberry bramble!

I even got away for a day to visit one of Brian’s special haunts:

I carried a hiking backpack and spent a day exploring Siouxon Creek trail… listening to self help podcasts and journaling and napping!

Setting out!

Journaling and letting the sweat dry.

I took Anna to get her hair trimmed. She has beautiful, thick, wavy hair. The ends were pretty damaged (it’s been growing out for a long time) and we got to visit a proper hair salon for a trim!



In the fancy chair.

All fresh!

Out to a thai restaurant together! Mother-daughter dates are my favorite.

Filled and sealed!

I decided to buy some long-term storage food to keep in our basement. To make the rice and oatmeal and other foods last 20-30 years, I sealed it up in Mylar bags with oxygen-absorbing packets.

I only did a few buckets… which doesn’t go far with a large family… but… well, I’m pleased with it.

Finished and on a shelf.

Anna started playing with the paranormal setting on the camera that allows you to have shadows that don’t match the subject. Pretty sure I didn’t pick out the best photos, but these are fun.

Most of the summer we had a neighbor boy at our house a few days a week. Here, they’re all playing with the bubble machine. Anna got some cool artistic bubble photos while it was running.

John Day time!

Their first stop was a cool (but really hot) location called The Blue Basin.

Anna took pictures for me, so I could see where they went!

An eerie landscape.

They took a break at the Cant Ranch where Daniel found a sprinkler to cool off in.

Wet kid!

Then they found a campsite on the John Day river, and played a bit in the water before sunset.

Ready for stargazing!

The next morning, after watching the Perseids Meteor Shower, they visited the Painted Hills in Oregon before making the long drive home.

Pretty cool and beautiful and strange!

Our beach trip!

The intrepid adventurers!

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