Monday, August 1, 2016

Back to Homeschool: Expectations vs. Reality


The children arise cheery and eager to sit down to the breakfast table at 7:30 sharp. They walk out of their bedrooms dressed and greet me with a "Good morning, mom. You look splendid today." 

The waffles are piping hot and we all sit down for a lovely breakfast and we talk about how excited we are to dive into 5th and 1st grade. Their excitement is breathtaking!

We get out our workbooks and begin. Each child works well alone, and is speeding through their work with flow and ease. We ease through English, Grammar, and move on quickly to Math. They remember all of their multiplication facts and can recall everything we learned last year.

We move on to history, where we are approaching the civil war with excitement! Abraham Lincoln is our favorite president and we are preparing to read his biography and do a book report. 

We then move on to science and do a small experiment with the phases of the moon. We plan to go out tonight and "observe" the dark moon.

We break for lunch, clean up our area, head to the library and check out 1,000 books that spark our interests. Then we head home and play independently until father walks in the door.


At 7:30, Dylan walks out of his room. He begins talking to me about his guinea pig before I have had my second cup of coffee. This makes my eye twitch. No other child is awake. But then I hear the roar of a 3 year old who doesn't understand why it's already day time and Jude won't get up. He stomps out of his room and slams the door.

I prepare Dylan his waffles, and upon that sight, Wesley would like a waffle. I cut it up and present it to him at the table. He throws a tantrum because they are not waffles, like he thought, they are pancakes. I express to him that cutting them up does not make them pancakes. He insists they are now pancakes. He is asked to resume his tantrum in his bedroom. He complies, returns 10 minutes later having breached his contract with the devil, and eats his waffles.  

Two more boys appear. They seem to be in good spirits. 

After breakfast is cleared, we get out our workbooks. We start on English, which I am not certain that either child is fluent in.  

Jude cries for 30 minutes because I asked him to write his name. 

We move on to math. They cannot recall multiplication facts and when I mentioned division, I heard "like, Tom Clancy's The Division?". I say curse words under my breath. We finish math review, and I put the public school's telephone number on speed dial.

The Civil War breaks out at the dining room table, which I am told is now Vicksburg, and the Union victory is imminent. The war breaks a window, a chair leg, and I am pretty sure Jude is blind now. The victory makes it difficult for me to cross from the kitchen to the living room, which are Confederate territory. I penned a letter to Abe, hopefully he can get me out of this one.

After we surrendered to the Union, we read a book about the phases of the moon. There's some project with an apple on a stick and a flashlight. Hayden took a bite out of the apple and declared the moon was not made of cheese. I sob quietly.

I broke and they fixed lunch. We cleaned up what we could, and then headed to the library where I owed a $28 late fee. I pay $20 and they waive the rest. (WTF? waive the whole thing, then!)) 

I pick out a few books that I want them to read, and they counter the offer with books about alligators, horror stories, and wimpy kids. As we head out of the library, Wesley declares at least as loudly as he can, that he needs to poop. Laughter erupts. I die of embarrassment. 

They demand cookies upon our arrival home and scamper off to their rooms to play video games. I make coffee, and reevaluate my life. 

All of this and none of this is true! It was a great day, and the kids did great!

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Making the Life I Want


I was up at 4:00 this morning. I woke up because I had to pee, and because I am my mother's child, I couldn't go back to sleep. Happens a few times a month. Hubs acts like I've committed a crime each time, bless it.

It's late. I have my chamomile tea brewing. The boys are jumping on their beds  in bed for the night and I am finally sitting down for some "me" time. And I need to dump it all out.

I have spent the last 2 days cleaning and organizing my house. I don't generally keep a dirty house, but you would find dishes in the sink waiting their turn for the dishwasher, and laundry waiting to be folded, and suffer a violent death by stepping on a skylander in the hallway. True story.

I spend a great deal of time worrying and stressing over this situation. I could work hard and get ahead and find myself treading water for a few days, only to end up drowning again. The student/teacher/wifey/parent life is hard time.

My mama always kept a clean house. She always made sure I did my chores. She did everything she could to encourage those habits but in the end my self won out and I am just not a type A cleaner, organizer, list writer, get shit done-er. But I'll be damned if I am not about to become one.

I've never stuck with things for long. I can barely believe I am still in college. Why am I like this? Why can't I just be a solid person, instead of the shell of a person, imposter that I feel like most of the time?

I have decided it is because I focus too much on what I don't want to be. I am always saying how I dont want a messy house. I don't want to do dishes, I don't want to fold laundry. I don't want to be a flake. I don't want to waste my kids childhoods away in front of my phone. I don't want to carry these extra pounds. I don't want a job that makes me unhappy.  And there are too many negatives, too many "don't"s in this type of talk. And I am through with it.

Instead, I am going to manifest a fabulous life. I am going to work hard this week to get my house set up, and get a system in place so that my house flows and operates like a well oiled machine. I am going to be that crazy bitch that gets up early at 6 am with nowhere to be, just to drink her coffee in peace and unload the dishwasher before the kids zombie walk out asking for cereal.

A kid literally just came out of his room to tell me he needs the living room light off. 

Ok, it was Wesley, enough with the heir of mystery.

I am going to have a clean house. I am not going to create more work for myself by procrastinating. My kids deserve a well maintained house. They deserve a mother that does not roll out of bed at 8:45 am and have to catch up on last nights dishes to even start the day. (hush, they don't get up until 9:30)

I have a cleaning schedule printed out, framed, and hung by my back door. Every single nook and cranny of my house is cleaned and organized and everything has a place. I will keep up my routine because it will make everything easier and I know this. I know this!! I will start this homeschool year out organized and determined to stay on track. I will pick up my college classes late August and do my work and homeschool with ease. I am on a facebook hiatus, but if you do not see or hear from me on any social media what so ever by September, please send help. I may be in the fetal position on the floor of my bathroom muttering something about the permanent marker on the living room wall. 

I am going to manifest the life I want, and forget about the rest.
Wish me luck!

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Like Old Friends

     Summer semester is over. I took my last finals Tuesday morning. Once again, I finished a semester with all A's and one B. Satisfactory, I suppose. 

     This summer I had a little existential crisis. I changed my major and then changed it back again, all in about 4 weeks time. I don't know that I will ever be sure without a doubt that I am on the right path. I have an idea of what my life would be like that would make me happy, and an idea of what it might be like that is not happiness, and I cannot seem to get the two ideas to merge in my head. There are so many things that I like to do. So many things that I am moderately good at. But sticking with one thing for the rest of my life feels like suffocating. I am so envious of those who are so secure in their paths. I have never been that way, and I hate it.

     But writing, that's sort of my home base. I have always loved to write. Even though I do not do it as often as I would like. I put other things as priorities and those things don't truly serve me. I am taking a break from facebook for the time being. I am an incredibly sensitive person, and the constant barrage of bad news, awful worldly events, and the broad spectrum of opinions shared is just more than I can process. The aftermath of the recent violent acts between police and citizens is too much to bear. I felt anxious and nervous when I would leave my house. I guess I just tend to carry it with me. I want to help change the world, but I can't carry the sadness with me. So I have to remove myself. 

     I have spent my days being completely present with my kids, baking, studying, and reading. It feels like returning to myself. Much like I do here with this blog. No need to justify the long period between posts, we just pick up where we left off, like old friends.  

Monday, May 9, 2016

Melancholy Monday

I am officially embarking on three weeks of no academics. Three whole weeks!

My summer classes start May 31st. I am so excited to have this semester past me. It did not end well. 

I went for my last final exam last Thursday. Sparing you the details, my teacher managed to humiliate me in front of the class and I cried the whole time I took my final. Quietly and softly at my desk, and broken. It was simple miscommunication. But there is something seriously wrong with a professor who feels he can treat others as if they are idiots. That PhD did not teach you compassion, I see.

So now, when I look back on this semester, I don't see my 4 A's and 2 B's that I should be proud of. I see a massive mess up at the end, which has colored my view and made me feel worthless. I am not usually so thin skinned, but there's something about public humiliation that leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

Mother's day has come and gone, thankfully. It was a good day, but there's no magic anymore. I woke up Sunday morning and fixed my coffee and I heard my mother say "Happy Mother's Day!" in her usually sing-song voice. It was so real and so very sad. I went to church and watched my children sing "This Little Light of Mine" and it was bittersweet. I get to enjoy all of these things with my kids and I can't even tell her about them. I can't tell her about my first semester on campus and how good my grades are and how it ended so horribly. I won't hear how proud she is of me. But I know she is. Somewhere, she is absolutely beaming. 

On my 29th birthday, the last birthday I had with her, she gave me a card that read "I have never been so proud of you than I am today! Love, Mama."

We went to her grave yesterday. The boys talk to her at her stone as if she were really there. I have a hard time doing it. Mostly because if I talked to her there, I would ugly cry. The boys don't need to see all of that. So I ugly cry to myself sometimes. Locked in my bathroom, or sitting in front of my computer pouring my soul out, or driving home from school for the last, awful time.


Monday, April 11, 2016

Coffee Time

     Come on in, the coffee is ready. I just put it on maybe 5 minutes ago. Excuse the dishes in the sink, I'll get to those later. Come on, have a seat in the dining room. Just let me move these workbooks.

     So how have you been? It's been so long since we've been able to catch up. I hope your family has been well. Tell me all about it. Every stinking detail. Tell me about the piles of laundry and the dishes that never end. The toys in the living room, the smudges on the walls. The peed-on sheets, the banana smeared into the carpet. Tell me how it's exhausting and you don't feel good enough anymore. Because I feel that way too, everyday.

    How are you and your husband? That's good to hear. But really tell me. Tell me about the times it's not ok. The times when you feel like giving up but hang in there anyways. Tell me when it feels numb, loveless, routine. Then tell me when he gives you butterflies again over the silliest things. And when you feel silly for ever feeling numb when it can feel like this. Because I feel that way too, everyday.

     How is your job or school going? Yea? That's great. I know it's stressful. Tell me about your latest promotion or how you made an A on your last test. Tell me about how it's hard to wake up in the mornings and make the trip back there again. To miss the time home with the kids. To feel so accomplished in the world for making something of yourself. To contribute to your family's resources and give the middle finger to outdated gender roles. And how you wish you could be a stay at home mom forever. Because I feel that way too, everyday.

     Tell me about your kids' new favorite things. Is it minecraft? Legos? Monster High? Do they even play with toys that much anymore? Tell me about the recent breakthrough you had with your daughter, when you really understood her, and she felt it. Tell me about the night time kisses. The before bed confessions. The desire to watch them sleep because it is so incredibly beautiful. Their angelic faces. The cute things they said. How you think they are smarter than all the other kids their age. How you secretly worry that maybe they aren't. Tell me how it hurts and tell me how it heals. Because I feel that way too, everyday.

     Tell me about you. Tell me your dreams. Your goals. What you wanted to be when you grew up. Who did you think you would marry and how many kids did you want? Now tell me what actually happened. Did you take time off after high school? Do you wish you had? Did you pursue what your parents wanted you to? Or did you claim your life in some other way. Maybe run off into the sunset with a knight in shining armor in a green Ford Ranger to a trailer park of broken dreams. How do you feel when you look back? How do you feel when you think about your life now? What do you wish was different or that you could change? Tell me about "me time" if that is even a thing for you. Does it come easy to you, from the hands of a helper, or do you have to steal it? Does the me time fulfill you or does it feel like time where you just don't have to be on? Tell me about the secret to your happiness, tell me about your regrets. Tell me what you believe in. Or are you wandering around not really sure anymore? Because I feel that way too, everyday.

     We can talk about it all over this pot of coffee.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Birthday Fun!

Hayden turned 10 years old today!! I cannot even believe that child has only been on this earth for ten years. It feels like he's been by my side my whole life. He is, as I have always referred to him as, my right hand man.

He was very tired this morning. He claims he did not stay up late, but sleeping on the way to his birthday trip and laying his head down on the restaurant table tells me otherwise.

I am trying to persuade my children to give up birthday parties. That sounds bad, I know. But I don't want them to forgo them all together. I want them to choose fun family outings in celebration of birthdays rather than parties where we gather over cake and ice cream and then clean up after everyone. Sorry, but you know that's how it goes. I want them to have the choice to pick a birthday party or a fun family trip so that each child has a fair chance to whatever floats their boat.

Hayden wanted to go to the Jackson Zoo and then eat at O'Charleys. O'Charleys is one of the few restaurants that I can eat at and it happens to be his favorite so that worked for me!

I took a lot of pictures along the way.

Giraffes are my absolute favorite animal ever! This father and son duo could not stop loving on each other. They were precious.

This orangutan was completely uninterested in us and was holding on to that piece of grass like it was the last one.

A bench under a cherry blossom tree? Picture time!!!

On to the water creatures. I love this the most. Turtles are so beautiful. 

The kids could climb through tunnels in the tanks and look up. They thought that was awesome.

The otters absolutely stole our hearts! These little guys are so adorable and they play like kittens. Each one of them seemed to know that I was taking their picture because they put it on for the camera. They're like water cats. 

My favorite picture. This otter swam to me and looked up at me the whole time as if it were a pet in a pet shop saying "take me! take me!" I certainly would have taken it home.

A rhino. Several James and The Giant Peach references made here. Several.

Because we love each other. Always.

Hayden reading the map to his brothers.

A turtle family. Love it.

This monkey was named Dylan because he is sucking his thumb and looks so cute. I would have taken him home too.

This monkey is not in a cage under us with nowhere to go. But it sure looks that way. He is just hanging out in the area before the zoologist entrance. Weird, though.

On the train. Hey Jude.

This picture proves to me that I had Hayden 10 years ago and then had him again 3 years ago.

O' Charleys lunch was delicious!

Now we are comfy at home with a cousin over to spend the night. What a wonderful blessed day we had. I am so grateful for beautiful days like these.

Happy Birthday Hayden. I love you more than you could ever know.

Monday, February 22, 2016


I am not going to school tomorrow. I don't wanna.

I'm sitting up in my bed. It's 10 pm. I was reading my book and the most eerie feeling came over me.

The windows are open. It's a balmy 74 degrees out. I can hear the tree frogs. I am overwhelmingly aware of how grateful I am to be able to have my windows open. We live out in the country and things are a bit freer.

Tomorrow is the one year anniversary of my mother's death. She slept in this bed for the last time a year ago. That's uncomfortable.

I was in Hattiesburg Sunday and I needed something from the store and I ran in the Winn Dixie by where she used to live. I walked down the aisle with the health foods and had a flashback of shopping that aisle last year. When I was buying groceries for her apartment. Because she was going to survive and I was going to live in her apartment and take care of her.

Crazy how quickly things can change.

It's amazing to me how many flashbacks I am having these past couple of days. It's like my mind is placing me exactly where I was a year ago. I said I would turn my "On this day" memories off on Facebook but I couldn't bring myself to do it. I want to feel it - to remember. It's the only way to know it was all real.

I remember the smell of the ICU. Salty. I remember walking out of her room before they unhooked her from the ventilator and glancing at the clock. 4:16.

I was born at 4:16.


Friday, February 19, 2016

Creeping Back In

           I started taking an antidepressant a year ago after my mom passed away. It was not the first time in my life to ever take one. Antidepressants and I go way back. 15 years back. This particular time, they were the most helpful they had ever been. I had just lost my mother, and they kept me from drowning. I also deal with anxiety a lot, outside of these circumstances. This antidepressant helped tremendously with it.
          However, in the year since I began taking it, I have gained some weight. Not a few vanity pounds, but all of the weight I had lost I have gained, and I have not changed my diet at all. This is incredibly frustrating, and an anxiety source in itself. Aside from the weight gain, I finally feel like I am ready to try life without medication. Some time has come between myself and my grief. I still grieve, but not in that freshly wounded sort of way. It's manageable, even though it's the hardest awful thing in my life.

       But it's creeping back in. The anxiety, that is. I feel like I am holding my breath waiting for the wave to take me under while hoping and praying it will never come.

          I notice it when I am driving across the Pearl River Bridge. It's a narrow bridge and the guard rails are just outside of the lanes. There is no shoulder or room for error. If you veer out of your lane, you're donesies. The morbid thought of accidentally hitting the rails and going over engulfs me and I sometimes avoid the bridge and go around to get where I need to be. I know that it's not normal to think like that or being worried or even disrupt my route to avoid that anxiety. I also know that I didn't have this anxiety while taking medicine.

          I want to fight this on my own. I have overcome so much in the past year and I think I have learned healthy coping skills. I also feel myself coming back into myself, if you know what I mean. I don't feel that sort of numb and could care less about anything and have no personal interests thing. I can watch movies again. Read novels. Write things from my heart. These are things I have been so desperately trying to get back to.

          It feels good and this is me trying to get back to myself. Anxiety be damned.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Snack Attack

     Snack time in a house with 4 boys can be stressful. It also feels like it is ALWAYS snack time! These boys put away some food. My grocery bill is ever climbing and I still have to run to the store around Wednesday to replenish staples.

    For the past 2 weeks I have been trying something different and I am in love with it. Previously, snack time looked like rice cakes with peanut butter, halos (clementines), gogurt or cheese sticks. The supply of these would dwindle so fast because it would take 3-4 of each to fill a child up between lunch and dinner (have I mentioned my boys have ridiculous appetites?). I liked that they were eating healthier foods, but these are also more expensive.
    In my town we are blessed with a salvage grocery store. It carries foods that have damaged packaging or has been discontinued and sometimes just plain out of date. Most of the time I find great deals there and can get organic and gluten free snacks for less than half the retail price. I can get a box of granola bars for a dollar. They usually come with 5-6 bars in them. If you've ever paid $3-4 for a box of granola bars for 4 kids. You are familiar with the pain of watching them devour them in one sitting.

     So I spend about $12 a week on snacks. I don't pay over a dollar for any item. I get Mott's fruit roll ups, Quaker granola bars (not so healthy but what do you do), Cascadian Farms granola bars... and things like that. My children really like granola bars and they are a healthier choice than candy or chips. I buy a box of quart sized bags and divide them into snack bags. Each bag will have a variety and an even amount of snacks as the others. This way, when snack time comes I can have each boy pick a snack bag and I don't have to worry about "fixing" a snack for them. Also, there is much excitement surrounding snack time now!

    I am still technically a stay at home mom, but I am outside of my home 17 hours a week (it's odd that I counted isn't it?) at college. I didn't think that being gone a small amount of time would have such a big impact but OHMYGOODNESS it absolutely does! When I get home from school around 2:30 in the afternoons twice a week, I want to sit down and take a breath and not jump right in to mom mode. Having this one little thing already taken care of is such a relief. If I did not leave the house for any reason during the week, I would be delighted to whip up a batch of cookies or homemade granola bars but I am just so pressed for time now. We have to cut corners where we can.

   I put the snack bags up in the cabinet and I know exactly how many there are in case there are any "sneaky hands"!

   Yes, they absolutely can get to them. We are basically using the honor system. So far so good.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Back to school as an older student

     Going to college at the age of 30 is in a word: SCARY.

     Until now, I had never attended classes on campus. I had only previously taken online courses. On my first day, the nervousness I had was very similar to the nervousness I would have when starting a new school as a child. I knew I didn't know anybody, didn't have any friends, and that is always such a tough situation to be in. I thought that being older, I would not concern myself with the opinions of my peers or even try very hard to blend in (my previous coping strategies).

    I was wrong. So wrong.

    In the adult world, I am completely comfortable being a person that feels confident in her own style choices and expressions of character. But put back inside of a school setting, that completely went away and I felt like such an outsider. I worried that the students would know I was older or somehow uncool and nobody would think I was worthy of getting to know. Like maybe because I am a mom I don't need friends so why bother. How awful and eye opening is that?

   The other students are polite, but most don't make eye contact. Maybe that's not just me, maybe we as a society don't do that anymore. By now, our third week of class, they know that I am older, but not how much older. I'm 30, guys. I graduated high school 12 years ago. Back in 2004, when you were just in Kindergarten. That's right.

    I don't even know what's cool anymore. I feel like Josie Geller, played by Drew Barrymore in Never Been Kissed. If I show up in clogs and butterfly clips in my hair is that still cool?

    But speaking of cool, I don't even think college kids think they're cool. They all wear college shirts and jeans and chucks, boots and leggings, or workout clothes. I bet they don't even work out.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

She's gone.

     Sometimes I think about it. Really think about it. Right here. Right now. My mother is dead. The thought sucks the air out of my lungs. It chokes in my throat. She's gone.

     I can't call her. She doesn't answer when I do. When I call her, I have a nervousness in my stomach. What if she answered? What if somebody else answered? What if the phone company gave her number to someone else. They could take it away from me- they could give her number to a stranger who would have no idea what that number was to me. A hotline to heaven.

    God, mama, please answer the phone.

     I ride past her apartment. Her car is not there. It's in my front yard with a FOR SALE sign in the windshield. Someone else is parked in her spot. Another family occupies the place that holds the last memories I have of my mother. Saturday visits, new recipes we cooked together, a place for my children to spend the night. The last walk through I did of her apartment before we packed all of her things in a U-Haul. Everything just as she had left it. Except it wasn't. It was cold.

     Now when I go visit my mama I sit on the ground- uneven because the grass hasn't grown back yet. I lean my head on her stone engraved with lyrics from her favorite hymn. Beulah Land. She's in her Beulah Land. She's left me behind.

   I don't visit her grave as much as I like. It is cold and empty there. I don't feel her there. I feel her on my first day back to college, holding my hand as I walk to my first class. Telling me to breathe deep, it's ok, I can do this. I hear her in my children's laughter and smell her from time to time. She wore the same perfume for years. I smell it and it stops me in my tracks.

   I smell her and she's here again.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Where We Are

Does anybody even use blogger anymore?

Life has changed so much since my last post here. It has changed in so many good and bad ways but it has all been such an experience to learn and grow from.

My mother died late February 2015. A lot of me died with her that day.

It was the most awful thing, to see her in her final 6 days in a coma. She had an accident. No one found her in time. I have a lot of regret about that.

Our last phone conversation was on a Monday. She told me about her doctors appointment. We laughed. She told me she loved me and I told her I loved her too. I didn't know that was the last time.

Grief has such a funny way of manifesting in each person differently. This is still a learning experience for me.

The boys took it better than I thought. They were sad. They were quiet.

In the nearly 10 months since then, we have purchased a new home. It is absolutely wonderful. We went from living in a tiny 800 sq ft home with 6 family members, to a 3200 sq ft home (if you count the sun room and, yes, I do). We are not in city limits anymore and we are loving living in the outskirts of town. It's quiet out here. It's beautiful.

I go back to college in a week. I am taking on campus classes this semester. At the moment, I am not nervous or anxious or anything. I dread the work load. I took online classes last year before my mother passed and it was difficult for me to balance homeschooling, college and housekeeping.

I still try to find time for making. Making is what feeds my soul.

This is the last photo we took together in November of 2014

This is the latest photo of my family. 

 Wesley turns 3 January 6th.