Sunday, January 24, 2016


Snow in Virginia equals everything shuts down; schools were closed, gymnastic shows were cancelled and church was even called off.  Ben was sent home from base Friday morning and got home just in time to do the dreaded grammar lesson with Alison; who, by the way, was not happy that homeschool continued in the snow.

We had home church this morning (a blessed perk to being married to a pastor/chaplain) and it gave me some extra quiet time to read and pray.  Church is a #1 priority in our house, but I did appreciate a morning of not wrestling kids into nice clothes.  I watched the snow fall and attempted to catch up on my already behind 'read through the Bible in a year' plan and spent some time journaling...journaling is apparently not a word...writing in my journal?  Anyway, I realized this morning a weird quirk of mine.  I heard horror story after horror story this week of wretched movers and lost boxes and damaged furniture, but oddly, that doesn't bother me.  I'm 100% positive that something will get lost and something will get broken and something really bad and stressful will happen.  Perhaps it doesn't bother me because 99% of our belongings are hand-me-downs and we should probably grow up and buy our own stuff.  But what does get me?  Traveling.  Specifically not having my kitchen for 2+ weeks completely stresses me out.  Weird.  We eat out maybe once a month and 3 meals a day are made from scratch in our kitchen.  We love it that way and I feel at ease when I'm cooking for my family.  And it's a control thing because I know what we're eating, when we're eating and what's IN our food.  I want to be excited about a break in cooking and cleaning and look forward to munching on hot tamales in the car...but I'm not there yet.

After Ben did a lesson and lead some songs for our church, we went out to play in the snow.  Colin learned how to make his first snow angel.

I'm also weirdly not that much of a winter person.  I love snow for a day, but then I'm over it.  I don't like being cooped up in my house and these cold days are making me antsy to get to Arizona.
Amen to this:

In Arizona we salt margaritas not sidewalks!:

We had salted margaritas tonight as we look forward to seeing this in person soon.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Raised Eyebrows

6 weeks from today my house will be full of packers and they say now is the time to get things rolling on moving preparations.  Rolling moving preparations is more like rolling up a big ball of overwhelmed.

I thought it would be wise to get things squared away for school.  First, I contacted Virginia's homeschool organization to make sure I didn't miss anything on moving mid-year.  They were super helpful and told me I only needed to send a courtesy letter to the superintendent to notify them Alison would no longer be in the school district.  Awesome, check.  Then I researched Arizona's homeschool laws.  Boy was I surprised at the difference in state requirements!  The law states that I need to send in an affidavit to homeschool with Alison's original birth certificate.  That's it.  BUT I don't feel at all comfortable mailing my daughter's birth certificate across the country, to be mailed back to a house that we might already be moved out of (who knows how long it will take them to send it back).  Also weird, the law states that I am required to teach reading, grammar, math, social studies and science, but am not required to document anything I teach or show any test results or even prove that I am capable of teaching at all.  At first, I was annoyed that they "required" social studies, but that's because my personality type is 'rule-follower' and I want to do what I'm supposed to do, but really, they will have no idea if I'm not really teaching it.

So here's a break down of homeschool laws if you ever are moving to these states:

  • Send letter of intent to superintendent, with copy of diploma and list of subjects being taught.
  • Must be approved to homeschool from superintendent.
  • Test in language and math and send superintendent test results before August 1st...must get over 25% to continue homeschooling.

  • Send affidavit to homeschool to superintendent with original birth certificate of student.
  • Must teach reading, grammar, math, social studies and science.

Enjoying maybe our last snow for a few years

We also worked on getting things set for our new house.  We emailed an official application and then received a phone call from the real estate office; they called to inquire about the previous house we rented in Virginia because the rental company had no records of the house.  That's reassuring.  The house we lived in for 4 years and paid rent for...but no records.  Cool.  A couple of days later, they called to tell us that we've been approved.  We were excited and waited for them to email us a lease to sign and send back.  Yesterday they called again...same person...

Lady: "I'm calling to tell you you've been approved"
Ben: "Yes, I know.  You called on Friday."
Lady: "Oh, really?  Well, we just need you to mail us a certified check for your deposit and you're all set."
Ben: "Um, I haven't signed the lease yet."
Lady: "Oh, you just send us the money and then sign the lease when you get here."
Ben: "Yea, I'm going to need to talk your boss because there is no way I'm sending money without signing a lease."

Ben then had a firm discussion with the manager, who thought we were crazy for refusing to send a substantial certified check to a company we have no contract with.

Lots of raised eyebrows lately and I'm sure there are many, many more crazy things to come.

Friday, January 15, 2016


Monday morning, we were having a little mid-morning snack...munching on some veggies and hummus, sippin' some smoothies and working on school...when I started getting texts from the real estate office we rent through.  I'm not sure how I feel about receiving texts; it seems a little unprofessional, yet sometimes is more convenient than a lengthy, awkward phone call.

Colin watching his letter of the week video, Alison doing grammar

I was bombarded that day with "We're coming by this afternoon to put a sign in the yard and lockbox on the door" and "there's a showing in the morning and possibly one the next day and another one on the Thursday" and "you can be there if you want, just don't follow us around".

I was not ready to see a sign in my yard.  I was not ready to have the house clean at all times and by the way, I DO NOT LIKE PEOPLE WALKING THROUGH MY HOUSE.  I know, I know; we are just renters, but I love this house and it feels like mine.  

My mind was instantly occupied that morning.  
"Should I drop everything and clean?"
"How clean is good enough?"
"I have 2 destructive little boys, how in the world am I going to keep the house picked up?!"

We finished school and as we headed out the door to go grocery shopping, I stopped and apologized for being so distracted during school.  I asked the kids if they learned anything and I'm pretty sure they just said yes to make me feel better, but I realized right then how challenging teaching is going to be over the next few months.  I had in my head that we had 5 more weeks of "normal" but now our normal is filled with getting out of the house at random times and me trying to manage the internal stress it causes me when strangers are shuffling through my house.
Alison reading to Colin while I pick up
 Hopefully someone from this week picks our house to rent so the house showings can end!

If you are wondering about Alison...her anxiety has gotten better, but she still has her ups and downs...welcome to life with a girl.  She was very sad after having a sleepover with some friends.

She asked to have one (we are not sleepover people, so it was a big deal) before we moved and I'm pretty sure she had the time of her life, but when they left, it hit her that she won't be able to have that again.  We tried to just assure her that it was okay to be sad about leaving friends and promised her that we will make new friends.  On the positive side, I saw her get excited about moving for the first time this week.  She started talking about making a girls club with her new friends and finding a place to take a tap class.  It was good to see a smile on her face when we talked about Arizona.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

A great boredom

Our first week back to school after winter break was great.  Tiring, but great.  Monday we got to watch snow fall while we worked, which I found completely blissful.
You can't see the flurries, but they're there!
I thought over our break I would prep and plan a bunch of stuff for the next 6 weeks of school and I didn't get a single thing checked off that 'to-do' list.  Oh well, school went on and thankfully still went smoothly.  I am a planner and love planning, but have come to accept that schooling young kids comes with lots of things you just can't plan for.  My best of intentions can go to the way-side in a matter of moments.

Perfect example of this came Friday.  School should have taken an hour and a half and I planned a long run for that morning, in hopes of enjoying my favorite trail as many times as I can before we move.  Alison takes a spelling and history test every Friday (which usually takes less time than the actual lessons) and all was going well until she was bitten by a big fat LAZY bug.  Even with some gracious assistance on her history test she completely didn't answer 2 questions and got 4 wrong...the whole test is only 20 questions!  I called her out on her laziness and gave her my "I'm your momma and know you better than anyone and I know you can do better than this, so you need to work harder" talk.  Did you know that teaching 8 year old girls is hard?  Tears started flowing down her cheeks and she was greatly offended that I questioned her work ethic.  I refused to give into the emotion and told her that my job as her teacher is to make sure she does her best work and this was not it.  Tears turned into sobs.  I handed her the last assignment of the day, which was writing a 3 point paragraph with the topic "My favorite things to do with my family".  She handed in her paper and the first sentence said, "if I had to spend time with my family, I guess I would play Uno."  If I had to???  When did attitude come into her writing?!  What just happened?!  In that moment at my desk I thought, "She could be at school right now and I could be frivolously doing whatever I wanted.  I wonder what grade her public school teacher would give her on this paper..."  I wonder if other homeschool moms ever think this.  Yes, truthfully, there are times that I envision what my day would look like if my kids were in school.  Alison would love flying under the radar in public school and she hates that I see everything and push her to better in all things.

Ben found this article today and I LOVED it.  The author talks about the real reason parents don't homeschool and my favorite quote is this:

"The real choice for most parents is do they choose to have their kids bored at school or do they choose to be bored themselves at home? And the real question is, which problem is more easily remedied?"

I especially loved it in light of New Year's.  Everywhere you look, people are talking about this being the year of themselves and their goals and the great things they're going to accomplish.  It's easy for me to get sucked in and wonder what great things I want to do this year.  The hard core truth is, I am doing great things.  It may seem boring and insignificant and not at all glamorous, but it is a great thing we are giving our kids, that I am confident of...tears and sobs in all.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Decisions, Decisions

To pool or not to pool, that has been our question since we found out we are moving to Arizona.  We were set on getting one and told the kids that it was a high priority as we looked for a house to rent.  Honestly, I think I wanted to give them something to be excited about and look forward to.  And, living in Arizona to me, feels like a year round party and I pictured us by the pool everyday, with friends and grilling dinner.  I even bought a "grill by the pool" dress...sounds weird, but if you saw it you'd understand.  But then reality started to sink in.  Ben casually mentioned something one night about being able to send the kids out to play (all yards have big cement walls around them) and it hit me...the stress of constantly watching the kids, the liability, the maintenance, the cost, the perpetual wet swimsuits and suntan lotion and beach towels and floaty toys and goggle fixing and "MOMMA WATCH!".  It took us about 30 seconds after that light bulb to say, "Or not."  Plus, getting a pool meant maxing out our housing allowance and downsizing a great deal.  I dreaded telling the kids and hated letting them down.  Alison was upset because she was set on having a pool party for her birthday and had a clear picture in her head what that looked like.  We tried to tell her that people say it's so hot in Arizona in July and August that no one goes outside, not even to the pool.  We know it's going to be culture shock for us and tried to give her some ideas for other birthday parties.  I vote for going to California that weekend!  Who's with me?

I'm thankful to say that we have a verbal agreement with the owner of a house in Yuma.  Our last 2 houses have been "diamonds in the rough" and I feel like this house is following suite.  I dismissed this house when I first saw it because it's just not my style, but Ben could see the true potential in it.  It gives us the most bang for our buck and is right next to a park, in a great (or so the pictures seem) neighborhood and a big public pool is only a few miles away.

Pictures are not great, but you get the idea.  Never in my life did I think I would be living in a "Pueblo style" house with cactus and palm trees in the front yard.  Oh, and need a good laugh?  Just 2 miles west of our house is Mexico and California.  It feels equally reassuring and scary to have a place nailed down.  I'm sure there will be weird things we find that pictures just didn't show and maybe the dishwasher will be even louder than our current one, but it's also nice to know that we have a place to sleep when we get there.

Now to plan that cross country trip...

Friday, January 1, 2016

When breaks are bad

I was sound asleep this morning, when this little boy jumped on top of me, completely dressed and wearing his little backpack.

Colin: "I'm ready for school, momma!"
Me: "It's a holiday today, all schools are closed."
Colin: "Uh uh.  It's a holiday and all schools are OPEN!"
Me: "Well your teacher is on break."
Colin: "Please Momma!  Can we please do school?  Please, please, please?!

I had originally planned on working through the holidays and just taking off Christmas and New Year's day, but I was met with much opposition.  I know, you're thinking that's a crazy plan, but I want to get as much done as I can before this crazy move.  It wasn't until I looked at our curriculum and saw that we have more than enough done for this semester that I decided to give into the rest of the family and we took 2 weeks off.

I confess that I thoroughly enjoyed the break...perhaps too much.

This picture pretty much sums it up.

There were snuggles and smiles and lots of yummy food and way too much time in pj's.

I was relaxed, but is there a point where you can become too relaxed?  Take for example, the morning I decided to sleep in.  It was one of the few mornings Ben had to go in to work for a little bit.  He left the house and I stayed in bed.  I eventually made my way downstairs, still in pj's, and watched Little House with the kids and drank 3 cups of coffee.  I was in full fledged break mode, when we heard this strange alarm going off upstairs.  The kids and I started to search for this mystery sound and found it coming from my phone!  I had left it in the school room and in my relaxation, had missed 8 calls, an email and a text from Ben.  The alarm was him setting off the "find my phone" search as his last ditch effort to make sure I was alive.  See, I never stay in bed when he leaves for work, so he was already concerned about me and then when I didn't answer, he was certain I was dead.  Lesson learned: make sure you can still hear unplugged device when unplugging.

Then, there's the example of this girl:

She started to complain of her tummy hurting over our break.  We were sure she was constipated and were constantly on her about drinking LOTS OF WATER!  See the 2 big glasses next to her?  It took us several days to finally figure out that she is stressed.  She is stressed about January coming and we've been sick the last 2 January's and she's positive sickness is out to get her.  And she stressed about moving.

What does Alison's stress have to do with breaks being bad?  I realized that her best medicine is being able to talk; to share what she's feeling and feel like she's heard.  While I was on break mode, I may have been in the same room as her, but it wasn't the same as sitting at our desks together and her having my full attention.  As much as she says she doesn't want to do school, I know she really values time here:

And this is where she's been.  Every time I've sat down at my desk these last 2 weeks to try and get some things done, the kids have come to sit down with me.  Alison has plastered our refrigerator with drawings she's done while sitting with me and Colin has mastered a few states.

As much as I really want to still be spending my days in pj's and playing, I can tell these kiddos are ready to get back into routine.

P.S. Please be praying for Alison.  She is still struggling with anxiety even after countless talks every day.  Her stress is valid, as moving to an unknown place as an 8 year old is scary and it is flu season, but I'm starting to feel very helpless in knowing how to help her.
Would love any advice...