My Outing With Mr. Little – Mommy is also Homeschooled

Me and my little Bro
Me and my little Bro

I am sitting here, about 1.5 hours before supper, and it is quiet. One boy off to finish his essay that is due tonight, one boy reading and two playing basketball outside with the new ball Grandpa bought them this weekend. I have no clue what is for supper, but I figured with about 15 minutes (max) of quiet time, it might be almost enough time to write. As long as I type fast! (Yeah right, but nice dream.) This is not really a homeschooling post about boys, I think this is a homeschooling post about me. After all these years, I am still learning and still connecting the dots.

I have decided to start off by saying what I am thankful for today. I have not asked my boys to tell me what they are thankful for in a while, but if I start off, perhaps we can get back into it. I am so thankful that our house is basically sold! 30 hours after having it on the market we got an offer. Inspection was done, we have come to a compromise as to who is paying for what needed items and all that is left is to find *the* date. Phew. The market in our (old) area has plummeted and that was hard to accept, and they did take a bit to accept our compromise, but Hashem has helped us all the way and it was only 2.5 weeks after moving out that we came to this point. I don’t need to think about how things could have gone, I don’t want to change the past. I am more than happy and more than thankful to be able to think of it as gone.

And if moving across the continent was not enough movement for me, Mr. Little and I took another cross continent trip last week to Vancouver

Visiting Granny - still looking pretty good!
Visiting Granny – still looking pretty good!

for my cousin’s wedding. 😀 Two airplanes and a 3 hours drive (did not have a passport to fly to Canada, so had to drive across the border with our Nexus cards — much needed, took only 30 seconds to cross the border.) Had to wake up at 3:30 in the morning, and arrived at the hotel 13 hours later. On the drive way up Mr. Little asked if we were staying in a hotel. I said , “Yes, it’s been such a long time since we’ve stayed in a hotel hasn’t it?” “Mom……we live in a hotel….” Hmm…. guess he was a little too young for my attempted sense of humor. 🙂 It was exciting to see the minds of a little one. I saw snow capped mountains and showed them to him. At least I thought he saw them. After a little while he got so excited for ahead of us was something tall reaching into the sky that was all white. “What is that Mommy?” “It is a mountain that is all covered in snow.” “I thought it only snowed in Rochester!”

The drive was nice. Even though I have only driven on the  Vancouver-Seattle route a couple of times, it really was peaceful and felt very homey. It really is in the same area that I know and I could tell. It reminded me so much of the fun, long drives we took most years on the Canada side to visit the family. I noticed that two different geographical places can have similar climate, similar vegetation and maybe even similar landscapes, each place is unique. I think I liked the drive because of that. I have not found an area that is the same as this. Close, but not the same.

Oldest Girl in the Family Club

My sister traveled across the continent with her 5 children (by herself! Kol Hakavod!) and we arrived in time to share her hotel suite. When we went to the front desk to ask for her, I mentioned that I think my sister was staying there (I had printed off the address but not the hotel name) and the two employees nodded their heads and said, “Yes!” They said that the only reason they are telling me the room number (opposed to calling the room for me) was that they were only told about 7 times that I was coming (though my sister keeps saying she only told them once – I think she was excited to see her older sister 😉  ) and that I looked like her twin so they were very confident that was just fine. So, 4 boys, 2 girls and 2 Mommys squeezed into a rather spacious suite with a full kitchen and a jacuzzi tub 😀  Oh Friday was fun, with all sorts of cousins and aunts and whatnot showing up to our room. Most of the family stayed in the same hotel as us, so when Shabbos came around and all the weather did was pour the entire day, and get 6 little kids all cooped up and frustrated, it was nice when all the other family members (and the other little kids) made appearances in our room (we had the most space… and the most people, so it seemed nature to crash our room.)  We even created a new club for my 6 and 4 year old nieces and myself – the Oldest Girl in the Family Club. Awesome club – sharing the Oldest Girls secrets, such as what clouds are made of and where wood comes from. You see, when my sister’s oldest daughter (6 years old) said I looked like her Mommy, her Mommy told her a secret – I was her older (and oldest) sister! Her jaw dropped to the ground. Unbelieveable! And so the club was started with my brother’s oldest joining in when she arrived. Birthday cake for the birthday boy (my nephew) Motzei Shabbos was the highlight of the day and just another great reason for everyone to crash at our place – all at once this time.

Two sets of sisters – a group of mothers, sisters, and aunts. 🙂

Showering, visiting Granny (the Matriarch of our side of the family) who was not feeling well enough to come to the wedding (at 97 years old, she’s doing pretty good and almost came), getting ready, going to the wedding, to driving the first third of the trek back home right after supper, we had a busy day (and my sister then said *I* was the one that had a harder trip – to do this only 2.5 weeks after moving across the continent!) We even had to take our dessert back with us and had it as our almost midnight snack at the hotel before going to sleep. (Oh, the chocolate cake was just heavenly!) After a little cufuffle with an email from the airlines at 3:30  in the morning (right before we woke up), saying that our first flight was now changed to 2 hours later (but no mention of the second one that we were going to miss then,) to closing my eyes for an hour (for 4 am was just too much for me and anyways the plane was 2 hours later), only to find out that during that hour our flight was changed back and we missed our flight, we did make it back home not that much later than planned. I did have another comforting thought. While up in the air, looking out of the window, I realized that Home has nothing to do with looks, nothing to do with size, nothing to do with where it is, and nothing to do with what you decide to live in. At that moment, I was remembering the most crazy, wonderful time I have had with basically all my family (minus my family left at home) that I have had in a long time, and that I was also so excited to be going back to “our” hotel. We have been here for about 3 weeks now, and have about one more week to go and even though we are a bit cramped, and even though my “bookcase” is growing (rather nicely I might add,) and even though it is frustrating dealing with boys for there is not much for them to do after school work is done, none of that really matters for I was just so excited to be coming back… to be coming home.

When Mommy is sick

It is hard enough when a dear child is sick, but what happens when you are sick?  It is very easy to feel guilty when you cannot teach but the truth is, sometimes the teacher is sick.  In a school, they bring in a substitute teacher.  Sometimes the substitute teacher can go on a bit in the lessons, however, many times they are more like a babysitter and the students get fun things to do to pass the time.  Life happens, it’s okay.  So, if schools can do it, why can’t we?

Think of it as a snow day.  Occasionally the weather has it so that the principals decide they have to shut down schools for a day or two.  What happens then?  Well, the students do not get any learning done in school.  When we, the teachers, get sick, we have to accept it and do what we need to do to make ourselves better. Call a snow day.

Many times the hard part really comes when we need to figure out what to do with our children while we are sick.  A teacher in a school just calls up the school and calls in sick.  Unfortunately, homeschooling parents do not have that one luxury.  Sometimes there are friends that we can call up and pawn a child or two off on, at least for a few hours so we can rest.  Many times we cannot.  Many times the children are left to mostly “fend for themselves” while we just show our presence to make sure the house stays standing.  Letting children keep themselves busy while we recuperate can be very stressful in itself.  Unless one has a maid or a nanny to help around the house, and/or the children are all mature, responsible teenagers, the house will most likely be messier than usual. This anticipation of the messes can put extra stress on the sick parent as they try to prevent disasters.  This in turn can prolong our sickness for instead of resting so our bodies can focus energy on healing, our bodies focus on moving and talking and thinking, leaving not much energy to fight off the illness.

What are some tips to help us cope?

1. Ship children off to a friend’s house for a few hours at least so you can rest.  Or, alternately, if you are lucky enough to be sick when schools are out, you might be able to hire a teenager to come over to babysit for you (or, if you are good enough, convince them to come for free for the mitzvah of chesed and bikur cholim!)

2. Have extra board/card/other games that the children do not usually get to play to create new excitement and keep them busy.

3. If you are not too awfully sick, and feel you need/want/can, teach the easy stuff to teach while sick.  Perhaps you can read a book out loud, or take turns reading.  Many times keeping a skeleton of a schedule can help keep a child on track for the day.

4. If the weather allows, make them go OUTSIDE!

5. Above all, ALLOW for a messy house.  Lower your expectation.  After all, they are just children.  Focus on what really is important.  Are they safe?  Are they fed?  Peanut butter sandwiches are fine multiple times a day, and so is cereal.  It is okay if occasionally they do not get all the proper food groups. Rest, and feel better.  You can clean the house when you are well.

As I am finishing this post, I think I can go back to bed.  It is 5:30 am and I think the Tylenol has kicked in enough for me to try to sleep.  Last week a few of the boys got sick, were in bed with fevers for a day or so, and then about back to normal.  As Day 3 comes along for me, I am struggling to come to terms that it takes longer to get better as we get older.  I am thankful for small things though – all the boys were angels yesterday, and I even had a few come up to me asking me if I needed anything (*love*), and even though Daddy was home sick (he’s never home sick, even when he is sick!) it was so nice to have his company.

I am hoping though that it will not be many more hours before I feel well enough to clean the cocoa-jam concoction that is on my floor from wonderful children who were wanting to make a surprise meal of skewers and fruit and um, cocoa and jam. 🙂

Oh, and don’t forget to tell the children that you love them and thank them for any tiny amount of good that they did, that really does make a difference!