Tag Archives: family

24. …and then everything changed

When I last posted, we were in the midst of some big life changes. We had decided to downsize, to move to the city to minimize Mike’s commute, and to otherwise simplify life.  I’m happy to say that we did it!  Well, mostly…

Meet Sadie!

Meet Sadie!

What better way to simplify than to have a baby?  We found out that I was pregnant the same day  we signed the contract on our new, downsized home.  Ironic, right?  Sadie was most definitely a surprise; but of all the curve balls life could have thrown at us, a healthy, strong baby is a blessing. Through all the change, though, we have continued to homeschool.  More to come soon on that topic.  Right now, I hear someone waking from her nap.

23. Some Reasons I Love Homeschooling

The past three weeks have been a bit of a roller coaster around here.  We listed the house, spent seven days keeping it showplace-perfect for realtors and their clients to view, accepted a cash offer with a 14-day close, booked a moving company,  had the offer pulled 24 hours later, entered into contract with a second offer five (very long) hours after that, re-booked the mover, continued to keep the house showplace-perfect while the buyer and his realtor conducted their many inspections (termite, drain, sewer, roof, etc.).  As I write this, I have an hour and a half to get dressed, clean the house…again, and get the kids and dog out of the house in time for the fourth (and second-to-last, I hope) inspection.  It’s all quite unsettling (but exciting, too, if I try to focus past the present and into the future).

Homeschooling has been a blessing to me through this process.  Among other things, it has offered me:

1.  Mobility:  I don’t think I’d feel as free to move to the city if I were worried about schools.  I’m sure there are great schools in San Francisco.  I’m also sure they’re not cheap.

2.  Grounding:  The kids’ education is always my first priority.  It’s my job and my passion.  So, it’s been a welcome distraction from my concerns about the house.  It reminds me every day why we are making this life change and why the temporary tumult and stress are worthwhile.

3.  Flexibility:  Between house showings and inspections, we’ve had to be out of the house for hours at a time.  So, we’ve spent several mornings doing lessons at local bakeries and coffee shops.  Generally, we only do this change of venue on holidays; so the kids have really enjoyed these past weeks.  (It hasn’t been terrible for me either).

One of the main reasons we started homeschooling is that it offered consistency when other aspects of Ashby’s life were changing.  Now, five years later, it’s doing the same for the kids and for me.  Granted,  today’s changes are intentional and aimed at bringing our family closer.  But, the journey to that goal feels a lot like swimming through open waters in the dark.  Homeschooling is my life preserver.

22. Letting Go- Part 2

Things I’ve let go of this week:

the house…

Selling the house

When one door closes…

We’ve decided to move to the city to be closer to Mike’s work.  We built a great life in the suburbs, but Mike is hardly ever in it!  This move will reduce his weekly commute by 12 hours!  That’s 8 hours he can spend with the kids.  Right now, he’s out of the house before they wake to avoid the morning commute.  On a good night, he’s home around 7:30 or 8:00.  So, the kids get a hug and kiss, about 10 minutes to play with Dad while he settles in, and it’s off to bed.  Weekends are our only real family time.  Why???

Neither of us ever questioned this before now.  We just accepted that if we wanted to give our kids the best life possible, we had to sacrifice certain things.  But, as I’ve begun to simplify and try to live more intentionally, I see that the most important thing for our family is just that…our family.  The kids miss their dad, and their dad misses them.  It doesn’t have to be this way.

The realization hit me during one of my recent decluttering bouts (I’ve used my free time during Mike’s busy travel schedule lately to empty every room, drawer, and closet in the house).  This night, I was cleaning out the chest in the family room.  I looked around the room and noticed something interesting; we have very little art on our walls (by choice), but what we do have says something.  In the kitchen, we have a large print of downtown Chicago in 1955 (brought from Mike’s Chicago office) and two paintings of fruit (gifts from my friend in Chicago).  In our bedroom, we have one color drawing of the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco.  In the entry, there are three photos of the kids: a photo of Ryan at his uncle’s wedding, a photo of Ashby taken by my sister at a local park, and a photo of both kids playing on Ocean Beach in San Francisco.  Finally, the family room: three wedding photos (all in San Francisco) and three black and white drawings of San Francisco (a view from the Golden Gate Bridge, a view from the Bay Bridge, and the Palace of Fine Arts).  Notice a pattern?

We love San Francisco!  It’s where we were married, where we first lived together, and where Mike works.  But, we couldn’t raise kids in the city…or could we?  Since we homeschool, the schools aren’t a factor.  We are already in southern Marin three days a week between science, Mandarin, and theatre; our driving time will be equal or better coming from the city.  And, we’ll finally be able to use all the memberships we pay for already (but use far too rarely due to the drive): the Academy of Sciences, the DeYoung Museum, the Asian Art Museum, the SF Zoo…

When we moved into this house, I thought I’d be here forever.  We spent five months renovating it and the next two years doing complete makeovers on the front and back yards.  We finally finished this summer.  So, yes…it’s hard to let go.  But, when I get sad, I remind myself why we are doing this: 12 hours…breakfast and dinner as a family.  It’s a simple choice.

This is a house.  It was here before us, and it will be here after us.  “Home” is wherever we are…all four of us.

21. Letting Go: Part 1

Streamlining my closet, dresser, and nightstand energized me.  Here are some other things I’ve let go in the past couple weeks:

All my photo albums except our wedding album, a scrapbook I made before I had kids (includes my favorite pics from early life), and a photo book I made chronicling our time living in New York, New Jersey, and Chicago

– My photos from 2004 and later are digital, and I still have them on Phanfare (not an affiliate link…I don’t like to put those on my blog.  But I can email you a referral code if you want 20% off).  The digital photos take up no space in my house, and I can access them from anywhere.  I did convert  three or four paper pics to digital by taking a picture of the print with my iPhone.  As for my older photos, I never looked at them. I packed them and moved them 9 times in 10 years, and I never looked at them.

It may seem drastic to throw out photos and photo albums, but I still have my memories.  And, if I can’t remember something without a picture, it probably wasn’t that special to me in the first place.

All kids’ school work from years past and all first-grade textbooks

– I saved a couple writing samples from both Ashby and Ryan (one from the start of the year and one from the end) and placed them in a one-inch binder.  At this rate, I’ll be able to fit samples from all our homeschooling years for both kids

Their history and science narrations are kept in notebooks on their own library shelves.  Ryan, in particular, pulls out his first-grade history notebooks regularly for bedtime reading.  So, I have no problem keeping them.  When they cease to be used, I’ll recycle them.

As for the textbooks, both my kids are past first grade.  So, why do I need them?  Next year, I’ll add second grade to the list…and so on…

All but six sets of my everyday dishwear

– Why do I need 12 sets of dishes? There are four of us!   What I’d really like to do is get rid of it all and just use the China.  I love my China, and I never use it!  (The only reason I kept any everyday dish sets is that I’m not 100% certain the glaze on the China is lead-free. If I can verify that, the everyday is gone!)

All but my two favorite sets of bed sheets (plus one flannel set for winter)

– I only ever use these sheets anyway.  Why let the rest take up so much shelf space for no reason?

Unnecessary kitchen gadgets

– This was easy.  Do I really need an olive grabber?  English muffin baking rounds?  Two vegetable peelers?  Eight cheese spreaders?  I think not.

Extra cookware

– This one…not so easy.  I love to cook, and on some level, parting with anything All-Clad seemed wrong.  But, come on!  How many times have I used my All-Clad wok?  Or, my mini All-Clad wok?  They are quality tools, but I don’t need them.  So, off to Goodwill they went, along with some heavy duty braising pots, sauce pans, and my adorable All-Clad butter melter (just a doll-sized pot…used only for melting butter).  How ever will I live without it?!

There were sauté pans, cookie sheets, tart pans, bread pans, mini bundt pans, mini muffin tins, and mini springform pans, too.  All gone.  Hopefully, they will find their way to someone who needs them and uses them.

I feel much lighter now.  What next?

19. More or Less

As you can probably tell from the fact that I haven’t posted in over a month, life has taken precedence over the blog.  For the first time ever, we have scheduled activities 7 days a week…yes, 7.  It’s not quite as crazy as it sounds, though.

Saturday’s activity is a two-hour theatre class.  The kids are working on a production of Disney’s Mulan Jr. through a small theatre company in Mill Valley.  Mike and I watched Robin Williams do standup a couple years ago at this theatre (he lives in town there), and I like the idea that the kids have the opportunity to perform on the same stage as a “real actor” like him (the kids weren’t quite as impressed as I).  In any case, the two hours sans kids give Mike and me a chance to have a mini-date each week.  A cup of coffee, a nice walk, and conversation with the man I love…(but see far too little of during the week).  What could be better?

Sunday’s activity is a half-hour drum lesson for Ryan.  Mike takes him, and Ryan considers it “guy time” (which leaves Ashby and me free for “girl time”).  Ryan’s teacher is a local high school student, and Ryan is loving lessons with her.  We scheduled the lesson for 9:30 am, so they’re done around 10 am.  Perfect timing for a family breakfast downtown, and we still have the whole day ahead of us!

Ryan plays the drums

Ryan rocks out!

This is the first year I’ve scheduled activities on the weekend, but these were two great opportunities for Mike to get involved with the kids.  Plus, theatre and music really are his thing more so than mine.  As I had hoped (but honestly kind of doubted), our weekend activities don’t feel like chores that take away from family time.  Rather, they have become something to ground our weekends and ensure the family time.  We’re up, dressed, and out of the house fairly early…as a family.  The reality has turned out to be far more enjoyable than I anticipated.  I love when that happens!

Our packed schedule has had one side effect I didn’t expect; it has led me to evaluate how I direct my time and energy.  Hence, the blogging dark ages.  With all the commitments I’ve signed on for this semester, something had to give to create a balance.  I’ve spent the past couple weeks heading down the path toward simplifying, and it feels amazing!  But, this admission opens up a whole other post.  So, more on this to come…as soon as I sort through my craft closet.

-Marisa

12. Reality

Sometimes I get overwhelmed looking at other homeschoolers’ blogs, because they seem to have everything so much more under control than I do.  Their classrooms are set up with everything you could possibly want; we do school at the dining room table and have one bookshelf for all of our homeschool materials.  Their website photos are magazine-ready; I tend to use snapshots from my iPhone.  (I have a nice Canon DSLR but would rather not deal with the extra step of transferring photos from the memory card to the computer.  My iPhone is just too easy in comparison).  Their kids seem so studious and exceptional at everything they do.  Ashby and Ryan do love to read and give me no trouble with lessons.  I, of course, think they are exceptional.  But, I also know they’re normal kids…they want to play, and self-restraint isn’t tops on their agenda.  They would watch TV and eat snacks all day long if I allowed it (I don’t). But, they’re curious, respectful, resourceful, and imaginative.   That’s what matters to me.

So, I remind myself not to believe everything I see online.  Look at this:

IMG_7347

This was Saturday morning.  The kids and I took a nice walk to a local coffee shop for breakfast, and they ran around and played outside when we were done.  What joyful and loving siblings, right?  A perfect morning…sunshine, a cup of coffee, happy kids.

Well, here we are about 2 minutes later:

IMG_7348

Ashby comes over to tell me that Ryan is mad, because she isn’t playing the game according to his rules (which he has a tendency to keep adding as his games go along).  Now, Ashby is mad at me, because I’m not reprimanding Ryan right this second (I never do, she tells me).   And do you see Ryan pouting in the background?

This is my perfect Saturday morning.  This is reality.  But, it’s quite easy for me to just post the first pic and tell the world how wonderful our life is.  Not only will you think I’ve got it all together, but I might believe it myself.   So, why not?

Well, just in case I’ve given you the impression up until now that everything is roses and cotton candy in our homeschool experience, I want to set the record straight.  I can’t promise that every post I make will inspire you with its beauty or demonstrate how easy and natural it is to homeschool.  But I can assure you that I’ll be honest.  I can offer you resources that I find useful and lessons I’ve learned (and continue to learn) in my years homeschooling.  I’ll post about some of our fun homeschool days, but I’ll address the flops, too (with the hope that our challenge could lead to someone else’s success).

The reality is that some days are amazing, and I impress even myself. More often, though, homeschooling (and parenting, in general) is an exercise in patience and humility.  I don’t have all the answers, contrary to what I could easily project here on my blog.  But, every day is a new opportunity to learn and teach, and for that I am thankful.

Find this post on Google+