Hello old friend. You know when it has been a long time since you visited your blog? When you have to go through the steps to reset the login and password because you have completely forgotten them. I have a couple of standard logins and passwords, but since some merger of blogger a year or so ago I had to reset some things about the time I abandoned this blog. Anything I don't use on a regular basis gets completely forgotten, as that is what happens when you get old.
I had lunch with one of the encouragers of my blog writing this past week. I have been pondering my (noted-by-her) absence and thought I would open it up again and see what happens. It has been over a year. Wow.
What went on over the past year that did not lead me to capturing it with words on a screen? One big reason? Homeschooling three children. Last fall was the most challenging and overwhelming season. Period. I often said that it possibly eclipsed losing my sister to breast cancer. I know. That is a pretty heavy statement. However, her death was shrouded in HOPE. There appeared to be no hope in my homeschooling. Several factors played into this spiraling of despair, the daily doom, the Krazy Town that existed up in the bonus room at Johnson Road, but listing them here sounds whining and pathetic. Admittedly, most were due to my own overscheduling, launching into a new program with out much understanding of it, and frankly, issues with controlling the behavioral chaos of my children.
My absence can also be contributed to this fact: As your children grow older there are less "cute and endearing" tidbits to capture and more "I want to lock my children in a closet and throw away the key" moments. Hormones unleashed their ugliness in full effect in the Dumoulin house this year. Had I written, I would have had entry after entry entitled, "Epic Eye-rolling" or "Why I Want to Run Away" or "Can I Find Something to Love About Them Today." Lest I forget the day when Jay came home for lunch and found me one step away from lying in a fetal position on the floor in a pool of my own drool. He dragged me into the bedroom and said, "You have GOT to pull yourself together! You are stronger and wiser than them. What have they turned you into?" A hot mess, I tell ya.
Despite all of this, we did have some successes this year on the schooling front. I can't write the entire year off to my own "personal growth." Ultimately, Ethan's foray into homeschooling led him to say in April, "I love homeschooling. I love my friends and where I am. I want to homeschool all the way through high school." I may have died a little inside at that moment, but hopefully, God will restore that part when I need it. He made tremendous strides in expository writing and has a solid basic understanding of Latin, World Geography, and finished Pre-Algebra, among other subjects. End of year test scores were their highest ever, so God-willing, we will continue down this track. Someone told me that when hormones arrive that brain cells decline. A story to illustrate this point: One of the kids' swim coaches was suppose to leave around the first of the year. The kids were all very sad because he was and still is a favorite. It was about the time of his departure and Ethan asked me one morning, "Is this Morgan's last day? It is so sad he is leaving" I wasn't so sure so I sent the coach a message. The reply was that he would continue on through at least the remaining school year. So relieved Ethan was. Around lunch time Ethan made the statement, "Mom, it is such a shame Morgan is leaving." I looked at him blankly and said, "Ethan. Remember?" With a sheepish grin, Ethan replied, "Oh yeah." Later that afternoon on the SAME DAY, when I DROPPED THE GIRLS OFF AT THE POOL, Ethan looked over from the front seat of the car and I KID YOU NOT said, "I hate that Morgan is leaving." At this point, I threw my hands up in the air and just said, "Son!" Ethan replied, "What?" Honestly.
Lily Lou continues to extol the virtues of a math-driven life. She has decided she wants to be a math teacher. That statement is so completely confounding to me it sounds like she is speaking a foreign language. This is an interesting note to put in your back pocket in case this happens to anyone you know in the future: Lily's first round of testing showed a 30-40% drop across the board in her scores. Yes, I had a meltdown when they arrived. I spoke with another testing source and she told me that the most common reason for this was that a child needed glasses. DING! DING! DING! Lily lost her glasses the week of our testing. I know it seems so obvious and as my mom said, 'Well, I wouldn't have even let her take the test if she didn't have her glasses." However, at the end of April, testing meant the year was basically over and nothing was going to stop me from reaching that milestone. Frankly, just getting them to the test on time for three days was heroic; I didn't have time to think about missing glasses. Regardless, I had her retested a couple of weeks ago and we are back up to speed. Whew! We often say that Lily just sort of floats through life, seemingly unaware of all that goes on around her. I now know that word "seemingly" is false. Her proctor explained that Lily is acutely cognizant of her environment. Basically, she picks up on everything we say and do which is a little frightening. My never-ending concerns about her auditory processing, her inability to flourish in creative writing, and her apathy to reading anything without pictures will be my driving concerns, but comparatively speaking, she is ahead of the game.
It was a year of many new things for Sadie, including a new Essentials class for writing and grammar, decreasing extra-curricular classes, and trying medication. That last mention is a weighty weight issue with so much history and wrestling and struggling. I could write volumes about it, but in the end when your child cries, begs, and says, "Why did God make me this way?" and you know there is something out there that would drastically change their existence in this world and you have tried every. single. other. option. and denied them this something based on fear, parental snobbery, and inaccurate biblical interpretation...I realized I WAS WRONG. Life did change drastically halfway through the year because of this change. We still struggle and still wrestle, but not quite to the level we did before. The Himalayan Mountains and the Grand Canyon valleys of behaviors have transformed themselves to become the speed bumps and street side ditches. It is a much smoother ride with such breaks in between the madness of it all that we, Sadie and I, have a bit more energy to tackle those peaks and valleys. She moves through her school work with relatively ease, only protesting when it actually takes her time to complete it because it challenges her or appears to be busy work.. Her latest scheme is to become a heart surgeon, because she wants to have enough money to have all the animals she wants. No surprises there. Although one wonders why she doesn't just desire to be a vet.
As far as me...well, I continue to play on a tennis team which didn't really work schedule-wise with homeschooling, but I insisted on making it happen. Some days the stress nearly pushed me over the edge, yet the work-out lowered the stress, so maybe it evened out in the end. What I lost in days/weeks/years from the stress of this year was offset by the benefits of the exercise from tennis playing. No gains - no losses. I will take that as a win.
Jay had another heart issue this February which landed him back in the hospital for another stent. I write that like it was no big deal, which I guess it really wasn't since they did the procedure that morning and he came home the SAME DAY. However, at the time, he couldn't walk up the stairs with out feeling chest pains. It took three days to see the doctor and schedule the procedure all the while I constantly was ready to spring into 911 action with my phone. Just a little edgy week there.
Many, many days I questioned why in the world was I homeschooling. Just like I am sure you are while reading this. When I think back over this year and remember those Mondays when I would drop the kids off at LIFE classes and meet some friends for lunch it comes with such heaviness. I would arrive at the restaurant beaten up, broken down, emotionally spent with a sprinkling of depression. Yet, there was never a time when I doubted that this was what I was supposed to be doing. Strange, I know. I shored myself up over Christmas, lightened our extra-activities load, revised our school schedule and marched forward. I began to see more light-hearted moments and classic learning AHAs! that I now cherish from this year. Holding closely to those memories and knowing without a doubt that THIS is where God has put me, I will plow forward next year, prodding along my 8th, 6th, and 4th grader with me.