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Category Archives: Friends

Friends who don’t homeschool, 10 things I want you to know.

Dear friends, there are some things I want you to know.  I’m putting it here so I can catch you all in one sweep (unless you don’t read my blog.  Hey, why aren’t you reading my blog??).  This post is not a reaction to anything.  I just know that school choices can be polarizing.  I also know I had misconceptions about homeschooling before I started.

1)  I have zero opinion or judgement about where your kids go to school.  Really.  Ok, I take that back.  Some days, I may judge you to be smarter than me for sending your kids to school.  See my side note in #2.

2) I don’t homeschool because I’m anti-public school.  I am a product of public school and I loved it.  I met the guy I married, had some amazing teachers, and earned college credit from AP classes.  It is likely my kids will be in public school one of these days.  *Side-note:  I had a mini-meltdown two weeks ago and it almost happened.  If that school bus had only gone a little bit slower…

3) I don’t homeschool for religious reasons.  I’m happy that I can talk to my kids about my spiritual beliefs but I would do that regardless of where they went to school.

Source: homeschoolerproblems

Source: homeschoolerproblems

4) We don’t replicate traditional school at home.  There are no white boards or desks.  We don’t say the pledge of allegiance and there is no bell.  What we learn is different than what your child might be learning.  Different; not better or worse.  We do school year-round so that we can be flexible and play.  We play a lot.  I have a list of what I’d like to cover in a week and we squeeze it in as we do life.  I like lists; particularly checking them off.  We usually finish everything but life comes first.  And life has plenty of its own important lessons.

Source: fatjealouscatlady

Source: fatjealouscatlady

5) A word about my excessive prolific facebook activity.  Confession:  I may have judged some women before I was a homeschool mom.  It may have gone something like this, “She says she homeschools but she’s always on facebook.  That’s one of my issues with homeschoolers–they can be such slackers!”  Ugly, right?  What can I say?  I’ve eaten so many words since I became a mom.  (Like, “I’ll NEVER homeschool.”)  What is the deal with some homeschool moms and facebook?  I get it now.  It goes like this:  when your child needs supervision while they’re working on a task–say, practicing their reading–you will slowly lose your mind.  It starts oozing out your ears and your foot begins to bounce as irritation creeps up your body.  I survive the mundane sounding-out of words by surreptitiously checking facebook on my phone under the table.  It is for sanity’s sake, people.  I also secretly eat girl scout cookies under the table.

6)  Socialization:  The top question I get from people is “how do your socialize them?”  My question is how do we fit in school with all the socializing?  Norah learns some valuable skills in her daily relations with her sister:  patience, persuasion, conflict resolution, and physical defense skills.  Our calendar is packed with science labs, zoo school, co-ops, field trips, classes, and playdates.  I drop her off every Monday to spend 7 hours with other kids her age.  My husband gently pointed out that I over-scheduled this month.  I did.  It got ugly.



7) It’s challenging for me to hang out kid-free.  Each week, I need to carve out kid-free time for my work:  prenatals, postpartums, births, and classes.  I can’t take a child to those.  That leaves little other time I can ask my child-watchers to help.  If you want to hang out, you’ll get the whole clan.

8) As in most situations, it’s not helpful for you to say, “I could never do that.”  You probably could do it.  Not that you SHOULD but you could homeschool if the situation called for it.  When I hear someone say that, it makes me feel a little isolated and crazy for trying.

9) I’ve found that sometimes homeschool parents can be boastful snotty about their kids.  Do you know why?  Because they’re in the minority.  Whenever anyone does something that isn’t mainstream (ahem, homebirth, attachment parenting, not vaccinating), we tend to focus only on the positives and sometimes sound preachy.  I’ve read homeschool articles that ooze with superiority.  This makes it difficult for me to talk about the areas I worry about when I’m surrounded by “all the homeschool kids test above grade-level, yada yada”.  And it sometimes makes it difficult to talk about it with you.  I want to be transparent about my kids.  Call me on it if I’m sounding too “my kid is a unique snowflake.”  I’m probably really insecure about screwing up my child.  To keep it real, some days are horrible.  Horrible.  Here is a facetime image my husband captured when he called in one morning:


10)  “But how are you going to teach every subject to your kids?”  First off, my kid is in 1st grade.  I can handle that material.  I don’t know how long I’ll homeschool so this question might be irrelevant to us.  However, my goal–and the goal of most homeschool families–is to teach kids to teach themselves.  When they reach material that presents a challenge, there are online classes/lectures, local college classes, mentors, the library, and more.  I hope I can help my girls work beyond what I can teach them.

Why do I do it?  It feels right.  For now.  I like the flexibility of it.  It works well with being on call as a doula.  I like that when Norah gets excited about something, we can drop everything and dig into a subject.  I don’t have to get up early in the morning and I don’t have to do carpool lines.  I really like what I’m learning.  I’m digging up memories from Mr. Wilson’s 8th grade Latin class.  I’ve memorized a 13 minute history timeline song.  This week, I’m learning about the Songhai empire.  I love the old and often obscure texts we read.  Redeeming my own education.

If this post sounds disjointed, I broke up 15 fights between my children, lost my temper three times, got side-tracked by google image, and attended a birth while attempting to write it.  So, I’ve meandered.  What I want to say is I love my friends who don’t homeschool and very much need you in my life.  You give me balance and perspective.  And you keep me from being a HOMESCHOOL MOM instead of a mom who happens to homeschool.  

Uncommon Thanks #3

#1:  That this guy,

turned into this guy,

#2:  Eating at The Lazy Goat with girlfriends!  I finally tasted brussel sprouts I like.  Butter and bacon are important.

#3:  The Dark Mint Chocolate bar from Night Own Chocolate.

#4:  Time for myself.  At a SPA!  Made possible by my amazing friend, Erin, who kept my children.

#5:  Norah’s diverse fashion style.  Some days, she dresses conservatively in a long skirt, head scarf, and cardigan.   And other days, she rocks out a 70’s style romper and tie-dyed thigh-high leggings.

Uncommon Thanks #2

I forgot to post 10 on 10 yesterday so I’ll use yesterday’s events as my thanks:

1)  Strawberry cream cheese scones and sitting outside on a November morning.

2)  Time with friends who enrich the lives of my children.

3) Climbing mulberry trees

4)  Learning woodworking skills at Roper Mountain Science Center (also felting wool, making herb sachets, herding sheep, plowing fields, pumping water, grinding corn, feeding animals, watching blacksmiths and other artisans)

5)  My husband finished the woodstove installation in his new woodworking shop

6)  Learning to sew on a button

7)  Dropping off Norah at Saturday science labs.

8) Watching a movie alone with popcorn and chocolate beer.

My first 10 on 10

Inspired by Rachel and Victoria, I want to do a 10 on 10.  One picture for ten hours on the tenth.  Who knows?  Maybe it will become a regular to-do.

Or maybe it will be incredibly uninteresting.

7am:  To keep my sanity during election madness, re-reading Jesus for President.

8am:  On my commute downtown, I spy someone’s pants waiting for the dry cleaner’s to open.

9am:  Toddler potty emergency led to an unplanned stop in Starbuck’s.

10am:  Visiting with Natalie as she beautifies Natural Baby.

11am:  Storytime

12pm:  Lunch.  Don’t judge.  I was craving that mean looking green pepper.

1pm:  Helped a newly pregnant woman pick out some beach reading. (No, not Orgasmic Birth)

2pm:  Evaluating the mess.  The mess this girl-child makes.

3pm:  Picked up Norah from school

4pm:  scuppernong snack


ten on ten button small

Cozying up with Little Women

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Last night I took Norah and her two friends to the theater. We saw “Little Women”, the musical. I wanted to do something special for her friends since I knew their dad was deploying the week of the show.

As Norah and I pulled into their neighborhood, Norah said, “You know, Mom, the girls in Little Women are a lot like my friends’ dad. Both of the dads are gone to war.”

I had to pull over for a second. I hadn’t made the connection at all. Quickly, I ran through the story in my head. Would it be ok to take these girls to see it?

I pulled the girls’ mom aside as they loaded up and asked her thoughts. She looked as surprised as I had been. I can’t believe we didn’t think about it! She hurriedly took her youngest daughter aside and told her that the story tonight would be about a different war. One fought a long time ago.

I’m mentally kicking myself.

I’ve read Little Women umpteen times. Somehow, reading it and watching even the musical version at this time in my life has been powerful.

Reading it, I’m intrigued by Marmee as a mother. Her candid talk. Especially when she admits, “I am angry nearly every day of my life.” Mostly, Marmee makes me feel inadequate in every way. It is no wonder I latch on to this one revelation.

The musical was brilliant. Fifteen minutes into it, I stopped biting my nails and fretting over the girls. I got caught up in the story. The first moment that hit me was Marmee’s scene in which she tries to write her absent husband a letter. She wants to tell him how hard the days are and how alone she feels. And how she fears she is failing as a mother. But she can only write chipper words of encouragement. I ached for my friend who said the same thing about when she tried to write a letter to her deployed husband.

And then came Marmee’s song, “Days of Plenty” which begins after Jo asks, “How do you do it? How do you go on?” referencing Beth’s death.

I missed the funeral of a young mother in our community to attend “Little Women”. It wasn’t an easy decision. Images of my grieving friends and this mother’s small children were always in my thoughts. I wanted to be there to support them.

And then this song.

I refused to feel tragic,
I am aching for more than pain and grief.
There has got to be meaning,
Most of all when a life has been so brief.
I have got to learn something,
How can I give her any less?
I want life to go on.
I want Days of Plenty

You have to Believe,
There is reason for Hope.
You have to Believe
That the answers will come.
You can’t let this defeat you.
I won’t let this defeat you.
You must fight to keep her there,
Within you!

So Believe that she matters!
And Believe that she always will!
She will always be with you!
She’ll be part of the days you’ve yet to feel!
She will live in your bounty!
She will live as you carry on your life!

So carry on,
Full of Hope,
She’ll be there,

For all your Days of Plenty

I love that line, “She will live in your bounty.”

I didn’t know Eileen well. I knew her as a mom in the playgroup. Our conversations were rarely more than surface level mom stuff. She had sparkly eyes and a humongous spirit. I remember once when she spontaneously led the older kids in yoga poses during a babywearing group. They followed her like the pied piper.

Many of my friends knew her deeply and loved her deeply. And as I sat in the theater with tears falling off the tip of my nose, listening to a musical (a musical!!), I knew that I was hearing Truth.

She’ll be part of the days you’ve yet to feel. She will live in your bounty. She will live as you carry on your life.

My time with Little Women has been unexpectedly raw and revealing. And I have to believe there is reason for absorbing it at this time and place.

Of deployed husbands and fathers.

Of angry marmees.

Of grieving friends.

May we carry on full of Hope.

incompatible with life

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What a strange phrase. Who came up with this one? It sounds entirely trite for such an immensity. Falls short.

“my roommate and I weren’t really compatible.”

“is this cord compatible with your cell phone?”

Incompatible with life.

Huge, helpless, grief for any parent hearing these words.

My dear friend will meet her baby tomorrow. She has heard these words.

I am supposed to be there with her. Should have been on a plane today. But I’m waiting on a post due client and cannot go. I suppose that means I’m really not meant to be with my friend. And I’ve always trusted God to get me to the births I’m meant to attend. I believe this one is the first I’ve missed.

So here I sit. Feeling helpless and aching for my friend. Praying for her body and her emotions. Praying for her amazing husband. Praying that they will grieve with abandon yet it will not freeze them. Praying for peace and beauty. Yes, even beauty in this terrible birth.

She once sent me this poem and I post a fragment as hope to all of us.

I am so distant from the hope of myself,
in which I have goodness, and discernment,
and never hurry through the world
but walk slowly, and bow often.

Around me the trees stir in their leaves
and call out, “Stay awhile.”
The light flows from their branches.

And they call again, “It’s simple,” they say,
“and you too have come
into the world to do this, to go easy, to be filled
with light, and to shine.”

When I am among the trees” by Mary Oliver

Sweet friend, go easy and be filled. Even as your arms feel empty.

What the neighbors must think!

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I’ve had two embarrassing run-ins with my neighbor. 

Our neighbors are wonderful and we love them.  We’ve known them a long time and that is a good thing because they would surely think I’m crazy otherwise.

The first event happened last year sometime.  I came home and found my kitchen rug sitting on the front porch.  Why?  Why would that be?  The only thing I could imagine was a burglar used it to carry out something heavy.  Which would be what?  What heavy object in my house is worth stealing?  The cupboard?  Wooden dollhouse?  Bed?  We don’t have any fancy electronics.  So, yeah, unlikely.  But why was my kitchen rug on the porch??  I digress.

So I walked next door to my neighbor.  Mr. Police Officer.  He came over and searched my house with gun in hand.  Gave me the all clear.  When I went inside, I noticed the floors were wet from mopping and the counters were suspiciously sparkly clean.  I realized I wasn’t robbed.  My house was stealth cleaned by an unknown intruder.  Love my mom!  And wish I’d inspected the house before involving the neighbor.

Next episode:  yesterday.  For the past, oh, TWO YEARS, I’ve put Cedar down for a nap in the afternoon.  I always tell Norah to be quiet because I’m putting Cedar to sleep.  It sometimes takes 30 minutes.  Sometimes I fall asleep.  For whatever reason, yesterday, Norah completely ignored me when I did the usual, “I’m putting Cedar down, stay quiet” speech. 

She was in the adjoining room playing. 

I did fall asleep.  And woke feeling unnerved.  I walked down the hall and heard, “Julie!” in a deep male voice.  After jumping out of my skin, I found Mr. Police Officer in my living room.  This time holding his newborn baby rather than a gun (awww).  Norah had not been able to find me (!!!) and per our drill when needing help, went next door to the neighbors. 

A groggy and embarrassed (and slightly confused) me assured Norah that I was in the room next to hers the whole time!  While trying not to look like an unfit mother in front of my neighbor! 

Sigh.  At least Cedar hasn’t called 911 in awhile…

A terrible beauty

I remember her towels.  For some reason, I keep coming back to the image of her soft, perfectly folded white towels.  They were so incredibly neat and tidy.  And pure.

I wasn’t supposed to be her doula.  My partner had called me at the last minute and I entered her space for the first time when she was in labor.  She was stunning.  Brilliant red hair and a quiet strength.  This was their first baby and they wanted to stay home for most of their labor.

I remember some funny things.  Some things that will remain unsaid.  I remember in active labor, I looked over and saw a shotgun (rifle?) by the bed.  I wondered if it was wise to have a gun so close to a woman in active labor.  I remember the ways I flubbed up.  One incident made my blooper page.  I remember laughter.

We arrived at the birth center.  She was fully dilated and quickly pushed her baby into her husband’s hands.  A son.

During her postpartum, when she needed extra help with breastfeeding, I brought lactation help.  We spent hours in her home.  It was the intimate time of women with the new mother.  We three cried when her milk came.

Her mothering was fierce and deliberate.  She is the kind of mother we need more of.

Last week, she died from an aggressive cancer.  She leaves behind her precious husband, her toddler, and her born-too-soon baby girl.  And it is awful.  It is wrong.  And not meant to be like this.

Yet, there is beauty–certainly in her life–but also in her passing.  I heard her name from so many places during her illness.  People who didn’t even know her.  She breathed grace and confidence and HOPE.  This is the mystery of redemption.  That God, who does not  want suffering, can redeem it.  Beauty from ashes.  If we let him.

When I remember Jessica, it will always be a vision of those white towels.  And I’ll hope that my life will be as well-lived.

Faster than a tormado

We had an extra four year old in the house today.  I thought it would distract me from the fantastic explosion of toys if I took notes on some of the conversations I overheard.


I have the hardest job in my house.  I fold napkins.

Well, my job is harder.  I catch all the lizards outside my house.

I fold more napkins. 

I catch a million lizards.

We’re like twins cause we have the same thing to eat!

I can run faster than a horse.

I can run faster than a rocketship

I can run faster than a “tormado”

I can run faster than God.

Mom, who can run the fastest?

My cousin is going to marry Justin Bieber

Who is that?

I think he’s a boy at her school.

That is NOT what a kangaroo sounds like when it gives birth.  It says “Boing Boing Boing.”

My [stuffed] puppy tore a little when her baby was born. [did I mention this was a midwife’s 4 year old?]

This will be your dog “collard” to wear.

We also had marshmallow roasting and sprinkler running.  And the girls built elaborate play scenes.

Attention Locals!

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You’ve heard me sing her praises.  You’ve seen her amazing photos on my blog.  You witnessed how she made this frizzed out frazzled postpartum mama look gorgeous. 

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