Why I chose to Homeschool-turning my heart to my children.

1 Dec


I’ll be honest.  I never thought I would home school.  I was glad to send my older kids to school and have a break during the day.   My college degree is Elementary Education, but I never seriously considered home school.  However, I did often say things to myself like, “If I ever home school, I’d use such and such book/curriculum.”  Funny, huh.

My mom was a school teacher before she married, and she did many school activities with my siblings and I as we were growing up.  She had planned to home school, but a couple of months into my kindergarten year, our house burned to the ground.  So she sent me to school, and I joyfully went.  I loved being at public school and making friends.  I was never sorry that I hadn’t been home schooled.  All the home school kids I met at church were super weird.

I always knew I wanted to be a mother. Also I loved playing school when I was a child. When it was time for me to go to college, I chose a teaching degree because I figured, either it would help me be a better mom, or if I didn’t get married/couldn’t have children, then I could be a teacher and still have children. It was a great plan. But I fell in deeply love with teaching as I learned more about how it’s done. So then, when I did get married and have children, I still wanted to be able to teach as well. Each year as the August rolled around, I would eat my heart out, wishing I could go teach. I knew I was a good teacher.  I could change so many children’s lives if I taught. It would be so much more fun than washing that stack of dirty dishes piled high in the sink.   My new plan became hurry up and get all my kids I school so I could go teach.

When Blueberry Pie was little, he begged and begged me to let him stay home.  His whole first year of Kindergarten, I had to carry him out to the car, peel him off me, throw him in and slam the door quickly.  (Thank goodness he rode to school with his Grandma, who having raised her last child to kindergarten age, was going back to teaching public school.)

I refused to home school him because I was pregnant with baby number four, we lived in a tiny 900 square food apartment, and I was sure that “home school” would be him playing while I continued to clean the house and chase toddlers.  He rarely did what I asked him to do, so I figured he needed a teacher that he would obey.

I did teach piano lessons.  I taught preschool and children’s music classes in my home several times, and that kept me happy and quieted the hungry teaching monster within.  I sold Mary Kay (and what is a Mary Kay party but me standing at a table “teaching” women about skin care  and makeup?) I was terrible at selling the product afterwards, but I loved teaching those skin care classes.

There were many things I wanted my children to learn, but there never seemed to be time to teach them because they were gone to school all day.  Evenings were full of me scrambling to get dinner made and nagging them to do their chores.  I tried to monitor what they were learning in school, and some things frustrated me.  But what could I do?

Sometimes I would consider home school but I had so many fears:

1. I was sure that I wouldn’t be organized enough.  The kids would be sitting around waiting while I scrambled to throw together lesson plans.

2. I’m so terrible at keeping a house clean that I was sure that before a month was over, the kids would be running wild while I cleaned the house all day.

3. My kids would grow up weird and socially awkward, like the home schooled kids I had known.

4.  I would accidentally leave out vital information that my kids needed to learn to be successful in college and life.

5.  People would judge me.

Attempting to quiet the teaching monster within, I started projects.  In addition to Mary Kay, I joined a quilting group.  I played about with writing a book.  Soon I wanted all the kids to go to school so I could work on my projects that I enjoyed.

When Key Lime Pie (baby #5) was 3,  I made a big effort to become a Mary Kay Sales Director.  But I didn’t quite make it before baby #6  was born, and I lost all the momentum I had built up.  When Banana Cream Pie was a year old, I began working toward that dream again.  In just 4 short years, I thought, maybe 3 if I put her in preschool, I would have all my children in school and I could do what I wanted.

But God had other plans for me.  He made it very clear that I needed to have another baby.  I didn’t want to.  I did not want to be sick and pregnant again.  I did not want to spend months of being up all night with a baby.  I wanted to lose weight and stay the same clothing size for  a whole year!  I did not want to put off my dreams of having all my kids in school for another 5 years. But after some months of wrestling with myself, I knew what I would do.

When I became  pregnant with Baby #7, my mind and heart changed. Putting off my dreams of Super Star Mary Kay Director suddenly made them too far out of reach to care about.  I acknowledged to myself that my husband hated when I left the house in the evenings to do parties.  I tried doing parties during the day, but I could not find a regular babysitter, and when I could get a sitter, the babies cried the whole time I was gone.

I accepted that I was a mother of children and began to be happy just to focus on them and what they needed.  But then life changed again.  Blueberry Pie started High School and Key Lime Pie started Kindergarten.  The dynamic of our house changed.  Suddenly it seemed like no one was ever home except for meals and sleep.  I got up early (as I always have) to fix breakfast.  But everyone else just got up in enough time to grab breakfast as they ran out the door with a “Bye Mom!”  Then I cleaned house and took care of the 2 babies and cooked dinner.  The big kids and my husband came home, ate the dinner, and then disappeared off into the house to do their own things.

I became increasingly lonely.  It was just me and the babies.   I’d given up my quilting club because the drive was long and my Grandmother who had also been a member, was too weak to go anymore.  I’d given up working hard at Mary Kay because it made my family miserable.  I began babysitting to help pay off some car debt we had.  Paying off the debt was good, but babysitting isolated me further.

Then, because I like even numbers, I talked my husband into having just one more baby.  (It didn’t take too much convincing.)

That “one more” turned out to be the twins.  When they were born, The Scooter Pies turned my world completely sideways ring-tailed crazy.   Whereas before I had felt isolated and lonely, now I was massively overwhelmed, stressed out, and isolated and lonely.  When the twins were 3 weeks old, my husband had to go to his weekend National Guard drill.  For the first time ever, I cried when he left for soldier duty.  Because life is like this, both his National Guard job and his full-time work began requiring more and more hours.    Every time he left for work, I felt abandoned.  I love my babies, but I was losing my mind.  When the twins were 6 months old, I accepted a babysitting job to help out a teacher.  With her 2 children, I was caring for 6 babies age four and under.  I spent literally all of the day spooning food into mouths, changing diapers, and soothing sad babies.  Spooning food into babies’ mouths is something I never have learned how to enjoy.  Many times I just sat on the floor and rotated babies.   I sang songs and read stories.  I really made intentional efforts to stay positive.  I worked hard each day to move my leaden arms and legs and keep up an effort to do anything besides sit on the couch a lot.  But I sat on the couch (or the floor) a lot.

Where before I had always dreaded when the kids would get home from school because I hadn’t finished a project yet, I began to watch the clock, eagerly anticipating my children getting home from school. I needed their help!    I wanted their company!  One of my friends began homeschooling, and I listened as she talked about how much she loved it and could see how simply she added it into her day.

I thought about all the extra -curricular things that my children wanted to do.  We didn’t have time to do them because they were gone to school 9 hours a day, over an hour and a half of which was just riding the bus!

I thought about how tired my 7 year old was all the time because she had to get on a bus at 6:45 a.m.

I thought about how my 6th grader never had time to read the books she wanted to read because her reading time was taken up with required reading for school.

I thought about how interested in art my 8th grader was.

I looked over the elective courses that had seemed more than adequate for my son whose time is taken up with Band, Jazz Band, and Swimming, and saw that for my daughter, the elective classes were shallow and worthless compared to what I could do with her if she where home.

I thought about myself and how lonely I was, and how desperately I needed a project that I could be excited about and use my brain for.  I thought, home school is a project that would use my brain and yet be a benefit to my children instead of taking me away from them.

I thought about how as my kids have gotten older, they have gotten more fun to be around. I wanted more time with them!

I talked it all over with my husband. In the past, he has been very critical of home school in general–as an adviser at a local junior college, he meets several students each year who were home schooled and are woefully unprepared for college. To my surprise, he was supportive and even enthusiastic about what our girls could learn at home.

So, I asked the girls if they would like to try home school and they answered immediately and resoundingly, “Yes!”  Then they paused and Pumpkin Pie admitted, “I will miss my friends.”  Then one asked, “will we have to take the MAPP test?”

I said, “no”

In unison, they cheered, “Home school!”

And so our journey began.  And I am loving it.  I am happier than I’ve been for many years.  

I’m starting a new blog about our home school.  If you would like more information about home school, I would love for you to visit me at Small and Simple Home School.

I will continue to keep this blog as our family record and for non-schooly ramblings of mine.

The First Day of School

5 Oct

First day of home school for Cherry Pie, Pumpkin Pie, and Tamale Pie.  They were so excited, and humored me by dressing up for the first day of home school like they always have for public school.

First day of the public school year for these two.  Junior in High School and Second Grade.  (Key Lime Pie only lasted about two weeks in public school before I decided that she needed to switch to home school like her sisters.)

The babies who are not in school.

Banana Cream Pie did not want to be in a photo.  She is not in school either, but I feel sure she is benefitting from hearing me read aloud to her sisters and having them home to read aloud to her.  

Summer 2016 Road Trip: “The worst family vacation ever is still a good thing.”

29 Sep

This year our family trip goes down as the most exhausting trip ever.  But we have some good stories to tell.  Maybe in another year or two, I might be able to laugh about how dumb I was to think we could camp anywhere with a 4 year old, 2 year old, and 1 year old twin boys.

Besides family camping,  the resident Captain and Blueberry Pie planned to climb King’s Peak, and we had a family reunion to party at.

Blueberry Pie flew out to Utah a week early to go to a diving camp at BYU.

The Captain was super excited because we purchased a new family tent  (The REI Basecamp 6)  plus some fun LED twinkle lights to hang in the tents.  Our plan was to have the older girls sleep in his 3-man backpacking tent and then us and the four youngest kiddie pies would sleep in the new tent.

We packed Wednesday night, and I thought we were doing well and would get to bed by 8:30pm.


I didn’t factor in that the Captain hadn’t yet packed his gear for backpacking up King’s Peak.  So by the time that was done, we went to bed at 1 am.  But everything was in the van ready to go, and the cooler was full of delicious food.  Pasta salad (with bacon), carrot and celery sticks, mint oreos, lots of Doritos, and most importantly, a tin foil dinner for each of us to eat the next night at our campsite.  This would save me from assembling dinner on Thursday night.  We could just pull up to the campsite, light the charcoal, and dinner could cook while we set up camp.  It would all be so simple and relaxing.

You see, the resident Captain, wanting to make things easy on me, had reserved 2 hotel rooms in Laramie, WY, for Thursday night.  But I talked him into canceling that reservation and reserving a campsite at Curt Goudy State Park instead.  That would save money and there was a playground for the kids to play on and, in theory, run off all the energy they would have from sitting in the car all day.  As I described above, I had a brilliant plan to make dinner and camp setup a breeze.

We began our drive early Thursday morning, about 5:30 a.m.

Road trip Van Selfie

Almost immediately, Pumpkin Pie and Banana Cream Pie began puking.  The puking did not stop.

It’s a good thing we had a roll of heavy duty trash compactor bags in the van.

Then the power cord to the car DVD player stopped working.  All our new movies, purchased specifically for entertainment on the trip could not be enjoyed.  Everyone was so sad not to get to watch “The Croods,” “Spirit, Stallion of the Cimmaron,” “Chitty, Chitty, Bang! Bang!” and “The Music Man.”

Due in part to the fact that whenever we stopped for gas I had to change the Scooter Pie’s diapers as well as sometimes Baby Bean’s diaper and clean up someone who had barfed, the trip took longer than it should have.

The Captain washes Windows too.

By the time we finally got to our campsite, it was almost 9 p.m., not 6 like we planned.  Tamale Pie was also feeling sick by now.  As we got to the campsite, we saw signs that a new burn ban had just been posted.  No wood or charcoal fires allowed.  That meant that all our delicious tin foil dinners could not be cooked or eaten.  I was really regretting those hotel rooms, delivery pizza, and the probable coin laundry in the hotel basement.

Because Blueberry Pie was already in Utah, and Pumpkin Pie and Tamale Pie were sick, that left only Cherry Pie, Me, and our intrepid Captain as able-bodied workers.  Banana Cream Pie, Baby Bean and the Scooter Pies took all my resources to keep safe.  The Scooter Pies spent their time stuffing rocks into their mouths as fast as possible.  Baby Bean ran everywhere like a crazy squirrel, with Key Lime Pie tossing pine cones after her.  Banana Cream Pie, being sick was rather more querulous than usual.  (Which is a lot.) Cherry Pie alternately helped me and helped her father as she saw needs.  I was many times grateful that evening that she was not sick.

Despite the fact that we couldn’t eat our scrumptious foil dinners, there was lots of pasta salad left.  So anyone who felt well enough to eat still had something good, albeit cold, for dinner.  It took a couple hours to get the tents set up, but the evening was very pleasant and the breeze and the lake view were especially nice.  I kept thinking that I should be a lot more sad about all the trip fails of the day, but the weather was so perfect that I was still enjoying myself.  The new tent was so spacious and nice.  I love the big vestibules on each side and the extra tent poles that keep the tent from distorting in high wind.  The babies took turns waking up in the night so I was able to take care of them without help.  I didn’t get more than a couple of hours of sleep, but this is what I expect when camping.  However, the Captain did not sleep well and was disappointed to still be tired in the morning.  (I am always a little annoyed when I’ve been up with babies all night and the Captain has the gall to announce that he “didn’t sleep well”  but it’s a fairly frequent occurrence in my life, so I’m used to it. )

In the morning, we packed up camp and headed on down the road to the trail head for King’s Peak where we would meet Blueberry Pie and his uncle.  We lost about an hour of time because the cap to our gas tank broke, but we still got to the trail head in plenty of time.  However Blueberry Pie and Uncle were late.   Finally, as rain threatened, the Captain set up his tent, and the kiddie pies and I left him there and headed on to Salt Lake City, where we planned to spend our days in comfort while the men folk backpacked up and down the mountain.

The girls and I spent the next 2 days in Salt Lake City, hanging with cousins and having a nice relaxing time.  Except for that Pumpkin Pie and Banana Cream Pie continued to be sick and unable to keep any food or drink down.

The Men got back from the mountain at around 2 a.m. Monday morning.  When it was a more reasonable hour for getting up, I cleaned out our van and loaded all our gear back into it.  At about 10, we loaded all the kiddie pies into the van as well, said goodbye to our cousins (and begged forgiveness for bringing our nasty flu bug) and headed south to Bryce Canyon.  Pumpkin Pie and Banana Cream Pie were still throwing up, and I was starting to get worried about them dehydrating.  I’ve never had children sick for so many days in a row.

I did get some work on Blueberry Pie’s RavenClaw scarf done.

It was about a 6 hour drive down to Bryce but the exciting thing was that my awesome sister Katie, and her four boys met us there and camped with us.  We cooked hotdogs for the kids and delicious chicken and veggies for ourselves.  Katie’s boys play lots of crazy games camping, so Key Lime Pie was really having a great time.  Also, Katie had some prescription strength anti-nausea medicine and both of my sick children were finally able to keep food and water down for the first time in 5 days.  That was such a relief!

My four babies (the scooter pies, Baby Bean and Banana Cream Pie) continued to be super high maintenance and required constant vigilance from multiple people.  Baby Bean found a mud puddle and swam in it.  I began giving the Scooter Pies larger rocks to chew on, hoping to prevent them from choking on small ones.  But they rejected the safe rocks.

The weather was much colder than it had been when we camped in Laramie.  Subsequently, none of the 4 baby pies slept during the night.  I had to wake up the Captain and then Blueberry Pie to help me take care of all the fussing babies.  It was torture.  The Captain was now going on his 5th night of camping and almost no sleep.  As the sky began to lighten with the morning, the Captain said to me, “I never want to go camping again.”  I myself had been thinking, “I will camp no more forever.”  But the Captain loves camping, so I was a little surprised that he felt the same way.  I realized that though we have camped many times with babies, there has never been more than 2 toddler/babies, and I could handle all the murderous part myself.  But I couldn’t buffer him from 4 toddler/babies and so everyone was miserable.  The Captain just wanted to cancel the rest of the trip and go home, but I begged him for one more day because I didn’t want to miss the Wednesday Activities at the family reunion.

After getting camp cleaned up, we went to Bryce National Park and picked up JR Ranger packets for all the kids.

Baby Bean pushes buttons

Banana Cream Pie is serious about getting her JR Ranger badge.

The scooter pies are not paying attention to the ranger discussion about telescope lenses.

Little Prairie Dogs

We drove through the park, but it was very busy.  We had trouble finding any overlooks that had parking space.  But we did get to see the Natural Arch, which was spectacular.  The kids worked through their books and earned their badges, and we piled back into the car and headed back north to Ephraim Canyon for our family reunion.

The road from Bryce to Ephraim is slow, pot-holed, and full of curves.  That was not a fun drive.  Scenic, I guess, but on the back of many sleepless nights, it was just more torture.  We got to the reunion just in time for dinner, which was delicious.  We also lucked out and there were enough bunk beds for us and the babies to sleep inside.  The Captain put in his ear plugs and had the first good sleep of our vacation.  I had just fallen asleep when the Scooter Pies woke up, and so I put them in my twin size bunk with me.  However, the space between the bunk and the wall was just big enough to let a baby fall off the side, so I couldn’t sleep after that for fear that one of them would fall off.  I just lay awake holding them and waiting for morning.

Wednesday morning I got to help with breakfast.  I made some pretty delicious breakfast casseroles, if I do say so myself.

Then we took the kids to a nearby pond for swimming.  It was the grossest, stinkiest pond I have every seen.  Banana Cream Pie (who I remind you is only 4) said with great disappointment when she saw the pond, “I thought you said we were going swimming!”  Luckily, one of my uncles brought his huge river raft, which was tons of fun to play on and saved the day.

Then we left the kids back at camp and told them to be good and the Captain and I went to the Manti temple.  That was the highlight of our whole trip for sure.

I had hoped to find a laundromat later in the evening to wash the throw up clothes that had been solid on the drive from Salt Lake to Bryce (before Aunt Katie hooked us up with drugs.). But though we did find a laundromat, it was closing by the time we got there.  I was pretty disappointed.  Instead we just went back to camp and put the kids to bed.  Thursday, we took a little hike with the kids and then Captain went back down  the mountain and washed all the laundry while I talked with my family and chased the twins and Baby Bean.  She spent most of the day digging holes in the dirt and I just let her.

Friday morning, we left the reunion early because the Captain Wanted to get home by Saturday night.  I felt like a big bum leaving early, but I had been lucky to wheedle those 2 days.  Also, I was pretty tired of chasing babies around in the out-of-doors.  Going home sounded pretty good.

We stayed in a hotel on the way home.  And it was great.  While I cannot predict the future, I feel that family camping may decline significantly therein.

Rookie Mistake

26 Jun

I thought I had the scooter pies trapped  in the kid zone at the library.  

Zeke found a way

Skeeter tattletaled 

Baby Shower Gift

20 Jun

So cute!  I enjoyed making it so much.  

Secret Sewing tip:

**never think you will save time by not pinning the fabric.  You will not save time, you will sew the onesie to itself and have to unpick.

Secret Sewing Tip:

If you try to unpick thin double knit onesies, you will just make holes.  The fabric is ruined and you must start over with a new onsie.  So avoid having to unpick.


 I got the idea and shoe pattern here:

Baby Girl Peasant Dress Ensemble

And the onsie tutorial here:


This one looks good too:

10 Minute DIY Onesie Dress Tutorial

Almost Walking

20 Jun

Skeeter might walk before Zeke

What a coup!

June 17 2016

Bean Bag Stuffie 

16 Jun

I made this!

It’s the first time I’ve sewed anything since last October. 
It is stuffed full of all the princess dress ups.  
Storage and seating!  I’m so happy