Breaking News!

This just in: Isaac Allan, a high school senior from Hudson, NH, has graduated high school. It has been confirmed that the last twelve years were grueling, but Isaac is looking forward to putting off procrastinating until he begins his college education in the fall. Sources close to the student say he didn’t come through the process unscathed.

“There were a lot of assignments overdue,” says one family member. 

“He overslept 99% of the time,” another one revealed. 

We are now being told that Isaac Allan will take his work ethic with him to college, where he will pursue a degree in Computer Science at the University of New Hampshire. We reached out to the school but they were unavailable for comment. A source, who wishes to remain amomymous, worries, saying she knows he can do it, but at what cost?

We asked Isaac if he shared the same concern. He said, and I quote, “Cost?! What cost? It’s free!” 

He has good reason to be cheerful. His accomplishments were honored during a graduation ceremony last weekend. We were told there was a good number in attendance and Isaac was the laughing stock of all speeches. Our news agency recently came into possession of one such speech and we’ve decided our public has the right to read it. Below is the transcript.

Oh, Isaac. As I sat down to compose this speech, my memory wandered, and then I remembered what I was doing at the computer. Thinking back over your childhood brings me to the fridge in search of chocolate, which brings me immense joy. Incidentally, so do you. 🙂 Other feelings are mingled in as well. There’s exhaustion, frustration, and some sadness, but enough about me. 

From the beginning of our homeschool journey, it was obvious you were adept at avoiding school work, though you were also so incredibly adept at school. I know you had good reasons for not always getting your work done, however. One time when I asked why you weren’t accomplishing anything, you replied simply, “Oh, I’ve lost my invisible pencil.” 

Since you’ve always been smarter than me, you learned at an early age how to find the answers to all of your questions on your own–questions which usually started with the word, “how?” I’m glad I could aid you in learning how to learn; you’re welcome. 🙂 There was that one time I stumped you with a “how” question of my own, though. At some point in your young life, you wanted to be a farmer as you enjoyed playing with a toy barn we had and the plastic animals that came with it. I wondered how that career was going to work out given your proclivity to stay indoors, so I asked, “Isaac, how are you going to be a farmer if you don’t go outside?” Exasperated, you answered, “Mommy, I’d change my ways by then!” Considering you still don’t go outside often, I’d say harvesting a dream that you’ll be a farmer is an idea that won’t take root.

Have you changed your ways since then? Well, you are still kind, generous, stubborn, witty, strong, helpful, passionate, procrastinating, intelligent, quiet, loud, creative, unobtrusive, tech-savvy, musical, articulate, and full of almost-useless trivia. Does anyone want to know why Pepsi once had the fifth largest navy? Ask Isaac. Care to know how one human earned the distinction of being the farthest away from any other human being in history? Ask Isaac. Want to hear a toaster eulogy? Ask Isaac for a recitation. I promise it will spark joy in your life as you observe his appliance of humor and wit.

These attributes of yours have added color to our typically black-and-white homeschool environment. Because of them, there have been moments of joy and moments of frustration. There have been times when you’ve outsmarted us all and times when you couldn’t pronounce “rendezvous” correctly.  You’ve left us in awe of your almost photographic memory as well as your inability to remember the order of the months of the year. At times, we saw eye to eye and then you grew taller than me. You can solve complicated math problems in your head but struggle to read your shifts on Hot Schedules correctly. Just as often as I am kicking you off devices, I’m calling you right back for technical assistance. You effortlessly procrastinate yet your work seems so effortless. Your passionate excitement over your hobbies are sometimes overwhelming, but I’ve seen it spur on so many creative projects–most of which I’m still waiting for you to finish! 🙂 Your humor is hard to rival and your generosity is nearly unparalleled.  The annoyance and sarcasm in your school work is also nearly unparalleled. 

Who can forget the time you took the Study Skills class here at co-op and submitted these four objectives you hoped to accomplish from the course:

  1. I hope to avoid the wrath of my parents that is put into effect when I have no work.
  2. I hope to learn the meaning of the phrase “study skills”.
  3. I hope to avoid being kicked out of class all semester from making snarky comments.
  4. I hope that I will care enough to learn and apply the things taught in this course.

Or how about the time you had to finish a paragraph for a language arts curriculum you truly despised? The excerpt, from the book King of the Wind, was about a horse pulling a heavy load up an icy incline while being mistreated the whole way. The instructions asked you to add a paragraph to the passage, explaining what occurred next. You wrote, “A meteor came. It struck the earth. All life ceased to exist.” 

In what was retrospectively a poor decision on my part, I told you to do it again, as I felt you weren’t completing the task in the right spirit. Your edit went like this, “All of a sudden, Sham pulled his ACL. He went careening down the hill, and he was never seen again.” *sigh* Sometimes our years of schooling together bring to mind the time you asked me to write this saying on a birthday cake: Happy birthday, Isaac. We’re so glad you’re here. Growing up with you—was extra fun this year. 

And you do make it extra fun. Truly. More often than not, there is laughter and singing and light-hearted chatter and late-night chatter and sharing of almost-useless trivia and joking and pun wars and music-making and academic discussions and biblical conversations. And I love it all. 

Now, because I don’t want to be up here anymore, allow me to start wrapping this up by sharing a description of who Isaac is and what the privilege of homeschooling him has been like, written by one of my favorite authors,  “You guys have pushed me towards greatness. And pulled me towards greatness. And offered incentives. And punishments. And tried holding my hand. And tried letting go. And just about everything else you could think of to get me to do something. Well, here it is!”

I don’t think I could have come up with a more succinct, accurate, bittersweet way to encapsulate our experience! As I close this toasted eulogy about your homeschooling years, Isaac, I want to leave you with one thought and two stanzas of a song. 

By “one thought”, I really mean four verses without comment, though I trust you can make the right application as you head into this next phase of life and school. The first one is found in I Chronicles 28:9, “And thou, my son, know thou the God of thy father, and serve him with a perfect heart, and with a willing mind; for the Lord searcheth all hearts, and understandeth all the imaginations of the thoughts; if thou seek him, he will be found of thee: but if thou forsake him, he will cast thee off forever.” Proverbs 23:12 says “Apply thine heart unto instruction, and thine ears to the words of knowledge.” Next one is Isaiah 48:17, which reads, “Thus saith the Lord, thy Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel; I am the Lord thy God which teacheth thee to profit, which leadeth thee by the way that thou shouldest go.” And lastly from I Corinthians 7:17, “Let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God has called him.” 

I pray you will continue to follow Him as “the way of the Lord is strength to the upright” (Proverbs 10:29) and allow Him to use you as He sees fit. The words of the following song have been running through my mind for a few weeks now and seem appropriate to the message I’m trying to convey to you:

Have thine own way, Lord!   

Have thine own way!

Thou art the potter,

I am the clay.

Mold me and make me

After thy will,

While I am waiting,

Yielded and still.

Have thine own way, Lord!

Have thine own way!

Hold o’er my being

Absolute sway. 

Fill with thy spirit

Till all shall see

Christ only, always,

Living in me!

We love you, Isaac–congratulations!

Happy Mother’s Day

Motherhood can be summed up in one word: kids. Without them, I would be enjoying sleep and eating snacks alone. With my kids, I enjoy yelling fun phrases like, “Turn that down!” and “Take off your shoes in the house!” and “Who finished up the toilet paper and didn’t replace the roll?” every week.

Being a mother is hard. At least so said my children when I asked them what they thought it was like to be one. Perhaps I’m not doing a very good job if they unanimously claimed that it must be hard, stressful, and exhausting. Or perhaps they are the problem… 

There was some acknowledgment from one that it must be mentally taxing, having to make decisions galore each day, and maybe even fruitless, since no one listens to me, according to another. I was told by yet another child that the learning experience that is motherhood is likely filled with highs and lows. While one offspring assumed it was rewarding, another one told me that I was sad as a mother! Yikes! For clarification, this child is not my favorite. Just kidding! The sentiment behind that statement was that there must be times when it is sad for me, not that I put forth a pretty pathetic showing as a mother (whew!) . At any given time, however, I suppose either could be true.

I do not have profound take-aways from their responses, but I did learn a valuable lesson about asking my children open-ended questions. There is truth to each statement, though. Sometimes, as a mother, you want nothing more than to be “seen”. For your work to be noticed. For the tough bits to be recognized. For validation, even, when the going gets rough. But I also know that I do not want my children’s memories woven with misery. 

I am certain the happy times far outweigh the difficult times. I am sure there is sweet communion between mother and child more than there is discord. Certainly they do their chores without being told more than when they need constant reminding. Ha ha, that was a joke. Only a Super Mom could manage that kind of training. 

Speaking of super moms, I am definitely more than a little annoyed that out of all the attributes my mother passed on down to me, being as awesome as she was and is at being a mother isn’t one of them! As a child, many of her sacrifices and talents went right over my head. Now that I am a mother, the realization of all she did and the exhaustion with which she must have done it explains why she let me get married at 19! Joke’s on her though because I still need her and she still is a better mom than I’ll ever be. Thankfully, Mom continues to exemplify patience, wisdom, and love to her grown children and we are absolutely blessed because of her mothering.  ♥️

I love my children. I love helping them, teasing them, watching them grow and thrive, being with them, and hiding my snacks from them. I love them even when there are times I do not like them (rather, what they are doing). I love hearing them laugh and witnessing when they work, play, or learn together. I love telling them to do their chores. I love that they give me hugs and want to sit next to me. I love being their mother. 

It is unclear how hard I work, or how exhausted I am, or how stressful it is at any given moment, but in the words of one of my Neanderthal children, “Mom work hard, because Mom love offspring, but rewarding, because offspring love Mom.”

State of Being

Not to brag or anything, but I made it through last week. This is an achievement for me because right smack in the middle of the week I was sideswiped by piles of emotion. Not only was it surprising, it was also unexpected and sudden. And it was tough. By ‘tough’, I mean since I didn’t expect the level of emotional turmoil, I wasn’t prepared. And by ‘not prepared’ I mean I’m not a boy scout, so how could I be?

Remember when I mentioned that Isaac had three weeks left in his high school career and Jake was three weeks away from the midway point of his college years? Last week brought that countdown to zero. Remember which child is trying to bring us within dollars of the family cap on our insurance? Although last week’s appointments will undoubtedly add place values to our deductible, it was the diagnosis that felt ruinously exorbitant. 

Despite the prestigious name, at James Way Academy, most of your K-12 years go by with little fanfare. There is no Kindergarten graduation ceremony where you don an adult-sized shirt with the year of your twelfth grade grad date emblazoned on the front. There is no stepping up ceremony for a fifth grader entering middle school. There isn’t even a fun, first-day-of-school themed breakfast in August or a last day of school movie marathon with candy from your teacher and piles of returned school work to take back to your mother who actually just handed it to you, and that’s why the desk is covered in papers and the next transcript isn’t put together yet, but I have all summer for that and this part wasn’t really supposed to be about my shortcomings, so we’re going to have a graduation ceremony for Isaac later, okay??

All that to say I was shocked by sentiment regarding Isaac’s last days of high school. We all know that if you blink, you miss it. It is such a strangely oxymoronic thought: you were present for the whole thing, yet you turn into a puddle of mush at the idea of all that’s done and gone. While I often pine for the earlier years, it has been wonderful and hard and messy and awesome to see Isaac develop into the young man that he is today.  In not much more time, we will be launching our second arrow, but you’ll have to excuse me if I’m holding my eyes wide open.

Meanwhile, Jake is down there in Jacksonville, crushing year two.  By the time I’m finally done muddling my way through composing this post, he’ll have received all of his second semester grades and will likely be on the road homeward. I know he would agree that the realization of being halfway through hit like an October hurricane in Florida, fast and furious. As a homeschooling family, we don’t have anything special planned for this milestone either, but it is exciting and I did find myself overly emotional about it, like an October hurricane in Florida, mortifying and out of the blue.

Jumping from keeping my eyes dry and open (‘I’m not crying, you’re crying’) and getting blindsided by nostalgic emotion, I was also able to experience relief mingled with light devastation, thanks to the latest findings regarding Caleb’s health. Relief that the fourth doctor we saw finally diagnosed the issue; relief that we weren’t going crazy, and it was what we suspected all along; relief that he will get the right care moving forward. The light devastation comes from the fact that while there are treatments, there aren’t really any cures. It comes from the fact that he has to deal with this on a daily basis. 

The juxtaposition of relief and devastation wreaked havoc to my emotional state, much like the aftermath of a category two hurricane. Part of me wanted to drown my sorrows in a pint of ice cream and another part of me agreed.  But Caleb remains ever cheerful through it all, and I know I can learn a thing or two from his joyful disposition. I think that’s an emotion I could manage!

To recap, I have nothing to brag about, the least of which is my ability to handle feelings, but

I had Anna, she’s just so great, she helped me get through the tough times. I truly can’t express my forever gratitude for her, she’s so sweet and incredibly good-looking! I wish that there was two of her because that would mean 2x the greatness. Anna really couldn’t be better, unless of course, if she tried-because Anna can do anything. And that pretty much sums up everything you should know.

(That’s what I get for always asking anyone if they’d like to write a post and then walk away from the computer. But we all need a bit of levity in our lives, right? It’s cheaper than a pint of ice cream, anyway.)