Thursday, October 31, 2013

Why Homeschool

I haven't said much on this blog about homeschooling. I think mostly that's because I was afraid of people's reactions. I didn't want them to judge me, and I didn't want to hear any criticism for doing what we thought was right for our family. However, I also realize that there are people out there who genuinely want to look into the option of homeschooling. They are curious as to how other people might go about it (everybody does it differently!), and wondering if it is a good choice for them. So, I'm going to put my pride aside for a little while and let you all into our lives as homeschoolers. Keep in mind, I haven't been doing this for very long at all. My oldest is in 1st grade this year. So we are still figuring things out too, and changing all the time. But the reasons remain the same, so I will share those too.

What made us decide to home school?
Background: My husband and I were never homeschooled. We both went to public school our entire school lives, and never really considered anything different for our own family, up until it was time for them to go.
It sort of happened very naturally. First of all, I never send my kids to preschool. Maybe because I think it's ridiculously overpriced for something I can very easily teach my children myself. I found that I really liked being the one teaching my kids. It was fun for both (all) of us and I think it helped me get to know them better, and have some good quality time together each day. When it came time for Tyler to go to Kindergarten, we were living in Ohio. I had a good friend, Loni, who homeschooled her kids and I really admired their family and how they made it all work. I felt like they had their priorities straight, and that the most important things were in focus. She had also had her kids close together (even closer than ours) and so I saw that it was possible after all :). But of course I had to make a pros and cons list, because that's what I do. We prayed about it a lot, and Kenny and I discussed it all the time. We decided that we could just try it for a year and see what we thought. If it was a horrible failure, then he hadn't missed out on much and we could just send him the next year.

I was worried that we were doing something so different. It was new, and scary, and I wasn't sure if I was qualified. (Which, now I see how messed up that thought is. Nobody is more qualified than the child's own mother to teach them! I was just brainwashed by the popular mindset of the day.) I wasn't sure if I would be able to handle all the stress, and responsibility that comes with it. There's a lot of pressure that comes with being solely responsible for what your children learn! And I feel the weight of that every day. But I also count it as a great privilege and blessing that I am able to stay home and teach them. I take it very seriously, and am so glad that I have the choice.

Halfway through what would have been Tyler's Kindergarten year, we had a sudden change of jobs and moved to Alaska. I was glad we weren't having to pull him out of school during that crazy time.
But just for the sake of sharing, here's what we felt were, and are, the pros and cons of homeschooling.

I think the most important things they can be learning during these young, formative years is right from wrong. I want them to learn, more than anything else in the world, about the gospel of Jesus Christ, and what it means to be a good person. I wanted to focus on their moral and character development. I want them to be patriotic and have a deep love for their country, and the great stories of its founding. If they can have a really solid foundation and be more sheltered from the world and all the bad things in it while they are still developing their moral code, then I feel like they will be that much better prepared to face it all when the time comes. As a young child especially, they need to feel so loved and special. Who better to provide that love and teach those morals, then me, their mother?

Whenever I would get together with women who had school-age children, there was a lot of complaining. There were so many problems with other students, with the bad influences and things they were learning from kids, problems with the teachers, with the system, with ridiculous amounts of homework and specific ways that they were being forced to teach it. I would sit and listen to these women thinking, "there's got to be a better way!" Homeschooling allows me the freedom to teach what my children are interested in, what we as their parents feel is important, and lets them be kids. I don't think they should be required to sit in a desk all day at school (as 5 years old!) and then come home, only to have more homework to do. They are KIDS. I think they learn best through playing and working--both of which they are able to do a lot of at home.

Every child learns differently. They all have different strengths and weaknesses, and talents that need to nurtured and developed. One of the challenges of public school is there are way too many kids for one teacher to possibly be able to cater to each individual learning style. At no fault of the teacher, it's just a fact. As a mother, I know my kids better than anyone else. I can see where they are struggling and give them that extra help without them being labeled as "the dumb kid", or have them comparing themselves with everyone else and making them feel badly about themselves and their abilities. The opposite is also true, that if they are excelling in another area, they won't be held back for the sake of the other kids in class.

Sibling relationships. Yes of course my kids fight and quarrel like all other siblings in the world. But they also play really well together and have a lot of experiences working and learning together. It is really sweet to watch them interact (when they're being kind...) and to see them help teach the other something they've already learned.

Freedom! We are not tied to anyone else's schedule. We don't have to spend a lot of time in the car dropping off and picking up. We can vacation whenever we want to (which is nice because we live in Alaska so far away from family!) If it's a really nice day, we can spend most of it outside! The days are ours for the taking and it's nice to have that freedom.

It's certainly not all rainbows and butterflies. There's the issue of the house being in a constant state of clutter! It's very demanding to keep up with everything and try to juggle it all.

Sometimes the little girls are wanting more attention or someone's sick, and like I said, it's just a never-ending game of juggling. There are constant interruptions; diaper changing, wiping bums, spilled drinks, problems with the dog, etc. etc. It can be exhausting and overwhelming, and some days I wish I could just ship them all off so I can sit down, or maybe clean the house and leave it clean for like, more than 1 minute. But I also see how that is a very minor issue, in comparison with the larger picture. It just takes a lot of reminding myself, and never rest :).

Boredom. Tyler especially is usually wanting someone to play with him. Perhaps if he had a brother close to him, it'd be different. But his sisters usually play dolls and stuff together, which he's not a fan of. He doesn't like when I have so much regualar housework to do. He thinks I should be able to give him all the one-on-one time he wants. But obviously that's not possible.. He does get a lot of time from me, but he's one of four kids (5 when we babysit 3-4 days a week) and there's many demands of keeping house that he doesn't get. He's very social, and also very competitive. So I can see how going to "normal school" (as he calls it) would be a lot of fun for him. And we're working on getting him into a good school. They just do it by lottery draw here and so far we haven't been picked. We'll re-evaluate next year and see what the best decision is for him individually. He will turn 8 halfway through the school year next year, so I feel good about sending him at that age.

The next post will be on HOW we run our homeschool.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013


We had fun last week with a few pre-halloween activities. We carved pumpkins for FHE activity on Monday. They each got to design their own faces, except for Kelsey of course. She didn't really want much to do with the pumpkins at all.

And on Saturday, though we really didn't have time for it, we went downtown and went trick-or-treating to a bunch of participating stores. It was only for about an hour, and that was enough :). Kenny had taken Ty and Bryn swimming at the YMCA right before we left, and Tyler was the only one who could hurry and get into his costume without any help. So he's the only one who dressed up. Poor kids, if only their mom didn't dislike Halloween so much... anyway it was fun to be with the Reeds. We don't seem them much anymore since we changed wards, and Tyler wanted to get together with a friend, so we called and made a plan.

There was some costume confusion that was frustrating for Ty. You see, I haven't yet been able to find the box with our coats in it. The little girls have theirs, but I can't for the life of me find Tyler's, mine, or Kenny's coats. So Tyler was dressed as a ninja, sword and all. However, the only thing he had to stay warm was his fireman rain coat. People kept asking if he was a fireman or a ninja, or a fireman-ninja? Poor kid.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

A Closer Look

I haven't talked about each of us individually in a long time, so here's a little update.

Kelsey- Coming up on 20 months! She's growing up so fast and is quite the little ham. She likes to make everyone laugh and enjoys the attention. Her hair is finally starting to grow more so she doesn't look so much like a boy (as the kids always say). Except I think it's going to be curly like Bryn's, which right now means it just sort of flips out every which way and makes her look a little bit crazy. Funny wings flipping out behind her ears. I think it's adorable though. Her eating dramatically improved overnight, it seemed. She just decided she could relinquish a little control, and maybe her life wasn't so bad after all. So she now eats everything we're eating (not in large quantities though) and it sure makes my life a lot easier. I stressed about her nutrition a lot before, and now I can relax. She doesn't talk very clearly, but she repeats us for scriptures every night and can say everybody's names really cute. She's very obsessed with animals and can do pretty much any animal sound that I know. She loves books still, and is always trying to keep up with her big sisters.

Madison- Nearly 3 years old, and I know I've said it before, but she's very big and "old" for her age. She is just the cutest little girl, with a thick build still :). Kenny and I agree that she is so far our most stubborn 2 year old. Not that she's always rotten, but of all the kids she will be defiant for the longest, without budging at all. She does not compromise, and she does not like to back down on whatever position she is taking. If you do something, she will un-do it, and then do it again by herself. It presents its challenges but overall she has a very sweet demeanor. She remembers the funniest movie quotes and pulls them out at appropriate times which has us all laughing. She is often singing, and it' so cute to hear her little voice. Probably my favorite song she sings is "You are so beautiful to me", the way Alfalfa does it on Little Rascals. :)

Brynlee- is still a giggly, silly, happy little girl. She is in the 5 year old gymnastics class and is so happy in there. We still struggle with her staying focused and following directions, in class and at home, but we're working on it. I homeschool her along with Ty, and she's very different to teach than Tyler. I have to exercise a lot more patience, and continually find way to make things into a game, and make it fun. Otherwise she completely checks out and is impossible to teach. She is a smart girl, but she just wants to have fun, so we have to improvise. And that's okay. I just can't get stuck in the thinking that the way I was taught in public school is the way everyone should be taught at every age. I have to remind myself too, she's still pre-school age. She also loves books, dressing up, playing dolls and playing make-believe anything with Madi. She did a great job in her primary program today and recited her line perfectly. She was nervous to go up there but once she knew that daddy and I would watch her the whole time she decided it would be alright.

Tyler- My big boy is in 1st grade this year, but still homeschooled. We tried to get him into a charter school (I don't remember if I've mentioned this before) but it's done on a lottery draw and we were not very lucky. So we were put on a waiting list and made our way up as people chose different schools, etc. Anyway we're now #10 on the list, so that will roll-over to next year and he'll be able to go to "real school" as he calls it. I love having him at home though. He's a joy to teach, a great student, and very helpful too. He sets a really good example for his sisters to follow which always makes my job easier. I have to be careful to not ask him to do too much, because he already takes his responsibilities so seriously, and holds himself to such a high standard. His most favorite things in the world are art, science, and soccer. He is doing soccer and gymnastics right now which is fun for him to be with other kids his age, and respond to a different authority. He's currently obsessed with drawing monsters and has the most creative imagination--no two monsters are alike. We sure go through a lot of paper with that boy. He gave a short talk in the primary program today and did a great job. He really loves being in the spotlight and after the practice yesterday he told me, "I can't wait to get up in front of all those people and read my talk!"

Me- I am happy, healthy, and terrific! (dad :)) I feel like life never slows down to get a break, but it's the best kind of busy I can imagine. I'm happy to be the one at home, teaching and nurturing these sweet spirits. Today I got called and set apart as a Young Womens Advisor. I'm happy to be back in the young womens program, but with not such a heavy responsibility :). I also babysit Anja 3-4 days a week. She's 10 months old so it does add more challenges to my busy days, especially when she gets dropped off at 6:1but it's good for me too. I was telling Kenny how it's always helpful to do something hard, because when I only have my 4 kids, I feel much more free and capable. Whereas before I felt overwhelmed trying to go anywhere with them. Now that I have to occasionally do it with 5 little ones, I feel like my "normal" life is a lot easier! :) So that's a bonus. We're still not done emptying out the storage unit and getting everything set up here at home. We still can't park the cars in the garage, but it's coming. And every day we make a little progress and get that much closer to a "normal" workload of cleaning and house keep-up. I'm struggling balancing all the things I feel are so important in my life and making time for each of them. I really enjoy working out and realize how necessary that is (especially with this added weight I can't seem to get rid of). I also know that reading my scriptures in the morning is an absolute MUST, and I'm trying to continue to learn and grow through reading. So I'm always reading something. I don't just mean those quick, mindless, fun-story novels. I mean like really reading to learn. I just can't get it all in. Either I read or I work out, but I can't seem to do both and I don't know how to reconcile that. I'll keep trying to find a way, but any suggestions are welcome.

Kenny- This guy continues to impress me with how hard he works. He's putting in a lot of hours and keeping it all together. He also got called and set apart as the Elders Quorum President today. I thought it was so cool how the Stake Pres. said in his setting apart that he was foreordained to this calling, and that he has a work to do here. I think he will do a great job and am glad he can use his talents to bless others lives. Weekends are anything but fun and relaxing. It's more like, Kenny's home so I pull out this massive to-do list and we try to tackle as much as we can! But he's very helpful and a good sport about it. He built the other units stairs on the back deck this weekend, and they look great! I'm amazed at his handy-man skills. I need to take a pic of them.

Well that's about all for us Westons. Our days are quickly growing darker and colder and we're gearing up for another long winter. Life is good. :)

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Favorites From Our Week

Soccer season is back for Ty! He's thrilled about it. We tried to sign Brynlee up too, but I was not quick enough and there were no more spots left, so she's on a waiting list. Bummer. It would have been at the same time, and same place which is always convenient. Anyway so this is where we spend Tues. and Thurs. evenings. Entertaining these 3 for an hour, and keeping Kelsey off the field isn't exactly my idea of a good time, but it's okay.  

This was one of my instagram photos. Ty's so sweet to read to his sisters when I'm busy. This was right when she woke up and wanted a book. She loves her books.

 Whenever it's not raining, we go to the park down the street and go for a walk on the nice trails there, too. We love the beautiful colors of the leaves. We've had some pretty big wind storms that blew them all off the trees though :)

On Wednesday we decided to forget about all that we had to do for a few hours and headed out for some sunshine. We went to Potter's Marsh first. I wanted to stop there all summer, and for some reason we never got to it, even though it's just right off the freeway and not too far away. So there's not very many birds there anymore to see (it's a really big bird-viewing area). Nonetheless they loved running up and down the huge boardwalk.

Ty and Bryn would run way ahead and these two tried their darndest to keep up. Madi hollered out, "Wait up guys! This is the only fast I can go! I'm just a widdle girl!"

We then continued up along my favorite drive in the whole world. Seriously. No matter the season, this stretch of road from Anchorage down to Girdwood is my most favorite. We stopped at Beluga Point (again, we love it there) and the kids just love climbing on all the rocks, throwing stuff in the water and feeling like they're on top of the world :)

Friday night Kenny and I got to go to the temple together! We switched off babysitting with the Sponsellers so we could each have a temple date. We enjoyed having David and Alina over the next morning. Alina is only about a month old and it sure makes me baby hungry having that sweet angel around. Kenny commented on how I was in heaven snuggling that sweet babe.

Also on Saturday the fence guys finished fencing in our backyard! It's very nice to have that done. Also, Kenny worked really hard building 2 steps on our back deck. Before it was like a 2.5 - 3 ft. drop, now you can walk down steps :). It's much safer for everyone, and it looks nice too. What a handy man!

This next picture is from our Sunday evening walk today. I sure run out of thing to do to keep these kids busy on Sunday! But it's been a great week!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

We're In!

As you can see I've been playing catch up on this ol' blog. That means we have a computer, which means we are in our new house!!  I mentioned how we had come to look at it on Sunday and were so upset by what we saw. Well we took pics of everything and came home and I wrote an e-mail to someone higher up to let them know what was going on. I knew we weren't going to get any results with the ladies we had been working with up until then, and I wasn't messing around anymore. Monday morning AS I'm driving over to the title company to meet Kenny and sign our closing documents, I get a phone call from the building company. It wasn't a pleasant conversation (for her), as I was tired of this whole thing and was pretty forceful and noticeably upset by it all. Anyway, we finally got some results. She sent some guys in to clean it all up and fix everything they should have already done. We went that night to see it and it was so nice--just how it should have been at first.

So Tuesday morning bright and early we woke the kids up around 6 and had everything ready to go in the van. Anja got dropped off at 6:15 and we came over here to what was officially our house. Kenny helped me put the couches in (which is a whole funny story in itself) and a few other things then he went to work. Our appliances didn't come AGAIN on the day they were supposed to, and didn't end up getting there till Wednesday afternoon. Not so fun living without a fridge, I will say that. Or a W&D. Our family produces a lot of laundry rather quickly. But we finally are in and trying to get everything settled. We have a lot less space than we're used to. The unit is 1450 square feet, which is pretty tight and cozy for our family. But we've talked about it a lot and it'll be good for us to really learn to simplify, and distinguish wants and needs, getting rid of "extras". We will learn to live on the essentials and not worry about anything else. I don't mind doing that, it's just hard when we're now trying to get rid of stuff we already have, but literally have no room for it. I feel like I'm being wasteful. We're also entertaining the idea of keeping things in our garage (like the piano) and just turning the heat up in the garage so it's like an extra room out there. But it means Kenny would never be able to park in the garage, and that's not very fun with the amount of snow we get and how cold it is. Anyway, it's a work in progress and I feel like it's all coming along. We were finally able to make some visible difference this weekend since Kenny had Friday and Sat. off. We knocked a lot off of our to-do list and now everyone has a bed to sleep in, and even blinds on their windows! All the girls are in one room, and Ty is in the other. Except we have misplaced the bag of screws that goes along with the bunk bed, so their already small room is even more cramped with the beds we have in there. Oh the silly little things. It's so discouraging to think of how much *stuff* we still have in the storage unit. WHERE oh where are we going to put it?!

Also, our van decided this would be a good week to break down. We've been looking around casually for a while, sort of waiting for a good deal, but not in a rush to buy. But once it was too scary to drive, and we didn't have the luxury of time, Kenny really worked hard at finding a good car for our family. He said we were not going to put any more money into that van that already had 165,000 miles on it and was continually having problems. So time that should have and could have been spent unpacking and setting up house, turned into driving around town to dealerships and other people that put their cars up for sale on craigslist. But he persevered and found a nice 2008 Honda Odyssey with about 60,000 miles on it. That might sound like a lot to some people, but I've never had a car with less than 100,000 miles, so it's really nice for me! :) We were grateful to find a great car in the price range we wanted.

We found a nice young family that's going to rent out the other side, and they're moving in tomorrow. They have a cute little 2 yr. old boy and though I haven't met the husband yet (he works on the slope), the wife is great.

I really, really enjoyed conference this weekend. I am grateful for Sunday, this day of rest, where we took a break from working so hard and just relaxed together as a family, ate cinnamon rolls, and listened to the inspiring messages. We had dinner this evening at the Sponsellers, which we always love.

We are excited to get on a consistent schedule and get back into the swing of things!

2 Weeks In Wasilla

Stayed at Louden's house in Wasilla, AK from Aug. 30th. to Sep. 13th 
The kids loved having so much room to run around outside and explore in the forest. They loved catching frogs and all kinds of bugs, finding new and cool mushrooms, playing in the horseshoe pit, playing swords with sticks and random poles, and making fires in the burn barrel. That's how we took care of all of our trash while we were there, just burned it. Tyler especially thought that was the coolest thing ever.

This is how we slept while there. 

There was a nice huge room downstairs to play ball in when it was raining!

We had gone shoe shopping one day for the little girls but Ty found some cool shoes he wanted. I didn't really think about the fact that they had laces until we got home and he said, "what are these things for"? haha. I had always bought him Velcro shoes so we wouldn't have to worry about it. But I guess it was time to learn. He caught on after only showing him a couple times and it was super easy. Sometimes it's nice to wait till they're older and able to learn quicker :)

Stayed up late one night with mom and dad. She's such a sweetie.

Have parks almost to ourselves now that school has started. One of the perks of homeschooling I guess.

A Few More From August

The last time we played at "OSP"-Our special place before moving

She is into lining things up and organizing shoes :)

Poor Jake trying to sleep and Kelsey just can't leave him alone

Watching AFV together :)

Kelsey being a big helper and helping daddy take down her crib

Oh this was so sad. Poor Brynlee hurt her foot super bad. She and Tyler were chasing each other and she rammed her foot into the corner of our bed. I thought she just jammed her toe and was acting more hurt from being tired. But the next morning she really couldn't walk on it, and it was SO swollen and bruised. I was pretty sure it was fractured. But I wanted to wait a few days to see. She would hop on one foot, or I would carry her around the house. It was a bad week for us. The same week we miscarried and moved out of our house.  So it was sort of tough to get her into the doctor. But it ended up healing on its own, even though for several weeks she could only wear certain shoes because it still hurt to put pressure on her toes. But she would go to gymnastics, run and jump on it etc. So I knew she would be okay.

Hiking Date--August 2nd

Back on Friday, Aug. 2nd we traded babysitting again with the Reeds and went on a date. We decided to go hiking, since we'd never actually made it to the top of Flattop Mtn. We've done it twice, both times with kids. And once you get to a certain point, you're just clambering over rocks and boulders, no trails. So it's not easy for little kids, but we wanted to try it. So we went and finally made it to the top! :) It was a really fun night. I always enjoy hanging out with my best friend, and of course it's so nice to have it be just the two of us.