Monday, March 27, 2017


I am about to drop a bomb.

It's something that no one would expect to hear from me...then again, maybe one would...or hope to. I am really not sure. Because the one thing I always thought was clear about people I know is that they are either Supporters or Opponents. But the funny thing is, I've learned that's not true. There are Supporters and Opponents but there are also Questioners and Indifferents.

Also, sometimes Supporters and Opponents switch roles depending on circumstances.

Questioners can be a type to themselves (just enjoying watching people fumble to answer pointed inquiries while having no vested interest) or they can be a sub-type under Supporter (gaining more info to share in your joy/understand your hurt) or Opponent (thinks you could not have possibly thought of all the things they have because you are so very, very wrong).

All four of these types and sub-types of people are important, necessary even! They help shape and define a person. They encourage, exhort, refine, and mold.

How would I ever have courage to try new things without my Supporters?

How would I learn to defend my point of view without being challenged by my Opponents?

Would I be motivated to learn all the information without my Questioners?'re there, that's great, whatever.

Here's my news.

I'm sending a kid to school.

Supporters, thank you.
Opponents, chances are I already know you disagree.
Former Supporters turned Opponents, it's already done so save it.
Former Opponents turned's just one kid. I'm still a homeschooler. So there.

Questioners, here's your conundrum. See, one thing I have always struggled with in my life is being an "explainer". I have always felt an incessant need to describe and explain any and every decision I make to whomever asks. Whether it affects them or not. I am not good at deciphering the honestly interested from the sneaky subversive. Not to mention, it drives Hubby crazy! So  I'm not really going to answer your questions very much at all.

Indifferents, why are you still reading this?

Here is what I will offer Supporters, Opponents, and Questioners of any sort. I will tell you what it is NOT.

This is not because I am tired of homeschooling. I still love it. I am still keeping four kids home.

This is not because of challenging behaviour. I enjoy spending time with this child and I am going to miss her during the day. We have a lot of fun together!

This is not because of a lack of motivation or direction. This child is more focused and goal driven than most adults I know.

This is not because of floundering academics. In fact, the school has placed her in the academic program due to her current overall average.

This is not because of convenience. Nothing convenient about it.

This is not because our beliefs, values, or opinions have changed in any way.

Most importantly, this is not about you. And that's really all you have to know.

Indifferents, it's really not about you.

So before you come at me with all those interrogative sentences and horror stories, realize you'll get nowhere. I have asked and answered all the questions already. There is nothing you can come up with that I haven't thought of over the past decade-plus of homeschooling. For every dramatic homeschool or public school epilogue of some kid gone wrong, I have an equal and opposite example.

We have covered all the bases. Crossed the t's and dotted the i's. Gotten our ducks in a row.

We have prayed.

We are happy, excited, and sure.

So, Supporters, thank you.
Opponents, it's okay to disagree. I love you anyway.
Former Supporters, I hope we can still be friends.
Former Opponents, there's still plenty to argue about.
Indifferents, I'm starting to think you actually care.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Bedtime Stories

Every night my boys ask for a story. Sometimes I read to them and sometimes I prefer to make up my own stories. Most of the time I want my stories to have some sort of moral significance. Last night as I walked into their bedroom, wading through the toys, clothing, and linens to their beds I had a lot of time to think of one. Here it is:

Once upon a time there was a mom. She was a great mom. She was loving and kind a patient. She doted on her boys as if it were her only pleasure.  She cooked fabulous meals, cleaned the house from top to bottom, and her laundry looked as though it had come from the dry cleaner. She read stories, made beautiful crafts, and baked as if it were the year 1820. 

The boys ever had to worry about cleaning up after themselves or remembering where they had put something or even making their own lunch from time to time. She did it all. She was truly the perfect  mother. 

One day, both boys found themselves beautiful and sweet women to marry. They had grown to be loving, kind, and gentle men. Their wives were smitten with them. Their first years of marriage were glorious! Soon enough they were blessed with children. But one day these women seemed to change. They weren't perfect like the boys' mother. They expected the boys to do things. Things like cooking, cleaning, laundry, and helping with the children.  The boys could not understand what was wrong with their wives. These women were certainly not perfect like their mother. They told them so. The next day their wives left them. 

The end. 

The Buddies looked at me with blank stares. So I asked them this question; 
"Do you want to be happily married one day?"

They did. 

"Then I suppose you're glad I am not the perfect mother. Clean your room." 

The end.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015


I hesitated to write this post. I was ashamed to admit the truth. But then I thought, maybe I could help someone with the same problem! Maybe I could be an inspiration of some sort! Maybe I could...

Wait. Let me begin properly...

Hi. My name is Traci...and I am an Unschooler.

Well, I was. Some may think that Unschooling can never be cured without 12 step programs and such, that anyone who Unschools is just in a constant state of recovery. But I am happy to say that's not true! Let me explain.

It all started two years ago when Hubby got hurt. At first, I could handle the pressure. I mean, I could shower my spouse and teach my kids math at the same time, no problem. However, after he had been off work for several months and the bank account started dwindling the pressure mounted. I took my first step toward the problem. I applied for work. Thankfully, I wasn't hired until early Spring so most of our lessons were already complete. I managed. 

In August, Hubby had recovered and I had worked all summer. I was ready to begin school. Excited even! Then, our house flooded, majorly. Like, "you will have to live in a trailer in your driveway while we rip out half of your main living space"  majorly. After moving the majority of our belongings into our dining room which also served as our classroom, filling out mountains of paperwork, spending hours on the phone with insurance adjusters, having to make Home Depot runs for contractors in the middle of the day, and still having to work to build back up our finances, I cracked. I took the final leap into the abyss that is Unschooling.

Having succumbed to the lifestyle, my behaviour became unseemly. I started doing shocking things like checking out library books that appealed to my child's interest only without superfluous information that he would forget later anyway. I turned to Youtube and Netflix for frivolous things such as documentaries and worse, TedTalks. What kind of mother exposes her highschooler to realities like Hitler and Nazi Germany?! Unschoolers do. Shocked? Keep reading.

I started taking the kids out in public to inappropriate places like the grocery store only to reinforce unusable skills like math, budgeting, and the completely unacceptable past-time, frugality! We were frequent visitors to the local science center and museums. These places of ill repute only support the habit. All of the children were allowed to consort with undesirables, notably the sort close to their own ages, taking part in questionable rituals like league hockey. I also stooped to taking music lessons. Not just me either, all of the kids too. I forced them to practice. By the end they knew about clefs, notes, timing, rhythm, and even diction. No shame! I. had. no. shame.

Not only was my conduct affected by this horrible habitude, I saw a change in the children. My oldest started *choke* working. Yes, she started getting up at ungodly, 8:00 a.m. just to learn an inconsequential industry; farming. She wasted so much time caring for reprobate animals like alpacas and baby chicks. She fritted away hours collecting eggs, driving tractors, and herding sheep. She learned how to work hard and be responsible. I feel sick just thinking about it. What's worse, she actually got paid to do it and her employers were so hideously impressed with her work ethic that they left the entire farm in her charge while they were out of the country! The child is only 14!!! I hope she can find it in her heart to forgive me one day.

If that weren't sad enough, my second oldest fell into the same trap. She started babysitting. Saddled with two little ruffians who expected her to participate unbecoming activities like make-overs and playing with Saint Bernard puppies. She was miserable, I could tell. It didn't help that the entire time she was assisting a neighbour in need. Do you see what Unschooling can lead to? Compassion, that's what.

As I recall my decent into Unschooling it is hard to hold back the tears that so violently threaten to burst from my eyes. Difficult to swallow the sobs that want so desperately to push past the enormous lump in my throat. But I must continue my confession. The truth shall set me free.

My three youngest children were not immune to my failure as a mother. My youngest girl has struggled her whole life with dyslexia. I completely neglected to give her phonics drills and make her read curriculum-required material. You know, I read that the best way to teach dyslexics is through games and the best time to do it is during school breaks when there is little pressure to perform. But these quacks who put out this propaganda are only educational therapists. What do they know?! Just because it worked and she can read now proves nothing!

The Buddies were forced to grow up way too fast. Only being nine, I made them clean up after themselves and even others! They were expected to do yard work and make their own sandwiches. They learned how to use measuring cups and spoons, how to load a dishwasher and washing machine and I actually asked them to put soap in and start them. None of the kids were exempt from doing their own laundry or helping with meals. Can you understand my guilt?!

I hit rock bottom in April. Having dealt with my problem for nearly 8 months I tried to run away from it, pretend I hadn't squandered my children's education for two-thirds of a year. I decided we needed to take a vacation. I made my husband and children drive from North Eastern Ontario all the way to Central Florida. They had never been out of the bush and I should have kept it that way. This world can be a horrible influence. I wish I had sheltered them from the cruel exposure. They saw awful things like green grass BEFORE May. They were forced to speak to contemptible people like border security guards and Americans. They were coerced to scrounge for food in back-alley establishments like Cracker Barrel. The only semi-educational things we did were learning how to read maps, familiarizing ourselves with the local ecosystem, exploring the coastline and sea life, and taking one insignificant field trip to a citrus grove. So, basically nothing. The straw that broke the camel's back, what made me realize I needed help was when one of my children became so enamoured with a particular stop on the trip that she declared she wanted to live there when she grew up. We were in Buffalo.

My wonderful, patient, kind husband was so supportive of me during my departure from sanity. He would always lovingly and gently remind me that one day I would return to the Speed Drilling Science Nerd Grammar Nazi my family knew and hated. I didn't believe him but you know what?  I have been delivered. Hallelujah, I am a Homeschooler once again! We started with a full curriculum and 8 hour days exactly in time with the public school system. I have given 3 geography quizzes, 2 spelling tests, and 4 science assignments already. I have CD ROMs and spreadsheets for grading.

I just hope that one day my children can block their one year of Unschooling from their memories and live full and happy lives quoting multiplication tables and correcting other peoples' grammar.

Monday, July 6, 2015

The Devil's in the Details

This past week I found myself having a conversation I've never had before. After I had the conversation I thought it odd that I had never had it before. Then I was thankful I had never had it before because it was exhausting. Then I thought I should write it down so if I had to have it again I wouldn't have to. Make sense? No? Let me explain.

Since I discovered my youngest girl has dyslexia (you can read about that here) I've been fighting a bit of a battle. A battle not only teaching her to read but also a battle with those who haven't been completely convinced that dyslexia is a real thing. I'll admit, my struggle has been light. Most of those who surround me are very supportive and understanding and for that I am thankful.

Last year I read a book that allowed me to see inside the mind of a person with dyslexia. The Gift of Dyslexia gave me a clear picture of what, or rather how my girl thinks. I read it aloud to her and she told me certainly and firmly that the man who wrote the book (a dyslexic himself) knew her struggle. I have done much research and spent many hours figuring out the method of teaching that works for her. I am happy to say, she can read. Not quickly, not perfectly, but she is officially literate.

So, it was asked of me this past week what it was like to teach her to read. I had never been asked that before so when I launched into the explanation I didn't fully realize how long it would take. I know for sure and certain that not all who are affected by dyslexia are not the same so my account may not match everyone's experience but for those who are interested, this is it:

My girl only ever thought in pictures, not words. Letters were arbitrary and not connected to anything she recognized. As I mentioned in my earlier post, at 5 years old she had trouble singing the alphabet song so that was the first thing we worked on mastering. It. Took. Forever. But she finally got it!

Then I had to introduce the concept that the little song had a string of shapes to go along with it and they were called letters. We laid our alphabet strip out on the floor and sang the song over and over while we pointed at each corresponding picture. It took a while and I thought she had it until I laid the cards down disordered and asked her to find the letters as she sang. It only resulted in tears.

After what seemed a long while, she finally got it. Then I had to teach her that all those shapes were only the capital letters, that each of those shapes had a corresponding lowercase "partner". When she somewhat understood that concept I now had to teach her that each of those not only had names and two different shapes, they also had sounds and not necessarily just one sound. I became very familiar with the "blank stare".

After we got through this part I then had to explain that when different groups of this shapes were put together they could make different sounds and not necessarily the sounds that she had already learned. We weaved through the maze of consonant blends and diagraphs, vowel rules, and rule breakers, soft and hard sounds, and the most confusing of all: the silent letters. Amongst all this she had to learn to write all of these crazy things down. b's and d's, p's and q's, balls and sticks, sticks and balls, to her, a jumbled blur.

For most reading this, it seems unremarkable. One may not have thought of learning to read in such detail but would think, "Of course, that's how everyone learns to read. Everyone must decipher exactly the same codes." But the detail IS the difference. A dyslexic must think of it in that much detail because it takes that much concentration and effort to learn to read....and time. Many will accomplish all of these tasks almost simultaneously with ease by the age of 5 or 6. My girl will be 11 in September.

When I began teaching I asked my mother what it was like when I learned to read. I was in public school at that time so she said she honestly didn't know but it was like I went to school one day and could read the next, like it took very little effort. She recounted the same experience for herself. As I described to her what I just described in this post, she was overwhelmed at the detail. In her words, "I know all of that, but I've never had to THINK about it."  She hit the proverbial nail on the head.

All of this can be distressing and daunting for both the student and teacher but not uncommon. In all my reading and research I have found so many encouraging and uplifting stories. One of a U.S. Supreme Court Judge who graduated from law school and passed the Bar by having her husband help her read and write her school assignments. An accomplished dyslexic author who started writing with the help of his mother before the "talk to text" computer feature came out in our blessed generation and so many more!

I would encourage those who still have a difficult time understanding dyslexia or even questioning if it is a real thing to watch this short video explaining it. Understanding makes all the difference.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

It Is Not My Fault

My Darling Child,

I love you. I love you more than I could ever express in words...or emoticons. 😘😍❤️ I see so much of me in you as every parent does of their own child. Sometimes I see the good but, if I am to be honest, most often the bad is what glares at me from your temperamental pubescent eyes.

 Oh, I am well aware of my short comings, faults, and inconsistencies as a parent. I will have been aware of them a long time before you decide to point them out to me during an act of defiance or anger. Don't forget I am as new at being a parent of a child your age as you are at being a child your age. I am learning, trying, and growing at the same rate you are.

But I am far more educated than you at being your age. I was there already. I haven't forgotten what it's like. You see, each year on my birthday, instead of making a wish as I blew out my candles, I made myself a promise instead. I promised myself I would not forget what it was like to be the age I was that year. Each time I suffered an "injustice" from my parents or another authoritarian, each time a friend wronged me or a crush broke my heart I renewed my promise to myself to not forget exactly what it felt like. Why? So I could help you when I saw you experience the same thing.

In your short life I have already recalled my promise more times than you know. More times than I care to admit. I have advocated for you both overtly and silently through whispered prayers and closed-door conversations. I can do that. I can help you. But that is all I can do. I cannot make your choices for you.

I have watched you try to navigate this new stage of your life. You're not doing that bad of a job, really. Sometimes I have been pretty impressed with the maturity of your decisions. Sometimes I shake my head and wonder how many of them I could blame on your father's genes.

I have watched you end friendships on your own because of the poor influence you instinctively knew they were having on you. I have also seen you put forth twice as much effort to avoid an unpleasant situation than it would have taken just to deal with it head-on.  I have witnessed you bravely standing for what is right then turn right around and try to hide truth to avoid trouble.

When you were small,  you were asked if you excited for the Easter Bunny or Santa or the tooth fairy to come. Because you were sweet and because we taught you to be polite, you would quietly nod and smile rather than making that person feel uncomfortable for asking even though you never believed in any of them. Now that you've grown, you sometimes buy into the lie that kindness is mistaken for weakness. Kindness, my Dear, is strength, especially in the face of adversity. People who would have you believe differently are just lazy. Honey, don't be lazy.

While I was growing up I listened, a lot. I was sly, playing the part of the kid who never shut up so adults wouldn't realize I was hanging on their conversations, retaining almost every word being said. I was figuring out who I admired, who I wanted to be like, what was normal, how I should act, think, feel. One habit I formed from listening to some of these conversations was judging people's parenting  based on how their older teenage or adult children turned out. Then I realized that is a filthy, disgusting habit.  Don't ever do that. Picking your nose would be preferable--but don't do that either.

In my adulthood I have continued my sly behaviour of quietly observing everything everyone who I may eventually decide to admire does. You know what I've noticed? Two, three, four children all raised in the same home with identical values, beliefs, and rules turn out differently. Why? Choice.

You see, I can guide you. I can teach you. I could even try to force you to submit to my will. But even God doesn't do that to His children (and He totally could). You have a will. You have a choice.

Listen to me. Choose wisely. For every decision you make, for better or for worse, will be your own. Only you can be congratulated or blamed.

.......and possibly paternity.

Friday, August 1, 2014

The Buggy-Do's

I am about to send my oldest daughter half a world away. Just the thought fills me with equal amounts of excitement and terror. This girl has always been very independent. As soon as she learned to talk she's been adamant about doing things for herself. We affectionately called her "Buggy" from birth which is what she assumed was her name and so, in order to assert her little 2 year-old independence, she would constantly run around shouting, "Buggy do!!" From pouring her own "mornin' soup" (cereal) to putting on her own "baby soup" to go in the "swimmin' cool" she insisted that, "Buggy-do!" So, now, when any of the kids decides to assert their perceived self-sufficiency Hubby and I look at each other, smile and say, "Another case of the Buggy-Do's."

While her autonomy was encouraging to her pregnant mother it was also a wee bit scary since she has always been...well, easily distracted. Like the time she insisted on walking through WalMart's parking lot unassisted during an airshow. After multiple warnings about paying attention to her surroundings she did just that. She watched the sky very carefully while she walked directly in front of a car.

My girl has had a burden for foreign missions for quite some time. Two years ago she came home from summer camp and announced her intention to one day travel to and possibly live and minister in Rio Muni (the Continental Region of Equatorial Guinea). Hubby has had great fun teasing her about eating bugs and asking if there's room in Rooney Mooney for our tent trailer when we come to visit (which translates to, "I don't think I can let my baby go.") But none of his ribbing deters her from her plans.

So as I pondered what to tell her as she embarks on this first semi-solo (she's traveling with family friends) adventure, having the ultimate case of the Buggy-Do's, I sought to impart some invaluable motherly wisdom on my first born.

I thought first to tell her to be humble. I realized, however, that would be unnecessary. Humbleness will come naturally. She will be serving in a foreign country of which she's only read about, surrounded by a language she doesn't know under seasoned missionaries. No, there would be no wisdom in that directive, only redundancy.

I thought next to tell her to be a servant. But that too is irrelevant. She is a natural born servant. This particular child has never shirked any duty. Opting to take on others' responsibilities to make things easier rather than only handle her own. Constant requests have always met with, "Yes, Mom!" No, servitude is not a weak point that needs to be addressed.

Then I thought to tell her to be flexible. However, growing up in this family has left her with little option. After surprise siblings, job strikes, a few moves, some family turmoil and loss, sicknesses and surgeries, she's had to adapt to new situations again and again. No, flexibility is nothing new.

I could think of only one thing to tell her. The one with every person in the world has trouble with at one point or another. One thing she has ultimate control over: be teachable.

Accept correction knowing that you will make mistakes. It's not an insult, its a learning experience. Be teachable.

Don't roll your eyes or sigh thinking you know what you are doing. You don't. Be teachable.

Don't shy away from asking questions but expect answers you weren't necessarily prepared to hear. Seek knowledge, gain wisdom. Be teachable.

Realize that those who have been there and done that want you to be there and do that without making the same errors they did. They desire your success. Be teachable.

So, my independent, humble, serving, flexible daughter. Be teachable...and don't drink the water.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Puppy Prayers

I didn't want another dog. My husband and I have had dogs ever since we were married, many, many dogs. Our first was a black Lab named Ani. Hubby had equal amounts of love and hate for her. She was clumsy and dumb and annoying and completely lovable. She died the same day as my oldest was born. Mid-contraction we received a phone call informing us that Ani was hit by the school bus. It was devastating. Usually bringing a baby home for the first time makes your house seem fuller, ours did not. As happy as we were, there was something glaringly missing. Mix the loss of a pet with post-pregnancy hormones....let's just say my husband is a kind, kind man.

While pregnant with my second born, my uncle asked us to take in his American Staffordshire Terrier (a member of the "pit bull" family). We were apprehensive to take Malibu in because of the stereotype. He turned out to be a 65 pound slobbering, stinky, wimpy, completely lovable pup...with separation anxiety. When we went out one night he climbed up on a dresser and jumped out a screened window.

After Malibu passed we decided we were done with dogs until the neighbors' little mutt decided he liked our house better than his own. Nicky showed up on our front porch one morning when it was 40 below 0. had gone AWOL on his owners during their morning walk and they couldn't get him home before they had to leave for work. I let Nicky in and he slept in my warm kitchen until his "family" returned. When we brought him home they asked if we would just like to keep him. We politely declined. That summer we noticed him constantly sitting at the fence between our properties staring longingly at the children as they played in the backyard. He dug a hole under that fence and let himself right in one day. We brought him back and had a chuckle. The next day he did it again and we returned him..again. This went on for about a week. The last day Hubby tried to return him he had to pick him up and carry the dog like a baby. I had been a work and was driving home when I got a phone call that started with, "I know you don't want a dog but....."

In December our little Nicky was so sick we had to make the difficult decision to put him down and again we made the declaration we were done being "dog people." In fact, Hubby and I would talk so much about how we enjoyed being dogless it became as if we were just trying to convince ourselves.

I would scan the free classifieds every so often and my eyes would just fall to the "free to good home" section. I would look away and reprimand myself for being so silly.

"I have enough on my plate! I don't need an added responsibility...they're so much trouble." And so would go my internal dialogue.

I have been taught since I was little that nothing it too silly to pray about. So, I prayed, basically giving God a list of my preferences and saying if HE wanted me to have a dog He would have to fulfill them. I didn't want a puppy because I have no time for training. It had to be a smaller dog because our house is pretty crowded already. I absolutely did not want to PAY for one because I'm cheap. It had to be fixed already and have its shots because...I'm cheap. I did not want to acquire a dog whose previous owners and history were unknown to me. Finally, it would have to be "dropped in my lap".

Yesterday, as I was about to leave for work, I noticed my boss standing in my driveway talking to Hubby. (We're neighbors, it's nothing creepy). I met them there and Hubby greeted me with, "Want a dog?" I looked down and saw the cutest full-grown but small, house trained, neutered, vaccinated, FREE, friend-owned Pomeranian IN MY DRIVEWAY.

Folks, God does answer prayer. Quite specifically sometimes.

I told her I'd take the dog (at least for a trial run) but I was going to be late for work if I didn't leave right then. She told me, ""Oh, you better move it or else!"

I should have asked her, "Or else what? You'll dock me a dog?"