Can Everyone Just Calm the Hell Down? – Holiday Edition

Ha. I wanted to type something else in the title of this post, but decided to keep it PG.

I’m a part of quite a few homeschooling/parenting groups on FB. And normally, they’re a great place for support, but every once in awhile, I just want to scream “CAN WE ALL JUST CALM THE #$%@ DOWN?!” There was a huge discussion on one of the groups about whether or not to teach your kids to believe in Santa Claus, and if you decide not to, how to handle conversations with other kids that do.

I, for one, think this conversation is really…unnecessary. And frankly, I have enough unnecessary conversations a day with an inquisitive seven year old who wants to know everything about everything.

Yet somehow…I feel a need to comment (ah, the modern age, where everyone feels entitled to share their opinion regardless of the venue–luckily, this is my blog…hehe). But my comment is really simple. Very, very, very simple.

Don’t be an asshole.

Before anyone throws their arms up in complete and total offense — let me be clear. If you don’t want to teach your kids about Santa — great. That’s fine. The cool (albeit tedious, stressful, and at times, soul crushing) part of parenting is you get to filter what you want to your kids. And on the other hand, if you want to teach your kids that there’s a Santa — great. That’s fine. The cool (albeit tedious, stressful, and at times, soul crushing) part of parenting is you get to filter what you want to your kids.

See what I did there?

But the biggest thing to stress to those young, inquiring minds? Don’t be an asshole. If Jimmy doesn’t believe in Santa, be kind to Jimmy and move on. And if Lola believes in Santa, be kind to Lola and move on. It’s really that simple.

And trust me, folks — this applies to all of you adults reading out there too. Can we stop with these unnecessary conversations? Can we just allow people to live and let live? These Christmas wars always make me wonder if I can actually roll my eyes to the complete other side of my head. They’re pointless. Teach your kids whatever you want — religion, creed, lesson — whatever. It’s your kid. It’s your family.

Let’s just all agree on this one thing: We can all teach kindness and acceptance. It’s not hard. In fact, some pretty powerful people of our past have shown this to be true.

I’ll end with this: it boils down to that good ol’ fashioned golden rule. How do you want people to treat you? How do you want people to treat your kids? Well, there’s your answer. I’m sure none of you answered, “I’d like someone to be a self-righteous indignant prick to Jimmy to make him feel terrible for believing ____________.”

Focus on that, and suddenly, a lot of questions are clear. So, whatever and however you celebrate this holiday season, I hope it’s a wonderful one.

5 Things I Miss About Public School As a Homeschooling Mom

Last week, I posted about how much we’ve loved homeschooling. It’s been such an experience for the both of us, and one that I won’t ever forget. Ever. That being said, it is not all daisies and rainbows. By the end of most days, I need to send her off to her room or somewhere away from me — not because she’s been awful or anything — my energy level is just shot by the end of the day. Which leads me into 5 things I miss about public school…

 

5 Things I Miss About Public School (As a Homeschooling Mom) // Cue to Cue Mama

 

Alone Time

I am an introvert. Z is an extrovert. She is an only child. And we are homeschooling in a place we just moved to. This is taxing on any mom, but for this introverted mama, it is 100% overwhelming at times. Luckily, when E is home, he takes over, allowing me to escape and take a breather. There are also some days where I have to give Zo more independent time stuff to do because I just have to be by myself for a few moments. When she was in public school, I had 7 hours to work, write, run errands, catch up on school…etc.

 

Holiday Parties, Fun Themed Days, and Special Events

 

I know this seems trivial (especially since I just talked about needing alone time, haha), but I really miss all the fun events, themed days, and parties. The staff and teachers always made things like this so fun, and it gave the parents an opportunity to get creative. While I can still be creative and do fun stuff, it’s not in the same way — and to be frank, doesn’t feel nearly as exciting.

 

The Extra Pressure of Homeschooling

 

Parenting comes with this lovely thing called guilt. We’re always wondering what we’re doing that will inevitably screw up our kid in the future. Constantly feeling like we’re not doing enough. This sense of guilt has only been amplified with homeschooling. I’m constantly questioning if I’m giving her enough, if she’ll be behind when she goes back to public school (yes, we plan on sending her back to public school once we move from FL), and whether or not this will all turn out to be a horrible decision. And these thoughts go through my head every day….multiple times a day. With public schooling, while I had my definite issues with the “system” of education, I knew, at her old school, that she was getting an education, she was learning and growing, and she had really great adults surrounding her that could be a lot more objective about her learning.

 

Parent – Teacher Conferences

 

I know, I know. Nobody likes conferences — well, I do. I loved being able to hear about how Z interacted in a classroom setting, hearing about areas in which she excelled, and what areas we could focus on a little bit more. I loved hearing how invested her teachers were in her life. It’s a really powerful thing when you see another adult care so deeply about teaching and helping your child.

 

Linear Learning

 

Again…I know, I know. Part of the reason we’re homeschooling right now is to add freedom to her learning and to escape the insanity of testing and suffocating standards. But part of me still misses being able to clearly define what point A to point B was. This is the control freak in me, I know. And sometimes the thing that is most overwhelming with homeschooling is that there is no right or clear way to do things. While I 100% believe that learning should be adaptive and fluid, I do sometimes wish for a clearer path.

 

All of this being said, I still know that these next few years of homeschooling will be worth it, and I really try to be present for this time in our lives because it won’t always be this way, and I’m so grateful for this season.

Our “Easy-Peasy” Summer Learning Schedule

Our Easy Peasy Summer Learning Schedule

*this post may contain affiliate links*

As educational plans are up in the air for Z with our upcoming move, it was important to me that I keep a somewhat normal learning schedule with her. A few months ago, I had an all-out lesson plan for each day of the week, completely color coded and scheduled.

Yep.

Our Easy Peasy Summer Learning ScheduleA couple of days before I started “summerlearning” with her, however, I realized that is sooooo not my style. Well, I guess it’s sorta my style — I like to over-plan, so I can relax and then be flexible. So, I over-planned, realized that there was no way I was going to make Z (or myself) sit through hours of “school work” over the summer, and decided to chill the hell out.

So, you’ll notice there is no set schedule — only goals for the day. Part of my goal, when starting to work from home, was to have freedom in my schedule. Because of that it seemed silly to start a rigid schedule of learning at home for Z. Besides, I am an early bird and she is a night owl, so our mornings are very different. By having goals, we can get it done whenever during the day, and it takes the pressure off. Plus, Z is a visual learner, (and also loves feeling prepared) so having a checklist every day has been really fun for her, so far.

Over the summer, I’m only covering the basics (Reading, Writing, Math) with fun science experiments, field trips, and lots and lots of books. We’re making at least 2-3 trips/week to the library (which we both love…) And time spent actually doing work is 15-20 minutes or less (except for book reading or fun educational YouTube Videos/Games/Apps.

Supply List

Our Easy Peasy Summer Learning Schedule

 

As far as supplies go, go figure, I keep it simple.

As you can see, not only is my list super simple, but it’s also CHEAP. There’s just no sense in making learning complicated and/or expensive — learning can come from anywhere, and that’s the mantra I’ve been clinging to.

The clipboard is my favorite thing because it opens and has some storage. So, I store the daily sheets, her journal, and math workbook (although, we haven’t been staying in the math workbook much) in there.

Then, I clip a Daily Sheet and the Schedule to the front of the clipboard. Having a simple clipboard with a few tasks also helps me foster independence with Z (which is necessary since I also work from home).

I want to stress the fact that we don’t do it the same way everyday. Z and I both operate well in  a world that has routine, but flexibility. So, each day looks different, but similar, if that makes sense.

And that’s that…easy peasy right?

Do you have any sort of summer schedule with your family? How does it come together for you?

How to Finish a Degree as a Parent – Part 1

How to Finish a Degree as a Parent 1

As the school year is looming in my not-so-distant future, I’m overwhelmed, nervous, nauseas, and so f’ing excited. That’s right friends, this girl is finally in her last year of undergrad. My journey to this point has been all over the place. I graduated high school 12 -gulp- years ago. And I am just now getting finishing my undergraduate degree. I had 6 years before Z was born to finish that degree, and I made a lot of missteps, mistakes, and all out bad choices in those years. I’ll save the specifics of that for another post, but for this one, I’m going to hone in on finishing a degree as a parent. Being a student is difficult at any degree, but parenting through it all definitely adds different pressures. This is part 1 of a 3 part series on the ins and outs of finishing a degree as a parent. Part 1 is all about what you SHOULD do.

DO

  •  Take your time! One of the biggest mistakes I’ve made (a few times) on the road to a degree is changing degree programs, schools, and formats too many times. I’d reach a point where I wanted to finish my degree in a more condensed time-frame, so I’d settle for something I wasn’t nearly as interested in, or in a way that didn’t inspire me. As a parent, you can feel the pressure of hurrying through a program for financial reasons or wanting to hurry into the workforce with your new degree. And those are legitimate, however, going to school is an investment. Invest in a degree that means something to you and for you. Don’t just settle for the fastest way to get through it.
  • Stay organized! Google calendar has saved my life more than once. I would have never been able to stay on top of Z’s events, practices, my schoolwork, appointments, etc, if I didn’t stay on top of my calendar. Google calendar works for me, but you might have a different method. Whatever your organizational method is…stay on top of it. Your life will already be stressful enough balancing parenthood and work and school…the last thing you need is another battle to fight.
  • Keep yourself inspired. There will be numerous times that you will think, “What the hell am I thinking?” Self-doubt will creep in all the time. Find things that will inspire you to keep going. I’m a words person, so I have quotes posted all over. Write down your goals at the beginning of each semester, and the reasons (and people) you’re doing this for…keep it somewhere visible to remind you why this matters, when you need it most.
  • Find financial flexibility where you can. Depending on your degree program, format of schooling, work schedules, school/daycare/preschool schedules, it can feel impossible to finish something as expensive as an education. If you need to tap into your savings (Hahahahaha, who has a savings?!), take out student loans, reach out to your job about education assistance…etc. I took out the max amount I could for student loans. I know, a lot of financial planners would flip after hearing that, but I am attending a brick and mortar school, during the day while my daughter is in school, and am mostly single parenting. That meant I needed something that could fill in the gaps from missing a regular 9-5 job through the week. I also have my military education benefits which provides a monthly housing allowance. So, with my weekend part-time job, financial aid, and my housing allowance, I make it by and have the flexibility in my schedule to invest in school and my daughter.
  • Know and be kind to yourself. I’ve learned that I do not operate well in late afternoon/evening classes. I hit a mental block and lack focus. I’ve learned that I study best in the early-to-mid morning, and that late night cram sessions are not beneficial for me. I’ve learned that I need to start writing essays early, and write a little bit each day instead of procrastinating to the last minute. I need calm music when I study, and I retain more when I sit at my desk than on my bed. This is probably my best piece of advice: Be aware of yourself. That sounds a bit hokey, but seriously, the more aware you are of what does and doesn’t work for you, the more successful you will be. Every school and professor will try to give you study/academic tips, and they can be helpful, but knowing yourself and how you function at your best, is the easiest way to set yourself up for success.

It is not impossible to finish your degree as a parent. It takes some creativity, but it is 100% possible.

The Case for the Only Child

I recently saw a post on Facebook titled, “Reasons to Have a Second Child” or something like that. And I get it. I get how great it is to have another kid around, and that siblings can form bonds that last through the ins and outs and ups and downs. As of right now, Zoey is an only child, and she might end up being that for good. I’m not really sure what the future holds, but what I do know is that only children get a bad wrap a lot. Here’s the top 10 list of reasons to have a second child, and my response…to each of them:

ONLYCHILD

1. They learn to be selfless. Sorry, I wasn’t aware that I needed another child around to teach my kid not to be a selfish asshole. I understand the whole “I feel protective of this little being now,” however, I’m not sure that’s an innate sense of selflessness, I think it’s interest and curiosity (depending on how old the eldest kiddo is). It may develop into selflessness, but I certainly don’t think having a sibling is what forms that. I think it’s being surrounded by family and friends that promote that sense of compassion and loyalty to people who matter.

2. They learn how to share. Very few things irritate me more than the stigma that an only child doesn’t learn how to share. Z is 6 now, and I remember very few (actually I don’t remember any) instances where I had to remind her to share. This is, again, something you teach as a parent. You teach them by example, by showing what sharing looks like. You don’t need another kid to somehow cement that idea in their head. Also, do people just keep their only children in isolation so they never interact with other kids or something? I certainly didn’t, and I would venture to say that most parents of only children don’t either.

3. They learn how to resolve problems. Again, up to the parents.

4. They learn about teamwork. Hello, organized sports, preschool, and school?! And I actually find it quite fun to “work as a team” with Z.

5. They will have a built-in playmate. Okay, I can’t argue with this one. Not sure if this is a necessary reason to give your kid a sibling though.

6. They have someone to learn from or teach.  I will say, Z has older cousins that she spends a lot of time with, and that aspect of their relationship helps a lot. Again, this is also something that parents can (and should) do.

7. They have someone to talk to. Sure, but again, are they in isolation if they don’t have a sibling? Can they not talk to their parents or friends from school/playdates or other family members or neighbors? It seems like there’s a lot of “all or nothing” when it comes to teaching social skills to only children, according to this list.

8. They have someone to celebrate with when things go great. I love celebrating with Z. Nothing is better than celebrating occasions, milestones, and accomplishments with her. And sure, it could be fun with another, but there is something to be said for being able to fully invest all my energy and excitement into one kiddo.

9. And lean on when times get tough. See #7.

10. They have someone to grow old with. The article also says, “Friends come and go, but family is forever.” It’s nice in sentiment, but in reality, you never know is going to come and who is going to go. Friends can become your family, crazy things can happen.

Don’t misinterpret me, I think having more than one kiddo is more than okay. It’s just not right for every family, and frankly, I’m a bit jaded with these “10 Reasons You Should…blah, blah, blah…” Part of me really loves that these lists can be succinct and specific, however…life isn’t always that way. And it’s time to break the silly stigmas attached to people who decide to go against the norm. I could write a million reasons why I like my one-child family, however, those are reasons that work for me and aren’t necessarily someone else’s ideal. It’s time to stop judging and labeling the choices individual families make for themselves.

Why We Shame Online and How to Stop It

I recently read this article on Huff Post. She wrote about two separate instances of online “mom-shaming” via posting a photo online. And I was driven to a whole new level of anger. I haven’t had either of the two stories she mentions run across my newsfeed,  but in recent years I’ve thought about how voyeuristic we’ve become, as a society. I’ve thought about the rights we’ve taken over someone else’s life and how empathy seems to continue to fall. We feel as if we have some right to be able to document whatever we want of whomever (who? or whom? I’m an English major and I still get confused) we want. And then we can create a small gang of people through our various social media outlets to become self-righteous with us as we laugh at someone else’s unknowing expense.

shameonline

I’m as guilty as the next person…wanting to snap a picture of something I find absurd and posting it on Facebook or Twitter, however, usually (99% of the time) I talk myself out of it based on this one simple question I ask myself, “Would I want someone to take a picture of me if I were in that position?” And sure, I could go the self-righteous route and say, “Oh, well I would never do that.” But the thing about life is that shit happens, and as a passerby, you are never getting the full story. Don’t get me wrong, I still get self-righteous (how many more times do you think I can fit “self-righteous” into this post?) I can judge to my heart’s content, in my own head, and I might even share it with a friend or two. However, the thing that I should probably remember is this wonderful thing called empathy. How many times have I looked like hell or been in a compromising position or had a kiddo not behaving? And the thing about this online mom-shaming, neither of the mom’s mentioned in these stories were doing anything really compromising. One was a mother child-wearing her 5 year old and the other was a mom breastfeeding in public. Sure, had I seen a 5 year old being “worn” I might have questioned it in my head, but reading the story, the mother was a mom to a 5 and 1 year old and her 5 year old was under the weather. She needed to run into a store real quick and with her daughter not feeling great, she decided to wear her on her back. The other mom was breastfeeding. And let me be honest, public breastfeeding makes me really uncomfortable. I know it’s natural, I know it shouldn’t make me uncomfortable. However, just because it makes me uncomfortable, doesn’t mean the woman shouldn’t feed her child. A parent should never feel wrong about doing what he/she needs to in order to take care of his/her kids. And I know my discomfort is my own bullshit, not theirs, so don’t starve your child for my sake, that’s ridiculous. Just like some passerby taking your picture while nourishing your child and then shaming you for it online should be ridiculous.

But this epidemic isn’t just for moms, it is everywhere. How often do we see the word, “shaming” nowadays? We are all plugged in more than we ever have been before, and for some reason, we’ve taken license with other people’s lives. Judging first and thinking later. Even news organizations post news stories before knowing all the facts. How often do we see corrections at the end of news stories, or see a news anchor making assumptions before having any real evidence to back themselves up? We all have a platform now to spew whatever we want, whenever we want (coming from a blogger, I know this might seem trite and a bit contradicting, but hear me out), but what I think would be lovely is to cultivate a community of empathy. To not judge or jump to conclusions, to not join in mockery behind a computer screen, but to offer just a little understanding. If you’ve never been in the person you are judging’s shoes, maybe just remember that we are all humans, making our way through this life the best we can. And if we all posted photos of each other in our hard moments, our “life” moments, our f-up’s, we’d all look like a big bunch of losers, frankly.

So, what I’m asking for, I guess, is don’t be an asshole.

What Being Broke Taught Me About Money….

money

 

Since I’ve been out of the military, living civilian life, with a young daughter, I’ve learned a lot about finances. It has been a struggle these past 4 years, and I’ve had to make a lot of choices financially that have been really hard (or even embarrassing). Being broke isn’t fun. In fact, I have had many restless nights, trying to figure out how to stay afloat. I know a lot of people who have been or are in the same boat as me, and I wanted to share what being broke has taught me.

1. It’s taught me that money really isn’t everything. – I often have felt guilty for not being able to get Zoey the things she “wants.” But I started realizing after saving money for some really expensive things for her, that she’s more amused by the cheap stuff. The things I can find at the dollar bin in Target or at The Dollar Tree. And making her feel special means spending time, not money. So, I’ve become much more content with getting an ice cream from McDonald’s than spending $60 for sub-par food at T-Rex.

2. Money can show you what your priorities, and that can be humbling.

3. Always carry cash. Always, always, always. Or if you don’t carry it, at least have a stash. I used to think that cash burned a hole in my pocket, but it’s turned out to be quite the opposite. It’s so easy for me to swipe my debit card over and over, getting ahead of myself, but if I have a set amount of cash, it helps keep better tabs.

4. Save $1 or $2 every day, and it will accumulate fast!

5. If you can’t change your financial woes right now, come up with real solutions for how you can fix them in the future (and it will take some time…a lot of time, in my case).

6. Don’t stay in denial too long. This has been my biggest problem. I get so easily overwhelmed when I see how far behind I’ve fallen or how long I have to go, but I could’ve prevented a lot of these issues if I wouldn’t have tried to sweep them under the rug. The bills won’t suddenly disappear, so you better figure out a way to handle them, or you’ll end up paying more in the long run. <—This one is something I’m battling with currently. It’s tough, but I’m making some progress.

7. And lastly, being broke has humbled me. A lot. I have learned to keep myself in check when I start judging those with money troubles. It is really true that you never know what situations or hard times could’ve fallen on people. I’m glad that I’m not living in a small-minded bubble anymore. People are more than the money they make…or don’t make. And struggling can sometimes give you a much clearer picture of what’s truly important in life.