Just so I don't forget to include this, I want to mention that both the girls have really been into fixing hair lately. Mostly it has been Ailey that really has the fascination with Brea following along because she wants to do what her big sister is doing. ;) Ailey has been more concerned with her hair looking nice and she has consistently worked on my hair. Right now, they are each brushing and "fixing" one side of my head of hair each. Its very interesting trying to type in the process. :)
Okay, on to more happenings in this household. We basically had a lot of things transition and shift around the same time within the last three months. Its been a very interesting and challenging time. Lots of good has come out of it all, for sure, but some of it had the pain of a birthing process. For a while now we have been a part of a house church located in Round Rock. It has been completely AMAZING! We pretty much got adopted and adopted them right back. They are fantastic peeps and I am soooo blessed to call them family AND friends. The fellowship and relationship is so rewarding and compelling and it feels like home. In addition to being part of that, I was also going to a church also located in Round Rock. Round Rock is a good hour away, so were doing a bunch of driving on Sundays. ;) The other church, True Life Fellowship, is also completely wonderful! The atmosphere that they have invited there is also like coming home, but in a larger setting. God is doing amazing things in both places and being a part of both families has been such a good thing.
Recently Sam shared a desire for a closer place to go and build relationships. I told him that if he could find something similar with like hearted peeps, I was all in. I believe Daddy God has a heart to see his kiddos all be like hearted despite having different purposes and callings in life. I have a dream of sorts that someday, no matter where on earth a family of believers happens to be located, that anyone that is part of the larger family of believers or someone who has never met Jesus can walk into that place and it feels like coming home. So, he had been introduced to a church through some different people over the course of several years, but it hadn't worked out to visit and this seemed like it was the right time. We walked in and by the end of it all, it felt like coming home. We are loving where God is leading and the amazing things He is doing and it is just exciting on a whole new level we didn't even know was possible! While we won't be able to go to True Life very often, we will still be going to house church on a regular basis. The cool thing is, I believe we are supposed to be connected to each one of these families for specific reasons and God is making a way for it to happen.
Something else that has been in the works since the beginning of last fall is the process of me going back to college. I found out that my education benefits had been changed and that I had 5 more years than I had previously. Much of the framework has been done. I still have a bit more to get turned in and then will have to wait until registration for the fall semester. The biggest question was what was the best option for the kids. There is a Christian school not too far from our house and not too far from the college and seemed like the perfect answer. In pursuing this option, I knew it would be a bit of an uphill battle because we were so far behind this year in home school. We started out at a great pace at the beginning of the year, but between holidays and sickness from Thanksgiving on, we were limping along on into March. It felt for a long time that our days were chaotic and ruling us instead of orderly and time being used wisely. This was also around the time when I got fed up with being tired all the time.
There were two things we had to do before the kids could be enrolled in the school. We had to come in for a family interview and then there would be a follow up evaluation to place the boys in the appropriate grades. The girls were no problem because Ailey would be starting Kindergarten and Brea would be in pre-K. The family interview went well and though I noticed some personality differences, I wasn't overly concerned about anything at that point. Rather than being concerned with my kids being able to do the learning part of being in a school, I was way more concerned with how they would handle having to sit in a classroom and behave in a very structured system since that really hasn't been their homeschool experience. They've always done well in their co-op classes and at AWANA and VBS, but I was still a little concerned about that transition.
When we came back for the evaluation, I again informed the person we were meeting with that we were way behind and that we were in the process of catching up. There was also a rather large difference in curriculum and the way the information is presented. It all just went downhill from there. There was definite personality conflict with the evaluator with both the boys and lots of irritation with the boys not being able to do the things she was presenting. While I did listen to the whole process, I was outside the room and did not interfere. I wanted to see how the boys would do with someone else instructing them. Since, I had not had any sort of reference pertaining to dealing with a Christian private school and the whole process, I didn't know what should be normal procedure and what should be a warning flag.
After the evaluation was done, I went in and spoke to the evaluator by myself and it was the first time any sort of irritation and disdain has been aimed at me for homeschooling and not doing it someone else's way. It was a very surreal situation. After the person explained to me that the boys were no where near where the kids in the school were, being at least a year to a year and a half ahead of public school kids, that she could not place them in the school. The girls were still welcome, but the boys would not be. I asked about tutoring, reminding this person about us being behind in our schedule, as I thought there might be a curriculum presentation difference as well and if we could have someone get the boys familiar with their curriculum it might make a big difference. That was shot right down with a short statement of, "We don't do tutoring." It was suggested we might try sylvan learning center, though this person had no experience with them or how they operate. I was nearly in desperation mode with trying to find some way to make it still work out. I came home trying not to cry and be completely discouraged and got online and looked up the curriculum they use to see if it would be feasible to maybe switch over to it at the point. There was also no guarantee that there would be openings in the school for them if we went back in the summer to re-evaluate. Honestly, I was a bit beside myself and asking God if I had gotten it wrong about me going back to school.
I felt immediate peace about that and then decided to get some advice from someone who had home schooled and then put their kiddo into Christian private school. I called my sis-in-law and asked her what she did to get her kiddo ready for that kind of transition. I ended up explaining what had just happened and instead of giving me a plan of action dealing with curriculum, she informed me that she was very concerned that the evaluator (who also holds a position of authority in the administration as well as being a teacher there) responded to the kids with irritation and impatience as well as being unwilling to work with me at all with any other options. She said that the school her kids go to wanted her kids there and wanted their family to be a part of the school and they were willing to go to great lengths to support the transition of getting them to where they needed to be. There are teachers who tutor in the summer months for extra money and there were book lending options to get familiarized with the curriculum and several more things that really made me ponder everything about my experience. After that, I felt a lot better and instead of wallowing in discouragement and self-pity I decided that things needed to change as far as the way I operated on a daily basis and that though the school I was aiming at for my kids to attend might be completely fantastic for other families, it was just not a good fit for ours. It was God giving me a definitive no for that place.
Several things happened over the next few days. I asked God to give me creative ideas of what to do about the kids and school. I also downloaded an app called Daily Routine and put our entire home school schedule complete with alarms when each subject starts and when it is time for breaks including meal prep and meal time. I also made a commitment to get myself out of bed an hour earlier with the goal of shifting that to an even earlier time at a later date to begin to mimic how the schedule will be in the fall. This is also right about the time that I changed how we are eating so I also downloaded a meal planner and am steadily working on incorporating that into daily life. The routine app has been a wonderful thing! Because I was able to compartmentalize our day, I have been able to do double days of school and we have done about 7 weeks worth of school in the last 4. We are almost where we should be and should be done with school mid-June. Its a relief and I'm loving the orderliness of it all!
The kids are learning a ton and retaining it and for the most part, aside from disliking how regimented it is ;p, they are thriving. So good. The most ironic thing is that a good chunk of the things that they didn't know at the evaluation because they hadn't been introduced to it yet in our curriculum was in fact introduced within the next couple of weeks. :)
God also very much answered my plea and gave me the idea of having someone come in and sub for me 2 mornings each week while I have to be in class, so we will still be homeschooling. We have someone who is praying about taking the job. It would be a very good fit for our family, but we want to make sure it is a good fit for her as well. I just know as soon as that was an option, all the craziness just calmed down and there was peace again. Putting the kids in school would have had new challenges for us and been a lot of work in its own way. Home schooling while I'm going to school will have its own challenges as well, but we really think its the way to go for our family.
Another idea was putting them in a Christian school that is much farther away. I called to find out more info and shared what had happened in my earlier experience with the other school. She said they test using the Stanford Achievement Test and that they do have teachers who tutor in their off months. She also asked if we would be willing to have the kids repeat their current grade. At first, my pride took hold and I didn't even want to consider it, but almost immediately I squashed that down because I want what is best for the kids. Sam and I talked about it and he didn't have a problem with that option. In the end, I felt I could really get us caught up and it wouldn't even be an issue. While we don't think putting them into this school is right for this next year, it is still an option for future ones if it is a good fit for our family.