Tuesday, July 16, 2019

The One with the Unexpected Turn of Events

Heraclitus, a Greek philosopher, has been quoted as saying, “change is the only constant in life.”

Well, let me tell you, friends: we just experienced a MAJOR change over this past weekend. Let me hit you with some back story.

We first made the decision to homeschool back in June 2014. We started homeschooling when LO was entering 2nd grade. Well, technically, we started earlier than that -- not by choice (refer to #3 in that link). Our first year was good, but I felt we were lacking both community and accountability.

Enter Classical Conversations!

I once wrote a very detailed post about CC and what it offers. In summary? A lot. It offers a lot! We were sold on the incredible program and had every intention of taking our kids through high school with Classical Conversations.

We attended our very first day of community in September of 2015. How cute are these tiny (slightly blurry) littles?

However, our plans came to an incredibly unexpected and screeching halt over the weekend.

Late last Saturday night, hubs and I made the decision to leave Classical Conversations.

((insert GASP! here))

It's really strange because it wasn't like "some big thing happened" that suddenly changed our minds. Rather, it was simply a focused reflection over the past several months, coupled with an intentional deep dive of how the next 16(ish) years would unfold. For our family, what we gleaned was unsettling to say the least.

Here's what I will freely say: For four years, we had, without a doubt, the BEST Classical Conversations community of families that ever existed in all of mankind. It's true! We loved our community, we had an incredible Director, the families were always loving, caring, and supportive of each other, and our children made wonderful friends there. If you're reading this and you're one of those families, please know how much we love you and how much we will miss you on Tuesdays! (But pretty please, can we still have play dates?)

At the end of the day, finances played a big role in our decision. When it was time to re-enroll back in February, we were shocked to see the application fees for our boys' programs increased 70%! That's a pretty significant hike! It was disappointing, but again, we felt committed that CC was THE homeschool plan for our family, so we paid it and applied for the 2019-2020 school year.

I'll be honest--a cloud of doubt began to circle around that time because I just couldn't understand why corporate fees would need to increase so significantly in one year. Especially when you're essentially dealing with single-income, Christian homeschooling families. But again -- committed to the program -- we jumped ahead with both feet, which, coincidentally, is the only way I know how to commit to things. 😜

So one day, fueled solely by curiosity, I decided to put together a spreadsheet outlining our homeschool plans to educate our 4 children through CC. It was kind of like this colorful example below, but it included each of our kids' names, as well as the tuition cost for each child, for each year, through 2035 thankyouverymuch!

I will add that the numbers I used in my spreadsheet were based solely on the CURRENT tuition costs for the programs (which, like any program, will likely increase over the next 16 years), and DID NOT include application, supply, or facility fees, or ANY of the additional curriculum or supplies we would need in order to successfully complete each year with our CC community.

Y'all, I won't disclose any numbers here (I'll encourage you to do it for yourself--it's quite enlightening!), but I will just say, without a doubt, that it was A LOT.

And I get it -- it's not as much as a private school education or whatever else... okay. But it's HOMESCHOOLING. Something the Lord has called us to do for our children. Something I am actually quite capable of doing on my own (with the Lord's direction) if desired. For free--or at the very least, much cheaper.

It was a LOT, y'all.

And it's not like all of that money would directly bless my amazing local community. Registration fees? Corporate. An appalling almost 25% of tuition (for Challenge programs)? Corporate. Why would I want to send our hard-earned money off to a corporation in the business of making money, while I would be the one doing all the heavy lifting of schooling my own children at home every day as well as directing a room full of students one day a week for 30 weeks?

I then quickly came to this realization, which is probably the second greatest factor in why we made the decision we did for our family:
There is no way, given our current circumstances, that we could afford to participate in a Classical Conversations community through high school for all 4 of our children UNLESS I TUTOR OR DIRECT A PROGRAM EVERY.SINGLE.YEAR.
This was both enlightening and devastating to me all in the very same instant.

I am certainly grateful that CC provides opportunities for parents to tutor or direct their programs.

But y'all. Would those opportunities happen to exist for me each and every year as I'd need them to?


So what was the greatest factor in why we made the decision we made for our family? This thought/realization:


At the elementary level, this really wouldn't be that significant.

But for leading programs for middle and high school students? It would, without a doubt, be several hours each week of my time focused on preparing lesson plans for discussion in class--rather than cuddling up with my kids to read stories, work through annoyingly difficult math problems, or go for nature walks.

Sure, there are lots of amazingly qualified moms and dads who welcome this responsibility each year. And I trust they are rock stars at it whose kids don't suffer as I anticipate mine would.

Did I mention I had planned to direct one of the middle school programs this year? It would be my first time directing. Normally I like to PREPARE! PREPARE! PREPARE! like 12,000 years ahead of time because I'm all kinds of OCD/Type A like that.

But June arrived and for some reason I wasn't jumping in with both feet.

Since my family started our homeschool year on June 3rd, I decided I would just put my focus on my kids for the month of June, making sure we were all in the swing of things with our supplemental curriculum, and wait until July to dive into my preparations to direct.

July then arrived. It was almost half over when I realized I hadn't yet buckled down and started the heavy workload of prep needed to effectively lead a class 12- and 13-year-olds in the classical studies of debate, exposition, grammar, logic, reasoning, and research.

What was going on???

The prior year, I had tutored a class of 4th-6th graders in our community and I vividly remember excitedly preparing and planning and laminating all.the.things. the summer beforehand in anticipation of a wonderful year.

But that wasn't the case this time.

What was going on???

I had to look deep inside my heart to figure this out. I had to plead to the Lord for answers since I trusted He knew me better than I knew myself. I had to cry out for explanations for the massive confusion I was feeling!

I thought we had a plan! I thought you and I were on the same page, God! Why does this suddenly not seem right?

Lots of tears ensued. Lots of discussions with hubs. Lots of prayers and Scripture searching.

“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.” - Psalm 32:8
It wasn't until last week that we started getting the feeling that perhaps God was telling us that CC may no longer be His plan for our family. And I begrudgingly began to accept that... with the expectation that He was referring to NEXT year. I mean, I had already enrolled my children for the fall, and had already committed to leading one of the programs this year. Obviously whatever God is trying to tell me only applies to NEXT year.

Or did it??

Now we're all caught up and it's (last) Saturday night. I said it without even realizing what I was saying:

What if we don't go back this year?


The thought had NEVER occurred to me until that very moment.
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” - Joshua 1:9
The first thoughts I had after making that statement were, "What would happen to the families enrolled in the program I was committed to direct? What would happen if they weren't able to find someone else to take it over? How could God possibly be calling me to make a decision that could potentially have a negative impact on families and friends I loved so dearly?"
“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” - Jeremiah 29:11
Here's the thing: If I have to make a decision concerning what is best for my children vs. what is best for my (beloved) community, I will choose my children every.single.time.

Spoiler alert, y'all: God is BIGGER than you. He's GREATER than your circumstances. He's WORKING in ways beyond your four walls that you can't even imagine.
“The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” - Deuteronomy 31:8 
At the end of the day--quite literally as I believe it was around 1:15 AM--hubs and I had resolved to leave Classical Conversations this year.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." - Philippians 4:6-7 
Sunday morning we had an incredible day of worship (as usual!) at church, followed by lunch at Culver's (SHOCKER!). Once we were home after lunch, we sat the kids down to share the news with them. They really surprised us! I was concerned with how they'd react, but all of them were totally fine with the decision! Of course, they each mentioned how much they'd miss their friends, but ultimately they were excited to chart a new course together as a family.

After speaking with the kids, I made the phone calls I needed to make to officially resign my position as director, and leave our beloved CC community.

God has been faithful--as if there were ever any doubt--and has brought an incredibly awesome individual forward to take my place in directing the program I stepped away from. Isn't He the BEST, Jerry?? THE BEST!!

So where does that leave my family?

Umm... I'm not quite sure! I honestly have absolutely no idea which doors God will open for us this year. I am seeking His direction and have a few thoughts in mind. But at the end of the day, I am pressing through the fear, surrendering it all to the One who holds us in His loving hands.

Even now, I can look back and see how God was paving this path for us (without my knowledge or consent--the nerve!). haha! And I can't even describe the peace He has provided in this midst of this decision! It's difficult for people like me to not have all.the.things. planned out, but I know God is capable of bringing about so much good through this surrendered decision, and I am choosing to rest comfortably in His grace.

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Father's Day // 2019

Happy Father's Day to hubs! We are so blessed! The kid and I love him so much and we are so grateful and thankful for how much he loves us!

We started our day by missing church because one of our sweet littles has been sick for two days with a fever and vomiting. No bueno! I am praying it doesn't spread to anyone else.

I made a bacon, egg, and cheese biscuits for hubs' breakfast and we just hung out all morning... talking through budgets, home improvement projects, self-employment taxes--basically my husband's dream conversations all in one day! LOL! Leftovers were on the menu for lunch (I'm winning at this Father's Day stuff) and then it was time to open presents!

Hubs finally got a new phone! YAY! He's been stuck with my rose gold iPhone 6 for ages since I always take his upgrades. 😜 Now he's the owner of a shiny new black XR! We also got him a case because new iPhones are slippery, y'all! LOL!

Hubs opened a few more gifts and cards, then it was nap time for all!

The afternoon included more relaxing (especially for my sweet sicko, E), some Wii U Minecraft for the kids, and lesson planning for me. Hubs requested brats and corn on the cob for dinner, and it was delish!

For dessert, I made an Oreo ice cream cake. It looks much prettier here where I found it. But this is how it turned out. #pinterestfail 

The good thing is no one complained that it wasn't pretty, and it must've tasted good because everyone had seconds!

After dinner, it was time to play outside! Squish (and his non-sick siblings) loved playing with the new splash pad he got for his birthday.

I think it was a great day for hubs--and the rest of us! Happy Father's Day!

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Squish's (actual) 2nd Birthday!

Today we celebrated our sweet Squish's 2nd birthday! It's hard to believe just two short years ago I sharing his birth story and documenting our first week with baby #4!

Squish's birthday morning began with our usual family tradition... birthday pancakes!

He's TWO, y'all!

Look at that sweet face!

Awwww! He loved it when we sang "Happy Birthday" to him!

Cuteness overload! He's blowing out the candles. I just love this boy!

The rest of our day was pretty standard... lunch, nap time, and dinner--at Culver's, of course!

We happened to be eating dinner at Culver's at 5:25 PM tonight when Squish officially hit the big T-W-O! Seemed appropriate, considering our family essentially lives at our local Culver's!

After dinner, we came home to open the rest of the presents that he refused to open at his birthday party on Saturday. Surprisingly, he was more than happy to oblige and open his Pikachu-themed gifts! So much so that it was difficult to get him to stop long enough for a quick photo! LOL!

Yay! Squish loves Pikachu presents!

Take note of the Pikachu slippers he's wearing in the image below. These were in a box he had just opened and he insisted on putting them on immediately and didn't want to take them off! The boy really loves wearing everyone's shoes inside the house. He's hilarious!

Here he is opening the Pikachu comforter, crib sheet, and pillowcase I made for his bed. He really loved them!

See? He immediately laid them out on the floor and tested them out... with big brother Chase's help!

Somehow the slippers came off. He placed them on the floor in front of him and said, "Pleeeeease?" until someone came over to help him put them back on.

More Pikachu gifts!

What's next? Why, a birthday cupcake, of course! Here is Squish waiting ever-so-patiently for the singing to begin.

He really loves cupcakes. And the "Happy Birthday" song. And hearing everyone sing his name. Love his smiley face!

"Happy Birthday, dear Squishy..."

Notice those adorably interlaced fingers and the exorbitant amount of patience he is displaying here!

His attempt to blow out the candles! So sweet! Again with the fingers! #smitten

Cupcakes make for one happy birthday boy!



Silly boy!!!

He loves his cupcakes!

"All done!"

While he was cleaned up following his cupcake deliciousness, I made his bed with his new Pikachu bedding.

((Yes, there are THREE lion lovies and FOUR pacis in his bed. This is how parenting is done, folks.))

So much Pikachu cuteness! I hope he sleeps well surrounded by so.much.Pikachu! 

I sent LO up to take some pictures of his room and she thought a pano would be fun. Enjoy! LOL!

Happy 2nd Birthday, sweet Squish!

Saturday, June 8, 2019

Squish's 2nd Birthday!

We had a great day celebrating Squish's 2nd birthday... 5 days before his actual birthday (he's still ONE for 5 more days! YAY!).

He loooooooooves Pikachu (from Pokémon), so it made sense for us to have a Pikachu party! He also loves coloring, so we started out with some coloring pages.

Just a few light snacks, including some of Squish's favorites: Doritos, apple slices, and grapes!

Pikachu cupcakes!

Seriously... Pikachu EVERYWHERE! LOL! Even his gifts were wrapped to look like Pikachu (thanks, Pinterest!).

Big sis LO blew up 70-something balloons and drew Pikachu faces on all of them! Win!

My mom the artist! Check out her Pikachu drawing! I love it!! And so did Squish!

Too cool for his party! LOL! He's wearing the free sunglasses he got at the hair place last night when I took him for his "big boy" haircut (he aged 2 or 3 years at least!).

Parties are better with friends and cousins!

Opening presents! He's not the biggest fan of opening gifts, but he made it through most of them!

Squish's gift from LO... Detective Pikachu!

His new ride from Mona! It "talks" to the Smart Home toy he got for Christmas.

Time for cupcakes and singing!

Yay, Squish!!

Love this boy bunches!

This cracks me up. Here he is with his first bite of cupcake (yes, he insisted on a fork!)...

....and about 5 minutes later he was "All Done!" and ready to get out of his chair.

Sweet smiles!

Time to relax and play!

A real-life Pikachu spotting! Check it out!!!

So much ADORABLE that I can't even handle it!!!

Sweet Squish had a great 2nd birthday party! We are so grateful to be blessed with wonderful family and friends to celebrate with us!