Category: homeschool

School’s in!

Homeschoolers 2015Just when we think we know what’s up, another new season, with its changes and rhythms and surprises, comes in!

I spent the last three years waiting at the bus stop after school for my girls. It’s where we met some of our great neighbors. It’s where we met KK’s best friend and her wonderful family. It’s the place where my girls begin their hour-long debriefing of their day, every day. And for the last month or so, I watched from the porch as they walked home by themselves.

They are growing so fast, so much.

Today I went to the bus stop for the last time, at least for now. Though we have loved St. James Elementary, it’s time for a different school… one that will be located in our home.

Nothing happened to bring this decision, simply a steady set of observations over the past years about who our kids are, who are family is, what is natural to us, what is best for us.

Plus, we want to sleep in, eat fabulous home-cooked lunches, and travel whenever we want!

I’m nervous and excited about this chapter… I’m so thankful for the trust and support of my husband, the constant encouragement from my vast, widely-spread out homeschooling network of friends, my flexible job, and that God gave us these kids… and the ability to know what’s best for them during any given season!


my most recent failures

It’s funny how trained I’ve become as a woman to think that the “I’m failing” stories make me more likeable. – Kelle Hampton

So one month ago, I stopped eating gluten. And for the most part, I have really stopped eating gluten. I also began working my nutrition system again (breakfast drink/tea at night).

And last week, I started tracking my calories again.

On Thursday, I weighed myself and had lost 2 pounds form the beginning of the week.

And this morning, I weighed myself and there they were, again.

Also this morning, I called the pre-school down the street from my church/job and enrolled KK. Just like that. I had already toured it in the fall, when I was weighing options, had met the director, knew the price was right. When I discovered today that they also have an attractive “drop-in” program for the summer, I was hooked. I printed out the forms, filled them out, broke the news to KK (who, though inseparable from me since December 20, basically shrugged), and rode on over to introduce her to the teacher.

Amazingly, I do not feel guilty.


my cool girlsI was just encouraging a friend last week by reminding her: most decisions we make are not forever. We are usually not in circumstances that last forever. I go back and forth and back and forth again with schooling decisions, for example. Our seasons seem to change constantly. I know there was a deep desire in my heart to homeschool, but I also know that was borne when we were traveling constantly and I was surrounded by close friends homeschooling with me. Life has changed. Randa is flourishing in school, and after this 3.5 month experiment, it seems KK needs it to a degree. So for this season, here we go.

For this season, when my ‘spare time’ is a battle of chores vs. errands vs. time with husband vs. time with friends vs. writing vs. reading vs. doing nothing for 20 minutes, it’s hard to find time to work out. And without that, I am not going to significantly lose weight.

…but maybe when I drop KK off at pre-school a few days a week, I can walk/run on the beach for 30 minutes before work. I will be in better shape, and so will my time with KK.


There are some things I am really good at. Keeping in shape? Not one. Teaching my kids to read while updating websites and having work conversations? Not that one either. But that doesn’t make me a failure, nor will I feel guilty about it. But I can bake bread, make event flyers, give awesome hugs, find great restaurants, write glowing somethings-or-other, and love my family quite awesomely. Let’s celebrate our gifts and quit musing on our failures!


mommy gets schooled by her MFFs

We’ve gotten over the shock of a new school year. Lunch gets made before the last minute. No one has been late to school.

Part of the reason I got through those first 2 weeks is because our whole family was so crazy-busy that we didn’t have a chance to get overly emotional.

Part of it is because Miranda rocks, and she loves school, and bounces up that sidewalk to the door like she Owns It.

And part of it is because of my amazing board of BFFS…or rather, my MFFs: Mama-Friends-Forever. They sent so many nuggets of love and wisdom I wanted to share:

“So they teach her to read. You teach her about purity, perseverance, a real faith in a real Savior, how to bake homemade hamburger buns…Fear not, friend. But feel free to weep. You are both ridiculously loved.”

“I don’t know how to explain the push to go after what is in your heart in the midst of being a mother of young(er) children. It is a battle of the soul in the most truest form. How can both burn so fiercely inside me? My wish is for one fire to dwindle so the other can be brighter, but God has not wired me as such. I must balance it all in obedience to His desire for my life. I don’t know why it has to be this way. I don’t know why I don’t have peace putting my children in school…and I don’t know why I have to split homeschooling with the work of ministry. All I know is that it is my portion of life. It’s the life He has for me. I don’t know the end from the beginning, but it is my responsibility to walk it out.”

“The proudest moment you will ever have with them is when they look up at you and ask you to pray with them at the altar.”

“And He’s got this. Until He’s ready for it to be different….but it sucks big time because it’s not what you want…but she’s standing by a palm tree smiling, so life is ok:) “

There was a longer message that inspired this entire blog post, because mostly I was hiding how traumatic this whole thing felt to me, because it seems silly, but it is, as you read above, just not quite what I wanted to be, so I have to get used to it. I am already getting used to God’s plans surprising me, to having to bend my will or pray my desires into matching His. I am getting adept at looking at circumstances as “seasons,” and the truth of this season is that things are calming down at work, and some time for this mama to be organized, focused, and sane might be a good thing. Also: Miranda Loves School, and KK is thriving too.

Another MFF, a fellow self-employed/day-dreaming/big-vision-planning/hybrid school sent mt this and gave me permission to share it : (click to continue) (more…)

mommy gets schooled, part 1

School is a given in America.

A billion kids or so (I’m not a numbers girl. Whatever) started school last week. They had backpacks and lunch boxes and maybe new shoes, and they rode busses or bikes or walked in little groups to places with cinderblock walls and bells and that yucky orange stuff waiting in the maintenance closet for soaking up vomit.

C’mon. Can’t you just smell it?

The hardest part about sending my first-born to kindergarten last week was not that she was going to be separate from me. We went through that trauma a year ago…and it turns out, the baby girl who had to be in my arms for the first 2 hours of every day for the first 2 years of her life…only needs me when she needs me, and that is becoming less and less often every day. She is already excited by other people… her “big girl” friends, her older sister’s friends, her mama’s friends. She is a lot like me in that way… always open to new connections, always growing her heart to cram more relationships in.

And I know sometimes, I made my mom feel a little left behind, just like my almost-6-year old is causing me to feel these days.

After 3 successful days as a sure STAR in her new class, she also lost her first tooth… at the theatre, of course, while I was working the box office for a crowd. So she celebrated with some of her new favorite people before I even knew about it ~


Did you follow that whole rabbit hole? Anyway… The hardest part of sending Miranda to kindergarten came two days before she started, at open house, when we walked through the crowded hallways and I found myself (ever social, like my Randa), looking for people I knew.

Side note: Probably about 7 years ago, Rod and I were at a Cubs game… at Wrigley Field, which holds about 40,000 people, and I joked with Rod that I still couldn’t help myself. I was looking around for people I knew.

Do you know, on the way out, in the bathroom, I ran into Tia P atrevito, whom I met the summer before 4th grade. AT A BALLPARK WITH 40,000 other people…

But at Miranda’s school…there was not one other soul I knew.

I’ve mostly gotten used to living here. I don’t always feel like the new girl. I’m building a village around me. But sometimes, the sweeping lack of history in this place, this beautiful place where new school pictures look like this:

…still gets to me.

I love the palm trees and the greenness, the warm weather and the promise that we can still hit the beach in the fall. I love that my BFFs in Chicago text me through the challenging times while new BFFs in Myrtle Beach fill in the hug, lunch, impromptu-cupcake-run gaps. I love that the librarian looks like The Perfect School Librarian and is named Mrs. Johnson (like one of my Chicago BFFs) and that the classroom is clean and has computers and 2 teachers plus a student teacher.

But I hate not knowing anyone else in my baby’s new school. I hate not having a connection with the people who feed her mind and spirit all day long.

This will begin to resolve in a few weeks when my work schedule calms down and I hit the volunteer meeting and she starts ballet class again and we, as a family, bring some balance back to the force.

But when it hit me, it hit hard.

These children are the Most Important Gifts I have ever been entrusted with. Most of the time I am Mellow Like Jell-o, but sometimes, I am downright scared of making the incorrect decision. School has been the biggest one yet. If you’ve read this or known me for any amount of time, you know the plan has changed over and over. Right now, Randa at public school and KK at private pre-school makes the most sense for us. They are learning They are safe. They are happy. Homeschooling is still in my blood, but as I get to know my first-born daughter more, I’m not sure it will ever be for her. Time will tell.

Later this week, I am going to share some of the awesome words shared with me on this subject by friends over the past few weeks. ‘Cause Mamas still need some coddling sometimes, even when their babies don’t…

sow something good

Randa’s class learned about gardens about a month ago, and ever since, she has been asking me if we can PLANT STUFF.

My idea of planting has to do with planting myself on the couch with my iPad and a cookie after a long day. I can ‘make-do’ with most things I try, but I can honestly say I suck at gardening.

My father, however, is a true green thumb, so I thought, Maybe it skips a generation. I also thought, this is what homeschooling is all about. I will learn with her.
I picked up a few pots, a bag of dirt, and 3 packets of organic seeds. Randa’s only request (as far as edible things – pink flowers were a given and will come already blooming) was carrots. I have heard many success stories about herb gardens, so I also chose cilantro. And, my uncle told me that lettuce is a great thing to plant with a quick payoff. Whalah. A garden was planned.

Due to our recent move to Crazytown (metaphorically, as the actual move is still 41-ish days away), Randa has had to patiently wait for this task to commence. It ended up taking us about 20 minutes, completed while our dinner (white chicken chili) was simmering on the stove).

We planned on Sunday to do it Monday after school. Then Monday at lunch, I was informed by two members of the Good Christian Men Rejoice Club* that planting season is over. Here. In South Carolina.

WHAT? I mean, in Chicago, May is normally what we call The Great Thaw. How can planting season be OVER?

I looked at those seed packets, and behold, both the lettuce and carrots suggest Feb-Mar and Sept-Oct for planting. You know, I just didn’t ever need to know that up in Da Heights. Nonetheless…in true Burton style, we planted them anyway, with a lick and a prayer and a hope for a harvest that defies logic.

And yes, we used a beach shovel for our planter-digger-thing (isn’t that what they’re called?)

When we were done, KK went to play in her clubhouse (aka: the minivan), and while the chili was thickening, Miranda and I worked on labels for the pots. This put our phonics and writing practice to use. HOMESCHOOL!

Today for my other job, I met a man who has been in the movie and concessions business for years. He was an unending source of knowledge about popcorn machines and ice makers and fun stories about concessions set-ups and crises and movie weekends. While he was talking, I looked at my friend and co-worker Terrie and said, This is why I’m going to homeschool. That man’s stories were a whole day of lessons…maybe a whole unit. And I was fascinated to learn from him.

Terrie asked me how I am going to do it. I don’t blame her. Like I said, it is CRAZYtown right now trying to get a start-up running with just a few of us on the job. And my answer remains: I don’t know, but I know I will. I believe it is what God is telling me to do right now, so how can I refuse, and how can I not trust He will show me the way?

Whether it gives us a half hour of planting things that may or may not grow or a half hour of learning about popcorn practices, the world really is a schoolhouse. I sure feel blessed to be learning, still, on a daily basis. I am excited to do so alongside my kids, planting not just stuff, but sowing good seeds…you know, the metaphorical kind.

*Since I began working every day with a bunch of good ol’ Christian boys, I had to give them a nickname. And since I think of them as Good Christian Men, the song “Good Christian Men Rejoice” always pops into my head. There you have it…