About Natalie

I am a Jesus Lover, a wife, and a mother. And I'm making the best of what looks like a mess!

Homeschooling for 20/21 School Year

I’ve been considering homeschooling since we started distance learning last March. I had a terrible experience with distance learning. To be clear. distance learning (or NTI, or online/virtual learning, or whatever you want to call it) are not the same as homeschool. Distance learning is when your child is enrolled in a public school and is doing all of the assignments remotely. Homeschooling is when you are the teacher and responsible for all aspects of your child’s education. One of the reasons distance learning doesn’t work for us is because I have four kids and a husband working at home. So imagine me trying to keep everything quiet while half the family is on a video call. It is a nightmare. I wrote about back when I was in the middle of all that.

I also already wrote about why I don’t want to do in-person learning. This is NOT to shame anyone who wants their kids in school and has no issues with social distancing, but it isn’t the best choice for us.

In the past, I have felt like our school had many benefits over what I could give them at home. I hear a lot of criticism towards public school because it is a rigid and outdated style of learning. I know some brick and mortar schools might be full of rows of desks with a teacher writing on a board and students memorizing and reciting information like robots. At our public school though, it is the total opposite of that and I have told our teachers how much I appreciate their approach to learning.

I would receive photos on the school app of my children daily and they were always either on their feet, outside, or sprawled out on the ground learning.

They were never in desks and never bored and disenchanted. This school is all about the tactile, kinesthetic, collaboration, imagination, nature, motion, friends-problem-solving, creating, building, hands-on, having fun while discovering!!! I wanted to share a hundred photos from this past year, but I narrowed it down. Their lessons are always super creative.  Is that awesome or what!? However, with the guidelines that are in place so much of that is going to change.

When I think of my kids being in an environment where their face is covered all day, as well as everyone around them it breaks my heart. No doubt this amazing group of teachers and staff will find creative ways to still ignite kids’ enthusiasm for learning but there are some ways their hands are tied. Day in and day out the children will be constantly encouraged to sanitize and discouraged from coming together which goes against our family’s philosophy on health and growth. In the pandemic public school, they can’t get into small groups, or play games together, or see smiles, or share crayons or a microscope. So that’s why I feel like I could serve them better at home for now.

Originally I wasn’t going to homeschool all of them. I was taking it one kid at a time.

First off Ezie, he’ll be in 2nd grade. I feel like he thrives in a school environment. He loves people. He works well with a teacher and not so much with me (when we did distance learning). He also is EXTREMELY physical. He notoriously hugs EVERYBODY. I’ve talked about this before. He has been called “Huggy Bear” since he was two years old. He had to make an “all-about-me” post for school last year and here are some of his answers-

I am special because- he wrote “I give hugs”

I help others by- “Making them feel better by hugging them”

For Favorite Book, he put “The Hug Machine”

He will tap your shoulder when he wants your attention. He wrestles and does secret handshakes with his friends. He stops during a school assignment to announce a “hug break”. Ironically this is the same reason I used to feel like homeschool wouldn’t be a good fit for him! We have friends and family that we are quarantining with, along with just having 5 other people in our home that I think he can meet his physical contact quota at home much more than in public school right now.

Then there is SJ.

Because she spent the first three years of her life without cochlear implants her little rapidly developing brain is hard-wired to read lips and facial expressions. Because of this, I am certainly worried that she would fall behind with facial coverings. There are some exemptions for teachers to wear shields when a child has special needs, but even then, that leaves the rest of the school with covered faces. I have hearing loss too and I know how hard it is to hear when the voice is muffled by a mask and then tack on being 6 feet away! It’s nearly impossible. I have had to tell many employees at stores when I’ve been out and about- I’m sorry I have hearing loss and I just don’t understand. So for SJ, I think she’ll have a better 4th grade year absorbing a lot more information at home. We are working on a scholarship that would still allow her to receive the services that she would have gotten from her IEP and I am really excited about that opportunity.

Lastly, there is Z.

We had fully planned on him starting his first year at Junior High in the school building. Then things started escalating with COVID and J and I thought, well at least he’ll have the online option and he can work from home. We really wanted him in school because he is starting accredited High School math and the grade is on his High School transcripts. However, when we found out that online learning would be sitting at a computer the entire school day and you are expected to be there joining in virtually the whole time. There was no flexibility and I understand why, but he wasn’t interested in that and neither were we. So we said no thank you.

This was not an easy choice at all. I love our school, teachers, and principal.  I almost cried yesterday when I filled out the decision form and had to check “my child will not be attending”. It’s a grieving process. I’m not mad at the school for doing what they feel has to be done or what is mandatory. I think they’ve done a phenomenal job navigating all of this! That’s part of what makes it harder for me. I feel like I’m betraying our beloved school that has served my children so well. It’s almost like a break up with someone you really care about, but you agree to take a break.

So that is a lot of words about all the heavy stuff that is on my heart. Maybe you’ve seen this graphic floating around.

That’s how I feel. Everyone has to make this very personal decision for themselves. This whole crazy unprecedented time is wearing on all of us. It’s not hopeless though. Next time I will write about why I am looking forward to this next season.

By | July 24th, 2020|Uncategorized|1 Comment

Chicks at 7 Weeks

It seems like seven weeks have just flown by! The once tiny fluffy chicks are halfway to adulthood already.

It’s hard to believe these tiny little chicken nuggets could fit in the palm of even the little kiddos hands not long ago.

Now they have all of their feathers and take two hands to hold. I try to grab them with one hand out of habit and then realize they are way too big for that.

Now that we have chicks (and a tree house and a zipline) we have visitors almost every day.

It’s like we’ve turned into the neighborhood petting zoo (with only one kind of animal, HA!) and I’m not even a little bit mad about.





Each one of the kids has really bonded with the chicks. At first, it was hard to tell who was who, but now we definitely know each one by name and they pretty much all have their own personality too!

Z named Zelda  (the grey bird in the pic) and if you know my gamer son then you know where that name derived from. Zelda is a Blue Rock from Mt. Healhy Hatchery.

Ezie named this bird White Stripes. There has been talk of changing her name because the bird is not striped or even a little bit white. Maybe the chick is a fan of the retro Jack White band? Anyway, she’s a golden Laced Wyandotte and despite her stuffy attitude, she is a keeper… at least for now.


Elle Is holding  “Bootsie” in this photo. Bootsie is a Buff Brahma and she is a doll! She’s so sweet and loves everybody.

In this photo I am holding “Penguin”. She used to look like a baby penguin when she first hatched.

She’s super scrawny and will probably only weigh four pounds when full grown. She’s a fun scrappy girl though. If there is a bug or worm around she WILL be the one to catch it. It never fails.


Lastly (for this blog post anyway) this is Sunshine on SJ’s head. She is a Buff Orpington. They are known for being friendly and she definitely is! Elle named her when she was a new chick. It seemed like a fitting name since she was all yellow, but now it’s fitting because she has such a sunny personality.



I  don’t want to make raising chickens sound like it’s all sunshine and nap time. We’ve loved the experience so far and when we had chicks in the past, however, it takes time and dedication. Once things get going the chicks mostly take care of themselves, but man the set up is a lot of work.

Since we are behind on finishing the coop and the run we have to “babysit” the chicks EVERY DAY. We can’t let them be totally  free range. In fact, we assured our neighbors the chicks wouldn’t just be wandering around in their yards. We also know that there are dogs and hawks during the day. Don’t even get me started on what’s running around at night, but we are trying to build a predator-proof home for our little ladies. Anway, it’s been fun taking care of the chicks, but having someone outside with them at all waking hours is NOT sustainable. Thank goodness my gorgeous hen house is almost finished!

They are sleeping in it at night now and when the run is done they can just carry on and go about their business from sun up to sundown. We have to finish it though.


We primed the outside today and my incredible husband is doing an amazing job on the whole thing.

He doesn’t do things halfway so we’re all in now! Despite all the hard work, I don’t regret the decision so far. We have conversations about whether or it was a bad idea. Then we discuss how crazy we must be, but in the end we always decide we are happy to have hens and they seem happy to have us.

By | July 16th, 2020|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Outdoor Projects All Summer Long

I haven’t posted anything in over 10 days!!! So today I am at least going to give a quick update via a phone photo dump. I have to use restraint here because as I was going through photos I started thinking,

Well that could be its own blog post 


Save that one for later, it’s not finished yet.


You need to go find another photo to go with this. 

NO. NO. NO, I have to tell myself. No rabbit trails allowed.

With that said here is a micro-update about what has been happening around here.


We have spent so much time outside (and Home Depot).

Our first project was the treehouse.

The older kids are really starting to contribute when it comes to building projects.

The treehouse is more like a fort, but it’s pretty cool. It even has a zip line. We still have a few finishing touches to add and then I will post in detail about this new attraction.

We also planted trees.

We love trees and we were hoping to add a little more privacy to our yard. As with anything I mention today this landscaping is still work in progress.

We also started a compost area. After years of “composting without a bin” which has been a very popular topic on my blog, we are taking things a little bit of a different direction. We do so much composting and gardening now that it seemed time to organized our scraps a little better.

Then ast weekend we built a fire pit!


I love it.

Just when you think Okay Busches what more could you possibly intend to do in your back yard. Well, we are currently working on my dream house…

Henhouse that is!

It’s a little further along than what you see in this pic. We have shingles and a nesting box now. The finished product will look like a variation of this

For now the chicks run around in this little portable, collapsable chicken run that J and Z made.

They still sleep in the brooder which they have completely outgrown.

All that and we still have our potted garden. Not much produce to report but plenty of herbs and berries.

We make smoothies every day.

Oh, and one final addition- our new/old tractor. J got a John Deere from my dad and brother. We have always loved John Deere because that’s what J’s dad (who is a true farmer) used. It’s J’s first riding lawn mower and along with making cutting grass a ton easier, it has been great for hauling stuff for these projects.

In this photo the kids and I are on our way to pick up more materials from the trailer in the driveway!


This photo was when the tractor (which I feel like needs a name) was having a little trouble getting over a hill. I’m driving, Z’s weighing things down to keep it even, and J is pushing.

It looks like we’ve been doing a lot of work and it’s true! We’ve found some time to chill too though.  Let’s hope for a whole lot more chilling once these projects are finally done!

By | July 8th, 2020|Uncategorized|1 Comment

37 the Year of the Anchor

I turn 38 tomorrow. I am absolutely to the point that I lose track of what age I am. I know it sounds ridiculous, but sometimes J and I have to do the math to figure out our ages. Then when we determine what age we are we gasp wondering where the time went.

I had a friend recently share what her 4oth year was like. It was her 41st birthday and she talked about some milestones and big changes she made for the better in the past year. I was inspired and started thinking about what I accomplished in the past year. This practice seemed promising but upon arrival of the memory I immediately found myself desending into a dark emotional pit. I don’t want to say it was the worst year of my life! Hello! 2012 called, they want their title back. For the record, 2012 was also not the worst year (my amazing and precious Ezie was born!), but some years are more challenging than others. It’s like waves at the sea, the ebbs and flows of life. Hold onto that analogy for a minute because I am going to come back to it.

We were in Texas last year for my 37th birthday. We had medicaid at the time, but it didn’t apply out of state so when strep throat hit the kids like dominoes, the out-of-pocket medical costs started to rack up real quick! It wasn’t the best trip ever, but everyone felt better toward the end. So the day after my birthday we decided to do one final excursion before heading back to Ohio. This is when I was driving the kids back from seeing Toy Story 4 and had an 18 wheeler cross into my lane on the highway and crushed my van up next to a concrete barricade.

I still have PTSD from that experience. For probably 10 seconds  I didn’t know if my children buckled in their seats behind me were alive. I have little flashbacks of the horror, but the experience as a whole is very fuzzy because my brain has blacked out a lot of it.

 It took us a couple of extra days to make it back to Ohio since my van was totaled. When we arrived back home we learned that our church, where my husband was employed full time as the worship leader, was going through a crisis of its own. I won’t go into details of all of that online because it’s so personal for many people that would be reading this, but the fact is my husband and everyone else on staff had their pay cut dramatically or entirely. We had to live on less than half our income and start looking for a new job. Not only did it take a physical toll on us, but it was all wrapped up in our spiritual sanctuary and some of our closest relationships too. While I don’t want to ellaborate anymore about this matter, I will say that God was and is always faithful. We had people bless us and care for us in extrodinary ways to ensure that our needs were met.

All that and then to wrap up the last 4 months of 37th year with a pandemic!?

Let’s just say I don’t look back on the past year with the fondest of memories or any sign of growth and accomplishments. It’s a time that I can look back and say, HEY I SURVIVED! And actually, I am quite proud of that. Sometimes situations can throw you into a disorienting abyss that can feel like drowning. This is where the waves analogy comes in.

The Bible talks a lot about storms and seas. It also mentions anchors. We read about them in a physical standpoint

Acts 27:29 “and fearing that we might run on the rocks, they let down four anchors from the stern and prayed for day to come.” 

and we read about them in a spiritual sense

Hebrews 6:19 “We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain.”

There have been times in my life, specifically in the past year, where I feel completely lost at sea. I have experienced panic attacks, depression, hopelessness and felt the absolute depths of despair. I thought for sure that I was about to get swept away with the storm until I realized there is something keeping me grounded, something I can’t deny no matter how lost I feel. It’s His presence that holds me. When I accepted Christ as my savior He became the anchor in my soul. He is the reason I can stay strong and have hope. It’s like the song “Cornerstone” by Hillsong-

“When darkness seems to hide His face
I rest on His unchanging grace
In every high and stormy gale
My anchor holds within the veil”

If I could scuba dive through this past year’s events and feel the turbulence and see the ship wreck I would swim all the way down to the depths and find the anchor. That’s my 37th year takeaway and for that, I am grateful.


By | June 26th, 2020|Uncategorized|2 Comments

The Big Surprise!

Notice, I did not call this post “Social Distancing Week 11”. I have done updates every week since school was closed 11 weeks ago. I will still continue to write about our journey through all of this Covid-19 stuff because I am well aware that the virus is still an issue. However, I’m ready to move on. This is our “new normal”… I guess… from what I hear. So the Busch household is shifting gears!


They wanted us to stay home, so we decided to make our home a little more self-sustaining where we can grow our own vegetables, hang out, and have fun together! We have somewhat secretly been working hard on some big plans! J even took several days off work to focus on our backyard projects. One of the biggest additions is our *drumroll*…



We had chickens nine years ago and loved it. This time we have a lot more chicks and a lot more breeds. They are only a week old, but they are doing great so far. I can’t believe how much they have changed already! When got them from the hatchery last week they fit in this little to-go box!

Right now we have them in a brooder in the laundry room. Eventually, they will go in a coop in the back yard. We haven’t built that yet, but we have five more weeks to get on it.

Because they each have their own look we have been able to name them which was fun. I will try not to overwhelm you with too many photos, but we love our little chicks.

SJ is especially smitten. She pulled a chair into the laundry room because she loves to sit and watch them.

I know I don’t have any photos of the other oldest three in our family holding chicks (Z, J, and myself) but don’t let that fool you. We all participated in naming chicks and we love to hold them and watch them too. Last night I even had a dream about them. I dreamed that they were all full-grown and one was a rooster! For the record, we shouldn’t and hopefully don’t have any roosters. I know our neighbors would not appreciate it.

The kids have never had any pets, so while we are definitely looking forward to eggs because we eat them every single day, the main investment is having some animals that we can love on and bring extra smiles to all of our faces. So far they are really good at doing that.

We have even more additions in progress for our backyard. The next one isn’t a living thing, but it’s just as fun and exciting. I’ll keep you all posted!

By | June 4th, 2020|Uncategorized|2 Comments

The Last Week of Distance Learning! (Week 10)

Goodness, I remember being in disbelief when the schools abruptly closed for what was originally looking like 2 WHOLE MONTHS! Here we are more than 10 weeks later and while Ohio is reopening the end of social distancing does not look like it will be happening anytime soon.

I am grateful distance learning is over and looking forward to SUMMER FUN! The last day of school is technically Thursday May 28th but there are no more lessons planned. Instead the school is doing a reading challenge and dress up days that are optional. To say that distance learning was a challenge for us is an understatement, but there were some good moments in the midst of the struggle. We finished several read alouds and I found a love for doing character voices. The kids enjoyed it too. Their mémé offered to read one of the chapter books one day while I was doing work for the church, but in the end they decided that it wasn’t the same as when I do it. I am beyond flattered.

While struggling to find books that the kids hadn’t already read and that we owned (since the library is closed) I asked a friend if she wanted to do a book exchange. We met at the library because that just seemed like the natural choice (we are both library geeks) and I passed off “Wonder” to her

and got the book “Charlie and Frog” for us to read and so far it’s really good!

The kids also did a Lego challenge early on in quarantine before distance learning made it difficult to do fun activities. I hope to share a whole post on that sometime, but here are some of their creations.

We have some fun stuff planned in place of travel for the summer but I will hold off on that announcement for now. I am also going to hold off on finalizing what we will do about next school year. I’ve heard from various sources that schools are expected to have somewhat of a strategy in place by mid-July and so we should know then whether we will be homeschooling or going back to their public school.

I’m sure some of you have seen the graphic that went around Facebook.

Then I saw some rebuttals,  like this one.


While not all of what the blue graphic says is exactly what is recommended by the CDC, it’s pretty close. I have also read the Ohio draft of what the Department of Education is going to try to implement. These guidelines might be necessary or okay with others, but they are not okay with me. As I mentioned last week, BEFORE the CDC shared anything, I’ve already been planning for what would happen if we need to homeschool.

I try my best to stay informed and get my information directly from the President and Governors through press conferences. From what I understand, until we have a vaccine or unless the coronavirus cases dramatically drop or disappear, this is “our new normal” for a while. If masks, and shields, and keeping six feet apart are the expectations for churches, grocery stores, and everywhere else then why would we expect that in two months they’re going to be ready to let millions of children do otherwise? Although I know that each state and in some cases districts get to choose their own reopening plans (which I appreciate) I’m planning on those plans looking pretty close to what the CDC is recommending. If I’m wrong, that’s great! I want my kids in public school! I rave all the time about their school and their teachers. It’s why we moved here!  I had a teacher friend that posted this graphic.

I wish the teacher could wave a magic wand and make the school reopening less sterile and rigid, the same way I wish pastors could just reopen churches and let everybody hug and high five and reopen the children’s programs, but it’s not our current reality.

Regardless of any kind of politics I need to know that the educational benefits that my children would get would outweigh the potential emotional and mental health costs that come with the distance approach. The thing I feel like might be in our favor is that our county is not a hot spot for coronavirus. We’ve had cases and even deaths (that could be counted on one hand from what I understand). Our city is not huge though and it is slightly more rural than a lot of areas. I know that those factors come into play with how different districts will proceed. J and I will continue to pray through this decision. I’m okay with kids eating schools in the classrooms and smaller class sizes. I am in favor of open windows and outdoor learning! We already don’t ride the bus, so I definitely don’t care what they choose to do about that. On the other hand, I am not okay with elementary students in masks, or no free play during recess, or no working on tactile projects and crafts together, or constant hand sanitizing. If you have known me and my delayed vax/cloth diaper/cosleeping/home-birth self for any length of time you know that I am not basing these decisions of a silly graphic (with a typo mind you) circulating online. This is my crunchy momma side that has been there since my first pregnancy including when I chose probiotics over antibiotics even though I tested positive for GBS. Come at me!

Just kidding, don’t come at me. I’m actually a nonconfrontational enneagram nine, but I do get passionate about my rights regarding my health and my children. I understand WHY these measures are in place, but if I had a choice for my kids I’d chose home in this scenarioio. If we do go that route I’d like to think that it frees up space in a time where that is really needed.

Enough about social distancing though! My next post will be an exciting surprise.

By | May 25th, 2020|Uncategorized|1 Comment

Social Distancing Week 9

The week of May 10-16 was a big one for our area in terms of the pandemic. Ohio continued the reopening process.

I just rescheduled with our dentist and the cleanings that were canceled in April have now been pushed back to August. I assured them it was not urgent and that I understood. Many restaurants with patios are now open. Retail stores are open again and people are out shopping big time! In Kentucky, a federal court overturned the governor’s temporary ban on churches meeting in person. This was big news for the church I grew up in where the rest of my family still goes. With strict guidelines in place for everyone’s protection, they were able to meet in person on Mother’s Day for the first time since the quarantine.

Our church is still recording services.

We aired our tenth service yesterday. It’s not easy to do virtual services. Whether you are meeting in church again or online please remember your pastoral team in your prayers (as I’m sure you already do if you have a church you consider home). The church and leadership are not at lounging in their recliners soaking up all of the free time! As someone who volunteers as social media director at our church and is married to a worship pastor I can assure that your pastoral team is working around the clock right now to figure out how to do virtual church or reopen or a mix of both while also doing mental and spiritual health check-ups, outreach in the community, and all the usual stuff on top of that. The church is essential and they are on the frontlines. God is big enough to take care of it all though and I am blessed to be a vessel. I just wanted to be candid about how much work it is. I have had people bless me, check in on me, text me, and pray with me and I appreciate all of that! I am sure your pastor, tech team, worship team etc. would love to hear some encouragement and positive feedback from you too!

Now about the whole distance learning thing, this past week was okay.

SJ had to create a fictional animal for science. This is UniDog. She also had to do a report that included vocabulary and information they’ve been studying.

Things are winding down as we only have two weeks left, however my mind will NOT stop racing about what happens in the next school year. Elle is already enrolled in her first year of Pre-K. Z’s classes are all lined up including his recent acceptance into a special math cohort program and Language Arts for his first year of Junior High. I was really looking forward to this next school year and still do, but I am starting to become fearful. I know that fear is not from the Lord, but there have been recent discussions about what school will look like in August in the fight against this virus. I’ve seen drafts of plans and they don’t look they are going to work for our family. I won’t get into all the details right now, but let’s just say for now we plan for all four of kids to go to school in the fall. However, that is contingent on what school will look like for the kids and if it’s something that seems like a negative detrimental experience then I will homeschool them. Or there is a possibility that some will go to school and others won’t. We are going from one school to three this year (it’s not the first time I would have children spread out in three different schools). Anything could happen. I am trying not to think about too much, but I don’t want to be naive and assume everything will be back to normal (or close to it). With all that we have been through so far in 2020, I don’t know if anything would shock me at this point. Either way J and I have a lot to pray about and consider for our family. I am thankful to be in a country where we are free to do that and also be in a situation where, as a stay at home mom, this is something I can consider. That’s all the information I have for now though and it will probably be a couple of months before I even know more.

By | May 18th, 2020|Uncategorized|1 Comment

Social Distancing Week 8- Ohio begins reopening phases

I used to love the game Minesweeper when I was a kid/teen.

The premise of the game is to clear the squares without clicking a bomb. According to Wikipedia “In order to win the game, players must logically deduce where mines exist through the use of the numbers given by uncovered cell”.  I feel like talking about the coronavirus right now is a lot like playing minesweeper. You can read the clues and skip through the board as best you can, but you never know when you are going to click the wrong thing and detonate a bomb or in the case of real-life, tick someone off. With that said I will warn you that I am talking about loosening the reigns a tad for social distancing. I know this can be a trigger for some people.

Anyway, this month Ohio is starting to open back up. It’s gradual but there is a huge shift in the atmosphere here.

A lot of people are out and about walking, sitting on benches, and visiting. There are more cars on the road and gas prices are going back up. It was a pretty good week for me compared to some of the previous ones.

On Monday we wore our Star Wars shirts for “May the 4th”.

Tuesday I had my first photoshoot since quarantine. Ezie learned to ride a bike without training wheels so we did a lot of that.

Z decorated a yard sign for his elementary graduation.

SJ went on a virtual field trip and so she had no school work on Thursday which was a huge relief since she has had a difficult time keeping up.

On Saturday our church had an outreach in the parking lot and the women’s ministry gathered items to be donated to people in need. They ended up with three van fulls. We were all bundled up with masks and sunglasses on so it was hard to really see anyone’s face but at least we could “see” each other and it was great to be able to do something for the community.

After that our family went to some plant nurseries to brainstorm for our backyard makeover and it’s getting pretty exciting.

J and Z are working on doing digital sketches and plans for the yard which will hopefully include a zipline! The kids all worked together to design their dream tree house (not that we can create it, but it’s still fun to dream).

There are still so many things that are off-kilter right now as we try to fight this virus. The stores are out of fresh meat. You can only buy in limited quantities which for a family of 6 is less than we would normally eat. We still aren’t at school or church, so that’s a huge difference. One thing I really miss is the library and another thing is thrift stores. I am all about eco-friendly shopping and recycling or borrowing to reduce waste and consumption, but right now we can’t do that and so it breaks my heart. Lots of people will be throwing items away because there is nowhere to donate. People like myself that would normally buy used or borrow are forced to buy new.  I know this is nothing compared to some of the bigger issues, but it is something that I think about.

It has been a long two months and writing each week has really helped me to process all of this. I realize it’s been a while since I have written about anything other than my quarantine updates. I do hope that I can start “reopening” as a blogger and write about other topics soon. While distance learning school is in session my time is extremely limited so I don’t know exactly when that will happen, but it’s something I will look forward to.


By | May 11th, 2020|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Social Distancing Week 7

Week Seven is in the books. It was interesting because we officially started “reopening Ohio”. Granted not much changes. I did get a text from our dentist office wanting to reschedule missed appointments so that was kind of refreshing to see.

It’s really weird how all of this is rolling out. I heard in a press conference that the shut down was like turning off a light switch. It happened all of a sudden, like the flip of a switch. Everything immediately went black. However, opening the state back up is not turning the light back on, it’s using a dimmer to gradually add a little bit of light at a time.

It’s been intense to see the reactions of this reassimilation. Most people seem really unhappy right now. They are angry that the government isn’t moving quickly enough. Other people are upset that the government is moving too quickly. It’s a lot to process.

Most of my kids are still struggling with distance learning. It is not going great. So I am bummed about that and the fear that this coming school year will be affected in some way. I am also bummed that my 6th grader doesn’t get to have an elementary school graduation. I know that sounds silly, but allow me to quote myself from a blog post I wrote earlier this year called “Big Year for Z

In May, at the end of the school year, all the faculty and students line the halls of the school and the 6th graders walk through the crowds one final time before graduating elementary school. Everyone claps, cheers, and gives high fives to the graduates. It’s always made me tear up even when it was for kids that didn’t know at all! I imagine I’ll be a big ball of emotion this year when it’s Z making that walk symbolizing the transition into this next stage.

It’s something I’ve looked forward to since he was in Kindergarten and saw the big kids get their “clap out” (I didn’t know that was a thing until then). I know it’s not the same as a high school senior by any means (God bless them and their families right now) but it was meaningful to me. So I cried when I realized that he would miss that opportunity.

On the bright side, there have been some sweet moments from this quarantine time. This past weekend we started a garden.

We weren’t going to this year because we would be traveling. I had big plans (I blogged about that too). Another plan bites the dust.

There is a quote from Dwight Eisenhower that says something to the effect of “Plans are useless, but planning is indispensable”. I think what it means is that you can never predict the exact outcome and plans inevitable change. However, it’s the dreaming, problem-solving, or strategy that you drum up that gives you direction and motivation.

Plans don’t always roll out perfectly, but either way, planning has a purpose. That’s reassuring to me because of how many times do I have a plan and it gets ripped away from me?

I planned the family trip of a lifetime and now the coronavirus ruined it.

Or the time I had the perfect birth plan! Then the baby was born on the way to the hospital.

Or what about last month when I planned meals for all thirty days of April, only to have a tornado knock out our power for three days and force us to eat out.

I take great stock in the verse “The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps”. It’s nearly impossible for ANY OF US to plan much of anything these days because the top doctors, world leaders, and scientists do not know what the rest of the year will look like. We just don’t know. Earlier this year I read Lysa Terkeurst’s book “It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way”. It’s really great and I recommend it. She talks about being a planner and in Chapter Ten she said somethings that I related to so much when I read it last year and it definitely still applies now. Terkeursts says

“Whatever your situation is, you probably feel like you can’t change it, but you still have to live through the realities of what happening right now. Sometimes you just have to walk in your ‘I don’t know’…What if settling down and all your disappointments going away would be the worst thing that could happen to you? What if your ‘I don’t know’ is helping you, not hurting you? What if your ‘I don’t know’ is helping you let go of things you aren’t supposed to know because that knowledge would be too heavy a burden for today? But the One you do know, the Lord, is so perfectly capable to bear it all.”

Colossians 1:11 says “God will strengthen you with His own great power so that you will not give up when troubles come, but you will be patient.”

Lord, help me to trust you as I walk through this season of “I don’t know”.



By | May 4th, 2020|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Social Distancing Week 6

I can’t believe it’s been 6 weeks since the country basically shut down. Last week Ohio officially announced that school would be closed for the remainder of the semester. Unlike when schools closed the first time, this was not a shocker to anyone. It is still surreal and somehow comforting to have it finally settled for certain.

I have not been shy about sharing my struggles throughout this whole pandemic. It’s been heavy enough that I decided to take a break from social media and some of my usual routine last week. I know this was the right choice for me and even though I still feel a bit disoriented by the whole act of quarantining I definitely worked out a lot of the kinks for distance learning. One way of doing this is by choosing sanity over assignments. I almost can’t even type that because it might sound like a cop-out. Academics have always been a HUGE priority to me. That’s why when other parents seemed to be struggling through all of this I had no problem reminding them that the teachers and schools are extending a ton of grace and understanding right now and “just do what you can do”, but when I had to turn around and say that to myself it didn’t really stick. I felt like I was failing my children.

The cool thing about distance learning or homeschooling is that each family can do what works for them. I know some people that keep things really flexible and do school at any hour of the day or break it up between their kids instead of doing it all at the same time. For us, with grades 1, 3, 6, and pre-k and a work from home husband who does a lot of conference calls, we have had to rely on some structure.

9:00 am – 1:00 pm is school hours. If you include travel time this shaves off 3 and a half hours from their school routine which used to be- leave the house at 8:00 am and get home at 3:30 pm.

I have one child who is an independent learner and barrels through assignments very quickly. This is where we have had to put up boundaries with google chats and video games. I have had to implement the fact that even though the assignments may be done it doesn’t mean the second half of the week is a free-for-all. Monday-Friday 9:00-1:00 is mostly used for educational activities. If you run out of assignments from school you can work on something fun that is educational like building a website, or you can read or help your siblings.

I have another child that is starting to become more of an independent learner so that is very helpful, but they also are a perfectionist. For all of our sake, I have had to cut off school at a certain time (this is where sanity over assignments comes in). We haven’t completed everything in distance learning, but we are doing our best and working well beyond the two hour daily minimum requirements that the district set. With this child I have also had to set boundaries about screaming for help. We are still working on the no screaming rule, but the idea is instead of screaming come and let me know that you need something and then be patient. When I (or big brother, or occasionally dad) can come to help I will.

For the other school-age child, I have had to sit down and walk them through everything. It’s been helpful to see the learning struggles there that I never realized were an issue. This child is great at math though, so when I have to leave them to help a sibling I will have them work on math independently, or just try to read, or take a break to play or have a snack. I set a timer and then come back when time is up.

Timers are my friend, I don’t use them religiously, but it works in other areas of my life so it finally dawned on me (5 weeks into it) to use a timer for distance learning rather than using the assignment as the standard for how long everything will take. Teachers don’t even do that in school! You give an assignment and some will finish early and some will be incomplete, but when the bell rings or test time is up then it’s “pencils down”. I have written about timers and routine before and they are some of my most popular blog posts. Here are the links if you want to check them out.

The Magic Kitchen Timer (from my teachable parenting series)

Ideas for Helping Kids with daily routines

For the record, we also do walks, outside time, movement time, family time, reading a book together time, and of course breakfast and lunch. So when I talk about the first half of the day being all about school that doesn’t mean the kids are sitting at a desk with their nose in a textbook for four hours straight.

I sound like I really have things down pat now, but the truth is we are all navigating things one wave at a time. The kids are not thrilled with distance learning. We have some hard times. This is real life. I am grateful that at least for now I don’t feel like my head will spontaneously explode at any moment and that’s a good thing right?

By | April 28th, 2020|Uncategorized|0 Comments