Changing school needs

I never can stick with one routine. It works for a few months, but then one or two of the kids need something different and it’s an uphill battle to keep things going at the right times and for the right amount of time, and things disintegrate and I start building a new routine. It’s frustrating at first, in part because I always wonder if I’ve just failed to enforce things enough and that’s why it fell apart. But, as I start to assemble a new schedule I get really excited. There are always things I want to do with the kids, or have the kids do, that can’t fit into a schedule. I look things over and decide what seems best for that time in their education or in our family situation and then just go for it. But when a routine disintegrates and I begin to assemble, I start to remember all of those subjects and ideas that fell by the wayside, and it’s actually pretty invigorating. I’ve let things disintegrate over the past 2 weeks, and I’m finally over feeling guilty, and I’m looking ahead to a new schedule.

Of course, it’s summertime, so that presents some other challenges as well as opportunities. Emma’s off to Girls’ Camp this week. Sue comes for a visit. And then my family comes, and we might head up to the cabin for a few days. After that, the boys have a class at the Rec Center, and then we’re already to August! Throw in swimming lessons somewhere in there, and that’s a fair bit to juggle. But it’s also a lot of learning and growing and fun as well.

I’ll try and remember to post whenever I get things figured out. I keep a record of my various routines under the tab “Homeschool Schedule.”

Can you go grocery shopping without a car?

Our family has been trying an experiment: Can we do day-to-day errands without using a car? We’re on year 6 of our experiment, and the answer 90% of the time is yes! Thanks to healthy legs, scooters & bikes, and public transportation, 90% of the time we’ve found we can get to the places we need to be without owning a car. While this experiment isn’t for everyone, I’d like to share a few thoughts that might be interesting to a biking community.

I’ve received a lot of curious looks and honest questions over the years. But the one I probably hear the most often is: How do you get to the grocery store?

We began going car-less in 2009 when we were living near BYU. At the time we had a double stroller with a large basket underneath. Combining that space with a backpack or two, or having the older child walk so we could use the back seat for grocery space, and we could easily fit a week’s worth of groceries. Usually I went a bit light, and went to the store every 3 or 4 days rather than pack the stroller to capacity, but we were known to fill that stroller often enough.

Even a single stroller can fit quite a bit:

micah in stroller with groceries

After walking so much in Provo, we decided to attempt to remain car-less when we left for my husband’s graduate program at UNM. We spent 5 years in Albuquerque and were fortunate to have 2 grocery stores within a mile and a Costco literally right next door.

Now that we’re back in Provo, I’ve begun using a Madsen cargo bike or “bucket bike” to get our groceries. I’ve absolutely loved it. I think that if someone is going from a car to a bucket bike they might not be quite so impressed, but going from a stroller to a Madsen has been amazing. 🙂  I’ve even taken it up to Costco a few times. (The ride back along University Parkway has an amazing view of the valley, too!)

Costco run with Madsen

From my perspective the only downside to the Madsen is that you need to balance the weight of your load in order to have a safe ride. The first few times I used it I didn’t balance it well, and trying to take a quick 90-angle turn wasn’t as graceful –or even successful– as I wanted it to be! I find it best to put the heaviest stuff (be that a child or a box of Hansen’s soda) right on the seat directly behind me, and then pack the other heavy things under the seats.

Not everyone has 5 kids and needs a Madsen to buy their groceries, of course. Using front and/or back bike baskets, with a backpack if needed, can also suffice for carrying a good amount of food.

So the answer is: Yes, it is possible to get groceries without a car! It will require careful housing choices, creative uses of strollers and bikes, and perhaps a few more trips that you’re used to making. And you will need to use a car occasionally for larger or particularly heavy loads.

It’s work, but to be honest, there’s not a whole lot I’m more proud of than a full and perfectly balanced load of groceries.

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A few thoughts on homeschooling and being a mom

I posted this first on my mommy-what blog. But since it has to do with homeschooling, I decided to double-post it here, too:

Lately I’ve been struggling to figure out how to balance homeschooling with play time & cleaning. Homeschooling gets first priority, and then with what time I have beyond that I can either play, read books to kids, watch them play/listen to them tell me things, or, I can clean, get grocery shopping done, catch up on online things, etc. Of course sometimes I mix these things: I might wash dishes while someone shows me what they made with legos, for example. But there’s nearly always a struggle inside me to feel like I’m balancing all these things well.

Then I think – Wah! How many women in the history of the world would like this to be their struggle?? :) My struggle is feeling guilty about how much time I spend on each of those three areas… but wow, I get to spend time on each of those three areas!

And yesterday and this morning, I am feeling like my perspective is even a bit more clear than that. I can sense that great things have happened in our home within the lives of our children. Could there be more to do? Of course. Would Lydia like it if I played with her today, just us two? Of course. But, the attention that each of them needs, and the urge/push to do good and hard things that each of them needs, and the comfort and reassurance that each of them needs, those things have happened — one way or another. And the good effects of those things I cansee in each of my children.

And so I feel very blessed this morning. I might not accomplish all I would like to in a single day, but day by day & year by year, we’ve made a good go of it. :) When I see the overall results, I am content. When I see my day ahead and wonder what to leave out, or look back on a day and wonder what I should have done, I ought to take a deep breath and remember all that God has done in our family, and what a tremendous blessing it is to have happy, confident, good kids (despite the moments where all I see are the fights, tantrums, weaknesses, etc.). When I step back I can sense it. I can sense the good that is here in our home.

Yesterday at Church we read a talk called O Remember, Remember by Henry B. Eyring. As part of it, he said, “I grew more confident that the Holy Ghost can bring all things to our remembrance—even things we did not notice or pay attention to when they happened.” He meant individual blessings in each day, and I hope I can recognize those more and more too. But right now I’m applying it to an overall picture: the Holy Ghost can help me see what is being accomplished over time, as a build-up of daily concern and work — all of course with God’s help.

So am I glad I homeschool? That I am a stay-at-home mom? YES! Do I do things perfectly? Nope! Do I ever have regrets? Of course. Is it the only way to accomplish good things for my kids? No, I’m sure it’s not. But, are good things happening? YES! Yes. And that’s something to remember daily. That’s something to shout to myself and celebrate and praise God for. It’s still a struggle to decide what to do each day, but it’s worth remembering what God is doing in our home a part from those lists and feelings of guilt. And certainly, He is doing good things in our home, and in every home. That’s worth remembering.