When Change Is Needed

Sometimes things seem to be working out just fine, until one morning you wake up and nothing seems to be working anymore.

Your routine, your appliances, your lesson plans, your to-do lists, your efforts with anything… There is something amiss with all of it.

As I expressed in my last post, my husband and I have a deep and sincere desire to forge a new life for ourselves and start a homestead. We have realized for years that we simply don’t fit into the current social standards and ways of living and a great change seems to be needed.

But sometimes, only small changes are needed – and these small changes can have a large impact.

Recently I began noticing that my son was having a hard time with his fifth grade curriculum. I don’t think there is anything wrong with the curriculum itself, nor is there anything wrong with my son…it just isn’t a good fit at the moment.

It just wasn’t working.

Being only 9 1/2 years old, a fifth grade curriculum is a year (or two) ahead of what other children his age are working on. We jumped ahead a year when we pulled him out of public school, only a couple of months into his kindergarten year, because he was already ahead academically and we thought he could handle a first grade curriculum. And it turned out he most certainly could.

Though we had many battles of will (which we still do), he was more than capable of handling curriculum that was more advanced than what his peers probably had. Until now.

Up until about forth or fifth grade, a lot of a child’s learning is rote memorization. While working on our forth grade curriculum last year, there was a great deal more critical thinking and reading comprehension involved, which J.J. has a lot of difficulty with (I think mostly due to his being on the spectrum), but we forged ahead anyway. I thought if I just kept challenging him and pushing him forward it would eventually “click”. This is how a lot of things work with him. We will struggle through things together until one day he just gets it.

But… It still hasn’t clicked yet.

So, as I was going through my mountains of school materials, workbooks, and math manipulatives (thanks to my retired school teacher father-in-law!) this past weekend…I decided make better use of all of the materials my father-in-law has most graciously given to me. We have workbooks on Logical Thinking, Critical Thinking, Reading Comprehension, oodles of Math Workbooks at various levels, and much, much, more.

I made the tough decision to set aside the fifth grade curriculum for now, in hopes that we will strengthen some of the skills J.J. has the most difficulty with before we eventually return to the curriculum.

I say “tough decision” because I have to admit to myself, my husband, and to my son that things aren’t going well right now. I have to set aside my pride and admit that things just aren’t working out — even with what I consider a near-perfect curriculum. I have to admit that we need to slow down. I have to admit that there are things my son has great difficulty with. He is a very bright child and thrives with tasks and subjects that require memorization, but has troubles when deeper and more critical thinking is involved.

I have to admit… That it’s ok.

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I am so very fortunate that I do homeschool and it is a great privilege to be able to give my son what he needs — a few years ago we needed to jump ahead, and now we need to slow down.

Perhaps things will click and things will speed up again. Perhaps we will slow down to the point where he is on the same grade level with his peers again.

The point is to give him what he really needs. Not to give him what I think he should need…but what he truly needs.

I am so very grateful I have the freedom and opportunity to give that to him.




Is There A Way?

For about the past six, maybe seven, years my husband and I have had humble, yet grand dreams. We want a homestead.

It seems this is a dream shared by many these days, as prices of everything keep going up and up, fossil fuels are being depleted and our usage of such energy has made global climate change threaten our very lifestyles (if not also our lives), and the norm in western society is based upon a disposable culture — disposable goods and relationships.

If one were to go by the plethora of blogs, YouTube channels, websites, forums, etc that are out there right now, it would seem that buying land and starting a homestead is a relatively common and easy thing to do. Sure, these individuals had to face their own struggles and came out on top in the end… But my question is: HOW??

How in the world did they manage it?

Were they…lucky? Better at finding good, reasonably priced land and managing the steps in order to get there?

My husband, Nathan, and I had (what we thought) was a good, comprehensive plan toward our ultimate goals. We researched, and researched, and researched. But then we jumped into a big (and expensive) project that we thought was a grand idea…at the time. Now, in the dead of winter (which is always a difficult time emotionally for us), we are questioning everything we have worked on and toward for the past year.

As we do more research into the particular laws that would affect us on our journey, we are finding that what we had originally planned, and already invested a great deal of time and money into, may simply not be possible.

If we were more financially fortunate, most of what we face would not be a problem. But that is not so. We are but a single-income family of four…which creates many restraints.

The realization that our dream may not become what we wanted, or that it may be dead altogether, is a striking realization that is difficult to handle.

Then again… Are we selfish and spoiled Americans to believe, to expect, that we deserve to have our dreams come true? Is it selfish and spoiled to want the kind of life we have been working toward? We are not searching for luxury — the exact opposite is true. We are going out of our way, in reality, to make things harder for ourselves so that we can live a life of principle.

So this begs the question…

Do we keep fighting against society? Do we surrender so we don’t wind up stressed and depressed all the time, trying to fight for our dream?

Or would surrendering end up making us all the more stressed and depressed?

What is best for our children?

They have dreamed right along side us this past year as we put things in motion… How could we look them in their beautiful blue eyes and tell them that we give up?

Thinking about all of this, I can’t help but say to myself: It shouldn’t be this hard… It shouldn’t be so hard to buy land, grow our own food, build our own house, produce our own goods and clothing… Here, in America – the Land of the Free, it should not be so hard to try to work toward a dream of freedom in the deepest respects and live a life of self-sustainability. 

But that is how things seem at the moment.

I always thought, naively, there would be some way to make things happen. My optimism always won over feelings of despair. There must be a way…

Now I’m not so sure.