Wednesday, April 30, 2014


We received sad news last Thursday.  Cody's great grandmother had a stroke that Monday and was hospitalized.  We received sadder news the following night, she had passed.

This is a tough situation all around.  There are the emotions, a huge range of them, that are bombarding my 14 year old right now.  He is not only dealing with loosing his great grandmother but also with seeing his father (whom he hasn't had contact with in over 9 months and has not seen him on a scheduled visitation in over a year), but also seeing extended family for the first time in two years.

I do not want my son to suffer this.

It is not fair.

It's not as easy as just jumping into the car and driving the 8 hours north to pay his respects and hopefully receive some sort of peace.  It's marred in complexity by decisions and choices that his father has made over the past two years...the past 15 years if I am really being honest with myself.

...and it sucks

Everything in me wants to be with him right now, and yet, I'm not.

And I'm not saying that I haven't made any mistakes, I'm not perfect, but there was this internal shift that occurred when I had Cody, when I became his mother - he was it.  Everything else was placed on hold, and it was all about him and his well-being, and protecting him.  It still is.

That shift has yet to occur in his father.

So, it was my husband and I who sat Cody down on Monday evening and told him the news.  He had returned from a Boy Scout camping trip the day before, exhausted and still needing to finish a research paper, and he was done.  He was not equip to hear it, process it, absorb it.  We decided to wait.
His father felt that including him on the text my husband and I received last Thursday was good enough.  I realize he is grieving, but this is not about him.  It's about Cody.  Thank goodness Cody didn't have his phone.  

We also decided that my husband should take him on the 8 hour trip to the UP.  I would have had to bring Chris and Will with and would not have been able to invest the time and attention that Cody would need.  I would not have had my full senses.

That was hard to let go of.  I know, though, that no one else in this world has Cody's back more than me than my husband.  That Cody will be safe and I have to let go at this point.  But, I will breath a sigh of relief this evening when I hear that they are back in their hotel after the wake.  I will be in an even better place Thursday when they are both home.

This morning my husband left the house with a "Don't worry, I got this!" wink, nod and kiss on the forehead as he grabbed Cody and said "Let's roll" as if leaving for a heist.  I'm comforted in knowing that I have done everything that I can to ensure Cody's safety on this trip.

I have asked for prayers, good vibes/mojo and any and all other spiritual goodness to be directed towards him during the next 36 hours.

I have mothers stretching for miles doing this with hearts full and I am so grateful for this.

I am exacting an emergency landing state and taking care of myself so that I can take care of Cody when he returns.

So, right now we are all in a holding pattern here.  We are waiting for updates of well-being.  We wait for them to return.  We wait to normalcy to come back to our home.

If you too could keep Cody in your positive thoughts and prayers, it would be greatly appreciated.  I don't know how 14 year old boys grieve, but I'm sure that it looks a little something like this.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Nature, Wrestling & Scouting

Last week was Spring Break for Cody.  I had to get us all out of the house at least once each day otherwise I was going to loose my mind with the sibling bickering and the time suck that is teenage existence.  

I need to walk, actually, I need to train to hike for our upcoming trip.  Coming off an extensive knee injury that resulted in months of physical therapy has landed me in this hazy place of questionable self ability.  I need to strength train, I need to get use to walking with Will on my back, I need to accept that I need help walking like this on uneven terrain (hello walking poles).
What better way to stifle teenage time suck and get my "training" in than to go on a hike.  GENIUS!


We are actually quite fortunate that we live near a few different nature preserves.  I decided to take the boys to Pilcher Park, which is part of the Joilet Park District.  I haven't been to Picher Park in years...YEARS!  I think that Cody was like 8 years old at the time.  It is also a short 20 minute drive from our home.  

We decided that it would be best if we stayed on the short paved loop (dubbed the acorn trail), but did venture off onto the creek trail for a short bit.  In total we walked about a mile and a half.

We are so fortunate to have such wonderful facilities close by.  To be able to get out and enjoy nature and find the peace and serenity that it holds.
One of my favorite books is Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv.  The desire to be out in nature is strong within our family.  Cody is a Boy Scout and Chris is a Cub Scout.  My husband was a Boy Scout.  I'm sure that Will will be a scout.  I live vicariously through my boys in this one regard, and I'm okay with that.   It is a bond that strengthens us as a family through our involvement with the Boy Scouts of America and the programs that our local council offers.  

Being out  - just outside in the backyard, allows creativity and imagination to blossom.  I do my children a disservice if I allow them to tick away their day inside in front of a screen.  Now, our boys do play video games (1 hour each day) and they do watch TV.  Actually, we all enjoy the WWE Network and have gone back to the first WrestleMania and have been slowly working our way to the present.  Oh the fascination with it all.  My husband gets to relive his childhood, I get to remember our "date nights" and our boys get to form their own memories.  The magic of a great story-line unfolding to a 9 year old boy.  The facial expressions alone on Chris's face are entertaining.
Screen-time though...that is very limited in our home.  We only own one TV, and it's in our family room.  It is more often off than on.  Cody and Chris both have various portable gaming systems and e-readers and net-books, but there are all kept in a centralized location.  Permission to use them has to be given and all are locked out of our wireless network.  Using such technology correctly needs to be established before freedom to such devises can be given.  Our very generic rule is that if the sun is out, the TV is broken.  
...and, this along with many of the other choices we have made for our family, is questioned by others.  And, that is okay, because I am doing what is right for my children and my family.  You go ahead and feel free to do what you think is right for your children and your family.  It's quite fine, really.  
The cool thing is, I see the effects to raising my children this way, daily.  They are more engaged in conversations and interact quite well with other people (adults and other children), their temperament is level (oh, I've dealt with my share of the effects of "too much", whether it be screen time or anything else in excess), they are participatory with other family members (love!), and when they are done with their school work and chores they don't give a second thought to going outside to play.  Oh play, it's HOW children learn!  It is the foundation of learning and helps lead to the creativity and curiosity in our Educational Anarchy.  Being able to do it outside just brings it to a different level.  It's freeing.    

Saturday, April 26, 2014

The Farm

I got to return to one of my favorite places yesterday, The Farm.

All the weight that I carry lifts when I am here.  It doesn't exist, whatever it is.  The pressing matter, the task that needs to get done, the mental fog - it doesn't exist while I am here.

There are few places where I can go and feel this way.  The Farm is one, though, and I am so thankful for this place.  For my friends who live here and invite us out to enjoy what they have and experience new things.  It's such a blessing.

And, it almost wasn't.

I was "dating" a few different homeschool co-ops about 3 years back.  I wanted to find that perfect one.  I found this one that met in a library during the week.  My boys and I drove up there to check it out...there are not a lot of occasions where when I enter a place my first reaction is to grab my children and hug them close.  When I walked into this particular co-ops meeting, that is exactly what I did.  Needless to say, we did not go back.  BUT, I was on their e-mail list and one fall day I got an invitation for a farm tour.  One of the families (who was not at the co-op meeting when we went), invited the entire homeschool co-op out to see their farm.  It was wonderful!  The boys had so much fun, I connected with both of the parents and thanked them continually throughout the day for hosting us and allowing us all to come out.
We were invited back for a fun Friday and we have been going there regularly since.
Though we did not end up with that particular;ar co-op, we did meet some wonderful people through it.

This past Friday we went out for a Wildflower Walk.  Because Cody is on Spring Break this week, he got to join us.  Chris was just excited to run with the other kids. Cody, I think, experiences the same peace there as I do.  Though I think that the mom's got more out of the Wildflower Walk than the kids, it was nice to be out there.  It always is.

I'm going to give my two-cents and jump up on my soap box here about co-ops - "date" them.  Go, see the locations, meet the other members and their children.  What do they do when they meet?  Is it just a social group, are there classes, is it secular or religious based (we belong to both, though we are secular homeschoolers).  In this case, I didn't feel "full" or complete with this particular co-op.  I was able to get the best part of it, in my opinion, like minded homeschoolers who were willing to open up their home to me and my boys.  I made friends and I find continual peace and calm when I'm with them.  I also learn so much every time we go out there.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014


We are full speed ahead with our yard work and planning out our mega garden here at the Educational Anarchy Homestead.  This past weekend we cleared out even more junk and debris (if that is even possible) from the previous owners.
All I can say at this point is "Why?"

Whatever we could burn - we did.  I've now been dubbed "Pyro Wife".  I have been waiting months to do this burn.  There is something very calming and relaxing about a big fire for me.  I'd rather be outside, in front of a fire, lost deep in thought while staring at the flames dancing about.

Now that the ground is cleared we will start preparations for the Mega Garden!  My goal is to have as much of our Thanksgiving dinner come from what we produce in our garden.  We plan on tripling the size of our garden from last year, taking over some easement property (aka - Gorilla Gardening) and installing a trellis system for our tomatoes, peppers and beans to grown up.

After all of our hard work in the yard during the day we did get to enjoy the evening with each other in front of the still burning fire.

We also, finally, got rid of our Christmas Tree (that was fun!)

Our ash pile, which is huge, will now get spread over the area that we plan on gardening.  It will eventually get tilled into the ground along with our compost pile.  

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Pennies on the Tracks

We live near rail road tracks.

For the first time in the year that we have been here I took Chris over to the tracks to lay pennies down.  He was really excited because he thinks that pressed penny machines are the coolest thing ever, and whenever we go somewhere that is his go to for souvenirs.

We are planning a trip out West this summer.  One of the really neat resources that I found was this site.  You can locate pressed penny machines anywhere (how cool is that?!).
We laid the pennies on the tracks on Saturday (there were 10 of them) and on Sunday when we went back to the tracks to retrieve them we could only locate two.  They were prefect and Chris was excited.  The missing eight made no difference to him.  Next, we are planning on putting down different coins to see how they press on the tracks.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Hey There, I'm Back

Hey, so it's a little past the April 3rd goal I had to have this revamped and back up.
I've changed some things up.  First, the design a little more appealing, I think.  I'm loving the new banner and note the tabs at the top.  I'll be sharing posts not only on homeschooling, but also on homesteading (home & hearth, gardening...a little more self-sufficiency like) and also on family (health, what we do that works (and doesn't) and that kind of stuff).
So, welcome back!!  Glad to see you and I'm excited about going forward.