Losses, Gains and Looking To The Future

Since the release of The Wish, I’ve had more conversations with people asking me “How do you do it? 6 kids, work and write?” My response is always, “Don’t make me out to more than I am.” To me, I suppose I can see how it may seem difficult for a mom of 6 to juggle everything. But in reality, it really is possible because I have a spouse who is very ‘hands on’ with our kids and helps balance our activities. I’ve gained a lot and lost a lot with our major family decisions this year. I thought I’d share with you my reflections of our decisions and where I hope to be a year from now.

Since the release of The Wish, I’ve learned, majority of marketing efforts are on the author. Having to put myself out there, approaching bookstores, schools, libraries and other public venues is the ONLY way my book has gained exposure. I exhibited at BEA/BookCon which was ALOT of fun and I think I gained some valuable networking connections. I am maintaining an online social network of followers through Twitter, Facebook and now Instagram (which I just recently signed up for). All of these efforts can almost feel like a full-time job during the week, but well worth it when the phone calls and emails come in to book me for author visits. I’ll continue to chug along in hopes of maintaining the momentum of interest in The Wish.

As far as our decision to begin homeschooling our 6 kids, ages 8-16, I feel couldn’t have come at a better time with the budget crisis here in Illinois. To think the schools are suffering at the hands of our lawmakers gives me, in the very least, piece of mind that my kids will not have to worry about being “lost in the system”. Programs are being cut, class sizes are inevitably going to be larger, which in turn will make it difficult for teachers to truly diversify their teaching and meet the needs of both the kids with IEP’s and those that could accelerate in school or any given subject.
We’ve lost a lot since pulling our kids out of school: no more late night homework, no more “busy work” assignments/projects that have very little meaning to my child’s learning, no more tears caused by test anxiety, no more discussions with my kids on how, “just because a teacher tells you something like, blood is blue, that it is so because they are the teacher.” (Yes, my kids were actually being taught that blood was blue!). No more looks of “failure” from kids eyes as they head off to school because they feel like they are not as “smart” as everyone else. (this was caused by a teacher who has little patience for students who take more than 2 seconds to answer a question.) We’ve lost the feelings of constant pressure and unnecessary stress caused by the school system testing our children to death with all the standardized tests.

What have we gained? I got my kids back! They can now be allowed to be children, play outside, be involved in extracurricular activities. I get to spend time with my kids during the week in the evenings instead of their noses being buried in their school books. I’ve gained a piece of mind knowing that I have an understanding of where my kids are educationally. I’ve also gained even more respect for the teachers who I’ve entrusted my kids education to all these years. It’s hard teaching kids, keeping them focused, on task and engaged. I can only imagine what it’s like to be a teacher in a classroom of kids who don’t have the home support we’ve provided our own kids all these years. AND, these teachers have to be sure their students test well or their pay will be affected. (I have my own opinions on that, but that’s for another blog). My own kids have been able to develop their musical skills, writing songs and playing at more public venues. 3 of my kids even had time to audition for a youth symphony orchestra and got in. They attend 1x/a week for practice. These are all things that would have been extremely difficult to do had they all been in school.

This time next year, I’m hoping to be looking to the plans of releasing Book #2 of Cloverleaf Chronicles. I’m hoping my kids have gained a big enough following with their band that they may go on a mini-tour. I’m hoping to see the rewards of the decisions made this year have a positive impact on my kids next year, from their progress in school, to their music, and the beginning of career choices and colleges for my two oldest. My outlook on the year to come is positive and hopeful, and I’m looking forward to revisiting this very blog and compare what I’m writing now with how this coming year actually pans out! So stay tuned!

Til next week…

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