The Five Phases of School

Stage One: Excitement

New (or new to you) books, sharpened pencils, and maybe a new coil notebook. Ear-to-ear grins as you feel pity for your friends that are not in school.

“I can do this!”

“I love school!”

“I’m going to get all As!”


Stage Two: Overwhelmed or Overbored

As you delve into the course material you realize there is way more here than you first thought. Visions of reading the entire textbook in a weekend have long since evaporated. Or you find the material so boring that you’re looking for boredom as a cause of death on WebMD and find yourself asleep on your textbook no matter how much sugar you put in your coffee.

“Does ANYONE understand this?”

“Who really knows what Shakespeare was thinking.”

“How did someone stay awake long enough to write this?”

“Why am I here?”


Stage Three: Panic

It’s time for the first assignment. Heavy breathing, chest pains, and heart palpitations set in as you read the requirements. You avoid your friends that aren’t in school, envious of their lives of leisure.

“I’ll never finish.”

“Does anyone actually do this?”

“Working at McDonald’s forever doesn’t seem so bad.”


Stage Four: Plateau

You didn’t fail the first assignment or test and now you’re in too deep to withdraw. Motivation seems hard to reach and you often find yourself trying new recipes or cleaning instead of studying.

“I just need to get this done and then I can study.”

“I better run out and get some bagels.”


Stage Five: Completion

The final exam is written and you leave with a huge sense of accomplishment. Maybe you’ll get that A after all. You don’t stop smiling until you realize that next week you’re back in step one.

“I’ll stay in school forever!”

“This is the greatest day of my life!”

“Why is no one around here congratulating me? Don’t you know what I did?”

A Poem

I wrote this poem with a title but my son thought it would be fun to publish it without a title and have people speculate on what it’s about. So here it is!



Pulling down

Everywhere, every time


No escape

No fight

Give in, or give up


Fight the feeling

It bites back


Push harder

Not this time

Give in or it wins


Takes you down

Eats from the inside

The pressure


Like a beast

From inside out



It ends

And you start again

Hoping it won’t be back


But it will

And the more you push

The sooner it returns

Late Readers

It seems like every parent I talk to that is considering homeschooling the early grades is worried about reading. So much stress is placed on us, as parents, to get our children reading well as young as possible. I have two kids, one that read novels at 6 and another that didn’t read picture books until 11. Both are raised in a home where I read to them every day, where they see me read on my own, and where reading is fun and useful without being forced. I refused from the beginning to force reading upon my children, believing instead that it would come when they were ready. That gets incredibly difficult when your homeschooled child is still not reading at 10. Other homeschoolers made comments, extended family offered advice, and I even had a lady at the library tell me that my son couldn’t read (she was surprised that I didn’t know!).

Our son started getting a bit self-conscious about not being able to read when he was 10 so we started doing some reading lessons. We tried a dozen different “methods” and the best one for us was The Ordinary Parent’s Guide to Reading. It was suitable for an older child and had him reading sentences in the first lesson. We never did more than one lesson in a day and only did a lesson when he was willing. It still took almost a year for him to get comfortable reading but neither of us felt any rush. My early reader learned to read by memorizing picture books that were read to him over and over again, by reading comic books, and by giving me random letters of the alphabet and asking me how it they sounded. My late reader does not like reading (or being read) anything that he’s heard before and his only interest in the alphabet was when he made a book of the letters. He may never love books the way his brother does but he never has; he has always been more interested in Lego and action figures. While his brother sits at his computer writing a novel, he makes stop-motion Lego movies and draws in his notebook. Forcing him to be an early reader would not have made him love books but it would have guaranteed that he never would like books. That was not a risk we were willing to take.

My early reader has a beautiful vocabulary and loves to read and write. My late reader has an incredible memory and an eye for detail. He’s the one we ask when we can’t remember where we saw something or which movie a certain song was in. There are advantages to reading late – you have to develop a strong memory because you don’t have the advantage of reading something repeatedly. My kids played Monopoly together long before the younger one could read, and while the oldest read the cards each time he played, the younger knew the names of all the properties by memory. I’ve had people tell me that those skills don’t translate into useful career skills but they’re wrong – how many of us struggle to remember someone’s name? Or see someone at a party and stare at them trying to figure out where we first met? Any salesperson will tell you that memory is a huge part of being successful.

The second advantage of reading late is that readers will see words before anything else. My youngest still doesn’t see the words first – he will see colours, design, spacial relationships, and pictures before his eye is drawn to words, whether he is in a car or reading a comic book. Perhaps he will always see those things first but even if he doesn’t, it will be easier for him to notice them. It also means that out of all of us, he would have the most success if he moved to a different country where he doesn’t speak the language. While the rest of us will struggle to read signs, he will use other cues to get what he needs.

In the end, it doesn’t matter whether your child learns to read at 3 or 13. They are who they are. What matters is that they are loved and encouraged to be the best version of themselves that they can be.

Zero to Hero: Blogging Event

Manic Mondays Blogging Event

It was all planned out. The day before, I went to Toys R’Us and bought Play-Doh, enough so no one had to share. We had rolling pins, cookie cutters, and the hair salon was clean and ready for its Play-Doh customers. The table had a plastic tablecloth, left over from last month’s birthday party. I could hear the boys yelling at each other about who got to be Anakin while they fought with light sabers made out of Nerf swords.

“You got to be Anakin last time!”

“You always get to be Anakin!”

“You think you’re better cause you’re older but you’re NOT!”

“I hate you!”

“Boys,” I called from the kitchen. “Time for Play-Doh!”

“Slam!” The door closed with one child still inside the bedroom. Storming footsteps ensued.

With a too-happy tone in my voice, I invited them to sit down and play. I could be a good Mum, I could just sit and let them play without intervention and let them take out their frustrations with art. As the dough went all over the floor, and their hair, and the chairs, I had to breathe deeply and try to just keep quiet. It felt as if bugs were crawling up the back of my shirt. I looked away, trying desperately to calm down before freaking out.

“Mum, are you all right?” my oldest asked.

“Um, yeah, I’m fine. Thanks sweetie.”

“He handed me a Play-Doh cookie. This will make you feel better.”

And it did. But then I had to clean up. Thoroughly. They invented TV precisely for these moments.

This is my 50th blog post!! Hooray for Zero to Hero!

Perfection Pending Blog Button

Zero to Hero: Something Different

The Best of (or me trying something different):


      1. The best cooking advice I have heard is to use frozen water bottles to quickly chill homemade stock. It came from Alton Brown on Good Eats (one of the greatest shows of all time).
      2. The best personal advice I’ve read on the internet I found on Pinterest: “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.”
      3. The best person in my life is three people, and I get to see them every day.
      4. The best bible story is the story of Ruth.
      5. The best TV show is The Goldbergs because it’s hilarious and it reminds me of all the fun I had with my brother in the 80s.
      6. The best way to spend time is walking hand-in-hand with the person you love.
      7. The best way to eat pizza is with your hands. No forks allowed!
      8. The best way to eat a hot dog is with mustard AND KETCHUP.
      9. The best Olympic sport is swimming.
      10. The best non-Olympic sport is America’s Cup sailing.

In response to one of this week’s Zero to Hero challenges.

Please add your own ‘Best of’ to the list!

Ballet Writing

My son and I went to the see the Royal Winnipeg Ballet‘s Romeo and Juliet this afternoon and it was spectacular. Before the ballet began, I wondered how the dancers would be able to tell the story without words. While watching the dancers, I wondered how I could possibly describe their movements in words. I realized that we can spend far less time talking but more time communicating.

Writing is the opposite of ballet – writers use letters, words, and sentences while ballet dancers use none of those things. But the two arts are far more similar than they are different. Writers are storytellers, as are dancers. We just speak a different language. While dancers communicate through movement along with facial expressions, music, costumes and set design, writers use words to take readers into another place.

Watching an art far different from my own made me appreciate all of the creative arts more and I wish everyone could have been there.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Window


This is my view I have while lying down on a workout bench at our local gym. When I took this photo three weeks ago, we had just finished almost two weeks of dreary, cloudy, wet weather. The beautiful blue sky was striking on that morning, yet the snow reminded me that it was still cold outside.

In response to this week’s photo challenge.


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