Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Most asked homeschooling question...

I am always getting asked questions by friends, family and strangers on the street. A lot of them have to do with having a larger family. I hear a lot of "God bless you, because I couldn't do it" and "More power to you honey".

I am also asked a lot of questions about homeschooling. The question I get asked most is "How do you homeschool with children of different ages?". I wish I had a good answer. Really, it depends on what season of life I am in. When I began homeschooling three years ago, I was teaching a 2nd grade and kindergarten. It was tough trying to figure out a schedule that would work for both kids. The second year, it didn't get much easier since I was driving Lily to preschool two mornings a week. If you read my earlier post, you know that we kind of live out in the sticks. So, driving Lily to preschool meant that I had to spend the morning in town while she was in school. That pretty much shot our homeschool day. We tried to do some work in the car while we waited for Lily but more often than not we ran errands and went to parks. By the time we got home, we were all too exhausted to accomplish much else. So, I was basically loosing two full days a week because of Lily attending preschool. This year I opted not to send Lily to preschool. I just couldn't toss away three full days a week (the program for 4yr. olds is 3xweek). I figured I would school her when I schooled Annie and Megan. I think that in itself would have been enough of a challenge, however, I just had a baby in July. So, while I started off our school year with enthusiasm and hope, I soon found myself drowning. Something had to change....

I spent a lot of time praying about what to do. I had good days when I was super woman and I accomplished all of my homeschooling and child rearing tasks. More often than not, I had bad days. Days when I could barely get through needed material with the older two and got nothing done with Lily. Not to mention, Noah who would be plopped down in front of the TV on a regular basis. I contemplated sending Lily to preschool where she attended previously. It's a lovely school with wonderful teachers. My older two girls had gone there and I honestly can't say enough good things about it. However, I was still faced with the problem of loosing three days of my homeschooling week. What would I do? I thought about doing school on Satudays and Sundays and using the days Lily was at preschool as our weekend. The big problem with that was that Carlos would be at work on those days so we wouldn't really get to do much as a family if I went that route. I worried myself sick about what to do.

Finally, I decided I would check into a preschool that was a bit closer to home. You see, when we moved to KY all those years ago, there weren't any preschools in our neck of the woods. Eventually, a few popped up here and there but we always stuck with our tried and true preschool in town. Our neighbor's daughter attends preschool at a local church and has had nothing but good things to say about it, so I gave the director a call last week. It turned out that they had just had a student move away and they had one opening in the 4yr. old class. It was mine if I wanted it! This morning, Lily and I visited the school and met the teachers and director. I was very happy with what I saw. So much so that Lily starts attending there tomorrow! Yikes!

So, for the rest of the school year, I will only be homeschooling my two oldest daughters. Lily will be in good hands and enjoying herself at her new school. I have high hopes that we will accomplish a lot on those three mornings a week that Lily is away at preschool. The nice thing is that this school is five minutes from my house, so I can drop Lily off and buzz home without missing a beat. The school also offers kindergarten through 4th grade and we are planning to send Lily there for kindergarten next year.

I really struggled with this because I had in my head that if I was a "homeschooler" then I had to homeschool all of our children. I have since realized that labels are dumb! I can do whatever I want. So, I am homeschooling my oldest two children, sending my middle child to private school and we will see what the future holds for the younger two. I am feeling a mixture of sadness and excitement today. I am sad to send Lily off to school and away from me. However, I know she will have a wonderful time. Our next door neighbor will be in her class and I will be a better Mommy because I won't be struggling quite so much. I guess in the end you gotta do what you gotta do.

Monday, November 21, 2011

A need to complain...

So far, Carlos and I have managed to avoid the smartphone/iphone craze. We have plugged along with our little flip phones that we have had for numerous years. We can hardly text on them and they only ring about half the time. After much conversation and knashing of teeth we have decided to give in to the craze and get smartphones.

We are a large family and we have to manage our resources carefully so this was not a step that was taken lightly. We researched phones and providers for hours. Since we live in the country, we have to either use AT&T or Tmobile in order to get any service. We went back and forth about what to do and finally decided to give in and order iphones with AT&T.

So, last Wednesday I went online to the AT&T site and ordered our phones along with setting up our plans. I opted to keep our current phone numbers and transfer them over to AT&T from Tmobile (our current provider). I received a confirmation email with an order number and our credit card was charged for the phones. I sat back happy that we would have new iphones in a week or two. Little did I know....

On Thursday, I got an email from AT&T saying that they were having issues transferrig our numbers over from Tmobile and to please visit their website to resolve the issue. I clicked on the link they provided and entered the information they needed. Later that same day I received a phone call from AT&T saying that they were still having problems transfering the numbers. I spent an hour on the phone with a rep trying to resolve this. I hung up and assumed all was solved. Wrong!

On Friday, I tried to check our order status on the AT&T website. The order was not found! What? So, I called AT&T. I spent another hour on the phone with them only to find out the issue with the number transfer was never actually resolved! I decided then and there that we would just get new numbers and put this mess behind us. The rep I spoke to had to transfer me to a different department because she was unable to handle my request. I was on hold forever and then I finally got a rep on the phone who could help me. She was in the middle of reading off my new numbers when she disconnected me! AAAHHH! I waited for a call back. I was sure that the rep wouldn't just leave me hanging when she had my contact info in front of her. Wrong! I suppose she didn't feel like calling me back. So, I called AT&T back again and once again waited forever before I finally got to talk to yet another rep. This rep couldn't even find my order or my account info! I was told that someone would call me on Monday to resolve the issue. So, I passed along my contact info and set up a time for someone to call me.

So, today I waited patiently for someone to call me. I had tried to check our order status on Saturday, Sunday and Monday only to be given the message that the order could not be found. I was really banking on a call from AT&T and a rep who could solve this. I was wrong again! AT&T never bothered to call me. So, I called AT&T. I spent another hour on the phone with no results. I hung up after the rep told me that I could try calling tomorrow to see if the order had processed yet (on the website it says it takes 24 hours for an order to process). Just for kicks I thought I would check with my credit card company to find out how I would go about disputing a charge for these phones if AT&T never shipped them and this issue wasn't resolved soon. Lo and behold when I logged on to check for that info I noticed that AT&T was no longer listed as one of my charges! What?

I can only assume that the entire order has been cancelled. I dread that I will have to call them once again to confirm this. How will they confirm the order is cancelled when they can't even seem to find it in the first place? This has all been such a headache.

I have had bad customer service issues with AT&T in the past but I assumed that was all over and done with. Once again...wrong. I can safely say that I will not be getting an iphone. I refuse to deal with AT&T anymore and it's either them or Verizon for iphones....can't use Verizon out here in the sticks. For now, I am going to stick with my crummy flip phone that hardly functions. This entire mess has left me with a bad taste in my mouth and I need a break!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

City mouse or Country mouse?

We live in the "country". I say that loosely because we can be in downtown Louisville in about 35 minutes. However, we live far enough out that we feel like we live in the country. I would imagine that those who visit us from the "city" do think we live in the country, as they feel as if they are driving out into the middle of nowhere to get to our house. I often go back and forth in my head about whether it would be smarter/more practical to sell our house and move closer to the city.

Today, for instance, I had a minor mishap that made me wish that we lived closer to civilization. I had scheduled an apointment for our dog to be groomed....he is in desperate need of it. I managed to pack up five kids, snacks, the dog and a few other random items that I intended to take care of while we were out and about ( a stop at the library, bank and goodwill). We got loaded into the van and off we went. First stop was the bank to make a deposit. I generally don't mind going to the bank since I can use the drive-thru and not have to drag five kids into the building. So, we got to the bank, made our deposit and then things went wrong. The driver's side window refused to go back up and close! It is 40 degrees outside today and my window was stuck open! I tried everything I could think of to get that darn window to close and nothing worked! I made a quick decision to cancel the dog's appointment and just head home. My babies were cold! Well, since we live out in the country, our drive home was about 15 minutes. I know that doesn't seem like such a long drive, but when you have to drive at 55mph (so other cars don't tailgate you or rear end you) with the windows down on a chilly Fall day it can seem like an eternity. Thank goodness I had put the fleece cover on the infant carrier or Claire would have frozen by the time we made it home. I had no blankets in the car but I did have old towels that I use to wash the dogs (they were freshly laundered). So, my kids all put "dog" towels over the heads to keep warm while I drove us home. I kept thinking that if we lived closer to town I would only have had to drive 5 minutes to get home and at a reasonable speed that wouldn't have turned our car into a moving popsicle. Score one for city living!

I can think of a plethora of reasons as to why living closer to town would be fab:

- we could get anywhere in a reasonable amount of time; currently it takes me 15 minutes just to run to the grocery store, which is actually a 30 minute round trip...figure in the time at the store and a quick jaunt for eggs turns into an hour long errand.

- we could order more for dinner than pizza from Papa Johns; don't get me wrong, I love PJ's pizza but it would be nice once in a while to be able to order from a different pizza place or a different type of restaurant all together.

- setting up playdates for my kids would be easier; I always hesitate to set up playdates for the kids because I always feel bad asking another parent to take so much time out of their day to drop off/pick up their kid(s) at our house.

- our kids could participate in more activities; right now I limit our activities because the drive time tends to make things drag out too late to work for our family.

- we would have more services available to us; currently we can only use certain cell phone/internet/cable provider because of where we live; having a better range of choices would be nice.

Those are just a few of the top reasons that living closer to the city would be a win-win situation. I know there are lots more.

So, there are days when I almost convince myself to call up a realtor, get our house listed and start looking for new digs. However, there are a lot of reasons that I haven't:

- we have a huge yard! Our children can play to their hearts' content and I never have to worry about them being abducted. I'm not saying that only "city" kids get abducted, but the chances that someone is going to be driving into our cul-de-sac out in the middle of nowhere and traipsing onto our property to abduct our kids has got to be pretty slim. Our backyard has about an acre and a half of woods behind it that are pretty much impossible to make your way through (poison ivy, briars, vines, etc...) so someone would have to work awfully hard to nab one of our kids out of the backyard.

- we have a large house; it's much larger than we would be able to afford if we moved. Our family is large and we need lots of room inside and out. Our house gives us that...3700 sqft of living space!

- we spend less money living so far away from things; Yes, having more choices would be nice but more choices would probably mean spending more money. Ordering food in or running out to a restaurant are a lot easier when you have options. When your only options are cooking or PJ's pizza AGAIN, you often choose to cook. Target runs are also less frequent since it takes so much time and planning to make it happen. All in all I think we spend less money on useless things.

- we have room for a large veggie garden; not that I have one now, but I plan to in the future!

- we can sit out on our deck at night and actually hear the crickets and night noises! We can also see the stars in all their crystal clear beauty.

- we have amazing neighbors! Some of my very dearest friends are our neighbors. We have been blessed to move into a nieghborhood full of amazing individuals. My neighbors never fail to bring a smile to my face and they are probably the #1 reason I don't want to move. It's really hard to find neighbors as great as the ones we have.

So, when it's all said and done I always choose to stay put. I figured I would write this post to remind myself of why I love where I live....even on days when I have to drive home in a popsicle.

Monday, November 7, 2011

It's that time of year again...

I love to be organized and on top of things. It drives me bonkers if I am running behind or forgetting things. So, with five kids this year, I am getting my Christmas shopping started now. I don't want to be stressing out over Christmas gifts the week before Christmas and I have found that if the majority of my shopping is done by Thanksgiving then it makes it easier for me to relax and enjoy the holiday season. Here is what my kids are asking for/getting this year:


She is really into Squinkies. I think she has well over a hundred of them and I could be way off on that total...there could be more. So, one thing she will be getting is the Squinkie Zoo playset. I think she will have many hours of fun with this. Right now she is on that cusp between childhood and preteen drama. I am guessing that next year there won't even be a toy on the radar. So, she wants this toy and I am going to make sure she gets it. I want her to prolong her childhood as long as possible and enjoy being a little girl. On that note, here is what else Annie is getting for Christmas....

She is an avid reader and this is what she wants. I am planning to order her the basic Kindle without the ads. I will also throw in a few books for her as well so she can start enjoying it right away.


I honestly don't have very many ideas for Megan. She has asked for Barbies but I really don't want to bring anymore Barbies into this house. We have two huge drawers full of them right now and one more naked doll is not on the top of my list to buy for my daughter. I am sure I will give in and buy at least one doll....probably the holiday one.

She has also asked for more make-up. Also another thing I don't really want to buy. Make-up in our house either ends up all over the younger kids or in too great a quantity on Megan. I have had enough with the battles about why we can't look like a street walker before heading to church.

She enjoys playing her DSi so I did buy her a few games for that (used). We also got a PS3 as a family this year so I may buy her a game for that as well. I really hate to only buy electronic items though. I am hoping that inspiration will strike in the next week or so. Any fun ideas for a total girly girl?


Bless her heart, but Lily is just happy with anything. She enjoys playing with her little brother's toys as much as she does her own. If you take her to the store she will put anything and everything on her Christmas list. She is going to get the Squinkie Adventure Mall because she is also a Squinkies fan and has been asking for this for months.

She will probably end up with a new DS game or two so that she isn't always taking her sisters' games and erasing their progress.

Another thing she has asked for is this:
Like I said, she is pretty much happy with anything. :)


Noah, is the easiest kid to shop for this year! He is all about Super Heroes so it has been a breeze! He is getting Super Hero bedding for his bed along with new curtains, a cool Captain America pillow and some cool Batman pjs to wear. He is also getting a few Super Hero action figures and a helmet and hammer from Thor.

My favorite gift for him is this:
I think I will enjoy it more than he will! I also bought him every figure I could find to go with it. I am anxious to introduce my little man to the awesomeness that is Star Wars!


It has been hard to come up with ideas for Claire. She is girl #4 in this family and we are pretty much set when it comes to baby/girl toys. I did buy her a little entertainer for her crib as well as a little baby doll, but that is about it. We have had the original Leap Frog Learning Table since when Annie was a baby, so I was thinking of updating that. However, I have a hard time spending money on a toy we essentially already have and that works fine. Like Megan, I am hoping inspiration will strike soon.

As for Carlos and myself....well the hubby wants a new winter coat so I am going to make that happen. I am not sure what else he wants. I am going to guess clothes. It's so rare that he buys himself clothing that he is overdue for a lot of new items. I am gunning for a Kindle Fire! I am pretty sure that is what I want and I am trying to make myself hold off on ordering one until I see how others like their's. I don't know if I can though. :)

So, there you have it. The Herrera Family Christmas list. I like to write it down so in the years to come I can look back and see what my kids were into and what was popular. So, what's on your list?