It’s Friday today….
Which means I get to introduce you to another amazing homeschool mama blogger!
This week, Family, Fun & Homeschooling is featuring Christy from Unexpected Homeschool. (Don’t you love that title? So many things that end up being phenomenal in our lives start as something unexpected!) Christy is a fellow reviewer with me on the Schoolhouse Review Crew. And, because I always love reading blogs about other moms with onlies, I especially love Unexpected Homeschool. (But even if you’re a mom of many, you’ll love her too!) Here’s Christy!
Tell us about your blog, Unexpected Homeschool. How did you come up with it?
– For almost a year before becoming homeschoolers I had been reading a select few homeschool blogs and conducting research on the topic. I loved how many of the same people were commenting and supporting each other. It felt like a lovely online community. Eventually after we started homeschooling I decided I would document our adventures on a blog, but didn’t really expect to have much success. Still, I wanted to join in the wonderful online community of homeschoolers.
The name Unexpected Homeschool came about because at that time in our life we were doing so much that was unexpected. Nobody expected us to homeschool, and to be honest, we didn’t really think it would happen either. I’m also not the most creative person and that was the name that kept sticking in my head.
Do you have a favorite blogging topic that you return to again and again?
– I guess the main premise of my most common topic is learning how to educate a child with chronic illness and how to adapt classical homeschooling. I spend an inordinate amount of time tweaking our curriculum and schedule to help her continue to learn and thrive without triggering flares of her illness.
This wasn’t originally my focus, but now because of Amber’s dysautonomia much of life is a shock for me. Even being part of support groups did not prepare me for how life would change or how to continue her education. Dysautonomia is such a strange beast and can change a person’s abilities daily.
– There are three of us in my immediate family – my husband Fred, thirteen year old daughter Amber, and myself. Fred and I met in college where we graduated on the same day with the same degree major. Computer Science. He went on to graduate school, but I went to work as a software developer to pay off student loans. We got married half way through his graduate school and have been married 19 years now. After many years of working from home, I eventually became a full-time mommy when Amber was two.
Amber is the funniest person you will ever meet. It took years for her to appreciate her own sense of humor and is finally learning that funny isn’t all telling jokes, which she is terrible at doing. Her personality is quirky, delightful and optimistic. Despite her own illness she always has a smile, is ready to help others, and most people instantly like her. For the majority of her life Amber was a normal and healthy child, but at age eleven became inexplicably sick. She had developed dysautonomia, which is just a medical term for a broken autonomic nervous system. We still don’t know the root cause or the entire reach of her condition.
What made you decide to homeschool?
– We always planned for our daughter to go to parochial /private school and she did until halfway through fourth grade. The majority of the time was spent at a lovely school which she adored, but they began to have internal problems. We had also changed church congregations, so transferred Amber to the school at our new congregation. Things were never quite right at the new school. Amber attended for a year and one half, during which she was bullied the whole time. Although I volunteered quite a bit at the school, we were unaware of the full situation for the entire first year. Unfortunately the second school was not as welcoming and warm as the first school. Our daughter’s delightful personality changed while she attended that last school and we wanted our fun, sweet girl back.
Additionally, we had become concerned with the education our child was receiving at the parochial schools. While they were considered some of the best and most rigorous in the area, it seemed I was doing more instructing at home than she was receiving at school. Amber also spent most of her spare time working on homework and crashing studying for tests, yet could not tell us anything she had actually learned.
– Days in our homeschool vary greatly depending on our appointments for the day and Amber’s dysautonomia. Amber has numerous doctor’s appointments each month, weekly co-op classes, private flute lessons, field trips, and random classes with friends. In general we try to start our mornings by 10 am. Some days that doesn’t work out for Amber’s body, but with her new medications she is already up consistently much earlier than last year. We used to have a detailed daily schedule we followed, but now we simply prioritize the subjects with Amber’s mental abilities at the time.
On good days our mornings are usually language arts and possibly history. After lunch we tackle math, science and German. On not so good days we pick something Amber can complete as well as retain and work on it until her body reaches the end of its endurance. Then school is over for the day. Amber has daily prescribed aerobic exercise which we also complete in the afternoons. Some days we go to the gym for her exercise and other days we use the equipment in our basement.
Appointments are usually scheduled for late morning or early afternoon. On those days very little to no school happens before we leave. Amber often takes some work with her for the drive and waiting room. The remainder of the day after the appointment is hit and miss. She might have energy to complete more lessons, but more likely she will be exhausted and have little energy left for meaningful school work.
Do you have a favorite “date night” you love to do?
– I know it’s popular for couples to have “date nights”, but it’s not something we do. Neither my parents or his parents had date nights while we were growing up, so it’s not something we see as necessary or even felt natural to us. We do our activities as a family just as our parents did with us. Before Amber became sick she did on rare occasion spend the night at a friend’s house or with my mother, and during that time my husband and I might have dinner out together or watch a movie at home. However, there were actually very few of those events prior to Amber becoming chronically ill.
– We love to have lunch out and go shopping together. My daughter loves shoes just as much as I do! Amber and I have been playing the LEGO games on the PS3 (PS4 now) since she was probably 6 or 7 and actually own all the games except the first Batman. We also like to work on craft projects.
Although we spend most of each day together because of homeschooling we found it wasn’t always quality time. Amber missed special days with me that had nothing to do with school or even a field trip. Almost two years ago we started having monthly “Amber and Mom” days where we don’t even think about logging school hours and just have fun together. We might shop, bowl, play video games, or even board games all day. But it’s undivided time together where we don’t attempt any school.
– You really don’t know us without knowing we have three beloved pet cats all of which were adopted from our favorite rescue group after being selected and named by Amber. Each has bonded with a different member of our family, but all adore our cat-whisperer child. They come in three sizes: small – Rosetta, our feisty calico girl; medium – Milori, sibling to Rosetta and the friendliest cat ever; and large – Biscotti, a classic tabby Maine Coon mix, who also thinks he’s a human (and my best buddy).
Christy is stay-at-home, homeschooling mother of a quirky and fun teenage daughter, who also happens to have dysautonomia. Life may not always be what we expected, but it’s always perfect. You can find her blogging about their homeschooling experiences and dysautonomia at http://www.unexpectedhomeschool.net.
I’m sure you’ve loved getting to know Christy more, just as I have. I admire the grace she and her family clearly show as they’ve dealt with the challenges before them! I also want to encourage you to visit Christy’s blog, Unexpected Homeschool. One of her posts that I really enjoyed lately was about their field trip to some local underground caves (we love visiting them ourselves! So much beauty under the surface of the earth!).
Stop by again next week, when I’ll be introducing you to someone new on Family, Fun & Homeschooling!