Thursday, June 30, 2011

Starting to Panic

I'm having a negative moment and feel the need to vent. If you have no interest in reading about my stress stop reading now.

I'm feeling resentful that basically from Memorial Day to Labor Day I am not living a typical American life. This entire time has been dedicated to decluttering and downsizing our family's possessions, arranging for home repairs and redecorating then putting our house on the market. I have also found new temporary housing and am prepping the move by packing, then we'll do the actual move.

My kids are doing a fair amount of their regular activities but not everything. My husband has his nose to the grindstone working. Since he is away from us he is not helping with the declutteirng, packing, or home fixing and house prepping for the sale stuff. We are all missing out on vacations and typical travel such as visiting Cape Cod and Maine, where we have the ability to have free vacations.

At present I have been juggling getting the kids to their typical activities which were signed up for and paid for before we knew we were moving. I have to get them here and there all by myself which competes for my time on the rest of the move prep projects. When the kid's don't have appointments I'm juggling normal life (cooking, eating, cleaning the house) with move prep. In basically every spare moment that I'm not running around I am at home working like a dog or making phone calls to contractors and roofers and real estate agents. Since not everything is going smoothly with the workers for the house repairs I have stress from that. The calendar is really full and making sure the meetings with contractors doesn't clash with kid's sports camp or Boy Scout events is tricky.

I am so stressed out from what I'm trying to accomplish here that the things I squeeze in for a mental break and to have some fun feel instantly erased the second I get back to the move prep. While I am grateful for the good things like the fun I had on the Boy Scout family camping trip last weekend it feels like it never happened at all, when in reality, it just ended a few days ago. There are no long lasting effects of the things I am doing to relieve stress. The second I get back to my regular life all the relaxation is erased.

In addition my older son is battling a new case of Lyme Disease (and I think the doctor gave him a wrong medication dose) and this week I have symptoms also (so I am going to the doctor torday). I have had two deer ticks embedded in me this year already so it is quite possible I've gotten Lyme again.

I can't see any way to make this process easier or less stressful for me. I think I'm just going to have to keep going like gangbusters and push through until the actual move date is upon us and then get out of Dodge and get on with the next phase of unpacking our possessions into the rented house.

Another very important thing I am neglecting this summer is making the final plans for my children's 2011-2012 homeschool year. Since my oldest is entering his freshman year of homeschool high school this should be at the top of my priority list.

I feel torn about what we are doing for homeschooling, because in the past I have always had some kind of outside paid activities and tutoring and/or homeschool co-ops. Those provided some of the academic content and some socialization. I had planned to rely on some outside teaching for the high school years. As of right now my kids have no plans to do those "outside of home" things because of the long distance move and me not knowing what options are available.

The rules for the homeschool support groups and the secrecy surrounding what various groups offer for co-ops and classes in the Houston area complicates matters greatly. For example, the group closest to my home requires that I attend an info meeting (held just twice a year, not much flexibility there for new people moving into the area), I must fill out an application, have a face to face interview, sign off on dress codes and other rules about communication and behavior (for myself and my kids), sign up to volunteer for the group, and pay a fee before I can find out what the group is like or how my family may wish to participate in it.

I am at a near panic point about this issue of not being able to find out what is available for my kids in Houston. It is starting to seem like the easiest way to solve the issue is for me to decide to teach everything all by myself at home, then get on with planning how to do that. However that kind of planning takes concerted and concentrated effort and the ability to think clearly. I have none of that right now due to the activities and stress of this move. To further complicate matters most of our homeschool materials are already packed up for the move so I can't get my hands on them to make a plan to use them.

Online classes are an option I know, but the format of instruction used with computer classes is the polar opposite of what works best for my older son with his visual processing disorder (a learning disability). Paying fees and having to deal with doing assignments on time or being online for certain appointment times plus to have a teaching delivery system which is very hard for the student seems nonsensical. If he is to do such classes I will wind up having to help him with the content anyway and I will have to nag about deadlines and the schedule of classes will dictate my schedule and my younger son's schedule.

I am so mentally exhausted from the pressure of having to do so much regarding this move and the home repair from the ice dams that happened this winter and also some redecorating work to prepare the house for sale that I have nothing left over to contemplate homeschool planning.

What date the kids and I actually move is not yet known. I was shocked to find out this week, that the long distance movers are booking 3-5 weeks out right now. But, I can't even do that until I have the in home estimate done and that books out nine days in advance (so I am in that waiting stage today). To secure a move date I am going to have to pick a date, and then rush to get all packed up by then. Having a solid deadline to move will be scary but maybe it will be helpful.

My husband keeps saying that once we move the contents of this house and start to set up life in Texas we can then take family vacations. I honestly don't see how that will work when the free vacation is in Cape Cod and we will be 2000 miles from there and the other free vacation is in Maine which will be 2300 miles from us.

The vision I see which differs from his is that we will move our possessions in the end of July and we will begin unpacking and setting up house until at least mid-August. It seems to me with the extra money we are paying for rental deposits and some new furniture for the different layout of that rental house and the new washer and dryer we'll be buying, that we will not want to or be able to spend money on a fun vacation. In order to have a free place to stay for a summer vacation we'll have to spend over $2K on airfare plus rent a car.

Thus I imagine that we will be stuck at home just with each other and since the homeschool year is not yet planned, I'll use my time and energy in August to plan out the academics for 2011-2012. Meanwhile, not yet having made any friends, my kids will be at each other's throats or begging to just watch TV or play video games 24/7. I fear my kids will be lonely and bored without knowing other kids since Scouting and sports will not have started yet.

I fear I will continue to have trouble breaking into the local homeschooling community since it is so darned hot and humid in Houston that many people leave town for summer vacation. For example I'm already having trouble finding out about Boy Scouting because people are not around to talk to me. Then what will happen is activities for kids will start up in the fall very quickly and since sign-ups for the activities was done last spring the programs will be full and my kids will be locked out.

Going deeper into next year, the way I see it is we will be strapped for cash since we are juggling paying the mortgage and expenses on this house while also renting. In the worst case but very realistic scenario due to depressed real estate market in Fairfield County, Connecticut, I suspect we will have this house on the market for months and months. Thus as the school year goes on and while we are busy doing homeschooling we will feel we need a break, since we dove right from the hectic move into studying, but we will not be able to a vacation since our budget will be too tight.

Can you sense that I'm starting to feel panicked?

If anyone has words of wisdom or advice, I'm listening.


JC said...

I wish that I had words of wisdom to offer to you to help with this transition. It does sound incredibly stressful. Like you I neeed to have a plan and know what is going to happen etc. I will continue to keep you in my prayers as this journey reveals itself to you.


Ina's 5 and our Native Homeschool Blog said...

I would feel stressed as well. You have a lot on your plate and financial pressures never help.

When I started homeschooling the group I joined was very similar to what you are describing. It was not a good fit. I fo however have advice. I am part of an (online) homeschool board on baby centre community. It has a huge number of homeschoolers on it (99% American like yourself). Join and post that you are moving to Houston. I have seen people do this an then someone else is from there or near there and can help navigate the homeschool community.

As for vacations on no budget: I have so been there (almost all our vacations). You are in a new state, with ocean, warmer ocean then the north east and your sons are scouts. Go camp an exoplore your new state, perhaps exploring by a beach. Google camping on a budget. Eat on a budget. Look for the early bird specials and make your eat out meal breakfast. And unless you are moving to an isolated area I am sure your kids will make friends. Perhaps you can join some adult interest class, an outdoor club where you can learn about the plants in your new state.

If I were in your shoes I would be posting the same thing. Since I am not in your shoes it is easier to look beyond the overwhelming parts and see the opportunities.

K said...

The gulf stays warm enough to swim in well into the fall.
You can drive a short way down to Galveston or Mustang Island/Port Aransas/Corpus, rent a condo off-season for a week for well under half what it would cost for you to fly back East.

I don't have any contacts in the Houston area for homeschooling. Many of the Christian co-ops around here operate like the one you found. Applications, interviews etc....and they DO turn people they don't like (agree with) away. You might want to look if there are any secular groups, even small ones or ones not in your immediate vicinity and see if they can help you out.

prairie Dog said...

Hi Christine,
I think panic is an appropriate reaction. So feel it, experience it, an let it pass.
I read your blog regularly and feel your pain. We've been going through a similar ordeal, albeit not quite as severe as yours. 18 months ago my company asked me to relocate to MN or accept a severence package (I chose to relocate, of course). However, the housing market in IL where we were is abysmal. It took us 10 months to sell our house; we lost all our equity and money we spent on improvements while living in the house for 6 years(close to $70,000). In the end, I had to write a check at closing to sell our house. Now, my salary is very low middle class, and that is big hit as far as when I will now be able to retire.
We have two sons, 11 and 8, and we homeschool. It really was the mental gyrations that you go through in a situation like this that drive you nuts. You don't want to commit to certain things, because you don't know if you'll still be there...You feel like your not in your own home anymore because you have to keep it spotless for showings (like living as a guest in your own home...), and you're not in your new living's this uncomfortable in-between state. This was spread over an entire year. I ramped up my praying and did my best to focus on what was in my control; everything else I tried to let go.
We also tried to keep having a little fun each weekend...just threw up our hands and went on hikes, bike outings, or whatever.
I don't have any sage words for you...I just found that hearing real stories from other people in similar circumstances helped. Platitudes did NOT help, especially coming from people who were moving along merrily in the "true American fashion", as you allude to.
You are not crazy or weak. It is horrible to rip up roots. You are in my prayers.

Xa Lynn said...

This too shall pass?

Take a deep breath. If money and time are tight, and realistically it will be, you may not get the free vacation this year that you are used to. An option might be to treat Houston as the vacation - it is new to you and your family, so there will be all kinds of things to see and do that you haven't done before, that you can do without paying for hotel/restaurant/etc. And this may eliminate some of the boys' bickering from feeling trapped in a house with nothing to do but play video games. Let the kids investigate Houston and tell you what they'd like to do. And you and your husband, too. Even if it's just finding a local pool and hanging out.

For the homeschooling, I don't know what TX law requires, but consider starting late this year since there isn't time to plan everything now. Or just cherry pick whatever 2 or 3 subjects you consider most important, and do those alone, until you have a better feel for what is available in Houston, and the time and tools to work on the rest.

You can only do so much in a 24 hour day, and right now, the priority would be getting the house fixed to sell, and getting ready to move. There is no point in dealing with the other stuff, because it isn't relevant unless you can actually move and get your house on the market.

And now I have to go take my own advic... LOL... Ouch!

Xa Lynn

Love 2B Homeschoolers said...

(((Christine))) hang in there!

I know you have high expectations of yourself in homeschooling and have felt pressure about homeschooling high school, but I have to agree that you may want to put it on the back burner for now. Starting school a month or so late should not be too bad, especially since you will likely not have a lot of outside activities to keep you from school work (something which always seemed to be an issue for you here). Perhaps your difficulty in networking is an indication that you should stop for now. Perhaps you are meant to move to TX and spend some time settling into both your home and your academics before you search for outside activities. Making up one month should be a breeze without so many distractions.

It may be that your boys will be "at each other's throats or begging to just watch TV or play video games 24/7", but you've dealt with that here too. In my experience, that's part of parenting two boys no matter where you live or what else is going on, so technically, that's not just one more thing, it's just part of life even now. Remember too, that once you get there, Dad will be able to help with loneliness and boredom and parenting issues, so you will not be alone the way you feel now. So my advice is to leave the future to the future and worry about the now. I know it will be very hard for you since you are a "type A" homeschooler ;-) but really, try your best to keep sane and let go of as much as you can for now.

Do what you need to do to get your house ready. Let go of activities that get in the way of that, even if you did pay for them. Your boys are both bright; be honest with them about how overwhelmed you are feeling, and ask if they can think of ways to help. Remember though, to talk to them when you are calm and not at your wits end and ready to scream at whomever is nearby! Seeing Mom feeling vulnerable can be a good thing, (especially for your older one), and you may be surprised at the solutions they come up with.

It sounds to me like you could really use that vacation. Is there some way you could squeeze one in between finishing up the house and actually leaving? If you "resign" yourself to starting school a month late, you and the boys may be able to pull off a last trip to a "free" destination.

And keep doing things for yourself even if it does feel like a million years ago right after you're done. You might not feel that "there are no long lasting effects", but in the long run you are making some *fun* memories of your last weeks here.

Keep in mind, too, that Lyme is likely making things harder for you both physically and emotionally. You've been down that path before, so at your worst times, try to be kind to yourself by remembering that you are doing your best when you are not *at* your best. You are certainly doing better than I know I would!

Finally, please feel free to call or FB me any time :-)

Rachel said...

I am feeling your pain. We are moving in 9 weeks. We can't sell our house, so we have to rent it out. We still have to stage it as we don't have a renter yet. We are moving to a more regulated homeschooling state and need to get paperwork in, but we have an offer on a short sale and have no idea if the bank will accept it. My husband needs to get a different car for commuting. We do have a reservation for our movers, but no idea where our stuff will be going.
In addition, we have a family reunion this week in another state.
I am trying to provide fun and structure for my 5 kids, one of whom is learning to walk amid the chaos. 5 kids have so.much.stuff!

What I am trying to say is, I feel your pain, totally. Hang in there. I am bribing myself with a tour of the Jelly Belly factory after our move. Try to find some small thing to reward yourself with in your new area.

Contessa Kris said...

I can see how you feel overwhelmed. It helps to write it all down though I'm sure. I don't know what advice to offer but I do know that God holds all in his hands. All plans, activities, your family, your move, all. He tells us not to worry for tomorrow will take care of itself. When i'm feeling overwhelmed as you are, I write out every single thing I need to do, everything thing I'm worried about. I stop thinking about the ones I can't fix right now and focus on the ones I can. If the packing and getting things ready for sale is something you can do right now, focus on it. Call a few close friends who love you no matter what and have them come over for an 'I'm moving and I'm going crazy' party. They can help you pack, clean and maybe a friend's hubby can help with some repairs. I'll be praying for you this week. Take a breath, take a walk, take a bath, buy a latte. You can do it.

ChristineMM said...

Thank you everyone. You all have excellent ideas. It amazes me how an overwhelmed person (me) can't think clearly to come up with these ideas on my own. I guess I'm so deep in stress that it's affecting me.

The deadline we were rushing toward for the sale of the house was to try to close the sale before the school year starts. I worry that a family with school aged kids would not begin a sale in September through winter.

I also was trying to meet a deadline to be all ready for group activities in Houston for the start of the school year. It seems like that will be impossible not just for the work we'll be doing to unpack but due to the difficulty I'm having making real connections.

If I resign myself to doing nothing for formal academics with other homeschoolers I can be more lax about doing the planning in August and taking delayed vacations. Thanks for those great ideas.

darrell said...

I just happened upon your blog while looking for reviews of Dianne Craft. I just wanted to say that I'm in TX-but in Dallas and not Houston. There are tons of homeschoolers all around and it seems like there are a bunch of groups to pick from (maybe because regulations are relaxed here?). might be a place to start-they do list local co-ops. Prayers for an easy move for your family!

Jenny said...

I discovered your blog today when I was searching for a whipped cream cheese recipe. We moved to Houston 3 years ago and homeschool. I'd be happy to help you navigate the homeschool waters here in the area. I have many helpful links you may be interested in. I hope you have a smooth and uneventful move.

ChristineMM said...

Thanks everyone for your comments.

Jenny, thank you for your kind offer. How would I contact you? Your email is not visible to me and your blog link back is shut to public view. Help. If you leave me a comment with your email in the body of the comment I will get it that way then will reject it so it won't publish on the Internet for others to see. Thanks.