The power of traditions, and what can happen when you don’t have any

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They say that the first holidays after a loved one dies are the hardest. The absence is so palpable.

In time, a lot of families find a way to rebound.

Ours … didn’t.

My grandmother, the hysterical, chain-smoking glue of my mother’s whole family died right at the beginning of my last year of college. The holidays that year were a hodgepodge of misfires; mistaken attempts at new traditions.

(Please don’t ever say the words “egg casserole,” in my presence.)

Although my grandfather would live for another 18 months, it was clear that our turkey and ham dinners, and Christmas Eves spent around their hearth were buried with his wife, who had somehow managed to hold us all together without threats or ever making it seem like an obligation.

It was a time of big change for our clan; death, marriages and birth, taking us in new directions, and leaving my newly emerging family without ties or traditions to fall back on.

We were making it up as we went along.

It was hard.

No family is without a little drama, and holidays are like weddings — they show you the best and worst in people when you really, really just need everyone to keep it together.

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When my son was born, the wont for tradition became so strong that every holiday felt like another failure.

Holidays became exhausting endeavors as my husband and I tried to create all the magic. It took some time for us to realize that some traditions are good and important, while others weigh you down, and make you crazy.

I think that’s when we landed on pie.

We needed a place to focus, and a way to have fun.

We wanted memories, but had finally learned that memories don’t come from perfection.

{And so we all make crazy pies on Thanksgiving. And we eat them all weekend.}

Last year, when my husband attempted his first-ever pie, and it turned out gray, but really, really good, (I mean if you could get past the looking-at-it part) it was clear that we had discovered what holidays need to be for us right now.

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Sometimes, I can’t help it. I mourn for what my kids don’t have. My memories are filled with grandparents and big dinners.

But I can’t create that on my own, no matter how hard I try.

So instead, I can be here for my children, so that we can create our little traditions — of weird pie, games, cocoa and so much love …

As I move past the sadness of what isn’t, I have one wish:

May our own traditions grow to become memories, and although different from my own, may thinking back on them always make my children feel warm, safe and secure, and entirely embraced by family and home.

Happy Thanksgiving Friends!!

Love, Kara

When something breaks your homeschool heart

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I call it “homeschool heartbreak.”

I’ve dealt with it before, and right now, I’m in the midst of it again.

It happens when something, or someone hits you square in the chest, and you begin to question homeschooling; question yourself.

It’s a terrible feeling, and it can be incredibly hard to get back up and keep fighting.

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This week, I shared a post at Simple Homeschool about what to do when someone or something breaks your homeschool heart. I can tell you, that a week after writing it, things are already a lot easier.

I feel more sure of myself and of our decision.

But that doesn’t mean it hasn’t been really hard.

If you’ve ever been there, or are there now, my heart goes out to you, my friend.

Wishing you peace today.

Much love,

Kara

P.S. I’ve been sharing shorter stories about our days as well as books suggestions over at Facebook lately. So come by and say hi!

Your one best good thing

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Man. I have a lot of things.

I bet you do too.

They look like this:

  • call that lady
  • give cat medicine 4 times a day
  • make breakfast, and lunch and dinner
  • buy a birthday card
  • get a baby gift
  • make hat for donation
  • give cat other medicine 2 times a day
  • print Latin thing
  • call that lady who asked me to call back
  • figure out children’s Kindle so they can’t Google
  • make a snack
  • eat a snack
  • MATH!
  • where is cat?
  • what did you say?
  • charge phone
  • write story
  • write another story
  • edit a thing
  • return trumpet
  • give everyone a vitamin
  • yoga?
  • return so many library books
  • “Answer your phone, lady!”
  • we have no clean towels

Is it any wonder that as moms, we constantly feel pulled in a bunch of different directions?

But starting today, I am going to try something new.

I’m calling it my one best good thing.

Because I tend to put a lot of pressure on myself.

I bet you do too.

We feel like if we aren’t doing all of it, and doing all of it well, then we are failing.

Who told us this?

(I do not like them.)

I have come to realize that really, in my world, I can only do one thing well at a time.

Some days, I am a really good mom.

Some days, I am a really good homeschooler.

Some days, I am an awesome employee.

Some days, I am really good at cooking and meal planning.

Some days, I am very good at reading and drinking cocoa.

There has never, that I can think of, been one day when I was equally good at all of these things at once.

So today — I am choosing one thing.

(I haven’t decided what it is yet.)

We can sort of do it all, I think.

But we can’t do it all at once.

Cut yourself a little slack today, mama. There is always tomorrow too.

P.S. I’ve been sharing shorter stories about our days as well as books suggestions over at Facebook lately. So come by and say hi!