Back to Home(school)

This the story of how I became “The Happy Housewife.” You might want to start at the beginning.

I was excited and nervous about sending the kids off to school. I knew our oldest daughter would be fine, she had attended kindergarten and part of first grade, but I was concerned about sending our son off to school.

Even the small town environment, friendly teachers, and good recommendations couldn’t help me shake the feeling that we were making the wrong decision.

I thought our son was delayed academically, and I wasn’t sure how he would fair socially either. He wasn’t a “normal” kid. I dealt with my fears by throwing myself into projects at the school. I joined the PTO and ended up serving as Vice President. I spent hours at the school talking with teachers and aides about our son and how to best help him learn.

I spent more time at the school than I did at home and it the year hadn’t even begun.

On the first day of school I took their pictures on the front porch and sent them off to school. I had mixed emotions, but they seemed happy so I decided to be happy too.

It was weird not having them home, but I was busy with the toddler and baby so the hours flew by. I spent many hours a week at the school volunteering and working on PTO projects. I kept myself busy so I didn’t miss homeschooling.

While I was having a great time volunteering with the PTO, my kids weren’t having a great time going to school. I had a few “conversations” with our daughter’s teacher about projects, homework, and advanced work.

I also spent a lot of time making sure our son was on track and didn’t need any extra help. His teacher always assured me that he was right on track, but compared to other kids his age he seemed very delayed.

About a month into the school year our daughter was assigned a book report. She chose an American Girl book and went to work creating a beautiful presentation board. She spent every night for weeks working on this board, she was so excited about the project.

Finally the night before it was due I started helping her glue the information she had written up about the book onto her presentation board. Her handwriting was messy and she thought that gluing her handwritten papers on the board would mess it up. She wanted to type up the information cards to put on the board.

Even though it was late I agreed and she went to work typing. After about 45 minutes of watching her hunt and peck on the keyboard I asked her if I could take over and finish typing up the cards from her notes because it was getting late and I wanted to go to bed.

I typed them up quickly and she glued them onto her board.

The next day I drove her to school and I watched as she happily walked from the car with her project. It was the first big project she had ever done and I was so proud of her for working so hard on it.

When our daughter came home I asked how her presentation went and she said the teacher and the class loved it.

A few days later she came home with her grade for the project. She received an A for the book report, A for the presentation, and a C for the project. I was dumbfounded. I had seen the other projects and hers was one of the best. I quickly scanned the grade sheet and was appalled when I saw…

“The board was wonderful, but next time please have your daughter do the work herself.”

I looked up and could tell my daughter was upset about her C. I asked her why her teacher would think that I made the board. She told me that the teacher thought the board was too good for a third grader to do on their own and then she told me the teacher asked her if I made the project board.

She told her teacher that I didn’t make the board and then the teacher asked if I helped make the board. Our daughter told the teacher I did help with the board, because I had typed up her notes the night before the project was due.

I tried to explain to our daughter that I had only typed up her notes, word for word, and that she truly had done all the work.

At this point our daughter was in tears and I was close to tears as well. Our daughter was a bright girl, who rarely missed even one question on a test. She was very capable of making a great project board, but the teacher just assumed I had made it instead.

I called Sailor at work and told him we had to pull the kids out of school. This was just one of many incidents over the past two month where I felt like our daughter was being “punished’ for being smart, and our son was getting left behind.

There was just one problem.

I was the PTO Vice President.

If I stepped down people would talk about us. There were only a few homeschoolers on the island and if I pulled my kids out of school it probably wouldn’t help us make any friends or fit in.

I didn’t want my kids to feel like they were being left out because they were homeschooled in such a tiny community, but at the same time I knew this school wasn’t giving them the best education.

I agonized for a week about how to tell the PTO President I had to step down because I was pulling my kids out of school. I told my husband that people would probably talk about me behind my back and I’d probably lose all my friends, since most of them I had met through the PTO.

He said that people would probably talk about us, but if I lost friends over homeschooling, they weren’t friends to begin with anyway.

I was still afraid to pull them from the school so we finally came up with a plan. We already had a trip back to the states planned so we would withdraw them from school and then immediately leave for Florida. We would be gone for two weeks and by the time we returned, perhaps the whole thing would have blown over and people would have forgotten about the big family who leaves babies at movie theaters and pulls them out of school…..

Our children went to school on Monday and the next morning we were on a plane headed to Florida. I told myself that I would take homeschooling one day at a time, one year at a time, and never let fear of man dictate how my kids were educated.


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Iguanas!

This the story of how I became “The Happy Housewife.” You might want to start at the beginning.

One little detail our sponsor neglected to mention before we moved to Guantanamo Bay was the iguana population.

Iguanas were everywhere on the island, and they creeped me out. What made it worse was that they were protected, so you couldn’t get rid of them on your own. Any iguana that was a nuisance was trapped then relocated to another part of the island.

This would have been fine had our yard not been infested with iguanas. I use the word infested because we would often have between five and ten in our yard at a time. They loved to rest under the one tree we had in our yard.

Normally iguanas don’t make friends with people so they leave you alone, unless you feed them. Feeding the iguanas was prohibited on the island because iguanas that had been fed by humans became very aggressive and would often run or chase people because they assumed people would feed them.

There were several cases of people being bitten by aggressive iguanas on the base. Because they carried so many diseases, getting bitten required high doses of antibiotics to avoid going into septic shock.

I’m sure it comes as no surprise to you that the people who previously lived in our house FED THE IGUANAS!!!!

When we walked up to our house for the first time there were several iguanas under our tree. The tree was over fifty feet from our house, and since we knew nothing about iguanas we all stared at them with a strange fascination mixed with a little fear.

We told the kids not to play near the iguanas and then quickly went in the house.

A few days later I was walking with our sponsor’s wife to her van so we could go to the store. As we were walking a large (at least four feet) iguana started running towards us.

I immediately felt as though I was living in Jurassic Park. We both started running towards her van and I practically dove through her open window because I thought it would be quicker than opening the door.

We were both screaming our heads off, and I think I broke the world’s record for the fifty yard dash that day.

A few days after that I was talking to Amy’s sister about the iguana incident. She told me she hadn’t had many issues with them and that ours had probably been fed by the previous tenant because they were so aggressive.

As we were talking the biggest iguana I’d ever seen started to run towards us. Without breaking her sentence she bent down, picked up a large shell, and threw it as hard as she could at the iguana.

She hit it on the head and the iguana started making this terrible sound and running in circles for at least thirty seconds. We also began screaming and quickly went into the house and watched from the front window. The iguana finally settled down and went back to the tree.

I spent many hours on the phone with the Environmental department trying to solve our iguana problem. For every one they trapped and relocated we seemed to get two more. The kids were afraid to play outside and I was afraid to let them.

One day I walked in the living room and saw a small greenish brown head draped over my couch. I took two steps back and yelled for my six year-old son. As he was coming downstairs I asked him if he was playing with his animal toys today. He said he wasn’t, and then I asked him if he was playing a trick on mommy. He promised me he wasn’t.

We had an iguana in the house.

Now I’m usually a calm and sane person, but an iguana on my couch I could not handle. I immediately called a friend and she bravely said she would come over and take care of it for me. I blocked off the stairs and told all the kids to stay upstairs until this matter was resolved.

My friend arrived and grabbed a broom to defeat this iguana. She took one stab at it and it ran. Then she and I ran and jumped on the dining room table, which seemed like the only safe place in the house downstairs. We were both screaming our heads off which of course scared the kids even more.

I called Sailor at work and he said there was no way he could come home and help. He told me to call 911.

So I did.

The MP’s arrived and my friend and I (broom still in hand) were still on the dining room table. The iguana was somewhere in the family room, and I didn’t really care where it was, I just wanted it out.

It was obvious the MP’s thought we were a bunch of sissies, and maybe I was. What I did know was that iguana wasn’t going to sink its teeth into me or any of my children, and if that was best achieved by me standing on the dining room table, so be it.

They walked into the family room and I heard one of them say, “Oh, that’s just a little one.”

A little one? Are you kidding me??? That thing was at least a foot long if not longer and it had taken up residence in my family room!!

What happened next was something that we still laugh about to this day. The MP’s made a move to capture the iguana and it lunged at them. Then they started yelling like a bunch of sissies.

I couldn’t help but feel a little more confident in my tabletop position since the police seemed to be just as afraid of the “little” iguana as I was.

I heard more yelling and lots of other noise, and my curiosity got the best of me. I hopped down from the table and stood (at a great distance) to watch chaos unfold in my living room.

The MP’s had trapped the iguana behind our desk. The desk that held our computer and about twenty cords (you know how guys are with cords). The iguana was trapped in the cords and they were both afraid to grab it. They were wearing rubber gloves, the kind that a nurse would wear, and those weren’t going to do anything to protect them against those nasty iguana teeth.

After much shouting, banging on furniture, and jiggling of wires, one of the MP’s grabbed the iguana with his hat and carried it outside.

We had been saved.


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Reading Through Ephesians

In January we read through Proverbs taking one chapter a day. Since there aren’t any books of the bible with 29 chapters (and you all requested another bible reading on Facebook) I thought we could read through Ephesians in February.

reading through ephesians Reading Through Ephesians

This is a little different than last month as the readings are much shorter for the first three weeks. Then the last week we will be rereading Ephesians, one chapter each day.

I’ll be sharing verses from the reading every day on Facebook, feel free to share yours as well.

Here’s the reading schedule, and don’t forget to follow along on Facebook.

  • Feb 1: Ephesians 1:1-14
  • Feb 2: Ephesians 1:15-23
  • Feb 3: Ephesians 2:1-10
  • Feb 4: Ephesians 2:11-18
  • Feb 5: Ephesians 2:19-22
  • Feb 6: Ephesians 3:1-6
  • Feb 7: Ephesians 3:7-13
  • Feb 8: Ephesians 3:14-21
  • Feb 9: Ephesians 4:1-5
  • Feb 10: Ephesians 4:7-13
  • Feb 11: Ephesians 4:14-16
  • Feb 12: Ephesians 4:17-24
  • Feb 13: Ephesians 4:25-28
  • Feb 14: Ephesians 4:29-32
  • Feb 15: Ephesians 5:1-7
  • Feb 16: Ephesians 5:8-14
  • Feb 17: Ephesians 5:15-20
  • Feb 18: Ephesians 5:21-33
  • Feb 19: Ephesians 6:1-4
  • Feb 20: Ephesians 6:5-9
  • Feb 21: Ephesians 6:10-17
  • Feb 22: Ephesians 6:18-24
  • Feb 23: Ephesians Reflect on what you’ve read
  • Feb 24: Ephesians Reread chap 1
  • Feb 25: Ephesians Reread chap 2
  • Feb 26: Ephesians Reread chap 3
  • Feb 27: Ephesians Reread chap 4
  • Feb 28: Ephesians Reread chap 5
  • Feb 29: Ephesians Reread chap 6

 


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Life in GTMO

This the story of how I became “The Happy Housewife.” You might want to start at the beginning.

Life in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba was unlike anything I could have ever imagined. No welcome packet, sponsor letter, or phone call could have really prepared me for life on the island.

I realized about an hour after arriving that the island was all about community. No one had any family there, everyone was a new friend, and communication outside of the island (except email) was pretty limited. Your friends became your family.

There were no cell phones and dial-up internet on a good day took 20 to 30 minutes to connect. We were truly isolated from the world.

And I loved it…. most of the time. 

While the kids and I were settling in to our lives in GTMO, Sailor was miserable. Everything the detailer and people at the hospital told him about the job wasn’t true. One day in frustration he asked one of his co-workers, “why didn’t you tell me about this when I called down here last year and talked to you?”

The co-worker responded, “If I had told you the truth, would you have come?”

Sailor was scheduled to work about forty-eight hours a week and then was on call for another forty. He wore a pager so he could be reached at any time. Since the hospital was so small there was only one nurse on duty at a time. If things got busy they called him in, this seemed to happen on a daily basis.

Since the detainees arrived in GTMO the island population had doubled with all the temporary military stationed there. They had their own medical facilities but all emergencies went through the main ER. What had been a slow, see one patient a day job had turned into a nintey hour a week job and Sailor was miserable.

It wasn’t that he didn’t like working ninety hours a week, he just didn’t like working all those hours as a nurse. He began seriously planning his transfer out of the Nurse Corps.

I threw myself into the community because I knew that was the only way to survive our tour. Sailor and I had already decided to send our children to the school on base so I started the process of registering them and meeting other families at the school.

We were known as the big family on base. There was one other family who had more kids than we did, but they kept to themselves and no one really knew them. Since I involved us in every activity the base had to offer we were soon known by almost everyone.

Every Friday night the base offered free movies at the outdoor theatre. This was a big event (since there wasn’t a whole lot to do down there) so we loaded up the kids and headed down to watch the free movie, munch on fifty-cent popcorn and meet some new people.

I was particularly excited about this night because the doctor who delivered our third baby had just moved to Cuba. I had met his wife briefly at a picnic the week before and I was looking forward to getting to know her better.

After the movie ended I found my doctor’s wife and we started talking while my four-month-old baby sat happily in his car seat on the ground. Sailor was in and out of the conversation and after a while we realized I needed to grab a bag of bedding from the doctor’s car that I had let them borrow.

We headed over to the car and continued to talk and talk. In fact we talked so long that I looked up and saw Sailor driving out of the parking lot in our minivan. I waved my arms at him (because I was not in the van and didn’t want to walk home) and he drove off.

I couldn’t believe Sailor left me at the movie theatre! 

The doctor’s wife offered to give me a ride home (it was only a three minute drive) and I got into the car. As we were driving to the house I was getting irritated that Sailor left me at the theatre, what was he thinking? We had only lived there a few weeks and I sure wasn’t comfortable walking home by myself!

We pulled up in the driveway and we chatted a few more minutes. I got out of the car as Sailor was walking out of the house.

“How could you leave me at the theatre???” I asked in my not-so-happy voice.

“I didn’t leave you, I thought you already left.” Sailor responded in his not-so-happy voice.

“How could I have left…we only own one car!!!” I responded.

As I started to walk towards Sailor he looked at me and in a serious tone asked,

“Where’s the baby?”

“With you.” I responded calmly.

“No, he was with you.” Sailor said, his tone growing worried and angry at the same time.

What happened next was a loud exchange between Sailor and I debating the responsibilities of parents to make sure all the children are accounted for before leaving any place. We continued to argue, blaming one another for leaving the baby, until the doctor’s wife calmly interrupted.

“Would you like to go back to the theatre and get him?”

We headed back to the theatre and there was our four-month old sitting happily in his seat exactly where he was when we left. One of Sailor’s coworkers was standing next to the car seat talking to someone, waiting for us to realize we had forgotten the baby.

We had lived in GTMO for less than a month and we already had gained the reputation of the family that is so big they can’t remember to take all their kids with them. 

This was going to be fun.

 


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