{SQT} School, Schedules, and North Korea

The little boys have wrapped up a week of school, and our homeschool has finished up our third with only minimal yelling and tears! Even from me!

1. We are still adjusting. Fulton’s bus arrives about 6:45 a.m. which means I’m awake at 5:30 a.m. preparing his lunch, drinking coffee, waking him by 5:50 a.m. and rushing through his morning routine before his nurse arrives at 6:30 and we finish getting him ready before heading outside. His ride is about 90 min, for almost three hours on the bus each day. It’s a long day for him, and his bedtime is getting progressively earlier.¬†It’s too soon to tell whether or not this is doable long-term. Thankfully, Fulton still enjoys school and his nurses report that he’s very friendly and outgoing and seems to be doing well.

2.¬†Teddy complains about school pretty much whenever he’s at home. I was really starting to worry about whether I could even make him stick it out a year when back to school night rolled around earlier this week. To my surprise, Teddy was eager to go and show me around the school. Upon arriving, he happily took me to his class, showed me his desk, the centers in his class, a recent art project and happily chatted with his teacher and explained his whole daily schedule. Then we had to see the art room and the library before finally stopping into the nurse’s office where he and the nurse happily exchanged inside jokes they’d quickly established in his few days back. I was relieved that although it seems to still be hard for Teddy to leave us each day, he is happy once he’s at school.

3. I have created a pretty good schedule for myself and our homeschool. Our day is longer, but I’ve allowed enough time for breaks and now my middle schoolers and I are spending more quality time together discussing subjects and reviewing work. I’ve been able to step away from several workbooks I’d relied on and instead create assignments that, while requiring more interaction from me, will help reinforce our lessons. Honestly, I’m finally homeschooling the way I always imagined homeschooling could be. It only took outsourcing three kids to other institutions! Who knew?! I’m trying to enjoy it and tweak things these first few weeks as we settle into a rhythm, hoping that the proverbial other shoe doesn’t drop and wreck it all.

4. It seems I should have much more time for everything, when in actuality, homeschooling is still eating up most of my day, if not more, just in a different way. I have a few set blocks of time during the week where I can schedule things like writing, social media, exercise and the like so, ideally, when the boys get home, we can enjoy our time together (despite our current sports schedule). So I still feel behind in many ways, but I guess I feel like my time while limited is well spent. I’m also forcing myself into bed quite early so I have the energy to go ALL DAY after rising before the chickens. Time alone with my husband is getting pushed into the margins, but thankfully, since he works from home, we are still taking our daily walk at lunch which is replacing quiet time in the morning before everyone wakes up or at night after everyone is in bed. It’s a tough spot when some of your kids are early birds and others are night owls and your house is small.

5. The boys will get another dose of Spinraza next week (really gonna try to not bail on my Takes, honest!). Someone asked if we’ve seen any difference and, honestly, no. I can’t say I have, but I’m not giving up hope. We’ve got a lot of new stuff going on and we’re running around constantly. I’m relying on a nurse to help Fulton, so perhaps he’s doing more but I just don’t notice it because I’m helping him less? Plus, both boys are tired when they get home. They get screen time, dinner and then they want to crash. It’s tough to muster energy for any home physical therapy. So far at school they’re both scheduled for 15 minutes of physical therapy a week. We’re considering private PT again, but I have no idea where we’d fit it in the schedule. It was easier when we homeschooled and could snap up a daytime slot. Am I to force my older kids to give up their activities now that they’ve discovered things they’re truly passionate about? So of course, I wonder if Fulton and Teddy not showing miraculous improvements right now is my fault somehow (mom guilt is inevitable right?). And then I remind myself it’s still early in the process and try to trust God and our abilities to manage everything.

6. Part (most?) of the craziness right now is because Byron is playing football. We are a football loving family (even though we don’t follow it as closely as we used to.) Tony played in high school and a year in college. His brothers played. His dad played. His mom is a huge football fan. When we started dating I realized that if I wanted to spend time with him on Sundays, I’d have to learn to enjoy football. And I did. I’d always hoped that Byron would want to play, and we suggested it to him several times, but he was never interested until this year. He’s one of the tallest boys on the team, has the most stamina by far, and is one of the fastest. But, he’s still learning, so it’s lots of time on the line right now. He’s enjoying it, even when the coaches yell and curse, and even when it’s hard. He’s got practice four nights a week and games on the weekend. We’ve never done an intense sports season before so all the back and forth has been a learning experience. But it’s reiterated why I’m glad I never forced my kids to play anything before they wanted to put in all this time and effort on their own. I was talking to him about some aspect of practice the other evening when he stopped me and said, “Mama, when I get older am I going to look back on my time playing football as some kind of life lesson?”

7. Reading has fallen by the wayside lately, though I did just get a large library stash as motivation to make a better effort again. However, on a whim I did recently read ‘A Kim Jung-Il Production’ about the North Korean leader’s kidnapping of two South Korean’s in order to build his country’s movie quality and reputation. I had a hard time putting it down. Kim Jung-Il was equal parts ruthless and charismatic.

I knew a little about the inner workings of North Korea, but the book was a fascinating look at the man, his passion for cinema, it’s role in government propaganda and the mass indoctrination of its population, and the absurd lengths he would go to to achieve complete domination of the hearts and minds of his people. Byron already had an interest in North Korea, so he read the book as well and we watched several videos on YouTube of North Korean films, mass games, and Kim Jung-Il’s funeral. Addie had a few free minutes between her 230,590,257,012 other books, so she’s reading it now too. I like to read related titles so I put ‘Without You, There Is No Us: Undercover Among the Sons of North Korea’s Elite’ on hold to read next.

As members of a free society, the brainwashing of the North Korean people seems so foreign and scary to us, however, much of our family’s¬†discussion has started leaning towards how advertising and the mainstream American media can also influence us as well. Are we really as immune to brainwashing as we think?

So that’s the latest around here! I have a million great posts in the drafts folder I hope I can finish for y’all soon. Any questions or suggestions, leave them in the comments below, then link up your posts below. Don’t forget to include a link back to this post so your readers can find the rest of the Quick Takes. I look forward to reading your posts!




  1. This North Korea thing is so scary!! My husband was supposed to possibly go to Japan for a business trip and I was like “No way in H-E-Double- Hockey-Sticks.”

  2. You should check out My Holiday in North Korea by Wendy E. Simmons. It was equal parts funny, sad and horrifying.

  3. I don’t homeschool, but over the summer I do a fake trip around the world with my kids and we spend each week learning about a different country. One of the countries they chose this summer was North Korea so we read all about it and had the exact same discussion. The idea of government propaganda seems weird to us, but is it really so different from the media constantly telling us what to think? We like to think we have all these values and know right from wrong, but it’s almost impossible to have a truly independent opinion that doesn’t come from SOMEWHERE. The most pervasive thing telling us what to think is the media and popular advertising, and we don’t even realize it. That’s why it’s important to believe in God – everything else changes, and if that’s all you believe in then so does your idea of what’s true.

  4. I have wondered, like you. about the American media and advertising….powerful tools…and sometimes we don’t know we are being fed terrible things because it comes in such “meaningful” packaging.

  5. Kelly, Thanks for the update- I share your faith in God’s timing, and I’m glad that Teddy was able to give you a fuller picture of how his experience is at school. The N. Korea books look fascinating.

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