Life lessons

What the Heck is Momschooling, Anyway?

It’s officially summer here at The Burin Academy and every single one of us is thrilled! Wait, let me clarify. Every single one of us is BEYOND thrilled. As in, the most appreciative of school being finished than any of us has ever been before. 2ED36819-6969-44AD-9636-04A288CB31C2Why is this year’s introduction to summer celebrated above all others, you ask? I’ll answer with one word…Momschool.

Due to the pandemic raging through our state, schools here were closed back in March. Most of them were sent scrambling, trying to figure out how to finish out the year. Our boys were in two different schools-Jack, an 8th grader, and Elijah, a senior. Jack’s school began online schooling with multiple Zoom calls and schoolwork assigned each day. 10311638-0A40-4766-89BB-41CDFBD4FB74Elijah’s school went to work being optional and you know what that means. There was no way he was going to do anything that he didn’t have to. But despite the fact that Elijah was a senior, and his school deemed additional work optional, I felt it was important to keep both boys actively learning, instead of just torturing one of them. How fair would that be, anyway? So, we spent the next 45 days (not that I was counting, or anything) Momschooling. Both boys had a daily schedule that started at 9 and ended at 7. They had academic responsibilities. If there were no school assignments, they watched documentaries or researched topics. They read. They had chores. They helped make shopping lists and prepare dinner. They had a list of projects to do. For example, make a movie together, or write someone a real letter and mail it. Their days were full, that’s for sure, and they quickly found out there is no teacher that expects more from them than me.

As I’m sure you can guess, Momschooling wasn’t easy. It was quite a rollercoaster, to say the least. Some days went smoothly, while others were a battle from the time we woke up to the time we went to bed. Boundaries were tested, new standards were set, and I learned to dig deep down in order to find the patience needed to keep going. But it was incredibly satisfying to watch as the boys became more independent in the kitchen, or as they began to master real-life skills, and bond over shared projects. Although I had to keep a constant watchful eye on them, they learned important skills like: how to properly make a bed, or clean a bathroom, whereas before I would most likely let their halfhearted attempts at such tasks go, since we were too busy to stop and make sure all the little things were done right.

We all learned to work together and I know (although they won’t admit it), they developed a new appreciation for what it takes to run a household. In many ways, I am thankful for the experience and I hope, perhaps someday, they will be too.39A9F3D2-0267-4D80-8BFC-77DDDFF5E4CA

But perhaps the greatest thing I learned through all of this is that, although it was hard, it was nothing compared to true homeschooling. I take my hat off to all the parents out there who have made the commitment year after year to homeschool. I chose to call what I did Momschool because it was different than true homeschooling. I jumped in 3/4 of the way through the school year. For the most part, I had a curriculum already in place to follow. I had teachers who oversaw the work done and with whom I could come alongside and gain support. At no time was I on my own in this endeavor. True homeschooling would have required me to do all of this on my own. In addition, the boy’s academic comprehension and success would have fallen solely upon my shoulders. Creating a schedule and creating a curriculum are two vastly different tasks. Not to mention, there is no possible way I could help the boys with their math. I think I lost that ability at about the 5th grade level. I mean honestly, what the heck is a polynomial, anyway?

45 days as a “teacher” sure taught me a lot. I’m in awe of people who do it day after day, whether in a physical school, or at home. My hat goes off to those of you who choose this path in life. You give so much to others. Your patience is something to be admired. And your willingness to guide children into becoming the future of the world is something truly commendable. This pandemic has opened my eyes to see how much you selflessly give, and I will never again take that lightly. You all have become my heroes and although it may not be much, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for all you do.

So although I didn’t truly homeschool, I did Momschool the heck out of my boys as best I could. 

We got through it. 

We survived. 

I learned that patience and perseverance pay off in the long run.

The boys learned there is no tougher teacher than their mom.

And I’m sure we will all agree, we can’t wait for “real” school to start again in the fall.

Life lessons

Sexualizing the Super Bowl

The Super Bowl. How we love it. The game. The commercials. The halftime show. What a great American tradition. 

Over 100 million people gather around their TVs to watch this great event. We plan parties, eat food, and gather our families together to watch history unfold on the football field. This was our family’s first year watching the Super Bowl in four years. Being overseas with a 12-hour time difference made it a bit challenging to watch live unless of course, we were willing to go to the bar at 6am on a Monday morning, which many expats were very willing to do, but I like my sleep too much to have made that happen.

So, we’re back and were excited to turn on our tv, prepare our snacks, and get ready to watch the commercials..ahem, I mean the game. And what a game it was! I was thoroughly enjoying reliving this tradition until the halftime show came on.

Now let me start by saying that anyone who performs in the halftime show of the Super Bowl is automatically going to subject themselves to all kinds of criticism. Some who like the performance, and some who don’t. Their show will be picked apart from many different critics and I suppose this year I won’t be any different from the masses. 

The halftime show had some real positives. I think the Latin theme of the show was a good call, especially since the game took place in Miami. The choreography and talent were amazing. J.Lo’s daughter-so talented. And both Shakira and J.Lo sure know how to give quite a performance. 

Sadly, I need to end my accolades there. 

Shakira gave a performance like I expected. That lady can move, and everyone knows that. I mean after all, she sings “My Hips Don’t Lie” and it’s the truth. Actually, her outfit was a bit more tame than I expected. I loved the red sparkles from her head to her toes. 

But then it was J.Lo’s turn. OHMYGOODNESS. Her first ensemble looked like she was dressed for an s&m party. And the crotch grabs..really?? Then she whipped the black leather off to reveal..well..mostly everything. Really, hardly anything was hidden. She looked like a Vegas showgirl. And to make it even more risqué, she proceeded to perform on a stripper pole. 

Here’s where I have a problem. Well, I have so many problems with this performance, but here’s the biggest one. All the media is talking about today is what a great performance it was. There’s is some acknowledgement about how it may have been a bit racy for a family audience, but not much. 

I have to ask myself, how did we get to the point in our society where women can dance on stripper poles and be practically naked in front of over 100 million people and it’s ok? Women want to be equal and respected amongst men, but this behavior is the kind of thing these same women are telling the world is ok? I just don’t get it. Sons and daughters watched this show. Is this the way we want them to view women?

Do you think J.Lo’s daughter asked her friends later what they thought of her mom’s skill on the stripper pole? For some reason I expected more from her.

My 13-year-old son walked out of the room halfway through the performance and honestly, I probably should have done the same.

Again, I loved the Latin vibe. It was fun and full of energy. I just believe it could have been executed with much more class and modesty, especially knowing the world was watching. If our society keeps going in this direction, God help us all. I fear for my grandchildren. Honestly, it wasn’t that long ago when parents were completely up in arms about Elvis gyrating on stage, and he was fully dressed! 

Shakira and J.Lo are so talented. Their dancing alone is extremely impressive. I mean really, J.Lo is 50. How does she still move like that? That being said, I wish they would show the world their talent without the need to flaunt their bodies as sexual objects. 

This is just one mom’s humble opinion. You can disagree with me if you want. I just hope our children aspire to be great through their talents and what they can offer the world, not through their sexuality.


Life lessons

Bumps in the Road

Within 10 minutes of waking up for the day, I managed to break a glass and spent the next 5 minutes cleaning up the microscopic shards that scattered all over the kitchen like confetti. Really, how does broken glass manage to scatter all over the place like that? 

Less than 30 minutes later on our drive to school, I was in a heated discussion with my 13-year-old Jack, about why playing video games for twelve hours straight isn’t healthy. You know, a typical mom-teenager conversation. We went round and round. He refused to see my point and by the time we arrived at school our discussion was at a standstill, both of us frustrated, looking silently out the car window equally convinced each of our viewpoints were the only valid ones (mine was, of course the right one-haha). After I dropped him off and drove away I sighed, thinking this day was not off to a good start. 

Feebly looking for some sort of redemption for the negativity of the morning, I decided to step on the scale. Why in God’s name I thought this would be the saving grace I needed for the day is beyond me. As if EVER stepping on the scale has ever left anyone jumping for joy. The numbers flashed before me and, as expected, instantly deflated any bit of happiness I had left.

3rd strike. If this was baseball, I’d be out.

By 10:30 the weight of the world was on my shoulders. Everything bothered me. The new house build at a standstill, not knowing if I would have enough time in the day to get everything done on my list, my fat butt…all of it. I’m sure you get it. 

But guess what!

It was about this time that God gave me a big virtual slap upside my head. What was my problem? I was driving down the road in my nice truck on my way to Costco. Once there I would fill my cart with food for the family. My health is pretty good, I have a family that, although disagrees with me at times, loves me. I am so blessed. I began making an attempt, albeit a feeble one, to count my blessings instead of my frustrations, and you know what? The more I did this, the more I began to feel positive instead of negative about the day. 

It amazes me how even a tiny change in attitude can completely change one’s day. I’ll admit, there are many days when I find myself wallowing in my own self pity. Woe is me and all that. But maybe instead of spending so much effort on negativity, I need to make more of an effort push it aside and allow positivity to rule. 

Our attitude is a choice

Sure, things happen in our lives that are beyond our control. Things  we would not choose. Challenges we must overcome. Difficult days. But if we choose to not allow ourselves to be overwhelmed by them and try hard to replace negative thoughts with positive ones, wouldn’t we all be happier in the long run?

Lord knows I’m a work in progress and have a long, long way to go. But as I’m on this bumpy road called life, I’m going to keep trying to see the journey in a positive light. The devil will always try to steal our joy. To find us where we’re weak and place heaviness upon us. We need to see this for what it is and push the evil out before it roots into our lives.

This morning wasn’t great but making the choice to count my blessings turned the day around and you know what? It ended up being a pretty good day! I hope yours was too.


Life lessons

Musings of a Middle-Aged Mom

Here I go again, starting a new blog as if I have all the time in the world to kill. 

As much as I hate it, sometimes I have to admit I’m crazy. It’s not as if I have a household to run. With a million things on my to-do list, dryer humming in the background, dinner to make, kids to corral. No. All that has been put aside so I can have some “me time”. 

Ok, I know writing a blog isn’t everyone’s idea of “me time”. But has become my outlet. My chance to put my stamp on something that’s only mine. We all need something that’s just ours, right? Especially us moms! 

I’ve spent the last 26 years nurturing and loving our little brood. Bandaging scraped knees, reading bedtime stories, drying tears when life got hard. I’ve learned that motherhood is never easy. In fact most of the time, it’s just messy. I’ve made my fair share of mistakes along the way, that’s for sure! But through it all, I’ve loved my kids and my husband fiercely and the best I can. After all, God gave me each of my four children because He knew I am exactly what they needed…right? Some days I have to tell myself that over and over again. How about you?

Our lives are never dull, but boy are they amusing (at least I get a kick out of our craziness). Here’s a glimpse of our recent adventures:

We lived an average American life up until about four years ago. A house in the suburbs, strong marriage, and four active kids. I suppose God thought our lives were getting a bit dull so He gave us a life-changing opportunity. Thanks to a job relocation, half of us up and moved to China (our older two had already moved out of the house-we didn’t just draw straws to see who got to join us-haha). The funny thing is, I always said I would NEVER move to China. I told my husband, if you ever end up working halfway around the world, you can go by yourself! Ha! Well, that didn’t pan out. I love him too much to let him live that far away. 

After three years in Shanghai, we had a surprise relocation to Bangkok, Thailand. Before we moved abroad I knew nothing about Thailand. In fact, I was like many people who thought Bangkok was actually located in China. Geese! Once we finally settled in Bangkok, we thought we would be there for 2-3 years. Well, par for our crazy course, we ended up getting relocated again after only a year. However, this time we got to come back home to good old Michigan! And it’s a good thing too since our Christmas present from our daughter and her husband was the news of our first grand baby on the way! WOOHOO!!!

And because we can never seem to keep our lives dull, we’ve decided to build a house. Now that process could be a blog in and of itself!

So now, here I sit. A million things still on my to-do list, the dryer stopped and our clothes getting wrinkled, and the chicken thawed out for dinner. I suppose my “me time” has come to an end, but I sure hope to have more of it to share some more of our crazy lives with you. 

Thanks for coming along with me on this journey. I’m sure I will keep you thoroughly amused. 🙂


P.S. If you want to read more about our adventures abroad, or get some great travel tips, check out my other blog:

The Bunch Abroad