My Life As I Didn’t Plan It

Have you ever been going along with your life, doing what you always expected to be doing, trying really hard to keep everything in your realm within the scope of How I Planned It only to find that something starts to derail? And then, because the derailment was not in the plan, you try to casually force it back into place because you think that if you just will it, it will self-correct and get with the program?

Then one day you wake up and realize that huh, maybe nothing actually derailed. Maybe the one that needs to self-correct is you.

That is kind of my life right now.

We have decided to move Rex (6) into the American DOD school next fall. Hopefully (I think) he’ll be accepted into the German Immersion program, but I’m not worried about it. He will or he won’t, it’s out of my hands and I’m glad we don’t have to make that decision.

In lieu of our decision to change him from German to American schools, Jason and I have been focussing on bringing his English up to speed this past month. We’re horrified to see how much he’s lost and how totally confused he is. He goes to Deutch school and they tell him “i” sounds one way, then he comes home at night and we tell him it says something different.

He refuses to read and we can’t blame him.

And thus we enter a chapter called My Life As I Didn’t Plan It.

The time has come to take Rex out of the morning German program. He’s doing well in the after school program and we want him to have the social and German experience. This means one thing and one thing only: I have become a Home School Diva.

Don’t worry about Hell anymore, it’s apparently frozen and quite lovely this time of year if you like to ski.

I have to be honest. My Big Mothering Plan involved having a bunch of kids close enough together so that they would play and learn and interact and leave me alone to do my thang. I clean, they play. I feed them, they play. I surf the internet, they watch TV. Predictable and low maintenance mothering. Throw in a few time outs, a word about Jesus here and there, some outside schooling and sports, and we’re in business.

Then Rex came along and completely changed my plan. He doesn’t just need English lessons, he needs coordination lessons. He needs to be comfortable with a ball. Do you know what Rex does at recess? He stands by The Pole. I just learned this from his teachers. The German kids ignore him (since he won’t speak to them) and he’s too afraid to try anything new, so he waits quietly for recess to be over.

Then he comes home and asks us periodically if we would teach him soccer “like Harrison.” When I ask him why he doesn’t play at school he says, “If I try the other kids will laugh at me!” So he doesn’t and I want to die.

The next six months is Project Teach Our Kid Stuff and I’m amazed at how much we underestimated him. Not only does he run me for two hours straight in the mornings with school until I finally cry Uncle, but he’s like a really dried up sponge that just can’t get enough. Piano, soccer, reading–this is, by far, the best and most rewarding thing I’ve ever done in my life.

I’ll be working with him until the fall to get him ready for first grade. At first I was worried we wouldn’t get there, but two weeks into this I’m realizing he’s far more capable than we ever imagined. Yesterday he drew a diagram of a pully system for his animals and asked if he could please build it. The scary thing? It was totally right. He even had a list of required supplies.

So I’ll take this train with him. I think the ride will be far more entertaining than what I was doing in the kitchen.



  1. Oh, my friend, you guys are working so hard. I’ve been thinking about you. Had breakfast with Amber and Steph yesterda, and I so wished you were there!

  2. My life never goes the way I plan it either. The result? Totally better than I’d ever imagined for myself.

    (And my little homeschooling kindergartener is far smarter than I am. They’re impressive.)

  3. It is so hard when your best laid plans all change because kids come with unexpected strengths and weaknesses and we have to self-correct. I am sure you are the best mom. And sounds like your train is right on track.

  4. My sister has a saying. “The quietest mouths have the loudest minds.”

  5. Oh, my brave, brave Annie. You’ll be great. I promise. And he’ll be great, because he’s in your hands.

  6. Oh Annie!! I feel the pain. When I was 3 we lived in France until I was 5 so I spoke frenglish. Everything was mixed up. My parents favorite story is when I came back from France I was filling an “all about me” paper for school. I was stumped when I was asked to draw my favorite pet…I just sat and stared at my paper while all the other kids finished their papers. I was frustrated, my teacher was frustrated, until my brother came into my classroom to explain to me what a pet in english was…you see, in France pet means fart.

  7. I guess what I’m trying to say, with that story, is that my frenglish eventually turned in to english and I have a few funny stories to share! Keep the faith!!

  8. Annie, have I mentioned that we’re living parallel lives? My first-grader has been in a Chinese Immersion program. He’s loving it, but his English reading is so far behind that his teachers started talking about repeating first grade. We’ve had to pull him out of the program. He’ll start at his old school next Monday. We’ve been reading with him 25 minutes/night 5 times/week for the last 2 months, but he hasn’t improved as much as we’d like.

    Just a few weeks ago, my husband and I were saying that we didn’t expect to have kids who struggled in school. We both excelled in school, so this isn’t something we thought we’d have to deal with in our children. Life’s best laid plans……

    And every post you write about being vain or lazy or trying not to spend money to keep your man happy……… could be talking about me. That is SSOOOOO me!!! Love you, Annie. Rex is gonna be just fine, because now you know what he needs. You’ll be great.

  9. Insert quiet, evil laugh.

  10. I too am like a sponge… reading everything you are writing so I can learn from your experiences before we get there! Thank you for writing about your daily life. You can’t find those kind of lessons or helpful hints on the Air Force websites 🙂

  11. Good for you, Annie. And I can’t tell you how crazy this is for me to read. I’m in a very similar boat right now. My Aaron (turned 5 on Easter) doesn’t know his letters yet. He doesn’t care. I FINALLY decided to spend more than 2 seconds at a time on it and sat down for 1/2 an hour of fun with letters, and he IS interested and asked me to spell a thousand words for him. I now excitedly pull out preschool ideas from the dusty attic of my brain (I studied early childhood ed at college) and he is loving it. And will probably be reading by summer. I freaked out when I realized he’s supposed to start kindergarten in the fall here but I think he’ll be just fine. Actually, I’ve even considered the possibility of homeschooling him and Spencer (2). Clearly Hell HAS frozen over!!!

  12. Thanks Annie-your post hit me where I needed it…our boys are beautiful, wonderful kids who are our angels. I applaud you for homeschooling….too scary for me! we’re looking into a private school for our guy-but I keep wondering if I am underestimating him and maybe public school is the right thing for him.

  13. I’ve been ignoring blogs, including mine, for a while. I went to dinner with Becca the other night and she asked if I’d read about you and Rex. I felt so out of the loop!
    Mothers are always adjusting. i was absolutely certain that we got an answer to prayer to send Grant to a certain school. Turned out it was a total disaster. I’m still convinced it was the right road to make me focus more on what he needed and fight for it, so even our “mistakes” put us where we need to be. Just saw a quote posted on FB that says, “Sometimes when things are falling apart, they may actually be falling into place.” Amen to that, and good luck!

  14. “We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.” (Joseph Campbell)

  15. Jenny McDermott says:

    I LOVE his pulley system! That is so awesome that he even had a supply list. Some kids are just amazing. You struggle with them so much only to find they have all these hidden gems. I think that is what makes mothering so interesting and so fulfilling. You work so hard and just when you think you have your kid figured out, they surprise you with something.