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By |2012-01-14T22:32:05-05:00January 14th, 2012|My Family|

Deep breath.

Big decision.

BIG changes.

A decision we haven’t taken lightly.  I touched on our issues with the school a few weeks ago.  We went through the process of hiring an advocate.  We were advised it would be best for us to request a hearing, which is essentially suing the school district.  We were advised to hire an attorney to handle the personal injury that was happening with Taryn.  Because that is what they said it was, the food exposures to an allergic person, knowingly, again and again, it’s personal injury.  We don’t want our daughter to hurt or be in danger.  But we also didn’t want to sue anyone.  We wanted them to do the right thing, simply because it was the right thing.  We prepared to fight the battle for Taryn, to keep her safe and well in school and force the school and the district, the principal and her teacher to do the right things.

And then she was off of school on winter break for 2 weeks.  On the friday that school let out, Jase and I both noticed her eyes and her skin on her torso.  Her eyes looked like this.  Even after just a few days at home, her eyes and skin issues were much better.  And they continued to get better, day by day.  I hate, really hate, all the food in school between halloween and Christmas.  It’s so hard.  And this is without her eating any of it.  And this is with them removing her entirely from Science because of ingredients she was being exposed to as required by the district.  And by the end of winter break, her eyes and skin were 1000x better, her inflammation was way down, the belly aches were gone.  She felt better and behaved better.  The constant exposures at school keep her inflammation up and it increases her risk of a very serious food reaction.  We put in a lot of effort to healing at our house and it makes it damn near impossible to heal Taryn with the food exposures at school.  We struggled with our decision to send her back after the break and that first day back was SO hard.  I just remember crying after she walked out the door, the weight and stress of having her go back under the care of people who were not doing their jobs to keep her safe and healthy.  Communication had totally broken down with her teacher and I was afraid that if she did have an exposure, we wouldn’t hear about it.  We were just….afraid.  That first day back was awful, we quickly realized how much stress we were all under from the entire situation and being forced to redo the 504 again.  And for what?  To start over with a new teacher next fall?  Jase and I had some very long, very real conversations about homeschooling, the university model, finances, private school, my insane schedule, my probable loss of sanity with adding something so huge as educating our child to my plate, our business, the fact that I’d rarely have a kid free day again, just…..all of it.

Those were all the hard parts we focused on out of fear.  Then I started thinking about all the good stuff too.  We made a list with Taryn.  We made a list without Taryn.  Those lists held our answer.  The homeschool benefits column was 4 times longer than the public school column.  There are so many benefits to homeschool for her, not the least of which is us having a bigger hand in knowing what she’s learning and doing every day.  We were surprised, when it came right down to it, just how incredibly disconnected we are from her education.  We know she’s learning, we know she’s excelling in school, we see her report card and her homework, but when it came to taking over that job for ourselves, it was a real eye opener.  That made me so uncomfortable.  I want to know more of what she learns, I want to integrate it in to our every day, I want to be more involved.  The thing is, I thought I was.  We are also thrilled that she’ll be able to learn at her own pace instead of at the pace of the slowest child in the class (thanks a lot no child left behind….).  We want to focus less on testing and more on a love of learning.  While I’m thankful that helps her leadership skills in the classroom, I want my child to learn at her own pace.  There are really sooooo many reasons why it makes sense for our family.  We spent the next several days taking everything in to consideration and in my normal fashion, I changed my mind about 50 times, hemmed and hawed and felt overwhelmed.  My husband grounded my fears, because that’s what he does so well.  I’m so horrible at change and he always finds a way to help me work through it.  I started talking to a few friends who homeschool, including my friend Sara.  I think I texted her about every 5 minutes for a couple of days and bless her heart, she’s still speaking to me!  And I also talked to a few other mom friends and clients who have crazy busy schedules and own businesses and yet still have thriving children who homeschool….if they could do it, maybe we could too.  I started with researching curriculum and figured out I LOVE that part.  I then figured out a schedule.  And thats the thing about my fear of change, once I dig in, once I take the fear out of the unknown, I can handle it.  That’s all it took.  Because now I am PUMPED.

We withdrew Taryn from school this week.  We met with her teacher and the principal to talk about her academics.  We checked out her epipen from the nurses office.  It was good, it was freeing, but it was hard.  I’m not one to back down from a battle.  Especially when I’m right.  Especially when Jason and I were told by the school counselor not to try and change the way food is used in schools.  We were told the system was too big for change, that we shouldn’t even try to take that on.  Those are fighting words.  Giving kids dyes and GMO products and processed, nutritionally void, crap food daily, is wrong.  As is giving 6 year olds bottles of fertilizer in science as part of district required curriculum.  I wanted to fight the system.  I wanted to educate them on why so many of our kids are so sick.  I wanted to bring it to the front because I know there are other moms out there who care too.  I wanted to be a voice and be heard.  I wanted to show up for that battle because you know what, dammit, I could win it.  I know I could.  But I had to face the fact that I cannot show up to every fight I’m invited to.  My focus has to be on my family, healing my children, keeping my daughter safe, because that is where I’m needed the most right now. Withdrawing her is what is best for her, so I feel good about it, but I also felt defeated.  They wanted us to homeschool her, they wanted to be rid of the responsibility, they wanted us to just go away, because it was too much work.  In that regard, they won.

We visited a university model school, but decided we couldn’t afford the added expense.  Teagan’s vaccine injury has given us an expensive few years, and we just can’t afford private school tuition.  We also like that at home, we can been more open with her curriculum.  We spent her first week at home taking a deep breath, we worked out our schedule and and did some placement testing to figure out where to start.  We have a firm, and exciting, curriculum in place.  I’m so excited about all she’ll be learning.  We also set up a classroom in our home.  We’re all set to start on Tuesday.  We will be following the school district schedule since Ty is still in public school at this point, it will be an easier fit for our family.  Ty wants to homeschool, I’d still like for him to have a high school experience.  We’re not closing any doors here, we’ll see where things fall when the dust settles.  Teagan will stay in pre-k 2 days a week for the time being and he will homeschool with us on his days home with T and I.  We’ll use a co-op and play group for socialization and a few electives like PE, etc.  I am thankful I’m not taking it all on by myself, because we both work, Jase and I will be splitting our teaching responsibilities.  I will teach several days during the week and he will teach on Saturdays and Sundays.  We are each taking the subjects we love, I hope this means she’ll get the best of each of us.  We’ll both be diving in to new foreign languages, which could prove to be very interesting!  I have found myself so thankful, yet again, for a husband who jumps in to raising our children two feet first.  He’s willing to invest in them in such huge ways.  He has confidence in them, and in me.  We are so blessed by him.

The public school system and Leander ISD failed my daughter.  They failed to effectively communicate.  They failed to provide ingredients provided by the district for required study.  They failed to accomplish inclusion in the classroom for science.  They failed to follow the plan they put in place to keep her safe and healthy.  They failed to keep foods she is allergic to away from her.  She never once had a reaction in the lunchroom, at snack time, or from food given to her by another child.  Each and every time, her reactions were caused by the negligence of an adult.

I never, ever, imagined we would be standing here.  A year and a half ago if you’d have told me we’d be a traditional foods, uber crunchy, homeschooling family, I’d have given you the side eye and asked for some of whatever you were drinking.  But not today.  Today, I’ll raise my water kefir glass and toast to a new adventure.

30 Comments

  1. Lorena Mora January 14, 2012 at 10:49 PM

    I am cheering you on Lyndsay and Jase. I think this is the best decision you could’ve made for Taryn. It’s unfortunate that the school failed her and you. It’s scary and an eye opener that you send your child to school and trust these people and instead fail them. I think it’s awesome that you will be homeschooling. I’ve played with the idea, but it scares me and I get stressed out at the thought of it. Education is so important but I worry that kids do not get the attention they need because on the focus of no kid left behind. I’m sure Taryn will thrive being homeschooled and she will be healthier than ever, you go girl!!! You are an inspiration to me and I’m sure many moms out there as well.

  2. Britt January 14, 2012 at 10:55 PM

    Good for you Lynds! Ill be watching intently this part of your journey, because while I truly dont think I could homeschool my kids, I still am very interested in the possibility. 🙂

  3. Rebecca Jeanne January 15, 2012 at 12:08 AM

    I’m so sorry and disappointed in your school district. That’s totally unacceptable. 🙁 I’m sure homeschooling will be great for your family!

  4. Stacy Domel January 15, 2012 at 5:12 AM

    I’m sorry that it comes to this but glad you’ve come to a decision!

    “I had to face the fact that I cannot show up to every fight I’m invited to” I wish we could though 🙁 I want for schools and teachers and other parents to CARE. To realize we’re not “crazy” or “hippies” but that there are foods that could kill our children. Some slowly, some quickly…

  5. Kinsey Friedrichs January 15, 2012 at 6:19 AM

    I’m glad you feel at peace and took control of your situation. I hope nothing but the best for your family and little girl. However, I’m unsubscribing from your blog now. As a 3rd grade public school teacher, it saddens me that you blame the teacher and principal so much. I will do anything and everything for my children in the classroom and consider them to be my own. I feel that you have put down all public school teachers including myself. There are legal standards in place that the state of Texas mandates. Teachers and principals do not always agree with these standards either and we wish they can be changed and made easier as well. However, as a teacher our jobs can be at risk if we don’t follow the Response to Intervention plan.

  6. jodie January 15, 2012 at 7:47 AM

    Oh friend. I’m so excited for this next step for your family. You are the strongest mom I know and if anyone can do this you can! I wish I had it in me (or the time/money/husband on board) but so far my kids have been ok in school… it’ll be interesting when Parker starts Kindergarten next year to see how our school deals with her allergies! Anyway, I’m proud of you and Jase and hope you write endlessly about your journey so we can all hear the awesome details! 🙂

  7. Rebecca January 15, 2012 at 8:02 AM

    The LISD failed us also. We pulled our child from the ELE program. I felt scared, bullied and terrified about our future. It has been nothing short of a miracle of how well he is doing. Now that we are away from the situation. we have found out so much more. It makes me angry that no one told me all that I know now. We did make the right choice. Good luck for your new school year. You and your husband are the best teacher for your child.

  8. Eve January 15, 2012 at 8:08 AM

    Congrats on your new adventure! Homeschool is not that scary when its not SCHOOL AT HOME. Thank God its not that. I recommend you just take a look at the Moore Philosophy. You dont need to buy books and workbooks! Its not unschooling but something better. Your daughter wil thrive!

    Please feel free to email me for advise, I am not a seasoned mentor but I like to help.

    Also can i suggest one of my favorite homeschool blogs? Practical Pages. I love that site.

    God Bless You on your journey. Its going to be so much fun!

  9. Carrie January 15, 2012 at 8:47 AM

    Love it! I am so happy for your family! All of those feelings are fresh in my mind & I love the way you put them into words. When I removed what I wanted from our equation, it left my kids & their well-being in plain view. Then the answer was obvious, amazingly obvious. I love that it forces me to change. In so many ways. And allows us to realize that every moment, each and every one, is teachable. Which then allows the love of learning to blossom. Sending you a great big hug!!

  10. So Sorry January 15, 2012 at 7:04 PM

    While I know it’s important to keep your daughter safe, it’s unfortunate that you have fallen victim to the whole “homeschool” world. It’s like a cult, “homeschool worshipers”. Yeah, blog this, and website this… it’s stupid!! What is your daughter going to do when she no longer can stay in the “prison walls” of your house? How is she going to deal? Your feeding her “dependency” on the both of you, (you and your husband that is” Don’t get me wrong, I support your decision to make your daughter safe, but instead “teach” her to speak up and send her to school with her “own” lunch. Teach her what she can and can’t be around, no matter how you slice it, she will face all of this when she steps out into the real world as a young woman. So she’ll be book smart, THAT MEANS NOTHING, if she can’t handle the reality of life!!! I know it’s too late, because you’ve been sucked in, sucked in so far into believing that homeschooling is so much better. Ugh..I hate those “homeschooling” communities that think they are doing so good for their kids. Yes, their “awesome” intentions, but it’s a dependency that will affect them later in life. Remember this is a “short term fix”, but you are creating ” a long term problem”.

  11. admin January 15, 2012 at 7:13 PM

    So Sorry – you know, we did all of those things with our daughter. Why on earth would you assume that we wouldn’t teach her to advocate for herself?!?! She’s always been taught to only eat food we provide. This issue is complex and I think until you personally have a child with a life threatening allergy, YOU.WILL.NOT.GET.IT. Young children can only do so much to keep themselves safe, the concept of ingredients is a difficult one to navigate and they depend on adults to do the right things to keep them safe sometimes too.

    I’d disagree – we haven’t been sucked in to anything. We are making the best choice for our family. I actually feel sorry for you that you feel so strongly and “hate” a group of people who make decisions they feel are best for their families and children. While for the last 11 years we’ve chosen public school, we have plenty of friends that have homeschooled and their children are polite, smart, well adjusted, socialized children. Your comments are insulting to them, at best.

  12. Jill @BabyRabies January 15, 2012 at 7:56 PM

    Wow. Lyndsay, you are only responsible for the words you put out in this world, not the way other’s interpret them. I don’t think you generalized teachers or public education. You’ve obviously been frustrated with YOUR experience, and that’s exactly what I took from this. I wish you the best of luck!

  13. Kara January 15, 2012 at 9:12 PM

    Your crunchiness is great and so was your decision. I wish you the best with homeschooling and I’m excited to follow along. Everyone has an opinion…most are misinformed because they have no idea how YOUR family really operates. I think you’ve thought about this decision for your family a lot longer than they have 🙂

  14. Jessica O January 15, 2012 at 9:13 PM

    While I’m so very sorry that it’s due to this reason, I’m happy that you are so excited about this. As a public school teacher, I thoroughly support your decision to do this (for whatever that’s worth.) I can only imagine what I would do in your shoes. I’m so sad that LISD has failed your family and has put your daughter in danger. I hope that this is a fulfilling and positive experience for you all in the long run (and based on your enthusiasm I think it will be.)

  15. Claire January 15, 2012 at 9:30 PM

    Thank you for this post! It is so inspiring!!! You and your family are doing an amazing job with all this, and I can’t wait to hear how this new adventure pans out. Homeschooling terrifies me, but I think deep down it would be the best thing in so many situations! I love that it is hard because you wanted to stay and fight for the right thing! We need more of that and less apathy in this country! Thank you for your continual openness, love it!!!

  16. Darleen January 15, 2012 at 10:23 PM

    I applaud your family for doing what’s best for your child. We too were unlikely homeschoolers. It was just going to be for awhile, until we figured something else out, but ended up liking it so much we never looked back. One of the unexpected bonuses was the deep close relationship we formed with our daughter. We wish you many happy years ahead.

  17. jodified » the tree burn. January 15, 2012 at 11:31 PM

    […] drive was nice because Chris and I had a few really great talks. One about my sweet friend and her BIG decision she just made, one about our kids and how we’re frustrated with how undisciplined so many […]

  18. Gwyn January 16, 2012 at 8:03 AM

    Ran across this blog today on a homeschoolers’ list. This is my third year home educating (ages 8 and 11), and I too never ever planned to do this when I had kids. However, it’s been more fabulous than I could have ever expected. I’m a librarian too, and because of my two “jobs” I run across quite a lot of pretty funky resources that we use in the classroom. If it helps, I blog about them and the homeschooling experience in general at gwynridenhour.wordpress.com. Good luck!

  19. October January 16, 2012 at 6:33 PM

    While I was once a PS school teacher, and would also do ANYTHING for my children in the classroom, as you mentioned, there are things beyond your control. I am so glad you have found peace with your decision. And as for “So Sorry’s” comment…I am just shocked. I personally feel you are actually addressing the LONG TERM solution, instead of a band-aide…what the school was doing.

    I wish you the best of luck with everything! 🙂 I homeschool and work full time for a company (from 8-5) every weekday. We have no plan for how long we will continue, but for now my girls are just happy to be doing it.

  20. Katie Eaton January 16, 2012 at 7:36 PM

    you know … the picture of T’s eyes? Sabrina’s look like that even at home! I don’t know what to do to make our house safe! And I am terrified of Kinder next year at LISD!!

  21. Tricia January 16, 2012 at 8:14 PM

    Your words and decisions are inspiring. It is so hard to do what’s right, especially when it means NOT doing what everyone else considers “the norm”. You are brave and your children are blessed to have a mom who is courageously and deliberately making decisions and seeking solutions that are best for THEM!

  22. 1:06 am » Life In Motion Photography January 17, 2012 at 12:12 AM

    […] be honest, I wasn’t really expecting a backlash by posting about our decision to homeschool.  Maybe that is because I’ve never personally judged someone for making that decision.  […]

  23. abbie January 17, 2012 at 6:18 AM

    What a tough decision. And a brave one to make. I am sure you and your daughter will thrive with homeschooling!
    I am going to play the opposing card for a second and say that it isn’t great for our schools (or the rest of the kids that are being exposed to those chemicals) that you gave up on the fight. It isn’t possible for every family to pull their kids and homeschool and those that are left behind are hurt when we give up trying to improve things. It’s like those people that get so disheartened with our political system that they say “Well, I am moving to Canada!”.

  24. Vanessa January 17, 2012 at 10:03 AM

    We are a new homeschooling family cheering you on from California! Some advice? Don’t try to be formal and make it like public school. Learning doesn’t have to be rigid – have FUN! Some of our best learning days have come from outside activities. We get all kinds of criticism but I know in my heart I am doing the right thing – just not the mainstream, popular thing. When did shipping our kids off to strangers all day become normal anyway? No one loves your kids more than you!

  25. Katelyn January 17, 2012 at 1:04 PM

    I get what your doing and why Lyndsay.. I do.. I admire your photography work and strong desire to have the healthiest and strongest family out there… I just want to caution you with homeschooling as studies show that when they reach high school age, they are at least one grade level behind academically. I’m sure the resources you are given would say different but this is coming from a college professor and former teacher in the state of Minnesota. Also, keep her up to par on socialization as those skills can be lacking when it comes time for her to enter ‘the real world’. As a parent, there is svery strong need and want to ‘shelter’ our children, but it is our duty to raise them up to part ways NOT to raise them up and KEEP them. What will you do with your oldest child..why is it okay for him to stay in school? How about when your kids become older and are in social situations, will you require them to have different foods at sleep overs or social events? The need to eat healthy is there but as with everything, create a balance. Best of luck on your new adventure!

  26. admin January 17, 2012 at 1:50 PM

    Abbie, I totally agree with you!! I probably should have touched more on that in my blog post but jase and I talk a lot about taking on that battle someday. We just have to pick a time that works for us because we have two special needs kids who depend on us and it’s so time intensive to heal them. Someday….and I can’t wait! We have sent a letter to the district outlining our concerns, that’s a start at least. Just wanted to say I totally agree!!

  27. admin January 17, 2012 at 1:59 PM

    Katelyn, thank you for your comment. It seems like your stance and concerns are the same that many have when it comes to homeschooling until you really do the research and learn more about it. The homeschooled children that I personally know are all studying at grade levels above where they would be in public school. In fact, several are more than 2 grades ahead according to the district themselves. This makes sense because at home, you work at your own pace and have more individualized study instead of working according to testing and the slowest child in class due to No Child Left Behind. I agree socialization is so key, at any age, but especially for the younger crowd. This is easily accomplished with co-ops, play groups, organized field trips and not to mention Taryn has two different therapies twice per week. I agree on raising our chidren to part ways, I agree they should not be sheltered and actually believe that homeschooling is a GREAT way to accomplish that – she will experience so much more in a much shorter period of time. Hands on, out in the world, experiences are vital! Why is it ok for Ty to stay in school? Because he doesn’t have life threatening allergies that his school ignores. It’s as simple as that. We navigate social situations with food all the time successfully, why would you assume we don’t? Ty eats a very wholesome diet and he has friends and sleepover and goes to parties. There is a whole lot of balance, but I refuse to expose my daughter to foods that can kill her, take her life away, just so she can be in a classroom. That would be irresponsible.

  28. Linda January 18, 2012 at 1:11 PM

    Congrats on your family’s decision to homeschool. That long benefit list will continual to grow as you actually experience living the family lifestyle homeschooling allows.
    Don’t ever doubt your decision…no one else will ever care about your child as much as you. And then there are always federal judges, too…
    “Parents give up their rights when they drop the children off at public school.” –Federal District Judge Melinda Harmon
    Good luck and enjoy the homeschooling journey!
    Linda

  29. Nicole G January 22, 2012 at 5:01 PM

    Lyndsay, I want to say that I am so happy that you and Jason have come to a decision that will work for your family. One thing that people don’t realize is just because something doesn’t work or “fit” in your life doesn’t make it wrong. And what’s common is not always “right.” As parents, you have to do what you have to to raise your children to the best of your abilities and keep them safe. I applaud you for always standing up for your family and how you and Jason always act as a team. It is an inspiration. God bless and I look forward to hearing about your journey. I have been reading more and more about sensory disorders. There are many symptoms I identify with in our family. It scares me. But knowlede is power, right?

    Wishing you all the best!

  30. Jesseka February 11, 2012 at 4:15 AM

    As I was reading “so sorry’s” comment my initial thought was exactly what you said. “Until you personally have a child with a life threatening allergy, YOU.WILL.NOT.GET.IT.” I didn’t get it before I had my son, and I don’t really expect others to. What I do expect though is for others to realize they don’t know what is best for someone else’s family. I live in constant fear that something will happen to my child when he’s not in my care. And how ignorant is it for someone to believe that you don’t teach your child what she can and can’t be around and you don’t already send her to school with her own lunch. I believe my child and other children with food allergies will have a better grasp at the realities of life because they are constantly making sacrifices because of things they can’t do, be around, eat, etc. and they are definitely more aware of their surroundings because of allergies, whether at home or in social situations. I applaud you for making these difficult decisions for your family and blogging about them. I think you’ve made a positive impact on many other families including mine.

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