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Public School?

These photos were taken March 6, 2012, the day before Apollo’s heart surgery.

If all had gone well, Apollo would have recovered from his double aortic arch division and be well on his way to health by now. We knew he would have lasting airway damage, though we don’t know the extent. The surgery should have enabled him to eat though. Not only did it not solve his feeding issues, but he’s developed a new problem, the loss of his left subclavian artery.

I have made 15 trips to Seattle Children’s Hospital so far this year. That’s a total of 3,000 miles I’ve driven just since January. Not to mention two trips to our local ER (g-tube infections) and numerous trips to our family doctor and visits to a feeding therapist. We kept waiting for things to slow down. And had his surgery taken the normal course (freed his esophagus, no loss of his subclavian artery) things would have slowed down by now. After our latest appointment to Apollo’s cardiologist however, it is obvious that we will be making frequent trips down to Seattle in the near future (we have two visits scheduled for next month already- and it will likely be more since we plan to pursue more testing)…

All of this has made us do some real soul-searching about what is best for our family right now. I can tell you what is not best, and that’s me leaving my children as frequently as I have been. I have been gone way too often this year and my big kids have been called on to watch their younger siblings way too often and it is wreaking havoc on our family. I’m not out to coffee or shopping, I assure you. I am usually at the doctor or some related appointment. These cannot be avoided. Last spring I wrote about our plan for homeschooling this fall, but that was all on the assumption that the appointments and trips to Seattle would slow down. I have since realized that no amount of organizing on my part will make me be at home when I’m not at home. And that is the real difficulty right now.

I’m not willing to make my older kids “raise” their younger siblings and I’m not willing to just do school “here and there” because we’re busy. My little ones are at an age where they are so willing and eager to learn.

The new plan is to send Mordecai, Jubilee, Hezekiah, Avi and Tucker to our local elementary school and keep the older five homeschooling. I won’t go into every reason for our decision, but the short answer is, the older five are old enough to stay home if need be and old enough to do a lot of self-directed work. Iris will be at the community college and Tilly and Judah will be doing all of their school work on the computer, so it is only Enoch and Kalina who will be needing my direct supervision for schoolwork.

Mordecai and Jubilee will be in 4th grade (with Mordecai spending time in the “intensive learning room”), Hezekiah will be in 3rd grade, and Avi and Tucker in 1st (with Avi starting out in the “intensive learning room”).

I am heartbroken and I’ve shed tears over this. I love homeschooling and I love spending my days with my children. But I also know we can’t have another year like this last year. If I keep them all home to homeschool someone (and probably several someones) will be getting shafted. I can’t do it all and right now I need to focus on Apollo’s health issues.

As for the kids, they are all happy. The big kids want to continue to be homeschooled and the younger kids are excited about the new adventure. As for Chuck and I, we hope that this will be a one year stint and that the kids will be back to homeschooling next year.



  1. Cindy

    I am sure this was a heart wrenching decision for you and have no doubt you were looking at everyone’s best interests. Hope the new adventure goes well for everyone.

  2. Naomi

    What a hard decision for you and Chuck to make….though I can only imagine how much you have thought this through and the tension within yourself, I am sure it will be the best solution in a very hard situation. Usually I am pretty quite and just read, but I wanted to encourage you and say I will be praying for you and your families transitions this Fall.

  3. Catie

    This must have been an incredibly difficult decision for you, and I think you should be applauded for making it. Not because homeschooling or not homeschooling is better, but because you had to put a lot of thought/consideration/love into a decision you would never normally have made. This takes real strength.

    All the best to you and Chuck and your kids. You’ve raised them well, they have a good and loving and supportive home life. I hope that public school, however long they go, is a good experience for them.

  4. vivian

    I know the kids will adjust more than you and Chuck…but we will keep praying for a miracle with little Apollo and pray next year your life will be back to what you know is right for you and your family…homeschooling!
    you are unselfish loving parents…what more could kids ask for.

  5. Paige

    Although Apollo needs more of your time right now due to his health issues, I applaud you for making the right choice for the young kids, even though it was difficult for you personally.

    I am excited to see what blessings will come from this new adventure for all your family members.

  6. JCF

    I just wanted to say that I admire your ability to make what must have been a very difficult decision to do something that is in the best interests of everyone, it sounds like. You’ve been a major inspiration to me in deciding to homeschool (we’re starting Kindergarten with my oldest this year). I’m hoping this year is a smooth transition for all of you!

  7. Jessica

    I know it was a difficult choice, but you have to balance it all and this will allow that. A new adventure in ‘regular’ school will be fun for the littler kids and hopefully this time next year we’ll have some concrete answers for Apollo so that life can continue on. My thoughts are with all of you!

  8. Tracy W.

    There was a time last school year when, financially, we couldn’t homeschool my DD (8). So, she did some time in public school. It was a very good experience for her. She really liked it. When we got back on our feet, she opted to come back home. I think we tend to think of public schools as “bad”, but there are so many wonderful teachers and friends to be had at school. The good, most often, far out weighs the bad. You will always have a family closeness because of your time as homeschoolers. You’ve raised them with values that they will carry with them. Best of luck on their new journey.

  9. Chenning

    Renee, I understand how hard this must have been for you. Hugs to you. You and Chuck are doing the best thing for the whole family – and that is a wise and wonderful thing. Love, Chenning

  10. Christine

    This year we also decided to send one of our children to school. We have 6 children, the oldest two were homeschooled all the way and the third child is attending school now. We have a dyslexic child and two smaller children at home. The dyslexic child requires a lot of my time to learn reading and is also a struggling learner in other subjects. We felt like our older child (8th grade) was getting neglected because of this. He likes the school, and two of his teachers are dear friends of ours. It is a lovely private school and we feel blessed to be able to send him to this school. We will re-evaluate for next year. Like you it was a very hard decision and one that I had been contemplating for two years. Reading your story made me feel so much better, because it made me realize that I am not alone in the struggle to not be able to homeschool a child and to depend on others to help me with that. I think that the homeschool movement has gone through great measures, understandably, to make regular school look so bad compared to homeschooling. But in reality, every situation has it’s pros and cons. I truly believe homeschooling is a wonderful choice, but not the only choice. I wish you all the best and I thank you for sharing your beautiful family and life with me. God bless!!

  11. Michele P

    I am sure this was a hard and yet prayerful decision. Know that the Lord will cover those sweet kiddos during this transition and they will be fine. You just cannot be everywhere at once. I am so sorry that you even had to make the choice, but know that the Lord will continue to be faithful. Hang in there, we are praying!!!!

  12. anya

    Awww sending love your way. I am sorry you have to be making these hard decisions after a hard year. I know first hand how difficult it is to make decisions for our kids education when we have to choose something that isn’t our first choice. I hope your kids will enjoy this new adventure and that you can breathe knowing they are okay, giving you freedom {and time} to fight for Apollo’s health.

  13. EllaJac

    My Mama’s heart aches for you… We have our hard (and extremely hard) days, but overall I *love* home education, and I can only imagine the anguish of such a decision! I will pray that your kids flourish – wherever they are learning – and that you will have PEACE. Apollo remains in my prayers, and I look forward to a good report in all areas. God bless you guys!

  14. Kristal

    I will be praying for your children and your heart as you start on this path. A difficult decision, but one made with all the love you have for each of them. I know God will bless your year…

  15. Wendy

    You have to do what is best for EVERYONE! thank goodness you are open to use the options afforded to you. we have done both…a kid in public school here & there & then all homeschooled, etc….it just depends on the year & what is going on. Be blessed! praying for little Apollo.

  16. C Smith

    It’s great that you feel able to make this decision, make adjustments when and where you need to. When my daughter was born, she had problems that required my attention almost the entire day. Then she had 3 surgeries in 10 months. I was very resistent to sending the kids to public school because I felt like a failure, like I was giving up. All of the kids and I suffered because of my unwillingness to admit that it’s just not possible to do it all, especially to be in two places at one time. Now that my daughter is 3, and healthy, we are beginning to get back on track, but I wish that I had made different decisions and arrangments back then. Good luck, I hope that it all works out well.

  17. Davene Grace

    My heart aches for you, while at the same time admiring your strength and grace under pressure. I have no doubt that your strength and grace (coming from God, of course) will continue to sustain you and your family during this next transition.

    My husband and I have often said that, while we are homeschooling now, we want to be sensitive to God’s leading and take it year by year, child by child, as we decide what is best for our family. So far we haven’t been in a situation where it seemed better to do something other than homeschooling; but in your situation, I think you’re definitely doing the right thing!

    Continued prayers for you and Apollo and your whole family…

  18. Jessi

    Your doing the best you can,right now,as you always have,I pray that in short time you and Chuck shall have all your babes back under one roof learning together.The children in school does not make you any less a family.

  19. Karla

    I taught in public school for 7 years and swore that my children would never go to public school. Especially secondary school. Guess what? Our 13 year old daughter will be entering 7th grade next week at our local public school. And our five year old will be starting kinder at our local public school next week.
    Our 8 year old goes to a classical academy two days a week and is home three days a week. That was our plan for the five year old, but at this season in our family, it is best for our five year old to be in school full time. Our five year old has Asperger’s and is a very intense little boy.

    We just brought a new 4 year old home through international adoption and I need to be able to focus on him. For this year anyway.

    We evaluate school on a year by year basis. I know how heartwrenching it is to send your babies off, but you are doing the best thing for yourself and for them for this year. God will bless you for your sacrifice!

  20. adoptingmama

    Renee – I just wanted to send you some encouragement! We too have homeschooled forever but put our children with learning delays into public school this last year, our refugee daughter was already at the public high school (her program required public education). Shockingly this school year all, yes all 6, of our kids at home will be in public school. I am just not sure what I’m going to do with myself. But I happened on a friend of a friend’s blog the other day, that emphasizes letting your Christian light shine while your children are at public school and I just loved that idea. I have joined the PTA and am focusing on Teacher and Staff appreciation. I am praying that God will lead me to people during this school year that need Him. I will pray that you are able to find a groove that works for your family and that Apollo’s health issues and the solution to the issues becomes readily apparant. Blesssings on the new adventure, A

  21. Delia

    You have made the best choice possible for everyone in your family given your current situation, and you are to be applauded for it! The younger kids will bond over their shared experiences outside the home and I think it will bring you all closer as a family in the long run. You’ll have peace of mind that they are in good hands actively learning while you’re at appointments with Apollo, instead of worrying about what’s going on at home. I’ll pray specifically for each of your children this school year, and of course for you & Chuck as well.

  22. ssmazzon

    Just remember that ” nothing is forever”. You can do this on a year to year basis as needed. You are a great parent….don’t beat yourself up…we all do the best we can with the circumstances we have been given. Take Care!

  23. Mary

    God promises to give wisdom for every situation, when we ask for it. I know y’all have been faithfully seeking His will for your family. He’s going to take care of you. And everything will work together for your good and His glory. Sending lots of love and prayers!

  24. Mommaofmany

    You know, this is what I love about your blog. You do the right thing, even when it’s a hard thing. A year (or even more) of public school isn’t going to harm your children. They will be so advanced from the education you have provided, they will be natural leaders in their classes. When you bring them home again, they will have another new experience under their belt that has helped them develop into the people Christ has for them to become. May their lights shine brightly in the schools they attend!

  25. melody

    I can relate and have shed my own tears regarding school this year too. I had grand visions of homeschooling my kiddos, but it is just not working out they way I had planned. Maybe some day it will. But for now, I will trust that God is in control. Thinking of you as you walk this hard road.

  26. Brenda Thomas Arend

    I, too, made the transition from home to public school for my kids quite some years ago now. It’s a heart breaker decision, but I know we made the right choice now as I look back and can see the blessings God has had for our whole family with the kids in school. You know, it’s not like God says, “I have these blessings for you, but only if you homeschool.” God can work through things like public school and hospitals and health issues and bless you all right through what may feel like obstacles. I promise, you will cry (and laugh) and miss them (and be glad the bus has picked them up) and be so excited when the teacher has positive things to say about your kids and what they are learning. You will be proud of them, and thankful for teachers who love them. You will come to adore their friends and love listening to their stories of “what happened today”. Of course, you will miss some of the things about homeschool, but your heart will be full in other ways. Feel free to email if you need some encouragement (our oldest is a senior this year!).

  27. Anna W.

    I’ve been reading your blog almost four years, and I know this is not a decision you and Chuck came to lightly. I cannot imagine (well, yes I can, because I can see it in your blog) the stress you are under with Apollo’s health alone, WITHOUT home schooling. I admire you for making such a touch decision, and I pray that your days ahead are filled with peace.

  28. Hevel

    Please do not feel bad about having to spend your children to public school for now. You made a decision that is best for them for now, and when things will get more optimal, you can go back to homeschooling. You are a great example by taking your kids’ needs first, and I hope you will find peace in your decision!

    • bakersdozenandapolloxiv

      Yes, I realize I am feeling bad for myself, because *I* am going to miss them and *I* am going to miss homeschooling them.

  29. Jo

    Wow. I feel so sad and heavy and yet I feel a strong sense of admiration at the same time. I admire you both for being able to do what is best for your children even when it is hard, even when you have to give up something that is special. What a hard choice…I think it will be good for them, like you said they are excited to learn and that should be captured. I pray that this yr will be good for them all and that you will find ways to help Apollo.

  30. Tamara

    I have followed your blog for quite some time, but never commented before this post.
    I understand how terrible you feel right now because I too, have lived in your shoes and come out the other side.
    We have 5 children, our third having a rare, genetic terminal condition called Menkes Disease. He is profoundly intellectually and physically disabled, not to mention profoundly cute and lovable.
    Last year I was really struggling emotionally and physically with a disabled child, a baby and two older kids and so we put them into school for a period of 15 months. It was the best thing we did and the kids did really well.
    When things settled down again we were able to homeschool again (by now we’d had another baby- 10 weeks premature- just to keep things interesting!). The time felt right for all of us and we are back into it and loving it.
    No-one asks to have a child with additional needs and no-one has written a rule book on how to cope with the situation. All you can do is pray and ask the Lord to lead you in his direction and be open and willing to change direction at any time.
    When you have a lot of children, as well as one with special needs, it can feel hard to juggle all their needs, but all you can do is your best. Your children will not be harmed by attending school (no matter how much we know homeschooling is superior).

    • bakersdozenandapolloxiv

      Thank you SO MUCH for these encouraging words. It means so much to hear from others who have made the same difficult decision.

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