Friday Flashback: A week of highs and lows

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This week was an exhausting rollercoaster ride for my family, complete with exhilarating highs, unexpected turns, and stomach-dropping lows. I debated whether I was still motivated to write today, but I think it’s important that we share the highs and lows of homeschooling in the face of all sorts of challenges.

In my family’s life this week…

We had to say goodbye to our almost-13-year-old Siberian Husky Pinge (ping-gah). A few weeks ago, she literally changed overnight. We think she may have suffered a stroke, because one day she simply stopped acting like herself. At first it wasn’t so bad. She exhibited symptoms of “doggie” Alzheimer’s, such as getting lost in our house, pacing in circles, and not really recognizing us or responding to offers of food, walks, etc. However this week, she took a sharp turn for the worse and completely lost control of her bladder, stood in dark corners crying until someone moved her, stopped eating, hardly slept, and finally stopped drinking water.


On her last day with us, we held the spring kick-off for our girls’ book club homeschool co-op at our house — talk about a difficult day! For the sake of my girls and giving them something positive to think about, I went ahead with the gathering even though I had very little sleep the night before tending to our dog. It turned out to be the right thing to do, not only for our co-op but for my family. We’ve developed wonderful friendships with the book club moms and daughters, and they gave us much-needed support and comfort that day.

This is the first time I’ve had to help my girls deal with the deep grief of losing a beloved pet and family member, and I honestly didn’t know what to do but cry with them. On the evening that she passed away, I pulled out an old scrapbook with her puppy photos, and we began recounting all the ways she had been a part of our lives. Later that night, I typed up our fond memories on my iPad and in the morning, we added photos and posted it on my personal blog as a tribute to her. Without realizing it, this exercise helped us all take our focus off the loss and place it on the blessing of having her in our family for almost 13 years. I know the tears aren’t over, but it helped tremendously!


In our homeschool this week…

Because of everything going on with our husky, we didn’t get much schoolwork done on Wednesday or Thursday. So the book club co-op kickoff was one of the homeschooling highs of our week — and I have never been more grateful to have almost 30 little girls and moms filling my house with laughter and excitement. I have written in the past about how I started this co-op myself last semester, and I feel very blessed that it was not only a successful endeavor, but we had plenty of momentum to continue.


For this kickoff meeting, we played get-to-know-you games and socialized over snacks and hot chocolate. The girls and I really needed that social time!

Our co-op has decided to read the Little House series this semester, and alternate between book discussion and craft/project time at our twice-monthly meetings. There are so many wonderful Little House unit study resources out there: Between all the moms in our group, we have assembled about five different sources for related activities for the new craft/project time. Most of the girls already love historical fiction, and though a few girls have read the books leisurely before, all were excited about digging in more deeply this time. We can’t wait to get started!

Places we’re going…

Another high this week was a special Friday field trip to see my husband in action at his vendor booth at the ski industry trade show called the SIA Snow Show in Denver. My husband is in sports textiles and had his own booth in the sourcing section. The girls got to see firsthand how he meets with the product managers of major ski industry brands to choose fabric for their future clothing lines.


As educational as it was to see their dad in action, the highlight of the field trip was walking through the enormous show floor, where all the major ski industry vendors were showing off their latest and greatest for next winter so that retail buyers could make store purchasing decisions. I did my best to explain the process of sourcing to manufacturing, then retail branding to retail sales, but really the girls just wanted to try on ski helmets and goggles, stick their hands in soft new ski gloves and jacket sleeves, snack on energy bar samples, and pick up handfuls of brand stickers. So we did plenty of that!



My girls’ favorite thing this week was…
My eldest daughter’s birthday slumber party tonight. Because I have three girls, I am getting used to the idea that I will be hosting many more slumber parties for years to come. Each one is still as exhausting as the last, but the girls love it and never seem to run out of ideas for things to do well past midnight with their friends. BirthdayParty

I’m praying for…

A weekend of rest, both physically and emotionally! After this week of some highs and difficult lows, I am ready to relax and regroup. Thankfully our only plans for the next two days are to send our guests home tomorrow morning, drive less than a mile to our neighborhood church on Sunday, then walk next door for a Superbowl Party that I don’t have to cook for.

Sounds like a good plan to me!

Renee GotcherRenée Gotcher is a wife, writer, entrepreneur & home-educating mother of three daughters: Audrey, Claire and Elise. A former journalist, Renée was homeschooled during her last two years of high school and started homeschooling in 2010. She is editor of NextGen Homeschool and blogs on personal topics at A New Chapter. Her family lives in Castle Rock, Colorado.

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7 thoughts on “Friday Flashback: A week of highs and lows

  1. So sorry for your loss of your dog. We lost our dog (miniture poodle) last year at the age of 14. Lossing a pet can be so hard on kids but it is a great example of God’s fovever love and grace to all living things,.

  2. Thank you Ruth and Eileen! It has been a difficult week, but I am really thankful that the girls are starting to understand how blessed we were to have had our sweet husky for so long, and what a special member of our family she was. A special gift from God!

    Our book club co-op has been wonderful for the girls — and the moms! The girls are really thriving with new friendships, and we moms also need a support network in our homeschooling journey, so it’s been a win-win for everyone involved. I really saw that firsthand this week, that it’s not just the academic enrichment for the girls but the fellowship with our homeschooling community that makes co-ops so helpful.

    Blessings to you both!

  3. Oh, I cried for you about your dog – I read what you posted on your personal blog, too. That’s probably because I have a 16-year old cat who is clearly on the decline. So I know I’ll be walking a similar road to yours with my kids (and with my own emotions) sooner rather than later.

    I am also very intrigued by your ‘tween book club – I think I’d like to consider doing one here! You mention in one of your posts the guidelines you set up for the girls. Do you have a document version of that which you could share?

    1. Hi Tina,
      Thanks for visiting and sharing your thoughts with us. It’s my prayer that the Lord walk closely and lovingly with you and your family when the time comes to say goodbye to your cat. I think it really helped us to work on that tribute/memorial on my personal blog – the tone in the house was remarkably more peaceful rather than distressed after we did that together.

      Great question about our book club – I do have the document in PDF form and I will upload it to the blog post. In the meantime, I can also post it on our Homeschool Bloggers group on Facebook so you can check it out there. It’s been really helpful and we didn’t have to make any changes to it for this semester because it worked so well.

      Blessings to you and your family!

  4. I am so sorry for your loss. Losing a pet really hurts. We still talk about and sometimes cry for our 12 year lab that passed away on Thanksgiving Day in 2010. {{Hugs for you}}

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