I’ve been trying hard to take time to slow down and look back instead of plowing forward into 2020’s new stuff AND THERE IS PLENTY OF THAT. So, because this blog is sort of my personal record of all the things, let’s look at it together, shall we?

What didn’t work

We’ll start with the downer because it seems lame to end on it. Here’s what didn’t go so well:


This is a huge bummer to say, because it’s important and a huge part of my life. But it’s not working. My brain is glitchy and I’m not consistent and I’ve basically trained my children to ignore me. Changes will be made in 2020. I’m excited to take this course that starts in February. I don’t expect it to be a magic bullet, but anything is an improvement.


Unpopular, but moderation doesn’t work for me. My doctor gave me the okay in June to have sugar and dairy in moderation and I basically turned into Cookie Monster. I gave up extraneous spending for Lent last February and the exercise was illuminating, but after abstaining from discretionary purchases for a few weeks, I rebounded HARD. I don’t half-ass much, so if something is good, but only in small doses, I need to basically make hard rules about it so I don’t try to moderate. (I can have one sugary thing, but on Sunday, for instance. This is not my rule, but it could be. Once those praline pecans I got from Costco today are gone.) In Gretchen Rubin’s book Better Than Before, she talks about moderators vs. abstainers—how some people do great moderating, but others are better served not trying to. I’m an abstainer. My moderating ability is abysmal.

Keeping on top of logistics

I really thought 2019 would be the year I got household routines under control. Not so much. Things like cleaning and keeping up on photo albums and reimbursements for homeschool were all things I started to put systems in place for so they didn’t all pile up. And then I got distracted. I can’t remember what by. The systems looked good on paper, but I didn’t actually implement them. Will tweak and try again.

Classical Conversations

We tried it this year. (Still in it for the remainder of the school year, most likely.) I love everything about it. The families are great, I love connecting with the other parents, my kids are doing great in their classes, I love the classical model in general and this curriculum in particular. But… I can’t do it. The long and early morning with so much noise and so many people (even if I like them!) has drained me and made Thursdays a thing I dread. I will miss the individuals at CC next school year, but I’m going to have to work through the material on my own. So far, twelve weeks in, I haven’t found a good way to salvage the day.

What did work


I got in a really good rhythm of going to the gym and pool with a couple of BFFs on the regular. I found ways to pick up quiet moments to read or write. I have a good system of study and rest. It’s not perfect, but it’s good enough and plenty to build on.

Public school

I put Jenna in the school around the corner after much internal turmoil. (Actually, I made Andrew make the final call because I simply couldn’t.) Not only does she thrive in a classroom environment, but we all do. Her relationships with siblings and me are improved, my relationships with all four kids are better, and the relationships of those at home still are all better as well. I know I said I didn’t believe in a magic bullet for parenting, but this kind of feels like one in this little area.

Bullet journal

I’ve been doing this for a few years now, and I’m pretty happy with it. My favorite part? Every time I come across a book to read, I can add it immediately. I know that’s goofy (and I could do the same thing with my phone) and it’s at least as stressful as it is useful because my “books to read” list is about 150 books long, but still.


Y’all, my kids are all weaned. I took my first truly babyless trip in 2018 (no babies in or on me) and a few more last year. I like my kids a lot. I like them even more when I get back from some time where nobody is calling for my attention at all, let alone every five seconds. I actually don’t even care where I go. I’ve loved Santa Barbara and Boston (area) but I feel like Bismark, ND would work as well. Is there a quiet spot? Are there books to read? (No? No biggie! I brought fifteen, because I can’t moderate even my book packing!)


I get intimidated by things I don’t know how to do. I am not good at being bad at stuff. I get frustrated fast and just want to burn it all down. But this year, I did the 100 day project and lettered daily from April into July, and now I know how to do brush lettering. I got a new camera and was sorta forced to learn Lightroom and it’s fine. Maybe this year I’ll figure out Photoshop past “watch YouTube videos and cry.” Mostly, I’m glad to have practice being bad at things and getting better. I feel like it’s an important skill.

Published by robininalaska

Robin Chapman is a part-time writer, editor, and birth photographer and a full-time imperfect mama, wife, Jesus follower, and normalizer of failure. She’s trying hard to learn how to do this motherhood thing in a way that doesn’t land the whole family in intensive therapy. She has a heart for helping other mamas buried in the little years with hope, humor, and solidarity. You can find her hiding out in the bathroom with an iced dirty chai, writing and editing and making spreadsheets for KindredMom.com where she is a cheerleader for mamas, or online looking for grace in her mundane and weird life. She lives in Fairbanks, Alaska with her four delightful (crazy) kids—some homeschooled, some public schooled, some too young for school at all—and her ridiculously good looking husband, Andrew.

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  1. “I’m an abstainer. My moderating ability is abysmal.” Same! And, our family does CC, too. Last year was our first year. That first semester was OVERWHELMING, but the second semester was much better. I, personally, would rather be at home, but my kids love it. We were struggling to find boys my son’s age until we found CC. I love the community, but when we get home after co-op, I find a quiet place and chill. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Robin, I have at least one other comment I will send, but for now this quick one came to mind… There’s this really great self development (For lack of a better phrase) guy I follow named Brian Johnson. He has this thing called “what was awesome?, what needs work?“. (Actually, it probably isn’t from him, and he gives credit to whoever it came from… I’ll send you a link) It is essentially a helpful way of evaluating any aspect of your life that you want to improve. It usually isn’t a good idea to consider merely what needs work, but it is important to also look at what is already awesome. Your post is a great example of that. My point here is that I really like his way of phrasing it as “what was awesome?, What needs work?“

    As an example, I frequently come back to trying to improve my morning routine. In order to do that, I have, at different times, kept a daily log of how my morning went, listing both things that were awesome and things that need work. After a very short amount of time of keeping this log, some patterns (ie weaknesses) became quite obvious. (Lol)

    To summarize, it’s been a great tool for me, and I like that way of framing it as what was awesome? And what needs work?

    Sent from my iPhone


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, yep! I’m always trying to tweak my morning routine, too! I like the awesome/needs work framework, too… hadn’t heard it before (I don’t think). And my email address is just my username (attached to this comment) @gmail. (Because I can’t quite bring myself to write it out where THE BOTS WILL GET IT. Lol.)


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