Episode 303 | He Said, She Said: A Homeschool Marriage
Behind the scenes banter with real homeschool parents. Get some homeschool dad insight from an interview with Mr. Hifalutin. Then listen and laugh along with a comical rendition of a homeschool marriage court deposition over some common everyday struggles and trials.
Mr. Hifalutin— Damian Cabrera is the husband of Jennifer Cabera, the Hifalutin Homeschooler. He is not only a good humored participant in this episode, but a once reluctant, and now staunch advocate for homeschooling. His day job as a cardiothoracic surgical PA keeps the family fed, but his life position of husband, father, educator, and leader is his life’s greatest work.
Jennifer Cabrera Hello and welcome to another Hifalutin Homeschooler episode of The Homeschool Solutions Show. My name is Jennifer Cabrera and I am one of many hosts here on the podcast. Each week, we bring you an encouraging conversation, inspiration, tips, tricks, and or humor from this busy and blessed journey of educating our children at home.
Now, while the title of the show is Homeschool Solutions, we do not pretend to have the answer to every question related to homeschooling, but we do hope to keep it real through lessons we've learned and urge you toward Jesus Christ and prayer with him as the greatest parent-teacher conference available.
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Jennifer Cabrera Hello and welcome to another episode of the Hifalutin Homeschooler Podcast. Today this one is entitled He Said, She Said: A Homeschool Marriage. Behind the scenes banter with real homeschool parents. And I'd like to start with talking about the parents night out because truthfully, all we do is talk about our kids and homeschooling, and then we eat, and then we go shopping for the kids. 'Oh, look, honey, you know who would love this?' And then we probably eat something else and reminisce fantastically of our children's good qualities and maybe grumble a little bit about what frustrates us. But then we miss them, so then we wax poetically of all of their accomplishments, their character and their futures and how we're going to see them through to greatness. And then we probably eat something else, because what else is there to do? And inevitably, homeschool moms began to talk about homeschooling and curriculum, and then he nods, glassy eyed, and asks a few random questions to sound like he's listening. And then you maybe plan some big trips that you may never actually take, and some home projects that you would like to do but probably won't have the time to, and then he talks about work and home maintenance and finances. Then it's nice to just sit there and eat in silence and enjoy the need to not have to talk and analyze everything and how we may be screwing up our kids lives. And then at some point, we look down at our overpriced plate of cheese and pickled things on this charcuterie board and realize that we'd really rather just be home eating straight out of the ice cream carton in our pajamas with control of the remote while the kids are at the grandparents house. And then one of those weekends away that we somehow get occasionally. And really, how do we get those weekends away? Well, this is the second anniversary that we have spent driving a kid to a camp and staying at some random anti-touristy town in a roadside motel, enjoying the peace and quiet and fresh towels. And while our child has learned good leadership skills at his Civil Air Patrol Camp this weekend, we have shopped at Goodwill; taken pictures at an antique store, sitting in the palm of a giant gorilla, and in front of the biggest wind chimes we've ever seen; and largely talked mostly about our kids—and what we're going to have for dinner tonight. But that's what we do as homeschool parents. Our life is surrounded by our children. It entails mostly thinking about our children and what we're going to do with our children, to our children, and instill in our children next. And a homeschool marriage is an everyday rollercoaster of ups and downs, sacrifices, strains, and reasons to light each other on fire. But sometimes we need to step back and laugh and put down the lighter fluid. If we can't laugh at ourselves and enjoy the ride, we might crack up, and then who will empty the dishwasher and be there to argue about it? Because we make a good team—he earns the money, I spend it. Mostly on books. He teaches shop, yard maintenance, finances, joins them with Civil Air Patrol; and I crack the whip on the book learning and the indoor domestic skills; and we both push for integrity, spiritual and moral fortitude, and honest hard work and accountability throughout it all. So without further ado, I would like to introduce you to the hubs, Mr. Hifalutin. He's here with me now on location at our romantic roadside anniversary trip with kid at camp to answer some questions for maybe some new homeschool dads out there, and give us a little insight into his view of our hifalutin homeschool life. So to start, Mr. Highfalutin. To begin, state your title in this homeschool business and tell us, how did you come to be a homeschool dad?
Damian Cabrera Well. Hello, blogosphere. This is Mr. Highfalutin, as I am known. Question. My title? That's a great question. I'm basically the principle of this show. And what do I do? Well, not much really, what a principal in a public school does, which is just sit at his desk and look important. And how did I get into this business? Well, you can say I was duped, somewhat. This hifalutin had this fantastical idea of pulling our twins out of public school, and of course, I said no right off the bat. In the end, I think it was the best decision we've ever made.
Jennifer Cabrera I don't know if he was necessarily duped, but strongly urged. But to go on, tell us, what's it like to be the principal of a highly exclusive private school with an amazingly dedicated and good looking staff? Oh, and a comfortable dress code.
Damian Cabrera You're right, dear. I was strongly urged. What's it like being the principal? Well, it's pretty easy. I leave for my day job early in the morning, and I field phone calls throughout the day regarding the behavior of said homeschool students from said fantastic staff. When I do get home from work with a nice box of chocolates for the deserving staff members, I try to pick up the slack a little bit to give her a break and run interference where frustrations are high.
Jennifer Cabrera And for that, we thank you, honey. So what's your favorite part about homeschooling? The best part that you see that has come out of that strong urging to homeschool that you received?
Damian Cabrera The best part about all this is really the results that I've seen out of the kids. Everything that they've accomplished, more than I've ever accomplished in my life for sure. Sometimes Miss Hifalutin will smirk because it makes me quite emotional. For those of you more seasoned homeschoolers, I'm sure you know the benefit of being able to tailor an education to what the kid's interests are, and we've been able to do that with all three of ours and have had great success doing so. We've also been able to teach them life skills that I know they would not have gotten anywhere else. Everything from finances to simply planting and harvesting a garden, to keeping up with housework and tuning up an automobile, and more importantly, how to be good men—good, godly men that will make a difference in our society and our world.
Jennifer Cabrera So would you say that there's anything missing, or any downsides to homeschooling, or any ways that we might be screwing them up? I mean, outside of the fact that they're totally weird and unsocialized.
Damian Cabrera Well, I have heard you say on various occasions, if your kids are going to be screwed up, you might as well do it yourself. But I'm sure we're leaving some stuff out. After all, there's really no way to cover everything in 13 years that we have them at the house. Learning is a lifelong endeavor. Whatever holes are left to fill, they'll fill with life experiences. And if we've screwed them up, well, I guess that just gives them character.
Jennifer Cabrera So now that you're a professional homeschool dad, what advice would you give to any new homeschool dads out there thinking that they've been duped into this and that they're maybe not homeschool material?
Damian Cabrera After you get over the outrage of your tender bride even suggesting the idea of homeschooling, and then get over the anxiety of her actually following through even though you're telling her not to, take a deep breath. Relax. It's going to be okay. Learning, and hence this homeschool thing doesn't just happen during the hours of 9 to 3. It happens all the time. It's life. Like when you get home after a long day of work, exhausted, and there's something broken at the house and you have to go to Home Depot about five times just to get the one thing fixed. Take your students with you. Teach them. Show them. That's what homeschool is all about. Just don't forget to get them the ice cream on the way back so they won't tell your wife how many trips it took and how much money you spent, and how cheaper it would have been just to hire it out.
Jennifer Cabrera Busted. No, really, that was very insightful. Thank you, honey. And finally, in this shakedown interrogation- I mean interview. So tell us, would you do it all again? Would you go back to when you were strongly urged and duped into homeschooling, and this time not make it so difficult to go ahead and buy the Ikea desks and just go with it?
Damian Cabrera I would absolutely do it all again, and I actually wouldn't do it any different than I did. I think I would still give you a hard time because knowing you, that's what got you even more motivated to take on the task. What I'm trying to say is that as parents, you have to find each other's strengths and weaknesses. And although Miss Hifalutin did almost all of the educating at home, I soon realized that this was definitely the way to go. She has the temperament to do this stuff. I don't. I did, however, use what I liked to supplement the education, such as outdoor activities, working on things, and the Civil Air Patrol, which all three of our boys are involved in. I think I would urge all homeschool dads to dive right in and then figure out what's right for their family and their family's education. There's no set standards. There's no set curriculum. It's life. And you have to pivot to all its challenges. And that goes the same for homeschooling.
Jennifer Cabrera Great, insightful and helpful advice there, honey. So next we're going to take a nostalgic yet comical look back into our homeschool marriage and dynamic from about four years ago. We'll call it a Homeschool Marriage in Court: A Series of Depositions. And we'll start with the case of did you get dressed today?
Jennifer Cabrera [As Judge] So, Mr. Hifalutin, order in the court. We will start with your side of the story, if you please.
Damian Cabrera All I asked was, have you had a shower yet? Then I got a 30 minute play by play of her day, starting with how she must endure cold coffee and an unending list of similarities between pajamas and workout clothes. Your Honor, I just wanted to know if she was finished in the bathroom so I could turn off the bathroom light and go to bed already. I meant nothing further, but I am sure every light in the house has been on since they all got up. I literally spend all my time at home following the kids around turning off the lights. We could afford a boat, jet skis and the trailer to haul it with what we would save if they would just turn the dang light off. But somehow she mistook my simple shower question as an accusation of her being sloppily dressed. I would like the court records show that I have no idea what she was wearing last night, this morning, or even right now.
Jennifer Cabrera I swear I did not wear these pajamas all day, Your Honor. It's just that he left for work while I was still in bed asleep. And then he didn't get home until I was back in them after dinner and a shower. Exhibit A—in the laundry room, you will find an array of chlorine doused swimsuits and towels strewn about. We actually left the house to make that happen. Would I take my children to swim practice in these stretch pants and worn out t-shirt? I would think not. Unless of course time was an issue, in which case getting them all in swimsuits with towels and a change of clothes in February would certainly take precedence over my changing into newer workout clothes. I mean, they can't very well go swimming in sweatpants. Think of the outrage that would ensue when they dove in and the physical concept of drag took effect. Coincidentally, I taught that concept in our physics lesson today. Okay, so maybe I could have put on jeans and a blouse, but even if I did, I'd be back in my pajamas before he got home and he'd still think I live in these yoga pants.
Jennifer Cabrera [As Judge] Yes, we will make note of that here in court. And now we will move on to the case of the empty dishwasher and the dish piled sink. Mr. Hifalutin, we will start with you again.
Damian Cabrera It was a simple suggestion to make her life easier, Your Honor. We have a perfectly functional dishwasher sitting next to a sink filled with dirty dishes, rendering it completely unusable for hand washing. Most nights, the boys and I help her clean the kitchen after dinner by emptying the dishwasher and reloading it. So the next day while I'm at work, it makes sense that she have them empty it again in the morning before they start school. It shouldn't take them more than ten minutes all working together. Then they can just put their dirty dishes directly into the dishwasher after each meal or snack. That way in the evening, after dinner we can just finish filling it with dinner dishes, then run it. Voila! Clean kitchen. It would make it so much easier for all of us to relax and enjoy the evening together.
Jennifer Cabrera If I may approach the sink, Your Honor, I'd like to point out the dishes that are still covered in bits of oatmeal and microwavable fried rice. As is evident since I always rinse my own plates off before gently placing them into the sink, these were tossed here by suspects A, B, and C, otherwise known as our children, whom, if I might be so bold as to point out have learned to prepare their own breakfast and lunch whilst I prepare the day's academic rigors upstairs. I cannot police their every move. But if you were to lean over, Your Excellency, and look deeper into this fetid tub of remnants, you will see a cup or three caked with days old coffee cream residue, having sat in a truck's cup holder for that amount of time and then hastily placed in the sink before a new cup of coffee was hurried out the door in the wee hours. Upon these cups you will find the DNA of suspect D, aka the Big D, dad, bald eagle. Yes, your magnanimousness, their father. Ironic much? Also, you will note the ice cream bowls from the late night snacks that didn't make it into the after dinner clean-the-kitchen scenario. So I must ask for just whom are we making things easier for by adding another dishwasher episode in the morning? Clearly, his patronizing request for me to not let the dishes pile up in the sink until we've created Mount Saint Stench day after day, carries no leverage.
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Jennifer Cabrera [As Judge] Duly noted. And we will take notes, as I said, and move on to the next case. This will be the case of no sleeping in my class. And we will begin the depositions once again with Mr. Hifalutin. What do you have to say for yourself?
Damian Cabrera Well, of course, I have substantial reasoning for my actions to present to the court, Your Honor. Between the hours of red-eye-o'clock yesterday morning, and just before her and the other well rested members of the class strolled to the coffee pot, I was up solving emergency medical problems throughout the night. Even so, I was merely resting my eyes during her Bill Nye the Science Guy video. After all, he's really not a scientist. I object to the assumption that I do not take homeschool seriously enough. Reading the news on my phone while she reads...well, whatever book that was that she was reading to the kids is hardly grounds for expulsion. But if that is how she wants it, I'll just go outside and use the leaf blower to blow off the driveway. Then maybe I'll mess around with some of my other interesting, exciting, and manly tools outside on this wonderful sunshiny day instead of participating in this school stuff. She can just send the boys out to me when she is finished with whatever it is they are doing next.
Jennifer Cabrera Ladies and gentlemen of the court, if you will look around the scene in question, you will note the rules are anything but strict. As far as the dress code goes, all I ask is that everyone at least have on underwear. No shirt? No shoes? No problem! Want to wrap up in a blanket, eat cheese nips, sip cocoa and snuggle with the dog while finishing your math? Sure. Why not? Is it too much to ask for the few times he is here with us for him to remain conscious. This is an all boys school, fidgeting is the common core. It's all good. Part of our curriculum is simply working on pretending to pay attention, if not actually doing so, and actively participating in discussions. Months of efforts are shredded like cheddar on Taco Tuesday if the celebrity student of the day, i.e. dad, is lying on his back catching flies. Does he not realize he is surrounded by his biggest fans who emulate his every move? And furthermore, Your Honor, how can they take me and Shakespeare seriously if he is shopping eBay while I'm reading aloud? He has already tainted our learning environment with the promise of power tools. All focus is lost. He might as well suggest they all ditch class and go grab some smokes.
Jennifer Cabrera [As Judge] Well, this all certainly gives us much to discuss in our courtroom proceedings. And we may have to call in a jury on this one. So, let's just go ahead and move on to the next case that we have here today, and that will be the case of the concept of time. And Mr. Hifalutin, whenever you're ready.
Damian Cabrera There was a chance I would have been out of work at 6 p.m. and be at the pool to pick up the boys from swim practice that day. I really wanted to make it happen so she can go and get groceries and cook dinner. Something came up and I had to go back to work. That something was probably a bleeding person. Cut me some slack. It's my job. It pays the bills. And I do know how to tell time, though she likes to say otherwise. If I call and say I'm on my way home, I am on my way home. And yes, that we just moved here a year ago, I do know how to get from work and Home Depot to our house. Sometimes I make other unexpected stops, but I wasn't gone as long as she claims. At least I don't think I was. Really, she is just exaggerating this one. I'm hoping to be out early tomorrow, and I can take the boys to practice so she can have a couple hours to herself. By the way, may I be excused from the court briefly? I need to run into town and get the tires rotated, renew my driver's license, pick up some screws for a project, run this letter to the post office and stop by work and fill out some paperwork. I'll be back in 15 minutes. Promise.
Jennifer Cabrera Time is relative. If you were at home all day teaching and parenting three strong willed boys, you'd know that time sometimes moves like that last teaspoon of Mrs. Butterworth's that you're trying to pour atop your Eggo waffle in Antarctica. Your Honor, all I ask for are the facts. I'm a realist. Saying he would like to be home at such-and-such time is not the same as being home at such-and-such time. Don't tell me what you think I want to hear. Give it to me straight. Do not tell me you're on your way home. If you are not physically in your moving vehicle, pointed homeward with no other planned stops. I would be better restrained from pouncing on you when you do arrive if I wasn't expecting you two hours ago when you said you were on your way home. Seriously, I have got this hot mess here all under control. Oh, and 15 minutes is not a universal time increment. He literally has no concept of time, which I'm told really isn't his fault. I mean, it being a Cuban gene and all. He'll be late to his own funeral someday, and that's fine by me. Well, the point of this whole case, Your Honor, it's really that I just want him here with me. For real. There are no gold stars for good intentions.
Jennifer Cabrera [As Judge] Well, I see that you both have some good points there, though it does seem that he does have good intentions and so do you. So, just to finish off things, we get all of our information down, let's end with the case of who is in charge exactly. Mr. Hifalutin, you get started.
Damian Cabrera She corrects everything I do and say. Let the record show that I am not currently enrolled in this school, though I have spent many an hour in timeout or with an imaginary dunce hat on my head. Everything around here is her way. She does keep up with all the school kid activities and school, she remembers stuff I don't have time to think about, and she knows where I've hidden my keys from myself, but I don't like to be corrected in front of the boys. She's always right and knows a better way of doing things. Or so she thinks. When I'm at home, I'd like to wear the pants around here occasionally. She even drives everywhere we go. But then again, with my work schedule, it's nice to be able to sleep in the car.
Jennifer Cabrera I, the Hifalutin Homeschooler, and the defendant in this case, plead guilty, your Honor. No contest. I am a control freak, type A, hard headed, worrywart, pain in the butt, hell of a woman. Though I'd like to point out that these qualities are what attracted my codefendant to me in the first place. They say that what attracts us most to our soulmate will end up being what drives us the craziest later in our marriage. Probably because as time goes on those traits seem to become concentrated along with the wrinkles on our faces. However, I must point out my motive in this crime. As a homeschool mom in charge of all the academic, athletic, extracurricular, nutritional, emotional, and disciplinary needs of our children by myself for many hours a week, it's really hard to relinquish or even share the reins when he gets home. Not that I don't welcome and crave the help. It's exhausting trying to keep it all together and yet sort of scary to let go of control just the same. Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, imagine that you've built this castle of popsicle sticks, and you carry it around with you all the time, except that the Elmer's glue isn't really dry yet, and you tired of carrying it around, but you don't dare set it down in case the wind blows and knocks it over. And then someone shows up and offers to hold it for a whil. And oh, how you want them to take it and give you a break, but you're reluctant. Do they understand the work that you have put into erecting this yet incomplete and fragile masterpiece? What if they screw it up, drop it, or undo all your hard work in one clumsy move? Yes, Your Honor. I'll shut up and we'll try and hand over my imaginary popsicle stick castle occasionally. I'll even let my co architect add a room on, though I'll need to closely observe his work, as he should mine. And there you have it. The defense rests, Your Honor. I think we can call it a draw. Nothing further. So here's to the next time, babe. Same time, same place? Just text me when you're actually in the car. And for all you listening out there, stay weird and homeschool on.
Jennifer Cabrera Thank you for joining me here on the Homeschool Solutions Show again. You can find show notes and links to all the resources mentioned at homeschooling.mom. Don't forget to check out my friends at Medi-Share for healthcare you can trust. To learn more about why over 400,000 Christians have chosen Medi-share, go to greathomeschoolconventions.com/medishare.
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Lastly, have you joined us at one of the Great Homeschool Conventions? The Great Homeschool Conventions are the homeschooling event of the year offering outstanding speakers, hundreds of workshops covering today's top parenting and homeschooling topics and the largest homeschool curriculum exhibit hall in the United States. Find out more at greathomeschoolconventions.com. I hope to see you in Texas.
Also, if you'd like to connect with me, you can find me at Facebook at Hifalutin Homeschooler and on Instagram @hifalutinhomeschooler. That's H-I-F-A-L-U-T-I-N Homeschooler. Also, you can email me directly with any questions, concerns, anecdotes. I love to hear stories from other homeschoolers. That's [email protected]. Until next time, stay weird and homeschool on.