Category: Straddle Stories

Straddle Parenting Episode 5

Homeschooling Fathers pt. 4: The Big Picture

So seriously, why would any sane man— with a full-time job, and a lawn to mow, and a house payment— why would he even consider homeschooling?In this episode, Christopher and Heather discuss the overarching reason behind pursuing homeschooling, and why it matters so very much.

Links may direct to affiliate sites. Purchases made through these links support our family’s work in spreading the Gospel to unreached areas.

Resources mentioned in this podcast:

Straddle Parenting Episode 4

Homeschooling Fathers pt. 3: Using what you know, learning what you don’t

One objection dads in homeschooling families often have to getting more involved is finding something they feel qualified to teach. In this episode, Christopher and Heather talk about God’s plan for your skills and passions (hint: He wants you to pass them on!) and how it’s never too late to learn a foreign language.

Links may direct to affiliate sites. Purchases made through these links support our family’s work in spreading the Gospel to unreached areas.

Resources mentioned in this podcast:

Sonlight Curriculum A complete, literature-based curriculum.

Ana White, a great site for finding simple woodworking projects, or more involved pieces.

Straddle Parenting episode 2

Homeschooling Fathers pt. 1

Common Reservations

Is your wife staging homeschool catalogs on the coffee table? Has she suddenly started pointing out the homeschooling families at church? Or have you given a reluctant go-ahead to a trial year of homeschooling, but are still wondering if this is a good idea? Christopher and Heather Schwarzen share the beginnings of their own homeschool adventures as well as defusing some of the common reservations fathers have in pursuing this radically different, radically Biblical method of education.

Homeschooling High School: Yes, you can!

One of the questions we are asked most often is, “How do you homeschool high school?”  In this podcast, Heather sits down with our homeschool’s first graduate, Mary Hannah, to talk high school, purpose, and tailoring an educational experience that allows your child to pursue their calling in life.



The following are affiliate links. Purchases made through these links support our family’s work in sharing the Gospel around the globe. Thank you!

Books mentioned in this podcast:

Easing the goodbye

Easing the Goodbye | Straddle ParentingOne of the hardest parts of Straddle Parenting — and one I admit snuck up on me — has been helping my younger children understand, anticipate, and even celebrate the transitions that young adulthood has brought for their older siblings.

Unlike children who occupy the same or next-step-under seasons of growing up, kids who are in their elementary years aren’t fully clued in to the fact that their high school-age big brother is going to be driving. On his own, to places they aren’t invited. Or that their much-older sister is going to disappear for months at a time in pursuit of this thing they keep calling “college.” Never mind the fact that a beloved brother or sister might just get married … and only come back when a cross-country airfare is affordable.

Watching my 7 year-old sob through the days leading up to and immediately after our 18 year-old left for college was heart wrenching — for all of us. Even though we had mentioned that she was leaving, even though he had seen the preparations, even though he heard the plans … somehow, it didn’t fully sink in that she was well and truly going to a place where he could not curl up into her lap and bask in the love he took for granted.

Taking notes from that first, tearful separation, we were much more purposeful about her second absence. Even though it came up suddenly, with less prep time for emotional processing or even getting the practical stuff done, her little shadow took it much more in stride. Tears? Sure. But absolute, heaving heartbreak? Not this time.

Here’s what we are finding helps to prepare little hearts for the changes that having Bigs brings:

Give notice. As much as possible, let them know what and when. In our case, this meant including not just the announcement itself at our family meeting over breakfast, but also the details as they shaped up each and every day. Overkill? Turns out, no. This was a great chance to pray for small pieces to fit together as a family, but also to keep little ears in the loop. So often, we assume that they absorb info as it develops, but this is not a time to take that for granted.

Find real-life examples. Look to family and friends, past experiences, anything you can to draw parallels between what’s coming for your Big when sharing with your Littles. The idea of “college” or “leaving home” can be hard to grasp when your concept of school is based around the dining room table or packing bags usually results in a vacation that you all take — and return from— together.

Let them talk. The temptation to fill the air with your own thoughts is great, especially if the transition is one that has you looking at your Littles and being grateful that you have at least a few more years of parenting to look forward to. But Littles need to process at their own speed, ask questions, and share their hearts. Have a listening ear handy in the quiet moments, when they are most likely to pipe up with what has them wondering.

Put technology to work. If you can, get in the habit beforehand of using texts, videos, even Skype or FaceTime to send news of note and declarations of love from your Littles to your Bigs. That way, communicating via tech will feel like a natural extension of their relationship, not a stand-in.

Set an end date (if applicable). We found that printing up a special calendar and marking the days until our daughter’s return helped Littles understand the temporary nature of their separation. This point of reference was a life-saver, even on long days when a certain Momma was missing her girl.

What have you found to be helpful for your Littles in navigating the changing family dynamics of Straddle Parenting?


Vacation… party of 11?

It’s nearly February, and so if we’re to take any kind of vacation or make any kind of getaway this year, it’s time we get down to business.

First, because everyone else is busy planning their 2016 vacations, and second, because on as tight a budget as we live, we’ll need to start saving NOW to make anything for such a large family work.

Which has brought us to quite the conundrum. We’re not sure what to do. 

Vacations aren’t something we usually do (our last was connected to travel for ministry before we moved to Nepal), but now that we’ve been living on the East Coast for a full year, and with so much opportunity around us, it just seems like now is the time to start exploring.

So what can a family with nine children do on as little money as possible, yet still have a great time? Or is it better to look for two getaways — one geared toward the older children and a separate event for the littles?

Tell us, what have you done recently with your family (all or in parts), and how did it turn out? Lessons learned? Ways to save? What are your plans for this year? 

Share with us your ideas, and we’ll share them with others right here at And who knows, maybe we’ll see you there! 

Not big, not little

Not Big, Not Little | Straddle Parenting
This post may contain affiliate links. Purchases made through these links support our family’s work in sharing the Gospel around the globe. Thank you! 

Oh, the life of the middles.

Not small enough to easily crawl into Momma’s lap, to sit and ponder the amazing contents of the pots and pans cabinet while she cooks, or to think Paw Patrol is the best thing ever.

But not big enough to walk the dog alone, or manage the hot glue gun without supervision, or stay up and watch the PG-13 movie with “the big people.”

It’s a frustrating place to linger, this no-man’s land of growing up. For everyone.

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Christmas with the Littles … and Bigs

Once upon a time, Christmas morning kicked off with a 4 a.m. wake-up call from an over-eager 5 year-old cheerfully reminding you that today was The Day. No time to waste, Mom and Dad! There were presents to be opened, treats to be eaten, songs to be sung … all before 8 a.m.!

Today, that 5 year-old has morphed into a night-owl 17 year-old who, when left to his own devices, might lumber down the stairs sometime between breakfast and lunch, Christmas Day or no. Or maybe that 5 year-old is two decades older now, and living on her own an hour away.

But, ummmmm… there’s another 5 year-old in the house. How to make the two extremes come together for Christmas morning bliss?

Straddle parenting the holidays is a delicate art. Too far in either direction and … disaster. So what to do? How to balance eager littles with laid-back olders? How to make memories with middles when siblings have their own traditions in the making elsewhere?

What have you tried in your family? What’s worked in the past? How do you see Christmas as your family grows?