Monthly Archives: August 2014

Sunday, Sundaaaaaaayyyy

Here I sit… on my back deck… laptop, sunshine (although I’m in the shade of my crabapple), cool breeze, coffee, Girly hollering for me to watch her climb up the slide and get onto the trapeze bar THAT way…

And wondering wth I’m going to do with BigGuy this week.

Upside: I got a free digital planner (thanks to Educents) and inside, there were pages to set goals.  It was completely awesome and totally helpful.  Because really, it’s hard to lay out a plan when you don’t know what the goal is.

Seriously?  DUH!  I TAUGHT THIS!  FOR YEARS!  Geesh, I STILL teach it by way of teleclass!

So I laid out semester goals for things above and beyond academics, but then I also laid out academic goals by subject.  *deep breath of relief*

Now I need to get better at PREPARING.  Honestly, I’m REALLY loving the way that this program is forcing us into this Socratic discussion and BigGuy is really understanding that he needs to exercise his brain better.  Win-win.  But I feel really ill-prepared and I haven’t looked in my teaching binder for this stuff but I’m sure I saw some kind of prep for this in there.  :/

This week, I’m kind of returning to worldview and various faiths rather than our regular social studies/geography/writing/literature core from Tapestry of Grace .  Papa is off of work for the next two weeks and we have a trip to Minnesota over the long weekend.  So we’re going to take it slow and light.  I’m going to try to tackle “What Counts as History?” from’s Classroom Resources page (which, btw, is AWESOOOOME).  Of course, that’s going to require some prep, too.  😉


Workload independence… #fail

Remember back on Wednesday when I told you guys that BigGuy and I had plotted out his work for the week?   Well we just had our end of week meeting to go over his week’s work and clearly this was a bad idea as implemented.


First, BigGuy cannot manage his time.  Ummmm… duh.  Seriously–he’s 10.  Wth was I thinking?

Second, BigGuy needs some learning about actual study skills.  Again… duh.  And above and beyond being 10, he’s not been challenged to learn like he’s being challenged now… so double duh.

Okay, okay… not horrible.  We’re just trying to figure it out.  But we will clearly do it differently next week.

Oh wait… next week start’s Papa’s 2-week vacation with a trip to Minnesota for Labor Day weekend in the midst of it.  Ugh…  Okay… I need to figure this out.  We have some faith and tolerance lessons to work on anyway so maybe we’ll redo that which wasn’t done this week on the reading front, learn some study skills and do the remainder of the faith and tolerance lessons over the next two weeks.  And maybe I’ll sandwich in a book on audio for the trip to and from Minnesota.

AND… he is not auditioning for the current show.  He would’ve missed 3 rehearsals and they said that missing 2 or more means they’re likely to get cut (you have to note any rehearsal conflicts on your audition papers).  We’d either have to miss our Minnesota trip and miss just one rehearsal or take the Minnesota trip and miss 3 of them.  I let BigGuy decide.  He chose to go to Minnesota.  I’m really kind of relieved.  I’m not sure we could handle the chaos of being involved in a show right now.  The parent commitment is really no joke.

Hump day

Sooooo… I have a new attention-sucking pit and that is the sitting room of my master bedroom of my relatively new-to-us house.  Papa put the TV in there and *poof*!  Not only am I watching more TV (late at night) but I’m getting sucked into the computer easier because it’s right there at my chair and table.

NOT loving the sitting room.  It’s 11:06am and I’ve done Girly’s hair and meditated and looked at some information I actually needed, but I haven’t eaten yet and we haven’t done our character trait story (this week is “problem-solving”).  I’m typing this as Girly reads some of these extremely basic reader books to me.  I totally love her, but ummm… #painful.

We had a really good breakthrough with Girly last night emotionally.  She had a fit of “nobody loves me” after being reprimanded and it was a doozy.  I refused to just leave her alone and alternated between pursuing her to hug her and just sitting outside her bedroom door and intermittently saying things that let her know that I was there.  For the first time ever, it ended with her seeking me out and letting me hold her and comfort her!!! And SHE hugged ME.  She WANTED to hug me in her pain!  This is SO, SO, SO huge!

And right now we are laughing about how she initially sounded out “scary” to sound like “sack-a-ree”.  ❤

BigGuy and I sat down and plotted out his week but I really think that was a bad idea.  For one, it was kind of overwhelming.  I mean, I didn’t really sit down and plan his work out and plan ALL of it with this curricula so doing it together took a lot of time and seemed like a LOT.

On the other hand, I kind of like the independence he’s developing.  He had some firm ideas about what days he could load himself up and how he felt he could manage various things.  In fact, he’s about to audition for a show for the first time ever on Friday.  I made a comment about how maybe he could do some aspect of it differently and he said “You worry too much”.  Which is ironic because I could give a rat’s ass if he auditions or not or gets in the play or not!  LOL!

How to motivate homeschooled kids for powerful results

Let me just say this:  *I* do not motivate my kid.  “Kid” singular–because I don’t actually educate Girly at all yet.  But BigGuy is 10 and would be entering 5th grade and I regularly see posts from parents who “can’t get their kid to do anything”.

Totally been there.

But I’m usually dealing with that kind of stuff when I’m shoving my own educational agenda down my son’s throat.  And really, if I wanted that kind of experience for him, I could’ve put him in a school… amiright?

So here we go… now what do you do, right?  Why not let your kids decide?  One message board post today expressed frustration with a 4th grader that wanted to do his 6th grade brother’s math work.  So what?  If he’s not capable he will soon find out and either decide to do the foundation work needed or will realize it’s just not where he’s at.

BigGuy willingly working on Cell Biology homework after 6 hours of being in Cell Biology class.
BigGuy willingly working on Cell Biology homework after 6 hours of being in Cell Biology class.

When my kid pushes back, I have to really ask myself the following:

1) How does this particular thing contribute to my child’s stated desires and goals?  If it DOES contribute, I just need to explain the “how” to him.

2) If it doesn’t contribute, is it something he NEEDS to learn?  Like, ever?  I’m sorry, but my son never needs to learn that papyrus was one of the first wannabe paper products.  It will serve no useful purpose in his life.  Same for the year of any given battle of the American Revolution.

3) Let’s assume he NEEDS to learn it.  Does he NEED to learn it NOW?  In the grand scheme of things, is it something that “needs to be learned before being an independent adult” and therefore can maybe wait 2, 3 or even 5 years?  Who NEEDS to read before the age of 9?

4) Okay… you get past all of that and decide it’s something they NEED to learn NOW.  Well, then your challenge becomes the METHOD of teaching it.  Because the current method is clearly NOT working.

Out of the box thinking, y’all.  It requires a serious willingness to step outside of the mainstream and their expectations about what a child should learn and when.  Believe it or not, that is not exactly as cut and dry as the education community would have you believe.  Sorry, folks–but even among your very own children, some will do addition at 4 and some won’t do it until they’re 10.  As long as they can do it by the time they have to balance a check book, does it matter?

Hopes and dreams for the coming week

Tomorrow: we have some company coming for an early dinner; and then we’ll do our family meeting.  After our family meeting, I hope to sit down with BigGuy and plot out his week.

Monday: There is NOTHING on the schedule.  This bodes well for accomplishing some actual schoolwork as planned; and walking the kids through their chores.  Speaking of which–I need to make chores for Girly.  That evening is BigGuy’s first drama class and the school is holding an audition clinic afterward.  Not sure if he’ll go.

Tuesday:  BigGuy actually has a paid session with his choir instructor from last year’s homeschool co-op.  She coincidentally has taught at the school where he will do drama classes; and therefore knows the audition process with them pretty well.  I’m just really kind of hoping to get some stuff done before he goes to that after lunch.  Like BigGuy’s biology lectures.  There’s a park date on the calendar for the morning, but we’ll see.

Wednesday:  I have an appointment midday near my home (during Papa’s lunch break), and dinner with a girlfriend; but otherwise–the day is open.  Again: bodes well for trying to get into a new routine.  BigGuy has his biology lecture.

Thursday: We always have a sitter for Thursday afternoon; and this week–he will stay until 9pm instead of 5pm so Papa and I can go out to dinner for our 15th wedding anniversary.  BUT… I’m hoping the morning gets some dedicated routine time and at this point, I’m kind of hoping that we’re finding our stride.  BIG DREAMS, PEOPLE!!  GO BIG OR GO HOME!

Friday: At this point I’m hoping that I can sit down with BigGuy for our post-mortem and determine how the week went, do his accountability questions and thinking questions for the Tapestry of Grace portion of his work; check his other work and give him whatever corrective instruction he needs; then enjoy an afternoon hike facilitated by a local forest preserve.  It will be tricky getting home to take a client phone call.

Here is what my calendar (altered to protect the innocent) looks like.  We don’t usually go to the chiropractor Monday AND Tuesday but I killed my back last week and it’s still slightly noticeable–so I scheduled an appointment for Monday and Tuesday is the standing appointment:

My week

But then John Lennon said “Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans…”

Practical life skills #fail

I’m sitting here listening to the sounds of Girly crying in her room and BigGuy finishing an hour’s worth of trying to clean the bathroom vanity in my room.

I’m not exactly getting this “teaching practical life skills” thing down very well.

Ideally, these are things that would have grown with us as a family–learned and added as time wore on.  But that’s not what happened.  Instead of gently ushering my kids into independence and the keeping of their environment, my untreated PTSD led to a rather volatile “mom can’t take any more of the mess and freaks out” method of trying to keep house.  Only further derailed or enhanced, of course, by 7 moves in 4 years (Girly aged 8mo-4 and BigGuy aged 6-10… formative years).

Now my kids have grown into a lifestyle of simply not taking care of their things and not really wanting to keep the household clean.  Mama’s upset about the state of all of it doesn’t really move anyone because Mama’s been kind of a b*tch for the last several years as the symptoms of her condition got worse.

So… first, Mama canceled this afternoon’s events “because obviously we need more time to get things done”.  That resulted in lots of playing.  Cool that they’re having a good time, but Mama can’t do it all by herself.  Then I tried some consistent redirection.  #fail

The biggest mistake Mama made was telling them that I sold tonights tickets to “the circus” (it’s really Cirque Shanghai).  Oh my.  They get upset, but they don’t exactly get motivated to do anything.  In fact, sometimes BigGuy will cry and plead that “he’ll do AAAANNNYYYYthing” to get whatever he lost back and sometimes, I fall for it.  I tell him to do some subset of what he was responsible for and he still won’t do it.

The whole thing is really just a parenting mess that needs to be made right.  And the way I’m handling it is nothing positive… which is making everyone miserable and not exactly suring up the shaky foundation we’re working with.

Mama’s decided that I need to be WITH my kids as they do this–talking them through it and helping them find joy in the process until it becomes a habit.  I need to be engaged instead of just barking out orders.

Stay tuned…

En route to killing my printer

I’ve finally sat down and figured out how to handle this stuff with BigGuy.  Tonight, I got his notebook set up and printed out the assignment pages that go with Tapestry of Grace (TOG).  Each week, we’ll sit down and go through what he actually needs to do and read from the curricula.  I also created a list of tasks outside of the curricula that he needs to do each week… math, science, foreign language, etc.  I did the first 5 “weeks” of the curricula and then 2 weeks of the “outside” work.  I printed out all of the resource pages he needs for the writing component of TOG.  We’ll see how that goes.

I also printed out the pages for ME to help with facilitating Socratic discussion; and managing the Accountability and Thinking Questions from TOG.

And the maps… I printed out the maps he needs for the first 5 weeks of TOG plus the teacher copies with the answers.

Holy moly…

Actually, I have to be honest that I really like the idea of sitting down with BigGuy twice each week to talk about his learning in a more mature manner.  Once to sit down and go through what he needs to do and plot it out on his planner with him; and another to talk about what he’s learned and have a solid discussion about what he’s learned.  Not just asking him to spew it back to me, but DISCUSSING it.

I’m kind of looking forward to it.

Now… to figure out Girly.  And to hope that this works for BigGuy (and me).


I feel like a truck hit me this morning.  My back is still hurting so badly that I’m going to my first ever acupuncture appointment later this afternoon (the only time I could get an appointment AND child-coverage).  Papa had calls starting at 8am but had made deviled eggs for us for breakfast.  I proced to sleep on and off until 9am.  We did our morning snuggles and the kids went down to eat deviled eggs.

I wish I could tell you WHAT the heck happened after that, but I have no idea.  All I know is that it was quiet.  So I laid in bed, realizing that I had not dug out (or purchased) the stuff I needed for BigGuy’s notebook; I did not go through the mountain of books that just arrived in the mail (okay, “mountain” is obvious exaggeration–but probably about a dozen); and I didn’t write anything in the boy’s planner.

And they were really quiet for a REALLY long time.

So I got up, got dressed, washed up… and they were still quiet.

They were so quiet that I went downstairs to investigate.  Or to look for my earbuds so that I could potentially meditate.  Whatever.  No kids.  Whaaaaa….?  WHERE ARE THE KIDS?  And then I caught the light under the (closed) basement door.  HA!  They were playing in the basement.  TOGETHER.

So I ran upstairs and started my meditation (Chopra just kicked off a new free 21-day challenge and they’re made for newbies… I highly recommend it).  And then I got to printing off stuff I need to teach my kids.

But dude… it’s Tuesday.  Maybe we’ll just mulligan this and start again on Monday?  Eh… maybe not.  I’m sure I’ll have my crap together by the week of Labor Day.  And since I grew up in the Northeast–that’s about when we would be starting school anyway.  So this is all just “practice”.  We’re easing in.

And I really hate Egypt.

So unprepared… so much pain

Yesterday I threw my back out in a way that I’m not sure I have ever thrown my back out.  It hasn’t responded to anything that has ever helped.  I honestly don’t know that I have ever had this much pain.  I can’t even walk standing upright.

Needless to say, I am in rare form today–and I’m really not liking myself at all right now.  At all.  At 11:01am.  I’m in tears as I’m typing this because I’m so disgusted with the things that have come out of my mouth this morning, in the tone and volume they have come out to people inside AND outside of my home.

I also tried to follow my Tapestry of Grace curriculum this morning (having forgotten to prepare this weekend) only to find myself clueless about his notebook (which was a central component since we are STILL attempting week 1 for the second week in a row–which is totally fine).  Apparently, all I needed to do was Google “Tapestry of Grace notebook setup” to find this neat little page called “First Steps to Set Up Tapestry“.   THAT would have been useful a week or two ago.   Ugh… on the up side, I think that between what I bought this weekend for BigGuy’s grammar & composition notebook plus what I already own (which is TOO. MUCH. CRAP) I should have what I need.

BigGuy and I did sit down and go over “how it’s gonna go down” in terms of the Tapestry of Grace stuff (heretofore referred to as TOG).  We agreed that we would do Critical Thinking Company’s Word Roots rather than vocabulary and we’re ditching the timeline thing.  So there’s that.  I sent him off to do his Math-U-See which resulted in trying to find his missing workbook which is still MIA.

Girly watched the LeapFrog video to learn her vowels.

This afternoon we’re going to watch a Netflix video about Ancient Egypt after we do a Character Building Day by Day story.  The first week was “kindness”, the second was “helpfulness” and I think this week we’ll do “cleanliness” since I am having a VERY hard time with my therapies and the cleanliness of the house is a huge PTSD trigger for me that we have been unable to really resolve.  This might be a good fit.

“I can’t homeschool because…”

(this post sparked a conversation about “What TO say to homeschoolers” in case you’re interested ❤ )

Heaven help me… Honest to God, I truly do not make any judgment of someone who doesn’t wish to homeschool.  Seriously.  But when parents hear that I homeschool, they seem compelled to give me their “excuse” for why they “can’t” homeschool.

Listen, mama–you don’t need to create an excuse for me.  If you’re happy with your current situation, there’s really no need to change it.  I see the value in “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

The reality is this: if you actually thought homeschooling was the better alternative for your child, you would find the ways to get around whatever excuse you’re about to spew out to me.  But the fact is that you simply don’t want to homeschool your child enough to dig any deeper into it.

And that’s totally fine!  AND…


I mean, when I find out that your kid goes to public or private school, I don’t feel compelled to tell you why my kid doesn’t go there.  I also don’t assume that you are laying judgment on me for not taking your family’s path.  I’m sure you feel that your education choices for your child are optimal (for your family at least–but you might actually think it’s ideal for all kids because there are parents that think like this for all kinds of things).

What’s worse is that for every excuse you can give me that is not REALLY the reason you’re not homeschooling, I have a response that will refute that excuse.

“My kid is too social,”… really?  Meet my 10yo who has been known to spend THIR. TEEN. HOURS with the dozen of kids on our former block only to come in and cry that he “barely” got to be with his friends.  Trust me–I “get” having an uber social kid.

“My kid already knows more than me, I wouldn’t be able to teach him/her.”  Again, meet my 10yo.  Today, someone posted this picture and I reposted it on Facebook:



The subsequent post went like this:

Screen shot

Honestly–I don’t even know if what he wrote is correct.  But really, he’s 10.  He has time to correct it.  And I don’t really question it because he belted out such high marks on his biology exam.  Maybe he’s wrong, but the odds are in his favor.  Needless to say: my kid knows more than me about things.  I don’t have to know things.  I facilitate learning, I don’t disseminate information.  And good teachers usually DON’T spew the information into their students heads.

Then there’s the “I can’t handle my kids for the short time they’re home” or “I can’t spend 6 hours/day at the table with them when I can’t handle an hour of homework”… I refuted both of those yesterday.  I think I most appreciate the friend of mine that honestly believed that she couldn’t homeschool her child because she couldn’t manage that child’s behavior–and she wasn’t telling me this as a means of filling the space.  I asked her if she had problems when her child was home and she said she did.  I pointed out that school really wasn’t FIXING the behavior problems–it was giving her a break from them.  She thought about it and (with some degree of melancholy) agreed that this was the case.  And I appreciated her willingness to be honest about it.

Here’s a word of advice: find a new way to respond when you hear someone homeschools. It’s so popular nowadays, you’re going to run into this again–probably soon.  Think of something OTHER than “I could never do that”.  I mean, how would YOU feel if you told me your kid went to public school and I said “I could never do that” and rattled off reasons like “My kid is too social to be stuck in a classroom” or “I want my kid to go to a good school” or “I love my 5yo too much to be away from her all day”.

Think about what you DON’T mind people saying to you when you tell them where your kid is educated… and use that.