Monthly Archives: August 2014

Two weeks in review: What Mama has learned

Mama has learned that if I’m going to actually engage BigGuy in critical thinking skills, I’m going to have to pre-read the teacher portion of the content in our curricula… which prepares me perfectly for exactly what I’m trying to accomplish.

Mama has learned that Girly needs some dedicated one-on-one time.

Mama has learned that BigGuy really wants to do all this work, he just wants to be ENGAGED with it instead of “just reading it”–which is what Mama defaulted back to despite BigGuy laying that out pretty clearly for me.

Mama has learned that her children really NEED the character education stories–and that it’s worth finishing out the stories even if we span beyond a week.  Because they totally need that.

Mama has learned that morning snuggles NEED to happen.  My kids (but especially BigGuy) is really affected by this.  I can only liken it to the chemical changes in a mother’s body when they tell her to spend 24 hours in bed with her newborn to increase milk production for nursing.  Somehow, BigGuy needs this time in the morning.  Girly, too; but BigGuy seems to be really thrown off by a busy day without this.  Of course, Mama is trying not to wonder how old he will be when the need is gone and silently reassures herself that it will LIKELY be before he’s 18.  She used this same mantra when wondering when he would stop nursing (which he did 2 weeks before his 5th birthday… and no–I’m totally NOT that kind of saint).

Mama has learned that she needs to keep to her scheduled working hours so that she doesn’t constantly try to grab time (and attention) away from her kids… and then get really grumpy with her kids when they try to (rightfully) get her attention.

And to that end, Mama needs to go back to keeping a list of things she needs to do when 1) she has business hours; and 2) she has internet time.  That method of list-keeping really worked well for me.

Mama learned that dairy is her enemy… again.

It’s been a full week.  See you next week–same bat time, same bat station…

“I still love you”

Today was a Thursday.  Every Thursday, we have a babysitter from 1-5pm.  He’s a big, goofy 30yo man from Spain and our time with him is temporary as he is due to leave the country soon.  My kids love him.  We will call him Nando.

We were supposed to go to some homeschool event this morning, but Mama got up at 4:30am with horrible anxiety and had to take some medicine that I wasn’t sure was safe to drive with.  So I canceled that.

Instead, BigGuy got through his Biology lecture.  He then managed to get his bathroom chores done.  Oh–I didn’t tell you that he actually did his bathroom chores yesterday, too.  He often gets motivated by the potential for earning his screen time back.  Pfffft…

We did our helpfulness story this morning.  Yay!

I hadn’t organized any learning for him today because I thought we’d be out all morning and he’d be with Nando all afternoon.  He finished any unfinished work from earlier this week–except the stuff he needed me to be involved with (he asked, I just wasn’t prepared).  The deal is: he can only do the electronic-based schoolwork when the rest of it is done.  Only because the screens really screw with his head.

Girly and I sat down to read and it became clear that she needed some instruction on vowel blends.  So I let her watch “LeapFrog: Code Word Caper“.  But then I realized that she doesn’t really know her vowels COLD, so tomorrow she will be watching “LeapFrog: Talking Words Factory“.

I’m not really sure what the kids did all afternoon with Nando.  I went to therapy and ran errands and came home in time for Husbeau to go to a group where he could hang with other energy workers (he does reiki… I don’t fully understand it all, but he can pretty much put me to sleep on nights my anxiety is in overdrive).  I took the kids to get ice cream because I was just not having a great day and ice cream fixes everything.  When we got home, I tried to respond to an e-mail, but Girly wanted. to go. to bed.  And she was NOT happy that I was allowing an e-mail to keep me from putting her down.  And I was pretty grumpy about her not letting me finish the e-mail.

Shame on me. (I mean that seriously–not sarcastically).

She was so whiny and upset.   When I finally got upstairs and snuggled her (about the time Papa got home) I apologized to her.

“I’m so sorry I was finishing my e-mail instead of coming to put you to bed.”
“It’s okay–just don’t do it again.”
“I’ll try not to.  I’m sorry I was grumpy about it because I love you and I wasn’t acting like I love you.  I’m so thankful that you are our girl.  You’re so helpful all the time and I wasn’t being kind or helpful to you; and I’m really sorry about it.”
“I still love you.”

Ugh… tears.  I seriously don’t deserve these kids sometimes.

Read-alouds during showers #fail

In an effort to NOT throw formal learning out the window, I decide that today–I would make the most of our time together.  I, for one, was not going to live another day without a shower.  BigGuy had done his Biology lecture early.  I was really not feeling the love for doing ANYthing today and I cannot say that I was upset when a friend decided to go to the pool despite the fact that there was seriously no way I was cut out to be at the pool.  Leg grooming being second only to the only other thing that makes women dread going to the pool.  Yeah.

So I finally mozy myself into the shower and holler for the children to bring the character building book and the “Science in Ancient Egypt” book because BigGuy was gonna read aloud for us.

Except that I can seriously hear NOTHING in the shower.

#fail

Well, notsomuch #fail because really, it was comical.  I mean, BigGuy didn’t see the immediate humor and I wasn’t laughing; but in retrospect, it was pretty comical.

We did, in fact, do our “helpfulness” lesson for the day and we did actually learn stuff about science in ancient egypt.

Done.

The afternoon was spent at the park followed by BigGuy’s relentless nagging to do his Mod Design coursework.  And it just spiraled into a really bad night for everyone.  I was REALLY sick from something bothering my stomach.  BigGuy couldn’t handle the fact that he’d lost all access to all screens (this happened on Monday, I think) for the week and decided that my extended use of the bathroom was a good time to deliver–under the door–a sign stating that Papa and I were not allowed in his room and then a picture on the reverse side of Husbeau and I torturing BOTH kids.  Honestly, I’m kind of touched that he feels like his little sister and he are “in this together” since he never seems to see anyone being on his side.  #win

I was less than thrilled at his chosen delivery time.  I calmly brought it to his room and put it on the bed and said “Is this really what COULD NOT wait until I was done being sick?” and I walked away.  Well, in retrospect, BigGuy was crying out in pain and I was not comforting him.  So, not surprisingly, BigGuy started to “run away” from home.  Oh, and to add insult to injury: on his way out of the yard (barefoot, btw) he told his little sister that he was leaving.  That would be the little sister who is STILL reeling from the pain of being given up/left at the hospital by her birthmother.

Holy. moly.

All that to say that doing read alouds in the shower are probably not your best bet.

What day is this, anyway…?

Again… I swear at some point this train will either get on track or we will be back to doing close to “nothing that looks like education despite it’s actual educational value”.

We started with a doctor’s appointment for Mama.  Yup.  Mama has PTSD that was acquired in early childhood, diagnosed circa 1995, and ignored until 2013.  Mama has been fortunate to function so well for so long with so few of the typical PTSD accoutrements thanks to (no doubt) 27 years of non-trauma therapy getting me through it.  But that doesn’t really fix the problem, and in late 2013 it all got to be too much to manage and Mama got APPROPRIATE help and treatment.  I’m actually still undergoing EMDR therapy which has really been nothing short of a miracle worker.

Nine a.m. appointment.  Read: derail the morning.  We DID get our snuggles in this morning and we DID read our Character Building story (“Helpfulness”–BigGuy read it to us in the car and then read us the discussion questions–but also engaged in the conversation).  We got back in time for BigGuy to listen to his Biology lecture and then proceed to (predictably now) flip out afterward.  Something about the type of screen involvement or activities of that lecture are really making life hard for the rest of us.  Although last night I made him do the remaining two quizzes plus the exam for the first module–all of which he belted out with scores of 92%, 96% and 100% with barely any effort.

He opted out of doing any other work and I bit my tongue about it.

We then went to eat lunch, hit the discount book store, return (and check out) books at the library, then proceed to listen to Girly read some of the phonics readers I checked out en route to the chiropractor.  While waiting to be adjusted, BigGuy discovered the hot (as in “for making tea”) water in the water dispenser and rather than leave it alone, he felt the need to incorporate it into his activities.  This resulted in a lot of screaming, crying and general sounds of distress and agony for no less than an hour–from the chiropractor’s office until he got home, had coconut & lavender oils applied, attempted guided visualization to relieve the pain (laugh harder–you cannot be laughing hard enough at how poorly that went), then weaseled me out of watching a show.  Their electronics time was suspended for abysmal behavior, but dude–anything to get him to stop thinking about and screaming about his “horrifying pain”.  Honestly–there was ONE barely pinkened patch of skin.  Add on to all of this that I apparently didn’t console or comfort him until he asked.  Cue the conversation about how 1) I was stifling being beyond livid that he was playing with something he shouldn’t have; and 2) can we be thankful that once he asked–I responded to comfort and console him rather than scold him about how he GOT hurt?  *sigh*

Of course, Mama was out of sorts today which means Girly is out of sorts.  And by “out of sorts” I mean “expressing her anxiety about Mama’s obvious not-so-great-mood by pushing things as far as humanly possible”.  And thanks to EMDR therapy, Mama is capable of responding in comforting ways to this rather than chastising ways… but it’s still really hard.  Especially when I realize that I helped create that little problem.

Educational points today:

BigGuy: Biology, “helpfulness”, reading aloud, thermodynamics, cause-effect, analyzing for positives in a relationship, negotiation, and breathing techniques.

Girly: “A” and “the” as sight words, “helpfulness”, active listening, whatever was on the TWO episodes of Sesame Street that slipped by me, problem-solving to latch the alternate latch in a public bathroom when the first one doesn’t work (with no assistance from Mama–we’ll count this as “fine motor skills”), and something else profound that I cannot even believe escapes me right now but at the time, I was really impressed with whatever it was.

Mama: consoling children should happen before they ask, we don’t have a pharmacy/prescription CARD to go with our plan but apparently should, I can access my Amazon shopping cart through my phone’s web browser, tongue piercing.

Solid day.  Whatever day it is.

Day 6: “Mondayyyyy, Mondayyyyyyyyy….”

This morning, we got up and out of the house–smoothies in hand–and got to the library for the books we need for this week’s lessons.  Egypt.  Blech.  I’m seriously all Egypt’d out.  I cannot even wrap my head around the fact that my son actually CHOSE for us to start our history studies in the classical education model’s “Year 1”.  I mean, the OCD person in me is jumping for joy to start at “the beginning” but the woman who has been parenting my kids for the last several years is like “Seriously… I cannot handle another pyramid or mummy”.

I am congratulating myself that we managed to bring BigGuy’s Information Resources workbook.

I am congratulating myself that when BigGuy pushed back on doing his work, I fought the initial reaction to hold his electronics time captive until it was done.  I reminded myself that he knew everything he needed to know in life–enough math and reading to live off of–and that this rigor was his request.  So I calmly told him that he didn’t need to do this.  I DID explain WHY it was on his plate to be done and reminded him that it bothered him that his brain was lazy–but that it was his choice to do it.

He did it.  Actually, he did most of it but not all of it.  Whatever.  He also negotiated for doing his Mod Design I coursework three times per week at least for this week and next week.  He absolutely loves it.  I don’t want to restrict him any more than I have to and he doesn’t get docked electronics (fun) time when he does this.  So we’re walking a fine line.  We’ll try this for 2 weeks and see how it goes.

Getting out the door so early comPLETEly threw pretty much everything off this morning… no character building story and discussion… no snuggles.  BigGuy managed to some element of his bathroom chores, but I’ll need to go up and see what exactly did and did not get done.

Now I need to can the 30 pounds of organic green beans I bought last week.  The kids await 4pm by popping off the ends of each bean.  Off I go!

Weekend review

In truth, I gave this whole “rigorous academic learning” thing a week and truly thought it would fail in a day or two.  My inaccuracy on this point is sobering on many levels.  First, because it means that life as I knew it will now change as I meet the challenge to provide my BigGuy (YES!!!  That works!) with the education and learning experience he wants.

Second, my BigGuy is no longer a BoyChild.

Third: Since we will be educating, I need to get on the ball with making plans and requesting books and stuff…

This weekend, we are going to finish up our Worldview lessons.  Last night, we discussed and concluded the Jedis were/are pantheists.  I’m thankful that BigGuy realizes that his brain is very lazy and wants to change it–persevering through things without having to be pushed in an effort to make his brain think.

Today, we will finish Worldview, talk about his goals for the school year, and go to a birthday party for a 4yo.  If there’s time, I’ll have him take the Biology quizzes he didn’t get to do.  Tomorrow I will try to be at the library when it opens so as not to further derail our learning.  It’s a short learning week due to playdates.  *sigh*

Day 5: “Yup… see you soon!”

Usually we are up for whatever.  There’s no “Oh, we can’t–we have to finish math” like some of my homeschooling friends.  So this morning when my cell phone rang at 9:30am and the little voice belonging to a family that we adore asked us to come over at 10:30am (pack a lunch)… I didn’t even give it a second thought.

This schooling thing is going to take some getting used to.

But today is scheduled to be our “finish and review” day.  It’s the day where I check through all of the assignments, make sure they’re actually done (and done right), finish anything that wasn’t done and then, something new.  We’re going to recap the week and talk about how we each felt it went, and then talk about the week ahead and what’s going on.  I kind of like the idea of building in this review and planning as part of habits of mind.  Which reminds me that I have “Learning and Leading with Habits of Mind” sitting in my bedroom waiting to be read… hmmm.

But today we played.  And it was good.  And I was reminded about CLEP exams.  And suddenly my challenges around biology seemed completely resolved.