Monthly Archives: September 2014

Things my kids hate

I should preface this by saying that sometimes, I write about my kids in my little homeschooling blog here and people assume that I’m pointing out the differences between homeschooled kids and schooled kids (public or private).

PSA: Unless I specifically state that I am comparing the differences between homeschooled kids and schooled kids, please assume I am just sharing about my kids.  For no other reason than to share about my kids. Continue reading Things my kids hate

My day… Monday, Sept. 29th so far…

BigGuy woke up very late and I heard him sneeze twice.  They were deep, chesty sneezes that may have hurt him in his chest.  We’ve been skirting illness for a few weeks now; and honestly–I could not be more thankful that we haven’t been sick.  The last two years (almost to the week) have been EXTREMELY hard on my family and a lot of the things we had in place that kept my kids (and the parents) healthy went largely out the window as we worked on other things that took the front seat.

One of them is how we eat.  The other is stress management. Continue reading My day… Monday, Sept. 29th so far…

To be or not to be a Boy Scout

10711106_856108964423806_6523336596413519970_nBecause BigGuy is a 5th grader, it’s his last year of Cub Scouts.  There are a contingent of people back home who can’t believe we would involve ourselves with Scouts because of their historically explicit rejection of homosexuals.  Policies have changed about the acceptance of Scouts that are homosexual but I have not kept up on whether that trickled into leadership. Continue reading To be or not to be a Boy Scout

“She plays so aggressively!”

Someone actually said that to me today about Girly.  I went on to say that she plays in two places and before I could finish the sentence, this other parents said “Oh!  You’re working with her outside of practice!”  I had to correct her and explain that in fact, we had no idea she could play like this because the other place she plays, she literally “plays” with her friends–lots of hugging and ring around the rosy… some scrimmages.  It’s not like this league where they’re getting more formal and aggressive instruction.  I don’t care either way, but yeah–we don’t really do anything with her outside of either place. Continue reading “She plays so aggressively!”

The kinds of socialization problems homeschoolers DO have…

So, this came up today.  I was with some other homeschool moms at a park where the kids played and the moms hung out.  It’s great when there are more than two moms because then when a kid needs a mom for more than a question–like some dedicated one-on-one help, snuggling, working through a challenge, or showing us something they made that requires some back and forth questioning and interest–the remaining mom has someone to chat with.  Score.  Okay, okay, okay….

By now, in late 2014, when I tell people that we homeschool, I almost never get asked if I’m worried about socialization–which is a nice thing.  I’m kind of tired of that one.  (If you are someone that still wants answers to that, please see my guest blog post on The Innovative Educator called “How socialization happens in homeschooling”).

So there is no issue that homeschooled kids absolutely get socialization and social skills despite being homeschooled.  There are certainly a couple of social challenges for homeschoolers.  They are different than the social challenges of schooled kids, but challenges none-the-less.  Let me share…

First, a major issue we have seen lately is that homeschooled kids integrate with others with pretty much no regard for age.  If you can keep up, you can play–whether you are 4 or 14.  What differs is that schooled kids seem to subscribe to a hierarchy based on age.  We dealt with this with my own kids recently when they (current ages 5 and 10) were playing with another kid whose age was between the two (but closer to my younger).  This child would change attitude the second my oldest was around–clearly trying to gain BigGuy’s favor and sometimes that meant being mean to Girly.

When this inevitably came up with the other parents, one of the comments the other parent made was that kids always want to be with the older kids because they think the older kids are cooler.

Hunh….

See, that’s not really the case with homeschooled kids.  There is no perceived hierarchy among the kids based on age… for all kinds of reasons.  In school, there is an apparent level of achievement with the moving up in grade that naturally comes with age.  It stands to reason that kids want to be with those who have achieved something they are working towards.  There is also undoubtedly a level of admiration that goes with someone that’s gotten through what they are currently working on.  But homeschooled kids are not rarely separated out by age level.  Their age is not relevant to any of their achievements; and in fact, their academic (or other) achievements may not even be visible to many of their peers.  BigGuy’s friends have no idea that he’s working on high school level biology.  It just doesn’t come up.  They’re not in class together.  Homeschooled kids are regularly thrown into a group of diverse ages (which often includes older and younger siblings) for any number of activities.

So when homeschooled kids are confronted with schooled kids whose attitudes change because their age becomes known and suddenly relevant to the relationship–most of them have no idea what’s going on.  My daughter doesn’t “get” that this other kid was mean to her as a means of trying to show “rejection of little kids” to BigGuy.  It’s a set of social politics that just doesn’t relate to most homeschoolers (and frankly, it only relates to schooled kids while they’re in school).

The other social problems homeschoolers have is learning to respond to other people who either don’t understand or don’t like homeschoolers.  As parents, how do you even prepare your kids for this?  It’s kind of like being a family of a minority faith (and one that is sometimes so misunderstood that people could get rather nasty) and trying to prepare your kids for the broad range of ways people can come at them because of it.  When BigGuy was 5, we REGULARLY got “Are you excited to go to Kindergarten?” and sometimes it got as nasty as “Don’t you WANT to go to school?” as if it was my 5yo’s choice.  We don’t get a lot of that anymore.

But just a few months ago, an innocent walk to the corner to see a dog that was the same breed we have turned into this dog’s owner chastising me in front of my children because we homeschool.  We noted that we had just moved into the neighborhood and the woman asked if the kids went to the local public school (as opposed to a private school).  BigGuy piped up that they were homeschooled, and this woman launched into a tirade that even took ME by surprise.  In front of my children, she told me that I was creating social misfits that would be bullied into adulthood because of my overinflated sense of self.

This woman who knew only that I had just moved into the neighborhood and had the same breed of dog as she did.  Nothing else.  Not that anything else MATTERED really; but still…

How do you prepare a child to deal with people who will respond to them with such hostility?  Especially since it’s pretty rare.  It’s not like you want to prepare them for that kind of thing and scare them; but it’s not like you want them unprepared for it to potentially happen.

Last, homeschoolers are people, too.  People just like schoolers to some extent.  To that end, the parents can be just as persnickety, judgmental and clique-y as schooled parents.  And that means if your kid does something they don’t like or is in some way, shape or form undesirable to them–they can pretty well isolate you (depending on their sphere of influence).  At minimum, it can mean they just won’t hang out with you any more and if you’re in a place where homeschoolers are a minority–that can cut your playdates down quite a bit.  Of course, this is not the end of social opportunities by any stretch (again, I refer to “How socialization happens in homeschooling”) but it can be a bummer and it can hit homeschoolers just as hard as being ostracized from a group in school and suddenly having nobody to sit with at lunch.  The major difference being that it’s not in a homeschooler’s face daily because they’re not forced to be around the people they’re being snubbed by (although sometimes they are through community or church affiliations).  But it still sucks.

1509920_10203399623285676_6033537250071200065_nFrankly, I’ll take this over some of the crap that comes with school.  But just to let you know, our unicorns don’t all fart out rainbows in homeschool-land.  Updated to include a photo someone sent me on this point.  🙂

Allowances

I actually speak on this topic and people always find it informative so I thought I’d share it here.  Financial education is near and dear to my heart.  When I taught high school, I taught business and computer courses.  My business courses were Intro to Personal Finance, and Business Management.  I loved them both; but it became really clear that the majority of my students knew very little about financial responsibility even though many of them had jobs.  I didn’t want that for my kids.

Continue reading Allowances

The BigGuy leveled up today

In French, that is.  We’ve been using Rosetta Stone and I honestly don’t know how long he’s actually been at it.  We’ve put it down in spurts.  But today, he told me he finished level 1–which is the equivalent of a year of high school French.

Suddenly I’m wondering why there’s not a lot more French-speaking going on in our house?

I mean, okay… I can no longer just open my mouth and speak.  True.  But if I were immersed in it again, I’m guessing it would come back quick enough.  And really, *I* could get on Rosetta Stone and join the two local groups that would give me opportunity to speak more frequently.  But I haven’t.

I think in my heart, I just think it would be a waste because I know I have to learn Spanish.  I can’t keep the Roman-based languages straight.  For some people, the similarities make it easy for them to speak all three of those languages (Spanish, French and Italian).  For me, it’s exactly what screws me up.  It’s the little differences that throw me.  Husbeau’s family is FROM Italy so I’ve been surrounded by Italian for 17 years.  For many of those years, I understood enough to be able to follow the conversation.  Now, I’m just lost in both languages.  And it makes me insane.  I used to meet people from France who thought I came from a French family and couldn’t believe I learned to speak so well and so fluently in a public American school.  I went on to use my French-speaking at my first job.

Gone.  So gone.

My French now consists of some child-oriented commands.  “Place-le dans la poubelle” (put it in the garbage) or “Nettoye-toi” (clean up)… the list is relatively long.  But it’s not conversational.

People ask me why I would teach my kids French and really, it’s because most of the educated and political classes of Africa speak French as the unifying language.  Where parents today are trying to teach their kids Mandarin because China has become a force, I feel that when my kids are adults, Africa could be such a force.  There are signs already of countries in Africa that have had ACTUAL democratic elections or truly weeded out the culture of bribery.  Not many, but enough to be hopeful.  And there are significant chunks of Southeast Asia where French is a common language as well.

On the flip, we live in America where the Hispanics are a significant portion of our population and I just think you should speak the language of the area you live in–at least functionally.  In the U.S., that means English and Spanish (as a country, we lack an official language).  Plus, Girly is Hispanic.  It would be nice to preserve as much of her heritage as possible.

Because I need more to do…

Fridays are suddenly very available

Yeah… I think this is going to work out–not being part of the Young Philosopher’s group that was meeting on Fridays from 11:30am-1pm.  I mean, that’s lunchtime.  Seriously?  And it’s kind of far.  And it falls on the day that BigGuy and I are supposed to hold our big Socratic white-elephant-in-my-head discussions… which might be too much heavy conversation for a day.

But Fridays are really, really open now and I think that’s going to work well for us.  For one, it’s the day we prepare for the weekend.  We do our “weekly home blessing” (thank you, stronghold of The Fly Lady) which is a set of two chores per family member that help get the house cleaned up before the weekend.  This started long ago when we hosted “Wine Night” at our house every Friday night for nearly a year before relocating.  Taking care of cleaning up the house before the weekend set in meant that we enjoyed a clean house all weekend and company dropping by wasn’t an issue.  We could just relax.

Well, we are returning to that.  And I think having the review of the week’s work and the Socratic discussions on Friday are going to dovetail nicely into preparing for the weekend.  Because we can also have these discussions WHILE we work on stuff.

So each day the kids have all kinds of responsibilities…

  • Make their bed
  • Put their laundry in the hall basket and one of them takes the basket down to the laundry room (or one of the adults do)
  • Pick up toys in their room (which usually happens twice/day–once before going down to breakfast and once before bed… but we’ve removed a lot of toys from their rooms)
  • Pick up whatever toys they were playing with all day before getting their screen time or going out to any cool play dates
  • Set the table and get drinks.  Honestly, I have no idea who does what part of this now except that at a prior family meeting, Girly wanted to put out the plates.  That meant someone had to get them for her.  Apparently, not anymore.  She’s pushed her kid chair to the cabinet, stood up on it, got down four large dinner plates, and put four forks on them and then carries it all to the table.  Whaaaaa…..???
  • Clear the table after every meal
  • BigGuy has to clean his bathroom and the master bathroom–and doing that is broken down so that he does a different part each day.  He often forgets this chore or forgets to include my bathroom… but this is a new one.

At the end of the week, it goes like this (or rather, IT. IS. PLANNED. to go like this):

BigGuy learning to vacuum.  #fail  Now we sweep
BigGuy learning to vacuum. #fail Now we sweep
  • BigGuy vacuums the entire first floor and upstairs hallway.  With his complete failure to master vacuuming, we are now sweeping.
  • Girly is supposed to dust and put away whatever toys are left out.
  • Papa is supposed to empty EVERY. GARBAGE CAN. IN THE HOUSE. including the laundry room and powder room; and mop the first floor
  • Mama is supposed to clear ALL of the horizontal surfaces–desk, kitchen island, counters; and sort/purge all papers–bringing the keepers to the office.

Honestly, the kids are the only ones being held to this right now and BigGuy bears the brunt of it.  So add this to the list of “things mom should really get better at”.  To be fair, Girly is WAY more helpful in general than BigGuy so I kind of don’t feel all that horrible about it.  At 5, she tap dances rings around him in the helpful category.  I love my son and he has his amazing qualities.  I’m just saying that being helpful isn’t one of them.

And then there’s the general keeping things in their place crap.  Shoes go in the closet, not out and about.  Pencils have a place.  Library books have a place.  Board games have a place.  My core sense of self is only at rest when “everything has a place and everything in it’s place”.  With this house presumably the final place (until retirement), sh*t’s gotta get put in it’s place and that needs to become a habit.

Friday is also farm share day.  So if we can get the rest of the house clean, by the time we get our farm food later in the day, we really don’t have anything standing in our way to deal with the vegetables.  We get two shares from a farm in town; but then another farm uses our house as a drop-off point (it’s complicated–they started using us mid-season when we were already midway through a full season share with the other farm.  Although to be fair, last year we did 4 shares total–two from each of these farms; and we’re likely to go back to that next year since we will not yet have our own gardens to the point of supporting us.  Wait-wait-wait… I digress..

I’m looking forward to Fridays.  Especially if they’re sunny.  And clean.

Things that got done today

Things that happened today:

  • The skylight installer arrived around 8am to install what we hope will be the cure to my Seasonal Affect Disorder (which we have known about forever, but didn’t realize this master bedroom was the cave it turned out to be).  We have tried the special lights and the extra Vitamin D dosing, but my body needs the real deal.  But this also meant I had to get OUT of bed before I was ready.  :/
  • The boy slept “late”.  Yesterday, Husbeau woke the boy and that process woke up everyone else.  I noted to the man that 1) we homeschool so that our kids don’t have to be woken up regularly; 2) that waking the boy from a sleep has NEVER. EVER. gone well; and 3) that the boy has shown multiple signs of fighting off an illness.  I then suggested that he not wake the boy again.
  • Girly watched a lot of Carmen Sandiego.
  • BigGuy got all of his assigned work done except for reading “Science in Ancient Egypt“–a library book that disappeared the second we found the previously missing ($30 to replace) book “The Ancient Egyptians“.  Seriously, people… we FUND a library employee.
  • We went to a friend’s house to play chess and that went quick so the bunch of us walked to a nearby park.
  • On the way home from that adventure, we stopped at ANOTHER friend’s house where the mommies did a peer accountability session and the kids played.  And by “played” I mean that we HEARD Britney Spears singing “Toxic” from the back patio, but we didn’t realize they were watching the video.  When all was set right in the world and they were left only with music, I saw all three small girls jiggle in ways I didn’t know they had ever SEEN before.  Girly has gone on to fake-sing the refrain over and over and over and over and over and over and over.  And explain how 1) she knew it was just pretend; and 2) she wore poisonous lipstick… multiple times to multiple people.  10559929_10152397321458753_1551285787687603624_n
  • We said goodbye to our beloved babysitter, who is off to Sicily.  Wow are we going to miss him.  He was such a good friend, not just someone who watched our kids.  We love that guy and hope he is safe in his travels.

 

Things that completely sucked today:

  • Saying goodbye to someone we love.
  • Not being able to sleep in our bed tonight because the very last tiny bit of sanding and painting couldn’t be done on the skylight in the master bedroom today (the joint compound wouldn’t dry fast enough)
  • BigGuy ate an apple, which means he will wet the bed tonight and I will have sheets to wash tomorrow.

 

Things that need to happen:

  • I seriously need to get to Socratic discussions with BigGuy.  Especially now that he’s been asked to leave the Young Philosopher’s group (which is content for an entirely other post that I wrote, but then had more stuff happen related to it and need to rework that post).
  • We need to prepare this house for the winter.  Get the fireplaces operable and a generator for the freezers and I think we should get a snowblower, but who am I, really?
  • Get that which is still packed UNpacked and organized.  E-f#%!ing-nough already.  We moved in MAY, people.  There is no longer the excuse that this house is temporary or that this house isn’t ours and therefore we don’t want to put systems into place that may not work wherever we land.  We have landed.  (notice I’m banking on that skylight doing the trick).
  • We all need to get on our game with our supplements and eating habits.  I’m the fattest I have ever been and I understand that my trauma therapy for the last year has contributed to that, but dude… let’s go.

I think that’s all the news that’s fit to print over here.  It’s been a day.