Thursday, August 20, 2015

An epic day...

The view from my parents' cabin on the sound. When I was a kid, I thought that island out there was Europe. And now my kids don't realize they're ribbing me when they call it "Europe," too. :)

Today felt epic in the worst way. I haven't had a day this bad in ages. When my husband texts me that he'll take the kids out for the evening after getting my SOS texts all day, that's DEFCON 3. 

For starters, I have allergies and feel pretty rotten. This will probably last a week or so like usual but knowing that doesn't make it much better on a daily basis. I stumbled into the kitchen this morning and popped Sudafed, and then I barreled on with the plan. 

The plan was to have another school day. Things went well during social studies time. Everybody participated, even Ben. I got a great narration on Magellan from Seth and learned a few things myself. Evan was also able to give me the basics. The small whiteboard I'm starting to put terms and names on is helping me remember, even if it never does anything for them. ;) Seth illustrated his narrations and ran upstairs to have his turn keeping Ben out of trouble/aka playing with him.

I moved to the kitchen table with Evan, and we re-watched the Math U See video from last week. I had trouble getting it to work, but I learned from that that Evan likes it because he said, "This is bad. I like watching this. I want it to work." We sat down to learn place value with the blocks, and I took it slow. I waited several beats for him to answer instead of supplying the answer. I cheered when he got the concept, and I was rewarded with an awesome Evan smile. (His smiles are the best.)

As we were finishing up, I heard banshee wailing from upstairs. I got up there to discover that Ben had been firing plastic food from the food box at Seth. Seth did what I told him to do. Instead of retaliating he called for me and ran away. He ran into my room and slammed the door... right on Ben's hand.

I was so afraid something was broken. He screamed like that 2 weeks ago when he broke his leg. My heart sank. I gave him Tylenol and ice, but he didn't want it touched. I tried "Curious George" therapy. That stopped the crying, and I took deep breaths. 

I decided to dress and put on make up and consider ditching the house in favor of the thrift store. I also decided that we weren't doing any more table work until after Ben was down for nap. 

Nap time found me and Seth at the kitchen table, and I got a good look at what letting an 8-year-old boy go all summer without picking up a pencil or doing word problems will do. It ain't pretty. I can't do this again. I swear on all that is holy that I will not do this again. Someone remind me of this next June! Letter and number reversals galore! Slooooow writing! Confusion when doing math (which he is really good at!) 

This is not his fault. I should've insisted on some regular seat work. It wouldn't have killed him. And we would both feel a little less discouraged. I can tell him and myself that this is what happens when we take too long of a break, but it doesn't make either of us feel great to understand. Lesson learned, I hope.

I write this for myself so that in later years, I will look back and see how far we've come, hopefully. I want to shake my head and smile at my elementary mom self and her fears that didn't come to pass.

It's the beginning of a new year. We need much grace. All of us need much grace. The kids in the elementary school down the street do review for a month, don't they? They must, right?

Even with the epic awful, there were bright spots. Evan will get math if I'm patient with him. Seth dictated a story to me "that shows girls that boys aren't always the bad guys." (He blames you for selling that idea, American Girl book series. Shame on you.) It was awesome and funny. He wants to illustrate it and give it away for free, I'm assuming as a public service. ;) 

Well, writing it out made me feel better, as I hoped it would. I write to gain perspective, and if any of you get something out of it, then that's a nice bonus. :)

Friday, August 14, 2015

Back to work...

Seth on the last day of 5 Yesterdays day camp at Old Salem. He's standing in front of a wall he chinked. Proof that learning happened over the summer! ;)

It's Friday. I slept late this morning, and my sons watched "Rescue Bots" while I showered. They're now on their third episode, and I'm blogging. Yeah.

Ben broke his leg last Tuesday night, and we had many days when I carried him everywhere and he took a lot of Motrin and Tylenol in rotation, but at this point he's surprisingly mobile in that cast. I should've enjoyed his lack of mobility while I had it. ;) Thank God for waterproof casts! We were even able to go swimming last night!

Because of the leg breakage, I figured we might as well start school back a little early. I jettisoned my plans to de-clutter, and I got it in gear to get us started with school. Binders bought, soft cloth crates of books organized for each student, books ordered and requested from the library, etc.

We did a soft start on Wednesday this week. It was a bit of a bumpy take off. I made the mistake of trying to do too much seat work. It's a weakness of mine. And then there was the attempt to have Evan watch his math video even after friends stopped by. It would've been easy to have him do it later. Why didn't I? His distraction wouldn't have frustrated me if I'd just waited. 

And it's just not the first day of school if you don't have a 3rd grader crying because he "doesn't remember how to do these math problems."

Thursday went better. I made my goals far more modest. Seth had one sheet of (easy for him) math and one copywork page. Evan had no math and two pages of penmanship/alphabet review. We went over the voyage of Columbus together using the map. I didn't write down Seth's narration and ask him to illustrate it. No poetry, no memory work, etc. Whenever I had the urge to "add just one more thing because it's going so well," I squashed it ruthlessly. 

This will be my 4th year of homeschooling, and it's my first year adding another student. I've got a second born that doesn't have quite the same level of enthusiasm and competitiveness as his brother. I'm going to have to learn how to teach another, very different person. 

The "I-want-to-just-smell-the-new-Ticonderoga-pencils" enthusiasm has waned a bit, and I need to get it back. At this point, I'm just stressed and not sure if I want to try another school day until Mimi and Pop Pop's Preschool for Destructive 4-Year-Old Boys goes back into session. 

I don't see many homeschooling moms excited about "back to school" time in my Facebook feed. Maybe it's because some of them homeschool year round, but it also could be the same reason that I'm not seeing a lot of classroom teachers squealing about going back to work. Instead maybe some of us are thinking "That's it? That's all the vacation I get? I don't feel rested enough to back to work yet." 

I'm going to take up my extra full time job again, and though I do love this job, and I chose it, it's hard. It's nerve wracking. It involves lots of decision making and new prayers and days that no one wants to work, including me.

Give me a few days and preschool enrollment, and I'll probably be singing a more cheerful tune. :) 

Tuesday, August 04, 2015


I found the Inspector Gamache series by Louise Penny through the Modern Mrs. Darcy blog. (I have liked a lot of her recommendations, and though this mystery had an element or two that I could've done without, I think the writing is good enough that I'll read the next one.) Anyway, I marked a passage in "Still Life" that got my attention the other day.

Inspector Gamache is talking with a local bookstore owner, and they have a conversation about a book called "Loss" by Brother Albert. The author's theory is that life is loss, and Myrna gives him her thoughts about the book.

" 'I think he's right. I was a psychologist in Montreal before coming here a few years ago. Most of the people came through my door because of a crisis in their lives, and most of those crises boiled down to loss. Loss of a marriage or an important relationship. Loss of security. A job, a home, a parent. Something drove them to ask for help and to look deep inside themselves. And the catalyst was often change and loss.' "

'Are they the same thing?'

'For someone not well skilled at adapting they can be.'

'Loss of control?'

'That's a huge one, of course. Most of us are great with change, as long as it was our idea. But change imposed from the outside can send some people into a tailspin. I think Brother Albert hit it on the head. Life is loss. But out of that, as the book stresses, comes freedom. If we can accept that nothing is permanent, and change is inevitable, if we can adapt, then we're going to be happier people.' "

My toughest times have been when I've been fighting change that I don't like. As a recent example, there's been a wonderful activity that we've been involved in for a couple of years that is changing in several ways that I don't like, and I can't do anything to change that.

But I've noticed that I have some hope that it will work out OK anyway and that I'll adapt. I'm hopeful that  the changes won't be a deal breaker for my family or that improvements will be made so that the negatives don't seem so negative.

A few years ago, I would've stewed about it more. I felt less adaptable to loss. Maybe I'm growing up or maybe the basics of security are in place so that I can handle loss in small doses better. Maybe God is working in my heart to accept His will better and see that my loss isn't necessarily loss in His equation.

Either we'll find ways to adapt or we will stop doing this and look around to see what He has for us somewhere else. There will be something to gain out of the experience no matter which way it goes, and I'm hoping I will remember that when it counts. :)