Monday, September 28, 2015

Minion construction Day 1

Yes, you are correct.  This is not a minion.

I love creative costumes like this one pictured above.  It is easy, kid-appropriate and humorous.  Especially if you tried to sit down.  I bet I could whip this up in about a half-hour - unlike the stupid undertaking I am in the midst of, making not one, but TWO minion costumes.  These minions are the costume creation from hell, I tell you.  I think at least 287 different steps are involved.

I am the proud owner of a new glue gun, since my trusty old one is currently 'misplaced' and no one is fessing up.  My new glue gun is the boss.  The glue gets wicked hot.  WICKED hot.  Like, shout-several-curse-words hot if glue oozes out over your skin. Which of course it does!  And, wouldn't you know... gluing foam is difficult, and holding two pieces of foam together, sandwiching 1000 degree hot glue in between is not a pleasant crafting activity.  The directions I am following for these costumes made is sound like you just glue here, press here.. glue there and press there, and voila!  A perfectly rounded minion head!  So after expending a lot of mental energy in trying problem solve glue vs. foam, I have some insight to share.  

Clothespins, crafty people!  Clothespins are your friends!  After struggling with that stupid tube of foam for the entire first half of the Broncos game, I got wise and figured clamping it shut with the help of clothespins would do the trick, since I clearly did not have enough hands.  Besides, clothespins do not have nerve-endings.  My hands do.  I pinned up twelve seams sealed with hot glue, still burning each and every one of my fingers plus a way-too-curious child (or two) in the process, but the clothespins got the job done in holding everything closed until the glue set (I actually let it sit overnight).  The kids wondered if this freaky-looking minion head with about 50 clothespins sticking out all over it was the finished product.  Uh... no.  I am now in the process of working on minion head #2, in between math problems, dirty dishes, phonics and tuna fish sandwiches.  

Maybe it was the cool moon spectacle messing with my crafty mojo last night...  

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Simple Woman's Daybook Entry

Outside my window... An absolutely gorgeous fall morning.  The air is still and the neighborhood is quiet.  I hear the occasional crow...

I am thinking... about how the Pope moved so many people this week.  I'm not Catholic, but his words are for all of us.  I hope Congress listens.  I hope the nation listens.  I hope the world listens.

I am thankful... That the cub scout meeting that I led last week went well.  We have 10 little boys - and they are all full of life yet very sweet.  The object of the meeting was to create *something* out of recycled materials.  Boys this age are not big on crafts... (are they ever?) but I did find a cool project on Pinterest where the boys could create a wolf head, since they are wolves right now.  They were actually excited!  I have all the pieces and parts that they have constructed, now I just need to glue it all together and spray paint it.  They then can add details this coming week.

From the Learning Rooms... Rylan has finally clicked with multiplication, Owen is really getting into math as well - MEP is a very good fit for him and his problem-solving style.  Colin is spending lots of time on ABC Mouse and really enjoying it.  On Friday, I watched a fantastic online discussion given by Julie Bogart from Brave Writer on Periscope, called 'When it all goes wrong in your homeschool'.  It was just the shot in the arm I needed for positive thinking after the first month of slogging through work with the kids.  Even though this is our 8th year homeschooling, sometimes you need to hear that it will all be OK over and over and over again.  This particular discussion is no longer available on Periscope (they only remain for 24 hours), but Julie indicated that she would put it up on the Brave Writer site in the near future.

In the kitchen... I figured out a quick and easy way to create beef stew this past week.  I purchased two packages of Hormel's Beef Tips in Gravy (which would be about the same price as getting stew meat), 32 oz beef stock, bottle of beer, baby carrots, celery, onion, mushrooms and baby potatoes or sweet potatoes.  First saute the onion and mushroom in some butter or oil, and after a few minutes add in some chopped celery.  While the veggies are sauteing, I put the carrots and potatoes (cut into 1 inch chunks) into a pampered chef microwave steamer with a little bit of water, and steamed them in microwave for about 7-8 minutes.  This will cut down on the cooking time, overall.  As soon as the onions turn golden brown and most of the liquid from the mushrooms has cooked off, sprinkle a generous amount of flour over the vegetables and stir until it is mixed in well.  Then pour in a little beer to deglaze the pan, scraping all the good bits off the bottom.  Keep pouring in a little more beer, stir, and then a little more, until the entire bottle is mixed in well.  Add the beef stock, stir well.  Add in the carrots and potatoes - plus the water they steamed in!  Finally, open up the two containers of Beef Tips and scrape all of it into the pot and mix well.  Add a little pepper.  I would nix adding extra salt, there is plenty in the stock and Beef Tips.  Any part of this process can be tailored to what you have on hand veggie-wise.  You can also add some Worcestershire,  a bit of tomato paste... whatever.  When it is all mixed in, cook for about 15 minutes and it should be good to go.  I actually made it twice this week.  Dean needed to take stew with him for Fall Camporee this weekend, so I made a second batch.  It goes together from start to finish in about 30 minutes.  Yummy and kid-approved!

I am wearing... blue silk(ish) pjs from this past Mother's Day.

I am creating... Minion costumes!  Do you know how hard it is to find a large piece of egg-crate foam??  I gave up after visiting five different stores looking for a twin-size mattress foam pad, and just purchased a roll of foam from Hobby Lobby and used a 40% off one item coupon on my phone.  It's not quite as thick as what I wanted, but it will do.  Can't wait to get started. :)

I am going... On a fall hike very shortly.  There is a family fall colors hike at the cub scout camp about an hour away, so we are picking up my dad and then heading up there to join the other families from our pack, and Dean and Jordan will join us as well, since they will be ending their camporee stuff just down the road at the boy scout camp.  Should be a beautiful day!  

I am wondering... If you still get monthly cramps after a hysterectomy. (?)  Three weeks and counting...

I am reading... I visited the Pottermore site yesterday, and read the new bit on there about Harry's ancestors.  Loved it!

I am hoping... That even though I really do love the sunshine, I hope that it starts to cool off a bit and feel more like 'fall'.  I also hope that Rylan's loose tooth comes out today.  It is her first molar tooth to come loose, but it is wedged against her wire band of her braces, so she can only wiggle it in one direction.  She is complaining.  Loudly.  All the time.

I am looking forward to... This coming week.  No extra stuff on the schedule.  It is also my dad's birthday and my FIL's birthday (same day).  I am thinking about taking my dad to the Denver Botanical Gardens.

I am learning... How to shape foam with scissors this week.  Minion teeth...

I am hearing... Clone Wars on Netflix (I think they are actually really good!).

Around the house... Tons of dog hair.  Still!  I hope Abby finishes her seasonal shed soon.

I am pondering... All the advice I heard on the online discussion I mentioned earlier.  Lots of good stuff there - especially the advice that homeschoolers (the parents, really) need to offload the tendency to feel like society's perception of homeschooling rests on their shoulders.  (I do this to myself all. the. time.) Yes, it is a non-conventional educational choice that we've made, but don't feel like you have to live under the constant pressure to always perform at a higher standard in order to prove the skeptics wrong...  This includes making comments to public school parents that your homeschooling experience is above par, even when it isn't.  Even homeschoolers can have bad days (weeks)(months)(year?) and it is okay to be honest with yourself and those you converse with.  Don't put yourself in the position that you must uphold the entity of 'Homeschooling' and push yourself to emulate an impossible, and mythical standard.  Keep it real.  Embrace your messy house, your lack of exercise or balanced meals and the children that refuse to produce stellar work, and just enjoy your choice to be with your children and homeschool them.  You are so lucky to have this opportunity.  Children grow up way to fast, and you need to treasure these years, not be a slave to them.  Good advice! 

One of my favorite things... Telling my youngest, as I put him to bed, about the exciting thing that he will be doing the next day.  He is so cute when he is excited. :)

A few plans for the rest of the week... A hike today, and possibly the Botanical Gardens mid-week.  Then the usual roundup of activities: Lego robotics, ballet, jazz, violin and Nutcracker practice for Rylan, piano and cub scouts for Owen, and boy scouts for Jordan.

Here is a picture for thought I am sharing...

Rylan helped me pick out a fall wreath yesterday, for the front door.  I love fall!!

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Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Cat fight in the night

Cat fights are totally related to penguins...

You know how, in just about any penquin documentary, they mention that even when surrounded by a colony of penquins, a returning female can pick out the distinct call of her mate and find him in the crowd?  It is the same thing with mothers.  You can be at the playground deeply immersed in conversation or a good book, with the noise of kiddos running everywhere, each yelling to their friends or their own mothers, but when your child calls out, "Mommy!", you are instantly aware they are referring to you.

It's the same thing with your pets.  Early this morning I was jerked awake by a yowling cat telling off another cat, just outside our window, and I just knew it was our cat.  She was not supposed to be outside.  We let her out occasionally, but only during daylight, and she usually keeps to our backyard.  I got up and double-checked all of her usual sleeping spots, and yep, no Kitty.  I went downstairs and opened the front door.  I barely got a 'Kitty-Kitty' out before she made a beeline up the front walk and hurried past me - telling me exactly what she thought of me as she passed by.  I'm sure it was something along the lines of, "You stupid human.  I am WET (sprinklers).  I was ACCOSTED by Jinx (neighbor's cat).  I can't believe you FORGOT about me."  In my defense, it was probably some young child in the house that let her out the back door, just as everybody was finishing ice cream and heading for bed, and nobody noticed.  Not my fault.  Except for it kinda is since I usually count heads before I retire, both human and animal.  Sorry Kitty.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Simple Woman's Daybook Entry

Outside my window... Sigh.  The neighbor and his noise.  This morning, at exactly 7:42, he started up something that sounded like a sander or a buffer.  And now, at 9:22, he is still going.  Great neighbors, with the exception of his annoying habit of using power tools early in the morning on the weekends.  Also, it is bright and sunny, with just a bit of breeze.

I am thinking... About cats.  Our new cat, Riley, and our original cat, Kitty, are finally getting along.  It's been three months now.  They chase each other around, tolerate the other's presence and have even shared the same food bowl once or twice.  It is interesting to watch how they are always aware of where the other one is.  Riley regularly carries out ambush attacks on Kitty.  It is not exactly a fair fight though, since Kitty has claws and Riley does not.  During the mornings in the schoolroom, the smaller windows are open in the bay window, and each goes to her respective window to keep watch over the neighborhood.

I am thankful... for September.  I love you, September.

From the Learning Rooms... We covered early humans, nomads and early farmers last week in SOTW.  The kids made 'cave paintings' on the single paper bag I managed to find in the garage, squirreled away over the summer for this very purpose.  One morning, when just Owen was up, we sat on the couch and he combed through a DK book on prehistoric life from cover to cover.  I had found him studying the page featuring a trilobite, and he was worried about it.  "Do these still exist?"  "Will they bite you?".  I told him to think of it as a giant rolypoly and no, they don't exist anymore, but we can go see the fossil of one at the museum.  He slowly worked his way through the book, studying the pages and asking some very thoughtful questions.  It was pure Owen.  I love that kid.

In the kitchen... I am making monster cookies and cutting up watermelon and cantaloupe for a picnic later this afternoon.  The kids are in the process of making grape koolaid to pour into the popsicle molds.

I am wearing... pjs.  Pulled out the winter flannel pjs last night.  It's getting chilly at night now!

I am creating... not much at the moment.

I am going... to a picnic later today for our homeschool group.  It is our annual Not-Back-to-School picnic.  It is always a fun time.

I am wondering... What in the world to have 10 cub scouts do for a recycling activity at the meeting this coming Thursday.  I will be consulting Pinterest for ideas.  The den leader is out of town this week, so the meeting falls on my shoulders.  Heaven help me.

I am reading... The den leader scout manual for what to do for this upcoming activity/badge thingy.

I am hoping... That half of the boys will skip scouts for soccer practice.

I am looking forward to... The pack Fall Color hike next weekend.

I am learning... about hysterectomies.

I am hearing... A blend of Transformers on TV, the sander outside, and Rylan stirring koolaid in the kitchen.  The kids are explaining to me that it is an early episode, when Bumblebee still had his voice.  And that Bumblebee is Colin's favorite color - yellow.

Around the house... the usual line-up.  Laundry and dishes.

I am pondering... starting on the boys' Halloween costumes today.  Clock is ticking...

One of my favorite things... Quiet.  Which is an elusive thing these days.

A few plans for the rest of the week...  Rylan has her first consultation appointment in regards to her scoliosis.  We got the x-rays done in May, now it is time to find out what we need to do right now, if anything.  There is scout popcorn everywhere.  The boys need to sell it.  Dean and Jordan leave for Fall Camporee this upcoming weekend.

Here is a picture for thought I am sharing...

We met up with my brother and SIL and two of their three boys and went to the circus last weekend.  The kids loved it.  Colin was the most impressed with the motorcycles in the ball cage.  Owen and Rylan liked the dogs doing stunts the best, and Jordan couldn't stop talking about the guy that shot ballons with a crossbow.  He was certain that it was faked somehow.  Nobody liked the horseback routine where they jump on the backs of the horses.  I loved the audience-participation bit where kids played a variety of silly instruments.

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Ode to my uterus...

You safely carried my babies three
Until my body set them free
Like clockwork came the monthly flood
Otherwise known as the period
I pushed you too hard in delivery
of my final sweet baby
You began to descend
and now the surgeon must mend
Out you will go
So long, Aunt Flo!

So, I didn't exactly think during my consultation with a gynecological surgeon last week that I would be adding 'Hysterectomy' to my agenda next month.  I did not go in thinking about my uterus at all, actually.  I was consulting him about an entirely different problem, and botta-boom-botta-bing next thing you know he's talking major surgery.  

Five years ago, when I delivered Colin, I pushed way too hard.  The midwife handling the delivery was new to me, because my usual one was handling an emergency delivery elsewhere.  This midwife did not coach me one bit.  I just pushed and pushed and pushed because it hurt so much and I just wanted him out.  All of that pushing put extreme pressure on various parts 'down there' and things haven't been the same since.  In technical terms, the issue for the past five years has been a rectocele. (look it up)  Not a pleasant thing to live with.  Every annual exam, my regular midwife - who I have seen for the past ten years, has asked me if I wanted to get it looked at by a surgeon.  I always said no in the past, because it sounded like a horrific surgery to me (as my imagination ran wild...)  Finally, this year, I gave in.  I am concerned that the longer it goes on, it may invite other medical issues to crop up.  

So I met with the surgeon this past week, and after the exam, he said that the rectocele was indeed quite significant.  In addition to that, my uterus was showing signs of minor prolapse, as well as the bladder.  If he were to do only the surgery to correct the rectocele, it would just put additional pressure on the uterus, making a full collapse inevitable in the years to come.  The hysterectomy was 'optional', but heavily recommended.  I think I thought about it for about a half-second before I said oh hell yes.

I have been living with the threat of cervical cancer hanging over my head for the last 20 years or so.  It began with an abnormal pap that revealed pre-cancerous cells on my cervix, due to HPV.  So I had a LLETZ loop cone biopsy done (look it up).  Ten years after that I had to have another one, just after the delivery of Rylan, plus a DNC to remove leftover placental material.  To remove this threat would be a huge relief for me.  Also, after 345 periods (give or take) I think I have had my fill, and am ready to be done with that whole business.

So next month it is, and if my calculations are correct, it will be right at the end of a period.



Monday, September 7, 2015

Um, waitress....waitress????....WAITRESS!!

Today is my brother's birthday.  Last night we finalized plans to go out to eat and celebrate this evening.  He chose to go to the Mexican restaurant that I worked at for 12 years.  I think that is what set in motion the wild waitressing dreams I had last night.  If you've ever worked a service-type job, I'm sure you can relate.  Years after the fact, you will often have those dreams (nightmares) about working that job.  Mine always seem to be about getting slammed with customers, and being the only one around to wait on them.

Last night I dreamed about the typical endless stream of tables arriving and waiting for me to serve them, and I also dreamed that I had to hunt all over the back kitchen and the back storage rooms looking for different various things for the customer.  My senorita serving outfit was even more horrendous that the original.  My bosses - a husband and wife team, were also in the dream, appearing here and there but not really interacting with me.

These dreams always stress me out.  I can feel myself getting worked up as the customers in my dreams berate me for taking so long getting their drinks/chips and salsa/food/ticket...  And last night was just the same - wash, rinse, repeat.


In last night's dream, the details were rather vivid.  I was busier than ever.  I was even rolling silverware.  Uugh.  I was ripping open bagged-up packages of plastic spoons and forks, and rolling them up in ugly blue napkins.  I ran out of tortilla chips, and had to rip open these tiny plastic bags and gather them up, one-by-one and put them in the bowl.  I was pretty stressed out.  Every table was full of people waiting for me to show up with something.

I don't know if I was semi-awake or not, but somehow the dream shifted into a different light.  It was like I knew I was dreaming, so all of a sudden I didn't give a rat's ass if a rather cranky woman didn't get the correct food and I had to go into the kitchen and argue with the cooks.  Why?  Because there would be no repercussions - nothing to feel bad about, since it. wasn't. real.  Aha!  REVENGE waitressing dreams!  I can spill all the green chili I want into a customer's lap (true story...), I can leave them waiting for their ticket F O R E V E R and there's nothing they can do about it.  Can't find that beer for that obnoxious guy yelling at me in the bar window?  Too fucking bad.  You need a styrofoam to-go box?  Good luck with that.

I feel like I've been set free!  

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Simple Woman's Daybook Entry

Outside my window... A bright morning with blue skies and a breeze that is a little on the cool side.  Perfect.

I am thinking... About Kathy.  Kathy was the mom who hired me many, many years ago to nanny her three children.  I worked for the family for nine years.  Kathy passed away last week after a courageous five-year battle with brain cancer.  I attended a party hosted by the family in her memory yesterday afternoon.  It was wonderful to see the kids - all three have spread their wings and left the nest, and I haven't seen the older two girls in a few years.  Kathy was a wonderful mom and great mentor - she will be missed very much.

I am thankful... That it is Labor Day weekend.  It is nice to have an extra day to get caught up on stuff.  I am also thankful that last week's big transition to a new platform (Yahoo Groups to Bigtent) for our homeschool group went relatively smoothly.  So far about 40-45 members have moved over and it was pretty painless.  The other 70-80 members have yet to even open their email invitation.  Typical.

From the Learning Rooms... The rest of our curriculum arrived from Rainbow Resource on Friday, so I am itching for Tuesday to arrive so we can start.  This was the language arts component - All About Reading for Owen, MosDos Opal and Shurley English for Rylan.  Looking through the materials, I am most excited for MosDos with Rylan.  Her anthology looks awesome - she has already read a couples stories on Friday as we unpacked the boxes and looked over everything.

In the kitchen... Leftover blackened tilapia, much to the family's dismay.  Time to go shopping for the week.

I am wearing... pjs. The outfit of weekend blogging champions!

I am creating... Last night I opened up Pinterest to get the ideas churning for Halloween costumes.  Owen and Colin want to be Minions, and Rylan wants to be Scarlet Overkill.  Owen's and Colin's will take a lot of work, but I am excited to start.  It involves foam, a glue gun and lots of yellow spray paint.  Rylan's wig, gloves and dress have been ordered.  Luckily the red dress can double for any holiday dress needs this upcoming season and her fall violin recital.  

I am going... to drive to see my aunties later this afternoon.  They called this morning to report that they have two flats of garden tomatoes that need a new home.  I could have cried with happiness!  I can't wait to start a batch of sauce this evening in the crockpot.  I can smell it now.... ahhhhh...

I am wondering... what to write here.  Moving on...

I am reading... I am still working on Elizabeth Berg's The Day I Ate Whatever I Wanted.  

I am hoping... for rain this week.  It's been too dry.

I am looking forward to... Fall!  Fall is my favorite.  Thinking about Halloween costumes has put me in the mood..

I am learning... How to carve and shape foam with scissors.

I am hearing... I can vaguely hear the kids arguing about BoomBlox on the Wii.  I have headphones on, which helps.  I am listening to my current standby for writing music - Coldplay.  

Around the house... Dean fixed the Wii last night (hence to sudden urge to by the kids to play).  It was making a horrible whine.  He looked up a video on YouTube about how to diagnose the sound and fix it.  He and Rylan took it apart and tweaked whatever little metal part was out of position and it was fixed. yay!  Today I will probably gather up the Calvert stuff and clear the kid's school shelves for their new books, papers and things.

I am pondering... What the hell to do with all the Calvert books.  

One of my favorite things... Those first hints of fall, like the slightly cooler mornings and the first few leaves on the fruit trees beginning to brown and fall.

A few plans for the rest of the week... This is an unusually quiet week.  Just school, scouts for Owen and violin for Rylan.

Here is a picture for thought I am sharing... 

Colin, June 2011

I came across this yesterday, and this picture never fails to crack me up...

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Saturday, September 5, 2015


**Note - this post was written in late May, but never posted.  (No idea why)  It expresses lots of good stuff for a homeschooling parent to ruminate on, so I thought it worthwhile to set it free...

Yesterday morning, in the midst of the chaos of baking muffins, answering email, finding clean underwear and pouring grape juice and then cleaning up spilled grape juice, I had a thought come to me.  Well, several, actually.  The thoughts were like teeny tiny droplets of water that were spread out over a leaf, and then the leaf was disturbed and all the droplets fell victim to gravity and rolled down toward the center of the leaf, gathering speed...

I had planned, so very carefully late last summer, to dump any unnecessary or unfulfilling obligations, clear the decks, free up our (my) time and let homeschooling take center stage.  I sought out an ally - Calvert, to help me do this.  I let Calvert dictate the schedule, the process, the content and so forth.  I let the teachers work with my kids, they took tests, did assignments and got grades.  It actually has been a good experience - mostly for Jordan.  It allowed him to really grow as a student this year, his writing skills, planning skills and organization skills are getting a workout, and we both feel he is ready.  He is ready to take on public high school next year, a transition that is right for him and for me.

For Rylan and Owen though, the experience has been difficult.  Rylan loves the social aspect - the twice-a-week online classes complete with chat box, but hates, HATES, H.A.T.E.S. the school work. Rylan is not the complete-a-worksheet sort of learner.  She loves projects, she loves to write, and she takes initiative  - - when she is inspired.  Otherwise, she curls up into a ball, faces the back of her chair, and all of sudden her head is simply too heavy to hold up.  Same with her pencil.  In Owen's case, he is in la la land.  He fiddles with everything within arms reach, ignores any requests that involve moving a pencil on paper, yet he has this irritating gift that he hears everything you say even though you think he took a mental vacation to who-know's-where, and can repeat it back to you, word-for-word.  Owen also has a gift of finding patterns in everything.  Math with be a breeze for this kid.  But he also finds patterns in language - surprising me at every turn.  This is also the boy who can't tell a 'b' from a 'd', or a 'p'.

Which brings me to my epiphany that I had this morning.

We are slogging through the last four weeks of school.  All three kids are finishing up projects, have tests to take and so forth.  Both Rylan and Owen take the STAR test.  They took it at the beginning of the year, then again at mid-year, and now they have to again at the end.  Since we school at home, the teachers send us a link to get into the test, and we are supposed to take it within a two week window. When we did the tests before, I followed the teacher's directions and once I was sure the test was started and they were in good shape, I left the room as I was instructed to.  I know what the STAR early literacy test is, I had my own students (back when I was teaching in public school) take it and so forth.  But here is the rub - at every opportunity, the kids were wearing headphones.  I never heard the audio that goes on during test.  This time, since I was curious and the house was unusually quiet, I unplugged the headphones during Owen's test so that I could watch and listen.  OMG.  


This is why we made the decision to homeschool in the first place.  This is why I hate testing and lost my teaching job because of it.  Testing is so fucking stupid.

Here is why I am pissed.  All year long, in Owen's case, we have been working on learning the alphabet, phonemes, beginning sounds, ending sounds, vowel sounds, blah, blah, blah.  It is presented in the same fashion, every time.  I am supposed to present it a 'certain' way, much like reading a script.  Occasionally I would vary it if we were working on a Bob book or something, and Owen worked on Reading Eggs as well, which adds a ton of variety.   But when it comes to the test... oh the HELL NO.  Here is a sample:  The question shows three boxes, with a word in each box: 'lip', 'cat', and 'jet'.  Then there is a word printed at the top - "sit".  Then an annoying voice says, "Which word has the same middle sound as in the word "sit"?  Okay, - yes, this is a good question.  But the presentation, the multiple skills involved at decoding, phoneme matching and selecting are all really complicated to begin with - for a beginning reader.  Also, never in the lessons has isolating the middle vowel sound ever been presented in this way, so this is totally new to him.  Furthermore, the annoying voice only gives you 10 seconds to think about it and then it asks you again.  And again.  And again.  Even I was thinking hard and saying "SHUT UP!!!! LEMME THINK!!!!" inside my head.  Poor Owen.  It was the same scenario in Rylan's case, too.  And it was question after question, just like that.

I already know what their strengths and weaknesses are, I hate that I have to put them through this.  Yes, I want to see benchmarks met and check for growth, but if they can successfully do something this week that they couldn't do last week, that's good enough for me.

I've had a lot of brief conversations with other homeschooling friends lately, they know I am struggling with Calvert and ask how it is going.  I've heard lots of stories and affirmation that kids will learn, in their own time, their own way, and if we just get out of the way and stop putting limits on them, they will find the connections, and in a much more meaningful way.

Calvert did let me take a break from having to plan everything.  I didn't have to scout out the right materials for each subject, I didn't have to construct the proper pace or sequence...  In fact, Calvert allowed me to check out completely.  Which allowed me to have a complete emotional breakdown, and the stress of keeping up with mountains of worksheets led to lots of crying and thoughts that I completely suck at anything I try to put my hand to.

I reminded myself a few days ago to take myself back to when I was last truly happy in life - a happiness that you feel at your very core, a joy that can't be rattled or dampened.  I was happy when I was in flow.  I was in flow when I was planning, organizing, scouting out materials, writing, presenting.. all the things I was doing as I was in school getting my teaching degree - and I would also have to add my first year of teaching - up until that fateful month of April when my name on the classroom door changed.  Twice.

The fact that I haven't been able to stop thinking about the curriculum that I wished we could be using, or the activities I know the kids would get much more meaning from, or the fact that we are bound to the desk and can't be out exploring and doing, tells me that my heart knows where we need to be.  My heart is aching for that place of pure joy again - that place where flow was happening.  If I could just get my head to stop interfering with what my hearts wants, all would be good.

Therein lies the epiphany.  Follow your heart.  Your heart knows the path you must take.

It is also a message that has been tattooed on my ankle for the past 22 years.  Go figure...

Friday, September 4, 2015

The transition to high school..

Jordan's first few couple weeks have passed by and it seems like a pretty easy transition, so far.  Here are a few thoughts...

1.  After 8 years of homeschooling, the whole business of getting a kiddo off to school in the morning feels absolutely foreign to me.  As luck would have it, Jordan is actually very easy to wake and get moving.  He makes his own breakfast and so forth.  All I have to do is roll out of bed, grab my coffee and drive him one whole mile to school.

2.  Rule Change.

     a. Kids can bring cell phones to class.  Hell, they can even use them.  Each teacher has their own rule about phones.  Yes, you can play music during a test. (!)  Yes, you can answer that text, if it is really important.  (!!)  Yes, you can play games on your device if your work is done. (!!!)

     b.  Assignments can be turned in up to a week past due date, for full credit.  Even that is negotiable.

     c.  Poor clothing choices are the norm. (Do these parents ever look at their children before they walk out the door???)

     d.  Students are shockingly rude to their teachers.  Openly giving the finger, refusing to remove an earbud while the teacher is conducting the lesson...  w. o. w.  Everything I hate about the atmosphere of public high schools.

3.  Helicopter parents rejoice!!  The parent portal is hands-down awesome.  I can log on and see Jordan's schedule, see his attendance and know if he was tardy to any class, view his past, current and upcoming assignments and see his grades on everything and know immediately if anything is missing.  I try not to be 'that' parent, but so far it has come in handy when I logged in yesterday for my weekly-lookover and saw that he had a missing assignment from last week.  I texted him immediately.  He was in history, so naturally he texted me back.  I got on to him for missing the assignment AND for texting me back.   He will be spending Labor Day weekend finishing that assignment. :/  I can also log into to his lunch account and see his purchase history.  He's been buying an extra cookie almost every day.

4.  Jordan is experiencing what classroom culture is really like.  Students still pass rude notes.  Now they apparently also video you with their phones while snickering with their friends.  Some kids are nice.  Some are assholes.

5.  Yes, the cafeteria burrito bar is really that bad.

6.  Student assemblies are fun.  And loud.

7.  Bell schedules take some getting used to.

8.  Yes.  Homework before screen time.  Always.  And I know when you have homework.  (awesome!!)

I try to separate my feelings/memories of high school from what he is currently experiencing.  His experience is unique to him.  He is stronger in many ways than I ever was to peer criticism and the desire to fit in.  He confronts those who pester him.  He has made acquaintances, but not necessarily friends.  He often eats lunch alone, but also with a purpose - he has found a quiet corner that he likes to sit at and do his homework so he doesn't have to do it at home.  What parent would complain about that?  I just hope he finds his tribe soon.  It will help when clubs start up...