Sunday, September 23, 2012

Happy New Year!!!!!

I know this is not January 1,  but according to the Jewish Calandar ....and my internal clock....September is a time for new beginnings.  I love the Fall.  For means schoolbooks,  new school supplies,  lay garden has done ( or not done) its thing.  I go into decluttering gear just like others do in spring.  In fall,  I know that pretty soon we will be hunkering down to those cozy winter days,  those snowy days where we can read and be creative,  and not feel guilty that we are not outside soaking up all that vitamin d and fresh air.

So,  what's going to be new around here.....
This new year's focus will not be so much on my homeschooling efforts,  but my life efforts.  IOW,  I am getting bored singing the same old song....and I am trying out some new ones that have caught my eye and my hearts.  YES,  we are still homeschooling,  home working and home living.....but there is a richness in my life that was missing....and I want it.  I want it BAD.   So,  my focus is not going to be on the math book,  or the grammar program,  although I am sure it will come up from time to time....but my blogging will be more geared to:

Decluttering: our house, our mealtimes, our spirits, our schooling

Nutrition:  my journey to grain-free, junk free, sugar free, lo carb high protein eating.  There will be recipes and hopefully photos as I try new ideas which fit in with my new lifestyle.  I guess it is sort of Paleo eating

Exercise: this is the FOR ME.  I have begun ( Thank you Ingrid). My real exercise journey, and I hope it is not too late to shoot for wearing a bathing suit without a cover up, or swim shorts!   Next summer,  I want to be able to actually wear a suit and not hide in shame.
My goals are to begin running and run a 5 k in April, buy a bicycle and enter some tours with Carl and Grace,  and of course have a flat tummy by my birthday...not an easy feat for someone with 7 kids,  who has been out of shape her entire life!

Health:  my battle with hashimoto's, pcos, insulin resistance and fibromyalgia.  ( which I think is all Hashimoto's related.)

I am also going to blog a bit of my weightless journey as soon as I can find some BEFORE pictures.  When you were as heavy as I was,  there are not many of those around.  I have lost almost 100 lbs.   I intend to lose another 15 or so before summer....and at 1/2 lb a week,  it should be doable,  if I focus and do not get discouraged.

I may also blog a bit on finding my birth family...and how that journey has effected me.

So,  this b

Saturday, August 25, 2012


I have been homeschooling continuously since 1995 and I see many differences in then vs. now.
We did not have PC's.  We did not have iphones.  We did not have online courses.  We did not have the plethora of materials and curricula to choose from.
  We could get Sonlight, BJU, A Beka, Saxon Math  &  if we were lucky some public school discards :D  I opted back then to make my own....we used our library card,  a math program and loads of lined paper and pencils.
Our focus was HOME.  There were no co-ops,  homeschool gym, homeschool library classes etc.  We were home-centric.  Our days were filled and we did after-school activities such as sports or music and art lessons....but for the most part,  my older kids learned by reading and writing....and reading some more and writing some more.
As Christians,  our goal was to grow closer to the Lord and to have our children learn to love and follow His will for their lives.
My kids had many days of down time.  They were not so rushed  or stressed out as my youngers.  They would wander the woods, shoot targets,   take care of their rabbits, dogs, cats, etc.  They learned to sew, bake, craft, paint,  run electric, plumbing,  stack wood etc.  They stayed physically fit by play and work....not sports teams (at least not until they were older.)  They were and are close to eachother.
Back then,  not everything we did was to prepare them for college or for a greater career....we were more in the present of the time.
Somewhere,  somehow....these days got muddled and our focus shifted.  As my older kids began organized sports,  college preparations etc.,  our stress level and fear of failing our children came into view.  Yes,  we wanted them to follow their goals and life's purpose....Had we prepared them adequately?  Was homeschooling really the magic bullet to produce happy, God-fearing, intelligent, thoughtful adults and citizens?  Here was where the rubber hits the road...and of course the result rested upon my shoulders.  I could not place blame of the PS,  or a bad advisor, or peer pressure or anything or anybody.  I only had myself to look at,  and to a lesser degree dh,  who was supportive,  but busy working to allow us the "luxury" of our lifestyle.
After 18 years....many things have changed, grown, evolved...
We have moved into a quicker paced life.
We have moved into a more technologically based lifestyle.
We have more programs to choose from than hours to review them.
We have forums, blogs, e-zines, we are not so cut off from others,  their opinions and judgements as we were back then. 
Our original goals have morphed a bit too....academics are  and always have had a front seat in our homeschool,  but I think they are much more forced now.  I do not feel the free flowy days as I once did with my older set.  Maybe I know the stakes better now.
I think my older kids might have actually had a better education than my younger ones are getting despite the fact that we were much poorer and had many fewer books and supplies.....hmmmmmThat is definitely something to consider.....

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Some jumbled up thoughts of homeschooling ....on my birthday....

I used to LOVE homeschooling. All of it...the planning, the teaching, the benefits of being a close knit family...all of it.

Lately, not so much:glare:

I don't like being financially dependent on dh.
I don't like that I feel the 18 years I put into this have no tangible result for ME personally. My kids are doing well, have degrees....etc., but me...NADA.

I think of my future and I cringe!

I was so INTO homeschooling, raising my Kids, taking care of my household on a shoestring, being Mom, wife, daughter, sister etc., that I forgot to be ME. I forgot to look into the time when I was old and I would need an income to take care of ME. I forgot that even though I have 7 children, and put my ALL into them, they would grow up and move out and put their ALL into themselves and their own families ( like they should) and I would become that burden they don't want to think about.

I don't feel fulfilled just knowing I did a good or even great job raising my of their personal issues haunt me as if every choice they make is somehow my fault. Being mom, teacher, guidance counselor, spiritual leader, junior psychologist, chef, maid, laundress, chauffeur, cheer leading squad etc., etc., etc., took every minute of time....and lets not forget incubator, milk machine, rocking and walking it out machine, oh my.

I want SOMETHING of my own, but I am so burnt out from homeschooling, home based business, life as it comes, hurtful situations with people who were supposed to be friends etc., that I just can't think of WHAT! And honestly, all I want to do right now is sleep. I want to shut my eyes....and sleep....deeply....for a looooooooong time!

I can think of many, many things I would LOVE to do, but they do not produce an income....and income is what we need to survive. I would not do well homeless.....

I am tired of swimming upstream. Even salmon lay their eggs and drop dead! I feel like I have been swimming against the current WAY.Too.LONG.

IF there were a decent school where we live, my kids would be on that bus so fast their heads would spin:D
IF there was even an OK school where we live, my kids would be on that bus so fast their heads would spin!
IF we had the money to pay for outsourcing, extra classes, private tutors or private classes, my kids would be in them so fast their heads would spin.

I still love the idea of homeschooling...and all the fun we had...and hopefully will have....I just wish that I spent a little more time thinking of the practicality of the financial burden being completely on dh, and the effect it would have upon my psyche and emotional health. Looking back, I wish someone would have warned us more about financial strain in our 50's rather than burdens of teenagers. (I happen to LOVE teenagers!). I wish we would have made it a priority to find careers rather than jobs. I wish we would have thought deeply how each choice we made would effect us later on.

Is this the " mid-life crisis " that people talk about?? How would I be feeling if we made other choices?? Count our blessings? Without a doubt. We are blessed....but I am still scared......and the future feels more uncertain now than it did 20 years ago....

Saturday, May 26, 2012

High School: Home School, Public, or Private School

Many homeschoolers reach the high school years and throw in the homeschooling towel. There are many legitimate reasons, and not all of them are wrong. There are also many reasons TO homeschool. I really don't want to take a position on that either way, because I think it is a very individual choice. Individual for each family...and within the family too. Each child needs to be considered carefully and the determination lies in what is best for that child.

My kids #'s2&3 are/were extremely social and extroverted ...wanted to be in with the in crowd...craved peer attention They are also athletic ( unlike either of us:tongue_smilie:). Honestly, dd did very well being home schooled. We had her busy, busy, busy. I made opportunities for her to be social. Had lots of kids here...all.the.time!! Games, facials, movies, swim meet sleep overs, You name it....we did it. She volunteered, worked at a nursery school, life guarded, became a swim coach etc.

Now, ds.....him I should have sent to school. He NEEDED to be there.....but I didn't listen to my gut....I listened to my guilt. We did manage to make homeschooling work...and he did end up in a good place, but I think he really should have had a year or 2 at public or private school for his own head....IOW, he had big time grass is greener syndrome, which made him sullen, and very difficult to teach. I will not ever do that again!! He was not miserable, and did many social things all through high school. I put 70,000 miles on my van in 1 year for goodness sake! His personality craves people....

If you decide to continue homeschooling....and I think it can be a great decision:D....certain things I would consider doing for my son a bit differently.

1. A job. A boy needs a job. Mowing lawns, hauling groceries....washing windows....I don't care what he does, but he needs to do!!! He can start his own business if he can't get a job...advertise and work his butt off to get it off the ground. It is even better if he ends up hiring someone else too! What an experience for him in entrepenuership.

2. An outside class with peers or adults. Something he doesn't know a lot about yet. Photography, business principles, a new instrument, etc. In addition to the things he likes. My son was a swimmer. We were at the pool 5 nights a week and all weekend long during meet season. He loved every.single.minute! My son took classes in HVAC, became a certified oil burner tech at 17 ( took the adult class and aced it!). My other son is EPA certified to work on A/C since her was 16. He took guitar lessons, went to the gym regularly etc.

3. Online high school or college classes that happen in real time....with real people...preferably through skype, where they can interact. Ds LOVED these classes, and is still "friends" with many of the kids he encountered. They have even met up in NYC after they turned 18....and had a blast together!

4. If you decide to homeschool through high school, don't keep yourself boxed in by homeschoolers. They can be an odd bunch....not like us!:D
I have found the groups around here to be so exclusionary! Both the secular and Christian groups have their own agendas....and those agendas have hurt WAY too many young people and new homeschooling parents. Enter with caution. Groups are fun when they have a real goal. Not a just let's get together because we are doing this one particular different thing. " LOOK AT US, WE ARE DIFFERENT!!!". YUCK!!!!!!! Join a book group, a running group, a biking group, a physics group, a music group, a take care of the elderly group....but run like hell from an unfocused....LOOK AT US GROUP. They tend to peck to death their own flock.

5. Homeschooling high school is both wonderful and awful. I will never stop questioning every book we study, every group we join, every step we take....but, if I did stop, I would not be doing a good job. I need to take the needs of MY child and somehow turn them into clear cut goals and then implement them. It is MUCH MORE DIFFICULT than plopping them on the bus....even when you think that is the best step. It would have been much easier for ME and for my ds if I would have just signed him up at the PS. The battle between us would have been over....and he would have had to deal with things himself. That is NOT necessarily a bad thing. For my one ds, it may have turned out to be the best thing. Not so much for my dds....or my 2nd ds. Each child is an individual and their needs have to be considered separately. However, don't think the school will give a flying flip over your individual child's needs. They just have too many individuals.

Socialization does not necessarily happen at the doors of the yellow bus. As a matter of fact, that place is often the gateway to bullying, ostracization, peer pressure, and just an unhealthy situation. Not always....but often enough. Consider where your kid resides of the food chain. Older ds is a networker, a schmoozed, a hand shaker.....he would have been BIG MAN ON CAMPUS. Ds # 2 would have been on anti-depressants first semester.

Oh, last bit of advice for now...if youbdecide to homeschool....make clear cut goals before you start your courses. this is what you have to do for an A, this for a B....if youbfail, this is the consequence. If you can plan an exam or an outside evaluation of some sort ( science fair, mythology or Latin exam, SAT2, CLEP exam, big family party with a presentation) it will help your child make goals and meet them. It won't seem like a bunch of senseless busywork that you are inflicting on your child for the sheer pleasure of it. Those wrap ups at the end are REALLY important! Just like dance recitals, or the play at the end of a gazillion rehearsals....some concrete way of marking progress and making a bIg to-do about it is really important.

Hope some of this helps someone....

Friday, May 25, 2012

Becoming Goal Oriented: Just What are we Trying to Accomplish Here: Math

Ok... I may not be the voice of math reason:001_smile:...but I have had a few kids who were not exactly....hmmmmmmmm.......mathy.

What are your goals? What are your child's goals? Is she headed to a STEM field?? Is he artsy? Is she musical or a dancer? Does he love history or literature??

Math is one of those subjects which, in my opinion, is not a hill to die on....but also not a hill to give up easily. IOW, carefully consider this child. Does this child need to finish calculus before college? Does this child want to study higher sciences? If yes...then get that child aboard....and other subjects may need to suffer for that child's needs.

Does the child need to complete just Algebra 1, Algebra 2 and Geometry?? Then a different path and pace may be required.

Is the child a late Math bloomer?? I was....Do you feel it is better to cover algorithms, or concepts? Does the child have number sense? Does the child think abstractly yet? Does the child cringe when the math books come out?

Sometimes, we need to take a BIG step back in order to go forward...Have the foundational skills been completely mastered? If not, where are the gaps??

Honestly, I think Mamma needs to evaluate goals and skill levels and move forward from there. I do not necessarily feel a particular program is at fault. I have used many of the programs suggested in homeschooling circles over the past 18 years....and quite honestly, I am underwhelmed. I think if someone had told me 18 years ago to consider the would have saved me biggo buckos and probably a good amount of my hair.

Ok...nuts and bolts advice.

--keep lessons short! Work to the point of learning, but NOT frustration. 2 shorter lessons may yield much more than 1 long one.

--don't be afraid to skip problems in the book that your child has mastered. Every once in a while...throw one in there as review. Most books review so much, it makes the kid crazy!!!

--when you hit a brick wall...either try a different book, approach...or come back later. Learn a different new skill and come back later. Some things can't be treated like that (fraction rules for one thing....).

--math is some homes is central to their schooling. In others, math is required but not central. Remember YOUR goals. Re-evaluate where you are often. Let your child see their goals...and expand them if they want.

Math should not be a battle. It should not turn into a war either. Yes, it can be hard...but we do hard things:D. It also doesn't need to take precedence over every other subject...even though for some homeschoolers, it does. Just saying....for one of my children, Art took center stage for high school. That child is a professional artist. SHE GETS PAID for her design work...not her math skills. she gets paid WELL!

For another one of my children health studies/biology/ rescue certifications was central. She did much more math and science than older dd. They both graduated from college with high honors.

They both needed to learn to read, write and do enough math to keep their checkbook, figure out expenses and do well in the college classes they needed to succeed in the degree field.

The GOAL. That is what we need to keep in mind.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Character/ Values based Christian Curriculum.

After listening and reading Andrew Kern of Circe Inst., I began to ponder what exactly MY goal as a Mom, Home Educator and mentor to my kids was...I want to focus on those goals of Truth, Beauty, Loveliness, Honesty, Virtue, Patience, Diligence, Courage, Wisdom.

This morning, after reading an article from Circe on "Laziness" I realized I am battling with this vice. I am never not busy! I am always engaged in one or more than one pursuits at a time. No one would label me lazy, yet I am.

I would rather scrub toilets or organize a closet, or vacuum, or weed the garden, or change vacuum bags...ANYTHING but setting down and writing out lesson plans......anything than engaging my grumpy kids in conversation, anything than make those all important collection calls...

I asked my kids this morning what THEY thought laziness was....and each said "laying around and doing nothing." I also asked each one if they thought they were lazy. Each one denied it, because they are all involved in many pursuits...studying lines for a play, building with Lego, playing with the dog, doing a half-@ssed chore here and there....yet when I told them the meaning of laziness....NOT doing what you are SUPPOSED to be doing....We all admitted we were struggling against Laziness. We confessed our sin, one to another....prayed...and wrote down 5 things we should do today, and remain focused and purposeful in them. It was one of those "Homeschool Moments".

So, I am really thinking we need to delve into our search for Truth, our quest "To Know God and To Love Him". To overcome our tendencies toward the 7 deadly sins....and to focus on Virtue and Honor...Truth and Love...The Fruits of the Spirit and to rise to the calling that God has placed upon HIs children.

So, That is my short order

Waxing Totally Philosophical today.....

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Assessment Results...

Had a meeting with Mrs. Coleman Friday to go over the results of Carl's assessment.
The assessment we had was designed to check his memory...both short and long term....and look for gaps in his thinking,  which is typical in Lyme patients.  They lose words....thoughts mid sentence etc.
So,  what we found....
His short term memory is amazing.  His long term memory has weird gaps.
He can do high levels of mathematics...but his math facts are weird gaps...:tongue_smilie:  +4's and x4's????  strange.
He also didn't remember to indent in his essay,  or use commas. 
His essay was actually really good other than format,  which surprised me.  He seems to be getting his words and vocabulary back....quicker than I thought:D

It was suggested to use GED test prep books, Editor in Chief editing books,  Building Thinking Skills at the High School level and work on Logic and analogies.    We will also be drilling facts with flash cards and drill sheets that I can print up. 

Our goal is to take an SAT in June and again in September/ October and then a GED in the Fall.  I would like him to start CC classes for the Spring semester. 

He did way better than I thought he could and I am relieved to see his personality and his thinking coming back.