Sunday, November 20, 2011

Climbing out of the Disorganization Hole...Homeschooling in Chaos.

Today, on the WTM forums we have been talking about homeschooling when life is nutsy...and even coming back when things are calming down.

I have btdt...too often to say...except the unemployment thing, which I am sure adds tons of stress on top of it all.
My advice in a nutshell:

Burn the MOTH schedule....Burn anything that demands perfection and makes you feel like a failure. Having a failing attitude and constant reminder of how behind you are makes no one peaceful or happy.

Make a list of your own routine...and try to tweak as you specific...but not chained.
I put EVERYTHING in there....and then put it in my cell phone until it became habit. My phone would ding.....and remind me that I needed to change gears. My kids got used to the singing...and would yell...Hey Mom...YOU DINGED!!!!!!

I put in wake up time for me...then the kids...

School schedule....extra class schedules...meals etc.
Everything I could think of...went into the

As I got into my new habits, my day began to have more flow. I didn't constantly have to check my schedule because it would

As far as school goes...if you still have babies and will often hear "school while the babies nap.". Well, I was blessed with kids who never, schooling during naps never worked....

I lap I always had a baby or toddler in my lap. I confined us all to one section of the house...and gated off the I didn't have to worry about kids climbing on chairs...counters...refrigerators etc. I also kept them out of the bathroom with potty breaks every half hour or so for the potty training crowd. Bigger kids could hop the gate when need be.

I would school my 11 year ....or my middle one first. I know some start with the oldest...some with the youngest....I found my 10-13 year olds easiest to work with. They were semi- independent, yet needed instruction and assistance. I try to use all open and go for skill subjects. Reading, Math and LA are workbook programs that we can just do the next thing in. If we finish the major 3, I feel we accomplished the meat of the day. Figure out your meat...make sure you get that done. I always schooled my teens in the evening AFTER babies, toddlers and little ones were in bed. It was quiet here and we could focus on Algebra, or formulas, or Dante:D. My teens seem more focused at night....I would give them their next day's assignments and when they got up in the morning, they could get busy on assignments.
My muddles would get up, eat and then have littles would get up, have breakfast, and play....until middlies break time.

While my middle guys ate...and took a play break, I would do phonics or math with my little guys...then call everyone back for family reading time.

We would do Bible, Poetry, read aloud and History....then eat lunch. Then Middle kids would have assignments....teens would be finishing theirs from the previous day and doing chores...little guys would have math.

If I couldn't fit all our family read alouds into our morning ( which happened a lot). I would just save them for bedtime reading.

I made myself check lists for each kid...for each subject...rather than a daily schedule containing all subjects...this helped me see our progress....and feel like we were accomplishing I also wrote a daily flow chart....using my lists as the guide. My whole planning took a weekend at the pool in the summer while the kids played. Over planning made me feel overwhelmed...and any changes made me feel like a failure.

Make your schooling as simplified as possible. Stay on one topic for Bible, History, Science, Poetry, Literature, or any other content subjects you can. Make use of videos and online resources for your older kids...especially your teens. If you can't afford online classes, use the free stuff on YouTube. A little research will go a long way. We used YouTube for so many subjects! We loved it especially for biology and Chemistry. Watching the experiment demonstrations and videos were so awesome and added so much to our teens studies. Kids can be on the same topic....for us right now, for example, we are doing a one year World History. I tried using 3 separate programs....I should have known better!! So, I dropped 2 of them....decided on Sonlight Core W...and just use 2 age appropriate textbooks for my 13 & 17 year olds. Everything else fits across the ages.

For science, we are all studying Life Science....using a topic a week from Lyrical Life Science...and age appropriate library books.

Basically, if we can stay on the same topic, we can have something to chat about...whether we are doing dishes together, riding in the car, stacking wood....etc.

As far as chores....I write them out on the dry erase board in my kitchen. We all work at them until they are all done....if I notice someone NOT doing their fair share....I assume they need some mommy instruction in that chore. That child becomes my partner...and learns to WORK. this way, being MY partner is not a desired

~~~Post it notes are your friend.
Let me say it it notes are your friend...
So is the yellow note feature in your phone..
Use them for everything. Don't nag....write it down and stick it on the kid. Write errands and stick them on the dashboard of your you get them finished, stick them in your notebook to show you have finished your chore. Makes you feel accomplished. Same with kid assignments. Write them on post it's...stick them as place marks in your kids books with any extra assignment...or words to focus on...or essay prompt....etc. Hen they are get the post it and slap it in your plan book...instant record of work achieved.

Drop any outside activities which cause stress if you can....BUT don't drop everything. It is important to get out and have a change of scenery. I have instituted a chore day in town. We all look forward to it. It is the day we go into town, Do our shopping, get our supplies, go to the library, etc. In nice weather we pack a picnic and go to the playground. During the winter, I take them to either Panera Bread and buy them some soup...or to a pizza shop for a slice. Very inexpensive....but they love it and feel so special. I try to sign the kids up for short term obligation sports or outside classes...6 weeks is perfect! Swim team in the in the fall....looking for something in the winter.....and golf in the spring. Dd 13 does a 1 hour a week drama class which is inexpensive and nearby. The library also has lots of inexpensive, but interesting programs. We are going to try is free, and the kids need some social time...and it is after school hours.

Check out Flylady....I don't follow her plan to a tee...but I have gotten so many cool ideas...and encouragement from her site.
I have found minimal stuff helps keep peace. Too much junk makes me uncomfortable and stressed out. If in doubt, throw it out. If you don't love it...get rid of it. Toys can be packed into rubbermaid containers and stored to be used one at a time. A closet with a padlock is a moms best friend. Pretend you are moving. If you wouldn't take it with really don't want it....out it goes.

Try to stay in the NOW. Don't worry about tomorrow's mess....or yesterday's mistakes. Give yourself to today and making it the best today you can.

Be kind to yourself. Be forgiving of yourself. Be an encouragement to yourself. If you can be those things to become those things to your husband and children. I am not talking about syrupy, made up sweetness...but being the real person you want to be. Striving for a perfection which doesn't exist, is futile. Striving to love and nurture your family with peace in your heart, despite circumstances, can be attained....and enjoyed.

Our daily life is busy...crazy....I am often distracted by our business phones and some emergency that crops up....but, that is life. We move on.

Coming back from stressful situations is stressful in itself. Adding homeschooling, unemployment, sick parents, sick kids, chronic mommy illness, etc.....makes all those issues multiply....but...Through it all...My Lord and My savior walks with me...hand in hand....His strength shall be my strength....

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest (Millennium, #3)The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest by Stieg Larsson

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Read the first 2 had to read the sequel. I am funny like that. Not my favorite...but I kept reading anyway. Lots of Swedish politics....and I thought they were neutral......hmmmmmmmm.

View all my reviews

Friday, November 18, 2011

Week in review 11/13- 11/18

We had a pretty good academic week this week. Now that we are moving into holiday season....we are finally hitting a groove.

Dropping HOD helped more than I could imagine. I didn't realize having 2 programs going at once would stretch me and stress me so much. Sonlight is working very well for all my kids...sticking with one core....simplicity.

This week we read:
Proverbs 3,5,7,8&9
Instead of the SL bible study, we are using Grandfather's Box from the HOD set...since my kids all really love it.
We finished 4 chapters

From CHOW and Usborne world History we covered the Assyrians, The Babylonians and the early Greeks. Gracie also read the corresponding chapters in Patterns of Civ.

We worked on our timelines and got them up to date.

The kids covered vascular plants in Lyrical Life Science

We also read from Olivia Coolidge's rendering of The Odyssey and the first few chapters of D'aulaire's Greek Myths. My kids LOVE these stories.

They all are moving along in their CLE Reading, Math and LA. All the kids did very well on their quizzes and all finished at least 4 lessons in each book.

Hammy is still very resistant to seat work, so I try not to overwhelm him too much, yet insist he does get used to the routine. He did beautiful copy work this week. His handwriting in becoming lovely...and he is having less troubles with reversals.

Cubby is blossoming this year. He is choosing to read more on his own. He is enjoying the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books and the How to Train your Dragon series. He has been reading one of each every week. Hammy is working his way through Nate the Great...and Mr. Putter and Tabby. Gracie is finishing up Hittite Warrior, which is a SL book, and the new Rick Riordan book. I wish she would hurry on that I can get my grubby hands on it!!

I am finally pleased with our school work for this to start planning our next....hahaha


Friday, November 11, 2011

Week in review 11/7-11/11

So...this week went weird.  Hahha.
I finally decided...again...that it doesn't make for a happy homeschool to try to do more than one program with my kids.  I know some people have time and energy for that...but I do NOT!

I decided to drop Heart of Dakota with my boys and fold them into dd's Sonlight Core W.  They both use the same spine,  so the switch was relatively seamless.  The boys didn't even

We have been enjoying reading and narrating from these books.  They give DD 13 a good easy intro to the topic of the week.  This week we learned about the Greeks and the Spartans.  We also learned bout the first Olympic games.  I am teaching the boys to write simple 1 or 2 sentence narrations.  I am also teaching the to write simple outlines using the Usborne book.
DD has been using Patterns of Civilization by Prentice Hall.  It is an extremely readable and dare I say enjoyable textbook.  My dd likes textbooks as research tools.

This book is adding depth to her studies and  more age/grade appropriate.   She is enjoying it and using it for info for her NaNoWriMo novel.  She is writing,  writing,  writing.  Her story is based in Ancient Greece...and she has already written about 150 pages!  

My kids are moving along n their CLE studies.  All the children have almost finished their years worth of Reading already.  Grace and Cubby have 1 Light Unit left,  so should be done by Christmas.  Hammy has already finished both 2nd grade readers and is now in the 3rd grade reader.  The kids all absolutely love this series of books and remember the stories years later.  My dd always talks to the boys about he stor they are up to...and how much she loved them.  Can't beat that!!!!

We are moving along in math.  My boys have begun the new Life of Fred Elementary books.  Hammy read through Apples in 2 days!  He loved it!  Cubby worked through Butterflies over a week.

Cubby has now moved into Cats and Hammy into Butterflies.
Gracie is using Pre- Algebra with Biology....and will move into Pre Algebra with Economics After Christmas.  Math is not her strong subject....using LOF makes it fun.  CLE gives lots of practice.  Love the combination. 

In science,  we have begun using Lyrical Life Science volume 1.  The kids find he songs catchy and dd is actually enjoying it.  We have not had much luck finding science curricula that she enjoys...or will tolerate.  After suffering through one program after another,  she found this one on the shelf and asked to try it.  I really didn't think she would like it,  but of course didn't tell her that!  Surprise!  Surprise!!!!  She loves it.  The boys love the songs,  so I have decided to just get books and other go-alongs for their age.  She is usinng the text and the workbook.  I won't require that from them,  but have been adding other coloring pages and simple kids books from the library. HOORAY!!!!!  Science is getting done.  That makes me a happy Mom.

Soccer season is almost over.  Boys loved it.
DD was cast in the play Footloose in her drama classes and is thrilled,  even though it is just a backround part.  She likes the idea that she will get some dance lessons as part of her involvement.'s been a busy,  but productive weel...and thus ends our first quarter of the 2011-2012 school year.


Saturday, November 5, 2011

The Girl Who Played With Fire (Millennium, #2)The Girl Who Played With Fire by Stieg Larsson

My rating: 2 of 5 stars


View all my reviews

Support System is Down.

Dh and I have been doing this for 6 years. His business is growing....but, I should say our business. I am exhausted, grumpy, tired, used up, nasty feeling right now because...well, I am.

I need to step up ( which would mean my kids have to go to school)....or step down.... ( which dh does NOT want me to do).

I would love to be the support system that keeps the house, schools the kids, Looks sexy at night, Has great meals on the table....and he expects all that in addition to me working 40-50 hours a week in our business. He does not do any of the schooling, but does cook. He will do outdoor maintenance...and clean up after himself....but not help me with the kids stuff...laundry, dishes etc.

I am not trying to paint him as an ogre. I love him and he is my best friend. He means it all well. He works as hard as he expects us all to work. He is never on the couch watching tv and drinking a beer. He is a great provider and does not mandate over us.

That's the good and bad.

I hate our business. Hate it!! But, it is what dh does. It is a high liability, hard service industry. We deal with people when they are at their worst...when they have no heat or a/c or water....or their house is filled with soot etc. I am a terrible introvert...and I need to play an extrovert in my business role. I am usually a little high strung....but need to play the calm one on the phone. This business goes against every fiber of my being.....but it is what he knows....what he is an expert in.....what he makes money doing. It is honest work. It is grueling work. It is what we do.

So, before volunteering to help or support in your dh's business....ask yourself what your boundaries will be. Ask yourself what you are willing to give up to do this....ask yourself if you are willing to give up yourself. Ask yourself what your kids will have to give up...and what they will learn and gain from the experience of a family business. Weigh it all in....then make your decision.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Dead End in NorveltDead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book was so sweet and so funny. I laughed out loud...a big belly laugh...just relating to this young boy...relating to his mom...and to old Mrs. Booker. I wonder how much of this book was based on the authors!

View all my reviews

So funny. So sweet. Gotta read it.

Apron Strings

Today on the WTM forum, the moms were talking about being able to let go of our children. One woman was batting around a neighbor's comment....and another commented on how she wanted her child to have a longer childhood. As a mom of grown children....I have a bit of a different perspective to all of this.

I am actually looking at this in an opposite way. My kids are growing up in, they are not still children at 18 or 20 or 25. They are adults. They moved into the adult phase of their lives smoothly...without being jerks.....they found jobs, went to college and didn't party like mad and fail out. They didn't sit home on the couch playing video games instead of interacting with the real world.

I think our society has extended childhood well onto some people's 30's. I have friends whose 30 year olds still live at home, have no direction, or desire of direction...can not put in a full day of work....the parents are left with full grown toddlers.....right down to the hissy fits.

My kids were helping us in our family. Helping to build a house, carry in firewood, cook meals, volunteering to help others in need, building and running a business. My 13 yo dd is very capable in an office. She can answer calls, dispatch service technicians, take messages, file...etc. Her friends are trying out make up and how to look pretty to boys.....whatever.

My older kids also played hard....and still play hard. They can have fun because we always had fun. My adult boys will sit on the floor and play legos with their young brothers...teach them to shoot arrows, sled down the hills etc. But, they are men.....not little boys anymore. Even at 17, my son is a man....not a boy. He is intelligent, well spoken, well read, and leading a work crew of men twice his age.

So, Yes.....their childhood was an actual childhood.....and then they became adults. No teen bull cr@p. So far, no teen pregnancies, drug issues, etc. It seemed my kids stayed little kids until about 15 or 16.....and then, they were adult-like.

It became a bit of an awkward period for them because they had a hard time relating to their peers. They did seem a bit odd and out of place because of the seriousness of their character. They were not the usual ousted teen whose parents are sick of parenting...and on their own completely to fall into all kinds of sordid behavior, nor were they the over watched, over scheduled teens who were forced to fill every waking hour with study and other enrichment activities.

I didn't do a perfect where near one. My children are human...and therefore fallen, as we all are, and in need of a savior, but being home schooled gave them a different sociological avenue of development that I did not expect...and quite frankly, it unnerved me a bit. I feared I failed them. I feared I failed to give the the "American teen experience". Then, I looked around and realized that teen thing had extended well into the twenties...and even into the thirties. The system has created an entire generation of children with Peter Pan syndrome...who are " entitled" to be cared for by free health care, free housing, free food....etc. What was meant as a helping hand is now becoming a way of life....because children need to be children...even when they are no longer children. Then, the stakes were raised, and now a high school diploma is basically useless, except as a ticket to the University...if younhave the money or grades to get in. Does anyone hear a giant sucking sound??

So, when I am hit with the " you need to cut the apron strings" line of nonsense....I can comfortably say, " No, I don't. I have given my children the scissor, and the ability to cut those strings. They are independent. They can make it. They have lived in a hard working family their entire lives. They have seen and helped their parents work. They have been in the trenches, not in a belled prison.....they have been watched and taught, discipled, loved, and raised....not handcuffed, lined up, and force fitted into a box not of their own making.

Mammas.....keep those apron strings. They are an important tool in raising our children. Don't let just anybody come by and cut those strings. You hand those scissors to your children....give them the tools they need...and watch as they grow into the incredible adults God meant them to be.