Friday, August 26, 2011

I just wish I knew how to blog better!
And I wish I had more time to figure out how to blog better.
And I wish I had more money.
There. I said it.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Mother's/Teacher's Instincts

Sometimes you just have to trust your instincts.
Especially as a homeschool teacher. Especially as a homeschool teacher!

On Monday, we had our official first full day of school.
On Tuesday, we were burnt out.
Already?!? After only one day?!?

Well ... yeah. And since it's just me, myself, and I running this school (with hubby's limitless support), it's up to me to analyze why.

Let's see, on Monday we did a full day of schoolwork. We stuck with it and got it all done during the day. We made progress in subjects the schools measure.

Hmmm, maybe I see the problem here. I think my brain was in "public school mode." And the results: burn out.

I changed tactics for Tuesday. I let the kids lead the day. What they ended up doing was "playing" with the Legos all day. These kids are 10 and almost-9. 5th grade and 3rd grade. They did not just "play" with Legos. They CREATED with Legos! If you could only see the things they created! Amazing!

I went with my instincts of just backing off yesterday in order to avoid having us burn out before the first week of school is over, and it paid off. They worked cooperatively, creatively, & created masterpieces (they are not the type to build Lego kits from beginning to end; they just use the pieces from kits because those pieces are more fun and interesting than standard rectangular Legos). They also problem-solved. I can truly see where days like yesterday will benefit them as adults in the workplace. Can you?!?

In the spirit of full disclosure, I must admit that they also did their math and Andrew did his phonics lesson and Annie worked through a bunch of standards-based activities in some great computer software we have.

We didn't do history or science or grammar or writing or spelling ... but my instincts tell me we still did school.

Monday, August 22, 2011

One GREAT Day!

I found them!!!
I found the missing test results that have to be sent to the superintendent before the first day of public school! After losing sleep over this, I contacted a teacher-friend (you know, a "real" teacher - wink, wink) and asked if she would help me with the alternative to turning in standardized test results. The other option is to submit a paper signed by a "certified teacher" stating that she had reviewed samples from my children's portfolios and found that my children were progressing according to their abilities. She agreed to help. Sounds wonderful, right?!?

Not so much. Yes, problem solved, but another was created too. You see, I had known last year that I was going to have the kids take standardized tests this past spring, so I didn't keep portfolios! So, yes, my friend would help by looking at the non-existent portfolios and signing the papers for the super, but I now had to assemble the required portfolios!

Well, thank you, God! After spending time cleaning out their old binders last night (filled with labeled dividers -- as if I was planning to keep a portfolio of their work!), and typing up the form the friend would have to sign, and printing it (with my very valuable ink, I might add), and dragging book bags and piles of school papers (that were conveniently stored in several mass piles of mostly school papers) into our very neat and tidy new school room that had yet to acquire piles of papers ... yes, AFTER all this ...

I took one more look into a box that my dear, darling, helpful hubby had used to carry, um, piles of papers (etc) from the kitchen to the storage room prior to a party I was hosting. The party was less than a month after I had major surgery, so I certainly did need his help.

I had looked in this box before (when the panic set in because I couldn't find the test results), but as I dug into it, it was all stuff that pre-dated my surgery. They couldn't possibly be in there. But it was the only place I could think to check again (since I had already re-checked every single possible place 3 or 4 times). When I looked again today, I noticed, deeper in the box, under the items that pre-dated my surgery, there was a small pile of more recent stuff. A magazine, for instance! That had come well after my surgery! Gasp! Could it be?!?

I dug down even further ... and there they were! They were at the absolute bottom of the box!!!

Oh, again, thank you, Lord! You are so good to me!

I quickly assembled the rest of the packet, stuffed it, labeled it, and mailed it off!!!
Whew! Maybe now I'll sleep tonight.

On top of that, we managed to accomplish our first full day of school today! We've been building to a full day, and I had planned to have a full day, and I did it! I'm so proud of us!

Friday, August 19, 2011

What to do?!?

All I can do is pray!
I suddenly hit me early this week that I had forgotten about turning in paperwork stating our intent to homeschool again this year. (Should I really be concerned considering I looked at the classroom lists for our local school and my children are not listed?)

So, I started filling in the forms to send back to the Board of Education ... and realized I was missing something important!

We have the option here of submitting either standardized test results, or a certified teacher's evaluation. I did have the kids take the standardized tests this year, for the experience, and received the results much sooner than I ever expected.

Unfortunately, I received the results during my "living in my bed" phase ... pre-surgery. I had surgery mid-May, eliminating the need to live in my bed any longer, and renewing my entire life. Shortly after my surgery, even before I was fully and completely recovered, my mother also had a surgery and I went to stay with her for a week, then drove back and forth for yet another week.

Somehow, in all that, I managed to put those test results "somewhere." Do you think I know where that is now?!? When I need them?!?

Nope. :(

I have been looking. And looking. And looking.
Finally, I started praying. And guess what I found?!?

No, silly, not the test results. I found the library book we thought was "lost" and we still have time to return it before we have to pay for it in full! (In case you're curious, it was right where it was supposed to be ... in the library bin. Unfortunately, papers had also been thrown in there (not the test result papers -- I checked!), several coming to rest on top of this thin paperback. We've only been looking for 2 months.)

So, the prayers worked ... in a way. I found something that was lost ...

Please Lord!!! Please help me find the test results!!!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Change of Plans!

Ok, I'm making a somewhat radical change to my curriculum plans for this year ... not that anything was actually set in stone yet, but in my heart it was.

My plan was to study just American History this year and I REALLY wanted to use All American History, Jr. from Bright Ideas Press as our curriculum, but out of respect for my family's budget, I have broken through my own stubbornness and decided I will continue with Story of the World, which I already own and I know the kids enjoy.

But I still must admit that I'm so very disappointed.
<<Whine whine. Stamp my feet! Thrash around. Groan!>>

Why, oh why, do the school districts get money to spend on our children?!? Why isn't it diverted to parents who can prove they are doing the job?!?

We're getting there!

We are slowly adding in a little more school work each day, building up to next week's new schedule. The public school kids next door head back to school on Wednesday, eliminating the "play outside all day" schedule of summer.

Today we've already completed Spelling, Grammar, Reading, and they are almost done with their Math Placement Tests. We didn't start until after 10:30, they took a break for lunch, and it's now not quite 1:00. And they're almost done!

I do believe that when the "school year" really starts, we'll be good to go!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Finally, a planner for me!


After searching both of our local teacher stores, and looking at what felt like thousands of planners online, I finally found the one that I think will work for me! It's editable, so I can make it my own, and it includes lots of fun doodads like a field trip planner, menu planning forms, chore charts and to do lists. It also includes pages for curriculum planning and yearly plans. 

I'm so excited to have found something I can buy just once, download to my computer, edit to make it my own, save it on my computer each year, and start again, saving it new the next year and the year after, etc.

So what is this wonder planner?!? It's the Weekly Homeschool Planner created by Jolanthe Erb at Homeschool Creations.

Y'know, my Facebook status today reads, "I really need to get organized. Fast! Life is creeping up on me!" Then POOF! Up comes a planner I hadn't seen yet, and it was the answer to my problems (fingers crossed!). Happy planning to me!! 
Weekly Homeschool 

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links.  As an affiliate, I will receive a portion of the sale of any products purchased through links included in this post. The thoughts and opinions expressed are my own. Your experience may vary.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Unexpected Blessings

Today was karate day for me and Andrew. We go twice a week right now. We're only in our first month of this, and it's still summer, and none of our other fall/school year activities have resumed yet, so we haven't quite figured out how karate is going to fit into our normal/school life.

That said, Annie stayed home while Andrew and I went to the dojo (the karate training place). She was told that while I was gone, she had to have breakfast, get dressed, practice her piano lesson, and do a workout on the Wii.

I came home and she met me at the door in her jammies. Had she done anything I asked?!?

She had eaten tuna on crackers. For breakfast.

However, there was a hidden blessing in her disobedience.

She, my Annie, my 10-year-old, had done the laundry. (I HATE doing laundry!)
She had folded the dry towels, transferred the wet stuff, dried it, then STRIPPED MY BED and washed all of my bedding! (Kings-size bedding requires more than one load!)

It is now 9:19 pm and that little domestic diva has just finished remaking my enormous bed. (Hubby and I affectionately call it "the island.") She stuck with that dreadful job from beginning to end, from morning to night!

Lest you think that all she did was laundry, I must admit that in keeping with the idea that it is still summer and I personally want to enjoy some of it still, Andrew and I played on the computers all day (after getting our butts kicked in karate) and she watched LOTS of tv. There, I said it. We vegged. We still did lots of little ordinary things that need to be done, like meals, and walking dogs, and cleaning up messes. But we didn't do school, and we didn't do any big projects.

Except for Annie, who did the laundry. (What a blessing that girl is!)

Sunday, August 14, 2011

School Days

Am I the only one who always has a better day on the days when we "do school" than the days that we take off?

We don't have a schedule, but we do have a routine for school days. Maybe the kids just respond better to the structure rather than the freedom of a no-school day.

Maybe I just feel better because on school days, I'm guaranteed at least a few minutes worth of "control" (ha ha ha ha ha! No, I don't have control issues!).

However, with yesterday being Saturday, we didn't have school. Everyone had a good day, and Annie, my 10-year-old, came home from playing with the neighbors, and took it upon herself to get out her sewing kit and started working on a doll for her friend next door. And she continues to make progress on it without any guidance or "teaching" from me. (I taught her how previously, many many months ago!)

Andrew, on the other hand, flounders without the structure ... if he's not allowed screentime. He's 8 1/2 and would be in heaven if I would let him play on the computer all day everyday. Too bad. I'm not that kind of mom.

Finally, I must admit ... this Mom gets bored without any "school" activities to keep her occupied. We have a busy day today, a full day, with no school activities. I'm already daydreaming about taking the computer along and creating worksheets and doing lessons plans! Can't do it, since the day's activities include church and a family party and a family movie ... but I'm being honest about what I'd rather do.

I'd rather "do school."

Monday, August 8, 2011

Rest & Renewal

It hasn't even been 24 hours yet. We dropped the two youngest off at church camp at 4:45 yesterday (it took us until 5:15 to drag me away). The older kids don't live with us anymore. So, I'm home alone with just the two dogs while the man is at work. For 3 days.

It's now 1:45 in the afternoon and I haven't done much of anything. I've read some homeschooling blogs. I took a bath (with epsom salts to ease my aching body), then a shower so I could wash my hair. I did my hair and put on "clean the house" clothes. I took a birthday card out to the mailbox. I made myself a chocolate banana smoothie (just learned last week that if you put a frozen banana in the blender with some other stuff, it comes out like ice cream ... since I'm lactose intolerant, this is a HUGE finding for me!). I watched a DVD tv show that I had picked up at the library (we don't get regular tv anymore). Guess what I'm going to do next? You guessed it ... not much. I think I'll eat some potato chips, drink some pop (gasp!), and read my book.

Once a year, my children go off to church camp for 3 days and I allow myself a few hours to just shirk all responsibilities, eat some junk, and totally relax. I take the time to relish the quiet.

My husband and I don't "get away" generally, but even if we did ... we would be going somewhere else, and there would still be someone WITH me, and we would probably be DOING something. It's not the same. This is my time to be in my own house, with no children, and no husband ... just ME. (And the dogs, but they can't talk or turn on tv's, washers, driers, dishwashers, or any other noise-producing appliances.)

This won't last long, and I have a long list of tasks I hope to accomplish before they return, but for now, I want to thank God for this moment, this time ... for rest and renewal.

P.S. This is my last year of this, since the older one is aging out of this camp and will go to a different one, at a different time, next summer. I better start working now on how I will get a break next year.