Sunday, September 26, 2010

Bed Bugs and Priorities

This summer we were exposed to bed bugs.  I had an inkling that we might have brought something home with us and then it was confirmed that the cabin we had stayed in had bed bugs.  Only one child had suffered from numerous bites, so I made a weak attempt to clean her bed.  I washed her bedding and vacuumed the top of her mattress.  Since the bites stopped, I stuck my head back in the sand and went about my merry way. mother-in-law let us know that a month after the reunion they had found a bed bug.   Oh goodness.

Today I spent an entire beautiful sunny autumn day washing bedding and dragging mattresses, etc. out into the sunshine to inspect them for signs of bed bugs.  I was overwhelmed and asked hubby to pick up a pizza or something.  He cooked instead.  It was great, but I feel guilty.  What has happened to me?  We eat "out" (not cooked by me) more than we eat food I've prepared.  I'm at least 50 lbs. overweight.  The house is dirty.  And homeschool?  It doesn't match my original vision at all.

What is my homeschool vision?  It is hard to put into words.  I see us going about our day in a leisurely  manner instead of hurrying to check off each item on a to-do list.  We would have time for read alouds.  There would be time to cook dinner without pressure.  Learning for the sake of learning vs. school at home.  In one word?  Relaxed.

Now, how do I get there?

Friday, September 24, 2010

Week 4

Yeah, early morning seminary is still causing some foul ups here.  Should that be foul or foul?  Hmmm...I think foul (notably unpleasant or distressing) is a better choice than foul (being outside the foul lines in baseball).   I am absolutely dragging every afternoon which affects homeschool.  I'm too tired to think, I don't have any energy, and I am irritable.  Seriously irritable.

My mantra continues..."I will get through this....I will get through this.....I will get through this...."

In order to "get through this" I'm going to have to make some changes.  The story of my homeschool career...tweaking.  Our homeschool has never been routine.  I am constantly tweaking, adjusting.  This year, month, week, will be no different. 

The first casualty happened before the new school year started.  I finally admitted that Rod & Staff's Bible Nurture and Reader Series was a poor fit for my struggling 8yo.  Love the readers but the workbooks were too much for her.

Next up?  All About Spelling as a remedial spelling program for my 12 and 15yo girls.  I wanted them to understand why certain words are spelled the way the are.  We were covering a lesson per day.  They didn't seem to mind.  Unfortunately, I needed to find some extra time somewhere and they needed more challenging words.  I returned 15yo and introduced 12yo to Phonetic Zoo.  Spelling is now an independent subject.  I still look forward to using All About Spelling with my 8yo (she's using the CD to learn the basic phonograms at this point).  I realize using Phonetic Zoo instead of AAS doesn't add much time to my day but mentally it has done wonders.  Less for me to worry about.

Okay, this one is a little embarrassing.  I've been using Writing With Ease Workbook: Level 1 with my 12yo.  Again the idea was to work through it quickly to make sure we had our bases covered.  We were doing a week in two days.  Of course dd didn't seem to mind because it was seriously easy.  As much as I like it, I um...admitted that she needs something vastly more challenging.  She's behind but not THAT behind.  Really not sure what to do with her in regards to writing.  Also, I don't think writing should be a daily subject by itself.

Science or history not both.  I've been doing both biology and ancient history with 15yo each day.  I'm going to try doing each subject for several days at a time and then switching to the other.  This is a head game as I don't believe it will help save time.  One less thing on the daily checklist may help me feel less overwhelmed.

I am also considering ditching Rod & Staff Arithmetic 1.  It is mostly drill of math facts.  It is killing my 8yo.  She likes Singapore Math (Frank Schaffer) much better.  The number bonds seem to be sticking, so we may focus on those for awhile and take a relaxed approach to math. 

Having schedules has helped to get more accomplished, but we aren't having fun.  I'm still mulling over how to find a good balance between the two.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Cheese, Hairy Legs, and Gift Shop Knives

Saturday we drove to Tillamook to tour the cheese factory.  We decided to take in the local air museum also.  8yo began whining before we hit the air museum parking lot, so I volunteered to sit out in the Westfalia with her.  Shortly after settling in, I remembered that I had brought some of her school books with me in hopes of doing a little planning during the drive up to Tillamook.  I retrieved them from my parents SUV giving 8yo quite a shock .  Once she realized that mom wasn't kidding, she sat back in her seat, pulled out her tourist knife from the cheese factory gift shop, and proceeded to trim her leg hairs with the scissors attachment.  The doors were closed to keep the dog inside.  The windows were closed to keep the rain out.  The 8yo was happily trimming her hairy legs.  We were reviewing math and science.  It was all very muggy cozy.  

BTW, my legs received a trim also. ; )

Friday, September 17, 2010

The week from "H" "e" double hockey sticks.

My 15yo attends an early morning religion class at our church every weekday (public school schedule).  In order to get her to class at 6:30am, I have to wake up at 5:30am.  I am NOT a morning person.  My body clock is set for a 1am bedtime and a 9am wake time. Somehow I survived last year and then summer, wonderful summer, arrived.

This was the first full week of class.  Monday I was tired.  Tuesday I was tired and irritable.  Wednesday I was a witch and my face felt like it might slide off my face.  Thursday my joints ached, I thought I was going to die, and I went a step above and beyond being a witch.  Being exhausted you would think I would fall asleep easily.  Not quite.  Every night I would lie down before 9:30pm but I couldn't fall asleep.  Bleh!  Thursday night I was desperate.  I sent the 8yo and 12yo to bed at 8:15pm (they are used to 10pm) and I went to bed too.  It wasn't great sleep, but I do feel somewhat better today.  Did I mention I was also suffering from PMS this week too?

Somehow homeschool went on...barely.  Please tell me next week is going to improve. 

It Could Always Be Worse
Maybe it is time to pull out my favorite picture book and give it another read. 

Friday, September 10, 2010

Week 2

I added in 15yo, and I'm shocked with how well this week went.  Apparently the scheduling system (weekly table for each student) is helping.  With the three schedules stapled together I can see the big picture and keep track of each child's individual assignments.

15yo started seminary this past Thursday.  With a waking time of 5:40am she is super tired during the day.  Last year she napped but the sleep specialist has said no naps.  Thursday we tried our one-on-one tutoring session in the afternoon but she had a hard time staying alert.  This morning we read Biology and ancient history together as soon as we returned home from early morning seminary.  I think it was a boost for her to have the bulk of school completed early in the day.

One glitch has been 8yo's schedule.  She has been up to full speed this week.  Unfortunately, I've had a few days where we simply could not complete everything.  We have had three rushed days this week and her work is the first casualty on those days.

This brings me to "rushing."  Three out of our four school days this week have been rushed which takes the fun out of homeschool.  Tuesday we rushed to finish before big sis's weekly visit.  Wednesday we rushed, so we could leave for Activity Day at church in the afternoon.  Friday we rushed so we could attend a picnic with dad's co-workers.   The only solution I see is starting school earlier.

Good things:
  • 8yo memorized a poem ("The Caterpillar" by Christina G. Rosetti).  She has a hard time parroting the most basic sentences, so I consider this a miracle.  In these two short weeks I have seen the fruit of consistency.  It is truly sweet.  
  • Though 12yo has no love of school, she comes to me ready to work and "get it over with."  I'm thankful she doesn't run and hide.
  • In the past, 15yo tended to silently dig in heels.  She would simply forget that I had given her a list of school work to be accomplished that day.  This week it was a relief to see her doing her work without constant reminders from me.  I'm also proud of her for wanting to attend seminary.
Tomorrow, amongst my chauffeuring jobs, I hope to extend my school planning by another week.  12yo needs grammar and 15yo needs German, grammar, and writing.

I need to remember to keep Tuesdays lighter than the rest of the week.  We want to enjoy big sister's visit on that day.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Week 1 Wrap-up (Rusty Chain)

The first day was tough.  It was like trying to ride a bike with a rusty chain.  Lots of exertion without moving very far along. Add in some awful squeaking noises.  12yo - compliance with frustration and tears.  8yo - non-compliance with copious amounts of whining

Day 2 - It was like someone oiled the chain.  Not as much exertion needed.  Moved more easily.

Days 3&4 - Did someone put a new chain on the bicycle overnight?  School went smoothly and ended a couple of hours earlier (for the 12yo).

Day 5 - We're in the groove.  No, they aren't jumping up and down for joy, but they realize Mom is going to stick to her guns.  "We will be consistent."

I have always LOVED planning.  Putting the plan into action?  Um, well, I've never been too successful with that.  
Week 1 - 12yo  
This year I made a table for each of my students - days of the week across the top, subjects in the left-hand column.  I typed in what I thought we could reasonably accomplish in each block/cell.  I planned out four weeks in which the weeks are progressively more productive.  Week one we worked on basics with lots of review - handwriting, spelling, math, Latin (reading for 8yo), history, and science, etc.   It was just right.  Week two I'll add Christian studies and writing.  Week three - grammar.  Week four - full speed ahead.