Wednesday, September 03, 2014

1st day of school pictures (a little late)

Oh, and here are 1st day of school pictures.  Three weeks late.  Humph.

 Claire, 7 years old, 2nd grade

Cade, 11 years old, 6th grade

Jack, 9 years old, 4th grade

That Week that had Labor Day {week 3}

Sorry.  No by-the-day account this week.  This week has already been a blur. And not in a good way.  And it's only Wednesday.

I have noticed a disturbing thing (couldn't think of a better word) about myself.  When the homeschool day gets started off on the wrong foot... when kids start crying... when the day goes south... I tend to be done.  Done with the kids.  Done with homeschooling.  At least for that day. 

I find it difficult to get back on track and resume the homeschool day. We are off-schedule, which I think adds to the difficulty.  So not only am I exhausted from dealing with crying kids (crying from either frustration with a sibling, frustration with their work, or because they are now grounded because they woke up late), but now we're off schedule.  And I'm a schedule/routine person.  Which really isn't great, because once we get off the schedule, then I feel like the whole day is not redeemable.  I let the schedule rule me.

Instead, I need to take a break (and allow myself a chance to collect myself after calming kids) and then start back at schooling.  Anywhere.  Any subject.  Even if it's not where we are supposed to be according to the schedule.  At least that would be redeeming the rest of the day.

Ahhh homeschooling.  The ongoing process of self improvement and making-me-more-like-Jesus.

Friday, August 29, 2014

That Week that was Better {week 2}

We had another good day at CC. 

I'm making an effort to reach out to some of the new CC moms so that they feel connected to the community (unlike how I felt much of last year).  I'm also contemplating tutoring next year -- possibly the Essentials class.  Not only would tutoring be fun, but it would greatly help with the expense of CC (Cade starts Challenge A next year which means more cost). But I'm just a nervous nelly. I lack the confidence needed to step up and say I'll tutor.  So more prayer needed in this area.

Oh, and we may or may not have had a dance party when we got home from CC.

Tuesday was also a good day.  Not too many meltdowns (including me) and we got quite a bit of work done.  We had our first piano lesson with a new teacher on Tuesday, and she was a joy. 

Unfortunately, what was supposed to be an hour afternoon lesson (30 minutes for each boy) turned into a two hour affair, complete with oohing and aahing at the expansive model train setup the teacher's husband is in the 8-year process of building.

We still had school left to do when we finally got home from piano.  But we got just about everything done.

With the exception of repeat meltdowns by a particular kid, Wednesday was a pretty good day
Cade, who has a difficult time waking up on time, was not ready to go at 8 AM Wednesday morning (nor was he ready Tuesday at 8AM).  So for the 2nd day in a row, he was grounded from electronics.  Which is a big deal considering Jack purchased a used xbox 360 this past Friday and it's still very new to the kids. Cade came to me with a deal: if he could finish all of his work before 1:30 (which is a feat considering how long it takes this kid to finish math and how hard it is for him to focus), he could then play electronics (but still no TV).  I agreed to this deal, mainly to encourage him and show him that he can focus when his mind is made set.

So he worked.  And worked.  And worked.  And he did it.  He finished by 12:30.

I told Cade I won't be so lenient in the future about our school's start time. Nor will I make any more deals with him.

We didn't quite get everything done Wednesday.  And that was my fault.  I kind of ran out of gas after lunch.  And since there was a day Ranger game... well, it seemed that it was a good enough excuse to call it a day.

Look who woke up on time!

Thursday was a very good day.  No one cried (!).  No one!  Not even me!  It was joyous.  Kids were focused, and we got all of our work done.

Friday.  My favorite day of the week.  This one, however, started out kinda sucky.

Jack had requested a cake to accompany his sleepover later that night, and I had forgotten to get the cake stuff earlier in the week.  So at 7:00 AM, I lugged myself to the grocery store (with sopping wet hair) to get ingredients. I made it back by 7:45 and started baking the cake.  The kids, who wanted to have "early release" that day, had already started working on some of their work before I got back from the store.  Only some were confused about what lessons to do and some were confused by their lessons.  So while I was trying to measure ingredients, mix said ingredients, clean up the kitchen from my messes, and get the cake in the oven, kids were getting frustrated upstairs. 

By the time I got upstairs to start school (not much after 8:00, thank you very much), things were going haywire.  Jack prayed for our day and for me to not get too frustrated.  I stopped everyone from working on their current subject/lesson and we started with our Bible study (a good place to start).  Only, one kid refused -- REFUSED -- to do their Bible work.  It was the weirdest thing.  The assignment was to draw a picture from the story and verses we talked and read about this week (Hannah, Samuel, and Eli).  That was it.  Just draw a stinkin' stick figure type picture. And this kid moaned that they didn't know what to draw and that they didn't want to draw.  So I said to pick any aspect of the story and draw that.  It doesn't have to be their favorite part of the story.  Just any part of the story.  And still:  absolute refusal.  So I sent this kid to their room to think about obedience, their attitude and their willingness to be a student at our school. 

GEESH. I was about to pull my hair out. And it was only 8:15. The drawing itself that i had asked for wasn't a big deal.  But this kid (and I) made it a big deal with our standoff.

Finally, this kid was brought back into the fold after 15 or so minutes.  They apologized to me for being difficult and did the drawing I had initially asked for.  FinallyIt was finished.

General Thoughts
The repeat meltdowns, mainly by the one kid (see Wednesday above), need to stop. Not only are they disruptive to our day, but the meltdowns are exhausting to deal with. The meltdowns are happening because of frustration with a sibling; but the frustrations are unreasonable.  This kid shouldn't be letting these particular things bother them, and they shouldn't let these things bother them so much that they resort to tears (and the rending of garments if I let it go too far).

I've tried to teach this particular kid that they need to pay attention to when they are getting frustrated and use their words nicely to let us know that they are becoming frustrated.  Or go take a break.  Walk away.  Go get a drink of water.  Practice deep breathing.  Something -- anything -- to stop the cycle of frustration & meltdown. But they must not be mature enough to notice and take action yet.  And I'm not always able to help them notice the start of the cycle (if I'm, say, working with another kid one-on-one).  Or if I am able to point out the beginnings of frustration, I'm unable to keep the cycle from happening regardless. 

So I'm at a loss on how to deal with this mess. Any thoughts or ideas from my four faithful readers?

Otherwise, we had a decent. week.  I will hold the memory of Thursday (no meltdowns and no tears) in my heart for a long time as a reminder that those kind of days can happen.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

That Week that was Rocky {week 1}

Boy howdy.  You sure do get rusty over the summer.  We started back to school this past week and, whoa.  WHOA.  We were very out of (school) shape.

Classical Conversations (CC) started this past Monday.  And it was a great day!  It was nice to see old familiar faces again.   Cade ended up staying home from CC because he wasn't feeling too well.  But Jack & Claire & I went and had a good time.  What really had me in knots was how Jack was going to feel about the Essentials class (the afternoon grammar & writing class that Cade & I did last year). It's a grueling yet exciting class, and I could see where Jack would be overwhelmed. 

But he LOVED it!

I decided to take Tuesday off to get a lot of things done around the house.  We got home from a last minute vacation to Red River, NM, late Sunday night, and a mountain of laundry waited as did grocery shopping and getting 57,342 bugs cleaned off the front of my car.  I was really glad we took Tuesday off.  It was a productive day, and I would have been overly stressed trying to get all that done AND doing school.

The rubber met the road on Wednesday.  We officially started homeschooling on this day.  And yikes.  Chaotic begins to describe how the day went.  Kids were crying, I felt like I was running around like a chicken with its head cut off, and I was seriously contemplating putting the kids back in public school.

Thursday was a little better than Wednesday.  We still had kids crying, I still felt like my head was chopped off, and things were still chaotic.  I decided that we needed to have a schedule to help my manage my time (when I would be working one-on-one with kids throughout the day) and worked on that.  Thursday was a terrible day for me personally.  Terrible.

Friday was much, much better.  We loosely followed the schedule (I made sure that the kids knew how to read the schedule; there isn't much point to giving them a schedule if they don't know how to read and use it) and peace and order were restored.  Kind of.  At least there were no tears.  Well, there were some tears, but it wasn't nearly as dramatic as Wednesday & Thursday.  I was able to keep calm during the kid eye leaking process and thought to myself that maybe I didn't need to register the kids for public school.  So, success!

One kid, perhaps the oldest one (but I'm not naming any names), had trouble waking up on time this week.   This isn't a new phenomena.  And he started to mention that I could just wake him up when it was time to start school... and I laughed.  I told him that it isn't my job to wake him up anymore.  He has an alarm clock in his room.  He has a watch with an alarm built into it.  He has the tools to wake up on his own, and he needs to use them. 

You see, the kids lose game/TV privileges if they are not at their desks by 8:00 AM Tuesday through Friday.  A little harsh?  Maybe.  But I have found that if my family doesn't get started at a particular time, then it's easy to procrastinate starting school, and before you know it, it's 10AM and we haven't even finished breakfast. 

Friday, August 15, 2014

You're in the Right Place

I was getting tired of the old Frantlings look, so I'm playing around with some different looks.  Don't be surprised if it looks different every time you come for a little while.   :)

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

A Peak Into My Binder

I keep a homeschool binder.  Inside, I've got our book reading lists, writings prompt ideas, field trip ideas, and memory work ideas and games.  I also have one special section at the back of the binder.  It's labeled "Emergency."

And for good reason.

I hope to not need this section of the binder.  But it's there.  Just in case.

Monday, August 11, 2014

It's About That Time

It's about that time. You know what I'm talking about, don't you?
School is about to start.
Shhhhhhh.  Don't say it too loud!  I've still got my head in the proverbial sand.  And I like it that way. Sure, I've done some prep work, made plans, organized papers.  But mentally?  I'm not even *close* to being ready.

Maybe the completely last minute, completely unexpected, complete blessing of a vacation to the mountains will help get my perspective right.

One can always hope, right?

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Questions, Questions, Questions

So the question has come up:  what now?  What now that we've finished our school year?  Am I still going to write?  Are there any conclusions to the dribble you've been reading for the past 9 months?

I'll answer a few of those questions now.  And in reverse order because I'm weird like that.

Here's your conclusion, Becky.  We're gonna let the great experiment called homeschooling continue.  We determined that, since nobody killed each other over the past year, and the kids actually learned a few things, we would like to continue.  We still have kinks to work out (namely the recurring bad attitude of one of my students), but a little light has been shed on that particular issue.  We may be working towards a resolution.  It's too early to tell yet, but I think we may have hit upon the problem (frustration and overwhelm at the amount of work to do in certain subjects).

Am I still going to write?  Hmmm.  Now that is a good question.  I'd like to continue writing.  But the question that I have then is... what do I write about?  Continue to write about the shenanigans of my family?  The crazy antics of my kids?  Homeschooling?  How thick the callouses on my feet are?  (Note to self:  it's time for a pedi) 

So I'd love your input, Becky, since you may be the only one reading this.