Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Never All Grown Up

Never All Grown Up

Life is short.   Way too short to take yourself so seriously. If I have learned anything in my forty years on this planet, it is that you need to enjoy life to the fullest extent possible.   We all have responsibilities and problems, but we can not allow them to eat away at our enjoyment of life.   To that end, I chose to express my silly side during Halloween.   
My modest decor only hints at my love of this holiday. My children's costumes give a much bigger clue. Of course, I always dress up; however, usually my focus is on the kids. With my older two living away from home I focus my energies on my one remaining child.  My soon to be 12yo son gets the brunt of his parents love of the holiday.  
Every year I say we should do something easy. I lie to myself often, it seems.   I swear I will not be sewing a costume,  or that we will not do something that takes hours of makeup. One day I will learn to not make such proclamations and just go with it. In the end we enjoy this time of year.
I leave you with some examples of our love of Halloween
Halloween 2013

Halloween 2012

Halloween 2011

Friday, October 18, 2013

You just know

Even before my eyes open I know what kind of day it will be. I lay there trying to decide how I'm going to attack the day.  When you deal with chronic pain you just know how your day will go.  As I slowly get out of bed, I make note the most painful parts of my body. I take a grim stock of my pain level for the day.  Head hurts, hmmm, my skin hurts. My knees, neck and lower back all hurt.  Wonder what I did to trigger this flare.  
I am tired of the daily fight to be productive.   I know better than to give into the pain.  So I mentally go over the things that I wish to accomplish and start to prioritize them.  Getting dressed is not as important as homeschooling. Do I do laundry or dishes?  Vacuuming the steps can wait for another day. Dinner is easy if I can hold the migraine at bay.
Some time ago this would have been frustrating,  but now it is part of my routine.  The years I have spent with chronic pain have taught me to meter out my energy in small doses.   My "do a little,  sit a little" mantra rings loud and true.   Still, I can't help feeling a little down as I shrink the list of things I will accomplish today.  
Wow, the energy required to shrink my list makes me need a nap.  Guess a second cup of coffee will have to do.  I am required to assist in math review.  Sometimes it hurts to exist, but I would not change my path. I am strong in ways I never thought possible.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Homeschool Adaptation

Monday morning on a busy week.   Time to wake up and get started.   Wake up my sleepy boy and make sure he gets fed.  We watch our episode of Pokemon, a daily occurrence here at Casa G, and then our day starts.

My pre teen son goes off to do his morning grooming and I review our lesson plan for the day.  We have pressed hard over the last few days to make sure that we are ready for tomorrow.  We will be out of the house for most of the day, so he has worked hard to make sure he does not get behind as we take a day off to run errands.    

I am not the catalyst for the push, he is.   I have worked hard to instill in him the importance of hard work and honesty.  Each year of our homeschool journey, I have given over to him more and more of the responsibility in his studies.   This has not always met success.   There have been more than a few bumps in the road.    

My end goal is to have a young man who understands that hard work and focus are needed for success, that his success is dependent on his ability.   I have chosen to use a curriculum because my son seems to crave some structure.  The curriculum is not the end of our education.   He is learning to to cook, a skill that will prove useful his whole life. My husband is teaching him to work in the shop.  

He plays with kids of all ages, both online and in the neighborhood.   My son, who will soon be 12, loves to play his keyboard.   This child who did not like to read is learning to have a love of books.  We just had to find something that interested him  .

No two homeschoolers are alike.   We are like snowflakes.   What works for one family may not work for all.   The joy of this homeschooling journey is that you and your child(ren) get to choose the path that works for your family.  Some kids work better sitting on the floor, some at a desk,  Some learn by reading aloud and some by quiet study.   

One of the very best parts of this journey is that you adapt it to your life.   My son likes to sit on the floor, we are not really desk people I guess.   He likes to read aloud, he is very verbal.  The young man in my house likes to do his learning in the early day.  He would rather have his afternoons free.  Some kids are more receptive after getting some  exercise.  I found this to be true when he was younger but not so much now.  

When you choose this path remember, the road will wander.   Sometimes you will have a bad day or week, but you will find your way back to the path you have chosen.   That sometimes a lesson is a trip to the store with a list of things for dinner. I am thankful daily that I was able to take this path with my son.   I think that we have both learned much for the time we have been on the road.   I know there are more lessons to learn right around the corner.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013


As a homeschooling mom, I find that sometimes I need to help my son gain motivation.   This is the first year I have really run into resistance with him.   After talking to other moms and reading other blogs, I know I am not alone here.    Somedays, I just feel lost in how to reach him.

I am not going to lie:  Not every day here is sunshine and roses.   Sometimes we struggle to make it through the day.  I do my best to keep my cool and not get angry; I don’t always win that battle.   I am human and as such, I make mistakes.   I take my role as teacher very seriously.  My son takes his role as student very seriously, sometimes too seriously.  

Most times, I try to lighten the mood; sometimes I have to walk away and count to ten.   Mostly, I try to change the problem into a learning experience for us both.  When your child is testing his boundaries and pushing his limits, when his hormones are beginning to stir, life as a homeschool mom can be stressful on both of you.   

I try to meet each day with a positive attitude no matter what the day before held.   You can’t hold on to the negative. If we have had a bad school day, I try to give us both some space to cool off after.  Then we go on about our day with the negative forgotten.   Again, we are not perfect, so this is something we have to work at.

For the most part we do great, and my son does his work with enthusiasm, but we all have hard times.  Facing the frustration with calm and a positive attitude can change a fight into a giggle, and hard times into productive learning opportunities.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

If I can do it so can you

Homeschooling is a choice.  It is a lifestyle. It is a family decision.  Once you make this decision you feel overwhelmed and unburdened all at once. My family, when backed into a corner by the public school system, had no choice.   We decided that the best thing for our son was to take him out of the system.  This would give us a freedom to teach him the things that we felt the school system was lacking.  Now with Common Core in full swing, I am so glad we made that choice.

When you tell your friends and family that you are going to homeschool you get all kinds of responses.  Mostly about how your child will miss other kids, and that you can’t do as well as a teacher with a degree.   Well I am here to tell you I have done just fine.  My son is at or above grade level in every subject.

The one thing that makes me laugh is when people tell me “I could never homeschool.”  My answer is, if I can do it so can you.   I have listened to every excuse under the sun, from “I don’t have a degree” to “I don’t have the patience.”  These reasons are pie crust excuses - easily made easily broken.  As a high school graduate with no degree, and little to no patience, I can tell you that you will be amazed the change in you and your child once you take the indoctrination of the public school system out of the equation.

So three years into this homeschool gig I have to tell you,  my son can stand in a line, take turns and even play with peers.   All things that people believe your kids can only learn in the public school system.  It seems amazing that he learned these skills without a “teacher” to guide him.   With him being my only child living at home, how could it be that he knows these important lessons?   Well he is a kid.  If he wants to play with other kids he needs to take turns, and as for standing in line, we do it at the store, at the movies, and many other places.   

My son plays well with his peers, and kids both younger and older than him.   It seems amazing that a child who is basically being raised as an only child has learned to play with kids of all ages.   Frankly, he has been exposed to kids of all ages his whole life.   If he were in school he would not interact with kids of so many different ages.

My son is learning to study and learn with minimal adult direction.   Now I do give a lot of credit to Calvert School, this amazing curriculum has been a wonderful guide for our educational path.   Homeschool gives us the option to take a lesson and expand it so that our whole family learns.  I am my son’s learning guide, but my husband is the Science guru and helps him with experiments.  Homeschool, for us, is a family event.   We all participate.  Even my older girls have been known to jump in and help from time to time.  

Before you tell yourself that you could never homeschool, take a moment to consider that it is a growing movement (interesting article).  You no longer have to go it alone.   With the amount of Co-Ops and online resources available, you can find support for whatever you needs may be.  Think about the simple joys of not having to catch the bus, or pack a lunch.   Parent teacher conferences that will happen around the dinner table.  

I know this path is not for everyone, each of us need to make our own decisions and do what is best for our family.  However, I honestly believe in the growing movement.  I have seen my child remember what it is like to enjoy learning.  Our family has grown closer as we all pull together to help our child learn.   The dissenting voices have been quieted, and I am happy to be able to choose what I think is important to learn.

Before you say “I can’t do it” remember my mantra, If I can do it, so can you.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Even If.....

Friendship is more than pressing like on a Facebook status.   I have met tons of amazing people on Facebook, Miio and other social networking sites, people that I have created bonds with.   Men and women who I pray for and care about their lives.  Being a homeschooling and single car family, I don’t get out much.  Ok, let’s be honest here, I am a homebody and I am afraid of crowds, so I stay in my safe zone.  

Years ago I was blessed to meet a group of ladies who really make me feel like a part of a wild extended family.   We live all over the country.  We laugh, cry and share our lives.    If I had the money, I would bring them all here for a visit.  (yep, homebody).   They were my sanity when I moved 2600 miles from home and lost contact with my friends back home.   They all kept my chin up when my husband (our only income) was unemployed for six months.   I love this group of ladies like sisters.  We are all different and come from varied backgrounds but we all share our joys and sorrows.  

I have long been a pretty social person (homebody issues notwithstanding), and when I moved, I craved adult interaction outside of my little family.   In doing so I have found a group of people who have become close friends.   It’s nice to have people to invite over for dinner, and go out with.   We have met amazing couples and I have met some wonderful ladies.   They have all been warm and friendly.  

All in all, my friends, both virtual and close at hand, make me a better person.   They all make me remember diversity, kindness and joy.  For the most part they love me…..

Even if I can’t spell.  Yep, I can’t spell.  Spell check has been known to tell me to get a clue. I don’t use commas correctly, oh, and we won’t even get into my love of the :) and ellipses…

Even if...   Yep, I have an issue, I tend to tell it like it is.  It’s not always the best of ideas, but hey, it’s who I am.  I call ‘em how I see ‘em and let the chips fall how they may.   I have however learned in my years to temper my statements with kindness.  

Even if….  I am a big ‘ol Pagan.   I tell ya I really had a fear of moving from CA to NC and having to hide who I am.   I decided early on to just be me.  Although it has lead to some interesting conversations and even a few lessons, I have been met with kindness and no one has burned me at the stake yet.

I guess my point here is that friendship requires that you overlook flaws and differences, and to be a friend you have to accept a person for who they are, not who you want them to be