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Homeschool Roller Coaster

For my birthday (which was yesterday) Mr. Sexy sent me to my girl friend’s house for a night of some R&R.  (More to come later because I have amazing friends and family.) The visit was much needed and while I got to hang out with her beautiful girls, my kids were nowhere to be found.  I missed them – sort of.  But then when their baby wouldn’t sleep or their toddler happened to throw a tantrum I remembered what I was getting a break from.  This meant Mr. Sexy was home dealing with all that mess.  By himself.  It was fun for him- I think -sort of.  But it also had it’s difficulties as Mr. Sexy saw firsthand many of the difficulties I face with Marie every-day-all-day.

We are getting off the homeschool roller coaster.

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My Mom and Homeschooling

I always assumed I would be a home schooling mom to my kids.  That’s how I was raised, after all.  At least, until 8th grade. That’s when I hit the public school system.  That’s not my story for today though.  Today I’m talking about home schooling and my mom and my daughter.

Mr. Sexy and I are finally seeing a specialist to help us with Marie. It has already proven helpful for me to hear somebody knowledgeable tell me things like, “It definitely sounds like she has pica and here’s why,” and “It sounds like what’s happening is this: (mind blowing advice that we know but didn’t KNOW).”

However one thing we hit hard on was homeschooling versus going back to public school. In a nutshell, it is strongly suggested that we re-enroll Marie full time in school because that gives us a break from each other and Marie gets to be social. The social aspect was mentioned over and over and over again.

What I heard was: The only and best way for Marie to improve socially is to enroll her in school full time right away. The best way for your relationship to improve is to become her mom full time instead of her part-time or full-time teacher.

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I Home School

I’m homeschooling.

There are handfuls of people who probably think I shouldn’t be homeschooling. I don’t know this for a fact as no one has said this directly to me. But I have heard some things.  I also sense the ideas in questions I receive when I talk about Marie.

Those concerns, questions and opinions are battles for me.

Simply going to church is a battle.  Everywhere my family goes there are concerns, questions and opinions.  When these things are brought to my attention, my defenses shoot up high and fast.  This makes me difficult to talk to. I have answers for most questions and concerns that come my way because it all gets repeated.  New town, same story. And that’s okay because God is alive in our home.

I don’t think I have made it clear how much homeschooling has lessened stress for me at home.

When Marie was in public school, the bus picked her up and dropped her off.  I woke up early to get her showered, dressed and fed. Mornings were the worst for us. I tried many ways to encourage her to pick up the pace and get things done so she would be on time. Lists, pictures, nagging, doing it all for her.  S-T-R-E-S-S

But then I had the entire day to myself. Wooo!!!! Yet by the time 3:30 would roll around I could feel the stress of what was to come creep up on me. What was it going to be today?  Did she eat her lunch on the bus? Did she sneak some nail polish on the bus and eat that instead? Did she pull her hair out of her nice up-do again? What about her “friends?” Did she kick anybody today? Was she disruptive in the classroom again? Are the buttons ripped off her new shirt? There was just about always something that would be wrong. Some of it was minor, as you can see.  But other times it wasn’t so small.

After she got home there was a rush of things for me to deal with. Her appearance (torn clothing ect.), the report of her day, finding things in her backpack that aren’t supposed to be there, looking at the homework hoping she would understand it.

Between getting home from school and bedtime there was a very small window to deal with what happened in her day, to get her homework done and to eat dinner and go to bed on time.  Forget playing.

S-T-R-E-S-S

Now we home school. It’s not perfect.  It’s not stress free, by any means. But it’s working for us.

We get up leisurely now. Our schooling doesn’t have a definitive start and end point.  For instance, this morning she is going to be starting an hour and a half late because I have had a rough morning. There are some days where we don’t get to school at all. Don’t worry, that doesn’t happen often.

Homeschooling is helping to improve my relationship with Marie.  That seems backwards, even to me. While we have our really bad days, we also have good days.  This morning, with Denai sitting on my lap, I asked Marie to refill my coffee cup. That’s progress. It’s progress for her brain and it’s progress in our relationship. When I ask her to do something that is for me, (it’s almost a selfish thing) it’s a small way that I show I’m willing to accept her and what she has to offer in my life.

While the stress from her public school days are gone, there is still stress being home all day together. She finds things to eat when she feels she won’t be caught. (She will actually get up and look through stuff to find something.) If I leave the room, she likes to behave inappropriately – which is really irritating. She struggles with the most basic schooling concepts and I just want her to GET IT. She takes a really long time to learn.

Ultimately, that is why I home school. She takes a really long time to learn.

In math I have spent an entire math working with her on 1 + 0 = 1. I have learned that she learns well visually.  So we use blocks on the carpet to visually see that a number plus nothing equals that same number in the number sentence.  It’s hard for her to understand which is frustrating to me because I don’t see how it’s a difficult concept.  However, she’s starting to get it.  Slowly.

So, I home school. It’s the right decision for us right now.

Homeschool Thoughts

I’m taking the advice from this post and writing in response to today’s post from Tales of a Pee Dee Momma.

I’m really unhappy with the public school system.  This semester we did a homeschool program through Connections Academy and Marie worked through an alternative program called Odyssy.  Getting in the groove of things was difficult.

For instance:  One of our criteria is 4 hours in the Compass program (Odyssy), one hour in each subject.  Well, Marie did each lesson but it only took like 15 minutes because it’s basically a little movie with a 10-question quiz to go with it.  The first weeks I was getting emails because she wasn’t spending any time in this program.  UMMMMM

Not only was she spending time in the program in each subject, but I was supplementing like crazy to make sure we spent one full hour in each subject.  Since Connections Academy doesn’t have extra resources (like worksheets or a list of reading materials) I spent hours trying to find stuff on my own.  FINALLY Michael’s kindergarden teacher introduced me to teachers pay teachers.  This site has been amazing for me and I have been able to find lots of great stuff for free easily.

Currently, Marie is sitting across from me doing her end of year standardized tests.  It just makes me laugh.  It would be easier for both of us if I just went through and clicked answer (A) for each question.   She doesn’t understand a single question in large part because it’s confusing.  She is working on first and second grade stuff people.  She is nowhere near what these tests are testing her on.

So now, Mr. Sexy’s ideas for next year are starting to take root in my own mind.  His ideas make me nervous, but if we can do it well and not get lazy, it could be really great.

According to Idaho law, we can take Marie (or any of our children) out of school and homeschool them without being under any kind of institution such as Connections Academy.  As long as we are teaching and they are learning, it’s all good.  However, if we aren’t teaching at home, we can get into trouble.  HOWEVER they have to prove that we aren’t teaching – which would be difficult I would think.

To me, this sounds loopy.  I feel weird about it.

Then I look over at Marie’s standardized test she has been working on for an hour and know most answers will get a red x when she’s all done.

Hmmmm….

What I want from homeschool:

  • Her mind to be active.
  • Teaching her where she’s at. 
  • A large emphasis on life skills such as proper teeth brushing, vacuuming and making breakfast. 
  • Giving her the time she needs to get her task completed.
What I’m getting from our current homeschool program: 
  • Her mind is active.
  • At home I can bring it all to her level.  In her live lessons, I see that concepts go over her head.
  • A large emphasis on the academics. 
  • In her live lessons, if she doesn’t get it, things simply move on and I can see that sometimes her teacher just wants an answer.  Any answer.  Any grade.  Just something to put in the grade book. 
I hate the grade book for Marie.  She doesn’t understand the point nor does she care.  Neither do I, for that matter.  The only grades that go in her “grade book” currently are when they are “good” grades.  And honestly, it takes a long time for Marie to get a good grade on any quiz.
This summer we are planning to experiment with our own homeschool curriculum.  As I look around at other homeschool moms, it looks like many others do the same thing.  Am I right about this or am I missing something?  

I Do What I Want

I’m trying something new these days: I’m doing what I feel like doing.

Life is stressful.  It’s more stressful than I tend to admit.  I am reminded of this when I meet new people and I hear comments like, “Wow, I can’t believe you do all that!”  I’m not trying to toot my own horn here (as much as I like to do that sort of thing) but I often downplay those kinds of comments.  I say stuff like, “Well, homeschooling Marie is pretty easy because what she’s learning is so basic and we do it over and over and over again.”  In reality, however, it’s extremely difficult and my emotions play a large role in that.

I’ll use our recent weekend as an example.

Second night kids roasted hot dogs and we adults had steak
and corn on the cob.  Uber yummy.

We went camping and it was fun!  When it came to sleeping through the night, Mr. Sexy and I were worried about Denai.  We knew Michael would sleep like a rock and assumed Marie would be too scared and cold to venture out of her tent to “explore” and scavenger for “snacks.”

I used the word, assume.  Don’t miss that.

Saturday morning arrived and I opened the trunk of our mini van to get out the breakfast goodies.  My heart started to pound through my chest, my hands felt clammy and my ears were burning.  Marie did, in fact, have it in her to go through the trouble of finding food even in 30 degree weather.  (It may not have been that cold but it was pretty darn cold at night!)  She ate 2 protein bars, 3 nutri-grain bars and our bag of hot dog buns.  All of these packages were sealed as of the night before.

She spent the entire morning sitting on her hands in a chair while the rest of us ate breakfast.  Then when we got home she wrote 100 sentences: I will not be sneaky.

Breakfast time.


It’s now Wednesday and I’m still having trouble letting go of what happened camping.  I’m still reminded of the erasers, too.  I just don’t understand it.  Not one little bit.  In my non-understanding I’m frustrated.  With the frustration I find anger.  And when I allow anger to be in control, the Sexy household isn’t all that fun.

So like I said earlier, I’m practicing doing what I feel like doing.

Not in bad way, though.

For instance: Monday I decided should be a no school day so that’s what we did.  I had two easy-to-reach goals which I accomplished.  Everything after was gravy.  Yesterday I didn’t feel like spending 5 hours in the den trying to teach Marie about capitals and lowercase letters like I have been doing for months now.  So I didn’t.  She performed her computer work and I let our school day end with that.

This concept of doing what I feel like doing isn’t a long term solution to life problems and it won’t work for everyone – at least, not all the time.  But for now it’s helping me to relax during my day and realize that life isn’t just about the accomplished tasks.  It’s okay to take a break.  Maybe that’s what I need in my days right now.

I’m linking up with My Sweet Peanut because it turns out I blogged about the topic:

Frustration 

Z is for Zig-Zag: My Journey Through Parenthood

Z is for Zig-Zag.

There is no cookie cutter model for parenting.  This annoys me.  I wish I could read one book, just one, and that one book would have all the answers for everybody.  This just wouldn’t work.  God made everybody so annoyingly unique so that as we all connect to each other and start growing families, each family becomes annoyingly unique.  Okay, annoying may not be the right word because it’s actually pretty amazing to think about.  Yet, annoying just might fit…sometimes?

Easter, 2014

Therefore, for our family, it’s important that we be extremely flexible.  Roll with the punches.  Zig-Zag when we need to.  I have 3 kids and they are all so different.  The oldest has down syndrome and is home-schooled.  The middle (and oldest too) goes to public school in the town next door to ours.  The youngest is just turning into a toddler.  Each one has their own sets of needs and desires.  Each one has a beating heart that is yearning for love and affection from Mr. Sexy and I.

So when Michael has a school recital I have to relax a bit on the homeschool front.  When Denai isn’t feeling well I have to drop everything and run to the doctor.  When Marie is having a bad day I have to allow her and I time and space to move past whatever happened.

This concept is difficult for me.  I like to have an orderly schedule, although you might not guess this if you could see how good not good I am at keeping my room clean.  Even a poop schedule is important to me.  However, this year it seems that every day, every week, every month, shit just happens.  We haven’t had very many “normal” days.  Interestingly, Michael tends to be at his dad’s house when “shit just happens.”  I like to think that God is sparing his tender heart since he is already dealing with two sets of parents and two sets of sisters.

Oh well.  It’s all okay.  I’m really learning to let go and accept the chaos that is my life.  Beer and rum help with that, I’ve got to be honest there!

This is the A-Z blogging challenge so go ahead and read the introduction and see a list of all my A-Z posts.

V is for Victory!: My Journey Through Parenthood

V is for Victory!

I have been looking forward to this post all month.  Celebrating our victories, no matter how small and insignificant they seem, are worth a woopwoop! and a high five.  At the very least.  Frankly, acknowledging my small victories is what gives me a little more fight to continue on the journey of parenthood.

Learning to be Marie’s parent has been a long, dark and twisty road.  It’s still long but not as dark and twisty these days.  Thank you victories!  On the big bad days when my tongue was on fire and my hands didn’t behave like the Mrs. Sexy God created, I felt wrought with guilt.  One of the things that kept me moving forward was the personal victory of a smile, an I’m sorry or the mere fact that I managed to make dinner that night.

 Celebrating the victories!, large and small, help every day.

Since homeschooling, I have one huge victory! that I want to share with you.  I’m incredibly proud of myself and Marie for our hard work and dedication.

When I became part of her life and started attending IEP meetings for the first time I was completely overwhelmed.  I said yes to every suggestion the teachers had because they knew better than I.  Time passed and I began to have an opinion.  One of my opinions was that Marie’s handwriting sucked and needed improvement.  Her teachers agreed.  Then I started hearing, “I can’t figure out how to make her write nicely.” I heard this many times in a variety of ways.  Towards the end of Marie’s 5th grade year her teacher pushed to focus more on typing skills and less on handwriting.  I wasn’t happy about this but wasn’t sure Marie was capable of decent handwriting.  I had never worked with her on it.  I just checked homework.  Aren’t the teachers the ones to teach things like proper handwriting?

Enter me as the overbearing homeschooling mom who has high expectations no matter who you are.

Enter Marie who has not been held to high standards for a number of years.

Put us together and you have a girl who can write legibly, correctly and neatly.  This is a feat I had been told was impossible.

It really makes my blood boil when I think about it.

Teaching Marie how to write appropriately in the lines was (and is) laborious work.  At first we spent an entire hour attempting to write one letter correctly.  One letter.  But that’s what it took for her to be where she is now in her writing.

Another thing I do that her teachers didn’t do is I make her write correctly all the time.  Not just when we are practicing.  When she is doing math and her 4 (4s are hard) is below the line I make her erase it and write the 4 again.  When she is doing science and her words are all jumbled together I make her erase it and practice correct spacing and good penmanship.

The result: She is getting better daily and I even hear her whispering to herself, “Oh that’s a bad 4.  I need to write that again.”

What a victory!  I have so much pride in her handwriting.  

This is the A-Z blogging challenge so go ahead and read the introduction and see a list of all my A-Z posts.