Tag Archives: back to school

Because Homeschooling is NOT a Living Hell

Lest I leave you all thinking my life resembles the 5th ring of Dante’s Inferno, I now present you with a brief synopsis of our second day of homeschooling.

Our schoolroom the night before the first day.

I don’t think we need to rehash yesterday.

Black frowny faces with tears courtesy of Addie.

Now, day two.

By 8 a.m. this morning all the kids decided to start their work early while still clad in their pajamas. This was not my idea, in fact I kept ignoring their requests for help. I  explained, through gulps of my coffee, that while they chose to begin school at that hour, I most certainly did not.

So while the first day of school did not go as well as I envisioned, it obviously was not so wretched as to sour them on schooling altogether. As far as I’m concerned, that makes Monday one for the win column!

By four o’clock on day two.

Things got a little messy (I’m still questioning my own judgement on the use of a sensory rice bin) but no more than usual and thankfully, despite more rain, the kitchen stayed dry due to all of Tony’s hard work yesterday.

Throughout the course of the day, nothing extraordinary transpired. And wonder of wonders, Teddy didn’t scream during history! He only sang his version of Bob the Builder while I read, still pausing at all the right moments. (Baaaaaaaaa! Go, go, go, go! Baaaaaaaaa! Go,go,go,go!)

I forgot to play classical music at lunch but I did chase the kids around with leftover crab legs. See, one set of legs  looked like a monster hand with a thumb. I kept waving it at them, like it was my hand, and hissing “CRAB LEGS! WATCH OUT!” I considered saving the legs for bedtime,when the sight of them creeping over the edge of Byron’s bunk-bed would result in hilarious consequences,  but that might ruin my chances of winning mom of the year, which I easily cinched up after day one of homeschooling.

Dinner was grilled, but it was my evening dance moves that were sizzlin’. Tony and Byron worked on Latin in the schoolroom while I ran in, sang some MC Hammer hits and did an awesome running man. When Tony implied I was “distracting” Byron I ran out singing, “You can’t touch this!”

Yes, things were back to normal.  Flush from my sustained exertions, I decided to celebrate with a hot fudge sundae. Bring it on day three!

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The First Homeschooling Day Of The Rest Of Our Lives

Today’s post was supposed to be a humorous look at our first day back to school. I had it all planned out in my head. First day of school pics with me in my classy denim jumper, joyful reflections of Fulton listening to stories as he began preschool plus some of the gritty details; sloppy handwriting, complaining over math, etc. Instead I apologize in advance for a grammatically incorrect rambling brain dump of a post. Proceed with caution.

I thought the rainy weather was an omen that my decision to return to school on Labor day was wise. My husband was off work and would be around to help with screaming kids and assist with easing the household back into a school routine. Except he was going to morning Mass, which was fine, however he went to a diner for breakfast afterwards, stopped to do some errands and didn’t get back until I was two-thirds through my day and had already driven half my children to tears.  (Pretty impressive on my part huh?)

Sure, my life can be humorous, but it’s anything but scripted. The fact that I thought I knew what the next 24 hours had in store, and how I could translate it into a blog post, show’s I’m still a student myself in some ways.

Here, in Amy Welborn bullet points, are the highlights of my day:

  • Set a 9 am alarm on Fulton’s iPad cued to a track of the Angelus being recited. Plugged the iPad into a speaker we got by sending in four Pringle can UPC codes and was disgusted when said audio set up did not actually play the Angelus at the designated time.  I don’t know what I’m more upset at, the quality of the speaker, the quality of the free alarm ap or me for not just buckling down and reciting the Angelus myself.
  • Piano practice resulted in lots of tears. I don’t know what to add except that I hate piano, my kids hate piano but I don’t want them to hate me when they’re older because I let them give it up. Is there a psychological description of what this is called besides insanity?
  • Math resulted in tears. But seriously, after only a month off  I don’t see how she could have forgotten all that information. I would show her a problem, she’d explain to me every step, and then collapse into her chair a blubbering mess when I asked her to do the work herself. The dramatics were straight out of Masterpiece Theater.
  • After 10 minutes of use, Fulton’s sensory / fine motor skills rice bin made our dining room look like a package of Uncle Ben’s exploded.
  • Thankfully, Edie was very excited to start school. She did her work promptly, helped Fulton with his activities and then chose to sit at her desk and color. Someone’s  already thinking of Christmas.
  • And did I mention how Teddy screamed the entire time I tried to read history? Oh wait, not the entire time, he synchronized his breathing with mine so when I paused he did too. Story of the World Volume One sounds awesome when read at the top of my lungs. I’m going to call Peace Hill Press and see if they want me to do an audio book version for frazzled moms with screaming toddlers.
  • Two walls in our new kitchen, which includes the new school room, have been ruined by a new leak in our roof. So I was a bit distracted from things by the need to throw towels on puddles. When Tony did finally make it home, he spent the majority of his day trying to find the leak while asking me stuff like “Did the kids do Latin yet?” But, to his credit he tried to help Addie with math while I tried to pray the Little Office only to have her voice her concerns loudly in my direction because, apparently,  my spiritual growth needs to be trumped by her math tantrum.

Yeah, I’m trying to better myself at the same time I’m kicking off a new school year. I’ve got the kids on a schedule, me on a schedule and I’m going to pray more.  Ora et labora and all that jazz. Despite trying this all before I somehow think that because I’ve written a fresh list, or posted new rules things will go differently this year.

I ate a brownie sundae at 2 because I feared drinking wine at that hour would freak out Fulton’s nurse. I didn’t really start feeling slightly less deranged until Cari posted this video of He-Man. I watched it twice, had a good laugh, which speaks to the effectiveness of the video since the whole time it was playing Addie was asking me questions because she just ‘didn’t get it” and, amazingly enough, I didn’t send her into tears again.

We had leftovers everyone liked for dinner. Fulton and Teddy ate without complaint or mess. We listened to “The Planets” by Gustav Holst and the meal didn’t disintegrate into jokes about Uranus, although Tony kept snickering. The kids didn’t argue in the evening. Everything turned out fine, and as I tucked them all in, they hugged and kissed me as I promised them I’d be more patient tomorrow. Which always makes them smile; are they happy I’m trying to be more patient or scoffing at what they know will be another failed attempt?

Today we start day two. At least I know it can’t be any worse than yesterday. Pictures might be forthcoming…but no promises.

 

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Summer Ramblings Of The Blah, Blah, Blah Variety

Did you ever have that feeling on a Monday night that your week was shaping up to be one of the longest yet one of the fastest weeks in you life? Like you would feel all 168 hours of it in the marrow of your bones, yet you would see and remember none of it as it zipped by at lightning speed?

It’s the kind of day that two glasses of wine at dinner does nothing to relax and an iced coffee at 6:30 p.m. does nothing to invigorate.

But I can’t complain, because, ignoring the 5 hours I logged behind the wheel yesterday, I think my fatigue is related to all things rather stellar. And honestly, any time I need a pick me up I just glance at the new clock I bought for our kitchen. I’m going to devote an entire post to ‘the clock’ at a future date, but let me entice you by saying, on a scale of one to ten it’s ninja awesome. Like, a ninja tossing chocolate-covered bacon throwing stars right into my mouth awesome.

We’re also enjoying another influx of out-of-town family visitors. The kids are in their glory between the break from school and the amount of new people in the house who take a genuine interest in all the things I can no longer pretend to understand/ appreciate. I am so tired of being lectured on Star Wars characters or the rules for their homemade basement carnival games. Finally there is fresh blood willing to listen to the character differences between episodes and the finer points of Byron’s game called “I’m Starving” which to me, looks like a big mouth hacked out of cardboard propped against an old shelf, but apparently, is on par with Dungeons and Dragons in strategy.

I’m also at the apex of school planning. You know that giddy, delicious feeling when you open all the new boxes of curriculum, stoke the glossy covers, inhale the scent of fresh paper,  then scream at the kids to stop playing with the packing peanuts. Cracking open the crisp binding on a new workbook makes me stroke my knuckles and cackle with delight. In the works is a trip to the dollar store to pick up school supplies which we’re all pretty stoked about. Plus, I have the added excitement of pimping out a new school room. It’s small, but I’ve got a whole cabinet packed to the ceiling with books and three used school desks ordered off of ebay. (Aw yeah, some old school bling in da house!)  I cannot wait to push each child’s desk into its own corner and let them work beyond arms length of one another for a change. Tony thinks it’s not going to go as smoothly as I imagine. I keep putting my fingers in my ears and singing “La,la,la,la, la, independent work spaces are the answer,la, la, la, la now cook your own dinner.”

Summer is slipping through our fingers like so many melted creamcicles, but we’re licking off each drip and savoring every moment. I should be ready for September, and all its looming responsibilities, despite the distractions. Namely a playdate bonanza. Two weeks, plus all the families I’ve been meaning to schedule stuff with all summer, equals exhaustion! Yay for procrastination! Thanks for giving me the opportunity to kill myself in order to full-fill all my half-hearted promises. I can’t wait. And I know Tony is pumped for two weeks of   last-minute dinner attempts scraped together from food-like substances currently trapped at the bottom of our freezer.

I would call this a summer to remember, if I thought I would have any brain cells left by the end of August.

How are you wrapping up your summer and easing into school?

 

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Don’t Cheat On Your Favorite Curricula

I try to do homeschooling on the cheap. Certainly, it is not always possible, but my husband and I always think long and hard before plunking down a wad of cash for a fancy boxed set of anything related to education.

Through the years, people have recommended all sorts of programs that will supposedly provide me with all the tools I need to educate all my kids in said subject ’til death do us part. A student workbook and textbook, plus special grip pencils, instructional DVDs, a 3 part teacher’s manual, a CD-ROM of printables,  plus color-coded labels and tabs for your lesson plans. I feel like I’m watching a PBS pledge drive when this thing is being presented to me. And if I act now, I get the matching tote bag! Of course, purchasing such a miracle curricula rivals the cost of a semester at private school.

And for what? Weeks of eager anticipation as we read the manuals and organize our materials.Yes, this is it! Finally, our kids will completely grasp a new concept from the very beginning with minimal input on our parts! Oh, it’s all so clear and well laid out. Even a fool could teach their kids with this method. They’ve really thought of everything!!  Meanwhile, our kids run their hands over the crisp, new books thinking this might be the very book that makes grammar/math/ geography tolerable. There are color pictures on every page, and manipulatives and video clips! Wow, this will be fun!

Then bang, October. It’s that month you start to wonder, what was I thinking? They always did so well with the old program, why did I switch them to this new one? You start digging out last spring’s curricula catalogues, and reminisce over the curriculum you could’ve bought. You’d always been so happy with that curricula. They didn’t have confusing color coded tabs that didn’t make sense and set you back a week after you realized you’d missed that whole unit on decimals.

By October, the kids’ books are scribbled on, the manipulatives have been absconded by the 3-year-old, or by you so the baby doesn’t eat them and the older kids just make fart noises and laugh at the teacher on the DVD clips. And the printer is always out of paper, due to last-minute art projects, so no supplemental printables either.

This is what you just paid hundreds of dollars for. And then your husband comes home from work and doesn’t understand why you start crying when he asks “How’s the new program working out?”.  Because you know you can’t ask him for more money to buy more stuff to replace the curriculum you so desperately needed back in June. Don’t you remember telling him about the tote bag?

Maybe this isn’t you, maybe you bought that fancy expensive program and it worked out great for child number one. It was the best thing ever! You sang that program’s praises  at every homeschool activity,  manned the company’s table at the local curriculum fair and wrote a great review of their product on your blog. Yessireebob, it was one God-send of a program! Then, boom, child number two.

Child number two hides in the linen closet when the books come out, has dared scribble in the teacher’s manual out of frustration and refuses to do the finger play and accompanying lap book activities! This child dares to question the perfect program! Doesn’t he/she know it’s the perfect program? It worked so well with child number one, you reason child number two must have a learning disorder and try to slow down the pace or do a different finger play, or even try to incorporate whole body movement, and still no progress and lots of resistance. You eventually realize it’s the program or your child and, reluctantly, you choose the child.

Despite careful shopping, I still occasionally make rash decisions I ultimately regret (When did I ever think I’d do that unit on classical music appreciation???) but thankfully, my favorite curricula, doesn’t hold it against me. It’s always there, waiting for me, ready to pick up right where we left off.  Don’t let other, newer and younger, curricula tempt you from the good thing you have going on. That fancy program may be beautiful on the outside, but chances are, it’ll  just leave you poorer and heartbroken.

 

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Things I Love; Old School Trapper Keepers

Old school, 1980′s original, puppy dog adorned Trapper Keeper; you were the one cool and trendy thing my parents bought for me as a child. ( Okay you and a Cabbage Patch doll.) No kid screamed “socially awkward” more than me until highschool, but everyone respected the Trapper. I doodled on your crisp white inside, hid from the teacher’s glances behind your propped up walls and stretched your binding to the max with wads of folded notes and a bulging inner flap full of colorful Bic mechanical pencils.

Years later, when your popularity faded, I often thought of you as I carried my neon single-subject binder down the halls of my high school. Really, I did. My attachment to you was as strong as the Velcro on your closing flap.

Fast forward to the future, when back to school shopping included lesson plans, texts, paper, pencils and music tutors I found myself distracted by memories of a simpler time when a new Trapper, a couple #2 pencils and a new pair of jeans were all I needed to start September with.  Before I knew it, I was on eBay, bidding on a Trapper Keeper (complete with folders!) much to the delight of my Facebook friends, who encouraged me to bid higher and higher… until once again, you were mine Trapper Keeper.  Mine forever.

Despite the jealous glances of my husband, and other homeschooling moms, you have never wavered in your unfailing service to me. We’ve shared quite a few laughs haven’t we over spilled coffee and cereal? Well, at least it’s funny now. Trapper Keeper, you really are the most radical part of my day.

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