Tuesday, August 25, 2009

First Day of (home) School!

Today was our first official day of "school". As with all firsts, there were a few hitches - not starting on time which resulted in working past my mental deadline, failure to take into consideration the length of time it would take Gabe to finish certain subjects (and acclimating himself) and of course the very minor interruptions from the little ones.

Keeping all this in mind I will be able to fine tune our system over the next few weeks or so, into a well oiled, highly functional operation! At which point I will be able to incorporate Capi's lessons as well. I intend on doing a combo pre-K / Kindergarten regimen for her.

Our lesson in math was a small triumph, as I was able to learn what method best helps Gabe in understanding and grasping the concept. In regards to math, we've had to go back to third grade and I hope that with this small victory it will open the window to get him back on track!

When Ralph came home tonight he asked Gabriel how he liked the first day of "school" and he replied, "I thought it was great! I liked being at home and riding my skateboard in between lessons."

I learned that I thrive on chaos, adrenaline, planning, scheduling and having several balls in the air at once. Today reminded me of when I was working with my mom and we'd been given the opportunity to sell an Initial Public Offering (IPO) to our clients. What a thrill!

Except today's thrill meant I was investing in my children, my greatest asset.

Monday, August 24, 2009

An Apple for the Teacher?

At 1pm today, Gabriel and I met with his resource teacher & recieved our curriculum "grid", textbooks, workbooks, practice books, test books, independent reading books, study books, standard books, teacher books, answer books and all the other kinds of "books" one needs for a complete and full 5th grade education.

After a 1 hour crash course on the "grid" I was sent home with a crate packed to the gills with "stuff".

Made a delightful supper, and sat down at 6pm to plan out my first quarter as a homeschooler. "I've taught preschool before, I've made lesson plans" I cavalierly thought. Ha! "This should take what? An hour? I'll be having a whiskey on ice by 7:30!"

It is now 9pm and I've just barely finished my first week.

What, in the name of all I hold sacred could I possibly have been thinking? This sinking, overwhelming feeling is strangely familiar to me. I am reminded of the first month after bringing Gabriel home from the hospital.

Sleep deprivation, panic, and paranoia taunted me as I vaguely recalled the romantic notions Ralph and I had of becoming parents and bringing our newborn home. This crying, hungry, wet, smelly, relentless tiny "thing" had begun to control our lives. One by one the fantasies of "and baby makes three" disappeared.

Reality set in, and eventually became better than anything we could have ever hoped for. There was only the brief period where we felt like we'd hugely underestimated what we'd gotten ourselves into.

My early imaginations of homeschooling resulted in Gabriel graduating two years early, going to medical school and working on research that will largely by the catalyst for the AIDS cure. In his spare time he'll run marathons for charities and patent vastly useful medical equipment that will net him millions of dollars. In his various humanitarian award acceptance speeches, Gabriel will mention me as his inspiration, without whom he'd be lost.

After I began to work on my lesson plans, which by the way is something akin to translating latin stereo installation instructions. My fantasies shifted to Gabriel enlisting in the military and being dishonorably discharged for illegal sales of black marketed items and returning home to live on public assistance. I supposed that then he'd join an elitist militia group bent on bringing down the dvd rental industry as a poison to the American public.

I am sure that the truth, reality will lie somewhere in between, and that's ok with me. Right now, I feel like I've opened that can of comedic worms and I had no idea how to shove them all back in there.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

What Are Our Goals for Homeschooling?

We want our children to end up as the kind of people we'd like to see them become, with the type of education we'd like to see them have.

We don't agree with putting our children in someone's box. Standardized testing, rigid teaching methods, choreographed exercises and a "this is the way it's always been done" mentality don't allow children the freedom to grow. We don't support a "one size fits all" education. Learning is an intensely individual and complex process that should be tailored to fit.

We believe in the concept of a classical education including but not limited to literature, history, mathematics, science, the arts etc. Yet, we also want our children to learn practical life skills with the opportunity for hands on exploration.

We see The Scientific Process as a profound method for learning.

We want our children to keep a joyful interest in life & learning. We want them to discover they can accomplish anything based on their own merits. We want them to see that they are capable and competent individuals instead of training them to seek the approval of others as a measure of success.

We want to let each of our children to live, grow, and decide for themselves who they are, what they think, how they feel, and what their interests are.

A Quick Homeschool Update

I have been asked by family and friends alike what our status is with homeschooling so I thought I'd throw a quick update here.

This being my first year as a homeschooler, I hope to blog about it. Don't really care if anyone actually reads it -- I want to get my thoughts out and this seems the most likely source.

For our first year out, I decided to go with a Charter School for Homeschoolers. The school manages and maintains all records for me, supplies our curriculum & text-books and has avenues for elective & enrichment courses. Should he choose, Gabriel would be eligible to participate in statewide educational competitions such as Science Fairs, History Fairs, Spelling Bees, 4-H Competitions etc etc.

The Good: I don't have to worry about curriculum and if I'm missing things. I don't have to use their curriculum if I don't wish to, I can supplement anything I want to, for any particular subject. Gabe can meet other kids during the enrichment course classes & field trips. I can work ahead of schedule if I want to. They supply a stipend monthly for Gabe to take elective classes outside school (guitar lessons, art classes, drama, sports).

The Bad: The enrollment process has been a little jumbled. Valley Oaks Charter School requires an orientation before enrollment, which I attended on Monday, August 17'th. I am now awaiting word that Gabriel has been registered and assigned a Resource Teacher. Once the Resource Teacher has been assigned we can then meet with him/her to discuss curriculum and recieve textbooks. At this moment, I have not had any phone calls and school starts Monday, August 24th. So, effectively we will be starting our first year homeschooling a little bit behind the pack!

Which brings me to my only other bad point about going with a Charter School. While I am allowed the freedom to choose our days of instruction, and can work ahead of schedule - I cannot design my own school schedule. I kind of have to start and end (or be finished) by the time Valley Oaks is ready to be done with the school year.

I have been reading "The Homeschooling Handbook" and the more I read, the more excited I become. The more excited I become, the more I start to think that this will not be a temporary practice, but a more permanent way of life for all my children.

Which brings me to my next post ..... "What are our Goals in Homeschooling?"

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

They Always Melt My Heart

I have been listening to XM Radio's Station "The 40's on 4" for the last few days on and off. Whenever I listen, the music sound and styling always reminds Capi to ask me if she can watch the "Wizard of Oz". It being my favorite movie, I always oblige.

Today has been no exception, as I was busy making supper in the kitchen, Capi asked me if she could watch "Dorothy". Since I was in the middle of a salad, I told her if she could find it in the movie case, she could watch it. Typical Capi, lost interest in the project and ran off to play.

After a few moments had passed and I'd finished the salad, Noe was tugging at my leg.

Noe: Onnnnn ..... Onnnnnn ..... ON!

When I glanced down, he was holding the dvd of "Wizard of Oz" thrusting it up at me. After I put it on, he plopped down on the floor cushions and extended his chubby little hand up to me to hold mine.

Not only did he want to watch it, but he wanted me to watch it with him, holding his hand and snuggling on the floor.

I. Love. This. Kid.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Officious Intermeddlers and The Things They Say

As we've increased confidence in our choice to homeschool, we've graduated from announcements amongst close friends and family to mentions in casual conversation at various social functions.

I am literally astounded at the broad brush statements, generalizations, half truths, and blatant insults vague acquaintances feel confident in uttering as an acceptable means of conversation with my mention of homeschooling.

The most common dim witted utterance I've heard is .....

"I knew a (insert relation here) that was homeschooled, and that kid was weird."

Weird. What a profound, thought provoking articulation there, Professor KnowsSoMuch. Your vast experience with homeschooling reaches far and wide and you seem to have an infinate basis of knowledge supporting your stance. How thoughtful and perceptive you are!

Other stimulating variations include .....

"Make sure you 'socialize'. Socialization is KEY!"
"But just think of all the wonderful elementary, school, junior high & high school experiences he will be missing out on!"

It is painfully obvious to me how well your public school education has served you in the area of social settings. It seems you've developed a permanent (and likely fatal) case of "foot in mouth" disease.

In looking back at my middle and high school years I cannot recall very many memories I treasure. It was a painful, awkward, unsure, unsettling, unambiguous period, and am glad to have it behind me. It was because I was able to look past the immediate and see the big picture in life I believe, is what made me the person I am today.

If I can spare my son the time wasted, I will go to any length to do so. Make no mistake, I don't intend on sheltering him or secluding him, I just do not see socialization in a public school setting as the pinnacle of success for a happy, healthy child. I want my children to live, grow and decide for themselves who they are and what their beliefs are in a loving, non-judgmental, non-confrontational environment.

I have wondered aloud to my husband, if, by sharing our choice to homeschool we are opening ourselves up for these types of comments. Ralph, ever pragmatic says yes, we are but I say, no. I don't recall asking for opinions, counsel, admonishments or other ill gotten advisements.

I made a statement, a declaration, a vocalization.

It would be as though someone said to me, "I am going to buy a new car" this is a statement. Entirely different from, "I am going to buy a new car, what do you think?" or "Have you ever purchased a new car?"

We are not having a debate. We are not negotiating. I did not make an affirmation for you to offer a counterpoint in suggestion.

It is exactly this sort of attitude, ignorance and blatant disreguard for boundaries and social etiquette that makes me say "It may take a village to raise a child, but I've seen the village, and I don't want it anywhere near my children."

(Katie Lewis, if you read this... you are an educator that will always be the exception to that statement!)

Friday, August 14, 2009

On Your Marks, Get Set, GO!

When I do my Friday clean, I start from one corner of the house and work my way along in a general direction flow.

While working in a room, remember "top to bottom". This means if you plan on dusting any items, since dust flows downward start at the top .... Ceiling mouldings, Tops of cabinets, Shelves, Paintings/Pictures on the wall, Lampshades, Coffee Tables etc.

Cleaning House ... Getting Started

Gather up your tools!

  1. Empty Laundry Basket "The Go Back Basket"
  2. Empty Small to Medium Trash Can
  3. Vacuum (yep, I have a Dyson...that's how I roll!)
  4. Caddy filled with your supplies
  • Wad of paper towels
  • Window cleanser
  • Squeegee
  • Generic counter top cleanser
  • Carpet spot treatment
  • Micro-fiber dust rag
  • Dusting solution
  • Swiffer sweeper dust brush
  • Febreeze
  • Empty large cup
  • Sponge/scrub brush
  • Wet soapy rag
I wear my sneakers to clean & I do stretch out before I clean. It is a workout, and I am serious about it!

I drag all of my supplies from room to room as I work. Which eliminates the need to stop what I am doing to go and get my dust rag, vacuum or throw something away.

The Go Back Basket

The empty laundry basket is what I call the "Go Back Basket". I bring this along with me from room to room, and when I come along something that needs to be put away (i.e. sneakers in the living room, etc etc) it gets thrown in the basket. This eliminates the need to stop cleaning to go put said item away. As I continue to clean the house, when I stop in the room certain items belong in, I can deposit them there.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Bleeble Blabble and Bangs

I've often thought that as a mother of a toddler, a "Bleeble Blabble to English" dictionary might be useful. Problem is, that with every child, the dictionary changes. Here are a few translations I have made note of for the third edition of "Bleeble Blabble to English Dictionary" ....

  • fiest = fast
  • ah-phlumb = awesome
  • uh-key = lucky
  • uth-pen = open
  • guck, guck, GUCK, I GUCK! = stuck, stuck, STUCK, I'M STUCK!
There are many others I can't recall at this moment, those are just a few that stand out to me. Especially the stuck, stuck, STUCK, I'm STUCK reference. My immersion into this foreign language has been a trial by fire, as of late since Noe isn't exactly the best communicator of my three children.

Yesterday, while fighting off fever (albeit happily) Noe was playing in the dollhouse my Dad had built for Capi this past Christmas. Happy, quiet playing turned into shrieks of "guck, guck, GUCK et. al" He'd somehow managed to get his arm through one of the windows, and then out another - but couldn't pull it back through as he'd gone in.

This momentary crisis was solved by lots of Jergen's "Skin Firming" lotion and a little soothing patience on my part.

In other news, Capi asked for a "big girl haircut" and since I'd been warned by family members that if I seriously touched her hair with a pair of scissors that I'd be beaten redder than a baboon's ass (true story) I opted for a trim and bangs.

I'm truly surprised at how much older she looks. Ralph nearly cried when he came home from work yesterday and saw her.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

This Day Starts In a Fog

I am starting today in somewhat of a fog.

On Monday I had a tension headache that morphed into a classic 5-Alarm migraine by 3p.m. By 4p.m. none of my home remedies appeared to be working so I waved the white flag of surrender & called into Kaiser. "No appointment needed for Urgent Care clinic" is what they told me, so I thought "great, I'll pack a diaper bag & have the kids ready to walk out the door in 15 minutes when Ralph gets home."

Unfortunately for all of us, Ralph ended up working an hour of overtime and did not call to notify me until he had already worked his hour. By the time he'd arrived home I was already vomiting with the kids underfoot. Into the car we all go, barrelling down 99 in record timing.

By 6:30p.m. I'd been injected with a phenegren/dilaudid cocktail strong enough to bring an elephant down.

Suffice to say that the last 24 hours have been somewhat of a blur. I slept on and off for most of the day yesterday, with Ralph watching the children.

I've been awake now for almost an hour and a half and am still a little hungover from all the drugs.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Have To Write it Down, Before I Forget

Little Capi is prone to impromptu outbursts of song.

Most often my little songstress composes her arias on the fly, whilst she is performing them. Tonight's little ditty was about Ralph, and I and getting married.

There's a man, named Ralph
He's a big man
But not too big
He can hurt you if he gets mad at you
But not me, because he's my Dad.

He can run, really fast
not like a girl.
Really fast.

Then there is my mom.
When you get in love
then you get a ring
and you get married
because love is what happens


My favorite part is how Ralph can run, very fast, but not like a girl. This is good to know. That your 4 year old daughter thinks that you don't run at all like a girl.

This is something a man can be proud of.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The Early Bird .....

My Grammie used to say "the early bird catches the worm." I don't know about that since I don't eat worms, but what can tell you about rising early is this....

Since my feet hit the floor this morning, at 3am. I have managed to ....

  • wash and fold 3 loads of laundry.
  • clean the kitchen (with sweeping and mopping the floor).
  • straighten the living room.
  • make my to-do lists for the day.
  • cut and pin a gift blanket.
  • have been listening to the radio in hopes of winning disneyland tickets even though they don't hand them out until 7:15am.
  • fed the dogs (who are still sleeping).
  • laid out tonight's supper.
  • opened a can of touch up paint and roamed the halls covering up my children's impromptu artwork.
  • played on facebook.
  • worked out more lesson plans.
Soon I will workout & shortly after the children will want their breakfast so there's that to do.

It is entirely possible that I will pass out sometime around 11am.