Friday, September 6, 2013

Facebook reply turned blogging post

So I just replied to a facebook group post from our local homeschool group here in town and I thought I'd share it with you because I figured you'd all appreciate it.  Here is the post:

Question......How do you do it? How do you keep your house clean? My husband pointedly asked me tonight why when we go to other people's houses, they are clean. Then he used his parents' house as an example. (might have just put me over the edge on that one) Anyway, how can I do it? I am at the store 5 days a week from 10-5. Prior to going to the store, I try to get a load of laundry done. I also do school work with N. for about 2 hours before leaving. The girls are helpful while I am gone and do their list of chores. When I get home I fix dinner, clean up, and run the kids to various locations. Sometimes N. has more school work that needs done as well. I have Sunday off, which is generally family day and we are rarely home, and Monday (other day off) I do the laundry in between school work and regular house work. I just feel like I don't have time to scrub what needs scrubbed. I don't know how to make it all happen.

Sound familiar? This woman also has a children's consignment clothing shop, so on top of raising kids and homeschooling, she also has a full time job! Super Woman's got nothing on her!

Here was my reply, which like many women in general, I am trying to find a balance between all the madness. I'm slowly coming to terms that my house isn't going to be spotless, at least not for a very long time... and that's ok.

This is how I "Do it ALL" :0) ... I have fingerprints on my windows that have been there probably all year. There are little flecks of dried something or other between my kitchen floor tiles. It looks like a science experiment blew up in our microwave even though I bought one of those plastic plate covers that stays in there all the time. The kitchen table is generally only smudge free between the hours of 9am-12 pm. My husband has decided to take on keeping our bathroom toilet clean because our bathroom is the LAST place I clean when I actually get time to do it. While my living room might appear dust free every other week, don't look on top of the piano; there's probably at least three month's worth of fluff piling up. Oh, and I tend to keep my ceiling fans running 24/7 because if they stop, the insane amount of dust that has accumulated is frightening.
  •  With that being said, dirty dishes and general disarray is what puts my husband (and me too a little bit) into grumpy mode. So, when I do have some spare moments, I try to take care of the "triggers" so we can relax together instead of being tense about what's not getting done. It's a balance we're still trying to figure out, but it has taken a lot of flexibility on his part. Is our house as clean as he'd like it? No. Is it as clean as I'd like it? No. But right now there are more important matters at hand. The house cleaning will be there when I get around to it... in 18 years. There are two quotes I've seen on pinterest that I tend to live by: "Boring people have clean houses." And "Please excuse the mess, but we LIVE here." :0)

    Monday, August 26, 2013

    A homeschooling plus

    I'm sitting here this morning listening to Peanut Pie eat her frosted flakes; the only child currently in my house.  I almost don't know what to do with this stillness and silence in my household; it's so weird!  Miss A and daddy went flying this morning (he's got his private pilot's license), and I can't help but imagine what the sunrise must look like where Wiggly's waking up this morning.  He's in one of the most beautiful places in existence (or at least to our family)... Ontario, Canada.

    He left this weekend with my parents to spend the week at our family cabin in the Ontario wilderness.  My husband is flying up to meet them later this week, but I figured Wiggly could spend the entire week up there since he loves the wilderness and fishing so much.  I bet he'd make a great ranger someday.  And what has made it possible for him to enjoy this experience during the second week of public school??? Why, it's the beauty of homeschooling, of course!

    I was really struggling as school started around here last week.  I got choked up giving box tops to a mom of a former student because I specifically wanted Wiggly's public school class to reap the benefits.  (good thing I had my sun glasses on.) I tried to avoid taking Wiggly to the grocery store during the month of August lest he see all the back-to-school hype that he was no longer a part of.  And in all this crazy, sometimes irrational behavior (pregnancy hormones), I wasn't at all doubting that our decision to homeschool was the wrong choice for Wiggly, but I felt like he was going to miss out on so many of the experiences of going to public school.  Mostly the social aspects; recess, eating lunch with friends, the excitement of the first day, new school supplies, new teachers, school sponsored events like the Costume party for Halloween... I had officially and single-handedly eliminated him from those events he'd found so much fun in the past, and replaced it with what? Playing with/ picking on his sisters everyday and 4+ hours in our homeschool room upstairs with just his mom and sister? Great choice, Mom... A couple of times this week, Wiggly looked at the clock, asking what his friends at school were doing right then and if they were still in school at the same time he was.  And I tried to put a positive spin on it. "This morning at 6:30, all of your friends were getting on the bus, and do you know what you were doing? Sleeping in." And "At 11, when your friends were eating lunch and doing school work, we were playing at the park." (their reward for good behavior at my doctor appointment) "And ALL next week, when all of your friends are in school, where are you going to be???" He smiles now.  "Canada," he answers.  Point made. 

    Canada.  Had I not been pregnant this summer, my husband and I would have made the trip together as a family, but it just wasn't in the cards this year.  Wiggly made his first trip to camp last year, and Wiggly LOVED it.  He caught a smallmouth bass all by himself off the dock one morning and was so proud that he had contributed to dinner that night. We picked blueberries, went exploring, swimming, and he learned how to play war.  (I suspect this week, he may learn how to play Eurchre.  With limited electricity and no modern conveniences, we play LOTS of cards in the evenings.) I did send some books with him so he could read everyday, and I made up a science lesson plan involving the ecosystem created by a beaver dam that my mom is going to work with him on, so he is getting some schooling in while away from home.  But he's learning so much more this week than what he would in a public school classroom. I mean, what would be better: watching a video in school about a beaver's habitat or actually getting out and exploring one? Point made.  It's for this that makes homeschooling so awesome.  Some days I just have to remind myself that he's not missing out on experiences by not being in public school; we're simply exchanging them for DIFFERENT experiences.  And just because it's different doesn't make it a bad thing. 

    This beautiful picture was taken from  Love that place.  I'll be sure to post pictures of Wiggly and his fish when he gets back :0)

    Wednesday, July 24, 2013

    Wiggly's new (again) dresser

    So we finally got Wiggly moved into his new room this past weekend in preparation for the new baby.  And I have to say, he really has the coolest room in the house.  I'm jealous.  We're waiting on the finishing touches for decorations, so there'll be more pictures to come once everything is finished.  But here's a before and after pic of the dresser. 

     The walls are a little bare yet, but it's a start.  And Wiggly is really enjoying it! :0)

    Monday, July 22, 2013

    Handing in the homeschool forms

    Well, I officially handed in the homeschooling forms to the board of education office this morning.  For one reason or another, I'm having some mixed emotions about making this official.  Even though I shouldn't, I feel like we failed the system instead of the system failing us.  My train of thought is that we tried public school and it didn't work out, so there must be something wrong with us as a family or me as a parent.  As I'm typing this, I know my rational is ridiculous.  And I shall account my feelings as pregnancy hormonally driven, but I feel like a reject.  I must not have done something right.  Public school works for everyone else, so why didn't it work for us?  However, I don't feel like my son is a failure or a reject by ANY means; I really, truly feel like he's a typical boy despite his first grade teacher. And it is for this reason that I know my decision is the correct one. 

    But at the same token, I feel a little guilty withdrawing him from school.  I know all the teachers in his school; some of them I had when I was in school or substitute taught with them.  The secretary I handed the papers this morning to was the elementary school secretary in my building when I was growing up. Heck, my aunt is currently the physical education teacher at Wiggly's school!  By homeschooling, I feel like I'm saying that the school is not good enough for my son.  It's not that the teachers aren't good at their jobs, or that it's not a good school district, but it's just not a good fit for Wiggly at this time. See? I keep needing to validate my decision.  But to whom? Apparently myself.  And I also keep wondering whether or not to email the principal explaining why we decided to pull him.  I know I'm going to see her again; our community is MUCH too small to hide in... So, do I owe her an explanation?  I feel like I do, but maybe I don't.

    Aaahh, like all things parenting related, there just doesn't seem to be one clear, easy decision.  Is anyone really certain if they're doing right by their children?  We just do the best we can.  Has anyone else had these mixed feelings of self-doubt in your decision to homeschool?  I just wish all these feelings of doubt and guilt would go away.   

    Monday, July 1, 2013

    The chaos that has become my everyday

    Sitting here this morning after preparing the school week until 10:00 last night, and I'm still a bit tired.  This homeschooling adventure, while is going to be great for the whole family, has taken a little bit of freedom from my previously SAHM "only" status. (I put that in quotes because as if being a SAHM in itself isn't enough of a job, I've also just volunteered to become a full time, year around educator as well...what was I thinking?!?) 

    Anyways, here is my reflection on the past two weeks since we started school.  First of all, I chose to start our school year the same week as our community swimming lessons everyday for two weeks, and Wiggly's had five baseball games in the evenings that had brought us to what felt like rushing from one activity to another for quite a few days in a row... But now swimming and baseball is done with for the summer, so hopefully our schooling schedule will feel a little more relaxed and less "crammed" into the section of time we have to work with that particular day. 

    I think Sunday is going to be my major school planning day for the week.  It's one of the few days that hubby is home and I get to share the responsibility of putting out fires between my kiddoes.  It's so nice not having to drag my feet to the scene of the crime whenever someone yells "MOM!?!" in that unique yell only reserved for tattling.  (Or does anyone ever feel like just turning out the lights and locking yourself in whatever room you happen to be in whenever that particular tone rings through the house?  Is that just me?)

    I will say that I do like that when it IS time for school, my kids don't groan and whine.  They genuinely don't seem to mind it, and my guess is that Wiggly enjoys the one on one time.  Right now, it takes him about 2 1/2 hours to complete his 10 boxes if we don't have any science or craft projects going on.  This week, I've decided to reserve his daily box 10 for practicing his piano.  Since we've begun this endeavor, he's maybe practiced twice, and it's usually the night before his lessons.  I know we're supposed to have MORE time for things like this, but it just hasn't made it in to our new routine yet. I'd like to make a cute little card to put in his workbox for practicing piano, but I'm relatively inexperienced with the new word programs. If I make one that's worth while though, I'll be sure to share! 

    Although I had planned on starting school in the morning, taking a break for lunch, and then finishing after, it is working to knock out the hours while Peanut is napping after lunch.  Love her to death and her enthusiasm for wanting to do school along with her siblings is great, but chasing her down every 5 minutes because she's running around with markers isn't my idea of fun when we're trying to accomplish something.  And like Wiggly needs any additional distractions... he's a distraction all to himself.  I totally get why he and his teacher had had enough of each other by the end of the school year.  His wiggliness is fine at home; if he wants to roll around on the floor while spelling his words that's fine by me, but man, does he move. I saw these on pinterest and thought of him.  I may have to get one for home just because... I'd probably use it too! :0)

    The only major adjustment for me is putting MYSELF on more of a schedule.  I can't just go to Target (it's a 40 minute drive) whenever I feel the need or grocery shop (all the decent stores are at least 25 minutes away) on a whim because I now have a new responsibility to provide an education on a regular basis to my children.  Oh the days when I could drop off 2/3 of my children for hours on end to be educated by someone else... But the easiest way isn't always the best way, so I will suck it up and figure out the balance. 

    For those of you who giggled over my attempt at a housekeeping schedule, for the record, that has been blown to smithereens for the time being.   The only thing I've maintained on that list is sweeping the living room on Monday, grocery shopping on Friday, and laundry on Saturday. And that's only because I set up a chore chart for the kids to coincide with my master housekeeping schedule. And it works...when I enforce it.  But if I'm not reminding them, it doesn't get done.  (As I'm attempting to finish this post, I'm trying to manage the kids with their chores; the chart is not four feet from this computer.  Now what was I about to say? Oh, yeah...) I really like Erica's Chore chart from Confessions of a Homeschooler, but I need to add the chores that are specific to our house. Like, organizing the shoe rack in the garage. 

    It's in a constant state of disarray, and do you notice how many pairs of shoes are actually ON the rack???

    Gah! I need to go.  I have to manage the new crisis in the living room.  Wiggly is threatening to sweep up Miss A's American girl stuff without giving her time to ACTUALLY pick it up before he plows her over with his "chore".  And of course, she's screaming like someone is trying to stab her...

    Monday, June 17, 2013

    A few things I learned on our first day of homeschooling

    As I began writing this post, our first day of homeschooling wasn't even over yet and I could the reflections and observations piling up in my mind. Here are the things I noticed to change in the future; like, tomorrow. 

    1. 10 work boxes is WAY too many for a preschooler on the first day and too much to get through even for a seven year old without a solid break...oops. By the 9th box, Wiggly was in tears after I told him that he'd have to redo his writing assignment after rushing sloppily through it the first time.  I felt for him though; we'd all had enough by that point.   

    2. A distractible child is a distractible child, no matter the environment.  As I typed this, I was witnessing Wiggly watch his sister and sing the words of the video she was watching on her leapster instead of doing his spelling. She even had headphones on to limit the distraction! 

    3. For some reason, I was expecting eager learners... And I had eager learners... For about 20 minutes. In the remaining two hours, eagerness was wholeheartedly replaced by whininess. 

    4. Once the daily routine of things has been established, things will go more smoothly, right???

    5. I am only one teacher/mom with two arms, not the super-mom octopus teacher I thought I was.

    6. We all deserve milkshakes after this. We ended up getting frosties and fishing at a friend's pond as an afternoon treat. 

    7. I am doing the right thing. While it wasn't exactly all roses like I'd hoped it might be, we'll figure it out together.  We're all a bit new at this... :0) 



    Friday, June 14, 2013

    (FINALLY!) We are Ready to Begin!

    Hello! I'm so excited that Monday will be our first day of homeschooling! FINALLY! It seems like I've been waiting for this day forever! (or at least a few months) :0) The classroom is (mostly) set up and all of my curriculum materials have been collected.  We are ready.  I was a little concerned about Wiggly's attitude toward the homeschool idea now that the public school year is over and he knows he's not going back (at least of a few years).  But last week he asked me, "When are we going to start homeschooling? I want to start." YAY! At least he doesn't hold too many bad feelings about the new change.  I've been keeping him up on the different materials and curriculum I've been gathering for him so he's at least informed about what he's going to be learning.  I also make sure to keep the kids out of the classroom and the materials "sacred" to only classroom use.  I think that's made them both more curious about all the building blocks and manipulatives I've been collecting because NO ONE is allowed to just "play" with them. 

    I know I haven't blogged in awhile, so I'll update you on what's been going on this last month.  My blogging absence has been due to some major room shuffling once we found our that baby #4 is going to be a GIRL! Yes, that makes one boy and three girls to complete our family... having two daughters makes me uneasy some days, so the idea of having THREE girls has been a bit of a shock for the whole family! I can hear them now; "so-and-so stole my favorite shirt and RUINED it!", or "so-and-so has been in the bathroom for an HOUR!"... and all of this is screamed through my entire house at a high pitched, panicked level... Wiggly will thank me someday for moving him into the upstairs space above our garage, trust me. 

    So recently, the rooms in our house are currently being shifted from one purpose to another.  The classroom is being shifted into Wiggly's new room, and the playroom has now become the classroom.  Since our playroom space has been dissolved, the toys will be going back into the rooms of our children (dread).  Hopefully our unfinished basement space will be on its way to serving as the new playroom soon, but in the meantime... toys in the kids' rooms.  Blech.  Am I the only one who hates having the kids' toys in their rooms??? I definitely have been spoiled to have the playroom upstairs and off the main living area of our home.  It could be messy and I didn't have to see the mess unless I was brave enough to actually go up there.  Now, all the toys will slowly trickle out of the bedrooms into the main part of the house constantly.  Like I said, blech. 

    Anyways, since we no longer have a playroom and the kids will have to store their toys in their bedrooms, Miss A will be getting Wiggly's old room and have a room to herself with all of the girl toys (since she's the oldest girl after all).   She and Peanut Pie have always shared a room, so it'll be interesting to see how Miss A adjusts to being by herself once her room is finished.  The two littlest girls will share Peanut's room; Peanut's not going to minds since she's already used to sharing a room.  I think it'll all work out. 

    So, the part I feel guilty about is moving Wiggly from the only bedroom he remembers.  My mother painted clouds and an awesome fighter plane on his walls when we first moved in.  It is HIS room.  And his sisters are forcing him into a faraway wing of the house that isn't nearly as close to the bathroom.  (Ok, it's not THAT far away, but still...)  So I've been spending quite a bit of time on Pinterest finding some pretty cool "bigger" boys rooms to make the move a little easier.   I bought some paint, and today I'm going to paint his dressers.  I'm pretty excited about it.  Here's the before picture of the dresser and night stand.  I'm going to paint them a deep navy blue, possibly with a red stripe... but we'll see.  I'll be sure to post a pic of the finished products too!

    And here are two pictures of our classroom in its current state.  I'm guessing once we start using the space and find out what works and what doesn't it'll change again.  Thank you to my hubby for ordering and installing our awesome whiteboard this week! I can already imagine complex mathematical problems just like in Good Will Hunting scrawled across it on a daily basis from my prodigy seven year old child... ok, definitely not, but it made me smile. :0) Wish us luck!!!