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!!!



    Sunday, May 12, 2013

    Mother's Day and Cinnamon Rolls

    Now what says "I love you" more than gooey baked goods on Mother's Day? I got the recipe from the May issue of  Food Network Magazine and it is fantastic to say the least.  Baked goods and yeast breads don't usually like me, mostly because I'm not patient enough to give the yeast the time it needs to do its thing.  Well, I resisted sticking them in the oven before they had truly "doubled in size", and boy were we rewarded!

    And I am SO thankful to share these yummy rolls with these fantastic kids.  I love being your mom!  My Mother's Day has been MADE. :0)

    Monday, May 6, 2013

    The Waiting Game

    I haven't had much to blog about lately as I am waiting on two things to come around so we can begin this homeschooling adventure...

    1.) Wiggly needs to be finished with public school! Only two and a half weeks left and I can hardly wait! Wiggly went to a birthday party this weekend and when talking to the mother, I mentioned that I was going to homeschool my older two next year.  She said, "You've just about made it through Mrs. O and now you're going to pull him out?" (She's had to deal with this particular teacher a couple times since she has foster children and a few older children of her own.) I know it might seem backwards that we stayed through a horrible teacher only to withdraw afterwards, but we still feel it's the right decision for our son. The field trips and the personalized lessons that are going to keep him engaged and that he's passionate about? I'm so excited!
    Recently, our Lutheran church in town put together an enrichment program for the month of April where kids grades K-5 could choose two classes to take on saturday mornings.  There were over 30 different classes to choose from including cooking, photography, guitar lessons, watercolors, gym class, robotics, etc.  They had over 250 kids sign up, which was huge for our little community.  Wiggly got into the Crazy Science class and just LOVED it.  Since then, I've been busy looking up lots of science activities to do this school year.  I also looked up the STEM program, but they don't have anything available in our area, which is too bad because I really think Wiggly would enjoy such a program.  And then the other thing I'm waiting on is:

    2.) Are we having a boy or a girl?  I'm currently pregnant with our fourth child, and this little one is holding up the whole homeschool classroom process! It's amazing that he/she holds so much power already! :0) Since we already have two girls and a boy, if it's a boy, then there's no problem and I can go on with removing the guest bed from our current classroom and start hanging stuff up. Classroom ready to go.  Super exciting! However, if it's a girl, Wiggly will be moving into the classroom as his littlest sister will be taking up his old room.  So where will the classroom go?  Good question.  I'm guessing it'll go something like this: Baby moves into Wiggly's room, Wiggly moves into classroom, classroom moves into playroom, toys move into bedrooms/basement/garage sale? And then since our playroom is actually a larger space than we really need for a classroom, can I partition it off so it can serve both purposes? These questions and my hormones keep me up at night... I'm not sure if seeing everyone else's cute classrooms is hurting or helping my sleepless nights; there are so many cute organizational ideas out there! Curse you, Pinterest!

    Monday, April 22, 2013

    Little Achievement

    Last night, after I tucked the girls into bed, I walked into Wiggly's room to tell him goodnight.  He was laying in bed reading Super Fly-Guy.  All by himself.  Without me prompting, "Why don't we read a book?" or "Have you done your reading today?" It was awesome.  He was a couple pages in when I plopped down beside him to listen.  Did he miss some words? Yes, but that's ok.  He's taking interest in reading and I'm doing back flips, I'm so happy for him.  And for those of you who have had struggling/reluctant readers, you know it's a HUGE step.

    Husband was just saying how impressed he was when they were at the store picking out golf balls, Wiggly was working to read the words on the packages around him.  He's never tried to do that before... and I'm just so proud of him.

    Just thought I'd share our little achievement :0)

    Friday, April 19, 2013

    Let's Make a Schedule

    Although I don't know of I can openly admit this to many people (especially my husband), I have found that since I becoming a SAHM, I do not operate around the house as productively as I did when I was working. There... I said it. I may have been crabby and overwhelmed 110% of the time when I came home from work every evening, but I still managed to feed everyone, keep filth from piling up around the house during the weekends, and usually had clean clothes for the family to wear for the week ahead. My house wasn't spotless by any means, but it was good enough.

    Once I began staying home, my husband and I both had these thoughts of grander that the house would be properly maintained, the kids would be spotless, and cleanliness would all just magically come together, mostly because well, I was HOME now. All you veteran SAHM's can openly laugh at me now... Now, while I am SO much happier and more relaxed, (this is as a general rule, I DO have my moments) the house work has not magically fallen into place like I though it would. I would even say that our house is dirtier now that we're home all day than when I was working and only half-cleaning. It's taken me two years to say it out loud, but I NEED A SCHEDULE.

    I've seen those "clean your entire house in 30 minutes a day!" schedules on Pinterest... I've even tried a few of them, and none of them have stuck. The only thing I've discovered is that there's no way I can vacuum/scrub/wash/wipe ANYTHING in my entire house in 30 minutes, even if I DID do it every week. But really what it comes down to is that the schedules I've tried created by other people just haven't fit for us. Then I read other people's advice about being flexible in your house cleaning and fit it in 10-15 minutes here and there, but the problem with that is that I'm TOO flexible (and a horrible procrastinator). If I didn't fit it in today, ah, I'll just do it tomorrow... or the next day, or the next... or just whenever...and Surprise! It doesn't get done.

    So the epiphany I've had recently is this: I need a set schedule to operate in order to be productive. Period. One that needs to be set in stone, not just a rough idea in my head. Homeschooling may have been just what I needed to get this started. I understand that if I don't have a schedule for homeschooling, nothing's going to get done, and my children's education is a little more important than a clean house. And following along with homeschooling, my two oldest are at the age where some they can have some responsibilities of their own in helping around the house. As it stands, once we start homeschooling, my idea is that chores will be done before we start school at 9. And if the kids are going to have a set schedule for chores, so should I. Other people's schedules weren't working, so I created my own that I'm hoping will work for our family. This will probably need tweaked once we implement it, but hey, it's a start...

    April's Home Schedule
    (appox. 45 min.-1 hour each day)

    Daily- dishes, wipe table/counters, general pick-up, sweep hallway as needed
    Kids chores/pick up playroom

    Week 1-Monday- vacuum & dust Living/Piano room

    Tuesday- vacuum & dust Bedrooms, vacuum Hallway

    Wednesday- clean Master Bathroom

    Thursday- Meal Planning/ Grocery

    Friday- clean Laundry Room/ Hallway, Half-bath

    Saturday- clean Kitchen, do Laundry

    Sunday- do Laundry, gather trash

    Week 2- Monday- vacuum & dust Living/Piano room

    Tuesday- vacuum Bedrooms/Hallway, clean/vacuum Playroom

    Wednesday- clean Kids' Bathroom

    Thursday- Meal Planning/ Grocery

    Friday- clean Laundry Room, hallway, half bath

    Saturday- clean Kitchen, do Laundry

    Sunday- do Laundry, gather trash

    Some of these chores I'll be able to enlist my kids' help in, which will be good for them. I tried to organize the cleaning according to "zones" in our house... Our bedrooms are in one section, and our larger kitchen gets the brunt of the "filth" during a week's time, so it gets a day all to itself. And lastly, I included meal planning/grocery because I try to only go to the grocery once a week. I enjoy knowing what meals I'm going to make during the week; it really takes the guess work out of "what am I going to make for dinner?" But, planning it all out and going through recipes usually takes me an hour, so I wanted to make sure it was on a set day. Also, Thursday afternoons and Fridays are hopefully going to be our out and about days where we can take day trips, run errands, and make appointments. The plan now is to not homeschool on Fridays.

    If you're giggling at my nativity in my attempt to tame my house, just know that I'm laughing too... If it all falls apart at my fingertips, all is well...we'll just go back to the drawing board and try, try again. :0)

    Friday, April 12, 2013

    I love my Laminator!

    Hello! I just wanted to share with you all how much I love my laminator as I continue to prepare to start our homeschooling adventure this summer.  
    I am SUPER excited about homeschooling; Wiggly, less so.  We talk about it frequently and he knows that he's going to be going to school at home, but he tells me he's sad about not being able to see his friends everyday.  I feel for him.  I told him that there's a group of other homeschooled kids in our community (a VERY small group) and he'd make some new friends as well as keeping in touch with his old friends.  He's still going to be in cub scouts and sports activities.  I hope he comes around and isn't too upset about taking him away from his social group.  Homeschooling is definitely out of the norm for our small, rural community. 

    Ok, I got off topic... on to my laminating adventures! 

     We bought the Scotch Thermal Laminator and it was the last one our store had in stock. It has been very much worth the investment so far, mostly for Miss A's preschool activities.  The paper activities are going to last so much longer than just plain card stock.
    Our laminator in action... Laminating the Chicka Chicka letters for the tree and letter E activities from Erica's Letter of the Week Curriculum.
    As I was laminating and trimming, Miss A couldn't wait to try out her new "school stuff".  Here's she's working on a lacing card.  

    I also decided to get the Chicka palm tree and monthly calendar laminated, but had to use our local printing shop because the pieces were bigger than what my laminator could do... I'm really embarrassed to admit this, but I didn't ask for an estimate... it couldn't be more than $30... I've run things through the laminator when I taught school and I know it's not that hard. They called me last week to tell me it was finished... the total is $103.  My fault for not asking how much it was going to be before I handed the stuff over. Hard lesson learned... (gulp) 

    Sunday, April 7, 2013

    Update: Broken Hearted over Public School

    So I got Wiggly's report card and I thought I'd update you on what it said. If you'd like the back story connected with his post, here's the link to my first post... 

    Anyways, I haven't really talked to his teacher since then; it could be just me, but I feel like our encounters (which are one or two days a week when I pick him up for piano lessons and during library time) since then have been awkward. I still don't quite know what to make of our last meeting; now that I can look back on it a little less emotionally connected, I feel like maybe she was just venting to me because I was there. Maybe she was feeling a little frustrated that day (and maybe about more than just my son). I don't know for sure why she said what she did when she did, but I do know that we're almost done with her... Yay!

    So, Wiggly's report card. I opened it holding my breath; I wasn't sure what bad things might be in there. Frankly, I'm tired of negative remarks and comments about my son and his "wiggly" behavior, so I was bracing myself for the worst. Reading: B+. Math: B-. Language Arts: B. Science and Social Studies: S. Is this my son's report card? My son: who needs to be on medication to help him focus in class? My son, whose teacher discussed possibly holding him back in 1st grade another year? I'm confused. If he's doing so poorly in class, then why does he have all B's? Needless to say, I was so proud of him. It can't be easy for him to be with 26 other students all day long and stay engaged long enough to learn something. Good for you, man!

    However, moving on to the "Personal Development" section of his grade card, he received an Unsatisfactory in the following categories: Listens Attentively, Follows Directions, Uses Time Wisely, and Study Skills. Am I surprised? No. Do I see this same behavior at home? Yes, sometimes I do. Do I think there's something wrong or abnormal about his behavior? No, I honestly don't. He is a little boy, not a lumpy sponge that just sits there and absorbs all the information you hurl at it. The only real thing I determined from his "Personal Development" grades is that he's probably a little immature. Do they prescribe medication for that? I don't think so...

    Now, has his report card from public school changed how I feel about homeschooling him after this school year? No not really, and I thought that maybe seeing him be successful might change my mind. But it hasn't. I just think about how much he'll grow and learn if he has a teacher working one on one with him all day everyday, and how much more engaged he'll be in learning when he isn't limited by what can be done in a public school classroom. I'm excited for him!

    A couple days ago, I got a taste about how much fun homeschooling's going to be. While Wiggly was walking up our long driveway, (we live in a woods off the road a little bit), he brought me a long piece of grass covered with slimy, round snotty-looking things. He was so excited, guessing what they might be. We put on our mud boots and trekked down to the water puddle where he found them. We talked about the habitat where he found them and what the slimy stuff might be. He guessed they were frog eggs of some sort. When we got back to the house, we looked up frog egg pictures and information about frog eggs. HE determined that yes, they are more than likely wood frog eggs based on the pictures, descriptions, and the habitat in which we found them. We're continuing to observe the eggs in their habitat, but seeing his excitement and the level of engagement in learning about these mysterious blobs made my day. THIS is the curious, nature-loving boy I know...

    Tuesday, April 2, 2013

    Our Evolving Classroom

    Hello!  I thought I'd share with you our classroom as it stands now. I've been collecting odds and ends for storage, but after doing a little bit of bloggy browsing, hopefully our classroom will be a little more organized in the near future.  A little back story about our classroom... Husband and I originally finished our attic space above our garage with a guest bedroom in mind. But since the room is so long, I decided that it could be a sewing/scrapbookig room also.  Well, crafting for me turned into a mutual room for crafting with the kids too, and has since slowly evolved into a classroom.  Not a guest bedroom or even Mommy's crafty room...The kids' classroom.  (Yet another room in the house the kids have taken over.  Guess I'll have to move my crafty stuff to the man cave in the basement... sorry honey.) I will apologize up front for the pictures being of poor quality; I'm still trying to figure out how this blogging thing works... bear with me.

    And yes, the bed is still in our classroom at the moment.  But here's a look at the "classroom" portion of the room.

     Storage is a problem right now, but I ordered some shelving on sale from Target.  I'm pretty excited about having some actual organized shelves with bins.
    Because of the roof line, I'm facing the challenge of wall space to hang maps, a white board, and other teaching materials... It's only about 48" on the sides, although there's plenty of space in the center of the room to go vertical. I've thought about getting one of those office dividers to create more wall space... except for the part that they're ugly...not that the kids will really care.
     This is Wiggly's work station.  I've adopted the workbox station from Confessions of a Homeschooler, although I've seen quite a few other homeschool blogs using the same/similar system.

    And this lovely machine is my printer/scanner/copier.  It's an HP Laser Jet Pro 200.  I love that it's super easy to use, and I can print from my iPad and iPhone.

    Sorry again for the bad pictures;  I'll get the hang of this blogging thing eventually... Update: The bookshelves from Target came in the other day, so I'll try and get (better) pictures of the more organized classroom soon :0)

    Tuesday, March 26, 2013

    2nd Grade Math Materials (so far)

    As I continue on my quest to gather all the materials I'm going to need to teach Wiggly this coming school year, one subject I'm feeling pretty confident about is Math.  I thought I'd share with you what I've gathered so far...

    First, I'm going to try the Everyday Math program for Wiggly's 2nd grade year.  I was able to buy all the books I needed from Amazon, and getting the teacher resources was pretty inexpensive.  I think the teacher guides were like $15 used.  I decided to use this program because it most closely links our states standards and it's not Saxon.  I never taught math in school, but from the teachers I've talked to, not very many of them have been impressed by the Saxon Math program.  I have, however, heard good things about this Everyday Math program, so that's what we're going to try. What's shown in the picture below is the teacher's guide and the "worksheet" workbook that corresponds with each lesson.  I'm waiting on Wiggly's hard backed text book and a few other teaching materials.

    And since Wiggly likes to move and work with his hands, I'm collecting math manipulatives for him to use. I got these color cubes from Amazon. I'm also planning on using the blocks and building cards for Miss A's preschool lessons.

    Miss A got these pattern blocks for Christmas last year. They are Melissa and Doug. Wiggly and Miss A will also both be using these.

    And last but not least, I got these snap cubes from Amazon. They come in a pack of 10 colors and are great for giving a visual representation to math facts Wiggly's currently learning. We've used these blocks a lot on his homework this year to help him with counting by 10's and subtracting numbers from 10. Very useful manipulative.

    In addition to these things, I also got one of those yellow student clocks (although I found a great idea for a clock on pinterest using a hula hoop attached to a white board), a giant number line, and a basic calculator. Like I said, I'm feeling pretty confident about the Math curriculum. Now, I just need to figure out exactly what I'm going to use to teach reading for 2nd grade and I'll be all set...

    Wednesday, March 20, 2013

    Broken hearted over public school

    I'm putting it in a better perspective this evening, but I was so upset last night, I couldn't sleep. I ended up getting out of bed at 4am and folding laundry while catching up on New Girl and the Mindy Project. I'm done... I'm done with the public school system.

    The thing about it is that I had SO much faith in the system. I was a product of it and even went to school to be a teacher. I taught in the system and thought I knew its ins and outs. When Wiggly started kindergarten, I was so excited for him; I knew he'd do just great!.. Until he didn't.

    Yesterday afternoon, Wiggly's teacher cornered me in the library at school while I was waiting on the next class to come up. (I volunteer once every other week serving as librarian since the elementary school doesn't have one.) She said, "We need to talk." She proceeds to tell me that over the last few weeks, Wiggly has been really unfocused in his seat. Monday and Tuesdays are the worst and by Thursday and Friday he's a little better, but he's just not focusing in on what they're doing. She says he's also not getting started on his seat work when he's supposed to. He needs a couple reminders before he gets busy. He's been threatened with missing recess when his seat work isn't completed, but he gets it done... Correctly, I might add. (Side note: wouldn't you WANT to let a wiggly kid go outside for recess to burn off some steam? Why would you punish both of you by making him sit when it so obviously benefits him to be moving? That doesn't make much sense to me.) He's not rushing through his work. He understands the concepts. He simply isn't paying attention. She goes on to say that she doesn't think this is a maturity thing, (Wiggly is a little young for his class, March 30th he'll be 7.) and that I should consider going to see a doctor. Then the woman went on to tell me how many students have done SO much better once they're on "meds." I found out later, she can't legally say that she thinks he needs to be medicated, but that's what she was insinuating. I was heartbroken to hear her talk about my son in this manner. My son, who is fun-loving, spontaneous, and creative. The boy who loves creating scavenger hunts and rules to his own games. She wants me to medicate my son so he can better fit within the parameters of the public school system. I am not a confrontational person so I nodded my head, asked a few questions, and didn't really say too much else, but inside I was stunned. All the questions I should have been asking, like "What are you doing to help him stay focused?" "Are there other kids who aren't engaged in your lessons, or is it just my son?" or "How is he doing academically compared to his peers?" wouldn't come to me. I was stunned and sad. Very, very sad. I am still sad.

    I am sad that she thinks that making my son a zombi is the answer to the problem. I am sad that there are other kids in schools just like my son who are already getting burned out with the education system in the first grade because they are getting harped on to "pay attention" and "focus". I am sad that they don't fit inside that bell curve that the public school system teaches to. And I am sad for the parents who think there is something wrong with their sons or daughters because they don't fit into this "norm". And I'm sad because there are parents out there who feel helpless.

    If I could have pulled him out of school altogether yesterday, I would have. We have 2 1/2 months of this school year left and then he'll be free. He'll be free to pursue his passions and learn at his pace. He'll be free to enjoy learning and exploring without getting burnt out. If a student is getting burnt out on learning, then you the teacher aren't doing your job correctly. ADD. ADHD. Call it whatever you want. But what it comes down to is this: there is no room in the public school for my son to be successful in education. There are those that fit into the system and those that don't. And he does not.

    In my sadness, my sister-in-law recommended I watch this piece on changing educational paradigms by Sir Ken Robinson. It made me feel better knowing that there are others out there who see the flaws in our educational system today. Hopefully the link works, but if not, the video is called RSA Animate- Changing Education Paradigms. After watching this, I went on to listen to one of Ken's TED talks podcasts where he elaborates on his ideas and views. I recommend it.

    Friday, March 15, 2013

    Getting Started: Gathering Materials

        I'm sitting here this morning sipping my tea, cutting out little apples for Miss A's letter of the week lessons, and thought I'd share how thankful I am for the Internet and blogs and the homeschooling community I've found since deciding to go down this very unfamiliar homeschooling path. Before, I felt like I was on my own little island in this, but now I see this island is full of others just like me!

        Yesterday morning, I stumbled across The Ultimate Homeschool Blogroll by Hip Homeschool Moms.  I was pleasantly surprised to find so many homeschool moms and even a list of "first years"!  I have to admit, I spend more than my share of "mommy's morning time" looking at other experienced and first year blogs, and I got to peak at what other homeschool moms are doing in their classrooms.  It really got me motivated to continue planning what our own homeschool year is going to contain.

        I've spent the last three days researching and creating plans for Wiggly's 2nd grade curriculum.  Since my idea is that he will rejoin public school in 5th-6th grade, I'm keeping with our state's content standards so he's learning the same concepts as his peers in public school.  However, it's just like being a first year teacher again; I'm gathering information and materials for his entire school year without using any text books or pre-made lesson plans. I'm starting from scratch.  So far, I've decided to use Everyday Math after talking to a few teachers who are both familiar with this set and the Saxon Math program.  Also, since we're not using a combined spelling/reading text book set, I've been reading up on how to teach spelling and word work.  My sister-in-law taught talented and gifted for a couple years in the elementary grades and recommended Word Journeys: Assessment-guided Phonics, Spelling, and Vocabulary Instruction by Kathy Ganske.  It's not a riveting read by any means, but it does explain the different stages of spelling and how to choose spelling lists based on the student's ability.  It also gives lots of ideas and activities for students to do other than just 'worksheets'.  It's been very helpful for a former middle school teacher; although I had one phonics class in college, my students came to me already knowing how to read.  The mechanics that go behind teaching a child to read is completely unfamiliar territory. 

        Another resource that has been wonderful to have was finding Erica at  It was her blog that I found when I first started researching this whole homeschooling business.  Prior to discovering her blog, I was really unsure if I could do this at all; how was I going to organize everything and run my school day?  I was overwhelmed at just the thought of homeschooling. After spending a few mornings searching around and reading up on her blog, I realized that this (hopefully) won't be so bad after all. I'm adopting the Workbox System, and I have since seen many other homeschoolers use this or a similar concept in their classrooms as well.
    I've just recently downloaded Erica's Letter of the Week Program for Miss A.  Since I've been spending most of my energy compiling lessons for Wiggly's curriculum, it's so nice to have a preschool program all ready to go!  She's included everything you can think of that you'll need short of the yarn for the lacing cards and the Velcro dots for the lessons themselves. I'm so excited to get started and I know Miss A is too.  As I was cutting out the apples for the letter "A" lesson, Miss A asked if she could play with them.  I told her not until we have them laminated... So off to Walmart we go: our shopping list includes milk, eggs, and a laminator.  :0)

    Tuesday, March 12, 2013

    Reads that Inspired me to homeschool

        In case you're interested, here are a few of the articles/books that inadvertently helped me in making the decision to homeschool Wiggly.  I didn't read them with the idea of homeschooling; it was more like the more I read, the more homeschooling makes sense for our personal situation. If you are unfamiliar with the books, I highly recommend them (obviously, or I wouldn't be posting about them. ;0)  At the very least, it gives you something to chew on about your personal definition of success, how we as parents/caregivers encourage children to learn, and how having the right circumstances to success make all the difference.

        The first book is Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell.  Firstly, I'd like to say how very fascinating this book is.  I've always been interested in psychology and why people behave the way they do, so this was very much up my alley.  This book focuses on the "outliers" in our society (ie. Bill Gates and other highly successful individuals), and how these people came to such high degrees of success and prosperity.  On the flip side, the book also covers outliers in the other direction; for example, the circumstances surrounding an airplane tragedy, and the mediocrity one of the world's smartest men.  
        There are a few chapters that really stood out to me when it came to my son's education starting with the very first chapter. In the first chapter, Gladwell explains using the sport of hockey how even at a very young age, kids who are older for their class/sport and are a little more mature physically and emotionally than their younger peers with later birthdays, are picked for teams and receive better training, hence becoming better, more successful athletes over-all.  And this is all because they were a little more mature as 5-6 year olds.  This same example of being older and more mature at a young age can be seen in the classroom as well.  Students who are older for their class do better in school than their younger peers.  The evidence he provides for backing this claim is astounding.
        The same phenomena of the advantages older, more mature students have in the classroom is also explained in Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman's book, Nurture Shock: New Thinking about Children.  Here they use elite daycare screenings and gifted programs to show that older, more mature students at an early age have better access to advanced learning, such as gifted programs, not so much because they are truly smarter, but because they are simply a little more mature than their younger peers.  And as a result of better class selections and opportunities, these older children are more successful academically. 

    Hopefully, I did a decent job of reviewing these books; both are totally worth your time.  

        So what is a parent to do if your child is wiggly and a bit young for his class? There is factual evidence that the opportunities may not be the same for him as more mature students(and/or girls).  And what if you know your child is more capable than the mediocre work he's bringing home from school each day or the grades on his report card? The kicker was when I read this article, and my decision was final. 

    Boys at the Back

    It was as if the columnist was at Wiggly's school when she wrote this.  All of the anxieties I was feeling since he started kindergarten but I couldn't quite put my finger on was right there in this article.  The article talks about classrooms being stacked against many elementary school boys because they have less attention span, have less eagerness to learn, and are generally less able to sit still and work independently than their girl peers.  And since behavior is factored in to elementary grades (whether teachers admit this or not), boys tend to have poorer grades than girls even though test scores may be the same.  The article goes into more depth on the effects of these boys being left behind during the primary grades and the gender gap that exists in education. 

        I want my son to have the best opportunity for learning as possible because I know how important it is to get off on the right foot early on.  Put simply, I don't think the public school classroom is the best option for him at this time.  And so we shall homeschool.  For how long? That depends on him.


    Thursday, March 7, 2013

    Why we're Homeschooling

        Hi! My name is April, and I am a stay-at-home wife and mother of three children, ages 6, 4, and 2.  I've started this blog as a way to share my experiences as my family and I figure out the homeschooling scene. My hope for this blog is to help other parents who are homeschooling their children or are considering homeschooling for their children.  Ok, and it's for me too... I have a feeling that I'm going to need all the help I can get!

        Every family has their own reasons for deciding to homeschool; this is ours.  The leap into homeschooling our children is a decision that my husband and I have discussed and considered throughout this current school year as we witnessed our oldest son, "Wiggly", survive but not really thrive during his 1st grade year.  He is currently in the 1st grade at our local public school, but we're pulling him after this school year. I refer to him as "Wiggly" because that's how his teacher, Mrs. O., refers to his "undesirable" behavior in class.  She tells me that he's not disrespectful or disruptive to other students. He's just wiggly in his seat, and he has trouble focusing in class.  My question (among many others) is this: What six year old boy isn't a little wiggly? Anyways, as a result of his difficulty he's having in a classroom of 26 other kids, my husband and I agree that I can give him a better education at home in a less distracting environment where he can enjoy learning at his own pace.  And with with my middle daughter ready for preschool, I'll be able to teach them both.

        Now don't get me wrong, I'm by no means blaming his teacher for Wiggly's inability to stay focused in school. I taught middle school for five years before staying home, so I totally understand how the system works and how much teachers are responsible for in a day's time.  Wiggly is a kid who needs extra attention sometimes, not because he lacks the ability, he just lacks the focus. And that's probably the most frustrating part for me as a parent: he's a very bright, inquisitive boy, but his school work isn't reflecting what I know he is capable of. So if I can help him gain the skills he needs to focus at home, he'll be better off in a public school once he grows and matures. (Right now, we're planning on reintroducing him to public school maybe in the 5th or 6th grade.)

        So, this is where our adventure starts.  I am currently spending most mornings gathering supplies and materials that I'm going to need for this upcoming school year. (I'll post more on what materials I'm gathering later.)  It's exciting and terrifying all at once.  I guess that's how it is whenever you leap into something new and unknown...