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Learning to Swim

Learning to Swim

I was watching a Brave Writer video the other day on copywork and learning disabilities (linked below). In it, speech-language pathologist Rita Cevasco is talking about choosing the difficulty level of your students’ work when she says,

“You’re not learning how to swim when you are drowning.”

You are not learning how to swim when you are drowning.

Is anyone else having bells go off in their head when they hear that?

Not just about your students, but about you?

How often we are drowning as HSPs and moms??  The noise, the smells, the chaos and lack of sleep? The never-ending-ness of it if you are also homeschooling? Or have littles and are up at night so one day just blends into night and into the next day?

And how many of us just push and push through, telling ourselves that it shouldn’t be this hard, so we must be doing something wrong…it’s US so we’ll just keep trying to be like the non-HSPs next door.

Yet *denying* that that is my reality, that I am sometimes (often) drowning and not swimming, doesn’t help me any!  “I should be able to do more! I should be able to stand this!” Saying these things does not make them true.

We need to learn to live within our abilities, even if they are less than we want, even if others are shaming us for them, even if we are “disappointing” people.  In the end, that is on them, not you.  It absolutely hurts when the condemnation gets aimed at us, but *they* are wrong, not you.

I know there are so many things we can’t drop if we are mothers and homeschoolers.  SO. MANY.

But maybe we can jump way back, out of the minds of others where shame and condemnation live (sometimes our own minds are the worst for this), out of the culture that bases worth on productivity and usefulness, and think about ourselves and our own needs.  Pray for wisdom about what is yours to carry.

When I’m not drowning, the gifts God has gifted me with get a chance to shine and be used.  Little by little I’m learning to swim.

 

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Here’s the Brave Writer Video.

 

 

Our attempt at a new chore system

Our attempt at a new chore system

If you are anything like me, you have tried at least a half a dozen “systems” to get things done in your house.  We’ve been parenting for almost 20(!) years now so multiple chore lists have come and gone.

Some of that has been necessary due to life shifts – injuries, chronic illness, moving, children going to school, children being born and growing old enough to participate.

But honestly? Much of it was due to either my failure at maintaining the system, or the OOOH SHINY SYNDROME of seeing something online that looked better than what we had, and me having to try it.

The reason for this new system of ours is a little of all of the above!

One more child is doing school out of the home, meaning the balance has shifted – there are now more people out of the house every day than in it. My husband is at work, my oldest at college, and the next two are attending high school near my husband’s work, which means he usually drops them off in the morning and picks them up after work. They are typically away many more hours than they are awake and at home.

Luckily, my homeschoolers are 12 and almost 10, so they can pick up a little slack. Even more luckily, they seem to understand that they are getting many benefits by homeschooling – the biggest being they are spending less time doing school work than their high school aged siblings by virtue of the one-on-one instruction.  Even with adding the half hour or so of chores, they are still winning big-time in the free time department.

Soooo…there’s only been a *little* grumbling and trying-to-hide-ing instead of the usual, LOL.

Our Old System:

Before our move, we had a printed spreadsheet that was our chore chart. There were a few things that were daily/semi-daily such as washing dishes, taking out garbage, and washing and putting away clothes, but most things got put off until Saturday, when we would have a big chore day.  Bathroom cleaning, vacuuming, more laundry and dishes, straightening up…all were divided among five kids (and myself), and the same child did the same thing every week.

Everything that was not done by kids fell mostly to me over the week, but The Captain also pitched in, especially for big, out of the home things.

This worked well enough but I was never thrilled with it. Maybe because our house was small, cluttered, and cramped, and not only did it never feel really clean even after all that work, we would annoy each other by getting into each others way while cleaning…or James T had to do a chore before Juliet could do hers, but he wasn’t home, so everything came to a screeching halt.

The New System

Helped greatly by a move to a bigger house, I’m sure, I am really love this new system so far.

We still have a weekend chore chart, but the cards, as I am about to explain, overlap with some of that to take the burden off the weekend. We all work hard during the week and need time on the weekend to unwind for both health and mental health reasons.

The new system is for the two remaining homeschoolers, and consists of a set of cards with one chore on each.  I chose both daily type chores and weekly chores to put on the cards.

When they are ready to start their day, they are allowed to pick five cards to do.  I don’t allow them to wake up early, hoard the five best chores and disappear, but I DO reward getting an early start on your day – i.e. electronics are off, you have eaten and are ready to either work or do school.  So if they are up earlier than their sibling, yes, they can take the five best chores and do them. 🙂

At their request I set aside the cards that are unable to be chosen that day. For example, if they just vacuumed their room yesterday, I don’t let them pick that again today.  I think over time they will come to realize which of the things this pertains to — which chores really need to get done, so I won’t have to hover over that part, but for now it’s fine and it only takes me less than a minute.

In order for their school day to be done, they need to do any five available cards of their choice. That’s it!  It sounds like nothing, but it has been SO helpful, and they are happy because they get some say in how they help that day.

By the end of the week, many of the once a week chores have been accomplished and they are left to choose the things they never pick on the first few days of the week, like doing dishes! (It even earns double points and still no one does it, LOL)

 

Here are the cards we have so far:

  • start a load of laundry
  • move laundry from washer to dryer (I may combine this with above card to make one chore)
  • empty trash cans and replace bags
  • bring down the laundry hampers, dump, and return
  • vacuum a set of stairs
  • fill the dishwasher (double points!)
  • vacuum a room (can be used multiple times)
  • dust the hardwood floors
  • random approved project (I try to keep a list but am bad at that)
  • take a full recycling or trash bag out to the cans (easy, so if both are full, both are done as one chore)
  • empty the dishwasher
  • straighten and wipe down kitchen counter
  • clean upstairs bathroom counter, sinks, and mirror
  • sweep the deck
  • sweep and spot clean the kitchen floor
  • put away your clothes

I tried to pick chores that would help the most and would have the most impact on the running of our home, plus help make the weekend easier.

Very few chores on the cards are dependent on another card being done, so most can be done at any time if needed. I’m thinking of combining the few dependent chores into one card.   With the old system, it got old fast when we would find two kids goofing off because they couldn’t do the next thing because their sibling didn’t do the first step.   We tried to instill the “well, just do the first step for yourself so you can get moving on your chore” but no dice. That. was. their. SIBLING’S. chore. LOL  *eye roll*

We are nothing if not a huge work in progress here. 😀

Questions:

Q: What about all the other things that need to get done?

A:  Most of that is falling to me now. Although, God bless his soul, my husband has been helping so much. He has some physical limitations so in the past was unable to help much at all. He has gotten stronger now and let me tell you, to come down stairs in the morning to see that he did dishes is just wonderful.  Mostly because I see that he is healthier, which makes my heart sing, but yeah…also because now I don’t have to do that chore!

Often, things just don’t get done.  I have like 10% of the energy I used to. I do what I can.  I live with a lot of mess. I try not to hate myself for it.  The Captain and the kids don’t mind much.  I do what is the most glaring need at any given time.

Q:  Do you check up on the chores after they are done?

A:  See above about a “work in progress.”  My son likes me to check after each chore and will ask me right then and there. I’m happy he does that because I tend to forget. My daughter likes to work in secret.  So for her I will just notice later that something was missed, for example she missed a room in sweeping hardwoods, and just tell her to do it when I notice.

Q: How much time is this taking?

A: It does depend on what they choose, but most of the chores take about five minutes max, when they have gotten used to them and are working efficiently. So maybe 25 minutes a day.

Q: What do they do with the cards?

A: Right now they are just in a stack in our kitchen, and they take the five they want and typically fan them out somewhere they can see.  My son likes to move them from a “to do” pile to a “done” pile. My daughter just remembers what she needs to do and does it, and doesn’t put the cards back after.  I do find cards scattered hither and yon.  If they were younger I would probably have some kind of pretty cup or system of pockets so it was more hands on.  At their ages they seem fine with the lackadaisical way this is working for now. Thank goodness, because I don’t do “Type A” chore stuff, LOL.

Q: Do you still have the chore spreadsheet?

A: But of course! My dh is an engineer/IT guy, so he thinks in spreadsheets. 🙂  Since every week is a little different as to what chores got done with the cards, we use the chart to keep us on track with what else needs to be done.

Q: What happens when a child does another child’s assigned weekend chore using the cards during the week?

A: That child does a happy dance and gets some time off.  We hope to get that “off the hook” child to do something extra but that isn’t always happening.  Emma has added some volunteer work and has SATs to study for, so when it is her, we encourage studying.  We are still getting our other house ready to put on the market and the kids have done many extra projects.  When that is over we will probably be better able to see if someone is getting away with a huge imbalance of work.

If you have any other questions or comments, I’d love to hear them!

A Day in the Life of a Type B Homeschooler – First Day of School!

A Day in the Life of a Type B Homeschooler – First Day of School!

(Times are approximate. I’m severely Type B, after all.)

Technically, the first day of school was supposed to be this Tuesday, the day after Labor Day. That was the day my other kids started high school outside the home so it made sense to me.  However, some day in July it made sense to me to make a long doctor’s appointment for my son on Tuesday.  Not sure what I was thinking…but it worked out in the end.  It was even a good visit – we don’t have to go back until December, and his joints are looking good! (Thanks to lots of horrible drugs /insert scowly eye roll here).

So Wednesday rolls around and I figure I can’t put off starting school forever just because I missed what would have been the perfect first day. I did think about it though! “Maybe we should start NEXT week.”  No Amy, just do it. So a day late and half a curriculum short, and here we go.

(links may be affiliate links)

6:30 ish AM – I hear people banging around outside my room and know it’s time to get rolling. The school girls are getting ready. So I lie in bed for a long time scrolling through Instagram. I’ve become an Instagram Stories junkie lately.  I’m secretly thankful it wears my battery down too fast or I would do it more often, when I should be doing other things. Like getting up and starting my day. Ahem.

7 AM – I say goodbye to dh and the girls and go shower.  Today is the first day of homeschooling! I’m going to be ready. Well, at least I’m going to be clean…”ready” is saying a bit too much.  I haven’t shopped for this year, I have vague plans…. yeah, “ready” is a little optimistic. But I’ve had a horse in this race for *gulp* 15 years now, so I’m just going to roll with it.

8 AM – the youngest two are up  (they are 12 and almost 10… 7th and 4th grade) and getting ready. Getting ready means, hmmmm, not much.  They sleep in shorts and t-shirts. They do school in shorts and t-shirts, LOL.  They brush their teeth.  I make snacks!  This is not an every day thing but something nice for the first day.  Belvita Bites, crackers, chai, tea, veggies.  Shocked that they eat the veggies before the Belvitas and crackers. Make a mental note to put out veggies more often. Dip is a lifesaver.

9 AM – School starts!  Find the kids. They are excited for their first day. I *know* that will not last, but it is nice for today.  We gather on the couch, our only soft place to sit…we moved this summer and can’t afford more furniture until we sell our old house. 🙂  I suggest we start with a prayer.   It was awkward but heartfelt. I never know what to say!  “Thanks God. Help?!?!” LOL

After a prayer blessing our year I open A History of US Volume 1.  My daughter has asked to learn about Native American history and cultures, and my son has no opinion right now, so Native Americans it is. (An aside:  I’m agonizing over how to refer to them…Native Americans? Indigenous North Americans? Something else? Even a google search brings up interviews where no one is in agreement of what they call themselves. Usually prefer their tribe name. Which doesn’t help me name them as a whole for blogging and discussion purposes. So Native Americans it is…with an explanation of all this to my 12yo LOL) (Yes I’m an overthinker, why do you ask?)

9-10 AM – We read from A History of US, 2 chapters. This hour is a great example of my teaching style. Discussion based and all over the place.  A History of Us starts with a poem, “This Newly Created World (a Winnebago Indian poem)”.  We are doing “history” but stop to discuss the poem.  There is some great imagery and metaphor…we discuss it and what a metaphor is. I don’t beat the poem to death, I just say a few things until it starts feeling unnatural, and then I move on. I know there will be another poem at some point to talk about something else. We talk about Winnebago and wonder about the name and where they lived/live.

The  next few pages have several quotes, and we read them. They discuss the meaning and importance of history and my kids have opinions on it they share.  There are brief discussions on who some of the people quoted are. We look a few things up.  I’m happy nothing started us singing Hamilton songs because then we may never have fully recovered. 😀   We did sing the preamble to the Constitution when it came up in the text. I cried when we were done, trying to explain to my kids how cool it was that they were singing the same song I learned from Schoolhouse Rock when I was young.  I am *always* crying during read alouds so they might as well get used to it now.

We have a little side discussions about: math/physics/physiology (the size of mammoths and length of tusks vs their legs), geology, evolution, vocabulary they didn’t know, what a theory is vs. things we know as absolute facts, weaponry, whether it’s OK to eat animals. We are about 18 pages into the book…and have covered history, math, geology, physics, biology, ethics, and language arts.

10ish – we hit the end of a history chapter … not a pre-planned stopping point, just a good one… so move to our read aloud: Prince Caspian. We finished The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe at the end of last year, so this was an obvious choice. 🙂  I read and they listen and draw and snack.  There are a few side discussions but not like with the history book.

Getting on my soapbox: I don’t “ruin” a book I’m reading aloud by asking comprehension questions.  Asking comprehension questions while reading doesn’t teach kids anything, it is just *testing* them over and over.  If a kid has comprehension problems I would address that separately, and probably pick easier (and very engaging) books as my read alouds with them.  I know my kids are following for the most part because I’ll talk about what I like about the plot, or ask them if they remember where we left off yesterday, and they can usually converse pretty well about it.   We cover a few new vocabulary words as we hit them. “Do you know what _____ means here?”  I read a few chapters until my throat starts hurting.

I’ll pick a paragraph I like at some point next week for copy work, especially for my youngest. He had arthritis in his right hand for years and so I didn’t force handwriting.  He’s doing well now, but his grip is weak and he needs practice.

11 AM – Time for math!  They are both doing Life of Fred this year. We are in Pre-Algebra 0 with Physics for my 7th grader and Kidney (LOL) for my 4th grader, although so far it seems easy.  Meaning, he is understanding the concepts, not necessarily remembering all his math facts right away or the steps to long division. I walk him through problems, and it will come with time. (Methotrexate Fog is a a real thing).   I read to my son as my dd does hers on her own, surprisingly in the same room. She usually wants quiet.

Life of Fred works much like our other curriculum in that the author brings in random topics that send us down rabbit trails.  Some people hate it but it really works for us. So today we talked about idioms, which is great because they showed up several times in our other work, music, alphabetizing, and fair salaries.

Does this take a long time? YES! But it seems to all balance out in the end.  Because now, when we hit “idioms” in whatever language arts program I might use, they already know about it, and we can skim or skip. And they learned it in a more natural manner, so it seems to stick better than if it’s taught just because we happened to hit the “idiom” chapter in our book.

L.U.N.C.H.T.I.M.E!

12 – Yay! So it’s about 12:00 and I know I, at least, am seriously hitting my wall for continuous interaction. We fend for ourselves for lunch and when they are done I put on a video.  Lydia wants to learn about animals and asked about bird behavior, so we find Beaks and Brains on Netflix and watch that in my room on my bed together.   Did I know we would watch this today? No, but I knew Netflix had a ton of animal videos and we would find *something.* We talk about it while watching, I throw in a few facts I know, it’s all very casual and fun. It really was fascinating learning how smart these birds are! 🙂

Before they are “dismissed” for the day to do whatever they want, they do some chores. We’ve introduced a new chore system that is working really well so far.  I will go into it in more detail in another post, but here is a sneak peak (which you already have seen if you follow me on Instagram).

So that is it!  We were done by 2, and it was by far the best first homeschooling day ever.   I mostly read aloud and talked and discussed, and kept my expectations low.   This works for us.  I know it doesn’t work for everyone, it didn’t even work for everyone in my own family which is why two of my children are in high school right now even though I have gone through high school by homeschooling a different child.   Let me clarify…I think it may have “worked” to educate them had they tried it for high school, but they *prefer* a much more structured, school-like atmosphere.  It is a good fit for them.

I hope you liked this little peak into our first day. If you have any questions or want more detail on anything just drop it in the comments!

 

They all rolled over and one fell out…

They all rolled over and one fell out…

Well hey hey, look at that I’m actually blogging. 😀

The upcoming start of a new school year has energized me to want to blog again. I finally feel like I have some things worth sharing! So much emotional turmoil over the summer kind of left me tongue tied (I’m sure I’ll talk about it eventually), but the promise of new books and school year fun is always nice to chat about.

This year my homeschool feels like the song “There Were Ten in the Bed.”  Three years ago Emma went off to high school outside the home, two years ago Elizabeth went off to college, this year Juliet joins her sister in high school, and Lydia and James T are my only homeschool students left.

*singing* There were three at the desk and the little one said, “Move over! Move over!” So they all moved over and one fell out…and rolled all the way to high school leaving us wondering where everybody went. LOL

Considering one of my homeschool struggles was getting stressed by multiple students all needing different things at the same time, I think having only two students will be good for me this year.  My adrenals are shot, my thyroid is messed up, and I need to reduce stress in a big way.  Having only two students…go me! 😀

My plan is to combine them for science and history. James T is in 4th grade this year, but is very close to the cut off so could almost be a 5th grader, and Lydia is in 7th. I think James can handle anything I’d throw at Lydia in the science and history department, as long as I accommodate for the major brain fog his arthritis drugs cause, and his lack of writing instruction compared to his sister. The amount of brain fog his Methotrexate and Humira cause cannot be underestimated. I’ve seen the difference when we increase just .1ml a week. Isn’t that crazy? But even other professionals saw it and knew from experience that’s what was happening.  I’m SO glad he’s homeschooling right now.  He’s really a smart kid under all that medication, but has trouble thinking straight when on it.

Lydia is interested in learning in depth about animals this year, and also indigenous cultures of North America so I see a lot of great reading and activities in our future. If you have any resources you love, please share!  Right now I’m just putting a million things in my library’s list page to remember.

Math will continue to be Life of Fred – James is on Kidney (such weird names for these) and Lydia, I think, has made it to Pre-Algebra 0 with Physics. Maybe some Teaching Textbooks thrown in for fun.

I won’t keep you all on this first day of school for many…just wanted to pop in and say hi, and hope to be back here much more regularly in the coming days. We’re off to go on a field trip – a poorly scheduled rheumatologist appointment! 😀

Belonging, or just fitting in?

Belonging, or just fitting in?

I was just watching videos from The Light of the Moon Cafe, where they talk about struggles with food. They really get us highly sensitive people over there.

In one of the videos Dr. Johnston was talking about how many people, especially women, will accept fitting in as a substitute for really *belonging*.

Fitting in: “when you abandon who you really are in an attempt to look like and act like and think like and feel like what you imagine how others want you to look and think and feel and act.”

Belonging: “feeling a kinship, a connection to others while you feel a connection to your true self.”

As children we are wired to *need* to belong, but sometimes our families of origin or friends aren’t emotionally healthy and don’t want us to belong, so we settle for fitting in, as our small (and older!) bodies crave connection of whatever kind we can get.  Of course, if we are only fitting in and not belonging, we realize deep down something is missing.   We are highly sensitive and can usually perceive the tiny hints that others miss.  We know something is “off” even though everyone around us says everything is fine.

When we speak up about this in unhealthy families, it doesn’t turn out well for us.  This is when we start thinking there must be something wrong with us. This is when we start numbing ourselves with food, with perfectionism, with addictions.

Why did my mom abandon me? Why did my father get upset when I said I was hurt by something he did? Why isn’t mom talking to me now? I don’t remember doing anything wrong…it must just be me. It must be who I am. I’m not good enough to be loved and cherished.

There’s more good stuff on the website so I won’t, and shouldn’t, summarize the whole video for you (I was watching the free Soul Hunger Video Series on the sidebar).

Oh but that “fitting in” vs. “belonging” — what an eye opening moment. Now, I have understood the difference for a long time, and have probably been studying attachment since I was in college taking psych classes (i.e. in the dinosaur ages, LOL). But hearing it said this morning made me realize how often I *still* do this.

Still settle for fitting in. Still think there is something horribly wrong with me.  Still think I’m unlovable so I might as well just fit in, at least then people will stop arguing with me and trying to prove themselves right (and me wrong).  It hurts less this way.

But does it? Does it really? In the moment, yes.  But deep, deep down, you know it doesn’t.  I know it doesn’t.  A lifetime of pretending to be someone else so that you can be loved and kept and safe catches up with you. You wake up at 35, or 40, or 52 and wonder who you even are, and why is there this huge empty hole where “I” should be?

The claiming of my “self” has been difficult and painful and I still don’t even really know what I’m looking for, but every tiny gain of reality has been worth it. It’s almost like I actually feel a tiny puzzle piece click into place. I realize now if people don’t know me, even if they say they like or love me, they don’t *really*, because I have never shown them who I really am. They like (or don’t!) the “fake girl” – the nice girl, the calm girl, the helpful girl, the girl who doesn’t know how to say no.

I hope I can get to “real me” some day before it’s too late.

Life Update

Life Update

Ok, so I’ve updated you all on what we are doing homeschooling wise this year (which has morphed even since writing that, LOL – added a Spectrum Language Arts workbook for ds to cover some holes in the easiest way possible for us).

Now I’ll dive into the crazy that the last few months have been.  Warning: long and whiny.

I guess the biggest news is that my mother passed away right after Christmas. Back at the end of August she had an incident with her heart/lungs that put her in the ICU for about a month. She was very near death but fought and rallied, and after getting a tracheotomy was sent to a specialized rehab in another state to help her wean off the ventilator, which she did. Moved back closer to home to finish “rehabbing.”  She finally got fed up with living at rehab and was close enough to being able to be released so they fought to go home.  She really struggled being home though, and was on her way back to rehab with my father  when she passed away.  She had very severe scoliosis for the last few decades of her life and it impinged on her lung and heart function. She finally just couldn’t fight anymore.

I’m not grieving in any way I’ve ever heard of.  I’m most definitely a complete mess and falling apart in ways I haven’t felt since my most severe bout of post-partum depression,  but my thoughts don’t seem to be normal “grief thoughts.”  I’m just going to leave it at that because saying any more would probably get me labeled a heartless monster. Maybe that is what I am, who knows. 🙁

In other news, my son’s been struggling with side effects of his rheumatoid arthritis and it’s medications, so we have added a few other drugs and are changing around some others. Have I mentioned that I’m a crunchy mama and that having to give my son these horrible things just kills me?   Natural things weren’t working, although a neighbor is going to talk to me about a few other things I might be able to try.  I’m not going to try anything until all our medications are switched and settled in because I need to see what reactions are coming from what.

He’s developed uveitis which is inflammation of the eye. It is somewhat common in juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. It can cause scarring which leads to blindness. Luckily we caught it early and he has started on steroid drops to help it. They are working for now.  He had to take them every two hours at first and now he’s down to 4 times a day which is much better.

He’s also developed a rash that looks like psoriasis. Again, not uncommon in rheumatoid arthritis sufferers, as psoriasis is an autoimmune skin condition.  He’s on methotrexate (a chemotherapy drug, which they just increased because of the eyes) and Enbrel (what they call a “biologic” – it’s a tumor necrosis factor inhibitor that can help JRA sufferers) which is helping his pain and swelling, but apparently not good for his eyes or skin.  Increases in his methotrexate turned him into Crazy Boy instead of my nice calm boy. Really not that bad, but I didn’t put two and two together until the optometrist mentioned something about his behavior. “I can see they increased the methotrexate!” LOL  OMG is *that* why he hasn’t been able to listen to me all week?  Mmmm, hmmmm, yup – this is just what he was like when he first went on it, and I had forgotten.  (Blocking out the trauma, LOL)

So we are being switched off of Enbrel to Humira (another TNF inhibitor with a different pathway).  Good news, we only have to inject that one once every two weeks. Bad news, it hurts like the seventh level of hell.  My son is already very sensitive and needle phobic.   I’m terrified of needing to do this to him.  It’s going to be ugly.  I’m so tired of ugly.  Luckily we have at least a week to wait because his shot is due today and we haven’t received the Humira yet, so we’ll give Enbrel.

One good thing is that since Humira should work on his eyes and skin, we can eventually *potentially* move off of the methotrexate, which is giving him awful stomach aches. Don’t get me started on the fact that his pediatrician and his rheumatologist disagree on what to give him for the stomach aches.  “Prevacid can’t possibly help”…yeah, well, it’s working, if even just psychologically, so imma keep him on it for awhile, M’Kay?  Unless you want to come hold him while he screams because his stomach hurts so bad doc, go right ahead. 😛

Rereading all this doesn’t sound like much, but the two together, on top of normal (i.e. difficult) life around here and just being “full up” all the time, I’m clinging to sanity by the thinnest of hairs.  I’m binge reading fiction just to keep my mind off things, while everything else falls apart all around me.  And then I leave the house and put on my usual fake smile for everyone so everyone thinks I’m doing so well.  But it’s like I’m actually about a foot outside of myself.  I can feel myself “leaving” – I can now turn it on at will.   But it’s exhausting. You’d think it would be easier, but it takes a lot of energy.

And I think it’s why I’m not grieving normally.  I’ve spent the last very many years being “outside myself” when with my parents because it was not safe to “be me,”  so there was no real relationship because I’m not really there. Some other girl is there.  Some happy, helpful, emotionally stable chick that morphs to be whatever you want if I can see you are not a safe harbor for me. Nope, definitely not me, LOL.

OK, I’m going to stop before I say something I’ll regret, insert a few random pictures that make me happy, and call it a day.  Thanks for reading.  I’m hoping now that I’ve gotten this off my chest I can go back to more normal posting because you’ll understand the backstory.

Love to you all.

2016-2017 School Year Update

2016-2017 School Year Update

So hey.

I can’t believe it’s been months since I utterly destroyed accidentally wiped out my site.

I’ve ached to come back here and at the same time have been completely tongue tied.  Sometimes I love Facebook and Instagram for the “one sentence and done” availability of updating. Doesn’t fly so well in a blog, although I’ve thought about blogging how I used to so many years ago – simply telling a joke, or writing a short paragraph, interspersed with much longer posts of substance.  I think it’s more like real life, and more like how my head works, but not exactly “how blogging is done” these days.  Maybe I’ll be a trailblazer again. 😀

There’s also a million “life things” I want to update on, but I’m going to leave that for another post…to many Big Serious things to tack onto a post about curriculum, ykwim?

And what did I ever do before internet acronyms and emojis?  😉  This is how I think. 🙂

Halfway through our 2016-2017 school year, and I’ve shaken a few things up. I’ll explain what I was using and what I’ve moved to where that is the case.

This is the first year I won’t have my oldest on my homeschool curriculum posts!  She’s off at college, doing excellently I might add (*pats self on back for being such a great homeschool mom*)

Ahem.

Seriously though, she is doing great. God’s been with her, some strange happenings have made things so much easier on her than they could have been.  She got a scholarship she didn’t even apply for with a lower GPA requirement than the one she was given by the school.  Such a load of worry off her back to not have to keep a super high GPA.  She did well enough that it didn’t matter, but anxiety makes her studying suffer, so this was better overall. Also, she never got a roommate! The girl never showed up. This has allowed my dd to keep an early sleep schedule that has worked really well for her, plus she has all the quiet study time she needs and doesn’t have to take everything to the library.  My dd makes friends very easily so there’s been no worry of isolation.

DD #2 is a junior, happy at her school, studying for ACT/SATs and planning her college choices.  I can’t believe I have a junior and a kid in college.

(I was 12 when I had them.)

Moving along, on to my homeschool sweeties.

Juliet is in 8th grade and will most likely be going to the school dd #2 goes to next year.  So her work is more textbook oriented and school-y to prepare her for life in high school. This was as much her choice as mine.

(most links are affiliate links 🙂 )

Math: We started with Algebra Structure and Method Book 1 and worked in it until mid-term time at my other daughter’s school.   I’m decent at algebra but brain fog has been an annoying companion and I couldn’t always articulate more difficult concepts. Their descriptions didn’t help.   Nor did I like the flow of the book.  My high school daughter said her teacher had them skip all over the place but didn’t remember in what order. Ugh.  So when I saw Holt Algebra at a friends house, I fell in love.  OK, well, not really, but I liked it’s clearer descriptions, good flow of concepts from easy to hard, and standardized test practice. The chapters themselves cover similar topics, and we are starting near the beginning of the book (because our current book was so backwards, lol) so it should work to switch into this book pretty seamlessly.

Photo Jan 30, 1 40 58 PM

Science:  All three of my homeschooled children spent a summer geocaching and learning about foraging and survival skills with me.   We played this game and these cards, and looked through and learned from the Idiot’s Guide to Foraging and  Hawke’s Special Forces Survival Handbook.  The last one is a little scary and graphic in places so I read and passed along ideas on certain “light” topics.  My youngest two are especially sensitive, so I didn’t want to scare them.  It was more of a fun “let’s pretend we are lost in the woods, what should we do” kind of thing and not “the world is ending we are all going to die in a heap what should we do” kind of thing.  🙂  Now why *I* was learning it, I’ll leave up to your imagination. Or more like my over active imagination, LOL.

To round out Juliet’s year  we are doing selected chapters from Environmental Science.  Why did I pick this one over other textbooks? I think it was because one of the reviewers said it was “on the easy side” for a high school text and that is exactly what I wanted for my 8th grader.  I’m not teaching an AP class here, I’m just trying to introduce her to the subject because it’s not something we’ve really covered any other time.

Language Arts:  I think this is my favorite thing this year. She is doing Oak Meadow’s Introduction to Literature and Composition: The Hero’s Journey.  I love how Oak Meadow brings art and creativity into things and allows for choice of topics and projects, while still remaining a solid course. That being said, I saw this at a friends house (the same enabler who showed me the Holt Algebra, LOL) and thought it was really great for a textbook. I bought a few levels to look at and will most likely incorporate one or more next year in some way.  When your brain is fried, sometimes a textbook can be your best homeschooling friend.

Photo Jan 30, 1 39 59 PM

Social Studies: We are doing Geography this year with an old Oak Meadow high school world geography syllabus.  I thought geography would go well with the environmental science and foraging studies.  I like teaching along a theme. 🙂

Spanish: She’s doing Visual Link Spanish that I had left over from my now college girl and watching the Foreign Languages for Kids by Kids videos with my younger two.

Extras: In our state we need to do “health.” I have no idea what we are doing yet! I’ll pick something and do an intensive unit on it.  We are always cooking, talking about medical issues, nutrition, taking care of oneself, but we need something to show for it.   Music has been church choir and an almost constant singing of the Hamilton soundtrack, LOL.  Art is a class a friend is teaching, plus things like crocheting and designing sets for their many impromptu plays.

 

**I think this is a good place to say that when I say I’m using a textbook or syllabus, I’m using IT, I’m not letting it use ME.  We never do everything, and we bring in other things spontaneously as we see fit.**

Didn’t want anyone to think I was losing my relaxed homeschooler vibe. 😉

 

6th Grade: Lydia

Math – Reviewing pre-algebra concepts with Teaching Textbooks. She used Saxon last year for the same level but does not feel confident. Saxon was a bad fit for both of us.  She’s also fallen in love with Life of Fred so is reading those (from Fractions on up) in her spare time.

Photo Jan 30, 1 42 17 PM

Science – She was part of our geocaching/foraging/survival crew, and is now working from library books on animal behavior and habitats

Language Arts and Social Studies – Lydia loves Oak Meadow and chose their combined Ancient History/English 6th grade syllabus.   (looks like they are not selling it anymore at OM, I did NOT spend this much…yikes)

Spanish – Foreign Languages for Kids by Kids with James T.

Extras – Just like with Juliet (and James T.) I need to pick something for health!  She’s doing art with our friends, choir with Juliet.

Last but certainly not least: James T. – 3rd grade

Math – Right now we are doing Life of Fred Elementary Series.  We will probably be done in about 3 weeks, and he wants to go back to Beast Academy for awhile because things are getting hard.  I don’t think he remembers how hard Beast Academy was! 🙂

 

Language Arts – He’s reading for fun and doing My Catholic Speller Level C and Wordly Wise Level A.

Science – What Lydia is doing more or less. Same with most of the rest of it!

Honestly though, teaching James T. this year has been hard.  Arthritis and life and medications and their side-effects have turned the two of us into more of an unschooling pair. More on that in my next post. :/

 

I guess that is it, although it doesn’t at all paint a picture of what life is like here on any given day.  Just picture Juliet doing her work (while singing Hamilton lyrics, LOL) diligently like a good little school child and the rest getting exponentially less schooly as you get down to James T. 🙂

 

So. This happened.

So. This happened.

seal

 

I don’t even know how to describe the purging of my life that has happened over the last few weeks. Much of it has been at my own hands. Not exactly purposefully, rather making mistakes and then undoing them by destroying everything because I didn’t know what else to do.

If you look around you’ll notice everything at HSP Mom is gone. Not only that but I lost two other blogs as well.  All because I was purposefully removing two other websites for businesses I am dissolving.  Long boring story, but I messed around too much on the back end of things, kept scrambling to make it better which only made it worse, accidentally backed up the wrong thing…and then just said…nevermind.   This has happened in similar ways in several other areas of my life.

I’m only listening to the part of me that is saying, “YES! Fresh start!” Because I think if I actually gave a fraction of a brain cell to caring, I would fall apart.

Yesterday a cold front whipped through, taking with it most of the leaves off of the trees. I’m not sure where I’m going with this, other than to say it was beautiful watching those leaves whip around, and necessary for the life of the tree, but I still feel a little like those trees look right now. bare-trees

I’m looking forward to coming back into this space six months from now and telling the story of how this mess was instrumental in the amazing life I’m then living. Until then, you’ll just have to put up with me wondering aloud at the crazy that is my life.  Thank you for sticking with me. 🙂

How we are doing Spanish this year

How we are doing Spanish this year

I have to admit, fitting in a foreign language had been low down on my priority list in the past.

*I* really like languages, but with all the Other Things That Must Be Done, I often let foreign language slip the way of my formal music and art lessons…i.e. “out of sight out of mind.” Add in the fact that my state doesn’t require it, and ugh…it was such a struggle.  I knew it was a good thing, but like many other good things I couldn’t seem to make time for it, or even remember it as an option when we did have some down time.

Finally, last year, after Emma went off to high school, I realized that the other elementary schools in the area were teaching foreign language, some as early as kindergarten.  My daughter wound up being at a disadvantage when she entered school with very little experience. Sure, there were students who switched to a different foreign language in high school and therefore needed a beginner level like my daughter, but even they had had years of language learning under their belt.

I needed to up my game. So we tried a few different programs, but I just couldn’t get into any of them, and my kids weren’t really responding well either.  They were OK, but I  needed more than OK to get past my usual disorganized homeschooling style and into something we are happy to pick up regularly.

*cue dramatic music*

Enter Foreign Languages for Kids by Kids.  I heard about Foreign Languages for Kids by Kids through another homeschooling mom on Facebook.

Foreign Languages for Kids by Kids currently has 40 Spanish lessons. You can either buy the DVDs or use the monthly subscription option to access online videos, like we are doing.  They also have online and print workbooks, flashcards, and a game you can buy.  Here is their product page.

 

When we first started a few months ago, we watched one lesson per week, and returned to it a few times that week.  Quickly, though, we had more fun binge watching (they take after their mother, LOL).  The kids wanted to watch many “weeks” worth of videos, then go back and watch the ones they had done before.  We do this maybe once or twice a week and they are picking up the vocabulary well.

 

The videos feature mostly children and teens. They speak only Spanish, but the phrases and sentences are usually short and there is enough repetition to ensure understanding. You can use the flash cards and workbooks to help cement the learning.

 

My favorite part about the videos? The kids act like real kids.  Yes, it’s scripted and they are talking in single words and short phrases often, but outside of that they are being silly and sometimes just like real siblings (you know, along the lines of “he’s breathing on me!”).   They make us laugh and we even bring up little vignettes as inside jokes in our own family – like handing each other an apple saying “manzana…MANZANA” just like the boy in the video.

 

It has been a fun, engaging, relaxed and entertaining way to learn (or relearn) Spanish, for all of us. I think it’s a great introduction to the language. Best of all, my kids ask for it, so it gets done!  Win-win.

You can also find Foreign Languages for Kids by Kids on Facebook and Twitter.

Disclaimer – I received a free subscription to this online program in exchange for a review. The thoughts expressed are true and completely my own.

The Black Dog

The Black Dog

 

I’m going to break an internet rule and apologize for not posting in three weeks.

I could tell you it was because I was busy (which I was) and that things are crazy (which they are) and that I’m putting my energy towards helping my daughter make her college decision (which I am – she has 9 days, people!) — but that would only be a part of the story.

I want to be honest with you here because I know you, as highly sensitive people, are not immune to what I’m about to talk about.

A few weeks ago, my typical acquaintance with depression and anxiety turned into a all out brawl, and I was losing.  I had been sliding down for a long time, but this was tail over teakettle into a ravine.

I became re-familiarized with the term, The Black Dog, which didn’t in any way seem to do what I was going through justice, although it brought up thoughts of Sirius Black from Harry Potter, which produced at least a little ray of light in an otherwise dark world spiraling out of control.  My Black Dog was more like a pack of black wolves with rabies.

I normally have a lot of deep troublesome thoughts or things going on in my life, which I can typically carry around tidily as if in a suitcase.  The problems or thoughts are there, but I am managing them.  Lately,  not only has the suitcase gotten too heavy, but it sprung open, getting lotions and dainties everywhere, just as I was running for the gate so as not to miss my plane.   Plane missed, stuff everywhere, me sitting in an emotional, embarrassed heap, unable to clean it up or move on. (OK I’m done with the metaphors, LOL).

Two days ago I stopped a medication that I think might be contributing, but it’s only a guess because it’s supposed to act in the opposite way. It’s too soon to tell if it was helping. I only took it 10 days out of the month, and my depression was every day not just those days, so I’m guessing if it was a contributing factor it’s more of a cumulative thing and will probably take time to get out of my system.

Or it has nothing to do with it and I’m just totally out of whack.  Not sure I ever was IN whack, LOL.  Actually, not even sure what whack is. 🙂


I have spent a lot of time in the last few weeks thinking about this blog and the fact that I wasn’t blogging.  Mostly wondering where I want to take this blog.

My oldest is graduating (!), my second is in a local high school, my now 7th grader wants to go there when she hits 9th grade, and yesterday #4 asked to go to school as well, before high school.  My youngest has no desire for school, but I can imagine that will change when his best buddies are all gone.  I don’t blame them.  I try very hard not to let my mental state affect them, and am usually very successful, as I’m a good faker around people.  But slowly things have changed around here over the past few years, both educationally and socially.  They are lonely and need things I can’t seem to manage.  So the highly sensitive homeschooler may soon be the highly sensitive NOT-homeschooler. Probably not next year, but soon.

Blogging about being overwhelmed by homeschooling seems disingenuous to me if I’m not right there in the trenches with you.  To me, at least.

I’ve thought about selling the URL and associated “stuff” if anyone is interested. 🙂  It’s just a thought at this moment, and I’m not sure how I would go about it all, but I’d be happy to talk to anyone interested. The right person could really fly with this blog because there is a great need for writing about this topic. I just don’t know if I’m the one to do it.

I also am having a problem with the way I’ve been blogging — part of me wants to do the traffic driving “10 Ways to Be the Best Homeschooler EVVVVVEEEERRRRRRR” posts, and part of me hates them with a passion, LOL.  The other part of me just wants to hang out and chat about life, but I worry about it turning into a whine-fest.  As HSPs life can be overwhelming, so when talking about the HSP life I’d be talking about being overwhelmed.  A lot.  Especially as an HSP dealing with anxiety and depression. And I don’t have *answers* so I’m never sure what to say.

The flip flopping between the two types has made me feel two-faced.  I know I should just follow my heart, but my heart is all.over.the.place.  If I don’t get traffic here I’m just talking to myself, but in order to drive traffic I’m not being true to myself and having to be over-salesy (for me).  Like, if I see one more highly staged instagram photo, I’m gonna quit life and go be Thoreau at Walden Pond.

I’m just going to stop there here, and ask for your thoughts.  I’m not even going to give you a question to answer, just throw it all out there to me, whatever you are thinking, about any of it.  I feel like a conversation needs to happen, but I’m not sure how to start.

 

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