Browsed by
Category: Daily Life

The ups and downs of my homeschooling year

The ups and downs of my homeschooling year

I’ve been at this homeschooling gig for 15 plus years.  After a few turns around the sun our years started taking a very predictable course. Maybe you can relate.

August – I get caught up in the school supply sales (love me some paper products! LOL) and rah-rah of a new school year about to start.  I buy 43 more notebooks than we actually need, because hey, they are 17 cents each!  Dreaming about the year ahead, I tell myself *this* is the year I will get my act together. How can I fail? I have 50 notebooks and a bunch of shiny new homeschooling curriculum.

September – My school kids head back to school and our homeschooling gets down to business. By business, I mean denial. We do a very slow crawl into the book work, children (and one adult, ahem) struggle to get back into the swing of things, and beautiful weather beckons.  I waffle between saying “We have ALL year to learn all this, go enjoy what little good weather we get” and “Get your butts in here have you seen how blank my planner is??” (I use my planner to record what we have done, not plan out what we are going to do.)

October – The shine of the new year has worn off a little but we are actually used to getting up and getting something accomplished, so this is usually a month I can count on to plow through some work.  I plow through because I start to panic about how much there is to learn in the world and how few short months there are before summer comes again. The to-be-read book stack is not shrinking fast enough in my mind.  It takes my ever patient husband to show me just how much we have done.  “Um, Amy, James T finished an entire year of Life of Fred math already. I think you will be fine.”   Yeah, I hope you are right (Please be right, please be right…)

November – The doldrums hit. Just when I should be hitting my groove because we’ve gotten deep into everything, the days get shorter, the moods get touchier, and we are all recovering from sugar and food dye overload, which takes more weeks than you might believe to purge from.  We are all getting bored of the subjects we are studying and the books we chose to use. We see most of the year still looming before us.  Send help.

December – Can I count shopping and cookie baking as math for a middle schooler? 😉 No? Well, I’m definitely counting snow shoveling as P.E.  Luckily religion is a required subject for us and I get a lot of it in this month.  Block scheduling is my friend.

January – Most people don’t like January, but for some reason I’m happy when the holiday stress is over and life can get back to normal.  We take a lot of time off of formal schooling in December,  so even what we were using before looks newer to us.  I do take this time to switch up what we don’t like if I didn’t do that impulsively during the November doldrums.  It is cold and my kids are happy to stay inside much of the time, which makes it easier to find them and shove a book in their hands and say, “Math.”  When their choices are math or shoveling the driveway I’m happy whichever they choose.

February – This is another big doldrum month for homeschoolers, although we narrowly escape the depression by having two birthdays to celebrate, including my own.  I take this chance to look back and decide, “Hey, we accomplished a ton already if you really think about it.”  I also typically realize about now that I completely forgot about something we are required to teach, like spelling, health, or art.  Type B homeschoolers, represent! 😀

March – As soon as I start patting myself on the back for not succumbing to February doldrums, March hits, we all get sick, and I have no flippin’ idea how we are going to finish out the year, the end of which now seems both in sight and infinitely far away.  In desperation I buy hundreds of dollars of new homeschooling curriculum.  This inspires my kids for all of eight days.

April – I give up. I realize that I have been holding on to sanity by the slightest of hairs all year and it all comes crashing down on me in April. I convince myself that no one in school finishes textbooks, and that we’ve done at least as much as them, and consider it all good.  I call ourselves unschoolers now and get my yearly review done and.just.quit.

May and June – bliss.

 

July – I fear all the learning has leaked out of my kids brains in the night. They are itching for more structure although they would never in a million years admit it. It’s also hot as an oven outside with high humidity so it’s like walking through lava to go outside.  I tell myself we are going to do math and writing e.v.e.r.y day from now on (Did you hear me? Every day!) but really it’s like five times.  Which brings us back to…

August – Oooh look Staples is having a sale! 😀

 

Tell me about your year. Does this sound familiar? Drop a line in the comments or on Facebook!

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.

 

************************

Here’s the Brave Writer Video.

 

 

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.

Lessons I’m learning from Ernest Shackleton

Lessons I’m learning from Ernest Shackleton

Lessons from Ernest Shackleton

 

 

One hundred years ago, Ernest Shackleton led a voyage to Antarctica on his ship Endurance that turned into the most incredible journey of human strength and, well, endurance.

((Spoiler Warning! I’m going to try to keep it light on the spoilers but you will learn about what happens in the book through this post.))

I recently finished reading Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage by Alfred Lansing (affiliate).  What an awe inspiring true story!   And the irony is not lost on me that I’m super excited that I finished a book, like that’s some sort of accomplishment, when the book was about men getting through the most amazing polar adventure filled with death defying feats of strength and (I’m going to say it again!) endurance. 🙂

Hurley and Shackleton at camp after leaving the Endurance

Ernest Shackleton was a brilliant adventurer and also a astute observer of human nature. He was “an explorer in the classic mold — utterly self-reliant, romantic, and just a little swashbuckling.”  I just love that description!  The next time I want to do something or stand up for myself and others are giving me a hard time, I’m just going to say I’m swashbuckling and do it anyway, LOL.

Reading about him and the adventures of his men taught me quite a few life lessons. Not for the first time, I’m sure, and definitely not the last, but I’m not a quick student when it comes to learning to live life in a harsh world. I know I can apply these not only to my life, but to my homeschooling and my parenting as well.

 

Lessons I’m Learning from Ernest Shackleton and the crew of the Endurance

Demoralization of even a few members of a group can be the difference between a survivable experience and outright mutiny and misery. Spreading discontent was a sin of the highest order.

 “Of all their enemies — the cold, the ice, the sea — he feared none more than demoralization.”

Unity of the group is of utmost importance in difficult situations. It’s OK to go to great lengths — proactively and intentionally — to keep people close knit and under (parental) control, including flattering people who need it and helping people feel important.

Having a clear cut task, no matter how potentially impossible that task may be, can be easier and more exhilarating than waiting and worrying without direction, doing nothing.

Trying to cut a path in the ice for the ship

Five minutes with a person can tell you an awful lot about who they are. (Shackleton’s interviews for his crew rarely lasted longer than this and he was notorious for selecting compatible men.)

Almost anything can be endured with good humor, creativity — not just for survival but for entertainment — and quality companionship.

The men left behind on Elephant Island

 

Fill your mind with beautiful poetry and meaningful books so that when things look grim your mind will capture snippets of wisdom or beautiful verses to hold on to.

Sometimes you need to separate the dogs to prevent fighting.

Tom Crean and his dogsled puppies

Sometimes those burdened with plans for every contingency fare worse than those that sacrifice total preparedness for speed.

Nothing is harder than having hope rise and be dashed, rise and be dashed.

Launching the James Caird

Weeks of primitive living, of having to make do and learn how to make and use what is necessary, can be very enriching. Keeping productively occupied, combined with regular times of rest and relaxation, is the key to a good life no matter what the outside circumstances.

“They had been tested and found not wanting.”

If you have to give disappointing news, have something productive for the men to do immediately afterward.

Sometimes when you are in the dark, in a storm, when all seems lost, you are actually being blown to a better place.

Never lose hope.

 

I’m reading an actual book!

I’m reading an actual book!

I picked up Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage {affiliate} at the library last week (along with a bagful of other books you know I will probably renew for 9 weeks and then try to panic-read when they are due in 4 days – this does not bode well for my reading challenge!). I have wanted to read this one for ages.

Read More Read More

Things I’m loving right now

Things I’m loving right now

I love the feeling inside me that wells up when I find something that I just adore. It makes me so happy to think about or be with that thing. Is that a little twisted? I have an inkling that that feeling should be reserved for people, but most people don’t make me feel as happy as these awesome things here. 😉

So here is a list of things that make me feel guilty I love them so much.

Read More Read More

%d bloggers like this: