Thursday, November 6, 2008

How Do You Stay On Track?


Come here.

Don't say a word, okay?

We're caught up. I know! Can you believe it?? I don't want to jinx it, but we worked super hard last week and this week, we're right on track. We even did a little extra work on election day. But Zane didn't seem to mind coloring the map and watching the results come in. (Though he was as confused as we were trying to figure out how the media could "call" a state with less than 10% of precincts reporting.)


To stay on track.

I'm clueless. I wish I could offer one of those neat bullet point lists. Y'know, like:

  • Make sure there are absolutely no family emergencies.
  • Tell your mother you can't just not do school to come over.
  • Tell your best friend (who doesn't homeschool) the same thing.
  • Tell your other best friend (who does homeschool) that nice weather doesn't mean we should drop lessons for a park day. Okay. Forget that one. Nice weather and park days always trump boring lessons.
  • Tell the internet to quit distracting you.
Yeah, see. I told you I'm no good at this!

So now--YOU get to make the bullet point list. What's your best tip for staying on track?

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Friday, October 24, 2008

Math Problems


My way? I memorized that 7x6=42.

Zane's way: (2) 7's = 14, so (2) 14's = 28 and another (2) 7's would be 42.

We're all different, right? Sheesh. What did I get myself into? Phil's truly a mathematical genius in my opinion. His older son, Michael is at Missouri S&T and scored highest out of 400 kids in his placement test for his first year of engineering.

Who am I to think I can teach Zane math? I mean, yeah, I took calculus my senior year. I can DO math. I'd just rather not. Words are far more interesting to me.

Zane was doing multiplication as a three year old. I'm so not kidding. He'd sit on Phil's lap and say, "Daddy? Two two's make four right?"

And in the car--Save me!! The kid does math every.single.time we get into the car and wants me (me!?) to tell him if he's got the right answer. I NEED a pencil and paper or a calculator. Period. He knows it. He just wants to prove he's better than me at math.

Fine! I can write a short story better than him. ;)

Are your kids little you's? Or are they your spouse in living color?
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Thursday, October 23, 2008

Fiction Woes

I was an avid reader growing up.

My son is not.

Though I hesitate to say, it hurts me. I want him to love the Box Car Children, Black Beauty, Where the Red Fern Grows, Old Yeller...

Okay, I'll leave out Little Women and Heidi.

Or should I leave out the rest too? Am I being girly? Because I was such a tomboy (still am.)

Are there other books that might get him to fall in love with reading? Or is he just too young still? (He's 9)

You mothers of boys--help me!
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Thursday, October 16, 2008

How Your Child is Smart--A Life-Changing Approach to Learning by Dawna Markova Ph.D.

How Your Child is Smart is probably one of the top reasons I still homeschool Zane.

A few years ago, I was having non-stop problems teaching him. I'm fairly certain he'd have issues in public school. He's Phil's little clone and he's not far away from my brother as far as learning goes.

Phil and my brother, Johnny, both got horrible grades. Johnny quit school. Phil joined the Army. Both of them, however, are mechanical geniuses.

I got straight A's, made honor roll and honor society, all that nerdy, smart-kid stuff. But can I fix any-freaking-thing? NO!

The differences became glaringly obvious when I was trying to make Zane love letters, words, sentences, reading and all he wanted to do (at 3) was tell me how three three's make nine or four two's make eight. He was counting money and doing mathematical things I have trouble with, yet he wouldn't say the alphabet or spell c-a-t.

So I did what all Horrible Homeschooler do.

I gave up.

But then, someone told me to get this book.
God bless that person, I have no clue who it was, but it saved me. Saved us. Saved our little homeschooling gig.

(and as an added bonus, it helped me with the arguments Phil and I have. Had. Since reading the book, the issue has been put to rest.)

Check it out, it might just save your sanity!

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Thursday, October 9, 2008

Economic Slumming

With the economy in the slumps, I've been giving thought to how we can tighten our belts. We are, and have been, a one income family since Zane was born nine years ago.

Before Zane was conceived, Phil and I owned our own semi, drove together, made a butt-load of money and spent it freely. We bought a little square of land and a trailer in Missouri, I came off the road and Phil kept driving. Shortly after Zane was born, though, was the first time diesel prices shot through the roof. Phil was gone twenty-nine out of every thirty days. I was alone, with no family and one friend (Jill) and a new baby.

There is a two week period I remember. I had enough gas in my vehicle to get to the emergency room and back. I stayed home for two weeks straight. Right now I wouldn't mind leaving me house for two weeks, but back then, I was a little more of an extrovert.

And thank God I was breastfeeding because I never would have been able to afford formula.

It cost upwards of $800 a day to keep the semi rolling and paychecks coming in. Then our trailer broke down for a week and we found ourselves $12,000 in the red. Then it snowballed. We ended up filing bankruptcy on the business. I didn't want to raise Zane without Phil and I couldn't handle the financial stress.

Zane doesn't remember those days. Since then, things have been a hair above failing. We still live paycheck to paycheck and a couple of years ago, Phil took a job we thought would better our future, instead it almost cost us our home. Instead of filing bankruptcy again, we took Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University and changed our lives. (There are online courses now!)

Dave Ramsey had a sale sometime last year and I bought Financial Peace Jr. and I got it out, but we really haven't spent a lot of time with it.

It's time.

Along with lessons like:

  • You don't get to spend $10 every time we go to the store.
  • You don't get a Happy Meal every time we leave the house.
  • You need to learn to play with the hundreds of toys you already have.
  • Use your imagination and make mud pies and dirt trails and forts.
What are you doing to teach your kids about financial matters?

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Thursday, October 2, 2008


Do I take advantage of homeschooling?

We're now like 2 full weeks behind. My grandma's funeral was last week, Phil and I went to a writer's conference, I sprained my ankle and am pretty useless at this point, and I'm wondering, how do I get so off track?

Do other Homeschoolers have this problem?

How do you manage to stick with the schedule and how do you determine what is priority?
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Thursday, September 25, 2008

I Won't Apologize For Missing Last Week

I was going to start with an apology for missing last week's post, but then I thought, No Way. What I was doing last Thursday was way more important than a blog post.

So here's where I was last week. And since I'm still sort of numb, that's all I have to say this week.

Except that I'm really glad I homeschool and as upset as I've been about not staying on schedule, I'm overjoyed that I had the opportunity to say To Hell With The Schedule last week.
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Thursday, September 11, 2008

Remembering 9/11 Differently

Because I'm a procrastinator by design, I didn't have a post ready and waiting to go up today.

When I opened Blogger to post, I remembered it was 9/11.

At first, I wanted to say something about what we were doing that day, but what came to mind was something entirely different (and related to homeschool--in a twice-removed sort of way).

On 9/11 2006, Zane and I were making the twelve hour drive from northern Indiana to Greenville, South Carolina to see my best friend, Jill.

Exactly 11 months before that, Jill had confessed to me she'd been fighting breast cancer alone for the past year. She'd called me on Zane's birthday to tell me.

In another devastating call from her in 2006. Her lung had collapsed and she'd been in the hospital (alone again) and couldn't even call. She was released and a neighbor picked her up, but could not take care of her.

So Zane and I went.

I didn't have to take Zane out of school, I just had to pack up a few things to keep him busy (video games) and some light school work. I do wonder sometimes, if I hadn't chose to homeschool, would I have rushed down there? Would I have missed the blessing of seeing her and Zane have such a good time together?

Jill was there for Zane's birth when Phil was over the road driving the semi and my mom and dad stopped halfway because they were tired (and had no clue I'd go into labor early). Jill loved Zane like she would've loved her own if she'd have been able to have one.

On the way down to take care of her, Zane wanted to stop and see the mountains at a scenic overlook in Tennessee.

I was too wrapped up in the packing and the driving and the worrying about Jill to even think about the date. When I snapped these photos, though, it all came rushing back to me. Zane was exactly a month shy of two back then. I'd honestly never been so scared in my life as on the day of that national tragedy. And five years later, a tragedy on a personal level. I was going to lose my best friend, I just didn't know when.

My brain cannot wrap itself around these things at the same time and I'm reduced to an emotional emptiness and numbness that I find hard to describe in words because mostly, I cry.

Zane and Jill watched cartoons, played video games, and played with the kitties. And talked. If two souls were ever connected it was the two of them. I think maybe even more than she and I.

I know many lost loved ones on 9/11. I pray with them and for them. Because today, I think of Jill. She meant so much to us. And because my little boy doesn't understand breast cancer. He cries and says, "I wish Jill didn't have to die. I miss her so much. I wish I could have seen her again with you before she died."

I can't tell him that today is the 2nd anniversary of the last time he saw her. But I'm wearing my pink flannel jammies all day to remember.
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Thursday, September 4, 2008

Conflict and Priorities

A second week in the life of The Horrible Homeschooler and the Ogre title is still mine. At least for part of the week.

Zane and I both had eye appointment Friday. I scheduled them on our off day. But it wasn't an off day because we missed the first day of school and had to make up a day. No big deal, I thought, we'll run to the eye doctor and come home and finish. Except we both had our eyes dilated and neither of us could read for five or six hours. That made school impossible.

Twice in the first week of school I had to postpone and make up. We only do school four days a week. The numbers weren't good.

Instead of doing Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday we decided to do Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. Since we couldn't do Friday on Friday, we moved it to Saturday. Whew. There. All caught up and not behind the first week of school.

Then Saturday afternoon my grandma had a major stroke, a minor stroke on Sunday and several mini strokes in between. I drove the hour to the hospital on Sunday and stayed overnight with my brother because things weren't looking good. Phil met me with Zane on Monday morning (a school day) and he stayed the day with his other uncle and my nephews.

The first day of the second week of school--canceled.

I understand. I know. She's my grandma and I did the right thing. That doesn't make it less frustrating for an already Horrible Homeschooler.

To add to the stress, I had a story due on Monday that wasn't even a quarter finished.

We started the second week of school on Tuesday (and finished!!) and we did school on Wednesday (and finished!!) and did some school on Thursday. With my deadline looming and my stress level skyrocketing, a good friend offered to take Zane for the night. So he had a sleepover at their house. I had all day Friday to write (and I used it) but that meant we were behind Thursday and Friday. Again.

And then it was Labor Day weekend and we had planned to be away for most of the days.

We enter the third week of school. Late. Again.

Will we ever get it right?

But I did pick up my pinky-bling glasses. One lens was chipped and a bling was missing. My new new pair will be here in a week.

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P.S. Grandma is stable, though weak and a bit more disabled from the strokes. She was released back to the nursing home a couple days ago. :) Through her existing dementia, she still recognizes everyone, which is really good.

I sound like such a whiner, I want to let you know, good things did happen. Zane hasn't been arguing (after we had a "talk" more about that next week) and we're not so far behind we can't catch up. I'm praying for a non-eventful week so we can use our *ahem* schedule.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Planners, Schedules, and Lists

Hey look, it's me. I'm back.

Can you believe it?

I'm not sure I did anything totally sucky this week so we'll go ahead and talk about the first day of school. Y'know, the one that didn't happen?

Yeah. I did all this great organizing. I bought LifePac curriculum and sat down with my lovely new MomAgenda planner. I know that's not how it's supposed to be used, but when have I ever done what I'm supposed to do?

It was a gift and it's such a superb blue. My favorite. Okay, I like green that much too. Plus, I only have one kid and we don't have that many activities (because I'm the Ogre.) Anyway. Each Lifepac has ten different workbooks for each subject. I chose those because I think Zane and I need to feel a sense of accomplishment and that wasn't happening. I was overwhelmed, he was confused and school sucked. And it was my fault.

So I got out my handy dandy little planner and split up the first four workbooks into weeks and days (this took freaking forever) but I planned through the end of December.

You can click on the picture to see I did something other than scribble! The purple Post-It note is our cough*cough*schedule*cough*cough.

Then I took Zane's uber keen frog planner...
And wrote in the lessons for him so he could feel good crossing things off. And of course, because he has my OCD tendencies, he needed a copy of the purple Post-It note with the "schedule."
And the first day of school was supposed to start. Then I had to go watch my nephews and we started a day late and had to work on Friday. Except on Friday, I had made us eye appointments and we both had our eyes dialated and couldn't read for hours after. So then we had skip Friday and do school on Sunday. Since that's the next week, I'll save it for next week's blog.

But hey, I got new pinky-bling glasses!

And we did make it through the first week. Which totally surprised me.
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Thursday, August 21, 2008

On a Whim

Making rash decisions is sometimes my style. Personality tests can't figure out whether I'm a thinker or a risk taker. That's because I'm both. If I get a wild hair up my bum, I'll do something stupid like decide to start a blog that chronicles my failure as a Homeschooling mother.

I was writing an essay for my other blog when I decided that I liked the pretty blue and brown background from The Cutest Blog on the Block enough to start another blog. About homeschooling. Which I usually don't talk about. Because I suck.

And y'know everyone else has it all together and they have all their lessons planned for the year and their kids are perfect and all get stellar grades and make fabulous projects and do all sorts of charity events and volunteer their time and are in ministry and---screw that, okay?

I'm barely treading water. I'm choking, gagging, swallowing boatloads of water and no one's throwing me the lifesaver.

So there.

On most days I want to quit and I'm The Horrible Homeschooler.

Or the Ogre as my husband, Phil, calls me.

You'll see a post at least every Thursday.

Because Mondays suck
Tuesdays are Tackle it Tuesday
Wednesdays are Wordless Wednesday
Thursday are open
and by Friday I don't care.
I refuse to do this on Saturday or Sunday.

Maybe I'll post more than once a week. Maybe I won't. That's my prerogative (singing Bobby Brown style.)

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