Monday, January 2, 2017

Homeschool Year Four

We are still trekking away at this homeschooling journey.  8th grade, 6th grade, and kindergarten now.  Whatever that means.  Actually, I try to stay as close to grade level as I can so they can go back to public school at any time as seamlessly as possible if they so choose.

Our curriculum this year:  Mostly Moving Beyond the Page units with Saxon math for my son, Singapore for my older daughter, and a hodgepodge of math for my youngest daughter.  I love Moving Beyond the Page.  I like how it integrates social studies and language arts.  And I do like to have a curriculum on hand, so I don't have to reinvent the wheel.  I have too much other work to do to be able to create something from scratch.

Challenges.  Screen Time.  The lure of video games.  I set limits, but Minecraft still has a huge pull for my son.  He sees it as his reward, and it is his relief for when he gets all his "work"done.  I'm not such a great education that i have figured out how to quite make learning as fun for him as I had hoped...  It's the reality of it, I suppose.  It does not all go as ideally as you'd like sometimes.

He still sees reading and school learning as a burden to be endured.  I feel a bit inadequate in my ability to bring back the joy of learning for him.  I put this on his shoulders now.  It is part of his own path; I think.  I cannot do this for him.

I find myself often torn between two camps.  Take the screens away. Take the addiction and temptation away, or just let him have as much as he wants and he will find his way.

I choose the middle road, as I often do.  Minecraft with limits.

Sometimes I think that no matter what I do, it might have the same outcome, because ultimately I am not the one in control.  It is his journey.

Kindergarten work is going great!  She loves learning her letters an numbers, and feeling more and more ready to read.  She is excited about it so far.  And that enthusiasm is quite rewarding for me.  She has grown so much this past year.  Opening up, feeling more social and responsive to others, being less afraid.  It is wonderful to see her blossoming lately.  

Adolescence has hit both my older children and it definitely has its challenges too.  Life is not a "bowl full of cherries" a good amount of the time...  But they are good kids, overall I think...  "whatever good means" I don't mean to place value on them in that way.  How do I articulate that?  They are learning.  They try.  They struggle. They are strong willed.  They like what they like and don't like other things and struggle for their own wills to be made manifest even if it isn't always best, but they are loyal and loving, and work hard at times, and love who they love with such loyalty.  They care about goodness. They care about animals a lot.  Things like that...  Make me think they are "good" overall.  Moody, sensitive, full of life, and opinion...and "goodness and love"  too...Not always so polite, but passionate about what they believe in.  or don't believe in..

Will we homeschool next year?  I don't know yet.  Next year will have to be different.  My oldest will be at high school level, so I want to make sure he will be on track for college, so we may make some changes for next year.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

This is how we are Poor

There is a lot I feel grateful for.  Our home, our children, our family, food on the table.  We are not affluent financially; we are middle class mostly living paycheck to paycheck, but we are lucky, and I do not want to dismiss what we have.

But, when I am having a hard day and need someone to talk to; I am very selective with the people I am comfortable with in being able to share the really hard things; the hard things I would never post on Facebook or here.  As much as I am grateful for, there are issues.  Everyone has them.  I am so afraid of burdening anyone or being "dramatic" that if I sense  there is the slightest hesitation when I open my mouth, I will not share.  I will walk away from it.  The last thing I want is to be judged or be a burden to anyone, or for anyone to think I am not justified for feeling as I feel, or if I am wrong; or if they discover how faulted I am, etc..  I am one of those people who quickly do not share if I smell judgment.

But, no one is perfect.  Not even close.

So there are many of those bad days; and I rarely broadcast what it is that makes those days truly hard. I may hint or share an issue that is humorous or shareable, but I cannot share the parts that should only be shared in person, with close friends and family.

I honestly only have ONE person I share things with outside of my husband in this phase of my life.  

If she were of monetary value, she is the one dollar I hold in my hand, but I often find myself thinking that if I truly think I have any worth, I will let it go, too.  Not because she isn't awesome, but because she I don't think has room for me.

My whole life before being married, I always had people to confide in; and we reciprocated.  I have always been open to friends who wish to confide in me.

I suppose, there should be more people I could talk to, but so many people I think would judge or be too quick to give advice.  Most people seem to be that way.   And I don't know what is wrong, but most people in my life do not reciprocate even childcare/ hosting kids, let alone friendship.

So, there is this one rare gem I can occasionally confide in, but I do not feel like I am a gem to her..  Or if I am, I am of the "many" that she has, and in that sense, I am just a coin, rather than a gem.

The thing is, she is one of those people who are "full"  I call her, and rarely does she even answer her phone.  And in truth, it often takes three days or a week for her to call me back (if she does at all).

This is how I am poor.  When I am in pain, I really have no one to talk to.  Often my husband is working or busy and I cannot talk to him when he is, either, as is the case right now.  He is too busy, and my friend, I have called twice in the past 3 days, and she has not answered or called me back yet. 

I think a story I heard not long ago, about how a new mother died in her car here in Oregon.  She committed suicide with her child.  She was severely depressed.  Was it like this for her too? Was she subtle and afraid to ask?  

Don't worry, I'm not saying I am even close to that desperate, but I am feeling extremely isolated from friendship; and I share this only because I think many people feel this way too.

We have so much in our society, but we are so poor in other ways.  

This friend, who takes 3 days to call me back, as her normal.  That is not a friendship.  Not really.  She is kind enough to eventually call back, and I do not wish to hold it against her that I need her confidence more than she needs mine.  I do not begrudge her.  But I also realize that this is not the kind of friendship I really need when I find myself questioning my place in it all the time.  I am so poor that this is the best I have; and that currently I cannot think of anyone I can cry with. I feel like I am alone in a forest. In this case, it is alone in a city.  (but I guess being alone is not always bad and can even be good)

This is a hard day, though; and it hurts; and I just want to be able to talk about it and I feel alone with it.

But pain is not always shared.  Pain is pain, and I am not the only one in pain at this very moment, feeling alone in it.  Pain is a part of life.  And sometimes we have to just endure it; even alone.  I don't want to endure it alone, but I am thinking many people have to "suck it up" too.  How many people at this very moment are alone in their pain?

So, if you are out there an in pain, too.  What do you do when there is no one available to talk to?  

No one to even be aware of what you are experiencing?  What is your consolation?  

I guess, for now, writing helps.  And tomorrow is another day, yes?  It will pass. One more day.  This one is almost done.  Like a headache; this too will pass. 

And this is my poverty.  Poverty has to be endured all of the world, and it is endured.  This is small compared to physically starving or feeling unsafe.  This is small.  so very small...  yet it does hurt, and sometimes feeling alone can be unendurable, too..  Perhaps it doesn't have to be.  Being alone is not always bad.  What is it that makes it seem like I need to share this with someone?

I will be okay; and if you are relating to this; you will too; and virtually, perhaps, if you are reading this, I am not alone, and neither are you.

I am forty-two and still wishing for a mom when I am hurting.  And sometimes, I have to be my own mom.  We probably all have to be at some point.  

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Homeschooling Year Three: Week One

Last year was a hard year.

A lot did not work.  To re-frame that: I can say, that I learned a lot about what not to do.  I did find many kernels that did work to continue into this year.  Our first 6 months; the year before, were on a much better track, but I had questioned myself into joining a charter.  That was; I want to say, a mistake, but ultimately it wasn't because I learned a lot from attempting it.  It was not all bad.  Nothing is all bad.

I have spent the summer trying to get over the many failures of last year.  I fell head over heels in love.  With photography.  I think I even love photography more than writing and reading and knitting; which says a lot.

I have a new blog; but for tonight; I need to write in this old familiar one.  This one is after all about homesteading; and homeschooling fits in with that more than my new photography angle.  This is my imperfect blog; and I feel more casual with it; and for tonight, I wish to be more informal.

Yesterday on day 2, my facebook post:  Realizing how liberating it can be to homeschool. We can learn topics as "units" and rotate those subjects in the way that works best for us. For example; we can spend two hours on science today; and then the next day, put more time into Language Arts and focus on a book or a writing topic. Another day, we can put more energy into an art project or music; instead of just trying to fit it into a little "left-over time" when the kids are "done" And now with Kei, she can have a simplified version of almost everything we do; or she can do sensory/constructive things on the side. We can devote entire days to social time and field trips as we can condense some of the learning days when needed.

I was feeling much better and optimistic.
Today on Day 3: I have been physically more worn down and in need of creative rejuvenation time; and most likely exercise as well.  I was feeling less supported in the endeavor.  Piles of dishes awaited me first thing; after having spent so much time the day before with this task.  It feels like a reminder that I am this second class citizen.  The stay at home mom...  And I think of myself as "more than that" 
I am educated. I have my masters degree.  I am an artist.  I am an artist. I am an artist.  
Yet, the dishes.  Even after making all the meals and doing all the other dishes; these ones were still there like a reminder that I have this glass ceiling.  

The feminist part of myself has been loud in my head lately.

So, on day three; another feeling set in.  

But, on day two, I realized how much better this is this year than last.  It is so very much better to have the freedom we now have than it was to juggle the charter homeschool with a cooperative preschool.  I know more about this than I had given myself credit for.  I CAN do this.  My kids CAN do this.  This CAN work.  At this point, this year in time, we do not need those 2 schools and right now I feel a very strong "Good Riddance" feeling like those two schools are balls I want to throw as far away as I can.
They were not what we needed.  I feel a deep hurt from one of them.  An emotional let-down I do not even have the time to describe.  
But this year is better; already. 

I hope.

So far it is.

We are using Moving Beyond the Page curriculum and I love it!  It is working.  My kids seem happy so far.  Even Kei has already learned how to write A and K.  Just this week.  

It is good.

But on day 3; I just realized and remembered how much work this is; and how I can't just run to the store like I could during the summer and now I have less energy to spare.  I am feeling the need for more sleep.  

I had a wonderful wave of creativity and seemed to be able to exist on air (5-6 hours of sleep); and now summer is over; and there are dishes to do still; on top of; teaching/learning with my children; and the dishes; the dishes get in the way.  I hate them.  I did them without thought during the summer, but now, when I have so much more I have to do; they mock me.  Those dirty dishes.  Isn't making the meals enough?  Don't even get me started on the laundry.  Same thing.

There is that voice of entitlement.  I am better than the dishes.  I should not have to do them if I make the meal.  Someone else should do them  (and they do, my son pitches in and sometimes my husband) but there is always more and more and more; and I still have piles of them.

This is not the point.  I am obviously tired and rambling.

So, year three.  Year three; I am hoping will be the year that "works"  

We are not unschooling nor are we doing "school at home" either.  I think we are in the middle.  We are "homeschoolers"  We follow curriculum but with lots of flexibility.  I plan to have 4 condensed learning days a week; and one for social/adventure/field trips.  That is the plan.  

And I may have to accept that I need more sleep; now.  Also the creative force within me (this may sound strange)  is yelling really loud.  I am not okay unless I am able to spend some time each day on art; writing/photography.  I start to become angry and resentful; so I think I really need to honor that, too.  That is what happened to me today on day 3.  I had a lot of time on Sunday, but by today, I was needing another devoted amount of time with art.  I needed to produce "something."

So here is a little of more of it:  I am thinking I am making much more progress in my photography than my writing... (also forgive the highlighting. I cannot seem to get rid of it)

Can I come in?

Team Effort

Reflections and Shadows Light and Salt Water

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Damn Helicopter Label Trap

kei splash2

  I have hated the label "Helicopter Mom" ever since I first heard it.  It is another dis empowering term that pushes parents away from doing what they feel is right.
       There are times to give our children distance and time to be available and nearby to them.  This term, implies it is bad to be supportive and present with our kids, or bad to be an responsible community member keeping other children safe.

      That being said, I try not be "be" a dis empowering mom.  I try not to do for my kids what they can do for themselves.

      There are times; however, that they want me there, watching them, being a part of what they are doing; and when they want me there, I try to be there.

       I also try to not help them when I know they are asking me to do something because they are lazy or afraid.

      I do not do any of this perfectly.
     In the past, I have been more of a Helicopter.  I have struggled greatly with anxiety; especially with anything related to my kids and heights.  I am insanely afraid of heights.  The discomfort it gives me is almost unbearable.  I am guilty of hovering at play structures and bridges, but I have gotten better about this.  Especially now that they are older and more and more capable and coordinated.
     In any case, I am frustrated.

       It is labeled "bad" to be a helicopter, and I cannot help but try not to be "bad."  This in itself, I think is a trap, but it is hard to not be ensnared in it.

     How many of us are also struggling with this?  Trying to be a "good parent" when you are damned if you do, and damned if you don't.  Bad to neglect, bad to be too involved.  Oh, wait, it is good to neglect now, because it fosters independence.  Not to worry, it will be bad again, when the next label comes out.

      So, in my effort to be a "good" parent, I genuinely send my child to preschool; and I feel proud that I really am not too nervous about it.  I confidently drop her off knowing how strong she is, after all she can handle two much older siblings.  The third child is the toughest, etc.  I am proud I am genuine about feeling comfortable about it.  She should feel very confident too, because after all, I am not being nervous about it.  She must "feel my confidence in her," right?

      Then BAM, almost right away, the teacher starts giving me doubts.  She starts pushing for me to be more involved; to be worried, etc.  That my 3 year old is acting shy.  That I should be concerned that something is wrong with her because she is shy and not actively engaged.  "She should be this, she should be that.." She is too "overwhelmed" by the environment.  I think, "she is happy when I pick her up."  She always wants to go.  She must not be too distressed.  She talks about school happily. I am not worried. Until months of being told I should be worried about it.  It definitely got to me.

     I tried to hold onto my confidence, but all year long, I hear that I should be more of a helicopter.  I am told I should be there to see how she withdraws.  I should be there.  When I am there, she mostly does not withdraw.  I do see sensitivity and adjustment to a large group of kids.  I see her resistant when being asked to perform.  Things she does normally, she resists while being putting on the spot. Those are things she can work through in time.  "But no, she isn't learning it fast enough."  The teacher is more worried than I am.  My gut tells me she is okay, but needs to "learn" and it may take time.  She keeps telling me it is not okay to be an introvert or sensory overloaded.

     Well, she was three years old, then.  Good grief.

     And then, during swimming lessons just last week. She is dong great, on her own. She loves her teacher. She is happy; she is not being shy.  But, she is a handful.  She tests by moving away from the teacher in her euphoria over the water.  I trust the teacher to handle her and the class. I see the teacher is doing a good job.  I try not to step in.  I don't step in, but then another instructor asks me to sit close by.  It was not enough that I was trying to let her be independent before someone asks me not to let her be independent.  I spend the rest of the 2 week session nearby as asked, and intervening sometimes, by threatening my child she has to sit out of the pool if she doesn't stay with the teacher.

      I am sure I looked like a helicopter, but I tried not to be.  Probably no one wanted to even associate with me because I was being "that mom" sitting by the pool while the others were keeping their distance enjoying their sunbathing doing a better job of "not being a helicopter."  Instead, I decided it was important to support the teacher in getting my child to stay with her, but only when I was asked to.  I couldn't help feeling damned, though.  Not to mention socially unacceptable.

   It was most likely good I was there though, when another child pushed my child's head under the water  and held it there, when she wanted a toy.  Her mother was doing a much better job, not seeing what her child was doing.  She did a really good job of not even acknowledging what her child did, too.
       I am sure I looked like the bad helicopter mom, though.
Damn Label.
     There shouldn't be a hesitation to do what a parent instinctively feels is right..  If involvement is needed, then the parent should be involved.  If stepping back seems best, then the parent should be able to step back as well.  Both decisions without worry of being judged.

    I really really hate this term. It is shackling and part of the whole system of what is wrong with parenting trends.

      Pendulums swing back and forth so severely and frequently.  Attachment parenting is good.  Helicoptering is bad.  And so forth.

      Basically, I think I will assume that anything I do is going to label myself as a bad parent and just be done with it.  That's it. I don't care anymore.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Summer is Passing so Quickly

It rained this weekend. It was a wonderfully refreshing event.  In Oregon, we have a lot of rain in the winter, but in the summer, almost none!

Spring came early this year.  I feel like I missed out on the flowers and the time to garden before school was even out.  Too busy and focused on the work and energy that goes into homeschooling and a cooperative preschool to really enjoy the best season. Spring.

Summer is too hot.  We had two weeks of 90 plus weather and no rain for much longer than that.

Now, it is almost August.  One it is August, we are moving into the next stage; thinking about Fall.  The end is in front of us.

And the rain.  The hope for a more restful climate; cooler, more soulful..  Rain and clouds rather than blistering exposed sunshine.

I like the Fall almost as much as the Spring.

Another very different year of homeschooling before us.

New challenges.  Different challenges.

Last year was so hard!  It left a bitter taste in my mouth.  Angry at the failures.  The attempts at community and support that left me feeling discouraged.

A new year brings hope.  A fresh start.

I am hoping that this is the year we nail it.  This is the year, we find our rhythm, new friendships, community, exploration, and learning.  A little joy, I hope, too.

I am not homeschooling out of a whim.

I am homeschooling my children because PS was not working..  It was not enough.  I do not want my children to be lost because they do not fit into a box.

We are not conventional.

Not to be trendy.  But because we are not, by nature, a family that just "fits in"  I don't know what we are. Who we are.

I think we are sensitive ..super sensitive.. All of us.  And that comes with it both blessings and not such great blessings.  It is hard to be highly sensitive.

It also means we are driven and artistic, too..

And when I say "we" I really do mean everyone in my family. All five of us.  In one way or another.

Perhaps, it is actually quite common.

But, when trying to "fit in" It seems, not..?

Anyway, another year.  Coming up fast!

I missed gardening this year. Perhaps we can still plant some kale and fall/winter veggies.

Gardens need to rest anyway, every once in a while.

I just couldn't rationalize buying seeds and watering everyday this year.  I have so much to juggle now I didn't have before.


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