Friday, January 16, 2015

2 Weeks In & Homeschool Wins

Over the past 2 weeks I've discovered something I had lost in the hustle & bustle of living life based on overloaded, anxiety-inducing schedules & routines... My kid is pretty awesome. :)
Homeschooling is NOT for everyone.  I'm not going to ever sugar-coat anything here, so I certainly won't tell you our days are 24 hours of bliss & giggles as my kids sit quietly & listen to me teach them all they'll ever need to know.  Not. Even. Close.
We are sleeping a little later (though we're currently not sleeping much at night, but that's another story), we're lounging in our pajamas a little longer, and we're moving at whatever pace works for us each day.  Some days start out really rough.  Okay, okay, MOST days do - homeschooling didn't erase KMan's ADHD (big emphasis on the *H* there). There's chaos & loudness - oh, so much loudness! BUT we're in our pjs with Peppa Pig playing (loudly) in the background & no stress over getting ready for school, as I attempt to drink my coffee before it gets cold (which is happening more & more these days!).  By the time we're ready to start our school day, we're in a better place.  We start our day with our Bible lesson & then move right into math.  KMan LOVES Life of Fred, and even asks Sweetie Pie Sparkles to join him on the couch while we cuddle & read.  <---That, my friends, is one of the HUGE blessings of homeschool! Then we do some random fun things to secretly sneak knowledge into KMan's head, and then we either get outside for a while or we do some type of art/music "lesson". It's fun.  I mean, it's hard some moments because Sweetie Pie Sparkles is SUPER two-ish these days, but it's fun.  After our "break", we do handwriting & reading (which is usually me reading while the boys play PlayDoh) & then we are done with school.  Gosh, it's just so much work teaching this kid.  When Sweetie Pie Sparkles cooperates & takes a nap, KMan & I have been able to play Battleship (he's moved on from Monopoly!), goof off on the computer, chat (he LOVES to chat. and chat. and chat...), and just enjoy some time together. It's kinda awesome, even if I did have to give up my own afternoon naps.
I've planned a weekly field trip day & so far we've been to the Botanic Gardern/Arboretum & to the Museum of Natural Science.  Both were fun & neither were crowded.  <---Another blessing of homeschool, few crowds in an over-crowded city is wonderful!  KMan LOVED the museum, especially the exhibit on gems (he wants to be a prospector/miner!). He is going to science lab every week & he's super happy about that because it's so hands on.  He even did an experiment with dry ice, which we all know is fun stuff.  He's getting to play with friends at the park & getting lots of socialization - hours of it, instead of 15-30 minute stretches.
KMan's life is pretty great right now, and the best part is - he knows it!  When I first told him he wasn't going back to public school, it was not pretty.  He was VERY upset & said a lot of mean things.  I "ruined his year" (though not his life, lol). I was afraid he was going to take extra convincing about how awesome homeschooling is.  I thought it would take months of lots of strategically planned FUN for him to see the benefits of homeschooling.
Here we are, at the end of week 2, and he has declared that
he never wants to go to public school again.
Also, he has requested that I not enroll him in high school or college, and instead I should be his personal tour guide of all museums & such at that stage of life, so he'll just learn from me.  Something tells me he'll change his mind by college, but I'm happy to have this win for now!!
His anxiety has lessened.  His thirst for knowledge is increasing.  His bond with his brother his growing.  His respect for me is building.  His ability to be himself has been restored, and while it may be crazy to deal with at time, it's so great to see him happy to be HIM again.
It's a tough thing, to homeschool.  I'm trying not to pressure myself into teaching to the standard of public school.  To be okay with him not learning something his public school peers may learn is challenging, but I remind myself that there are things he gets to learn that they don't.  He's reading, and he's listening to me read, and from my perspective that's the most important thing at his age.  The rest will come in time.  Intelligence is not a race, and it comes most easily when it is desired.
I'm pretty tired by the end of the day, and my house is even more of a mess than it was a month ago.  Some days I really want to just run away the second I can hand off parenting duties to daddy (and by run away, I totally mean go to the grocery store. ALONE).  We're still finding our groove & figuring out how to handle all being together 24/7/365 (remember - daddy works from home - so we're really ALL here, ALL the time!).  I can honestly say though, I wouldn't trade the past two weeks of chaos homeschooling for him being in school.  We absolutely, without a doubt, made the right decision.  It was really hard to trust that the desire God placed upon me was really the right thing for our family, but I'm so thankful I trusted Him & that He is rewarding us because of it.  My only regret is that I let this decision consume (and stress) me for so long.  Otherwise, life is good.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

I'm Certainly NOT Super Mom!

Look, I appreciate the accolades I've gotten for all I do with Kman.  Everyone needs an "attaboy" from time to time & I truly am trying my hardest to do my best for him.  BUT, taking on the homeschool thing does NOT make me a super mom by any means!  I dare say that all of my wonderful friends who have praised me & in the same breath said "I could never!" actually could - and would - if they were in my shoes.  I say that because I only pick the most amazing people I meet to be my friends.  ...and because, seriously, how many moms WOULDN'T do everything they had to do to help their children achieve all they could?
I have spent some moment(s) of every day since making this decision grieving the time I will never get to myself.  It seems a little silly that we so desperately want to be parents, but then we ((stay at home moms in this instance)) can't wait until the kids are old enough to be in school all day so we can have freedom - and, mostly, PEACE & QUIET. That is how we think though, and when I'm out &  see other women, who I can just tell are moms with kiddos all off to school, I envy them a bit.  I have hardly had any moments to myself since Sweetie Pie Sparkles was born.  One weekend, and a few hours here & there over the past 2.5 years.  He even slept with me at the hospital when I had my appendectomy.  I obviously LOVE him, but I also LOVE alone time.  Whatever that is.  I forget.
Anyway, back on track...  I don't think I'm especially qualified to be a teacher.  BUT, I'm certainly qualified to teach my kids all they need to know in life.  I do not have much patience (and, sadly, I'm still a yeller), but I can always lock myself in the bathroom if I really, really need to get away from them.  I don't have the energy/stamina/desire to go, go, go all day long, but it's what I have to do.  Every single argument any one of you would have for why you "could never" homeschool, trust me - I've had all those arguments with myself!
BUT, the thing is, I got pretty sick of looking at stuff like this every day:

That's his daily behavior chart FULL of all the "wrongs" he did pretty much daily. The pink things are "oops slips" that got sent home because he had to sit in time out during specials (specials = art, music, PE, etc).  These came home on. the. regular.  I also got more than my share of emails, comments from others, and constant daily worries about what was happening at school while I wasn't there.
At some point it' was just too much. The stress, the worry, the numbness I gained from daily behavioral "issues", even though I'd had multiple meetings & everyone Kman came in contact with was supposed to be aware of his NEUROLOGICAL condition that prevents him from being able to so easily follow the rules, quit talking, etc, etc.  Almost everything he got "in trouble" for was something that anyone with any clue about ADHD would know required extra assistance for him to accomplish & certainly a little extra grace.  The school continued to fail to give that to my BABY, and so I did what I had to do to give him all he deserves to have.
I don't think a single parent reading this wouldn't do everything in their power to help their child as best they could.  I can't afford the ridiculous tuition for a school equipped to help Kman thrive, so I have to be that school instead.  It is what it is.  I will always do anything & everything I can to ensure my children's success in life. Even give up my hope of "freedom" & peace & quiet for 7 hours a day while the kids are at school.
Oh, and also, didn't I mention once that his teacher made him put his Bible away & told him it was illegal for him to bring it to school? Who does that? He was SO excited to have an adult Bible of his own & wanted to just read & read & read.  Who discourages a child from that? Whether you believe or not, he was wanting to read a pretty advanced book & you squashed it based on a legality that doesn't even exist???  **off soapbox**
My life is stressed-filled & oh-so-difficult on so many levels most of you will never understand.  That's okay (great for you even!).  Those of you who do understand all too well, I do get what you're struggling through - and I know you get what I'm struggling through too. I appreciate the attaboys & back pats & the prayers & the hugs &, well, every bit of encouragement any of you have to offer! Some days knowing that someone - anyone - saw that I did something right is the only spark of hope I have for calling the day a success.  So, if you want to call me Super Mom, I'm cool with that, but no matter how hard or how easy your own motherhood journey is, you should give yourself the same title.  We are all doing the best with what we have. Here's to you Super Mom!  -and may you never say "I could never..." because, well, karma. ;)

Monday, January 5, 2015

Our Homeschool Adventures Began!

Shortly before Christmas break I finally decided I'd had enough of indecisiveness about homeschooling Kman.  The amount of time I spent trying to decide what was best & stressing over if what I was doing was right or if what I could be doing was right...  it was all-consuming!  So, I decided to pull him.  I told his school the afternoon before their last day of the December, but I didn't tell him for several more days.  I was SCARED.  I know Kman, he's unpredictable.  I didn't want to deal with the drama.  Once I finally did tell him, he flipped out.  He was SO mad & told me I ruined his year.  (Which means I'm totally doing this parenting thing right, because we're SUPPOSED to ruin everything, right???)  He worked through a lot of anxiety about it & by last night was pretty excited to start something new.
This morning he woke up & right away asked if we could start school.  Of course, when I mentioned his excitement he told me that wasn't it at all, he just wanted to "get it over with".  I'm calling that bluff though.  He was excited.  Yay!
The day actually went better than I imagined, though I'm sure there will be rough days throughout our homeschooling journey.  We started with a short Bible study (score 1 for no more public school!), then did art.  Today we did glue drawings.  He didn't quit catch on to it like I thought he would, but he did his drawing anyway & tomorrow we will chalk paint them so he can better understand why he was supposed to do it the way I said.  Next came math, which was the moment of freak out for Kman.  See, he's REALLY good at math, but school had somehow made him grow to hate it.  He was very resistant to having to sit with me & study math.  ...then I brought out Life of Fred & he was relieved.  Just based on today's experience, I think LoF might be a perfect fit for us.  We've only made it through 2 chapters of Apples though, so I'll withhold my songs of praise for now.
We went for a walk!  We fed the ducks (he even got one to eat out of his hands!), we dug in mud (well, not so much ME), and we got to chat with friends.  -but, wait, aren't homeschooled kids totally deprived of social interaction?  bwahahahaha!
We came home, had lunch, Kman had about an hour to get his chore done (today was washing his sheets) & do whatever he felt like.  Then, handwriting.  I've been working on this for a few months now, so we took out the Handwriting for a Reason book & he did 2 lessons.  Meanwhile, Sweetie Pie Sparkles was playing PlayDoh.  Once he finished his handwriting, Kman joined him & I read from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea while Kman worked on a PlayDoh design to go with the story.  He chose to make Abraham Lincoln, since the boat was named after him.  After a few chapters, my voice was shot, so we called t good.  Then the 3 of us spent a good half hour being silly with PlayDoh.  Kman still had to read before we could finish the school day, so he read a couple chapters of one of his I Survived books & then we headed out for a couple of hours at the playground.  (Well, actually, the boys mostly played in the "forest", my kids are just much more into adventures than playgrounds these days.)
That was it.  We survived our first day of homeschool & it was actually kinda fun.  I was afraid I'd be so worn out (I am, but that's because neither of them wanted to sleep last night) & frustrated by the end of the day that I'd want to run away.  I'm sure I will have those days, but today wasn't really one.  Even as Sweetie Pie Sparkles has decided to give up naps, so it was allll day with both of them.  Guess what though?  I actually kinda like my kids.  ;)  Being able to spend this precious time with them is a blessing (remind me of that on rough days, please!), and growing a stronger bond between the 3 of us will no doubt be amazing.  I guess I'm kind of getting to make up for the time I didn't get to have with Kman when I had to work full time.  Now I'm getting to teach him even better things than how to talk and use a potty and all that.  This is way more fun!  I'm going to be a little more tired and I'm going to be a lot more talked out (BOTH of my boys like to talk - all. day. long), and some days I'm sure I'll feel ready to run away forever...  but when I look back I hope I remember these days with as much fondness & enlightenment as I have tonight.
For any doubts that I had about whether this was the right thing or not, today made me feel more sure that this IS the right thing for Kman & for our family in general.  So, here's to 2015 & all the drastic lifestyle changes it brings our family. ...and also to lessening our stress because let's face it, not waking up to an alarm clock & not dealing with homework drama is going to be a major de-stresser!