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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Day Twenty Two

Our little system is getting better by the day.  I found a red pen.  Wow, I see the power now.  I am one with my red pen.  I wield my powerful red pen and see the public school child react.  Sorry, former public school child.

The system went like this today: 

Banker and I had a quick morning meeting/review of the plan for the day.  He did the required (plus extra, it IS the Banker after all) work, I checked it...with my red pen...and then he  worked some more.  He has figured out he can continue to work through something he is really enjoying, like today his foray into the Hubble Telescope site. 

"Is it ok if I spend more time on this site and maybe do some later?"  
*um, yes, kiddo*

I discovered why he was bored with one of the physics sites he's working through, he didn't realize there were links (for all the theories) to "student activities" and flicker pages illustrating the subject.  He's delighted!  He worked through more than required and didn't blow it off for Khan today which is a massive step.  I think he enjoyed it more today than he had.  Most excellent.

At the end of his school day, (12:15,pm, he started at 8) we sat (oh ya with the red pen, baby) and reviewed the schedule for today, work expectations, what he did as additional work, we reviewed the notes he took.  Wow, the kid takes killer notes.  

Today *gasp* he actually moved some of the work that was on today's list to another day so that he could spend more time on other work.  He was a little unsure when he suggested (in writing) that he'd move some of the work from today to different day's schedule.  I was delighted and then so was he.  I was so very very proud.  He strayed from the path!   Oh, Banker!  You've GOT it!!  THIS is what we DO now, we have a basic plan but we can move it around, make it fit, SING or eat or continue down a path that's interesting you.  Yeah, it felt good to see those pencil marks on tomorrow's date.

It felt like a  real turning point day.  He worked really hard today.  He sang today.  He worked on the laptop for part of his day, upstairs in the comfy chair for some of the work, at the desk upstairs for some and it's ALL complete, it's beautifully written, the paperwork is neat, the notes are extensive. 

I feel as though we both sort of  'got' it more today.  Even though I'm not entirely blaming, or giving credit to, the red pen, I noticed it's impact.  Nothing will give a former public school student a thrill like the gigantic red checkmark as a form of validation for the completion of a task.  It's sad but hey, it works. 

I'm still lost in space myself.  I still can't figure out when I run errands, shop, visit with my own kind or do laundry.  I feel obligated to sit at the table, albeit doing my own thing, while Banker works to available to answer a question or double check a link or discuss a new fact or theory he's investigating.  I will figure it out and it'll be fantastic.  

I haven't had a "I'm going to break" him moment all day. 


Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Day Twenty One

It's academic day 1 and it was a very smooth, easy morning.  Banker came down and I had his weekly schedule ready.  He took it and got straight into work.  I did make fresh biscuits for him to nosh on while he worked, you don't get that in public school. 

I can tell he is much more comfortable with the system and the work he's doing.  We had a very long, mature, conversation about the whole thing on the 1 1/2 hr drive back from Fredericksburg yesterday.  That was a wonderfully successful trek.  He worked some, with FriendH and they compared some notes and lesson ideas.  They played some, there was much laughter.

He and I talked about his concerns, the main one being he was 'behind'.  I can't quite figure out how to reassure him he's not behind but rather miles ahead already of his crowd in public school.  We are doing a chapter in a few days from the math book they use, in addition to the other math classes he's taking online.  I think he felt a little better after the conversation.  He needs to not compare himself to his home school friends.  FriendH has been home schooled since 3rd grade and is almost a full grade ahead I think, FriendA is on a different path and is doing different math in a different order, FriendJ is ahead one week and behind on another. FriendJ  is doing the same program but whereas Banker is doing it in order, FriendJ said he is doing whatever chapter he wants, randomly.  When I pointed that out, plus the fact Banker is doing 2 additional math classes (same subject just more intense) plus a workbook, he sort of got it.  I think he seriously realized you can't compare levels when everyone is on a different track, different curriculum and different path ultimately.  Welcome to home school, Bankerboy, you get to THINK here, you get to PROCEED at your own PACE here, you can be INDIVIDUAL here...  you DON'T have to be exactly like everyone else!  I think I saw a light go on!

We did make some major decisions about altering what we are doing (again).  I asked if he thought he could finish up the workbooks we brought from public school by spring break (March 9)  He thought he could.  I am going to streamline the process even more while we are camping, sure there'll be a laptop! and I plan on working.  I saw a spread sheet curriculum system plan and I liked it.   Oh and work is easier when you're in the desert looking at nothing, in silence, with no laundry or cooking to do other than something over a campfire.  Anyway, I am going to streamline his classes to only ONE of each subject, as he currently has 3-4 maths depending on the day!!??    I think that was part of my knee jerk panic reaction that I would break him, which I do still think, daily, I was unwilling to break completely from the work he was doing in public school I merely added online work.  dumb. C'mon Trace, you can do better than this.  I'm forging ahead on the assumption I won't (please please) break he immediately.   I found a math program I am going to buy him, we all knew I would, and I'm going to buy the 8th grade algebra video lessons, he can start slowly after spring break and will have a massive jump by the time we start again in August for 8th grade.  I think he's ready and piddling him around on a number of different maths is ridiculous.

He is also going to fire through the social studies, Texas history, workbook we brought with us as well, he's 3/4 through and when he's finished we'll not fill that spot with anything, he can do one social studies/history.  I'd like to move him off the US and start studying other countries...there ARE other countries and hardly any public school students, in Texas, truly realize that.

Science is going to continue to be space/universe/big bang; he's digging it; he sings while he works; why change a good thing.

I am tweaking Latin to include the book from public school in a bigger role.  He was inundated with worksheets in that class so I do need to find a better less worksheet system that still allows him to feel he's completing work at the same rate.  I couldn't BELIEVE the number of worksheets glued into a composition book... what are they, 5? Crazy.

English is going well, physics, typing and grammar will all stay status quo. 

Environmental science will be purely the iPad book for the time being.

I feel good about the plan, so does he.  I love that he can simply and succinctly express his thoughts, comments and concerns,  I think he's more confident about this home school thing.  I think he feels less "behind" and has been a little inspired by his experience with the home school gang yesterday.  He didn't look like he was watching the other kids but he most certainly was and I think it's made him realize we are onto a good thing, doing it right and he's excited about the future.  


Monday, February 27, 2012

Day Twenty

Day "5" of week 3, we're calling it Field trip day.  

Today we go to Fredericksburg, TX.  *yay*  Sure there's loads of historic things to do, see and visit there.  It's a very interesting town.  Unfortunately we also have dear dear friends there who also home school.  My friend, MsZ (as Banker has called her since he was too little to pronounce her name) is a home school whiz and, frankly, not only an inspiration but sort of a hero too.  There's 4 (of my favorite kids) in that household so any whining I may do about my adventure with a student population of one will be mocked and dismissed, in the nicest possible fashion of course.  Joking aside, she will be able to give me valuable wisdom but I do have different challenges having just one child here.  There's no diversion, for he or I.  There's no one to bounce ideas off, have conversations with.  It's part of the reason I did the schedule as I did, 4 academic and 1 road trip/outside day.  

Banker and I loaded up the laptops, iPad, tablets, phones and even the NetBook to haul down to see what information we can glean from MsZ's arsenal.  I'm also loaded up with food and dough to make bread to ensure we aren't kicked before our time.  I intend on taking notes!

We are taking all the hardware so we can share our little tidbits of information and show them the sites we've paid for so she can see if there's anything there for them to use.  I also started a Facebook list (Hippie Homeschoolers) for the few of us locally that I call friends to share information and sites in a far less daunting manner than those seriously overloading (but fabulous!) list serves and yahoo groups.   I still get lost and overwhelmed going through them so my little Facebook group is helping disseminate and organize them slightly until I can wrap my head around the big kid sites.  I'm sure my little group will grow as we meet other home school people but for the moment it's a group of 6 of us so it's easy to keep up. 

Bankers best friend is child 1 down there so there's also going to be some serious mental health time for him.  I'm looking forward to some information, knowledge, giggling and wine consumption, not necessarily in that order. 

School aside, I have bread dough to make.


Saturday, February 25, 2012

Day Eighteen and Nineteen (weekend)

Banker and I are going to check out a middle school math club today, it's open to the public, I told him we would probably be the only public there.  I can't imagine it'd draw a huge crowd, but then again I din't have any idea what I'm doing so I could be wrong. 

The club is doing some final contest and there'll be information for the next session so we're just going to check it out and see if it's something he might be interested in down the road.  I am sure the only deciding factor, for him, will be the chaos level.  If it's wild and unorganized and no one seems to be in charge or control, we'll be outta there.  If there's one thing the Banker can't handle it's chaos and disorganization.  It gets us out in any event, even if on a weekend day. 

I have his schedule for the next 2 weeks completed, I have the Day5 planned for both weeks as well.  This coming week are are going to Fredericksburg on Monday to visit some of our dearest friends, who are also long time homeschoolers.  We'll pack up our laptops and information and compare notes and I'll take notes and I'm really looking forward to talking about homeschool and checking out her system with new eyes.

I hope there's a calm in the house this weekend, it was a rough week.  I am going to proceed along the theory it is going to be lovely. 



We went to the MathCounts and Banker had an epic meltdown.  Husband and Banker were both in moods. all in all it was a hellish experience.  Banker said there's no way he wants to be involved with those 1,000 kids. ??  I don't know what that means?  OR what the problem is.  It was professional, organized, calm and everyone seemed very pleasant.  BUT, there was no way on earth Banker was staying even to observe or get more information, he dashed (stomped/rushed/ran/marched) out of the building, teary, and plunked himself miserably in the back of my car.  He was destined to have a miserable rest of the day slaving away at chores I made up, I was furious.  I am putting it down to the combination of husband's family directed anger, home school first experience with 'other' children fear, preteen angst, the "dreaded lurgy" (a mythical ailment of epic proportion in my family) and, um, impending zombie apocalypse.  It's been a miserable weekend.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Day Seventeen

Well, what a day.  Yesterday I mean.  Wine and food and friends and giggling and happy children.  Oh the homeschooling part went swimmingly. 

Banker got up at 6, did the entire days worth of work and then set the table, made the dessert and entertained himself and FriendJ upstairs the entire length of the "ladies who lunch and cocktail" party I had here.

I let them play late into the evening stopping only to feed them *angel hair fettuccine and some homemade bread thank you very much.  Banker and FriendJ have laughed their heads off since they've been together.  I know they laughed before but I swear it sounds more relaxed.

He and FriendJ got up early again today, you have to love the midweek sleepover,  I assured both boys there would be no homeschooling happening today.  Play, visit, chat about your shared experience about being taken out of public school mid way through 7th grade.  Talk about how you both enjoy it, dislike it, are frustrated, challenged and delighted by it.  They are a bit actually.  

Alternatively; just shoot stuff and giggle on the Xbox, ripe in the knowledge all of your friends are sitting at a desk being spiral taught, probably rolling their eyes, and most assuredly not laughing out loud like you two are. 

Since his week is complete, I see no reason at all to allow Day5 this week to be playing with a friend, giggling, being fed mountains of mini chocolate chip pancakes and eating them as fast as you can so you can dash back upstairs to play mindless video games.  Sure, then we'll travel across town to drop FriendJ,  visit some friends then go meet other friends at the "local" watering hole for margaritas, chips and more catching up and giggling (me and he!).  This week Day5 is mental health play day, yeah, that'll work.

Oh but I forgot, we're homeschooler antisocial now so hopefully no one will notice. O.o ! 

I'd wax poetically some more today but I already made his schedule for next week and into the following one, we are going to check out the math club exhibition tomorrow to get feel for what it is in case he'd like to join the next session, but more importantly, I have pancakes to make for happy, laughing boys.


Thursday, February 23, 2012

Day Sixteen

Love the early start days! 

6am and the Banker was raring to go.  Since today is the 4th of our 4 day academic schedule, he's decided to do half of it this morning and half tomorrow morning. 

I'm having some ladies for lunch today and there will be a child or two in tow and he wanted to be done when they get here.  Yay Banker!  Way to rock the home school system.  Are you getting it? :)  See, if you take a break, the world as you know it will not end.  

I reviewed a lot of his work from the past few days.  Beautiful.  He's giving me as good as he gave his teachers, in the quality department.  Beautiful.  I've even managed to find answers to math problems he's done because I am the "smile and nod, can I cook you something honey?" math teacher.  I just don't do math.

Speaking of math; I looked for, found, and printed out, a math contest test page for him.  It's 7th grade level, how hard could it be?  Ok, here are 3 of the questions I glanced at: 

Consecutive letters of the alphabet, starting with A, are given increasing consecutive integer values.  If H+K+L+N=2005, then the average of all the consecutive integers is: 
a.491 b.498 c.503.5 d.505.5

*weep*  massive "I am going to break him" moment...  wth, I don't even know how to start to try to think about this.  I'm trying not to but it keeps sneaking into my head,

The next question: 

Of the following, which is the first time after 4:30 that the minute and hour hands of any circular alarm clock no longer form an acute angle?
a. 4:36 b.4:37 c.4:38 d.4:39

Ok, given time and a lot of paper and many glasses of wine I could probably figure that one out, well, online anyway.  

And the last one: 

Today is my birthday.  My age today, in months, is 72 times my age 5 years ago, in years.  My age today, in years is: 
a.6 b.7 c.8 d.12

I haven't presented these questions to him in fear he either can, or cannot do them.  Welcome to 7th grade math.  ouch.  Anyone who comes back with, "those are easy" gets unfriended. :)

On another note, I think preparing this weekly schedule with days broken down for him was pretty brilliant, it's working almost better every day.  He is logging what chapters he's doing so I can monitor it as well.  He has a real comfort level with the expectation and I think is truly enjoying challenge of the work at the moment.  He is a little too focused on the Weekly Folder but hey, if manila makes you confident, have at it.  I get he needs the order and it keeps me on the straight and narrow and it's easy to see what he's done so it's all good.  We will never be artsy-fartsy home school people and that's fine, this is all about him after all, not me.

He's singing again, about finding his physics notebook and working in it.  *yay*  In a snippier moment I found myself thinking, "you'd be scolded for singing in class".  Scolded?  what am I in the 1800's?  Dastardly school masters scolding my son for his joy.  Yeah, it's a good day when you can sing about physics.

I'm going to cook while he works and then we're blowing off early today.  Although, as much as I feel he's loosening up, he's really not, he simply started hours early and will probably get all the day finished but I don't dare tell him that, Banker thinks he's being a rebel. 

Today, I think he'll be fine.


Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Day Fifteen

I like the groove the Banker and I are in.  We seem to have to settled into our schedule, our planning and our workload.  We seem to dance nicely.

There are a list of things I have learned in the first two weeks, things I like and that I don't.  I intend on having the Banker do a similar list for me.

Like: I can now take a shower without taking the phone into the bathroom with me!
Dislike: I cannot function if anyone else is in the house with us.
Like: The Banker can take killer notes that are easily reviewable and I can use them too,
Dislike: I feel like a science instruction failure.
Like:  I can get into things that require long term focus, like sewing and writing.
Dislike: I can't figure a way to get into things that need long term focus.
Like:  Spending time with Connor.
Dislike: I feel a little frantic at never having 'me' time.
Like: Avoiding 100 miles a day across town, through massive construction and rush hour gridlock.
Dislike:  Unoccupied mental health car time, sort of, some of it. 

It's an interesting curve. 

I did learn the Banker is doing some of his work backwards.  He did it like this when he was in the second grade, I remember.  He's going straight to answer to the question before reading the work, looking for 'cue' words that will direct him to the right answer and grabbing a passage.  He had no idea what the piece (Texas History workbook) was about yet all his answers were spot on.  We had a conversation about how the answer isn't the thing, it's the journey to get there, that's where the information lies.  I think it may be residual public school system...just get the right answer.  So, sure, he's getting the right answer but he's missing the trip there.  Hopefully I made sense and it's rectified.

Husband randomly took the day off, I wish we'd have known, although I had a load to do here in addition to school today so we probably couldn't have changed our day.  I noticed a serious change in the Banker, wow he's so very very different when it's not just he and I here.  He was screwing around, being moody and challenging, flippant and frankly, annoying.  It's the first time I've had to stay on him constantly to work and then he argued with me about using a calculator when he knew we were being watched.  All in all it wasn't a great academic day.  I didn't like it.  A lot of the day felt formal and stoic and stiff.

That being said, when he was first working, on his online math and astronomy and typing classes, he sang and sang.  He hummed, bopped his head, swayed to music he was making.  THAT is all good and as long as he sings, hums and smiles when he's learning; I just might not break him.


Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Day Fourteen

It's 2 weeks today I withdrew him from public school.  I have not, in fact, broken him yet. 

However, we seem to have arrived in "I don't really need to take notes, it's all in my head already" land.  *sigh* The frightening thing is that he is correct, he's got loads of it in his head.  That's not the point though, is it, dear?

I got another piece of relatively shoddy work turned in and the one spiral notebook is completely void of review notes.  We are going to have to tighten some belts here, this isn't OK. 

I am sure part of it is me, He did put a couple of things in the "check work" folder which I didn't review and he took the books out to continue working and I am absolutely sure he realized there was no "OK" so he's pushing to see what'll happen I'm sure.  I don't for a moment think it's intentional, he IS the Banker after all, Mr. Straight and Narrow, BUT he is 12 and I am his mom and he is supposed to try.  I'm sure it's somewhere between abject obstinate behavior  and preteen brain.

We've had a quick chat about quality of work and note taking.  We've had a quick chat about the reports I just generated on the paid site and although 99% of the work is 90-100%, but there are two 50%'s ?  So, the choice is apparently 100 or 50, there's no middle ground?  He shrugged and said he'd pressed the wrong thing.  Well, um, that is how ALL wrong answers are input, dear.  Isn't inputting the wrong thing the definition of the wrong answer? *sigh*  We've had a further chat about how all the quizzes matter and that perhaps we can redo the 50%'s and then we move on.

No stress, no drama, a reasonable conversation.  Nice.

We start our new me doing science unit this week, Me and Rocket Science.  Sure, that's not weird at all.  The "what if I break him" blanket is covering my head heavily today.  I'm sure it's the same with all the newbie home school moms, well, I hope it is and that's what I'm going with.  I'm going to pay a little closer attention today to be sure we don't have any shoddy work, empty notebooks or 50% review quiz results.

I also feel like a cold is trying to get me, it was trying on Friday and I fought it off but I woke up today feeling thick in my chest, maybe something allergy related.  I'm in the allergy capital of the cosmos here in Austin, apparently.  Maybe that's it. 

I'm going to spend some time reviewing work and setting up the next week schedule and print some papers he can work on, ok ok  they are worksheets. BUT there's only one per unit so he's not being overrun by paper.  He LIKES worksheets notwithstanding what we call them, I tried "work book pages" but he laughed and didn't buy it, "you mean those WORKSHEETS, mom?" HAHA  So, he's got 1 per social studies unit and I am pretending it's helping with his handwriting.  :)  There are also answer keys so I don't have to think too hard, also a bonus.

Off to spend teacher/manager time, I'll sew later.


Monday, February 20, 2012

Day Thirteen

It's Monday, it's a public school holiday but we are working today. 

Since the public school kids are free, Banker wants to play online with them and I pointed out he'd finish school before most of them were out of bed.  I am also having some of my girlfriends over for lunch on Thursday, so we may have to blow off that day or at least part of it.  I told him we're not far enough in to start futzing with more than one free day in a week.  He got my point so he's working and I'm working on schedules for the next few weeks. 

This is what his Day 1 and his Day 2 looks like.  A lot of it is still a bit of review to be sure there's no holes in the knowledge.  He had me take specifics out of his online classes, except for the T4L which I bought and he's simply working through, I think I will be able to remove specifics there too, just have him do a certain number:  


UNIT Study with me (Rocket Science this week)
Khan Academy; Cosmology and Astronomy (next 2)

MATH (T4L & Khan)
T4L; chapter 9; Attributes, Volume, Surface Area
MasterMath, Quarter 3
Khan; review of any of the above

At least 5 lessons inside Module

1 chapter, complete

1.5-2 chapters

Chapter 1-2; Our Island, Earth

DAY 2 
SOCIAL STUDIES (T4L & Khan Civics)
T4L; Chapter 11.  Reforming American Society (plus worksheets)

T4L;  Chapter 1.  Homophones, Idioms, Latin and Greek Roots

LATIN (online and book)
Next video lesson OR more
UNIT study with me
Measurement; Two Dimensional Figures
Chapters 9-5 – 9-8
Work, Energy, and Power
Circular Motion and Satellite Motion
*follow up on Khan physics

I think it looks good.  He does two of each day a week.  There is a day built into the schedule to go on field trips, do catch up work, home work, projects or whatever he needs. 

He is now responsible to note how many lessons he does in each so that I can check the appropriate volume, although he'd never do LESS that I'd expect.  I can also prepare reviews (tests) for him and be sure I include the correct information. 

I did go and wake him up at 9.  We had discussed it over the weekend.  I was of the opinion 10:11 is just too late in the day to start.  I thought 9 was a completely reasonable time to wake him up, assuming we didn't have something going on very late the night before. 

Speaking of that, the 3 of us hopped in the car and went out for ice cream at 7 last night.  Now, that's not late at all but we've never done it on a school night because we had to be up at 5 and there was never laying around time on Sunday nights, we were all on edge mentally preparing for the next day.  Seven on a Sunday night was getting ready for showers, me rushing around making sure all his laundry was done.  I much prefer, "let's go for ice cream" time.

Oh I'm a total softie, his friends are on Skype, I just told him he can play AND work today so long as school gets done in between, we'll see how this goes.  

I have work to do, school prep and in the studio, I saw a pillow in a very high end store and I want to recreate it for pennies. I'll post any successes on my LOOPERS! blog

I like this and I feel good.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Day Eleven and Twelve (weekend)

We are absolutely taking these days off.   As weird as it seems, weekends still feel different from the week, that's a good thing, I think if they all mashed together I'd go quite mad.

I am finding that I'm very messed up with time and errands and chores, things I usually do through the week versus on the weekend.  I mean, I don't have to get all the laundry done on Sunday anymore because Banker CAN wear jammies to school Monday morning and I can easily do laundry, dishes, sweep, mop during the week while "we" work.

That being said I cannot sit and do nothing.  I tried yesterday morning to lay around with my iPad (I have a cold trying to hold of me) and play games and there was no way.  Hubba laid sat on the recliner with the vibrating oversnoring overfat (but he keeps feeding him?!) WalterPug for hours and I about lost my mind. 

I find it hard enough to do nothing on my own but watching other people do nothing too, when there is so much to do here, yeah, no. 

I dragged kiddo out to a couple of store, we ended up being met by Hubba at Frys and we got the new sd card for kiddo's new Android Tablet.  Hubba is a massive Ubid fan and got him one as a congrats on doing well in the new system. 

When we got back, one went on the computer and one in the recliner to watchtv sleep snore moan so I was self banished to the gameroom.  I never sit up there and watch tv, I rather enjoyed it actually and plan on doing it a lot more. 

It's all part of the not being able to settle when man is home.  Husband seems more relaxed with our system as well and and days at work haven't resulted in nearly the stiff, formal feeling evenings had.  I can't figure out why he seems to be the only one there who stays till 7 but whatever.  I won't go into the me making food that I am proud of that I hope they love then having it sit on a counter for 2-3 hours and there's nothing that can survive that without turning to crap.  Oh and no, I'm not prepared to feed kiddo and I at 7:30-8 at night.  The other guys seem to eat dinner with their families every once in a while but that's just my eye rolling snippy little side issue opinion.  But I digress.

Although husband said he might start taking random days off, I asked him to please do it on field trip day, I'm going to need a lot of notice to move stuff/plans/me around when I'm planning 3+ weeks in advance.  Having him here during school time will would royally screw  the day/system/schedule/the way it all works, particularly with us being so new in.  *sigh*  I actually got a knot in my stomach when he said it.  Banker would not be able to function either, he's a different kid when he's here working with me and I do NOT want to alter that even for a moment just yet.  

I guess it'd work if he was futzing around on father projects around here, so it felt like we were all working but with us trying to get work done and hubba wandering , I'd have a tough time keeping us focused, well, ok, me focused.  Husband was at home for a couple of weeks and I thought I would perish from it.  I ran fake errands to look busier?!  It was exhausting.  He'd wander harmlessly through with his iPad playing some shooter game and sit outside smoking for an hour or more and I'd be frantic to look as though I was doing something that someone else might consider worthwhile, while not sitting. I didn't even sew, there's a chair involved.

It's not all his fault, he'd probably just do his usual upstairs in the dark on his computer or sleep in the recliner but I cannot sit down when hubba is in the house.  Maybe if he was doing something or working around the house or something?  Little projects that the dad is supposed to be in charge of, futz on the porch, patch a crack, try to figure out how to deal with the crevasse at our front door where the porch fell away from the house, I don't know.  

My unease came about from comments he made regularly about since I stay home I must do nothing and it's stuck with me and I literally, cannot sit down when he is in the house through the week, it's exhausting.  It's like your mom standing watching you clean, you know absolutely you're not doing it right.  With my confidence sort of precarious at the moment, I wouldn't be able to function with even my perception of being watched and yes, just being in the house counts as watching.  I know I'd be corrected during a walk through and that would upset me and even more upset the Banker, everything gets corrected here, compliments are never given without a correction and frankly, that would do me in just now. I'm not stupid or little and I need to forge ahead without interjection to stop me from letting outside perceptions make me believe that I am.

Sure, it's all psychotically on me this perception and dread but it's real and it seriously affects the way I do whatever it is that I do.

Anyway, that's my moan and new worry.  

Public school is off tomorrow but we are not.  I have "the girls" coming for lunch on Thursday and even though Banker will be mostly done by the time they get here, I'm prepared for a messed about day. 

I have the next 2 weeks scheduled and printed.  I think it's going to be a good week.  I am going to start looking for another solid field trip for us the week of the 27th.  

Friday, February 17, 2012

Day Ten

Public School is closed for some random reason.

We picked up a friend of Connor's last night and brought him back for a hang out and a sleepover.  They are already up and working through some puzzle on the Xbox360.  Their plan is to continue to do so, eat a mountain of my delicious mini chocolate chip pancakes (their record is 76 I think) then more mindless playing until I decide it's time to break it up and deliver everyone home.

HippieBankerHomeschool is closed today.

I am going to work on the Banker's daily/weekly schedule some more today, I'd like to have a few weeks lined up, at least including the week after we get back from a New Mexico camping trip we are doing in March.  I'm taking a couple of weeks off from "tweaking" the actual information/curriculum.  We can't tell if it's working if I keep changing it, obviously, d'uh.

I'm still feeling pretty, not too bad, almost sort of not quite as horrified by this new venture.  How's THAT for a solid statement of confidence?  Once he figures he figures out he IS learning something I think that'll be a real turning point.  I can see he learning. I think this is something he's just going to have to figure out on his own.  Unfortunately, he's had another influx of "but, dude, what about your school friends? do you have any FRIENDS left?"  *oh SHIT, really?*  Why are his friends telling him he has no friends?  Um, HELLO?!  The conversation left Banker assuring his friends that he'd be returning to public school soon.  WHAT? Oh nice.  I'm not going to give him a hard time.  I'm just going to watch.

Speaking of staying connected to idiots, part of this new deal is that I agreed to give Banker his FaceBook page back.  Sure, he's 12 but none of them are of age, are they?  We made a very strict deal about who and how we interact.  He used to have a FB page and I yanked it out from under him a year ago for unfortunate language and connections, friends he didn't know and we can't have that.  I think a year is long enough and he is right, it will help him connect with some of the people he'd like to stay in touch with and might help him and them arrange for some live visits and outings and even though some of them are up my nose for getting into his head about him becoming a social outcast, I'm willing to let him play, cautiously, and see how it goes.  Oh, yes, I'll be ALL over that page and we have agreed there is NO expectation of privacy online anyway and particularly with me at the helm!

He is definitely more relaxed.

That being said, this is not a family bash.  I adore them and love love spending time away with them. I am really looking forward to us going away in March, I love the 3 of us spending time together.  I assume it'll be the great, comfortable, relaxed time it was last year.  I just can't spend time here with not all of us working or  not all of us playing (although as the mom, no day here is ever a day 'off') when I feel watched and judged and feel so unsure.

It's part of the new life I've thrust us into, I think it's going to be sweet but it's definitely going to take a while for everyone to figure out what hat they should have on and how to best wear it. I will say I seriously think it's going to be amazing.

So, the long way around; school's out today, I'm on pancake/sausage/bacon/biscuit/12 and 13 year old boy duty.


Thursday, February 16, 2012

Day Nine


Well, it's supposed to be review day.  The day we look at what we've done in the first week.  We made ourselves a list, blindly, on day 1, of things we thought we should review one week in.

We were going to discuss whether "we" liked the every subject every day schedule or if he'd prefer all math and English one day and all science and social studies/history the next.  We would plug the "electives" in around the core stuff.  We were going to discuss his reading schedule, the science we are scrapping and the new units I found for us to attack over the next four weeks.

We have an agenda, it's detailed.  We have a plan.  We have a little bit of experience in what we think we might like to change. 

The only thing missing for review day is the Banker.  It's almost 9:30am and he's still sleeping, snoring, spread out across his queen sized bed, using up all the space, with his overstuffed duvet mostly covering him.  I saw a toe, part of a hand and I think an ear exposed!  He NEVER sleeps this late.  EVER.  Ok, he slept until 11 once at my mother's house but he was 5 and we'd been up until 3am.  

He's either exhausted beyond compare or relaxed in his own skin.  Hmmm

Yesterday he started, bright eyed and bushy tailed, at 6am.  Today, I'm alone in the kitchen.

I'm not complaining, yet, but I think we need to establish at least a window of when we start on school days.  I don't think a rough start time is too far out considering the scheduling of every other moment of this home school thing,  

Although, I have had a second, peaceful, cup of coffee and I actually took/had the time to paint my nails.  I never paint my nails anymore, it's a time waster, always looking at the clock between 'things'.  Today, I have pretty red nails and it makes me happy. 

The Banker did work extra hard and long yesterday with a really early start.  He did try to get ahead a bit.  Ah, I'm going to let him be.  Rest up kiddo, the day is long, you've worked so very hard. 

We have a fun day planned later.  We are going to Happy Hour with friends this afternoon at a not so local watering hole.  After some visiting and catching up, we are going to pick up one of his best buddies to bring back here for a sleepover.  The public schools are off tomorrow (and Monday) so he can have a buddy for a non-weekend hang out.  He needs to have a buddy here so the timing is perfect.

Well, I guess I'll go start vetting those 230 emails I received from the Austin Area Homeschooling Yahoo groups at one address then the 88 I received in reply to a "hi, I'm new, we need to find human homeschooling types to connect with" email I sent out.  So much information but my plan is to go through it today and try to make some sense of it and hopefully, hook us up with something. 

I'll update when our day finally starts :) 


The Banker wandered into the kitchen, jammied, disheveled, and rubbing his eyes at 10:11am.  I didn't mention the time. 

I made him breakfast, toasted tomato sandwiches on rye, 2 of them and we chatted.  We had our meeting, decided on what to change and what to leave the same.  We are going to keep the (version of) every subject every day system, we are going to change me limiting the number of chapters of electives, i.e. Latin, Physics and Typing, that he can do in any given day.  I had been indicating "chapter 2" on his schedule and he was concerned that on some subjects he'd been really interested and had worked "ahead".  I had to remind him there's no "ahead" here, it's all him.  I removed any indication of lesson length on the schedule for next week.


We had a couple of computer glitches and we discovered one of the maths is outside his current comfort level.  Two maths is fine for the moment. 

We have decided that the science unit for next week will be ROCKET SCIENCE *cool*.

I redid the schedule for next week to reflect the new freedom for him to flow into the next video lessons of that which interests him.  I changed/eliminated the "to do weekly" list and integrated those lessons into his week.  I added Latin, Grammar, Typing and Journal/Diary, one per day.  I've asked him to keep a weekly Journal, we'll see how that goes.  I have little to no faith it'll be completed, we'll see, I'm going to leave it with him for a couple of week and review it then.

He loves the new online Latin.  He's whipping through grammar and typing.  He blew a couple of online tests ...  he needs to find the speed level here ... he redid them and got 100% so that satisfied him.  

I also don't think he realized I'd be following up/checking his work.  He redid a project on abolitionism for me today, he'd handed in sloppy, cheap work.  I think he was almost glad when he realized I'd read it, marked it and was very dissatisfied with it.  The new version was lovely, well thought out, neat and looked as though it was done by a different child.  I almost feel as though it was a test, by him, to see if I was paying attention, keeping score.  He was notably delighted to be asked to redo it, I feel as though I passed the test. 

I must add, he had another day of singing while he worked on his online classes.  Singing, humming, laughing and generally having himself one hell of a good time.  Joy while learning? Singing loudly and making up words based on what you're learning?  *perfect*

We are about to be done for the day, the week, and singing or not, joy and laughter aside, we are done for this week already. 

OH and no, I didn't get nearly the emails vetted I wanted to *sigh*  Maybe tomorrow when he is playing on the XBox killing zombies and aliens with his friends and I can sit here, in silence.


Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Day Eight

Well,  not a bad way to start the day. 

I got out of bed at 7am this morning.   I spent about 20 minutes, before I got up, just laid in bed, listening. I was listening to cars go by and trucks thud and bounce down the road one street over, there's construction in the area.  I heard the beeping of trucks backing up and I think it was garbage or recycling day because I heard large plastic containers of things being emptied into vessels of some description.  I heard husband breathing heavily, WalterPug  snoring loudly downstairs, I heard air brakes, I heard birds yell at each other.

I never listen to things out the window.  I never listen to things out the window on a school day before the alarm screamed to wake me up at 5:30 am.  I think it's a nice way to wake up, just open your eyes and listen for a few minutes.

I'd heard rustling around outside my bedroom earlier. Neither dog moved, the husband was snoring so I knew it was the Banker.

I came downstairs to find him curled up on the recliner with a snuggie and his English workbook.  "I hope you don't mind, I woke up at 6 and wanted to get ahead a bit".  Yeah, that's fine, kiddo. 

We have had a couple moments already around math.  I knew it'd be our one and only subject issue.  I can't DO math, he knows it.  He is asking specific questions about math that we both know I don't know how to do.  We just had a pencil throwing incident.  Well, a pencil tossing.  I went over to him and we looked the answer up *thank you Internet* and the answer wasn't as forthcoming as either of us would have liked.  I left him to continue on the hunt and when I suggested a (bad) idea, the pencil tossing happened.

Putz, I'm doing the best I can!  (ok, that was in my head but I looked at him when I thought it, hard) 

I need to get it in his head he's allowed to veer off site and find different/new/alternative ways to solve the equations he's trying to work through.  It's not what you know, it's that you know how to, and where to, look. 

We found a great spot to look for an alternative, Math-prof.  Ok, answer found, easily, apparently the storm isn't over yet.

Oh, he is in a massive snit at the moment.  He doesn't cope with frustration well, he never has.  The attempt to log into his online lesson plan resulted in some rather dramatic, "it's NOT letting ME IN!!!!"  He's muttering disparaging remarks at the computer.  It's 12 yr old profanity without actually being profane.  I'd love to give him to grief, really, just calm down, but I think this moment is best spent by me quietly typing over here and he muttering and sighing heavily over there.  

For mental picture's sake, the Banker and I sit at a round kitchen table.  He on one side with his laptop and notebook space.  There is a tall, square lamp between us and my laptop and extra monitor sit directly across from him.  

I made bread already this morning and a load of chocolate chip scones for Banker.  He asked for them and since he never eats more than a couple, I offered them to husband to take to work for the masses.  He turned me down with an abrupt, "no".  Really, thanks, and just when I wondered if I suck.  You bet I take it personally.  I haven't killed any of the workmates yet with things I've sent in, well, that I know of. 

I'm sure it got up my nose more so than usual because of this new venture.  I am trying not to spend every waking moment wondering if I am breaking the Banker and wondering if perhaps I suck.  Husband never tells me, without some sort of "well?" prompt, that I do anything well or great.  I should be used to it but when I'm doubtful, although happier in my skin?!, about my ability and decisions here, even small kudos would go a very very long way.  I'm not talking fake, sickly sweet, dribble but a little cheering from the inner sanctum might help.  But I digress.  Although I guess this is part of my homeschooling adventure. The way things affect me, the time I have to do or not do things.  How I think and feel about what's going on around me.  

Luckily, the snit seems to have passed, I am SO lucky that they are generally short lived.  I guess everyone is entitled to be in an academic snit every once in a while.  I may have to look for a better math system.  He is now doing 3 maths, loving them, but I need to find a way to correlate them better.

I just reviewed the science he's doing.  For pete's sake, he's DONE all this.  I rechecked with the AISD 7th grade math and other areas for their science curriculum.  They are all doing the same thing, plants then ecology then sex.  Well, we've dealt with sex already, he's studying ecology through another online add on class and iKnow textbook.  He was in so many plant classes over the past two years, I have made a decision.  We are SCRAPPING the bought online science program.  The kid already knows about plants.  

NEW PLAN!  We are going do to a new, cool, fun, science unit a week.  I have lesson plans, activities, procedures and links for the next 3 units.  Rocket Science, Understanding the Universe, and DNA.  To heck with local public school making him learn about photosynthesis AGAIN, he gets it already.  He can now learn things the other kids wouldn't get.  He can learn as fast as he wants.  He's watching theoretical videos that are discussing the creation of the universe; for fun.

I sort of understand why they teach them the same things, over and over and over again under the guise of different class titles but really, now that I have had a chance to review exactly what they've been learning.  Are you KIDDING me?  The actual information being given is small.  In regard to our personal experience, I "get" that the teachers in grades 4 thru 7  have to teach to the lowest common denominator, and to the test, but wow. 

The information itself is small, a couple of sentences of information or one equation, then the worksheets, oh baby the worksheets.  I guess it drives the information home but to what cost?  No wonder he's been bored, *I'M* bored just reviewing it.  Spiral teaching?  Sure.  YAWN. 

I like my plan, I just discussed it with the Banker and he seems to like the idea of it too. *whew*

So, reviewing it all so far?  You bet I'm still manic, it's my best thing.

Yes, I feel good in my skin about homeschooling. 
Yes, I know it was the best decision.  
Yes, I feel happier.  
Yes, I feel changes in me happening that are for the better.  
No, I'm no more confident, yet.  

Yes, I think the Banker is happier.  
Yes, I think he is learning new things.  
Yes, I think we found a way to review and learn in a more balanced way.  
Yes, I think he likes the new science plan.
Yes, I think he accepts the change as part of the newness and fluidity of home school plans rather than a catastrophic failure on my part to plan successfully in the first place. 
Yes, I worry every morning that I'm going to somehow break him.  
No, I don't think that day is today.



Ok, so I really need to find a way to cope with the extra hours in my day.  I no longer have to drive, or think about driving, or prepare to drive, or arrange my errands to go with the drive so that I can save gas, between the hours of 5:30am-8:30am and 2:00pm-4:30pm.  That's 5 and a half EXTRA hours in my day.  Even take out the time I spend working with the Banker.  Well, hold on, I used to do that after school till about 6:30 anyway, um, those hours are still being used.  The hours are just being used in the morning. 

We are both completely messed up about time.  I suppose if that's our biggest problem with the adjustment then we're doing just fine but, wow.  We are so very messed up on time.

Banker called me while I was at the store to tell me he'd worked ahead on his ecology itextbook.  I told him to stop, to be done for the day.  He started at 6am and worked till noon, that's equal to a week of public school, two probably.  He doesn't think he's doing anything but he's working harder than he ever has, he's absorbing things at a shocking rate and maintaining and applying the knowledge.  His vocabulary has 8 days!  He needs to slow it down, just a little bit.

I, on the other hand, don't know whether to slow down or speed up...I am completely time messed up.

So, it's 2:15pm.  I've made bread for sandwiches in the week, batch of chocolate chip scones for breakfast and for a treat, visited a friend, delivered a birthday card, ran an errand, did a couple of weeks worth of grocery shopping, I cooked, cleaned, dealt with dishes, did laundry.  I just finished steaming a cauliflower and was about to make the bechemal sauce to go on it for dinner's cauliflower gratin that we're having with some roasted chicken that was on sale today and I looked at the clock.  IT'S ONLY 2:15!  I don't HAVE to make dinner, just yet!  

Oh good grief.  I need to figure out how to deal with this new schedule.  I guess I could review the work in the "review work" folder that we made.  It's not that I don't have anything to do, I'm a mom, there's a TON to do.  I just have to figure out when I do what I do and I need to wrap my head around the fact that I, like Connor, can take the time to complete a task now.  Finish writing something, finish cooking something or finish creating something in my studio.  

I have to say again I knew it'd be a crazy adjustment for the Banker but i am absolutely gobsmacked by the affect this new venture is having on me.  Perhaps I'll go have a quiet glass of wine and ponder it *grin*


Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Day Seven

It's Our First Field Trip Day! 

Before I get into it, a quick review of yesterday.  It was brilliant.  Happy child worked hard then played online with various friends.  There was more happiness, giggling and delight in what he was doing which continued till he went to bed. 

I had less breaking him angst yesterday and will have even less today because I feel good, we're going to hang out at a museum where he will get more information and knowledge in one wander than in weeks of sitting in a room with 34 12 yr olds doing *gasp* worksheets.

So, it's outting day!  Since they were studying Texas History in public school, it seems reasonable I continue that thought. 

The Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum seems to hit the nail on the head perfectly. 

We have 9:30am Imax movie tickets then we're going to meet friends and wander the museum.  Yes, I am giving him a note pad and I expect notes, facts he didn't know... I want to see if this is worth the $$ I'm about to drop.  

Although speaking of money, the cost for the movie for the two of us plus admission to the museum is less than one tank of gas.  Remember, I filled up my car every 3 days for 8 years.  Wow, that's some horrifying math.

I'll admit setting the alarm to go off at 7am this morning was weird, we've been in the car, on the road by 7am for 8 years.  For 8 years we've already had our coffee, breakfast, we've already been dressed with teeth and faces cleaned by 7am.  For all these years we've been scrubbed, lunch made, homework checked, plans for the day discussed, email checked by the time we walk out the door at 7am. I'll admit, I smiled as I reset the alarmclock that's been set on "scream like a banchee at me at 5:30am" to "I bet I bet you" 7:00 am.  I like it.

I did beat alarm, by 90 minutes, sweet.  Time for a quiet coffee, to check my emails, facebook and add to the blogs. 

It's also Valentines Day.  I don't DO Valentines Day, a small box of chocolates and a card and we'll be done.  I did it up big when Connor was little and did the requisite school parties and 35 cards for all the little kids but we're past it.  I think it's a mean "holiday" and whether in a relationship or not, the public pressure is never worth it.  

A little less breaking fear going on today as well.  I different, so, not so freaked out, not so stressed out and less like my committee has to hold me together quite so tightly.  Scared of breaking him or not, this might just be working.  Maybe.

FABULOUS field trip day.  Good fun.  Good information.  Good friends.  SHOCKINGLY annoying "regular" school field trip there too.  **shudder**  

Best moment of the day: "mom, can I please do extra video Latin lessons when we get home?"

A glass of wine in my hands by 2pm with a giant box of chocolates and goulash on the stove for dinner.  It's all good.  Very good.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Day Six, Day 1, Week 2

Well, well, well. 

5 am came bright and early.  Ok not so bright, it's dark and cold and rainy outside, three of my favorite things. We actually had sleet, real live sleet, in Austin yesterday.  Imagine my delight.  I'm a northern replant so any time I can get my hands on cold, damp, wet, drizzle, rain, thunder, sleet or best of all, snow, I'm a happy dancing camper!

Banker was frantic at bedtime last night about the week.  He says he's excited about his week but he's on the edge of tears, glistening eyes are never the best way to head off to sleep.  He's been giggly and relaxed and laughing with his friends this weekend, live, on the phone, on Skype, on the Xbox but when he faces me, he's distraught.  

I need to be able to identify pre-teen mother-aimed "you ruined my life" (because I have to make my bed, empty the dishwasher, get offline) angst from home school "you ruined my life" (because you've ripped the only source of education from me and now I'm going to be a failure in life) terror.  The prior being so rare, it's appearance simultaneously with the latter does make them indistinguishable, at the moment.

I need to reassure him we are fine without overtly and perpetually telling him how fine we are.  constantly.  OK, I'll work on that today.

He thinks he hasn't learned anything or done anything.  He is focused, obsessively, about the 12-3pm slot being unaccounted for. FINE.  I'll occupy and orchestrate his 12-3 then slowly reverse it back down I guess. I can't expect the public education system to fall away from him in 3 days.  I need to remember that. It's been in my head, worrying and planning, plotting and fretting for years... he's been living it 3 days, and he's 12, I get that.

This is one of those hippie v the banker moments.  I say, "be free, go with the flow, find your path, do what makes you happy...."  he looks at me blankly and says, "sure, but what am I SUPPOSED to be doing between 12 and 3? I cannot do NOTHING!! just write it down already, mom".  *I hear, 'in triplicate'.

Here's my to-do list today:
  • I am going to make a to-do list.
  • I am going to tick the first two things off my to-do list so it looks more complete than it is.
  • I am going to continue to enjoy the dark and silence this morning until light and noise interrupt me.
  • I am going to smile and be supportive and review the work he slipped into the "work to review" slot in the new filing system.
  • I am going to suggest he work ahead because we are on a field trip tomorrow and we are taking Friday off (local school holiday and he'll have a friend here),
  • I am going to review the zillion "come play here" emails I got about clubs and groups locally.
  • I am not going to say, "we're fine" or "this is going to be great", even once today.
  • I am going to add the online grammar class I learned about this weekend to his Daily.
  • I will have quiet faith.
  • I will Skype my mother, my friends and will finish sewing the binding on that stupid quilt that broke my machine earlier in the year.
  • I will continue to enjoy my more content committee, and fight them less.
  • I will make something fantastic for dinner, photograph and blog it over on because that's something *I* love to do.
I hear rumblings upstairs, 6:35am, although it may be a dog.  I'm going to refill my coffee and sneak another quiet moment in before it all begins. 


I've created a WEEKLY folder for Banker.  His weekly schedule is in there, any add on links are in there and now...he's going to be delighted, I will add an "ADD ON" sheet.  

This weeks has in there, he can revisit verb identification, do the lessons, score and print it out for me.  

Typingweb, he can start working through the course...he can type so it ought to go well, there's loads of records to log; net speed/gross speed/accurance/time and all sorts of things Banker will love to track.  

I found him some Latin help at but I really need to find him a live person.  

I am also stealing an idea from a friend and I've added Microsoft on the DAILY list, I want him to write.  I write, he should write.  It's good for the soul.  I told him he can write about anything, "hopes, dreams, thoughts, frustrations, how annoying it is to have to write something daily..." 


He got up at 8:50. We had a morning meeting to review the work for the week.  He had some concerns, "can I work ahead"?;  "am I allowed to do two video physics lessons in one day then review it later"?;  "can I do both maths in one day"?  YES, dear, you can.  Banker got a little teary at the thought of being able to work as hard as he wanted.  Didn't I make that clear?  

I told him that was rule #1 of this whole exercise.  Learn as much, explore as much, enjoy as much, investigate as much, as you can and as you want.  Enjoy your life, my sweet.  

He sang! SANG while he worked.  HE SANG!  He sang through math, through social studies, through science.  He hummed through English and made a song through typing practice.

Singing is always good.  Singing is joy in your heart.  Joy in your heart is the very very best thing.

He's gone to read his Nook for an hour, Sherlock Holmes, then he's done.  We are going to run errands and still be back hours before we would have.  

MY to do list is shrinking, I actually had a very long, peaceful shower and got some sewing done while he worked.  Dinner is slow cooking in the bottom oven, the veggies are prepped.  I cooked him two hot meals today, three actually, he ate mine too at lunch.  

Today.  Is good.