People Peeking in...

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Day Fifty Three and Fifty Four (weekend)

busy back yard work

I bought the banker a seed starter kit and some pants for a container garden, we're going to plant today.

I bought my neighbors backyard furniture so we're working outside.

I am trying to talk husband into getting chickens.  He's been so very very angry lately, I hope with work, but we get it between the eyes, perhaps some peeping will be good for his soul.  I want to help fix his soul.


Friday, March 30, 2012

Day Fifty Two

The Banker and his friend stayed up playing Minecraft until way too late.  The ladies who lunch and cocktail lunch was so much fun, I giggled for hours.

We are leaving in 2 hours to go see a movie, hit a park, do a HH with friends then head to a party with another friend.  I don't see a lot of school happening today, it IS Day5 after all, field trip day, so there's little to no guilt involved with no actual traditional academics being done.

We have had a failure of the Banker to hand in a paper that was due tomorrow.  I broke my cardinal rule about no school on weekends and have advised him I expect him to finish his book and prepare the report for me before start of school Monday morning.

I'm making biscuits and eggs for the, still sleeping, boys.  My kitchen is still in abject chaos from the luncheon, not a dish has been done, not a counter cleared.  Reminders of a most lovely day.


Thursday, March 29, 2012

Day Fifty One

Banker is going to have to work hard and fast today.  It's Science day as well as a luncheon here and he has some friends coming, yeah, I'm not having a lot of academic faith.  Luckily we can futz around, lovely.  Again, this one subject thing seems to be a brilliant thing for us.  I couldn't wrap my head around the theory of it but wow in practice, it's working really really well for him.

Husband said he might take Friday off; at first I was worried that Banker and I wouldn't be able to do our regular schedule (remember, I can't actually sit when husband is home and kiddo acts very different when his father is in the house.  I'd love to actually video tape the change because I don't think husband believes me, sort of like how the dogs are more relaxed and chilled when it's just me and kiddo home.  When I sat and thought about it, I realized he'll sleep well past the time we finish school then leave (it's Wrath of the Titans then park then happy hour with friends day). The Banker can get a load of work done before we head out to the movies and I will be able to sit.  I didn't invite husband to come with us which makes me so very sad.  I would love to but perhaps he just needs a day off alone.  It feels as though he doesn't enjoy being out with us and friends.  I don't know why, work makes him angry and tired maybe?  In any event, it's a girl and kiddo field trip.  Husband can have a relaxing day sleeping, moving to the recliner and sleeping until Banker and I return and and go to bed.

Well, now he isn't taking the day off so I immediately invited him to take Wednesday off next week to come with us on our next road trip.

I have decided to ditch the Texas history workbook we brought home from public school.  I was having kiddo continue to work through it for a sense of continuity.  I am not going to make any grand statements about putting it aside but I think I'm just going to let it slip off to the side, unnoticed.  We are going to Lockhart, TX, next Wednesday (social studies and history day) to eat BBQ and wander the historic sights.  I bet money we get more out of that day, information and enjoyment, than from any continued work through a make work history workbook.  It just reminds us both of public school and good or bad, we just don't need it.

Banker worked for a little bit today then I asked him to blow it off to help me set up, prepare, clean and cook for the luncheon.  He's a brilliant helper and so happy to do it.  He also video taped me hulling strawberries because he thinks it's insane the way I do it, I just didn't have a knife handy one day so tried it and the rest is my culinary history.  The video is here:

Well, I'm off to cook for my appreciative friends and have a glass of wine with another human!  :)  Happy Thursday!


Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Day Fifty

Ah, a snoring husband is a double edged sword.  Sure I'm up at 5am but I get a couple of silent, me, hours so I'm not in a snit about it at all. 

Banker is snoring with Walter stretched out across the middle of his bed.  It's shocking how much room a Pug on a bed can actually use up.

School yesterday was another great success, nothing like 5 hours of math to fry your brain.  Bankers brain and my brain.  Although the day has felt as though it's moved slower, all math, all day, I think he's completed more work than for a week as well as I think it's sinking in deeper.  

We sat and reviewed the lesson practice, systematic practice and honors work for 3 chapters in pre-Algebra when he'd completed it all.  He also did 4 full chapters on his Time For Learning and scored 100 on all those quizzes. I think that's pretty fantastic for amount of work.  He got 1 wrong on a couple of the worksheets, not bad at all.  He went from 12/20 to 100% on one of the lessons he'd blown the other day, that's a rather impressive increase if you ask me.  He says he 'gets it' now.  Oh that's MOST excellent.

He worked until well past 2, the longest day yet, BUT he didn't start until after 9, took a walking around the neighborhood break, a lay on the hammock break, 2 food breaks and emptied the dishwasher for me while he waited for popcorn break.  I don't weep too hard for his "crazy long day" just yet.  He also sang and sang and sang.  He's joyful and we giggle, freely, often.

I think the one subject thing worked fine for math.  The next one day subject is social studies and Texas history, it'll be a breeze day for him.  He will be tested on the math he did on Thursday, I don't want him to have too many days between math so it's the only subject that gets an additional 'hit' through the week. 

We have had yet another day of singing, humming, skipping and dancing to get a new pen or to go on the hammock, happiness is worth all of this.  I think he's learning too.  Learning a lot.

He didn't finish everything on the schedule, namely the second part of his physics and the Sudoku puzzle that gives him such fits.  He is moving them to today, social studies and Texas history day.  It'll be an easy day for him, not too stressful and I think he'll finish much earlier today which is good because he's going to help me get ready (sweep/set table) for the Ladies who Lunch with Cocktails tomorrow.  

Today for me? Oh it's bread day, I'm making soup and sandwiches for the lunch tomorrow, I have the gazpacho made and 4 sandwich fillings but there still needs to be bread and I'm making 3 kinds today.

He is very, VERY, happy and this is all very VERY good.


Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Day Forty Nine

WOW, what a success! 

Day one of one subject day was brilliant.  Banker didn't watch the clock, he didn't try to hurry through ANYthing and spent the last part of his school day laid out on the hammock in the backyard, Nook in hand, reading Lord of The Flies for English Literature.  This is not a kid watching the clock to see when his 45 minutes is up to move onto the next subject. He set up with the dogs, the gentle breeze although the hammock is directly under a ceiling fan out there.  We bought the hammock for husband last year but he doesn't use it because he said he can't see his iPad at the right angle.  Luckily, kiddo is the perfect fit, perfect size and perfect angle.

I'm brilliant!  *at stealing ideas from everyone I know and making them fit in my personal little universe then taking complete and total credit.

He took a couple of breaks, took Walter for a nice walk and didn't meet any crazy people (yay) and has been generally happy with this new schedule, he's mentioned it a few times that this is how he thought home school would be. *YAY*

He did way more work, more chapters, and more levels than I'd asked for on his schedule. He really seemed to enjoy staying in one stream.  DELIGHT for day one success.  He lept about and told me how much he "just loves loves" the one subject stream a day.

Today is math day, we'll see how much he loves all math, all the time.

I discovered a joy of my current position as grand poobah of Casa W Private School.  I ripped up all of the paperwork, test score and work from Bankers last chapter of pre-algebra.  We had a long discussion and I said I thought he'd rushed it because he "knew this stuff" and didn't take the time to actually read the questions, the instructions or determine what it was he should have written on the page.  He agreed wholeheartedly with my assumption.  So, instead of having it linger in some 'permanent' record somewhere, we merely back up, restart our engines and do it again.  Delightful!  He is happy, I am happy, no international rules of academia are shredded and no grade cops are coming to get us.  ALL good.

The Banker and I made some plans for container gardens in the back, herbs and small veggies.  There is a narrow garden against a fence with a fence and a huge gate that husband dug, built, filled and loaded with pipes to water and plants he wanted.  I guess it's his garden.  I don't like the industrial pvc auto look of it all, pipes sticking up through gardens and lawns.  I like to tend to, water and weed little gardens so Banker and I will do some containers on the other side of the porch and hand water, well, if I can figure out how to access the hoses, there's 9 attached right now going all over to buried, mud covered pvc pipes all over the yard, and the water is pouring out of the spigot making a mud slime pit across the porch. If I can't, I have a very simple plan B, the one I used last year, I just fill my can inside the house ;)

Here's to another successful day of it.

Another bonus is that once he is organized, I'm going to pop to the (very empty at 9:30am) grocery store to get the last things I need for my Ladies Who Lunch with Cocktails, lunch I'm having here on Thursday.  I am going to make all the bread today, then I just need to make sandwich fillings, egg, salmon, chicken, beef and cheese/tomato but I'm also making gazpacho and need some fresh veg, oh and the cream for the pavlova ;)

You'll notice, nobody here is broken today.


Monday, March 26, 2012

Day Forty Eight

Day one, again, of the new, again, schedule. I need to state that I am not indecisive, I am just trying to ensure the Banker has the best possible academic experience. I had a long conversation with the Banker about scheduling and the one subject/day system we've heard of other people using.  I will ultimately find which works best for him, really, we will figure this out.

I am relatively confident that academically, he's already far ahead of where his contemporaries will be by the end of the year.  The public schools are all gearing for the STAAR test, the moment in time they've taught the year for, no diversion, this specific test is what the teachers and students have lived and worked toward since August.  They have practice tested themselves insane. They've frightened, intimidated and worried the students out of their minds.  The tests are next week, once the tests are complete the rest of the academic year is 'make work', 'busy work' and playtime.  Teachers, administrators, they've all told me this over the years.  It's not a secret, it's the way it's done.  Way to waste my, and my son's time.

The nice thing about us already being ahead of where the public school will be in 3 months is we have the freedom to futz with how we use our time as well as Banker being able to truly delve into subjects, learn about them deeper than to pass the local test and to enjoy his life and the learning that he's doing.

I woke up way too early this morning and started to work it, one subject matter per day.  This is how it shook out:

Day 1; English and English studies
Workbook, T4L, Language Arts, Literature, Grammar, Journal
Day 2; Math and Math studies
T4L, Pre-Algebra, Sudoku, Physics
Day 3; Social Studies and History
Texas Workbook, T4L, Typing Web, Latin, Literature
Day 4;  Science
DNA Study, Environmental science, Cosmology and Astronomy.  PreAlgebra review
Day 5; Review/Testing/Field Trips
Pre-Algebra test, Literature reading, Field Trips!, report completion, make up work, special projects, homework.

The days won't necessarily work in a row of course, if we have a field trip day on Tuesday, then that's Day 5 and everything else moves around it. His version of the schedule has expectations of how much work he completes every day in each subject.

We had the 2 hour question and answer period about the change, as usual. "can i read more if I want?" what if I get really engrossed in Latin and want to just do that"," will you stop me doing a science experiment to empty the dishwasher"?  ??WHAT?  Have I ever stopped you working to do the dishwasher?  Apparently not but now we know it's been an underlying concern?  Anyway, I think I calmed the horror of change fears for the moment.

I told Banker I have an expectation of a 5 hour day.  I really will be delighted with 4 but always shoot for that little bit more of course.  He will have time to really get into the subject he's working through.  I'm looking forward to how it works out.  I kind of think we may have found a sweet spot. I'm going to love if this works out.

I hope.  The ONLY problem I see is if we take time off or a double field trip day, he'll have to simply fill in the work from that day around the other days, we'll worry about that when we get there.  I already have a mental list of what days I am happy to skip for one week, in descending order of importance, I am the bankers mother after all...but really, I'm just going to think about it tomorrow, another Scarlet O'Hara moment.

I'm stealing away my standard morning hour of darkness and silence before my time isn't my own.  I don't mind of course but I do notice.

Here we skip into yet another version of this...


Saturday, March 24, 2012

Day Forty Six and Forty Seven (weekend)

No school this weekend, for the Banker, there is school for me! 

Banker blew, completely blew the review pages on his new math.  He blew it like, "are you sure you're actually the one who did this?" blew it.  He knows how to do the work, easily, he explained it to be beautifully.  It was the weirdest thing.  This is easy work, maybe he got too cocky.  I told him we are going to start again on Monday, completely from scratch.  Even he was befuddled but not nearly so concerned as I think he should have been. The answer, "but I know how to do it" sort of fell flat with me.  I think it was too easy, too fast (he did it at the game room coffee table while he was in a snit with me) and I am not NOT happy. 

It sort of got me to thinking, his hurrying through to get to the next subject, that this is not the way I wanted this to go.  This whole exercise is to allow him to pay attention to a subject, to think about it, study it and understand it completely, easily and comfortably without having to switch off and move on.

I thought long and hard about this one subject per day thing.  The more I think about it, the more I like it.  I am changing up his schedule, ya ya ya.  One of the things I disliked about public school was the having to change gears 7 times a day and to never get INTO anything.  That is exactly what *I* have done.  I can't moan if I do the same thing. 

Starting Monday, the new schedule will be one core and 2 "electives" per day with review on math and science on "day 5" which is our "extra" day.  Yeah, that works, well, we'll see if it works. I like the idea he can actually get deeply into a subject and if I schedule it right, he won't be a full week between subjects, with reviews thrown in there... I just need to sit and think it through.  Tomorrow I think for that.

I'm thinking about chickens, still/again.  I started cleaning out my gazebo, measured around for chicken wire to reinforce the screening already there, looked online for a plan for a guy to turned a gazebo into a coop.  I think other than a quick financial calculation, I have all my ducks in a row.. hahahahahahahahaha  Sorry, I crack me up. 

So, there's loads going on in my head and hopefully it'll transfer to paper and to fruition in the not too distant future.



The chicken thing it dead.  Husband buried, well half buried, sprinkler heads that now soak the gazebo.  I thought the sprinklers would run close to the garden he half built last year but I was mistaken, again. I was cleaning and measuring and told him I'd found great plans to transform it and was going to use as a coop.  So he installed soaking heads.  It's going to rot the wood on the gazebo so even trying to cover it with plastic ? no. isn't going to work.  Even me, the chicken uninitiated doesn't think you can house chickens in the line of sprinkers...passive aggression or my way or the highway.  I don't know, I'm really very disappointed but forgot I'm voteless.  Banker and I both had rough direction days, everything we touched was commented negatively on, neither one of us even wants to bother going out back anyway.  Vacation happy lingered too long I guess, back to normal life.  I bought plants and a huge carpet for the back porch, to transform it into a great living/working/school space but you know, I'm returning it.  The fee isn't worth it.

I got up at 6, not having the best weekend (go figure) and have been working on Bankers new one subject/day schedule, it's the same course study he's been doing but it's really hard to make it balance.  He and I had a long conversation about it Saturday night and we both think bundling the subject matter and allowing him to move through without having to swap out gears every 30 minutes is EXACTLY what we wanted to do at the outset.  We are diving in this week so I need to get it laid out. 

I have a preliminary schedule done and will see what he thinks of it when he gets up.  We are thankfully out this afternoon with friends so it'll freshen our brains and and our souls.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Day Forty Five

Environmental science 101.  I'm getting chickens.  Well, I really really really WANT to get chickens.  Husband doesn't actually know yet, he's going to, um, love it.  He's in AZ on business and will come home to the plan in place and the Banker duly amped with blinding "oh now I can have a happy happy life" excitement.  We have a screened gazebo on a slab in our yard that we've never done anything with; I say it'll be a sweet coop. 

Husband used to make things out of wood, I think this will encourage him to make small, useful, items that the Banker can help with.  Gadzooks, could they actually do something together that didn't involve husband buying him something?  I'd faint!  It'd be yet another massive home school perk for our little threesome.

I'm going to get the pine shavings for the floor, for when are they ready to go outside.  I'm going to prepare a small dog crate we have that will open so we can mount a heat light (which we have) on the corner so the little darlings don't freeze to death and die.  I'm going to start talking seriously to Lola ( about how she really, truly, shouldn't kill and/or eat any baby chicks.  She chases (and catches) squirrels, cats and birds in our yard but I have solid faith she'll be able to determine a difference between those ratty old animals and our new additions.  I think she's going to think they are her babies.  Walter won't care, I'm sure.  Bless his heart, I wonder if he'll notice.

I've read about chickens and chicks but really, in the scheme of things, they are $2/piece, um, I'm willing to risk a few lives. Yeah, circle of life, kiddo.

The Banker is vibrating with excitement. (well, he doesn't know I'm willing to sacrifice)

We had another talk about messing around with the schedule and decided we don't want to.  We are still on the fence, for next year, about doing the 7/day or the 4/day twice a week system.  I am going to let him pick, it doesn't matter to me.  He dives further into subjects he enjoys and we have an extra day built into the week for moving courses to if he finds something he wants to continue investigating and experiencing, plus the fact his day is about 4 hours of work long, he has copious amounts of time to do additional/different/further/deeper work into any subject.

He has finally figured out the break in the day!  Up until this week, he has come to the table, sat and worked for 4 hours, stood up and that was his day.  He has FINALLY figured out he can go read his Nook upstairs, he can review DNA videos sitting in the recliner, move his laptop to the dining table, bar, studio table if he wants a change of scenery.  He figured out he can decide his brain is full, get up, harness up Walter and off they go for a walk. Joyful, this is joyful.  

He is so very happy and, after he just stood (excitedly) and showed me his pages of notes on inertia and explained the mathematics and details of it to me, my daily worries of having broken him are the furthest from my mind as they have been.

We had the unveiling of the potato catcher eco system experiment today.  That was cool.  You hollow a potato, put it back together with tooth picks, lay it in the ground with small holes on each side level with the ground (lay it in a small divot or trowel out a small hole) and grab it 24 hrs later and check what you have inside.  Banker caught about 20 potato bugs (go figure) and loads of poop looking stuff, very cool.  We will do the same experiment in different areas of the yard and see what we come up with.  It's nice to do something outside and off line.

We had a 'moment' today about "Day 5"  HE seems think the day on the schedule with no official course lists is a day off, *I* was very specific about listing choices for the day, following up cool stuff he learned through the week, field trips (today we are going to see The Hunger Games) working on any stuff he didn't finish in the week, redoing things he could have done better.  He's been sitting there, I thought working only to discover he's been playing MineCraft spouting, "but it's day FIVE!  I'm OFF!" *include preteen eye roll and "you're an idiot" harumph.  OH I don't THINK so, Banker-boy.  I will be altering next week's schedule packet to INCLUDE work for Day5, you can't figure out work for yourself, I'm more than happy to assign it to you.  *argh*

We are leaving to do an 11:30am showing of the movie (bonus!) then errands then playing with a friend then happy hour at the local Mexican joint for snacks and margaritas.  

Husband is back from his travels so the weekend will be weird and formal.  I may raise the chicken plan, we'll see.  Whether it comes up or not, he'll be "relaxing" and sleeping in the recliner while the grass is up to our knees and I'll be working frantically in the house to stay busy.  So, I am playing while I can...I am not going to let a Banker snit interrupt my solid expectation of thoroughly and completely enjoying my day.


Thursday, March 22, 2012

Day Forty Four

I like to play with food.  I like to futz with recipes and I really like to get a hankering in my and then spend time trying to create it in life.

I made hot cross buns, out of my head, I just made 'em up.  They were perfect.  They smelled, looked ad tasted exactly like hot cross buns.  I was delighted with myself.  OH, we're supposed to be talking home school aren't we? 

Sometimes, in case you haven't noticed...I digress.

I had a dream The Banker came to me sobbing that I'd ruined his life.  Nice.  I don't actually think I've ruined his life.  I think he's learning more than ever.  I think he's learning faster.  I think he's learning better.  The insane machine that is the local public school system cannot possibly be better than the work we are doing here. That being said, I still had a dream he was wrecked.  

We had another testing moment today... it was his DNA course today and he was supposed to read a section, 21 pages long.  He put the iPad away after 6 saying he already knew about it.  Really?  So we had a chat about finishing entire sections/videos/chapters and working through to the ends of things.  The rest of the day was pretty smooth. 

Some of my friends talked about only having their kids do one subject per day. I couldn't figure out how that would work, in my head.  Do they just do math for hours and hours?  How many hours is the school day?  Do you work one subject one day then don't see it again for a week or more? 

Banker and I discussed the one subject/day thing.  He would hate that because he has 7 courses/subjects that he loves right now.  He asked if that meant he would be more than a week away from the last time he looked into a subject?  He also said he couldn't imagine studying one subject for 4+ hours a day (our current school day length).  I think it's cool in theory but has a feeling (to me) of leaning way more toward un-school.  We can't un-school, our heads would blow off.  As straight a line as Banker is, and as much of a hippie I am, neither one of us could slow down that far. Banker said he doesn't want to try it, even down to 2-3 subjects/day he said would leave gaps for him too long between.  I sort of agree with him but maybe that is just because I can't see the logistics in my head of a one subject day.  It was an interesting conversation in any event.  I really like his opinions and perspective. 

When I was a kid, my Nana would play Spite and Malice (card game) with her friend, Bertha, while their hair dried.  It was cut throat action.  The best way to describe the game is sort of competitive solitaire, you both build on the piles in the middle while maintaining stacks of your own cards all the while keeping track of your own and your opponents card stacks.  My Nana finally taught my mother and then me how to play.  When Nana died, mum and I found it important to keep playing.  We play whenever I go to Canada.  It's cut throat, intense and not for the faint of heart!  Unfortunately due to money and other social constraints, I haven't been in a few years so I haven't been able to play (I have no card playing friends here). 

I taught husband how to play but he's (almost) always too busy, too angry or too engrossed in his iPad to engage with me.  On the few times we did play here at the house, Banker watched and asked to be taught how to play.  I thought it was too detailed for him. I waited until this past week in New Mexico to teach him how to play.  Wow.  He plays well, uses pretty horrifyingly successful strategies.  He caught on really fast, understood the intricacies of the game almost immediately and for a week has beaten me regularly.  We are playing daily now.  I like that we have this time.  When he was in school, we had enormous amounts of time in the car together to connect, chat, think and plan... since the car is taken out of the equation I need to be sure we don't lose the 'us' time.  Being in the same house, doing school, and working chores doesn't count as the same kind of time we've had up to last month.  I like that we have an activity that we can do without anything else barging in and interrupting our time to talk, laugh, visit and simply pay attention to the task at hand, kind of like sitting in a car after school.

Even though I dream I've broken him, I think we're doing just fine.


Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Day Forty Three

There is more than math and science. 

My Pug, Walter, is grossly overweight.  Husband doesn't think Pugs should be on the ground, walk anywhere and has no willpower whatsoever against that adorable, pathetic, "I'm starving and am going to die because that woman won't feed me constantly" face.  He sneak feeds Walter even when I ask specifically that he not, I'm worried for Walter's health and husband thinks it's cute. It isn't. 

The Banker used to play soccer, play ball, run, jump, leap and play with friends at recess, lunch, PE class and on a team.  He doesn't do any of those things at the moment and is going to start to thicken out in preparation for his prepubescent growth spurt.  He's not happy with his "jiggle" although I assure him he has to get wide to grow enough skin to get taller, he doesn't buy it. I'm worried for Banker's physical stamina, he has none, and think he needs to get way more exercise. 


Welcome to CasaW School PE Class...  The Banker is walking Walter around our very very large block daily.  As they both build stamina, the walk will include a wander around the neighborhood pond then across into another neighborhood then over to FriendC's neighborhood and walking further and further every day. 

I have solid faith that both of them will shrink ever so slightly around the middle.  Sure, this beckons the question why aren't *I* involved in the new exercise regime?  *My* middle has grown to cataclysmic proportions lately with my peri-menopause belly bloat,  stress eating and over exuberant cocktailing in a sad attempt to enhance my own universe.  Well, the Banker needs time without me, the dog needs time without me, I need to be able to make a private phone call and it's almost getting too hot for me to be happy outside in Texas so I'll just stay "juicy" for a while and pull a Scarlet O'Hara and think about it tomorra'.

BRILLIANT.  I'm going to bake a pie.

FriendZ shot me a list of books she was looking into for her 8th grade son.  I wasn't going to think about 8th grade yet.  I'm still in a whirlwind of 7th grade.  Although, seriously, it feels like we've done more in the last month than his public school could have ever hoped to accomplish so I really wonder why we are still in 7th at at?!  Anyway, I caved, I checked the books, reviewed the knowledge base he has to have at the end of 8th grade in Texas and loved them.  I ordered them!  So, history, grammar and literature courses next year are set! 

BINGO!  (you gotta love a 2 bingo day!)

The Banker scored 100 on his 6 review pages, honors questions and subsequent testing of Lesson 1 of his new math program.  I had to run him through it all, he sort of expected it.  We will just do the first practice and first systematic review for each lesson from now on.  He is doing the honor level so he'll also have those to complete.  He did all the work in his head so we had the 'show your work' talk.  He confirmed he's done this type of questions for years and can do the simple =/- addition and subtraction of fractions very quickly.  I sort of knew he could already do this but I like the fact he will have a more solid review and base and much much success which leads to greater confidence for my Banker. 

The student book came with a summary sheet where you can log completion and/or grades for each lesson, review and tests.  The Banker was simply delighted when I sat with red pen and input 100 in each little box and 100% under "test results". I think he misses grades, I need to grade more things for him, a check on the corner doesn't cut it and if needs a little stroking by the addition of a number in the corner of a piece of paper then who am I to deny him. 

I still need to play with a spreadsheet for his scheduling and it's only March, even *I* can get a spreadsheet done for him by August!  :)   *I hate spreadsheets... do I really have to input the dates?  *blech*


Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Day Forty Two

That first day back from vacation is hard in any universe and home school land isn't any different. We were not ready to reenter real life. 

We were both moving slowly yesterday and it was challenging getting back into the swing of it.  I woke at 4am ?! yesterday but managed to sleep through to 8 today.  We had colossal thunder storms in the wee hours last night.  I was joined in bed by the dogs and the 12 yr old and we laid and watched the lightening and listened to the wind and rain.  It was cool. 

I reviewed the way I reworked his schedule and I am happy with it. I think I evened it out nicely  He has 7 courses a day.  I broke up and swapped science between Astronomy and DNA, 2 days each.  I broke up his new Math, 3 days of the video lesson and 1 day of the other program he does... shakes it up and keeps the brain moving.  I reworked his environmental science and physics, 2 days each.  I think it's more balanced for him.  Social studies is online 2 days and in a workbook 2 days, like his English and Language Arts.

He slept until 10:09 yesterday and I went and woke him up.  FriendZ says he will grow while he sleeps but sometimes you just need to get the party started.  Today I woke him at 9. 

He really likes the MathUSee program.  I am thrilled already I bought it.  I think we will go through the honors level, we'll see how it goes.

I did put 'Reading' in on a daily basis, 45 minute slot, scheduled in.  He finally stopped finding excuses and finally took his Nook upstairs and started into The Lord of The Flies.  I assigned it as his English Literature Class.  He read about an hour, came down with a huge smile on his face and announced he loved it, so far.  Yay.  It's been hard to find books he adores lately.  He hasn't had to read what was assigned before, as opposed to school that let's them read books way below their levels or comic books for their reports.  Any assigned book has been read together, in class, through an audio book.  Really?  Way to stupid them down, again.  Still.

Husband is out of town so it's very quiet, easy and fluid.  Dinner is whenever we want and put away long before the 7:30-8 it usually has to wait for husband.  It's quiet in the evening, and I can completely relax without the feeling I'm being judged.  Ya, it's in my head but it's still there and very real for me so it's a nice break for me.  I'm sure he's enjoying his family free time this week too so it goes both ways.

I am going to keep this daily/weekly schedule with these classes for 3 weeks before I even consider changing anything around.  I really don't think I'll change it at all.  The end of the year is looming already, 6 weeks maybe? So I don't see the need to shake anything up too much.  I am, however, going to talk to the Banker about a single, summer long, project.  I want him to have one thing he's responsible for over a break like a giant book or keeping a garden and log or something.  I will think about some ideas to offer up before I raise it.  

He did thoroughly enjoy using my camera over the week in the desert.  FriendZ suggested we think about using the experience and interest as a sort of art class and I think that's a great idea.  The one thing this curriculum is lacking (as the public school did to!) is a creative aspect. I think creativity is so very very important, especially for someone like my Banker.  He needs to get off the straight and narrow every once in a while and dive into creating something just because it's wonderful to do so.  I offered up cooking, baking, sewing and the yarn arts but he's just not been so interested.  I need to encourage this photography thing without forcing it.  I think I'm going to print some of his shots out and maybe frame them in the house as a silent but mighty, "wow, this is something you need to do more of!" :)  Again, we'll wait and see. 

I will admit I am starting to think about next year already.  I am going to check the local school districts for the mandatory knowledge stuff and then work from their adding on the courses that will give him that, more of that and add on the stuff that he'll love and will help him work toward whatever direction he wants to go. I need to take some time off thinking about it though and go with the flow myself.

I may talk to FriendZ about having Banker and her son do one class together next year.  It might be a good experience for them to have one in common same so the boys can maybe do some work together on a joint project, I'll have to think it through some more before I suggest it.  I may talk to FriendC about the same thing, different kid, different leanings so a completely different type of project would work there. I think each would benefit from working with and having responsibility with another same grade student.  One is far away so it'd be something remote and one is close so it could be something they could do in person.  At the moment it's just floating around in my head.  I don't want to do any more than one joint project, I like our solitary academics and I think the Banker does too. The two friends I was going to approach have very different interests and strengths and I think that's good thing for all of them.

Banker is working hard, singing away, humming bits he doesn't want to make up words to and is generally a happy happy guy.  I baked fresh bread yesterday and made him a batch of rolls which he's been nibbling on semi perpetually since he sat down.  

Today, it's all good and I have no feelings whatsoever of breaking him. 


Monday, March 19, 2012

Day Forty One

We're back from camping in the desert of New Mexico.  It was beige.  Lovely people, lovely time, usual vacation pros and cons.  These are some of the pictures Banker took while we were out there.  I think he has a good eye and once I told him that he could go close, it opened a new world to him, different from the "get as much in the shot as possible, panorama" shot to the "really look at this" shot. These are some of my favorites, I may gallery the rest.

We are completely unpacked, thankfully, and the piles in the line of laundry waiting to go into the rotation is shrinking.  Why is it every single item of our clothing is apparently dirty now?  And there wasn't a speck of food in the house, it seemed so I felt obligation to do an enormous grocery shop immediately upon our return?  Vacations are great until you come back messed up!  *grin*

I didn't have one moment to sit and redo Banker's schedule while we were away.  I thought, had hoped, we'd have one or two jammie days where we could do nothing, just us, but it didn't work out that way.  So, we're back and there's no new schedule or plan.  Banker isn't happy, he's fretting, like he does.

The new math program was delivered in our absence so my plan, today, is to review it quickly and put it into place as his math.  I am removing the Holt book the AISD uses from our schedule.  It filled a hole, we're done with it. Watch me purge.

I am going to spend time this morning doing the reworking of what we're doing.  I will stick with the Word documents as his weekly and daily schedules for the time being, I may get FriendZ to shoot me her schedule spreadsheet and just swap out classes, I'll think about that.

Banker balked at the idea of school for the first time last night.  He asked for a few more days off to relax from his vacation.  Really?  You're 12, you're always on vacation.  Um, no.  He also rolled his eyes and sighed at the "when you get up, grab your Nook and do some reading as your first class".   I assigned him Lord of the Flies and he is really making a stink about getting started.  His report due date is the 29th, next Thursday, and I don't allow late.  I don't know what the new reading problem is, truthfully I don't care.  Read it.  Pick your own books after this one, kiddo, I truly don't care.  Just read already.

I think we will just plod along with everything else as it stands.  I just need to rearrange so the days are a little more balanced and plug reading officially into his day instead of having it on his 'do daily' list which is often moved around into non existence along with his trumpet practice.

I'm glad to be back into it, we'll see how smoothly Banker transitions back into school land after this break.


Friday, March 9, 2012

Day Thirty One

Ah, we're off today, Banker worked from when he got up yesterday, 10:34! (a completely new record for him) until almost 3:30 getting everything done so he could take today off and relax next week.  Bravo!

I ran errands in preparation for our camping trip and he didn't goof off, there was a pile of work he'd completed sitting on my chair when I came in.  Another solid Bravo!

As I said, I have a new plan for when we come back, a newly revamped schedule and compressed courses.  One per subject, he's going to love it.  As well I'm going to balance the days a bit more.  

I was shocked to find, at 8:30 ? that hubba took the day off.  There are few things that screw me up like the surprise day off.  He claims he told me.  Really, considering it's the one thing I dread lately I kind of think I'd, oh I don't know, remember.  True to form, he's gone back to bed so kiddo and I will clean the car, organize crates and pet transport.  Drive the dogs across down, drop them at guest family's house, shop for the basics on the way back, pack the kitchen things and then our own stuff.  I'm not having so much fun at the moment.  I love getting all the work done with they're at work and/or school but when ones in bed and one is staring at the TV I feel less like it's "us" doing it and more and more like it's "me" just complaining about it.  Anyway, I digress, this is about home schooling. 

I got a sweet deal on a tour of the Houston Museum of Natural Science to see the Titanic exhibit, $12.50/person instead of $53.  Yes, that'll work.  Banker and I will drive to Houston that morning, do the tour then go see a friend and stop the night I think, nice.  We are going to the Alamo in San Antonio the same week in mid April, ought to be a blast.  

Today, though, it's all packed up.  The history work book still might travel with us, the Nook for sure and I'll be futzing with schedules.  I got notification the Math-U-See program will arrive here on the 13th so FriendC is coming by to grab it off my front porch for us.  Nice it'll be ready when we get back so we can get stuck in straight away. 

Off to not yell at the men in my house for lounging around when we're trying to pack for a camping trip.  We lay around AFTER we get there people, get up already. 


Thursday, March 8, 2012

Day Thirty

Ah, the day before a camping trip.  There will be few, if any, postings between tomorrow and the 18th of March, we'll be in the desert after all and connections will be spotty.  I will have the laptop and will be working on the new schedule but may not post much. 

I am interested to see how Banker does today, he has put off a ton of work from yesterday, when we ditched at noon to go get his hair cut, ran errands then never really got back into gear.  It was our first "let's blow out of here for a while BEFORE it's all day".  We were almost giddy making appointments that didn't revolve around which class he'd be in or how quickly we could get there after school..."1:15, that'll be great".  Yeah, free schedules work just fine. 

He has a load of work to do because today is it, as I said, we are taking tomorrow off to load and transport dogs to their guest family in the morning, do a quick shop for junk.  You cannot camp without copious amounts of junk food.  Then we will come back and pack and hang around waiting for hubba to do the same.  He will want to relax and we will harass him into packing the car then we'll wake him too early on Saturday to go go go.

Banker did say he will take his Nook along to read his book, he is sorely behind already even though I did give him an extra week to read it.  He tried the, "I'm not going to finish this, I'll take my social studies and do it at the campsite" but I don't want him to, I want him to have a week off school, reading doesn't count.  Although that being said, one of the points of this is the ability to do what you need to do, want to do and have to do when you want to, or can, do it.  I think I will tell him today, after his work :)  that he can take whatever work he wants to with us.  It'll be interesting to see what makes the cut. 

He also spent his hard earned cat sitting money on the full version of MineCraft yesterday which I really think is rather educational in comparison to some of the other games he plays. He spent time playing online with a group of friends from school he hasn't seen nor spoken to in a couple of weeks.  It was really REALLY good for him.  He lit up.  He does miss some of his school buddies.  The ones he didn't hang with outside of school hours but did eat lunch with daily for a year.  I need to take my own advice and work on connecting him with those kids 'live' every once in a while, the mall on the weekend or bowling or something.

My number one priority when we get back is hooking into some live activities with other home school kids.  I want him to at least have a few opportunities before summer hits.  It's hard that it's all winding down now but hopefully I will be able to find something for him.

I had my first non-questioned interaction yesterday as well.  Kiddo wanted a hair cut so we went to our usual gal and she asked how school was going, we said it was great and that we were home schooling now.  She didn't miss a beat and said, "wow, that's so great, it's huge here, isn't it?"  She was the first one who didn't ask me why.  It was a nice change since I don't have my abridged explanation ready yet.  The "what? why?" is hard to answer without coming off preachy or as though you're on a soap box, like me, yesterday.  I am trying to come up with a one or two sentence explanation of why the global shift in our educational  philosophy and lifestyle.  Sure, it's not hard at all.

I am going to run some errands while he works today, what a sweet perk of this.  I am anticipating a wonderful, happy, hard working, day with both of us having our eye on the prize... finish today and we're done for 10 whole days of nothing but nothing!  


Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Day Twenty Nine

Happy Wednesday.

I am anticipating a hissy free day.  All our math, planning and schedule issues have been dealt with and planned for.  Banker was moaning that the course load for his days is woefully uneven.  He is right but I assured him that all will be rectified when my laptop and I spend some quality time in the deserts of New Mexico.  

I did go and "borrow" an assignment from a science teacher in a different district , it's a project about reporting on an ecological crisis, the students have to do a report/pp/presentation/paper about a crisis, it's causes, current ramifications as well as some suggestions to fix/change/alter/improve the crisis.  I liked it so I took it.  He's got till the end of the month to email me something fantastic.  It occurred to me he hasn't had to (been able to) do any "projects" since we jumped ship and I know he enjoys putting his knowledge into something tangible or creative.  So, now he has a project.

I'm just looking at the calendar, the project is due the same day as his next book report (I'm having him read Lord of the Flies!) and the day I'm having my "ladies who lunch with cocktails" lunch, nice. He'll probably be happy with me grading after a lunch with the ladies who cocktail.  I've been getting together with other stay at home moms for a cocktail lunch since Banker was 2 years old.  The original "baby" group.  The kids are all still friends and I just realized that there are 10 of them now, kids, and 8 of them are home schooled.  Wow, that's random.  So my little group takes new incarnations, some moms join and some leave.  They like to change it up and call themselves the cocktail moms, the nooner or the margarita mamas but really, it's all still my original "the ladies who lunch with cocktails" and has been for 10 years now just the faces change.  I like it.  The last luncheon found Banker here, another mom brought her home school 13 year old and they were very quiet upstairs but they were still here and I felt it, although not perfect, it worked. 

But, again, I digress. 

I'm excited for our new change up, the one class per subject and the new, more evenly laid out schedule.  I think Banker is too, he and I had a long conversation about the frantic nature of yesterdays maths level competency reviews.  He admitted he was out of control and explained, pretty clearly, the source of it.  I get this is new and he doesn't cope with change terribly well.  Even though I was very clear in my declarations it was purely for ME to be sure I bought him the right product, he couldn't get past the 'testing' nature and panicked at the amount of information he wasn't clear on deciphering. 

We've made a pact that in future, I'll let him know if he's being tested or just doing a review to see his level for course adjustment and he won't lose his mind.  

I told him, although why I had to I don't know, that I am his biggest fan!  I want him to succeed and the sole reason he is out of public school is because I think we can get him a better future this way, in my heart and soul I think it's better.  


Texas has some of the worst scores in the country, academically.  It has the worst grades, worst schools, teachers and graduates who can't read, are you kidding me?  I just read a report that ranked education and schools by state... Texas won 43rd of 50, well, we beat Alaska ? Oh and I do realize ratings can be tweaked to serve who ever is making the list but realistically, Texas isn't the place to come for public education.  I am a fan of some of their universities, but that's a few years off.  I've always laughed when I hear proud parents waxing poetic about their child's TAKS score...has nothing to do with the kid, just means the teacher drilled that information (and ONLY that information) into their heads with such aptitude (from years of practice) that the child parroted it straight onto the paper, way to make your money school district.  Two of the teachers from Bankers elementary school would read the TAKS test results, by student, out loud to the rest of the class to ensure they all knew who was "commended" and who, um, wasn't.  Although, now that I think of that reading of the scores to the class, one of Bankers 7th grade teachers did the same thing, not the test scores but at the end of the semester, read the grades for each student, to the class.  Nice, asshole.  I remember Banker coming home upset that although he got 100% in the class, some didn't and he could name the students with failing grades.  Wow, he shouldn't know that.  

I am indifferent to any local charter public, magnet and specialty schools, I didn't put Banker in one because, frankly, I wanted him to have a life and although you are free to have your child labelled here in Austin, as "gifted and talented" (what a ridiculous term) Austin doesn't have the money or wherewithal to bother with  specialized programs for them like there are for the stupid and non English speaking kids.  Well, we don't want to leave any behind of course and the smart ones, well, they can read on the couch until everyone else is done unless you want them to have 'extra' work ?  No, I want him to have NEW and EXCITING and INTERESTING work.  There is no reason on earth an above average, smart, elementary kid should be taking pages and pages of those *&^% worksheets home prove what? they know it?  well of course they KNOW it, they're SMART. The "I don't get it" kids are the ones who should be taking pages and pages of mindless photocopied worksheets home every day to practice until THEY get it.  Am I the only one this makes sense to?  Shouldn't the smart kids be challenged and allowed to investigation additional NEW and DIFFERENT information while the back of the pack, well someone has to mow my lawn so I'll hire you, kids do the rote practice till their brains ooze out from boredom?  Yeah I think so.

I want more than that for Banker, I want him to complete his education proud of what he's accomplished and excited with the information he has...not merely sighing with relief that he got the piece of paper.  I don't want him to ever have to embroider his name on his shirt.  I want him to have the stars and I fully intend on giving him every opportunity to fulfill his ambition, without the Texas Education Agency and it's "wait wait let's sink money into the lowest common denominator to catch up instead of inspiring young minds to flourish" minions in his way.  


Wow, that was a wander.  I guess I am just becoming more confident with my decision, daily and even though I don't feel the need to justify what I did what I did I wanted to bitch a bit about some of the things that led to the decision.

Banker is still asleep at 9:30, good for him, he's had a pissy time of it and the extra sleep will do him well.  He has a long academic day today, putting a few things off from Monday and Tuesday plus we are taking Friday off so he's trying to get ahead, although, I really need to clarify for him that there isn't "ahead" anymore, there's just him and his speed is THE speed.  

I'm looking forward to our day and I hope he has a brilliant, informative, fun day too.  He just came downstairs and is raring to go, he's humming already, perfect.  


Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Day Twenty Eight

I am on a public school tirade, really, at what point did they tell him he's now ALLOWED to try?

I am trying to find the level for Bankers new math program and he's FREAKING out.  There are the weirdest gaps in his math knowledge.  He is stumped by a couple really basic 5th grade problems but flying through a couple of really advanced algebra problems.  Worst, he's freaking out.  Wow.

I knew it would be a challenge to determine the "right" level of math program to buy him based on the competency review pages they gave me but I had no idea.  I want to be sure I get this right, get the dummy down version if it's all work he's already done and he'll hate the program because he'll be bored out of his skull but I don't want to get the next level up because, if today's meltdown is any indication, this level of challenge, venturing into totally new ground, will send him off the cliff.

I'm totally and completely gobsmacked at his comments and completely hysterical reaction about facing these problems!

OH WOW, THAT is the problem, he has no skill set to cope with "trying" a problem.  He looks and either makes a blanket statement that he knows how to do it or he doesn't.

The meltdown, and I am talking massive, complete, teenage girl in full drama worthy, meltdown is because he "can't" just "try" the problems he doesn't know how to do.
"They didn't TEACH US THAT"!!
"Well, honey, give it your best shot, try to think it out and give your best answer, you might surprise yourself".
"hey...  this is a just a rough outline so I can see where you are and what you know, your math teachers never gave us any indication of what you were learning.  No need to freak out, babe, just go through and see which ones you can figure out"
"But we're not ALLOWED to do that, she said if we don't KNOW how to do it, then skip it"  stomp stomp weep weep snarl

Wow, school system, nice job.  NOT ALLOWED? to what? TRY???  BITE me.

Ok, we've had a chat, he's washed his face and he's successfully passed the pretest to determine which test he takes.  Wow, that hurt.  He asks questions that shock me... "am I allowed to think of numbers with decimals as money?"  WHAT?  YES you can THINK ... just THINK... however you want.

Now then, I do know that some of this is Bankers innate rule following, letter of the law, there is no grey only black and white, personality.  But, come on, I'm sure he's been told he's not "allowed" to think of things a certain way or not "allowed" to figure out a different way to do a problem so it's not ALL on me!


Ok now... were are we?  He passed the competency for the overall pretest.  Oh wait a minute...  I just checked and he's gotten all the questions correct...the calming down effect is working.  Little successes go a long way with the Banker.  He's not frantic, teary, pissy or on the edge of any precipice.  I went in the dining room to stop him thinking I'd made the decision to buy him the pre-algebra (unless he pulls off some colossal mathematical brilliance in there).  I want him to be successful right off the bat and he can work through quickly, I don't think he'll be bored, he does have knowledge gaps.  I didn't stop him though, he's getting it, slowly, he's thinking and I am not about to stop him.

I'm helping him, not really but directing, a little stroking is really making this so much easier for him.  This isn't an exam, it's to place him and if me saying, "are you sure, did you double check your decimal points" helps him work it through, after the biblical level fit this morning, then I think it's the right way to go.  This is interesting watching him calm down and work through and sit and think...

THIS is why we do this.  I feel very VERY good about the homeschooling decision right now. Life is about thinking and school wasn't letting him think.

On a side note, he discovered the sitting on the couch eating your lunch watching tv moment.  Luckily he's a huge fan of Science Channel, Discovery Channel and History so he was watching something I'd call a documentary, way to keep learning, babe!

He ultimately flew through that level competency test and we decided to just stop with the tests.  We are going to get him pre-algebra and he can work through as quickly as he is able to to get a good, solid, base for the rest of the programs through this system.

Good plan after a really really bad morning.

It's 11, he's doing the sample pre-algebra lesson online to get a 'feel' for the class and he seems pleased he can answer all the questions so far, easily.  He's getting a crazy late start on his regular day but that's the freedom of this, isn't it?

I'm exhausted already, nothing kills you quite like seeing your child on the edge of hysterics and in tears, notwithstanding the cause so I'm just spent for the day.  I'm going to order his math program then have a well earned glass of wine.

He's going to work through his "easy" day and then hopefully feel great at the end of it.

Me? I'm really looking forward to our camping trip.


Monday, March 5, 2012

Day Twenty Seven

My day started great.  Hubba came upstairs with coffee for me.  The best coffee is the cup you don't ask for but is merely delivered before you even come downstairs in the morning.   Just when I'm feeling "off" because I don't feel like he likes anything I make, do, cook or create (he certainly doesn't dole compliments of any kind to me or Banker).  BUT then first he plunks down a pile of old jeans and asks for another denim quilt (I made us one a while back), arrives home after a day of golfing with dinner and then coffee this morning.  Dastardly :-)

But, I digress. 

The Banker came downstairs bright eyed and bushy tailed.  He started working then asked for my internationally famous and totally delicious gigantic order of powdered sugared french toast made from super thick slices of the homemade bread.  I complied of course. He got back into work and proceeded to have a mental breakdown over rough feet.  REALLY?  We are frantic about feet? You can't work because of it?  I wonder sometimes if the preteen angst is academic or hormonal driven.  It's difficult when two things happen (and change) simultaneously.  I hate having to put on my mother-hat during school but he's old enough and there's no confusion there.  You will NOT stomp past me and you will NOT made a snide comment to yourself when I've given an answer.  You don't do that to your teacher OR your mother.  *we had a chat, we'll see if his mood improves.

That drama over, we hope.  My thoughts wander.

The time is sort of flying by.  I can't believe it's day 27 already.  I will admit I feel less sick and more confident every day.  Heart sick not cough cough sick.

I love that I have the plans done ahead of time for the week so Banker can come downstairs, grab his weekly folder and get stuck into the work head of him.   I like the idea of getting the schedule on some sort of spread sheet instead of a word, page per day, document.  I think a spreadsheet type (my friend did one and I lusted after it) is more streamlined and "professional" but the Word, 6 page/wk, document leaves room for daily review and comments and areas for him to update information and futz workloads.  I'll have to keep thinking about it.

Even though I said I wasn't going to think about school this weekend, I did of course.  I spoke to another home school friend who also uses Math-U-See and was happy with it.  So, even though I was pretty confident in my plan to use it next year (actually the end of this year), it's sort of been continually confirmed by iindependent sources, of moms I trust, so that makes me happier that my decision is a good one. 

Speaking of plans, there are going to be a lot of changes when we come back from our camping trip next week.  I have been so concerned about an educational gap that I have completely overcompensated by adding courses, classes and information without doing any vetting of that which was already in place. 

I am not doing any change until we come back, a natural break and all that.  I am going to reduce his course number by half but increase the amount of work in each subject he does.  I still have him working through the math, history, and English he was doing in public school yet I added math, history/social studies, English, language arts, grammar and physics.  Really?  I know, I know.  Well, scrap that, I know NOW.  I needed the month learning curve to be sure I was confident enough, as was he, in the work he is doing.

I am going to reset us to ONE course per subject, some bought, some free;
We will continue a 4 day academic schedule with 1 day for field trips/social activities, etc.  The daytime trips I have planned before the end of our school year are: 
  • Geo-caching (with friends)
  • Canoe/kayak trip downtown Austin (might invite friends)
  • Houston Museum (Titanic) (3 family (7 child) road trip with an overnight hotel for fun!)
  • NASA (maybe, we've already been one)
  • The Alamo (Texas history, baby)
  • Wrath of the Titans movie  (Latin references of course!)
  • Hunger Games movie (he read the series)
  • Blanton Art Museum
I'm sure I'll come up with other things but this is the list *I* want to see him experience before the chaos of the public schools being out plus they are cool and if nothing else, I'm cool too! 

As quickly as the crisis came on, it seems to have passed.  Banker is laughing, singing and generally back to his "happy in his heart" self.  There's few things so joyful as a 12 yr old making up songs to a pre-algebra work page.  HAHAHAHA   Oh and by the way, they're terrible! hahahahahaha  

Any day that has this kind of laughter built into it simply has to end up in the good column. 


Saturday, March 3, 2012

Day Twenty Five and Twenty Six (weekend)

No school.
No planning.
No fretting.
No grading.
No thinking about school or anything having to do with school.
I'm not going to worry about school.
I'm not going to worry about breaking anybody.

We are thinking about camping, we go in a week.


Friday, March 2, 2012

Day Twenty Four

I woke up with a start in the wee hours, dreaming the Banker was sobbing, "Mom, please, I hate homeschooling, I haven't got any friends, I'm lonely!"  

I don't know what brought it on but there was no way on earth I was going back to sleep.  I lay there and stared at the ceiling for a couple of hours then I got up and it's wrecked my whole day. 

He seems happy enough today but I'm staring at him wondering...sort of like when you have that dream that your husband moves out to go live with some firmbodied blonde (or is that just me) and I wonder all day what I don't know.  

Banker seems happy enough today.  He is currently working on a Sudoku puzzle, humming and singing.  That's happy, right?  He's so linear.  I thought having him do one (easy!) every once in a while would shake him up and makes him think outside the box, or boxes as the case may be! HAHA  See, even frantic I crack me up.  He's struggling with it and getting really annoyed, this is a good plan, he needs to have to work for something that doesn't come quite so easy as most of the other work he does.  Who'd have thought it'd be a puzzle that drove him mad.  

He flew through his work this morning then gave me a complete lecture on acceleration, speed and time as it pertains to two cars travelling on either a flat or on a slope.  *I glazed over but nodded at the appropriate times I'm sure".  He loves so much of what he's learning. It's so satisfying to hear him humm and sing and explain it all to me at the end of the day or while we are driving to the store or while I'm in the bathroom, through the door.  It's all knowledge to be shared of course!

That being said, I have known for a long time that he hasn't been really challenged.  He's managed to get away with not working very hard at all.  Lowest common denominator at public school and all that.  "Mom, I read comics on the couch during math/english/science/social studies while the rest of the class finished their stuff".  It has been very very interesting watching him have his butt kicked by this puzzle.  He hasn't done these before ...  it's quite the experiment watch him change how he thinks.  Outside the straight line kiddo.  He's struggling and succeeding simultaneously; fascinating.  He got so incredibly frustrated that he didn't finish it in record time, he just offered to do ANYthing other than have to finish the puzzle.  I like seeing him have to work for it.

I do realize that being freaked out and suddenly panicked that you've ruined your child's life and happiness based on a dream is insane, just so we're clear, I do know it.  Knowing you're completely mad and changing it are two completely different things so I'm stuck in this manic space today. 

We are going on vacation next Friday, to New Mexico, to camp in the desert.  I'm really looking forward to it, we both need the break.  We have both been working really hard.  We have seen more people during the week than we ever have so why did I dream he was so very very unhappy.  

I'm not going to overthink it, overworry it or even worse, talk to him about it.  You ask someone too many times if they are happy and they'll start to be very very UNhappy about it.  It's like being asked 'are you ok'? after a while you aren't.

We usually go to happy hour on Friday's with friends but I'm going to blow it off this week.  Doesn't really make sense to NOT go spend time with friends and kids and tequila but I feel we need to change it up a bit.  I may rent a chick flick or something trashy on pay per view  and I'm going to let Banker get on his Xbox and headset and blow the smithereens out of monsters with his friends.  Maybe he needs to blow off some steam with 12 year old boys and make crude almost dirty jokes, "you said you're going to spatchcock the chicken *snicker snicker*" all the while killing off aliens in an online mob.  Ahhhh, sweet childhood. 

I'm going to have a cocktail here now, happy hour at my house at 11:58, rebel :)  We are both in jammies and intend on staying that way.  I'm hoping my feeling of dread passes and the fact a stupid dream can mess me up also passes.  Truly, I'm not bipolar, I just find it hard to be my own cheering section and yes, I can be messed up by a dream, a look or by having to constantly and perpetually ask for validation at my own house, although I dole them out, compliments or kudos don't happen here for me.  I'll admit, today I am back on the "are we sure I'm not going to break him?" bandwagon, but maybe not quite so squarely as I have been.  Stupid dream. 


Thursday, March 1, 2012

Day Twenty Three

Well, well, well.  Today is the first official due date of a long term project.  On home school day number one, I assigned a book and told Banker he was now taking an English Literature class which was one book, every 3 weeks, and one, 2 page (single spaced) book report which answered one of 12 questions supplied.  No question could be answered more than one time.  One book, one question, 2 pages.  Simple.  

Well, simple until he realized the March 1 due date was TODAY!  He looked at me and I saw him thinking about pushing it back, asking for an extension, pulling, "but you're my MOM", anything to delay it.  I smiled and supplied a preemptive, "don't ask me, sweetheart, a due date is a due date, you knew 3 weeks ago.  If you'd needed an extension, you should have asked last week".  It's due today, before bed.  Then I went and made him his favorite beaten biscuits.  He was delighted and horrified all at the same time, that's sweet. 

He hadn't thought about the paper due date when he moved the work from yesterday to today.  I did assure him he only has one day wiggle room.  No moving Wednesday work to Thursday then to Friday, we have some rules here at Casa Williams. 

He's worked it.  He asked me numerous times to preview his opening, I refused.  I want a final product.  I did promise to critique it with my red pen, He liked the idea of a solid critique better than "just a check saying I did it".  Oh, worry not, my pet, I'm all over it. 

I cooked, made a menu for the week and went to do the grocery shopping while he worked this morning.  It was cool yet odd.  I sort of went hungry but that's another story for another blog so I ended up with random items but it was great to dash out.  I've not been able to run out to the store for 7 years, mid day I mean.  I had to shop on the drive either to or from school, either with or without him in tow.  I liked the 10am store run.  Yes, I liked it a lot. 

I decided I am going to buy him the online Latin course at Cambridge.  It's the book he was working through at school and really enjoys it. It makes more sense than jumping into a different Latin course and he can just continue to work through it.  It's reasonable and he likes it.  Bonus.   New tense, I bought it, he's delighted.  We will bump Latin from once to twice a week now.  Happy Banker.

Now, he is all over me because I haven't gone through the check work folder and commented.  I get that he needs comments, he needs to be sure this is the real deal, that I care, that it matters.  I get that.  Now, I have a red pen, it'll be more official looking for him. *grin* 

I liked today, I liked the flow, the work and the plan.  I liked the attitude and the feel of the work today.  He is upstairs finished the regular day work and then he said he'll come down and work on the essay for me.  I intend on cutting him no slack whatsoever on this one.  I feel it's like the math question of last week, a test, I'm going to be brutal.  He'll love it, trust me. 

I am going to sit with my glass of wine, my red pen and all the work he's completed in a few minutes.  I'm going to check, comment and grade.  Then I'm going to cook him a killer dinner, because I cook, and it's going to be great.  The food and the work.