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Monday, August 27, 2012

Week two, 8th

I'm not going to post daily but will update this post through the week based on day.  I may have nothing to say ;)


Week two seems to be off to a rousing start.  We have a new diversion in the house, I've named her Alice. Good grief, 2 dogs, 6 chickens and now...a puppy! What am I thinking?!?!

I am sort of hard core when it comes to dog training so, cute as she is, we're in full on crate training.  Her daytime schedule is 2 hours crated, 1 hour out, no squealing, whining or barking allowed.  So far, she's spot on and hasn't made a peep.  She's also not allowed to come out of the crate until I invite her, also, she's nailing it and waiting patiently until I open the door and then stand back and invite her to come out.  As I said, cute or no, I have things to do and I'm hard core :)  She'll be trained quickly because she's smart, I'm consistent as hell and Lola and Walter are doing all the work for me :).  My dogs are bell trained and it took Alice all of 30 minutes to figure out the bell ringing (Lola and Walter both ring it) means the doors is opening and we're all going out.  She also comes to her name already!  (I changed it to Alice because, well she LOOKS like an Alice)  She is in the crate all night, 11-6:30 without a peep and isn't making a sound when I pop her into the crate so I can get something done.  Puppies are never.ever.ever unsupervised at my house, even for a second.  No accidents so far :)  

I turned my office/craft room/ sewing room/ writing den/ classroom back into the space we needed after transforming it into a sewing space to finish a rug that was ordered from my Etsy store.  I am suspending the store (for the craft stuff) for the time being.  I can't do both in here and I prefer to write.  I finished one rug, at the cost (almost) of the top of my finger, a gash which I keep reopening *ouch*  I am going to trim and ship the white rug and am going to return the money of the second rug.  I don't have the teeshirts here and have no intention of going to shop for them then cut them then make the rug for the cost I charged.  I set the price when I was making them regularly and had the t's in stock.  I am trying not to feel like a failure.  I just don't feel it anymore.  I think it's because I finally made the decision to move on, to write, to follow my passion and am feeling obligated to make these tshag rugs and you can't be creative and happy if you feel obligated.  That's my thought anyway. 

Science, Latin and Physics went fine today.  I did buy the Banker an iBook for his iPad, Newton's Laws, for him to use in conjunction with his Khan Physics.  He's delighted. 

We have a good system with the big purple binder that we pass back and forth with notes and expectations and schedule, daily agenda and completed work.  It's like a game of tag, you're free until it's your turn to work in the binder! 

He finished by 1pm today and is on full puppy duty, I hear giggling and cartoons and the odd happy puppy noise coming from the other room.  Most excellent. I think I'll make him garlic cheese biscuits to go with the farfalle with two sauces I'm doing for dinner.



The week has been a rousing academic success, well, up until 10:30 on day 3.  The Banker got all the work done on Monday he needed to, all the work yesterday and is well on his way on MathUSee day today.   I finally *ooops* graded the rest of his tests from earlier weeks and discovered there was one that he failed miserably.  I mean there's failing a test then there's failing miserably.  The good thing about such an abysmal score is that he was obviously thinking about something completely different.  He was so far off that I think he wasn't paying attention or something else was going on that day.

When I sit and think about it, I seem to recall he did a bunch of tests that one day and this may have been the last one or he was just done with it all. I get that.  He is going to redo the test today, gotta love home school...  the retake without worry or ramifications.  That makes me happy.  He was sort of surprised when I told him how horribly he'd done and agreed he was just off.  You're allowed to be off when you're in the 8th grade, you can't be off when you're in high schools exams or college placement tests but he's 13 and working at home so he is absolutely, completely, allowed to have an 'off' day.

I'm also going to test a theory and give him 'review pages" at the end of each chapter instead of 'tests'.  We are having a hellish day because he's shattered about failure. Having him redo a chapter (at my request as opposed to his decision to review the work) is being met with drama befitting of a 15 year old girl rebuffed in the lunch room over a love note.  *gack*

I'm not delighted.

Alice, that puppy, isn't interfering too much.  I am a hardcore crate trainer so she is in her crate from 9-11:30 every morning so she can rest (hahahaha) sure, we'll say that.  It's so we can get our stuff done and it prepares her for when we go out, did I mention I really really need to go out.  She comes out of the crate for about 1 1/2 hours then starts to fade so we crate her for another 2 hours.  That schedule seems to work for her and then she's ready for bed at about 11 or so and she's down for the night and back up around 6:30.  Not a peep in the night, this is my kind of puppy!

I am going to start the Banker on his photography class later today if for no other reason as for the diversion.  I'm sending him out with a camera.  Sure, we could talk about theory and history, naw, he's going to take pictures, experiment with hue and focus and the best way to learn what the million buttons on my Samsung digital camera do is to use them.

I'm thinking it might be wine time already. I have a hissy pissy teenage boy doing math in a snort and the puppy is only good for another half hour before I have to go be perky and joyful (and I'm in no mood suddenly).  I should take my window of opportunity here and now.



Well, what a week, with my ridiculous decision to get a puppy, which is going beautifully by the way, then the drama that was trying to get through a 12 hour school day and today, one of my chickens laid their first egg!  In the nesting box, wow.  I'm over the moon excited about it.  It's a little thing, barely brown and it's a big bowl on my counter waiting for more so we can have a meal.  I am not going to get anything done today for running outside to check the run, the yard and the coop for another!!

School kicked our butt this week a little bit.  We did math for an entire day which pushed everything back a day and today, which is supposed to be our 'free' day, is going to spent on the final math test then chapter for this week to bring us back in line.

The Banker told me he doesn't feel well and has gone to lay down.  I don't think he feels ill, I think he feels guilty from a little drama outburst he had at bedtime last night.  He wakes up feeling guilty when he's acted like that.  That's a good thing.  I'd be upset if he didn't give a damn about acting like a mouthy 'i know everything and you are obviously an idiot' teenager.

I think it's going to be a low key day and that's fine.  We are in week 2, are up to date on everything I wanted to be into by now and if we put off the next math chapter for a week then so be it.

I realize it's a short week next week and then we lose Friday by having the CoOp start.  Yeah, my time is ticking away there.  I'm still trying not to fret, even with the diversion of Alice and the chickens' egg I am feeling pretty consistently ill about the whole thing.  I will have to decide which subject stream day we blow off.  Just because Monday is Latin/Science/Physics doesn't mean that's the day we'll lose on a holiday.  I'll talk to the Banker about it

I think friends are coming over on Monday to talk about a food trailer (be still my heart) and even if we weren't having people come play, I think we are going to take all the school holidays off.

I have to research chickens today, about their laying habits, I can't spend every minute wondering if I should run into my backyard to check for an egg!  ACK!  I'm excited **GRIN**

Have a happy weekend, I have work to do.


Friday, August 24, 2012

Day Five, 8th

So, we went to Orientation at the new CoOp today.  The people are lovely and I'm sure it'll be fine.  

The Banker is going to be volunteering with 3-4 year olds for an hour, go to an art class held in a hallway with 4 other teenagers and then he's taking a Spanish class with about 10 other teenagers.  I, on the other hand, am going to be assisting in the nursery (under 2) then helping in an Early elementary "general science" class for the K-2 crowd then in a phonics type class also for the K-2 age group.

The Banker is a product of both some military drilling from public school but also from his own desire and need for the straight and narrow, rules, regulations and organization.  Sure, I am a hippie but I can't deal with chaos and there's a 'need for order' strip in my head that needs constant attention.  We learned today some people who home school feel their children may be too precious for rules.  I may not survive.

Well, ok, I obviously will survive, I can do anything 12 times and maybe the little kids will be adorable and darling and I will be counting the days until my next encounter with them. 

There is then the set up and take down, the CoOp is at the local church so all the seating /tables /chairs supplies are temporary and need to go up and down each Friday.  I don't really know what I thought this would be, but this isn't it.  Ok, I said it.

I'm sure it'll be fine, I think it'll be good for the Banker.  He saw how shattered I was after the orientation today and started to go down the "I don't have to go here..." road.  Oh, no no no, Banker, baby...that's not what I meant when I teared up in the car... It'll be fine, you'll have a great time.  Guilt from you?  Oh, I'm not having THAT!  We had a chat that I wasn't happy about my having to deal with little kids but that was hardly a deal breaker for him to attend.  

We knew this semester was going to be a CoOp "fruits and nuts" semester, he didn't have to take anything that mattered, this was to get us both out of the house.  I'll be even more honest though, if I am going to be able to get out of the house, I do not (read that in capital letters) want to spend that limited time in the company or care of other people's little children.  

I am absolutely filled with horror for the next 12 weeks of my life as well as all consuming guilt at feeling so negative about this.  After all, I am fully aware this isn't about ME, it's about the Banker.  I am doing this whole home school deal for him.  Life, for me, would be far less stressful if he was in a public school turning into a robot like the rest of them.  I want HIM to have a better life and am willing to do whatever it takes,  however I have to spend time, for the next few months, in order for that to happen, I have to give up a full day a week to babysit.  I feel ill about the whole thing.

Luckily, it'll only be until November (yeah, that seems years away) because we had already decided we would find the Banker a credit course next semester.  I think I'll reopen my One Day Academy folder and revisit that idea. 

I'm going to take the next week trying not to be frantic, judgmental or fret.  I am going to calm down, look at it as a fun diversion and take advantage of any opportunities this affords.  Maybe there's some brilliant silver lining I can't see through my ... "horror" seems a bit extreme.  Trepidation is a better description of what I'm feeling. 

Have I already said I'm sure it'll be fine?  

He finished his History from yesterday and I've given him the rest of the day off to play in Minecraft land (he is going to try the new server through austinareahomeschoolers) and anyway, he's worked hard this week, he just needs to be able to have a great (rest of his) Friday. 

Me?  Oh I'm going to fret and have another glass of wine.


Day four, 8th

I think the Banker is already 'getting' that he isn't going to want to save work from one day to the next. 

The deal we have is that he can move work one day but then has to finish up after CoOp on Fridays (or before he if has the stamina).  We also agreed that no work, other than projects with extended due dates, moves over a weekend.  I can see us jumping on that slippery slope.

He still asks me if he can do the work out of the order it's written on the page.  I supply him with a daily agenda with the 3 classes and chapter/test/project/answers that he's to do in regard to the classes.  I think it funny he asks if he can do grammar before literature or read last...  bless your heart, Banker, you're so well trained.  Every once in a while I am shown, in shocking technicolor, that he was locked into a military (bordering on penal!) system that is the Texas Public School system.  

You will be given the page of work to do.
You will do the work in the order given.
There will be no diversion.
You will not look up, look around or speak
No peeing without a formal request and a pat down to ensure you're not "carrying"  (technology or answers)

A little question like, "can I do grammar first?" just confirms the decision to yank him out of that system and give him freedom to think, to explore and to grow.  When he goes to college, there's not going to be any culture or learning shock, it'll be a smooth transition from what he does now; learn, work, explore, manage time, hours, plan, THINK!

Speaking of public school.  I was asked to help volunteer at the school we don't go to over the next week.  The students stand in line, fill out forms, are assigned books and  locks and agendas and whatnot after they've already started school... serious time/day wasters...if they HAVE to go to school, teach them something, don't make them stand in lines for days getting a locker for pete's sake, that drove me crazy.  In any event, I didn't know how to respond to the call for help.  I'd love to help out because I like helping out but I felt it would be too odd to be there without a child who attended.  So, I simply didn't respond to it.  I feel, well I can't put it into words how I feel about it, but I do feel something about it.  I still get emails and letters from the school even though I keep asking to be removed from lists.  I just junk them so it's not the end of the world but again, it makes me feel something, maybe slightly annoyed.

The Banker is into his history videos, has completed his math test from yesterday then he gets to dive into his world study, he's chosen Fiji as the first country he'd like to know more about.  

Husband is going on his weekly outing to spend time having a beer, seeing a band and hanging out with his friends.  My envy knows no bounds.  I need to have some time to myself, *I* want to go out for a drink, *I* want to watch a band and spend an evening NOT being in charge.  I'm 'on' 24/7 and that's the only part of this venture than exhausts me.  I never get time to myself to just be myself.  I think I'll try to find a way to have my own regular night out every week where I go to the bar, eat dinner out, see a band and have a laugh.  I've been asking husband for 2 years to invite me, I guess I took the hint I'm not welcome so I'll simply have to go find it for myself. 

Today, however, Banker and I are going to get the work done, have a giggle, cook some delicious fresh fish I picked up for us yesterday for our mother/son dinner (although they are all mother/son dinners just tonight I don't have to watch it go cold waiting) so I'm looking forward to our day and evening. 

I think day four of 8th grade will equally as fabulous as the first 3. 

And it was... there's something perpetually joyous about listening to a child sing when he's working... there's no part of that I don't love.


Thursday, August 23, 2012

Day three, 8th

Well, well, well.  How beautifully is THIS curriculum, plan, schedule, idea, system, setup, idea working?  Yeah, sure, it's day 3 but yeowza!  The Banker keeps telling me how "professional" school feels this time.  *insert happy dance here*  I have to agree with him. 

My biggest worry, ok, not biggest worry because there is the ever looming confidence I've screwed him up for the rest of his natural life, ruined any chances for success, education, joy or happiness of any kind.  Besides THAT sorry I didn't know if we would be able to keep up with Ms. Zan's Literature and History schedule, hers being daily and mine being weekly.  Well, much to my abject delight, the banker flew through the week's worth of Literature, handed me in a beautifully written and need composition book and didn't seem daunted by the taking on of 5 classes in one sitting at all.  *insert yet another happy dance here*.  He said he felt he learned a lot.  He completely loves the formality and organization of it.  Ah, that's my Banker.

He will tackle the 5 classes of History tomorrow, we'll see how that goes. I have a reasonable amount of faith he'll be able to tackle it.  I purposely wrapped "elective" classes on the big work days like math, literature and history.  

He isn't too bothered by the knowledge he's doing in one day what his friend is being asked to do in a week but then it all comes back to the schedule dilemma of many classes for a short period every day or a few for hours once a week.  I think we'll continue on the one subject "stream" per day, he really likes wrapping his head in the one direction and staying in it. 

Today got side tracked a little bit because of some leftover work, namely the worst book report i've ever read, so he started a bit late then there was math on top of the work so he is going to carry over his math test to tomorrow.  I don't think it'll impede the day too terribly. 

The Banker suggested he and FriendH do one of the personal writing options together and I think that's a great idea.  I'll get with Ms.Zan about it, we already know which days FriendH will be expected to do the work.  What a delight being able to peek into other people's children's work load! 

We also helped FriendC and FriendA get some additional information for them to start the same math.  Two of the Banker's friends are starting the program he's 3/4 through and one has completed the next level,  it's lovely to have that resource available.  Friends helping friends.  Yeah, also brilliant.

I am in a tizzy about my various ventures.  One seems to be on the cusp of taking off and I don't want any part of it and am finding it difficult to be motivated.  The other seems also to be starting to pick up steam and I can't dive in until I finish the previous obligations.  Gasp, hardly the crisis of the century but still it's making it a little bit more difficult for me to focus completely. 

When I do get the rugs made and shipped, the setup we have here of us working in the same room, opposite sides is completely and totally conducive to a successful and fulfilling (for me) work space. 

So far, three days in, it's a sweet deal all the way around! 


Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Day two, 8th

The new routine, apparently, is that the Banker is setting his alarm for 7.  He is going for a long walk then jog around the block.  He returns to deal with the dogs, the chickens and then go have a shower.  He is making himself some breakfast, making a coffee for me! (and delivering it to me in bed) then being ready to start school for 9 or so. 


He is so delighted with the schedule, plan, system and format of this year that it's oozing out all over the place.  It's so delightful to see learning elicit such pure joy.  I do realize it's only day 2 but there's a palpable change in The Banker's mood and demeanor where school and education is concerned.  He loves this stuff and is, literally, giggling and humming while he works and organizes himself and his comp books for the year ahead.

How'd we get this lucky?!?!

We are into literature, grammar and reading today, it's the most non-online day he has. I have stolen the curriculum and planning directly from my dear Ms.Zan.  FriendH is doing the same literature and history and his mother, rocking the scheduling, shared with me the whole syllabus for the whole year! *motherlode*  

FriendH is doing his classes daily so there's 5 literature and 5 history lessons per week.  We are doing the one subject stream per day so both literature and history only come around for us once per week.  We are going to try 3-4 of her daily units in one day to see how it works.  I think The Banker could do all 5 but I want to be sure we hit successes right out of the gate.  Either way, he's stoked and keeps telling me how professional "our school" feels and how much he thinks he's learning already.  *yay*

My last holdout was wanting to find an online vocabulary add on to grammar and I found the perfect thing for us...he'll do 1 lesson and 1 activity a week.

After school today, 1:30, we are heading over to the Microsoft offices for a free seminar in movie making.  Cool!  FriendA is coming with us and we're meeting Friends J and Z there.  The four of them will have a blast I'm sure.  I may take my laptop as well to get a pointer or two, we'll see.  I may toss it in a bag to take along just in case.

I, on the other hand, am in the throws of undoing the 4 days worth of work to contain the sewing and need to get sewing some rugs that were ordered.  I am going to use the opportunity to make a tutorial on how to make them, secrets and all, and will post that instead of the rugs. I think it so very silly that the moment I make a plan to focus on food and writing, the error of my ways is so blatantly pointed out by the craft universe.  

The few dollars these rugs will generate I will use to take my mother to dinner when she's here next month.  She says she's not flying down to see chickens and be there for the inaugural egg because that would just be weird, but we all know she is (sort of) with a little bit more of us thrown in there for appearance.  The fun thing is that it'll be here birthday when she's here, which has never happened, so we will be able to spoil her a little bit and maybe have a big lunch party here with some of my girlfriends who adore her.  I'm really looking forward to having her back here.

Ok, that's what's that today and now, we all have our missions and an actual time frame, which never happens, so off we go, back to the grind. 


Monday, August 20, 2012

Day one, 8th

Well, we're here, the first day of 8th grade.  Husband left early (for him) and the Banker is still snoring.  I'm going to thoroughly enjoy this 15-20 minute window of quiet and solitude before I go get the boy up for school. I think 9:30 is an entirely appropriate time to start, he will be done 1:30ish because we figured the days would be about 4 hours long.  They'll be slightly longer at the start while we get our groove on.  Although Mondays are easy for me because he's got online classes for those subjects.  I'm basically a resource to him on cyber days, I'm the manager. 

daily summary page
Unlike last year where I printed him out a weekly schedule, the Banker asked for a planner, like in school where I could write the daily expectation and he could write notes, comments and check off what he'd done for the day.  We couldn't find a planner we liked so we have a binder with filler paper and I'm going to a daily schedule for him, with the big three classes listed plus any additional information he'll need or what my expectation is of the work he'll complete.  This week will be a lot of review, some new work but in the physics and science video classes, he's already 1/3 through them so I want him to do quick reviews to get back in the zone.  I like that we'll end up with a single 8th grade binder that we will be able to use as review and reference and even though no one is checking, proof of what we did.

Everything is in place and we're ready to go.  It's Monday so it's Latin, Physics and Science, which is Astronomy/Cosmology and space, day.  Heck of a way to kick off a year.  I thought it rather brilliant to put some of his favorites first.  

I sold yet another rug so I am certainly going to be spending time moving my writing zone and turning it into a sewing zone for at least this week. I actually paid into the promotional opportunities on Etsy to push the recipes and tutorials so let's all keep our fingers crossed people don't want me to DO anything for them but rather just tell them HOW to do it.  

I'll check back in at the end of today.  Although The Banker has been a royal, colossal, teenager for the past day or so, I'm looking forward to diving into this adventure together.  I really, mostly, think it's going to be great.  The abject horror of being convinced I'd broken him has been replaced with a slow seeping fear of it, I'm calling it improvement. 



What a brilliant day. The process worked beautifully, the information was accessible in a smooth and fluid motion.  The Banker took a break and took a walk.  He read outside, he read inside, he worked, took killer notes and completely and totally approved of the requirements for work and of the followup.  We.are.delighted.

When a good loaf goes wild!
OH and look at this ridiculous loaf of bread! I added whole wheat to my standard sandwich loaf and then, well, I must have rolled it differently.  It is a different pan than usual, this one is long and thin.  The Banker moans about sandwich bread being too big.  Really, nice crisis, Banker.  Anyway, I thought this would make it smaller.  I am thinking not.  :)

The recipe, the normal recipe, for my sandwich loaf is here:

Also, by way of an update, here's the girls!  20 weeks in 2 days!  c'mon girls, we're READY for eggs!!  I love these chickens, each one has such a personality and really, I've said it before, there's nothin' like chicken luv. :)

/happy monday!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Eighth grade is off to a fine start.

Obviously, we didn't start on Tuesday.  Ooops.

We did start talking about the classes, looking at various websites and discussing what we thought was reasonable expectations for each class/course.  I think that counts. 

The new setup is rocking my world.  I have been writing like mad.  I started a second Etsy store to sell my recipes with full photographic tutorials, we'll see what happens there.  I had the recipes anyway and I was making the bread and jam and marshmallows for myself so taking the detailed pictures was easy.  I hope it works, it's what I'd love to do. 

Of course, in the middle of working on writing, setting up a writing workroom and setting conducive to the fostering of the brilliance in me...I started selling rugs from the Tracy's Altered Reality store.  Are you kidding me?  I don't want to sew right now, I want to write!  For Pete's sake!  A gal wrote me asking for a coral rug, I flat out said "no".  Really?  and I wonder why on earth I'm not selling this things like hotcakes.  Another gal asked for a large rug, I also replied with a firm, "no".  The coral gal wrote back and said I could pick the color and the other ordered a smaller, white, rug.  I find it ridiculous that I am trying to not sell something.  Only in my head, only on my watch. 

I think it's going to be a royal pain to un-de-sew this room for the week it'll take me to make the rugs.  I hope I have enough tshirts because if I have to go out for them, I'll be in a right snit.  The Banker packed them up by color for me in enormous boxes (brilliant move Banker!!!) so finding the white whole and cut t's will be easy.  

Luckily, I have a new method of making the rugs so they'll go faster than the last ones.  I had also wanted to post a tutorial on making the rugs so this is actually a blessing in disguise because I don't think I would have dragged it all out to take the tutorial pictures.  I get so many people asking me how to make the rugs and what the trick of them is that I hope the tshag tutorial will sell.  C'mon a girl just wants to make a living. 

So, back to homes school matters.  This week will be less fluid because I will be sewing in the same room he's schooling in.  It'll work but it may be a bit distracting so he may have to go into the kitchen or living room for some of his work.  We will go with the flow and see how it pans out. 

The plan is to start on the 20th.  Banker will have 3 classes per day.  The online video lesson will require copious amounts of notes taken.  He has a composition book for each class and will hand them in to me at the end of each day.  The beauty of the system is that I have a full week to review any one class.  Way to give yourself a break there, mom.  I'm all about me this year.  I don't need daily homework.  The academic schedule is broken down like this for 8th grade: 

  1. Monday:  Latin (online video lessons).  Science (online video lessons).  Physics (online video lessons)
  2. Tuesday:  Literature (book).  Grammar (book).  Reading (list to be determined).
  3. Wednesday:  Algebra (CD learning program).  Java (Stanford online video lesson).  Photography (book and internet and me!).
  4. Thursday:  World Study (book and internet).  History (book).  Geography/Geo-cache (outside)
  5. Friday:  Volunteer (CoOp).  Art (CoOp).  Spanish (CoOp)

I have field trips to planetariums and star parties planned as part of his science this semester which is all space, astronomy and cosmology.  I am going to try to have an overnight trip to a very cool Planetarium in west Texas,  we'll see how the budget works.  The Banker is working on details with a couple of professors at UT for more astronomy opportunities over there so that would be way way way cool. 

The banker joined a Minecraft meetup club so teenage boys can get meet up with their laptops and do together what they do when they're alone (HAHAHA)  I think we will be able to meet at the Microsoft offices for the free WiFi, that would be fantastic.  We are going to a computer animation tutorial there on Tuesday so I will be asking loads of availability questions.

There are evening functions, renaissance recreation events for archery and swordsmanship(!), and pick up soccer at Zilker Park we'll be throwing in the schedule whenever we can.  He's joined a youth group for some diversion and more introduction into some religious study/exposure that we can discuss.  I hope he'll meet some nice kids, he's in the 13-17 group.  He's met some of the kids before as a guest so he's not too concerned about the whole 'new kid on the block' thing.  I'm pleased he's also going to meet some kids more geographically convenient.  I think this is going to be a great year. 

Speaking of geographically inconvenient friends, I'm going to rant a minute.   This is my blog, I can say what I want and it's about time I said this.  The Banker had a great (I thought) group of (lifetime?) friends he played soccer with from the time he was 5 until he was about 10 then the team disbanded when everyone went to middle school.  To my shock and horror, the kids turned into a**hole gang of thugs and completely ostracized him.  The first middle school dance, where Banker paid for a girl to go, resulted in the Thug soccer kid picking the Banker up and walking him across the room to toss him into a group of girls (he still thought girls were icky!) telling him he wasn't welcome with the "team" that he could hang with the girls...and it started there.  The Banker was more mature and never thought girls were icky (how ridiculous).  He was shattered.  I remember I was volunteering at the dance and when I saw Banker's face after the incident.  Well, it took all of me not to punch the kid in the mouth.  I wonder if part of it may have also been the fact he lived so far from the school so wasn't able to participate in some of the casual gatherings.  I like to think it was just those particular kids are just idiots.  Banker joined the band and clubs and was highly involved in extracurricular activities but didn't go to people's houses after school, we were on a tighter schedule.  I never minded waiting on a school event but had to draw the line and just going to watch TV 40 minutes away from the house.

I'll admit, I cried many hours about seeing how hurt he was that the kids he'd played with weekly for years and years turned on him because one Napoleon kid needed to be a ruler and they all needed a victim to feel better about themselves.  Hardly big men on campus at 11 years old.  What better victim than a friend.  

I was very proud of myself and didn't call any of the parents (or go punch out the children) involved in the bullying.  Banker wasn't "allowed" to eat lunch with them or sit facing them.  It was horrible and stressful.  I thought about calling these people I'd known for years then realized there wouldn't be any repercussions anyway so why.  The Banker found other (better) friends quickly and easily (he's a pretty easy going guy) and has maintained those friendships even since leaving public school.  The Thug, the wimpy Follower, the uber-creepy "Eddie Haskell" and the weasel Sneak can go have ordinary, boring public school lives.  The Banker is off on the adventure of a lifetime.  He sings during science and hums during Algebra, there's an academic joy in this child that just has come alive when he learns.  

The bullying by the "friends" wasn't any part of the reason I made the final decision to home school.  I'd never give those kinds of people that sort of credit or power in our lives.  The decision is all about offering The Banker the best possible opportunities for the best possible, coolest, most fun life.  Anyone can be ordinary, I've opened a door to spectacular for him.  I don't know why I felt the need to share that story today, I have never talked about it and feel better having gotten it off my chest.  I saw one of the kids the other day on a drive and grinned to myself that we're well rid.

In any event, we are ready for Monday to learn, explore, (sew!), giggle...and generally enter this next phase of the adventure with great excitement and anticipation of something great.

Banker is excited and ready, I'm excited and ready.  On your mark, get set..........GO!


Monday, August 13, 2012

Day One (sort of)... Eighth Grade

Ok, here we go already.  Is it wrong to not want to start today?  We had such a huge weekend and it's 10:40am and the Banker is still asleep. By the time he gets up, showers, does the enormous pile of chores I have lined up for him and has something to eat, it'll be afternoon.  No one can start a new project, let alone new classes, in the after noon.

Public school doesn't start for 2 more weeks, why should we buck the system?  Who are we to jump into the fray so far ahead.  It's not like we have to get the 'test' information shoved down his throat.  It's not like there's a list, carved in stone, he must memorize to the exclusion of all else.  It's not like we have fill in or busy work to waste time through the year.  We get more done in a day than the public school, even the fussy homework heavy magnet schools, get done in 3, or 4.  Yeah, look at me talking myself around.  Sometimes it's good to be the Queen.

We are still moving furniture, arranging life and schedules, really, truly, it'd be cruel to start when we are so uninspired to do so on a Monday.  Blech. 

I vote we start tomorrow.  Tuesday!  I think Tuesday is a far better day of the week to start anything.  No one likes Monday and who wants to start a new academic year with a day like that?  No, I think Tuesday seems the perfect choice.  Not so early in the week to be a Monday, not so late to be a mid week Wednesday, implying the week is half wasted.  No, Tuesday is the day I'm voting for... all in favor?  Oh, that'd be me.  Motion passed. 

Tuesday, 14 August, 2012 is the day we'll start.  

I'm roasting a chicken, have oatmeal honey bread rising (a recipe I made up) and have a mountain of fresh Hatch chilies on my counter screaming to be roasted, skinned and dealt with.  We have a coop to clean out, a limping dog to nurse back to health and chickens to mark with dye so we can tell them apart.  Yes, it matters.

I just don't think we even have time to start school today, good thing I recognized it early. 


We finished the transformation of studio to classroom writing den. 

Sort of surround pics.  Here's my space, half writing, half sewing space, Yes, I do need to get rid of the creepy head, I can't think with that looking at me.  Phillip holds the bags and then we have all the Banker's school stuff, completely organized.

he's already well into it and loves the space, it's nice we don't have to stare at each other over computer monitors anymore. My fabric and yarn stash, although looks chaotic is reasonably organized.

From the beads, it looks a pretty great workroom.  I think it'll work for both of us, beautifully.


Sunday, August 12, 2012

The organization continues...

After much fretting and worrying about being a massive failure by giving up a part of a room.  It really does look ridiculous when you type it out, doesn't it.  In any event, after too much consideration, I'm doing it.  I'm moving us into the studio. 

That formal dining room turned sewing room and studio is now going to include a 13 year old boy, a desk and grade 8. 

We are knee deep in chaos but he's excited to be 'moving' and I think it's going to be just fine.  I fretted about it all night, as I do, and came to the conclusion if it doesn't work, I can kick his teenaged butt outta my room!  Nothing can't be changed. 

I am downsizing, packing the tee shirts in an enormous, but accessible, box.  The machines are lined up, unplugged but I can use them at a moments notice.  The fabric is in chaos but in one spot, bonus. The yarn, hooks, needles, looms are also in a central location to be accessed at a whim.  

Loretta (my mannequin) is in the kitchen at the moment and keeps freaking me out. You'd think you would stop jumping out of your skin when you already know there's a headless mannequin in the corner of your kitchen but no, not really so much.  The surprise just keeps on coming.  I think she'll ultimately live in the studio with us but at the moment there's not exactly a flat spot for her to park her naked self. I covered her with shawls because I think a naked mannequin might be a distraction to a 13 year old boy, just a thought of course.

I have another mannequin, Phillip (don't even ask).  He will  also live in there with us.  He wears the purses/totes and bags I make and will continue to do so.  I am not going to give up sewing by doing this move, I just hope to focus it more. 

I've been asked to do video tutorials and to offer patterns as well as recipes for sale and for free.  I can make .pdf files while my son explores the universe in the same room.  I can talk to him about life and the lessons he's learning.  I can be available, current, interesting and interested.  I hope to be better.  I want to be better. 

The Banker is upstairs transferring his Lego world from an old wooden teacher desk we have up there to a wonderfully unorganized clear plastic tote, I think he's twitching but I told him he can organize later, today we dump and move on. 

I used the desk when I did investigations from my house, back in the day, and there are still investigative files in there.  I kept them for the requisite 10 years but I think we're pushing 20 now so perhaps it's time to shred.  You think? 

We did it... SWEET!  Banker and I moved all the furniture (including that desk from upstairs) on our own, it's a rockin sweet location.  Look how beautiful and pristine...  

Enter the Banker...computers and snack food and voila, science class on a Sunday afternoon.  You cannot tell me this isn't the best possible way to learn.  I am joyful about this.

Science this year is all about Space so he jumped onto Netflix to watch some documentaries about various space landings and propulsion.  Yeah,  on some days, as much as I think I've ruined his life on other days, I am beaming with pride and hope and confidence.

The other side of this room, however, will take me the rest of my life to organize.  I'm pretending to be working but need to get back to it.  Chaos can only be enjoyed for so long before it just gets really really old. 


Saturday, August 11, 2012

We set up our space

The new school year is imminent. 

We spent today getting school supplies, 10 composition books, pencils and new dry erase markers. We came home and set up our space.  I like our space, so far. 

At the moment, our classroom is our kitchen.  We have a dining room table in the living room and the formal dining room in the house has been my studio for a few years.  I have my fabric, yarn, mannequins, sewing machines, embroidery machine and serger set up in there. I'm thinking about moving our school into the studio.  I already have decided that I want to spend more time dedicated to the art of writing, writing about food and all things crafty.  I can happily and easily write while the Banker works this year.  I can't sew while he works, I can't get into it because I feel the need to be more available to him.  More available than sewing in another room makes me.

I'll be honest, I still resist moving us in there because it feels like an enormous failure on my part. A failure that the sewing didn't generate the income it was "supposed to".  I think I put too much pressure on myself and judged failure where there was none.  Husband hasn't said a word, I think he truly just wants me to find what it is that makes me happy and wants me to hang my hat there long enough to let it make me truly happy.  The supposed failure is self imposed.  My jury is still out.

In the interim, we are set up, organized and ready to go.  We are going much greener this year.  Banker is writing questions and answers in the composition books, we aren't going to print work sheets, he's a teenager who is eager and willing to work.  He has the entire world available at his fingertips and can research and dive into anything that strikes his fancy.  He is free to explore and learn... and doesn't require busy work.


We are going to have an introductory week, a brief review of each class on the day we intend to study it.  We will make decisions about how and what we'll study and a generic plan for the semester.

The Banker is going to a CoOp this semester, 3 hour each Friday.  He's been confirmed for the classes he's taking, Volunteer/Service then High School Art then Spanish.  Brilliant.  I have to assist in class rooms, we'll see how that goes.  I don't mind the time but I am not sure I have the desire or interest to be a successful assistant.  If I'd been on the ball and registered him earlier, I'd be teaching a class.  The thought doesn't delight me, I'll be honest.  I will give it my all, of course, and do the very best I can.  I'll revisit the CoOp decision in December.  I still think I prefer the idea of One Day Academy but won't make any blatant statements until after we give this a go. 

We are going to spend time with MsZan tomorrow, which always delights me.  Banker can spend some live time with FriendH.  I'm really looking forward to it.  Then, apparently we're back to it. 



Tuesday, August 7, 2012

August Preparation for 8th grade, Week 2

I've decided it's time to take some serious school related action.  Real action, not the "fretting and worrying, staring at the ceiling all night long and sure that I won't get it done or that I'm going to break him and ruin his life" action. 

I set a start day of August 13.  That's got to count as serious preparatory work, a start date is very nearly like a list.  If you have a list, you're half way to completion and that's how I'm feeling so very smug.  I don't have a list, but I do have a start date.  Did I mention it's going to be August 13th?

I'm wresting with sending the Banker to a weekly Co-op.  It's local and he's been there once before to shadow FriendA.  I like the idea of him getting out with kids his own age and frankly, since this is a very VERY reasonably priced Co-op, I have little to no interest in what classes he takes. Is that wrong?  Like last year, we were kicking around the idea of having Friday be a catch up or review day.  We rarely used it as such, let's be honest, it turned into TV, movie or go play with friends day.  This Co-op runs for 3 hours each Friday, 10-1.  Even I can wrap my head around those 3 hours.

I just emailed the administrator of the Co-op and said I was interested in the Banker taking Art, Volunteer/Service (babysitting in younger classes) and maybe yearbook?  I was surprised at my nuts and granola choices.  Dare I think I can bring him to the dark/hippie side?  Oh doubtful.  He was slightly disgruntled and asked if there were any REAL classes *that's my boy* so we are trying to get him into a Spanish class.  There, Banker, real.  

I think art is important, especially for a kid like the Banker.  He needs the break from straight line thinking.  Sometimes, much to his abject horror, he is going to have to grab a crayon, or worse a pastel, and simply go with the flow without direction.  It'll be good for him. 

Initially we were looking at high school English, high school Botany and high school Literature.  Seriously?  I bought books for the "big three" classes and fully intend on working through them here.  I was initially just looking for a Science program to put him in, it's the one subject that causes me deep seeded horror.  It causes me to get up, like today, sleeping pills or not, at 4:22am.  I'm starting to fret.  

I managed to catch myself though and rethought the choices.  This is, after all, a Co-op we are just trying out.  I found this one through a friend and although they're terribly happy with it I don't want to overload the Banker with too many high school credit academics just yet, he IS only 13 and this IS the first full year we are home schooling.  Removing him from school for the last third of grade 7 was the dry run for this performance.  I want to continue to investigate One Day Academy or Bronze Door, here in Austin, their reputations are stellar and if we're going to continue on this ride into high school that's the direction I want to go for the big gun classes like Science.  There may be a cost feature to those but this is the Banker's education we're talking about and guaranteed any monthly fee is still going be a minute percentage of what we would have been paying through any public school year in enrichment fees alone not to mention sport, extracurricular, club and additional lab and/or supply costs.

I reviewed the classes we'd chosen, the big 3, and I wisely gave my head a shake.  I think a first foray into a new Co-op should give him the opportunity to work around some other kids, meet some new kids and generally enjoy himself with some work thrown in there.  

We have a heavy course load this year at The Williams School of Everything.  Granted, unlike last year, there will only be one class per subject.  I may have gotten over my fear of gaps in learning and won't be assigning 5 math classes, really, I'm past that.  I will admit though, this year again will be math and science heavy.   

1. Finishing Pre-Algebra then moving into Algebra then intro to Geometry.  
2. Space, Cosmology and Astronomy (the science class that's brilliant in my head but still somewhat lacking on paper or process)
3. American History (thru 1877)
4. World country study (1 per month)
5. Physics
6. English Literature
7. Grammar/Composition
8. Photography (elective, 1/2 year)
9. (pick up soccer wherever we can find it)
10. Computer language/programming/intro to Java
11. Latin

Really, the boy didn't need 3 high school classes piled on top of these.  

I'm going to teach him to cook and he'll do a couple of sewing projects because I need to shake his head up a bit.  I think we'll revisit the mozzarella making.  I may invite FriendA for a combined, one off, culinary class of sorts.

My plan, this week, is to finalize the course list and prepare the schedule.  I will be ready on Monday to hit the ground running, in a perfect world it won't be done while screaming, flailing arms in the air and heading towards the edge of a cliff.

ON a completely unrelated note; there is a bonus to being up at 4:22 am and having culinary skills: 

Dutch baby pancake, for 1
I made a "Dutch Baby" pancake for me, just for me.  No one watched me (I HATE being stared at while I eat) No one commented, asked how I was doing, what I was doing or asked for a bite.  I like eating in the wee hours.  

Plus, it's not bad for one egg, a little flour and a splash of milk.  Sure I put some maple syrup on it but not too much.  Oh and yes, I did eat it all, it's just one measly egg and a little milk and a spoonful of flour, I can't see how it's different from a piece of toast with a poached egg on it and a glass of milk.  Well, except for the volume and deliciousness factor of course.  I'll put the recipe for the "mini" on the food blog:   when I get back from taking my limping dog to the vet.  That's another story.

Hey, Happy Tuesday. 


Wednesday, August 1, 2012


HI!  we're BACK! 

Well, here we are facing the 8th grade.  We are facing it in my kitchen, without supervision, state or federal guidelines or requirements.  Ya, it's crazy free and although that could ultimately be my undoing, I'm trying hard to stay on the relatively straight and virtually narrow.

It's been a party crazy July.  We visited with loads of friends and had loads of friends here to play.  I wish we'd had any sort of vacation, I am truly burned out.  Truly.  I'm trying to pretend the time we've been off schooling full time has been easier or freer or relaxing.  It's stressful and as much as I sing the praises of total freedom, it's totally exhausting.

I'm sucking it up though, August 1st already, and forging bravely ahead.  Ok, not so bravely but I am at least facing in the direction of the path we intend on walking. 

Firstly, the chickens are enormous!  They are getting red neck hangy thingies (yes, that is the technical term) and their little combs are coming in and starting to turn from pale pink to pale red.  The nesting box is completed and attached to the coop.  They aren't afraid to come into the yard anymore and wander around eating green grass and bugs.  Walter (the pug) will happily wander with them and he looks as though he's pecking in their herd but in reality he's looking for chicken poop.  Lola (the boxer cross) is too bouncy for them and wants to play with them.  The girls, Edna in particular, has no interest whatsoever in playing with Lola and when she pecks her face, Lola responds with an immediate herding of said girls into their pen.  It's delightful to watch.  I giggle at the dog herding the chickens when the chickens don't want to be herded and voice their opinions loudly.  I never know who to root for.

The Banker failed miserably at reading all summer.  I failed at nagging him.  I will take the blame on the lack of reading, it was on me to harass him more regularly.  I'm ready to start again there. 

Poor kid had to learn a painful lesson about how friends grow apart and that people you thought were your inner sanctum can turn into people you don't need that close.  I told him it's part of growing up, his herd will grow and shrink, inhale and exhale.  He'll have to make choices and decisions and sometimes those decisions are made for you.  Welcome to life, kiddo. 

He made a couple of bad online decisions and we have had to spend time talking about some of the people he is spending online time with.  I think we're dealing with a bit of an Eddy Haskell type kid and I'm wholly unimpressed.  He was almost cyber bullied, definitely threatened (pathetic little attempt honestly) but I was furious...I managed to keep my tongue and wait, the moment passed without incident but I am on constant watch now.   It's been an interesting social time for him. It's been quite a learning curve and there's been some difficult times.  He's worked through it relatively unscathed, so far.

On the whole he's a good, hard working, happy kid.  He's easily and deeply affected by meanness though, toughness will come with time and experience so I have to spend time smiling and nodding as much as I sometimes want to smack other people's children. 

He succeeded brilliantly at working through his pre-algebra this summer.  We did pretty well at our 'one chapter per week' plan.  Sure we took some weeks off, it is summer after all and sometimes constantly party mode will reek havoc on an academic schedule.  He's finishing up chapter 18 and isn't struggling with the work or content all.  I said we were going to speed up to either 2 chapters a week or 3 chapter in 2 weeks and he's good with that. 

He did a Shadow a Scientist program at University of Texas and loved it.  He spent the day with an Astronomer and is in email contact with the professor about subsequent visits and programs he can be involved in with them.  Brilliant.

We are starting to think about the schedule and classes for 8th grade.  I have most of my classes listed, just some details to work out for a couple of them.  I am still trying to decide whether to enroll the Banker in a Friday coop program.  I would have to go and assist for 3 hours a week at the same facility (not in his class) and I really don't know if I have it in me to do that.  I don't want to be selfish but I sort of don't want to give my time to it.  I have a few days to think about it and am going to fret pretty consistently about it.  I want to put him in one day academy but when I raised the idea with husband, he balked at the monthly fee.  I'm sure I could push him through and if I cut down on grocery costs I'm sure we could swing it.  

I've done some major soul searching in terms of what I want to do for me.  I had long conversations with my 'originals' about my struggle with deciding how to focus my time and my talent to something for me.  I've been feeling very lost inside this life I'm living and realized I need to take time and effort purely for me.   I keep a small herd of the trusted and true, the friends who have known me since before I was someones mother, they know who I truly am on the inside.  I am currently an avid cook, recipe creator, crafter and mediocre saleswoman.  I feel as though I've played at doing a number of things moderately well.  I don't want to do a bunch of things moderately well, I want to do one thing, and be brilliant.  I want to pick one thing that I love to do just do it.  I want to do it on purpose and with purpose.  It's been a hard decision, well hard in that it took time.  When I finally sat down in a quiet room with a piece of paper and a pencil, yeah, I went old school, I realized I wanted to do just that.  I wanted to write things down.  I'll keep doing what I love to do but I want, and need, to write it down.  I'm going to suck it up and try desperately not to be so very afraid of what I write down.  I'm going to write it for me, write it often and finally pursue the writing career I've been walking around for years.  Not an unfortunate side effect is the fact i can do it sitting at the same table while the Banker is "doing" school on his laptop directly across from me as opposed to me trying to cook or sew, my other massive passions. 

I have to prepare mentally for the implied disappointment from my family when I don't write a best seller right off the mark and I have to prepare for not being believed as "doing" anything but I am going to try hard to forge ahead and do what it is that I have wanted to do forever.  It's now or never in my heart and soul. 

So, with me set (insert hysterical laughter here) my biggest concern for 8th grade is science. I am struggling with a plan for science for the Banker.  I worry about science.  I spoke to a friend who said she'd give me science ideas.  I need to get hold of her. Perhaps I should write that down.

I am going to try to keep it straight and simple for him this year.  We are not going to take a million subjects in the hope we hit on the facts he needs to have put away in his head for later years testing and college placement.  That format is too squiggly, we need a nice straight line for the Banker.  We have 8 classes lined up and one of them is art.  I need him to explore his creative side.  It's an important side.  We are going to break the year into 2 semesters for his "elective" classes.  He has chosen photography as his 'art' class and I will have him pick another art for his second semester or he can delve more formally into photography, way to keep a squiggle class organized.  We will see which direction he wants to take it. 

He has shown a sudden interest in cooking and interviews me constantly when I cook.  He's taken on the meal planning, shopping and cooking of the odd dinner for me.  He's brilliant and has a knack.  He's unafraid when it comes to measuring, tasting and trusting his own culinary instincts.  Impressive for 13 years old. I don't think he'd cook for anyone else but me, just yet, but I hope to foster this love in him and maybe we can incorporate a culinary arts portion to his academics this year.  

I feel relatively confident in my initial academic plans for the Banker and as per usual am racked with the perpetual fear I'm breaking him emotionally and of course, am fighting the solid belief my plans for myself are ridiculous and embarrassing.  Other than that, we're ready to go.