Monday, August 14, 2017

10 Things

I homeschool my children. Some things I wish people understood about this: 
1. We didn't rush in to this decision, but spent three years researching, discussing, and praying about it. 
2. Our boys are actually learning: math, spelling, handwriting, science, history, reading, writing, etc. 
3. This was OUR decision for OUR boys. I do not look down on you for putting your child/ren in public school. That is YOUR choice. This was ours. 
4. I do not think we are better than everyone else. I also don't think you are better than we are. I think we are all equal, and just have different paths as parents. That's ok.
5. My boys are NOT missing out on spending time with friends. They have plenty of opportunities each week to "socialize". Scouts, karate, Church, homeschool park days, etc. My oldest volunteers twice a week, every week at the local food pantry. He is learning about helping others, while engaging in conversations with people of many different ages (gasp, they aren't kids).
6. Ian went to PROM. With a girl. Who is in public school. (BTW, homeschoolers have prom too, and graduation ceremonies)
7. I DON'T believe the earth is flat. I DON'T believe God is like a genie in a bottle.
8. I am not teaching a classroom of 20 students. I am teaching my 3 sons. I know how they learn. I know where they excel and where they struggle.
9. My sons are NOT going to leave home not knowing the things they need to continue in life. They AREN'T going to be so socially inept that they won't be able to interact with society. They will learn what they need to know, and what they want to know. And it's none of your business, and it's not your problem. I may not have a college degree, but that doesn't mean that I am incapable of teaching my sons elementary through high school. I have passion. I am resourceful. I am capable. And damn it, I'm they're MOTHER, and I CAN DO IT.
10. Finally, I don't criticize you for your parenting and education choices. Please stop feeling the need to criticize mine.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Sampling AOP's Monarch program

    We are half way through our 3rd year now.  Things are getting a bit better this time around.  Though we still have a ways to go.  In the past, it has been Porthos that I have struggled with finding the right curriculum for.  This year, Athos is falling behind in math, and that is, in part, my fault.  He has been using BJU Press for his math.  His preference.  He has reached a point where I am the one struggling to help him, as I didn't get that far with algebra myself.  So after a year and a half of trudging through this book, and making little progress, I found what may be a ray of sunshine.  A glimmer of hope.  A light at the end of this very long dark tunnel of math.  

    Recently, I stumbled upon a link to try Monarch online free for 30 days.  I also entered in the giveaway they are having.  I set it up for all three of my Musketeers to try during Christmas break.  Athos has used it a few times and really seems to like it.  Even the math.  This is fantastic!  I have tried so many avenues for him this year, trying to find one he would like that worked for him.  Porthos is using Teaching Textbooks, and really likes it.  He has been doing so well with it.  Better than I have ever seen with him.  Aramis has been using Life of Fred, with a supplement of Easy Peasy All-in-one homeschool.  

    Where Porthos likes the animation, interaction, and instant recognition of TT, Athos prefers the text book style and no-frills approach.  Monarch through Alpha Omega Publications offers that.  Plus, it's online and grades as he goes.  Monarch also offers language arts, science, bible, and history/geography.  

    Although I am hoping to continue with My Father's World and Apologia, I am excited to have Monarch as an option for our family.  Thank you Monarch for the opportunity to try out your curriculum before making a decision.  

Monday, December 26, 2016

A Follow-up and Survival kits for Children with Anxiety

    In August I talked about labels and my sons.  It has been 4 months since those first appointments, and there has been some progress and change.  We aren't completely where we want to be, but we are further away from where we were.  At this point, any progress is welcome.

    If you read my previous post, you know that Porthos has ADHD.  He has been put on Concerta, having a few dosage increases over the past four months.  I was worried there would be negative side effects, like mood change, loss of personality, anger or rage issues, etc.  Thankfully, there has been none of that.  He is entering puberty, so there is a bit more snippiness going on there, but I do not attribute that to the medication.  One of the behaviors he had before medication, was fidgety hands and feet.  He would tap on things all the time.  He would squirm in his seat a lot.  Both of those habits are either gone or significantly subdued now.
 
    Porthos is also taking a Karate class that he really seems to enjoy.  Class is in the evening, and starts about the time the Concerta wears off.  He is progressing well in the class and is so focused.  His instructors have commented numerous times how balanced and focused Porthos is.  I am so glad to have found this outlet for my son.

    Aramis has had a longer journey, and it is far from over.  It is taking quite a bit more effort to help him.  He is still taking Zoloft, and we are about at the max dose that has the potential to work for him.  Aramis spent three months in counseling, receiving cognitive behavioral therapy to help him with his anxiety.  Although he has made good progress, he still struggles.

    We have had some ups and downs the past two months.  He recently participated in a community theater with his brother, for a Christmas performance.  This was his second time on stage, and first time acting.  Aramis was so funny and really seemed to enjoy himself.  There were weekly rehearsals he had to attend, to which he handled with ease.   The downfall came days after the final performance.  We had spent the day in the city (an hour away) for his eye exam and some Christmas shopping.  We were out all day, and Aramis did great.   The next day was not so great.  The whole day he was close to tears and on the verge of an anxiety attack.   At that point, I joined a support group on Facebook for Parents of children with anxiety and depression.  There I got the idea for a survival pack.















I created two kits for Aramis.  One in a backpack that he can take with him anywhere, and one to keep at home.  The idea is, when he is feeling sad or anxious, he can find comfort measures easily.  Included in each kit:

  • Composition book: writing in, drawing pictures, etc.
  • Activity book or coloring book
  • Small note pad: for writing emotions down as they happen
  • Zipper pouch with crayons, pencils, erasers, and/or markers
  • Flarp: because he likes how it feels and the sounds it makes is silly enough to make anyone laugh.
  • Kleenex
  • Hand Sanitizer: Right now he is going through a clean phase.  (at least I hope it's a phase)
  • Socks/Gloves:  In his travel pack only.  Might put a hat in his home pack.
  • Water bottle:  In his travel pack.  Hydration can help wonders.
  • Healthy Snack:  I put granola bars and such in each pack.  Sometimes he is more emotional when he's hungry.  
  • Stuffed animal
  • Woobie:  This square of fabric is super soft, has texture on the reverse side, and ribbon tabs around the edge.  Being able to hold different manipulatives helps distract the mind from whatever is bothering him.  
  • Slinky:  This was one of his choices.  Again, it's a manipulative.  Something to keep his hands busy, which distracts the mind.
These are the things we put in his kits.  You can make yours with whatever works for your child.  Already, I have seen him utilize both kits this past week.  Christmas with a big family gave the potential for Aramis to become overwhelmed.  We took the backpack with us, and it wasn't long before he opened it up and was pulling different items out and handling them.  He let me know when he was ready to go, and thankfully, that wasn't until well into the evening.  So, a success there.  He played, and had a good time.  Although there were a few times Aramis came to check in with me, and get an extra hug, it wasn't near as often as it has been in the past.

    We still have a ways to go with Aramis.  His will most likely be a long term issue.  Along the way, we will have to alter how we do things, but for now, I feel like we are headed in the right direction.

Monday, August 22, 2016

2016 Not-Back-to-School day

Today was the start of public school in my town.  On Facebook there were many posts with pictures of children and teens ready to head off to school after their requisite 3 months off.  Not wanting to feel left out, I had my boys line up in the living room so I could take their picture to share.  With it, they held a sign saying 1st day of NOT back to school 2016.  Complete with silly faces and pajamas.  Why?  Why not?  We aren't starting for two weeks anyway, and they'll most likely spend most days in their pajamas.  

 
That being said, I now have two weeks to get everything organized and ready for the new school year.  Ok, so let's face it... Athos is still trudging through Algebra 1 and Biology.  Not quite sure how we are going to handle this.  We could: 1. Continue with that until he finishes both.  2. Move on to this year's subjects: Geometry and Chemistry.  3. Double up.  Do both.  Hmmm....

In the mean time, I bet you are wondering what we are going to be using this year.  Some things remain the same, while others have changed.  Athos is switching over to "My Father's World: Ancient History and Literature" for Bible, History and Literature.  He is sticking with BJU Press for math, and Apologia for science.  Porthos and Aramis are both sticking with My Father's World again for Bible, History, and Science.  This year it is "Creation to the Greeks".  Porthos will also be using Teaching Textbooks for math.  Aramis is using Life of Fred for Math.  I am thinking about using Apologia's Writers in Residence for both of their language arts.

Labels

Labels. ADHD.  On the Spectrum.  Autistic.  Asperger's.  Gifted and Talented.   Dyslexic. Anxiety disorder.  Psychological labels are not for my boys.  That is something that other people's kids get. Certainly not my sons.  Medication is handed out far too often, in my opinion.  Certainly a proper diet, a good amount of physical activity and structure will help children with these labels.  Well, that's what I thought up until last week.  Until it was my child with the label.
 
Recently, I took Porthos and Aramis for sort of a psych evaluation.  Porthos had struggled with Epstein Barr Virus, Cytomegalovirus, and Mononucleosis for the past year and a half.  Now that his energy level is returning, we are starting to notice how fidgety he is.  Aramis tends to be a bit more insecure than other kids his age, and becomes sad easily.  What was determined is that Porthos is ADHD and Aramis has Generalized Anxiety Disorder and mild depression.  Wow.  Both are genetic.

Now, before you read any further, let me say that for those against medication, so was I.  Sometimes you don't know what else to do to help your child.  For those who are pro medication, we are just starting and haven't decided if we like it or not.  In the end, we do what we feel is right for OUR children.

Porthos has been given a prescription, not to alter his personality, but to help him focus on assignments and such.  In the mean time, we have signed him up for karate.  He really seems to be enjoying it.  Not sure how the medication is working yet, as it has only been two days and we haven't even started "school" yet.

Aramis has been put on Zoloft and will be seeking counseling for anxiety.  Where Porthos' plan should show near immediate results, Aramis' treatment plan will take time.  Months even.  But it's not just medication and/or counseling for my boys that is necessary.  It is also my approach to their behavior that needs work.  I need to be more patient and understanding.  I need to pay more attention to what triggers an upset with Aramis.  This is a new journey, and certainly not one I expected to take.  But here we are, none the less.


Monday, March 14, 2016

Walking Water experiment and Pi

    Today has been the first really sunny day in over a week here.  We had lots of rain last week, which meant the boys were stuck indoors all week.  They finally got to go outside today and run around, climb the tree and ride their bikes.  Back inside though, we decided to celebrate Pi day and do an experiment.

    First, we made pie.  Ok, I made pie.  Cherry and strawberry pie.  I used the double pastry recipe from the Better Homes and Gardens cook book, 1 can of cherry pie filling, and a handful of frozen strawberries.  The result was delicious.
Pi day= pie
After enjoying the scrumptious pie, repeating to each other the ratio of a circle's circumference to its diameter: 3.14159265, we decided to try a fun experiment called "Walking Water", found on  kidspot.com.  You can find the directions on the website, but I'd like to share photos and a video of our experiment.
We took 3 bowls. 2 bowls we filled with 1 cup each of water.  In one bowl, we added 2-3 drops of blue food color.  The other we added yellow food coloring.  The 3rd bowl was placed in the middle with no water.  
We took a folded paper towel and draped it from the blue bowl to the empty center bowl.  We took another paper towel and draped it from the yellow bowl to the empty center bowl.
The boys watched in awe as the water "walked" from their bowls and into the middle bowl.
The video is about 2.5 minutes long and too big to load to the blog, so I am adding a link to it on youtube.  Walking Water






Friday, September 11, 2015

Remembering 9/11

Disclaimer: Below is my recount of September 11, 2001.  Raw, and full of emotion as I remember that day.  This is more for my benefit, I know, than anything else. Though I did not personally lose anyone that day, my heart goes out to all those who did. 

    This is always such a hard day.  Has been for 14 years.  Today has been harder than normal, with the exception of that day 14 years ago.  Today I am teaching my children what happened on September 11, 2001.  I know many of you are doing the same.  Some of you may have been kids yourself on that day.  I was 25 years old and 7 1/2 months pregnant with my first baby.  My husband was in the Navy, and was already on a deployment with the Marines from Camp Pendleton.  I remember it was near 6:30 am on the west coast, and I was still in bed asleep when my friend, a fellow military wife whose husband was also deployed, called me and very urgently told me to turn on the TV.  As I walked down stairs, my first thought was that there must have been another ship attack like the USS Cole.  I turned on the television and found the first news station showing a burning sky scraper in New York.

    Honestly, my first thought was relief.  It isn't a ship.  My husband is safe.  Just some sort of plane crash.  But as I stood there watching, another plane crashed into the second building, and I slowly realized this couldn't be an accident.  As the morning wore on, two more planes.  One into the Pentagon and one into an empty field.  

    The worst wasn't over yet.  I sat watching the news, the towers burning, the panic in the reporters' voices. The images will always be in my mind, stronger than anything.  Stronger than labor pains.  The planes, the billowing smoke, the bodies of desperate people trapped high up in the towers jumping to their deaths rather than burn.  Then the towers just seemed to disintegrate where they stood.  What was happening?  How many more?  Was the west coast next?  I wish I could talk to my husband, but there was no way of contacting him.  Camp Pendleton stretches from Christianitos to Oceanside, CA. Were we safe?  Should I drive north to family or stay put?  No choice at first, the base was now on full lock-down.  Suddenly I felt guilty for being pregnant.  What was I thinking, bringing a baby into this world?  What sort of legacy would be there for him?  Fear is a powerful thing.  Maybe that's why even now, I fight back the tears at the thought of what we now call Patriot Day.

    So how am I supposed to make it through this lesson with my children without completely breaking down?  We watch a video on brainpop, made for children about that horrible day.  We watch a news clip from that morning, on youtube.  We sit in silence. Cry.  Then we hug each other and try to get through the rest of our studies.  The day seems so much sadder, and the work less meaningful right now.  But we will not forget.  My sons will know what happened that day.  They will understand why their father had to be deployed to Afghanistan and eventually Iraq.  They will understand why freedom isn't free.  It is hard fought for.  My middle son's response to the idea that the terrorists' goal was to strike fear into Americans was "but it didn't work".  I tell him, "but it did.  The human response to fear is fight or flight.  In 2001 we were faced with a choice to either fight back or hide in fear.  We took the fight to them.  They pushed, and we pushed back."

    Next year, we will go over it again.  Each time, more in depth.  We will never forget.