Sunday, December 21, 2014

Illness and fear

You know, I wasn't even sure if I should post this here or my other blog, Life or Something Like it.  But I finally decided this is where it belongs.  Back at Thanksgiving, Porthos came to me with swollen lymph nodes and no other symptoms, at that time.  The next day I scheduled an appointment with the doctor for the following Monday.  I want...I need to say how scared I was nearly three weeks ago when I first took him to the doctor. After an initial examination and some questions, the doctor tells me that he is ordering some blood work.  He wants to be conservative in ruling things out.  As he talks, I can tell what he is not saying, but rather skirting around. 
 Because of the lymph nodes, I know the doctor was screening him for lymphoma. Waiting those couple of days to get the test results back, and then a full week before getting the complete results back, were excruciating. Never have I face the fear of one of my children having cancer. Wow, I said it. That has been such a difficult, if not impossible word to say all month. 
 The first results came in indicating two viruses, and negative for mono.  White blood cell counts were good, so no current fear for that word that even he could not say.  It was like Harry Potter in medical terms.  He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named.  Then when I took Athos in for a heart check (he's fine), the Doctor tells me that he did further screening on Porthos and found Epstein-Barr virus and Cytomegalovirus, both becoming mononucleosis. 
Now I look at my son, and see him smile even though he is tired all the time. Part of me aches for him, because he is usually such an active boy. Part of me is doing a silent happy dance because of what it is not. I worry about the long-term effects, but I am thankful that he has a long-term.  In the middle of all of this I am thankful that we made the decision early this year to homeschool.  I am personally familiar with mono and how it can drag on for weeks and months.  The idea of sending my son to school every day with no energy is not one that appeals to me.  
As I am learning more about EBV and CMV, I am learning that it remains in your system for life and can resurface at any time.  I think that plans I had for their school year will begin to change quite a bit in order to fit his needs.  Play it by ear, I suppose.  Perhaps in a few weeks he will be all better and we will simply continue on with little to no change.  Maybe we will have to adjust to shorter learning days and focus on what he can handle on any given day.  I don't know.  Maybe I am just over-thinking this.  Never the less, I am so blessed to be here with my sons, and them here with me.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Bonds of brotherhood

    Since beginning our homeschooling journey, I have noticed a change in how my sons interact with each other.  They are closer than they had been.  I realize this is born of necessity, but that makes it no less beautiful to observe.  They play together all the time now.  They read to each other, help and guide each other.  They even cover for each other. 
    Yesterday, we were at Wal-Mart doing our shopping for Thanksgiving.  I had sent Porthos and Aramis to use the restroom while I searched for a few more items.  I sent them to the restroom at the back of the store, and they were to come right back when they were done.  They didn't.  I kept a watch for them as I shopped and when I realized they weren't coming back I went looking for them.  They weren't at the restroom.  Now, this particular Wal-Mart has the shoe department along that very back wall and electronics is across from that.  So I thought perhaps they got distracted by all the games and TVs, but no luck.  So I, thinking my children would not be so bold as to disobey a standing rule of not ever going to the toy section without an adult, I went looking for them back in the grocery section, but not before asking a friend who was there to have the boys return to the restroom if she came upon them. 
    After another sweep, I returned to the restroom area and found my sons sitting waiting for me.  I asked them where they were and Porthos replied they looked for me in the food section.  I reminded him that I wanted him to tell the truth.  So I asked Aramis.  He said they looked for me in the food section because he smelled food. 
    Do you remember that friend I told you about?  She had gone to the toy section, and that's where she found them.  ;)  Here is the deal.  They are not supposed to lie to me.  However, I witnessed a bond between brothers that I would never wish away.  So this time I let it slide.  They do not know that I know the truth of where they were. 

On a side note, yesterday morning my 9 year old sat in our living room watching a movie, while simultaneously observing evidence of the earth's rotation. He had a Lego tower on the floor and kept noticing how the sunlight coming through the window was slowly moving away from his tower. Incidental learning. LOVE IT!!

Friday, November 14, 2014

Putting on the Brakes and Being Thankful

    After going rounds with my sons about getting their assignments done, I finally decided to look up this term I have been seeing, deschooling.  A2Z Homeschool explains it better than I can, but basically it's a downtime from school for an extended period of time before starting homeschooling.  Seeing as how I only recently learned the term, I did not deschool our family much before jumping right in to homeschooling.  Text books, schedules, etc.  It was going great for the first several weeks, and then progressively went down hill.  Last week I realized that Athos and Porthos were barely completing two assignments a day, and no amount of reasoning, lecturing, bribing or punishing (consequences) was helping. 
    So finally I look up this term, discuss it with my husband and suggest we let the boys take the rest of this semester off.  Regroup at the end of the year and try again in January.  We had taken all of their toys away the day before in an attempt to remove any distractions for them.  But when we made this new decision back on Monday, we decided they would need their toys back.  Tuesday we told the boys and took them to the shed to recover their things.  It was Porthos who decided that he thought only the legos should come back into his and Aramis' room, because any more than that would make it messy again.  Athos took his comic books back. 
    Then they begged to go to the library so they could check out some books.  Athos wanted the next book in the Heroes of Olympus series.  Porthos wants to learn about Theodore Roosevelt and Aramis wants to study about sharks again.  In the end, we came home with 3 shark books, 2 Roosevelt books (although they had 7 and I had to convince Porthos to take just 2 at a time) and Athos had to settle for a James Patterson novel.
    This morning Porthos and Aramis pulled out their science experiment kit and were mixing ingredients to see if they could make things bubble and foam.  They have played together at the computer.  Now they are entertaining themselves with just a few small toys and are very content. 
    So what am I thankful for?  Hindsight.  Better late then never.  Seeing my sons at peace.  Being able to let them learn what they are interested in at the moment. 
Other blogs to check out:
If Meadows Speak
Homeschooling The Well Prepared Child
Daughter Rising

Friday, October 24, 2014

Solar Eclipse

    OK, two posts in one day.  But that's just because the last one was started four days ago.
My husband and two older boys are in a play here in town being performed at the Center for the Arts.  The play is Bonnie and Clyde.  On our way out the door to walk to their 5pm rehearsal, I caught sight of a facebook post on the computer highlighting a solar eclipse about to happen.  So I tried quickly to create a shadow box for which to view the eclipse safely with, to no avail. 
    A little ways into rehearsal and I mention the partial eclipse to a friend who promptly takes an envelope (OK, my typing stinks tonight.  I keep having to retype everything.  Don't think, just type.) he takes an envelope and punches a hole into it with a paper hole puncher.  Too big.  So I take a sheet of paper and use a tack and hold the paper up near a white wall, allowing the outside evening sun to shine through.  Low and behold, we see the eclipse reflecting on the wall.  Did you know that when the sun shines through that tiny hole, it inverts, appearing upside down?  I did not know this until yesterday.  It was cool. 
    First I call Aramis over to look.  Then I call Porthos.  Porthos things this is all very cool, so I send him to get his oldest brother Athos, who has just finished up his line for the moment.  After a few minutes of staring at the tiny crescent shape that has manifest on the wall, Athos gets called back to do his next line.  To which I say, "sorry, we are having a science lesson by observing the solar eclipse.  My kids are homeschooled, so any moment can become a teaching moment."  The reply came from one of the other actors says "There's and eclipse?  Let's all go see!"  Suddenly there were about ten of us or so, only three being children, gathered around our sheet of paper with its pin prick, looking at the crescent shaped light on the wall. 
Someone got clever and figured out how to adjust the settings on her cell phone to take a picture of the solar event, while another pulled up live filtered feed of the sun on the Center's computer.  It was several minutes before everyone dispersed and resumed practicing their lines.  What a great lesson!  Who needs a classroom, when you have the whole world to learn?  Oh, and as an added bonus, can we say Drama course via community theater?


Mondays have been a tough day for us.  Mainly because my Mom, Grandma and I have been getting together every Monday for lunch and either knitting or a movie for the past year or so.  Well since I started homeschooling, you can imagine how that affects the school schedule.  We have been trying to get as much done in four hours as is possible with three boys.  Ok, so I am lucky if each boy manages to get through 2 subjects.  We seem to get through the same two subjects each day, math and reading, rarely getting on to history, science or any sort of elective. 
Don't judge.
This past Monday morning I tried something different and I didn't even feel guilty or stressed about it.  I let my sons draw and color.  On Monday, we did art.  We also did a Halloween craft.  I found it on Pinterest.  A toilet paper roll, some black construction paper, glue, scissors, and a template to make all of this into a bat.  The boys loved it.  Well, the 6 and 9 year old loved it.  It was great!  They were having fun, and worked together doing something they enjoyed.  It was the most relaxing school day we have had since starting this journey. 
Yesterday they spent an hour putting fake webbing on the bushes in our front yard.  Today, after spending much of the day at my parents' house waiting for my van to get fixed (master cylinder was going out), they are now back out front playing with the webbing and a toy spider.  Next week we plan on learning about the history of Halloween.  If you have any links you would like to share, feel free to post them in a comment.  I will try to post what I find next week.  There will be tons of Halloween crafts and maybe we will do a little "class party", to which I will post some pictures of.

Side note:  While at my parents' house, today, my Mom and I watched "Mom's Night Out" by the Erwin Brothers.  That was a fantastic movie, by the way.  Mom and I both laughed through most of it.  I admit, the scene towards the end with Trace Adkins and Sarah Drew at the police station did get me misty eyed.  What he said was so spot on.  Moms need to hear it. 

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Hard Taught Lessons

    Today has been a rough day.  Not just with motivation, but with behavior and the lessons that come with them.  Earlier today my youngest, Aramis, came up to his big brother Athos and offered him a caramel candy.  Just as Athos was accepting the candy, Aramis took it back yelling "NO! IT'S MINE!!!"  Athos in turn called him a jerk, and rightfully so. No, I am not condoning name calling.
    I wanted Aramis to apologize.  But first I needed him to understand what he did wrong, and why it was wrong.  We tried talking about it, with no success in comprehension.  Even still, I gave him paper and instructed him to write out what he did wrong, why it was wrong and then on a separate sheet, write an apology letter to his brother.  After a few hours, Aramis hadn't gotten past writing out his offense.
    Intro the lesson taught, which was hard for me to teach and hard for him to learn.  I asked Aramis over and told him he was doing a good job.  I asked for his hand and asked if he'd like a smiley face stamp on his hand, to which he smiled and said yes.  This is where it gets hard.  Now, please don't judge.  We all have our moments where we don't know how else to get the point across to our child and are seemingly left with no other alternative.  I pulled the stamp away and very meanly told him "No!  It's MY stamp and you can't have it!".
    Deep breath.  He cried.  It broke my heart to see him so hurt like that.  Knowing that I just caused this pain.  But I pulled myself up by my boot straps, looked him square in the eyes and asked him if what I did was mean.  "Yes".  I asked him why was it mean?  "Because you were nice and then you were mean." he said.  So I told him to go think on that and write that down.  Now he is writing the apology letter and was not sure what to write.  I told him to write to Athos what he would like for me to say to him.
    Today my son learned that he wouldn't want to be treated that way, and he shouldn't treat others like that.  Today I learned that not all lessons will come out of a book, and they aren't all going to be pleasant.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Lending Library?

Ok, so I was looking over my stock of books and other educational materials, when I had an idea; a homeschool lending library.  I have been collecting a plethora of educational books for multiple grade levels, as well as worksheets and such.  I also love just collecting books in general.  There is a good sized homeschooling group in the area.  Why not start a lending library that caters to local home educators?  
If we could find a place in town, like a church, that would allow us to use one of their classrooms for keeping the books that aren't being used at that moment, we could all pool our resources and share.  The church classroom would be where each family could come and check out a book, curriculum, whatever for their family and return it when they are done.  I know there would be a longer check-out for curriculum and the honor system would really have to work for this.  
See, I am the type of person that doesn't like to write in books.  So, all of the books and tests and workbooks I have acquired so far will, hopefully, have no marks in them at the end of the school year.  I plan on photo copying worksheets and having the boys write their answers on a separate sheet of paper for everything else.  
I think it could work.  So long as there are no legal issues with this venture.  I mean, this would be completely not for profit.  There would be no reselling of materials.  Just donations and borrowing.  Now I just need to find a place to host this and draw in enough interest.  I wonder...

Monday, July 21, 2014

Tying up loose ends

    I have spent the past two months acquiring curriculum for the boys.  So far, I have BJU Reading 1, Heritage Studies 1 and 4, American Republic (8th grade) Space and Earth Science 8, and Pre-Algebra.  For 1st grade Math, I am going to use Kumon workbooks.  4th grade Reading and any other otherwise uncovered subjects will be done through (Easy Peasy).  4th grade science will be Pearson Texas Interactive Science. Athos will be taking Spanish 1 this year.  I have found a few websites that offer free lessons, as well as Spanish Ed books at a local bookstore I am considering.
    Athos and Porthos are attending Drama Camp this month.  Athos has the lead villain and Porthos decided to learn about Lighting and Sound, and in the end was a clown.  In August, we will start out with Shark Week doing a unit study on the topic. I have printed a bunch of worksheets for that and bookmarked several videos on Netflix for it.  Then the following week we will begin our curriculum.  I have my calendar pretty much complete.  Aramis is looking forward to studying art and has agreed to also learn other topics as well. ;)  There is an art museum about 2 hours away, so that will be a day trip for us.
    I am really looking forward to this.  I think the biggest thing I feel is not figured out is bible time.  I am sure it will all come together in time.  I know how blessed we are to be in a state that allows such homeschooling freedom, and how much we have been blessed with curriculum.  I look forward to sharing this journey with you all.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Family Pressures

Since announcing my decision to home school, I have had a few family members voice their concerns.  One has even alluded to the notion that they know what is best for my children, perhaps better than me.  Me.  The one that gave birth to these three. Me.  The one who has raised them.  Me.  The one who has held them when they cried and cheered them on when they competed.  Me.  The one who taught them to talk, to walk, to feed themselves.  The one who taught them sign language when they were infants, who taught them how to count, and recite their ABC'S.  The one who taught them their colors and shapes and encouraged them to read by reading with them.  Me.  The one who taught them to share and has dried their tears when they have been hurt or had a rough day.  Me. The one who sat up with my oldest when he couldn't sleep because he was so stressed over school and told the middle boy that I would be proud of him no matter what, and to just do his best and not worry about the rest when the teachers at public school had him stressed about STAAR tests.  Me.
Not them.
I hope that people can accept that I am going to do what I feel is best for my child, and this is no reflection of those around me.  It is just where I feel God has guided my family.
It occurred to me today that I have always gone against the grain, so to speak, when it has come to how I raise my children.  We did co-sleeping rather than make them cry it out in a crib in a separate room.  We did extended breastfeeding, and endured unending comments of how they were never going to become independent.  "What happens when they go to school? Are they still going to be nursing?"  Let me just say, they did transition to their own beds and rooms by the time they were 18 months to 2 years old.  They nursed for just as long.  I taught them sign language when they were infants. They were subsequently able to tell me when they wanted to nurse or when they were all done before they were 1.  They had a full vocal vocabulary by the time they were two.  I didn't let them watch anything that wasn't age appropriate and educational for the longest time, something I feel I need to get back into with them, as I have slacked off since moving closer to family.  All of these things I have done with and for my children, and I have been ridiculed by family.  Yet, my children consistently get high grades in school, are wonderful boys who love one another, are polite, mostly well behaved, children.  They are coming into their own and I am enjoying their personalities blossom.  My children have done more than just fine with me as their parent.  That's not going to change.  Thank you for your concern, but please let me do job.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Last day of Public School

Yesterday was the last day of public school here, and the first day that it started to sink in with the 3 Musketeers.  It started with Aramis.  He began to get all mopey.  By the end of the day, when it was nearly time for bed, he was crying. Aramis realized he was going to miss his friends.  I hugged him and loved on him and told him that he would see them throughout the summer at VBS's (I've signed them up for everyone in this town).  I told this youngest one that I have the school directory and we can call them.
Skip ahead an hour.  The two younger boys, Porthos and Aramis are in bed when Porthos begins crying heavily.  He too will miss his friends.  I tell him the same thing I told Aramis.  He finally settled down, or so I thought.  Nearly an hour later I find Athos in the younger two's room once again comforting Porthos and encouraging him to sleep.  When Athos comes out, he confides in me that today he too had realized that he would miss his friends.  Who knew my children had become such social butterflies.  I reassured him much as I had the other two.  I think the fact that we have a birthday party today will help them greatly with the adjustment to summer, and in turn homeschooling.  Wish me luck.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Deciding to Homeschool

This is a repost from my other blog "Life or something like it".
Very recently, Everette and I decided that we will home school at least the two younger boys come the new school year.  At this time, our oldest is being given the choice.  I have done tons of research, we have talked about it, prayed about it and after much debate finally decided that this is the right move for our family. It feels like such a huge decision, like getting married or deciding to have another child or buy a house. This is our children's future. No longer will we blindly leave their education to virtual strangers or a government that does not know us.  This is not something we are taking lightly.  This didn't just pop into our minds to do. Rather, it is something we have been discussing for over two years.

This past week I have been researching learning and teaching methods, curriculum, everything.  Going into this, I had no idea how broad a statement "homeschooling" is.  I am rapidly learning that there is much to decide.  Do we want to invest hundreds of dollars for materials or utilize more of the free tools online?   Do we stick with just one program or pull from several resources?  I haven't even decided how tight a schedule we will keep. 

I already feel that a portion of our home will become dedicated to learning.  I have a ton of rearranging to do.  Need to figure out what should stay in the house and what needs to either be sold or put in the shed. I know it will be a lot of trial and error until we figure even half of this all out.  I was afraid that we were going to get a lot of flack for making this decision, but so far most friend and family feedback has been very positive.  There has been only one so far that is against it.  If there is anyone else who disagrees with our decision, they have kept silent so far.

I want to say that I am not making this decision with the opinion that everyone should home school.  I just know that at this time in my life, I want to have more of a say in what and how my children learn.  I want the freedom to take the kids out and go explore.  Whether that takes place at the library, the park, zoo, museum or even the grocery store.  And I don't want to have to plan our lives around their school work.  I would rather plan their school work around our lives.  There have been some frustrations with the school system.  Without a doubt, the STAAR testing plays a big part in all of this.  That is a rant for another day though.  In the end it comes down to wanting more time with my children.  More involvement and say in what goes on in their days, and in their brains. 

I know that there are going to be sacrifices.  I definitely cannot get a job outside the home now.  I can't just go out for coffee while the kids are in school.  The biggest one is I will be fully responsible for our children's education.  Everette works and will continue to work.  At times he will be attending college classes as well.  So this does fall solely on my shoulders.  I know there will be days I will want to pull my hair out or drop them off at the school and say "you take them".  But with God's strength and the support of friends and family and a fairly large homeschooling group, we can do this.