Friday, October 26, 2012

It's getting closer.

So I feel like I should preface this blog post with a disclaimer.  As you should already know, we're an Army family.  A busy, busy, busy Army family.  My husband has been active duty for over 9 years and we've been through our share of Army related, and more than our share of non-Army related, struggles.  On that note, we're approaching yet another Army "situation" if you will.  The boss man is heading out of the area for awhile.  Not too long (more than a day, less than a year), but long enough that I'll be solo parenting more than I'd like.

In the time leading up to his departure, I'm stressed out.  I'm fussy, grumpy, and sometimes, just kinda mean.  I don't want to be.  It's just that when he's not here, nothing feels right.  Each person in this family plays their part and has such a significant role in our lives that when one of them is absent, they are sorely missed.  When my partner in life is away, I'm unsettled and sad.  And truthfully, I'm not looking forward to taking care of every.single. detail of our lives by myself.  I know the time is approaching, so my worry has already begun.  It helps nothing at all to worry, it's just how I am. :)

Suffice to say, this house is in a little bit of chaos.  When mama is flustered, everyone is flustered.  So homeschooling isn't getting my best effort, housework is falling a little behind (but that's also because I'm in a constant state of decluttering so we don't take unnecessaries to the new house), my work isn't getting 110%, my crafts aren't seeing my best efforts.  And I hate that.  Because I can handle this.  We've been through so much before and I've managed to get through it; this time won't be nearly as long, so I shouldn't be complaining, right?  Well, I can't help it.  He drives me completely crazy sometimes, but I sure do miss him when he's not here.

Anyway, my very long disclaimer over, I want to talk to you about our week.  Once again, I'm super grateful to have found an online homeschool curriculum, because I'm entirely too sidetracked to make lesson plans on my own!  Having the boys sit down, sign in, and get started has been a big help this last week.  I'm right beside them when they are learning new stuff (and always when working on Math, Science, and Social Studies) and nearby when reviewing but having everything already planned out has freed up a lot of mental space for me!

Next week, I want to focus on adding in some pizzazz to our homeschool.  This may not be the best time, but I want to do something fun!  The boys have been asking about an Art program so I was relieved to find that T4L has an art curriculum.  Thank goodness!  I'm hoping to read/watch the first few lessons this weekend so I can be ready to get started with the boys next week.  It's always easier for me if I've prepared ahead of time.

We've been super busy with Cub Scouts the last few weeks and I think it will be that way for the next few weeks, which is fine by us.  I enjoy having something to work on and the kids enjoy getting to do fun stuff.  Our Pack is starting a little "den" for siblings while the Scouts are in their meetings.  This will be a HUGE help to me as half of my struggle when Adam is away is keeping my little boys entertained while I conduct a meeting for eight boys.

So, thanks for understanding about my not so great school updates.  Things will even out in the next few weeks.  When Adam's away, it's harder in some ways, but it works itself out in others.  We'll be able to get back to school being our focus instead of prepping for his absence being our focus.  Of course, we won't have long to rest as I'm pretty sure we're about 60 days away from closing on the house.  Sometimes, I almost feel like Superwoman.  But that can't be right....I never get everything done! :)

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Little of this, little of that.

This week has been a pretty easy week so far and I'm pretty sure the boys are excited about that!  I had an infusion today so I never count on getting much done since I'm at the hospital for about 4 hours.  Fortunately, I left a list behind of things that needed to be done today and saved the heavy stuff for tomorrow.

Adisson is still working hard on his multiplication facts.  I hate that he struggles so much with math anxiety so I keep trying to find new and exciting ways for him to practice.  He's getting better, little by little, but still does not look forward to the math portion of his day.  But any progress is success so we'll just keep going.

Zander has been working more on reading.  He gets so excited to work toward reading a new book.  We have to work on sight words this week, but we introduce them a few at a time, so it's not too overwhelming. Next week, I'm hoping we can spend some more time working his handwriting.  He doesn't like to write when he's asked to and I'm afraid I'm going to have yet another son with barely legible handwriting.

Jaxon is working on counting and shapes.  He's getting pretty good at recognizing numbers and counting past 10.  When he's in a good mood, he's super fun to be around.  Otherwise, he can be *challenging*..... but he's my baby so I deal with it.  He's really having fun playing computer games like his big brothers.  I've been letting him get on Time4Learning's preschool lessons and he LOVES it!  He really likes to "do school work" like his big brothers.  I get tickled seeing how well he can navigate a mouse and through a lesson.

I know I talk a lot about how great homeschooling is for us and it's a decision that I often defend and readily stand beside, but I know it's not for everyone.  Of course, there are pros and cons to homeschooling for every family.  I understand the decision to homeschool may not work for every family, just as the choice of curriculum or after school sports wouldn't be exactly the same for each family.

Anyway, that's about it for our week so far.  It's getting hectic here because Adam's getting ready to leave soon and we are busy trying to get  A LOT of stuff done before he goes.  We'll be moving AS SOON as he returns home so there's just a never ending list of things to do.  But...that's how we roll so it's nothing new, really.  In the meantime, I've got a few more things to do tonight for work, school, and play so I'll wrap this up.  Back in a few days with an update!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Another day.

Today, we got to take advantage of the amazing weather and spend the afternoon in the park with friends.  A park with very few other people, allowing the boys to run around shooting Nerf guns at each other for a few hours.  These days are some of my favorite homeschooling days.

In school news, we're finished with our online lessons of Ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, and the Indus River Valley.  Adisson took his test on it today and did really well.  It's exciting when the information *sticks*.  We're going to do a few projects next week before we head into our next unit.  One of which is to set up a race between two people to see who can find all of the places we've talked about on a blank map.  Adisson said he wanted to race his Dad since he knows I could win if he races me!

Yesterday, something supremely amazing happened at our house.  Zander read his first book.  :)  And everyone got excited!  Today, he read another book.  And it was still just as awesome.  We tried working on reading before the summer started, but it was more frustrating than it was fun so we put it aside...completely.  I started working with him again this week and it's definitely "clicking" this time.  I'm telling you, these are the moments.  A kid understanding and remembering information that we've been working on from the start of school until now, another kid grasping the ideas of reading, these are the reasons I don't give up, these are the reasons why I love homeschooling.  Sometimes, I have to remind myself of these moments when I feel like throwing in the towel.  Let me tell you, I've had several of those "throw-in-the-towel" moments this week alone!

Other learning took place this week, too.  Adisson's science lessons have been about energy.  Science is NOT my favorite (read: I usually don't understand it!) so I'm hoping that if we have some spare time this weekend, we can fit a few experiments that I'd like for Adam to work on with the boys.  We're still brushing up on pronouns and adjectives with Adisson, which he doesn't enjoy, but he doesn't mind the spelling games, so I'll take what I can get.  We're also working on multiplication but let's not visit that dark place.  :)

Zander and I have spent extra time this week reading together and talking about things that we've read.  Maybe that's all he really needs right now, some one-on-one time with me to just talk and read.  Sure, we have lots of time together, but not a lot of it is alone, quiet, and without someone needing my attention for something.  I hope he knows how much I cherish him.  I'm sure it's difficult when Adisson's working on 4th grade stuff and needs my help and Jaxon is two and spends his entire day demanding my attention.

I know I talk about how great homeschooling is and how much I love it.  It is great and I do love it, but some days are horrible.  Some days, the boys spend ALL DARN DAY fighting with each other, whining about school (ARE WE DONE, YET?!), fussing about chores, complaining about every.single.thing and I feel like I'm only here to clean, cook, and mediate.  Some days, I barely get showered before Adam gets home, some days I don't manage to fit that in until after the kids are in bed. I often feel like I'm failing at something or several somethings all at once.  At least once each week, I'm wondering if I'm doing the right thing by homeschooling and wonder if the boys would gain more by being in public school...or if I'd be less stressed if they got on that bus.  But at the end of the day when I sit down to blog about our school, I have a minute to reflect on the good stuff and not just be zeroed in on the bad stuff.  When it's quiet, when the day is over, I remember the reasons why we've chosen this lifestyle.  And I get myself ready for another day.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

A mid-week recap.

Well this week has been going along much better than last week.  Thank goodness!

Our lessons about Egypt have been very interesting.  I've found a pretty cool unit study that we'll do next week that will go over everything we've learned.  Fortunately, we've done several of the projects Time4Learning suggests.  That's probably why he's enjoyed this study so much!  We spent some time this afternoon watching a few documentaries that we recorded on the DVR.  They were neat, but it was hard to pay attention to them while the little boys were wrestling in the living room.  I suppose that's how it goes with three boys running around.  

Science has been interesting, but almost a little difficult to understand.  We've been talking about many different kinds of energy.  He's been doing ok with them, does well on his quizzes, answers my questions ok, but it's not nearly as much fun as doing cool experiments.  Fortunately, his friend is coming over on Friday to discuss plans for their big Science Fair project.  We have to submit paperwork and have our project reviewed and approved before we can even get the boys started on it.  I'm not sure what I'd say to them if we were told that it wasn't approved??

Language Arts has been rather uneventful.  How exciting can it be to learn more about nouns and verbs?  But he does well in that area and it goes by rather quickly.  If only I could convince him to write without whining.  You'd think I was forcing manual labor on him with the protesting I get when I suggest that he write slower/neater/nicer, etc.  Goodness.  I guess it's somewhat comforting to know that I'm not the only mom of a 9 year old who hates to write.  I will say, he will sit in front of a computer screen and type out a whole story to his heart's content, though.  

I need to get us started on his art lessons and music study.  Right now, though, it feels like we're just trying to keep up with the rest of school lessons without adding anything.  With the house being built, my husband getting ready to leave, and my health issues, I'm not sure there is time for anything else.  Yet.  We'll get there!

Zander has been working on a literature based unit study this week.  He really enjoys his computer time but was hoping for some more one on one time with me.  I turned to something that has worked for us in the past.  So this week, we are reading The Story About Ping.  It's been as lovely as it was when Adisson and I read this story a few years ago.  It's still not as easy to fit everything in as I was hoping it would be,  but I'm trying so hard to find the balance.  If only I wasn't also designing our new house at the same time...as that definitely eats up every extra minute I have.  

Anyway, there's more to say but even more to do and I've got to wrap this up.  I'll be back at the end of the week...don't hold your breath! :)

Friday, October 5, 2012

When life gets in the way.

This week was not a school filled week.  :)  I know I've mentioned it before, but I have health issues that I deal with on an ongoing basis.  This week was a week of not feeling well, a long day at the infusion clinic, and the arrival of company.  So we spent a little time with school, but not enough.  But...that's life.  And honestly, as my husband prepares to deploy later this month, I expect there will be a few more days like these.

We did manage to work on a few things.  I printed off a few English practice worksheets and math worksheets for review.  Adisson struggles with multiplication quite a bit and that's what we're working on in math right now.  I know some people aren't big fans of printable worksheets, but I like them.  Since we use a computer-based curriculum as our core learning program, it's important to me that Adisson has opportunities to review material and practice writing as well.  For instance, it's imperative that he set up a math problem correctly on paper, ensuring that all the numbers line up where they need to be, and that he shows his work for each problem.

We did find some time to talk about ancient Egypt since that is what we are studying right now.  We learned about the mummification process.  And that was gross!  But little boys get really excited to learn when you start talking about using a wire hook to pull a brain out of a nostril.  :)  The plan is spend the beginning part of next week building a pyramid from Legos and making a mummy case from cardboard.

Adisson and his homeschooled best friend are entering a local science fair and this week decided on a science project.  They are going to make a battery from pennies and nickels.  I've never tried this experiment before and they haven't either so it will be fun to learn about it together.  We weren't able to meet up to discuss the project, so the boys talked about it over the internet via webcam.  They thought that to be pretty funny and spent most of the time making faces at each other.  :)

Zander and I have a hard time working on things together during a good week of school so this week that was even more difficult.  I underestimated how difficult it was going to be teaching two kids with Jaxon running around throwing toys and yelling.  I'm still waiting on the answer of how to do it all better, but this homeschool mom is no superwoman.  I am definitely struggling to find the balance right now.

I still want to talk about how great Cub Scouts is going and the impact it has on our school.  I still want to make a video about the great toddler busy bags we have and how they can manage to keep Jax occupied for a few minutes at a time.  I keep saying I'll get to those things, but in reality, that might all have to wait until I get through these next few weeks of prepping for a deployment.  Being a homeschooling Army family definitely adds some extra chaos....errr, excitement, to our lives.  :)