Perks Aplenty

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I was recently asked (in a nice, offhand sort of way without judgment, which meant I didn’t have to blow my lid) how my kids feel about homeschooling and if it’s difficult to separate “mom” vs “teacher” or if there is no separation at all. I replied that my kids are at an age where they realize how good they have it and that while I know some kids resist buckling down and getting their work done, my children have zero desire to go to school so they are pretty willing to work with me. Of course, that doesn’t mean they don’t complain or that we haven’t changed math curriculum three times this year for my 6th grader just to figure out WTH will get us both through the year without eternal strife. It *does* mean they listen to other kids at dance class or in public talking about staying up late to finish homework and getting up at the crack of dawn for school and they recognize a good thing when it’s in front of them. The look of utter horror on my 6th grader’s face when she heard that her dance friends start school at 7 am was worth all the eye-rolling and muttered complaints about fractions that filled my past few weeks. That’s right, I replied with my narrowed eyes and nodding head. You’d better appreciate how kickass this homeschooling life truly is. 

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Snowed In

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When homeschooled kids are young, especially if they don’t have a lot of friends in public school . . . they have no clue what a snow day is! Heck, mine didn’t even know what “summer break” meant until recent years. Unfortunately, as they get older, they become wise to the sneaky ways of the Homeschool Mom. The bubble has burst, folks.

We got hit this week with blizzard conditions, over a foot of new snow, and single digit temperatures, so most schools were closed. My children? No snow days. I’m sure in the future their complaints will recall those times Mommy made them do schoolwork on Christmas Eve rather than their un-snow days, but I’m still winning the A-Hole Mom Award for last week.

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I try to explain it logically, but kids don’t want logic, they want a damned day off from schoolwork. Because, you know, they need that extra hour or two to do the same thing they do the other 90% of the day. *Usually* I am extra amazing and let them take the day off on holidays when my husband is home–but look, once I print out their weekly checklist with page/assignment numbers, there is no going back. Especially not for THREE DAYS out of a school week! Sorry kids. Let’s be realistic though–taking days off when everything is closed because it’s blizzarding and it’s too cold to play outside is just not worth it when we could take off days when the sun is shining and it’s unseasonably warm and we can actually leave the house to do something fun. “Sun Days” are infinitely better than “Snow Days.” Someday the children will understand and thank me for that . . . right?

Nerd Card

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This year, one of my ongoing goals has been to incorporate more games into our school day. Not the “race to see who tidies up the fastest” kind, because let’s face it, my kids are (very sadly) too old to fall for that kind of thing now. We’ve been slowing building up our collection of board games and card games, mostly, though my 11 year old “hates board games” and my almost-9 year old just wants to crush me in as many games as possible. Still, we’ve stumbled across some new favorites and managed to (GASP!) actually get some math practice, random knowledge, and critical thinking worked in, thanks to those clever game-makers. Over the past two weeks, we’ve also begun a family Dungeons and Dragons campaign, much to the delight of my children. Fortunately, their Nerd Dad knows how to run it for us, so their Curmudgeon Mom caved and agreed to participate.

Now, I consider myself a creative person. I’m an avid reader as well as a writer, I like Renaissance faires and costuming and a lot of generally nerdy stuff. From my one DnD experience in college, I learned that I do not like actually engaging in role-playing games. I don’t like narrating aloud, it basically boils down to. I can’t think up stories off the cuff like my husband can–when the kids were little, their requests for made-up bedtime stories fell squarely to him. Ask me to write a story about said character and I can do it, no problem! Talking? Not my thing.

I hope this shows you just how amazing and self-sacrificing I am to agree to such a campaign. My husband is truly amazing both at his narration of the story line, spur of the moment ideas, brilliant descriptions, and, of course, the various accents ascribed to characters. The game itself is fine–the dice are pretty, I can make my character carry around a longbow, and it’s hours of family togetherness. Those are the good points.

The bad: O. M. G. Imagine, if you will, the most annoying things your children do or have ever done. Now imagine that they are doing it as some half-elf or Paladin or WTH-ever, possibly with an accent that their young years have not allowed them to even approximate with any degree of success, AND imagine that you are also playing a freaking character who doesn’t even have the power of the Mom Look to tell them they’re being so annoying you want to claw your eyes out. Are you with me?

Let’s just say this week’s session included my character using a flint to burn cobwebs off the 11 year old’s face (she asked me to, in my defense, since she believed herself to be fireproof) and also being sorely tempted to leave my younger daughter fighting off a swarm of rats in a tunnel because she swung her battleaxe into the pile of trash they were eating. Who knows what next week will bring?

If you want my advice, stick to board games. I don’t get nearly as aggravated playing Bird Bingo!

 

Frozen in Time

Wowza–sorry about the hiatus, folks. This school year feels like it entered warp speed as soon as September hit, and now we are in the throes of winter. Not the cute, toss-a-snowball kind of winter, but the “Winter is Coming,” only the strongest survive, lasts 100 years kind of winter. Of course, it’s still January which means winter has only just started around here, but of course it’s also the point in time when winter is interminable and all excitement over snow has faded to a jaded, miserable sigh when the flakes start to fall.

The childrens’ joy has turned into icy tears as one takes a snowball to the face and the other grumbles that her wretched hag of a mother asked her to put socks on before going out when it’s 20 degrees. Either the snow melts or the temperature drops too low before we can actually do something enjoyable, like go sledding, then we get hit over all again just so we can shovel the driveway out once more.

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So if you’re out there fantasizing about buying a home in a warmer climate, clinging to your hot cup of coffee or tea, and thanking all that is holy that your children can mostly dress and undress themselves in their snow gear and go outside while you watch from a warm, comfortable seat in the house, I feel ya. We’re still here, plugging along, hoping to get a good chunk of the year’s curriculum done before warm weather finally returns so we can go out and enjoy the crap out of spring. And once my hands thaw, I’ll get some new posts out to keep you company during this stupid season called winter.

Time Warp

For most of my life I was smug about time changes. With inadequate sleep being a migraine trigger, I was always pretty careful to maintain my sleep schedule. Heck, that was my main reason for not wanting to be a parent when I was a teenager. Sleep is sacred.

Fast forward to my firstborn, who needs less sleep than anyone I’ve ever known. The universe sure got me good! Still, before the children could tell time, I had no problem with Daylight Savings Time starting or ending. Heck, as homeschoolers, we can sleep as late as we want, so who cares if we shift an hour one way or the other? Twice a year I am particularly grateful to be homeschooling because the thought of an alarm going off an hour earlier than our bodies expect would make me tear my hair out.

And yet . . . having children who CAN read clocks means that come hell or high water, that tween is NOT going to sleep when she’s tired! The clock says she has another hour until bedtime! Of course, when she stays up past her Sleep Window, that throws off her entire night of sleep so she’s up and down all night, sleeping in too late or waking up at the crack of dawn. Let’s hope the sleep deprivation mania helps us plow through schoolwork today instead of causing her focus to be so terrible that it takes her half an hour to write a single paragraph she’s already outlines, because that was yesterday.

Meanwhile, I’m over here like . . .

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Back to Life, Back to Reality

I sing that song every time I think the words, FYI. Sorry for the extended hiatus–I was away for a week and despite beautiful intentions to jump right back into our normal routine after I got home last Tuesday, well. You know how the saying goes.

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But hey, they did schoolwork while I was away, so that’s gotta count for something, right? We had a nice relaxing end to last week, got ourselves sorted out, and started this week back up with only minor whining. I’m going to call that a win.

Meanwhile, the weather is yucky and we had to turn the heat on before November, which is always a little disappointing, but my kids are revved up for Halloween and I’m hoping to carry our momentum forward. There have been years where we’ve done almost nothing for the entire month of December so I’m daring to be optimistic that taking a week off here and there since summer will help us keep going until closer to Christmas. Then again, I suspect we’ll also be taking Fridays off from schoolwork and doing a lot of “practical arts/science” (aka baking), arts/crafts (aka making gifts), and playing a lot of semi-educational board games between now and then. Pumpkin bread and Harry Potter Clue, anyone?

 

 

Rainbow Days

I realize I post a lot about the frustrations of homeschooling, because goodness knows everyone needs to vent and commiserate sometimes, but it’s important to celebrate the good days, too. Tempers were short yesterday, but today was like a rainbow after the storm. I accepted that part of the problem might have been a particular writing curriculum choice (which, of course, was exacerbated by the attitude) and decided to ditch it. Why let a $20 purchase dictate how painful our school days might be?

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And just like that, I clicked “submit order” on a different writing curriculum, decided to simply skip the problems in math that were causing stress (they’re well above grade level and intended to just introduce a concept in advance . . . so why are we butting heads over it??), and voila! We started schoolwork this morning with zero resistance, even though Tween had to sit through 12 minutes (gasp!) of history video today instead of yesterday’s horrifying 8 minutes. The prospect of a craft store trip after lunch *might* have inspired positive attitudes all around, but whatever. I am determined to appreciate and enjoy the good days just as much as I grumble about the bad. I hereby vow not to let my curriculum mistakes make any of us miserable. Granted, I thought I learned that lesson several years ago, but hey . . . nobody’s perfect.

So here’s to the rainbow days, whether they’re common in your house or less frequent than you’d like–may they always be cause for celebration! And on the suckier days, I promise to remember that a bad day is just that: a day. Or an hour, or a few minutes. It shouldn’t determine the mood for the days that follow. I think we all need a good vent now and then, because we homeschooling moms so often feel the weight of showing homeschooling in a positive light. So hey, if you need a safe place to complain, the comments are always open. It’s not always sunshine and rainbows, but letting go of the rough times can help everyone move on to a better day ahead.