Nerd Card


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.


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.

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.


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?


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.

So. Much. Fun.


Let me preface this by saying we’ve actually had some good days lately . . . but today was another rough one (and it’s not even noon).

How can you tell if schoolwork is going to go smoothly? Let’s just say that a big ol’ red flag would be your child immediately complaining that the video she has to watch is 8 whole minutes long, followed by sighing, head-on-desk moaning about the injustice of it all. It’s pretty safe to say that the subjects that follow will not go any better. In fact, they might just be much, much worse. Like, this mama wanted to be the one doing the head-on-desk moaning at that point.

So maybe, just maybe, said child has lost some electronic privileges for a while and can channel her tween-sized rage into her artwork while I look into finding a curriculum that doesn’t require me to hold her hand through every step of every math problem because if her attitude gets any more snarky during math time, I’m going to set her “fun” math book on fire and cackle while it burns.

Parenting is Exhausting


Last week was another Not So Good week around here and though we’ve made an intentional effort to make this a good one, Monday is still hitting us pretty hard as we deal with the after-effects of last week. It’s been very gray and gloomy outside, which doesn’t help! I hit the weekend so totally over dealing with a tween full of Big Feelings and enough snark to flatten a small city. This parenting stuff is no joke, people. It’s exhausting!

In the end, schoolwork went smoothly and some family craft time helped us reconnect. Some extra strong coffee didn’t hurt, either. So here’s to a good week and a good month for everyone–hello, October! I for one will be taking a deep breath and setting my focus on household harmony this week. The tween might be stubborn, but who do you think she got it from? If we can both cool our jets, maybe we can proceed without more battles. I can hope, right?

Pitfalls in Fashion

There ARE some downsides to homeschooling. One of them is seeing specific groups of people on specific days of the week and trying to recall WTH I wore last Friday because I don’t want my Friday People to think I only own one shirt. When you see people several times a week, it’s different! They might recognize a shirt as something you’ve worn before, but they’re less likely to remember exactly what you were wearing on a specific day. But once a week . . . it becomes more glaring. Now I have to try to keep track of my Nice Outfits in order to cycle them appropriately. Okay, who am I kidding–my Nice Shirts and Slightly Different Jeans. It’s a bit misleading to call them outfits.


My kids, on the other hand, have certain very favorite clothing items that they’d like to wear 15 times a week if it weren’t for their evil mother refusing to do laundry 700 times a week. Luckily for them, they wear dance attire for most of our weekly outings and can get away with re-wearing a shirt or pair of shorts that was only thrown on for an hour or two to leave the house. And yes . . . as long as we didn’t see anyone we know who we’d be seeing again the next day . . . they are welcome to wear the same outfit again. Look, I spent the last decade with Oldest Child changing her clothes 75 times a day because she sneezed on something or dripped water or decided she much prefers circles to squares on that day. If they want to live in pajamas until we leave the house and reuse an outfit no one saw them in, I am all for it. Doing less laundry helps save the planet, okay? It’s for the good of the Earth!



Right about now, you can go back and read my posts about how lovely September is, then feel free to come back and roll your eyes at me. Sure, I recall years when we haven’t had the best first day back after vacation (and obviously this week was no different). . . but holy moly. I cannot recall ever having such a crabtastic first week back! Everyone is overtired and whiny and acting like we’ve never done this before. It’s not even like I can blame suddenly having to get up early to catch a bus for their exhaustion–they’ve been sleeping until like 9 am every day! GET IT TOGETHER, CHILDREN!

I’m trying very hard to be patient and understanding as they adapt to their new and much busier dance schedule, but for realz . . . I am ready for a (solo) vacation to recover from this week of unprecedented snark and whining. I knew it was really not going to improve as the week went on when my 11 year old actually shrieked, “I AM NOT TIRED!” at us the other night. We’re back at toddler level around here, it seems.

So to everyone else having a rough week, whether it’s the first week back or not . . . solidarity, folks. May we all have a nice, relaxing weekend followed by a beautifully peaceful and cooperative week next week! Goodness knows we all need it.

Mathematize Me


Okay, that’s an exaggeration. She doesn’t answer them WRONG on purpose, she just literally spends 4 minutes adding 8+0 in her multiplication problem. While sketching a girl in a ballgown on the dry erase board. While staring off into space. While making my head explode.

This kid is a truly incredible artist, a fabulous storyteller, a dedicated dancer, and interested in a hundred different things–just not math. It’s tedious and boring and repetitive (in her mind) and she wants to be doing literally ANYTHING else, which leads to the daydreaming, which leads to it taking even longer and (again, in her mind) justifying her dislike of it. She’s not bad at it! She grasps the concepts just fine, she just does NOT want to sit and work through the same kind of problem 20 times. We’ve come a long way since 1st grade, when math ended in tears daily because I couldn’t let go of my need to finish each set of problems . . . once I discovered that I could have her do fewer problems as long as she “gets it,” that sure helped. Handing off math instruction to a computer-based curriculum helped too, until I realized that if no one prompted her to write down the problems, she would stare off into space for 10 minutes wondering if she could do it in her head. Math has been quite a tumultuous journey for my little Hater of Math and her Math-Lovin’ Mama.

Still, we keep on trucking. Soon we will try going back to a story-based math program that she enjoyed in the past, which hopefully will open some magical math windows in her brain now that we can work through it together instead of having a toddler in the mix to keep us from focusing enough to actually learn from it.

Please, please let it work for us this time. PLEASE I BEG OF YOU! If my head explodes by this time next week, just wipe up the pieces and hand her an abacus, okay?