Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Relief from the Heat

True to what the weatherman said, Sunday started a new trend of cooler weather.  Dakota's friend Dominic spent the night Sunday night and left around 10:30 Monday morning.  I had hoped to get a lot of work in after that, but my son was not in a very good place.  His focus issues were maximized and he was grumpy and whiny.  We got some schoolwork done, but not nearly as much as I would have liked.  He had a 90 minute EcoAdventure class from 4-5:30 and then with football practice moved to Tuesday this week we got a night in.  Again, a family favorite thing!

Tuesday was cloudy and cool.  Dakota was in a much better mood and we spent the day working hard.  While a pizza was in the oven cooking for lunch I introduced him to the Beatles and their music.  We are doing a unit study of the United Kingdom so this fit perfectly.  He couldn't understand what the big deal was, lol.  After lunch we got a lot done and even made the sensory (colors and smells) playdoh that I needed for my preK class later this week.  Now we are in that short, short two hour period before football.  I'll be working while I am there tonight, which makes the night go by quickly.  Note to self.  Do not drink a large hot coffee and a large iced coffee while working or you will NOT get any sleep that night!!

It's Wednesday morning currently and it's 60 degrees and gorgeous outside.  I am sitting on the deck with my dog and my coffee enjoying 30 minutes of me time before we get in a little school work and then my two sons and I are heading downtown to the Science Center for homeschool days.  It's nice that my older son's class was cancelled and he can spend the day with us.  We are going to see a planetarium show and an IMAX show together, with lunch in between.  Tonight is Dad's night for football so I'll be coming home to get my coupons ready and then heading out to the grocery store to stock up.  We are getting low around here!
          We ended up taking a family night off of football to just relax and get to bed early to catch up.  It's been busy!  Every once in a while you just need to take a mental health break.

Thursday was a cooperative day and we had a good time at classes.  My little ones in PreK did the letter A and apples and we had so much fun!  One of their favorite activities was getting to put fall spices in their fall colored playdoh.  My batch was heavy and wet and had to be thrown away (epic Pinterest FAIL) so my daughter was nice enough to make up a quick batch and bring it in.  The kids loved the sensory aspect of it.  My Thursday challenge is bringing all three of my granddaughters, my daycare baby and my son home after school.  I don't normally watch the baby because she is high strung and cries often, but I want her to feel at home here like the other two because I do plan to keep her with me eventually.  She is sweet and adorable, but babies take so much time and energy.  The good thing is she is now sitting up on her own and can play with her toys.  The bad thing is my daughter forgot to bring formula so there was no bottle and although Katie got food, she didn't get her bottle and by the time mommy came she was furious!!  Thursday night is for football and so we did.  Thank goodness only one more day of the week to go!

Friday saw grumpy, grouchy, not willing to listen kids.  My son wanted to be done before he finished.  The girls fought and were nasty.  I dropped Dakota off at his class at EcoAdventures and let the girls play at a new playground they found after we visited my mom.  One wet her pants.  One threw mulch all over the head of the other.  Lots of screeches and arguments.  Ugh.  Picked up the son and a friend and they were quiet and busy for the rest of the afternoon, but my girls, they didn't get picked up until 6:30 and I was D-O-N-E by then!  My husband got in and suggested we go to our room to watch TV and do our work.  That didn't work well.  We were both fast asleep before 9pm and slept until 9am the next morning.  I guess we really needed that!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

It Sure Is September!

September and October in our family mean lots and lots of activities on the calendar and the second week of school was no different.  Monday started off with Dakota working for EcoAdventures at a Turtletacular Camp at KinderFarm Park in Millersville, MD.  He had to be there by 9 and then I had the three little girls here all day while he was there.  It was glorious out so I decided to put up the bounce house.  Things went downhill from there.  The three adorable angels turned into three little devils.  There were meltdowns, tantrums and worse.  By the time I picked him up I was completely wiped out and not at all in a good mood.

Tuesday was our only day home all week so we got in lots of schoolwork.....wait.  No.  I am looking at my planner and we got in very little.  How did that happen and what did we do?  Who knows.  It's a week behind me at this point.

Wednesday was a great day.  Dakota and I got to go to the National Aquarium in Baltimore for a homeschool day presentation.  Two educators taught us tons about seashore animals that neither of us knew.  It was a little silly, but good nonetheless.  Then they gave Dakota a booklet and we were to do a self guided tour of the aquarium, stopping at the 6 learning stations as we went and finishing with a dolphin presentation.  To my pleasant surprise my son was thrilled to be getting this information and seeing all the marine life.  He actually said "I am having a great time and learning a lot!".  If you know my son that's a miracle.  He is a chronic complainer and doesn't like anything that has the word work attached.  He did great here and we both had a fantastic morning topped off by a nice lunch at Johnny Rockets.  I had to pick up the girls and run some errands and he chose to stay home alone for the first time.  He is more than ready maturity-wise, but his confidence was low.  This time he did a perfect job and now I guess we move into the next chapter.  We had a little bit of time to relax and then off to football.

Thursday was our first day of co-op.  It was nice to get back into the routine of "school" for us and to be around our friends.  Things went smoothly.  I taught the preK kids first and enjoyed every minute.  I love having a class of little ones!  We learned about the alphabet, ate Alphabits cereal, drew our letters outside with sidewalk chalk, made Chica Chica Boom!Boom! playsets and made alphabet crowns.  Then for just this week I had to go upstairs and teach the middle school health class.  I love this particular group of kids, but my son was less than cooperative and he and I spent the rest of the day at odds with one another.   We watched movies through the afternoon and at 5 we headed out to football.

Friday was kids day at the AA County Fair.  This is usually one of our favorite field trips of the year, but it was very hot and there was little shade.  We met up with friends, watched the pig races, rode a few rides and beat it to the van in the air conditioning an hour earlier than planned.  Thank goodness for entertainment systems in the car to keep the granddaughters occupied!  At 1:00 we were at KinderFarm Park to take Dakota to his homeschool class turtle field trip.  Dr. Brady Barr and his wife Mei Len ran this one and the kids got to hike to a pond and catch turtles.  They learned so much about them!  Dakota always enjoys his time at Eco.  The girls and I stayed up at the playground and again, it was so hot.  We ended that way early too and enjoyed watching a movie in the van until Dakota was done.  We made it home and got to spend the rest of the night at home.  What a pleasure!

Saturday morning we got up and out by 10:30 to watch my oldest granddaughter play soccer.  "Play" is a loose term when you are talking about a 4 year old with ADHD and sensory issues, but she did get out there some and run around after the ball.  We cheered wildly and I treated Dakota, the two
oldest granddaughters and a friend's four kids to Slurpees.  Another hot one.  We came back for a few hours and then headed back out to KinderFarm Park for Dakota's football game.  He was playing against one of his good buddies and his best friend Tyler and the entire Weber family came to watch.  The game did not go in our favor, but my oldest daughter and my granddaughters and I did get a great seat on the hill in the shade so the heat finally wasn't an issue.  "They" say the end of the heat is here.  I sure hope so!  It's getting to be late September!  After the game we got to do one of the things we like best, go to dinner with the Weber family.  We got split up at football this year, but this was like old times and we all enjoyed it.  Kris and her Brian and the granddaughters were there which led to a bit of a circus atmosphere, but I enjoy having those I care about close by.

Sunday was my 24th wedding anniversary, but as usually happens on anniversaries my husband and I got into a terrible fight and spent the day at odds.  Oh well.  Sunday was enjoyable for the simple fact that we went no where and had nothing pressing to do.  I love being home.  The day went way too fast and before you knew it the work week was upon us.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

A Week Under Our Belt

The first week of homeschooling for this, my 16th homeschooling year, was a huge success.  Did we get tons done?  Nope.  Did we follow my "plan"?  Nope.  Did I even have a well written schedule with daily times and subjects to follow?  Nope!  Finally, after 15 years of trying to be on top of everything, following a tight schedule and worrying about the "big picture" I got with the program.  Which program is that, you may ask?  The one that says relax and enjoy your child.  Take it outside.  Stop to jump on the trampoline.  Veer off task and watch a great history video that captivates your child.  Let him ease into the change of schedule and he'll be a much happier camper.

The start of a new school year is exciting for me.  I love the new books, clean planners, fresh ideas.  I can't wait to start and I usually have big ideas.  At the table by 8:30.  Getting in all the subjects.  Big projects started.  I literally burn my kid out by the end of the week, especially this son who transitions slowly out of summer mode.  So this time we eased in.  We took our work onto the deck and spent a few minutes laying back in our chairs and watching the clouds, reflecting on how lucky we are to be together and this free from the grind.  We did our subjects.  Got in math and reading every single day.  We jumped back into colonial history, where we had left off in the fall but veered off to watch a great America Unearthed show I had DVR'd on /Vikings and how they may have been the first Europeans to settle in the new world then we took a screwdriver and practiced making some Viking ruins  on a tree stump in our yard.  We snuggled under blankets in our cold air conditioned house when the mid-September temperatures climbed near 100 degrees in a last burst of summer heat and humidity.  There we listed to chapter after chapter of the second book in the Copernicus Legacy series by Tony Abbott.  We did some acid and base science experiments with an old science kit we found and which must have had some expired items because half of them failed miserably!  We did some cartooning.  We had an impromptu "welcome to football season" dance party in the diningroom.  We tried to do a Magellan worksheet using longitude and latitude and sprawled on the floor looking at the atlas and climbed on chairs perusing the wall maps.  What we discovered was we have nothing that gives good clear coordinates and it's on our shopping list for this fall!

Friday came and I did have it in my mind that although we had to stop for lunch by noon because we had to leave for a class at 12:30 that we were going to get a lot done.  A lot!!  Wrong.  We both overslept.  It was a beautiful almost fall morning so when we finally got it together and welcomed in the granddaughters I watch a few days a week no one wanted to be inside.  It was a cool, clear morning on the deck and the date was September 11th.   I happened on a post with a video about that fateful 9/11 tragedy.  Dakota wanted to watch so together we watched in silence, lost in our own thoughts as we watched the tragedy unfold again and again.  Rebecca, my 23 month old granddaughter, didn't want to play in her playhouse on her bike.  She brought her adorable little blond haired self over to Dakota and begged Uncle "Kowa" to  "pweese jumpy, jumpy" and he asked to please not have to tell her no so off he went with three little girls in tow to the trampoline and then spent an hour shrieking and squealing and jumping around and around.  By the time I got them back in it was after 11.  I can't even remember what came up then, but the next time I looked at the clock it was almost noon!  So while I fed the girls and made his lunch he did his math and picked at a pb&j sandwich and then we were out the door for his EcoAdventures homeschool class.

While he was in class I took the girls to Kinderfarm Park where they enjoyed the nice weather and a reprieve from an afternoon nap.  When we went to pick him up he got invited to a friend's house in Beltsville and he and his friend were so excited I couldn't say no.  So the girls and I went back home without him.  The end.  Friday afternoon.  Week one of homeschooling fifth grade.  And we hadn't stuck to a schedule and we hadn't gotten lots done and we hadn't stressed over the little things or really over anything at all.  I have learned from my past mistakes....and it only took me 16 years!  And while part of me feels a little stressed about it, the better part of me knows that we had an enjoyable week.  We spent time together and we made a few happy memories along the way.  That's really what it's all about after all.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Fifth Grade Fun

Today is the first day of fifth grade for my youngest child.  The last year I will ever have my own child in elementary school.  He doesn't like that he missed the cutoff date for 6th grade by 3 days, but I am happy to have him here with me an additional year to homeschool.

I started off the morning oversleeping.  UGH.  He also got to "oversleep", although for him no amount of sleep can be too much.  I finally got him to the table for breakfast a little before 9 and at 9:55 we are still on morning work, but I am not going to push him and make him a grouch.  We moved our morning out to the deck and it's enjoyable sitting here with him, stopping to talk, watching the crazy cat do flips on the outdoor carpet.  There are no granddaughters making noise this morning.  No daycare baby running around.  Just Dakota and I, the way I like it best, sitting on the deck watching the world go by.    The trashmen just came by.  Young and shirtless.  I mentioned that I thought that since they were working they should have some kind of shirt on.  His comedic response was "so they don't look...trashy".  Hahaha!  He is a funny boy.  Yesterday his dad asked him to sit on his lap so he could tell him something.  Dakota promptly sat down and said "Santa I want a fire truck this year!"  You had to be there, but his comedic timing is great.  He's grown so much in the past year, not only physically, but emotionally.  My other son was always very young for his age.  Dakota is years older, a teenager before he was even a preteen.

We stayed outside until around 10:30  finishing morning work, checking out the National Geographic Kids website and having Dakota start a new novella that goes along with our audio book, The Copernicus Legacy, The Serpent's Curse.  We listed to the first one, the Forbidden Stone, over summer break.  It's a great series with a lot of mystery, clues and historical references.  When we came inside we watched the first episode of America:  The Story of Us.  What a well done video series.  Excellent for history.  Dakota wanted to watch more, but it was going further than I wanted to go in chronological years so we stopped.

We had some unexpected fun learning about Magellan, who is also featured in our Copernicus Legacy books.  He started his journey on this date in 1519 so we read a short blurb about his journey and then tried to do a global mapping activity about his journey.  Well, we now know we obviously need a good map with latitude and longitude clearly marked.  We tried an ancient globe.  We tried an ancient map and we laughed as we got nowhere, trying to answer questions flying by the seat of our pants on a world map.  We didn't do well and I'll definitely be getting us a good map soon!

My oldest daughter dropped by for lunch today.  She bought Chinese as a back to school treat for Dakota.  I was excited to see the older two granddaughters' reaction to the Barbie house I got them yesterday.  They loved it!  And it didn't cost a thing!  I love freecycle!  Lunch this way took longer than usual, but we got back to work after about an hour and while Dakota is doing his math I vacuumed and threw in a load of laundry.  He's groaning, but he'll live.  Next is our Scholastic magazine and we are going to do it online I think.  If we have time maybe an experiment or two from an old Magic School Bus acids and bases kit.  It's too young, but we might as well use it up.  He starts his EcoAdventures class this week and his chemistry on Thursday so there won't be too much formal science here at home this year.  

Tonight is football.  UGH.  It's very hot and humid.  It's supposed to rain tomorrow and break the back of the Indian Summer heat wave that's been hovering over us for days.