Homeschooling PE. What could possibly go wrong?

I enrolled Butterfly in the local “Homeschooling P.E.” class at our YMCA. It is two days a week for an hour and it is $0. That’s right! Our membership covers the cost!

Now, an important part of this plan is the idea that this mommy/teacher/principal/housemaid would get a chance to actually work out. Like on machines. With headphones. And no little people whining, “Mooooooooom! Stop! You are running too fast!” So I packed my bag of workout gear and got ready to sweat.

Butterfly was not nearly as excited as me, sadly. Partly because she was the only African-American in the room. I didn’t realize that was going to affect her as much as it did, but it turns out that it bothered her a lot. She mentioned it a few times on the way home and once to Dad and Sister on the way home from After-school that day, so I knew it was a biggie.

That being said, I DID get to sweat for 30 minutes, and I made an appointment with a trainer for the next session to set me up on the machines (Seriously, if you have a good YMCA near you, this is kind of one of those things that it completely worth the bucks, IMHO).

So after a sorta-successful first session, I got really “ahead of myself” and decided that I would try to get to an exercise class 45 min before Butterfly’s class while she hung out in the child area. I checked her in, she started to color, I high-tailed it upstairs to the class, walked in, and…quietly backed out as I realized it was an Active Seniors Stretch class. God bless each one of them, they were stretching while seated in a folding chair. Not my vibe.

Sooooooo, plan B.

I grabbed Butterfly and we went to the “Teen Room” and we started working out on the circuit machines. They have a great system, kind of like a Curves, where a horn sound blows every 90 seconds and you move to the next machine (sorry, Curves. I just blew your secret to the dudes. Not that there are many dudes reading these posts, I think). I don’t know what kind of “Teens” are going to this room, but lemme tell ya something, those are no sissy machines. I am one strong gal (just ask my husband who helps him move the heavy stuff), and these machines were giving me a bit of a run for my money. But then, to my delight, at the end of the circuit were CARDIO machines. That’s right, I was going to get to sweat after all!!!

So Little Miss Butterfly and I floated over to the Elliptical Machines and started doing our thing. I told Miss B that we would do it for 15 minutes and then I would take her down to the Homeschooling P.E. class. We were good for about 4 minutes until I look over and my darling daughter is gasping and claiming that I am killing her. Which is clearly not true, because I was more than 3 feet away from her and we all know that it is impossible to give someone a good death stare to the side when you are bopping up and down on an elliptical. It’s fact, people.

And then we came upon a perfect example of why I am truly not a “good” teacher. I told her that it wasn’t killing her, but that she had to stay on it. She cried. I denied. For 11 minutes, tears streamed down her face and I insisted that she stay on the machine.

Folks. I am a coach.

Not that coaches don’t teach, but I realized that the same “you can do this, stop your negative self-talk and let me hear you say that you can do this” speech I was giving her was what I was repeating at least 5 days/week during this year at the table as we worked through the lessons.

So, I’m going to stop beating myself over the head about not being a good teacher and accept that I teach in a different way.


Cooler heads prevail (Day 4)

So, the temperature dropped (YAY!) and this meant that Butterfly and I slept in for a bit today.

Well, SHE slept in. This was the first time I had been up and “by myself” in the morning for a while, so I made coffee, checked my e-mail, planned meals for the week, did dishes, got all of our supplies together for the day and by the time she was awake – voilà! – I was a regulated, calm human person.

Did I mention I hate mornings? Oh, I hate mornings. Until I had kids, I would sleep until the last possible minute and my husband always left early to give me my space because I am not a nice person in the morning. I pretty much hate everyone. Now, I know hate is a strong word. But it is the correct word in this place. More than once, my loving, totally morning-person husband would wake me up and I would, halfway asleep (but still able to speak coherently), clearly state “I hate everyone. I hate the world.” Poor thing.

But now that I have children, I have had to learn to mostly ignore that part of me that wishes that all of creation would leave me alone until about 9:30am. Because the kids…well…they like to get up EARLY. And they want you to be part of every moment of their waking life. And “go back to bed” doesn’t really work. I’ve tried it. I can feel them wistfully staring at the doorway, just waiting for me to roll over so they can yell, “We know you are awake.”

They kind of remind me of our cats.

But I digress.

Butterfly doesn’t usually like mornings, either, but she doesn’t want to be alone once she is awake, so this was a treat of a morning, and the cooler weather helped us to have a nice day together.

We even got to use our linking blocks for some math!


Better Day! (Day 3)

Today, things were a little better. We were able to finish the bulk of our work and it seemed like Butterfly was more open to some of the ways that we were approaching things. I had allowed her to write her own “to-do” list (based on mine) in her Student Planner (link to the one I got her HERE), but I found that she hadn’t copied things correctly and it was actually causing her stress to not be sure what we were going to do. So I made a plan with her that next week I would be the one that would put things into her planner, with my very neat handwriting :).

One of the things that I was most excited about in our Curriculum was the Anatomy and Physiology studies. I know that seems pretty advanced for a 3rd grader these days, but Butterfly has asked a lot of “why” questions about anatomy and physiology and it seemed like the curriculum we got had a lot of life and earth science, but medical science can be really interesting, too.

So today, we drew the Anatomy of a Cell.

2013-09-06 11.04.15

It was a better day.


The First Day of School (Day 1)

Well, we made it to the first day of school.

Butterfly was excited to get started and she got dressed while her older sister got ready for her own adventure of finding a school to which to go (we had been un-enrolled by the last school, but no one informed us).

Here is a first day shot of our new homeschooler!


I had taken the advice of several sources and planned my week in PENCIL so that we could change things around as we found our rhythm. Luckily, the novelty of staying home with Mom was pretty high that day, so we were able to get a lot done.

Our Course of Study for Day #1

  • Singapore Math (she hated math in school, but this program shows a lot of visual representation of items so she can get into it)
  • Windows of the World – Introduction to Praying for the World
  • Review of John 3:16
  • Handwriting
  • Blackbird Reading and Story analysis – “The Hundred Dresses
  • Reading (30 min)
  • Maps & Globes – 17 pages about maps & globes (!)
  • “Passport” Application (actually completed the day before)
  • Geography Pretest (my darling daughter knew 0% of any geographical anything – nowhere to go but up!)
  • Properties of Ecosystems – introduction to such terms as “biotic,” “abiotic,” “ecosphere,” and “population” – a little heavy for a 3rd grader, but we have all year to get it down 😉
  • Anatomy and Physiology – She got to color while I read to her…Hey! Wait a minute!!!
  • Wee Sing – the cutest little song about saying “Hello to all the Children of the World!” – cute until you end up humming it in your sleep (**true story).
  • Art Lesson #1 – Monet

So we did all of that by 11:30am (!!!!!) ate lunch and then trundled off to the Y for Physical Education, which was…Swimming. Butterfly and I swam laps for 25 min and then came home to get ready to pick her sister up from school.

We were both on our “best behavior” so it went well, but I’m already seeing that there is too much packed into the day, even if we were able to finish it in 3 hours.

But, today, I’m counting as a success!

Less than two weeks!

Wondering where I’ve been? Perhaps the several days since my last post might lead you to believe that I’ve been getting ready for my upcoming adventure – and you would be right!

With only 13 shopping days between now and the first day of homeschool, I’m feeling mostly prepared. Next week I’ll take a 1/2 day and just loosely plan out the first two weeks. Everything I’ve heard and read suggests planning, but giving yourself some latitude when you first start out, because you aren’t sure exactly what the rhythm feels like, yet. 

We are going to focus on the “academics” in the morning and after lunch, we’ll do the P.E./art/field trip/cooking/library/foreign language type of activity. There are often times that Butterfly can’t stay seated after lunch (which is one of the the things for which she was consistently written up in mainstream school), so we might as well plan for things that allow for movement to give her every chance to actually engage learning, instead of spending all of her energy trying to stay seated. 

I’ve been attending an online homeschooling EXPO this week ( and it has helped me to organize some things, both mentally and physically. It was also good to be reminded that my daughter’s learning style and temperament are different than mine and that I need to adjust my teaching style for her. This is one of the areas that scared me away from even considering homeschooling in the first place, but I feel like I have some resources to help keep me from getting as frustrated as I might have previously been.

Well, I’m off to start working on some of the details and organization – starting with our wheeled “Art Bin” that has a plethora of art supplies that are needing a nice culling and straightening so we don’t spend out first day doing chores!

One Month!

Today marks the 1-month mark until we begin school at home!

We’re mostly set for curriculum (I’ll do a post on how we selected soon), with the exception of our Math and Foreign Language. We’re looking at Singapore Math (trying to find a good deal on that one) and Rosetta Stone German. If anyone has a good (frugal) source for either of those, please let me know.

Our next steps will be:

  • create our logo and letterhead,
  • submit the Withdrawal and Records Transfer Letter,
  • re-organize the desk in the girls’ room,
  • fill out the first two weeks of our planners (I purchased one for me and one for Butterfly),
  • determine which plants to get for the first week of gardening,
  • organize the materials for our arts course, and
  • plan our daily cooking classes.

I’ll be leaving my full-time job at the end of this coming week, so I’ll have some time to get this together before camp is over and school begins. 

Ever have that moment where you think you might have forgotten something as you are heading out on vacation? I’ll totally admit that I’m having a bit of that feeling right now. But I’m sure it will all work out…

Until then, we enjoy the rest of summer.


Butterfly Garden

As I mentioned in my last post, we’re trying to figure out some ways to cut costs and afford this year of “living dangerously.” We live in an apartment in Los Angeles, which presents challenges when you want to grow your own food, but we approached our landlord about getting a little plot of land, and…

We got a garden!

The landlord had actually fenced off a section, tilled it and had started some plants. He said that he would leave in the plants that we wanted and move the rest, even providing our soil! Now we have to figure out what to grow in our little 12 x 12 plot.

Who’s got a good resource for figuring out what to grow seasonally in L.A.?