The Bliss of Spring Break

As a person who has been involved in worship production/leading in one form or another for the last XX years, it was incredibly refreshing to realize that I would have NO major church responsibilities this year and I could…

TAKE

A

BREAK!

Wait, what??!?

Yes, it is true. I shelled out a bazillion dollars and tucked my two sweeties away in Spring Break Day Camp at the local YMCA and I:

  • Slept
  • Watched 17 episodes of Grey’s Anatomy (I’m still digging through Season 9 – NO spoilers, please)
  • Slept
  • Watched a few movies
  • Slept
  • Unpacked and/or threw away about 6 boxes from storage
  • Slept
  • Read
  • Slept

I know that this seems like a strange post for a homeschooling blog, but there is something really important that I learned this week.

I need more breaks.

I don’t mean to say I didn’t know this before, but now I KNOW it. I realize that the lack of breaks worked into my schedule is what has driven this bus straight to Burnoutville, Population 2 (I’m counting Butterfly in there, too).

So there you go. Lesson learned.

Now I need to make it count for the rest of the school year.

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.

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!

Image

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 (http://schoolhouseexpo.com/) 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!

Can You Afford to Do This?

While I was messaging with a friend recently, I told her about our decision to commit to homeschooling for the next year and the first thing she asked was “Can y’all afford to do this on one income?”

I laughed to myself and then typed “LOL. No, we can’t.”

And that is the main thing I’m processing today. 

What a scary place to be; to know that the safe and logical thing is to keep working and to pay extra for all of the therapy it is going to take your family to get through ignoring your daughter’s needs…oh, wait. That’s not a real solution, is it?

I keep coming back to the idea that if a doctor told us that our daughter was sick and needed constant medical care for a year, would we balk at the idea that we would need to drastically adjust our lifestyles to find the time, resources and money to make her whole? 

So what would give me pause now? Why have I been fighting so hard against this? I think that it comes down to money. It is scary to lose over 1/2 of your income and know that you won’t have it for a year. We live in Los Angeles and our combined incomes don’t even hit 6-figures, so we’re really talking about a family of four (two of whom have special needs) existing on a small budget. 

So, we’re:

  • REALLY reducing our spending. Some of this will be inherent, as I won’t be driving to/from work and we’ll save a lot on food costs, because we’ll be eating from home almost all of the time,
  • Reducing some of our stuff. No more storage unit! Let’s save $100+/month and worry less about having to keep track of things.
  • Grow some food. I’m going to try and cut a deal with the landlord to get some of the land for a garden. It will be a natural science lesson for our Butterfly, and will defray at least a little bit of our produce bill. 
  • Burn through my stash. If you are a crafter, you know about THE STASH. Some are big, some are small, and I have three of them. Yarn, fabric and memorykeeping. This is the year of “use what you got (or ask a friend for some of theirs).” 
  • Find the free kid stuff. Our girls arrived with no swimming skills, so we’ve been paying for lessons for about a year. Now, physical activity like that is highly therapeutic, and we’re not going to lose that angle, but we are going to look for other opportunities that may not cost as much to participate and make sure we are rounding it out with dance and sports when we are able to. But, we live in LA and, well, there’s this rumor that we have a beach somewhere…
  • Fundraise. Ugh. I hate asking people for money, but you know what? I’ve been donating to my friend’s efforts for years and this is really important, not just a whim or a decision that we came to lightly and, well, we need help. So we signed up for one of these http://www.gofundme.com/blossomingbutterfly and we’ll see what we can do!

So there are some of our initial efforts to try and make it a little less painful. 

If you know of any other viable sources of income that won’t interfere with the main focus of my being at home, please feel free to share!