Friday, August 30, 2013

Week 4 in the books!

Week 4 of this school year is complete - and if the rest of the year goes by as quickly as these 4 weeks have gone, it will be done in a flash!

I think we are all settling into understanding that our school work is simply going to take all day long. I suppose it's not surprising considering that we don't have "homework" in the evenings. Having 6-7 hours of lessons plus an hour break in the middle of the day might be reasonable for high schoolers who don't have to come home and do more work (and a middle schooler that sometimes has to wait around for me to finish with her brother).

Could they finish more quickly? Riley - absolutely! I'm not sure why she dawdles so much and then rushes to finish when it's time to run out to dance class. She says she loves to work under pressure, and I definitely don't, so maybe we'll just have to agree not to understand each other!

Today Riley had her first outside class. She is taking two - Biology (my idea) and Art (her idea). Today she only had Biology because her Art teacher is on vacation. She has to be up very early to get there after a very late night at dance on Thursday. But this morning when I went to wake her up she was already up! I'm not sure she'll do that every week, or if this was just the excitement of the first day, but it sure was nice!

All ready for class!!
She loved her class and asked if she could take more! I don't have the money to do that this year, but I really wish I could. It was nice to see her so pumped up and excited. She was even excited about what the teacher talked about! I hope she continues to enjoy it as the year progresses!

I took her out for lunch after class, just like I did for Austin's first day of class. While we were eating and talking and laughing, she asked, "Why can't you always be like this??" When I asked what she meant, she replied, "Happy and relaxed and having fun. I hate it that you're always stressed out."

Ugh. Wow. That shot me through the heart.

I am trying. I would love to be more relaxed and having fun. I did hint that perhaps the above-mentioned scenario of waiting until the last minute to finish lessons and then rushing around like a crazy person might contribute to my "stressed out" feelings, but I'm not sure if that will change anything! :)

I hope we are getting into our groove now. Dance has resumed and the outside classes are in full swing. I can't think of anything else that we have to add to our schedules. So if we can just keep plugging away at our work, I think we'll be in good shape!


Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Halfway there...

This week - despite the raging hormones of two of our number - has been a lot better. I think we are all just accepting the fact that lessons are going to take a long time. I still hope that we will get into a better groove once we are all used to the schedule.

HOPE. Word of the Year. :D

We have already ditched Plutarch again. Poor Plutarch. Well, maybe one of these days we'll be able to fit him back in!

We have already ditched Art History, but not Artist Study. I may have Riley read the Art History book because it really is a good book - but I won't be reading it aloud.

I also ditched my attempt to use Churchill and Johnson for history textbooks. Spielvogel and Tindall are not strictly Ambleside selections, but they are books written by one author, so they will have to work for us because the language is more easily accessible to my kids. And sometimes, I just need that. I was considering trying a complete curriculum for history but I kept getting the feeling that I need to stick with what we've already got and not try to bring something else new into the mix.

Bible - Bible Memory Work - Poetry Memorization - those are staying come heck or high water! I will fight hard to keep those! And I am working hard on making sure that narration - written and oral - is a daily thing. These are IMPORTANT. They are the foundation of everything else.

We are still on a full schedule, and I'm working on that balance of work on the days where Austin has his class and Riley will have hers. That is strictly trial and error.

2 more days this week and then we get a 3 day weekend!! WOOHOOO!!!

And I got this today from my aunt -
Beautiful new dryer!
Already I am learning how much time I was spending hanging up wet clothes all around my house - didn't realize it took that long but it did ! This will save me so much time and right now anything that gives me even a few extra minutes in my day it a huge blessing!

Still hoping to post individually about the kiddos - since there is a 3 day weekend, the chances are pretty good!

Everyone have a great Thursday and Friday!

Sunday, August 25, 2013

We survived the first week back to activities!

But just barely!

Well, that was a busy week.

Dance classes resumed.
Austin had his first week of class..
I had dental work done.
Reece had a dentist appointment.
I went to the first meeting for my homeschool group.
I spent 3 hours at the laundromat because our dryer is dead and I needed to wash sheets and Riley's laundry. 
Riley and I attended orientation for her outside classes.

And we did lessons.

I won't judge how the remainder of the year will go based upon the first week! LOL It wasn't easy, but I'm starting to think nothing is going to be easy in the next couple of years.

 The week ended with Riley getting a cold - probably from being in close quarters again in dance class. This new week begins with me feeling like I'm catching her cold. We have another busy week ahead of us, and "ain't nobody got time for that!" :D

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Austin takes a class!

Austin started his first outside class today - Speech/Debate! I have been so excited for him about this class. He was appropriately nervous but excited!

Yesterday, he got his binder set up as per the instructions from the teacher!

He came out with his survival backpack! Um, no.

This is a much better look for the first day of class! 
There are 10 kids in the class, all homeschooled high schoolers. Today for class they had to prepare a short 2-3 minute speech about themselves.

I was sneaky and got a picture of him walking in! :)
Today I stayed, but mostly because it was storming and I didn't feel like going back and forth in the pouring rain. This location is near our house and I could get back and get about an hour of work done with the girls before I had to leave again. And hopefully, Austin will have his license soon and can drive himself there! :D

This Friday we have orientation for Riley's first outside academic classes for high school which begin next week!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

When the calm isn't so calm.

So this past week of school was supposed to be the "calm before the storm." It wasn't the crazy busy first week that we had (that was a ton of fun, but was still crazy). And our dance classes and outside classes begin this coming week. So it was going to be perfect, right? Calm. Lots of work getting done. Right?

Right??

Wrong!

I'm not exactly sure what went wrong but everything fell apart last week. Monday was busy with dance open house and a baby shower for the girls' dance teacher, but after that it just went kapput. I can't pinpoint what started it, but I suspect it was the fact that we had nonstop busy-ness from Thursday until Monday and though I thought Tuesday-Friday would be relaxing, it ended up being a mental meltdown.

I can't even say it was the kids' fault, though they have had a hard time getting back into the groove of lessons. It was mostly on me. I fell apart last week, completely. I am having such a hard time keeping up with everyone's work. And our lessons are taking all day long, which isn't surprising when you have older kids. What is different for our circumstance is that Austin has learning disabilities, and for him to be able to complete as close to a high school level curriculum as possible requires me to be available to work one-on-one with him. And that is less time available for the girls, or their work gets pushed back until I'm done with him. And before we know it, it's dinner time - or this week - dance class time. And then I still have to read/prepare lessons for the next day. And quite frankly, by that point, the last thing I want to do is more school work.

I am considering making some curriculum changes to relieve some of my work load. Each of the kids reads an average 8 books per term - 22 books (since Austin and Riley read the same history and biography books) is a lot to keep up with, in addition to relearning high school math so I can teach it. This is so hard for me and I'm trying to delay the decision a little while to pray about it, and not make a knee-jerk reaction while I'm under stress.

The main point behind this need to relieve my stress is directly related to the age of the kids. And not just for academic reasons. But mostly because on Wednesday, Riley texted my mom and told her that she was worried about me because I was so upset. And Reece told me that it upset her that I was crying. I do NOT want that to be their memories of their mother when they grow up! Homeschooling for us is as much about living as a family and making memories and building character and growing young people into adults who love the Lord and each other as it is about preparing them academically for their futures.

Please pray for us this coming week as we work to find our balance while our schedule gets crazier. Austin begins his first outside class and he already has an assignment to finish. We have a couple of dentist appointments as well. The "calm before the storm" wasn't so calm. But I pray that we will be able to find the calm within the storm of busy-ness.

Friday, August 09, 2013

First Week is DONE! :)

Yeah, I know I disappeared, but this has been a really crazy week! Not only did we start back to school but we had so much going ON! It was nuts! Here is the first day of school picture:

9th, 6th, and 11th grades!
Monday and Tuesday were regular school days - on a somewhat lighter work load. The Wednesday, the first day of our local public schools, we took off from school and celebrated our 12th annual Not Back to School Day! We have always gone to Chuck E Cheese, but this year the kids decided they were too old for that. It happened that the new Percy Jackson movie came out that day and so the girls and I went to see a morning matinee (Austin stayed home - movies in the theater are not his thing due to the noise and sensory issues).

Popcorn and Icees and Candy - Oh MY!!
Then yesterday our new homeschool group hosted a Back to School Beach Party at the lake at the State Park near our home.

They tell me this is a 'small' turnout for this group - there are over 100 children in the group overall!
As we were pulling out of the park, I got a message from my friend Penny saying that she and her family were in Atlanta and could we have lunch together? So the kids and I swung by the house and freshened up a bit and went straight on down to Atlanta to enjoy an Atlanta tradition of greasy fast food - The Varsity!

Look at these adorable kids!!
Penny and I rocked the Varsity hats! 
So we got home 7 hours after we left the house that morning, and we were all completely wiped out. And we hadn't done the school work I had planned for us! So today we had to get two days worth of work done.

But did I mention that Austin had his first in-car driving lesson today at 11:00?? LOL (He did great, by the way!) So after a very, very, very long day... we completed our first week of the 2013-2014 school year. Well, almost. Riley forgot about her Latin quiz so she's finishing that up right now (at 8:30 PM).

Overall, the week went very well. There was no crying or yelling... today Reece was pretty easily frustrated, but that is to be expected after yesterday's busy-ness. It was very, very nice and a little unexpected. And everyone noticed the difference. That's one thing that each of the kids has commented on - the fact that there wasn't any yelling (between me and Riley, mostly - sad, huh?).

This coming week is the calm before the storm. We won't have any of our activities or outside classes yet, but we will be doing our full academic schedule. I really want to see how long our work takes us before we add the classes and the dance craziness!

Now I'm looking forward to the weekend. I am implementing a "rest day" for myself each week on Saturday. Usually I use Saturday and Sunday to work on preparing for the upcoming week. But the problem with that is then I have no days to refresh and rejuvenate. And I get burned out really quickly. So this year, I am going to try to have a planned "rest day" each week and see if that helps my burnout level! :)

If you've started your school year already, I hope you're having a successful time! And if you're starting back again soon, I hope it's going to be lovely for you and your family! Hopefully this coming week I'll be able to update more during the week!

Saturday, August 03, 2013

TWO days!!

I wish I could say that I've spent the last two weeks working diligently to prepare for the first day of school, but that would be a lie, and I try to be honest on my blog. When I feel overwhelmed, I tend to put my head in the sand - as if that will help!

So now I'm facing school starting the day after tomorrow and I have a lot of work to accomplish this weekend. This weekend that also happens to be the peak of my triathlon training. Someone didn't plan this out very well, did she? LOL

To top it all off, this "First Week of School" has added several non-schooly things to interfere with the workload: our homeschool group is having a Back to School party and Austin has his first in-car driving lesson. (Did I mention here that he scored a 100% on his driver's ed final exam??) Instead of throwing in the towel, we're going to have to learn to work around life - just like the kids will have to do when they are older and are in college and/or have jobs. You have to figure out how to get the work done in the hours that you have. Austin's trying to use the excuse "I have work to do" to get out of going to the Back to School party, but I really want him to go. I can't promise him that he'll have a good time, but he's not going to know until he tries. And he's not going to get to know the other teens in the group until he goes to some of the activities and gets to know them - and more importantly, allow THEM to get to know HIM. The real him. Not the guy who walks around with scowl on his face.

So this evening and tomorrow I'll finish getting everything ready. And these first few weeks, we'll see how it goes - if it's too much (like it usually is, since I tend to over-plan), I'll have to prioritize. If it's not enough, then I am certain I can find more for us to do! LOL

Your prayers are always appreciated! Two high schoolers and a middle schooler = Intimidating!