Time Keeps on Slippin’

It feels like school just got out last week, and August is now around the corner.  I love summer for the lack of schedule, but it actually holds a bigger “to do” list for me than the school year does.  I may not be teaching home school, but I’m preparing lesson plans, the grade book, etc.  The house still needs the same amount of work, but the kids want to cook and bake.  This year we have driver ed and physical therapy.  There are also outings to the lake and other summer things.

Yesterday, I mainly worked on sewing a skirt for my oldest.  I’m not the biggest fan of pleats right now, probably because it’s my first time sewing them and the skirt is needed in about a week.  It’s also messing with my head that my daughter wants the back side of the material to be the right side.  It’s denim with a lot of silver running through it, but the back is silver with a hint of navy background.  She got that love of shiny material from my grandmother.

Today I worked on lesson plans and almost finished planning the year’s literature.  I’d gotten the language side of English planned before school got out, thankfully.  We have three and a half weeks at the end of the year without a lit. book.  I’ll have to think about what I want there.  We’ve hit the classics pretty heavily so far: Romeo and Juliet, the Odyssey, and Great Expectations (all part of the public school freshman year), plus Wuthering Heights, Robinson Crusoe, Fahrenheit 451, Our Town, The Time Machine, and The Outsiders.

My home schooled daughter asked if we could start school now.  I told her truthfully that I’m not ready.  I have gotten history and science planned into mid October, and English is almost done.  Most of her electives are planned.  I don’t grade the electives as she’s chosen art – I’ve no background to evaluate it, German – I don’t know it and she has a tutor, oceanography – she’ll be reading a college text, and veterinarian studies – designed to help her on a difficult career choice.

Why is she eager to start?  She’s bored.  Really?  She’s got a tub full of yarn and needles to use.  I bought books and materials for the kids to learn Chinese brush paint – they’ve used it once.  She has a loaded Kindle, shelves of books, and we’ve been to the library several times.  She has a bike and we’re on a cul-de-sac with many other kids.  I could go on, but won’t.  I guarantee I’ll hear a different tune when school does start.  Her work load is increasing as she’s starting high school.

My son is just as bad with the “bored” thing.  I’m not the kids’ cruise director, and they’re old enough to get paint and craft materials out for themselves.  They have loads of things to play with, create with, etc.  Yes, I do things with them, but not 24/7.  I can’t.  I have a stack of sewing that needs to be attended to as well as the lesson planning, cleaning, planning/cooking dinner, shuttling the oldest to driver ed, myself to PT, etc.

We started to go on a photography outing the other day but had to come home due to attitudes.  My son didn’t like that in order to wear the hat he wanted he’d need to put on sunscreen, so he went with the wide brimmed very grudgingly.  Then my middle pitched a ‘tude because she couldn’t find any books at the library – our stop just before the photography outing.  Summer is difficult for her and her sensory issues for many reasons, but this outburst was a throwback to former years and I just drove home, not explaining until we were in the garage.

To add to the craziness, I was talking with my mom recently when she suggested that she thinks my son may be slightly autistic.  Now, my son had severe speech issues and was evaluated at a quality therapy facility (speech, PT, and OT) where they also see many kids with autism.  They would have told me if they saw anything that would indicate a need to be screened for autism.  Why does Mom have this opinion?  My son doesn’t like change.  Strolling down memory lane, there was an awful lot of routine and sameness in the house, and I don’t hear Mom saying that she or Dad were/are autistic.  Dislike of change does not equal autism.

I don’t know why she was analyzing my son, other than I know she and my sister discuss my household and how things just aren’t run the right way.  Most notably, I shouldn’t be home schooling my middle child.  If I home schooled the others as well, I think I’d be able to hear their heads pop, and the closest one lives 3 hours away.

I’d better just focus on my huge to-do list and the enormously boring life my kids have to endure.

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School Supplies

WalMart has their school supplies out now for the lowest prices they offer. Of course we had to go. This year we needed to outfit a backpack for my son as he begins middle school in the fall. The buses here come to certain pick up points, which means a four block walk to the bus stop for us. That’s not far, but it means an umbrella for the backpack ($10), and he needs a basic calculator ($9), the lunch box was worn out ($10), and we got some other basic supplies. I already have a good stock of basics, so we didn’t buy a ton of paper, folders, etc – just a few things to fill in.

We didn’t buy a new back pack. My son will wear out the one from last year, and have a good one on his Christmas list for grandma. My oldest is doing the same thing. Grandma bought a good backpack for my oldest at the same point, and it’s just now wearing out, four years after she began using it. Also, it’s a good item to ask for. My mom prefers mail order shopping, and loves to get books and items like this.

One of my kids is home schooled, so she just got a few folders for home school co-op classes. Our total bill was $70 (rounding). I can’t imagine what other families pay who wait until the ‘need lists’ come out the week before school starts, when everything is full price again. I also think about families who get new lunch boxes, back packs, etc. every year, whether the old ones need to be replaced or not.

I had a few high priced items, relatively speaking, but the calculator should go all the way through college. A graphing calculator may be purchased in high school, but this one will cover quite a bit. The lunch box should last at least three years. I learned very early that fabric lunchboxes without a plastic liner are only good for about one year before the rips start gaping. The umbrella will be replaced once or twice before graduation, but that’s part of having a compact umbrella. I guess the frugal side of me is just reeling at how fast the bill climbed with just the basic supplies (pens, glue, paper, folders).

I am thankful that WalMart, and thus the other area stores, have the good deals in July to take advantage of. I am thankful that I know some of the things the middle school typically asks for. I am thankful that my kids are fine with using the same lunchbox, backpack, etc. year after year. I’ve got great kids!

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Ah, Summer…and the livin’ is crazy!

It’s so hard to wrap my head around the fact that it’s mid July.  My oldest is in driver’s ed. right now, which I knew would make for a crazy schedule, but I also have physical therapy three times a week now and I’ve had insane days.

Back on Memorial Day weekend, we went walking/hiking at one of our state parks, and the trail had a total of two and a half miles of sand that we went through – with tennis shoes because the trail map showed very little sand.  I turned my ankle twice on the return trip, but didn’t realize how badly I’d hurt it as I was able to finish the two miles to the car without further pain.  Three weeks later we were hiking quite a bit in Maine, and when we got home I was in pain.  Of course, the doctor’s office was closed for the week.  Now, I’m wearing a massive brace (but PT is weaning me off of it), and getting beat up in PT.  My son goes with me (limiting fight potential at home).  He asked if the foot massage felt good.  NO!  He obviously never looked at my face while the PT was torturing the muscles in my foot and ankle.  I fully expect PT to produce pain.  I’ve been around enough people who’ve been through it to know that rehabilitation of muscles hurts.  Knowledge of pain-to-come doesn’t make the reality easier to take.

I’ve been working on lesson plans for next year, and it feels like I’m going at turtle speed.  For history, I have a text which came with the teacher’s book for the tests and quizzes, but the previous owner obviously used the student book.  Typing all of those things up is laborious.  I’m going to have to take a break soon as my arm is protesting the amount of time spent typing.  I’ve warned my daughter that she’s going to have to work her butt off in Biology.  She’s always wanting more science, she wants to be a vet, and this is the start of high school.  Of course, the reality of getting all of the science versus just asking for it can be an eye opener.  It’s a 39 chapter book for a 37 or 38 week school year, and some of those weeks are only 3 days.  Plus, I’m using another book in conjunction with the text and I pull in yet further resources along the way.  I’m not trying to torture her.  If she truly wants to be a vet, she’s picked a tough course of study and I need to prepare her to succeed in that course.

We also do vet studies once a week.  That will be a continuation of anatomy coloring of organs, muscles, etc. of animals.  We are also fortunate to be borrowing a medical terminology book from my MIL.  I’ll have to retype that whole book, as it’s a workbook, but it will be wonderful preparation for vet school.

The kids have only had one ‘cooking lesson’ each so far, we haven’t been able to go swimming yet (working around two teen girls monthly cycles adds to that difficulty), and they’ve only gotten the art out once thus far.  My son so kindly cleaned up the palettes and brushes at the end, I didn’t have the heart to chide him for all of the paint I had to clean off of the bathroom sink, soap dispensers, etc.  Thankfully they were using water colors!

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Recovering from Vacation

Vacation was good but exhausting – the whole way through.  The first day consisted of 17 hours in the car.  Ugh.  I had been told it would be a 13 hour day.  Oh well.

Acadia National Park is beautiful!  The whole island is.  We saw whales – a group of 7 or 8 finbacks surfaced several times for us.  We saw the blows in the distance and heard them up close.  We also saw a couple of bald eagles, and my younger two were approached by a doe.  The doe turned into the weeds when only about 10 feet were left between her and my son.  I think she was hoping they had food for her.

I survived kayaking.  The trip began with me flipping the kayak over trying to pull my feet inside.  I can laugh at myself, fortunately, and the guide was patient.  The first two hours were enjoyable, then I became tired in the second two.  Sitting with your feet out in front of you with no chair back to lean on is tiring when you aren’t used to it.  I pushed myself hard to sit up straight for paddling, and was wondering if I’d have to be towed back into shore, but my daughter and I made it.

The hiking was tough at times.  DH planned a lot of it.  On the way home I realized (and shared out loud) that I absolutely loved last year’s vacation (in-state and short) and it had no hiking included.  Hmm.  Something to consider, perhaps.

My ankle is worse for the wear.  Memorial Day weekend I twisted my ankle on an in-state death march (my daughter’s label).  I wore an ankle brace on most of this trip and we wore hiking boots for extra stability, but my ankle is hurting again and the ice is back out.  I tried to make a doctor appointment, but the staff is out this week.  I’m not sure that I really want to know what I originally did to the ankle, but it should have been healed by the time we left for the trip, and it’s still bothering me.

These past few days have been spent in trip recovery.  DH still needs to put his suitcase away, but I think that’s the last item.  Yesterday and today found me napping in the afternoon.  I got out to weed today.  The weeds grew like crazy while we were gone, and our weeds have sprouted weeds.  There’s a lot of garden yet to be tackled.

Now, it’s time to go continue the recovery from vacation.


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End of the School Year

My oldest recently caught the hint that my middle, home schooled child may not actually have school as long as the two in public school.  True, she finished last week while my other two still have tomorrow to go.  What my eldest doesn’t realize is how little that matters.  All assigned work is complete, she’s still watching documentaries (not all day), and the two in public school are essentially done.  My eldest (high school) had two exams today: art, in which she had nothing to do as her project is finished, and gym, in which they have a 25 question test over the weights and things related.  My youngest (5th grade) brought home a good share of his papers last night.  They had an awards assembly Monday, yesterday was a slide show, today is the tea party, and tomorrow is the end of the year cookout.  Pretty rough.

The awards assembly had a couple of nice surprises for my son.  He needs all of the positives he can get.  There are days when he makes Eeyore look giddy.  Anyway, he got an academic award for grades/standardized test scores, a Spanish award for averaging between 90-94%, and recognition for being one of only two students in the school who had art hanging on display for a good share of the year.  He thinks he stinks at art, by the way.  I had to encourage him to continue with it, telling him that as long as he enjoys it he should take it.  His sensory issues contribute to his low self esteem, so I love any time he gets these ego boosts.

Trying to encourage positive thinking, I recently gave each of the kids a new blank journal to write ‘good things’, things they’re thankful for, etc.  I hope they use them.  I don’t want to be a snoop.  I do, however, want them to practice dwelling on the good things in their lives.  It’s easy to dwell on bad, but the good takes a lot of practice.

My son got another boost that I loved.  We went to an art show last weekend and he was chatting with one of the wood artisans.  DS started to move on when the vendor called him back.  He apparently chooses one person each year he does this art show to give one of his wooden boxes to.  He keeps an eye out for kids, and enjoyed DS’s enthusiasm.  What a special surprise!

My oldest didn’t want to go to the art fair when I first ran the idea by her, thinking it would appeal as she wants to be a glass artist.  She claimed that she’d rather do art than look at it.  She seems to have amnesia and can’t recall that she turned the idea down.  DH and I later decided to make it a family outing and her choice was gone.

The day after school gets out we leave for vacation.  The days have been crazy.  Yesterday I spent 5 hours having the vehicle serviced.  We always get it checked over before large trips, and it needed shocks, struts, and a couple of small things.  That shot the day.  There’s still much to do, but I needed to sit down for a bit.  I try to keep the housework up well right before we leave so I don’t come home to a mess.  The bathrooms will wait, but I’m keeping up with other things.  Today was a mountain of ironing.  Yay.

Monday was beautiful and I got out to get some things planted (which should have been done three weeks ago!).  I have high hopes for this year.  I don’t think we’ll get apples this year, though.  The cold must’ve been too rough because there haven’t been any blossoms.  I’ll have to wrap them with burlap this year.  There’s still my cluster of grapes to look forward to.


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Crazy School Events and Other Stuff

My fifth grade son brought home a note about an upcoming event in their classroom next week.  Are you sitting down?  It’s a poetry tea party.  We’re supposed to send in a tea cup and saucer, place mat, knife, fork, and spoon.  This class is half boys.  The teacher has a son (freshman in high school), so she is aware of typical boy behavior.  Has she never seen the boys swinging their back packs around and into each other?  I’ve watched this and seen my son swinging his lunch box around on his way to the car.  Even if I had a tea cup, I wouldn’t trust it to go to school.  While they drink tea, and I hope it isn’t truly tea or my son will likely spit it across the room when he tastes it, they will be reading poetry.  Anyone else picturing a roomful of beatniks in black?  My son will take in a plastic cup and disposable silverware (he’s forgetful).  Maybe he’ll get a place mat.

If this isn’t the first time you’ve read my blog, you may remember that my son had a big field trip with a chartered bus.  They left 2 hours before the normal start of the school day, and returned a little more than an hour after the end of the school day.  When I asked DS what was his favorite part of the trip (to a museum and reenactment village), he replied, “The bus!!!”.  They watched a movie (Frozen) on the return trip, it had luggage compartments, air conditioning, etc.  I didn’t hear much about the actual destination, other than there was very little in the gift shop that he could purchase with the five dollars I sent.  That was money and time well spent.

My middle is finishing her school year.  Around June 1, I usually give her all of the assignments for the remainder of the year and let her finish at will, provided she doesn’t brag to her siblings or do a rush job.  She’s also been able to have several documentaries, which she loves and gets a lot out of.  These last few weeks have had major ups and downs.  It was definitely the right decision to have her finish high school through home school (she’s a freshman next year).  She’s come such a long way in managing her sensory processing disorder, but there’s a ways to go yet.  She still needs to be able to set math aside when she gets frustrated and go do a different assignment or do something physical for a few minutes to bring herself ‘back to center’.  The public school can’t allow that flexibility.

My son has cellulitis again.  He had two bad mosquito bites at the end of the school day yesterday, and this morning they were still swollen, angry red, and they have heat.  Fortunately, the doctor office was able to fit him in.  He’ll see the physician’s assistant, but she’s sharp and we like her as much as their regular doctor.  The main thing is to get him on antibiotics before this has a chance to set in too deeply.  The first time he had this happen, I didn’t even know that he had a bad bite, let alone knowing about cellulitis.  He got three shots that day and three more two days later when he went back for a check.  We’ve been pretty vigilant since that lesson.  Last summer his body fought a couple of runs of infection off, so I was hopeful that we were done.

Why don’t we soak him down with Deep Woods Off?  If he’s headed into the woods, or going to be outdoors for a long stretch of time we do.  I’ve still been bitten while sprayed, though, and I don’t want to douse him in chemicals every day.  He wears a mosquito repellant bracelet most school days.  When I have to spray him, he has to shower when he gets home.  For hiking, I bought mosquito netting designed to wear over your hat.

To end with a positive, there is a tiny cluster of grapes growing in my garden.  I would love more, but am happy with my one cluster for now.

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Odds and Ends

Middle school is coming up quickly.  Last night they hosted an open house.  There was an event back in March, and in August they’ll be having an orientation with schedule pickup (new since my oldest started there four years ago).  I question how effective these multiple sessions are, but I’ll roll with it for the sake of my son doing what the rest of his peers are doing since it’s to help get excited about school.  An interesting thing came up during Q&A last night, though.  A parent asked about cell phones in school.  Valid question.  A lot of parents rely on the communication with their kids.  The interesting part is that some of the teachers have “device days” where students bring their phones to class and they are used in a class activity.  What do they do for kids like mine, who do not have cell phones?

I asked my oldest about ‘device days’.  She didn’t remember anything like that, but a science teacher did have the kids take one of the tests using their cell phones.  Apparently she had a cart of laptops for those students without phones.  I’m not sure what the point of this exercise was.

We don’t load our kids up with technology.  This is with a father who works with computers every day.  We appreciate technology and utilize it, but don’t think the kids should see it as a necessity for life.  Our oldest – freshman in high school – does not have a phone yet.  We priced it out recently as our flip phones purchased in 2006 are starting to lose charge more quickly.  We decided we can wait one more year until our daughter is actually driving, then wait one more year to add a phone for DD2 to coincide with her driving permit.

I guess I just don’t want the school to start using cell phones as part of instruction, especially at the middle school level.

I started packing food for our upcoming vacation.  I’d forgotten how much work it is to get all of my dinner “mixes” ready.  I also found that the box of zip top bags I was putting flour into had been slightly damaged, so they all have two extra pieces of masking tape on them now.  There must have been a jagged edge of metal on one of the machines.  Annoying, but at least I noticed it now instead of when unpacking the tub at the rental.  There’s still food packing to do, but mostly that’s the snacks for all of our outings.  I think I have my shopping list ready to go for the perishables.

Next on the list is going through the hiking bags to make sure they’re ready to go.  Since our last trip, I made bandanas for each of us out of old cotton dresses and pants and put a button hole in a corner of each.  I learned, through a Cub Scout class, ways that these can be used for first aid, and learned through other channels the benefits of a wet cloth wrapped around the neck on a hot day.  The button hole is to be able to hang the bandana from the back pack with a clip so it can dry as we hike.  I also purchased micro fiber hand towels from a dollar store and put a grommet on each for the same reason.  This year the load will be a touch easier as the kids can carry light packs with their own jackets and snacks.  I made ‘stuff’ sacks for their jackets several years ago, using my own as a pattern so they could use the sack long term.  It makes packing so much neater.

The kids will be packing their own car snacks this year.  They all need to nibble throughout the day.  My oldest can become a bit lightheaded or develop a headache, and the two youngest can become irritable if they go too long between snacks.  The plan was to just put all of the snacks they pack into one plastic shopping bag each and hang it from the seat in front of them for the trip’s duration.  My youngest feels that he won’t be able to control himself enough, however, so we’ll make up two bags for him- one for each direction.  I appreciate his honesty and will be happy to make this accommodation.

I really need to spend more time sewing, but am knee deep in wrapping up home school, planning next year’s home school, end of year events through the public school, preparing for vacation, a birthday is fast approaching, and day to day work doesn’t go on hold for any of these happenings.  I did get a pair of pajamas made for DD2 and have a good start on a dress for her.  This paragraph is my cue to get off of the computer and go get some work done.

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