A Great Start

It’s a day of firsts in our household. The first day of school for all three kids, the first day of high school for my middle (home schooled), and the first day of middle school for my youngest. It’s also the first day of the school year with a call home.

“Mom, you know that mosquito bite I got this weekend? It’s red, has heat, is swollen, and has streaks.”
“Can the office staff see the streaks?”
“Are you calling to come home, or for me to make the appointment?”
“Make the appointment. Bye.”

He called during the doctor office’s lunch break. Near the beginning of the hour and a half lunch break. They might be able to fit him in this afternoon, or we may be spending a couple of hours at Urgent Care. Once the streaks show up, you need to get the antibiotics going.

I told him to wash the bites, but that doesn’t always hold off infection. That’s all I had the energy to do as I was in bed with a flu type bug. I spent about 18 hours out of a 24 hour period sleeping – on Labor Day weekend. I guess I should have seen that the tone was being set for the start of school.

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When Does it End?

I was talking with my sister yesterday when she brought up something that struck a nerve. My mom is going to take my sister’s youngest son for the week next week because she’s been missing her grandkids.

Why would that upset me? Because we live 3 hours away from Mom, invited her to come visit in July and were turned down, then invited her to come to the fair with us and were turned down. Several times when my nephews were young I heard Mom comment on how she couldn’t wait for the kids to be old enough to take to the fair. She actually has a grandchild in 4H with projects on display to go see, and now she’s not interested.

Driving can’t be the issue, because she’s driving further to meet my nephew than she would to come see us, and she’ll do it twice within the same week.

I’m so glad that my kids don’t know how many times the other grandchildren have had visits, let alone with grandparents staying one or two nights (for us it’s always here and gone the same day) and having the grandkids come stay at the hotel with them and go swimming. (The last time Mom came here was Thanksgiving last year.) Or about the back-to-school shopping trips, or all of the school programs that couldn’t be missed. They made it to one of our kid’s programs – we’re three hours away, my sister is nine hours away.

Now my sister and Mom want us all to meet at a State Park for a long weekend next summer and share a cabin. When I was growing up, my dad took us to this park every summer. Mom always stayed home. She hated this part of the state. She’s not an outdoor gal. Now she apparently can’t get enough of this part of the state and wants us all to vacation together.

For us, this would be very stressful. My sister has raised her kids very differently from our family. She pictures her oldest two boys and my girls sharing a pop-up camper. My girls have been raised to hold modesty as a virtue and are very uncomfortable with that idea. We won’t let that happen. When sis goes anywhere, it immediately looks as if the suitcases exploded. We’re quite a bit more contained than that. My sister and her husband swear like sailors. They reign it in a bit for us, but there are words they don’t consider swearing which we do. This park is also only an hour drive for my sister while it is five or six hours for us.

After this latest new item, I’m inclined to just let them have their trip together and not get in the way. It’s not as if we’re looking forward to it anyway. I was only going to go along with it because it seemed to be something that was important to Mom.

My DH patiently lets me get it all out to him. I don’t have the guts to have it out with Mom. If the kids ever catch on and get hurt by all this, I’ll have to.

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Today I finished lesson planning for biology! We will get through all 39 chapters if my daughter stays on top of it. That’s with a supplemental book and co-op’s biology class to boot. It feels good to have the planning done. Now it just needs to go on the assignment pages and into the grade book.

Today was also the day to pick up the fair projects, so that’s over for a year. My middle has already completed a project for next year’s fair, and we have a crochet project picked out and ready to start. I want her to start early as it may take some prodding to get it completed, even with a year to do it. It’s a wrap style sweater, and she likes the yarn I had purchased on sale earlier to make a sweater for her so she’s going to use it to make her own. I love it when things work out that way.

My son’s scrap afghan is going in spurts. A lady at church asked me to teach her to crochet and that has been prodding me to work on the squares. My oldest daughter’s skirt (sewing) is on hold. I became frustrated with it and am not ready to pick it back up just yet. I also need to get her back on the machine. She wants to learn how to sew, and right now is planning to make her own wedding dress when the day comes (she’s only a high school sophomore). There’s time for her to get up to that level if I don’t drop the ball. Of course, she has a voice and can ask for sewing lessons as well.

I’m still not where I want to be in getting things accomplished, but a summer cold didn’t help, and frankly I wouldn’t be where I wanted to be without the cold. I suppose it’s better to aim high and only get half way there than to not aim at all.

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I feel like I’ve been eating and sleeping history, but I finished lesson plans for the entire history book, with extra articles pulled from the web. I also had to type up quizzes and tests from the teacher edition, but it’s done. My mom kind of scoffed at me for wanting to get all of this planning done now, but she doesn’t realize how much it saves me during the school year. The more I can get finished now, the better the school year will run. English is fully planned, and history is planned through Spring Break. Science is set until mid-October. German, oceanography, art, and half of vet studies are finished. The other half of vet studies is medical terminology, for which I need to retype a med term. workbook that my MIL used for a class. I do have it planned, at least. I may end up needing to plan Geometry as well since the co-op class may not be offered as was originally planned. Fortunately, I have a text book that my dad gave me. I also need to polish up the plans for the writing class I’m teaching at co-op. I have a sketch of what I’m covering, and assignments and handouts I want to use; I just need to get it ready for fall.

My middle, who is my home-schooled child, asked two weeks ago if we could start home school. I honestly told her I wasn’t ready. We’ll see if her tune changes when she actually has school work. I increase the pace/load a bit each year and she starts high school this fall. I’m hitting biology extra heavy (she’s been fore-warned) because science is her strong point and she wants to be a vet. The text has 39 chapters, and she knows that I plan to cover all of it. We’ll see how it goes.

My youngest still isn’t thrilled by the prospect of middle school. I’m going to watch the language arts fairly closely as that’s his weakest area. I know he’d like to be home schooled as well, and I’m torn. DH is only on board with home schooling the middle because of what the teacher did to her. I worry about my youngest, but in some ways he does quite well. He relates much easier to adults than to his peers, but that won’t be an issue forever.

My oldest got excited today as we talked about her and her sister learning how to make chain mail jewelry. She doesn’t often get excited about anything but glass classes, so she and I went to Michael’s and got a few supplies after downloading a few patterns off of the internet. DH made a chain mail shirt a few years ago, so he’s willing to show her how to make the rings. He had talked about making the girls some hand flowers a couple of years ago, but he really doesn’t have time.

My oldest just got back from a five day youth conference with our church. I woke her just shy of 11 am this morning. She had accepted a job taking care of the neighbors cats and needed to get over there to feed them. I hadn’t realized that activities would run until midnight every night. My kids have to turn the light out at 9:30, and they can still have a hard time getting up the next day. I don’t know if five days of sleep deprivation is worth it, but next year she knows we expect her to get a job, so it won’t be an issue.

There is so much on my to-do list that it feels as if I’ll never get through it. Once the lesson plans are ready, school will begin and I’ll need to grade, help the others with homework, and adjust plans. Once I finish sewing project a, b, and c, there will be projects d, e, and f to stare at me. Cleaning is never ending, and never caught up with. I suppose that four years from now, home school will be finished, unless the youngest joins my school. Four years from now, the girls won’t need many things made for them, and the youngest probably won’t want pjs anymore. There will come a time when I have more time to breathe and to get out in the garden again.

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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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