Day to Day

I’ve been making it a goal to spend at least ten minutes each day weeding in my many garden areas and it’s paying off. I still have a lot to do, but the progress is visible as less green (maple seedlings) shows against the brown of the mulch. Once I’ve gotten the maple seedlings and other pull-able weeds out I’ll grab the trowel and dig out violets. Once the violets are out of the garden it will be time to dig them out of the yard where they come close to the garden. Why can’t the rabbits eat the violets and dandelions and leave my flowers alone?

I borrowed a dandelion fork from my mother-in-law and went through the yard. I’m getting one for myself. About a third of the tap roots broke, but I still think the tool works well. There are more to be dug this year, and every summer will bring new ones. DH used to practically manicure the lawn, but doesn’t do much beyond mowing now, so I’m trying to do some old fashioned weed control when I have time. I was never fully comfortable with the chemical spreading anyway.

Within the next week I want to get some seeds planted as well – another reason to get the weeding done. Last year I put in candy tuft seeds which were labeled as annuals, but I was hopeful they’d reseed and sure enough I have a bunch coming up! I got myself lilies (from DH and the kids) for Mother’s Day, and some of those are poking up already. I want to plant canterbury bells in front of and slightly into the lily area. I’ve got St. John’s Wort for a partly sunny area under our dining room windows, and I’ll have to decide what’s going in the hanging baskets. I also have pots to get some herbs started in. A trip to Lowe’s for the dandelion fork, perlite, and potting soil is needed.

The school still hasn’t posted the calendar for the 2015-2016 school year and I’m getting antsy. They sent out a couple of key dates, but I really need the whole thing before I start the lesson plans. Part of me says to just follow my own schedule for DD2 and if it matches the public schedule, great. But, if I had her doing school work when the other two had a day off it wouldn’t go well. I’ve got the blank lesson plan pages, the assignment sheets. and the grade book pages all ready to go. What I need to do is start working on the report card. i can work on the comment section, even though I can’t tally the final percentages for grades.

What I need to get moving on is sewing. I had a good run for a short while but it didn’t last. Maybe with the coming of summer. The girls both need some pajamas, and my oldest wants to learn how to sew, so I’ve told her that she’s going to make her own. She also needs new lunch box napkins. There are only two more school years to go, but her set of napkins is falling apart. Back when each child was getting ready to start first grade, I found a remnant of fabric that I thought they would like and make it into 6×6 napkins for them. DH was wary of sending them with our son, but he doesn’t seem to mind. DD1’s fabric is embroidered, so that may have made it a bit less durable. We’ll just go through my leftover bin to find the next fabric for her.

There are always way more things which I want to accomplish than I actually get to. I keep aiming big on the hope that I’ll get to the bottom of the list.

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There’s Always Something to be Learned

Our dishwasher started leaking about a month ago, and the repair man (whom we trust and have had out for other jobs) told us flatly that this leak indicates that it’s time for a new machine. The repair is costly and won’t last long. We still haven’t purchased a new one, so I’m still doing dishes by hand. I’ve learned that I need a good bottle brush for the glasses as my spongy one is starting to fall apart. I’ve learned that it isn’t so terrible to do dishes by hand all the time, but it does add to my chores. I’ve learned that letting the dishes drip dry for even a mere half hour cuts way down on hand drying. I also learned that having a drop ceiling in the basement is beneficial in more than one way. Yes, we have to replace two ceiling tiles that had only been in a few weeks, but it called the leak to attention quickly.

Home school continues to wind down. This is DD2’s favorite time of year. The history and science book have both been completed, so the work load is greatly reduced. She’s reading a thick handout on the Romanov family, but there aren’t any questions or quizzes. Science is now zoology coloring (with informational pages on each). I figure if the text book is completed, we’ve earned the right to play a little. She also gets a lot more time for documentaries, which she loves.

My garden needs massive weeding thanks to maple tree seedlings and violets need to be dug out, but I have to go easy because I have costo chondritis, which is inflammation of cartilage where the ribs meet the sternum. Garden/outdoor tasks cause it to flare up. I filled the yard bin with leaves yesterday and am paying for it today. My kids have been hauling the water for the garden and helping with laundry baskets, but I guess I need to think more about how tasks affect my muscles. That’s difficult for me because if I want something done, I just want to do it instead of waiting for someone else to be able to help or fully do it.

Tomorrow is the last co-op and I’m ready to be finished. I enjoyed teaching the first half of the year, but it slid down hill with the quality of the assignments turned in. Oh well. Nothing has been said about next year so I think it’s going to die quietly. We’ve got our alternate plan and I actually prefer it. I’ve been downloading home friendly chemistry experiments to do on Thursdays. We won’t be lacking.

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In Disbelief

Yesterday I attended an honor roll assembly for my oldest. It was only for the sophomore class, and 188 students were being “honored”. What does it take to be part of this assembly? At least one semester with a 3.0 grade point average. Since when is a 3.0 considered an honor? I always thought it had to be at least a 3.5. Also, of the 188 sophomores being honored, 56 of them had only made honor roll one semester. Again, that’s not assembly worthy in my book. Should they be listed on a semester honor roll if they attained the GPA for it? Yes, but I think this is just another example of our “everybody’s special” mentality.

Do I believe that everyone has something that makes them special or unique? Yes, but I also believe that not everyone puts that special or unique quality to good use. I’m just tired of sitting through these artificially bloated award assemblies that cheapen actual academic accomplishment.

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Plugging Along

Last week DD2 looked at the calendar and asked nervously, “Mom, who’s going to the dentist Monday?” She was relieved to find out it was me, but I didn’t tell her that they are all going the day after school gets out for the summer. You’re a mean one, Mother Grinch. Actually, it’s just a pain to pull the other two out of school for cleanings so I avoid it when I can. The school won’t take a parent’s word for it that the child has been to the doctor, dentist, orthodontist, etc, so you have to remember to get a note. Also, I have to return kids to two different buildings, and during that time home schooled DD2 misses her work time.

I’m anxiously awaiting the release of the school calendar for next year so I can start lesson planning. People tease me for that, but I like to get a head start so it doesn’t cut into summer as much. It’s hard enough finding time to take the kids to the lake these days when all the kids can swim (two teen daughters) without throwing in school planning. I want to be better this summer about getting the kids in the kitchen (I say it every year and every year it’s true), I want to get the paints and canvases out for the kids to create, and I want to do some boy things with DS such as cooking over a fire.

Right now I’m making plans as if there will be no home school co-op. We only meet three more times and nothing has been said about classes for next year. To me, that’s a big old “Going out of Business” sign. The really hard part for DD2 is that we just got an e-mail from her 4H leader about the next monthly meeting, which will be parents only and talking about “the fate” of our club. Parents aren’t leading activities (we’re supposed to), and some are just dropping their kids off for the meetings, and some kids aren’t putting anything in the fair – a big enough issue that the by-laws just got an amendment.

Both of these groups have been a social opportunity for DD2, but she’s also wanting to join the teen Bible study which would keep her in the company of one of the groups, and she doesn’t have time to interact during the meetings at 4H. I certainly wouldn’t miss fair week, and we could still enter items. The biggest drain of fair week is set up and take down of the display area, along with working two 4 hour shifts in the stands.

Things tend to ‘work together for good’, so I’m not stressing over it, just thinking about alternatives.

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Not Enough Time in the Day

This is shaping up to be a very long week. Tonight is DD2’s last sewing class for the (fair) year. She’s working on the finishing touches to a shirt as I write and has a counter change smocking project in progress: fabric covered eggs. Hopefully she can finish the first one tonight because I haven’t ever done these. I’m frustrated with the neckline of the shirt. Originally it was to be lined, but her teachers and I scrapped that as her cotton is quite thick. So, we sewed on a facing, which the pattern included, but it’s not laying well. She top-stitched it, but it still sticks up. I think we’ll have to carefully hand sew some anchor points in.

Friday, DD2 has a lesson for cake decorating in which she’s supposed to start decorating her foam cake for the fair. This will only be lesson #3 and getting her to practice is tough. My gut tells me that this will likely be a one time thing. If she doesn’t become more willing, I’m not going to stick my neck out. She’s old enough to take the responsibility of remembering to do things without prompts from me.

DS had a Mexican tasting party today at school. He didn’t plan to ask me to make anything – it’s extra credit if they bring in a traditional Mexican dish- but he’s a good kid. He and I made a batch of Pan Dulces – sweet bread. They were okay, but I don’t plan to make them again. I truly didn’t need the extra work this week, but sometimes you just have to take a breath and do these things.

Our dish washer has been out of commission since Saturday when DH noticed water on two of the ceiling tiles in the basement. I had a full washer waiting to be run, too. It’s been a challenge to keep up with the dishes, especially with the extra baking project and today it was time to make waffles. I wanted to make the kids do them with me, but I find the best times to work on it are the times they’re getting ready in the morning, doing homework, or at school.

My oldest seems to have never-ending homework. I think some of it is self-imposed, but she did take advanced classes. She’s decided to go for an IB degree (International Baccalaureate). I hope I spelled that right. As part of this degree she’ll need to put in 150 volunteer hours. I’ve told her plainly that it is up to her to decide where to volunteer, to log it, and to get the hours she needs. She’s chosen this path, so she needs to be responsible for completing it. It involves a lot and I’m skeptical that it’s the best choice for her. If she were going into a business career, I’d be all over it. But it’s her choice.

DD1 says she want to be an artist. Most specifically, a glass artist. The trouble is, I rarely see her doing art in her free time. My cousin, now an architect, was always drawing something. When we went to their house, we’d see his latest project – an elaborate tree house system for little pom pom pets – end tables made out of stacked bricks and a glass top, usually stacked differently each time we went – garage sale finds made over into treasures – there was always something. DD1 makes chain mail jewelry now and then. She has art supplies galore, a scrapbook and all the trimmings to put in it (still empty two years later, yes she asked for it), cake decorating tools that were asked for and have maybe been used once in three years. I raised the kids doing crafts and we have always had items on hand to create with. I just don’t see the passion to support an art career, but maybe she’ll prove me wrong. She has talent, just doesn’t show drive.

I finally got outside this weekend and did a bit of gardening. My son and I planted asparagus, onions, and garlic, and I got the grapes trimmed back. There’s a lot more to do, but I need time. A little here and there will be better than nothing.

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DD2 got her school work all caught up yesterday! She’s had a few very sensory reactive weeks and it’s been like pulling teeth to get things done. The big incentive is that this time of year, there is a butterfly house open. She can’t go unless all of her school work is up to date, and it’s only open for one more week. The other two kids don’t care that DD2 goes yearly. She likes to spend an hour or more, while they’re done in 5-10 minutes. I take a book and sit on one of the benches while she takes her time. I’m so glad she buckled down and caught up because it would have been misery all around if she’d missed it. Now we have to cross our fingers for a sunny day (the butterflies will be more active).

These past few weeks have been just another affirmation that home school was the right choice to stay with for DD2. She can change subjects when frustrated without waiting for a bell, I can have her laying on the couch with a warm clay pack to do her reading when cramps hit (school would send her home, as bad as she gets with cramps), She can snack while doing her work (frequent snacks keep her body better regulated – lunch is small), and I can wait a couple of days for assignments when she’s struggling. Our high school cuts the grade in half the first day late.

I’ve been trying to think what class to offer at home school co-op next year, but can’t really get excited about it. This year has been frustrating. I understand that this is the one day a week the kids can interact in a ‘school’ setting, but I wish I could get a little more dedication. Some are faithful to their assigned work, others blow it off. I know these kids socially, which makes discipline different than if I were in a public school setting. My own child is included in this criticism. One of our main teachers may not be able to participate next year, and our administrator is not guaranteed either, both due to new jobs. The group has been shrinking, and for me it may actually be a relief if it’s not available.

I’ve already spoken to DD2 about the possibility and have assured her that we would still do things differently on Thursdays here at home. She chose geography for next year, but I also want to do an in-depth study of the Civil War. We covered the American Revolution deeply already, and both of these events were major shapers of our country. If co-op is in session next year, this will be my class, but they won’t get a whole lot out of it if they don’t do the assigned reading.

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Thinking Differently

DH has been getting migraines since high school, but lately they were becoming an almost daily event. He’s had an MRI, CT, plus other tests which can’t show a reason for these migraines. He hit the web and started to see some things connecting gluten with migraines and for the past 3-4 weeks has been keeping the daily gluten intake to a minimum. So far, low gluten has kept him nearly migraine free. He’s had a couple of gluten pig-outs that brought the pain back. It’s not been easy for him to lower his gluten intake, nor has it been easy to change how I think about meal plans and his lunches. Many of his favorite frozen meals are pasta based, and he mostly takes frozen dinners for lunch. The blessing is that he can still have some gluten, or we’d be in a tail spin.

I’m trying to plan meals with only one gluten per meal, while feeding growing kids. Bread has been a saving grace for filling them some nights without blowing the budget. DH seems to tolerate from-scratch gluten items better than processed, so that helps as I bake a lot of items from scratch. There’s always something, isn’t there?

It’s Spring Break for us, and we were going to take a trip, but plans got derailed and we’re home. That’s actually okay with me. We’ve been for three walks at the nature center, saw Cinderella, made shakes and pretzels (different nights), and have eaten out twice. I wasn’t looking forward to two days in the car, and on vacations we tend to take walks of one kind or another and eat out. Hmm. I think we’re doing just fine. DS, with a lot of ‘influence’ from me, got a lot of cleaning accomplished in his room. The closet and surfaces (tops of dressers and bookshelves) need to be tended to, but I haven’t been able to really vacuum in his room for months, so I was thrilled. I was even able to change his sheets today without stepping on things or having to kick things under his bed.

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