Sunday, January 25, 2009

Update! Update!

No, nothing exciting to report, as the exclamation points in the title would lead you to believe. I just wanted to let you know that I'm updating, and I thought I'd fancy it up with some cute punctuation. Because I've always thought that exclamation points were kind of cute. Not as cute as semi colons, but much easier to figure out how to use.

Last Tuesday, we schooled for a little while and then took a break to watch the Presidential Inauguration. I think that The Kids were bored out of their skulls, but I wanted them to see it. I didn't vote for Obama, nor do I think that he's going to be the savior that people want to believe he's going to be, but I can certainly appreciate the history that was made as he was sworn into office. I think there's kind of a neat irony in this Inauguration day falling the day after Martin Luther King day.

Everything else is going pretty smoothly, really. I recently went and bought a Comprehensive Curriculum book for Declan that has a lot of "fun" worksheet activities that cover a wider range of kindergarten level activities. I've not been thinking to do a lot of things that talk about sequencing or things like that, plus I thought he'd like a bit of a change from the regular routine. His reading ability is chugging along like gangbusters, and I'm really excited about that because it was really so easy with Reilly that I was concerned that it was a fluke and I'd run into some big issues with him or something. We've started doing long vowel words with a silent e and he's really getting the hang of it, although I do have to remind him to pay attention and look for an e, but I think that's typical.

Here's a confession for you: I think this is the first year I'm truly comfortable as a homeschooler and with the way we do things. It has taken me four years to realize that if we don't finish every single lesson in the curriculum, we will be okay and the world will not fall down around our ears. If we skip math one day, the Math Police aren't going to come to our house and flog us with logarithms. I think I spent the past three years stressing out because I felt like I was hanging on by my fingernails, but I'm finally (ha! finally!) in a rhythm that feels pretty right for our family. Yay!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Consistency: Doing the Hard Stuff

One of the things that I struggle with the most as a parent is consistency with discipline. I think that I just heard a collective "AMEN, SISTAH!" from pretty much every parent reading this, because heaven knows that one of the hardest things to do is follow through with that threat that you just made to Boseephus, Jr. about how if he did XY or Z one more time you were going to ground him for an entire year plus take away all of his desserts and send all of his action figures to starving kids in China. No sooner are the words out of your mouth then you realize that aaawwww MAN, now I need to actually do those things as discipline, or run the risk of my children realizing that I have no backbone whatsoever! And the implications of THAT are scary. Simply scary.

Well, I will confess that I am, more often than not, of the back-boneless variety. I am the classic Threatening Repeating Parent: "If you don't do such-and-such, then _____________" and I lay out some kind of consequence, only to remind said child of the consequence fifty times more, all the while growing more and more frustrated and closer to losing my temper. And, admittedly, sometimes completely losing my temper altogether. I hate that more than anything, really, because one of the things I'm trying to teach these little munchkins that God blessed me with as kids is SELF CONTROL, and it's hard to teach that when you're foaming at the mouth.

We're part of a history co-op with some of our best friends which meets every other week to do all the really fun activities that none of us moms really wants to plan for just our own kids. This week we were meeting at our house, but Monday morning I was spending time in school struggling with The Kids and their attitude. Both of them, oddly enough, because Declan is usually just fine. Finally I told them, very calmly and firmly, that if they didn't stop reacting to me in an irritated manner whenever I spoke to them or corrected them, if they didn't completely change their attitudes, they would not participate in the co-op. The way it would work is that they would be back in my room, on the bed with books, and they would not come out at all. Not to say hi to their friends, not to have a snack, or go to the bathroom or get a drink, et cetera and so forth. The only thing that would get them out of that room would be if the house caught on fire. (Hey, I'm not unreasonable!)

Well, Declan straightened right up and proceeded to finish up his schoolwork without any attitude. Reilly, on the other hand, did not, and long story short, lost her attendance at the co-op. She apologized for her behavior, and then said in a very sad voice, "I really wish that I could come to the co-op." I told her that I did to, but that she had her chance to change her behavior. She had her choice to make, and she chose to continue to be rude to me and I'm done with that. When co-op time came, off she went to my room, and she wasn't heard from until everyone left, which was about two and a half hours later.

Back in December I read
this blog post over at Woulda Coulda Shoulda and it really made me rethink how I dole out consequences. The line that really jumped out at me was when she wrote, "Hey, I’m ready and willing to believe my daughter is super special and everything, but with 80+ kids I’m supposed to believe that her absence ruined the show? And also that THAT takes precedence over raising her to be a pleasant, respectful human?" One thing that I've realized is that I tend to back down on my consequences when it's something that I deem a "memory". It's as though I think The Kids are going to be scarred if I have them miss out on something that they could look back on fondly when they're adults. (Does that make any sense?) I'm realizing, however, that more important than memories that might be made while they're growing, is their development into repectful adults.

So, Reilly missed the co-op, and hopefully a lesson was learned. Hopefully not just by her, though. Hopefully I'm learning too, and will continue to grow a spine.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Starting off with a BANG!

No, we didn't blow anything up. I promise. Although, frankly, that might have been more interesting than the science experiment that we did on Tuesday...

I jest, I jest! Actually, the experiments we're currently doing involve magnets and The Kids find that absolutely fascinating. It's just that this past Tuesday, we were supposed to cut a butterfly out of tissue paper and then attach a paperclip onto the butterfly and some thread, and tape the thread to the table. Then, supposedly, you could make the butterfly "fly" using your magnet, but without actually touching the paperclip. I had my camera at the ready, poised to take cute pictures of my cute kiddos and their "flying" butterflies.

It didn't work.
It worked on the video. It always works on the video.
Stupid video.

Apparently our magnet wasn't strong enough, because we had to get it so close that it just kept clamping on to the paperclip. And not flying. Oh well, they had fun anyway.

I'm currently trying to download some pictures to make a slideshow of the things that we did for our Christmas Around the World study. Unfortunately, the computer is being crabby and slow...kind of like me with this raging cold that I have that is making me feel like my brain has decided to melt and run out of my I don't know if I'll get it posted tonight.

I mainly wanted to post here to let all three of you know that we are BACK IN SCHOOL! And, let me tell you, the "bang" that I spoke of in the post title? Well, let's just say that not everyone came skipping back to school with bright shiny faces, excited and eager to begin learing all about language arts and math facts again. In fact, when I polled my homeschooling friends, I don't think that ANY of them had a great first day back. (Actually, I think we may have been ahead of the curve because we didn't have any actual tears.) But, as the week went on, we seem to have gotten back into the routine fairly well. We go back to our co-op tomorrow, so The Kids are super excited to see all of their AHEE friends again.

Well, the slideshow is going to have to wait for another day. The photobucket site is being too slow and my Benadryl just kicked in and I'm about to go all loopy and start telling you all kinds of secrets that you never wanted to know in the first place. I promise I'll post it really, really soon. The pictures of Reilly and Declan wearing the Saint Lucia wreaths that they made will be worth the wait, I promise!