As home educators, we get to set our own schedules. That comes in handy when you need to make doctor’s appointments or want to take advantage of an off-season vacation special.
But it has some drawbacks too, primarily when the teacher doesn’t feel like getting back to school.
This Christmas break was a drag. We hosted Bob’s family for the first time (not the drag part) but had a bunch of projects we thought we needed to get done beforehand, none of which I even remember now.
Yes, they were that important.
After all the projects and the First Holiday Dinner (roast beef and Yorkshire pudding and no one died of food poisoning, thank you very much), one by one each member of my immediate family got sick. And to make things more interesting, they each got something different. Their own special kind of sick! What unique people I live with.
After I got to play nurse to four of them, THEN it was time to start the Whole 30 challenge, another one of my ideas that seemed brilliant until it was actually time to begin it.
Now I’m trying to ferment my own sauerkraut, cook pastured pork chops, source organic sweet potatoes, and make my own salad dressing. Do you think I have time to do multiplication drills with a 3rd grader?
But of course the time came to start school……and then it went. Our start-back date was a Monday that Bob was working. We started the day well enough with our Power Hour. After listening to Mary Claire’s new vocabulary chapter and reviewing linking verbs for the umpteenth time, we read a chapter out of her book and then took a break.
The break lasted the rest of the day.
Later that night Bob called and asked Mary Claire how school went.
Me, sitting next to her and whispering quietly: Just tell Daddy we eased into it.
Mary Claire: We eased into it Daddy.
Bob: Eased into it? What does that mean?
Mary Claire: It means we got dressed?
Not only will these rants, I mean posts, serve as an anthem against the tooth fairy, but I intend for them also to be Public Service Announcements (PSAs) for parents of small children. Let this be a warning to you, new parents. Learn from my folly.
Bob and I never got into the Santa or Easter Bunny thing with the girls. We don’t think there is anything wrong with them; it just wasn’t our thing. But when Mary Claire’s first tooth was loose, she was adamant the tooth fairy WAS coming to our house. We decided we’d indulge in this little fantasy.
I’m not sure why, but our kids get their teeth (and hence lose their teeth) early. Remember this?
When Mary Claire’s quest to get an American Girl doll as her “award” for losing her first tooth proved unsuccessful, she went to bed and put the tooth under her pillow.
Now I know myself and my limitations as a parent. I’m forgetful. And lazy. I also know Mary Claire’s limitations. She never forgets anything. And holds grudges. So as soon as she got into bed I got some cash out and left it on the floor, outside our bedroom so I would not forget. I waited a good long while, then crept into their room. She was in the top bunk at the time, and her sweet sleeping face was eye level with mine. I quietly slipped my hand with the money under her pillow -
AND SHE BOLTED AWAKE.
“MOMMY?!!” she said, blinking a few times, “You’re THE TOOTH FAIRY?!!?”
Me, sighing and defeated, “Yes.”
She sat upright and I wasn’t sure what to expect. Tears? Her expressing feelings of betrayal? Great disappointment?
“Okay, can I have the money?” she said eagerly and quickly deposited it in a wallet and purse she has laid next to her for the very occasion.
So right from the beginning I knew this fairy business was dumb. Who’s bright idea was it to put the tooth and money under the pillow? Not any parent, I can tell you that.
PSA: If you are going to proceed with the Tooth Fairy business, lay the ground work early. Get yourself a little bowl and put it out on the counter next to your coffee pot. Tell your kids the Tooth Fairy only pays for teeth found in that bowl by 8 a.m. in the morning. And keep a stash of a few bucks handy so you don’t end up like my girlfriend. When her daughter lost her first tooth, the only cash she had on her was a $20 bill. Now that’s an expensive precedent.
I was sitting on the couch tonight and Mary Claire casually plopped down next to me.
“Here, I thought you might want to take this Christmas shopping with you”, she says. Mind you, it’s October and I’m not exactly known for being the early bird who catches a worm.
It was the super thick Toys R Us Christmas book that comes out every year. This is a highly-prized item in our house. The girls spend much time poring over every page.
“When did this come in the mail?” I asked, thumbing through.
“Oh, I saved it from last year. You know, so you could be prepared”.
As I looked through, I noticed virtually everything is circled.
“The circled things are what you guys want?”
“Yep. They are left over from last year’s lists. I combined my list and Elizabeth’s, then added what I thought Lydia would like”.
“You saved your lists from last year?”
“Yes”, she says, “I’m trying to make it all easier, you know the shopping part. I saved some of the wrapping paper and bags too.”
She’s seven. Can you imagine how well she is going to be managing her first company by the age of 12?
Lydia, our two-year-old, can be a little…well, let’s just say she is a toddler and she acts like one. There are days she smiles radiantly and says “Mommy, I want you Mommy. I yuv you so much Mommy, so much”. Those days feel like a ray of warm sunshine is beaming on our home and family.
Then there are other days, like last week, when I tried to make a quick trip into Kroger with all three kids to pick up groceries for a friend. Lydia was NOT having it, did NOT want to be in that store, did NOT want to be in that cart and told me with venom in her voice “I hate you Mommy” over and over and over and over again. Nothing will make you want to ram your cart into the boxes of cereal like hearing the child you carried in your womb for nine months, then nursed for 14 months and 3 weeks tell you how much she hates you. I was totally about to do a Bill Cosby “I brought you into this world kid and I’ll take you out of it” on her. To which she would have replied “I hate you”.
But yesterday Lydia and I dropped the big girls off at art class, then ran to CVS. It was a beautiful day – unseasonably warm and sunny. But I’ve been feeling so lonely lately and this cloud won’t seem to lift from me. Lydia was as happy as could be though because I let her carry the little red basket. She walked through, happily adding random items to it and agreeably returning them when I told her we didn’t need four new pairs of tweezers because Mommy still can’t figure out how to tweeze her eyebrows at the age of 38. A sweet older man walked by and Lydia holds out her hand and loudly says “Hi! I YiYYa” I translated her name to the older man, he shook her hand and said “How are you?” to which she replied, “Um good. I shopping! This is Mama!” I’m telling you, it was like she was running for mayor or something. We went through the rest of the store and after she made friends with every last person in the joint, we went to check out. The sweet older man approached me in line and asked if he could buy her a present. It was the sweetest thing. And he bought me chocolate! I’m going to see about adopting him.
Lydia walked out with a pillow pet night light, I walked out with Cadbury. She walked out with the full expectation that everyone in the world loves her and I walked out remembering how even a stranger has great power to influence your day.
Last night I tucked a very-exhausted Mary Claire into bed. As I said good night, I casually mentioned she should start a Christmas and birthday list soon. Sitting up and suddenly wide awake, she offered to start it immediately. Since her birthday and Christmas are close together, she only gets presents once a year but what she lacks in present-receiving frequency she makes up for in strategic gift requests. Nearly an hour later she came downstairs with not one, but three lists. One is for my parents, one for Bob and me, and another for Bob “in case you want to buy me a little extra Daddy”. Well played, little girl.
Here is her list for us (phonetic spelling included)
Birthday doll har stuff
big dreme lite
close for me from Target (with the logo next to it in red, as if my internal gps wouldn’t be able to get me there otherwise)
close from Once Upon a Child
maching close for me and my dolls
pajamas for my dolls
har stuff for my doll
cute things for my room
things that say my name like Mary’s cup and Marys room
I’m going to advise her to add “cute outfits for Mommy and me from Target” to Daddy’s list.
Once upon a time I had a blog and loved to write on it. Then I disappeared suddenly and couldn’t give anyone a very good explanation for it. It really meant something to me when people took the time to read and the whole disappearing thing…..I want to at least explain myself.
Writing is a very personal thing for me. I show a small snapshot of our life here, of my thoughts, values, and what we are about. So every time I click “publish” some nerves accompany it. “Some” might be an understatement.
The long and short of it is this: We went through a painful time as a family and I felt like I needed a safe place to hide. The world wide web is not an easy place to hide. I set my blog to “private” and wrote like crazy, but the crazy part is pretty evident now that I look back on those posts. Even though I’ve been ready to write publicly again for some time, I didn’t know what to do with said crazy. In the end I hid those posts and now I’m baaaaaack. So let’s leave things at that and move on, shall we?
I have riveting things to share with you! Like this, from Elizabeth our newly-crowned five-year-old:
“Do you know why french fries are so good? Because they have mashed potatoes in them!”
Thanks for coming back.
Elizabeth has been getting by on her good looks and charm for far too long. There are so many things, like buckling her own seatbelt and buttoning her coat, that she should be able to do developmentally but says “oh, I can’t” and one of us (usually me) gets frusterated and does it for her.
Maybe I’m just jealous that she’s mastered the “damsel in distress” routine better than me, but I’ve had enough of this enabling business and decided her shoes were going to be my first battle.
I purposely gave myself extra time to leave the house today, then called Elizabeth over and asked her to bring me her (very simple) velcro tennis shoes. She obligingly does so, then lounges on the floor, waiting for me to put them on her. And maybe feed her some grapes while I’m at it.
So I lay down the law: you are going to start putting on your own shoes. Right now. She wiggles one inch of her toes into the shoes and oh my gosh, they didn’t magically go on and then decided to give up. I started giving her veerrrry specific instructions and we made some progress, “peel the velcro, pull back the tongue, put your foot in, YAY!!!!!!, good, now put your tongue down and re-attach the velcro”. Then I walked away.
I come back a full five minutes later, I’m not even exaggerating, and she has taken her own tongue and pressed it onto the tennis shoe and has been sitting there all that time. No, I’m not kidding. I told her to “put your tongue down” and she took it literally.
I am afraid she is going to be living in my basement until I die.
Alternate title: How Mom Finally Wisened Up
A few weeks ago Mary Claire and I did her math lesson which consisted of sorting objects in various ways (by shape, color, size, etc). When we finished school I pulled out her winter clothes and realized she had more than she needed. We decided to sort the extra items into bags that would go to two of her friends. In an effort to be fair, she first sorted the clothes into tops, sweaters, skirts, jeans, and pants, then divided them by bag so each friend would get the same amount.
The girl is going to be a judge someday.
I sat on the couch watching her and thinking several things: one, why does everything this child works on have to take up so much time and space? and wait, didn’t we just spend 40 minutes sorting pattern blocks for math when she could have been doing this “real life” math lesson of sorting clothes all along and get the same concept?
Just a few days later Saxon Math had a week-long lesson using apples as manipulatives. I love Saxon normally because their lessons are practical and easy to prepare, but these lessons called for us to eat two apples everyday for a week, saving the seeds in small containers and then doing the main math class at the end of the week. I was groveling to myself about how my math book shouldn’t be dictating my grocery shopping list or diet (if they had called for cupcakes I wouldn’t have been murmuring) when suddenly
Ding! Ding! Ding! My brain realized this was one of those “real life learning” or “applied” learning moments that we are all working to create as homeschool parents.
Lydia just started eating solids. She likes applesauce. Michele went to the fruit market and bought me 20 apples. We could make applesauce!!! With the apples!!! And do MATH AT THE SAME TIME!!!! Holy cow, a flash of brilliance. All these years of sleep deprivation have taken their toll, but there is still a brain in here somewhere.
We played a game called “How many seeds are in my apple?” first. My mom helped peel a million apples while I cut them in half.
Once they were cut, I gave one half to Mary Claire and I kept the other. We would then dig out the seeds (hand-eye coordination) and see who had the most seeds in their half, which ended up being a really fun game to her. After we got our seeds our we would put them on the big apple sheet above (first photo). She then counted the seeds to find the total (addition) and drew a small picture on an index card (art) to replicate that particular apple:
So in this picture above she had to use her memory to record how many seeds both she and I had, then add them together and write the total (handwriting practice). After all the apples and their seeds were recorded, we then made a graph:
We did all the normal question and answers that go with graphing: how many apples had three seeds? what apples had the most seeds? the fewest?
Then we chopped up the apples, set them on low in the crockpot and look, Lydia had breakfast for the next week (teaches cooking, helping others).
This “real life math” day also turned out to be a fun day of sharing and learning between all of us.
I’ve done a horrible job of chronicling our lives so far this summer. The truth is that it’s been a tough time for us. We left our church home. I had been there for 16 years and 8 years with Bob. There is a lot I’d like to write about this experience frankly, but a blog isn’t an appropriate spot. And since I couldn’t write through the pain, I haven’t written at all.
But! But great things have been happening this summer too. I’ll just do a quick How I Spent My Summer Vacation So Far and we can always go into more depth later.
For starters, I learned to make the perfect iced coffee. I know!! My life is off the charts with excitement! But if you love an iced coffee as I do but could never quite get it right, you are going to try this super simple recipe and then send me roses (I like yellow ones a lot). And as an added bonus I will save you a half mile of walking around Meijer by telling you now that cheesecloth is in the paint aisle.
Here’s the delicious iced coffee recipe from the Grand Pioneer Woman herself, Ree Drummond. Of course, I’m pretending to do weight watchers so I use skim milk and no sugar, but if you aren’t still 16 lbs. overweight you should TOTALLY try the sweetened condensed milk because it will make you weep for joy.
I also spent lots of time smooching the cheeks of the Happiest Baby on the Block, Miss Lydia.
We went to the Henry Ford and waited for more hours than it took me to deliver my kids to see the Emanicipation Proclamation:
(We are still smiling because we hadn’t been inside to see the line yet).
We also went camping. And slept in a tent. Yes, I did.
And we got to watch fireworks several times over the 4th of July holiday.
Why yes, I did make us all dress in coordinating outfits. Lydia wasn’t too thrilled with hers I guess.
But here she is again, true to form:
And finally, I fell in love with fiber-rich treats. Namely the WhoNu? wannabe oreos.
There’s still the rest of August and more fun to be had! I’ll try to do a better job writing about it.