Archive for August, 2011


Mine was prettier.

I spent between four and five hours one day setting up this app I had purchased for the purpose of organizing my homeschool. It’s an app for teachers and has a grade book and class roster and attendance sheet, etc. IT DOES EVERYTHING! for the low, low price of $30!

Except be useful.

It used iCal to set up the schedule, which I did when prompted and when I wrangled and worked and struggled and cursed and STILL couldn’t get the lesson planner part of this app to work right, I just entered my lesson plan into each “event” in iCal. I got everything completed through the end of 2011.

Then the app wanted me to “sync the calendar” which I was hesitant to do, but what the heck, I’d bought this app to help streamline my school year.

Yeah, well. The app sync’d the iCal stuff incorrectly and DELETED EVERYTHING from iCal in the process. All that work was gone, and since Time Machine had encountered an error first thing that morning? No backup. Yeah.

I cried. A lot.

So I started again. Things went faster this time because I didn’t have to look through every single book and read lessons to decide what to do when. I was able to plug the info into the calendar again. I only did the first four weeks of school, which takes us up to our first break.

Then I tried to eliminate the messed up schedule out of the app and…

My Hero!

Yeah, it DELETED EVERYTHING in iCal. Again. So yeah. I’m done with that app whether it was user error or not. I am not a computer noob. I am fairly proficient tech-wise and I know enough to troubleshoot system issues if not always fix them so I really don’t think it’s that I’m too dense to figure this app out. But, you never know.

I was crying, and well, to be honest, throwing a bit of a temper tantrum about it when my husband came home from work. My brother told him that he needed to write a program for me to do the things I need. Hubs looked at me and said, “Just use Google docs and calendar. That way it’s saved off site and won’t be accidentally deleted.”

Genius.

So, that’s what I did. It’s not perfect and doesn’t do a few things that I really wish it did, but what it hasn’t done is fail to sync correctly with iCal and DELETE EVERYTHING.

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OH, HAI THERE! Yes, today was the first day at LPA-HS (that’s Lamp Post Academy Home School for you people “not in the know” (and now you are. (in the know))) and not very auspicious, I must say.

First I hurt my back on Thursday. Not a complete reset, but uber super painful, nonetheless. I went to the Chiropractor and he said, “Well it’s too swollen to adjust so ice it and OD on ibuprofen and muscle relaxers whilst not moving and take your anti-inflamatories and don’t DO anything.” So that I did all day Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. This really impeded my last minute school day prep, but what are you gonna do?

ON TOP OF THAT. I was sick all day Saturday and Sunday. And today. Not the kind of sick that causes fevers and shivers. Oh NO, not me. I got ill in the general vicinity of the gut (YOU’RE WELCOME) on top of back pains.

The Best.

And I mean that.

With all due derision.

So the back gets gradually better and I think with an adjustment first thing this morning that I will be better and school will be awesome! ALAS! I pulled my back out in the SHOWER. WASHING MY HAIR. True story.

So I get iced and ibuprofened (no muscle relaxers for parents in charge, I’m afraid) and adjusted. I felt marginally better than before the adjustment, but LOADS better than Thursday so…that’s a plus. Now it’s time for school.

Well, it was the first day. Please keep that in mind.

We did our four subjects. The math was totally chaotic, but we got it done. Chi melted at the sight of the “warm up” sheet which was 100 addition problems. Real simple stuff like 7+5 and 3+4. And, no, I didn’t spring it on him. I’ve shown him what to expect on a couple of occasions. Anyway. He completed 12 of those 100 in 15 minutes all while moaning and chirruping. Well, I guess it’s all new and even with all the prep work, it’s still unfamiliar and still, somehow, unexpected.

Pynni was  a little affronted at her math because it was an “introduction to math” at least the Saxon method, and the first several weeks are all review. We won’t be getting into anything she is unfamiliar with until November, maybe. I think she was sad that it wasn’t hard. She kept looking at me with this incredulous expression on her face when I asked her what month it was and what year it was…couldn’t I see that it was written, by ME, on the page I was pointing to? HA! We may move a little faster in the math for a bit.

Then we did the Writing with Ease part. It was fast, but Chi was really uninterested in writing so he crammed all his words all together in about a .75″ square space (That’s an actual calculation. I measured and multiplied.) and skipped the punctuation altogether. Pynni copied the sentence slowly but precisely, letter for letter, so that all the letters were nicely formed and evenly spaced. There were no individual words to speak of. I had to swallow the laugh that bubbled up at the disparity.

All through that, Pieces was wondering what he could possibly put in his folder. Out loud. Continuously.

So we did penmanship next. It was simple exercises of small pencil markings today and took all of 5 minutes. You can barely tell Chi was holding a pencil in his hand his markings are so light. He flopped and moaned, but finished. Pieces got bored of coloring everything blue in about half a second, but I was able to urge him on to the end. Pynni was last to finish and followed all the instructions exactly.

Then we did reading. Chi is reading Stuart Little first and he was upset by the questions he had to answer at the end of the chapter. So he answered the questions before reading the chapter and then announced that he was done and would read the chapter later. I told him that he was supposed to read and then answer or answer the questions as he read, but he had to read the whole chapter. He did, but he wasn’t happy. Pynni and Pieces did some phonics exercises with me and they enjoyed themselves tremendously.

But in the end? They’ve done nothing but rave about “our doing school” and “learning from Mom.” Chi even sat down and did the lesson work this evening without any issues and worked easily with me to rewrite his reading comp answers legibly and in complete sentences. With me doing the writing, of course.

My heart is all splintered apart and part of it has returned to California to be with their mom for the school year. I can’t seem to let go and move on. I have to keep forcing myself to do something else besides wallow in sadness.

Today, I made a commitment to face forward and move on with life. I know that sounds melodramatic, and maybe it is, but the sadness is real. The depression is dragging at me like weights in the deep dark waters of time. I have to make myself turn away from the darkness and start swimming in the direction of the light because that’s where the air is. I feel like I can’t breathe. I need to breathe.

This summer was great and we had a royal blast. We did a lot and time flew by unheeded. I’m thankful that we had this time. I hope it’s not the last.

I made a video documentary of sorts because the list of things that we did and their stories would fill up too much of this white space.

Enjoy.

I may elaborate in the future. I don’t know yet.

It is official. I sent in my notice of intent (NOI) to open a homeschool in the state of North Carolina and they responded to let me know they’d gotten it. Got that? I didn’t have to ask. I tell them what I’m going to do and I do it. So far? That’s my favorite part.

To successfully file a “NOI” one must pick a name for your school. The name needs to be something that won’t look stupid on your kids’ high school transcripts, if you go that far. So no Mac-n-Cheese High or Hogwarts School. If you pick a name that is the same as an existing homeschool, your name will be tacked onto the end of it. It could end up being New Life School Johnson or Raleigh Academy McGregor (which goes back to the whole stupid name thing) because they tack your last name on to the school if there are duplicates (thank god, there’s a list). So I researched school names and checked against both stupidity and the list of existing schools.

Lamp Post Academy

I picked Lamp Post Academy. Lamp Post because one of my favorite childhood book series is The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis. I like the imagery of a lamp post in the forest for no particular reason. I like the ping on the imagination and the memories it conjures. I like the idea that Lamp Post is a light in the darkness, illuminating your path, and in this case, it is the illumination of knowledge on the darkness of ignorance. We will be learning things at LPA. I’m excited to start.

I will not be “unschooling” as the trend in homeschooling seems to be. Our day will be structured and our curriculum specific. I will be catering to the needs of my Aspie (the schedule being one of the things) and throwing in fun to keep them interested. Our day will be fairly short compared to public school, but probably longer than it will be when they get older and can do a little more independent work. Pynni will be the most labor intensive since she is in the first grade and will be needing me to work very closely with her. In the beginning weeks, maybe as long as the first year, I will be doing a great deal of hand holding for Chi. In the end, my hope is that he becomes accustomed to my schedule and will crunch through the subjects one after the other without a whole lot of redirect from me (on good days).

I have all of my curriculum picked out and I’m going to start out with just the basics to get the feel of this homeschool thing and then add things like science and history and foreign languages in stages as we get more comfortable with the process. More about all that later.

We start on August 22. I know I said earlier that we were going to start after our vacation this summer, but I came to realize pretty quickly that I just wasn’t going to have the time to get completely prepared to start by then and that it would be better for Chi and Pynni if we started after Kip and Mae go back to their mom’s. So the 22nd it is.

Pieces doesn’t start preschool until after Labor Day so I will be starting out thin in the subjects we cover for the first two weeks.

I’m going to start with Math, penmanship, writing and reading. The math is going to be the most difficult to teach because of the breadth of the divide between what Pynni will be learning and what Chi will be learning and how much direction they are both going to require from me. The penmanship will be taught to all three of my kids at one time. I’m starting some gross motor skill reprogramming with Chi and I’m just going to include the two smaller ones in these exercises. It won’t hurt them and might help them in the end. The writing is a program I’m going to do to help teach Chi that writing isn’t so scary. I’ve talked about it before here. I can teach Chi and Pynni side by side at first, but I’m thinking Chi will sprint through the early levels where Pynni will be taking her time. Then reading is kind of a gimme. Chi is advanced enough that he is going to be given chapter books to read and then a worksheet to complete after a couple of chapters. I will be teaching Pynni to read so I figure I will just teach Pieces alongside her. If it turns out that Pynni is further along than Pieces can keep up, then I will divide and conquer in that manner.

Once Pieces goes to preschool, I will add grammar and vocab, spelling and typing. Wish me luck!

Kids Galore

It has been a crazy busy summer. Five kids are loud. Five kids are messy. Five kids eat A LOT. Five kids make a lot of dirty laundry. Five kids are needy.

And yet, as summer draws to a close as we near the day that Kip and Mae will return to their mother, I find that I am not relieved.

Five kids are loving. Five kids are funny. Five kids are snuggly. Five kids are helpful. Five kids are entertaining. Five kids say the silliest things. Five kids make my heart HUGE. Five kids fill the minutes and hours and make them fly.

Part of my heart will head to California in less than two weeks and I am at a complete loss. How do I impart my love for the two that are leaving? How do I leave them with certain knowledge that they are loved, here at my house, unconditionally?

I will miss these kids tremendously and I will look forward with excitement to Christmas break, when we will get to see them again.

Kip, Chi, Pynni, Mae, and Pieces

I may write about some of the things we’ve done this summer later. Right now, I just want to hold them close to my heart.