Wednesday, September 17, 2014

It was the best of days, it was the worst of days.

5:30 a.m. arrived. She put her feet on the floor, and rubbed her eyes. Yes, five days in, the headache was STILL there.


She knew if she didn't get moving, the kids would get ahead of her, and she'd be dragging behind them kind of like the owner of a too-large dog, that is being taken for a ride by something that she thinks that she is in charge of.

The five minute shower that has become her hallmark occurred without incident.
Breakfast got made and laid out.
Then they started to come.

One by each, they arrived hungry and insistent.
Over half of them wanted something other than what had been prepared.

None of them wanted to get dressed.
None of them wanted to get ready for school.

Here we go again....

Yesterday had been rough. The raspberries that somehow made their way to being spread like jam all over the front hall were still fresh in her mind, as she considered the contents of the oatmeal bowl that were now splattered across the kitchen floor.

Today wasn't looking much better. To boot, it was still so early, and so much of the day was ahead of them. Sigh. It was enough to make a body tired.

Fortunately, she knew a few things:

1) Nothing lasts forever
2) Hard work pays off

So she put on her big girl panties, and made a decision.
That she wasn't willing to give up what she wanted most, for what she wanted right now.

What she wanted right now, was more sleep, and an uninterrupted bath. If we were really shooting for the moon, there would be a book involved, that was being read for nothing more than pleasure.

But what she wanted most, was children who understood that life is not all about them, that they need a strong work ethic to succeed, and that they learn to be good representatives of the God that set the example for them.

They spent a lot of time in the corner that morning.
They complained a lot about mom cracking the whip.
But they buckled down and eventually did what they were supposed to.

One sibling said to another, don't worry about unloading the dishwasher. I'll do it for you.

Still later
And then a little girl arrives with a piece of artwork, and the words "Mommy, I made this for you, because I love you so much."

Heart melting.

And for that moment, it had all been worth it.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Gearing up for the New School Year- School Room Tour

We some time over the summer gearing up for our new school year, which requires a lot of prep work. We've been looking at what hasn't worked for us, in the hopes of tweaking things, in anticipation of  a smooth start in September.

We had been working hard to become more organized, because we have some disorganized operators around here, so we've made a gradual switch over this past year to a completely different shelving and storage system, in the hopes that it will help us out. Having five children learning in a space that is not huge, requires that I get a little more organized.

As you can see we do have a table for the kids to work at, but don't be fooled, they will work where ever they find themselves. Since the largest part of our school storage is in one place, I thought I'd give you a tour of our school room, so that it might spark some ideas as you make and tweak your own homeschooling experience. This has been something that I have worked toward for quite some time, so don't feel, if you are starting out, that you need to walk into homeschooling with an elaborate system. The state in which you see this room lasted about as long as it took to take the pictures, in the interest of full disclosure. :)  Just a reminder that one should not believe everything they see on Pinterest.

We began to accumulate these neat units from IKEA earlier in the year. I have always loved that when a small child starts pulling the books out of these units that a whole shelf full doesn't fall out. Just the amount of books in the cubby that the child is currently wreaking havoc in. It buys mom precious minutes to do damage control.

We used the cubby doors in the second half of last year, but realized that the kids have enough books and supplies, that we decided to expand and give each child (save for the youngest) two of these spaces. Then they can store their school books, binders, and the courier packs that hold their pencil cases and smaller supplies. We decided to use a label maker to make sure that all the spaces had the appropriate names on them. No arguing over things being misplaced. Easy Peasy.

We decided that since IKEA had one less pink cubby than we wanted, we would use an appropriately sized basket to put packages of crayons and pencil crayons for future use. We lucked out at a thrift store for them, because someone dropped off a matching set.
We are trying to work hard on each child having their own supplies, and each child being responsible for getting their own supplies into their own storage space this year.

Extra binders were stored at the bottom, since we tend to need to replace them frequently. We'll try to keep them as handy to the area in which they will be used, as possible.

We have many science related supplies, so we chose the upper drawers to keep the pieces in. Stickers, stamps and ink pads needed a place to go, and we chose this type of storage for them.
Our Kindergarten specific supplies and visuals needed to stay behind closed doors, so we chose a row to keep those safely tucked away, out of sight, out of mind, from the children most prone to pull things out and leave them every where.

We did decide that some of our art supplies, (plasticeine  art manequins, clay molding supplies) and laminated visuals, needed baskets that could be carried to the table and taken back when finished.
Clip boards canvasses and small individual chalk boards were big enough to take up a space by themselves, so they got a dedicated square.

 In unit number three, we have our Smaller odds and sods. We have pencils, and stickers, markers, dry erase markers and crayons, along with chalk board and dry erase board brushes in drawers.
Since we also have tech supplies, they are organized and labelled so that we have places for them, and the kids know where they belong.

This seems to be one of our biggest challenges. Having a place for things, putting them in their place.
It's also helping me prioritize how many things we keep.
As a pack rat, it's always a challenge, but I am learning that it's important to simply choose to keep only the things that I have homes for.

The bottom shelves of this unit have many of our resource books, leisure reading books, and small individual curriculum books that don't fit my core curriculum. Each cube has been arranged so that like books are stored with like, so that at any given time I can put hands on what I need quickly.

I chose this unit to store my teacher's manuals. I use BJU for my core, so there are many subjects that I have as base subjects. Teaching multiple grades, and storing the manuals from the 'off' years when they are not being used became challenging when I stored the 'off' years in another room, so this has been a positive change. No more changing these books out each year. no more carrying it all back and forth.  I just have have all grades together, but each cubby has one subject in it. So much easier than what I was doing before. The bonus is that I had space left over at the bottom to store my printer paper, lines papers and all the odd ball types of print outs that we need as part of the job.

That is the main core of our 'school room'. I'm so happy to have most of our school things in one place now, and I'm really moving forward hopeful that this new set up will help the kids keep things tidier and easier to find. We are a week in on our school year, and so far, so good.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Not Back to School

I had a 'breath caught in my throat ' moment this morning.

Disturbing, and healing all at the same time.

All because we started back to school this week.

You see, I ended up with a very busy couple of weeks, between preparing to, and speaking for my weight loss support group last Friday, and preparing to and leading our local home school support group meeting on the first day back to school.

Makes for one busy girl.
Lots to keep my mind occupied, and if I am completely honest, a little overwhelmed with the busy.
Fortunately it's a 'when it rains it pours' proposition, and the rain doesn't last for extended periods.
So we have a quiet period.

My mind has  moment to process.

That's when it happened.

It's not that it hasn't happened before, but not quite this way.

I realized that we still have one missing.
One that DIDN'T start school this year.
One for whom the day to day responsibility for parenting is not mine.
One that I never got to bring home.

The quiet afford me the moment to think of what grade he would be entering.
That's when it hit me.
I didn't know off the top of my head.
The shock hit me that I actually had to think about it this year.
Devestated, because I never thought the day would come. For a second scared that I would forget. That I could ever forget.
Healing, because it wasn't the main preoccupation.

To all the moms not sending one back to school, or stating them back to a school year for the same reason,  or simply fresh in your missing your little one, my heart goes out to you.

Please take some time to be kind to yourself if you are currently struggling.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

So It Begins!!! Back to School We Go.

Today was our first day back after a break from hitting the books! 
We spent a few weeks gearing up for the new year, and taking a well needed, well deserved break, and have gone back to it.

As you can see my boys are getting a little too old to be thrilled about our traditional back to school photos. Note cheese-y plastered on fake smiles.

They even went so far as to work diligently to avoid looking at the camera.

We have enjoyed our first day well enough, as unorthodox as it was for a first day back.

We had a few early risers who hit the books very early, and then we chose to get ready and change the scenery before too much of the day disappeared on us.

We took  advantage of the short lines and ran some early morning errands. It afforded us the opportunity to practice our every day courtesies; waiting patiently in lines for our turn, keeping ourselves occupied in a non-obnoxious way, making pleasant conversation with people.

I think it worked out well for us, because it gave us a break, before returning back home to finish off the book work.

Fortunately, we have had lots of cooperation today, because we have also chosen to  reinforce a forgotten policy,  whereby tech time must be earned, and only after the days' responsibilities are taken care of, rather than the kids making the assumption that they are 'allowed' to have tech time 'just because'.

I give it three days before the novelty wears off and we have to work to keep this going.

But for today, I'm proud of the work they chose to put in on their first day back to it.