Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Deep Breath...

Dentist appointments start up again tomorrow. Thursday and Friday morning. Then Monday through Friday next week. Deep Breath. I think I need to lie down.

My mother is coming tonight to stay at our house until Friday and be a live-in babysitter again. This is alright, in very small doses, for me. Vic develops nervous ticks when she stays with us. We bicker more. It's not that he doesn't like her. I think he just likes his home to be his own. Next week I've arranged another sitter to watch the kids on Monday and Friday to lessen the days my mom stays here.

In leiu of actual textbook schooling during this time, we will be doing lots of reading. Group reading, independent reading, older-child-reading-to-younger-child reading, grandma reading, etc. I am hoping my mouth is not too numb or sore that I can actually read some aloud too, but we're not holding our breath.

Planned for the next couple weeks:

The Last of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper
The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling
The Golden Skull by John Blaine
Ten Apples Up On Top by Theo. LeSieg
In A People House by Theo. LeSieg
The Age of Dinosaurs by Jane Burton
How Big Were the Dinosaurs by Bernard Most
Shaping the Earth by Dorothy Hinshaw Patent

Other Stuff
Experiments from Linda's Homeschool Page on erosion and weathering
More experiments with home-grown crystals from Crystals and Crystal Gardens You Can Grow by Jean Stangl

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Tuesday: Library Day...

I've declared Tuesday as Library Day. I'm not sure if that will work beyond this week, but we're going to try. We are limited having only one working vehicle, so I had to take Vic to work this morning before we could go anywhere. After some other errands, we headed to the library.

You'd think the kids were at an amusement park. They love trips to the library and because of this fact, so do I.

After deciding to teach a chronological history, somehow working in geography and government as well, I was on a hunt for books on early human existence. You wouldn't believe how difficult it is to find such books written at a juvenile level, especially just at the local public library. I finally found a book about the days of the mammoth, that had some information about early humans in it. I stuck it in my basket. I found another book about early civilization - wonderful. I stuck it in the basket. Near that book was a book about dinosaurs. Well, I though, dinosaurs did come before people, and what's the point of teaching about life on earth if I'm not starting at the begining right? I stuck the dinosaur book in the basket. Soon I found another book about dinosaurs with more detailed information and some great pictures. That went into the basket too. I browsed some more. Look, a book on how the earth was formed; volcanoes and earthquakes, water and wind erosion. Into the basket. Oh look, a book about the origins of the universe. Well, we are starting at the begining. Into the basket.

After all this, I decided that was a huge amount of stuff to cover at once, and we probably would not get through it all with the amount of information I was comfortable with, within the time I have the books checked out. I decided to wait on humans and just focus on the origins of the planet, and things that came before people. After we got home I was thinking about the orgins of the universe, and how this would be a great lead in for a unit on the solar system. That could take up a couple of weeks. *Sigh*

The good part of this story is the idea of units. We could do the solar system unit while learning about the origins of the universe. With the formation of the earth and dinosaurs, we can do units on erosion, geology, and evolution. We can study prehuman species. We can learn about the origins of language. And religion. There is literally no end to the stuff we could come up with and learn about. I should be feeling overwhelmed right now, but I'm actually pretty excited.

After I have a chance to find some of the units I'm thinking of, and print them, plan activites, and start them in practice... well then I'll be overwhelmed.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Church? Gosh, no!...

Last night, Cadence and Riley stayed overnight with my mom. It's not often they get the opportunity to hang out at Grandma's without Chad, but he was invited to a sleepover.

Chad insisted he didn't want to attend this sleepover, and it took a lot of cajolling on my part to talk him into it. I'm concerned not that he doesn't friends, but that he doesn't even want to. I think a lot of factors contribute to that. One being his experience in public school was so horrible that he can't imagine putting himself in another potentially humiliating position again. He is a very high-strung kid and has a tendency to do irritating and annoying things just to bother others, and that kind of kid is often not liked very much. We're working on the behaviors, but I can't really do much about how people respond to them. I also think he's become so used to interacting with adults that he's not quite sure how to behave otherwise. So we talked about all this, and came to the conclusion that while he wasn't too interested in making new friends, he didn't want to make any enemies either. Sometimes this socialization stuff has to be forced upon them I guess ;)

On the way to drop him off, I commented that he would probably have to be picked up early because one of the other moms was really churchy and would probably be picking her boys up early so they could make it to the early service. I wasn't even talking to Chad, but he heard me and said, "I don't want to go to church." I had to explain that I wasn't talking about him, I was talking about the other boys.

While I was chatting with the Mom in Charge, I mentioned that I would be after Chad early. "I was thinking about taking all the boys to church in the morning," she said. "Would that be ok? I could drop him off after."

"Umm..." I said. I stumbled. I stammered. I finally got the words, "We're not church people," to come out.

She stared. "I know that," she said, "that's why I figured I would ask you." She was still looking at me like I hadn't answered her question yet.

"I would really rather just pick him up early," I told her.

She stared. She began to become irritated, "You don't want him to go to church at all?" Surely, I must be crazy. Or just joking. Or something. Who, even if they don't go to church regularly, doesn't mind their kid going just one time? It is an extra hour of alone time after all.

"No," I finally said, regaining my composure. All the staring and uncomfortable silence was feeding my sense of humor really. "I'll be after him at 8:30. Have a good time, Chad!" Then I left, with her gaping and staring after me.


Chad did tell me this morning he didn't want to stay overnight again with that boy. He didn't say with anybody, though. And he didn't say he didn't have a good time. That's a good sign right?

Thursday, September 14, 2006

No rest for the paranoid mother...

So I'm overprotective, according to most people's standards. So I'm paranoid that my kids' exposure to the "wrong" things might be devastatingly detrimental to their mentality and development. So I'm brainwashing my kids into rallying, sign-toting psycho-feminists. So what? They're my kids, right? So what is a paranoid brainwashing parent to do when every aspect of media is covered with advertising and programming unsuitable for the children?

I briefly considered eliminating the television altogether. The problem is I like television. And since we got cable, there is an unlimitted amount of educational stuff for my kids to watch on tv. As I type, Chad is watching a program on otters. A few days ago we watched a program called Extreme Earth (I think), and all three of my children spent the next couple of hours drawing pictures of tornados and volcanos, and making up various drastic scenarios that all involved the destruction of our house. They learn so much from the television.

And herein lies the problem. Not five minutes ago, there was a commercial break where 3 different men declared their sex lives are great since they lost weight with NutriSystem. The diet program commercial is on almost every break. In the evenings (I'm talking dinnertime, not after-the-kids-go-to-bed-primetime), we see commercials about E.D., which would be cryptic enough without the phrase, "Sex is a very important part of our relationship." The Tag body spray commercials are apalling. Almost every single commercial uses sex in some way to sell their product. I can't even buy deodorant without seeing a curvy, swaying woman in sexy black undies jumping from a balcony into her dress.

Last night I saw a commercial for a video game where players can "be a playboy" driving hot cars, living in palace-style homes, surrounded by their "ladies" (wearing just the suggestion of clothing). This game was rated E-10, for kids 10 and up. Is this the kind of thing most parents expect of their 10 year old sons? Materialism, with women being just another thing to collect? Really, it sickens me. It's just plain sad.

My kids know about sex. We've had many discussions about the purpose, the process, even the very basics of how. Still, I have issues with the sex-obsessed society we live in. I want my kids to grow up with a healthy attitude about sex. And I don't believe conducting every single aspect of one's life around sex is a healthy attitude.

I would like to find some information on raising children with an awareness of the tricks of the advertising world. I'm sure there are lots of parents out there who, like myself, are tired of how easily people are swayed by advertising and how much those little tricks change how people think. Other than just talking about these things with my kids, I'm not sure how to handle this.

In the meantime, I will be muting and/or shutting off the tube for a few minutes at commercial time. At least until we get a DVR.

Homeschool skip day(s)...

Does watching educational tv all day long count as homeschooling? I hope so. I've been so burnt out from all the running around and 6 consecutive dental appointments, including a root canal and an extraction, that I've not had the energy for any schooling. Thankfully my children are unschoolers at heart, and have been reading a lot of informative books and watching Aminal Planet the whole time. No cartoons or stupid Nickelodeon preteen sitcoms.

I don't know what constitutes "unschooling." It seems like every description I've read about unschooling is different than the last. While some unschoolers just let their kids run wild learning here and there at random, some have at least some kind of curriculum and simply let their kids learn it at their own pace. It's not important to me to fit homeschoolers into organized little boxes of "Christian Homeschoolers," "Unschoolers," or "Classical Homeschoolers," but it would be nice if I could find some small niche where I knew I would find others who think like I do.

I'm not a lazy homeschooler, but I also don't have strict lesson plans to follow. We "do" the textbooks until they're finished. We do some worksheets in there, if they're applicable, or maybe just because they're fun. We have lots of discussions. I also have been known to skip chapters if no one in our house can think of a good reason anyone at all should know this information, let alone a 10 year old kid. We focus on reading, writing and math. We never touch the basal reader. It sucks.

Lately though, I have been lazy. I don't want to do it. Neither do the kids. We had a great summer, and now the idea of sitting down and doing bookwork, even for a couple of hours, is overwhelming. I guess for now I will just be satisfied with a unit on Meercat Manor.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Template hunt...

I've been on a mission for a while now to replace my blog template. I don't have anything like photoshop to create my own. So I'm stuck with templates someone else created and paint. Ugh. Most templates I find are whole sets that have some aspects I like and some I don't. There are a lot of free templates out there for movie buffs and pc gamers. Lots of cartoony templates that have as much detail as a Microsoft webding. Gobs and gobs of flowery templates that remind me of my grandma's house.

I do know some html; more than the average computer-illiterate person but not nearly as much as an average teenager. There are a lot of computer terms that I don't understand, but I'm not as likely as some to become so intimidated by terminology that I won't even attempt to mess with it. Most of the html I know I learned from close examination and playing around. All that being said, I'm a bit reluctant to mess with the current template too much. I don't like the boxes. I don't like the margins. I'm scared to change them without finding a template that at least sort of matches what I'm looking for so I can get an idea of how to change it.

A few years ago I created a memorial website for my son on Yahoo's PageBuilder, but became so wrapped up in finding new graphics and constantly making changes that I had to leave off for a while. Like a few years or something. Ok, I completely abandoned the project for the risk of going insane. That and I'd prepared this really long story of my son's birth and death, only to have it plagerized on someone else's page. (How low do you have to be, joshsmommy, to steal my very personal words which I spent hours composing and crying over?) I'd love to make a new one with the knowledge I've gained since then, but I'm afraid I might repeat the maniacal web-searching and downloading that pulled me away from it last time.

Well anyway, I guess I will keep hunting through free template pages and really stupid graphics created by 13 year olds until I find one that suits me. Or at least comes close to suiting me. If anyone knows of some great websites for this, please let me know. (Please keep in mind that contrary to some people's claims, a page with 4 templates that are all exactly the same but with different backgrounds does not count as a "great website.")

Friday, September 08, 2006

So.. Burnt.. Out...

Last week was cause for a tremendous rise in blood pressure as Vic and I started our dental work. I had a root canal, and he got three fillings and started a root canal of his own all by lunchtime on Friday.

This week, we are halfway through even more dental work. Yesterday I had a tooth pulled, requiring 4 shots before I was numb, and a really lot of pulling, prying, sawing, etc. It was a nightmare and now my jaw hurts so badly I can barely open my mouth to eat. Vic finished his root canal today while I got a filling in the tooth directly above the one they pulled yesterday. We go back tomorrow for more drilling and filling. Before we left today, we scheduled 7 more appointments for the end of the month. Oh the joy.

I have been having a lot of trouble keeping up with the 20 job applications each per week for Vic and I, recorded and turned in by noon each Friday. Trying to manage homeschooling, dental appointments, Vic's work, and 20 appointments filled out, logged and returned is a big load. And I just realized tonight that some paperwork that was supposed to be turned in on September 5th is still sitting on my computer desk waiting for me to fill it out. I really really REALLY hope this doesn't screw us for our assistance. I don't know what I would do if I had to fill all those papers out again, and when you lose assistance you can lose it for 6 months.

My vehicle registration is expired, and will be $162 to renew. Not that it matters, since my car payment is overdue as well, and the finance company calls at least 3 times a day. My property taxes are due. The garbage company called to say they would be stopping pickup if they didn't get a payment by tomorrow. My water is about to be disconnected. My phone and internet too. And you know what? I don't care very much. Well, obviously I CARE, but I'm just not very upset right now.

I am just tired. And my mouth hasn't hurt this bad in my whole life. And honestly, I'm numb to the whole assistance thing. I just go through the motions and fill out the papers and hope we don't lose everything before we make it out of this mess. I can't fix anything, which is frustrating, but there is no reason to worry constantly if there's nothing I can do, right? I am just hoping that within a few months this whole thing will be over. And I'm hoping that when it is over, I will still think it was a good idea. I hope I have no regrets for making these choices. I hope my children can understand. I hope we don't end up in a worse position than before. I hope I hope I hope