Wednesday, June 18, 2014

I Am Thinking About Taking My Child Out Of Public School To... Homeschool?

I received another phone call today from a mom who is going to start homeschooling her children.   She seems to be joining a growing trend in our state.   Moving her children out of public school and into homeschooling.   "What am I doing?  How do I start?  Am I going to mess them up?"  Listening to her questions automatically threw me back six years to the point where we started making the decision. We had just hit a wall.   I was so blessed to have a very close friend who was already homeschooling and gave me so much incredible advice.   However, I just want the chance to encourage you with a few basics as you make the transition from public school to start homeschooling.  

Take time to reset.    My boys had been in the public school system for six years when we started thinking it was time to make a change.    We were all fully invested in our schools.    I served on the PTO boards every year that my boys were in school including two separate years as PTO president.   We had the public school routine and way of doing things down pat.  

That was our first obstacle in homeschooling.   You need time to reset yourself.   Since one of the reasons we decide to homeschool was the fact that my boys were losing their love of learning, we took an entire month off from anything that resembled "school".    We made a list of every museum, art show, sporting event, or educational opportunity that we could find in our area.   For one month we did nothing but read a LOT of books, visit the places on our "field trip" list and play a lot of educational and strategy games.  

I did not make a lot of great decisions in my first year, but that is one that I would definitely do again.   Even six years later we take a "reset" day if things get too out of control.   That brings me to my second item...

Throw away your expectations.   The most discouraging part of starting is the fact that you feel like you do not know what you are doing and if you have picked the right curriculum.    The first year is a huge learning curve.   For you and for your kids.    Just because your friend, Susan, has all of her children starting school at 8:30 and finishing up at 2:00 so they can head to piano and guitar does not mean you have to.    Just because your friend, Olivia, has a perfectly organized homeschool room where everyone has their desks that they sit at and do their work does not mean that is going to work for your kids.   You can create your child's learning situation in any way you want.   That may be different for each of your children.    One of my boys needs complete quiet and sitting at his desk to get his work accomplished.   My other son can be stretched out across his bed, on the trampoline or under the dining room table.   Their learning styles are different.

Basically, this year is a learning process.   Will you make mistakes?  Most definitely.  Mistakes are not fatal.  Learn from what didn't work and go with another option until you find what does.

Every day is a new day.   When the dishwasher floods in the middle of math and you have to call it quits for the day?  It happens.   My boys often hear me say, "It is what it is."   Some days go as planned and some days won't.   The good thing is that tomorrow is a new day!

Set boundaries.   You have just added a new hat to your hat rack:  teacher.   One of the biggest mistakes of my first year was not setting boundaries to our school day.   One of my boys is an early morning child and would get up at 6:30 and work until he was finished with school.   My other child is a night owl.    By the time he woke up enough to start school it was 10:00 and he wouldn't finish until time for my husband was coming home.   I was exhausted.   I needed to set some boundaries so that at some point in the day I could take off my "teacher" hat and just be mom for the rest of the day.    At first I tried putting us into this rigid schedule but it just made all of us frustrated.  Then it dawned on me.   I set "office hours" of 9:00 - 2:00.   They now know that all questions, assignment review and lesson teaching that require me have to be done during this time.  

Don't drown in the textbooks and curriculum choices.
   Going to public school meant they handed our kids a book and they learned from it.   Now we have the freedom and opportunity to choose what they learn!   It is a wonderful blessing and an overwhelming decision.   I never realized just how many choices there were out there.   A lot of people pick from one particular publisher for their needs, but I have always chosen from lots of different approaches and publishers.   Above all, don't get bogged down in the curriculum.    You will HATE homeschooling if you try to recreate "school" at home.   

If someone asks you about socialization... LAUGH!   homeschool co-op activities, homeschool co-op classes, church, student choir, library, guitar lessons, tennis lessons, 4H shooting sports, volunteering at the nursing home, bowling club, swimming, mountain biking club....  Do I need to go on?   The reality is that there are often so many opportunities to socialize that you have to put a limit on them.    If they were still in school they would only be hanging out with kids of their same age group all day.    I love that they have met and learned from war veterans while volunteering at the nursing home.   They hang out at lunch with our co-op group which will consists of all ages.  Times like these have been great "communication class" experiences.

Relax and enjoy it.   You have been given a gift.  Precious time with your kids.  You will get to know them and they will get to know you.    Enjoy it!

Pray.   Last, but definitely NOT least... Before you make that final decision:  Pray!  Make sure that this is what God wants for your family.   If this is in His will for your family then He is going to "make your paths straight" for this new adventure ahead!

Monday, June 16, 2014

Happy Father's Day (a little late!)

I am late getting my Father's Day post on the computer.  Sundays are crazy and I rarely turn on the computer on those days. 

However I wanted to take a chance to wish the two best dads in the world Happy Father's Day!

Shera, Daddy, Krisa and me

My Daddy was the only guy in a house full of girls.   I guess that is why God gave him such a great sense of humor.  He knew he would need it to handle all of us.   I know that Daddy makes me laugh like no one else.   One of my favorite things to do is sit and read the comics from the newspaper with him.    My Dad is also incredibly smart.   I mean genius smart.   He has a photographic memory.   He loves to learn and has always challenged us to learn.    He gives the bests hugs ever.   When Daddy gives you a hug you feel like nothing in the world could ever hurt you.   It is the safest place to be.  
I love him beyond words.

Speaking of amazing dads....  My husband is an incredible dad.   He is every girl's dream of what they want for her children.   He is selfless, sacrificial, loving, caring, and a complete model of Christ.    I love seeing them playing games in the living room, throwing football in the back yard, around the dinner table talking, praying during nightly family prayer time, and the countless other things they do together.   I don't think my boys realize what a gift they have in my sweet husband, but I know one day they will.   

A Virus Nightmare

When your children are toddlers and they get quiet you really worry they haven't gotten into mischief.  Now that my boys are teenagers and they get quiet I go to check on them to make sure they haven't been sucked into a book or computer game.   That was why I went to check on my Little Guy. He had just been too quiet.   I had not seen him in quite a while so I went to see what he was doing.  I knocked on his door and when I opened it I saw him sitting in his chair.   He was wrapped in two blankets and his face was so red.  

"Little Guy, are you ok?"

"I am just cold, Mom."

I put my hand on his forehead.  Fever.  A high fever.  And I could feel his body shaking with chills.  I also noticed he has a bright red rash across his shoulders.    We tucked him in bed with plans to take him to the doctor first thing in the morning.

Morning came and I was awakened by a hand saying, "You need to see Little Guy."  I sat up to see Little Guy walking towards me.   He was covered in a rash.   All over his face, neck, hands, and feet.   I knew that it had to be hand, foot and mouth.   I called the doctor and we got it confirmed. 

If your child has ever had this you know how miserable this is.  I was prepared for  miserable.   I wasn't prepared for a nightmare.   The pediatrician told us that teens did not normally get this.  

For three days he broke out in not more spots, but blisters.  He looked like he had walked on fire.   He kept his feet in ice water because he said he felt like they were on fire.   His fingers were so swollen he could not even bend them.   The inside of his mouth and down his throat had so many blisters all he could do was drink Gatorade.   

It was one of those times as a Mom that I hate.  Feeling helpless.  There is so little you can do.  Treat the symptoms and do anything you think will make him feel better, but the end he just had to wait until the virus was gone.   

Today is 11 days since he first got sick.  His hands and feet still look bad.   It will probably take several weeks for them to clear up completely, but I am so thankful that this nightmare virus is behind us.  

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Surviving Tori Removal

Going to the visit is NOT my favorite thing.   It rates high on things I avoid doing at all cost.   So on the days I have to go I want to get in there and get out of there as quickly as possible.   There is no way I want my doctor to be probing around in my mouth and stop and say...

"Um, has anyone talked to you about these tori in the bottom of your mouth?"

A tori? What in the world is a tori?  Not only had no one talked to me about them.  I really didn't want him talking to me about them then.   Apparently tori are bones that can grow in your mouth.  Mine were growing in the bottom of my mouth.   It was miserable getting x-rays and my tongue didn't fit in the bottom of my mouth.   

That was a few years ago when he pointed them out to me.   He said "if" they grew too big they would have to be removed.   "If".   Ha!  First of all, tori are not something everyone in the population gets.  Secondly, if someone's are going to grow it will definitely be mine.   I came home that day and told hubs, "Start planning.  I am going to have these bones removed from my mouth."    We laughed, but we both knew.   If bones were going to grow in someone's mouth, it was going to be mine. 

And they did!

Fast forward to this past week...  The time had come.  The surgeon said that I needed to have these silly bones removed.  I called the office the day before my procedure to double check that I was going to be out.  I didn't want any of that silly twilight.  I wanted to be totally out.  After all, taking out the tori means  high-speed drill bits, chisels, bone and other appliances in-office.   They assured me that I would sound asleep and have plenty of pain medication afterwards.  

Donald and I arrived at 8:00 that morning and they took me back to start my IV.   After that I remember waking up to get in the car and get in the bed.   Donald says I talked to him all the way home in the car which is kind of scary, but I certainly don't remember it.    I took a long nap and then got up to watch a movie.   I was so thankful when the anesthesia wore off so I didn't feel so disoriented. 

My doctor gave me antibiotics, pain medication and super strong ibuprofen to take.   After one day I quit taking the pain medication because it gave me a headache.   I live with fibromyalgia so dealing with pain is normal for me.   The swelling and pain in my mouth wasn't worth the headache that pain medication was causing.   I just took the ibuprofen and antibiotic.   I was pretty miserable on Thursday night/Friday morning, but after that I have just been sore.  

If it weren't for the swelling and pain, this surgery would be a great diet plan.   I haven't been able to taste anything until late Saturday night.  On top of that I was too sore to eat anything.  I drank a TON of mango Gatorade.    Seriously, our local gas station had a sale offering buy 2 get 1 free and my boys wiped them out because I was drinking about 6 a day.   I did manage to eat some mashed potatoes and Friday night I managed some rice.    My sweet husband made me scrambled eggs and those were the best I have ever eaten!

As of today, I am so thankful that this crazy surgery is behind me and I can get on with my surgery.   If you are faced with this surgery in the future you can know that it is not too bad.   Of course, I highly recommend having a competent and experienced surgeon and team like I had.  Thanks, Dr. Nichols!    On top of my surgery team, my at-home recovery team cannot be beat.   From fresh sheets on my bed, plenty of Gatorade, new books on my Kindle, washing all my comfy pjs, pulling the tv up to the end of the bed and hooking up the Roku so I could watch movies.... I was definitely pampered and taken care of like always.    Thank you, my loves!  

Monday, June 2, 2014

Happy 17th Birthday, Big Guy!

Happy Birthday, my sweet Big Guy!  This year's birthday has hit me like a ton of bricks.  Seventeen seems so "old".  So grown up.   I guess it is the combination of your age and the fact you are about to be a senior in high school.   It has just so overwhelming to see you standing in front of me.  

I remember when you were just a few days old I was staring at you and I remember talking to God.  Praying over your future.   Looking at your tiny little hands and feet and your beautiful little eyes.  I couldn't imagine getting to age seventeen.    But here it is, just like everyone says, too fast. 

You are so tall.  Almost six foot tall.  You walk up and give me these great big hugs and I love putting my head on your shoulder.   

You have an incredibly intuitive mind.   You have built your own computer from the ground up over the past year.   You saved all your own money and then researched and bought each piece to custom make a computer.    If I need help with my computer, I know you can help me.   Your Aunt Shera was thrilled when you came to her rescue to repair hers as well.  

It has been fun watching you drive and enjoy your new car.   I am proud of how responsible you have been with your driving and how well you take care of your vehicle also.

You are really in your element when you are with your friends.   Camping, hanging out, going to movies, or whatever... I love seeing you have a good time spending time with them.

I am proud of you, sweet guy.  Proud of the man you are.   Proud of the man you are becoming.  I love you so much.   You have always been my sunshine and you always will be.