Wednesday, October 29, 2008

There are downsides to homeschooling!

Most homeschooling parents love homeschooling! Most really feel its their calling in life.

So, you will often hear about all of the fantastic benefits of homeschooling. And there are many benefits of homeschooling. But you rarely hear about the downsides. I thought I'd share some:

-- The papers just keep on coming. You skip grading papers for one or two (or seven) days, and the amount of time it will take to catch up becomes daunting.

-- Teacher workdays don't help you feel "caught up"; they often make you feel behind because you didn't do lessons that day.

-- There are no substitute teachers if you need a sick day or a mental health day. Unless the principal (Dad) wants to take it on!

-- Homeschooling is really a misnomer. You find yourself in the car MORE and away from HOME so you can add in "specials" such as art, music, creative writing, drama, sports, etc that the other kids have in school!

-- Instead of the kids getting OUT of the house during the day and you having a chance to CATCH up on housework, they are AROUND the house all day creating MORE housework.

-- A Parent-Teacher conference just makes others think you are MORE nuts because you sit around talking to yourself!

I have spent the past day or so grading a week's worth of papers, vacuuming 3 rooms that desperately needed it, sorted through no fewer than TWENTY sets of Scholastic order forms, finished cutting apart the Latin vocabulary word flashcards, listed some unused homeschool items online to sell, analyzed and sent a week's worth of Emma's readings to the nurse for analysis, and many other miscellaneous things that have just been building up, or finally needed to be done. I'm feeling a little more caught up, but I'm trying not to "rest on my laurels" becuase I know that if I don't KEEP up, I'll have that week's worth of papers to review again NEXT week!

And don't get me wrong - this is still the right decision for Samantha and Michael but don't let anyone tell you that homeschooling parents are taking the "easy way out" - no way!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Hello Winter!

Boy this has been a weird fall.

Today, the high temperature in Suburban Washington, DC is 48!

That's right - 48 degrees.

And that's before the wind chill. The forecast calls for wind gusts up to 40mph this afternoon.

Sounds more like Winter to me!

Monday, October 27, 2008

It must be in our blood

To say that I grew up around baseball would be an understatement. My dad started and ran leagues, coached teams, organized events, and even coached an AAU team that won a state tournament and competed in the National AAU tournament. I kept score for years, for both Little League games and our high school baseball team.

Mike grew up in Williamsport, PA - home of Little League baseball - need I say more.

We are both happy that Michael is interested in baseball, since we both like it so much. We have cheered through many seasons of soccer with Samantha and Michael and enjoyed watching the games. But I haven't felt nearly the excitement at any of the "fast-paced", always moving soccer games as I have at most of Michael's recent travel baseball games.

Many say that baseball is boring. Not much action and lot of standing around. Then why is my stomach in knots just wishing Michael's team to just get one more out before the other team scores another run? To just WILL the boys to hit the ball and not get out, and to cheer loudly when a steal turns into another base?

It must be in our blood.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

589 days!

1 year, 7 months, and 9 days

That's how long Emma's been diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. She's had it longer, obviously, during the time she suffered with it before it was diagnosed.

On many days, her diabetes just blends into our life seamlessly and its no more burden than reminding the kids to put on their shoes, brush their teeth, etc.

Other days, the burden is much heavier.

We have been fighting crazy numbers for quite a few weeks now. Lots of high highs and low lows. Its frustrating for us, and I know doesn't feel good for her. As a result, we've been testing a lot more than normal, so its now a more prominent part of our lives (especially in the middle of the night)

And the impacts it has had on our lives feel more, well, impactful right now. Emma was at a babysitter yesterday while Michael had a baseball game (we didn't want to subject her to the cold for those long hours in the evening). The babysitter had graciously agreed to check Emma's sugar levels. But she called at the first scheduled time to say she was having trouble. So there I was trying to keep the scorebook for the baseball game and troubleshoot what might be going wrong over the phone. I finally told her to just take a break and try at the next hour. It worked fine then.

Today, Emma was dropped off from preschool and the other mom casually said "Emma didn't eat all of her cookies". It had been about an hour since they had had lunch at school. I checked her sugar and she was ALREADY low (and had a lot of insulin still working). I had to give her juice and milk to compensate for the fact that she had been dosed for 16 carbs that she didn't eat.

Trying to balance keeping her safe and healthy with how involved her other caretakers are is tough. Her preschool teacher is the only adult in her little "in home" preschool. She checked Emma's levels before snack and lunch and then doses her. It's confusing enough for her to do this with 7 other kids, so I've tried not to ask her to check BEFORE lunch but dose AFTER lunch to make sure she ate it all. I want diabetes to integrate seamlessly into her school as well.

Some days are just harder than others. This is one of those days. I've lost the ability to look at my child and just smile at her sweetness (she is pretty sweet). Unfortunately, that thought is immediately followed by "I wonder what her reading is right now". It just stinks. It makes us tired.

I hope for the day that they develop a cure for Type 1 diabetes. I'll be first in line (and I know I'll be fighting with a lot of other mothers for that first spot in line). We've always heard its "within the next 20 years" but is it really. No one knows. And as the treatments have become so much better than they were 10, 15, or 20 years ago, it makes many believe that research time and dollars could be spent on diseases that are "more deserving" - I mean, our kids get along, just fine right?

Tomorrow will be 590 days. I look forward to the day I stop counting.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Virtual Friends are Real Ones Too!

I debated through several titles before posting this one - mainly so that I didn't alarm anyone with more, well, alarming titles.

I read and post on several online message boards. After a while, you come to know the people on these boards almost as well as you do your "in person" friends. One of these message boards that I frequent is based on scrapbooking, a hobby that many of us love. I have driven to several different states to meet in person some of the people that I have "met" online in that community.

Today, we mourn with a member of that online community. I never met Donnann in person but knew of her through our message board. Last week, she took her 5-year-old son Danny to the Emergency Room after he had woken up unable to stand or walk. The couple of weeks before, she had been asking for advice because he had stopped eating, was getting sick, and losing weight.

She walked into the ER with a sick child and walked out with empty arms.

The doctors found a 4cm tumor on his brain stem and attempted to remove it through surgery. Danny never came out of his coma and died.

No mother should ever have to bury her child.

Donnann and her family went from planning trips to the park to planning his funeral.

No mother should ever have to bury her child.

Danny gave the gift of life to 4 other people with donated organs. Today they celebrated his life and mourned his death.

Danny loved the movie Cars and Lightning McQueen. All around the world, online friends of Donnann's family released Red Balloons in honor of Danny who left the world too early.

No mother should ever have to bury her child.

Make sure you hug your own children a little tighter tonight!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

I think the thermometer lied!!

We spent over 6 hours outside today at Michael's double-header baseball game. I am in charge of the concession stand, so we have to get there extra early to set up. We arrived at 11:30 and left around 6pm.

The weather report said a high of 60 today. Considering last Sunday it was about 83 degrees at our game, this was a big change.

What the weather report didn't say was GUSTING WIND.

The thermometer in the car when we left said 55. I don't believe it.

I've been home almost 3 hours and I'm still cold down to my bones.

The wind was blowing through the fields today and the sun was giving no warmth.

The boys, being typical 8 year old boys, said "I'm not cold" but I insisted Michael put on his jacket and then I would find him putting his hands in the pockets - so it was at least cold enough for that!

Welcome Fall!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

9 weeks!

When it comes to school, that's a magic number. I remember growing up that everything was about the "9 weeks". "The first nine weeks", "the end of the nine weeks", the "last nine weeks".

The school year was divided into 9 weeks, for a total of 36 weeks and approximately 180 school days.

This coming week is our 9th week this year. I feel like its a milestone. Our 8th week wasn't fantastic because Samantha felt a little under the weather a couple of days and didn't do schoolwork, which meant at a minimum that we wouldn't be doing History and Science, because she does those subjects with Michael. After that it was pretty easy to give Michael a day off, or an easy day, because Samantha was already "down for the count".

So, we will complete our "First 9 weeks" this week. This has been the best nine weeks we've had homeschooling, in terms of productivity. Our family schedule and lesson plans are really keeping us moving. My kids are like me in that they like to check things off a list - so I'm giving them lists.

The kids are also doing more chores, because I put those on the weekly schedule. All of our bathrooms are getting cleaned each Friday, and the front hall and family room and both sets of stairs are being dusted each Friday. The kitchen floor (supposedly) gets swept every day. I'll add more in as I feel like they are comfortable with these. Right now, they still drag along and it takes far too long to do them - who would have thought you could spend 30 minutes cleaning the toilet and the sink in a bathroom!

Our fall sports seasons are getting close to winding down - a couple of weeks left. Samantha scored a goal today in her soccer game - the first this season. She was quite excited. Michael has had some great outings in baseball (3 innings pitched, 7 strikouts) and some only ok outings. But he's hitting the ball well and staying focused, so we can't ask for much more.

Michael earned his Blue Stripe belt in Tae Kwon Do. I just downloaded photos so I'll post some later.

Our nephew Gavin visited with us for the night last weekend so his parents could go to a High School reunion. Mike took them to play putt-putt golf and they all had a great time!

Emma is loving preschool. She got to do a "Me poster" that talked all about her and we put some photos of her and her family on it and she colored it with colored pencils - she was excited to use colored pencils. When asked her favorite place to go, she said "Home" :). We talked a little more and it became "Preschool" and finally it was "Walt Disney World". We stuck with that one. Who can blame her!!

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

We made CO2 today

We have been studying about the states of matter in science - solids, liquids, and gasses. I have to admit that science has just not been my favorite subject since I started homeschooling. But today's little experiment helped change my mind a little - we made Carbon Dioxide! And we "poured it"

We mixed vinegar and baking soda together in a jar and then held a match over the mouth of the jar to show the flame going on - showing the carbon dioxide in the mouth of the jar.

Then we lit a candle. We mixed the vinegar and baking soda again. I think formed a kind of "sluice" with a piece of cardboard and "poured" the Carbon Dioxide. No liquid came out, but the cardboard functioned to direct the CO2 down towards the burning candle and it put out the flame.

Really cool! If all of science was like this, I could get into it (as long as someone else gets all the supplies together in the first place - I hate having to track all the stuff down)

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Blog on short hiatus

I'm having a slight problem with my laptop, in that if I try to open the monitor more than, say 2", the entire screen turns pink. I'm currently typing with my laptop opened, looking like an alligator's mouth, so that the screen is white and not pink

Sorry I haven't updated. Had a good weekend. Getting a major crick in my neck for working like this and signing off until I get the monitor fixed.