Friday, November 18, 2011

My guinea pig boy

We have a video tape of our brand new baby Jonathan just before leaving the hospital at 2 days old. He is fresh out of the womb and is laying in one of those clear plastic portable isolet thingamajigs. He is crying his little tiny pink head off and his pathetic mother is patting him lightly saying soothing things like "you're ok" and "be a good boy, Mommy and Daddy are going to take you home soon". In spite of having babysat and worked with kids endlessly for at least 10 years before having Jonathan, I had no idea what I was doing. {Remember this is pre-stroke. By the next evening we would become model parents not setting foot outside of the hospital for a full seven days to be an advocate for our little baby every step of the way. (actually I lie, I walked out one night with my father to move the car...Mike litterally never left the building)}

Jonathan was the guinea pig. Thankfully for his siblings sake he had that stroke at 3 days old and we learned first hand how to put our baby's needs first and how to be the best parents we could possibly be. Putting his (and subsequently Madi and Jake's) needs first included a whole list of family dynamics including co-sleeping, extended nursing, and homeschooling. I can for the most part sit here 16 years later and say I have no regrets. I parented in a way that felt right and made sense in light of almost loosing our little guy, and I've never looked back. I don't question our approach to delayed academics with Jonathan. I don't question the fact that we had to be a "short order cook" type family because of his bloodsugar issues as a toddler and preschooler (though I do wish his siblings weren't so picky because of it). We did what we had to do with what God gave us. I've never questioned our choices for curriculum and our way of learning through life in general.

UNTIL... High School! Now I'm second guessing myself daily. Not about homeschooling. Not even about the materials and classes. Just about when and how and how much and...and... Jonathan sat in front of his computer from about 10 until 4 today with a small break for lunch and a shower. He did three subjects. I'm not hovering over him to make sure he's on task every second, but he can attest to the fact that I certainly lay eyes on him and ask "what are you working on now?" at least a few times an hour. Like I said in my last post, we're playing the game. It's working out ok. Here's the thing though we only have a few more years to homeschool. 'Working out ok' doesn't really cut it for me. Up to this point in his high school career he's taken all the same classes kids in brick and mortar schools are taking. (plus the really important ones like Theatre and Theology of the Body) We're not going to change anything this year (except maybe our attitudes), but next year I'm thinking maybe we should really shake things up a bit. We homeschool, so we can right?! I've never given a lick about whether or not the public schooled 4th graders are learning about state history or world cultures. We don't have to worry about what "they" are doing, we can do what we want to do. Why does all that have to change with high school? Let me digress enough to say, I still think it does have to change with high school, just maybe not all the way. I don't want to 'play the game' if it means losing the love of learning. On the continuum of 'school at home' versus 'whatever floats your boat', when it comes to high school I'm much closer to the school at home way. Here's what I'm proposing though...maybe Jonathan won't take Spanish 3 next year (he really doesn't like flvs Spanish)...maybe he won't even take Chemistry (maybe he'll take Astronomy or some kind of science that he's actually interested). Maybe he'll make it to the gym more than once a week and we can turn that into not only a credit but a healthy habit that will serve him well for the rest of his life. Maybe he'll take a computer class, maybe Psychology. Maybe I'll change my mind 50 more times before we choose classes for next year. One thing is for sure though, by the time Madi and Jake get to this point I'll know what I'm doing. Once again they'll be able to thank him for being the guinea pig.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Tech week

It's tech week and Mike's out of town. That means I have to stay awake all hours to go get Jonathan from the theatre when he is done. Actually even when Mike is home, I'm generally the one doing that. Why, though, does it seem like I am the most tired when I have to stay awake?! Jonathan is again helping with the lights for the mainstage show that will open this week, that is in addition to the regular kids show (Bugsy Malone), the extra kids show (Best Christmas Pageant Ever), and Christmas tour (performing for all the local light ups, nursing homes etc). Then there's the second stage show that he will be working on as well which opens next weekend.

I've never been a wishy washy homeschooler, but as the trail blazer for homeschooling high school, I'm sometimes second guessing myself. My general thought is that we must play the game and take the typical high school classes. This is working for Jonathan. It's the current emails and phone calls about lack of adequate progress being made in Spanish that gets me stressed out. The progress (or lack of) is in time not grade, his grade is good. My questioning comes in when I try to figure out if it's a time management problem or if it's an unrealistic expectation on all of our parts regarding how much can actually be accomplished in a day. I know I personally have unrealistic expectations about how much I can get done in a day. How much down time is appropriate? If the theatre takes up x-amount of hours, does that mean Jonathan has used up all his down time and should not be allowed to watch Seinfeld (or the netflix documentary on the American Revolution)? When he wants to chat should I send him back to work? When he cleans the kitchen should I send him back to work? Questions questions!

On a different but similar note I read an amazing commentary on homeschooling today. It is especially interesting considering Mike just told me there was an article in USA TODAY about how some doctors are dropping patients because they refuse to vaccinate. AND the Yahoo headline story was about the city of Milwaukee scaring parents into not co-sleeping with their kids. I spend most of my time surrounded by people who know that as the parent it is their decision how to educate their kids, their decision whether or not to vaccinate, their decision where their children will sleep. I am sometimes still shocked and always baffled by parents who don't realize those are their God given rights. The government or the doctor or the teacher should no be making these decisions. I might be struggling over how best to educate my high schooler, but I am certainly glad that I know it is our family's own decision to make.

Friday, November 4, 2011

A collection of phone pics

My little choristers...

Science in costumes!

Pumpkin decorating at the library. A tradition I realized I've been doing longer than just about all the kids that were there (including Jake) had even been alive!!

Soccer and the playground from another planet...

Jake's "American handcrafts" homemade clay marbles and a felt marble bag.

Homemade clam chowder in bread bowls (no the bread bowls aren't homemade). Incidently, I love fall cooking! I'm getting on a roll with meal planning, now if only we could all be home to eat at a decent hour...

All Saints Day Parade Jake was St Gregory the Great patron saint of choir boys...

Field trip at the Rep

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

an attempt at picture catch up

Some science... (in case you were wondering, when you soak an egg in vinegar and it gets all still doesn't bounce on the counter!)


For today...November 1st

Outside My Open is cool and feels so good.

I am thinking...that there is so much to catch up on, I'm pretty sure it'll never happen. This means on the blog and in real life. On the heals of that thought is the thought that I'll probably start to catch up in about nine years and then that really stresses me out. Not that I will be caught up then, but that I'll have the potential to be. Never mind, I'm not ready for anyone to grow up, I'm going to embrace this not being caught up with all I've got!

I am hearing...not much. The big kids are still snoozing after a night of sugar, Jake is downstairs on the wii, but I can't hear it from here.

We are listening to...Felicity the American Girl on CD. Mostly Jake and I are, but the others have listened some too.

To Be Fit and Healthy...UGH! October was probably my worst month at the gym in a year and a half. So far I'm not making plans for November to be much better. Today is supposed to be the start of the fattest two months of the year and I got a jump on that early this year.

I am thankful for...Jonathan's quick healing with his wisdon teeth and so much more!

I am reading...the latest Nicholas Sparks book, the name of it escapes me right now.

From the Kitchen...Yesterday I made buffalo chicken dip for a Halloween event, that translates in to more chicken for Mugga's chicken soup today.

From the learning rooms...Jake and Madi still seem to be on the same pace, both finishing up the Revolution and starting the brand new nation. I'm trying to decide how long I'm going to take with Jake's. We may slow down here and spend a lot of time on each president and state. If so we may take two years to do this curriculum. I'm thinking next he'll do Exploring Countries and Cultures. At whatever point he does that I think Disney passes are a must, so the question is Disney next year or the year after? The year after is an awful long time to wait!! On a side note we are getting into EPCOT for free on Saturday, it pays to have friends in high places. Jonathan and Madi actually have a youth group event there where we will explore the Catholic aspects of the EPCOT countries. (not to mention sampling food {and maybe even wine} from around the world!)

I am Praying...lets just leave it at that, I am praying and praying and praying!

I am going... to Mass for the solemnity of All Saints this morning.

A Few Plans for the Rest of the Week...just plugging along, trying to accomplish as much as humanly possible while still appreciating every single moment.

What else is new?
I just touched the bottom of the computer desk and felt a dried boogie..... Yuck!JJJJAAAAKKKKEEE!!!!!!!!!