You know it's a bad day with a bottle of Malbec on the counter looks like the most appetizing lunch in the world, and finding a glass for that drink seems like (a) too much work, (b) too many dishes, (c) too much evidence.
Does manic depression come with homeschooling? Or maybe it comes with having kids? Or maybe it's just the life of a Libra to sway between extremes and feel those inequities so much because we're always seeking a state of balance?
And on the day we're talking about magnetism it seemed fitting we'd have a repulsive episode. When Kaio didn't want to sit and play with the magnet toys I had brought out for today, I said "ok, this [homeschooling] isn't going to work." Rejection always hurts more when you've put forth genuine effort. I get rejected by Kaio all the time.
I seem to operate on four speeds: afflicted, weary, hopeful and rapt.
And some days I feel deep in my gut that everything is wrong and I've screwed up. I live with my mom and have no job. My kids are weird and I slave after them tidying and prepping like Cinderella I have nothing but rags to wear, and no time to shop for fun clothes.
And then other days I'm like: life rocks! I live get to live with my mom and I don't have to have a job.
But I do have a job. I have a bunch of jobs actually. Mom, teacher, student, cook, meal planner, dish washer, accounts payable department, hospitality, curriculum developer, tax accountant, janitor, official nagger and worry wort, and yoga teacher. Most of them are fun.
I decided to finally take the advice of every single veteran homeschooler I've talked to, and "de-school." I didn't think that Kaio would need to deschool after only being in school for a little over half a year. But, I heard from multiple people that easing pressure and giving the kids a break from school fosters an internal drive for learning. And since Kaio and I started butting heads on the magnetism lesson, I decided that I needed to give myself a break too. Plus I've had finals for the last two weeks; I've been busy with my own schooling.
And then another, discovery: Kaio may have a concussion. He's been exhibiting many of the symptoms. I just didn't think of it before because he hasn't hit his head recently. But after reading up more and talking to a doctor who specializes in concussions, it seems very possible that all the video games he played over winter break triggered it. He has hit his head many many many many, at least five times. Twice he went face first into pavement, it hurts my heart just thinking about it. He had no self preservation instinct until about 6 months ago. I wish I had kept him on a tighter leash, but hindsight is always 20/20 right? Anyway. he never threw up after the falls or seemed out of it. But after winter break something changed and he became very difficult - not wanting to go to school anymore, saying he had a headache after playing video games, answering everything with, "I don't know." I'm having to find a neurologist, which is scary. But at least in the three days since I initially realized that he might be suffering a concussion, he's seemed better.
I want to keep the structure we have around the day because that's working very well for all of us. Homeschooling has been super positive for me in that respect. I think I needed the structure just as much as the kids. Just the simple task of washing the dishes in the morning, because that's the plan and that's what I do, clears up my space mentally. When the kitchen is messy I feel like my whole life is messy. So now that our day is planned out and I have a system for when I need to do the dishes - it's just awesome.
So this is one of the projects we worked on during 'homeschool' time. Christmas paper tubes wrapped in construction paper.
Nala wanted a little light saber, pink and purple.
Kaio been making lots of lego ships. He can pretty much play with legos all day long.
Our newest thing has been finding building instructions for Star Wars sets online, and then building them with legos we have around the house. It's way cheaper than buying all those Star Wars lego sets! And Kaio doesn't mind that the creations are off colors.
Nala made a pony castle.
Last Friday the weather looked pretty nice so I had us go out for a walk first thing in the morning. I never do that. I'm not a morning person. But, I'd been reading through a curriculum that says a morning walk is key to invigorating the blood and establishing focus for the day.
The walk didn't seem to improve anything with our energy or focus for the day. But it was a fun change.
Every Friday we have "Friday Share" basically 'show and tell.' It was something Kaio liked from public K, so we've kept it up at home. Last Friday Nala picked pine cones to share, Kaio shared his AT-ST lego creation, and I shared my recycled coffee travel mug. I talked about how my mug used to be trash and then it was turned into a mug. "You mean they painted it and turned it into something else?" Nala asked.
Later in the day she decided she wanted to turn her pine cones into something else and paint them. I'm just amazed by what a little sponge she is and how much she admires me. I know it's not going to last forever, so I'm just relishing it everyday.
And, I'm starting to feel weary, so off to bed. Hopeful that tomorrow will be fun ;)
Kaio's 6 and Nala's 4, Sunday we took our first family bike ride out of the neighborhood and where everyone rode his/her own bike. We rode about half a mile down a bike trail and through the Reston Town Center on a mission for milk shake. Nala rode really slow, well her wheels were the smallest. But either Mari or I needed to walk our bike next to her - she was that slow. Kaio did great and biked the whole way keeping a safe speed and without complaining of being tired. He's got a silly habit of looking behind him and then loosing balance and falling, this happened at least three times. "Watch where you are going, look forward!" I holler to try to remind him.
Our pilgrimage to Silver Diner ended in success and each of us ordered our own milk shake. Nala made a big deal to the waiter about needing a pink straw.
Since we had a whole trip back and Nala lagged so much on route to the destination, we needed to figure out how to return Nala back home. She was too tired to bike and the sun was setting, the air cooling. It was the kind of tense situation that could have easily gone sour; one of us getting upset or frustrated. I suggested leaving Nala's bike at the diner and retrieving it by car. Then Mariano ingeniously devised a system for taxiing her back.
When we made it home without any fight, meltdown, or injuries it felt like a triumph.
Luckily I'm not one of those people who needs a plan to get things done. Actually I'm pretty used to waiting until the last minute and cramming. That must just be how I operate, I think it's a Right-Brained personality trait.
Not that a plan wouldn't be helpful. But I'm more of a dive-in/trial-and-error type learner than a research-the-perfect-solution-and do-it-right-up-front
kind of person.
So I see us experimenting with different schedules, structures and programs for the rest of the year. And then hopefully having a clue about what we're doing and where we're going next year.
I'm getting closer to understanding what we need out of homeschooling. I've broadly defined success as: happy and monetarily self sustaining.
Basically I'm just trying to teach my kids to be happy and provide for themselves. That doesn't sound so hard. But I've been known to f up easy tasks before, gullible and oblivious I am.
We're Ninja Turtles
She's never seen the movie, but I imagine Nala like Aurora in Sleeping Beauty, surrounded by animals in the forest, singing to them as birds land on her fingers and baby squirrels prance over her shoulders.
I caught them sleeping together
Even on the snow day we held homeschool. Why not? The kids like it.
The neighbors had a snow man kit
Kaio built a snow penguin
Then Kaio's vertically challenged snowman. He's all about short cuts. Just like me. If I can get the job done in a third of the time and call it a day. done.
Nala's first snowman. "I want to take her inside so she doesn't melt."
I promised them I'd make cupcakes if it snowed. My cupcakes resemble Kaio's snowman don't they?
This is the schedule from one of our homeschool days. I'm trying to integrate Eastern medicine and philosophy into our studies. Since the most basic principle of oriental medicine is the theory of yin and yang, I've been introducing this through talking about opposites. I'm trying to get them to notice the dualities in life. There are tons of Star Wars moments which capture this, so our discussion kept Kaio's interest long enough for him to get it. Next week I'll build on by playing with magnets.
At the Reston Walker Nature center I perused a book on cartography for children. Before 7 years old kids' maps usually revolve around their interests. The author said asking kids to draw a map from their house to their school, or somewhere else recognizable like that was a really fun activity. I've always loved maps. So I tried this and I asked Kaio to draw a map of something, like from home to school. He started by making the Millinium Falcon on route to the Death Star. He added some planets and a meteor belt, and a couple dotted lines for which way to go. Ok, a map. cool. he did it. But then he started drawing a battle with tie fighters shooting lasers at the Millinium Falcon. I felt a little irritated that he had gotten distracted from the mapping activity and just began drawing. But, then I realized that he was making a real-time map, like google traffic! It's the future of maps, maps that tell you where the battles are so you can plan accordingly.
Thursday we took a field trip Widewater off the C&O Canal, at Angler's Point. I wanted to check out a spot where, god willing, I'll be holding Stand Up Paddleboard Yoga classes this summer.
The spot is beautiful, but it was very windy when we went. I'm worried too windy for SUP yoga.
The kids know I'm crazy about moss.
Beautiful blue herons frequent Widewater and this one was not shy with us.
We scurried up some rocks for a homeschool perch.
We've taken three trips out to play at homeschool meetups and the kids have a blast. They always leave saying the funnest part of their day was playing with the "homeschool kids."
At home, I asked them to draw more maps. Kaio made a starfighter. I think it's more like a product design print, but ok.
Nala: "The reindeer is going to land in the sunny of the rainbow of the little animal of the garden of the prettiest place in all of reindeer land" (the reindeer is her, by the way)
We stumbled upon a DK anatomy book at the library and Kaio's fascinated. He wanted to build layers of skin out of clay. Although when I broke out the clay he found that a little daunting and decided to make food instead, explaining that food goes into your body and becomes your skin. We've been reading the Magic School Bus human body book all last week, so this fit right in. I also showed them the TMBG Blood Mobile song , which was fun.
Nala made a Chipotle burrito, "I like white rice, black beans, carne, guacamole, and a little bit of spicy things."