A Quick Note from the Cheap Linoleum

Minnie_mom

I’ve received some really really sweet notes from you all regarding my whereabouts and checking to make sure I’m okay.  I am!  I’m just up to my eyeballs in the day-to-day dealings of a homeschool mom with TWO TEENAGERS and a reluctant 4th grader.

I wanted to post proof (above) that I’m alive and well and haven’t killed anyone.  Fiddledaddy is pictured as well, so you can know that he’s alive and well and surviving TWO TEENAGERS and a MENOPAUSAL WIFE.  (This was taken over the weekend at our church’s Trunk or Treat celebration.  I was Minnie Mom.)

I will begin micro-blogging this week.  Pinky swear.  I say “micro” because as Fiddledaddy reminds me, IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE WAR & PEACE.  (Not that I’ve ever been one to gild the lily.)

Missing you all!!!

DeeDeeSig

Dolphin Tale 2

I thought I’d like to dust off my keyboard and let you all know I haven’t fallen into a Florida sinkhole.  I just needed to cut myself a healthy portion of slack and not pressure myself to sit in front of an empty screen and be all, OH LOOK AT ALL THAT WHITE SPACE.  Especially when I got nothin’.

The honest truth is homeschooling 3 kids, with one in high school, got a whole lot harder this year.  And what with ALL THE SOCIAL, I hardly have time to string together real words.  Next time someone quizzes me about my children’s potential lack of socialization because of homeschooling, I’m going to punch them in the throat.

Which reminds me.  All three kids are doing swim team this year.  Yes.  Three.  This means that Jensen, who swore he’d NEVER be on swim team because he’d rather die catch lizards during the girls’ practice time, is on the swim team.  And loving it.  He’s still on lizard restriction, so I’m sure that swayed his decision.  His fear of being bored at swim practice.

Swim_Team

We call him the bullet.

And now I need to do a little bragging.  One of Fiddledaddy’s jobs is that of actor.  Last Fall he was able to travel to Clearwater, Florida to film a small cameo role in Dolphin Tale 2, which just opened last weekend.  He plays a morning show host who appears about three quarters of the way through.  The casting breakdown described this role as “chirpy shallow comedic morning show host.”  I think he nailed it.  He’s adorable.

He had an opportunity to attend the Clearwater premiere a couple of weeks ago.  I knew it would be a very late night, and I don’t do late very well, so we determined that his date should be Emme.  I don’t think she slept for 3 days before the event.  So exciting.  And it was her first time to wear heals.

DolphinTale_1

On the blue carpet…

Dolphin-Tale2

The really big stars attended the Los Angeles premiere a few days prior, but the younger stars were in attendance in Clearwater.  Emme got to meet a lot of the sweet people that her dad worked with.  It was such a great working experience for him.

I took the rest of my crew to see the film with some of my friends and their kids on opening weekend.  I think my favorite moment was looking over at my son, sitting with his favorite friends, beaming when his daddy came on the screen.

We really are so proud of this movie and Fiddledaddy.  It is an awesome family film.  I give it two thumbs up and a whoop-whoop.  :)  #notbiased

DeeDeeSig

The Wisdom Teeth Should Fetch a Pretty Penny

I’ve never understood how the teeth in the back of your head, which are more than likely impacted, and if not impacted, don’t appear until your early teens when wisdom is often fleeting, are called Wisdom Teeth.

Nevertheless, we learned earlier in the year that Emme, who is teetering on the brink of 15, needed her 4 wisdom teeth removed, as they were impacted and crowding out her fairly straight teeth.  Plus causing some pain and suffering.  After learning of the cost of removing said teeth, we considered rendering the same offer we gave her a couple of years earlier when she had 4 stubborn baby teeth that needed to be removed.  Ten bucks for each tooth if she did it herself.

The same child that created a scene of carnage that any horror movie special affects person would appreciate when losing her first tooth, got those 4 teeth out within a week.  Netting herself $40.  Worth it, as the dentist office wanted $100 bucks a tooth.

The Tooth Fairy in our house, when she isn’t falling down on the job, only shells out a buck a tooth.  And for the record, the children no longer officially believe in the Tooth Fairy, but instead enjoy the look of horror on their mother’s face when she misses a visit to sneak a tooth out from under a pillow.  The job simply became too treacherous as two of the children live on the top bunk in their respective rooms.  And the Tooth Fairy likes to turn in early.  Nowadays, they baggie and date the lost tooth themselves and hand it to me.  I say this loses some of the childhood magic, but this way they are guaranteed the dollar.

Where was I?

Oh yes.  Wisdom teeth.  I really intended to schedule Emme’s surgery for the summer when there was no school and fewer activities, but I blinked and OH LOOK, IT’S AUGUST.  I had set the appointment up for a couple of weeks back, but had to reschedule when a head cold was eminent.  And it’s not like she planned the illness because we simply didn’t tell her about the surgery.  We don’t prefer to give her too much lead time to obsess, worry, panic, revise her will, or run away.

And it wasn’t like we were just going to spring it on her that morning, WAKE UP, IT’S A BEAUTIFUL DAY, YOU’RE GOING TO HAVE SURGERY THIS MORNING.  We planned to tell her a couple of days prior.  But when I had to reschedule, she caught wind of it, giving her plenty of time to discuss it with friends who all recounted their own personal horror stories.  She was pretty sure she was going to die.  Or swell up like a puffer fish.

She also had opportunity to watch episodes of 19 Kids and Counting and Duck Dynasty in which teenaged family members had their wisdom teeth removed on camera.  She decided she wanted NO PART of laughing gas and/or photographic evidence.  And she heard rumors that her own mother SANG to the doctor while on laughing gas 10 years prior.  And since this was the same doctor, she wanted to take no chances of history repeating.

She had the surgery bright and early last Friday morning.  It was decided that Fiddledaddy would attend while I took one for the team and conducted homeschooling duties with the other two at home.  Emme, who was diagnosed with asthma earlier this year (fun times as I have YET to find the humor and write about it), has had a few impromptu fainting jags, and at this point, all I can do is step over her on my way to get help.  And there is always the threat of post surgery vomit.  If that were the case, everyone would be stepping over me.

The surgery went off without a hitch, since her roots were not wrapped around stuff they shouldn’t be.  But Emme was later dismayed that her doctor did not give her the teeth as a parting gift.  {She did receive two fresh muffins from Perkins, and they were DELIGHTFUL.}  She also came home with a black ice head wrap which happened to match her surgical outfit she painstakingly selected the night prior.

Her dad let her FaceTime me on the drive home, and she looked pitiful.  I couldn’t understand a word she spoke, but I was awfully glad that we had stocked the freezer with no fewer than 3 gallons of ice cream.  She had requested Peanut Butter flavor, so that she was assured her nut allergy-infested siblings wouldn’t want to share.

Her doctor told us to get her on normal food as soon as possible, and not to let her lay around all day.  He said that the kids who recover the fastest, do so with Motrin, a regular diet, and normal activities.  By the afternoon, my girl looked pretty normal.  And she began planning her social calendar for the week.  She was a trooper.

Emme_Wisdom

There has been very minimal swelling.  She was disheartened by All The Sore on Sunday, but an afternoon visit by one of her bestest girlfriends cheered her up greatly.  Laughter is truly the best medicine.

Copious amounts of Motrin make for a close second.

I think we got off very easy with this particular patient (except for the bill, which aged me).  It’s the next two I worry about.  I’m thinking we might up the ante and offer them a small sum to get their own wisdom teeth out.

DeeDeeSig

The Christmas List

Nevermind that it’s still August.  Or that our Crocs are still sticking to the asphalt.  My son has already taken it upon himself to make his Wish List for Christmas.

Christmas_list

As you might see, he’s still in the dinosaur phase.  I believe we’re going on 3 or 7 years now.  I’ve lost count.  But what you might have noticed if you look beyond the spelling errors, is something a bit new.

Jensen is still on Lizard restriction.  He cannot seize, catch, hunt, or track reptilians in our yard.  Or anyone else’s (as we found we must be very specific).  My apologies to the elderly neighbors who may have spotted a 9 year old boy in camouflage skulking around their rain gutters.  Also, all televised viewing which contained episodes of animal violence have been removed from his Netflix lineup.

In their stead, Fiddledaddy placed Animal Planets Too Cute into Netflix for Jensen’s viewing pleasure.  This is a tug at your heartstrings type of show which features liters of tiny puppies and kittens.  There was one particular breed which caught Jensen’s fancy; Bengal Kittens.

One night last week while I was out shuttling teenagers to and fro (this is a whole new aspect of homeschooling a high schooler which deserves a post of its own), I received a text from Fiddledaddy about Jensen’s brand new obsession.   It began with a link to the cat breed in question.

The conversation went as follows:

Me:  Stop it!!!

Him:  I know.  I’m canceling Netflix.

Christmas_Kitty

Me:  WHAT ARE YOU DOING?

Him:  Help me.

Me:  Step away from the internet.

Him:  I’m holding a weeping boy who is negotiating away all toys for Christmas if only he could have a Bengal Cat.

Me:  Tell him we will get him a snake.

And for the record, the No Pet Clause is still safely in place.  I love the idea that the only things I have to keep alive in the house is the husband and the children.  The boys tried to give me some mumbo jumbo about this particular cat (which can set you back a couple thousand, btw) being hypo-allergenic.  Phhhttttt.  This is so NOT my first rodeo.

Legos for Christmas.  What would be wrong with Legos for crying out loud?

DeeDeeSig

Math is a 4-letter word

It’s crunch time.  We begin school next Monday, since the girls begin Co-op a few days after that.  I’ve spent my entire day setting up Math.  Math has consumed me.  So this is a math review.  I sense that your eyes are rolling to the back of your head.

I can tell you that I love math.  That love is not shared by anyone else that I live with.  Or know.  Not long after we were married, Fiddledaddy asked me to play the banker in this little game of Monopoly because Math is not his gift.  It seemed natural since my accountant offered me a job every single year that I brought in my taxes.  You should see my check register.  It is a work of art.

Yes.  I could benefit from therapy.  But IT’S NOT IN THE BUDGET.  HAHAHAHAHA.

Proving that He has a sense of humor, God gave me 3 children who hate math.  And then to add insult to injury, He encouraged me to HOMESCHOOL them.

We’ve been through nearly every Math curriculum ever created, including A Beka, Math U See, Saxon, Singapore, and Accelerated Christian Education.  Some worked okay with one or another, but it wasn’t until I discovered Teaching Textbooks that I found a curriculum that worked well for all 3 kids.

Teaching Textbooks is a curriculum which has verbal and visual instruction on CD-ROM, and can come with a written student spiral.  It was created specifically for homeschoolers.  It begins with the 3rd grade and ends with high school Pre-Calculus.  I think it works well for most kids because the lecture is conversational, and includes bright colored interactive visuals.  So it appeals to the visual AND the auditory learner.

Math

We switched to Teaching Textbooks when Emme was struggling mid-way through her 6th grade year.  It was an immediate relief, as it took much of the explaining off of my shoulders, and allowed her to work through the problems at her own pace, not moving on to the next concept until mastery.  There is just the right amount of review, and she knows immediately if her answer is correct.  If incorrect, she is able to view how to do the problem.  OH YEAH.  And it’s self grading.  I get the second edition versions which are Mac compatible and therefore self-grading.

I do like getting the spiral text, even though my kids show their work in a graph spiral (I get these from Office Depot).  That way I can still re-sell the text, but it’s nice to visually see the lesson in print, and know what topics are going to be covered.

Teaching Textbooks is not cheap.  I can attest to that since all 3 of my kids are doing it.  I’ve been able to buy it used in all cases.  I have had to purchase an occasional spiral text, or buy a replacement disc for one that is damaged.  This company does not mind that this curriculum is sold used among homeschoolers.  And their telephone customer service is awesome.

My math task today included installing Math 4, Math 7, and Algebra 1 on the computers.  I also make it a practice of burning copy discs so my kids aren’t using the originals and risking all the scratches, dropping, and general mayhem that accompanies disc usage.  The copies I make are only for our use and I destroy them when we’re finished.

I did run into a snag, however.  I spent a good deal of my afternoon trying to make copies of Algebra 1.  The first disc copied, but no others would.  I thought that perhaps I had defective discs, but then I realized that they might be copy-protected.  A quick call to the company confirmed this.  She apologized, but said that some of the newer versions (like Algebra 1) were copy-protected.  I completely understand this, since I can see where that might be abused.

So I’ve instructed my Algebra student that she cannot use her discs as a coaster, or a frisbee, or a weapon…

I also discovered a Math Worksheet website last year which allows you to customize worksheets to cover those topics your own reluctant student might need additional help with.  There are plenty of free topics, but I did subscribe for a year (I believe it was about $25) so that I had access to more specific math topics.

BECAUSE WHO CAN GET ENOUGH MATH?

At one point this last year, one of my children (unnamed) looked up from her computer, “MOM, if I’m going to be a Disney Princess, I do NOT need Math.”

That’s where you’re wrong, my friend.  Math is the one subject you WILL use every single day of your life.

And that thought fills me with an unending amount of joy.

DeeDeeSig

The Skates

I grew up on 8 wheels, throwing myself around a roller skating rink on a weekly basis.  During the pre-disco era.  Between the pom-pom bedazzled roller skates, 18 inch bellbottoms, and requisite platform shoes, it’s a wonder I never broke a femur during that decade.

The one and only time I tried ice skating was in my early 20’s.  I was a struggling actress in Dallas and my agent called, “Can you ice skate?”  “I’ll let you know.”  I mean, how different could it be?

I headed out to the local rink and stuffed my feet into a pair of white ice skates.  This is when I discovered that the two types of skates WERE VASTLY DIFFERENT.  I hobbled around on the carpet before getting the nerve to try the ice.  After about an hour of hugging the rail, I took a break to make my way to a pay phone.  I called my agent, “How good do I have to be?”  “You have to look like you know what you’re doing.”  A couple of moments of tortured silence, and then I said, “I’ll call you back.”

I made my way back to the ice and put in another hour or two until I could get around the rink without hanging on to another patron or the wall.

I went to the audition and was never even asked if I could skate.  And to add insult to injury, I didn’t book the commercial.   Showbiz.

Fast forward many many decades.  My girls and a gaggle of their teenaged and tween-aged friends want to spend a carefree afternoon at the ice skating rink.  I don’t ever mind trips to the ice rink, what with ALL THE HOT FLASHES.  And since this is Florida, ALL THE HOT.

And if this is the part of the story wherein you think I applied a pair of ice skates to my own feet and showed up the youngsters, you would be wrong.  Not enough insurance in the world, my friends.

But the unusual part of this saga is that for the first time EVER, my 9 year old boy wanted to check out the ice skating rink.  With ideas of possibly giving it a whirl.  My 9 year old son, who has never ever shown ANY interest ANY sport, thought ice skating might be fun.

I’m guessing this could stem from the boredom one might experience if you’re 9 and you’ve been placed on lizard restriction.  To save the remainder of the lizard population, we’ve had to instill a conservationist mindset in our boy.  This means no hunting, touching, and accidental murder of any more lizards.  (Long gruesome story.  Best left untold.)

So my son joined his sisters, a bunch of teen and tweenagers, and two of my sweet mom friends at the rink.  Ice skating is not a cheap adventure, so I was really hoping Jensen would not only place the skates on his feet, but also, you know, venture onto the ice.  After I got him strapped in, things did not look good.  He couldn’t get his ankles to cooperate.  I even rented him a walker.  Yes, just like the elderly, except the bottom is flat and can glide on the ice.

He wanted to quit 3 minutes after getting the skates on his feet.  Visions of a shredded $10 bill danced in my head.  I encouraged him first to stand, then to try walking around the rubber perimeter.  After a time, he saw his sisters and friends heading out onto the ice.  He made it to the ice entrance.  And then his sisters and all of their friends enveloped him and began encouraging him.

Jensen_skates2

The cute blonde is my dear friend, Beth, who took one for the team and strapped on her leg brace and skates to hit the ice with the kids.  She was supremely instrumental in getting Jensen onto the ice.  She promised him a handful of M&M’s.

One of Emme’s buddies is well over 6 feet tall, and he began leading Jensen around the rink.  He earned his angel wings for all of his patience that day, even taking a tumble when Jensen pulled them both down.  But they got back up and continued skating the impromptu lesson.

Before the skating session had ended, Jensen made it around the rink THREE times by himself.  He was a wall hugger.  But had lots of encouragement along the way.  I’ve never seen that little boy be so proud of an accomplishment.

Jensen_skates

When I was helping him take off his skates, he asked, “Mom, is ice skating a sport?”  “Yes, yes it is.”  “HEY! I HAVE A SPORT NOW!”

And my heart melted all over the ice.

 

DeeDeeSig

 

Curriculum Round-up Summer 2014

I’m in denial that our school year starts in just 3 short weeks.  I’m also in denial that I have a kid in high school.  When I started this blog I was a homeschool mom to a 2nd grader, a kindergartner, and a toddler.  And then I blinked.

3_Students(That is my finger in the upper left. I have mad photography skilz.)

I don’t think I really thought I’d be in this for the long haul.  I simply took it a year at a time.  Or as my husband would tell you, a week at a time.  My biggest fear (besides a complete mental breakdown) was how in the world I would homeschool a kid through high school.  I have no idea how I ever made it through high school, much less how I would get someone else through it.

So much of our journey has been trial and error.  Heavy on the error.  I think I’ve tried nearly every curriculum available, from A Beka through Our Father’s World.  Some worked some years, for some kids, for some of the time.  We’ve settled on an eclectic mishmash that I believe will get me through the remainder of our homeschooling journey.

One of my favorite curriculum is Our Father’s World.  I wish I had discovered it when we were beginning to homeschool.  Alas, I had to abandon it when Emme began Classical Conversations her 7th grade year.  I had all 3 of them on different schedules and curriculum and I nearly went crazy.  When I saw that we might not have a tutor for CC 8th grade, I switched her to a local Co-op which catered to 7th – 12th grade.  That was the best homeschooling decision I’ve ever made.  The courses offered suited her academically, the teachers were amazing, and I dearly love the kids that she’s become close with.  This program will see her through high school and save me from the scary high school courses that include labs and DISSECTING STUFF.  And she is excited to start school (first time ever) because of how much she loves this co-op and that two of her best girlfriends will be joining her there this year.

I attended our annual homeschool convention in May with my sister-in-law, Trish.  Honestly, when things get really bad in our homeschooling day, we can console one another with, “but if you quit, you can’t go to the homeschool convention.”  Not even kidding.

We both had to pay extra attention and attend all the “how to homeschool through high school” classes.  The biggest takeaway I got was how important the SAT scores are for scholarships and that transcripts really aren’t all that frightening.  Fortunately I am OCD when it comes to record keeping.  I’m certain that Emme’s transcript will be suitable for framing.

So, here’s a rundown of how our school year will look.  Both Emme and Cailey will be doing the Co-op one day a week.  Their teachers give them their assignments for the remainder of the week.  My job is to simply follow up with them to make sure they have their work done and have them to their class at 8:30 dressed in something other than footie pjs.

Emme (my 9th grader) will be taking Apologia Biology, American History, Advanced Literature, a 2-D Art class, and a Math tutoring class.  She will continue Teaching Textbooks for Math at home and will be in Algebra 1.  She will also continue Spelling and SAT Vocabulary with our Big IQ Kids program.

She’s been doing Big IQ Kids to supplement her Spelling since 1st grade, and I totally attribute this program to how amazing she is at spelling.  All 3 kids do the program to supplement and it is the one constant through all of our homeschooling years.  I cannot say enough wonderful things about it.

Oh yeah, and she’ll be taking DRIVER’S ED.  {{{Hold me.}}}

Cailey (my 7th grader…gulp) will be taking Apologia General Science,  Latin & Greek Roots, a Writing class, 2-D Art, and a Science study hall at the Co-op.  At home she will be doing Teaching Textbooks 7 for Math, Accelerated Christian Education for Spelling, English, and Social Studies.  I will continue Story of the World Volume 1 for history with both Cailey and Jensen.  We are in our 3rd year of Volume 1.  We evidently like to study our history in real time.

Jensen (my reluctant 4th grader) will be doing everything at home.  With his mother.  Otherwise known as The Torturer.   Jensen is my most difficult student to date.  I know.  Hard to imagine.  He’s a wiggly learner who is likely to spontaneously fall out of his chair at any moment.  But I have to say, he’s come a long way since the beginning of his 3rd grade year.  When we began last year, he was not reading.  Not.  At.  All.

He is now reading, learning cursive (the bane of his existence), and is known to carry armloads of books out of the library for his own personal science research.  The kid is scary smart.  I just need to direct and redirect ALL THE ENERGY AND DEFIANCE.

He will be doing Teaching Textbooks 4 for Math (he is certain that Math is going to kill him…but he’s doing great), and Accelerated Christian Education workbooks for English, Spelling, Social Studies, Creative Writing, and Science.  Since Science is his favorite subject, I’m adding a new curriculum that a girlfriend of mine suggested (she also has wiggly boy scientist wanna-be’s), The Sassafras Science Adventures: Zoology.  This is an adventure story with a corresponding work-book.

I’ve gotten my Journal all set up with Donna Young free printables, curriculum is on the shelves, and Extra-strength Excedrin is stocked in the cabinet.  I think I’m ready.

I love to know what curriculum everyone is doing, so please feel free to list yours in the comments!

DeeDeeSig

The Evaluation

ABC

At some point during the month of June, I schedule an evaluator to peruse my homeschooling journal and the kid’s portfolios.  If she gives her okiedokie, everyone is promoted to the next grade, and I breathe a huge sigh of relief.

(We’ve never ever NOT received an okiedokie, but you know, there’s always THE CHANCE.)

We’ve had the same evaluator for the last 7 years of our homeschooling adventure and we dearly loved her.  Alas, she retired and I knew I needed to procure the services of someone else this year.  I have a friend of many years (who has successfully completed her homeschooling AND has children that MADE IT INTO COLLEGE) who holds her teaching certificate and is able to do evaluations.  I set up an appointment with her to have all 3 of my children LOOKED AT.

The morning of the evaluation, Jensen worked himself into quite a state.  He doesn’t care for change and he REALLY didn’t take to the idea of someone looking at his school work and, you know, JUDGING HIM.  No matter how I tried to assure and reassure him, he still managed to successfully hyperventilate.  The sisters noticed his dilemma and sought to comfort him.

Just kidding.

They only added to his misery until he was pretty sure he was going to be repeating Kindergarten, even though he had just completed 3rd.

We met at a designated area and the evaluation began with my oldest.  About 5 minutes into the meeting, Jensen came up to me, hyperventilating again, and scratching himself until I though he was going to hit an artery.  As far as I know, no homeschool kid has ever died during an evaluation.  I didn’t prefer mine to be the first.

I comforted him and slid a couple of Kid’s Benydryl tabs between his lips.  There may or may not have been a promise of ice cream should we successfully finish the meeting without a trip to the emergency room.

After Emme’s evaluation was finished, we wisely decided to do Jensen’s, thusly putting him out of our his misery.  I sat and watched Jensen’s eyes shine as my friend, Pam, gushed over his handwriting (the bane of my existence), his careful attention to his math problems (he is certain that math is going to kill him), his detail to Science (the only subject which gives him a reason to live), and eventually, she marveled at his many colorful dinosaur drawings which depict every type known to man and include the requisite 9 year old boy guts and gore.

All scratching ceased.

I’m certain that there is a very special place in heaven that’s extra nice for people like sweet Pam.

I’m happy to say that all 3 children, plus their bedraggled  teacher, passed with flying colors.  Ice cream was enjoyed by all.

I typed up my letter, included the evaluation, and sent all three envelopes off to our local superintendent of schools.  Certified.  Return receipt requested.

After 9 long years, I am now officially the homeschooling mother of a high school freshman, a 7th grader, and a reluctant 4th grader.

And still, no one is in therapy.

So far, so good.

DeeDeeSig

My view of life from the linoleum.