Monday, September 16, 2013

Homeschool and You

This is a lot like a "The Care and Feeding of You" book, really.  The problem is that I have to laugh that this is something I'm posting about.  I am probably the worst possible person to ask, which might just make me the best - if only in a "what not to do" context.

I get grumpy. Quickly. I get irritable, too. And easily angered, tense, and I take on way too much.  But the thing is, I forget to take care of me.  I'm so busy taking care of everyone else that I don't get taken care of.  I got money for my birthday. Pre-Monkey, birthday money would have gone to new books, or maybe a new pair of Chucks, or even something silly and useless.  Now, I've spent some of it on antibiotics for a little boy's abscessed tooth, and the remainder will likely go to signing him up for pee-wee hockey.  Before I go on with more, the story is I don't take care of me. I'm trying, though.  I make sure that I get at least one day per week to sleep in - meaning, one day that I wake up on my own, without a young sir jumping on my head at 7:00 am.  Now that it's not innermost-circle-of-hell hot and humid here, I'm going to be starting up running again soon as well.  But time to sit and read? Time for a mani-pedi? Time to just do Care things that Care likes to do?  Not so much.  There's usually a span of time between 8:30 and 10:00 that is Monkey-free. That, though, is devoted to cleaning up Monkey Mess.  For while my monkey doesn't fling feces like his wild brethren, he flings a lot of toys. And food. And paper. And drinks, and LEGO. So there is very little of that hour and a half left for actual self care.  I'm usually pretty pleased if I can henna away grey hairs twice a year, or get a haircut once a quarter.  I really need to work on that, though.  Seriously. Thinking of all the things I do - and skip doing - kind of makes me tense up all on its own.

The more I think about this, the more I realize that there is something more at play here. While all parents need to recharge, and parents of exceptional children need more time, I'm beginning to wonder if parents of children with multiple exceptionalities need more time than that.  Parenting is not an easy prospect, no matter what age your child is, or how agreeable they are. Parenting children who are just "more" in every respect? I'm sure they're also more draining - after all, they're "more" everything else, so why not? But then add in any additional exceptionality, and it seems like even the magnified effects of an intense child is magnified again. In our house, it's almost like having two children in one - we have a nearly nine year old, asking questions about reproduction, the human body (inside, outside, and nude), and super excited to use his microscope... and also a two or three year old - unable to control his impulses, grabbing what is near, whether he should or not, running full tilt through the house, climbing into things he knows he shouldn't because he doesn't have the skills to stop and think he shouldn't...  And both children are in the body of a five year old. Every day is an adventure, for sure, but it's also trying and exhausting, and I really need to stop and think about what I need to do for me to recharge and be the best Mama I can be.

What I need:
Sleep. Oh, how I need sleep.  It's well-neigh impossible for me to function on little sleep.  I'm one of those folks who needs a minimum of 9 hours before they can function. I can get four and be fine, but four and a half? Nope, doomed until nine.
Water I really need to drink more water. I'm not particularly good at it, and it generally shows. Oddly, the more water I drink, the more calm I seem to have.  At least it's cheaper than wine?
Time Out. No, not the little kid kind. But I need time to myself to get things done, time to sit and read, or talk to other homeschooling parents.  Happily, #gtchat usually does this for me. The problem is that I've been traveling so much, I feel like I'm missing all the chats, and that does a lot of horrifying things to my mood.
Fun For me, fun is something as simple as Doctor Who, a new book, or even just going out to window shop.

The problem, though, is that I also need a better memory. I know I need these things, but I have a heck of a time remembering that I need them during my day-to-day life!

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Back to Not School!

In general, we're having a great week.  Monkey (now renamed The Mad Natter - to fit the theme, and because he'll soon be too old for "monkey") has been back to Not School since Thursday, and all has been going spectacularly well.  I actually remembered to plan for the fact that he has his best focus early in the morning this year.  That's made a world of difference.  We've been able to get our work done in under an hour, had time to play games, and then moved along before he lost his focus. I had no idea what time he lost it, either, because we were already done before things went crazy.

Today... was a different story.  Sundays we would ordinarily drive Skeeve to work if The Mad Natter was awake early enough.  He wasn't today, so Skeeve took the bus, and I rested a bit on the couch, waiting for The Mad Natter's appearance.  I didn't have long to wait, he came down the stairs stark naked and giggling about a lack of clothes in his room (yes, he goes through enough clothing in a day that I have to get laundry done every five days or he has absolutely nothing to wear).  So we dressed him out of the laundry basket in the living room, watched our week's episode of Magic School Bus (we've picked up free science lessons using MSB from HomeschoolBelle!!) - again - and got rolling.  Mad Natter wanted to do handwriting work, and since fine motor skills are his weak point, I'm all for letting him, despite having completed the week's handwriting (for reference: 2 pages on each of 2 days, 4p total) the day before.  More power to him, right? Anyhow, I set him up with his handwriting book, and he worked his way through S, J, T, I, A, the segment review AND the capital letter alphabet.  Seven pages - so nearly two weeks of handwriting work in about an hour this morning.  And that's when things started going to hell in a handbasket.

We started about 10 minutes later than usual today, due to it being a Sunday, and therefore a hectic morning. Mad Natter spent 25m watching MSB, then another 5 dawdling his way to the school table. He spent about 50m on handwriting. Then everything went crazy.  He was suddenly completely unable to focus, everything was interrupted by OOOH, SHINY! and he was completely incapable of adding 4+1.  Now, let's bear in mind that this child has been able to plus-one count up since he was three.  I could have understood 359+1, because it requires the regrouping of the ten, which is more of a challenge when you can't focus, but 4+1? We only made it through maths because it used the maths balance - which means it involves actually physically moving the weights to balance the equations. Spelling was equally easier, because I let him play with the balance while I asked beginning and ending sounds, and then separating sounds was done by moving tokens for each sound (thank goodness for All About Spelling!).  We completely dropped reading for the day, and the second half of our ant study was put off until after lunch - we had a read aloud, and then brainstorming, and letter writing.  I'm really glad for homeschool on that front - I was able to put things off until he was a little better able to focus.

Apparently, though, Mad Natter has about 90 minutes of focus in the mornings, and his focus is spotty for the rest of the day.  I'm really glad to have the freedom to have figured this out, and I'm hoping it will be something we can build on from here.