Monday, September 26, 2016

Keeping Surprisingly Busy.

Even though I am not currently employed and not currently homeschooling, I still feel like I have a lot to do.  This past week has involved taking my son driving, supervising a board game meetup, taking the kittens to be spayed and neutered (and picking them back up again), lunch with a friend who was on vacation, a job interview, getting together with homeschooling friends, working at the store we sell our art at, taking my daughter to biofeedback lessons (for her migraines, over an hour from home, so a 3 hour time investment), car shopping, going to church, grocery shopping and seemingly endlessly working on getting the house in better shape.  Today I don't have a lot planned so I am going to try and catch up on some things.  I may start painting the baseboards.  Sigh.  I seriously hate to paint but our house, after 19 years of living here, is needing some attention.

The kittens were so funny after their surgeries.  They are back to normal now, thank goodness, but the first couple of days, their eyes were dilated and they were not too steady on their feet, but happy and I told the kids we should rename them from Duncan and Squinch (youngest son's idea for a name) to Happy and Loopy.  Squinch just rolled around on the deck for a couple of days and I swear she was smiling.  :-P

I really enjoyed getting to meet up with my friends and the kid's friends this week.  Usually we don't do it that often, but the kids have been lamenting not seeing their friends much and they still depend on me to make social arrangements for them so I set some things up.  I'm trying to get them to contact their own friends and take initiative but this is one thing they are really bad at.  I am not sure whether to blame homeschooling, their shy natures or a combination of both, but for now, I do it.  I'm kind of hoping that at some point, both of these two at home will find at least slightly more extroverted partners who will arrange social meetups for them or that eventually they'll take responsibility themselves.

I did participate on the #describeyourselfin3fictionalcharacters thing on Facebook this week.  Here's my group.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Reading this morning.

Penelope Trunk - Education  Penelope Trunk has an excellent article on her blog this morning about how kids learn.  The links are fabulous.  I've been reading for a long time.  Click on the link that says "kids learn best when they are ready to learn."  I'd link the article directly here but I don't want to take away from the fact that another blogger found the link in the first place.  :-) It's a fantastic article and I wish I could make everyone read and understand it, especially people employed at the Department of Education.

Friday, September 16, 2016

College Fair.

We went to a college fair last night.  After my son took the PSAT a couple of years ago, he started being courted by some very expensive, far away colleges and to be honest, I really wanted him to go to this so he would start thinking about colleges that are not so expensive and not so far away.   It worked.  He's now interested in some that are closer and more in-line with the kind of schools I want him to go to, so I guess it was a win.  I am not looking forward to my youngest moving out next year, not at all.  I am not sure how I am going to deal with it.   Anyway, the colleges were flattering to him and all tried to convince him how great their school was, along with giving generally good advice about financial aid and scholarships.  The most important bit of information that they gave us was to file our FAFSA on October 1 because they've changed the date this year.  Now we will start applying for scholarships and I am pretty sure he's going to get some.  I'm not sure how I feel about that.  I really want him to live at home and go to community college.  It's not my choice though.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Post Homeschooling Settling In.

I still don't know what I am going to do next.  I have been looking for work, but it's slow going.   Meanwhile, I've been working on the house.  I got a bunch of Mom's clothes boxed up and taken to consignment this week.  It was kind of sad, the things I took last month,  the consignment store ended up donating 90% of it and only selling a couple of things and they are going to do the same this month.  It's depressing, but what can I do?  If I didn't live in the jungle, I'd have a yard sale, but here I am.  Still, those things are out of my house and they weren't doing us any good.  None of us could wear them and if we could, we'd just generate emotional responses from people who knew mom, so I have a few more square feet in my bedroom now and someone in a homeless shelter will be able to dress pretty.

Today, I'm going to work on cleaning out the linen closet.  When we first moved in this house, I was pregnant with youngest son, oldest was 5 and the girl was 15 months old.  I just shoved some things in the linen closet and never used it for linens.  They've been stored in the laundry room shelving unit.  So now, I'm going to put the linens where they go, only 19 years later ....  I had an excuse for not doing it then, but I'm not sure what excuse I can stretch for 19 years, but anyway, I'm going to do it today.  It will probably take a couple of hours and getting all of that out of the laundry room will help with its eventual cleaning (which I dread!)

I'm also going to set up some board game days for the boy and take him driving today, if it doesn't rain.  The two of us will also be going to a college fair on Thursday.  He's still going back and forth with what he wants to do, trade school, work or college.  He's working on several creative ideas and I have challenged him to get one of his board games published on Game Crafter by the end of this year.  He tends to be like me a little bit --- all dreaming and seldom doing, so I am hoping to get him in gear to get something published.

The girl has settled into her job now and she likes it, which is a relief.  We are still working at the little craft store and it's been more difficult to fit that in with her job.  We didn't do it last month and commissions were taken out and it was very, very painful,  so this month, we are working!  Here's what our table looks like currently.  It's cute.  The girl worked on it most of the day Sunday, trying to get some height, so everything wouldn't be flat on the table and trying to change it up a little.  These pictures are at various times of the day.  I don't think I got the final one, but I think it looks good.

Wednesday, September 07, 2016

Just Because.

I've always had a policy of not sharing pictures of my kids online  (now that they are all grown up, I might start) but meanwhile here are the pets, Zoey,  Zelda,  Duncan and Squinch, the cats , and Freckles and Cosmo,  the dogs.  

Tuesday, September 06, 2016

Driving again.

This morning, while driving, we saw a little flock of wild turkeys.
I took the boy driving again today.  His sleep schedule has been crazy lately.  He was doing some experiments to see how different types of sleep schedules affect him or something.  I don't know, but the result is that he's been sleeping at odd times and up at odd times and it was hard to schedule driving with him when he was awake and when my car was home, but we managed it today.   I let him drive for about an hour in this little subdivision close to where we live  (not our road, it's a killer) and then I let him drive on the main road to come home.  He did okay but for one incident.  I was trying to explain to him that he should stay in his lane when he turns left and aim for the lane that he will be driving in after he turns instead of cutting the corners and he got annoyed with me and took a curve too fast, inducing fear in me and making me have to use my inhaler.  It seems it's my fault for explaining what the policeman will be looking for when he gives the driver's test?  All 3 of my kids have gotten upset with me for taking a quick indrawn breath when they go too fast.  Well, sorry.  They don't have any idea how terrifying it is to teach a kid to drive and how much I don't want to do it, but I do it anyway and when I'm scared, I can't help it if I breathe in a gasp sometimes.  Hey, it happens. This is some scary stuff.  Also, they have to deal with it, because there are no other adults in their lives volunteering to do this.  They are stuck with me.  I comfort myself that I have survived the older 2 learning to drive and they drive well now.  

Today he drove for the first time on the main road. 

Thursday, September 01, 2016


I have been teaching youngest son to drive, which so far has been a little nerve-wracking, but we had a good session today.  For the first few sessions, I just took him out to our church parking lot and we drove in circles for a bit, while he was learning to stop, go and turn smoothly.  It took a while.  He hates that he can't use his left foot to drive and he wants to go faster than I will let him, but the parking lot is small and we don't need to get up any speed.  Today, I took him to a nearby subdivision with little traffic and nice wide streets and it went well.  He is getting better with the starting and stopping more smoothly, turning curves while staying on his side of the road and not hitting the mailboxes.  It's progress.  He's lucky that he doesn't have to learn to drive in the Suburban like his brother did.  :-)

The one on the left is the one we were driving today, the one on the right is the suburban.  There is somewhat of a size difference.  :-)

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

The Real List.

I said yesterday that my list was to get up and cope and that is what I have been doing.  I've also added a list of 17 real tangible things I can do to help prepare myself for the future.  Each day I'm trying to do these.   I feel kind of embarrassed to share the whole list because it has things like shower/get dressed.  One of the things I learned from my years of homeschooling is that it is nice to have something on the list that you would do anyway, so you can get something marked off and feel good about yourself.  I'm feeling pretty bad about myself this week, so I need that.  

1.  Apply for jobs.
2.  Clean.
3.  Cook.
4.  blog post 1.
5.  blog post 2.  (I have another blog.  :-)
6.  cafepress.  (My store
7.  exercise.
8.  declutter/repair/paint (This refers to house repairs we need to get done.)
9.  pray/journal.
10.Spray with fixative art that is for sale.  I have limited space to do this in, so it needs a little each day, plus we have a lot of wind and storms and I can't spray anything on those days. 
11. Work on career book.  This book is supposed to help me narrow down what I want to do.
12. Work on writing another cookbook for Amazon sales.
13. laundry.
14. shower/get dressed.
15. good deed.
16. outside/get vitamin D.
17. Microsoft free online job training, in case I get an office job.  

I still haven't found a job to apply to today, so I need to get on that. 


Monday, August 29, 2016

Working on things at home.

For lack of a better plan, I'm working on things at home.    We have some things we need to do to make our house look better because we are having visitors for Thanksgiving this year, but actually, I haven't worked on any of that yet.  I've made lists, of course, I've worked on the dishes, the laundry, cleaning the bathrooms and a few other things.  I've looked at and applied for 2 jobs this morning.  I'm working through a book called Pathfinder to help me find a job that suits me better so that I won't make the same mistake I made last week.   I've done bible study and prayer time.  I'm trying to keep busy every minute and get as much stuff done as I can while I am here at home, so when I do start a job, things will go smoothly.  That's the plan, anyway.  Really I don't have a plan, I'm just floundering, grieving and trying to find my way again and meanwhile, trying to think of everything I could check off my giant to-do list.  It's a way to cope .... make a list and do the next thing.  

I wish this was my list.  My list is more like.

1.  Wake Up.

2.  Cope.


Saturday, August 27, 2016

What now?

Honestly, I have no idea.  A year ago, I was a homeschooling mom, a medical transcriptionist and a caregiver for my mom.  Now I am none of those things.  There are things I want to do but I can't do them if I'm not working; travel, redo the house ... etc., so I need to get a job.  I don't know what career path to take.  I have training in 2 fields, medical transcription and child and family studies.  Transcription is a dying industry, having been taken over by voice recognition and child and family studies means working with preschoolers, which I have found this week, is hard on me, now that I am in my 50s and set in my ways.  After the week that I have had, I'm thinking about an office job.  I love to put things in order and I like quiet, so a quiet office job ... I really don't know what direction I should go in.  I may have to go online and see if there are any career/personality assessments to tell me what job I would like.  Meanwhile, I've applied for a few jobs I think might be a good fit.  It's so hard to tell.  The most important things to me are home and family so I need something that lets me be home at least part of the time to take care of the things I need to do around here.  In our society, it's hard to feel that taking care of a house is important, but it is.  For a better quality of life, somebody needs to have a day here and there to get some things done around the house.

What to do, what to do ...


Friday, August 26, 2016

Okay, that didn't last long.

I tried teaching Head Start for 4 days.  I was to sign a contract today to work for them for a year, but I didn't feel like I could hang in there for a year and they didn't want me to try if I couldn't commit,only to leave mid-year and hurt the kids (because they get attached to their teachers).  It was very hard.  The kids were adorable and I enjoyed them  but Head Start in our state is overseen by several different agencies and the amount of paperwork and regulations and guidelines that they have to follow is mind-boggling.  I had a lot of pain from my arthritis and the noise in the classroom was overwhelmingly loud most of the time due to a loud A/C unit and of course the kids.  After a couple of hours, my whole body would feel like it was pulsating from stress.  I just felt that it was not for me.

So, I'm home again, looking for something to do again.


Thursday, August 25, 2016

This is the morning of day 3.

I  really, really don't want to go in there today.  It's so hard, mentally, physically, emotionally to go from being at home full time to going to work full time, working with 20 kids and several adults.  I feel completely overwhelmed; too much sensory input, too much physical strain, too much mental strain, too many people talking to me at once.  I can't understand what the kids say most of the time.  One of them cries loudly nonstop all day long.  Everything is LOUD.  I think I mentioned that in my last blog post.  I feel like I don't know if I will make it.  I don't know if I want to make it.  I'm trying to focus on how much I need a job, how much I want to be off next summer and trying to get through it.

Prayers again, please.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

First Day.

Yesterday was my first day teaching head start in a classroom.  I did work for head start many years ago as a home-based teacher.  This was way, way, way more intense.  It was crazy intense and LOUD and by about noon, my head felt like it was ringing like a bell.  I am going to try to go back today although I really, really, really don't want to and try to get the classroom in some kind of order so that I can stand it.

Prayers please.

Saturday, August 20, 2016


I always heard that you should not label children because they will feel intimidated by positive labels and live down to the negative labels, so I tried really hard not to label my 2 shy children.  My youngest son had a label applied to him by a preschool teacher, that he was shy.  I remember taking a book to her to show her that his shyness was just a part of the normal spectrum of humans and I did not feel that it was anything to worry about.  My daughter is even more shy and has a history of not making her own phone calls, not talking to strangers, or acquaintances (or even some family members!), just shrugging when asked most questions by most people, so that she has a reputation within church and family of being extremely shy.  When they were little, I'd just say "He feels like he needs to stay with mama for a while"  or "She seems to be feeling a little shy right now."  to other kids who asked them to play or adults who wanted to include them in some fun activity, being careful not to label them as permanently shy, just saying that they were having a shy moment.

Now that they are 18 and 20, I don't think most people think of my youngest as shy.  He will talk to people, answer questions and seems pretty normal.  ;-)  I don't worry about him at job interviews or anything like that in the future.  I think he'll be fine, despite not talking to anyone outside the family for the first 4 years of his life.  My daughter on the other hand, remains reserved, but is improving.   Back in March of this year, we started selling our art and crocheted creations at a little shop in our town.  The deal is you are supposed to work 2 days a month to get your full commissions.  I figured I could work with her the first couple of times and then she'd be fine to work on her own, but she's still not fine and it's been 5 months.  She doesn't like to greet customers and she is afraid the phone will ring and she'll have to answer it.   She did get a job at a local preschool, mainly because I had gotten the interview, then been offered the other job, but still wanted to talk to them about working there, just in case ... so I took her along to the interview and presented her as an alternative to me, answered questions for her when she shrugged and basically was the worst helicopter parent in the world, only I was involuntarily hovering.  I wanted her to do it on her own, but she wouldn't.  I also went with her 2 of the times that she had to meet with them and fill out paperwork, (against my will)  but then the third time, miraculously, she went on her own and she has gone on her own to work all 5 days this past week.  Some things are just harder for some people.   There is a range of normal and there are a lot of different personality types and they're all okay to be.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Different learners, self esteem and questions about the wisdom of homeschooling.

There are the questions from mostly other kids but sometimes from adults, why does he do that? or why doesn't he do that yet?   Our youngest didn't read until the age of 10 and we got some questions about it from time to time.  I really appreciate his Sunday School teachers and 4-H teachers accommodating him and letting him be without making us or him feel bad and not turning us into the authorities for suspicion of not homeschooling him properly.  I tried to answer people's questions with respect to him without labeling him when it was a harmful label, but after a while, choosing to use labels when it was helpful.  He has dyslexia/dysgraphia and cannot remember how to spell things and has found it very, very difficult to learn to write.  He has learned to write now and he does get by with spelling, mostly by asking others how to spell things or looking things up.

So how did we deal with this without ruining his self esteem?  (Trust me, it's not ruined.)  We read Leo The Late Bloomer quite often.  It was in a rotation of books that we repeated from time to time.  I also tried to answer questions respectfully to him by saying "He's taking his time" or "He's working on other things right now"  and then after a while I decided to just embrace the labels and say "He's working on overcoming dysgraphia and writing doesn't come easily to him, but he's getting there."  We talked about being "right-brained" which some people say isn't a thing, but there are definitely people who are very smart, but who learn differently than the majority of the population does.  We refered to his reading/spelling/writing difficulties as a "glitch" which could be worked around and also talked about how this could just be within the normal range for human beings.  We talked about scientists and inventors who had trouble with traditional learning and schooling, most notably Albert Einstein who did not talk until he was 4 and did not read until he was 7.    We reminded ourselves and other people (the question askers) that the normal range for a child to walk is 9-18 months and the normal range for a child to learn to read is 6 - 10 years.  

Meanwhile I comforted myself reading everything I could on the subject and trying to relax.  I was not always successful with this and did panic a little bit.  I ordered some learning to read curriculum and tried different methods of working with him, none of which really worked.  Then one day, he just started reading really well.  My daughter said "He bloomed!"  :-)  He got a 34 out of 36 in READING on his ACT earlier this year, his highest score in any section.  Who would have ever thought it?

I have no doubt that if we had kept him in public school, he would have had more of a struggle with his self esteem and not come out of this so well.  I am very glad we stumbled into homeschooling, which we actually did for other reasons.


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