So my homeschool plans for Sam last year kind of fell apart. I was going to do K12 this year for sure but something held me back and by the time I got all my paperwork in he was on a list. I started doing research about what to do with him while he was on the list and flat out decided to ditch K12 altogether and just homeschool him.
What I did not expect was how enjoyable it would be. The first week or so I tested him. And then I was like, crap. I have to grade all these tests. Duh.
I found out that he didn't know his math facts. So we drilled on those, both verbally and on an iPad app. He is running about 90% on those, and we are still working on them, and we have moved to double digit multiplication, which I found out he couldn't do. The thing is, I tried to help him/teach him before this but school exhausted him so much he had nothing left, plus it had given him a major attitude problem.
I think sometimes he even forgets to whine about math but don't tell him that or he'll pick it back up, just for the principle of it.
Everything I have read says to ease into it, so that's what we are doing. We went over the AR reading list and he has read most of the books. The others, he made a list asking for them and I put them on his Kindle one after the other. He doesn't think that is homework.
I have a cleaning lady who comes every Tuesday but she is afraid of German Shepherds, so the last two weeks Sam has stayed home in my room with Echo with a reading assignment. The first week he read, in its entirety, The Republic of Suffering.
He said last year in school they ended with Reconstruction so I figured I'd back him up a little bit and move forward from there. I wasn't sure how he would do with such an unsupervised assignment, so I made sure it was exciting and gory enough it would keep his interest. He had a thorough report for me when I got home. It was obvious he read it and absorbed it.
Last week I assigned him Team of Rivals. That one is taking him longer to get through but he is completely absorbing what he is reading and wants to talk about it.
Most days he comes with me to GMHQ and works there while I work. When he is reading this book, he will come and want to read passages out of it to me, or tell me stories from it. It's really kind of great.
The best part is, he is so happy. It's amazing. I'm happy too. I think I always knew I would do this, I just didn't know it would be so fun. I realize it's not all going to be unicorns and glitter but I thought it would be like trying to force him to do his homework times a million. And, it's so not.
I got him this book to read as a kickoff to following the election more closely, asked him to carry it to the car on the way to work, and he got engrossed in it and read the entire thing. He was also able to provide me with a full report on the way home that day, and have a great discussion about it. He was asking me about the electoral college and I found a book that talks about how the electoral college is the worst thing ever and another that is about how it's the best thing ever. I'm going to have him to read both of them.
It makes it easy that he is a book learner AND that we have very, very similar learning styles. Mostly I am glad that he is so relaxed he doesn't take out his stress on his siblings and me, and that every day is not a battle over homework. I really don't care if it takes him six years to get to calculus instead of three. I never even took Calculus. I managed to teach him in two weeks what public school hasn't managed in the last six years.
Last night I made myself a meal with baked scoop chips, canned black beans (plain), salsa verde (plain), sharp cheddar cheese and a ton of plain natural yogurt.
My heart started racing and pounding and I googled it and it is the salt on top of my high blood pressure. Which I should not be eating in that quantity, apparently. So, I guess that was my last plate of nachos. O_o
I hadn't really eaten anything today because I was kind of afraid to eat, plus lazy, didn't feel like fixing food, but I got to the point I was so hungry and didn't want to think of anything to eat that now I'm eating m&ms.
I'm pretty sure I am going to die of Stupid.
I dreamt I had been given a walking stick carved with talismans and writings and images as an important and powerful gift to be with me for the rest of my life. Later, I was stopped by someone who knew what it who said, “Do you know what this is? Do you know what you have?”
I knew perfectly well everything it was, but I said, “No, what? Please tell me what this means,” wanting to know if they would tell me anything new. The old stranger went over the whole object, describing many of the writings, symbols and markings, sometimes correctly, sometimes not. I listened patiently, realizing that I know all along what the gifts I've been given mean more than anyone else does.
However, then he said, “You should know is that while this gift will help you focus and direct your power, if you progress in your life with it, your energy and abilities will become entwined with it and you will later not be as strong without it as you would otherwise be without it.”
I imagined myself in a scenario where someone had removed it from me and then I was vulnerable, more vulnerable than I would have been had I developed in my abilities without the gift to aid me.
I puzzled over this dilemma until I woke up. Do I accept a gift and integrate it with my life, knowing that while using the gift would make me stronger, it also meant that if I was separated from it, I would be weaker? In storytelling structure, the hero receives gifts from people he meets along the way. These gifts always help the hero later, and become key parts of the story and help the hero overcome future obstacles. The gifts don't have to come from friendly characters either, sometimes you receive gifts from people who were not very nice at all. Have you ever had a really bad experience in your life that taught you a valuable lesson? Not keeping the magic staff would be like having the bad experience and then not learning the lesson.
In real life no one can take our gifts away from us if we use them. And they are useless if they are not used. It's pointless to wonder if we should try to progress without the gift of an experience. The answer is we must keep and use them, that is the whole objective.
At this point in my post-sleep haze Ryan came in and brought me a big Wonder Woman mug of coffee, and knowing that this would certainly assist me through my morning, I accepted his gift.
Lasso of Truth, Mug of Caffeine
I don't know what has happened to me. Sam had a meltdown a few days ago, and part of his tearful undoing was the fact that he really wanted to see and hold a snake, and soon. I thought it was weird, I'll admit, until I realized it was kind of how I feel about having a bath, that it takes the static away and makes me feel all whole and reborn and all that, and who am I to judge, and please just calm down, son.
I don't feel that way about snakes myself, but I do know that near my favorite and the best coffee shop in the state The Coffee Club there is a pet store called Mark's Ark: Utah's Most Exciting Pet Store. If anyone would have snakes, they would!
I told Sam I'd take him there and if nothing else we could act like we were going to buy a snake and they would let him touch one. With that promise, I took him to work with me Monday, and we ran out of time to go, Tuesday, and he had to spend the night at his dad's house for a scout physical, and today I picked him up from his dad's house, and he made sure to remind me I said we would go to the pet store. The kid has been to work with me every day so far this week, which isn't exactly super exciting for a summer vacation, but luckily he is easygoing enough this isn't the worst thing in the world.
Even though I forgot my breakfast AND lunch on my way out the door and spent my day alternating between tearfulness, stomach pain and extreme irritability due to acute hunger, on our way home from the office we stopped at the much-promised Mark's Ark.
We were not disappointed. All the parking spots close to the door were taken, which is amazing anymore for a specialty brick & mortar store, and inside was full of customers and animals – lots and lots of animals. Ark is a good name for it, and I'm pretty sure they have more exotic reptiles than the zoo.
I texted this photo to Sam's dad, with the note, “I'm at the pet store with Sam looking at a new pet snake. I'll be delivering this guy to your house today.” Yes, I think I am so funny.
Yellow Burmese Python. It probably won't eat your baby.
Actually we want this little guy. He's a newborn corn snake! He's teeny!
Look, he tied himself into a little knot!
The guy got him out and let Sam hold him! I can't believe this but I actually think he is cute. (This is the pet store guy, not Sam, holding the snake in the photo.)
Awww, isn't he cute? (Awww, have I lost my mind?
And this is how big he'll get as an adult.
Adult Corn Snake - eats adult mice, not adult gazelles.
They eat mice, and to start he'll need to eat newborn baby mice. Honestly, I don't hate mice. I think they are cute and smart and rats too, and they make good pets themselves, but once my house got infested by mice and at first I thought eh, what's a mouse in the pantry. It told all its friends about my hospitality, and they had a big frat/sex party, and started making tons o' babies, which was a little too much for me because I am no fun that way, so then because I am a hippie I bought humane traps.
The mice invited more friends to come laugh at my humane traps, and then they ruined my entire food storage, started cavorting in my kitchen cupboards at night and then infested my children's dressers. All my food was ruined, they left droppings everywhere and my house smelled like mouse piss. By this point I had tried every trap in the store, every bait I'd been recommended, and called an exterminator and told him to get rid of the little vermin, whatever it took.
So while I don't necessarily hate mice, I don't exactly love them, and I categorize them in the same emotional place I categorize, say, a grasshopper. I don't go out of my way to kill them but I really don't care if a snake eats one.
They also had every other kind of animal, including bunnies, which Hazel cooed over, and I said, “Oh, no touchies!” A store employee was standing there and took a barrier down and said, “Actually you can pet the bunnies. This is a fun pet store!” And walking around, there was a random cat on the floor too. I love this place.
I will admit, if we had Sam's new room all completely set up I would have bought the snake and the snake-aquarium kit on the spot and taken them both home. It probably would be a good idea because you're not supposed to handle them for 4-5 days after you get them home and Sam is going back to his dad's this weekend for 4th of July festivities, so he won't be tempted to handle it. I didn't know that in the moment though. Maybe I'll get him tomorrow.
We came home and I finally ate some food, and still felt sick and dizzy and laid down and took a nap. Naps are scarce and I appreciate them sooooo much!
I did more research on corn snakes, especially newborn ones, as pets, and the more I read about snakes the more I like them. I guess I relate. They need something to keep them warm, and they will coil around it, and if it's too hot they will still coil around it and burn themselves. I remember our last night at Burning Man I was cold and wanted to walk into the fire and Ryan wouldn't let me. I need to stay warm too, and in the winter I have a heated mattress pad which I will crank all the way to high and let the heating elements burn my skin and bones and revel in how very good it feels. Mmm…warm.
On the way home, Sam explained to Hazel what a reptile was, (a kind of animal that cannot self-regulate its body temperature and has scales; birds are also a kind of reptile and have scales on their feet, and lay eggs and do not give their babies the nursies [though then Sam informed me that some reptiles give live birth]), and then we talked about the platypus, which is not actually a specialized mammal, but rather a primitive mammal that lays eggs and has nursies. And then I wondered, what am I because I gave live birth, fed my babies the nursies, and cannot regulate my body temperature. Sam and Hazel thought this was pretty funny, though when I'm freezing I don't think it's funny at all, but I see their point.
I'm a little under the weather today, and not just from my Day Without Food, but I'm thinking it's nothing a hot rock and somewhere to hide won't cure. I think this snake and I will get along just fine.
Oh my. My 14-year-old is taller than me now, I am pretty sure. He says he is 5'8” but I think it's more now, and my 11-year-old daughter wore me down to get her some summer clothes (I wanted to wait until she was permanently at my house for the summer), so we spent the afternoon at Target where I had to take her out of the girls department and into the women's/juniors section.
She cried in the dressing room because she couldn't button the jeans and I had to go get a bigger size. She cried because she towers over her friends. She cried because she wants to go back to the girls department. You can't go back though. That's the thing.
She is tired of being tall, and she's just getting started. I told her someday she would look awesome and all her teeny tiny friends will be fat and spend all their time talking about how tiny they used to be. It's cold comfort for an 11-year-old but it seemed to help a little.
I asked her if she wanted more camis or if she wanted a bra, because she needs a bra, and she said, “No more camis!” But neither of us wanted to tackle the bra issue today. Even I am a little overwhelmed at this, honestly. I don't want to humiliate her but I'm not sure what size she needs and well, I may need to take her to the nice old lady at JCPennys who is a bra-fitting expert so it's not me but it's a nice old lady.
I did give her the bra lecture. (Always wear a bra. Always. If you are sleeping wear a supportive cami or a sports bra. Trust me. Always.) Don't argue with me, I know what I am talking about. She'll thank me some day. She seemed to listen, so maybe she won't be humiliated by the whole thing after all. I'll deal with that another day.
She did tell me that only some of my clothes was she willing to wear (okay, thanks?) but she was planning on stealing ALL my shoes. The worst part is, last time I checked she was only half a shoe size smaller than me. I don't think so, young lady.
Then she told me she had no money to help me buy any of this, and then sneaked in line behind me and bought herself candy. I guess she's not completely grown up. Thank heavens.
I can't believe people ask me if I am going to have more babies. I have my hands full with the ones I've got.
I spent more time today poking here and there in my old LiveJournal, which I started in 2003, and wrote in, religiously sometimes up to 7 times per day until 2009 with titles like, “If I could wear my iPod in the tub, I'd be in heaven,” “I wish I could spread my happy chemicals to all of you,” "My life is dull but I don't care because I'm going to sleep soon," & "If you see latex balloons and piles of sticks in the yard, you'll know he already started," and the periodic girls-only posts where I discussed things like lingere, sex, birth control, periods, my feelings about my body and found a (mostly) safe place to talk about my struggles with my marriage.
But there was more to my journal. I took pictures of the everyday. I marveled in the growing-up of my children. I shared my pregnancy with my readers, detailing belly pictures (that I took myself in my kitchen mirror), confided frustrations, and published my lists of to-dos I'd create for myself to achieve all of my ambitious goals. I made friends, lifelong friends. I let myself hang out, faults and all, and found myself accepted anyway.
In skimming just through some of 2004, I was struck by how all these entries seemed to serve as a safety valve for everything inside me. I keenly feel the lack of such a valve. Later I started a business, experienced several life-changing events in a row, and knew instinctively to pull inside. The internet loves a good story but it is not always understanding of you while you are in the middle of a good story. You aren't allowed to make mistakes, struggle, or change. At least I felt that way. I didn't want the world to pop popcorn and watch my life explode. Maybe I was a train wreck but I knew enough to not let anyone watch, even if my ratings would have been stellar. In the course of my business, I also found out that not everyone on the internet was a nice person, and they would use any vulnerability or personal angle I shared against me.
Then over a year ago, I found myself in my parents' kitchen, doing spreadsheets with my dad, reevaluating and redesigning every aspect of our business plan. I needed to focus and I needed to concentrate, and I needed to not whine about it on the internet.
So I quit writing.
The last year of my life has been just nonstop work. I have been working pretty much in almost all my spare time. I am amazed I have any friends at all, honestly. I still am constantly having to turn down social events, skip parties due to work exhaustion, decline invitations, because my life is work. When I am not working I am with my children or Ryan.
All that work paid off. My business is in a good place. All businesses are tricky endeavors, and mine is no different, but we have found some kind of even keel, and while we are constantly tweaking the plan, we have things humming and running in a way that seems to be working. I could not have done it without the help of my dad or the people who I work with, but if I hadn't dragged my ass to work at 6 a.m. for months and months, and worked 12, 14, 18 hour days for months, it wouldn't have mattered how much peripheral support I had — we would not have succeeded. I am proud of myself, and I am proud of everyone who works with and for me. So now I am finding myself very pent up with all the words. I've always had a lot of them, and in my LiveJournal I found a place to put them.
I miss writing. I miss letting the energy inside me out in a creative and productive way. I have all these dumb thinky thoughts and I like writing them down. I miss it. I'm coming back. I don't know what this means, really, because I still know that dropping privacy means making myself vulnerable. But maybe no one cares and I can just write to the ether. I miss that too.
But if you are here, I welcome you as well.
Now I need to find my wordpress password.
My desire to write, all the words I have inside me, all my thinky thoughts, big and small — they want to come out. But they are at war with my desire for privacy, and lately I have really enjoyed my privacy. Never take it for granted. It's a beautiful thing.
That being said, maybe it's time to write again. But how do you juggle that need for privacy with the desire to WRITE?
I have sick kids. Henry has been coughing all morning, Olivia says it hurts to talk. I believe her because while I am Not Sick, it hurts me to talk/swallow/breathe too. I don't Get Sick. It's not allowed.
Yes, we're still going to the office because we might as well get something done while we they are sick. Plus my to-do list won't allow it. I would show it to you but then I'd have to rewrite it so it didn't look as crazy and I don't have time for that.
(Plus I have this irrational and neurotic belief that I'm the only person who has stuff to do that I have to write on a list. I think I magically think everyone else accomplishes all the tasks of their life without having to make a list, and I don't want ya'll to see the things that I actually have to write down to accomplish. Really!)
Anyway, a few years ago Henry and Hazel had the Chicken Pops. Now those were some sick kids.
Mostly I wanted to trot out that photo because it makes me laugh every time.
P.S. Henry's pajamas? I made those. I did stuff like that back in the day.