Monday, September 14, 2009

Back in the Saddle and School Events

Yay! I'm still here! It's kind of embarrassing coming back after so long a hiatus, but perhaps you'll imagine I was just taking the summer off. You wouldn't be wrong ;) Just maybe there's more to it than that. Like laziness. Lack of creativity . . . Hmm . . . I think I like the summer holiday idea much better!

We started back to school "officially" the last week of August, though I can hardly say we've made a real good try at it yet. Between one interruption or the other, including school activities, holidays, vacations, and illnesses, we've managed maybe a handful of actual school days. Not to fret though, we are still doing just fine and I'm not at all worried.


I'm very happy to say that already this year I feel like there has been much improvement. We all felt ready to take on our year and not a single moment of regret for our decision to homeschool again. When we started back, we intuitively tweaked our routine just a tiny bit and for the few days we've been schooling, it's working quite well for us.

In general, I feel very relaxed and comfortable with my role in all this and the boys seem to have similar feelings. We're looking forward to a fun-filled and productive year. Yeah!

As for activities, we've been to two so far, the storytelling festival at Timpanogas and the State Fair today. Today's was the best ever because (drum roll please) we made a friend! The boys made a friend and I made friends with the boy's mother and hurray! It made all the difference in our enjoyment of the day. Never mind that we got totally rained out.

Last year I was a real wallflower at all the K12 events, but I'm determined to change that this year. I need friends. The boys need friends. Friends who are doing what we're doing. I'm very glad that today we made some real progress in that regard. Wonderful friends, too.

Tomorrow we having nothing going on but school so I'm looking forward to getting some real work done. I'd love to hear how you are doing. Have you started back to school yet? How's it going? Did you change how you are doing things this year from last? What are you most looking forward to? What are you most dreading? I'll answer my own questions next time I blog. Have a good one!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Looking Forward

I apologize for being a fair-weather blogger.

But probably my lack of blogging about our school experiences is a good indicator of what’s going on here. Nothing. No schooling whatsoever.

Oh, we met our 80% benchmark and were able to put in our order for next year’s materials. However, we so far are not doing what I intended to do, and that was to continue.

I thought it made perfect sense to do 80% during the school year, and then casually plug away at the remaining 20% over the course of the summer. That way, we wouldn’t have the loss of knowledge that so many students suffer from because of the summer break.

I tell myself that it’s all good. It’s only been a couple weeks since school ‘let out’ and it’s perfectly acceptable for us to enjoy a little holiday. I’m just worried I won’t follow through and get back to work when our vacation is over. We are leaving for San Diego this week and I hope that we can add some light schooling back into our life once we return.

In the meantime, these are the things I’m thinking about:
  • I need to look into some schooling tips and advice for children with ADD. I found working with Charlie to be extremely difficult this year. If he was ‘in the mood’ or properly motivated/interested, he did great in school—if not, he did terribly. As in puddle-on-the-floor-crying-his-eyes-out terrible.
  • Improving our school organization so that the boys can more easily see their materials. Cleaning out my drawers and stuff so I can better store their papers and such.
  • Do some research into how to be a better homeschooling mom. LC seems to enjoy really fun lessons with her girls. Similarly, Aly, has blogged about neat experiences she’s had while schooling her children. I don’t do any of those things. I am a very task-oriented person with no natural sense of fun. At least, not when it comes to teaching. I do what I’m told to do, nothing more, and sometimes less. I’m not going to expect miracles of myself (that was last year and I let myself down horrendously. I refuse to do that again!) but I do want to be prepared with a few ideas at hand in case the moment strikes me as right and I can add a little flavor to our lessons.
I think that might be the biggest stuff on my mind right now. I hope to do better this next year. In fact, I know I will. I survived the first and hardest year of homeschooling with definite positives to shine the way into the future.

Our home life is happier, less caustic, people are generally more loving and less argumentative. We have greater respect for one another. We like each other more. Personally and socially, this year has been the best one since I became a mother. Now we just need to work on enjoying those same wonderful benefits in our academic life too.

What about you? Where are you at, as your school year draws to a close? Do you feel it went well? Are there things you will aim to improve this next school year? 

I just joined The Homeschool Lounge and would really like to increase my circle of friends who homeschool. I need to learn from you, I need your friendship.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

A Tag of Eights

It's been a long while since I've played a game of tag so when Shawntele tagged me, I was game (hardee har har.)

Here be Da Rules:
1. Mention the person who tagged you.
2. Complete the list of 8's.
3. Tag 8 other bloggers.
4. Tell them they have been tagged.

Eight Things I Look Forward To:
  1. Getting my first book deal.
  2. Losing the extra weight I'm carrying around.
  3. Getting fit and being healthy.
  4. Karen's photo shoot on Thursday.
  5. San Diego with the family in June.
  6. Seeing my sister again.
  7. Finishing up Jump Boys and getting it into Shadow Mountain's hands.
  8. Being a working, successful published author. :D
Eight Things I Did Yesterday
  1. Slept in.
  2. Had lunch with the fam at Red Robin.
  3. Took the boys to see Star Trek and loved it--again!
  4. Got rejected by a publisher.
  5. Cried my eyes out.
  6. Talked with friends.
  7. Got hugged and held by my sweet honey.
  8. Read a lot.
Eight Things I Wish I Could Do
  1. Jump on a plane and visit my sister right now.
  2. Deal better with Charlie on his 'off' days.
  3. Be more consistent in going to karate.
  4. Be a faster reader.
  5. Be a more creative homeschooling mom.
  6. Sing in an opera production again.
  7. Make a CD.
  8. Be published, lol.
Eight Shows I Watch
  1. Smallville
  2. Medium
  3. Dollhouse
  4. CSI
  5. Eureka
  6. So You Think You Can Dance
  7. America's Funniest Home Videos
  8. Chuck
Eight Friends I Am Tagging:
  1. Karen
  2. Shanna
  3. Christine
  4. Stephanie
  5. Jeri
  6. Kristi
  7. Jennifer
  8. Nichole
And there you have it! Crazy Eights, lol.

As you can tell, I'm back ... sort of. No promises, but I'm slowly starting to feel like myself again.

Don't be a stranger :) And if you haven't done it already, I'd love it if you became a follower. I'm a writer--I need constant reminders that I am loved ;)

Monday, May 18, 2009

Taking a Mental Vacation

Hi ya Folks,

I'm dropping by to tell ya'll that I'm not going to be blogging for a bit. Hopefully just a week, but perhaps longer. Or maybe I'll be back tomorrow. That's my prerogative, right? Keep ya guessing--that's my goal.

Don't worry, nothing's going on ... I just need to have a clear head with my writing right now and I'm finding there are too many voices talking at once. I need to give everybody a chance to say their peace so I can figure out what the heck they're all talking about. It's so noisy in my head, I can't even hear myself think.

So I'm going to go hang out with Me, Myself and I for a while, have some good heart-to-hearts, a regular ol' pow wow and see if I can't get some work done.

Forgive me if I'm not posting--especially, forgive me for not visiting your own blogs over the next while--and in the famous words of Arnold a la Terminator "I'll be bahck."

Till then, take care, adios, adieu.

Friday, April 17, 2009


In any good relationship, it's all about the compromise. And home schooling is no different. You compromise when you'll do school and when you'll play. House work and school work. It's a relationship of agreements and compromise.

And sometimes when we compromise, we have to give up something we'd hoped for and be happy with something else. 

I really wanted to have all of our subjects completed to the required 80% by May 22nd. But with a few days off for spring break and for general spring fever craziness, we've fallen behind. Now, with testing next week and a writers' conference for me, we are very stressed trying to get all of our work done by the 22nd of May.

Enter, Compromise, and let the stress-free living begin!

Though it was my hope, I'm perfectly content to concentrate on Math and Language Arts alone for the next few weeks and work on History and Science through the summer. I had expected to do some schooling through the summer months, so really, this was an easy decision.

Now we can relax a bit, concentrate on Math and Language Arts and enjoy our History and Science at a more reasonable pace through the summer.

Next school year, I will understand much better what I need to do to help our school year run more effectively and enjoyably for all of us. I'm excited about that! I really enjoy home schooling, but I don't enjoy feeling stressed out and like I'm failing all the time. This first year has definitely been a challenge, but we've learned a lot and can look forward to a more fun and productive experience next year.

Hurray for Compromise!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Crying In My Soup

It's rainy and muddy outside and that's about how I feel inside too. 

Yes, that's right. I'm frowning. I'm whining. I'm crying in my soup.

I am feeling as dumb as my kids say they feel. I don't know how to teach them some stuff. I'm stumped, I'm stupid. They're stumped. They feel stupid too. We're having a stupid-fest here.

I even had to break down and call our teacher to ask for help. Which tells you one of my problems right there--I shouldn't feel like calling our teacher for help is a matter of "breaking down." She's there to help us, I should use her. Umm, no.

Charlie is having trouble reading directions on his tests. He can't seem to follow multiple directions.

Xander doesn't understand front-end estimation--he wants to answer the questions properly, rather than estimating them. I have no idea what front-end estimation is either. I swear I never learned that.

The BIG TEST is next week and we haven't practiced for it at all. I suspect my guys might totally blow it. I've made them stupider this year. Or so I fear.

Of course our teacher, wonderful, awesome, Mrs. Baggely, encouraged me and tried to placate me, but I'm still worried.

At this moment, I can't wait for school to be over and to be free of this enormous burden of guilt and stress--at least for a short while.

I'm not giving up, I'm not giving in. We will home school again next year. But for the moment, I'm going to enjoy a good ol' pout. So there. (she says with arms crossed on her chest and and her foot stomped on the ground.)

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Spring Break!

We are taking an extended Spring Break--not on purpose, but entirely by accident. I *think* our principle took into account a spring break in the figuring of our completion percentages but even so, I'm sad to think we might not make it now. We were so close. And it's not over yet, I know. We may *yet* be able to get it done. But I'm not sure. It could go either way, lol.

Thing is, we've just SO needed a break.

And so . . . a break it is.

Officially we were only going to take this Thursday, Friday and Monday off because that's when the neighbor kids are off. But it's turned out that we've only worked a handful of part-days and just plain took today off.

Oh well. C'est la vie, right?

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Taking Pride In What We Are Doing

When I first started homeschooling, I was sort of embarrassed to admit what I was doing. At the local elementary school's book fair, I tried to slip in and out without being noticed. I held my head down in that age old "don't look at me" posture. Picture women from the polygamist compound caught on tape.

It's taken almost an entire school year, but I find I can now hold my head high.

We went back to the elementary school a few weeks ago for another book fair and man, I felt proud walking through those doors!

I felt like a great mom, with great kids. I am proud of what we've done, proud of who we are as a family. Proud of our choices in a world where it's hard to go against the grain.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Happy To Be Stuck With You

Well, the end is in sight and I find myself reflecting on the year, how it's gone, how I hope to do better, how I am so grateful.

I am grateful for my children and for the opportunity we've had to be together this year. It truly has been a blessing for us. Logically, you'd think we'd be sick of each other by now, but strangely we're not. We are closer--not only me with the boys, but the boys with each other. 

We are happy to be stuck together.

When David and I got married, this is the song we danced to. It's long been a happy memory for us, because no matter what life throws at us, at least we get to deal with it together. I feel that way with my boys. What an awesome year it's been!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009


I think it's important for families who homeschool to get out there and participate in a variety of activities. I admit that so far, neither the boys nor I have made any real connections at these activities, nevertheless, that too is a work in progress.

Yesterday, our school had March Marble and Math Madness. This was probably the third K12 activity that we have attended, not including Tennis Club. It was the best one so far.

Charlie was the photographer for these shots of yesterdays' events.

Not so much in what we did (the boys probably enjoyed The Children's Museum best of all) but because we all made some connections.

We met people we've seen at other events and were able to feel that friendly, comfortable sensation of belonging. We are very slowly building relationships and making friends.

We need to do this a lot more, I think, so that those friendships can really stick. I think many families that homeschool tend to get stuck in the comfort zone of their own home. It is so easy to do. But I think it's important not only for the children, but for the moms as well.

Tomorrow I'll start going back to Tami's playgroup. She's changed the day from Friday to Thursday which makes me happy because it'll be easier for me to attend now. And I really need that association.
Even the photographer needs to get in the picture now and then.
I encourage you to reach out and make some connections of your own. It's worth the effort. I promise!
Xan and his favorite gold marble which, unfortunately, did not make it home with him.

Friday, March 13, 2009


Last time I posted I quoted my friend Tami who had commented here that she was caught up and was now cutting back on the amount of school she was doing. I thought that meant she was nearly totally done with their schooling. But I was mistaken.

Tami only strives to reach that 80% benchmark K12 requires by the end of the year in order to order your next years' supplies--this is advantageous because it means you'll get your next years' supplies in July or August, rather than waiting until those months to even put in your order.

Then, Tami has the ability to continue working that last 20% over the summer months with her kids. The advantage to doing that is that the family never entirely loses it's routine and the kids don't fall out of knowledge. 

At first, I thought I really needed that long summer break, but in closer examination, I think that could perhaps be detrimental to both the boys AND me. By only doing 20% of the course work over the summer (and even then it can be pretty laid back as everything that's accomplished at that point is just gravy, so to speak) we can still enjoy a relaxed summer without losing all the hard-earned knowledge.

So, we've decided to follow in Tami's footsteps!

We'll be homeschooling year 'round, doing 80% between August and May and 20% or less between May and August. 

I talked it over with my boys to get their opinion. Of course, they aren't thrilled at the idea of having to do school at all during the summer, but I also think they can see the positive side of it too. I think we can all agree, this is a win/win for us.

I'll be sure to let you know how it goes!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Decision Time

The time has come to decide whether K12 is working for us or not. Should we stay with the program? Or should we try a different homeschooling approach? Or should we re-enroll the boys in a bricks-and-mortar school?

And the decision is ... We will stay with K12.

Amazingly, it really wasn't a decision at all. It just is. We are a K12 family.

Though I was surprised by my boys' response. They want to stay with the program.

I hope we have a better year next year. I feel confident we will. 

Did you happen to see Tami's comment from my last blog? She wrote:

"We have caught up to where I want so we now adjusted our days to k12. Tayler will Tue Wed Thur Fri, and Tanner and Teralyn will k12 on Tue Wed Thur only. This gives them days to do other things. Gardening time is coming up next week and other things we want to do."

This year we really didn't figure out a good schedule for school until January. And the boys didn't grasp their responsibility in their education until perhaps this last month or so--thanks to Love & Logic.

Next year though, I think we'll all have a much better idea of what to expect--not only from the program, but from ourselves. 

I kind of can't believe that I am going to willingly take on another year of homeschooling, but I also can't imagine it any other way. This is just how it is. We are a K12 family.

How about you?

Friday, March 6, 2009

What's Working For Us

It's been a while since I've posted about our day, so I thought I'd thrill you with the details :)

Xander wanted a picture of him and Jack so it's here just because :)

This is what I've been doing lately that has been working for us:

Every weekend, I spend a couple hours (yes it takes me hours, I'm super slow though I'm sure) and go through each boys' lesson list to make them a schedule for the week. I could print out the weekly view sheet, but we found we liked to have little boxes they could check off for each item in the lesson.
This is Charlie getting ready to do a unit review in History.

For instance, with K12's weekly view printout, you'd see the lesson title and number only.

When I do it, I put the lesson title and number, but then list below each item that needs to be completed before the lesson is done. So it might look something like:

MATH 4:12
  • online student activity
  • pig 235, 236 (we call the math textbooks the ugly pig books because of the pictures, lol)
  • big or small w/s (a worksheet)
  • assessment
    Charlie's to-do list for this week. He or I check off the items that have been completed.
    Sometimes he goes straight to the assessment, if he feels he can handle it.
The boys are responsible for checking off each item as it is completed.

I print out their to-do list with all the lessons they need to do for the week. Using columns, I can fit it all onto one page. They do six math lessons, eight language arts lessons (but in Xander's
case, it equals many more smaller lessons since the lessons are broken down into subject matter for him), four history, five science and several spanish lessons, each week. 

At the top of their page, I tell them how many lessons they need to complete each day. So they know they need to complete five or eight lessons a day, whichever it might be.

Xander standing in front of our school shelf.
They each have their own shelf, and I do too.

Charlie having a bad-attitude day :)

I also print out every one of their worksheets and such and file them in my "Secretary". That way, the boys can do many things on their own if they are feeling proactive.

On the left you can see the tabbed folders I use in my Secretary to keep handouts and tests for each subject. The boys can find their own stuff easily.

We start our school day at around 10:00 in the morning, and go until 2:00 or 2:30 with a lunch break. The boys take fifteen minute breaks between every two lessons. 

And there you have it! What's been working for you?

Monday, March 2, 2009

A Love & Logic Update

It's been a couple weeks since my last Love & Logic class, so I thought I ought to report on how we're doing. 

And, we're doing great! At least, in regard to school, we're doing great.

I've found it incredibly liberating using the Love & Logic approach to school work. The boys have complete control over what lessons they do each day (with the exception of History which I do only on Tuesday and Thursday) and they are in charge of whether they get done or not. I just need to show up, do my own thing at the computer, and be willing to help them/teach them, if they ask me. 

Some days, they goof off a lot and then find themselves without me to help and without any privileges to play the computer or play with friends.

Those days are so sad.

But, I'm okay with them :)

The good news is, those days are few and far between and, come to think about it, haven't happened at all for the past week or so. They are learning how to make this program work for them.

I still haven't sat down and figured out what could be the choices I give the guys for household stuff. Like how do you get them to brush their teeth? I mean, the natural consequences of not caring for your teeth are not ones I'm happy with so ... ??? I have no idea. I need to work on those things, but I'm happy to report that as far as school is concerned, Love & Logic has been a life-saver! 

Fully Awesome!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

We Have Reading!!

I am absolutely thrilled to announce that the reading bug has finally bitten Charlie!

Something you may not know about me: I am a wannabe author, a full time writer, a dreamer, a nut. But the good news is that my obsession puts me in touch with tons of awesome authors and sometimes I get to read their stuff before the average book-store going, library book borrowing person gets to read them. 

And because of that privilege I've been able to read some books I might not otherwise have known about or had the opportunity to read.

And because I get to read these books, they are in my home, laying around, just waiting for the bored hands of a child to pick up and thumb through.

Such was the case with Xander who was growing bored of our nightly reading routine and asked for something--anything--to read. Not having a whole library of young reader stuff to draw from, I threw him a copy of James Dashners' A Door In The Woods, and said, "Here, try this."

Whaddya know, he loved it. And that one book became the rolling stone that has gathered up bunches and bunches of moss, namely books by the dozens. Xander is a prolific reader, reading faster than me, and loving every minute of it.

But that still left Charlie--bookless, and reading-desire-less.

That is, until this week.

It all started when last week, an author friend of mine, Rebecca Shelley, dropped off her latest book The Brass Dragon Codex for me to read and review.

I barely had it a day when Xan, hungry once more for something new to read, stole it from me. He loved it (which is saying something because now that he's become a reading guru, he's rather careful about throwing around the love word). 

Then I got the book back and I loved it too. I thought--just thought, mind you--that Charlie might like it too. If he would give it a chance.

I casually tossed it on the steps and said "I put The Brass Dragon Codex on the stairs in case you want to read it. I think you might really like it."

To my great surprise, he took it up with him when he went to bed that night.

To my even greater surprise, he actually read it.

And--this is where I had to be scraped off the floor with a sharp-edged spatula--to my great shock and joy, he loved it.

That first night he read four chapters. That's four more chapters than he's ever read before. Oh, he's been toying with reading for the past four months or so, but hasn't really delved into any books before now. He only liked books with pictures, only liked books with not a lot of words, only liked books about war.

The Brass Dragon Codex doesn't have any pictures, has some fighting scenes, but nothing about the Revolutionary War or Civil War, and is much bigger than a Magic Treehouse book.

And he's not faking it either. (Which I had considered.)

Each day he comes down in the morning to tell me what new chapter he's on and what's happening in the book.

It. Is. So. Freakin'. Awesome. 

I. Am. A. Happy. Happy. Mom.

If you want to read my review on The Brass Dragon Codex, just click here. You can buy it from that link too. But that wasn't really my purpose today. Today was just to smile big in your face and shout "Hurray for reading!!"

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Let's Get Real

Okay, so somehow I've given the impression that I know what I'm doing or that things are going spankingly awesome here in my house.

Uhh. No.


In fact, I've been having a very bad week and thought, in the interest of keepin' it real, you ought to know.

Here are the problems I'm having in our transition to K12:
  • I don't have any control over what my kids do and it's driving me crazy.
  • I'm feeling resentful and maybe even a little angry about their choices.
  • Being out of control is making me feel depressed. :(
  • I feel like Love and Logic is a little passive-aggressive. I mean, why not just tell my boys what I want from them, or expect from them? The whole "Bummer. Well, feel free to join us for dinner when you're done your school work." feels so . . . contrived.
This is not to say that I am throwing in the towel. Just that it's hard. Darn hard. And, like I said, I'm feeling kind of depressed about it all. 

I am raising men here. I know that. And I don't want them to grow up to be men that need to be nagged by their mommies--oops, I mean, wives. So for that purpose, I will keep trying to make Love and Logic part of my life. But man, it's h-a-r-d.

So there you have it. The real deal. It ain't so pretty is it?

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

It's All About Choices

If you're like me, then the one thing you do know about Love and Logic is that it's about choosing. You hear L&L parents saying things like, "Would you rather go to Susie's house, or stay home and play?" It's all about the choices.

At our class, they said, "Every rule you set, your child comes to NEED."

At first, I stumbled over that, not really understanding what they meant.

But then they said, "Set as many rules as necessary, and as few as possible."

Then I began to understand.

Your children should be free to make as many choices for themselves as possible. Letting them make choices, and consequently often fail, while the cost is low, or there's little real risk to the child, sets them up to be able to make good choices when the choices really count.

Whew, how's that for a run-on sentence?

It makes sense if you really think about it. If we are forever setting the rules and our kids willingly obey, what are we really teaching them? To always look to someone else to have the final say, to have a fall-guy, a scape-goat they can blame when their life doesn't go the way they want it to. Worse, not only will they not really have control over their lives, nor accept the blame for their poor turnout, they won't know how to fix it.

However, if they realize that life is full of choices, starting with the easy ones today like, "Would you rather do Math or Language Arts?" Or, "Do you want to do your work at the kitchen table, or at your desk?" they will be equipped to look for the choices in their life and be prepared to make the choice themselves, rather than looking to someone else to choose for them.

The keys to giving good choices to your kids, is to always provide two choices that you are extremely happy with. Two options that you would be thrilled for your kid to do. And don't give more than two choices, either.

My biggest problem in implementing this technique has been creativity. I've been coming up short on choices for them. But, I think with practice, many things will become second nature, at least that's how it sounded from the class.

They gave us some great choices we can provide for our kids regarding school:
  • Math or L.A.?
  • Odds or even? (I have to admit, I'm not sure what is meant here.)
  • Couch or chair?
  • 10 or 15 minute break?
  • Clean up now, or before lunch?
  • Pen or pencil?
  • This book, or that one?
You get the idea.

Another great line they gave us last week was "I love ya too much to nag ya." I LOVE that line! I've used it a ton this past week. So, after your kid has made his or her choice, leave them be. Let them fail, if they're going to fail, because you love them too much to nag them. Nagging is just more of that same old stuff that gives your kid an out. They know they don't have to think for themselves or plan their day, because mom will nag them when they're starting to run out of time, right? 

Just let them make their choices and then let them be. They'll thank you for it one day! And you'll be a lot less stressed now.

Last week I put all this into practice. I provided the boys the list of the required school work for the week and provided them with four hours of "wonderful learning time" as Deslynn put it, (love that!) and then, just did my own thing. 

It was awesome!!

They came to me with questions or for help, which I was happy to give, but otherwise, I let the stress or responsibility of their work just slip right off my shoulders. I got a lot of my own stuff done! I tell ya, it was like a holiday!

And when Saturday came and Charlie still hadn't completed all his work and had to miss out on some cherished friend time because of it, it wasn't me who caused the tears in his eyes. 

He said, "It's all my fault! I should have done my work sooner!" This from the child who is the consummate blamer. Everything bad in his life is someone else's fault and he's often angry at other people for his suffering. 

This week, rather than me nagging saying, "Come on guys! It's time for school already!" (with a big ol' arrrgghhh in my voice,) I'm just going about my business. I let them know I'm in my office now so if they have any questions, I'll be available to help them until such and such a time. Then . . . I let them be.

They are still making choices I don't exactly approve of, choosing to put off their work and so forth. But today, they buckled down and did a number of lessons largely on their own, and I've overheard them talking together about planning their week and how they can get their lessons done and still have time for the things they enjoy.

They're learning! And I'm happy! And relaxed!

Like I said, Love and Logic, is awesome!

If you haven't already done so, check out Deslynn's blog for even more tips on how to implement Love and Logic into your parenting and homeschooling. Also, Deslynn is awesome about helping out if you have questions too. 

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Energy Drain and Wizard 101

What does an online video game have to do with draining your energy? Or why am I even writing about either of those subjects on a homeschooling blog?

Well, let me tell you! (Step right up!)

OK, so you know I'm taking this Love & Logic class for homeschooling families. Last week's class was especially interesting to me, and I'd like to talk about one of the Love & Logic techniques they taught.

It's called the Energy Drain.

Have you ever had a child bouncing around you, throwing chatter at you like volleys from the enemy, and felt that you could feel yourself getting weaker and more and more exhausted that you just had to go sit down? Or felt your blood boiling inside your veins when your children are bickering for the thousandth time, and you just have to explode, sending them all to their rooms and falling just short of pulling all your hair out?

If you have, then you've experienced the Energy Drain.

It happens any time our children weary us. When they talk incessently without giving us  a second to think. When they don't do what we've asked them to do, though we repeated it a million times. When they fight us on school tasks, home chores or any number of other things that we ask of them. I'm sure you could think of at least a dozen other ways your children weary you.

Here's what Love & Logic suggests you do, when your children are wearing you out:

  • When you (fill in the blank), it really drains the energy out of me. So, instead of allowing the behavior to continue, or getting freakishly angry, state the fact of your being. You're getting worn out, and your children are causing it.
  • Instead of freaking out, yelling and sending people to their rooms, say "It always feels better when (fill in the blank)" and let them know the kind of behavior that makes you happy.
  • If your children insist on complaining to you, or including you in their sibling arguments, ask "Do you really want me to spend my energy on this?" because if you do, you might have less for something else, something more important to them.
  • Post a list of Energy Replacements in a place where your children can see them. These might include chores you don't normally do, but that always need done. Or things your children could do for you that would please you, like pay for a babysitter so you can go out for some alone time, or draw you a bath and give you some uninterrupted time. The list will be unique to you but must include things that would truly be a benefit and blessing to you.
At first when I heard this, I couldn't imagine myself ever using those words "draining my energy," but I thought the concept was interesting and talked with my husband about it. That's where the video game comes in.

We play Wizard 101 together as a family. My husband travels a lot, but while he's away, we get online together every night and play this game together. We each have our own avatars in the game, and we can talk to each other, like instant messaging, but in live time right in the game. So it's like we're there having a conversation together. We play games together, battle bad guys together. We feel connected in this way.

In the game, there is a spell wizards can cast called the Fire Elf. It's an annoying little spell that has a tiny red elf bouncing around giggling until he pounds you with a small explosion and then continues to run around you for three more rounds, each round hitting you with increasingly damaging explosions.

David doesnt' hesitate to equate Xander's incessant chatter to the Fire Elf. He thinks "energy drain" is like the snow-globe filled with red liquid that represents our wizards' health in the game, their energy.

We talked for a long while about how we could relate the things the boys do in real life to spells we cast in Wizard 101. And how the draining of energy in real life is very much like the draining of health from the red globe in the game.

So now over the past few days we've been using the Energy Drain and relating it to the game. The boys laugh, but totally get it because they have the visual in their heads, they understand

It's been a fun and light-hearted way for us to introduce this new technique into our family. So far, we've been benefitting greatly from this class and from the Love & Logic techniques. I'm glad I am taking it!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Never Let Them See You Sweat

The Washington Online School is offering a Love & Logic class this winter and I signed up for it. It's through Elluminate so I can take the class from the comfort of my own home, and it's geared specifically toward homeschoolers, which is primarily why I signed up for the class. 

The first class was this past Thursday. The instructors are Deslynn and Dave Mecham; you can visit their new blog here, plus I'm going to add it to the sidebar for future reference.

I realized that I already follow many of the Love & Logic teachings. I learned them when our older son was living at home and we were challenged to parent him; Love & Logic didn't work with him because he was incapable of being motivated by love OR logic. However, the techniques produce excellent results with healthy children.

But, I did need a good reminder of things I'd forgotten, and the one that hit me like a smack upside the head was, never let them see you sweat.

When I've struggled with the boys during school time, when things haven't worked out the way I planned them, I've responded with frustration and disappointment. My dear, sweet, loving boys, though nearly perfect, do like to take advantage of me if I appear weak or vulnerable.

No matter their goodness at heart, children are not dissimilar to pack animals who sense a weak member of their pack - they'll turn on you in an instant.

So, listening to the class, I realized that I've been shooting myself in the foot by allowing the boys to see my frustration when school didn't go smoothly.

Love & Logic teaches that I should put all the responsibility on the days' school accomplishments squarely on the boys' shoulders. If they spend all day goofing off in their room instead of getting down to do their work, then it's their problem, not mine. I cannot allow it to be mine. 

I have my jobs in the family, and the boys have theirs. Out of love for them, I need to let them be responsible for themselves. Using logic, they will learn to manage themselves and we will all be happier.

So I'm going to practice keeping my cool this week. Don't mistake me, I'm not a freak-out kind of mom, but I do get disappointed in myself when things don't go smoothly, and the boys know I'm willing to put the blame in myself rather than on them. But no more, my friends! I am going to give the boys clear instructions on what is expected of them each day and the time during which I am available to help them. The rest, is up to them.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

A Happy New Attitude

Well, it's 2009 and everything's gonna be just fine.


At least, that's the plan. 

I'm kind of nervous and excited to start the new school year. 

I'm nervous because I'd planned to do some school during this past week because we're a little behind, but that didn't happen. But, I'm trying to not to be hard on myself. It's a new year, a new day, and it's onward, and upward! So, I'm a little worried that we won't be able to get the necessary amount of work done in order for the boys to advance to the next grade. I'll need to talk to our teacher about that.

I'm excited because the last several weeks of school I was really starting to get a better handle on the how of this homeschooling thing. I began to figure out how I needed to organize myself in order to manage the day of leessons. I'm starting to see what organization tools I'm missing that will help me run our 'classroom' better. I'm getting a feel for how the K12 online tools work so I'm moving more quickly through them, which helps a tons.

There's a lot to be happy about. And the things I'm nervous about, well, we'll work through that and everything will be okay. Now that we're getting better at running our days, I think we can start adding a class or two to each day in order to get caught up.

Happy New Year!