Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Spring Break!

This week marks the end of our Winter Quarter, so we're not doing any school.  I've decided that I despise having our schoolroom in the basement and started the arduous task of switching the living room and schoolroom furniture with the hope of having everything in its new place before we start the Spring Quarter next Monday.

I'm also hoping to get my lesson plan for next year worked out, along with all the curriculum research that it entails.

As a result, you may not hear a whole lot from me this week.

Happy Brooketopian Spring Break to you!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Does This Mean That I Don't Have to Teach Sex Ed?

We studied biology last year.  (Well, actually, we studied biology for about three months before we got to the end of what I had planned for the entire year, and then we studied chemistry and a little physics.)  One of the leftovers from our biology "phase" was a book about the human body.  It's a great little encyclopedia that covers all sorts of topics from organ systems to DNA to disease.

There is a two page spread on the reproductive system.  I checked it out before placing it on the bookshelf to make sure it was appropriate reading and decided that it was fine.  I figured that Bluebird would read through it quickly and put it back on the shelf, just like everything else.


Bluebird took it upon herself to become her sisters' biology teacher.

And little girls love to talk about babies.

So imagine my surprise today, while I was fixing a snack in the kitchen, when Junebug yells from the dining room, "Mama!  Do you have two egg cells left?"

Thinking that I could not possibly have heard my four year old say what I thought I just heard her say, I replied with, "What are you talking about?"  (Bonus points to me for staying calm.)

Penguin turned around in her chair with a big grin and exclaimed, "We're trying to decide if you can have twins!"

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Time For a Shift, Time to Be Honest to the Core

Crocuses in our garden!
I've been hesitant to truly believe that spring is getting its foot in the door, but after so many weeks of gorgeous weather my suspicion is wearing down.  The crocuses are blazing in our garden and the daffodils have burst from their pods as well.  Color is entering the world again after the bleak grays and browns of late winter.

Each member of our family is awakening from their late winter haze, embarking on new projects and dreaming up exciting adventures for the warmer months.  It actually feels like everyone is waking up in a better mood each day--until it's time to start lessons for the day, and then everyone is grumpy and suddenly trapped in some alternate molasses-soaked universe.

Bluebird renewed her "everything is too review-ish" complaints, Penguin started crying about doing school, Junebug clamored for me to do school with her and Monkeyboy became focused upon destroying the house if I wasn't paying attention to him every minute of the day.  Something was off.  I found that even I was dreading school.  It was boring.

A couple of phone calls later, in which I vented all my frustrations and tried to talk my way through to a solution, and I had a plan:  Assess the kids.  I should have clued into the need for some assessing once Bluebird started up with her "review-ish" complaints, but I can only claim late-winter-haziness on missing out on that one.

So I administered assessment tests.  I was surprised by some of the results, baffled by others and content with the rest.  Even though I champion homeschooling for the freedom it gives me to adapt my childrens' curriculum to their abilities, I hadn't done a good job of matching their lessons to their abilities.  Yes, Bluebird was bored.  So was Penguin, and Junebug was definitely ready for a challenge.  I felt like an idiot for not recognizing it all sooner; but whatever, I'm recognizing it now.  We are in the state of adapting the curriculum.  It's going to be a little crazy for the next week or so.  Pray for me.  (Ha ha.)

This experience has made me think a bit.  I've thought about homeschooling, my individual childrens' strengths and weaknesses, and the frustrating absence of information on dealing with accelerated learners and our lifestyle in general.  A little thought implanted its self into my brain:  What if I could help with that?  I mean, I'm in the trenches.  Day-by-day I am living out my life homeschooling these adorable, and sometimes frustrating, little learners.  I'm not a veteran, but sometimes we don't want to read a been-there-done-that account of how a parent dealt with an accelerated child.  We want to read the unfolding tale of parenting a gifted child as it unfolds.  We want to feel comaraderie with other parents who are careening down this unmarked trail of nurturing and pushing these "different thinkers" to their potential.

There are homeschooling blogs galore.  I'm one of the vast offerings.  I am a homeschooler, but when I find myself in a group of fellow homeschoolers, I am treated to different remarks because my kids are different in their educational abilities than most kids.  And until this last week and its annoying near-silence on the subject of homeschooling accelerated learners, I thought it was rude to talk about my kids' differing abilities.

However, that silence helps nobody.  It doesn't help the parents of gifted kids find information on how to help their kids if other parents of gifted kids are staying silent.  It doesn't matter to parents of normal/average abilitied children for me to stay silent, and it doesn't even hurt them if I become vocal about the very truthful existence of gifted children.  It may come across as bragging or showing off, and I believe that's what keeps the gifted population from speaking up.  But for the gifted population to stay silent about their abilities, and the tactics they use to foster excellence in this unique demographic only does a disservice to the very people who would benefit from the information.

We just need to stand up and be strong, even when the tomatoes get thrown.  Truth is truth.  I believe that everyone is entrusted with some sort of special ability or talent and that everyone should have the resources they need to foster that talent and kindle it into something amazing.  One of my childrens' special talents is the ability to learn quickly.  That's all it is, and I think it would count as a huge failure on my part as their mother if I didn't help them rise to the potential within each of them.  It benefits nobody to deny a person's true self.

The blog is going to shift from the general topic of homeschooling to more defined topic of homeschooling accelerated learners.  I apologize to anyone who disagrees with me on this classification and/or decision, and I encourage them to write their own blog on their view of the subject.  This decision--the decision to be "openly gifted"--has breathed new life into our homeschool plans.  I can't believe how stifled I had allowed school to become; how afraid I was to break out of the mould and embrace the quirky differences that make Brooketopia truly unique.  That is going to end and we are going to blaze our own trail now, a trail that won't conform to standards and scripted curriculum.  This is me, doing my best fish-out-of-water impression.

But it's OK, because the longer I'm out of the water, the easier it becomes to breathe.

If you're blogging about the subject of accelerated learners, please let me know so we can glean from each other!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Emptying the Swirling Brain Gale

Today I'm using the blog as a bit o' therapy.  I'm going to spew out all the random thoughts in my head that I'm mulling about way too much and thus making it almost impossible to carry on an actual conversation with another human being.  It gets swirly in the ol' noggin from time, so a purge is necessary.

So, in no apparent order, here are the thoughts that are consuming my thought processes for the last few days:
  • I need a plan of action for dealing with the end of January and all of February.  It's been three years in a row that I have completely ground to a halt for all five of those weeks.
  • I hate selling Girl Scout cookies.  I have lots of extras and I am freaking out over whether we are going to owe money on them.  I ordered lots of extra Thin Mints this year, but people only want Samoas, which we have run out of.  I have 60 extra boxes of Thin Mints = $210 that I may owe to the Girl Scouts of Utah in a week and a half.  I have got to remember this anxiety and frustration when cookie season rolls around next year.  Don't do it again!
  • The weather is so wonderful right now.  We're doing bare minimum school and then clocking out to go hang out at the park or nature trail.  My kids slept in an hour and a half this morning because they are running around so much!  It feels so great to be moving again.
  • I'm taking a break from my weight loss plan.  I just am.  I was feeling tremendously guilty about it, but I'm so incredibly just done with it for now.  I'm tired of food being an enemy and I'm tired of food that doesn't feel real in my mouth.  Despite that this is the only way I've been able to lose weight in the past couple of years, I'm just tired of it right now.
  • I have to stop promising to make things for people.  The two things on my list right now are kicking my butt, which stresses me out even more because I'm not getting them done like I said I would and people are expecting them.
  • I am rewarding myself (for what, I don't know...) with some knitting for me.  Michael bought me some lovely laceweight for Christmas and I dug it out of hiding the other day and cast on a shawl for myself.  I may even splurge and buy some purple-dyed freshwater pearls to add to the border, when I get to that point.  It's the same pattern I used for The Honeymoon Shawl.  I normally don't knit a pattern again after knitting it once, so that's saying something about how much I like the pattern.  The yarn is this beautiful purple that shifts from a blue lavender to a slightly pink violet and it's lovely.
  • I have to grant myself permission to buy gifts for people instead of insisting that I craft something for everyone.  It's generally cheaper to just buy a gift rather than the yarn, because I use good yarn and it ain't cheap.  Perhaps I should declare a Crafted Gift Moratorium.  99% of people I know have two perfectly working hands--learn to make the stuff yourself.  (I think a little part of my heart just died, but it's just how it's got to be.)
  • I want to garden, but it's still too early in the season despite the alluring warmer temperatures. 
  • It's supposed to snow this weekend.
  • I want to buy more yarn.  I always feel this way.  It's a sickness.
  • I'm in a weird mood to make a granny square afghan.  Making lots of little blocks seems like so much fun right now.  Perhaps I will do that after the shawl.
  • This thought-spewing is making me feel better.
  • I refuse to attempt potty-training a child until they are not sleeping in a crib and they can open a door by themselves.  They need to be able to get out of their bed at night to go to the bathroom and they need to be able to open the bathroom door by themselves.  Monkeyboy has not met the latter criteria as of yet.  Freedom from diapers is so, so close.
  • I've done too well of a job in scheduling special musical performances for our Sacrament Meetings.  I sat down to practice some vocal pieces the other day and realized that I have four different songs that I could get performance-ready within a week.  But I've already scheduled musical performances for Sacrament Meeting through the end of April, and May is starting to fill up quickly as well.  I hardly get to sing anymore!  :)
  • That's not true, I'm singing in a quartet on Easter.  We practiced for the first time last Sunday and it sounded good.  Our Easter program is going to be awesome, you should come to my Sacrament Meeting on Easter or you'll regret it for the rest of your life.
  • That's right, I said for the rest of your life.  It's going to be that good.
  • I love watching musical pieces go from a halting attempt to produce the correct notes to a push to add precision to the musical phrases to a beautiful performance that touches hearts.  I have the best callings ever.
  • I can't exercise in the afternoon or evenings.  It's got to be the morning, as much as I hate getting up that early.  Ugh.
  • The other day I noticed that Penguin's teeth seem too small for her mouth.  She's hit that "I'm in Kindergarten" look.
  • Monkeyboy will be two years old next month.  I had to buy him 3T clothes last weekend because his 2T's are cutting off circulation.  He's huge.
  • Bluebird was/is always a size behind her current age.  Penguin is spot on and Junebug is a little ahead.  They are actually getting bigger as we have more.
  • I need to watch a couple episodes of "Hoarders" to get me into a spring-cleaning mind zone.
Goodness, I feel much better now.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Nursery--it's not for babies!

The poor boy can't catch a break!

Every time he's gone to nursery this winter he's ended up with some form of contagious disease that makes it so that he can't go back for two weeks.  He was healthy enough to attempt nursery again on Sunday, and when I got out to the car and saw my boy (Michael picks the kids up from their Sunday School classes, as I tend to be accosted in the hallways regarding various music issues), he pointed to his head and said, "Bonk."  As in, "I bonked my head."

Sure enough, he was nursing the beginning of a black eye.

I imagine it's simply one of many that we will weather with this rough and tumble little guy.

He's been fine with it.  I want to snuggle him a little more than usual.  He's having none of it.