Sep 1, 2015

Back to School Blues

School has started once again and I've found myself looking up down left and right trying to find someone to dump my frustrations on.
My kids' teachers? No, I don't want to be branded a whiner this early in the school year. That will come soon enough.
My kids' aids? Same answer as above.
My friends? They're already overloaded with their own back to school angst.
My husband? He wants to solve my problems. And who wants to have solved problems? NOT ME! I just want to wallow in them!! (It's not about the nail Doug.)
Therefore, to whom can I bare my tortured soul?
Only you are left, dear blog!
--Brace yourself--

We have been in school for two weeks and two days now.  Twelve school days total.
Already I'm feeling like I'm falling way, way, waaaaaaaaaaaaay behind.

I get this panicky feeling like I can't do it all and decide the obvious choice is to pull them all out, and start homeschooling them. The first few months we'll focus mainly on sleeping in, but after I let them get dumber for a bit, I'll hook them up with an on-line math teacher, crank some classical music, and call it good. (You might think I'm disparaging home-schoolers right now. I'm not. I'm disparaging me as a home-schooler.)

Last night Gabe brought me a packet of stuff from his teacher. Lots to read and do and sign as well as some completed assignments being returned for my acknowledgment. The assignments came with notes from the teacher.
Gabe is behind in reading.
Behind in writing.
And way, way behind in math facts.

[When Max was in first grade, we drilled him on his math facts every night until he was at the top of his class. For some reason, Gabe is not receiving the same amount of attention! Shocker, eh?]

I was given some forms to fill out too. (This is in addition to the large packet already filled out last week.) The form-to-drive-on-fieldtrips-form requires a copy of my license, a copy of my insurance, a copy of something certifying that I'm a safe driver, and a copy of my most recent full body scan to make sure I don't have a disease that will make me keel over at the wheel. If I don't have time to gather, scan and copy all of those items, what are the odds I'll have time to drive for a field trip?

Next in line were some pink pages from the math teacher. FOUR pink pages. (Plus a signature page) Covered on front and back for a grand total of EIGHT pages of information on what I can expect, what I can donate, what I need to know, how I need to help him, what programs he'll use, and what goes into the bleeping treasure chest.
(Listen, I'm not one to give lectures about the importance of succinctness and brevity in writing--obviously--but reading this blog is OPTIONAL for you. The packet?Not so much for me!)

In addition to the math packet light reading, I had to set up two different log-ins for two different programs. One program will send math progress updates right to my phone!!! (Bleep!)
I was also told they will be using four--FOUR--different math computer programs for homework--in addition to worksheets. (You know what that means, right? FOUR different log-ins, four different passwords, and four different programs to potentially (almost assuredly) malfunction on his school issued i-Pad. (Nothing ever works the way it should on the school issued i-Pad.)

All that for one subject. I couldn't even read the whole dang packet in one night. When I got to yet another page instructing me how to register for yet another program, I ripped the packet into shreds and lit the strips on fire, spitting in the smoldering pile of ashes. (At least in my mind. In reality, I set the dumb thing on my night stand and stared disdainfully at it.)

Today I got it back out again.
I registered on the sights that needed me to register.
Read what needed to be read, and silently swore a few times to make myself feel better.

And then Sam came in and handed me a pink packet.

He has the same math teacher.

Time to homeschool.

Apr 4, 2015

A Few Little/Long-Winded Things

I used to blog a lot, and sometimes I really miss it and really wish I did it more. But Facebook and Instagram are so much quicker and can be done right on my phone, and so it goes...

But once in awhile I miss actually writing and every once in a great while, I make myself write again.
So here, for no reason other than that Doug fell asleep with the remote in his hand, and I can't turn on another show, is a little life update:

On our "new" home:
Since Doug and I have been married, we've lived in three rentals, and three mortgaged homes.
All of those places, I've been able to decorate and make homey-ish. Never super cute or stylish, but I feel like I've always at least had some idea of what I wanted to do, and made some decorating progress, even if I never quite pulled off the final vision. But now here I am, in a home that we "own", with freedom (and even a budget for once!) to do some big-girl decorating, and I'm paralyzed.
I'm stymied.
I'm completely overwhelmed and frustrated and frozen into inaction.
See, this house is it. THE house. There is no timeline on this house. It is not a two-year investment, a three-year military assignment, or a temporary rental-until-we-buy.
We bought.
This is the house.
What I buy, how I decorate...has to last for awhile. A long while.
And I'm at a loss.

I have a few major self-diagnosed problems:
1. I have no clear style.
I like East coast architecture
With classical elements.
But sometimes I really like the look of modern elements.
I like 40's-50's graphic design
and vintage travel posters
and bohemian rugs
and eclectic knic-knacks
and colorful, kid friendly stuff.
But also very light walls and furniture with dark floors and classy botanical stuff framed on the walls.
And then again, industrial modern is cool...
And maybe a teeny tiny bit of mid century modern has leached it's way into my consciousness. But enough with the Eames chairs already! They remind me of bus stops and my elementary school!
*sigh* See the problem?
Oh, and the backyard? Well, we have no clue how to actually make it look nice. So for now we're just focusing on making it fun and boy-friendly. Please feel free to stop by any time and try out our new zip-line!

On 13 year old Max:
I'm too hard on Max. I know I'm too hard on Max. I try not to be.
But even as the words are coming out of my mouth and I'm telling myself "you're being too hard on him" I keep right on talking. (And by talking I mean scolding/lecturing/yelling.) And then after I calm down, I have to apologize and tell him all the great things he does and how much I appreciate him. Because he really is a great kid. He'll spring up to help anyone who needs help, often without being asked. His school teachers love him and often use the word "sweet" when talking about him. He's a great babysitter and a hard worker. And at least for now he doesn't totally hate me.

The other day I was joking that he has a cranky mom and he just has to deal with it. He said "You're not cranky!" with genuine surprise. Then, after a short pause..."Just at dinner time but that's understandable because we're so loud and you're hungry!" That gave me a good laugh. And then I told him he's my favorite kid but not to tell the others that because I'd deny it.

On 10 year old Sam:
Does anyone else have two kids so totally different from each other that you wonder how they both came from the same parents?! (Until you remember that one looks and acts very similar to his father and one looks and acts very similar to his mother?)
Sammy is a lot like me! (Lucky kid!) He thinks deeply and worries excessively.
But not always in a bad way. He is very sensitive and thoughtful to others. He wants people to be safe. He always looks out for his little brothers, (especially Linky-Pie and any and all other babies that come into his range of vision.)
He's a great kid.
He and Max both love Legos and both love to read and I love that they share similar hobbies and interests. Sam however, unlike Max, has a flair for the dramatic. He can often be heard speaking in any number of foreign accents, is in his school "Honor Choir", and has signed up to play a guitar song in the school talent show. (An AC/DC song if you must know. No, I don't approve, but his guitar teacher doesn't seem to know any Erasure!!!) He definitely exercises the right side of his brain regularly and I can seem him finding great joy in music, drama, or art in the future.

On 7 year old Gabe:
Gabe is one of the most imaginative kids I know. About once a day I look for Gabe and find him totally engrossed in a make-believe game. Usually involving imaginary weapons, bad guys, and secret agents with ninja skills. But more often than not, he can be found with his brother Gray acting as "Director of Play". They have a great system worked out: Gabe makes up a game, tells Gray how to play it, and then changes the rules as he goes along to make it more fun (for himself). Gray happily plays along and they have a great time together. If BFF David T. can be there, all the better.
Gabe loves his "Sunshine Room" with multi-colored ceiling fan, having me read Harry Potter to him every night (we're on Book 4), loves reading himself, and loves to draw and write in his journal. Gabe is a happy kid and only whines if you ask him to do anything that isn't one of the fun things listed above. Throw some granola bars and fruit in his direction and he'll keep himself entertained the entire day. (Unless it's one of  his "bottomless pit" days when he wants your undivided attention for 6 straight hours.)

On 4 year old Gray-Gray:
Gray will be five in two days tomorrow (I fell asleep last night before I finished this post) and I've told him that five-year-olds have to say their own bed-time prayers. (He flat-out refuses to say prayers without help, although we all know he's perfectly capable.)
Gray is at a very adorable age right now. And his speech mis-articulations just make him that much cuter. The other night he asked me "Dat him house dat we went to dat udder time Mama?" And "Him put dat in him mouf Mama?" His pronouns are all over the place and it's adorable. Considering our speech history around these parts, I should probably correct him every once in awhile but it's just too darn cute.
Gray's default life mood setting is "Slightly Sad". He'll come bounding out of preschool, laughing and waving good-bye to his friends, leap happily into the car, and when I ask him if he had a fun day, he'll sigh piteously and say "The girls don't play wif me!" (They do.) Or, "No, I'm sooo sick! (*insert exaggerated fake cough*) (He's not)
It seems he feels the need to project sadness to be taken seriously. So I take him very seriously and keep my laughter on the inside. Sometimes he'll crawl into my lap or Doug's and sadly say "I just love you so so so much!" And only to me "I just want to mehwee you when I gwow up and be doggies." Because obviously he wants to marry me, but only if we can both be doggies. Or puppies. Ponies would probably also make the cut. Whatever. I tell him I'll absolutely marry him. We'll sort that out with Freud later.

On 18-month Linky-Pie/Linky-Monster:
My friend Lisa likes to comment that Lincoln is taking years off my life. And she's exactly right. He is. He absolutely is. Lincoln is what you would call "a handful." But only if you wanted to really under-state the situation. From the second he wakes up in the morning, Linky is all over the place. He doesn't want to cuddle, he doesn't want to eat breakfast, he just wants to GO. One of the spots he likes to go, is the middle of the kitchen table. And just recently he learned to climb the tall kitchen barstools so I'm sure soon he'll add "middle of island" to his list of favorite places. He also likes "top of the stairs". Basically, any place he can be in physical danger, while also able to throw things with maximum chance of hearing them shatter. Luckily for him he's got this super awesome blond hair with these little loose curls that are usually a big tangled mess on the back of his head, but sometimes form into perfect ringlets...and so we let him live. All the while, acquiring more wrinkles and gray hairs. *sigh* That LinkyMonster.

That's it for tonight.
See you again in six months.

Or the next time Doug falls asleep holding the remote.