Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Six Places You Can Put Broken Crayons. (Hint: the sun doesn't shine there)

If there's one chapter in a homeschool book that could give homeschooling a bad name, it's this one....

Six Things To Do With Broken Crayons*

Look. I'm a homeschooler and even I don't want to homeschool after reading that title.  Is it a joke? Or an insult? I can't tell.

I put an indecent amount of creative energy into planning an interesting history curriculum and unique reading program that gives No Child Left Behind the finger. How about we throw just the broken crayons away? Because I'm an actual living, breathing person with average to above average cognitive function.

Okay, I'm being an asshole** and I admit it. I'm sure these six things to do with broken crayons are lovely ways to entertain yourself and your homeschooled children. You know, for when you aren't teaching them. Or cooking for them. Or washing their clothes. Or cleaning their nasty boy bathroom. Or preparing for tomorrow's lessons. Or reading their chapter book so you can intellectually participate in the book discussion. Or gathering supplies for next week's science labs. Or driving them to co-op class, fencing lessons, 4-H, chess club, field trips, junior master gardener classes, and drawing lessons. Use broken crayons to fill those "spare moments" that obviously abound when you homeschool.

I'm going to say it's okay to draw a line at how far you are willing to go when homeschooling and I personally draw it at finding ways to use broken crayons. I must have some boundaries...

Five Steps to Becoming Homeschool Teacher of the Year*

...and wha? You mean it's a competition against other homeschool moms who may or may not be better than me? Fuck.

*Yes, those are real chapters from a real book. No, I didn't read the book, because I'm an asshole. I'm sure the book is a lovely read to non-asshole homeschoolers.

** I'm especially an asshole when it's my turn to visit the Moon Lodge, which if you attended Heather's School of Awesomeness, you would learn a moon lodge is where Native American women went during their period. They were released from family and community responsibilities and sent off to a lodge to be by themselves, as in ALL ALONE WHILE OTHER PEOPLE TOOK CARE OF THEIR KIDS AND DIRTY DISHES, OMFG HOW GENIUS.

Monday, September 19, 2011

I'm Not Getting Any Smarter

So I confessed to being an idiot. Well, I have more confessions. Enjoy! 

#1 If I were to tell you how many times I've come *this* close to getting on Facebook and posting "Wow, I need to put on pants!" you would probably schedule an intervention for me. Granted, I thought of posting it when we had a couple of cool-ish days. I live on the doorstep of Satan's den, so these September blasts of cooler air are exciting since I've been living in shorts and tank tops for six months. I can't believe I actually need to wear long pants! So that's why the FB update enters my head. But I know people on FB would misunderstand and think I'm some pervert who homeschools her kids in her underwear. 

#2 I just spent five minutes replying via gmail to a reader's comment before realizing you can't reply to comments through Blogger. I knew this from living in the paleolithic blogging period of 2008 when I started off with Blogger. But I thought they had updated since then! And isn't that great! But no, it turns out I'm just stupid.

#3 I was out running errands and talking on my cell phone to Wally. I reached around my purse to put my keys in my specially designated key pocket only to realize my cell phone was not in its specially designated pocket, and then went on to have a 5 second panic attack, because, OMFG I'VE LOST MY iPHONE! Oh wait. I'm talking on my iPhone. That's why it's not in its pocket - IT'S ON MY GODDAMN EAR. I had a 5-second WHERE IS MY iPHONE! panic attack two days in the row for the same damn reason. I have no justification for this one. Just plain stupidity.

I honestly don't know what is going on with my mind.

Early onset dementia?

Too many cocktails in my twenties and early thirties? I always scoffed at those middle school PSA classes we had on the evils of alcohol and what it would do to your brain. Is this life trying to show me a thing or two about my 14-year-old attitude 23 years later?

Or since I'm now homeschooling, through quantum physics I don't pretend to understand, I'm transferring all of my quality brain cells from my brain into the brains of my kids? 

If I'm going to be stupid, at least let it be for a worthy cause.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Root Cause of Idiot Heather

There's one thing I've noticed in my almost one-year hiatus from the blogging world.

(Has it really been eleven months since I closed my old blog? Holy shit. I guess time does fly when you're having fun. Or flies when life gets fucked up and you develop a sick co-dependent relationship with your printer. Take it from me, better time flies because of fun.)

Back to that thing I've noticed: I'm an idiot. I say this because it is news to me, even if it isn't to anyone else. I've spent all of my grown-up life thinking I'm a fairly intelligent person, but now I see I was operating on false assumptions.

Everywhere I go now on the internet and type something I look like an idiot because of my typos. Everyone makes typos, but I'm making them ALL of the time now. Each time I go I leave out a critical word in a sentence or use the wrong word. (Why the hell doesn't Facebook allow you to edit yoru own posts?!)

Basically I read like I'm drunk around the clock, which is not true. In fact, just the opposite is true. I rarely have even a cocktail anymore, much less three. I just don't "feel" it anymore, so I'm always sober. Always.

Stop the presses, y'all. I think I just discovered the root cause of Idiot Heather. Thank god I figured this out on a Friday. Friday is my favorite day at the liquor store, you know. The trip to the store will have to wait until later today, though. I have exciting plans with my printer. Today we're going to try ENLARGING COPIES of Eastern Woodland Indian maps. *shivers*

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Fringe Benefits

I previously wrote of how homeschooling is hard, harder than anyone told me. Now I'm worried what I said in last week's post might discourage someone who is considering homeschooling. Because this new blog that I have barely done anything with yet and less than a dozen people read might be found in the millions and millions of other blogs and *poof!* I just disintegrated the hopes of a desperate mother whose kid is struggling in school. Then the Ghost of Heather's Public School Past will haunt me forever.

I need to make amends!

But I'm not going to lie and say it isn't hard. Or maybe challenging is the better word. If I were to rank the most challenging things I've done in my life, I'd list them like this...

1. Raising children
2. Homeschooling children
3. Staying happily married to the same man
4. Do-it-yourself bikini waxes

Yes, I put homeschooling above the difficulty of staying happily married.  Who has time to even question the state of their marriage when you homeschool. I'm always at the printer.

Homeschooling is hard. But it's not.

And I've been sitting on the post for days and days now, trying to find a way to articulate how homeschooling isn't hard. Maybe it's because homeschool "success" is hard to measure. Or maybe because homeschool is just another name for self-inflicted psychosis. Because, seriously? This is not something a sane person would do.

Good, I said it. I hope I have scared away all the faint of heart and weak-minded. And maybe I even scared away some of my former public school PTA buddies/teachers too.

Now that all of those people are gone, I can say this:

Homeschool is one of the most unbelievably awesome things I've ever done.

I wish I could articulate exactly why. Part of it is seeing my oldest son discover there are not just one or two kind kids, but an entire group of kind, accepting, friendly kids.

Part of it is having the authority to say, whoa little 8-year-old dude, writing this many paragraphs stresses you out and makes your handwriting revert to a preschool level? Watch me use my superpower called COMMON SENSE and magically BACK THE FUCK OFF until you are developmentally ready for this. Because, really, who cares if you learn to write five paragraph essays in the 3rd grade versus 5th grade.* It doesn't matter to the person who will accept you into college!

Another part of the awesomeness is realizing it's more important to teach how to tap into the creative process than to teach them to write five completely dry, boring, uncreative paragraphs just to fill a word quota.

I would be remiss if I didn't also say a great part of homeschooling is my 5th grader not having two hours of homework every night. Which, I'm sorry, people think homeschoolers are weird and unnatural? That shit is unnatural. That's robbing a childhood.

Which leads me to say I love that I'm able to let my kids be kids. Not stressed-out miniature adults expected to work for eight hours a day. Kids. That's all I require them to be for now.

Well, that and my own personal window-washer/laundry folder.

Homeschool lesson of the day: A lot of it is about the fringe benefits.

*I have more to say about our experience with teaching writing. But first I have a two-sided paper jam in my printer. Damn it!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

"Homeschooling Is Not That Hard" Oh Really?

There’s nothing like spending 48 rainy day hours planning a chemistry curriculum that signals you have officially reached HOMESCHOOL INSANITY LAND. The good news is I had company. Yes, thanks to a tropical storm and extended holiday weekend, Wally visited this magical land with me, where flipping through six different science books to piece together one cohesive chemistry unit is valued above all other things, including opening college football weekend.

Wally, bless his heart, is na├»ve in the way of life in HOMESCHOOL INSANITY LAND. He exposed himself as a tourist when he said this….

“Ooooo! I didn’t know our printer printed two-sided!”

To which I replied, “Yes, it does. As long as you print one page, get up, flip the printed paper, slide it on top of the paper tray, go back to your computer, print the second page on the opposite side and then go back to the printer and get your two-sided paper.”

And people wonder why homeschooling takes up so much of my time.

For reasons I don’t understand, science is the subject that seems the most difficult for homeschooling. Along with grammar. And writing. And history. And vocabulary. And P.E.

Fuck, okay, it’s ALL DIFFICULT.

I remember, in my initial days of simply asking around about homeschooling, people would tell me, “oh, it’s not that hard…” Now I look back on these people as if they are foreigners not only speaking a different language but also wearing their underwear on the outside of their clothes.

What the hell, you crazy underwear people? Does your definition of “not difficult” change once you begin homeschooling? Kind of like your scale of pain tolerance changes after giving birth to a nine and a half pound baby without an epidural? Your tolerance for the difficulty of raising children expands to the Nth power once you begin homeschooling. That’s it, isn’t it?

What could be difficult about vocabulary, though? Honestly, give them some words and they learn the definition. They even make (gasp!) workbooks for that. Easy peasy!

Yes, yes it was. At first a workbook sufficed. But as we slowly disengage from the public school mindset and embrace new ways of learning, workbooks no longer suffice. And so it’s back to the drawing board for vocabulary.

Rinse and repeat for spelling.

And grammar. Oh, grammar. Something that should be easy, second only to math in sequential learning! Except, you know. Workbooks. No longer appealing! So I buy a curriculum that isn’t workbook based and I’m like, huh? What? How do I implement this free-range style grammar program?!? I wasn't raised this way! 

I'm learning all over again too.

I could tell the slightly different versions of the same story for each subject. Writing is difficult because my boys hate writing (thank you, public school system). P.E. is difficult because it’s summer in the deep South (read: death by humidity and high temperatures). History is difficult because apparently my standards for “good curriculum” are very high (interesting factual reading, hands-on and interactive learning. And something other than the European white man’s version, please!).

“Oh, it’s not that hard…”

Homeschool lesson of the day: Don't trust people who wear their underwear on the outside of their clothes.