Sometimes a girl just misses her mom.

Two years ago, I was at home taking care of my mom. I thought this year would be easier, but it isn’t. I think the coming wedding of my son is making it difficult.  My mom loved weddings. She would go to a wedding, and tell me every detail even down to the napkins. I want to discuss the wedding with her. 

I made a comment to my husband about how I wish my mom was here. I think he doesn’t understand. He was pretty quick to change the subject. I wanted to talk about her. Sometimes I feel like I am not allowed to talk about her. Everyone is quick to say, “well, she has it better in heaven”. Of course she does, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t miss her. 

Sometimes I still have nightmares about her last days, but I don’t tell anyone. Well, I suppose I am telling you now. I am writing to you now because I saw a picture of the singer who is dying of cancer. Is her name Joey? It broke my heart. I don’t want to say that these kinds of pictures shouldn’t be shared because I think we Americans try to ignore death as much as possible. We don’t want to know about it. We certainly don’t want to talk about it. We drink green shakes in order that we can put it off as long as possible. Honestly, I don’t think our avoidance of the dying and of death is healthy. We are all going to do it eventually.

Anyway, the picture brought back some memories to the front that have already been taking more space than they should. I thought, maybe I am ready to write about those last days. Maybe I should. I came here and started typing. As I have been typing I realized that my mom would be very unhappy with me if I told the world what her last days were like. I wonder what people 500 years ago did?  People that saw this more often than we do. I wonder how many people go through what we went through. Do some people talk about it? I have read one or two blog posts of people who have, but I know it was worse than what they wrote.

I want to talk to my mom. I know she is in heaven, but dang it, I  miss her. I should be able to say that I miss her without people telling me that she is in heaven. Don’t negate my feelings. Oh my gosh, I miss her. I just think it is funny (not haha funny) how there is their feeling that we are not allowed to talk of our loved one after they die. Funeral is over. Moving on. I want to talk about her. I need to talk about her. She was my mom, and sometimes a girl just misses her mom.

How do you grade math?

Tags

,

I have been asked this question a lot lately. How do I grade math? I find it interesting that people ask me this question since math is one of the most straight-forward subjects to grade. I love grading math because it is objective. The answer is either right or it is wrong.

After I thought about it for a bit, I realize that people are really asking me how they can be more lenient when they are grading math. This is if we are really honest with ourselves, and you know that I am all about being honest over here. Parents want to know if they really have to give them that low score the  kids really deserve. Maybe there is a way to manipulate the numbers to give them a better grade.

I get it. Is that trig problem really only worth one point? It took a half a page to complete. How can I judge the problem? Maybe this math grading is subjective after all? How important is it that their problem is exactly right? What can I do to make this less painful?

Let’s face it. Math is painful for some kids. They don’t enjoy it and don’t quite grasp the concepts. Maybe they do well enough, but they enjoy it as much as a trip to the dentist. Some kids have convinced themselves that they are terrible at math. What can we as parents do to make it easier on all of us?

Over the years, I have changed the way that I teach and grade math. When I first started homeschooling I graded their daily assignments every day (you should be doing this too).  I would write in red pen at the top of the page how many problems they missed. It was fine when they were little because they usually only missed one or two, but as the difficulty of the problems increased so did their errors. How defeating it was to see how many they missed every day.

I changed the way I looked at their daily assignments after one of my piano lessons. I realized that I was practicing all week long to perform my song for my instructor. I would correct my errors (and there were lots of them) and master the section before I saw her. That is exactly what math daily assignments are. Practice. They are not a test. The kids shouldn’t have to prove anything on their daily assignments. So why was I turning every daily assignment into a test?

Daily assignments are practice. Students are trying to master the concepts taught in the lessons. Very rarely does this come on the day they learn the new concept. It takes lots of practice. Days of practice. Why was I making my child feel bad for not grasping the concept after the first day? The light bulb eventually turns on. Sometimes it takes a week. Sometimes it takes longer.

How do I grade the daily assignment? I grade it complete or incomplete. That is it. A complete grade means they finished the assignment. I corrected it. And finally, we review all the problems they missed that day. Yes, I know this means that you have to work. You know me. I try to find the path of least resistance. Unfortunately, for math this is the path. I hear of parents who grade a week at a time or even two weeks at a time. This isn’t good for anyone. What happens when your child has been performing an operation wrong for the last two weeks? I will tell you. Tears happen. If you have a bad day, you can skip a day, but don’t let it go longer.

Okay. Daily assignments? Complete or incomplete. Easy.

I grade tests differently based upon the grade level. Through Pre-Algebra each problem on the test is one point. You get it all right or all wrong. When my kids start Algebra, I look at different things. How complex is the problem? Is it something that only measures one concept or are multiple concepts required to find the answer? Problems with multiple concepts are worth more. What about a problem that is only one concept but require several lines to simplify?  I usually make these worth a couple of  points. It is so easy to drop one negative and end up with the wrong answer. As the problems increase in complexity, I start to grade on details. Did my child skip a couple of steps and then mess up? Wrong. I want to see line by line details of the problem. To me, this is just as important as the right answer. (A complex math problem should resemble an upside-down triangle.) How am I supposed to see where my child is messing up if I can’t see their work? Showing all the work is important, and I give credit for that. I eye the problem and decide a point value to the problem. It is usually somewhere between 1 and 5. You should know, however, the 5 point problems don’t usually show up until late Algebra 2.  Story problems are always 2 points. One point for setting the problem up correctly, and one point for getting the right answer.

I don’t ever, ever, ever, make my kids write a paragraph to tell me how they came to the right answer. Just no.

To make an overall grade, I weigh the daily work and the test scores. Test scores should receive more weight because it is proof of their knowledge, but you can do whatever you want. Just don’t make the daily assignments worth more than the tests, but you can make them equal weights.

And that is how I grade math. Do it every day. Grade their assignments every day. Unfortunately, in math there are no short cuts. Wish I had better news for you.

Hope this helps! Happy simplifying!

 

 

 

 

Monday’s Musings

20151109_221641Here it is. The project that I have been working on for almost a year. There were still a few spots that needed some attention when I took this picture, but I filled those in. All that is left is the highlighting and the outlining. I worked on it yesterday a bit while Scott watched football. I have decided that I am not much a fan of the outlining. I asked him if he could see what I had done. “Things are popping,” he said. I guess that means I have to highlight it. I am hoping to have it finished in the next week or two because I would love to have it on the wall for Christmas.

Last week we spent most of the week playing catch up. We had a lot of ground to cover after the debate tournament. I think we have caught up. He wrote a pretty good essay on the theme of hospitality in the Odyssey. Homeschool cheater mom alert. I looked at Cliff Notes to find out what the themes were. Then did a bit of research on the topic. I did not read The Odyssey with him because…boring. He liked it, and thanks to the maker of Cliff Notes for making me look like I know what I am talking about. I am not sure what we are going to read next. If life was fair, I would make him read The Illiad next because the other kids had to do it. I don’t know. I will think on it. He is reading The Martian right now. Have you read it? He read the first sentence and came to me and said, “uh, Mom? Are you sure you want me reading this?” I laughed. The language is not exactly G rated. Oh, well. It isn’t like it isn’t anything he has heard from his friends. He couldn’t deny that. Plus, he isn’t a reader. There is a good mix of science and interesting stuff in that book to keep a 14-year-old, non-reader engaged.

Speaking of reading, I am reading “Longbourn”. It is basically a Pride and Prejudice fan fiction. I like it so far. I had to take a break from the epic fantasy I was reading. You can follow me on Goodreads. I love that website.

What else? Oh! Oh! My sister is coming to visit. I am so excited to see her! We have not been together since my mom died. We are going to have a girls’ weekend, and it will be fabulous. We chose a hotel that mom would have liked. It is pretty fancy and ornate. We were a little sad that we couldn’t tell her about it, but then we remembered she is living in fancy and ornate right now. It is all good. We will just think of her while we are there. We will be eating good food and will be “making a memory” (as mom used to say).

I also have a friend who will be helping me with the design of this blog. I am going to start working on my Chemistry helps again, and she is going to help me make this place look more attractive. I am excited about that.

I suppose I should get to my Greek. Someone remind me why I agreed to Greek. Next year he is getting an online class. My brain can’t take this anymore. Ah, who am I kidding? I am too cheap. I will just suck it up and do it. A little part of me likes it, but I wish that it wasn’t so hard. I will just remember what my piano teacher used to tell me. “If it was easy, everyone would do it.”  You know, I still don’t really know how that helps.

Have a great week! Happy homeschooling!

It is important to be real.

I think some of us are better at it than others. I also think that we are better in some areas than we are in others. For example, I don’t mind so much if women know that I am not a perfect homeschooler, but I really want people to believe that I live in an immaculate house.

Of course, as any homeschool mom will tell you, an immaculate house isn’t going to happen while you are homeschooling. Now that my husband is home too, it is never, ever going to happen. We are living in our house all day, every day. Is that what our house is for, anyway? Still, I want people to think that I have that part of my life together.

Isn’t it refreshing to talk to someone and be able to let your guard down a little bit? I was talking to a few moms the other day, and I could tell that we were all having a day. I made some comment about the battle we had had that day and how we got nothing accomplished. The other moms threw their hands in the air and said, “yes! Us too.” It must have been going around that day. We all felt a little better when we admitted that we weren’t having a banner day, and our teens were moody as they tend to be sometimes.

I love it so much when a mom that I admire walks in frazzled and says something like “Look at this. I have lunch down my shirt.” She has become real. We all have days. Every single one of us. No one has it together perfectly all of the time.

I forgot to tell you that I wore blue socks to the debate tournament. I had on my nice black slacks with a pretty blouse. All the parents were chatting in the parents’ lounge waiting for the first ballots to come out. I was feeling pretty uncomfortable at this point. I wasn’t chatting with anyone. I bent over to grab something out of my bag and saw my feet. BLUE SOCKS! This is what happens when you get dressed in the dark. It seems so silly, but I was pretty embarrassed. As I tend to do when I am nervous, I made a joke about it to the other ladies sitting next to me. One of them laughed and said, “At least you managed to get socks on!” She wasn’t wearing any with her black slacks.

This is life. A life where we are swimming upstream half the time looking for familiar landmarks. I love it when we are real with each other. When we admit that we are battling similar currents, and we help each other over the next ladder. Isn’t that what friendship and fellowship is? Instead of trying to out-do each other on Pinterest, maybe we should just lift each other up? I am going to try that instead. Be real. Be who I am. Love one another.

Monday Musings

Last week was a giant blog fail. I don’t think that I wrote anything. I thought about writing a couple of things, but life happened. No, wait. Debate happened. Last week was all debate. We had our first debate practice tournament on Saturday. My son looked adorable.

20151107_083806We had to buy him a new jacket for the day. I hope that it still fits him by the time the next tournament comes around. If there is a next tournament. No, there will be. He liked it a lot. It was so much work. SO MUCH! The veteran debate moms are encouraging, but I feel like a newbie homeschool mom again in their presence. It was all very intimidating. Moms have to serve as judges.  I judged an advanced debate. The kids were so amazing that I forgot that I was listening to teenagers. Seriously. The whole thing was impressive. I also judged a novice debate. That was just plain cute. They will end up being fine debaters, but it must be a lot of work to get there.

The kids were all very polite and pleasant. The moms were intense and friendly. I was completely exhausted by the end of the day. Then, they tell me that normal tournaments are 3 days long. Nuh. Uh. That is it. I am not going to make. I know it. However, the kid likes it, so we will at least do it for this year. Lord, help me. And I mean that in all seriousness.

What else happened last week? Debate prep. Not kidding. I am going to know more about the federal court system by the end of the year than I ever wanted to know.

For all my complaining, he is going to meet some great kids. He, social kid that he is, thrived on the week. I spent all day yesterday Netflix binging trying to recover. I don’t know what my Myers Brigg thing is, but I definitely needed alone time after all of that.

Have you seen Zoo? One of the debate kids (see? There it is again.) told me watch it. It is good enough for a rainy Sunday recovering. I read the book. Patterson does not write anything too deep, so I am surprised that we have been able to get all these episodes out of one book. I will probably watch the whole thing. Because why not?

My husband has started working from home. Anyone else have this situation? We have a lot of kinks to work out. This is very new for me. All this time together. He is here. All. The. Time. I am more used to his absence. How does this work? This living together always. It wasn’t supposed to be like this until retirement retirement. I see myself doing a lot of shopping. That is not a good thing.

This week will be a better week. I suppose better is a subjective term.  We will probably get a lot more of other school work done. For me, that means a better week. My son would probably take the opposite side. (oh my goodness, there it is again!)

I have a friend whose birthday is this week! Happy birthday, dear friend! I miss you so much! And of course, I am late. Please forgive me. I hope you have a wonderful day!

I hope you all have a great week. Let me know about that work at home thing. Also, anyone from a sunny location who could send some sun my way, I would appreciate it! Thanks!

Teenagers aren’t gremlins. Break the rules.

Tags

,

Gremlins-Gizmo

Remember that 80’s movie? I remember it. I tried to watch it with my kids once and forgot how disgusting it was. The microwave scene, anyone? Anyway, I mentioned that I had a rough weekend with my teenager, and most of it was resolved after I remembered that he isn’t a gremlin even though he may act like it some of the time.

Gremlin rule #1. Keep out of daylight.

Of course this rule must be broken, but sometimes it is easy to forget that they need to break it. Teenagers are busy. They get caught up in their activities or their phones or their video games. These things are not bad (no, not even their phones), but if they don’t get a break they become grumpy. Teens need exercise and fresh air. Make them mow the lawn, rake the leaves, or go for a walk. This is especially true for boys. They have all that built up early manhood stuff, and it needs an outlet. After a lazy weekend full of video games, my son felt so much better after his intense swim practice. I had forgotten, in my own laziness and desire to be left alone, that he needed to expend some energy. I should have sent him out. They need daylight. They don’t know this, but we do. Make sure they get it.

Gremlin rule #2. Never get it wet.

If your teenage son plays any kind of sport, you know this rule must be broken, but how many times do we let them get lazy and skip this? I remember when experienced moms told me to bathe my toddler when we were having a rough day. It was strange how it worked, but a fresh-smelling baby was like hitting the restart button on the day. I don’t know about you, but a shower always makes me feel better. My husband reminded me that sometimes teens are just moody. There is nothing to be done for it. Maybe a warm shower could help. It certainly couldn’t hurt. At the very least, at least you all get a break.

Gremlin Rule #3. Never, ever feed it after midnight.

This is the first rule that should be broken when a teenager is cranky. I know this is why we had trouble this weekend. He was hungry. It was late. Does he really need a snack this late at night? YES, he did! I had forgotten that we had just a light dinner that night. It had been enough for my husband and me, but it was not enough for a growing teenager. I finally told him to make himself a snack, but the damage was done. We were all past irritated.

When things are getting hairy during the day or even late in the evening, start with breaking this rule. FEED THEM. Yes, even if it is after midnight.  I found that sometimes they didn’t even realize they were hungry. They just kept getting more cranky. It is easy to forget how much fuel a growing teen needs. This applies for girls too, especially if they are athletes. It will probably mean more trips to the store for you, but the peace will make it worth it.

Monday’s Musings

IMG_4969This is a picture that I have posted before. This is to remind myself that teens are fun. Teens are great! Well, the oldest isn’t a teen anymore, but I am still carrying around remnants of guilt from when he was a teen. I am going to count it. I seemed to have a hit a nerve with my last post on teens. I have more to write about. Last night was rough, but it is better today. Thank goodness.

Somehow my husband sucked me into the television drama The Walking Dead. I use the term drama loosely. It reminds me so much of Days of our Lives only with zombies. I hadn’t watched it with him before because I am pretty sensitive to violence, but this is just ridiculous. I am sorry if I offend anyone, but really? Where do they get all the gas? Why not shoot your friend who is getting eaten by zombies? Why do you just look at him all sad like?  Oh, I know. But still. THEN, we need a therapy session called The Talking Dead after the show so that we can all process it. I am not feeling it. Maybe it is because I am a late comer to the show. I would rather watch Broadchurch again. Have you seen that one? That is a good one. I recommend it.

Mitzi update: We have learned that we have to put all of her toys away at night. If we do that, she will sleep all night. She sleeps with us, but at least she is quiet about it. In the morning, she goes right to where we put her toys. She is no dummy. She knows where they are and wants them out now. She really is a funny cat.

We have since discovered that the water leaking from the ceiling is not from the roof. The joys of home ownership. It isn’t a terrible leak, but it is something that must be addressed. I am a little peeved because the people we bought the house from painted the spot as if it had been repaired. If it had been repaired, it wasn’t repaired properly. We have a call into a plumber. I am not really stressed about it (yet). It is just more annoying than anything to look at my ceiling with its wet spot. I still love my house. I just wish someone would come over and finish putting all my stuff in the right spots. Maybe clean it too. How is it that three people make such a mess? All we did this weekend is watch football and play on our electronic devices. It remains a mystery. I suppose I should get to it and should quit procrastinating. First, Twitter. Then housework. Yeah, good plan!

Have a lovely week!

No, your teens do not want to hang out with you.

Tags

,

Yesterday, we went to the fair. Military get in free here. What a treat since we have no money. Our son came with us only because I told him that he could take the day off. He was a good sport. The poor kid had to look at the arts and crafts hall with his mother. He must have really wanted a day off from Algebra.

I felt bad for him. It was FFA day at the fair, so it was swarming with teenagers. He said nothing, but I could tell that he felt awkward walking around with his parents. I think he would have been fine had he been the only teen at the fair. Instead he had to walk past tons of teen girls.  Poor kid.

I always thought I was doing something wrong with my other two when they started complaining about coming along on day trips with us. We would bribe them with food, but they would remain grumpy. Finally, we would just let them stay home, but I felt guilty. I was a homeschool mom fail. Why didn’t my kids want to hang out with me?

I wish someone would have smacked me upside the head. Really? Why doesn’t your 16 year old son want to hang out with his mother? Give me a break.

Your teenager is trying to develop their identity away from you. Do you remember how challenging it was being a teenager? Trying to figure yourself out amongst the masses? Homeschooling is great for teens because they get to figure out who they are without the peer, pack mentality that permeates the school setting. But just because you have removed that from the equation doesn’t mean they still don’t need to figure out who they are.

Some things that you can do to give your teen space.

  1. Respect their need for privacy.

Your teen is probably going to spend more time in their room. So what? I did. You probably did too. As long as you don’t notice any signs of depression, let them be.

2. Don’t chaperone their activities.

They are with you ALL the time. Let them have a little time to be themselves without you hanging over them. Youth group trips? Don’t go. Many times I have had to explain why I will not chaperone trips. People usually respect my decision once they understand my reasoning.  A day at the fair with friends? They are fine. Don’t hover. It is no longer necessary for you to watch their classes or practices. They have coaches and instructors for that. If there is a problem, they will tell you. Or they won’t. Let that be their decision.

3. Let them figure it out.

Maybe they want your advice about trouble they are having with a friend or maybe they don’t. They need to figure it out. Be available. My kids would tend to talk to me when we were in the car alone. We would ride along for miles in uncomfortable silence until all of a sudden they would drop a bomb on me. I would offer advice, but ultimately, try to let them figure out what to do. It would take everything I had not to step in and fix the problem. I have friends who read this blog that know my pain. How often did I unload on you guys? When my daughter was working she had all kinds of situations that she needed to grapple with. We offered advice, and then let her handle it. Don’t get me wrong. It was tough. I talk like a pro here, but I basically stink at all of this.

4. Don’t make them go if they don’t want to go.

Walking around the forest with you isn’t their idea of fun anymore, so what? Have you failed as a parent? I thought that I had. I should have chilled out.  Come to find out that they still needed me, but they didn’t want to hang out with me. I guess I am not as cool as I thought I was. Sometimes they wanted to go to the movies with us, and sometimes they didn’t. Don’t make it an issue. I promise your time will be more enjoyable if they want to be there with you. The times that it was their decision to hang out with me were so fun! They really are fun to be around if you catch them at the right time.

I really felt the need to write this. Homeschooling teenagers is a beast. It is different than homeschooling your littles, and I think that we want it to be similar. All family bonding all the time. Well, I wanted that anyway. Maybe you have it together more than I did. Relax and chill out. Remember that you are trying to end this parenting business. Give them some space. They will thank you later.