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!

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Teenagers aren’t gremlins. Break the rules.

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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.

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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.

Monday’s Musing

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My poor Mitzi. The squirrels and the bird ruthlessly torment her. I don’t feel bad for her. She torments me at 4 AM with her playing and crying. Whose idea was it to get her little balls with bells in them, anyway? I still am not sure what to make of her. She needs to be around us all the time. She follows me around the house, but I don’t dare pick her up. I have kitty toys all over my house. It is almost like having a two year old again. (Obviously, I have forgotten what it is like to have a two year old in the house.)

It is chilly here today. I woke up to a house temperature of 64 degrees. I am not turning the heat on in October, so we all have just dressed appropriately. I did the dishes already. If you are cold, do the dishes. That is what my Mom always said to me. I remember rolling my eyes and telling her that I wasn’t that cold. Now I understand. There is something nice about having your hands in warm, soapy water on a cold day. I don’t mind doing the dishes. It is actually one chore that I don’t dread. Anyway, I love fall. It is my favorite season.

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I am drinking rose petal tea this morning. It was given to me by a friend when my mom died. Somehow it got pushed to the back of the cabinet, but in the move I found it. So delicious. I don’t need honey or anything in it. It is a sweet, flowery taste, and it makes me happy as I think of my friend.

Speaking of my mom, I miss her a lot. I think it is because we are heading to the holidays. I don’t know. I just wish that I could talk to her.

We bought a lawnmower yesterday. We were kind of procrastinating on that one. No, wait, my husband was procrastinating. He finally broke down and bought one. He said to me, “You don’t have to keep dropping the hints. I get that you think I need to mow the lawn.” I said, “Oh good. I was starting to wonder if I needed to be more blunt.” Anyway, there is something about owning a lawnmower that makes this house feel like it is ours. Oh wait, maybe it is the leak in the roof that we have to pay to have fixed. That makes it feel pretty real too.

I do have good news! Our irrigation system is not broken. The lawn finally dried up. Apparently we live on the top of a natural spring that feeds the lake. Who knew? So the water table is very high. When you get over a foot of rain, it takes awhile for the water to find a place to go. Some lawns in our neighborhood are still draining. It is pretty crazy. Scott and I were wondering why it looked as if water was coming up through the pavement. It was.

We have a regular school week this week. I am proud to report that my son has changed his study habits and is no longer failing his math tests. In fact, he would have had an A on this last one if he hadn’t skipped an entire problem. I marked it wrong. I didn’t give him another chance to do it because that is how awful I am. What do you want to bet that won’t happen next time? Or maybe it will. I don’t know. Teenagers are unpredictable. But anyway, big Biology test this week. We are finishing the bacteria modules, and then I get to surprise him with a quarterly test. He is just going to love it. I KNOW it!

I am getting a lot of traffic on my Apologia Chemistry posts.  Maybe I will start working on those again. I will have a Chemistry student next year. It wouldn’t hurt to get my brain going in that direction again. I did see that Apologia came out with a new edition to their text. Is anyone using it? What are your thoughts? I would love to hear them.

Have a wonderful week, friends!

Life of Fred : Statistics- A review

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DSC_0870I had heard of the Life of Fred math curriculum long before I ever contemplated using it.  People said that their kids loved it. It wasn’t until last year that I gave it a go.

WHY I CHOSE IT

Like I said, I had never considered using Life of Fred math. We were always Saxon loyalists. My son used Saxon math through Calculus (kind of). My daughter made her way through the “Green Book” and declared herself finished with math. Forever. Well, really, who can blame her? Have you completed the “Green Book”? It is hard. So. MUCH. math. Truthfully, I didn’t want to study Calculus, but I also didn’t want her to take the year off from math. I thought Statistics would be a good choice. I didn’t want light statistics. I wanted the “real” stuff. The stuff my husband had done for his MBA. I loved helping him, and I thought it would be fun. Besides, Statistics is applicable to life. It shows how Algebra is used in life. Life of Fred was the only Statistics book I found geared for the high school student. Oh sure, we could have used my husband’s book, but there would have been an all out war at my house. I was not looking for that. I needed something solid but not overwhelming. I am happy to report that Life of Fred was a good fit. She was successful on her own and has a good foundation if she needs to take Statistics in college.

WHAT IT COVERS

It covers descriptive statistics, probability, and conditional probability. These are basic statistics that are covered heavily in Saxon math. These concepts were not new. Then, it moves into sample statistics. This is where it got good. It covers future, past, and present sample tests. The student will learn the distribution tests, the Chi-Squared test, the One-Way ANOVA test, and the Two-Factor ANOVA test. There are too many tests to be listed here.

WHAT I LIKED ABOUT IT

It is written for the student assuming that the student has never had a statistics course. It also teaches all the tests that a student would need in a college statistics course. There is a good foundation here. The book is completely student led which is nice until your student needs help and you have to spend a couple of hours teaching yourself the chapter. (Ask me how I know.)

My favorite part of the book was the Field Guide.  If your student is proficient in Algebra, the actual working of statistics is not hard. The most difficult parts of statistics are figuring out what kind of distribution the problems are and what test needs to be used. Once you have that part, you are in there. That is why the Field Guide is gold. It helps you figure out what you need to do, by asking the questions that lead you to the right test. I will be sending this book to school with my son who will be taking Statistics next semester just because that Field Guide is going to come in handy. I would have bought the book for the Field Guide alone back when I was helping my husband with his Statistics had I known about it.

WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE

I wish there had been a few more practice problems. I did give my daughter a full credit for the course even though she was done 2/3 of the of the way through the year. Either she was very diligent or the course needed a little more practice.

The answer key also frustrated me. It wasn’t a solutions manual.  You know me, I don’t want to work that hard anymore. Many times I would have to spend time solving the problem myself in order to teach it to her. Such a drag.

WHAT SHE LIKED

She finished 2/3 of the way through the year.

WHAT SHE DIDN’T LIKE

She thought the story was silly.

OVERALL

I would use this again for a high school student who didn’t want to take Calculus. Even though it seems silly, it is a very strong course. I would recommend it. However, if you, the parent, are not strong in Algebra make sure that your student has someone they can ask for help if they need it. With hard work, I think your student has a probability of 100% of being successful with this course. (haha. Just a little statistical humor.)

A lesson learned.

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I mentioned yesterday that I had learned a lesson from the debate tournament. It was a lesson about myself. I do not care for those kind of lessons. I much prefer the lessons of Algebra or Biology. Lessons about my behavior or attitude are much less fun.

Unfortunately, that is what I received. I suppose we could say that I have grown because I recognized it right away, but whatever. I still didn’t like it.

Ok. So let me give you some back story. I signed my son up for a debate class. I thought that it would be so good for him. It would help him meet some other high school aged kids, and maybe, just maybe, he would find an outlet for all that talking he likes to do. He agreed to take the class, but it wasn’t his idea. I wouldn’t say that he had a bad attitude about it, but he wasn’t all gung-ho either.

A couple of weeks into the class, I could tell that he wasn’t feeling the debate thing. Full disclosure here, but I was almost relieved. You see, I didn’t realize how much WORK debate was going to be. Granted the work is his, but I didn’t realize how far I was going to travel or how much I needed to be involved. You know me. Lazy.

So when I saw that he wasn’t feeling the whole thing, I had convinced myself that debate would not be good for him after all.

Here comes the lesson. Proud mom moment right here.

I had almost even convinced him that debate wouldn’t be good for him. Because I didn’t want to do it. I didn’t want to travel to the debate. I didn’t want to have to meet a bunch of new people. My anxiety had convinced me that this was not good. I was coming up with all kinds of stupid stuff (justifications) on why it was ok to not do debate.

Have you done this? Have you convinced yourself that no one is really going to need something because you didn’t want to do it? This doesn’t even have to be a homeschool thing. It could be about anything. I noticed this about myself with debate.

I am so thankful that my son told his teacher that we were going to the tournament, or I would have blown it off. I would have come up with some excuse. We would have stayed home and missed a good learning experience. My son likes the idea of debate now. He is excited about it. That has nothing to do with me, because if it had been up to me, we would be done. How unfortunate!

I think about myself. I know that I have done this to my kids before. How many other times have I blown off an opportunity because of my own anxiety?  What’s done is done. But I can recognize this about myself now, and work to change it for future things.

I hope you don’t struggle with this anxiety. You know, it is just one more thing. I can, however, work to change it now that I recognize it.

Personal growth. It is a bummer.

Monday ramblings

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I thought I would start you off with a picture of my new back yard. I can’t tell you how much I enjoy looking at my backyard. I can see the neighbor’s house, but it is through the bushes. I have lots of birds and squirrels to keep Mitzi entertained. We thought about putting up a bird feeder or two, but the squirrels would just eat it all. I don’t want to encourage them. The leaves are beginning to change. We are going to have quite the mess to clean up when they fall, but I don’t care. I love trees so much, and I am so happy to have them right out my window.

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The other thing I wanted to show you was my newest piece of furniture. It is sitting in my new dining room. My dining room that isn’t being used for dining because I do not have a dining room table. But I have a buffet! We bought this one weekend before Scott’s retirement. It was an impulsive purchase. We shouldn’t have bought it. It was what I like to call “retail therapy”. I love it. Some day when I can find a dining room table, I will love having people over for dinner. Maybe. Entertaining is hard for me, but that is a different subject.

Freckle Face and I went to our first debate tournament over the weekend. I was dreading the drive, and honestly, I didn’t want to go. I thought that since my son wasn’t feeling the whole debate thing, I could blow if off and be no worse for wear. Instead, he loved it. I enjoyed myself and the women were very welcoming. We are both looking forward to the next one.  I have a lot more I am going to say about this later. I learned a hard lesson this weekend. One that I should have learned a long time ago.

As far as the actual debate tournament goes, I was completely dumbfounded listening to my first debate. How old did you say these kids were? Are you sure? I was so impressed by the kids. They were very mature and well-spoken. All of the debates are based on the same resolution, but the kids chose different avenues to take within the resolution. I only observed the Team Policy debates, but there were also Lincoln Douglas debates as well as different speeches at the tournament. Definitely something I would recommend looking into for your high school aged student if they have any interest. Maybe even if they don’t. I made my son take the class, and now he is excited about it. Who knew?

I am sure that you have heard about the horrible storm that passed through South Carolina last weekend. We made it through safe and dry. Many families in my city can’t say the same. It is pretty terrible here, and it is going to take a long time to recover. Because so many streets were washed out, the traffic is heavy along the main routes that are open. We had been under a boil water advisory until last night. I just heard on the news that 73,000 people still have to boil their water. While it was inconvenient, there are so many people without water that I can’t complain. We had 15″ of rain in 24 hours. Honestly, I can’t believe that we didn’t have more problems. Our lawn is waterlogged. We aren’t sure if it is left over from the storm, or if one of our irrigation lines is leaking. Our lawn is watered from a well. We just need to shut off the pump, but we are trying to keep from doing that until we can shut it off for the season. Many lawns are still draining, so we are trying to wait it out a bit. That seems to be our biggest issue. Well, the roof leaked a little bit in one spot, but the roof is under warranty. I just need to make a call. We are waiting that out a bit too because these services are swamped right now. I am so thankful to God for keeping us safe and dry. My prayers remain with those families who lost it all.

Edited to add: Twitter was the best way to stay on top of the news during the storm. Sometimes the news media tweeted information before they were able to report it on television. I learned of closures, boil water advisories, shelter openings, city services announcements, curfews, and more on Twitter. If you do not use Twitter now, you may want to make a note in the back of your mind that it was very helpful in this situation. Something to think about.

Helpful studying tips (Or what helped me, anyway)

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I kind of left you hanging yesterday, didn’t I? It is all fine and well to tell you that your kids need to learn to study, but it doesn’t always come easy for everyone. Sometimes it takes a few tries with different methods. That is fine. Rome wasn’t built in a day and all that.

I thought I would do a little searching around the web for you in order to get you started.

Here is an interesting site to get you started.

how to study

This website has several pages of articles and tips for studying. It also has a few free assessments to see where your study weaknesses are hiding. Of course, it also has a few places to purchase their material. There are also several links and articles on teaching. Many of the tips are geared for the classroom teacher, but there are some gems in the mix for homeschoolers as well.

OUTLINING

You caught me. Outlining is my favorite method of study, but that is because it works for me. There really is a right way to outline. If you use Rod and Staff Grammar, it teaches the old school, right way to outline. It is even a bit too formal for me. If you have ever used IEW, then you are probably familiar with the key word outline which is a little to simple for study if you ask me. Although, his method seems to have great success teaching writing.  I think the right way to outline is somewhere in the middle with a little of your own style thrown in for good measure.

A quick look at outlining a textbook chapter.

The basic form of an outline.

How to outline your textbook.

I want to add a little something here. Science and history textbooks are generally fairly easy to outline unless you are using Apologia. The conversational style of Apologia is going to make a straightforward outline more difficult. That doesn’t mean that you can’t take notes or form a study guide of your own from an Apologia chapter. It just means that more creativity is in order.

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Anyone else tortured with this method of study in the 1980’s? I was. Looking back I realize it was wonderful that my teachers taught me how to study in school, but I sure did despise it at the time.

A general overview of the method.

It doesn’t get more complicated than that. We had to outline all our chapters as well. This is the method I used to ace that A/P test that I was telling you about yesterday.

OTHER IDEAS

  • notecards- make some in fun colors too.
  • Different colors- add different colors to your outline. Use colors when drawing diagrams for study notes.
  • Drawing pictures- some people remember things better with pictures.
  • Practice problems- this will work the best with math and science.
  • Set your vocabulary to music- it isn’t just for the littles.
  • Add movement- walk around while you quiz yourself with notecards. It helps.

Please feel free to add any tips in the comments that you find helpful. We all want successful kids!