Thursday, February 26, 2015

My Homeschool Day in the Life-A Tad Overdue

So I try every year, and it doesn't always happen, to post my homeschool day in the life. A basic look into how I try to run my life and teach my kids at the same time!

So in the interest of full disclosure and all I am going to tell you that 2014 was horrific. Okay that may be a bit of an overstatement. but holy cow it was HARD!!!
My husband decided it was time for a career change. He was/is a carpenter and decided he wants to become a firefighter/paramedic. So starting in the fall of 2013 he started an EMT course, passed that and became a certified EMT. Then went straight to Paramedic school and that is where it all went INSANE!

We were warned by a good friend who is currently a firefighter/paramedic that this part would be hard. Not just hard but so insanely difficult that marriages have fallen apart, or people drop out because it is just too much. So we had a head's up, but does anyone ever really understand how hard something is until they are actually living it? Your mind can say "yeah OK it's going to be hard, I get that," but your heart doesn't have a clue.
So thus began the hardest, most challenging, sometimes painful year of my life. He was working full time while going to class 3 nights a week and Saturdays. We never saw him.

I mean never.

He was gone before we woke up and back after we were asleep. When he was home his face was buried in a book that weighs more than my 5 year old, and taking tests online everyday. As time went on he was more often than not asleep in that book late at night.
And I? I was basically, for all intents and purposes, a single parent. Granted I was a single parent who was basically getting paid to stay home and take care of the kids, but in some ways maybe that made it harder. I never, and I mean NEVER had a break. I didn't get to sleep in (unless the kids did on a rare occasion) for over a year! In fact I got to sleep in for the first time on Valentines Day. and I am not talking 9:00 in the morning here.

 I am talking about sleeping in people! Till 11:00AM!!! it was heavenly. sigh....

So it was long year and about half way through, my children and I went into survival mode.
Everyday we would start out with high hopes and by lunch everything fell apart.
My children, now 8 and 5, entered  the he's-touching-me-breathing-near-me-generally-in-the-same-universe-as-me phase of siblinghood. And to think, my parents didn't even have a working radio in their car to crank up over the noise of my sister, brother, and I when we went through this phase.
I shudder at the thought.
So 2014 was very, how do I put this without sounding like we didn't do anything?.........very fluid!

We went to visit my parents and father-in-law, A LOT. For extended periods of time. That was awesome. To have people who would say, "you know you look like you could use a break, i got this."
Heavenly words, I tell you.
It was also good because my dad was experiencing some health problems and I got to be there to help out and keep him from getting too down. He loves his boys and they are a good distraction, when you don't live with them 24/7 LOL
I make it sound like they were monsters, and some days, OH MY HEAVENS they were! But for the most part they did well. And as long as I reminded myself that they missed daddy as much as I did, I was able to keep my cool. The traveling actually gave them a break from our strange limbo we were living in. It gave us all a break.
So a lot of our homeschool was unstructured. More like the unschooling method I have heard about so much. If they became interested in something we explored it, when they became bored we moved on. We didn't focus so much on subjects as we did experiences and trying to keep from going nuts. Especially when we only had 1 car and my husband had it ALL the time. And I was right there with them: Learning!
I learned how to go shopping with just me and my boys. Was I freaked out the first 100 times I did it? Hell yes! (pardon my language) but I was T-E-R-R-I-F-I-E-D.  The few times I took them shopping by myself it had been a disaster. I was THAT MOM. The one you see in the store, one kid in the cart screaming, the other kid running around like some crazy chicken on crack. And there I was desperately trying to get them to stop and behave like civilized beings. I swear it is amazing I didn't have a full on heart attack on those early outings.

Oh Costco I heap many blessings upon you and your double seater carts!!! Praise be to you!!!
Costco saved my sanity. I shopped there more than anywhere else during this time because, 2 seater carts!!!
A mother's best friend and sanity saver! We would stroll into Costco grab a cart, the boys woudl crawl in and off we would go to the book section. I would let them pick out a board book each and off through the store we would go, grabbing the occasional free sample (books put away until done of course) and shop. It was wonderful. Until they would start in with the he's touching me blah blah blah!
Well I can't expect Costco to solve all my problems lol

Needless to say it was a long frustrating year. I cried many times and there were quite a few times especially towards the end when I felt like I wouldn't be able to go on one more day. My husband, in fact, asked me if I wanted him to quit. He said he would if I wanted him to. Can you imagine!? That he would give up everything he was working so hard to accomplish, his dream, just because I asked him to? My mind just boggled. I looked at him and said "But you've worked so hard, I've worked so hard and were almost done!" Apparently some of his classmates had actually quit just a month or two before completing the class. How sad. They were so close to being done, so close to reaching their goal.
I told him my heart would not let him quit. For one thing this was his dream. It may be a new dream but it is what he wanted, to help our family. To help him feel fulfilled; as contributing to our community and society. And we had both worked so hard, to make it work, to get this far. WE couldn't quit. I would have been so devastated if we had. And I know it would have done serious harm to our relationship.
So we continued on and finally in January 2015 he passed all the tests and became a certified paramedic!!!
The Official National Paramedic Patch!

The Official State of Utah Paramedic Patch!

Graduation from Mt. Nebo Training and HAPPY BOYS!

 The only thing left is Fire Academy. He starts in March!
We have been told that Fire Academy will be a walk in the park compared to paramedic school. So that is refreshing, but I am not holding my breath. And of course after that, he needs to get hired lol!

So after all this rambling we get to the actual reason for this post: What did my homeschool look like?

Not like anything I actually planned! Oh I would sit down and write out a weekly schedule, and we did well until we were about half way through paramedic school. Then everything just became more crazy, more difficult and my sanity less and less apparent. Of course at this point I also FINALLY had my own car so we could actually go places!
So what happened was we switched to the unschooling method, without actually realizing that was what I was doing. I was just trying to hold it all together and still be a good mom, wife, and teacher. When my youngest wanted to learn about tractors, we checked out books on tractors. When my oldest was only interested in making Lego creations, I let him create. I let him make how-to videos with his builds, made him edit them and re-shoot them until he got them just right. Well as right as he felt they should be. He made little movies with his Lego minifigs and shared them with us and his aunties and grandmas. I made him read me a book everyday, I felt that, at least, had to still be a major part of our schooling, and I read to them a lot also. We would go to the library and check out 20 to 30 books at a time and read them. I would let them get whatever struck their fancy. Which is how we ended up with this book:

Which honestly I wasn't too excited about until we read it! It was fun, bilingual, and it rhymed!

It's how we ended up making gazpacho for my youngest.

 And while he loved making it, he didn't love IT. The picture speaks for itself. 
Ignore the thumbs up he is only doing it to keep from hurting my feelings. LOL

And my oldest actually did love it so that is a totally honest thumbs up with a mouth full of gazpacho!

 We would wander the whole library (its not very big) and whatever they wanted we would get and read.
We would go to the natural history museum (we have a membership) and focus on one section each time. We would really explore it and I would read all the little informative plaques and things and let them do the hands on stuff as much as they wanted.
Then thanksgiving came and Christmas and things got even more crazy. We always take a break during December because my life if full of our very own ELF , not to be confused with that creepy elf on the shelf guy, and he was busy, busy, busy this year.

our elf Crumpet

Yeah "HE" made a fireplace!
 We had company in December and had a ball decorating and playing, seeing Santa, shopping and getting everything ready for the big night!
Auntie H came to visit!!!
It was a weird Christmas for us also. We always go to our parents for Christmas, and this year was no different, only my parents weren't there. We ended up house sitting for them as they went to visit my brother this year. So my boys had their first Christmas without grandma and grandpa. We had fun though, and spent lots of time with my father in law and my in laws. January was crazy, it was the final few weeks of intense studying for the big test and then finally it was over!!!
I felt like we could finally get back to a "normal" routine. But it is hard to break a crazy routine that had become the norm, you know what I mean?
Now that my oldest has had his birthday and we are finished with birthday craziness until June I can finally focus on writing out our goals for the year, schooling wise, and sit down and write out a real schedule for the first time in what feels like forever.
I am sure it is going to be difficult to get the boys to transition into a more structured schedule, but I also know that once we do we will love it. They are craving it. I am craving it.
I came to the conclusion during the past 3 months that I need to not only restructure our homeschooling but I need to restructure how I do everything.
Some people do not know this but I went to college to become a stage manager. A stage manager is basically (and I am going to quote Mr. Lawrence Stern here) "the person who has responsibility for making the entire production run smoothly, on stage and backstage, in prerehearsal, rehearsal, performance and post performance phases."
Stage Management

Yup. I had to be in charge of making sure everyone and everything went smoothly. Phew no pressure right? And I loved it. I loved being so super organized it would make your eyes cross! I loved making charts and schedules, writing reports, running tech rehearsal and most of all I LOVED performance. I loved calling all the ques and watching the show unfold exactly as it should. The only problem was, that was the only part of my life that was organized.
My house was a disaster, but my paper work and prompt book were awesome!
So I have decided to bring my need to be a stage manager together with my need to have organization in my house and life in general. And maybe just maybe I will write a book about the whole thing. Or maybe not. Either way this is going to happen. I will update on my progress,when I can, as I am just starting out. I am also on a major purging of my house. TOO MUCH STUFF!!! Its taking over everything. Except the Lego's. You can never have too many Legos!!!
So there is my very long and rambling excuse as to why I haven't posted in a long long while, and my homeschool day in the life. Perhaps once we are actually settled into more of a routine then we are right now I will post what it looks like for us at that point.
This past year was hard, hard, hard!  I want to give a shout out to all those awesome single moms and single dads who do this everyday! You are all amazing! And I am really, really glad my stint is over, for now. Who knows what the future may hold but I am really hoping that was my one and only run as a single parent.
 As hard, frustrating, lonely, and completely horrible as I remember it being, I did actually learn a lot about myself.
 I am stronger than I think I am, I hate the thought of quitting something that means so much to someone I love, and though I may grumble about the sacrifices I occasionally have to make, I will make them.

 And eventually I will look back on them and smile.

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