A Week, Briefly (#31)

It has been a wretched week.

Too wretched to describe.

So I won't.

But I will say that Ladybug, Brother, Little Brother, and Lola visited their birth family this week.  I believe that having a relationship with the birth family should be a blessing, but our littles are too broken and too fragile for it right now.  We'll send updates to the birth family, and we'll try to keep lines of communication open, but we cannot have real contact until they are better healed from the years of trauma they've experienced.

Here's what we did for school:

Morning Meeting--same as last week.
Preschool--almost nothing.  We spent the days dealing with trauma.  We did, though play with rainbow rice on Friday afternoon.
The 4 preschoolers each got a rainbow array of rice in jars, some spoons, some scoops, and a big bowl.  They happily scooped and mixed colors for a full hour.
These two (and Little Princess) layered the colored rice into pretty bottles to make rice art, but then they got the idea to count how many grains of rice would fill a bottle.  They faithfully counted and recorded their findings for a couple of hours, but they only filled the jar 1/4" by the time they reached 1,000 grains. They did some estimating and got overwhelmed by how much counting there was to go, so they put it all away for later.

And we read stories.

And we played outside with bikes and sidewalk chalk.  These are some of the portraits Super Star made for our littles:

I'm pretty sure this is Little Princess.
LDS Family School--we finished our last music lessons, and that means we've also finished our year.

Math--Super Star and Belle are successfully sharing a math book.  Rose Red continues plugging through Calculus Without Tears volume 2--though it does make her want to cry.  Pixie is 3/4 way through Saxon Algebra 1/2.

We've decided to do double math lessons starting next week until Belle has finished her book.  She should do that before the end of May, and that will be the official end of our school year.  Rose Red and Super Star will simply stop where they are at that point.  Pixie, though, will keep plugging away until she's done--which might be only an extra week of work.

Learning to Read--
Mister Man finished Sonlight reader 1 and started reader 2.
Ladybug is sounding out 3 letter words, developing fluency with sight words, and spelling 3 letter words.  She's a good speller.

Baymax has been sick for days, which means the 6 youngest and I did not attend dance.  The older 6 did, though--3 hours worth of dancing and singing!!!  Only one rehearsal left until our spring shows.

Running--we're regularly running over 1.5 miles--sometimes closer to 2.  Adding in our walking warm up and cool down, and we're crossing the 2 mile mark daily.

Saturday morning was Uncle M--'s 5K cancer fundraiser that was organized by his principal (Uncle M-- is a 6th grade teacher).  The volunteers were all teachers at his school.  It was raining on the morning of the race, and that kept a lot of the would-be participants at home, but we and over 100 others showed up.  We got awesome Dr. Seuss-inspired t-shirts with an image of Sam-I-Am that read "I do not like cancer here or there.  I do not like cancer anywhere!"

My family showed up with a baby backpack and 4 strollers:
*Sir Walter Scott wore Baymax on his back and pushed Brother and Little Brother in the double stroller.   With that load, he walked 1/2 of the route, getting under cover just before the worst of the rain!
*I pushed Lola and ran the route.  Lola was a trouper, tolerating rain blowing under the cover and into her face the whole time.  I'd pause periodically to wipe her face off, but she stoically endured.
*Rose Red pushed Ladybug and walked--except for a little while when Ladybug ran and Rose Red chased her so as not to lose her.
*Pixie pushed Mister Man in the jogging stroller--which is why she was able to push someone so close to her own size.  She ran most of the route but kindly stopped to let Mister Man out to run for a little while and also to let one of our little cousins take a turn to push the stroller.
*Super Star and Belle ran the route free and clear and scored times of less than 30 minutes.
*Nature Angel and Little Princess ran, walked, and ran again, completing the whole route in about 45 minutes.

Uncle  M-- is currently cancer-free, but epithelioid sarcoma is agressive about coming back, so this is only a preparatory rest before the next battle.

Reading--we finished The Witches.  We're not sure what we're going to read next, but the kids vote for another light, fun read.  We're continuing to slowly work our way through Augustus Caesar's World.

Planning for the future:
Rose Red and I had a heart to heart about what she can truly accomplish in the next 2 years.  2 years ago, she asked me to create a rigorous high school plan designed to get her to her dream university at age 18.  I did so, but it was a plan that could not and did not work for our girl.  She's matured enough to see the flaws in the previous plan and be ready to discuss other options.

I do, however, think she considers the other options second best, and that makes me sad because she still doesn't see her wonderful strengths--only her personal flaws. 

Our discussion got us to this plan:
*Continue to read and study a variety of subjects in order to broaden her knowledge base and develop critical thinking skills.
*Accept her difficulties in math as a part of who she is, letting go of lofty goals of higher level mathematics and focus on developing practical math skills that will enable her to function as an independent adult.
*Continue to develop communication skills (effective writing) that will open doors to study and work and problem solving for the rest of her life.
*Plan and prepare for becoming a wife and mother, but also plan and prepare to be able to support herself or her family should life circumstances be less than ideal.  This means figuring out what work might be a joy to her to pursue and the course of study she'll need to complete to be qualified to do that work.
*Work toward high school graduation (12 credits to go), followed by a season at a local community college.  We need to study the offerings of the local CC campuses and perhaps have her take a class or two not-this-year-but-next in some subject areas she might enjoy studying.
*She will not take the SAT or ACT which will highlight her academic weaknesses rather than her strengths.   We recognize that many scholarships require SAT/ACT scores, but we will focus on trying to acquire those that do not.
*Get serious about studying a foreign language because one of her real dreams is to be able to study abroad as a young adult.

I feel like I, as her mother, can finally breathe again now that she's let go of the go-straight-to-a-4-year-school plan.  She's a delightful person with many talents, but rigorous academic study isn't one of them, and I was having to ride her so hard while she fought back even harder.  She's felt like a failure, and I've felt like a failure, and I'm grateful, grateful, grateful to get out of that ugly cycle.  I love my eldest daughter, and I hope the next 2 years will be joyful.

Pixie will begin high school this fall, so we've had a couple of heart-to-heart talks, too.  Her plan is more tentative than Rose Red's because she has more time ahead of her, but she's also more goal-driven.  Her plans are:
*Prepare to be a wife and mother, and should circumstances prove less than ideal, she'd like to be able to support herself as a free-lance photographer.  Even under ideal circumstances, she'd like to have a part-time photography business just because taking pictures brings her joy.
*Work toward high school graduation with the goal of simultaneously earning a cosmetology license.  She's got quite a knack for doing hair, make-up, and nails, and she could work her way through college by working in a salon.
(And the two skills can really complement one another.)
*After graduating from high school, attend a 2-year college with a focus on business/accounting so that she will be prepared to run a photography business (she's interviewed a professional photographer, and he says his work is 10% picture taking, 90% business).
*Keep her options open about pursuing a higher-level degree someday.
*Develop her photography skills with independent classes, community classes, and mentoring with local professional photographers.
*Enter as many photography contests as she can.
*In a couple of years seek work/apprenticeship as a photographer's assistant.

She's only 14, so her dreams could change, but they feel bright and happy, and they play to her strengths, so I feel they are entirely achievable for her.

We welcome the month of May with open arms--the closing down of one season and the opening up of a new one!

(Linking here)


  1. The pictures don't show it to be a wretched week; they can be deceiving that way. High five to SS for the chalk drawings, and to P for the GORGEOUS braid-do. I wish I had had a mentor (such as yourself) to have helped me so thoroughly consider the possibilities for my future; I just winged it. I'm feeling a little jealous about that...

  2. Love the chalk drawings! I'm sorry it was a wretched week. You are dealing with a wide variety of special circumstances that I can't even imagine!

    It is wonderful that you can plan such goals with your children. My 14 year old son will be high school next year and I attrmpted to have a similar talk with him and received nothing but bad attitude. So his first year of high school will be designed by me and at some point we will attempt the discussion again. It's hard for me too. We had some great plans and goals for our oldest daughter and she has now dropped out of college, living with her boyfriend and is getting married in the fall (it is not a good situation with the boy.) But I do believe that God has big plans for her if only she will turn her heart back to Him!

    I hope this week is better. The girls have had me reading Alexander and the Terrible, No Good Very Bad Day a lot again and some days (weeks) are like that even in Australia!


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