A Week, Briefly (8/27/18)

Not a school picture--I just couldn't resist getting a picture of him in Grandpa's tie and his favorite toy glasses at church last Sunday.

The first day of school is over.

I'm glad we started.

The little kids had been begging, and even Super Star said, "It is good for my brain to have something to do besides stare at my phone.  I feel better than I did when we were on break."

I'm also slightly panicked at how long it seems like each activity and lesson will take.  Each child's work is totally doable, but my part in it all is overwhelming!!!

But I'm reminding myself that there are never enough hours in the beginning because the rhythm of the days has to be established before it all flows into a workable pattern.

Give it time.

I'll give it time.

Making "C" out of playdough

The second day has come and gone.

I said in my brain, "Live in the moment.  Some check boxes will go unchecked.  That's okay.  Focus on the joy of now."

And it mostly worked.

We had some lovely moments--like when I read the first half of Rikki-Tikki-Tavi to the Elementary 8 and it was as if they collectively held their breath when Nagaina struck at Rikki from behind. When I closed the book the kids shouted, "Where is the paper?  I'm ready to draw!"

It was supposed to be a "free read."  No narration/drawing required.  But they needed to respond.  The power of the story demanded a response from them.

So we stopped and drew and wrote and talked for an extra 20 minutes.

This is Rikki-Tikki and Karait.  Up in the bush on the right is Darzee the tailor bird.  (By Mister Man)

The older kids and I read 3 chapters of Little Women, and we all groaned when we had to put the book away because bedtime simply could not be put off any longer (our mornings do not have a flexible start time).

Our new language arts and math resources for the young ones are a hit.  I have not found a rhythm that works for me, but I'm willing to work for one.

I was blessed with a gift from my therapist--a book.  This book is changing our world.  I feel in my bones that the techniques described in this book are mostly right for my family.  ("Mostly" because my kids' needs are not only related to RAD--it is more complicated than that.)

I have begun implementing a small change here and a new technique there.

It is so rocking Ladybug's and Brother's world, that we are in a state of serious crisis.  We are working through it.  I wish we were not having both this work and our schoolwork simultaneously, but when I prayed over delaying school, I knew that was not right for us.

So we are doing both.

"Exhausted" is an understatement.

The third day included 8 major disciplinary incidents before breakfast (and that does not count the little constants of "What are you supposed to be doing now?"  "Focus on your own work, not someone else's."  "Please get dressed.  Please get dressed.  Please get dressed . . . ")

I kept my cool through most of them, but I definitely lost it at one point.  Apologizing and asking forgiveness is a given in my world.

Brother and Beowulf both lost the privilege of "doing school" because they would not be polite.

Ladybug's brain seemed to have fallen out of her head in the night (a common FASD symptom).  She could neither remember anything she was told, nor could she solve problems or even copy examples.  I had to breathe deeply to keep smiling and encouraging her, but it was clear that this was not a going to be a learning day, so I put the books away as soon as I decently could without hurting her feelings.

Nature Angel and Sir Walter Scott have been filling our bird feeder.  Usually the birds ignore the feeder in this abundant time of year, but they've been very busy at it this time.  Ladybug has to spend all of her time under my supervision, so she gets less play time than she used to (or should) get, but the birds have been a great joy to her.  She watches them closely, describing their every move.  I cannot help but be grateful for this blessing in the midst of her trials.

We adopted the technique of having a tattler give a small treat to a tattlee in order to reduce the tattling.  We're having lots of lessons on what is tattling versus what is good to tell Mom.  It worked for about 5 minutes, but then my little guys were caught plotting, "I want a treat, so go tattle on me.  Then I'll tattle on you, so you can have one."

I don't know whether to be proud of them for being bright or frustrated with them for sabotaging everything I ever try.

I tend lean toward frustrated even though I know that leaning the other way would bring greater joy.

Nature Angel's math book arrived on Tuesday night, so she started her first lesson on Wednesday.  It wasn't a hard lesson, but she seemed a little bit burdened by the addition.  Otherwise, she seems very happy with her schoolwork.

Little Princess loves, loves, loves her Chinese supplies.  She's been snippy and mean to the family, though.  Somehow I managed to give her half an hour of undivided attention on this third day of school, and it was like magic.  Our Little Princess came back.  I've got to figure out a way to regularly fill her bucket.

Our daily routine needs work.

I just want to cry by 4:00 every afternoon.

A couple of spontaneously created small nature designs.

A light came on at the end of the fourth day of school:  Symposium is taking too long.

Last year it lasted a hair under 2 hours.  So far this year, we're pushing 3 hours.  The littles are fine for 1 1/2 to 2 hours of play after Morning Meeting, but crossing that 2 hour mark is the breaking point.  They need attention from me sooner than they're getting it.

Now I have to figure out how to cover the material the teens need covered in less time.  With all of the directions they run in, this will not be easy.

It is, however, necessary.

We cannot go on as we are.

No Academy or individual school--it was dance day.  I like dance more this year than last.  I don't know what the change is, but I find it joyful, and so do my children and students.

Finally, the fifth day of the first week.

I spent a good hour on Thursday night re-organizing Symposium so I could assign more work as independent work to the teens while making sure I gave them the information they needed in order to do the work.  This cut Symposium down to just a hair over 2 hours, and while the littles got a little anxious, I was ready to give them attention before any major crises.

Then Academy was a happy, productive time.

And the kids had a picnic lunch on the deck.

Ladybug still couldn't control herself enough to get any individual school.  I tried and tried to help her, but she was bent on sabotage, and that's what she did, so eventually I bowed out gracefully and let it be.

I'm growing convinced that the little kids can't work in the teams I imagined them working in for math and language arts--not even the preschoolers!

Lola loves, loves, loves the math activities, and she gets the concepts quickly.  The language arts activities are almost impossible for her.

Baymax is the exact opposite.  He falls on the floor and refuses to engage in the math, but he sits at the table for half an hour or longer happily doing the language arts.

I'm not going to push them to stay the same.

I'm going to let Baymax run with his love and let Lola run with hers.

But that means they need individual time.

And Brother is distinctly more coordinated and able to do certain activities than Beowulf is, so I need to divide them up and let them shine in their own ways.

And Mister Man and Ladybug might as well be from two different planets; they're so different I never considered school together!

That means half a dozen individual lesson sessions each day, and that is going to be a challenge.

But I'm at least encouraged for the first time this week that we'll find a happy place as we work at it and develop effective routines.

But now I'm off to greet AAA--my husband's car died the other day, and his next day off (other than Sunday [reserved for church and family]) is Wednesday.  I need to get that car to the shop for him.

And I need to check off the work in 5 student planners.  I've been doing a little each day, but I'm prioritizing accountability this year!!


  1. That book your therapist gave you was a blessing in our home as well. Take it slow. The rebellion was great, but it made our home much more smooth for a few years until the Schizoaffective Disorder with bipolar reared it's terrible head in our Goldilocks and could not be put down. That was just to much for our girl on top of FASD, PTSD and RAD.
    Your plate is so very, very full my friend! Do take it slow. All will be accomplished in it's rightful time.
    Blessings, Dawn

    1. Oh! Poor Goldilocks! Poor you! How, how could anyone win against all of that?!?!? I believe in the atonement of Christ and that all will be made right through Him in the end, but sometimes getting to the end is HARD. Your heart must be ready to burst most of the time. I will redouble my prayers on your behalf.

  2. Sorry, but I can't help but laugh at your little guys plotting to get treats by taking turns to tattle. Amusing from the outside but very frustrating if you are living it. I hear you around the difficulty of having kids working together once you factor in different aptitudes and attitudes. I could hardly ever manage to pair any of mine up - and one still claims to be "scarred for life" from the year I had her and her brother do science together. I think she is being a little over dramatic. Hoping you can find a more manageable groove for you all with schooling and managing behaviours.

  3. I miss being where you're at. Facebook reminded me that 3 years ago, I had 10 kids in my house, 5 of which were 8 & under, needing a lot of attention. Now, I'm down to 5 in the house, and one of those is an adult, and 4 of them are in private school all day. I know it's overwhelming when you're in the middle of it. I remember being at the end of my rope SO many days! Hang in there. <3

  4. It made me laugh out loud to read about the tattling. I relate to the inflexible mornings. (Thank you early morning Seminary!)
    I hope things smooth out the further you get into this new school year. We've been pulling some long days with a drivers ed night course so we can't wait until that's behind us. Marcus isn't getting enough sleep. 😕

  5. I also meant to say that first photo at church in those glasses and with the grown up tie is way too adorable!


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