Find Joy. Seek Truth. Be Kind.

Monday, August 20, 2012


Today is my kids' first day of school.  Ever.  For many parents that would be bittersweet.
For me, it's just bitter.

I am not the mom you see counting down the days until the kids go back to school on facebook.  I love homeschooling.  I love being surrounded by my family.  I love hearing my kids plan, and play, and chortle as they come up with their various shenanigans.  I love how easy and free their learning is.  I miss them when they're away, even while I love hearing about their independent experiences.

I am getting quite worked up about this.  I don't know why.  This isn't even real school, just a one day a week enrichment program.  A friend wrote to tell me to say "I hope that you are able to have some restful down time while they are gone"    Ha!  I will be spending my morning at doctors' offices.  Which is part of why I signed them up for this.  It gives them something to do, and a safe place to be, at the same time it gives me a predictable day for scheduling the many appointments my health requires right now.

I spent this morning, as I sent them off with Firelord, being cheerful, sending them off with a "Have fun!  I can't wait to hear all about it" attitude, even while having my doubts about how it's going to go for them.  Hot Dog got a call last night from a friend (who will also be there) to talk strategies for staying out of the principal's office.  That set Hot Dog off in to wails of "I don't want to go to school!" because he had no idea it would be so hard to stay out of trouble with the (apparently) terrifying principal.  (I've met her, she actually seemed pretty normal.)  Lego Kid is nervous about the whole thing, and at the age when sleeping in is becoming more necessary physiologically.  Getting up this morning wasn't easy.  A strong introvert, Lego Kid needs a lot of alone and quiet time to feel stable.  Being in a classroom all day with other kids may be a challenge.  Bit Boy is the one that1 day a week may be insufficient for.  At 14 he is feeling the need to stretch his legs and spread his wings.   He's ready for some independence from his family, even if he isn't ready to do what someone else tells him all day. But he too likes to sleep in, and like his brothers, is used to having lots of time for his own projects.

Well, we'll just have to see how today goes for them.  As for me, I'm back from my little surgery and going to bed for a bit.

UPDATE (8/27/12)

All the boys had a fine day at their enrichment program.
On a scale of 1-10:  Hot Dog rated it a 9, Lego Kid gave it a 7, and Bit Boy an 8.
All are back today, after only a minor bit of whining from Lego Kid who last night called it the "enragement" program, and whined about having to get out of bed before 8 am.

I have been able to get some appointments in, like the 2 radiation treatments I have today.  So, so far, it's a win/win.  Or at least an acceptable draw.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

School shopping!?!

My kids are trying a pseudo school this year, a one day a week "enrichment" program.  They each have 6 classes, each class with it's own supply list. Most of it is basic school stuff, but some of the classes (like art, music, and cooking) have extra supplies that go above and beyond normal expenses.  It turns out that's a lot of stuff.

We spent $200+ on school supplies.
How do families do this every year?  It's a pain, it's expensive, and it's so wasteful.

Now, we have a good supply of basic school stuff stashed in our closet.  Usually I shop the clearance sales at the end of August/beginning of September and get plenty of whatever we might use, and I get it for pennies.  Because the kids (justifiably) wanted their supplies when school started, and because school starts 6 weeks (!) before summer is over, I had to buy the things on their lists now.  Before the sales.
Man, it kills me to pay full price for things.

Oh, and they each need their own stuff.  3 x 6 x EVERYTHING.  Homeschooling we, you know, SHARE.  So one set of water color crayon$ is enough for everyone.  Also, we make do.  If we don't have the exact thing we thought we wanted in our supplies, we look at what we do have and make it work.  The teachers had very specific items on their class lists.  By specific I mean down to the band name of the proper type of crayons.  Not kidding - no off brands for these teachers.  All that adds up.

Did I mention that this is an enrichment program?  So all this expense is on top of our usual costs.  The program itself is funded through the local school district, which is desperate to see if they can recoup some of the losses they've had from all us homeschoolers not putting out kids in school.  I get that as a public school they are underfunded.  I get that.  I wonder if they get that most homeschoolers are underfunded too, as most of us are living on one income.  (or less in some cases)

Hmm..  I think this is yet another example of why/how homeschooling is easier and cheaper than most non-homeschoolers realize.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

If Mama ain't happy...

... Ain't nobody happy.

You've heart that one, right?

Is it true at your house?

It's true at our house too.  Not in the "Mama's pissed and she's after your butt" way, but in the literal, if I'm not well, no one else is either way.

It seems absolutely impossible for my family to be happy and cheerful if I'm sick.

Ah, that seems kinda sweet, doesn't it?
NO.  It's not.
It's damned irritating, and sometimes totally dysfunctional, especially when Mom is truly very ill and needs everyone else to step up while she's down.

I noticed this before my diagnosis.  If I was low, the kids were low, and nothing got done.  If I was sick, you could bet the mortgage that at least one kid would spend the day complaining and asking "Do I have a fever?"  Before my diagnosis I chalked it up to my skewed perception when I was low or sick.  The family wasn't really taking on my symptoms, it just seemed like it to me because my view point was skewed while I was low or sick.  I was over sensitive.

But this last year I've had lots of opportunity to test the theory that every person in this house takes their physical and emotional cues from me and every single time it's tested, I'm right.  On the weeks I get chemo, suddenly everyone else feels a little off, queasy, tired, out of sorts.   What ever my physical or emotional malaise is, it is mirrored in my family.

When I don't do house work, it just doesn't get done, even if I lay on the couch and try to micromanage from there.  It just doesn't happen.  When I'm well and can pop up and say "Time to clean" the same micromanaging works just fine.  "Hot Dog - pick up all the nerf darts.  LegoKid put all the legos away.  Bit Boy, you vacuum."  If I'm on my feet and smiling, this all gets done with a minimal amount of griping.  If I'm down, it's like I'm speaking a different language.  If I'm too tired to do laundry, very little laundry gets done.  Yet, if I am well enough to start it and ask for help, suddenly - Boom - lots of hands helping and it's done.

The cure for this is  - what?  I know.  Don't get sick. Especially, don't get a life threatening illness that requires medical treatment that is also life threatening.  Stay cheerful no matter how you feel physically.  Don't let them see you sweat.

Uh.  No.  I can't do that.  Damn.  I wish I could.  But thems the breaks.  I'm going to be in, and recovering from, cancer treatment for a while yet.  I can't help but feel bad and tired sometimes.
I've talked with them about it, but only FireLord is really mature enough to see the pattern.  Even seeing the pattern isn't enough to change things.  So we'll just have to all muddle through together.  Hopefully at some point soonish I'll be getting stronger and be able to be more consistent in my energy and health.  Until then, well, don't look to closely at the dust bunnies, eh?

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Look what I found today!

Spiked Math Comics


Books for Sensitive Young Readers and Read Alouds

My kids have always been more sensitive than their peers, and I don't know that I mean that in a good way.  There are some Disney movies we have yet to make it through because Disney offs the mom in so many.  That's too much for my kids.  In books they could take a little more, but still, it was sometimes hard finding books that engaged them but didn't leave them whimpering or refusing to finish.  Lego Kid read only non-fiction for years.  It was a real challenge to find fiction that both engaged him and that he could tolerate.

This came up on one of my lists today.  I'm glad to know it's not just my kids.  Here's a list of books of good books for young sensitive kids.

Personally vouch for these:

Winnie the Pooh,, by A.A. Milne - ok, anything by A.A. Milne
Milly Molly Mandy, by Joyce Lankester Brisley
The Teddy Robinson Story Book, by Joan Robinson
Twig, by Elizabeth Orton Jones
Puck of Pook's Hill, by Rudyard Kipling
Reward and Fairies, by Rudyard Kipling
Kenny and the Dragon, by Toni DiTerlizzi
The Dragon of Lonely Island, by Rebecca Rupp
My Father's Dragon, by Ruth Stiles Gannett
The Wind in the Willows, by Kenneth Grahm
Frog and Toad books by Arnold Lobel (pretty much anything by Arnold Lobel)
Little Bear books, by Elsa Holmund Minarik
Henry and Mudge books, by Cynthia Rylant
Freddy stories by Walter R. Brooks
The Zoom Trilogy, by Tim Wynne-Jones, illustrated by Eric Beddows
Anne of Green Gables, by L.M. Montgomery
Five Children and It, by Edith Nesbit
The Mouse and the Motorcycle, by Beverly Cleary (actually the whole Ralph S. Mouse series is good)
The Rover Adventures, by Roddy Doyle -warning, these are pee-your-pants-funny and have low brow humor that my 5 yo boys loved.  I loved them too.

Recommended from the list, that I may check out later:

Moomin books
The Adventures of Nils
Homer Price
Centerburg Tales
Hank the Cowdog series
Uncle Wiggly stories
Faraway Tree series
Willow Farm books
Children at Green Meadows
7 Day Magic, by Edgar Eager
The Enormous Egg, by Butterworth
Homer Price, by Robert McClowsky
Time Warp Trio series, by John Scieszka
The Borrowers
 books  by Dick King Smith
books  by Thornton Burgess
books by Enid Blighton
books by Robert McCloskey
stories by Joan Aiken  (The Necklace of Raindropos)

And in case I missed something here is Pauline's List.