Stitches and numbers

Distractions abound! After the holidays go by, it is really hard to settle down and focus, even with all the resolutions and goal setting. Among the things on my mind:

Our late-spring vacation across the ocean. SO looking forward to new experiences and new sights for all of us. Man, I hope I don’t get seasick!

Destination Imagination. Helping out with Kiki’s team is absolutely nuts. The kids are crackers (in a good way), and trying to get them to focus feels like herding cats. This is why I never went into teaching. But I can’t wait to see how their solution turns out, and I have high hopes for their tournament day.

Needlework. I don’t know why, but I’ve had the crazy urge to learn how to knit and crochet. I’ve tried to learn both from family members before. I remember getting as far as a chain in crochet – a few times. And I once tried knitting. Usually I can learn with books, but not with anything that has to do with string or yarn or shoelaces. My eyes just can’t follow those diagrams no matter how many arrows they stick in there.

Thank goodness for YouTube! So many tutorials for beginners – and quite a few good ones. The best part is that there’s a pause button. There’s also the fact that I don’t have to feel self-conscious about taking forever to learn a simple stitch like I do when I’m trying to learn in person.

Oh, and there are also tons of videos for the Rainbow Loom that Kiki got for Christmas. I don’t know which of us is having more fun with it – Kiki, The Boo (who just sticks rubber bands on the pegs and calls them bracelets) or me.

Math, specifically on Khan Academy: Video tutorials aren’t just for crafty things. I’m also relearning the math I forgot right after I went to college (yeah, I never had to do much math there, aside from figuring out whether or not I had any money left on my dining hall credit account – yay for English majors). Now that I’m trying to teach math, albeit elementary school math, I’m finding that I need a refresher. In some cases, I need a complete reboot, since math seems to be taught a lot differently nowadays. What the heck are partial products, anyway?

I’m addicted to Khan Academy, actually, and I’ve tried to make sure I get on for at least a few minutes every day. I started out working through what they consider to be fourth-grade work. As I master each level, I tackle the next one. I’m currently in sixth grade, relearning how to divide fractions by fractions and make whisker box plots (I don’t remember EVER doing that before).

Now, what does all this have to do with teaching Kiki? Well, there’s math, of course. But what I really hope she picks up on: Learning doesn’t stop when you grow up, and it isn’t all about what you’re “supposed to” learn; it can be simply following through on the desire to create – or even just the desire to have fun.

In others’ words

… And we’re back – almost.

The post-holiday season blues are here. I’m usually happy for the fresh start, but now I’m just feeling run down. That mostly has to do with The Boo and his current bout of a stomach virus. At least I hope it’s just a virus. When I see my boy actually choosing to lie down and cover himself with a blanket, my overactive paranoid imagination kicks in and comes up with all sorts of gloom-and-doom explanations ranging from a dairy allergy to a bacterial infection.

(I did make a call to the doctor’s office, and the nurse there said it was likely that he had a stomach bug and was having trouble getting rehydrated – get him to drink more or he’ll have to visit the ER).

This hasn’t had a real effect on Kiki and her school work, except that we lost those hours while The Boo is usually at preschool. That and I’m just feeling gloomy and stressed about him being sick, so I’m less patient and more insecure than usual.

What I planned: We would talk and lay out our goals for the rest of the year, tackle fractions together, work on our history timeline binder, make a sunshine collage, organize and date all her notes and vocabulary from Japanese class, and get to all of our activities (skating, gymnastics, etc).

What we actually did: Math lessons on the Internet, read Percy Jackson, worked on a homeschool Minecraft class (on the seven ancient wonders) and some Japanese. We’ve also been trying to cheer up the little brother while dodging whatever germs he’s fighting. We did make it to ice skating (without The Boo), book club and Destination Imagination.

It doesn’t sound that bad when I write it out like that. But this is definitely one of those weeks when I wonder if I’m doing enough to justify taking her out of school. I don’t ever question that it’s the right decision, only whether I’m up to the task.

Looks like I’m not the first one to feel this way. There is no shortage of homeschooling blogs. Unlike this little one, which is mainly for friends and my own edification, a lot of these have been going on for years and have hundreds of followers. It’s not usually hard to find someone who has been through any given particular situation or feeling.

I keep a file of my favorite posts for when I need a boost of “You’re doing the right thing!” Or at least “You’re not screwing up too badly!” Here are three favorites:

“I Want to Homeschool but I Don’t Want the Responsibility at Simple Homeschool. Not because I don’t want the responsibility, but because in conversations with parents whose kids attend traditional school, “I’d be too nervous to bear ALL the responsibility for my kid’s education” is the No. 2 reason I’ve heard for not homeschooling. (No. 1 is “I could NEVER spend that much time with my kids! We would hate each other.”) This post points out, rightfully so, that you are responsible for your children’s education no matter where they get the main part of their instruction.

And Then I Realized I was Doing It All Wrong at Living Well, Spending Less: This post is about how homeschooling parents don’t have to separate and juggle their different roles – mother, housekeeper, teacher, cook. Instead, we can involve them in more of our daily activities and simply enjoy our time together.

10 Things You Should Know About Homeschool Moms at Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers (one of my favorite names for a homeschooling blog, by the way): I came across this post on a friend’s newsfeed just before I went public with our plan to teach Kiki at home this year. It definitely made me feel better because, like this writer, I don’t have superhuman patience or a teaching degree, and I do sometimes lie awake at night wondering if I’m ruining my kid.

Whatever ups and downs we are going through, it’s nice to know that we’re not alone and that we’re OK.