A Day in the Life…

Sometimes I wonder if this blog is going to get deactivated on the grounds of non-use. The problem is that my life has become so routine, that I don’t feel like there’s anything big to write about. Then it dawned on me: write about my routine! “That’s genius”, you say! Why thank you, thank you, yes it is. ūüėČ

Here’s what today mostly looked like (I forgot to get photos when we first got up, and of dinner. Trust me when I say you’re not missing much, though):

2:00 AM – My 94 year old grandmother gets up to go to the bathroom, but can’t remember where her bathroom is, so I get up, lead her to the bathroom, tuck her back in and go back to bed.

2:10 AM – I hear Gram through the monitor eating cheese doodles in her bed, I lie in my own bed staring at the wall, not able to sleep because of the crackling of the bag.

2:35(ish) AM – I finally fall back to sleep.

3:00 – Gram is up and fully dressed in the living room, thinking it’s morning. I gently try to coax her back to bed, but she says she’ll just rest in her chair, which she does for about 15 minutes, and then decides she’s more comfortable in bed. Thankfully she sleeps soundly for the rest of the night.

4:10 AM – Rowan crawls into my bed, steals my blankets, and goes back to sleep

4:30 AM-6:15 AM – Rowan repeatedly kicks me in the shins

6:15 AM – Both Rowan and I get up, I prepare coffee for myself and my grandmother, while Rowan listens to a book on CD while wrapped up in a blanket on the couch

6:30 AM – I make pancakes while Rowan plays with Legos

6:45 AM – We all eat breakfast together

7:15 AM – Gram sits in her chair doing crossword puzzles while I clean up from breakfast, and Rowan does his chores, which consist of emptying the dishwasher, taking out the recycling, feeding the hamsters, and folding the wash clothes and towels.

7:45 AM – Gram watches the news, and Rowan and I go get dressed, brush our teeth, and Rowan has a bath.

8:15 AM – Rowan plays while I prepare his lesson plans (we homeschool), and straighten up the house a little.

9:00 AM – I get Gram settled with crossword puzzles, books, and a drink. She is very content this morning, and is happy to spend some quiet time alone while Rowan and I get started with school.

9:05 AM – We pray, and start Rowan’s school day.

9:07 AM – Rowan uses the age old procrastination tactic of having to pee, needing a drink of water, and his t-shirt was too grey, so he had to change.

9:10 AM – We actually do start school.

We start the day with a calendar game that teaches him how to read a calendar, and lets him do a few simple activities such as filling in the missing day, adding any special events he wants to remember, and teaches him the months, seasons, and days of the week.

We start the day with a calendar game that teaches him how to read a calendar, and lets him do a few simple activities such as filling in the missing day, adding any special events he wants to remember, and teaches him the months, seasons, and days of the week.

Next up is language arts!

Next up is language arts!

He made a girl cutout to help him remember the "ir", "er", and "ur" sound, such as in the word "girl".

He made a girl cutout to help him remember the “ir”, “er”, and “ur” sound, such as in the word “girl”.

9:35 AM – WIGGLE BREAK! We put on a record(yes, an ACTUAL record!), and dance as silly as we can.

9:40 AM – We start his history lesson, which today consisted of drawing a map of Israel.

Locating Israel on the globe.

Locating Israel on the globe.

He really did an amazing job with this project.  I wish I had gotten an up close picture of his map.

He really did an amazing job with this project. I wish I had gotten an up close picture of his map.

10:00 AM – I read a few chapters of The Boxcar Children while we cuddle on the couch. Grandma also listens to the story.

10:30 AM – We start math, where he is learning to add double-digit numbers.

He's using unifix cubes as "counters".

He’s using unifix cubes as “counters”.

10:45 AM – We break for a snack of apples and peanut butter

10:55 AM – Gram gets picked up for lunch at the senior center, and Rowan and I go outside for some fresh air for a little more than an hour. This is what we did:

12:00 noon: Inside for lunch!

Rowan eats grilled cheese, carrots, blackberries, and milk while I read another chapter of our book to him.

Rowan eats grilled cheese, carrots, blackberries, and milk while I read another chapter of our book to him.

12:20 PM – Gram is dropped off from lunch, I get her settled, and then Rowan and I finish up his school for the day with a math game, and then I let him play a reading game on my computer.

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12:50 PM – Rowan and I drive Grandma to her friend’s house to play games for two hours, and run to the grocery store while we’re out.

1:15 PM – Rowan and I trash the kitchen making salt dough Christmas ornaments.

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2:00 PM – Rowan watches an episode of “How it’s Made” while I clean up flour that is now settled in a thin coat all over the kitchen.

2:30 PM – SNACK TIME! We got candy apples yesterday, and he deserved a treat after a completely whine-free morning.

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3:00 PM – We pick up Gram from her friend’s, and while she goes to nap, Rowan plays quietly while I work on my homework.

4:30 PM – I start dinner and a load of laundry, clean up the house a little, and loose several games of Uno to Rowan. Gram gets up, I get her a drink, and she goes out to sit on the porch with her crossword puzzles.

4:32 PM – I find this on my screen:

*sniff* I love you too, Buddy.  *sniffsniff*

*sniff* I love you too, Buddy. *sniffsniff*

5:30 PM – I get everyone dinner, and we eat outside at the table. A bird poops in the vicinity of my plate. I leave the table.

6:00 PM – I get Gram settled in her chair to watch her shows, and Rowan and I go outside to play on the rope swing. Rowan comes close to hitting his head on the tree, so he does this:

"Now I can WHAM that tree, and I won't even feel it!"

“Now I can WHAM that tree, and I won’t even feel it!”

6:30 PM – We come inside and Rowan plays with his fire station and trucks while I finish dinner clean up, and switch the laundry over. I then get roped into being the injured person in Rowan’s game, and have to pretend to cry because I got my nose chopped off in a revolving door (WHAT??!!).

7:30 PM – I wake Gram up, who fell asleep in her chair, and help her get ready for bed, tell her goodnight, and pray that she sleeps through the night (Hey, a girl can dream…).

7:45 PM – Row goes to brush his teeth, and to watch a show on PBS. I fold the laundry.

8:20 PM – Rowan crawls into his bed and reads to himself for a bit while I look over tomorrow’s lesson plans in case something needs to be prepared in advance. Thankfully we’re good to go. I read Rowan a book, we pray together, I kiss him goodnight, and he asks me to cuddle for a bit. I snuggle up next to him, and promptly fall asleep.

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8:45 PM – Wake up, kiss a sleeping Rowan, peek my head in Gram’s room, confirm that she is indeed in bed and asleep, and shuffle through the house, picking up toys and tissues, hearing aid batteries, and one muddy boot. I look at the pile of stuff in my hands, realize that I’m too tired to actually put them where they go, and instead just dump them all on the coffee table. I’m pretty sure they’ll be waiting for me tomorrow morning. I’ll put(no I won’t) them away tomorrow(sometime this weekend).

9:00 PM – Finish this post, and realize that I have a lab report due tomorrow. Panic slightly, remember that I bought organic “Oreos”, relax, and eat three.

9:10 PM – Get to work on lab report. Notice that I never put away the folded laundry. Shrug, hear both Gram and Rowan snoring. Sigh contentedly.

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Herding Cats

A few days ago we were at one of Rowan’s t-ball games.¬† It was the third inning, and he was out in the (way) outfield, past where any kid his size could whack¬†a ball.¬† He was supposed to be playing shortstop, but got bored, and wandered out to the fence that¬†forms the perimeter of¬†the field. He was trying to catch bugs that hovered around the pond that sits right outside the fence.¬† As he flung his glove around in an attempt to scoop up any stray insects, I knowingly smiled.¬† I had done the same thing during my¬†t-ball days, and even looked forward to the escape of the outfield.¬† There were no pressures, no noisy adults dictating my every move, and certainly not much action.¬† I was free to dance, turn cartwheels, look for bugs, and just generally relax.¬† While my little boy was trying his hardest to fit his gloved hand through a space in the chainlink fence, one of the other mothers looked at me with pity, and said, “I know he’s homschooled, so don’t think too much of him not being able to play with the other kids.”¬† My jaw hit the dirt so hard that it’s a wonder I didn’t cause¬†a¬†new sink hole. (we’re kind of known for sink holes around here, because of the massive cave systems underground)¬† I managed a sort of half smile, and slowly inched away from her.¬† There are several reasons I didn’t turn it into an all out war smack down.¬† Here’s why: Rowan was too far away to hear, so I didn’t feel the need to say anything to explain away his behavior.¬† Also, why should I?¬† Show me one four year old that doesn’t like to dance, chase fireflies, and tumble around a grassy field on a sunny afternoon, and I’ll show you one unhappy little person, and an even unhappier adult.¬† Another reason I didn’t let her statement affect me is that at that exact moment, her son was busy removing second base from it’s nest in the ground.¬† I thought about that saying about “herding cats”, and was pretty sure it applied here.¬† Trying to get four year olds to play an organized sport the way professionals do, isn’t going to happen.¬† It’s like trying to herd cats.¬† Sure, some kids have the ability to blindly follow the¬†crowd and¬†easily fit into a mold casted by adults, but mine doesn’t.¬† He’s his own person, and I like it that way.¬†

I looked at our boys, neither one really¬†thinking about what the rest of the team was doing, and I thought that they were having the time of their lives out there, locked in their own little worlds.¬† Rowan’s inability to concentrate on the game had nothing to do with him being homeschooled.¬† It had everything to do with him being four.¬† He’s a little kid.¬† As he reminds me every so often, he’s not even a whole hand old yet!!¬† I myself forget this from time to time.¬† I expect him to act like an adult, well trained by society, when¬†he’s only been walking and talking for three years.¬†

I’m not a confrontational person, so starting a fight over someone else’s ignorance, especially in front of my influential son, isn’t something I’m prone to do.¬† Maybe I’m too passive sometimes, but I don’t see why I need to argue my point to¬†know that¬†I’m right.¬† What good would it have done, really?

In all honesty, it *did* bother be a little bit that she was judging my little boy because of his homeschooled status.¬† I know it’s not the last time this is going to happen, and I need to develop a thicker skin when it comes to this subject matter.¬† People are always going to judge, and look at us differently because I don’t choose to enroll my child in mainstream schools.¬†

All I ask is that people respect my decision to educate my son in a manner that suits us, and I’ll do my best to refrain from commenting on the fact that the kids from the public schools here can’t even properly re….oh right, I’m not going to mention that.

iKid

Rowan was the very lucky recipient of an iPad for Christmas. ¬†I know what you’re thinking: “Your kid is four already, and he’s just NOW getting an iPad?!? ¬†Slacker.” ¬†Okay, so you were more likely thinking along the lines of: “Why does your four year old need an iPad?” ¬†That’s a really great question, thanks for asking.

There are some concerns that children will be less creative when exposed to the world of technology on a regular basis, and I think that’s a valid concern. ¬†I understand the value of physically manipulating toys and objects and art supplies, which is why I don’t allow the iPad to replace those things, only¬†supplement¬†them. ¬†Rowan has free access to all of his art supplies and his toys of course, while he has to ask to use the iPad. ¬†I don’t say yes every time, forcing him to stretch his imagination, even if he whines about being bored. ¬†We spend time outside every day, no matter the weather, and he will choose to go out and play over sitting inside with the iPad 100% of the time. ¬†If that’s the case, one could easily argue that there is no need for an iPad in the first place. ¬†Good¬†argument¬†guys! ¬†I’m impressed!

Technology is going to be a central part of our kid’s lives, we might as well help them become comfortable with it now. ¬†Rowan can turn on, operate his with ease, and even knows where to get free books to download. ¬†Of course I have parental locks on there, so he can only access age-appropriate and pre-approved sites. ¬†When I am unavailable to read to him, ie: cooking dinner, he can sit in the kitchen and be read to. (I’m a single mom, and in addition to Rowan, my 93 year old grandmother lives with us. ¬†There’s only one of me, and sometimes I need backup.) ¬†I confess, I’ve used it to “babysit” my child while I do things around the house, or while waiting at the DMV, or on long car trips. ¬†Is it replacing his ability to wait? ¬†Is he learning that instant gratification is the only option? ¬†I don’t think so. ¬†I see¬†plenty¬†of instances where he demonstrates his age-appropriate attention span, even sometimes defies it. ¬†I remember one such instance a few weeks ago, where we had to wait almost two hours, and he amused himself with a pencil, a piece of paper, and three pennies. ¬†I’m getting off track though. ¬†Having a screen available to amuse him is as much of a discipline in¬†patience¬†and control for me as it is for Rowan-maybe even more so for me. ¬†As with most things in life, if used in moderation, it’s not a bad thing.

The iPad is a toy, yes, but it’s also a tool. ¬†As a homeschooling mother, I run across times where Rowan is reluctant to learn. ¬†As with any child there are moments of frustration over not wanting to practice phonics, or learn addition. ¬†After struggling through a lesson, he can back up what he just learned with a game involving his work for the day. ¬†In some cases he even learns more, as he is more eager to play a game than do a worksheet. ¬†He’s hitting all of his educational goals, and exceeding some, in part to the iPad. ¬†Games that we can play together-we do. ¬†Games that we could play with an actual board-we do. ¬†If my child was in a public or private school, there is a good chance he would be using an iPad, and there is a 100% chance he would be using a computer now, or in the very near future. ¬†This is no different from that, except the technology is more advanced.

My imagination and resources can only go so far, and what I miss, the iPad fills in. ¬†It can provide story books, text books, and magazines that I can’t provide hard copies to. ¬†It’s a window to the rest of the world via FaceTime and the internet. ¬†It provides art, foreign language, and music lessons that I wouldn’t know how to teach. ¬†Let’s face it, it can teach math lessons that I don’t know how to do!

So why does it benefit Rowan to own his very own iPad, instead of just using mine? ¬†One of the reasons is that it’s easier for me! I don’t have to worry that he’s online purchasing a 5 million dollar car off of Ebay, or messing up the order of my apps. ¬†There isn’t a button on his iPad he can’t touch or explore. ¬†His has an¬†indestructible case, and parental internet controls. ¬†I’m not frustrated with his apps cluttering up my home screen, and he’s able to pick and choose on his own what he wants to do. ¬†His stuff isn’t filling up valuable memory space on mine, allowing both of us to have more space. ¬†I’m less possessive and controlling with my own iPad, now that he’s got his. ¬†I don’t hesitate to install a new app, or allow him to get a new book. ¬†With him having his own iPad, he can take¬†control¬†and ownership over that part of his learning, and he gains confidence from that.

Children and technology is a fairly new topic, therefore the studies on it are young. ¬†I’m curious to see how children in this age are affected by it, in both negative and positive ways. ¬†For now, I’m happy to let young Rowan use this portable learning tool as a complement to his daily life.

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Change

Change is scary.¬† It’s scary, and it’s hard, and it’s exciting and mysterious.¬† I’m feeling all of these things at the moment, and it’s exhausting.

Rowan and I are moving.¬† It’s not far, but it’s still change, rendering it scary by default.¬† We are going to be caring for my 91-year-old¬†grandmother with Alzheimer’s.¬† She can no longer live alone, and she has a three bedroom house, so it only makes sense.¬†

I’ll get my own bedroom, the one I’ve been longing for, and Rowan will get his own room with¬†a big bed, and we’ll get our own bathroom to boot.¬† Grandma will get companionship, security, and three square meals a day.¬† It’s a win-win.

It’s also a HUGE commitment on my part.¬† Sure, I’m already committed¬†to raising Rowan, what’s another being to care for?¬† Honestly, it’s not the physical work that frightens me.¬† Watching my beloved Grandmother lose her sense of self, her sense of reality, and her sense of me is what worries me the most.¬† I don’t want to watch her die.

What a way to show her how much I love her though.¬† What an amazing opportunity to express absolute devotion and appreciation.¬† I have the chance to care for the matriarch of this family.¬† To give back to the woman who¬†raised my dad, loves her grandchildren and great-grandchildren unconditionally, and gives without limit to anyone in need-that’s an experience I can’t pass up.

Tomorrow we¬†will start to gradually clean out her office and guest room and start to move our things in.¬† We will ease into a routine, allowing all of us to feel each other out, figure out what works, and eliminate the things that don’t.¬† I don’t know exactly when we’ll start sleeping there, but I imagine by next weekend we’ll be close to living there full-time.

In addition to moving, another¬†change is taking place:¬†Rowan is starting school!¬† On Monday’s and Tuesday’s, he and I will be going to his friend Ezra’s house, where I will be homeschooling both of them.¬† They are a day apart in age, terribly funny together, and have a combined IQ that’s probably three times what mine is.¬† Rowan is jumping out of his skin with excitement, while I’m just thrilled to be able to teach again.¬† Ezra is the youngest of four boys, and¬†ready for some one-on-one¬†(sort of…).¬† It’s another win-win!

I know this move is something I’m meant to do.¬† It’s going to make for long and tiresome days.¬† I will cry and wonder how I can manage.¬†¬† There will be issues that I won’t know how to deal with, and times I come close to giving up.¬† I will have to learn to ask for help, and then learn how to accept it.¬†

I imagine I learn a lot in the coming months.

I had a bad day

I make mistakes.¬† I mess up.¬† I’m so far from perfect, I’m practically human!

I didn’t blog yesterday, and for that, I am deeply apologetic.¬† Here’s why I didn’t blog yesterday:

MY DAY SUCKED! 

From the moment my feet hit the floor after a sleepless night, things started to go wrong.  I had a short reprieve from life when I took Rowan to the home school co-op that we volunteer with every Thursday.  Apart from a pounding headache, it was a good couple of hours. 

The moment we buckled our seatbelts and headed out of the driveway, my craptastic¬†day picked up right where I had left off.¬† We eventually made it home, where the last thing I wanted to do was be around people.¬† That didn’t bode well, seeing how minutes after we returned, a group of people showed up at my door.

They left several hours later, and I got Rowan into the tub, fed him and my grandmother dinner, and got them both ready for bed, and then sat my self down to decompress.  I was interrupted by a phone call, whose sole purpose was to inform me that I was a horrible person.  I was grateful that my son was in bed, so I could take my verbal beating uninterrupted.

I hung up the phone, drained and feeling sorry for myself.¬† I dragged my exhausted body to bed, and just cried.¬† Again I was interrupted by a phone call.¬† This one was EXACTLY what I needed though.¬† Someone to listen, offer sound advice, and haul me back up onto my feet.¬† Michael, you are the sweetest, kindest, and most patient man.¬† Thank you for listening to my incoherent¬†babbling.¬† You’re the best.¬† ūüôā

Today I woke up well rested, with a good attitude, and a willingness to let things go, and not take unkind and untrue¬†words personally.¬† The sun is shining today, it’s warm, and I’m spending time with my favorite two year¬†old in the whole world.¬† We’ve gone for a walk, eaten home made popsicles out on the patio, chased each other around the living room with baskets on our heads, and collapsed in a heap of giggles more than once.¬†

This is what¬† I know to be true: I am not perfect, and that’s okay, I’m still loved.¬† Bad days happen sometimes, and that’s okay, I’m still loved.¬† Perspective is important.¬† What people think of me is not.¬†¬†Forgiving, even when it’s hard, is vital.¬† And most importantly, laughter is always, and I mean always, the very best medicine.