Friday, May 16, 2008


The kids quite enjoyed our homeschool morning at the library. I can't say they accomplished a whole lot--there were just too many distractions. Things like a man sitting in a chair near our table and he kept looking over at us; the crazy lady in the bathroom who kept talking to herself and then when the 17yo coughed in her stall, the lady said, "Well, *cough * *cough* to you!"; and the biggest "excitement" and conversation starter were the two young men we could see from our window. The first came to this one area that had actually been designed for small bands to play outside. Young man who looked rather unkept and he's just kind of mozying around and sits down. Looks around. Pulls something out and lights up. Bob was at a perfect angle to notice this guy and saw that the guy had to light up a few times within a few seconds.

"Oh my God, that guy's doing drugs!" he blurts out. Well, THAT got everybody's attention. His sister didn't want to believe him at first because it's something he says fairly often about just random people he sees for only a second while we're in the van. But this time, he was completely right. That led to us observing him for a while. He kept spitting all over the place and was just generally disgusting. He puts something near this one post and keeps mozying around.

"What's he doing?" Bob asks.

"I think he's listening to music." Sure enough, he then adjusts his one headphone. But people are passing at this point, so he's just kind of slowly bopping around to his music. When the coast is clear, he pulls out the item he'd hid behind the post and lights it up again. Eventually, he unplugged something from one of the plugins--looks like an iTouch or something similar, he was recharging it. This guy didn't look like he could pay for a night in a motel much less for a phone like that.

In any case, it led to some discussions and some clarifications about how the security guards at the library were NOT cops and would not do anything about a guy behind the library smoking dope.

The second guy was rather funny to watch. Much better dressed--looked like a student. Very nervous as he walks around the area, seeing who's coming, just very uptight. Sits down on a bench and keeps looking around nervously. Finally pulls out a joint and has some trouble lighting it. Keeps trying to hide it every time somebody comes near. Eventually, he puts it out against the bench, pulls out a baggie of joints from his sleeve, puts the joint in the baggie, then hides it back up his sleeve. We almost burst out laughing. I think it was the irony of the situation--he's trying to be very secretive and not have anybody see yet here we were, watching him closely. (The way the library windows are, you can't really see well from outside into the inside. I don't think he would have been able to see that we were there.) THEN he's all relaxed and "cool", sitting back in the bench with his arms stretched out on the back of it, finally pulls out a bottle of pop and lights up a cigarette. Wow--what can I say about the health of our youth??


Yesterday morning, we changed things a bit, too. The 17yo had a 3.5-hour schedule (lately, it's beena 2-hour schedule, forcing her to work until 3:30 and sometimes past in the afternoon) and I pretty much let the others do their own thing. Then we spent the afternoon at a play ground for our homeschool group park day (okay, our OTHER homeschool group park day). It was nice and warm out--about 25C/78F. Just beautiful. Only drawback was the wind, which was gusting on and off at about 25 km/h. By evening, it was gusting up to 55 km/h! With our afternoon at the park then dd's soccer practice in the evening, I've had just about enough wind to last me a good long time.

Unfortunately, it looks windy again today, but it does look nice out--totally clear blue sky from where I'm sitting. I don't have the two oldest today but I do have my niece and my friend's 3yo. We'll go out to on a field trip today to a nature centre; that should be good.

Gotta go eat breakfast!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Going to the library!

We are headed to the downtown library this morning for our homeschooling. We've said before we should do it sometime and never have. Today's the day! Wednesday seems like a good day to have a change in routine because they're usually rather sluggish for "Hump Day". It's also a beautiful day today, so being somewhere else will make it less tempting to want to go out and play on the trampoline, skateboard, bikes, etc. They'll still get to do that, but after lunch when we come back. (Except for the oldest--she'll have more work to do!)

I have a bad unMontessori tendency to take care of all the details for things. Not today! They'll work out what they are going to work on (except for some things that I've decided), what they need to bring, etc. I AM bringing some Dewey Decimal Worksheets that I found here that dd and "Bob" can do if they wish (even ds could participate). I'm also bringing my laptop because ds just will find 2.5 hours of typical sit-down stuff very long, so he'll be able to do Paint or we can type up a story together or something. Oh, and my kids need to prepare their lunches and snacks.

It should be a great adventure! :D

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Struggles, struggles

I've got things kind of laid out for Bob for next year. Although I felt like I was getting sidetracked, it really did clarify for me what has to be done for the rest of the school year so that next year doesn't come as a huge shock.

But I'm struggling internally. One part of me says that working WITH kids is so much better than just making all the decisions for them. Yet I have tried and tried over the past few months to work with him and it rarely goes anywhere. He might, MIGHT, have ONE day after our "working together" and then it's all trashed--it's like pulling teeth to get him to do anything. I don't think he wants to decide things right now. I think he wants the security of having someone else make the decisions. Which is how I'm planning it out--things like certain work has to be done daily and will be added onto the next day's (or days') work if not done, and "Privileges come AFTER required work is done." I'm feeling a bit like an ogre with him, yet at the same time, he's no different than a druggie who's so high he needs to have someone outside set some limits to get him back on track. He's not interested in working, he's not interested in setting real goals, nothing. Well, no, that's not true: he's interested in playing, having fun, do first and think later, twirl his hair, get people's attention... The bulk of what he does is really a form of avoidance. *sigh* But, I guess it's like giving a diabetic child his daily insulin--you don't really like it, but it must be done!


I always do this. Here I am, have lots of things to do, but I've got Bob's school program for next year on my mind--in part because it'll affect what I do with him for the next month and a half. So, what am I doing? Working out an ed. plan instead of getting all this study stuff done for his sister and getting next week planned out!

Just a thinking babble

My house is a disaster. My taxes aren't done. We're behind in school work. AAAAHHH.

Okay, but I'm not going to focus on that. Instead, I'll babble a bit about thoughts and solutions:

"Bob" has really hit the early teen "I don't want to work" mode. I'm not like Marva Collins and still haven't managed to be enthusiastic and organized and everything 24/7 (;)), but I see so badly the need to have him believe in himself, to take chances so that he can believe in himself more... He's hit a funk--twirling his hair again, just not interested in doing any type of work, quick to judge others (ESPECIALLY over stuff he does far more than the other person) and so much more. I think I need to read up on parenting/teaching techniques for male adolescents!!!! I'm not his parent, but I'm the next closest thing, which is why I brought up parenting.

I turn back to Montessori thinking at this point and know that she would have had him "out in the real world", doing almost an apprenticeship. That would be perfect. But it's not a possibility, so what's the next best thing? If we had a Montessori Erdkinder here, I'd really, really recommend to his parents that they send him. There's something about him and the influence of the group that would work so well, I know. However, the lacking skills would still have to be addressed at some point, and what stops him from doing them is "I can't do it," "This is dumb/stupid," "Why do I have to do this?" and "This is too hard." I wish Marva or Maria could come coach me! lol.

What other solutions have I come up with? A few possibilities:
  • things broken down into subjects/activity-types and timed
  • a set routine, with set work and he just moves onto the next thing when he's done the first thing
  • a set schedule with large blocks, wherein he has some set work and then fills the rest of the time from some related activities
  • daily meetings (more than once, if need be) to discuss the problems (like giving up, leaving the table, going to play/handle something when he should be working, not getting all of his work done, only working about 20-30 minutes or so a day, talking about whatever comes to his mind in the middle of me reading or to somebody else while they are trying to work, getting mad at other people for things he has done just that week). Of course, one of the first solutions that comes to my mind for his lack of work is to have a weekly report that goes home. However, that feels so babyish--he's 13, almost 14. How does that empower him? Make him feel good and want to do more good? If EVERYBODY is doing up reports, then perhaps that'd work. Strange time of year to do something like that, but maybe it's not a bad idea. I'll propose it on Monday, I think. Track each day what's getting done, add some comments, then the reports go to the non-present parents. (So my dd and ds have someone to give the reports to!) This would also help me get back into using Homeschool Tracker! I purchased the program because I love it, got going with it then it just got put by the wayside. It was helpful in doing marks for the oldest for her 1st semester courses, but it'd all be so much better if I could just return to putting things in each day.

My ds is not getting a very Montessori education. He's not getting much of an education at all. He's just so uninterested compared to how dd was, but then again, for ages 4-8, she had a companion to work with. It changes things a bit. Dd's not quite so eager now--things have never been the same since "my" now almost 12yo moved away almost 2 years ago. The two of them fed off each other. I was also different, though, far more immersed in my attempt at Montessori. How I've changed has encouraged things to not quite be up to the level they were at before. I don't have to have it be exactly the same--I know there are many ways for education to take place--but my enthusiasm or something has changed. Maybe just my clear vision. Because I was constantly reading Montessori and similar, I knew where I was going. I don't know so much where I'm going. Oh, sure, I plan things, but are they really related to any larger vision or is it just because I have a focus of having to get things done now? Hm...

The oldest is slowly getting herself "rekindled". A few comments here and there have helped her relax a little about the future (relax in terms of not be focused on what she believes to be inevitable inability to enter medicine) and talking about how she was doing so well in math her first year with me (she didn't even remember that, but now that it's been brought up, I can tell that there's a glimmer of hope in her now that wasn't there before). My task with her now is to keep fanning that spark so that it will burn brighter and brighter!

Enough of my babbling for now. I'd like to get some school work done--start working on preparing a "study binder" for the oldest and work on a country project to show Bob and dd a couple of possibilities on how to do theirs.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Just a ramble

So, I've actually got a few minutes where I don't feel like I need to be working on physics problems or planning and thought I'd take this time to blog!

This week, we got some rain. That meant all the worms came out. Dd and ds were out yesterday morning "saving" worms--of course, they were saving them from the concrete while it was still raining, so I'm sure many just ended back up on the concrete. They did keep a few to look at. I quickly prepared a very simple worksheet that had them explore the worms a bit more--how long? can you find the different parts? how many segments? etc. And a space to draw the worm. Ds has never really done something like this except when he participated in a workshop earlier this year. He really enjoyed it--not too hard, simple answers he could tell me, I'd write on a separate piece of paper and he'd copy it onto his sheet. It was good.

The oldest is trying hard to stay on track and to not panic too much about her exams. She has been ill the past couple of days, so it's been hard to really get things going in terms of starting to study NOW for her exams. Her brother... It's been very hard to get him into work mode. He just doesn't want to. I know part of it is being 13 and a boy. But he's distracting everybody!!!! He is also nowhere near ready to start high school courses, which he's supposed to do start in Sept. 2009. He will have no choice but to do the easiest courses that count towards a diploma the first year and upgrade later on.

On a non-homeschooling note, we had a kind of strange thing happen. Dd picked out a box of Vanilla Mini-Wheats, her favourite flavour of Mini-Wheats. She has the first bowl and says, "Maman, they messed it up. It tastes more like Maple Mini-Wheats." I come and look, and sure enough, some have the whitish vanilla frosting, but more have the maple-looking beige frosting. Some are even a mix of white and beige. I had a bowl and it really tasted like maple Mini-Wheats with a hint of vanilla, not even completely maple. I sent Kellogg's an email, just telling them that they might have a batch out there that's off. Well, they CALLED me today. Asked me a few questions, then sent over Purolator to get the box! I guess it's a big deal to have it mixed up this way because I was perfectly willing to just keep the box and eat it. But the lady said, "No, you purchased Vanilla and should have had Vanilla so we want to fix this all up." I'll be receiving *2* vouchers in the mail for free Kellogg's products. But back to Purolator... The guy shows up, apparently hadn't been told that a cereal box was being sent, because he comes out of the truck with an envelope. I opened the door and he asks, "You have a package to send to Kellogg's?" I said, "Yes, but I don't think it'll fit in the envelope." It was probably his first ever box of cereal being sent Purolator!

I've decided there must be something in general going on since today, I purchased a bag of Nibs and they just weren't like Nibs. Lighter colour, not quite the same flavour, much mushier (which is why I had bought them--they felt "fresh"). They were good, but not the same Nibs I've bought for years.

Puppy is doing great, getting big! We've got lots of pictures on our camera, but they haven't been uploaded to the computer yet, so nothing to share right now. She's a good puppy--easy to forget she's still a puppy and get mad at her for things that are just puppy behaviour! She's not quite 4 months, weighs 30 pounds, has wonderful lab paws and such goofy ears, and is just a really great dog. Even does this little gruff bark when she sees someone seem to approach the house or even when I come in from the garage and she didn't know I was there. It's not aggressive in any way, just a little, "Hey, there's someone there." Very cute.

What else? Before Christmas, the kids had stopped receiving their weekly allowance because ds had decided he was going to save up his money and wanted to wait until Christmas to get the build-up of his allowance, and dd decided to do the same. After Christmas, not being in the habit of giving them their allowance, weeks and weeks will accumulate before we remember. Today, dd got 15 weeks worth of allowance! lol

Got a phone call now--I'll go!