Friday, September 8, 2017

How to be socialized. Or something.

As I have been writing about all things homeschool lately, I am sure that you have been waiting, with baited breath of course, for me to bring up the subject of socialization.
Socialization. That 27 letter word* that makes every homeschooler shake in their boots. Or fuzzy pink slippers as many homeschoolers prefer pajamas and they are not wrong for doing so. The socialization question is the single most frequent thing asked of any homeschooler. In fact, when you start on a homeschooling journey, you will learn that suddenly, nobody wants to talk about the weather anymore. Nobody asks about your weekend plans. Nobody wants to chat about the last episode of the Bachelor (which is of course fine because you aren’t allowed to WATCH the Bachelor if you teach your children at home**). What people WANT is to ask you how you intend to socialize your kids. They don’t just want to know. They need to know. Because if they do not know, they will all definitely die. And it will be your fault. Because seriously. How. Do you socialize. These kids.

Now for me, the socialization question is awkward for multiple reasons. Here are just some of them:
  1. HELLO, MY NAME IS ASHLEY, AND I AM NOT A WELL SOCIALIZED HUMAN. I was a public-then-private school kid, myself. I was an avid reader. I was, overall, academically successful. But no one, NO ONE, would ever have accused me of being well socialized. I was consistently afraid of my peers, and very quickly found that books were 1, more friendly, and 2, easier to deal with. Plus, books never make fun of you for reading too many books. But sixth graders do. Oooooh sixth graders do.
  2. THE QUESTION IMPLIES THAT I’M ALREADY FAILING. AND THAT HURTS MY FEELINGS, GUYS. Really though, how exactly does a mama defend herself against this question? Because if you’re looking at my kid and asking how I intend to teach them socialization, well… you’re kind of implying that I’m already failing at it. I mean, this is basically the parenting equivalent of asking someone what they intend to do to fix the house they just now painstakingly repaired. Um nice try, but no. WOW no. All kinds of no.
  3. PLEASE SOMEONE TEACH ME WHAT IT ACTUALLY MEANS TO BE SOCIALIZED BECAUSE HOLY CRAP. So again, maybe this relates back to #1, but I don’t even actually know what you mean by this question. I really don’t. What is socialization, exactly? Is it taking turns? Is it sharing toys? Is it working toward the common good? s it not having a tantrum when you have to wait in line? Is it remember to pick your boogers in a place that no one else can see so you don't spend your life labeled Booger Picker?  Because I feel like it’s not. Because I feel like most parents expect themselves to teach their kids these basic social rules before the kids even enter school.
  4. OK, I LIED. I KNEW EXACTLY WHAT YOU MEANT THE WHOLE TIME. HA. I mean, DUH. Everyone knows what you mean. Cuz the truth is, when you asked how my kids would get socialized, you weren’t thinking about taking turns or sharing or holding a conversation, because all of that is pretty basic and also, pretty not that taught in school. What you mean is, you think my kids will turn out weird. Weird and gross. And a little bit creepy.
Weird parents. Before they were parents.
So that's the issue. We can start there. And truth? Maybe my kids will be weird. I mean, you become what surround yourself with, right? And for good or for ill, my kids are spending a lot more time with their parents. And as it turns out, their parents are…. well, a little bit weird. My children have a cross to bear, and it is called Weird Parents. Of course they don't know it yet. Which I think is cute. Give 'em a minute.

So yes, maybe our kids will spend too much time with us and that will make them incurably weird. Or maybe they will learn how to wait appropriately because mommy is always busy with 3 other kids. Or they'll learn conflict resolution, because you can't just change siblings every time you have an argument, and Working It Out Or Dying is inevitable. Or maybe they'll learn to stop taking themselves so seriously, because they spend their days getting mocked and teased, not by bullies, but by people they know are only teasing out of love. And they find it's not so scary after all.

Of course, these things are great, but it doesn't mean they won't be weird. But the good news is, they'll probably each end up being their own brand of weird. At this present time, I have four children, and some days, I think the only thing they have in common is geography. Some are shy, some are outgoing. Some prefer to talk to adults while others love hanging out with kids. Some are artsy, some are sportsy. Some like the indoors while some would prefer to live in nature.

And... I don't know how I'm going to socialize all of that. They play. With each other and with other kids, they all seemed to figure out how to play. So maybe they're getting socialized. Maybe they'll be more socialized than anyone could ever have imagined. Or they'll be weird. Of course, I mean it wouldn't kill anybody if we could work out that booger picker thing...


*Math.

**Obviously that’s a lie. Homeschoolers are allowed to make bad life choices, just like the rest of you.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Welcome to September, Hombres. Pumpkin Spice it up.

Okay guys. A couple weeks ago, I wrote a slightly ranty, slightly psychotic post about how I don't care what the calendar said or the weather said and that I was excited and ready for the fall.

I mean, I get it. I was going a little crazy. I can admit that. But you have to forgive me now, because it's the law.

Well, turns out I don't have to ignore anything anymore. Because GUYS it is actually September!!!! Squee!! So here ya go, in an officialest of capacities:
I mean, sure, it's 108 degrees outside today but....


Latin Outdoors. Like God intended.
UGH. Okay, forget it. This place is hot and terrible.

So I acknowledge that we're still at the tail end of one of the hottest heatwaves of the entire summer, but as it turns out, I have central air and very few reasons to go into the out of doors, so that big scary number is, to me, just a big scary number. PLUS? Next Saturday it's supposed to be 91. Which is basically scarf weather here, so... YEAH. Happy Fall, friends.

In case for some weird reason that isn't enough for you, here's some things about this fall that make it the best thing in my whole life. Ever.

1- Football season. FOOTBALL season. GUYS OMG IT IS TOTALLY FOOTBALL SEASON.


Sum Optime!
Husband and I have become a little bit... a lot bit... gross and jockish over the past half decade or so. We have become football fans. And seeing as we don't half-butt anything around here, we have become INTENSE football fans, who even watch the preseason with passionate interest. 

NOTE: When I say we have becoming jockish, please understand that I am not saying we have become jocks. I still do not sports. I eat chips and watch other people sports. Never confuse the two.

2- Healthy brain.

After a summer filled with panic attacks and raging self-doubt, followed by buckets of tears and more buckets of prayer, I feel like I'm starting to move past Terrifyingly Crazy Ashley. I feel like, like maybe I can see my way to wholeness. To mental health. To a life that doesn't include crying in the bathroom. To a time where someone could give me a compliment and my brain wouldn't fight like a feral cat to destroy it. I like mental health. It seems promising.

3- Soccer Season.
Sum Pessime.

So yeah, we've become all jockish lately, but we've done so in a CRAZY 'Murica kind of fashion, which means bro I fracking hate soccer. But as it turns out, my kids don't hate soccer. I mean, between you and me, I'm not saying they're GOOD at soccer, but they do seem to like it. Cute uniforms. Snacks and juice. Plus grown ups who clap and treat them like super stars. They love it all. 

And I hate it all.

So this year, like the lazy, uncaring parents that we are, we decided to skip the soccer season And right now, RIGHT NOW, it is almost 2:30 on a Saturday afternoon, and I am still in my pajamas, relaxed on the couch with my feet up on a card table that holds a puzzle I was working on earlier. THIS is how you fall. THIS is how you Saturday.

Last year, with 3 soccer games every single Saturday, we didn't have free time. We didn't have lazy days. In fact, not one single lazy day in almost 3 months. And that kind of thing breaks my brain, my brain which is obviously far too fragile for breaks. So we skipped soccer this year, and now I get to lie on the couch in my pajamas, and later, go out on a date with my husband. And may I remind you? It is one hundred and eight fracking degrees outside. I'm pretty sure refusing to sign the kids up for organized sports was the best choice I've ever made in my life. So you're welcome.

4- Lastly, for now at least, the homeschool thing. 

Because as it turns out... we're maybe finally figuring out how to do this thing. We work. We get it done. They're getting better, and for NO JOKE, seven straight school days, zero kids have had a meltdown. I'm not sure what's happening, but it's been like, FUN. Consistently fun. For the first time ever. 

So there ya go. This is obviously a fall to celebrate. And in that spirit, we spent our Friday school day reading, crafting, and decorating the house for this most glorious of seasons. I even dusted. It's like I'm becoming a real life adult person.

Of course, last night after the kids went to bed, husband and I sat down and he... had some thoughts. "You know honey... the house looks GREAT. Definitely great. I'm not saying it doesn't look great but... you know this means this stuff will be here for three straight months?  

OBVIOUSLY, Husband. Of course I'm aware how many days the fall stuff will be here until the Christmas stuff comes to replace it. But you shut your beautiful mouth. Cuz Wifey Pants NEEDS THIS.

Happy Fall. 

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Rules for Surviving Motherhood with your Sanity

If you want to survive the experience of mothering small children, there are some pretty important rules that you should totally follow. Or you won't survive at all. You'll die. It's pretty much a guarantee. And let me assure you, death by tiny humans is no way to go.

1- To start with, avoid having a lot of kids close together in age.
You are allowed to have children, and you may, in rare instances have multiple children, if you, for some reason think the world REQUIRES so many miniature copies of you, but at the very least, space them out. This way you can focus on each child individually and they will not overwhelm you. NOTE: It is HIGHLY important for mothers to be able to parent from a place that is NOT overwhelmed. This is absolutely ESSENTIAL.


2- Allow dinner time to be sacred. 
Serve a healthy meal, at an appropriate hour. Dinner time is a chance for the family to come together and reunite at the end of a day, and should not be interrupted by any one child's desperate need for attention, or desire to be silly. No loud noises, no inappropriate jokes. Always remind the children that they are not to speak unless spoken to. 




3- Make sure your children are always well dressed, and neat. 
There is something centering about starting your day well. Make the bed. Get dressed. Meet the day in a state of preparedness. Along with this, if the children are used to staying neat and clean, they will understand the importance of maintaining cleanliness and order in all aspects of their lives. That order will translate to peace and sanity in all parts of your life. So keep your children well dressed, clean and orderly, and you will thank me later!

4- And above all, parent from a place of rest. 
Prioritize self-care. If you, as a mother are unrested, if you have allowed any stress to enter your life, if you do not take care of yourself first, you simply have nothing to give to another person. First secure your own air mask, then help those around you. If you are tired, you may find yourself grumpy. You may feel stressed. Your house will become messy and your psychology will suffer. So make sure you take lots, and lots, and lots of time, just for you.

So fun story? Turns out I may in fact be failing at, well,  just about all the things. Our house is small. It is noisy, and messy, and full of chaos and laughter and a mommy that sometimes cries in the bathroom, because cut me some slack, everybody needs to cope.

I apologize for the ruse, dear friends. Cuz this was all totally a lie and I have exactly ZERO answers for maintaining your sanity. I mean, I guess personally Ilike hot baths, complicated puzzles, and again, the crying in the bathroom always seems to help, but that's not advice. That's just some stuff I like. OH AND COFFEE. Sorry, can't believe I almost forgot coffee. Coffee IS advice. Listen to coffee. 

Thing is, it's super easy to make a sanctimonious list of "How Tos". To type out flighty advice as to how you could feel younger and better looking and smarter and generally just better at life. But my friends, that stuff is garbage. And mostly annoying. And when it comes down to it, chicks who cry on the toilets do NOT do sanctimony well. I think it might be because of the toilets, but in truth I need to expand my sample size before I run more tests.

So that's it, friends. No advice for you today. Life is chaos sometimes. And it's hard sometimes. And we all do our best... most of the time. Take a deep breath, relax. And enjoy, I suppose, because someday, the quiet will come. And word on the street is,  Sanity gets pretty boring.


Wednesday, August 23, 2017

What Homeschoolers Do When God Steals the Sun



Um I'm not sure if any of you heard or anything, but yesterday, like, God totally stole the sun. Well. Stole is a pretty strong word. Because he gave it back. Obviously. So this is a list of things some homeschoolers do when God decides to borrow then, but only for a while, and then everything goes back to normal, until seven years from now, when he wants to borrow the sun again.*
  1. They buy blackout glasses and activity books and read several thousand articles about proper eclipse viewing.
  2. They try to bribe their husbands to take a family road trip to Idaho where Totality is actually viewable, because 71% sounds very sad and pretty much nothing in comparison to TOTALITY.
  3. They pout a bunch when husband reminds them they have "real jobs" and no time for road trips, no matter how scientific those road trips may be.
  4. They decide to make the best of it, and eventually stop pouting.
  5. They share their extra glasses with their homeschool friends who aren't as crazy and planned-ahead as they are. (Also, how were you guys not crazy and planned-head?? BAD Homeschoolers. BAD.)
  6. They have school outside in nature.
  7. The try all the things.
  8. They get excited and nerdy.
  9. They discuss science and math and geography. And scripture. And history. And oh yeah, astronomy. 
  10. They watch videos of places where it looked even cooler than it did here.
  11. Then they set the academics aside and ride bikes and stuff for a while, because PE, probably.

Week 2 of Homeschool, and it has already included a once in a lifetime experience. So that's pretty awesome. On the less awesome front, my daughters have been taking turns throwing massive tantrums. The first day for one, the second for another, back and forth until today, actually, wherein Yesterday's Tantrummer decided to make this one a two-fer.  So that's cooooool.

Safety first, 'Murica!
I am working hard to make this year better than last. I am working hard to be more involved, to do more things, to make it more interesting, to be more engaged. Attachment before Academics  right? But as it turns out, sometimes, my kids are still going to have meltdowns. The girls in particular have strong feelings and stronger wills, and they're going to fight me. They just are. It's as predictable as, say, the rotation of the moon.** They're going to fight the fact that I've asked them to do something. Even if that something seems relatively fun. Even if that something seems relatively small.

Some days, when you try super especially hard, and then the tiny humans try to destroy everything... well, it can make you want to quit. Of course, that's not an option. I could choose to send them to someone else for school, to public school, but that isn't quitting, because I'm still their mother, and shaping their little hearts and minds is going to be my job just the same. You can choose whether or not to teach them reading and math. You don't get to choose whether or not to teach them character.

So on we go, on we strive, through the periods of eclipse and back into the light. Focus forward, no panicking. I know it seems dark now, but God never takes the sun away forever.
*Thought I'd put some minds at ease, in case you weren't sure how quality our science education was. Don't worry. I got this covered.

**NOT a menstruation reference. I swear. Because my girls are 6 and 7. Although sometimes, MAN. Sometimes I wonder...

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

1 Down, 179 to Go!


Happy dance time guys: We started school. And it went... actually? Kind of awesome.
The kids were like, ON POINT with the whole get your chores done so you can eat delicious french toast for breakfast thing, and we actually got breakfast finished, dressing done and pictures taken, in LESS time than I had planned. That was a MAGNIFICENT first. And so we started early. And we did Bible and Math and Latin and Reading and Playing Outside and Journaling and Drawing and Reading some more. In truth it was a smallish day, but it was fun, it was not overwhelming. It was something I'm willing to try again tomorrow.

Side note: I know you saw that and you were like WHAT??, but Latin was the most fun thing we did all day. Latin was a blast. I've told them we can call it our family's secret language, so no one in the world actually speaks Latin. Except for us. Salve discipuli. 

Shout out to little man for starting Kinder!
And really, it was a massive blessing that it wasn't too rough or too long, for a couple of reasons. One, because after all the roughness we have recently been through, this was... a glass of ice water in the desert. This soothed my weary-mama soul. But also, because at about half way through the day, I happened to go back into my closet to look for some number lines (which I completely forgot about until this exact moment right now) only to discover that my cat had peed in our closet. But not just peed. Peed. Actual. Blood.

So we decided it was necessary to add in some... Science. That's right. Homeschooler Science to our day.

I mean, because this is how homeschool works, right? You just roll with it, and then make everything a learning experience. So for today's bonus vet visit, (aka, science lesson) we learned:
  1. The signs, symptoms, diagnosis, and various treatments of kidney stones in cats.
  2. Fun things an ultrasound is used for.
  3. How to get a urine sample from a cat.*
  4. How much mom is ACTUALLY willing to pay to fix the cat, even though she had officially landed on ZERO DOLLARS AND ZERO CENTS IT'S A CAT OMG LET IT DIE IF IT NEEDS TO DIE.
  5. How to tell when a vet is judging you and all your life choices such as see above.
  6. How to administer a rectal thermometer in a feline.
  7. How to drive mom insane in like, this whole new location.**
Okay so quick note here before I let you all go back to your regularly scheduled programming. Last time I tried to clip my cat's fracking toenails I walked away with a bloody stump for a hand. But today this strange woman walks up, lifts my cat's tail, and shoves a lubed thermometer straight up her anus and the cat just lies there DOESN'T EVEN BAT AN EYE. What even is this? My cat is a ferocious tiger beast who feels it is necessary to attack my legs while I walk from bathroom to bed every night, and now she's like, just gonna lie there without a care in the room and let people shove any old thing into her butthole. This cat has now been downgraded. She is no longer ferocious tiger beast. She is now creepy psycho lunatic.

So we're home from our sciencing, and it's time for.... more science, in that we are making our own pizzas tonight. Maybe we'll talk about chemistry. Maybe we'll work in some fractions.

Then again, maybe we'll just eat the dang pizza and call it a day.
*Think about it. I found it both surprising and logical!
**The secretary said "Well... at least they get along!". Like, obviously they get along. They pretty much ALWAYS get along. And then theyy use that "get along-ness" to join in collusion and slowly kill their mother. It's this cute thing they do.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Twas the Night Before Homeschool...

Well that's it, my friends. Our 3 plus months of summer has finally come to an end. Sayonara summer. Raise a marshmallow and toast with us.

As it turns out, diligent readers of this site will notice that TODAY was actually the S'posed To Be First Day of School. But there was this thing where... complications. Like, we had some friends that wanted to join us for a day trip to the Sequoias, which sounded awesome, so we postponed, then those same friends got some sickness in them, aaaand whatever we just decided to still postpone anyway.

Pretty sure it was the most homeschool-y homeschool thing we've ever done. First day of school? Meh. Fuhgetaboutit. More like, try again tomorrow, amiright? HA.


Goodness gracious...
So we took a One More Day of Summer, and it was needed I think. Because Monday was a super hard, super stressful kick ya in the pants kind of day, and that was not how this summer was gonna go down. Instead today, the kids knocked out a few chores, played some video games, hung out at the neighbors house (which was the exact perfect life solution I needed to get some of my "real" work done, thank you so much neighbor friends). And we had tumbling class. Hung out at McDonald's for a soda. And we stayed up a little too late to eat marshmallows in the back yard. It was good. It was a fabulous little send off.

And tomorrow, it's Game Time. But guys, for honesty's sake, my head is a little bit spinning. Ya see, I had this plan for how this upcoming year was going to go. I got the books, and the world's largest day planner, and I've reviewed last years mistakes, and I'm ready to go. My kids are gonna learn this year. Like SUPER learn. 


And then last week, we had this 24 hour long stint of refusal and tantrum. Over a 15 minute long reading worksheet. 24 hours of screaming and yelling and sitting on the floor spitting darts from her eyeballs. It was one of those particular kind of rough days that leave me feeling like, well, a failure. Like we're 2 whole years into this adoption story, and somehow we're in the same place we were when we first started. She was broken. I was broken. And I just couldn't imagine starting into another year.


I sought help. I sought advice. And I got advice. I got some stuff I've already tried, some stuff I should try, and some stuff that was just, well, pointlessly rude. But the thing that stood out to me the most was this:
Attachment first. 
Academics will come. 

Meaning? Well, family first. Heart of the child first. Bonding first. Because yes, Math is important, History is important, Reading is important... but if I don't have her heart, if I don't have her trust, if I can teach her to add, but forfeit her soul, then what, exactly, have I gained?

So we're starting homeschool again tomorrow. And I'm taking that last bit of advice, so once again, we're playing it by ear. I don't know what the year will look like, but I'm going to do my best to make it safe. And loving. And fun. And occasionally, maybe even academic. And ya know what? I'm still going to try my dangdest to use that giant planner. 


Tuesday, August 8, 2017

When SUPRISE! You find out you're a total hottie.

This is the story of how an after work trip to the grocery store last night ended up being a Bizarre Ego Boost. And then how coming home changed all that.

Now for perspective, one of my last Bizarre Ego Boost was about 4 years ago, when, while working on a high school campus, I got regularly yelled at by faculty. Because they couldn't tell I was a professional adult human. Because they thought I was a high school student, being a place or doing a thing (like trying to walk to my car) where a student should not be or that a student should not do. Side note: High school students get very yelled at if they ever choose to be a place they should not be or do a thing they should not do. It's kind of a problem. Maybe we should stop being so mean to high school students.

Anyway, back to last night. While I was minding my own business, listening to podcasts and filling my shopping cart with various healthy low-carb meals and various, unhealthy high-carb snacks*, I walked near a grocery store employee. Now I've seen him around before, due to I am the Grocery Shopper of the family, and I don't really vary my stores or times of visit. I know the employees who work the Sunday afternoon and Monday late night shifts. And he is one of them. But instead of our normal "Finding everything okay" "Sure you betcha" interaction, he decided to, I guess.... kind of flirt with me? 

Yeah. I think he was flirting with me. But not in that "hey baby, you tired? cuz you been running through my mind ALL day!" creepy way like in the movies.  More like, by letting me know that if I needed anything, anything, all I had to do was ask. Feel free to ask him. If I needed anything. Just ask. Ask him. If I needed anything. Just ask. He would help. Ya know, if I needed anything. All I had to do was ask. Then he started to walk away, and then walked back and introduced himself, and shook my hand and again, assured me that, if I needed anything... I should just ask him.

Then later as I was headed to the checkout, he approached me again. He apologized for his behavior. Said he was just trying to be nice. That he isn't weird. Just trying to be helpful. And if I ever needed anything... you got it.

I'm not sure how this kid, who is more likely than not about 10 years my junior, missed noticing my wedding ring, my crows feet, or the fact that, once a week, I buy enough groceries to feed a small army. But just the same, this pushing-middle-age mother of four was just a little bit flattered. Because the last time someone got so flustered in my presence was... well, it was probably just one of my children when trying to lie about having cleaned their room. And their horrible attempts at lying are really more insulting than anything else.

So I got home and told the story to my husband while we unloaded the groceries. Thought I'd make him jealous. Thought I'd remind him what a hot commodity his little wifey actually is. And his response? He felt bad for the little creeper trying to move in on his territory. "Well that just makes me sad!" He says. "He finally gets the courage up to approach you, and then he KNOWS it goes bad. Poor guy. That's just terrible."

Wait. I'm sorry. Pretty sure my very own actual husband isn't supposed to make ME feel like the villain here. I mean, I was nice. I smiled, I thanked him. In fact, I smiled and thanked him and assured him I would definitely come looking for him if there was anything at all that I needed, and I did that every single time he offered to help me. Which at some point, was definitely awkward to do because he offered it so very many times. Geez, Husband. Next time I'll just flirt back. Make sure it goes better for the kid and he doesn't feel so awkward. WOULD THAT MAKE YOU HAPPY?? 

ALSO super hot.
Husband then turns to me with something in his hand. "So," he says, "I'm guessing he didn't see this in your cart before he tried to make his move?" He tossed me brand now Dental Guard. 

Thanks a lot, Dear

Psh. Who does he think he is, and why is he
trying to get all these hot new skills??
I mean HE ALREADY GOT ME.
It seems someone's feeling a little cocky these days, seeing as he has been learning to play the guitar, which admittedly is pretty hot, and I, as it turns out, need to wear a protective mouthguard while I sleep. Which I argue is probably just as hot, just not in such a painfully obvious way. 

Shecshy Mama gonna haunt your dreams.
Because seriously? The guitar thing is like, played. "Oooh, attractive guy plays the guitar and suddenly everyone swoons." But what you haven't seen is THIS



Harried 30-something mother of 4 who has recently developed TMJ gets flirted with by rando attractive stock boy, realizes she has become "Cougar", starts growling and making claw hands at strangers. 

Now that's a story.





*For the kids. Don't judge me.
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