Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Blog vs. Homeschool (mummies, toddlers, and coneheads, oh my!)

Me no very amount blog now these dayz.  I am making busy by learning my kidz about most important-er things like how to use grammar real good, spell wordz, learn one thing (just one thing, people!) about ancient Eeeeegyptians, and point to Egypt on a mmmaaaa.....  what's that word, again??

So... here it is.  This is the post where I tell you I'm not a good blogger and I'm not a great homeschooler, and I certainly can't be both at the same time right now.  A facebook friend recently challenged her friends (as she had done her high school literature students) to write a six-word summary of their life.   I'm long winded so, dull as my life may be, there's no way I'm fitting it in six words.  But these past three weeks?  I can sum it up: Homeschool hanging by thread.  Blog dead.  (It even rhymes!  Do I get extra points for that??)  Nearly everything extraneous in my life (stuff like blogging and even crocheting *gasp*) has taken a back seat so that I can get this "school thing" sorted.  

Blogging takes effort, and I enjoy putting creative energy towards it, but you know, there are seasons of life when "energy," creative or otherwise, is in short supply.  It takes me a long time to write.  Blog posts don't just flow out of me :( and I don't have the luxury of a few spare minutes here and there anymore to hit the keyboard because every waking moment seems to be consumed with something "school" related - actual lessons, planning lessons, researching how to do lessons better, making audio lesson playlists, cleaning up from lessons, panicking that no one has spotted the toddler since the last lesson, wondering can we please just throw the lessons out the window.  When I'm not involved in "school" stuff, I'm dealing with real life situations like finding a stick of butter in a bedroom garbage can, threatening to serve Lego tires for dinner if I find another child chewing on a Lego tire like it's a snack, and (still) recovering from my son carrying a dead bat into my home with his bare hands (happened a month ago).  (Please note: in case you ever come to visit us, the newest and most important rule in our home is you may never ever, ever approach me with your hands behind your back and say, "guess what?"  Ever.)

But back to the lessons.  As far as "school" in concerned, I feel like we may have hit a Bermuda Triangle (BT) kind of year.  Well, I guess I should clarify that I don't think our school year is doomed, but I do feel like I'm going to have to fall off the grid of life to keep it afloat.  We're  only two and half weeks in and I can already see that this may be one of the most challenging years we will live through (or maybe I'm super naive and they really will just get harder???)  

In one corner of the BT, I have a child in 3rd grade who has a lot of advanced work expected of him from the study center he attends.  He does  not read proficiently enough to read the assignments to himself (history and lit) and he struggles with memorization (Latin).   His primary interest in ancient Egypt lies in whether or not modern-day monster trucks could make the jump over the Great Pyramid of Giza.  And would it be a Dodge or a Ford?  He still needs a lot of individual attention.

In another corner of the BT, I have a second grader who needs remedial attention in the fundamentals - reading, writing, math.  He picks up everything else fairly easily, but focusing on those things right now is at the expense of the basics.  He knows all kinds of real information about Egypt because he retains everything he hears but it takes him the better part of an eight-hour day to write the word N-I-L-E. He needs a lot of individual attention.  

In the third corner of the BT, I have a baby who... juuuuuusssst woke up crying.  Rats.  Said baby is dragging himself around to get where he wants to be and will be crawling in approximately 2.7 days.  Horror of horrors.  And then there is  a toddler.  Oh my goodness, I could give you a list the size of the continent of Africa of what she's capable of in the fifteen minutes it takes me to do a spelling lesson, but it would be too painful.  She's a t-o-d-d-l-e-r.  Assume the worst, and that's what she's up to.  (I should remark that she's a "toddler" in the sense that she's INTO EVERYTHING, but that thankfully, she's not prone to tantrums and the like.  Thankfully.  Knock on laptop plastic.)   

If you are new to homeschooling and are wondering what to do with your baby and toddler while you are doing lessons with the older children, the old-school books (or present-day books by delusional authors) say that the "baby and toddler will play contentedly at your feet."  Even the most clueless of persons knows that this is some sort of cruel Candid Camera setup and that people in a distant room are in hysterics while watching you try to make that happen.  

So, forget the old books.  Turn to modern technology.  Have you ever Googled "How to homeschool with toddlers?"  In a moment of panic, I did this two years ago when Ruth was a toddler.  These lists are ridiculous.   Here are some real life examples of what various blogs and "Pins" suggest you do to entertain your toddler during lessons time:  
Ridiculous Suggestion No. 1 - Fill up the kitchen sink with water and let your toddler stand on a chair and create hazardous kitchen floor puddles play with cups and spoons and washcloths and sponges.  

Ridiculous Suggestion No. 2 - Fill a shallow plastic bin with rice and allow your toddler to ingest dry rice and eventually explode like those pigeons who feast at-outdoor weddings  "sensory exploration" time using cups and spoons and mini rakes and funnels.   

Ridiculous Suggestions No. 3 - Fill a plastic gallon bag with ketchup.  Tape it to the table and allow toddler to poke holes "paint" on the bag with their finger.

Ridiculous Suggestion No. 4 - Give your toddler a pan full of salt and droppers full of food coloring and allow him to sodium overdose squirt and swirl colors into the salt.  

Ridiculous Suggestion No. 5 - Give your toddler a can of shaving cream and allow her to learn the difference, first hand, between shaving and whipped cream practice writing her letters on a cookie sheet.

Ridiculous Suggestion No. 6 - Put a small plastic pool in the kitchen and fill it with plastic balls for your toddler to throw at you play in.  

Ridiculous Suggestion No. 7 - Spread a tarp on the floor and let your toddler graffiti play with silly string.


The reality of all these suggestions, in addition to the total chaos which I'm sure you've imagined ensues when one wittingly gives a toddler rice, shaving cream, and KETCHUP, is that most of these scenarios probably end up with the distracted mother slipping on water/rice/balls/silly string or whatever, and breaking a major bone (not just a toe, for instance) and NO LESSONS GET DONE FOR THE DAY.  No. Lessons.  Mother in traction.  But seriously, lady.  You're the one who gave her the rice and shaving cream and ketchup in the first place.  Poetic justice.

what homeschooling with toddlers did to the ancient Egyptian woman

The reality is there is no easy way to homeschool with a toddler.  Just prepare yourself for distraction, disaster, and dysfunction, and you won't be disappointed at the end of the day.  Kidding.  Sort of.   So, back to my Bermuda Triangle.  The baby and the toddler - they need a lot of individual attention.

Hovering in and about the BT that is our homeschool, is an eager Kindergartner, who enjoys the occasional lesson, and neither gets into much trouble nor crawls around on the floor.  She does not need a lot of individual attention, but she does need help putting on clip-on earrings for dress-up and a lot of praise, encouragement, and paper for the seventeen thousand pictures she draws each day.  She also needs one of those roadside-garbage-picker-upper-spears to collect her artwork at the end of the day.  You would think a class 5 hurricane went through here based on the places her works of creative genius end up.  

did they have clip-ons back then???

So, put it all together and what to do you get?  Me doing things and stuff all day long that don't involve Ordinary Lovely (or crochet hooks and yarn, for that matter.)  Maybe at some point, things will even out around here - children will read on their own, a sweet voice will be overheard in the next room pleasantly humming "puto, putare, putavi, putatum / exspecto, exspectare, exspectavi, exspectatum," a child will correctly identify a "b" and then a "d", he will then neatly write his numbers from 1 to 20, a baby will grow accustomed to (dun, dun, dun) a playpen, and the toddler will stop "getting a little drink of water" that is somehow simultaneously small enough to fit in a  paper Dixie cup but also large enough to resemble the annual swelling of the Nile, soaking the entire bathroom floor and the last roll of toilet papyrus paper in the house.

I have so many things I've been wanted to write about.  They have to wait.  I guess if I'm not blogging much in the near future, you'll know it's because addition, subtraction, cursive, and phonics.  Oh, and we're going tomb raiding tomorrow!  But I know I won't be able to stay away too long because I love hanging out here and typing out ideas and being with friends on my virtual back porch.  And did you know that if we lived in ancient Egypt, it's more likely that we'd be outside on the roof and we'd be chatting with cones of perfumed wax on our heads so as not to be offensive to one another (odor-wise)??  It's nice not to have that conehead distraction here, isn't it?  I'm just sayin' :)  


  1. Toddlers. Are hard. I love the picture of the caption under the mummy..yep, that's about right.....hang in there T!

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. haha! She does look like how I feel - stretched thin ;)

  2. ha - those suggestions are hilarious. I don't believe a real mother of toddlers came up with those! I find myself with a lot less time for blog-reading these days, so I don't mind a slow-down in your posting. Thanks for all the hard work you put into writing each of them - I always enjoy reading :-)

    1. agreed! I actually could see myself doing some of those activities when I had just one toddler, but to think of a toddler doing them while not 1000% supervised is 1000% insane :)

    2. those are seriously ridiculous and can only be done with complete supervision. i cringed imagining the chaos that would surely ensue and feel horrible for any mother who unwittingly might try these!

  3. Love this Theresa! so true- except those crazy ideas for toddlers to do while mom is homeschooling:)

    1. Thanks, Kelly! I know you're in the same boat :)

  4. " I can already see that this may be one of the most challenging years we will live through (or maybe I'm super naive and they really will just get harder???) "
    You're 'on the money', this will be one of the most stretching years indeed. They are all a juggle, adding each new child to the 'learning room' particularly if you've added new babies is always a stretch but yep, busy busy toddler and baby without much older children is a stretch. Prayers{{}}

    Btw your ridiculous list kept me laughing. and after all these years and all these preschoolers I've given up pretty much doing preschool. Occasionally but not often, your lists the other day were the best! Real, practical, doable.

    1. Thanks for the prayers and encouragement, Erin! (As an aside, we are doing really well with AAS so far, and even though we weren't able to work out the video demonstration, I really have you to thank for "pushing me over the edge" and encouraging me to try it. Thanks! *still wouldn't mind the video* :) )

    2. Theresa
      Awesome to hear! haven't forgotten the video, on my to do after the wedding (my brother's which we leave for tomorrow) so hopefully next week when I have a life again:)

    3. There's no rush!! Have a wonderful trip and time with family for the wedding!

  5. In absolute stitches over here! My abs hurt, thanks for the work out-)

  6. man, i'am so happy you wrote this. this year has suddenly become so.much.harder and more labor intensive than the years prior. I've got a 3rd, 2nd and 1st grader who are completely dependent on me for practically everything, and who i need to 'for real' homeschool since they all need to be reported. i mean, it is a huge work load. i am finding myself, literally, homeschooling all day long until 3pm just to stay afloat. it feels crazy and like i have no time for anything else. and then there is the 4 year old who thinks she is a big kid too and should be doing everything her older siblings are. and then the twins. THE TWINS! oh my goodness, Lord have mercy. if i'm not dealing with them eating all our toothpaste, throwing the math-u-see blocks or sticking various objects in the toilet...then they are clearly hiding out somewhere taking a dump in their pants since we 'potty trained' them and they wear big boy underwear now. geez la weez. i don't need to send my kids to school, i need to send the 4 and 2 1/2 year olds to preschool. and then there is daniel. sweet, good natured 4 month old who still needs to be held, nursed, changed and entertained through all of this. it is serious work, all day long...and it is exhausting. but dude, you are like a homeschool superstar to me and it is so good to hear that I am not alone in this and that other people are doing it too.

    1. Yep, we moms with toddlers have to stick together :) I bet that you've got a little extra dose of grace each day since God blessed you with twin toddlers, and maybe even a little time off purgatory (not necessarily a theological truth, just a speculation based on my experience with one toddler at a time, observation of life with twins, and hope of Heaven!)
      Don't worry about my superstar status - it's officially been revoked.
      I hear you on the "school all day." It's definitely taking us longer to get through it all this year, but I'm still so grateful that homeschooling allows for *short* lessons. So, even though we're still plugging away after lunch (we're usually done by 2), the boys know that when I call them to do something, if they work diligently, it will probably only take 10 -20 minutes. I think that is such a huge benefit of homeschooling, especially for active kids who might not succeed at a lesson if it was given at a desk over a 35 minute period.
      Persevere! I'm thinking of you over here in our little corner of the city =)

  7. Let's try this comment again. All the ideas are for toddlers are crazy, IMO! Too much work and too much mess. And then it's too much work to clean up...

    I hope your year is going to level-out and everyone finds their groove!


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