I can almost hear the school bell

Next Monday we begin our new school year here at the Crazy House Baldwin Academy Baldwin School of Misfits… um home. This summer, Mr. Daddy Principal Man helped me squooosh all four kids into one room, move all my sewing stuff downstairs and turn our third bedroom into an official school room!

The kids are so very excited! I’m almost done getting everything ready for Monday, just a few more things to print out and get in their folders!
Next, I’ll write up what our curriculum is going to be this year….other than fun, fun and fun!
Where do you school?
and…uh.. does your school have a name?
 

Squashing the genius within

It would have never crossed my mind to go gather “supplies” from around my house and get creative with them. I never stole momma’s yarn, screwdriver, clothespins and t.p. rolls and ran off into the back yard to act like MacGyver. I don’t really know what would have happened but I’m pretty certain it would have been a bad bad thing. For the longest time my mom and I had separate crayon boxes and coloring books. I wouldn’t dare touch her stuff. I still won’t. Not without explicit permission and sometimes supervision.

As I got older, I started noticing how the kids in school getting awards and accolades were raised in environments that allowed for creative inventing and experimenting. Testing, trying, pushing, creating, risking, succeeding and failing. I was jealous. There was and still is a part of me that thinks of how much “more” I could have been if I had been allowed to explore my world that way.  I know now that there is more to a person’s creativity and success than just living in a more free environment. There are people all over that had nothing to explore or creating with and they still grew to be amazing people.

It is a misconception in my head. Mix it with my regret over all the things I could have done had I been more this or more that and you end up with a mom heck bent on making sure her kids feel free to be, to explore, to create, to test and to dream.

It’s killing me.

They sneak “supplies” out of the house and it gets broken or lost. I can’t tell their clean clothes from the dirty clothes because they dump the hampers to make boats or pulleys or offices. Clotheslines with knots in them strung up in dangerous fashion. Furniture being pulled together, concoctions of various shampoos and lotions in the bathroom, collections of trash to be recycled into some new contraption and towers of dishes (that come crashing down) from emptying the dishwasher because putting them away just wouldn’t be fun if you didn’t balance the coffee mugs 5 high in a leaning tower while walking across a kitchen chair bridge to the cabinet.

I’m tired. They don’t put anything back and they have no concept or concern for respecting other people’s property.

**I made an effort to teach the ‘everything is God’s’ lesson but sadly, it just made their argument stronger…. I can’t say you took MY stuff if it’s all God’s. As an adult I get it, but when arguing with my little geniuses my head wanted to explode**

I don’t want to squash their ideas or hinder their natural learning process but most of this is just wasteful messes. They are illogical and while I should be able to turn it into a lesson I seem to be completely incapable of explaining to them WHY it was a bad idea.

Do you let your kids experiment and explore independently? Do you let them have access to tools and rope and craft supplies and such or do you specify when and how things will get used?

I have spent two days undoing the damage they have done when I could have been, and should have been doing my regular chores. Now it’s all backed up again. Doodlebug just informed me their clothes were put away.

Except for Taderbug’s. Hers were in a pile on the floor where her basket is supposed to be because she’s using her basket as a desk.

Maybe it's not all me

Yesterday I took Doodlebug in to see her doctor. He is sending us to JMU (the university) for a full evaluation. I am scared. I am relieved. I am blessed that one of my online friends noticed my concern and frustration. She shared her story and inspired me to just go ask.
Doodlebug is an amazing and wonderful girl. Her little quirks made us laugh. Her clumsiness. Her adorable inability to look you in the eye when she was talking. The cute way she would cry out “but that’s JUST NOT FAIR” over everything.
Somewhere I was failing her. She seemed unaware that she interrupted I constantly. She could generate a bad attitude in a heartbeat. She has an amazing desire to help (even wants to be a doctor when she grows up) but at the same time she totally ignores you when you say “Hey, that is hurting me” if not hurting you would mean she had to stop what she was doing. We can’t get past the basics of math. Her handwriting is… terrible. Even eating at the table is a mess with her.
The thought had crossed my mind before. The “what if it’s not all me” thought. The “hmmm, I wonder if there might be some reason, other than crappy parenting, that would explain some of her general difficulty with life”.
She didn’t fit any of the profiles for anything I had ever heard of before. Every checklist I was ever asked to fill out at the pediatrician’s office showed a perfectly perfect kid. Everyone saw her quirks. No one questioned them. Some family even said they didn’t see them – ever.
I am not a perfect mom. I AM a good mom. Even though we’ve had a couple of easy “baby years” in our home school I AM a good teacher. I have lots of room to grow and things to learn and places to improve. I’m a good mom because I realize all these things and I keep searching and praying and reading and changing to try and be better. Despite all of this effort, my oldest daughter still seems frustrated and lost most of the time.
Yesterday the doctor said words that elated me and saddened me. He said that I might be on to something. He agreed that the situation warranted evaluation. He said that I might be right.
As we carefully discussed it all, speaking in code for the benefit of the very aware nine year old in the room, we explained to Doodlebug that we were going to take her to talk to some other people. How we were going to take her to chat, play, and take a few tests to see if maybe they could tell mommy a better way to teach her in school.  It could take months to get the evaluation completed. In the meantime, I’m reading and googling and seeking advice from other moms to see what I can change in our day to day family routine that might help Doodlebug. Even if her evaluation shows to issues there is still something in her life that is making things difficult and I need to fix that.
At least now I know there is a chance it’s not just me.
****************
I am keeping an open mind regarding a diagnosis. I am not seeking a “disorder specific” doctor as I want someone to evaluate her overall and come to their own conclusions. I do have an idea on what might be the problem. It’s called a Non-Verbal Learning Disability.
Here are a few links that explain:
http://www.learningdisabilitiesinfo.com/nonverbal.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nonverbal_learning_disorder
http://www.ldonline.org/article/6114

Yes, we have a tv in our school…


I do try to do the right thing.  I do try to NOT let the television be a babysitter.  I fail a lot. Sometimes I just need the two year old to be distracted long enough for me to explain basic division (again) to the nine year old.  Sometimes, however, we make a day of it….
Don’t you remember those days when you’d get to class, sit at your desk, and notice the tv cart in your classroom?  The thrill of knowing you didn’t have to listen to some boring teacher, you would get to listen to some boring guy on tv instead!  At least the boring tv person had visual aids.
We don’t have satellite or cable and I’m really bad about making it back to the library to return videos, so we rely on our Netflix account to supplement our homeschool with fun stuff.
Here are some of our favorite shows that we can stream right to the tv or computer:

  • National Geographic – most of these are great, some my kids are too young to pay attention too
  • Sid the Science Kid
  • Super WHY
  • Little House on the Prairie (won’t stream, but you can get the DVD’s)
  • Discovery Channel documentaries
  • Mythbusters
  • The History Channel documentaries
  • BBC Science shows
  • PBS documentaries (we love the one on National Parks)
  • Musicals like Oliver and Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm

Sometimes I can’t get them to agree to sit and watch but if I leave it playing, they seem to gather near and start watching.
Do you use Netflix or Blockbuster in your school?  What shows do you enjoy watching?