Welcome to my adventure. This blog started out focused on parenting and school but now that Katie's nearly baked, it's way more about me these days. My experiences, more likely my point of view and good times to share.
Welcome! I'm glad to have you aboard.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Hard Day: Missing Friends and the Weird Guy at the Park

Today was tough.

I knew it was going to be rough - Katie would be tired from four days of over doing. I had plenty to do workwise and I thought I had set aside a few things to keep Katie busy. I was going to push it - our consultant said to take things slow. She said when kids make the transition from traditional school to home school, they often have to go through a "de-programming" period while they unlearn some of the habits they learned at school. Made sense to me. Go slow. Got it.

So I didn't have a fit when she didn't want to read, she wanted to play Little Pet Shop. I didn't over react when she said she wasn't ready to write in her journal, she just needed to organize things first. I even kept it together when she asked if she could watch just one show instead of do the two measly thank you notes (her birthday was a month ago!) that need to be done.

But when she came in, started crying, and told me how incredibly bored and miserable she was. Then I got frustrated. She went on and on about normal school and how good it would be if she could be there. I reminded her that she had romanticized school, that she was miserable last year and that her friends were not all that friendly.

We got really stuck. I didn't want to feed the "poor me" monster and I didn't want to be insensitive either. I really tried to stay balanced, present and helpful. What really worked was a trip to the park.

Maybe a Trip to the Park?
I knew we needed to get out of the house. We walked to get the car (getting a repair from a damaged air conditioner - during the heatwave, of course). Then we hit the park. I did some walking, she did some playing and then we noticed him. The weird guy.

This man, in lame shorts, a baggy t shirt, white socks and flip flops was walking around the park with a balloon. Not a normal balloon - a kind of cool dog-on-a-leash balloon that was clearly designed to attract children. In fact, kids were attracted to him. But none of the kids belonged to him. It started to really freak us out.

So we decided to call the Sheriff. The deputy they sent was awesome. He called while on his way to the park and got the low down from us. We stressed we weren't sure there was anything wrong but that things just didn't look right. We kept an eye on things while waiting for him to arrive. When he got there, we casually went to our car and watch things unfold.

After 10 minutes talking to the man, the deputy walked away and I assured Katie he was calling us - which he was. Turned out the man was okay and admitted he was acting kind of weird now that the deputy pointed it out. That kids had come up to him and he hadn't thought about it. The deputy thanked us for being vigilant and said we did the right thing.

The best part of the whole thing for me is that Katie got to participate in noticing people, their behavior and learn about making assessments about that behavior in a way that might help keep her safe in the future. We didn't panic. We didn't get paranoid. We did consider our options and made a conscious decision to make the call for help.

So it ended up being a home school day after all.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Outing: Home School Bonfire at Twin Lakes

Tonight our home school hosted a bonfire at the beach and it was great. We brought marshmallows and a roasting stick and pigged down lots of toasty roasted marshmallows.

We made some new friends and watched the pelicans and seagulls chase a school of fish up the coast.

Then the sailboats started coming in as the sun went down. What a great way to end a hot weekend with new friends, great weather and a beautiful view.

Friday, August 28, 2009

A First! A Chance to Babysit! Awesome!

Today was a first for Katie.

She had her first babysitting job. Okay - not really baby-sitting - it was "mommy's helper" - but she was responsible for keeping Roark happy, engaged and safe while his mom and I worked.

We used the babysitting as a home school opportunity and studied up on child care, safety and reviewed the kinds of games she could play with a three year old. We borrowed some age-appropriate toys from the home school resource center and got a book on toddler games and babysitting. It was good preparation. 

Splish, Splash, Vrooooommmm!
As it turned out, it was an incredibly hot day and the kids got into a rousing game of water play. Then Roark's dad came home and took both kids on a boat ride - which Katie thought was outstanding. It reminded me how much she likes to go fast!

We got done around two pm and when my client went to pay her, Katie was like, "no way, you can't pay me! I had too much fun." But I explained she actually did do the job, kept the child safe and engaged and that babysitting can actually be fun! She can't wait to babysit again.

Unexpected Quality Time: Priceless
On the way home we had a great lunch at Red Robin (yummy) and some good discussion. I am truly appreciating having this extra time with her, getting to actually share some of her "firsts" (both child care and the boat ride) and still managing to get work done as well!

Home School POV: The two books we used for the prepping her for child care are kind of cool. They were:

Toddler Play by the good folks at Gymboree. "This book is a "recipe book" of games, finger rhymes, nursery songs, and craft exercises that parents can use to help their children develop physical, cognitive, emotional, and social skills." We thought it was easy to access good information quickly and gave her lots of ideas for play (a little young for threes...best for ones and two year olds.)

The Babysitter's Handbook: The Care and Keeping of Kids by the other good folks at American Girl. Good information in a format Katie was already familiar with (we have a ton of the American Girl books, they are great!).

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Field Trip: Gramma, Katie, GPS and the Rosicrucian Museum

I had to spend the whole day at my client's office today - from 9am to 7:30pm - and so I planned ahead. I asked mom if she'd take Katie on a field trip to the Rosicrucian Museum in San Jose as a follow on to King Tut on Monday.

Mom agreed, I printed out the maps and sent them on their merry way. And I gave them the Nuvi GPS.

I guess the museum is pretty cool. Some of it was repetitive and according to Kate, mom takes way too long looking at exhibits, but they have a real "tomb room" that they both thought was awesome. They also have some mummified animals which got Katie very fired up.

Not Really on "Target"
After the museum, they wanted to run by Target (we don't have one near us) and so they used the GPS to help them get there. Well, ideally they thought they were using the GPS but apparently it was a cluster. They got lost, turned around and nearly decapitated the little man in my GPS that kept saying, "Recalculating!"

I guess they never made it to Target. They managed to find a Kmart and get the hair products we desperately needed! They laughed and cried together along the way. And when I got home, they were totally happy from having spent the day together and sharing the big adventure.

Home School POV: I came home to find Katie making a "book" about Egypt, King Tut and Mesopotamia. She was so excited about it. We also spent the next day working on learning how to use the GPS - so we got a little tech lesson!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Home School Orientation: So That's Where All the Smart Women Went!

Today was kind of the "first day of school" if there is such a thing for home school. We went over to the school for orientation - to figure out how things work, to get our personal "consultant" and to meet new families.

Katie had a mind meld with one of the consultants and I looked around assessing the resources, listening and trying to figure out what to expect. I am a bit of a planner and it helps me to know what's going on. The kiddo was much more focused on making friends.

Probably the hardest thing for her was seeing her old school right next door and watching the kids play during recess while we had to stay at an arm's length. I was really proud of her ability not to totally lose it. I get it. I am an extrovert and friends matter a ton to me. I don't know how I would have handled it seeing my buddies on the slide right next door. 

The Parent Round Table was Eye-Opening!
The kids broke away while the adults came together in a round table Q&A session. And then it  happened. I figured out where all the "women like me" had gone to. They were in home school! I am not sure about everyone but based on first impressions, there were a ton of smart women who actually cared about things like geography, current events, participating in the planet, community and more! It was amazing.

I have struggled to be a mom with the other moms in our community. Many of my peers stay a home while their spouses work and generally, they aren't terribly engaged with politics, current events, or doing things to help others. They tend to squabble about silly things that frankly don't matter on twit. So imagine my delight to find such an amazing group of women - interested in teaching their children and sharing that experience with others!

After we were done, the Yard Duty (what a horrible thing to be called when you are doing such an important job!), but the Yard Duty at Katie's old school gave her permission to go visit with her friends during lunch recess. I think it was actually a really good thing because she got to see them through a different lens. It was just for a moment, but it was a start. 

Time for Compassion
In the afternoon, Katie spent time with her girlfriend, consoling her because her 21 year old cat was finally put down. I was glad Katie was there for her and the upside of home school - it was a school night but not the stressful kind. She was able to stay with her friend into the early evening without me panicking about homework and all the usual rot.

What a gift.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

First Home "Work Day": Meaning Both of Us Worked!

I had to get a lot of work done today. I had meetings and writing to get done, so Katie had her first show-some-initiative, do it yourself "work day" for home school.

She started out working on her one page journal entry based on the visit to King Tut, but that rapidly degenerated into organizing her desk area. As she started to get her work area organized, she also wanted to get her "subjects" posted on our white board and then needed to also pull together some - what I will call "traditional classroom props".

Then she showed some initiative! She went about creating a list of all the Presidents - from Washington to the present - and created labels for all of them. This kept her busy for a good two hours as she used a great page on the Wiki to get their full names and numerical order.

Stars and Stripes Forever
Then she wanted to create a flag (mind you, should could have printed one from the Internet) but no, she had to create a flag on her own. She went outside to look at our flag to get the stars figured out and then created a lovely paper flag that went on the white board. Then she wrote the pledge of alligence (where we generated the list of spelling words for next week) and then we said the pledge together!

I am amazed that I actually got work done today and she was totally stoked about her Presidents project. She didn't finish the journal one pager, but oh well, I have a feeling patience is going to be a big part of home school (for me)!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Field Trip: King Tut at the De Young in San Francisco

Today was our first home school field trip. It was awesome.

We did a lot of studying ahead - we rented a number of movies from Netflix (see list below) and it really helped us prepare for the event. We also spent time learning more about the culture from the book, Ancient Egypt Revealed. It has good information about different aspects of Egyptian life that was really interesting to Katie.

The exhibit took about 90 minutes to get through (and gramma was way slower than Katie and I). Some of the pieces were absolutely beautiful and we were really interested in the canopic jars. Because we did our homework, we understood the relationship of the Pharaohs to one another which really helped.

I highly recommend the exhibit for anyone with kids probably eight and older. There's enough to see that will interest them and if you watch at least one film ahead of time, they should understand what they are seeing.

Meanwhile, back at home...
The day had a kind of bittersweet ending. The school Katie was supposed to attend finally posted the classroom assignments and her friend called to tell her she got the "good" teacher. Katie was ready to go to that school and get started.

We decided to check the information ourselves and found out that she actually got the horrible teacher. That made much more sense (based on what had happened in fourth grade, we knew she would be assigned to the bad teacher).

We spent an hour with her friends who were also bummed about their class assignments and then went home to be grateful that we had dodged a bullet. We had a plan - home school - and it was looking more and more like it was going to be a good thing!

Home School POV: Katie is planning on writing a one page journal entry on her day. 

Pre-King Tut Movies:
The Mysteries of Egypt - this is an IMAX production. It's a great overview, very easy to watch and is beautifully filmed. The other upside - it's kind of short - about 50 minutes. Katie liked this one the best.

Egypt: Engineering an Empire - outstanding focus on the buildings, many we had never heard of, and how the Egyptians innovated like no one before. It's a little long - we did it over two nights - but it is well worth it.

The Mysteries of Egypt: The Pharaohs - this was kind of a boring film. Mom and I ended up watching most of it - Katie felt like it was repetitive based on what she had already seen. It's not very well produced and pretty stuff (British).

Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Experiment Begins

Katie does not want to do home school. She is convinced she's not going to have any friends and that spending time with me is going to totally suck.

It's been a long summer dealing with her anxiety about home school. Because we don't know what to expect, she's dreading it. Thank goodness, this week we things will finally get started. Tomorrow we have our first field trip with the kids and on Wednesday, we meet everyone for orientation.

I don't want to have any more fights or discussions about what it might be. I just want it to start so she'll relax; we'll find out if this is going to work and we just get some sort of routine. 12 more hours. Thank goodness, we'll get this party started....