Monday, April 29, 2013

Call in the Cavalry

It's hard to believe it's already been a week.  At this moment, seven days ago, I was recovery from knee surgery.  I didn't have a particular injury but rather a nagging dull knee pain that seemed to creep up every time I tried to do something remotely physical. It started in my twenties when I went hiking for a full day and then progressed into my thirties flaring up only when I pushed it hard.  By the time I was in my forties I noticed it came on more frequently and seemed to occur even after moderate to light use.  I tried physical therapy which helped greatly with the day to day stuff, but the following year when we went skiing it was back again.  After watching a bus load of senior citizens take in a full day of skiing while I sat on the sidelines reading a book, I decided that it might be time to try a more permanent solution. So last week my surgeon performed a lateral release and cleaned up the area under my right knee cap. My knees won't ever be perfect, but hopefully between the surgery and more physical therapy at least one of them should be in better shape.

Taking a homeschooling mom of three out of commission for potentially a couple days if not an entire week seemed like an impossible mission. My kids are old enough to fend for themselves but they're not at driving age yet so I knew we'd need help.  My husband is excellent with domestic duties but he was on call and could potentially be out of the picture at a moment's notice. So what's a busy mom to do? Send in the cavalry grandparents!

My parents arrived Sunday afternoon just in time to go over the schedule and other details.  After surgery on Monday they were there to check in on me as I drifted in and out of sleep.

Friends provided by Kat.

Dennis took the kids to the beach so the house was really quiet.  I know they don't think they did much, but having them in the house those first few hours was very comforting. The next few days I was up and around with very limited mobility and still a somewhat sleepy temperament. My parents facilitated the kids' studies and Dennis drove me to and from appointments.  In the afternoons, my dad took the kids out to various fun activities leaving my mom and I to catch up on movies.  I couldn't be more appreciative for the help they provided for me and my family during this time of recovery.  

On the day they left I was sad to see them go. Dennis also left on a trip so I was once again alone with the kids. I was able to drive and could now get around the house pretty easily. The difficultly came not with the usual house activities but rather the mental stamina required to be around kids all day.  Don't get me wrong, my kids are great, it's just that when you are alone with them you are fielding every request, concern, question, conversation, argument, explanation, etc.  It can be exhausting to be the only adult in the room handling everything from each kid.  So when my folks say, "We didn't really do that much," they are failing to realize that just their very presences in the room was a huge blessing.  I can't thank them enough for their support, love, encouragement, and most definitely their time in our home.  It really made all the difference!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Testing... one, two, three

I don't think testing is ever really a positive experience - or should I say "enjoyable" experience - for the one being tested.  Sure if you know the material really well or maybe if you score above average you might be able to look at it as a positive experience but it is doubtful that most will look forward to it much less 'enjoy' it. However, it is a necessary evil... at least so I'm told.

Next week child one, two, and three will spend a week enduring the Iowa Assessment of Basics Skills standardize test.  Why this particular one? I don't have a good reason other than it's NOT the FCAT's (Florida's standardize test which does not have a good reputation in our state).  I know there are other similar tests out there but this one seems to be well respected by the homeschool community and it is also the only one being offered at this time.  Two reasons good enough for me. 

Why test? I've been asking myself this very question especially in light of a difficult two weeks preparing for it.  Generally speaking, I don't like the idea of standardize tests for many reasons most of which are obvious to those who oppose them. One of my favorite quotes goes something like, "You can't judge October apples in June."  In some ways, taking this kind of test in 4th, 7th and 8th grade seems exactly like that.  My kids are not done learning what they need to know, so why test them now?  As homeschoolers, we are definitely NOT doing things the way they are in public school so I'm fighting my own self on whether it has any value to see how they stack up against other kids their age.  Even more of a curiosity to me is whether any of them have a particular talent in one area or another which we have not picked up upon yet.

I'm guessing some subjects, like math for my older two, will reflect fairly accurately how much they have learned and remembered over the years. For my youngest it will be less accurate because we have not covered some of the math that I know other 4th graders may have already learned. Social Studies and Science will mean almost nothing as clearly these can be taught in any order.  Language Arts will be interesting because even if they have been taught to the student, it takes a while for all the rules to be internalized and truly become part of the person's body of knowledge. Reading and Spelling are anyone's guess. We all know that getting A's on spelling tests does not always translate into being a good speller just as people who love to read aren't always good at reading comprehension. 

Even though I'm expecting somewhat flawed results, I'm still going to have them take the test for the same reason we do anything that we do as homeschoolers....for the experience of it.  Sitting in a desk for more minutes than you'd prefer, feeling a little pressure, having to recall information, having to solve problems, bubbling in answers, checking and re-checking your work... these are all things they will encounter at other times during their life.  Whether it be a driver's license exam, the SAT's, a pilot's license, or maybe a hair dresser's exam... they all have one thing in common - a test.  No one becomes "certified" without taking a test.  For that reason, I have no doubt that this will be a worthwhile event. It might not rank up there with their latest visit to SeaWorld, but I know it's part of their education experience that will hopefully serve them well in the years ahead.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Where did March go?

Did I really do this again? Did I really go another month without posting?  I think it's been a little under a month but clearly I've written nothing about March and it's already April. Impossible.  My excuse this time?  And I actually have one...  my computer got a virus the week before spring break and then with family visiting over spring break, there was little or no time to write. Anyone buying that?  Well that's my story.

March was a month of appointments. As I glanced through my planner I see that we practically spent more time at doctor, dentist, orthodontist, etc. offices than at home.  This is something I never realized would be a major part of parenting and life in general and we're not even a sick family!  I had no idea how much of my time would be devoted to waiting rooms.  I could never have guessed how many $35 co-pays I'd shell out.  Never before have I become so acquainted with the concept of "deductibles".   Most of our visits were standard well check-ups, braces adjustments, and vision therapy, but two of them were somewhat important.  I had a brief arthritis flare up in January which could have meant trouble, but thankfully all my blood work was just fine.  Then I had my knees re-evaluated and we've made the decision to get some minor surgery on my right one. That of course will bring more appointments and more co-pays in April. Oh joy. I really don't know how families with two working parents and kids in school ever find the time to fit in their appointments.  I supposed that's why I usually have no trouble getting morning ones. Thank goodness for homeschooling!

The other highlight in March was spring break followed by Easter Sunday.  This year the Nesbitt family came down to visit the parents and the cousins.  We had such a nice time together at my in-laws house. It was so fun in fact that we made a spontaneous decision to sleep over for the night.  I'm glad we did because it allowed more time to visit.  The second half of spring break was at our house.  The kids played around the yard while the grown-ups sat poolside catching up.  The weather could have been a little warmer, but all things considered it was really quite pleasant. 

Easter Sunday was a little anti-climatic as the Nesbitt's had left on Friday.  With no family around and Dennis having to work in the afternoon, there seemed no reason to make a big meal. As a matter of fact, since our week was filled with so much other stuff, I found it really hard to focus on the true meaning of Easter.  Our church service was very nice though and as always, by the time it was over I found my heart back in the right place.


And now we're into April.  More on that next week... I hope.