Friday, June 22, 2018

What I Learned in May

Another bigger list this month. Lots of takeaways on mental health after seeing a therapist and getting serious about doing some real work and some end of the school year thoughts, as well.


1. Going at our own pace is essential to a healthy homeschool environment and a happy family. 
We're about to wrap up the first semester of third grade math. I started to put a little eeek emoji, but that really wouldn't be honest. I kind of don't like admitting it, but I really don't care at all about being a bit behind in this area even though I know she COULD be at a different place. We'll start fourth grade math before next Christmas and it's given me space to do things she enjoys more. 
It's been nice for her to have a lighter load and it's been nice for me to have a few weeks where my only active teaching with her is grammar and history.

2. Finishing a curriculum feels so good and gives me such an energy boost. 

3. Focusing on word meaning, and not just spelling, is really beneficial. 
We finished up this 632 page beast of burden a couple of weeks ago. I mostly love Essentials (and Logic of English, in general) but it's rigorous and a big time investment for the teacher and student. I've really watched it pay off, though- Annie's spelling (which has never been her strength) is on a sixth grade level and I credit this program entirely. More impressive, the "word study skills" part of her standardized test was the only part where she got every single answer right. She has a massive stack of index cards that are all the morphemes she learned this year. A morpheme, for people who are not educators/linguists is the smallest unit of *meaning* in a word (a phonogram is the smallest unit of sound). I'm never ever going to teach Latin and I have rationalized that this is an excellent option B for coming to understand how words work the way they work. We will start with Volume 2 (broken into two books to prevent back aches), in the fall and do levels B and C. Graves will start Volume 1, Level A at some point next year and I can say without a doubt it will kick our tails.

4. Prioritizing history and science at the Schoolhouse in the Suburbs seems to have worked (PHS is "post high school"). 
I really thought this test was going to tell me NOTHING I didn't already know, but I was surprised just how far she knocked a few things out of the park. Girlfriend is real good at reading a map and knowing that in our culture people get paid with money (not gold or food- LOL) for doing jobs. She did want to know why there were only questions about MLK and Rosa Parks and not the Crusades and other Medieval stuff because Classical Education Probs. I'm really proud of her, but like with most of motherhood, I try not to take much credit for the good or much blame for the bad. And homeschooling in general certainly keeps me humble.

5. College is not the end game for our kids. Recently, Graves and I went for a walk and we played a game where whoever noticed a car in front of us first got one point and whoever noticed one behind us got two points. I really just wanted him to practice paying attention to traffic but I said "you have four points and got two more-- how many now?" And he said "six" so quickly. It was the fastest mental math I've ever seen from him. And he had THE best day of school that morning. It's funny because *I* just decided to let go of this in a way I never have. We've always said college wasn't this Golden Calf in our family, but after years at a college preparatory school, it's hard to let some things go. But recently, I spent some time talking to my precious father in law who has four boys (also something I didn't grow up with) and knows a lot about ADD and also typical boy developmentental stages and youngest kids and middle kids and having lots of kids. And he told me how college used to be the biggest deal to him because for his own Depression generation parents it was something you took seriously. But then he saw some of his kids (and many Americans) find success in a trade and it changed him. I know this is a long ways off. Maybe this is what anxiety does to a person. And I know part of it is that I'm his teacher so I feel a lot of guilt. Not necessarily when he doesn't do what his sister did but when he doesn't do what a lot of seven year old boys do. But then I think *if* he could do it, the cost would be so high. Too high. He's such a young seven. He's so little. And I want desperately to embrace that. This little gutter trick made his sick sister laugh so hard. He's been doing lots of things that do, lately. He might be an excellent plumber or he might be an excellent physician. I hope so hard he will get to be a papa. Because I know with all my heart he'd excel at that. 


6. I want my little Instagram squares to be representative of our days and that means more pictures, and stories, of my big kids. 
I wonder if people think I prefer Sallie. I've long said I don't think there's anything wrong with preferring one child for a finite season and I have and will. Though I do try to use discretion and not share who is who. Either way, it's not that. Two year old Sallie is a really fun girl but also a really tough girl (in more ways than one). I've been (of course) thinking about why it actually is. I could say the big kids aren't as willing to be photograped and there's some truth to that but only a grain. It's mostly that she's in a more photogenic stage and I get to dress her up like my baby doll still. Of course I think Annie and Graves are beautiful but they're covered in sweat and dirt as often as not and don't brush their hair well and sometimes make unusual fashion choices (we clearly ADORE our "armpit NASHSA" shirt 😂). I'm not doing this to prove anything. I just know I'll miss not having pictures of their dirty faces and messy hair and seeing the sweet and sad and funny stories of their seven and nine year old days. They are as much a part of MY days as she is and I want this space to be more representative of that-- mainly for my memories.

7. One of the benefits of having a really loud older brother and being a third child whose parents make you nap in ridiculous environments and loud situations is that you can sleep through just about anything. I was about to scratch my skin off a couple of days last month while we were having the kitchen worked on. Sarah Lamar may never sleep through the night, but I'll take an excellent napper over that any day. 

8. Sometimes naptime rules aren't as important as your sanity and you can kill two birds with one stone.  
 She fussed for nearly an hour and he was driving me nuts. Let him get in there and they're both happy and meeting each other's (insane) needs for attention/affection and momma's getting a bit of space. STOPTALKINGTOME. STOPTOUCHINGME. 

Mental Health

9. I feel the social stigma of therapy more than I felt it with antidepressants.

10. I might be a super "super introvert and coming to terms with that is hard for me.

11. Being a friend and a mother simultaneously is also very hard to me- it's hard to manage children and interact at the same time. I've come to a place where I'm pretty confident in how I mother (and how often I fall short of what I aspire to) and also to a place where I mostly assume positive intent and that everyone has different ideas about what are best practices for parenting and that's totally okay. But excepting my closest friends, I just don't love parenting in public. I am becoming increasingly aware that this is an area I need to be willing to die some small deaths (involving my conveniences, my anxieties, and my difficulty loving people). 

12. A loss is a loss. 

13. Naming things helps, at least for me. It validates what I'm feeling and brings them out in the open.

14. I hate to be seen as weak.

15. Fresh air is often the best medicine for the things that ail me (mostly pressure that hurts inside my head and things that hurt inside my mind). 

16. Fear and loneliness are emotions that I personally dislike more than sadness.
This and That

17. The Junior League ladies don't play. 
 Meeting started at six, y'all.

18. Ever since Kroger got these tiny carts for grown people, I've had significantly less anxious, sweaty shopping experiences.
I drive a buggy the same way I drive a vehicle, which is to say without any semblance of grace but the Lord's. But these are so much more manageable and easier to steer. I do tend to over stuff and then the bagging dude and I have to problem solve and I usually end up carrying some stuff to the car in my arms.

19. Sometimes your baby does things at two that you couldn't do at twenty. 

True story. I was married and had a baby before I learned this skill. And I still forget that you can/should completely close off one noostril (like manually using your tissue free hand) and don't always get it right.

20. Personal space during the night is not a luxury I'm afforded.  
Peyton worked out of town and stayed in a hotel recently so Graves took over the responsibility of making sure I didn't have an inch of personal space while I slept. I swear, it's not getting up with a toddler a couple of times a night that makes me so tired, it's these fools who insist on throwing their limbs all over my body while I'm trying to get some good sleep. 

21. A little Herrington Hack- if you run out of room *in* your cabinets, start putting stuff on them. 

A little later, but there are the big things I learned in May!

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