Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Battle of Wills

If anyone believes I/we have it all together and go about our days happy as clams all the time, this post will clear that up.  Beware this is a very long post.  :-)

I mentioned before that I am trying to get onto a strict schedule before school starts to avoid changing too much at once for Miss O.  She (like most children her age) believes she should be able to do what she wants, when she wants, how she wants.  She also thinks she is the only one that is right, and there are days where she thinks she is in charge (and in fact tells me she believes that I am 3, and she is the far older and wiser 4 year old, so I should 'trust her').  

For example, as we were driving to tumbling class this week she asked, "Is Jesus the father?"  I began to tell her that there are 3 entities of God and she interrupted me saying, "yes mom I know that but is Jesus the Daddy?"  Again, I started to answer her question, and was interrupted with, "mommy, you have your right answer and I have my right answer.   I know I am right, so you don't have to answer me."  Wow.  I was speechless because not so long ago I had been reading about how people believe what they want to believe, and feel like the best solution to differences in theology is to say 'you have your way, and I'l have mine.'  

Anyway, back to our schedule....The goal this week is to have O get up by 6:00 am, so she has time to eat, get dressed, and brush her teeth before we start school at 6:45.

Monday--Day 1:  Diaster does not begin to describe the day.   I started waking her up at 6:30 (I did this for 2 reasons:  1)  I wanted to work our way up to 6:00 am wake ups because I was tired from last week, and 2)  What 4 year old needs 45 minutes to eat, get dressed, and brush her teeth?)
Well, after I dragged my crying daughter out of her bed and explained for the 17th time that yes it was morning, and no she could not sleep in (mind you my daughter expelled more energy trying to jump back into bed, and fight her way out of my hands than if she would have just got up and ate breakfast) we struggled down the stairs.  Next, I gave her the clothes I expected her to put on, and she sat there and stared at them.  I gave her a warning saying, "if you choose not to put your clothes on yourself, then I will do it for you."  After fighting to get her pajamas off, and fighting to get her clothes on with a screaming, kicking, clawing child, she was dressed.

Only 2 more things to do before we could start our school work.

I poured cereal into a measuring cup, milk into a cup, gave her a tiny pinch bowl with xylitol in it, and set the timer as my very defiant child claimed that I could not make her eat.  She was correct, sort of.  Apart from shoving the cereal down her throat, I could do nothing but give threats to get her to eat...or so she thought.  I set the timer on the microwave and said, "O you have 15 minutes until the timer goes off.  I will leave the food out until then.  When the timer goes off, your opportunity to eat breakfast is over.  You may choose to eat, or wait until 10 when we have snack."  Then I walked away.  That was the quietest 15 minutes of the day.  After 5 minutes of fuming, she began to eat her cereal.  She finished with seconds to spare.  

Brushing teeth should be easy right?  

O became suddenly disgusted by the taste of the toothpaste that we have been using for months.  After listening to her whine, I finally said, "I don't care.  Don't brush your teeth."  So what does she do?  She brushed her teeth.  I wanted to pull my hair out.  

So, by 8:30 we were FINALLY ready to begin our school work.  We had to leave by 8:45 to get to the Y at 9 which is the goal for the school year.  Schoolwork from 6:45-8:40ish then go to the Y for me to exercise and O to get a mid-morning break.  Home by 11, lunch by 12, nap by 1, finish extra school work, then play.

The rest of the day consisted of,
O: "I don't want to take a nap"
Me:  "You don't have to take a nap.  You do however have to remain in your bed, and be quiet until I say you can get up."
O:  "No, I am NOT gonna stay in my bed.  I want my daddy."
Me:  "I know you miss daddy, but even if daddy were here you would still need to lay down and rest for a while."
O:  "NO" as she jumps out of bed
Me:  put her back in the bed
Repeat 45 times during the allotted nap time.

With a few dozen tantrums, about all kinds of crazy things.  All of which resulted in her either sitting in a time out or having to clean up the mess she made.  She also had extra chores to do for her bad attitude about our new routine.  

Tuesday--Day 2:  I absolutely don't even want to try anymore, but I persevered.  I got her up at 6:15, she fought me quite a bit, and this day she tried to reason with me, "but momma I need sleep so I am not grouchy."  To which I replied, "There is always nap time today."  She got up much faster, and asked to choose her outfit.  I agreed, and we walked somewhat calmly down the stairs to have breakfast.  There was still arguing.  There was still bad attitudes, and still the same consequences, but we did start school at 8.  

She refused to nap again, but today she stayed in her bed, and I actually had 30 minutes of quiet time.

Fast Forwarded to tumbling class at the Y.  I thought for sure after running around for 45 minutes that she would be wore out and ready for bed, possibly even fall asleep on the drive home.  Well, all of that went out the window when we were leaving the Y.  You see, at the Y there are these decorative small bolders/large rocks and O (possibly from being so excited about her class) galloped down the sidewalk, climbed up onto the rock, and as I am telling her to get down, she shouts, "I'm the queen of the....." and falls down scraping her leg.  Minor injury + tired girl = WAILING.  ALL. THE. WAY. HOME.  She informed me that she could not walk because she injured her leg.  I told her she would be fine.  She proceeded to Limp. Across. The. Room.  Can we say over dramatic?   After I put 3 bandages on her, she was miraculously healed, and finally made it to bed around 7.  
I was so exhausted I couldn't sleep, and then I was up what felt like every hour because it was so hot upstairs.  We have air-conditioning but it didn't seem to be doing anything.  O woke up in the middle of the night with a bad dream, and neither of us slept really well.

Wednesday--Day 3:  Wake up at 6:10, drag myself out of bed, and then carry O downstairs.  Fight to get her clothes on.  Fight to get her to eat.  I am losing all the ground I felt like I was making yesterday.  It has finally sunk in that daddy is still gone, and O misses him.  She refuses to do school.  She sets at the counter and screams and cries for daddy.

I go upstairs, and get the cow daddy told her to hug when she missed him, and bring it down.  Voila!  Smiling child.  What just happened?  She went from screaming and inconsolable for like 15 minutes to  this smiling child.  

We did school work with no trouble.  Went to the Y with no trouble. We had a pretty good afternoon playing.

When we came home we got the mail, and surprise!  We received the DVDs that F had ordered when he began basic training, so as a special treat we go to watch the DVD of what F did at boot camp.  O had to have her nap time first, which she didn't sleep, but she did stay in her bed the entire time.
  F was in the video several times, so O was thrilled to search for him the whole time.  I found it interesting to get a better understanding of what he was doing while he was gone.

This is how O sat the entire show.  She was captivated.

She was completely exhausted by 6 and had an early bedtime.  

Thursday--Day 4:  Is it morning already?  I go in to get O up at 6, she turns, looks at me, and says, "Hi mommy."  She goes downstairs chattering about what we are doing and what she wants for breakfast.  She dresses.  She eats.  She brushes her teeth.  We started school at 6:55.  I am shocked.  I tell her she can go play until it is time to leave.  She goes and plays, I get some things done.  I look at the clock and it's 9:22.  I clean up my mess, and say, "get your shoes it is time to go."  O walks downstairs with big black winter boots.  It's like 100 degrees and humid.  "No, O choose summer shoes."  She comes back with hunter green socks pulled up to her knees with her blue/gray dress and pink and black tennis shoes.  "No, O.  Sandals.  Get sandals."  "NO"  I calmly walked to her room, grabbed the sandals, came down, scooped her up, took her to the car and buckled her in at 9:48.  As I drove, O screamed about how she wanted tennis shoes to run fast.  After trying to stay calm and explain that they didn't match, I had reached a breaking point.  I was officially late for our moms' group.  I was tired of being patient.  I was tired of explaining things over and over.  I started grabbing behind me at whatever I could catch.  O began kicking her feet like crazy.  My finger caught on a sock, and I yanked it off as I shouted, "Take Off The Other Sock!"  Not my proudest moment.  I had to apologize in the parking lot before we could go in.  

I am grateful for the break in the mornings at the Y, because the time I am working out or at Moms' Morning Out is the only time I am without O nearby.  I am with her all the time.  So, back to the day...we headed home, ate lunch, and it was time for nap.  I thought there was no chance she would actually sleep because she hadn't thus far and she hasn't consistently taken naps for me since she turned 3.  I went to check on her after 10 minutes and guess who was asleep.  Praise Jesus!  When it was time to get her up she didn't want to get up. She kept telling me she was tired, so I allowed her to come down stairs and watch the first show since we had been home from our trip to South Carolina.  One Dinosaur Train later, she was awake and ready to do chores, and play.

The evening went smoothly with dinner, bath, playing with the dogs.  By 6:40, her teeth were brushed and she was in her bed listening to bedtime stories.  Asleep by 7:15.  

Friday--Day 5:  Success!  O woke up at 6:00 am easy peasy.  She ate breakfast, dressed, and brushed her teeth in 30 minutes, and school work began at 6:35.  Amazing.  We went to the Y, the playground, and returned home in time for lunch and nap.  No tantrums.  No whining.  

1 week.  We survived, and we have a routine that works well for us.  At the beginning of the week I wasn't sure it would ever happen.  I am so glad I kept at it.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Back Home

Back home...
Back to our normal routines...
We left early Sunday morning and returned exactly one week and 12 hours later.
I have been making O get up earlier in the morning to help her get back into her routine for when we start Kindergarten on July 30.  I definitely do not want to have to drag her out of bed on her first day, so we are doing some light school work now (even though technically we took the month of July off from school).  I want her used to the routine before we start getting into new material.

Routines are important for all young children.  It gives them stability and helps them know what to expect in the day.  It is even more important for O because her daddy is gone, and everything seems so uncertain to her.  She is also a very strong willed child who has way more energy that most children.  She runs laps around her friends.  Literally.  I have to find ways to channel that energy into productive outlets, so she helps me with lots of chores during the day, she has a gymnastics class once a week, and her daily school routines help her control herself a little more.

Our 'school' some days has included making sandwiches.  And yes, I do put the peanut butter and jelly in tiny pinch bowls (thank you Pampered Chef!) for two reasons.  1)  Portion control

2)  Because sometimes I catch O tasting the jelly or whatever she is scooping out of the jar and it grosses me out that she puts the spoon back in the jar.  I realize most mom's probably wouldn't care, but it grosses me out.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Gearing Up For Kindergarten

I am diving in to our homeschool curriculum, but before I started let me tell you what I did.

1) I cleaned my house.  Why would I do that when I am just going to be surrounded my crayons, flashcards, and lesson plans anyway?  Well, this girl knows she has a short attention span.  If I get knee deep in letters of the week cut-outs and look over and see a pile of unfolded towels, I will go fold the towels.  So first things first.  Clean up.

2) I did one more last minute search for ideas on homeschooling online.  I limited myself to 2 hours (it seems long typing that, but it went really fast).  Then I closed all my browsers.  I love that I can search online for great ideas to do with O and every other facet of my life, and I hate that I can search online for ideas because I don't use my own brain to come up with things for us to do.  

3) Pray.  Prayer for clarity.  Prayer for the ability to focus.  Praise that I live in place where I can teach my daughter at home, with very few rules.  Praise that I can stay home with my daughter and my husband can support us.  Lots of prayer.

And then, I finally begin...

But First A Disclaimer:   I must admit, I am a bit of an organize junkie.  I often have to ask myself, "is this organizing for organizing sake or to actually improve efficiency and make life easier?"  
I also LOVE making lesson plans and getting classrooms ready.  My daughter had her first classroom before she was 2.  In our house.  It was not a play room, but a full fledged Montessori inspired classroom.  I can not express enough how much I love setting up class environments and preparing lessons.  That being said, the way I have decided to do homeschool with my daughter is what works for us.  In no way do I think everyone should make their own lesson plans (unless they want to) or be as crazy organized as me.  I realize that a lot of homeschoolers are fly-by-the-seat-of-their-pants kind of people, and I am so happy that they have a method that works for them.  This quote I came across on Pinterest is much more up my alley, "I adore spontaneity, as long as it is carefully planned."

With those few disclaimers I think I am going to have several posts on how I organized my supplies, what we are doing, and my Homemade School Supplies  (ie way cheaper) vs Official Montessori products. 

Last year I made a few mistakes in setting up my lessons.  To begin, I had a budget of $500.  My goal was to spend this amount over the whole year.  My problem is that I thought I had to have the exact same things that would be in a real Montessori classroom.  In Montessori classes, everything is beautifully crafted, and made of natural materials.  The numbers did  not add up, so with the advice from my husband to hold off on purchasing anything I waited on the materials and dove into the curriculum.

I planned an entire years worth of lessons.  Full out.  Lessons that included items I had not purchased yet.  I planned lessons based on skills she had not acquired.  Are you catching the problem here?

I basically had put myself between a rock and a hard place.  I couldn't do the lessons because I didn't have the 'perfect' material.  We couldn't do the next day's lesson because that day built upon the material I didn't have, and on and on.  

The problem with planning an entire year is that I have no way to tell when we will be sick or take a trip or have unavoidable commitments, and then we fall behind my schedule and then I freak out a little.  

I finally had a bit of a reality check.  I realized that O would learn with what I gave her.  Would it be ideal?  Probably not, but it would work.  I started using what I had around the house, and being very creative with my budget and supplies.  

So with my preschool year behind me I am ready to tackle Kindergarten. 

We will be homeschooling all year.  No long summer breaks for us.   We are starting July 30, and have 9 weeks of classes which brings us to the last week in September.  As long as F doesn't have to restart OCS he will be finishing up the first/second week of October.  He will be coming home then.  We will be moving at this time as well.  After an undetermined amount of weeks (I really am not sure how long it will take us to move and get back to our normal life with F) I will plan the next 7-10 weeks of school. 

My schedule is a little more forgiving this year.  I have empty spaces in spots.  Some days are rather light (like when I know the fair is coming to town), some days are very full.  I have a lot more variety than I did last year, so I will try it these next 9 weeks, and if it doesn't work I will try something new in October.  

I am using 2 curriculums that I purchased.  The rest I created on my own (with the help of the internet).  I am using 100 easy lessons to Teach Your Child to Read.  We have already been using it.  Much to my dismay all of my fun reading/learning letter games are not working for O, but this book is.  I find it boring, but she loves it.  I will also be using some Montessori things to supplement the reading.  Pink Box, Metal insets (for handwriting), The Farm Game, Nomenclature Cards, and Sound Bingo.  I have all of these materials already, so I shouldn't have the same problem I ran into last year.  

The other curriculum I didn't make is for geography, and that is because I am horrible at navigation and maps.  My husband is a genius when it comes to this so we go well together :-)  Or rather I frustrate him with my inability to tell North from East and because when I use a map I turn it when the car turns to keep from getting confused.  He gets to be my Prince Charming on a weekly basis and come rescue me from my confusion.  Maybe after a year of going through the basics with O, I will have a better sense of direction.  Maybe.  I DID make the continent bags that we will be using and that was enjoyable and very informative.  

The other curriculum that I made may be making an appearance here in the next week if I can stay productive and get all of my to-do list done.  So, off I go to make more plans :-)

Friday, July 20, 2012

Where is he?

I can not begin to tell you how silly I feel when I say that I could not find my husband, nor did O recognize her daddy, when she was directly in front of him.  We had to go onto the field to find our soldiers for the start a family day and this is what we saw....

They all look the same.  I thought for sure I would be able to find my husband, because, well he is my husband.  Not so much.  I did manage to take a photograph of him and not even realize it, until later.  Honestly, I panicked when he wasn't where I thought he would be. Then I looked around at everyone else who had found their loved ones, and began to get upset because I couldn't find him.  Eventually, I did find him and we were so excited to spend the day together.  O did not leave F's side for one second.  She held his hand the entire time.  

Thursday, July 19, 2012

It's been a while

Whew, it's actually been a long while.  I can't believe it's been over a month since I posted anything.  I had grand intentions of posts on what we were packing, and how crazy over-the-top organized I was at the beginning of our trip, but time got away from me.  So, instead here is a recap from last week when we got to see F.  Today's post is just the beginning of our trip before we saw F.

Arriving at our hotel in Myrtle Beach...

We had no less than half a dozen people, say "aww!  Look at her."  It's a wonder why when the child dresses the way she does.  I must admit it was pretty adorable when she was mimicking me pulling luggage with her backpack.  

She fell asleep before we arrived at the restaurant, and slept through dinner.  She was utterly exhausted the entire trip.  At one point my mom asked if we were wearing her out, and she said, "You wear me out a lot!"  Every morning she insisted she needed extra sleep because she was so tired.  

There is also a photo of O and myself with the helicopter we flew in.  It took us around Myrtle beach and over the ocean.  O did great and was not scared at all.  She especially loved the headset that she could talk in, and kept saying how her Gigi was the best Gigi in the whole world (that would be because her Gigi, is the one who convinced me to go on the ride).  

This was the preferred method of transportation for O each time we switched hotels.  She would squeeze in any spot she could find.  Safe, right?  ;-)