Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Stepping Back to Move Forward

Homeschooling has been a kicking-and-screaming kind of thing in our house. And I mean me. That's my level of enthusiasm. But it is the right thing for us, so I pray A LOT and take it a day at a time.

I did my due diligence before the 2015-2016 school year started, and chose what sounded like a great spelling program for Sophia. The school year began, and we dove in. We quickly discovered that Sophia and I both hated the spelling program. But did I change to a new one? No, of course not! We paid good money for that program (um, I think about $30), and by golly we were going to gut it out!

Needless to say, neither Sophia nor I enjoyed spelling last year. And because she hated it, not much stuck.

This past summer I did even more research, and found a new spelling program (Spelling Workout) that I thought would work. It has a variety of exercises, from puzzles to finding the missing word, and is *gasp* fun! Who knew?!

This year Sophia loves spelling. Because last year was so abysmal, I started her in the first grade workbook, which she flew thru in a couple months. Now she is doing grade level work and should be done well before the end of the year.

As miserable as it was, last year taught me to be a little more flexible, and less stuck on doing exactly what I had planned. This turned out to be a very important lesson for this year, with Jude starting kindergarten. He just turned 5 in July, and we started school in August to get a head start before Ilse arrived in September. We started working on the same curriculum Sophia had done, reading and math. To my surprise, Jude grasped most concepts VERY quickly. He particularly excelled in reading, easily remembering letter sounds that had taken Sophia much longer to master.

BUT he was miserable. No matter how much I encouraged him, he whined and cried and was generally not fun to teach AT ALL. He whined thru math. And handwriting. And reading.

I finally threw my hands up and said "You're going back to Preschool!"

I ordered Jude a Preschool workbook, and he proceeded to do 2-3 lessons a day, begging to do more. Sometimes I let him do extra, but usually stopped while he was still having fun. By the end of December he started asking if he could go back to Kindergarten. I held him off, and told him he could after Christmas.

This month he asked again if he could start Kindergarten work, and this week I let him start some math and reading. One lesson a day in each, and if he asks to do more the answer is "No." I want him to continue enjoying it, so we stop while it is still fun. Yesterday and today he read three Bob books!

I'm sure without the spelling fiasco in recent memory I would have kept pushing Jude to do kindergarten work this past fall. And a large part of me really wanted to keep going with it. But letting him go at his own pace was definitely the right thing to do, and makes me very glad that we decided to keep the kids home for this year. Especially as Jude's math, reading, and handwriting only took up 45 minutes this morning, which is all his attention span can handle. He would be bouncing off the walls at an all day Kindergarten. I can just see the daily notes home...

"Jude distracts all the other children."

"Please desist from feeding your child caffeine and sugar before school."

"Jude refuses to stand in line/sit in a chair, etc"

So for now, home it is, with a "custom" Preschool-Kindergarten mashup. That may or may not sometimes include Magic Schoolbus or Wild Kratts for science...

Monday, January 23, 2017

Thar She Blows!

I did not blow my top at the town office clerk. And I count that as a victory today. God is certainly using adoption to grow my patience, and we've barely started collecting our paperwork.

Today I herded the four kids into the car and took off for the City Clerk's office. Auburn first, then Lewiston. Birth certificate day! The goal was to come home with multiple (18 total, to be exact) copies of birth certificates for John and the kids. 

Auburn went well. The kids were minimally rowdy and got lots of compliments on their behavior from the very friendly staff. Ilse and Dawson did their adorable thing, and Sophia read aloud to Jude, so by the time we left we had made fast friends.

Then we headed to Lewiston. And I should have known to start praying for patience when we got in the front door and saw the giant flight of stairs to be climbed. Anyone who has ever tried to climb stairs with an 18 pound baby in a car seat and 2 year old holding your hand knows what I'm talking about. When hauling an infant carrier it's best to get to your destination quickly. Especially a baby the size of a one year old. Holding Dawson's hand makes that completely impossible.

We finally made it to the top of the stairs and headed for the Clerk's window. Which is the first window in a VERY long wide hallway, perfect for running if you are 7, 5, and 2. I handed over my paperwork for John's birth certificate while trying to ignore the wild children racing to the other end of the hallway. Perhaps everyone wouldn't figure out they were mine??

"I need a copy of your marriage license."

Here's where I started to kick myself.

You see, at the very beginning of this whole thing my sister said that I would need a zippered three-ring binder for all of our adoption paperwork, and to take it EVERYWHERE with me. But since I obviously knew better, I left the binder at home today. I had the form all filled out along with a copy of John's license, so why drag four kids AND a big binder around?

Because then when the City Clerk asks for your marriage license you will have it.

I tried to get around it.

"He signed the paper. AND I gave you a copy of his driver's license. Isn't that enough?"

No. No, it was not.

It was right about then that the steam started to pour out of my ears. And then the clerk offered to mail the birth certificates. 

"You can mail them, but not give them to me? Even though the address on my drivers license is the same as my husband's?"


I asked her to wait while I conferred with John .... would he rather come by the office to pick them up today at lunch or tomorrow before work? 

"If he comes tomorrow I can't prepare the birth certificates until he gets here. They have to be prepared the same day they are picked up."

Lunchtime it was.

Lesson learned. When Kristin says to take your binder everywhere, TAKE THE BINDER EVERYWHERE. 

There were no compliments on my children's behavior at the Lewiston City Clerk's office. There was far too much running and shouting for that. But I didn't lose my temper at the grouchy clerk (and she didn't lose her temper at the grouchy mom), we all survived, and John's birth certificates will arrive home tonight. When they do I will slip them into their sheet protector in my binder. And when asked for my husband's birth certificate I will smile and say, "Of course! It's right here."
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