Friday, November 3

2017: The Practice Year

Back in September, I had all my ducks in a row.  I had a binder with colorful little tabs that divided the school year into months and those months into themed weeks with worksheet packets, book lists, reference websites, fieldtrip ideas, and art project supply lists.  I had bookmarked and Pintrested and Instagram-stalked myself into a 40week homemade curriculum plan that would not fail.  I tried to seamlessly blend the themes so that it would have organic flow: Autumn week led to Pumpkin week which led to Farm week which led to Animal week, and so on.

I had our classroom sorted to painful detail.  Colored paper here, white paper there, paintbrushes over yonder.  I was proud of my classroom.  I had the little alphabet strip along the ceiling and a world map.  I had chalk boards, a reading carpet, wooden toys sorted into little bins, crates of fresh crayons, felt storyboards, and so so many books. 

I vacuumed.  I windexed.  I dusted light bulbs.  I was ready.  I would not fail at this.  

The day came.  I hopped out of bed, before the alarm.  I woke my daughter at an ungodly hour to "get ready" for school.  I put breakfast in front of her and she ignored it while rubbing eyes that would usually be closed for two more hours.  Just as it was time for us move into the classroom, the baby woke up.  I left her at the table, got the baby changed, and set him at the table with food and some PBS Kids on a tablet.  I rushed us into the classroom. 

She looked at me.

I looked at her.

I stalled with a very inspirational, "Um..."  I had no idea what to do with her.  My pretty binder stated that we were to be doing "circle time" which I'd loosely defined as a time to do a song, read a book, and review the letter and number of the week. 

I sat my little Adventure Girl down near our pocket calendar and started to sing, "Today is Wednesday, today is-"

"Mommy, I have to potty."

So, she went to the bathroom.  Then the baby ran into the room covered in watermelon and his tablet smeared with butter and toast crumbs.  Then the dog wanted out.  Then the phone rang.  Then my husband got up and wanted to chat.  I took a minute to mom my children and household back into shape.  When we finally got back in the classroom, it was after 10 o'clock and we'd done absolutely nothing.

Homeschooling pretty much continued in this fashion for two weeks... then we got sick.  The worst headcolds we've had in years.  And yet, we tried to power through.  We sang Chicka Chicka Boom Boom through coughing fits and did animal yoga with fevers.  When my husband asked why we didn't just take a sick day, I replied simply that we had a schedule to keep.  I wanted to be good at this.  I wanted to be successful.  What all my perseverance actually got us was sicker.

Acute Bronchitis for all.  And still, I tried to keep the ball rolling.

Just a few worksheets, sweetie.

How about one more book and then a nap?

Okay, I'll get you more juice if you match this pattern really quick.

Not before long, my daughter was acting out: throwing papers, rolling on the floor, getting into things.  I started putting school off until later and later in the day. One morning I woke up and realized that I HATED homeschooling.  And so did my daughter. 

We needed a break, not only because we were sick, but because our schedule was too rigid.  The baby was missing me.  My husband was getting no time with me.  Field trips, gymnastics, music class, library trips, and Amazon orders had drained our bank account in record time.  If this was homeschooling, maybe it wasn't for us.

I closed the classroom door one day and we didn't open it for a month.

We didn't stop learning, but we stopped schooling.  I am not an unschooler.  I need a lesson plan and some kind of system or curriculum to go by.  I want to know what we've covered and what's coming next.  But for a month, we were pretty darn close to unschooling. 

We picked whatever books we wanted from the library, themes be damned.  We watched educational shows on Netflix, we listened to podcasts, we hiked the state forest, we caught caterpillars, we jumped on the trampoline, we went to a pumpkin farm, we baked pie, we made play dough, napped. 

Luckily, Adventure Girl is only 4 years old.  We don't HAVE to do anything right now.  Homeschooling this year is a dry run, a soft open, a practice try.  I learned more in the past 6 weeks than I did in the past 4 years of research.  .

Last week, just before Halloween, we went back into the classroom.  My daughter asked to make a ghost puppet.  Then she asked to do some worksheets.  I think we'll go back to a more structured week, but nothing like before.  We didn't like it.  I'm thinking about having a three-day week.  I'm thinking about letting her pick the themes.  I'm thinking of letting the baby tag along.  I'm thinking about doing school in our pajamas while we eat chocolate.

It sounds good. 

Wednesday, May 24

Paradigm Shift

This space has been quiet since the winter solstice. There are reasons and I'd like to share them with my readers.

Mama Stacey experienced an awakening at the end of 2016.  I had a psychological break-through in the arena of surfacing memories and life-altering realizations.  I began therapy and joined a support group.  I also joined a 12-step program to change my coping strategies.*

As I have been working my 'program' and more has been coming forth through therapy, I am understanding what it is to lie to one's self, to compromise one's self, to be an enabler, to internalize blame/guilt/shame, to excuse away abuse, etc.  My users and abusers are no longer invisible to me.  My negative coping and comfort strategies are no longer normalized. 

My feet have shifted on this Earth. 

Today, I am making healthier choices and healing a little at a time. This involves a lot of focus and a lot of change.  I have made confessions.  I have ended friendships.  I have strengthened others.  I have set boundaries. 

One of the boundaries I have set, one of the changes I have made, involves my spirituality.  Not all of you will like this.  Some of you may identify with it.  Some of you haven't read this far, haha. 

When I was no longer willing to lie to myself, I was left with no choice but to reject a mass portion of Paganism.  I refer to it as "woo".  Woo is anything that is a self-soothing lie, a disinclination to admit mental illness, a bastardization of science, wishful thinking, disguised desperation, a gimmick. 

I no longer buy into: astral travel, energy work, magnetic bracelets, lighting candles to send energy, essential oil therapy, sound therapy, familiars, auras, psychics, tarot card reading, dragons, cleansings, past life regressions, crystals, ghosts, spells, curses, "guides" or otherworldly voices, etc.

You may decide to believe in these things.  That is your choice and your path. 

There are things within the Pagan community which still delight me.  I adore the tolerance, the fun holidays, the music, the myths, and the environmentalism.  I love drum circles, camping, Solstice cookies, herb gathering, and my little boy dancing around in faerie wings.  For those reasons, for now, I will continue to raise my children within the Pagan world.  However, when they ask me why the man talking to himself is telling everyone that he has an invisible dragon on his shoulder...  we will discuss loneliness, mental illness, and negative coping skills. 

If you're looking for a label, I suppose you'd call me an atheist.  Maybe a Pagan Atheist.  I'm still on my journey. 

What this means for the ITHOMS blog is that many older posts have been deleted.  I will no longer offer "woo", but will continue to offer crafts, reviews, toy and book lists, sabbat recipes, secular homeschooling, and earth-centric child rearing posts. 

I pledge to be honest with you and I hope you'll can be honest with me. 

Thank you for listening,
Mama Stacey

* As this is a family blog, I wanted my readers to note that my 12-step program is NOT for drug or alcohol abuse.  While I firmly believe that NA and AA members who are in active recovery are zero danger to children, I understand that there is a negative association between certain addicts and children.  I want to assure everyone that our children have never been in any danger.  There is an absurd number of harmful ways to 'soothe' oneself and Mama Stacey chose avenues other than alcohol or drugs.