Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Summer break creeping ever closer

I am already dreading summer break. I mean really, really dreading it. As in near-tears, tummy-hurting dreading it. I'll be smacked with it in about a month and although I'm already anticipating it I'm afraid it's going to leave me gasping for air like an unpleasant surprise that I wasn't prepared for.

Last summer was horrible, so frustrating and overwhelming with so many children to take care of all day long. (There are five of them, maybe not a lot to some people but definitely a lot to me.) The endless cooking, cleaning up after them, trying to keep them from getting too unruly, taking care of a baby and a sick child, and attempting to get some paid work done was just more than I could handle most days. Mondays were the worst, since I had had some help from my husband on Saturday and Sunday, and was again left alone with all of them while trying to get my work week started. By Tuesday mid-day I wondered how I was ever going to get through the week. This cycle continued pretty much all summer; by the time I figured out (with the help of a younger sister, thank you so much dear!) that I could spread my paid work out over the entire week a bit more instead of trying to do so much of it on Mondays, my first day along with all the children, it was almost time for them to return to school.

My plan had been so simple: work at the beginning of the week and take them somewhere fun at the end of the week. We had had a very good summer the year before, which was my first summer with our new baby and with taking care of my diabetic niece. I had thought that summer would be really tough, but since it turned out to be really nice I got my hopes up pretty high for having a good summer last year.

All my hopes came crashing down very quickly. I got behind the second week into summer and never caught up; there were several weeks where they didn't get to go anywhere at all. I was so behind, so exhausted from all the cooking, cleaning, maintaining, trying to get through the hours until another grownup showed up, and just so mentally and emotionally tired that I couldn't bear to think of all the preparations necessary for an outing. With a baby and a sick child you can't just stick your feet in your shoes and walk out the door. And you can't just send the kids somewhere for the day or weekend either. I tried pretty hard to arrange some times when they could all be gone but it never really worked out; other people have jobs, illnesses, and lives of their own.

I surely don't mean to be a whiner and a complainer, and I love every one of them so much I could just pop wide open. Spending time with each and every one of them in their all-too-fleeting childhoods is a privilege I cherish every single day. I just don't like summer break being dumped on me. I'm gonna pull myself up by my boot straps and try to be a big girl about it but I do not have high hopes at all.

Monday, April 27, 2009


I'm pretty disappointed right now. I just found out we didn't get into ARVA (Arkansas Virtual Academy), the home-based public school we wanted our daughter to attend starting in fifth grade, next school year. Well, we're number 103 on the waiting list, so that's the same as not getting in.

I actually wanted to start her in sixth grade since her elementary school goes through fifth grade. But her dad wanted me to apply and go ahead and get her in for this school year.

I've been very interested in it since it started, which was the year this child went to kindergarten. It's public school, so it is free, and they give you everything you need, lessons, materials, even stuff for projects, and they reimburse you for an Internet connection. You have a certified teacher available if you need one, and you do conferences every two weeks. I like that it is public school, which I love, and free, which I love, and that you aren't left alone to figure out curriculum and how to do stuff. I know traditional homeschoolers like that, but I'm not all for traditional homeschooling here ... I need some backup! There are a certain number of hours you are supposed to spend each week on lessons and it works out to about 4-6 hours a day. You can customize lessons so that she can work on whatever level she's on and not just stick to grade level. I think it pulls the best of public school and the best of home school and puts it together, but of course I haven't tried it so I don't know for sure. Looks like it'll be another year before we can try.

I'm pretty nervous about scheduling since I work in the mornings; and also working with her one-on-one for extended periods of time. I get very impatient with her on her homework sometimes, especially math, because she doesn't want to understand, and I have trouble understanding it. But we can work all that out and put her dad on teaching math in the evenings.

Maybe we'll get in for sixth grade. If they have this much interest maybe the program can be expanded soon. They have a lottery system for choosing students; basically they put all the names "in a hat" and draw applicants until there are no more slots left. They don't have any information about grades or anything so it's totally fair to everyone.

http://www.k12.com/arva/ if anybody wants to read up on it.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

The performances have begun!

Today was the first day my fourth grade daughter's performing group went out for a show. It's a singing and dancing group that concentrates on building character. You must have good grades and behavior to be asked to try out.

They normally perform at other school's but today's show was at an education seminar. Here's the group performing Mitchell Musso's "Lean on Me." My daughter is fifth from the left on the front row. A friend of ours took this photo. His son is first on the left in the front row.

The baby and I will be groupies for their performances; there will be a few more before school is out.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Testing, testing!

The kids are all testing in school this week and next week. My daughter in first grade and my niece in kindergarten tested this week, and the older girls will test next week. All four of them will help bring their schools' scores up!

My daughters' school was put on "school improvement" a few years ago, and they have to score well for three years in a row to come out of it. My older daughter helped pull scores up last year and the year before, and I have a feeling her school will do well again this year and will be able to come out of school improvement! All four girls went to school there last year and got to enjoy a big party because of the school doing well on the tests for the second year in a row.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Report cards

Our girls got report cards last week and this week and are all on the honor roll. My daughters got theirs last week and my nieces got theirs yesterday. Everyone had mostly A's and a B or two.

My first grade daughter has all A's and one B in math; it's one point away from being an A! She has a 100 in reading. My fourth grader has a B in math but brought another B back up to an A. Another A in science went down several points to a B, so she has to work to get that one back up. My fifth grade niece has mostly A's with a couple of B's, and my kindergarten niece has all P's, which means proficient.

Everyone made the honor roll and also qualify for good behavior parties ... my daughters' school calls it a behavior bash and my nieces' school calls it good citizens' day.