Saturday, February 11, 2012

Balance (as in, Finding My)

Which, I suppose, means that I am unbalanced. Only that is a bit farther than I want to take this. What I mean is, I have such a hard time finding time for everything I want to do. Unlike the rest of you out there, who do manage to get your stuff done, I keep getting these rinky-dink little 24 hour days, which are completely inadequate for my needs. As my kids are always telling me (though not about the length of my days), this is So not fair.

But anyway.  I haven't blogged about a month. And while that hardly qualifies as a loss to the world (in fact, those who fret about the quantity of drivel on the internet would call it a blessing), it does mean that I have no record of all my children's (and cats') charming antics. And, my memory being what it is, that means I have No Idea what we've been up to.

School, mostly, I think.  Actually, math. A very small amount of math dragged out over an unbelievably long amount of time. Epic math, as Travis would say ("Epic" is currently one of his words. Only when he uses it it does not mean a long narrative poem, but, rather, "cool." Only he doesn't say "cool." Because he says it isn't.).  We started this year with a generic version of Chalkdust Algebra (Larson's Elementary Algebra with Houghton Mifflin dvds). I thought Travis was ready for this, but he kept making sloppy mistakes (lots of sloppy mistakes) and I finally decided he needed more practice with pre-algebra to get the hang of methodically working out multi-step problems (you probably already see where I was going wrong, but I didn't see it. Then.).  So I bought Margaret Lial's Pre-Algebra and we started over. And the sloppy math continued. There were battles (you might call them Epic battles) over the importance of Showing Your Work. You might have thought that a student (not to name any names) who every day had to do his assignments over (and over. and over) because of sloppy mistakes would eventually realize the value of working each problem with methodical care. But you'd have been Wrong.  We've been supplementing Lial with videos from Derek Owens's Lucid Education site, and in January I finally decided to drop Lial and try Derek Owens's books.  And they have helped! So far math is taking much less time, which only makes sense, given the level of difficulty of the work and the amount of time Travis has now spent on this part of pre-algebra! And he is Still making sloppy mistakes and not showing his work. But, fortunately for him, Katie has now hit a rough spot in math and I've taken to starting my mornings with a couple strong screwdrivers and just don't care any more.

Not really. About the screwdrivers, that is. Or the not caring. I do.  But somewhere around the beginning of this year I realized that I've neglected my Latin study so long that I've forgotten the little I learned, so I need to somehow catch up, so I can help Travis, who is really struggling with Third Form. Only the catching up seems sort of hopeless.  I have angst, and I heartily disapprove of angst. Woe!

But I don't despair! Some things are going well. Katie is doing well at Latin, and both kids are progressing well with their writing! And writing is an important skill, right? Katie has gotten to where she reads her assignments, writes her papers with little or no input from me, and then types them! Happy, happy day! And Travis puts up a heck of a fight about doing the exercises in Lost Tools of Writing (he'll Do them, just with so little care and thought that he might as well Not), but his last paper was, in the end, fairly good. And our new science programs (Katie is doing Classic Science's Earth Science and Travis is doing Kolbe Academy's program using Holt's Earth Science book) are going well. Not incredible, but pretty good. And history, as always, is fun! We are almost through the Civil War (yay!), and it has been interesting. Very sad stuff, of course, but interesting! None of us much cares about the battle strategies, but Travis and I just finished an interesting video on Lincoln from the Teaching Company, and Katie has been reading and listening to Little Women (last night we watched the 1994 movie, and Katie Loved it but was dismayed that they ended it so early in the book). And, of course, reading lots of other stuff.  Actually, having typed all this, I realize that mostly things are going quite well! I Knew there was a reason I should be blogging!

Finally, as I said at the beginning, I need to find more balance. We were all sitting on the couch last night, watching Little Women, and I realized that it might well have been the first time we'd all watched a show together this year. And I Like watching movies with my family! We haven't been playing enough games, either. And I miss blogging regularly (maybe not so much the blogging as the Having blogged and being able to look back on things. But you can't have one without the other, can you.)  So I guess I'll work on spending less time anguishing over how to get my kids through math (not No time, just Less time!) and more time on enjoying my kids. They are pretty lovable kids, even if they Do stink at math!

1 comment:

robyn of entropy said...

I was just thinking of writing and asking how Travis was doing with math. YOU've never heard of me as I've never commented on your blog before but reading your blog got me and my kids started with LIfe of Fred: fractions, and decimals and percents, and now we too are in pre-algebra. We've really enjoyed the Life of Fred books and I've always enjoyed your blog too - very nice and encouraging with enough details about the kids academic programs to help me think about whether I should copy some bits (like Fred for math).
thank you for blogging, ...