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Did you know it was cold?

I’m sure it comes as a tremendous shock when I tell you that Hey, it’s cold outside. It’s not as though 1) it’s cold absolutely everywhere, and 2) the news is all OMG HIDE YOUR CHILDREN IT’S THE COLDPOCALYPSE!!1!!!

So yes, it’s cold out. (In other news: Water is wet. Amazing!) It’s so cold out, we didn’t have school today.

Today at Alpha Mom, I’m telling you why this is all my fault. And I’m only sort of sorry.

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Smells like cinnamon and big changes

Last night I mixed up and kneaded the dough for the Super Fussy Pain In The Rear But Most Beloved Homemade Cinnamon Rolls so that I wouldn’t have to get up at the crack of dawn this morning. I took a break to call you and your friends downstairs for a bedtime snack of milk and cookies (hey, you may be teenagers, but cookies are cookies), and then you all swarmed back upstairs without even saying goodnight. I felt a small pang, but you were having so much fun, I tried to let it go.

I should’ve known better, though—you all got ready for bed and then you snuck back down to the kitchen to give me a hug. I squeezed you tight, marveling anew at how you’re nearly my height, now, and then demanded a second hug, on account of it was to be the last 13-year-old hug I’d ever get from you. You did a little dance of glee, hugged me again, then ran off with your buddies to a room littered with sleeping bags, video games, monster manuals, and stinky socks. I finished forming the rolls, ready to throw in the oven this morning.

The cinnamon rolls are always the same. They’re a fragrant anchor in a sea of ever-accelerating change, where every year I cannot believe you’re the same kid who had a birthday just one short year before. (more…)

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If you’re into that sort of thing

Thank you so much for the swell of kindness yesterday regarding Monkey’s Next Big Adventure. It gave me all sorts of warm and fuzzy feelings to know so many folks are behind my kiddo, even if most of you do live inside the shiny box on my desk.

I don’t necessarily want to belabor the process, here, because I know not everyone is interested in all the nitty gritty details, but if you ARE, today at Alpha Mom you can check out the extended dance remix version of how/why we made this happen. And it’s all fine! Good! Perfect! I will just be over here breathing into this paper bag just for fun.

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Can of worms, ripped open

Life has been a little nutty ’round here, lately.

Um, not the “ZOMG Y’ALL I AM SO BUSY” kind of nutty. For one thing, I sort of hate that assertion on general principle, because isn’t EVERYONE busy? I mean, usually? When I have a lot of stuff to do, any spare moments I have for reflective thought tend to take the shape of “Did I remember to eat today?” and “Do I have any clean clothes to wear?” or even “Why do these children keep talking at me and expecting me to feed them?” Even if I had time, it would never occur to me to be convinced that I was eversomuchmorebusier than anyone else. Life is busy for 99.99999% of the population.

No, it’s been nutty more in the MANY FEELINGS and CHANGE IS HAAAARD and HOW DO I MAKE THE THINGS THAT NEED TO HAPPEN ACTUALLY HAPPEN kinds of ways. And while that last item falls, I guess, into the general “busy-ness” category, the other two are much more matters of “May I please be excused? My brain is full.” Only no one ever explained to me as a kid that adults are never excused no matter the fullness of their brains. So unfair. (more…)

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Continuing adventures in sleepyland

Do you have any coffee? No? It’s because I’ve taken possession of All The Coffee. I drink it all day long, now, instead of just my usual mug in the morning. You know that song Smoke Two Joints by Bob Marley? That’s me and coffee, now. I drink two cups in the morning, I drink two cups at night! I drink two cups before I drink two cups, then I drink two more!

Unlike the song, however, it doesn’t “make me feel alright.” It makes me feel… less like death. But still very sleepy.

Monkey was kind enough to come down with some sort of cold this week (step right up, come see the miracle boy with no immune system as he catches every virus in town!), which means that he’s been sleeping in, which means that I’ve been dragging my sorry butt out of bed at o’dark thirty to fix Chickadee’s breakfast and pack lunches, and then after she and Otto leave for school I go back to sleep until Monkey gets up. That part is handy, but the part where we’re both cranky after we get up is not so great. (more…)

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Slacker? Genius? Smartass?

Back in the days of OH I COULD NEVER EVER HOMESCHOOL (haaaaaaaa!), my aversion to this idea was multi-pronged. Basically I was convinced that:
A) I am not patient enough to be my child’s main teacher.
B) Curriculum planning is probably hell on earth.
C) Spending all day, every day, with my child would strain our relationship.
D) Working and homeschooling are incompatible, even though I work from home.
E) There is not enough Excedrin in the world for this.

Spoiler: I was wrong. I mean, Excedrin comes in really, really big bottles (especially at Costco!), plus there are ways to deal with all of those other concerns. For example, we use virtual school classes, which means that my “curriculum planning” consists of going through the course catalog to pick classes, rather than actually writing syllabi. Also, when I need to get work done I just ignore Monkey for a while. Easy!

[As for patience, well, I still think I’m probably not patient enough, not really. But I’m a lot more patient than I was a few years back, which is just as good for me as it is for him. And when all else fails, there’s that whole ignoring thing. Which I am totally joking about! Except not really.] (more…)

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Points for honesty

The adjustment to the new school year has been… well… a little rocky. It’s been a month, so you’d think things would be evening out about now. Of course, if you actually knew my children, you’d realize that one month is about enough time for all unaddressed issues to come to a glorious, face-melting head of WOE and GNASHING OF TEETH, and that’s pretty much exactly how it went.

[Related: I have never wanted a long weekend to end as badly as I did this past weekend. Instead of feasting on charred meat, we spent our extra day wondering if we could, perhaps, just move away when the kids weren’t paying attention. But apparently that’s “bad parenting” or something.]

Anyway! We are ALL ABOUT the now-dreaded phrase “skills building” here at Casa Mir. It is SKILLS BUILDING to work on consuming your dinner as if silverware is not a foreign concept. It is SKILLS BUILDING to be instructed in the fine art of putting dirty clothing IN the hamper instead of NEXT TO the hamper (I have never understood that). And it is most definitely SKILLS BUILDING to learn how to make checklists for yourself if you have the attention span of a fruit fly and are constantly in trouble for forgetting to do things. (more…)

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Here, have all the Band-Aids

I’m sure this will come as a complete shock to anyone who’s been reading here for longer than a day or two, but Monkey has a small group of friends with whom he gathers every few weeks to play Dungeons & Dragons. This band of merry nerdlings is made up of the nicest kids imaginable with even kinder parents, and we especially appreciate having this group now that some of us are no longer at Hippie School. With Monkey truly homeschooling most of the time this year, every get-out-and-be-social opportunity is even more important for him more than ever before. And he just really loves D&D and these other boys with his whole nerdy heart.

So yesterday was a D&D day, and we dropped an excited, bouncy Monkey off at the hosting friend’s house, and then as I was back here at home riding herd on a certain other child who had a crap-ton of indecipherable homework, I thought, “Well, this is unpleasant. I’m glad this is the worst thing that’s going to happen today.” (When will I learn, Internet? WHEN? I should just go get on LinkedIn right now and change my job title to “Tempting Fate.”) (more…)

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Back in the saddle again

I’ll be headed into our first special education meeting of the season later this week, and it should be a real doozy. Chickadee’s guidance counselor has been changed, since last year, and she has a new diagnosis, and we want some additional testing, and… well, you know I always make cookies, but I think I’d better be certain to make REALLY GOOD COOKIES for this one.

I pull no punches when it comes to dealing with the school. Five minutes after meeting the new guidance counselor, I was saying, “Look, I’m going to be a pain in your ass. I know this and I’m telling you. I’m here to advocate for my child, and if we need something, I will be here until she gets it. On the other hand, I think you’ll find I’m pretty realistic about who she is and what she needs and what the school should be providing, and when everyone here does their job, I will be here saying thank you. Plus I make good cookies.” She looked a little scared. We’ll see how it goes.

Transitioning to the high school years when you have a kid with an IEP or 504 Plan is a whole new ball of wax, man. I’ve got a few quick tips on navigating special education with an older child up at Alpha Mom today, just in case you, too, recently realized how little time is left before college to teach your special snowflake how to be her own best advocate. (Hold me.)

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You don’t know until you do it

I had a nice chat with one of Monkey’s virtual teachers this year (uh, she is not virtual, she’s a real person—a real teacher—but she works with the Virtual School, I mean) wherein I said something in passing about how this is our third year of homeschooling, and she uttered the dreaded phrase:

“Oh, I just DON’T KNOW HOW PEOPLE DO IT. I could NEVER homeschool my kids!”

I have an arsenal of standard responses to such statements: that I didn’t think I could until I did, that one of my kids is still in public school, that we utilize a lot of resources like Virtual School, and—my personal favorite, as it really gets to the heart of the matter—that I never planned to, but with Monkey’s particular set of needs being incompatible with a conventional middle school classroom, I simply didn’t have a choice.

But the truth is that a huge part of the reason I hate that phrase is because I probably said it to homeschoolers, myself, a hundred times before we found ourselves homeschooling. The implication is admiration, but the subtext is disbelief that anyone could survive it. (more…)

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