Stuff I Reluctantly Learned from Homeschooling, Vol. 9

Hello, all! It’s been two months since my last Homeschooling update. (This makes me sound as if I’m at an AA meeting. Well, I guess I’m addicted to homeschooling so perhaps it is an apt comparison.)

Anyhow, I have been remiss lately in both the writing and the homeschooling, but thankfully, the beauty of outsourcing a lot of our homeschooling is that I can personally slack on stuff but the kids will still be educated.

Also, “everything” and “life” is considered “school” so that is also a great “cheat.”

Now, just because I haven’t done a lot of at home teaching doesn’t mean I haven’t learned anything. So then, here are the things I’ve reluctantly learned from homeschooling in February and March 2017:

1) Practice reading every day or there is no momentum.

I swear I constantly forget this. If we practice reading (be it Chinese or English), it is much harder to do it sporadically than to do it consistently. If we continue with the sporadic reading, we have to restart each day and it is super frustrating each time.

However, when I force myself to be disciplined and have the kids read daily, there is a cumulative effect and the kids improve much faster and build their confidence at a greater clip.

This is also the reason why Cookie Monster (7yo) improved at piano once he started practicing daily for 5-15 minutes. And now that he is much better at playing piano, he will play for fun throughout the day.

I suspect (rather, I know) that once their reading hits that highly competent level, they will also want to read for fun on a daily basis. My hope and my dream.

Unfortunately, this leads to my next lesson.

2) Unless I am willing to do the work, my children will never get self-sufficient.

The best part of Cookie Monster playing piano is that he can pretty much do 99% of all his practicing by himself. I only have to help him with his theory homework because that requires reading in English and we have only begun on that.

It was PAINFUL to get Cookie Monster to the point he is at today in piano – but it has been well worth it. I no longer have to sit with him and help him read notes, etc.

Thus, whether it is painfully teaching kids step by step on how to put their bowls and utensils in the dishwasher (which is really a multiple of intuitive steps – but only to grown ups), or teaching them how to slowly cut vegetables with a knife, or even reading so that they can finally read their own instructions, it all takes work on my part.

But then, once that initial pain period is over, I am free.

3) Be kind.

I am a very no nonsense and gruff type of person. I often am exasperated when I teach because I truly don’t remember not knowing how to read English, read music, read zhuyin, or do a lot of things.

But I also know from experience that having someone judge you the entire time you’re doing something new is very hard to feel comfortable enough to risk and make mistakes so that you can actually learn something new.

I need to remember that whenever I am kind and patient, (truly alien concepts to my personality), my children respond so much better. And they end up LIKING the hard thing.

Most recently, I was teaching Cookie Monster how to do division with remainders. He was having a really hard time understanding the concept and he was getting frustrated.

Instead of being exasperated as I am wont to do, I chose to be patient and kind and as a result, after about ten minutes, he understood the concept. He wasn’t perfect, but he got the main idea.

Then, he said, “Thanks, Mama! Remainders are FUN!”

I don’t think I would have ever thought that remainders are fun. But because I was kind, instead of hating something hard, Cookie Monster thought it was fun. And then proceeded to try a lot of the problems because he thought they were fun and that it was fun to apply his new knowledge.

4) Do things not because you benefit but because you are family.

Because the kids are getting older and because quite frankly, I’m lazy and tired, I often tell them to do things that don’t directly benefit them. Or I tell them to pick up things that they didn’t mess up.

Inevitably, I’m asked, “Why do I have to do _____ when I didn’t make the  mess?”

I then proceed to ask them if I should make them food since I’m not the one eating. Or if I should help them bathe because I’m not the one who’s dirty. Or if I should take them to their activities since I’m not the one doing them. Or pretty much, ANYTHING IN THEIR LIVES.

That shuts them up right quick.

5) Turn off the screen. Let the kids play. Don’t interrupt fights.

I put these three together because all too often, I forget that if a screen is on, of COURSE they won’t play. And then, I forget that the only way they can learn  physical as well as emotional boundaries is to let them fight.

And when the screen is off, they go out in the back yard and make mud pies and climb the muddy hill and dig holes and climb stuff. They build elaborate dinosaur and army men war set ups with blocks and then have a great time messing it all up in the game of war. They set up car societies with all their toy cars and play families (which sounds all sweet and lovely until you realize you and Hapa Papa are dead in these scenarios).

They have a fantastic time.

6) My kids need outside/park time.

We had a great run of 2-3 weeks where we met Fleur and Guavarama’s kids’ almost every week day for park play dates. It was particularly welcome because it was coming off of several weeks of nonstop rain and gloom.

Those park days were glorious.

And even my cold, dark heart thawed a bit and was semi-unannoyed.

I forget that kids need sunshine and fresh air. That in turn makes them less wiggly and cranky and that makes ME less cranky.

Oh, and they get to climb trees. Bonus.

Alright. I know these lessons aren’t exclusive to homeschooling, but that’s the context in which I learn them. Have a wonderful weekend!

Suck It Up, March


How is March mostly over?

WTH, 2017? How is a quarter of the year over? I do not understand.

Anyhow, here is my monthly check in to see how I’m doing with my yearly goals, aka: My Year of Sucking it Up.

1) Take family and personal health seriously.

What does that look like? I want to:

a) Cook at least 5 meals a week. 

You guys. I am rocking this shit.

I have stopped tracking what days I cook and how often because I pretty much cook every day, twice a day. It’s now easier to track which days I eat out (which is at most, once a week).

I am SO PLEASED.

Plus, I know I mentioned it last month, but my kids are actually eating vegetables and food without much complaint. In fact, Cookie Monster has turned into a little food critic. He’ll beg to check out the food, smell it, taste it, and then say, “Oh, this tastes pretty good.” or “It’s not bad.”

It’s hilarious.

My kids clearly watch too many judged cooking shows.

Also also? Since January, we have only been to McDonald’s once and Burger King once. 

We used to go to one of these places (mostly McDonald’s) at LEAST once a week. And now, down to maybe once a month. Yay!

b) Be active once a week.

So, I let the two Groupons I bought expire. I just couldn’t muster up the energy to go and I was worried that I would injure myself. I am one stupid move from re-injuring my shoulder and since Hapa Papa is working so much, I can’t afford to get hurt.

Thus, we said goodbye to our monies. It doesn’t matter if I can still use the funds at the businesses at a later date. It’s not gonna happen.

However, now that the sun is back out again, we have been meeting up with friends to go to the park almost every weekday. We’ve also gone back out to hike paved trails. And since I have to lug around my hefty Sasquatch in the Ergo the whole time, I figure that’s enough for physical activity.

I’m doing pretty well in this, considering.

c) Wash face and brush teeth twice daily.

Yeah. It’s best not to mention this anymore. But for the interest of consistency, I’m including it. But yeah. No good.

d) Take vitamins and supplements.

I’m still remembering to take these most days. I consider it a win.

e) Go to sleep when the kids sleep 4x a week.

Nope. I’ve sucked major donkey balls at this.

The problem isn’t so much that I’m not sleeping when the kids are sleeping. The problem is that I wake up after sleeping for three hours and then can’t fall back asleep.

This is the same problem I had in Taiwan last summer. It’s like self-induced jet lag.

I’m a consummate idiot.

f) No texting while driving.

I did better this month. Not as cold turkey as January – but not as horrible as February. So,  um, maybe lukewarm turkey.

2) Take my responsibilities as a grown up seriously.

I owned it this month. But mostly because I realized I had to hand in my tax documents to my CPA by March 18 in order to file on time so it took me 4-5 hours to gather all of it. I also finally changed our life insurance beneficiaries. (Turns out only Cookie Monster was a contingent beneficiary. FAIL.)

Also, finally opened a 529 account for Sasquatch as well as another living trust account for me to hide money from myself. I even finally rolled over Hapa Papa’s SIMPLE IRA from his previous company to an IRA Rollover. Now, to transfer it to our Schwab accounts. (I hate you, Fidelity, for making this entire process so cumbersome.)

I also submitted my health insurance claims and FSA claims for Hapa Papa’s old insurance.

I even submitted claims for our NEW insurance. (Because the out of pocket expenses before receiving the new insurance cards were high and painful.)

People, it was painful but it was done.

BOW BEFORE MY ADULTING.

3) Write.

I have barely written this month. Any of the posts that posted this month were written last month. (Well, I suppose except this post.)

I’m tired. I keep saying this, but it bears repeating.

I’m really tired.

So, I’ve shoved writing to the back burner for now because LIFE.

Alright. That’s it for this month. How did you do for March? Are you even still tracking with your goals? If not, there’s no time like the present to start up again.