Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Procrastinating....

I've been procrastinating. Instead of finishing my planning, I took an hour break this afternoon and made a homeschool crest. Lately, I've seen many creative homeschoolers demonstrating their computer graphics ability. I've never had a strong desire to have a homeschool crest, name or motto, but I showed them to my children and they were so excited about the idea that I decided to make one.  Several people either gave me directions personally or posted them on blogs or message boards. Being tech-challenged, despite the explicit instructions I couldn't manage to make it work. I had to do it the old-fashioned way, but I am relatively happy with result.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Excitement Mounts...

This does not directly relate to homeschooling, but as it will affect everyone in the house it's making the blog...

My husband has been putting up the drywall on the kids' playroom in the basement. HURRAY!!!!! He started this project almost a year ago. We have a large, unfinished cellar and we had a heated "discussion" over whether or not it should be finished. My vote was NO. Why? I could list hundreds of reasons, but it really came down to the fact that money is tight and I wanted any money going into the house going where I was going to see it on a daily basis - the family room, the office, the kitchen, a bathroom. The basement? Nah. However, he seemed determined and my husband is a wonderful builder and handyman. It had been years since he really had a true project so I relented and agreed under the condition that the playroom be completed before the start of the new school year (this is because we are doing school work in the current playroom, which is upstairs by the bedrooms). My goal was that I could officially convert the upstairs room into a dedicated education space ... not that we stay in there all day doing school, but with four kids I have lots and lots of materials and resources and it'd be nice for them to have a home away from Legos, Barbies and PlayDoh. Plus the girls are so excited about having a basement play space. (I think it's because I convinced my husband to finish off the area under the stairs into a "club house.")

My husband worked very persistently during the two weeks he had off at the Christmas holiday season - every day major progress was made. And then... screeching halt. Until several weeks ago when I decided enough was enough and managed to light a fire under him to complete what he started. He's been working down there after work and weekends since the beginning of the month. When he first began the project, we agreed to complete only section of the cellar at a time to make the cost more manageable. At this point, the area under our living and dining rooms are framed out into three spaces - a playroom, a storage closet (about 10 x 9), and a project room/work room (purpose to be determined after it is decided whether or not I will increase my work hours and need a space to work from home later this year). And tonight - drywall was installed in the playroom!!! It looks like a real room!

I no longer believe the playroom will be done before school starts after Labor Day, but it might actually be completed before our first week off in October. Which means I can spend that week moving everything downstairs and rearranging the upstairs room. PLUS - it means that we have usable space so our money hasn't been wasted (which was my fear when I saw absolutely no progress being made).

Thursday, August 26, 2010

As a Secular Homeschooler....

This was supposed to go out for Secular Thursday but it's late as I forgot to hit publish...

I was recently asked advice on curriculum from a potential homeschooler. As I thought about what products I could recommend (either to use or to stay away from - I give annotated advice in great detail, which will not surprise anyone reading this blog), I wondered about the ages of the kids, grade levels, whether or not there were any learning differences... all the things that would make a big difference in terms of effectiveness for the child. But I also found myself wondering if the homeschooler prefers secular or Christian materials. This is not to be mistaken with whether or not the homeschooler is religious or non-religious. I know Christians and Jews that are secular homeschoolers, and I know atheists that use materials with heavy religious content. And in wondering about this, I began to ponder how much my attitude about finding secular curriculum has changed. I used to feel aggravated and annoyed by the lack of secular options. I'm pleased to say, however, that in recent years, I'm a bit overwhelmed by the amount of choice I've found.

So what has caused this change for me?

I think much of this has to do with my circle of homeschoolers. When I started homeschooling, the majority of people I knew and spent time with, the people I talked over curriculum choices and homeschooling dilemmas, were Christian-content homeschoolers. I felt like every option seemed to be bible-based. Now that I've changed my circle, I no longer even consider options that don't mesh with my homeschool philosophy - and it's opened my eyes to a huge world of choices and options. Despite the fact that I live in an area that is by nature both heavily conservative and Christian, and thus most homeschoolers are as well, I've managed to create an atmosphere of learning in our home that reflects our lifestyle and our beliefs. Now, finding a support group that mirrors that has yet to happen. I still find it challenging to find extra-curricular homeschool activities that don't involve religion. However, I believe that if I embrace this arena as I did homeschool curriculum and focus my energy on options that do work rather than wasting time being angry over options that don't, I may find that there is more out there than I realized.

It's kind of nice - being an optimistic secular homeschooler for a change. :)

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Step Two - Weekly Planning and Organizing

I haven't been online much in the past week because I've been too busy trying to plan and organize our homeschool year. Well, I've also been busy with other things, including getting in gear for the homeschool girls American Girl Doll Club I'll be co-leading (we have our kick-off meeting this Friday!). But mostly I've been planning and organizing.

Planning: After creating my annual calendar, I make a spreadsheet for each child. The spreadsheet has a row for each week of school (we're doing 36 weeks this year) and is divided into quarters (9 weeks per quarter). It has a column for each subject that the child will learn in school. As the kids are different stages, no two spreadsheets are the same, although some subjects do overlap. For instance, I combine music and art for all four girls so once I complete those subjects on the first spreadsheet I get to copy and paste on the rest (this doesn't sound like much, but I live for those moments when I'm in Step Two). I then look at the planned curriculum and break it down into 36 weeks. After that's done, I plug in what we will cover each week (this could be page numbers, titles of books, the name of the artist I plan to cover, etc.). I have found that there are times when someone moves more quickly or slowly through a subject, and that is wonderful - it's why I homeschool; to work with the child one-on-one at her level. The point of the spreadsheet system isn't to make us stick to it like glue - the point is to give me a guideline and idea of where we're headed and to help me cover everything that I want to cover. It's worked very well for me in the past and although it takes loads of time to execute, I find the pay-off more than worth the effort.

After I have the spreadsheets completed, I move into a more detailed planning session in my notebook. I use a generic composition notebook and I give each week two pages. I go through all the subjects for each girl, write down the goal for that week, and include any special notes or materials I'll need. I also give myself warnings (e.g., in Week Seven I might write something like, "Don't forget you'll need grass seeds and potting soil next week!") so that I can prepare in advance. Additionally, I mark down all supplies needed under each project so that I can see what I need in a glance and gather them quickly.

Once I've completed my planning notebook, I compile my materials lists for the year. One list involves all items that can be purchased in advance. The other are items that I do not usually have on-hand, but that are perishable and will need to purchased closer to the lesson. Then it's time to shop and place the items into boxes labeled for the quarter in which the items will be used.

Once the above items are completed, I move on to Step Three. I am currently in the middle of Step Two (filling in my notebook) and I'm feeling behind due to  ...

Organizing: I've found that part of getting through Step Two always involves a bit of household organizing. I wish it didn't. I don't feel like organizing my house when I'm neck deep in papers and spreadsheets. But inevitably it happens. As I'm looking for one book, I find three I don't need. I find papers that should have been filed years ago. Projects that have faded in the sun and are coming apart with age. Jewelry made by the kids and falling to pieces. Worksheets crumpled under bookcases. Etc., etc., etc. I start to weed things out and create give-away boxes of curriculum I'll never use. Then I look around the room and decide that it needs to be re-arranged and re-worked. I call my husband at work and ask if he will help me dismantle bookcases and lug tables out of the basement when he gets home. I end up doing Step Two in a room that looks like both a hurricane and an earthquake hit it. When I leave the room, I close the door firmly and issue orders that no one is to enter under penalty of death. I am currently sitting in the midst of a room that looks like WWIII is going on in it.

Suffice it to say that I am in the quagmire of Step Two and probably will be until the end of this week. I am hoping to be enter Step Three this weekend and FINISH the planning process by September 1st. That gives me a few days to relax before starting school after Labor Day.

Wish me luck - I'll need it!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Summer Ailments

The only good thing about being sick right now is that we have not started school, so I don't feel like I'm getting behind... I'm hoping this is short-lived and gone before I know it. After two weeks of recovering from surgery, I was really looking forward to getting on with life this week. Oh well - looking at the bright side, this could have hit the first or second week of school and really put a damper on things!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Fantasy Friday

The house is spotless - even the windows are clean. All the laundry is clean, folded, and put away, and I didn't have to ask the kids one hundred times. The dinner menu is prepared for the upcoming week, the ingredients purchased and ready-to-go. The yard and garden have been taken care of. The grass mowed, the garden weeded, and the compost turned. No toys lay strewn about the yard. No bikes or roller skates lay hidden in the wildflowers. The playroom/schoolroom looks wonderful - all surfaces have been cleared of clutter. Gone are the stacks of papers, the piles of books. The doll heads have all found their way back their bodies. All the Legos are in the correct box with the correct instruction sheet. I've finished planning our thirty-six weeks of work. All supplies have been purchased, sorted, and placed in the correct location. All computer software has been installed. I can hear the light classical music drifting up the stairs from the radio below as I sip my afternoon espresso and leaf through a travel magazine. 

Ahhhh.

A girl can dream.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The STEM Program and Secular Homeschooling

My friends that have children in the public middle schools are always talking about the STEM program in which their children will be able to participate once in high school. They make it sound like it's the best thing since sliced bread. Maybe it's because I can't eat bread, but I was doubtful from the get-go. The schools around here do not offer much by way of honor classes or AP courses. They do not offer much by way of matriculation rates either, by the way, so I suppose that for college-bound kids in a rural area the STEM program is probably the best option. I knew that STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. I didn't quite get what the difference was between STEM and taking classes in science, technology, engineering and math.  So I read up on it. Actually, I read quite a bit - from documents in my public school system to reviews and reports by the federal government. This is what I've taken away from all the research...

  • STEM means science and math every year in high school. Okay... shouldn't that be what is happening anyway?  Regardless - as I know that we will do science and math every year, I can see that we are on our way to being homeschool STEMers. 
  • STEM claims to have a more personalized education. One Seattle school claims that by limiting participants to 250 students they can facilitate this. Huh. I guess by limiting participants in my homeschool to 4 students, I'm complying with STEM. 
  • STEM students will still take courses in language and the arts. Uh huh. Yup - we'll be doing that, too. Oh - and they make sure to point out that there will be classes "for every child" - meaning they'll have remedial through advanced. Yes, we cater to the individual student here as well.
  • STEM students will have the opportunity to take lab and project based classes. Yes, yes - here, too. Come on, throw something big my way!
  • In my county, the schools can't handle these lab and project based classes, so the kids are sent to the community college to take science with a lab, math with a lab, etc. NO WAY!! Whenever people ask me how I'll handle high school science, I always say that I'm sure we'd be just fine doing it at home, but that in my opinion the kids will probably benefit from taking the classes at our local community college. I was STEM and I didn't even know it!!
  • And lastly, and this one really is my favorite, STEM students will be taught in an Alternative Learning Environment. Check, check, check! We are definitely an ALE (to use the special and nifty educational jargon). 
Okay, I should probably apologize for the heavy sarcasm, but seriously - this STEM isn't all that impressive. It appears to be basic educational preparation for college (or life after high school if the student chooses not to go to college). It's actually less than what I will expect my kids to do in high school. I'm sure if my child were in public school I would want her to participate, but I'm also fairly certain I wouldn't talk about it as if it were the bee's knees. This sound very similar to the magnet school program where I grew up (back in the day) and to my high school experience (college prep school). In fact, it sounds exactly the same. I think they just gave it a new name. 
The good news is, when I have to endure listening to parents go on and on about the STEM program (which, really, in my county is nothing like the STEM programs in more urban locations) I can join in the conversation - I can say that we, too, will be part of the STEM program. I'll call it the HS-STEMer Program. Really confuse 'em. ;) And I will thank my lucky stars that as a homeschool parent, I didn't waste millions of dollars and hundreds of hours to come up with all of the jargon for it. The government did that for me.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Step One - Annual Calendar

In my homeschool planning, I usually reach a point when I need to sit down and map everything out. Prior to this point, I have lots of brainstorming papers, lists of resources for each subject, etc. Once everything is decided, I move on to what I call Step One (because it is the first step towards the end of planning). Step One involves looking at a calendar and mapping out our time frame. I plan the entire year in advance, but I don't use dates - I simply number the weeks. Last year, we did 40 weeks of instruction and each week (for each child) I made a file folder with all the materials to be covered that week, plus any supplies we'd need. This year we will do 36 weeks, but follow the same format. Despite the fact that I don't date the weeks, I still like to look at the calendar, figure in vacations, etc., and see the target date for ending the school year.

When I first started homeschooling, we took the Year-Round approach. Then, for the past two years, we switched to a traditional schedule. I felt behind on the year-round schedule, but looking back I think it is because I only mapped out one quarter at at time (and I only planned a week in advance, which proved to be a method that does not work for me); and I didn't map out break weeks so much as we just took off days here and there. Under that approach, we ended in July and took off August. But I always felt messy and behind - I think because I couldn't see where we were going. We switched to the traditional schedule for a number of reasons (summer activities, travel plans, etc., etc.) and it's worked fine (mostly because of my increased planning and preparation) but twelve weeks off feels like a long time. I thought we would still do some homeschooling, but in all honestly we really have not (a few things here and there, but not what I had in mind).

This year, I am going back to the Year-Round approach but have mapped out the entire year. I was working on my calendar yesterday and happened to read this blog, which solidified what I had been thinking about our schedule. We will still end in July and have off the entire month of August (actually, the last week of July as well so it will be six weeks off). This works out well because there are more activities available in the summer and the kids can still enjoy them. They can go to camp, we can take family trips, not miss out on the summer fun, etc., and the kids and I will feel like we've had a long time off (which we will have as six weeks is a decent amount of time). Of course, despite the handy map, I am thoroughly aware that things never go according to schedule (hence the lack of dates on my planning folders). In that case, I can easily move things around as need be (e.g., the break week in November is close to Thanksgiving break; I'm leaving it in, but in reality we may very well school through that break week and end our school year a week early or take more time off in December). The point of my calendar is simply to be a guiding tool - not a bible. It helps me see what I want to do and it helps me get there.



September
9/6 – 9/10 school
9/13 – 9/17 school
9/20 – 9/24 school
9/27 – 10/1 school
March
2/28 – 3/4 school
3/7 – 3/11 break
3/14 – 3/18 school
3/21 – 3/25 school
3/28-4/1 school
October
10/4 – 10/8 break
10/11 – 10/15 school
10/18 – 10/22 school
10/25 – 10/29 school
April
4/4 - 4/8 school
4/11 – 4/15 break
4/18 – 4/22 school
4/25 – 4/29 school
November
11/1 – 11/5 school
11/8 – 11/12 break
11/15 – 11/19 school
11/22 – 11/26 Thanksgiving break
11/29 – 12/3 school
May
5/2 – 5/6 school
5/9 – 5/13 school
5/16 – 5/20 break
5/23 – 5/27 school
5/30 – 6/3 school
December
12/6 – 12/10 school
12/13 – 12/17 school
12/20 – 12/24 Winter break
12/27 – 12/31 Winter break
June
6/4 – 6/8 school
6/13 – 6/17 school
6/20 – 6/24 break
6/27 – 7/1 school
January
1/3 – 1/7 school
1/10 – 1/14 school
1/17 – 1/21 school
1/24 – 1/28 school
July
7/4 – 7/8 school
7/11 – 7/15 school
7/18 – 7/22 school (week 36)
7/25 – 7/29 break
February
1/31 – 2/4 break
2/7 – 2/11 school
2/14 – 2/18 school
2/21 – 2/25 school
August
8/1 – 8/5 break
8/8 – 8/12 break
8/15 – 8/19 break
8/22 – 8/26 break
8/29 – 9/2 break

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Morning Routine

During the "school year," our morning routine is enjoyable (breakfast and a morning walk) albeit slow-paced. Well, a more accurate description might be snail-paced. In fact, the girls can drag out eating a plate of fruit and a bowl of oatmeal for hours. My oldest, in particular, is a major slow-poke. She is always the last one down in the morning, throwing on a t-shirt and shorts can take her 45 minutes, she is the slowest eater - and I mean slow, and it somehow takes her forever to clear her place. And then she has to brush her teeth... sigh. I really think she could win an Olympic medal in Dawdling. I've taken to setting the timer for 20 minutes so that they finish their food and we can be on our way.

This week, the girls are attending a local summer camp. My husband is taking them on his way to work and, naturally, he cannot be late so if a girl isn't ready when he's leaving, she stays home. The girls are somehow able to be dressed, beds made, backpacks packed, hair brushed, sunscreen applied, and finish their fruit and cereal in a timely manner.

I realize that I need to change our regular morning routine so that we are as efficient as they've been the past few days. I can't quite pinpoint the error of my ways - what has led to such a lackadaisical morning affair? Hmmmm. I don't want to be rushing to "beat the clock," but I can't take an hour or an hour-and-a-half for breakfast every day.  It delays our entire day. Must think on this and see where we're going wrong.... the routine is not so enjoyable when I have to harp on children to "finish up!"

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Abandoned Administrative Assignments...

I happened to be reading a fellow-homeschooler's blog, and it hit me that in pondering curriculum choices I have completely forgotten to file our forms for homeschooling and to re-join an umbrella group that I dropped out of last year. Oops. We did the reviews with the county school district, but they were a complete joke so we're going back to the umbrella. Every year I want to homeschool "illegally" and not file anything with anyone. But I can't bring myself to do it. And this year, I almost did it by mistake.

Shucks.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Secular Thursday

I just found out about a terrific program in my area:  a performing arts school specifically designed for home school families. The school offers dance, music, voice and theater. Their mission is to develop students not just artistically but holistically - working with the whole person rather than just learning a dance move.  The school even offers lyrical dance, something quite hard to find in my (rural) area. The director is waiving registration for the month of August, and the sibling discount is amazing (key factor for a mom of four).

And it is totally faith-based.

I have no problem with faith. But integrating Christianity into the dance program just won't work for my family. I had been holding out hope that maybe the school was like the YMCA - a Christian organization, but no dogma in the aerobics classes. I was so disappointed. For myself. I am actually quite impressed that such a school exists in my area. And I give the founders and teachers loads of credit for starting a performing arts school for homeschoolers. I'm sure that they are caring people and that the classes are wonderful. If you are a conservative Christian.

If I lived in an urban setting, I know finding programs that are (a) for homeschoolers and (b) secular wouldn't be as much of a challenge, and lately I've been lamenting our choice to leave an area full of both (a) and (b).  But where I currently live, homeschool offerings exist, but are not (by comparison to our previous location) exactly plentiful. And finding a secular homeschool group or program or park day is very rare. The programs through the "local" nature center are secular (it takes me 45 - 60 minutes to get there - is that local?). As are the classes at the community college (though having personally taken some classes there, I can say firsthand that depending on the instructor, this assertion may not be true).  My experiences with local park days started out fairly secular, but as the group grew so did the amount of witnessing and religious intolerance.  We stopped going.

The point of my post is to simply say that life as a homeschooler in a rural community would be much simpler if I were not a secular homeschooler. I can't change who I am, and I certainly don't want to change others. But man, that performing arts school looked so good!!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions...

I'm still trying to decide on homeschooling curriculum for next year. The way I approach this every year is to start with the big picture and work down from there. I actually look at several big pictures (e.g., my education goals for my children over the course of their home education, my goals for the year, etc.), but what it really comes down to is my big-picture "approach" picture. From what style, method, etc., do I want to approach the year.

I feel much less angst than I have in the past. This shouldn't surprise me, but it does. I think that I have completely accepted that no matter the approach, I will do a good job and my girls will do well. That's actually a really great place to be.  In previous years, I've worried that I wouldn't do a good job, that I'd be doing something detrimental to the kids' education, that I was somehow picking the "wrong" thing, etc.  So I have to take a moment and congratulate myself on graduating to this level of homeschool parent. I believe this means that I've officially exited the "entry level" and am now moving up to the level of "experienced homeschool mom." Hurray, me!  I wonder what comes next...

Anyway, at this point my brain has come up with three possible ways to go about the upcoming year. I still do not know what I will choose. I feel that I do need to decide rather soon, but not necessarily today. I will probably give myself the deadline of "by the end of the weekend." (I find that I make decisions better when I have an actual deadline, and since I don't work for anyone else, I need to give these to myself as an employer would to an employee.)

So, here's what I'm thinking - not that it's interesting to anyone but me...

  1. Stay the Course - I have been a (loosely) classical home educator up until this point, and it's worked for us. I can continue in the vein. For my youngest three, I know exactly what to do. For my oldest, I'd need to look over Logic Stage stuff, but I'm fairly familiar with it so it's more a matter of planning out the year. Dread. That is the hard part. I plan out our entire year in advance so that during the year things go smoothly. And it works, it's just a LOT of work for me. Thirty-six to forty weeks of homeschool work for four children, all copied and ready to go, assignments in the right folder, my plan book filled out, all supplies purchased, etc... just take my word for it - it's a lot of work. I mean 60+ hours of work, no joke. 
  2.  Ready-Made Options -This option is one that I look at every year, but this year it is actually a two-fold option...
    1. Ready-Made for Everyone - I can ditch our usual method, and simply forge ahead with something new, and mostly ready-to-go, for everyone. I'm most seriously considering Oak Meadow and Moving Beyond the Page. I also looked at Calvert.
    2. Ready-Made for the Oldest - In this option, I can Stay the Course for my youngest three (I've been doing it for years so I have almost everything I'd need) and do something different for my oldest. She is ready for a change it seems, and she is also very independent which is great because with 1st, 2nd and 3rd graders below her, I can use the time. In this option, I'm still considering Oak Meadow, Moving Beyond the Page, or Calvert.  
  3. The Low-Cost Option - I like a challenge. I really do. So I've considered taking on a challenge where I try not to spend any money. )I've already ruined this option by purchasing things for Spanish, Technology and Math, so maybe I should take this one off the table.) However, I haven't done the bulk of my planning yet so there are still vast quantities of money to be saved (which is good, because we really don't have extra money this year - at all). Naturally, my husband votes for this option. And while I feel that this is a good option and that one can provide a stellar education for little money, it takes the other big expense to do - TIME. And this year, that is the biggest problem for me. I don't have the energy right now (post-surgery, remember) to spend even more time than option one on planning and preparing. I know from experience that however long I think things take, they take longer. So this option isn't quite as appealing to me, though I really do like a challenge... Plus I am tempted by the idea of using what I already have - not wasting. I hate waste. Ask anyone who knows me well. I save and re-use quite well. I rarely even buy new clothes. But in homeschooling, you inevitably end up having more than you can use... or do you?? Therein lies my challenge. I could USE what I HAVE. It sounds simple, but believe me it's not because the things you haven't used, there's usually a reason... To add to this I found Lesson Pathways - a cool (and totally FREE) online program that provides lesson ideas for K-5 on the core subjects.  Hmmm.
There you have it. My brain right now, in a nutshell. Scary, isn't it. Oh well. I'll be thinking hard and annoying my friends. For example, last night I really wanted to tell my best friend that no, she couldn't get off  the phone with me and go about her life, she really needed to keep talking to me and listen to me go on and on about my thoughts on my homeschooling curriculum options and choices (she would have been shocked because I had exerted extreme control and not even mentioned this topic). But I figured that our friendship has lasted twenty-six years - why blow it now?

    Tuesday, August 3, 2010

    The Front Porch

    I doubt much can compare to the comfort of sitting on one's front porch, reading a good book, and listening to the bees and hummingbirds in the wildflowers.

    Monday, August 2, 2010

    Terrible Time-Outs

    I decided to take a time-out from homeschool planning and purchasing today (after I already purchased a foreign language program and a technology program, courtesy of the deep discounts at Homeschool Buyer's Co-op - I don't usually suggest hurrying to buy something, but if you're considering Tell Me More, the deal, which is now more than 50% off, expires today) - mostly to save my checkbook and the inevitable ensuing arguments from escalating purchases - and watch a movie. Normally I don't watch movies during the week, and never during the middle of the day, but hey, I'm supposed to be taking it easy and recovering so I'm allowed. Unfortunately, I've had a bad run of post-op movies. My husband's technique in picking them out involved taking the first three off of the first shelf he came to. They were all terrible. Then today a friend dropped by and gave me a movie from Redbox - Chloe. Another flop, though I totally appreciated the movie! At least it was made recently, unlike the movies from my husband.  I feel like I've totally wasted my time-outs lately. Sigh.

    I guess the lesson here is that instead of researching homeschool products, I should be researching film reviews so that my next three time-outs involve better movies.

    Sunday, August 1, 2010

    Time...

    I am recovering from surgery and as such am forced to "take it easy." I hate taking it easy. Well, I like taking it easy on my terms, when I feel like it and am in the mood. I detest taking it easy when it's forced upon me and I'd really rather not, thank you very much. But that's neither here nor there. I must take it easy or risk a longer, more drawn out recovery. So, here I am. Taking it easy.

    The problem I'm having is that I actually have too much time to think. The kids are at my parents house. My husband is here, but he doesn't really talk unless I force him to (which I tried yesterday, but gave up after ten minutes). And what, you must be wondering, am I thinking about? Solutions to global warming? The ever-increasing disparity between the classes? Will the latest attempt by BP in the gulf hold? Immigration? The Middle East in its entirety? Chelsea Clinton's wedding? No, I admit I am really not thinking about any of that. I'm too busy thinking about next year's homeschool agenda. What will it be?!?! How can I decide!?!?!? I torture myself with this every year. Then I claim to have made up my mind (which, in my defense, I really believe that I have) until the end of July comes along. And then I realize I haven't actually made up my mind at all. I need to investigate every option. Pull every book I own off the shelf. Rifle through countless websites, samples, and downloads. Email everyone I know and interrogate them on their choices to see if I should follow in their footsteps. In short, I make myself and everyone who knows me crazy.

    So forgive me. I know what will happen... I will design my own eclectic mess of a program, spend 80 hours working on it, and wish I had just had the guts to try a ready-made. Imagine if I spent this much time contemplating solutions to problems that had global significance... hmmm.