Thursday, September 22, 2011

Three Ways I Gave in This Week

This is Zim. He is our new pet.

I have always known we would eventually end up with more animals gracing our home with their presence. Madagascar hissing cockroaches never made that list. Then we went to The Great Insect Fair in State College on Saturday and came home with this low maintenance bug. In case you are wondering, his name comes from the main character from Invader Zim, a quirky and short-lived Nickelodeon cartoon series. Zim doesn't need much to survive. A closed container with places for hiding and wood chips on the bottom, a damp sponge or paper towel for water and pretty much any vegetable to eat. He only needs his home cleaned out about once a month and can live for up to five years in captivity. Perfect! Plus, we can gross out quite a few of our friends.

The first way I found myself giving in this week was the acquisition of Zim. Normally, I would have responded with a firm 'NO', or even 'Forget it!', or maybe even, 'Have you lost your mind?!' I am definitely learning to go with the flow a little more these days.

The next test of my flexibility came because, on a whim I decided to buy a tent.

My husband and I used to go tent camping about once a year, before we had the boys. We had little cash, so vacation usually involved state parks and our tent. As we got older, tent camping lost all of its charm for us. Now we prefer 'camping' in modern cabins with beds, electricity, coffee makers...

When I saw a great clearance sale on the Sears website, I bought a tent. A big tent. It's almost as big as our living room. I also bought a queen-sized air mattress. When I told the boys I bought the tent, they were very excited and wanted to know if we could sleep out in our backyard. So, Tuesday evening we set the tent up and prepared for the great camp out. The boys actually did a little better than I thought they would. After some complaint, JT seemed to be good in his sleeping bag. Because our yard is one big hill, it was hard to find a completely level place to set up the jumbo tent, so EM kept rolling down the hill and into our air mattress. We finally moved him into bed with us. A little bit of sleep happened at some point in the night. I can't say that it was the most enjoyable evening I have ever spent, but I survived it. The boys were able to do something they had never done before and we are now ready to consider camping in the tent at some point next year.

There was one other way I ended up giving in to something this past week. When I was planning for this school year, I was very excited about the K12 Literary Analysis course I picked up for JT. It seemed so perfect, so challenging. When we really started to spend time working with the material, I realized it might be a little too challenging in some ways. The reading level seemed perfect, JT enjoyed and understood all of the selections. Even though the essay questions based on the readings were a little tedious for him to write, we worked through that by turning them into discussion starters instead. The vocabulary unit using Vocabulary from Classical Roots, level C was right on target for his needs. But it quickly became clear that the composition and grammar portions of the course were just too much. I hated to give up on this material. I could tell that eventually it would all be perfect for him, just not yet.

So I had a talk with him on Monday and we made a new plan. He will continue to use the vocabulary book as his spelling curriculum. This has actually worked out even better than using our old favorites, the English from the Roots Up flashcards. In the past, we didn't get into defining and using our spelling words as much as we are with this book. JT used uxorious and odious correctly in conversation this week thanks to this new material. We are dropping all other portions of the literary analysis material and saving them for the future. For reading, JT will be working his way through a few standard 6th grade novels. He will also use the reading text book provided by loan from our public school district. For the grammar portion he will be using a Calvert grammar workbook left over from our days with PA Cyber. I'm still up in the air on what I want to do for composition. I'm afraid that I will not push hard enough if I have nothing set in stone for that instruction. For now, he's working through a Critical Thinking workbook that requires quite a few essay style answers to questions. I might pull some of the old writing prompts from my file or I might just pick a topic and have him write one composition a month.

For now, I'm happy that JT helped me to decide which direction we should go. We didn't consider it a failure that we had to drop the K12 material for now. We just accepted it as something that wasn't working. I like the fact that we can be flexible like that. I'm never satisfied with just pushing my way ahead in an obviously incompatible situation anymore. There are far too many choices out there to allow ourselves to be resigned to a tedious fate.

The flexibility shall continue. Let the giving in begin!

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