Friday, July 20, 2012

Little Surprises

Warning, this is a bit of a whine. By "bit", I mean "quite a bit".  If you're up for it, carry on.  Sometimes, you just need to get it all out.

I suppose I should pop in here more often.  I had no idea how much it had changed. lol   I shouldn't be surprised, but I was.

One thing became rather clear to me this past year, I have a ridiculous need for 'order'.  Well, except when it come to anything that looks like housecleaning, then I'm good with a little disorder (though I still have my limits).  This need for order, for routine, can be a very helpful tool in life.  I make plans, I work towards goals, I get things done, I make new plans, etc.  That's all good, right?

Where it utterly falls apart is in the homeschool area.  This beautiful, wonderful kids are breaking my brain and have just plain ol' run me ragged these past few years.  We've worked on school for 3 full school years and two full summers in order to try to finish courses on time for the next fall.  I have rearranged our schedules and daily due dates in order to facilitate getting everything done on time.  It makes no difference.  We're here in another summer (and the weather is finally starting to look like summer), and courses are not finished. Again.

I have a lovely younger child who is probably most like me.  She is motivated by due dates, but once she's 'caught up', she's not interested in doing extra work to get ahead.  Unless there's crossword puzzles involved.  Then, she's all over it.  The eldest wants to do the bare minimum to pass, couldn't organize her way out of a paper bag and doesn't really care about deadlines at all.

Of course, in addition to school we have Musical Theatre classes, voice lessons and dance class.  Also include the extra practices that come just before performances, studios that didn't organize performaces very well this year, etc., and that's a bit closer to life these days.

This Spring, I became very aware that we are all burned out.  I have no time for things I enjoy (including blogs - reading or writing), and I'm too mentally toasted to enjoy much of the time when I do get it.  The kids are in desperate need for free time with no schedule pushing them around.  So.  I declared that there would be no mandatory schooling this summer. 


I carefully laid out a schedule that would help the girls complete 90% + of their courses by the end of June (June 29 was the Last Day of required school), with just a small amount of classes to be made up over the summer if they chose to do so.  I informed them that I would gladly help them with any work they chose to do over the summer, but other than ask if they were doing any, I would not schedule any classes like that. 

My only requirements for the summer are that the girls work on some typing skills every day (a computer typing game, not a hardship), some foreign language lessons each day (1 or 2, and on the computer), and we are going to work on handwriting skills (printing and cursive).  We can easily complete all of these in an hour.  If they don't happen every day, no worries.  The eldest also volunteered to do a summer Math Lab, an online math class that meets for 1 hour Mon - Thurs.  She did this over the past school year, and it has made a world of difference in her math scores.  Even more exciting, she likes the class!

Now, the eldest has a huge pile of classes that she didn't finish for the year.  We were making great progress, but we hit technical difficulties.  The state cut the budget for online learning programs (they don't seperate optional online learning experiences from full-time online public school in the budget, so when they cut one, they cut the other), so the county in which our school is located decided to eliminate the school from their budget.  The technological impact of this was to switch all students and learning coaches (that's me) to another county's system. 

Let me start by saying this was to be a "Seamless Transition".  When you're done laughing, I'll continue.  No.  It's okay.  Laugh some more.

Yeah.  So, the week before my selected deadline, the whole system shut down and we couldn't get in to 'see' any of our classes.  Since many of them have at least part of the class and/or assessments online, this affected everything.  Now sweat, I thought.  We'll just push out that Last Week and do it the next week and we'll all be okay with that.  Uh-huh.  So it is now July 20th, the system still isn't working properly.  They reset all course values to the beginning of LAST fall, so the kids cannot see what is truly remaining in their courses.  Technically, we can continue to work forward (I do know where we are in the coursework, even if it isn't showing), but the kids won't voluntarily work on their own because it is a) depressing to look at all the zero values, b) really frustrating to have to look up each class in our workbooks to figure out where to go next, and c) much, much easier to just ignore the whole thing.

I've spent weeks on the phone talking to the same people who don't know anything, only now they've become people who can tell me the problem is located elsewhere in the system (a place I can't call) where they are working on a solution, with no idea when it will be corrected.  It seems they were surprised that it wasn't "seamless" and are trying to get it sorted out.  ALL of the students were affected, but I am just flabbergasted that so many students who are working to finish courses over the summer will be struggling with the system as it is.  As of now, there's no guarantee that any current progress will be properly meshed with the old progress when the system is fixed.  So, there could be yet another problem on the horizon.

So.  My attempt at letting go this summer, letting the chips fall where they may, letting the kids determine where they'd be next fall, etc.  Not working out so well.  I don't seem to be able to relax about the whole thing - AT ALL.  The kids' stress levels are on the decrease, I think.  Mine?  Not so much.

I spent two months planning for the Tour de Fleece this year.  I've had exactly 3 days in which to spin.  It ends on Sunday.  I have very little time for any spinning between now and then.  This plan failed spectacularly, and my stress levels reflect that.  Himself took a week off of work to 'do things around the house'.  Oddly, I thought that meant do his things, not involve the entire family.  I didn't schedule for that. We got lots of stuff done around the house, but I'm not really enjoying the positives that should go with that because all of it involved messing with my schedule (mostly to spin or just relax). 

Here it is, mid-July, and I still haven't reached a place where I can just relax.  I set very few goals for myself this summer.  One was to try to let the school thing go.  Just let the kids deal with their choices.  After all, it is homeschool and the 'grade level' thing isn't a huge deal.  We aren't that far off the mark.  The other thing was to just take time to knit and spin and read for fun. Okay, maybe toss some video games in there and a little sewing.  So far, that really isn't happening.  I keep telling myself that "next week, things will open up", but that isn't happening yet.  Other people (okay, Himself) keeps adding stuff to my plate and I really think I'm going to have to completely freak out before he stops.  I've shared how stressed I am, I've shared that it is due to too many scheduled things and not any time to just relax without having to do something or be somewhere.  Apparently, I speak an unknown language, because I went out of my way to be very clear in my word choice and explanation of my mental state.  sigh 

See me? Organizing my free time?  I can't enjoy the things he has planned because it doesn't fit in with what I wanted to do for relaxation this summer.  Friends call up and want a play date at the park?  I have to grit my teeth to go.   I can't seem to let the need to organize go long enought to just enjoy whatever it is that I'm doing.
Guess it is time to try again.  But I'm still having trouble with the school thing.  I think I may be broken.  Why is it so hard to let that go?