Sunday, September 15, 2013

Plugging Away

We are entering into week five of school. It seems like the first day of school was just yesterday. Most days it seems like we are still figuring out this new schedule and new responsibilities. Every now and then I catch a fleeting moment of feeling like I have it all under control. My standard answer to the question, "How has school going?" is this, if I had only gone back to work, it would be going well. If only the kids had gone to school, it would be going fairly well. The two together is very intense.

This is a good school. The students, while not perfect, are well behaved and respectful. The staff is friendly. The academic level is high. Even in this good school, I am daily reminded of the inherent flaws in the way we do school. In my own classroom of ten there is a huge gap in abilities. Challenging the one end while keeping the other with us is so very difficult. These kids don't think for themselves. They don't do for themselves. They are great at following instructions, but that only gets you so far in life. Now whether that is the "system" or parenting is hard to say, but it bothers me.

I see the flaws affect my own children. I have one who is frustrated that the classes are moving too slowly. I have one who is acing all reading assignments, but failing math, and struggling with a load of homework every night because they work at a slower pace and the things aren't getting complete in class. Another who is doing fairly well, but has a hard time sitting still, and refraining from sharing stories every time they come to mind.

We moved both girls down a grade level. Vivian wasn't quite on the same reading or math level as the rest of the second grade. She may have been able to struggle through if I wasn't the second grade teacher. In my class, when she struggled she wanted to be mommy's baby. She is shining in the first grade, and we are both much happier.

Lydia has always struggled with math. She just couldn't make the jump to sixth grade math. In hindsight, I should have know that wasn't going to work. Moving to the fifth grade has helped, but it is still very hard work for her. She is often frustrated by her school work.

I've struggled with feeling like I've failed the kids. It is hard to see them struggle, and not feel like you failed by not preparing them adequately. But then this is one of my gripes about the system of school. Very few talents are appreciated. Academic and athletic strengths get all the glory. If you don't shine there, it easy to get lost in the crowd, or to feel like a failure. I wish Lydia could get a grade for her cooking skills, or for her caring and nurturing skills. She is an incredibly talented and wonderful young lady, but right now also a very frustrated one.

The kids are learning valuable skills, beyond academics, that we missed at home. They all have been learning to be better organized. They are learning to meet different expectations and deadlines. They are learning better time management.

Tim and I are enjoying being together more. Tim is much less stressed and tired. I like to tease him that he is the only one in the family who has gotten a win win from our new schedule. We are certainly enjoying the new found wiggle room in the budget. That is a huge stress removed for us both.

A wise friend and mother of eight once told me that you never make a decision about having more kids while you're pregnant or when you have a new baby. The time is just too intense. There is too much stress. The emotions run high. You can't make a rational judgment. I am applying that same logic to this situation. Am I glad we made change? Ask me at Christmas, or maybe in June. :)

Sunday, September 01, 2013

Tending the Bees

Bees are one of many things on our list of "we've like to have someday." I'm a little in awe of bees and their important role as pollinators, and of the delicious honey that they produce. Start up costs, and lack of knowledge have kept us from diving into that area of agriculture.

A beekeeper we know through The Wild Ramp, Gabe, mentioned his backyard was getting pretty crowded with the bee hives he was keeping there. We mentioned that we would love to have bees on our property. A few weeks later he brought out four hives.

Last weekend he came to tend them, and see if there was any honey. He brought an couple extra bee keeping jackets so we could watch, learn,  and help.

Gabe was great at explaining as he worked. Unfortunately, Nolan and Lydia weren't home, but the rest of us learned a lot. The honey production was disappointing, but Gabe said that is the story of all bee keepers in our area this year.

The bees are kept near one of gardens. I just love to watch them and their coming and goings while I'm there working. They have been up there all summer long, and the only person to be stung has been Tim. He has been stung multiple times while working in the garden. It is kind of strange. For some reason the bees must think he is a threat.

We are so happy to have those little pollinators and honey makers here!