Monday, August 17, 2015

August Already!? I think I say this EVERY August!

by Lakis Fourouklas

 Yes, yes... I know time flies when you're having fun.  It also flies when you have a crisis, by the way.  Time, it seems, is always going by too quickly, in hindsight, especially.  So, it's already the middle of August (!) and I'm wondering what happened (?), because surely it isn't almost September!?!  I guess the middle of a month doesn't always mean it is almost the next month... but for me, who apparently doesn't have a good grasp on time, it means exactly that.  This also means I have to get organized to homeschool the two remaining non-graduated kiddos in my household (and probably the graduated one as well, because we have yet to find a good fit for him).  This means that I'd better get my you-know-what (insert your favorite word for backside here) in gear.  Like, soon.

So...a little back story:  I wanted to title this post 'seven stitches and one unexpected demise'... But my close friends and family insisted that it wasn't a good idea to do that.  The thing is, though, that this summer has NOT gone according to plan.  We've had a lot of not-planned-for things happen.  Life happens, and it is messy and beautiful, and sad, and amazing.  I've learned that I enjoy routines, and schedules, though.  It may be because I have autism in my family, or it may be the nurse in me, or anxiety... the list goes on... Whatever the reason, routine is my friend.  So, once I'm out of it (routine), things tend to just go by, and by, and then it's the middle of August and almost September, for example.  So, this why I want to share about the beauty of routine.

I love, love, love homeschooling my kids.  I enjoy getting to spend the best part of their day with them.  I love that I can teach Bible and prayer and encourage our relationships with Jesus.  I'm actually very excited that no one at our house is in another school setting this year! Four years of public-school high-school was a little bit on the tough side for us.  We are not morning people; we are definitely not 0630 AM people. My husband, God bless him, is a morning person, and faithfully gets up every morning very (very) early.  He tolerates us non-morning people very well.  The rest of us (not me, and not any of the kids) did not inherit a morning gene.  We do follow a routine, though, and life is just much better all around when we stick to it.

Repeat after me:  routines are beautiful!!

Our day (for example) looks a little like this:

8:00-9:00-- wake up, breakfast, coffee (yes, we all drink it. We love coffee!), get dressed, etc.
9:00-10:00-- morning chores, tidy up (I find I am able to be attentive to school stuff when I'm not worrying about waffle syrup sticking to plates. And floors. We have a Labrador. Floors need to be swept, or I imagine that little dogs are growing out of the fur piling up around the baseboards), devotions, Bible time
10:00-12:00-- history/literature/grammar/writing work
12:00-12:30(ish) lunch, stretch, walk outside, jump up and down...
12:30-1:15 (or so) math. We must accomplish math. It has to be done. Math. I don't like math.
1:15-2:something- the kids work on science homework (they are in a co-op for that- I also don't like lab science in my house. This year the girls are both doing chemistry- one in middle-school, one in high-school, legit, a scientist is teaching it, and I'm so glad I don't have to).

The afternoon time is usually free for playing, reading, art, running errands, and get-togethers (the newly twelve year old informed me that I could no longer call them play-dates).  We tend to eat dinner between five and six. One day a week we go to co-op only, and it is all day, so we don't "do school" on those days, and Wednesdays are music days, so they will look a little different, too. One evening a week is spent at the library, and one is spent at gymnastics.  We also will be doing a speech and debate club this year, on Fridays, in the afternoon.  Friday tends to be a light day no matter what curriculum we use, so I'm glad that club is on a Friday.  Sundays are church days. Bam! We have a routine:)

Although I've never done this before, this year we all (meaning the homeschool folk in the house) have planners, so each day will have a checklist for what needs to be done.  I'm looking forward to seeing how it works.  I hope it does work, in that I hope that by writing a plan for the week we will be kept honest and realistic about getting the school work accomplished.  We are far from perfect, and usually, around the holidays, we fall a bit out of routine with traveling, and family, and special events.  And for some reason, February and March are difficult to get through.  I suspect it is because of the cold, and being inside so much.  Another thing I've learned about everyone in this family is that we are ALL seasonally affectively disorderly (SAD) in the cold, dark months. It's true!  We get spring fever, too, but we tend to power through and try to be done with our (school) work around the first week of June. By the end of June I'm usually missing my routine, which is why this year I tried to implement a summer routine.  Then summer happened, and seven stitches and an unexpected demise later, I'm scrambling to organize myself for September.  It is okay, though.  Like I said, life is beautiful, and messy, and sometimes we are in a season of just-getting-through-it!

Getting into a routine is awesome. Structure is especially good for toddlers and pre-schoolers  and kids with any type of anxiety or autism issues.  It's also just plain good to know what is expected from everyone (spouses included!) from day to day.  We, as parents, know what to expect, and the kids know what to expect.  Also, putting on the schedule or calendar anything out of the ordinary (field trips, doctor appointments, party days) gives the young ones time to process a different routine.  It really does help avoid a meltdown (it doesn't eliminate them- meltdowns are like ninjas; they come out of nowhere). Think about it: everything on earth has a routine!  Seasons, animals, nature, even existence has a pattern to it.  Routines are good. Routines are beautiful.  Please feel free to share yours!

Wednesday, August 5, 2015


It has been a little wild this past July! We have been busy doing I-don't-even-know-what. 

I know my girls went to camp for a week.  It was weird to be home with just Tommy (Mark was working a lot, so he and I were the proverbial 'ships passing in the night').  Tommy and I got down to business (after two days of non-stop chatter)  and went to get information about (perhaps) going to Germanna, and maybe volunteering at the library.  The Library trip resulted in one filled-out application, and 23 checked out books. Success!   The Germanna info session was very well put together.  It looks like it won't be a problem for him to take some classes in the fall while we wait for the possibility of some of the state-run transition programs to become available.  He is at the top of the waiting list. 

I learned, though (at Germanna), that he needed a valid, current, official, photo-ID.  All students need to take entry placement tests for english and math.  That, in itself, should be interesting, since he doesn’t test well.  Also, Tommy doesn't drive (or make beds- too many steps).  His high school ID wasn't official, or, technically, current. I have his social security card, a voter card, an insurance card, and a library card, and nothing with a picture on it, apparently.  In a brief moment of genius, I remembered we had passports, but, guess what (?) they were, of course, expired.  No ID, no test, no college.  ~sigh~

Sooooo.... I told Tommy we had to go to the DMV.  

"Isn't that the most miserable place on the planet?"

Hmmm.... Those words must have come out of my mouth at some point in the last ten years.  So, yes, I told him, and bring a book.  A long book. It's always a very long wait. 

"Can I get a motorcycle license while we're waiting forever?"

"Umm, no. Not until you can make a bed, and shower head to toe in the right order, my friend; motorcycle driving comes after car driving, which comes after bed making, and showering correctly.  And it won't be forever- just a few hours. Maybe."

I'm thinking I said all of that out loud, in a huffy manner, probably with a snap to it. Tommy, though, just takes these type of things in stride because he is a black and white type of kid, and what I said made a little bit of sense to him, in his world. 

Let me tell you:  it has been a long time since it has been just Tommy and I, alone.  He talks. A lot. He paces. A lot. He flaps. A lot. He has a lot of conversations with just himself. A lot. He has a lot of aha moments about the universe and time travel and swordsmen, and baby bats.  He dreams about being great. He likes to be the guy who saves the day, then disappears into a time warp or worm hole and only those that really know him would know that he rescued humanity.  It's pretty cool stuff, except when it's played continuously on a loop, on repeat, for a week, and the only witness to it all is me (and even then, it's still cool, it's just tiring to hear it all again. and again).  By day three (believe me), the DMV was an awesome break to get us out of the house doing something. Anything. The DMV, people.  Dad was home on day four, so that helped me. A lot.

When I write, I am reminded that I have so many blessings where Tommy is concerned.  We don't know what is happening next, but we are trying to keep moving forward, and that is pretty cool.  It's faith. It's trusting in the unseen, but moving forward despite not being able to see.

On day five, when the girls returned, the volume of the house went back up about 30-45 decibels. The bickering resumed.  Three siblings fell right back into their own language, their ongoing rivalries.  It got chaotic and loud again, like they hadn't even been gone.  The laundry was piled up, like, way up. It was beautiful.  And Tommy had two other people to talk to, and interact with.  Did I already mention the word beautiful?

It's funny how routines shape us, isn't it?  It takes one little change to realize some pretty profound things about yourself, your life, your relationships... like the blessings that abound all around, and the beauty of an unusual child, and the importance of photo IDs.  For real, though, relationships really matter, and the time you spend building that with your kids is so important.  One day, they will be 18, and you'll be struggling with what-do-we-do-next and that communication you've developed will be awesome, and meaningful, and important.  It'll be hard and sweet at the same time, and you'll be so glad for it!

Praise, God!