Monday, August 31, 2009

Burned out

The past year of homeschooling – my first year homeschooling all three children! – was rough. Really rough. By June, I was completely burned out.

Partly it was difficult because my children are older – two were in high school, and one in middle school – and the subjects are harder. I had to jump in with advanced classes, like Chemistry, which I taught myself.

Partly it was trying because for the majority of the school year, I was not well. I still struggled with fatigue and chest pains, symptoms of lupus.

The other thing that made teaching challenging is that I work full-time. Granted, due to illness and God’s hand in the illness and work, I ended up working from home for the most part, and only part-time (30 hours per week) for the first half year of school. But work time is time that I can’t be doing homeschooling. Thus all my planning and grading was done in the evenings, often after everyone went to bed. Even after grading assignments and printing out detailed daily schedules for the next day’s studies, I would lie down in bed and read for an hour or so. Sometimes I read Chemistry; other times I pre-read literature. I read a lot in the last year! And I always turned in well after midnight.

I was so worn out by teaching this past school year that I did no schoolwork over the summer. None. I had hoped to get materials ready, books ordered, more literature pre-read, and IHIPs written. But I did absolutely nothing. I read for pleasure. I dug in my garden. I procrastinated.

Now I have to hit the ground running.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

First day of school... sort of

With all my crazy work hours (another late night at the computer writing user manuals tonight) and because I don't yet have all my books and even courses figured out, it's been hard to get together a "normal" full-day schedule for the kids for that official starting day. So I finally did what I should have done a week or two ago: I just dove in with a couple of subjects rather than the full load.

I started the girls in Biology. At least the Apologia curriculum is very cut and dry: 16 chapters, start at page 1, exercises right in the book. English, on the other hand, is always a little of this and a little of that. So I started with Biology… and English – the structured science, and the smorgasbord of vocabulary, grammar, reading, and writing.

This school year Alexandra, in grade 11, is going to study Biology with Larissa, in grade 9, while Jacob will study Physics (gulp!). I like to double them up on the sciences. It's easier on me to have only two subjects rather than three when they start asking hard questions that I have to look up. To be honest, I end up reading entire chapters and trying to keep up with them in the science courses. So it would be tough to do with three high school sciences. Two is difficult enough!

Since I was I Biology major, I'm not afraid of that course. But Physics!? I never quite understood Physics, and I didn't have a good teacher for the subject. So that's the course that I'll be reading and studying right along with my son. But I have another day or two before I dive into Physics because he's been working for Dad in general contracting, making some money and learning new skills.

Meanwhile, I'm still planning, making calls about college level math and mechanics, ordering the microscopes and more Russian books… It's going to be quite a year. Hope I survive without getting sick again.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


Just as I was getting ready to dive into intensive scheduling (I had pulled out the Physics book last night) and IHIP writing, work gets in the way. At a sudden emergency meeting this morning for which I had less than an hour's notice, my boss told me that I have until tomorrow to write a basic user manual.

"It's based on the old manual. Just switch out the illustrations," she said.

Yeah, sure.

First, the illustrations hadn't even been created, so the illustator had to work overtime to draw them. Hours later, I'm still working on the callouts for this completely different product. What are all these parts called anyway? Isn't it great that I get to name them? Also, back at home this evening, I discovered that I need still more illustrations. And I think that the illustrations and/or the steps in Start Guide for this product, which is frantically being written by another writer, are not correct. But, of course, it's hard to tell when I don't have the product here at home; it's on my office desk at work.

Second, this product is designed completely differently than the previous model, and it does more things. And that means more writing.

A 24-hour turnaround for this manual? Hardly. But I'm getting lots of overtime... No IHIPs yet, though.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


It was just too much: full-time work, homeschooling three teenagers, organizing a mission trip for the church youth in the spring, and my regular chores as a wife and mother – plus this blog. Something had to go.

It was the blog.

Much as I love to write and share, it was yet another thing on my "to do" list. And I was already overwhelmed.

So I skipped writing about all the meetings we had before the Mexico mission trip – the spiritual training, logistics and tickets, gathering and sorting used clothing, and taking the excess 15 boxes of used clothing to a local refugee aid center.

I didn't write about the Mexico mission trip itself or our enchanting time staying in a Chinanteco village in the mountains of Oaxaca.

I never mentioned that my best friend from fifth grade came to see me in the spring and met my family for the very fist time – and that she was in church when we presented a slide show of our trip and received a donation of a vehicle for a pastor that we met in Oaxaca.

I didn't have time to describe the Adobe Dreamweaver course that I took in night school during spring evenings while my husband and kids were in youth group.

I didn't discuss the grind of the rest of the school year – and the euphoria of finally finishing school – and Chemistry – in late June!

I didn't announce that we finally bought a she-goat this summer – nor did I share about the building of the shed and fence, the death of one of the goat's two kids, and the daily chores of feeding and milking. It's been a steep learning curve!

I didn't describe the continuing saga of my deceased brother's estate, the upcoming foreclosure on his house, and all the unresolved issues because the court denied my petition to be the administrator of his estate – and his ex-wife washed her hands of the whole thing. It's still not over…

And who wants to peck at a computer when you can go outside and garden? Certainly not I.

I didn't hint at our summer trip to Ukraine to visit family and teach VBS to local children.

And I certainly didn't describe all the long hours and overtime I put in during the summer writing user manuals before the release of a new product at our company.

Now I'm facing IHIPs (gulp!) and the new school year (gasp!) with my oldest a senior who doesn't know what he wants to do next year.

Will I be able to handle this blog again?

What we have done for ourselves alone dies with us; what we have done for others and the world remains and is immortal.”
— Albert Pike, Scottish Rite Freemason (1809-1891)