Curriculum Ideas for the Overwhelmed Homeschooler – Part 2 – ELA

This post is the second in a series in which I am responding to a reader who sent me this note:

I wanted to ask you what core curriculum you are using for Molly this year for 3rd grade specifically for Math and ELA. Also, my other child will be starting a bit of Preschool-Kindergarten work. Any recommendations for that age level for learning letters, number etc.? There is SO much out there for, which is a great thing. I am finding it overwhelming at this point, though, to narrow it down. Your recommendations in the past were great. Thanks for your continued help and support.

Feeling a Bit Overwhelmed


Hello again, Overwhelmed!  I hope my last post on math helped you.

Here’s the good news as far as ELA (English Language Arts) goes.  As a Homeschooler, your child already has a ton of the most important resource needed for Language Arts: time.

In my opinion, if you want your child to be literate, she needs to read.  And she needs to write.  A lot.

Maybe it’s because I am more confident when it comes to the liberal arts or maybe it’s just that I have had the luxury of stepping outside the insane Common Core bubble, but I have never really worried that my kids would learn how to read, write, or express themselves rationally.

Remember, ELA is primarily a Common Core term, as it is used to define the standards for getting public school students “ready to succeed in college, career, and life”.  As such, they are learning goals, whatever that means for millions of unique students.  As I mentioned in my math post, I “don’t trust completion (or lack of completion) of a certain level of a curriculum as the last word on competency.”

Even with my doctorate and a great love of reading, writing, grammar, and research, I’d rather poke my own eye out with a fork than than try to parse out how to meet these 66 pages of COMMON CORE STATE STANDARDS FOR ENGLISH LANGUAGE ARTS AND LITERACY IN HISTORY/SOCIAL STUDIES, SCIENCE AND TECHNICAL SUBJECTS.  If that’s what you are looking for, you can stop reading now.

Also, there are many who believe that simply reading, writing, talking and interacting with others will teach a child what they need to know to communicate effectively.  You can read more about that here and here.  If you believe that, you can also stop here.

While I admire the Unschooling philosophy and think about it often, I think I am still not completely de-schooled.  If you read this blog at all, you know I worry that, without the guidance of formal lessons, my children won’t master a subject or skill comprehensively.

We don’t use a text book per se, but I do use a bunch of resources for helping the kids to learn how to communicate.

Here, broken down by specific skill-set areas, are some of the resources we use(d) for getting our kids to read, write, speak, listen, and use language effectively.  They all overlap so you might find one more useful for a specific skill than another.  Mix and Match.

PHONICS

For this post, I define “phonics” as the system of relationships between letters and sounds. Whether it is knowing that the letter B has the sound of /b/ or how to pronounce the digraphs ch, sh, or th, it’s phonics.  If you can do that, you can chunk a word, which makes reading and writing a lot easier.

For the early years, the Leapfrog:  Letter Factory and Leapfrog: Talking Words Factory  videos cannot be beat.  They are a wonderful introduction to phonics.  Here you can buy a box set with flashcards.

Endless Alphabet, which I’ve written about before here,  is an App that we have used with great success for all three kids when they were between the ages of 2 and 6.

We also loved the LeapFrog Fridge phonics Magnetic Letter Set and LeapFrog Letter Factory Phonics and Numbers.

We also use Starfall for the early years.

Once my kids were ready to sit and do workbooks, we turned to Explode the Code, which has worked really well, especially for Joseph.

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READING

We read a lot.  Together, at story time at the library, on our own and with any friend or family member who will read or listen.

We read every night with our kids before bed.  And I have always kept piles of books on the floor, which looks messy, but which are also irresistible to little kids.   Whether they are reading the  book, browsing the book, or eating the book, I don’t care.  I just want them to feel comfortable around books!

Back when we lived in Michigan, very far from our families, I had grandparents and cousins and aunts and uncles read stories on camera so I could play the videos for my kids.  My kids loved them!  Not only did my kids love listening to the books, they loved seeing their favorite people every day, even when we were 1000 miles away!

VOCABULARY

My kids learn a lot of vocabulary just by talking with us!  We do not use any major text, but in reading and writing and talking with us, my kids are always asking what a word means or how to spell it.  For the younger ones I tell them.  For Molly, I make her look it up.  A dictionary is a good friend.  It is outdated today, when you can look up any word on line or in an App but my Dad kept this copy of The OED in his office and to this day, I have such fond memories of using the magnifying glass to find the word I was looking for.  I wish I had his copy.

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I’ll buy it right now…

LATIN

I’ll admit it.  I have an emotional attachment to Latin.  My Dad, an elementary school teacher for almost 30 years, loved language and made Latin a part of his curriculum every year.  Although I was never in his class, I was his sounding board and testing ground for many of the games and projects he used in his class, even after I left town to go away to school.  I have a lot of happy memories of all those word games with my Dad.

Aside from those happy memories, I think Latin is important mostly because it builds vocabulary and grammar. If you know just one Latin root word, you can chunk all sorts of English vocabulary words.

So, knowing Latin makes understanding English vocabulary easier.

As 55% of all English words are derived from Latin (90% of those over two syllables are Latin-based) and about 80% of Spanish, French, Italian and Portuguese words are from Latin, Latin is all around us!  Latin matters.

Once every week or so we do a few pages out of Getting Started with Latin: Beginning Latin for Homeschoolers and Self-Taught Students of Any Age.  The kids love it and it reminds us to look for roots out in the world.

Molly also keeps Scholastic Vocabulary Packets Greek and Latin Roots  with her other books and every so often does a page or two.

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One of the best parts of homeschooling is checking workbooks. I hope Joseph is in a band called “Awesome-osity” some day!

 If you don’t want to do workbooks but still want a reminder to think about words, try a 365 New Words-A-Year 2015 Page-A-Day Calendar.

You can also check out a Pinterest Board like this one for fun ideas on words.

Here also is a quick reference guide on word roots.  It is free and shows you just how many roots there are!

COMPREHENSION

Even though I was pretty successful in school, I did not take it seriously until I hit college.  I just tried to pass tests and get A’s.  Actual understanding didn’t matter.  I just knew I needed to jump through hoops because that was what was expected and that was what everyone else was doing.

We homeschool because we don’t want that to happen with our kids.  We want them to seek information because they are interested in it and we want them to have the ability to grapple with it, understand it, and make informed decisions with it.  That is one of the best tools we could give them in their toolbox for life.

How do you measure understanding?  Tests.  Asking questions.  Watching your kids work.  Reviewing their work.  Being with them and talking to them.  That is how we do it.  I am really baffled by the need to test kids so much because I can tell you where my kids are at just by watching and interacting with them.  They do well on standardized tests but more than their understanding, I think those tests tell how well they take tests!

One of my favorite ways to have fun with comprehension is public speaking.

For public speaking, the Writing with Ease series cannot be beat.  Written by one of my homeschooling favorites, Susan Wise Bauer (with Peter Buffington) Writing with Ease alternates between having the student do copywork and/or dictation on one page and then listen to a passage from a piece of literature and answer questions aloud in full sentences on the next.  Its emphasis on reading comprehension and public speaking is invaluable.  I can see the gears in my childrens’ heads working as they think through their answers.

We have also really enjoyed participating in “Book Wars” with a local homeschooling group this semester.  Two other moms came up with idea:  once a month any kids interested show up at a local coffee shop and take turns presenting reasons why the book that they read that month should win for best book.  After everyone has a turn, each child is asked a few questions.  Then there is a blind vote and the winner wins a prize, which is usually some yummy baked goods.  Speaking in front of strangers is hard and thinking on your feet is even harder but Book Wars has made it fun.  Plus, we’ve gotten some great book recommendations through the group. Even if you don’t have a homeschooling group, you could just have your child present a book to you out loud.  It doesn’t matter if it is a chapter book, a picture book, or a comic book!  It is a non-threatening way to work on these skills.

GRAMMAR AND PUNCTUATION

Knowing about grammar helps us understand what makes sentences and paragraphs clear and interesting and precise.  You cannot communicate clearly without it.

Along with Writing with Ease, we have found Evan-Moor’s Grammar and Punctuation series easy to use and informative.

This year we have gotten in the habit of using “Daily” workbooks because it allows us to work on each subject a little bit each day.  Evan-Moor’s Daily Language Review series has been a great addition to the two mentioned above.

This post is not meant to be comprehensive but I hope it gives you an idea of some resources you can use for each skill set you may be interested in.

I am still planning to post a piece on resources for Pre-school and Kindergarten work.  And I am working on a post of resources for critical-thinking, problem-solving, and analytical skills.

If you have any suggestions, I’d love to hear them!

Can You Guess Who Molly’s Superhero is?

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We participated in a Superhero themed 5K/1K fun run this weekend.  Our kids were asked to invite a buddy to run/walk with them.  Here is a mid-way shot of a cape Molly made for one of her heroes.

Can you guess who she is (Hint:  those are a stack of books)?  Thank you to our wonderful, encouraging, children’s librarian!  Eden Unger Bowditch says it best: “LIBRARIANS ARE HEROES! You are the gatekeepers who show us the maps to incredible journeys and fabulous adventures in the worlds of words.”

 

Molly, When I Think of 7…

I STILL laugh at the ridiculous dancing green bean, all elbows and knees and giggles, bopping across the floor after bath – – even though you don’t do it so often anymore.

I run the headcount with you before bed:  Bucky, Snookums, Mr. and Mrs. Chucklebottom, Bob, BlackLack, Sophie, Striped Bucky, Rudy, mini-Rudy…

I catch you on the couch.  In my bed.  At the table.  On the floor.  Walking across the lawn.  In the little nook you set up at Nana and Pop’s house.  Reading.  Always reading.

I am amazed that you figured out how to change the color of your Minecraft sword to the perfect hues of Pink and Orange Bucky.

I kind of get a tickle in my throat as I watch you march up to the children’s librarian with your notebook of ideas,  to ask whether you can start a book club this Fall.

I breathe deep watching you sing “Happy Birthday” to JohnJohn, even though it’s actually your birthday and your cake.  I know you wish for magic powers, but, you know, you already have them.

I run all those 5Ks with you all  over again, chatting about this and that, repeating “I am awesome.  I am awesome.  I am awesome.”

I hear Joseph’s laughter pealing throughout the house as you crack him up with “A Kooka Maraca Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Nana, A Kooka Maraca Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Nana…”

I trip over the power cords to one of your cousin’s laptops as I pass your Minecraft huddle.

I try to revel in your independence and be grateful for it instead of missing you,  as you march away from me to go to camp, without even a backward glance.

You are a joy, so poised and competent and interested in everything.

I love to watch you in the world.

Happy Birthday, Sweet Molly McGurkles!

 

Molly Running

 

On Running and my Beautiful Daughter

You may remember from some older posts that I am involved in a running challenge this year.  I am running 40K of races for my 4oth year and blogging about it with some friends at Girls Gone 40.

This week it was my turn to write about “why I run”.  I was so touched by the response to the piece.  After hearing from some other parents, I realized that the post belongs here too.  It is as much about being a Mom as it is about being a runner.

Happy Mother’s Day, all!

 

Why I Run

The first time I went for a run just to run, my father was dying of cancer.

Dad had been given 6 months to live and so in those hot, wet, summer months when I lived with him for weeks at a time, I took up running.

Running was simple. I didn’t think about it or plan for it. I had no goal. I certainly didn’t blog about it. I just laced up my sneakers one day, went out into the neighborhood and ran the streets, trying to catch my breath.

I didn’t do anything right. I stared at my feet. I clenched my fists. I held my arms tight up against my body. I didn’t even wear a sports bra on those early runs (I’m sorry, boobies).

But, I did it. I remember thinking, as my lungs burned and my feet ached, “I’m running because I can”.  My Dad couldn’t, that’s for sure.  I didn’t know what a mantra was but I repeated that mile after mile.

And I thought “Shit. This hurts.” Sometimes I cried through entire runs shedding grief and frustration. Those runs gave me big freedom and big choice, even if the choice was choosing pain that I could control.

After my Dad died, I grieved him by training for the Philadelphia Marathon. I needed something to look forward to and I needed time to think.   Why not?

During the marathon, at mile 16, I broke my foot (a stress fracture), but I finished.

I tried to run a half marathon about a year later but my foot still wasn’t right and I re-fractured it (but finished, again).  I fractured my foot a third time and realized I should maybe take a break from running.

Then I had kids. For the past 7+ years, I have been too exhausted and too afraid to run. I have gotten soft. And round.

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I BLAME YOU, BABY!

 

When Rachel suggested running 40K for her 40th year, I jumped on it because I irrationally thought that if I could get over the hump of starting, I’d be the runnergirl I was in my twenties again. I’d run because I could. I wouldn’t have to think about it. I would just do it. We’d do it together. And we’d turn my fear into fun, one race and one margarita at a time. Though never long and lean, in my mind, GirlsGone40 would give me the body and the endorphins of “runnergirl”, with the race bibs to prove it.

That’s a lot to put on running. I know. First I used her to comfort me in the worst loss of my life so far, and now I expect her to help me find my way back to a place I haven’t been in almost a decade!

When I started running again in October (and calorie counting, and trying to change other habits), instead of thinking “I’m running because I can”, I thought “I’m fast and fit and long and lean. I’m fast and fit and long and lean. I’m fast and fit and long and lean!” All I could think about was how I was going to “crush the miles” and get smaller.

Over and over, for the first 4 months of this challenge, even when I wasn’t exercising, it was all I could think about. That mantra, instead of motivating me on the treadmill, became a harsh trill in my ears the rest of the time, reminding me how I was failing because I wasn’t losing weight. I wasn’t getting even one size smaller.

Instead of lifting me up, my relationship with running became complicated. I mostly just felt bad about myself. And really embarrassed that at 39 I care so much about being “thin”.  I’m usually judging the fattists out there for being so judgmental. When did I switch teams?

Rachel was having a hard time getting motivated too and so I thought about letting the blog and the challenge go. In my mind, I had no good reason to run. Weight obsession is a small, small world. And I wanted to get back to my big, rich life. It was still pretty painful getting back into shape and the mental baggage was messing with my head.

Then Molly, my 7-year-old daughter, one day, asked to run the rest of my races with me, telling me her “goal was to run 20K before she turned 8”. How could I say no to that?

Molly doesn’t care about weight loss. She doesn’t care about being “fit.” She has no desire to change habits. Luckily, she has no losses to grieve. She does not care how long it takes her to run a mile or if she walks when she needs a break.

Molly runs for one reason: She just wants to be with me.

We’ve run three races together so far, a 5K, a 5-miler, and 4-miler.  Mother’s Day will be our fourth race.

When we are out there together on the course, or running laps around my house, Molly laughs. Sometimes she skips.  Or hops.  Or leaps.  And she chats about her dreams from last night. She imagines us winning our next race. She designs t-shirts to go with our matching running skirts. She plans entire meals to eat when we are finished. She chants quietly “I think I can. I think I can. I think I can.” Sometimes she switches it to “I am awesome. I am awesome. I awesome.”  In our last race two women overheard her and joined in.

Molly’s made running simple for me again.  It’s not about the miles.  Or the minutes.  Or the calories.  Or being fit.   Or whatever ridiculous expectations I started GG40 with.  I run because I can.

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#1 Running Partner

What Makes Small Children Nostalgic?

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Turns out it’s the pleasure and sadness in remembering just two short days ago that makes young children nostalgic.

It’s been a very busy few weeks between my husband’s job, various projects of my own, and the caring, feeding and educating of our children.

The craziness, we hope, culminated in a long-awaited visit from two of our favorite people this past weekend.  What a break!  Aunt Patty and Uncle Rob came on Thursday and left yesterday.  We all agree the visit ended too soon, especially as JohnJohn misses them so much that he has been yelling “AUNT PATRICIA!”  and “ROB”  every time he re-remembers they left.

It’s very startling.

That bit of wistfulness hanging over our house today, though not entirely pleasant right now, turns out to be a good thing.  Nostalgia is another awesome tool in a toolbox of coping skills for life.  It’s evidence that you’re valued.  No questioning my kids are valued by those roadtrippers.  I hope they always remember that.

Here’s our question of the day:

Did one of the most careful women we know leave her coat, scarf, and yoga mat here on purpose so she’d have a reason to return?

Aunt Patty, you know you don’t need an excuse!

I AM A ROCK, BUT I DON’T HAVE TO BE: THE SECRET WEAPON IN GETTING A GREAT EDUCATION

One of Molly’s first full phrases was “Molly do it ha-SELF”, with the emphasis on “self”.  How many times did she stand in her learning tower at the beige kitchen counter at our first house, twisting the cap of her SpongeBob sippy cup with two hands (because one was just not big enough), the milk sloshing over the side, saying that?

I let her do it every time even though I hated the mess.

She repeated this phrase over and over as she attempted everything from building with blocks, to feeding herself, to getting herself dressed.

Here she is reading The Simpsons ha-seelf.  GENIUS

Here she is reading The Simpsons ha-SELF.
GENIUS

I tried to give her a long leash because, although peeved by the messes, secretly, it delighted me that she was so independent.  Even then I thought, one of the best gifts we could give her would be self-reliance.  And to know that when she takes responsibility, she has great power.

We’re lucky.  She has a pretty strong internal locus of control.  So far, all three of my kids do.  One of our educational  goals is to encourage that.  We are hopeful our kids won’t need much help.  We want them to be rocks.

The reality is, though, that we all need help sometimes.  Probably more often than not.  And so another educational goal of ours is to teach our kids how to ask for help.  Seems simple, right?  When was the last time you genuinely and honestly sought help?

Asking for help requires humility, a recognition that you need it.  It’s hard to admit “weakness”, even for that sippy-cup-wielding 2-year-old.

But with weakness comes power.  For when you ask for help, most people gladly give it.

I am not talking about getting help with just a cap or a spill.

I am talking about seeking out help or information from people who are better at something than you and feeling comfortable asking questions.

We’ve learned about everything from how to clean a large fish tank without removing the fish to how to start a small business to why throwing a ball makes you a better tennis player to how to make a seven-layer rainbow cake —  just by asking questions.

No books.  No classes.  Just questions and, of course, gratitude for the information.  We try to always say “thank you”.

People love to share their passions, and it feels good to help.  All you need to do is ask.  It’s the secret weapon in getting a great education.

Daily Prompt: I Am a Rock

Is it easy for you to ask for help when you need it, or do you prefer to rely only on yourself? Why?

Photographers, artists, poets: show us SELF.

While the Cat’s Away…

That would be a cuter title if we didn’t actually have some mice in our house.  As I grew up in suburbia where everything was killed to make way for shopping, those little poopers just gross me out.  Plus, we don’t actually have a cat.

But I do have my husband, who had to go out of town unexpectedly recently.  So, on the night he left, after feeding my kids ice cream for dinner,

The GOOD life

The GOOD life

and terrorizing the local goose family,

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Actually, credit to the kids. They were really pretty sweet with them.

I totally rebelled against Joe, who usually asks me to leave the assembling of items to him (for good reasons I won’t get into now other than to say I generally like to “wing” it), and asked  the kids to put together our new shoe organizer with me.

These types of projects are great for kids because the stakes aren’t too high.  They have, what I like to call, an even Spiderman ratio (that is, an even power to responsibility ratio).  The work isn’t too hard and the outcome, while not necessarily spectacular,  is realized quickly.  Plus, they can see instant results of their efforts which is great for their confidence.

In addition to reading, math, listening, direction-following (unless you are me), and stick-to-itiveness, chores like this teach the kids to contribute toward the common good of the family and that we all have a responsibility to each other to make a good life.

For me, that is the most important lesson I can teach them.

Teamwork

TEAMWORK

Kids want and need real responsibility (don’t we all?).  Doing household chores teaches them all sorts of lessons that get missed in school.  Like the fact that tasks don’t need to be assigned to get done.  And that sometimes effort doesn’t matter if the job doesn’t get done because at the end of the day, it just needs to get done.

Here’s the question:  are you raising “doers” or “takers”?

When there is work to be done do your kids leave it until asked or jump right in?  If there is work to be done and they walk past it then they are making a choice to leave it for someone else to do.  And that stinks.  Because eventually it won’t just be you picking up the slack.  It will be the rest of us.  And that REALLY stinks.  We have too many people in society already who do that.

I know.  I know.  You’re busy.  You’re tired.  They already have so many other things to do.  It is much easier to just to it yourself, especially when kids are young like mine.  I think that often.  And chances are, most of the time the task will come out better.  But I think of child-rearing and homeschooling like one big, long, humanity/citizen apprenticeship/internship.  We are making people, hopefully fulfilled, competent ones, who add more to this world than they take from it.  The best way to do that is to teach them to do real work with real outcomes for themselves.

Plus, if you do it yourself, you just don’t get moments like this where you 20-month old single-handedly halts progress with an impromptu game of hide-and-seek.

She totally won't see me in this 1/2 finished shoe organizer

She totally won’t see me in this 1/2 finished shoe organizer

My Husband Walked Around With Puke on his Shoe for 2 Days; How’s Your Life Going?

Not exactly "sexting" or whatever the kids are doing these days

Not exactly “sexting” or whatever the kids are doing these days

Here’s the latest from my inbox.  In the midst of the chaos of our move (so much harder than any of our last 7 – – JohnJohn I’m looking at you) my husband, as usual, has found some humor.  Really, its why we are still married.

How to Advocate for Yourself When Your Kids are Watching or What I did Right After I Learned That all of our Worldly Belongings got Wrapped in Cockroach Infested Blankets by our Moving Company

9 months ago my husband and I decided to put the contents of our home in storage so that we could house-sit for a family in another town while they travelled.   We wanted to check out the new town while seeing what things our family of 5 really needed to live happily.  It was an adventure!  We would learn things!  We would be better for it!

So, last September we spent three days with a local moving company as they packed up our entire house.  On the last day, as the movers put the very last of our things, which were wrapped in dozens of their moving blankets, into the second truck (that’s a lot of stuff wrapped in a lot of blankets), they found a cockroach sprinting across one of our couches.

The man who found it was so certain that it was a German cockroach (the dirty, scary, smelly kind that breed and bread and breed, travel easily and cannot be killed except by poisonous chemicals that may or may not also kill one of my toddlers) that, after trapping it on a piece of moving tape, he pretty much refused to get back into the van.  My husband was over an hour away and the owner of the company was out of town on another job.

Is it just this wimpy little American girl or is this bug terrifying you too?

Am I just a spoiled American girl or does this bug terrify you too?

It was up to me and the 6, 4, and 1 year old peeping out from the car to figure out what to do.

From the moment I looked that bug in its compound eyes, I wanted to curse and yell and fight.  Should I just lunge at those moving men?  Which one first?  Scream like a banshee?   Throw the ½ empty baby bottle in my hand?

But I knew that my kids were watching (and, that, of course, that wasn’t actually a good way to handle it).  So, here are some of the things I did instead:

TOOK A DEEP BREATH.  I used to be a very anxious person.  After my husband and I got married he thoughtfully bought me a mindfulness meditation audio tape (yes, it was that long ago, way before Youtube and Netflix).  I couldn’t sit still long enough to actually complete the exercises, but I did learn one critical thing:  Breathing deeply stimulates your nervous system whether you are enlightened and mindful or not.  Even just one deep breath will trigger the body to secrete hormones to decrease blood pressure and heart rate, inducing a relaxation response.  I promise you this works.  So do it if you ever need to.  Even if you don’t do anything else.

GOT THE FACTS.  On the inside, I was screaming like a girl but on the outside, I calmly asked to see the trapped cockroach.  Once I had it in hand, sure that it could not crawl off, no matter how much it fought and struggled, I asked each of the men to tell me what had happened.   I peppered them with questions while they were willing to talk.  Where was it?  When did they find it?  Did they see any others?  Had they seen any others in the previous moves they worked on?

I grew up in Suburbia, where most of Nature was killed to make room for shopping malls so I had no idea whether it was a German cockroach or a Giant flea.  After speaking with the owner on the telephone, I did know that if it was, how it got onto our belongings could become an issue with the moving company.  It would also determine how we handled the bug and our stuff for the upcoming year.

KNEW WHAT I ACTUALLY WANTED.  In between each deep breath I tried to collect my thoughts enough to figure out what I wanted and needed from the men:  1) to get as much information about the critter and his origins as possible; 2) to keep the cockroach in my possession until I could get it identified; and 3) to mitigate any damage to our stuff.

FIGURED OUT WHO COULD ACTUALLY HELP ME.  I knew that the moving men worked hourly packing and unpacking for the owner.  After a few quick questions, I also knew that none of them had ownership interest in the company and none of them had authority to deal with an issue as large as a potential cockroach infestation.  The company was owned and run by one man.  And they made sure I knew where and how to find him.

PUT MYSELF IN THEIR SHOES.  It was late afternoon on a Saturday when I got the cockroach call.  I knew the men wanted to go home.  Once I learned that they had no real ability to help me resolve the situation, I made the decisions that needed to be made and sent them on their way.  Suffice it to say, they were pretty grateful that I respected their time and positions within the company.

WROTE IT DOWN, PHOTOGRAPHED IT, KEPT IT SAFE.   Once we got a short-term plan and I sent the moving men on their way, I took pictures of that cockroach from every single angle I could think of and then some!  Then I popped in a video for my kids, pulled out the sole coloring book in my van and scribbled every single word those men said into the margins.  And then I e-mailed copies of everything to my husband.   We are lucky because so far, the moving company has been very cooperative even admitting where they think they picked them up.  I do have to wonder, though, would they still have been if we hadn’t kept such good records?

KEPT IT IN PERSPECTIVE, AT LEAST IN FRONT OF THE KIDS.  Privately, after attacking the messenger of this bad cockroach news, I wanted to grab our diplomas and any other high priority items, torch the moving vans, and let various insurance/law enforcement agencies sort it out.  But in front of the kids I maintained a relaxed attitude and joked about it.  It’s just stuff, right?  They are just some bugs, right?  It amazes me how my children base their reaction to something “bad” mainly on Mom or Dad’s reaction.  Mom’s cracking jokes about our new pets?   Must be no big deal.

As of this writing, the situation is not fully resolved.

Yes, that says "house infesting."

Yes, that says “house infesting.”

After identification by an entomologist as, yes, a German cockroach, we were advised to store our belongings in unheated self-storage.   They are not native to our New England state and the cold of our long winters reportedly should have killed any others in the blankets and on our stuff.  (Hard to believe, given the myths of them surviving nuclear blasts.)

We move our stuff out of the storage facility today.  When we do, we’ll visually inspect everything for cockroaches, other critters that may have nested for the winter, and any damage from the cold.  We are hoping to find nothing.  If we find something, I may have to come up with a few more tips like “Knew when to change my tone”,  “Reevaluated my goals”, “Tried to keep my sense of humor”.