Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Good Old Local Park

(photo credit here)




Our A/C died yesterday.

Really, really died.  As in we-have-to-get-a-new-one died.  And that will take some time.

It is 100 degrees outside.

But this morning, it was not 100 degrees outside, so we threw all of our plans out the window and ran to the park while it was still cool enough for the kids to run around.

M10 took little I9, and H2 (soon to be H3) stuck close to her.  What's a mother to do with her littlest ones taken care of?

Pay attention to someone else!

A5 called out, "Mommy, come push me on the swing!"

So I did.

We don't go to the park very often.  Now that my older kids can keep half an eye on the littler ones, I just send everyone outside to play while I take care of chores in the house.  We have bikes, hula hoops, a dog, a swing set, a slide, sidewalk chalk, neighbor kids, jump ropes, trees, sticks, rocks, dirt, shovels, buckets, water, ropes, hammers, a garden, a hill, and some woods at our disposal.  There's plenty to do right here at home.

But that means that I don't play the way I used to.

Today I pushed my 5 year old daughter in a swing.

She laughed.
She giggled.
She chortled with delight.

I pushed harder . . . just so she would keep making those sounds that filled my heart.

I wasn't doing chores.
I wasn't taking care of the baby.
I wasn't making a phone call.
I wasn't reviewing my to-do list.

I was wholly immersed in my child's laughter.

And I didn't care at all to come up for air.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

What the kids Choose To Do

They'd been acting like wild animals inside the house, so I kicked them out.  Whereupon they grabbed pencil and paper and sat down to work on an art project.  Go figure.

That's my sewing machine, but that's M10 sitting in the control seat.  She's sewing capes for everyone.  I can hear the whirring of the machine as I type.

They had a water balloon fight with the neighbors.  It took 2 hours to fill the balloons and 2 minutes to use them up.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Cousins' Camp-The Grandparents' Contributions

I have two sisters; they both homeschool, too.  We are good friends, and we have good memories of being friends with our cousins, so we're working to be sure to pass that legacy on to our own children.

We have 16 children between us.

Last week we held our 2nd annual Cousins' Camp.

6 days of non-stop activities.

We're exhausted and full of good memories.

I don't even know where to begin to chronicle the events.

Two grandmas and a grandpa participated.  One grandma passed out folded up, frozen shirts to all of the kids.  We stood around wondering what on earth was going on.  Once all the shirts were hacked apart (they were frozen in a block!) and passed out, she said, "The winner is the first one to get his/her shirt on.  There are no other rules."

We were too shocked to do anything but comply.

One child ran to the microwave.  Other children ran to the cars and pressed their cold shirts against the hot metal.  Some children pressed the shirts close to their bodies.  Some children said, "It's too cold.  You hold it, Mom."

The oldest cousin got his shirt on in about 30 seconds.  We're still not sure how he did it.

The next cousin was my S10.  She is very proud of herself for being so fast.

We laughed and laughed as we watched kids work at prying the frozen shirt folds apart and then shiver as they pulled them over their heads.  A perfect activity for a hot summer afternoon.

The other grandma arrived armed with craft boxes.  She helped the kids cover journals.  While they worked she talked about her own experiences with journaling and bore testimony of the blessings of keeping a journal.  Every single child carried his/her journal around for the rest of the week, writing like mad.  What an inspiration!

She also helped the girls make flowered bobby pins.  The boys folded paper airplanes.  Eventually the girls folded paper airplanes, too!

Grandpa came with the biggest and most exciting activity of all.  Lumber, paint, nails, brushes, rollers, ladders, buckets, and canvas littered the yard.  He put the kids to work helping him construct an 8X22 foot canvas.  It took a full day to build, another full day to paint the background (to saturate the canvas) and outline all of the family members, and another full day for the family to each paint his/her own portrait.  The end result was a magnificent family mural.  We took a bajillion pictures of it.

I wish each family could have taken it home.

How thankful I am for grandparents who love, teach, and inspire!

Self-Directed Copywork

Yesterday our neighbor's daughter was assigned to choose some toys to give away.

She gave them to my children.

Aaargh!

One of the items was a silly little early reader that my A5 has fallen in love with.  She reads and re-reads it proudly.

Perhaps it is not so silly.

She covered a journal at Cousins' Camp.  She writes in her journal several times each day.  Last night she pulled out her new book, her journal, and a fresh pencil and began copying the book.

She was heartbroken when bedtime came around before she was finished.  I showed her that she could put her pencil in the reader and put the reader in the journal so that all of her places would be marked.  I told her to put it on the kitchen table so that she would see it and remember what she wanted to do first thing in the morning.  She felt happy at these suggestions.

She cared so much about her copywork that not only did she work on it the very minute she was done with her chores this morning, but she turned the page and started over again when she saw that she'd smudged her page.  She wanted it to be perfect.

No, telling her that she could erase any smudges didn't work.  She wanted it to be perfect.

She was happy as she worked.

Focused.
Driven.
Pleased with what she could do.

Over and over again I am amazed at what a child will do when given the freedom to direct his/her own learning.

I love school vacations.