Friday, December 27, 2013

More Thinking for Early 2014

Thinking Aloud Item #8:
I want to set aside one afternoon each week for service.  We might pick up trash at a park, visit someone in need of company, write letters, make cookies for neighbors, or . . . I don't know . . . seek inspiration as it comes.

I don't serve much beyond the walls of my own home.  I know that serving my family is truly good work.  But I think my kids need the opportunity to see me reach further, so that they can reach further, too.

Back to #6:
I'm really thinking hard about the "mom-school" idea in conjunction with the new homeschool group.

One idea is to use Mathematicians Are People, Too--one story and a hands-on math "play" session to follow.

Another idea is to use Magic Tree House books as a guide for classes.

Another is a bread-making class.

Could I really do this?

How hard would it be?  Too hard?  Just hard enough?

Thinking Aloud Item #9:
I'm making chore charts/schedules/lists for the new house.  We've been here for 3 weeks now, and I'm starting to get vague ideas about what needs to be done and when.  It is much more house than we used to have.  So much more to love and care for.  I spent 2 hours yesterday poring over house cleaning blogs researching various tips and plans.  The one thing I'm positive about is that the living room and entry hall have to be vacuumed at least once a day.

Thinking Aloud Item #10:
We need to get out into nature again!  We have woods here--in our yard--that the kids are playing in.  The little creek has been frozen, and the kids "ice skate" on it. But I want to get out with the kids, too.  I went out sledding (we have the best hill!) on Christmas Eve with them, but I mean getting out regularly and often.  Walking, looking, touching, collecting, drawing, thinking, talking. 

I used to schedule outings once a week, but what about once a day?  Even if life gets in the way and we only get out twice a week, that's a lot!!

Kids are waking.  There's food to fix and errands to run. 

And I'm searching for a great way to celebrate New Year's Eve at home--just me and the kids because Daddy has to work.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Thinking "Aloud" About School Again

It is 5:30 am the morning after Christmas.

We are (mostly)  moved in to our new house.
The holiday hoopla is (mostly--we still have to celebrate J9 becoming J10 and do something for the New Year) over.
We've had a month or more of no school, and the littles have missed doing preschool with mommy for months now.

I mentioned yesterday to the kids that it was time for them to start thinking about school and work routines again.  E13 said, "YES!!!!  I am so ready!!!"

Kind of took me by surprise.

My brain, the same brain that has been utterly stagnant regarding school thoughts, is awake and working again.  That's why I'm up; I'm thinking too much to sleep.

Thinking Aloud Item #1:
I read a great post one morning recently (I'm so sorry I didn't take note of it to give the author credit and provide a link) about how to schedule for sanity.  She said to imagine the worst scenario possible for each item on your schedule and budget enough time for it.  For example:  breakfast.  We usually budget best scenario possible, right?  Food is ready on time; kids come to the table on time; everyone eats without complaining; no one dawdles; stimulating conversation ensues; no one spills anything; and whoever is on clean-up does so with a smile. 

How often does that really happen?

Usually someone dumps something on the floor; someone hates what we're having and either has a tantrum or plays passive-aggressive, accepting the food but then playing with it for an interminable length of time; chore-doers are not always happy contributors; and sometimes I'm distracted getting a science lesson ready for the day, and forget that the cracked wheat has to be both cracked and cooked.

The wise author of that post advises scheduling enough time to handle crises.  Then when a smooth day happens--BONUS!  Free time or cuddles and extra stories or time to do something just plain cool that otherwise wouldn't fit into a day.

I've read about margins before, and that it is wise to schedule them in, but imagining the worst case scenario and then allowing time to handle it is such a perfect picture for my brain.  I feel inspired.

Thinking Aloud Item #2:
I2 is, well, 2.  He's weaned and not all the way a baby anymore.  He loves numbers, cars, the ABCs, and tools.  He's ready for a little pre-preschool.  I'm not about to push academic training!  I just need to put him on the schedule for some special playtime with me.

Thinking Aloud Item #3:
H4 is asking for reading lessons.  We haven't finished her ABC notebook--we only got through N or O before school was utterly abandoned in favor of moving.  In watching her I don't think she's ready for phonics, yet.  I think that a little freshening up of her preschool box and picking up where we left off is actually the wisest course of action for her. 

Thinking Aloud Item #4:
A6 . . .  I'm wondering if she's ready to start a reading notebook yet . . . perhaps she can read aloud to me and narrate her summary.  Perhaps her copywork could be copying one of her own sentences right out of her narration.  Or we could choose a sentence from her book.  Hmmm . . . there's still a lot of thinking to do here.

Thinking Aloud Item #5:
We're going to get a piano.  M11 had to give up her violin lessons in the move, and S11 is a gifted musician who needs training.  I need to get a piano, find the lesson books, and schedule some music lessons for us.  I'd love to give myself some practice time. too.

Thinking Aloud Item #6:
I don't want us to be over-scheduled.  I allowed that to happen last semester--too many good external activities left me wiped out and scrambling through the days.  The kids were happy as clams, though!  How do I balance that?!??!  And we're a little lonely here in the new house and new neighborhood--not me, actually--the kids are.  I have a couple of extroverts who are happiest when they are out and about.  They've come to me voicing their frustration with how housebound they feel (though the ice, snow, and holidays have a lot to do with that). 

We're still members of our north-of-the-river homeschool group, so we still have twice monthly science club meetings, the winter dance, the talent show, and various field trips to look forward to, but those all involve drives of 30 miles or more.  I'd like to find friends who are more local. 

I'm in the process of  joining a south-of-the-river group, but it isn't nearly as organized as our old one.  I'm wondering, though, if that isn't a blessing in disguise.  The other one has entrenched habits and functions that don't necessarily fit my family's needs, and this new group is quite open to new, informal activities.  I could step up as organizer of park days and mom-school events that work for us . . . and hopefully some new friends. 

(But I'm afraid of getting overwhelmed!  And over-scheduled, again!)

Another wise post from a wise mom that I also failed to make note of gave this advice:  it is supposed to be hard.  We keep trying to make school, kids, home, work, everything easy, but it's supposed to be hard!  When we work hard, we grow.

I guess I can do hard things as long as I go into the project knowing it will be hard.  I do want easy days and easy living.  But the fruits of easy aren't necessarily good.  I don't want to do hard things just for the sake of doing hard things, but if doing hard work will bless my family, then I should go for it!

Right?

I feel a little confused thinking about this.

I have the concepts of hard-easy and easy-hard rattling around in my head, fighting with the concept of not being afraid of hard work.  I need to let this one rattle around in my brain a little longer . . .

Thinking Aloud Item #7:
Our daily devotionals are a mess.  I miss them.  The kids miss them.  We need to read together, talk together, write,  and memorize.  We just plain need it.  Breakfast seems to be the best time to do it.  I tried scheduling devotionals after breakfast because it felt as though I were bossing breakfast time too much, and the kids complained that other families had more casual breakfast routines than ours.  We've tried it, and I consider it a complete fail.  For us.  The kids have actually asked for breakfast devotionals to come back, and I'm ready for them, too.

It has been an hour.  Time for me to properly start my day with a little prayer and study time before the kids start waking up.  But I have more thinking to do because the days are racing by!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Geography--In the Middle of Life

We moved into our new house just over a week ago. 

We didn't have internet service for a full week.

We spend nearly half our time up at the old house finishing up the work that is needed to make a small house that used to hold a large family look good to the general public.  The other half of our time is spent driving to and from the old house . . . and sleeping.  And no one is getting enough sleep these days. 

Soon, soon, we'll be able to find a rhythm to a life desirable.

Right now we're in survival mode.

Internet service was installed a few days ago.  Then we found out our computer is NOT wi-fi compatible.   So we ran errands and found the part that would allow our computer to pick up the signal that is now filling our house.

Then we hooked it up.

Daddy did it.

And when Daddy plays on the computer you can bet there are either sports updates or maps on the screen.  On this first day of internet access there were maps.  A6, H4, and I2 (he had a birthday in recent weeks) climbed onto Daddy's lap and said, "Show me the Great Wall of China."

Daddy obliged.  But first he took them to see the Eiffel Tower.  Then they found the Leaning Tower of Pisa.  They looked at deserts, oceans, islands, and cities.  They talked and looked and listened and learned for well over an hour.

We haven't had "school" in our house for weeks.  I ache to remedy that situation, and I can see a light at the end of this survival mode tunnel.  While I work and wait my heart fills with gratitude that learning doesn't only take place in formal lessons.  In fact, I think the very best learning happens when someone asks a question and someone else helps find an answer.

What a blessing is a Daddy who loves maps!