A Week, Briefly (In Which We Start a Full School Schedule)

The feeling I wake up with each morning is panic--panic that our schedule won't work; panic that our days will fall apart; panic that I simply cannot do it.

Then I get going.

I just put one foot in front of the other each minute that passes.

And it's okay.

It's not fabulous (as I write Brother is staging a screaming tantrum on our deck--there's nothing I can do but wait it out).

But it is okay.

I did leave enough breathing room in our schedule.

Our days do fall apart, but we put them back together . . . or they end.  Either way.

I know I cannot do my work alone.  It takes family teamwork and my Heavenly Father's constant guidance and support (I wonder how many guardian angels hang out around our house).  Mostly I fail.  But I keep trying.

And then I wake up to panic again.

I'm hoping, sincerely, that the panic will fade as the weeks pass.

Panic notwithstanding, we started school in full this week.

This wasn't really a full day as we mostly passed out the remaining school books and supplies and went over our daily schedule.  Older kids spent time getting to know their books.  Littler ones had fun crawling into my lap to do initial lessons.

A new tradition we're beginning is early morning preschool story time.  When the kids are first awake, and after they are dressed,  we gather on the couch to read a story before playing or working or anything else.  I'll be choosing what I consider to be high quality books that the kids tend to overlook on their own.  We'll be reading the same book all week to help the Ladybug, Brother, and Little Brother develop their ability to make predictions and their own storytelling skills.  This week's book was The Napping House

We had friends who now live out of state pass through on their way to Washington D.C.  They called to say, "Hey!  We're here!  Can you play?"  So we did.

As a result I forgot all about Rose Red's 2nd assessment appointment that evening.


I've sent my fervent, humble apologies to the counselor.

But catching up with old friends was awesome!

This was a for-real-and-true full school day.

And it was our first take-a-walk-around-the-block-after-quiet-time day.

It was wonderful!

We saw at least 7 different butterfly species; we looked at algae and water bugs in puddles; we picked up crawdad claws from an unfortunate crawdad who must have been flooded out of the stream into the street and either smashed by a car or eaten by a bird; we collected seed pods; we looked at grass seed and listened to the stream bubble over rocks.

Nature Angel adopted an injured butterfly.  We all took turns holding it.

We neither wrote nor drew anything.  We just walked and looked and talked and touched.

I'm satisfied.

And I'm looking forward to walking again.

The highlight of this day came at bedtime as I was reading Mister Man's chosen story:  Miss Rumphius.  There is a picture of Miss Rumphius as a little girl helping her grandpa paint the skies for the paintings he sells for a living.  Ladybug pointed to Miss Rumphius and said, "She's like that man we read about . . . that painter . . . that man . . . Pieter Bruegel . . . who painted Icarus in the water."

Seriously, we're spending barely 10 minutes a day (and Wednesday was day 3) reading and talking about What makes a Bruegel a Bruegel? during our symposium (term shamelessly stolen from Sarah Mackenzie) hour.

It's working!

If you'd asked me earlier on Wednesday if symposium was any use to Ladybug, I'd have said no.  But I stand (gladly) corrected now.

We had breakfast at the park--in the pouring rain.

Why not?

We came home to complete our morning chores, conduct Morning Meeting, and work through symposium before sending Ladybug and Brother off with Sir Walter Scott for therapy while the rest of us worked on independent school subjects.

I'm coming to the conclusion that the time of day we complete the work is not as important as just doing it each day.  I like being able to pull different kids close to me at different times, working when they feel ready to hang out with me instead of by the clock.

That said, I still keep a good schedule overall.

Perhaps the regular schedule gives us the freedom to depart from it when we need to?

I'll have to think on that for a while.

We did our first Geography Through Art project.  I didn't have chalk to do the recommended art project (I thought I did, but the box that I remember being full of pastels and art chalk was simply gone!), but a 5 minute internet search led me to a project that we could complete without a trip to the art store.


Painting with 9 kids ages 3-14 would have been doable, but we threw 2 1-year-old toddlers into the mix.

That was no mean feat.

Some are still in the process over product phase.  Some are definitely all about product.  The babies were all about touching as much paint as they could.

We used washable tempera.

There's no permanent damage.

Thursday started fine but turned yucky--like last week!

This time it was Rose Red instead of the littles.  In fact, the littles did great.

We got through plenty of school in the morning--including finishing our painted Geography project from the day before--and dancing was far better than it was last Thursday.  Perhaps we are finding our groove.

What was the nicest part of the day was how peacefully everyone under 10 played outside when we got home.  Their independent play left me plenty of space to have a banking crisis (totally temporary, and totally taken care of now) and then to retreat to playing hymns on the piano to settle my anxiety.

I haven't had the luxury of turning to the piano for comfort in a loooooong time.

Super Star made dinner (pancakes).

Everyone went to bed with full bellies.

Rose Red settled down and tried to make amends.

This was marked on our calendar as an almost-full school day because I knew we'd be meeting with our nephew and his girlfriend in the afternoon (visiting from California), but I didn't factor in the fact that the girls and Sir Walter Scott would be assigned to help with the church youth fund-raiser, so our school day would be truncated by 10:30 am.

Rose Red had her first Spanish quiz.  She's pretty sure she failed it, even though she tried to study in her own way.  She refused to follow any of the study tips that I offered (gently--I am truly working to not boss her through this).  When she admitted her fear, I offered sympathy and advised her to talk to her teacher after she sees her grade on Wednesday.

I hope she does it.

She could shine at this class if she can let go of her pre-conceived notions about teachers and college classes, but she'll have to learn in her own time.

We completed Mystery of History vol 2 lesson 3 during our Friday symposium; it was about Paul's missionary journeys.  One of the suggested lesson ideas was for the students to pretend they'd been shipwrecked on Malta with Paul and to write a letter home describing Paul and the events surrounding the shipwreck.  I gave the assignment tentatively to everyone who could write, only asking for 2 sentences from Little Princess and 5 sentences from Nature Angel, but asking for a full page minimum from Pixie, Super Star, and Belle.

Their letters were charming!  They were a delightful mix of imagination and fact.  I enjoyed each one, and all of the girls but Little Princess enjoyed writing them.  I'm so glad that I dared to depart from the plain narrations I usually ask for.

After morning meeting and symposium, I had a lovely time working with Nature Angel and Little Princess on their math and language arts lessons.

After that, Mister Man and I read some interesting books together.  We take turns reading aloud with him snuggled on my lap.  This week we've been enjoying Wild Places and If You Lived in Colonial Times.  On Friday Mister Man wanted me to read If You Lived in Colonial Times to him while he read to me from Little House in the Big Woods.  When he finished reading aloud, he curled up in one of the wing chairs in our music room and read to himself for over 2 hours.  He came out happily, showing me that he'd read up through the chapter about Christmas and was now well ahead of where we were in our evening read aloud sessions with him and Ladybug.

I continue to be boggled by my reading boy.

Sir Walter Scott took Ladybug, Brother, and Little Brother with the big girls to work on the fundraiser.
They also paused for a moment to enjoy the day.
 After lunch, we had such a good time visiting with Cousin A--- and his darling girlfriend.  Cousin A--- is a talented musician, and he played the guitar and sang both for and with us.

We had kids running in three different directions in the evening:  Nature Angel to a swim party, Rose Red to a cultural arts festival with her friends, and Pixie and Super Star to a high school football game with some church friends.  I skipped chores and settled outside in the gentle September sunshine to read while most of the remaining children (Belle read indoors and Little Princess did some crafting) made mud pies until dinner.

Ladybug asked me why I didn't do school with her.  I didn't have much of an answer other than to say that playing outside was much better school for her than sitting at the table with a pencil in her hand.  I was afraid she'd feel slighted (because she usually does), but the blue sky was so very lovely, and the mud was so very squishy, and the breeze was so very gentle that she just smiled and went back to playing.

A tender mercy.

We're still working out kinks in how to I can monitor the older girls' work while allowing them the independence they need.  Mostly, they need to remember to bring their work to the kitchen island where I'll see it, but I need to provide a more concrete and safe place to put it (some sort of bin or crate).

Overall, I'd call it a good first week.

P. S.
We're still reading David Copperfield.  We're at 39% and enjoying it.

(Linking here.)


  1. Love the picture of Baby Girl dipping her toe in the paint water! And I think the art projects are gorgeous! Love to hear about all the creative learning and regenerating activities!

  2. I love, love, love that art project. They look so lovely hanging in the window. I pinned them to my Pinterest board.

    1. I went through my browsing history trying to find the instructions for the project, and I did another search, but I simply cannot find them. Sorry!!! Glad you like the finished product though😊

  3. Its been rough for my first week, getting back into the swing of things. awesome post!

  4. Isn't it nice to look back over a week and see all that was accomplished? Love the park in the rain pics and the art! My son started his online classes last week, but our official first week will be next week once we are settled back in AZ and have added all the components of our school day.


Post a Comment

Popular Posts