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Friday, November 30, 2012

homeschool life thus far

So, I have had it in my head to write abour our schooling efforts. And the main word that comes to mind about the reality of homeschool (after EFFORT, Ha!) is JUGGLING.

It is a juggling act.

And an exercise in patience and other virtues which I greatly lack on many days.

But, as dada pointed out the other day "I know you are saying today feels terrible and you can't do it, but you know you are having fewer and fewer days you are saying this to me. Pretty soon it will be once a month, instead of once a week, [or every other day like it was]" HA.

So. Back up. I am in one of those moods. You know those moods where the normal "kids-pretending-to-be-puppies-drooling-and-barking-around-the-house" is not amusing but rather super duper annoying. "Seriously STOP DROOLING!"

Mama has lost her playful vibe.

I just had to cancel a date with my sister to the mall to take the kids to see Santa because little miss was running a fever again last night.

And this makes me crabby.

And little man has taken to being super emotional 6 yr old being. Do they do this? Do yours? I need to read that wonder of boys book everyone raves about. I did look up 6 yr old development phase on my favorite parenting blog and she said yes, 6 yr olds are super emotional and yes, you need to be the "calm wall" that they can bounce off of. Yesterday I told him "go play outside! Play! Be happy!" And he litterally burst into tears. "BUT I AM HAPPY!!!"

lordhavemercy. I AM A CALM WALL. I AM A CALM WALL.

And we are sick again which means weird sleep and a clingy baby and me up till midnight every night so I can have a moment of peace on the internets.

But its Friday. And I made it through the week.

[Ohmygosh. Now they are playing "kitty" with a ball of string, which I strongly suspect little man is hoping to use to tie up his sister.

Lets ignore this and brew more coffee and keep typing, shall we?]

I hardly sound like the ideal candidate for homeschooling children huh? Much too selfish and crabby and tired and coffee-dependent.

UGH.

But, dada is right, the days are getting easier. We are finding a rhythm. And planning geek that I am I am actually having fun coming up with ideas, especially for the holiday season.

I clearly miss working life on some level. A spreadheet?? Why yes! I'd LOVE to devise a spreadsheet for lesson planning!

In any case, this is what works for us, on the good days, when it seems to work.

First RHYTHM.

We have established these days, which happens on top of lessons which I will describe in a minute. It is helpful for me because when we get to that 3 o'clock point in the afternoon where everyone is bored and grumpy and restless I can say "Hey, its Painting Day! LETS PAINT!" etc.

Monday, WASH DAY, where I try to involve the kiddies in chores around the house and make an effort to wash the kitchen floor (really needs done more than this but c'est la vie) and wash and put away ALL THE CLOTHES (a monumental effort as you all know)

Tuesday, CRAFT DAY, where I let myself craft (the beast is unleashed!!) and try to do some craft with the kiddies that is fun for them.

Wednesday, BAKING DAY, cookies, bread, etc.

Thursday, PAINTING DAY, only because they love it so much. I tried to do the artsy Waldorfy wet on wet painting with them several times now and it makes them frustrated and they DONT have fun, so we got out the regular old paints and painted pine cones as mini Christmas trees this week, much more fun for them.

[Interrupt this to say little man just left dots of red paint I left out from yesterday, all over the counter in the bathroom trying to convince me he was bleeding...]

Friday, this is a new one, GAME DAY, this is trying to force myself to engage in Candyland, and etc. because they love it (and I have NEVER been a game person...)

SO the actual school routine. Most everything is pulled from the fab website www.mainlesson.com Seriously, go look at it. Amazing. And all free!

We are doing mostly Grimm Brothers tales, old school style, for his alphabet journey. Also the Red Fairy Book has all the classic tales like The Three Little Pigs and so on for the preschool/kindy set like little miss.

Ok. The routine.

We do this Monday through Thursday. Friday is my off (breathe, breathe) day.

Around 9:30 after watering and feeding chickens and watering and feeding kids (ha) and coffeeing up mama, we go down to our school room which is toasty warm now with our new stove.

Around 9:33 toddler starts pulling all the toys down off the shelves and wreaking havoc, as per her role in the house these days.

At 9:36 mama is finally sitting after putting away most toys up high where baby cant get them.

9:37 baby spills mama's giant travel mug of coffee. It leaks a bit but there is still some left. PHEW.

9:40 mama grabs Iphone where I have a notepad note of our "morning circle" which I then start. Its ideal, so they say, to have the whole routine memorize. I am getting there but not quite yet.

As soon as I start chanting "Follow me! Follow me! To the ring of fairies follow me!" which is our opening verse, the kids, even destructo-toddler, come running over to grab hands and make a circle. We do several of these verses and rhymes, some I have found online, some we all grew up with (I'm a little teapot, ring around a rosie, etc) I change these out with the season a bit. We just started our "winter circle". I am happy to share those here if people are interested.

This circle time sometimes go really smoothly. Sometimes it doesnt. Baby dear inevitably whines to be held, demands to be nursed or starts crying because someone bumped her while performing row row row your boat too vigorously.

Around 10 or so we finish up circle time with this verse "Be quiet your faces, be still everyone, fix deeply on my your eyes, and out of my mind a story will come that is old and lovely and wise."

Its corny but signals to the kids that it is time to listen. We first do a little story for little miss. She is super fixated on The three little pigs right now. So we tell it. But we also act it out. I did it myself the first few times but now brother does it. Which is a great way to involve him. We use the toy snapping jaws dinosaur as the wolf and our little gnomes as the pigs with varying cups or boxes as the houses. Acting out stories is one of the Waldorfy things I love. Kids love it and they can then act it out later, encouraging their imaginative play. We do alter the story from the original, per their request. The piggies dont get eaten at first, they run away, and then at the end they all come over to the third pigs brick house, as well as their mama who is visiting, for turnips, applesauce and wolf stew. HA.

[Side note. I just turned on cartoons for the kids. Super Mommy no longer, ha! And with a second giant mug of coffee I can type in blissful quiet. For the next 3.5 minutes until someone yells for me. Better get cracking then, huh?]

So. Then we do the alphabet story on Monday and Wednesday, with supporting stories or other nature or seasonal stories on Tuesday and Thursday. For nature tales look up Burgess on the Main Lesson website above. He's an author who wrote this great stories about different animals in nature told by Mother Nature to other animals (so they can learn about their families) Super sweet and engaging. Yesterday I did a poem about tomten, the little Swedish gnome folk that live on farms to protect the animals and farmers. So cute. I plan on using a Christmas book I found on Main Lesson for the next few weeks, along with the Burgess tales. Ooh, I have great plans in store for advent. I am excited. More on that later.

Monday and Wednesday are our alphabet days. The Alphabet Journey story has been time consuming, I have to admit. I have written up to U and have a general idea about the other letters left. My word document (with Grimm stories and other poems pasted in) is more than 300 pages long!! And its NOT DONE! Yikes. If only my book were that long!

[3.5 minutes later sick snuffly toddler is on my lap tugging at my shirt for her "mee-mee". HA]

So back to our schedule.

At 10:02 I draw a picture of our letter on the chalkboard, turned into whatever character from our story, like an R with a head and arms, for example, as Rumplestiltskin, or an M turned into a mountain, etc.

At 10:05 toddler insists on sitting on my lap and nursing. I think she is jealous for my attention.

We read our tale then the Grimm Brothers story that is incorporated in - usually the "wise old woman" is telling a tale to the Prince to encourage him.

At 10:07 I tell little man to please put down his Ninjago figures and LISTEN.

At 10:09 little miss and little toddler go over to the toy area and proceed to dump out all the toys AGAIN.

When we finish with our story time I draw the picture in my main lesson book while little man draws in his. Then he copies a row of letters next to it.

Some days we follow this with the very un-Waldorfy practice of looking at sight word flash cards or we do a review of phonics, making sure he knows what all the letters we have gone over sound like, which have more than one sound, etc.

[Just jumped up to grab little toddler out of the bathroom where she was standing holding her brothers toothbrush over the toilet and smacking her lips. GRIMACE. Yes, I tossed it in the garbage]

Around 10:30 or 11ish, depending on how many interruptions we have had, we finish up and usually go outside to play or, lately with the sickos whining about the cold, we get out a game or they just go and play or draw or something.

And that is it. As far as the structured school-like thing. Its been nice to fill up our days and really I look forward to the older years or once we are done with the Alphabet Journey so we can do little blocks of main lessons (maybe 2 - 4 weeks) of things like "100 stories of American history" or "the fairy book of science" or "Greek gods and their myths" (ALL on mainlesson.com) we have done a few from each of these books and they were great. We are doing numbers next, in January, and basic math principles, and will add another main lesson block into the above routine, along with every other day of reading/phonics practice.

So. All in all its good.

Except for when it isnt. Then I break out the Ikea chocolate bar hiding in the freezer and call dada in tears. But. Then its good again the next day and you know, all things in life worth doing, well, they take some doing, right?

Dont you ALL want to homeschool now?????? HA.






Tuesday, November 27, 2012

zen parenting moment, thank you pinterest

Today's zen parenting moment is brought to you by every mommies favorite obsession for escaping toddler mayhem and whiney sick kids, pinterest.

Take baking soda use medicine droppers to drop in food colored vinegar.

Kids obsessively watch resulting fizzies. You drink your reheated three times chai (and ignore mayhem still being produced by toddler).

Ahhhh.

Oh and ps, this has been quietly entertaining them for nearly an hour!!!





Sunday, November 25, 2012

a kids christmas tree

So, how was your Thanksgiving?

Yea, me too.

Good family time...followed by sick and/or crabby kids and grey skies and...

But it's nearly December and there is a tiny sprinkling of snow covering the dead blah earth outside and there are crafts to be done and cookies to bake and...a bottle of Baileys on the shelf (Ahhhhhh....)

It's gotta be a calm approach to the holidays though. I can't go at it all crazy eyed.

Craft! Decorate! Bake!
CRAFT! DECORATE! BAKE!
CRAFT!!! DECORATE!!! BAKE!!!

I want it to be a meaningful and restful season for us this year. Not crazed stressful mama trying to force holiday joy into every waking moment.

What is our peace this season? Where is our joy? You know? Ask these questions out of the day's activities. How can I bring this peace and joy into our day?

My little family curled on the couch in front of our new woodstove. (to be installed today!)

The kids excitement of opening the box of Christmas decor.

A community of faith around us that has embraced our family.

All of the blessings around me, this house, these kids, siblings who are always there for me, parents who love me, dada whom I adore.

Just enjoy it, right?

Simple things like going to get a tree out in the frosty air...

And then that tight feeling returns.

Remember what happened to me last year when we got a tree? Yes. I remember too, perhaps too well. Now I feel that apprehension building, that fear of doing that again to my sweet little family this year.

But I am in a different space and place, I tell myself, and recognizing those fears and being very purposeful about meaning of the season, rather than just frantic activity, will help overcome these worries.

Right??

Maybe.

I still have this nagging feeling, whispering in the back of my head, that I might break down and lose it and be unable to be a source of calm joy for my family again this year. And then I will be disappointed in myself and let the kiddies down...but...even so...even if that did happen, well, life would go on. Right? Knowing that, well, that's half the battle? (isn't that from the old GI Joe cartoons??)

Anyway. More than you wanted to know maybe.

I really am in a good space, comparatively. I am. It was just as I wandered around the holiday decor section of the town thrift store the other day with Feliz Navidad ringing in my ears I felt my stress levels rising, my chest getting tighter.

I didn't even realize this was why that happened yesterday until I started typing this post. Funny how I need writing for that.

Anyway, WAY more than you needed huh??

Moving right along...

So I had this great idea out in the woods with the kids the other day. There are lots of little baby trees crowded here and there, pine trees, and I thought about transplanting some to the front where we need more tree cover, but then ooooh first we could bring one inside! As a little Christmas tree for the kids! And our crafty time can be to make decorations for it! Then they will leave our big pretty tree ALONE! Yay! Win/win, right??

So, we went out and found a perfect little scraggly guy and brought him inside. Happy.




 
 










 
 

 





Tuesday, November 20, 2012

in the sunshine

So, I decided hey it's a holiday this week. And hey, I homeschool. Let's take the week off! So we are. Although we did our letter journey yesterday and I have planned things for the week about thanksgiving. So not really, but kinda, ha.

I love this holiday time, family, food, gratitude (rather than panic over giving and or getting the right gifts). Although, does anyone feel a bit funny telling the sanitized version of the first thanksgiving to their kids? Ergh... I've read too much Howard Zinn I guess. It's not a lie to say they were grateful to have survived their first year though. No need to get into the massacres and slaughter and stealing of land... Yet... Ha. How is that for light and happy thanksgiving post?? Oops, sorry!

In any case it's sunny and gorgeous and we have some books on Pilgrims and some stories of Native American harvest time to balance it out, ha. And of course, some turkey crafts to do and pies to bake.

But for now, coffee in the sunshine with my babies. And yes, I am thankful.















Friday, November 16, 2012

a mixed bag post

So yesterday I had the great pleasure of spending 90 minutes with a drill in my mouth. Oh yes, the dentist. Luckily upon confessing my apprehension the dentist swiftly offered nitrous oxide, aka laughing gas. Euphoria ensued.

Here is the random assortment of thoughts I had while he tinkered away.

I wonder why no one uses trapper keepers anymore. They sure were handy. Mine had a unicorn and rainbow. I wish I still had it.

Fervent wishes, nearly prayers, that Mary and Matthew get together for real on Downton Abbey this season.

A sudden vision of myself with dreads nearly to my waist (2 years from now?) out on our back deck, painting in the sunshine, like on a canvas with oils, only to realize as I look around this vision that I had a massively pregnant belly. Hmmmm.

Imagining us all as a family driving in a van out west to see the giant redwoods. Jack would love those trees, I found myself nearly tearing up imagining this picture.

Deciding that even if I don't finish my 50000 word novel this month that henceforth I would call myself a writer and work on this project over the next several months/years. Darn it all to heck, I will write this book.

The thought that, you know, I really REALLY hate downhill skiing.

And also, hmm my feet feel like they are floating off the chair. Weird.

And then, do you HAVE to turn the oxygen on now?? Ikea with the kids would be much nicer in this fuzzy state.

And there you have it. The exciting mind of Sara as high as she will ever be.

Ha.

I have 40 things I could post about these days. Our school is getting better every day. I have a dozen eggs from OUR chickens sitting in the fridge. The spinach had actually sprouted in our winter garden. I have been working hard in demonstrating contentment to the kids. We work sometimes. We play sometimes. We rest sometimes. But all of it is worthy of our best. All is good. All is part of life.

Also, I made homemade rice a roni, remember that stuff? Back when I was a newlywed and busy and ate crap food I made it ALL the time. So I had that leftover serving of uncooked spaghetti noodles in the cupboard and some rice and I crushed the noodles, added it to this rice with dried onion, garlic salt, and parsley. Then I cooked it up as you make rice a roni,sautéed the noodles and rice mixture in butter until browned, added double in water and let simmer for 20 min or so until cooked. Voila. Side dish.

Also I got the Steger moccasins I have been lusting after since I started this blog. I loooooooove them.

The end.

PS. Also my baby is totally a destructive daredevil toddler now. When did that happen???

Also. A picture of us in the sunshine yesterday. Love. Them. Babies.

















Saturday, November 10, 2012

a thankfulness tree

I say, hey kids we are going to make a thankfulness tree this year. Let's GO! And little miss says "what is fankful?" (we have an f/th confusion in our house)

Wellllllll....

It's when we have things in our life that make us happy. Like how eating cookies make you happy? (cookie? I wanna cookie mama!) forget the cookie. Or maybe things that happen that are good. (aunties coming to visit! Going bowling with dada!) Or things that make you a lucky girl. (freedom! A warm bed!)

Clearly we need to be talking about this more. But really, an attitude of thankfulness is something we all need to cultivate on our daily life, right?

So, we twisted up some packing paper leftover from the move (no! Don't throw that away! I'm gonna make a tree!!) and cut out some leaves and employed dada's staple gun to put it up.

And there you have it, a thankfulness tree. I think we are going to put the leaves up slowly over the next few weeks, to encourage more thinking about gratitude.

So what are you "fankful" for this year?
our thankfulness tree. which clearly need more leaves (as my
kids are yelling in the background because we turned off
cartoons...)

So, I havent so much shown pictures of our school/family room. Here are some below. In totally random order because blogger on my phone wont let me upload them in a specific way?? Weird.


remember that felted tree i made? this is the finished product. i
kinda love it. (dont touch kids! that is MAMA'S tree. ha ha)
our alphabet pictures so far. N was my worst. umm, branches for the
nightingale to form the letter N?
 
our school area on the other side of the room. i love it. i was waiting
to show pictures until the room was finished, decorated, pillows made, clean, etc
but lets face it, that could be two years from now.
the other school corner. the tiled area will hold a wood stove shortly.
(EEEEEEEEE....EXCIIIIITED.)
baby dear loves to drag around this basket of pinecones. its adorable.
gnomes hanging out with a goose.
i love this little nature corner on little man's desk. its so sweet.
a chalk drawing i just did for martinmas. dont know about martinmas?
another great feast day, this one to celebrate st. martin. more to come later....


our thankfulness tree. this is our tv/play area, with a set up for baby dear.
its always a mess.
so we made these two couches out of pallets and mattress.
so bohemian of me huh? i have big plans to make more pillows.
our shelf of nature findings. in the jar is a (dead) butterfly. a baggie
in the basket contains a squirrel tail from a coworker of dada's.
kinda cool. kinda ew.
 
Friday, November 9, 2012

trying to get to the library

I have been trying to drag my children to our new library since the week we moved here. It's not that they don't want to go, they do, it's just every time I go to rally the troops toward the door they are engaged with some activity like this- playing chess with their play mobile figures "knight to e5," he says, and then he captures her fairy princess, then she says "awwww, well, baby to A7," in a teeny voice, and marches her baby over to capture his soldier guy.

It's hilarious.

Why on earth would I interrupt that to go to the library, right?

Also baby is super clingy this week. Teeth? I don't know. She only wants me and , sorry to be crass, only wants the boob. I nursed her for around two hours on and off last night then again from 4-6am. I am seriously dehydrated this morning. Guess what she is doing now while I type? Yes, hanging on for dear life, while playing with her sisters princess cell phone at the same time.

Ah toddlerhood.

We have fully reached it. She has OPINIONS. She loves shoes, and insists on wearing them as she falls asleep. She also has an obsession with socks and drags them around the house. And she loves being held, all the time. "Mama HUG" she says, pointing to my chair last night, as I'm doing the frantic 5 o'clock-trying-to-get-dinner-on-the-table dance last night. Oh baby, I say. But I sit. And she pulls a blanket around her shoulders and puts her head down on my chest and sighs.

Ah sweet toddlerhood.

And the adorable chess game is disintegrating into an epic battle for dominion over the table.

Perhaps time for the library after all.


Wednesday, November 7, 2012

our happy girls

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

VOTE

Go do it.

Books for the kids today, I got choked up by the end of "of thee I sing" by Obama, regardless of your politics it's beautiful.
Monday, November 5, 2012

in which I confess that I would rather be inside than standing out inthe cold giving my children quality outdoors time

How is that for a title, huh?

I know right?

So I am standing outside in the somewhat cold grey weather overseeing outdoor play time. Usually I do yard work, bring a book, but today I have a headache and I just want to go in, craft and drink some tea, oh, and work on my crazy nanowrimo project, which I am loving.

Oh for the days when one year old can be out with the bigs by herself!

In any case, I thought id write an update on my nifty new iPhone blogger app. One thing about the iPhone set up, I seriously hate the keypad for T typing, I have fat thumbs I think, they don't know where to go.

Yes so, that said, now to catch up.

While I am confessing, this school at home gig is hard. For reals. It was enough to keep the house clean, kids from fighting, dinner on, laundry done. And now to feel I HAVE to do this big creative joyful learning venture? Eegads. I have found myself getting furious for my impatience, a vicious cycle. Like WHY DON'T YOU WANT TO LISTEN TO POETRY WHILE DRAWING NEAT LITTLE PICTURES OF FAIRIES??? Gosh darn it to heck!!!

They would rather make mud pies in the yard. Which is what we are doing now.

So I have found myself, reluctantly, once again, in that agonizing place...learning to let go, and simply be. Learning, again, from my children. Learning, again, to not demand the perfect from myself, to let go of the 40 thousand pinterest projects that would be perfect for the letter L, and just move on to M. You know?

So, that is me. Outside in the cold, wiping sandy runny noses, wanting a mug of hot tea, but willing, as it were, to just be.

Although I might go get some tea.

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