Friday, December 9, 2011

Business, Busyness and Blessings: A Homeschool Mother's Journal

In my life this week…


was busyness and business, very little sleep and a bounty of blessings, especially those that involved continuing to pause to enjoy quality time with our three kiddoes!


The school week started with a near all-nighter due to Jack’s croup. It has taken me the rest of the week to get myself back on track as far as adequate rest goes. In fact, I am not sure I am there yet.


Since Mike and I rarely are able to converse without little ears around, we took advantage of time do so last night after I got home from work and we discovered, to our surprise, that we had both outlasted Luke. (Many nights, one or both of us fall asleep while trying to ensure Luke gets his winks.) So, Mike and I stayed up for a while talking and, today, I find myself almost as tired as I was on Monday.


Looking back at the week, I cannot blame just croup and conversation for my grogginess though. Business and busyness have a lot to do with it: I have started my “spring” tutoring contracts with Club Z in addition to my regular Drama Kids teaching, so I am out three nights a week working. Then, this week, we spent one of our "free" nights at Edaville.


Days were filled with usual, including appointments for OT, Feeding Specialist and Early intervention.  Plus, we celebrated Luke’s birthday, starting with an early birthday breakfast, since it was the only time yesterday when our whole family would be together . No wonder I am still tired!


But tired or not, I know one thing is certain:  I am blessed!  As my son peers out the window right now eagerly announcing to me that a woodpecker and another little bird are at our bird feeders, I reflect on the joy of feeding and being fed.  I think about how well each of us are fed what we need daily, sometimes directly through the Spirit and sometimes through God's work as done by the hearts, hands and words of others.  


In our homeschool …


we continue our relatively relaxed, Alphabet of Advent approach. Our book basket is overflowing with books, which we enjoy snuggling together to read.  There have been active times using Advent Word Wall and focused times doing sensory activities and free choice ones.  For Luke and Nina self-directed activities usually includes some combination of cutting, taping, stapling, drawing and “writing”.


I am just as happy many days to let my children use "school time" to dream up and pursue self-designed projects as I am to guide them in more traditional formal lessons. I feel there is merit in offering time for creativity and independent pursuits. Plus, the vigor with which my children pursue their projects at four and six entails plenty of fine motor work, practical life skills, math concepts and the like.


Just to be sure that my subjective assessment of how my children are progressing with what we are doing in homeschool is spot on, I used a local public grade school’s report card this week as an objective guide to do a check-in assessment of Luke for Kindergarten. I am happy to report that he is on track with his traditionally-schooled peers, with of course, a few areas that he needs improvement in and some others he excels at.


Helpful Homeschooling Tips to Share


Take time to reflect.


One thing I constantly crave as a homeschool mother is the dedicated planning time I had as a traditional school teacher. Now, from early morning through my children’s bedtime, a daily interlude for me to plan, reflect, do paperwork, etc. is sorely lacking. There is no “planning period”.


Likewise, “Mom time” that many other mothers manage also eludes me. I have only one napper. My other two are not only very “busy” children who don’t do well with an established quiet time, but are also children who need to be parented to sleep instead of put to sleep. And, as I already mentioned, this parent sometimes falls asleep when doing that. So, truly personal time is gift I rarely enjoy.


Instead of wishing for a gift that is not mine, however, I have decided to simply accept what is mine is enough. I may not have an established rhythm of me-time, but I do now relish almost daily moments to breathe and reflect. Instead of rushing to the next to-do when I find my children engaged enough in something that they do not need my full attention, I have been making a habit of mulling over things I am too tired to at night once they are asleep. The balance that is slowly being recalibrated because of it is a good thing!


I am inspired by…


Deb Chitwood and John Bowman’s desire to share Montessori-inspired suggestions and activities that anyone can use at home or school. I love Deb’s blog and John’s book and so, earlier this year when they sent out a request for folks respond to some questions for a new e-book they teaming up to write, I did so. Now, I am honored to have some of my thoughts and activity ideas included in their book and excited to dive into all those listed by other folks. Yes, the book is complete. Just click here to learn more about this free resource!


Places We’ve Been Going and People We’ve Been Seeing


We’ve had a busy week of outings.


Last Saturday found us making train cabooses at another Lowe’s Build and Grow Clinic, before heading down to a fun, free holiday event at the Pine Hills, where we met some friends and...






chatted with Santa...


decorated cookies...


made ornaments...


toured some gingerbread houses...


met seasonal characters...


enjoyed hot cider...


fed animals at the petting zoo and watched the rein-dog parade...


Then, on Monday night, we enjoyed Edaville with thanks to Grampy and Grammy.  We might have put off our Edaville visit since Jack had been up the night prior with croup, but we had the non-refundable tickets already purchased and everyone seemed to be feeling okay at departure time. So, we went. No regrets! The sparkle in all the children’s eyes was priceless, and – bonus – all the cool, fresh, night air seemed to do the trick for Jack. We didn’t face a typical second night of croup attacks.

Some of our Edaville fun included:


Jack's joy at his first carnival-like ride...


the kids peering in at the same displays I did as a child...


Daddy taking the kids on lots of round-and-round rides...


Nina excited to be tall enough to ride the ferris wheel...


Jack taking his first ride on the same merry-go-round that his mummy, aunts, uncles and cousins have enjoyed for decades...


riding the "little train"...


and the big one...


with the kids pressed against the window to see the light displays...


and so excited to get a bell from Santa's sleigh on the Polar Express...


and decompressing from all the delight (or perhaps getting even more wound up?) in an enormous ball pit.

Our final outing of the week was closer to home – a walk in our neighborhood to collect pine cones to make bird feeders with. We were supposed to head down to the “big slide” at the WWI Memorial Park for Luke’s birthday, by his request, but since it had rained all day Wednesday, I thought the ground at the park might be just a bit too mucky for me to cope with. I did not relish the thought of muddy clothes, shoes and car seats to contend with just prior to going to Mass and work in the late afternoon, so I kept Luke immersed in all things bird feeding and housing for much of the day yesterday (based on his requested birthday gifts – bird seed, a bird house and a bird feeder) and promised to fulfill his requested birthday wish (going to the big slide) on another day when the ground is drier or Daddy is home to help. Proof that Luke is growing up? He agreed with my adjusted plan.


What’s working for me…


is staying focused on the big picture.


Midweek, I began to get down on myself about what I am NOT able to do (or choosing to do?) well. Then, I realized that everything I was thinking about was “little stuff”. Details of daily life. When I look at the big picture of my call and the adults I am raising my children to become, things look pretty good.


Thoughts I have…


with the big picture in mind, I have been trying to ask myself at different moments during the day:



  • What can I do right now to make this moment the best it can be?
  • Is what I am doing at this moment in line with what I value?
  • How about with the future I seek for my family and myself?
It really is an easy check and way to reframe my brain when I need to.



Things I’ve been Working On


With all the busyness, business and sleepiness this week, I have not made much progress on my own pursuits. But, wow, our front tree is a bevy of bird-friendliness. 


The kids have long been designing simple bird houses out of recyclables to hang on the tree. Then, after our birthday breakfast for Luke yesterday morning, they spent much of the day on bird-stuff:




They refilled our bird feeder with Luke’s birthday birdseed






painted the birds a decoration



and painted and hung a birdhouse.


I hope our feathered-friends flock to their handiwork with as much enthusiasm as the kids put into it


I’ve been reading…


many books from our Alphabet of Advent Plans with the kids and warmed by each time I do. Whether I am pre-reading the books on my own or reading them aloud to my children, I am consistently moved by the power of picture books. Emotions elicited, thoughts inspired, learning loved. It’s all there in time spent with these books.


I’m cooking…


recipes from a pre-release copy Kim Wilson’s new Good and Easy Eats e-cookbook, which I reviewed and am offering a giveaway of. It goes on sale tomorrow. Check it out!





 *****



I’m grateful for…


restoration born from choosing to cuddle with my kids.


The other day, I was feeling overtired, less than productive and therefore, stuck and wallowing. So, once I got Jack to sleep for nap, I caved to screen time for Luke and Nina. As they hopped up on my bed to watch thMax Lucado videos we have borrowed from the library, I realized that using the time that they were watching the videos to try to rest, write or do tasks was not a good choice. A gift I am given daily is time to love my children. So, I cuddled up with Luke and Nina – one child in each arm as the videos elicited their laughter and comments and my smiles and sappy, quiet tears. I am so grateful for time to cuddle with my kids and so glad God made each of us the way He has!


I am praying...


among other things, 

  • for sound judgement in balancing business and busyness as I embrace life's blessings.
  • with thanksgiving for the past six years of motherhood and the opportunity to grow as my children to.
  • that each of us may better discern and take up our callings.
  • that the light of love may shine brightly for all this season and that much like the lamb inThe Crippled Lamb, we each will realize we are made as we should be made and in the places we should be if only we will let God use as as He has planned.  (Oh, His will not ours, can be so challenging, huh?  But it is so awesome when we acquiesce.)

A Photo to Share



This may not look like much of a photo, but it encapsulates some of what I love about our newly-six-year-old Luke:  his different perspective, his attention to detail, his desire to figure out how things work, his will to share   wonder...  



As others peered out train windows at light displays when we were riding the train at Edaville this past week, Luke glanced down at the floor and noticed that he could see something beneath it.  He dove down to inspect and discovered that the floor slats were put together in such a way that tracks could be spied through them.  So, he called his sister down to the floor to share his discovery.  There the two lay peeking between the slats.  Noticing what others fail to see and seeking to understand things.  Luke has so much to teach me.


The Homeschool Mother's Journal
Pop on over to The Homeschool Mother's Journal to find many (briefer) journal entries from hoemschoolers.

4 comments:

Lisa said...

What beautiful photos! I just love all of the fun you had at the Pine Hill holiday event! Wow! :-)

An Advent alphabet sounds like a lot of fun!

I do miss the "prep" time I had from when I was a classroom teacher. It has taken me many years to "de-program" myself from the thought processes that go along with being a public school teacher, i.e. workbook and textbook heavy curriculum with having to get so many pages done, etc. I am really enjoying integrating more hands-on material and having more student-led work.

Thanks for visiting my blog and for your kind comments! I hope you have a great weekend!

Many blessings,
Lisa

Sierra @ H is for Homeschooling said...

Thank you for your comment! I love all your pictures! Looks like you guys have been busy :)

Anonymous said...

Martianne, I like the positiveness that this post instills. I also like the fact that you tell us how you feel with your ups and downs. And the latter are especially encouraging because they show that you sometimes feels as I do (or viceversa), sometimes gets as little sleep as I do, sometimes feels that is lost in the theory jungle, etc. I have learnt many things from you and I am grateful for that.
Kind regards from Spain.
Cris

Deb Chitwood said...

What special family times you had this week, Martianne (even with the croup, busyness, and lack of sleep)! I love all the happy photos! Thanks for linking to John's and my sites! And thanks for your wonderful activities and suggestions in the free eBook! :) Deb @ LivingMontessoriNow.com

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