Wednesday, May 31, 2006
The house is in good shape; it's a bit messy at times, but is pretty clean underneath. We've been working really hard at it, and with the exception of a few rooms most of the dust and grime is gone (we had a not-so-great housekeeper before this). So I was thinking that I'd spend 30 minutes cleaning the outdoor chairs, and that the boys could put away their outside toys.
Wrong! It's amazing what you see outside when you imagine a 2YO walking around. There was a lot that needed to be put away, plus the boys had made a big mess out there. I spent about an hour just gathering things up and putting them away.
After dinner I headed back out to clean the chairs. Some of them needed a good scrubbing, and some just a quick rinse. I also hosed off the table and deck. Then I realized there was room in the recycling bin, so I tossed in some broken containers and lids that the boys had been using in their junk pile. I did some sweeping. Now here is where I learned a few lessons.
One, don't assume that hosing down a large expanse of concrete will be easier than sweeping. It took me most of an hour, and in the end I left a puddle of mud in the driveway because the hose wasn't powerful enough to move it out of a depression. That's right - mud. There was too much dirt for me to tackle with a hose instead of sweeping. Two, once you start with water you are stuck - you can't change your mind and sweep. Luckily I didn't even try. Three, there is a reason people use pressure washers; I used a lot of water. It has probably been 3 years since we last actually used water to clean the concrete out there. Four, I will always end up doing far more than I had originally planned.
When Papa came home I mentioned how dirty it was, and he informed me that the gardener hadn't used the blower back there Sunday because we were home and had company. The boys have also been busy making mud pies.
So I had a really busy day, but I feel so content to have the outside clean and ready for summer. Sometimes you need motivation to do something that you really want to do, but never find time for. Already I am thinking how nice it will be to eat dinner on the deck tomorrow night.
Tomorrow morning should be fairly easy. The boys are going to get their hair cut, and I am going to give their room a once over just to make sure there aren't any of those Magnetix pieces on the floor (they were recalled for younger children). Then I just have my regular morning chores, and if we are lucky we'll get our morning lesson in before our friends start arriving.
I read The Snake Prince to them yesterday, and this afternoon we did standard recall, a drawing, and a tiny bit of writing ("1, One Sun"), plus we drew a "1" on the opposite page. They really loved the little verse that goes with writing the number "1":
Up the mountain
Jump straight down
Run across along the ground
Getting the school room back in order made such a difference in our learning time. I had never really recovered from making the Town Board a couple of weeks ago. Now everything is neat, attractive, and easy to find.
Make breakfast for everyone
Get everyone dressed, brush teeth
Get school room in order (this took all morning)
Free play for the boys
Quiet time (sort and file paperwork, work on daily flow)
Put boys' toys away
Light candle and say verse
Recall, draw, and write "1"
Play with concept of zero
Tell story for "2"
Outside play/clean up outside and wash chairs
Dinner and clean up
BMX (I'm going to stay home!)
Bedtime routine (bath, jammies, snack, story, teeth, candle, sing)
Bath for Mama
Tuesday, May 30, 2006
I've been thinking a lot about priorities. Right now I feel like I am barely staying one step ahead. The days are full. There are things I have to do, like laundry, and things I choose to do that take more time, like hanging the laundry on the line vs. tossing it in the dryer. There are time consuming tasks like baking and cooking, that I do for health and to save money. The house needs to be kept neat and clean. I need to keep groceries coming into the house. I have a dog to care for. There is this monumental task of raising and educating my children, and right now it takes huge amounts of time as I learn new and better ways of doing things. I also have a man to love, and somewhere in that mess of things I have myself to take care of. I am afraid that he and I often get pushed to the bottom of the list, both in making time for ourselves as a couple, and in taking care of ourselves as individuals. Because believe me, he is busy too. I can't think of any other man who is as supportive...and I don't just mean financially and emotionally. He readily takes on childcare tasks and housekeeping, plus all of those little things that often fall to men, like taking out the garbage and cleaning up after the dog.
Our lives are full, and happy. At the end of the day I lie in bed and think of all of the good things. But I also think of things that I seemingly don't have time for, and that's what gets me thinking about priorities.
I need to spend less time on message boards. I have cut it down considerably, but now I have to make the hard choice not to participate. Even if it is just an hour a day total, that is an hour I didn't spend reading, or planting a garden, or growing a friendship.
I have to stop obsessing over housework. We do enough, and the bathrooms really don't have to be cleaned daily. It's easy to tell myself that it is just 15 mintues a day, but I sometimes choose to do those chores versus getting out and walking with the boys. Luckily this is a new obsession, and so probably an easy habit to break.
I probably need to write less in my journal. That's a hard one; I think by typing.
But there are things I want to do. More than a year ago I wrote these goals (really a vision statement):
I have this vision of how I want my life to be.
As a mother I want to continue to parent my children in an attached manner, to love and respect my children and to continually renew and strengthen my relationship with them.
I want to homeschool them in a Waldorf manner, creating a harmonious home and a daily, weekly, and annual rhythm.
I want to read voraciously to keep my mind sharp.
I want to work with my hands to integrate my senses. I want to create to enjoy the beauty that comes from it.
I want to be able to have great conversations with my husband and to spend quality time with him.
I want to feed us healthy food, to avoid waste, and to be aware of where our food comes from.
I want to simplify my home, my possessions, and my life to make room for those things (tangible and intangible) that are important to me.
To these I would add the following:
I want to spend time developing and strengthening friendships. So often I meet and connect with people, only to be so busy that the friendships stall.
I want to develop more compassion when it comes to the hardships of those around me.
I want us to become more self-sufficient and to live sustainably.
I want to be flexible. I want to know when to stand strong and when to bend.
I want to live life and enjoy the journey.
It is okay. Beth is right; the boys would be in a mixed grade classroom at an Enki school, and even within one grade you would have skills ranging from a grade below to at least a grade ahead.
We are not behind. Breathe. We are where we are on the path. We aren't trying to catch up to anyone. I will never regret having given my children time to be young, and I will not take away their break in order to "catch them up" to Enki standards. I will see everything as part of the journey, and not kick myself for not having started Enki last fall. Heck, I tried to start Enki last fall. Things were beyond my control, and we did the best we could. What we chose was nourishing in its own way.
I have to go back and ground them in the math. Looking at it, I am going to take them all the way back to the first Enki Number Qualities block. In fact, I think this is how we are going to finish out grade 1:
5/30-6/30: Number Qualities (we'll be on vacation 6/16-6/25, so we'll get through number qualities and greater than/less than, have a week off, and come back to finish even/odd).
(4 days off for the 4th of July holiday)
7/5-7/28: Fairy Tale Summaries and Sight Readers (we're going to give this a shot - one thing we haven't been doing all year is sight words, so we'll just see where it takes us).
7/31-8/25: Four Processes (we did this block with Christopherus and they seemed to "get it", but I want to get them really grounded in it).
(3 days off for beach camping)
8/29-9/22: Nature Stories/Adventure
(End of grade 1, Autumnal Equinox, 8 day beach vacation)
So we never get to Fact Families, and that is okay. It is better to get them grounded in the basics than to check off everything on a list. T-Guy won't be exactly where he might have been had we started Enki last fall, but J-Baby will have been exposed to a lot for being 6YO (and not 7YO until next April).
So the story I read this morning sleeps for a couple of weeks. This afternoon we'll talk about zero and read a story for the number 1.
First off, I am an introvert. Being with a group of people can be very draining. I've come to enjoy it is small doses, but I definitely need down time afterwards. Sunday we had my ILs over, and yesterday we had a big BBQ at my family's house, so today I really want to retreat. That's tough when you have children, and especially when one child's reaction to all of the expansion is to want to velcro himself to my side for the day.
We didn't start off well this morning, but eventually we found our way back to the rhythm. After trying to figure out how to balance my needs with my son's needs, it turned out that the simple acts of coming together to make the bed and sort the laundry brought him back to center. We did those things, he had a snack, and then the boys played while I took a bath (something that is not supposed to be part of the morning routine, but we got home late last night). Then they had another snack while I hung the first load of laundry, and we read our story. They've been playing since then, knowing that it will soon be lunch time. They are firmly back in their daily rhythm.
I'm still behind. The school room needs to be neatened, and I have a lot of planning to do. But I trust that it will get done. I know that I am working on it even when I am just letting ideas "sleep".
This will be a busy week. We leave early Friday afternoon to drive up north and visit my grandparents. It is so important to me, and I wish we could go more often. Not only do I need to see them in these final years, but having great-grandparents is a gift for my children, even if they may not realize it until they are much older.
However, any trip takes planning and work. There will be food to purchase, prepare, and pack into a cooler. Laundry will have to be done a day early so we can pack the night before. The car has to be serviced, the boys need haircuts, and it would be great if we could get the dog groomed before she goes to be boarded. I'll also need to get a handle on what we'll be learning next week, as once again I will have a weekend with no planning time.
The car appointment is scheduled - on our regular park day. I hate to miss park day; it is a time of nourishment for me. Papa suggested that we pack light and walk, but it would take 40 minutes each way, and packing light would result in hungry boys who are ready to leave almost as soon as we get there. So we face our first scheduling issue since going back down to one vehicle. I may try to arrange a play date here at home, but the question is always who do I ask? I'd love to have everyone, but I don't think I could get the backyard in shape for that - not this week.
Friday, May 26, 2006
We slept in, but then our early morning routine went smoothly. We made the beds, but skipped the bathrooms as they get a thorough cleaning tomorrow.
After that we went our separate ways for awhile. It is unusual for my boys not to spend the morning playing together, but obviously they needed some time apart after such a long and busy day yesterday. They did reconnect after about an hour.
J-Baby has come and gone from the school room all day, working with the pattern blocks.
We recalled yesterday's word family story and read a new one today. I was glad that they finally caught on to the concept of the consonant "changing" the word ending (ight/ite) into a word, but wasn't prepared to manage them combining the consonants and word endings and making words that are either not words at all, or spelled incorrectly.
Lunch with Papa, and then quiet time. They played in their room after that, while I watched half of the Enki Movement DVD and went through the books. Then they had their popcorn snack and headed outside to play.
Papa came home early and started the movie while I finished making pizza for dinner. I also did all the dishes I could, and folded and put away laundry. After dinner they finished the movie and I worked on our plan for the weekend.
Then we went on a nice long family walk. It was longer than we planned, but Missy (the dog) sure enjoyed it! The boys told Papa all about word families and they were so excited that we had to keep reminding them to use quieter voices. Both boys were playing with the words, but I can tell that T-Guy has a better grasp on it at this point (after only one week). Now he has grand plans to write a book tomorrow.
Bedtime routine went off without a hitch, and now they are in bed talking.
Usually Thursdays don't start out so busy, but we're doing 5 days of school this week so we can introduce 3 word families, which meant we had to get a lesson in before heading to the park.
I woke up at 10 minutes to 6; I had finished getting the manipulatives ready for our lesson the night before, but the school room was a mess, so I needed to get things put away. Unfortunately T-Guy was awake and making unhappy noises before 6:30. He didn't like the idea of waiting for me to finish before we could snuggle, so I asked him if he would like to listen to some music softly. That worked well; he used my iPod but we don't let him use the ear buds, and I set the volume low and locked the controls so he couldn't accidentally turn it up. By 6:50 I knew J-Baby was awake, but he doesn't get out of bed until I go and sing to him (and he pretends to be asleep until he hears the first line of our song). So at 7 I went and sang to J-Baby, then had him come and snuggle in bed with me and T-Guy.
The early morning routine went as usual, with us eating, cleaning the kitchen, dressing, and brushing our teeth. I stripped the beds and started a load of laundry, and remade their bed with an extra sheet so they could still use it as a couch.
We read the story of the "ail/ale" family, which delighted them as the stories are silly and full of rhyming words. This is a really great way to teach word families and help the children understand that you can read words in parts and not just letter-by-letter, sound-by-sound.
Then I had to pack snacks, water, and lunch for the park, and get all of that plus play equipment into the car.
Park day was small but enjoyable. We had a new family and I was pleased out how T-Guy was able to interact with the oldest boy instead of shutting down the way he usually does when there is someone new. We didn't stay to late; it is getting hotter and I wanted some down time before my Enki consult.
We ended up eating our lunch at home, and got to see Papa which we usually don't on Thursdays. I wanted to delay story time until my consult, but it was clear that they needed it at the normal time. What we ended up doing was having them listen to one story CD, come out and have a snack and some time with me, then they went back into their room and listened to a second story CD during the consult. That's what I get for telling them they could listen to one during the consult - I don't really like to do two story CDs in one day. It worked out fine though, and it was probably helpful for them to have so much down time on a really busy day.
My consult went well. I am still processing it, but I think it was helpful to know that I am on the right track and that this isn't going to be as difficult as I thought it might be (using one grade for two children). I was also greatly reassured about the lack-of-reading situation.
We played with pattern blocks and tangrams, and then I made dinner. All day we had been wavering on attending our nephew's middle-school production of "Fiddler on the Roof." In the end we rushed through dinner and clean up, changed the boys clothes, and all of us headed out. I'm really glad that we did; the boys seemed to enjoy the performance even if most of the humor and plot was over their heads. T-Guy was quiet and engaged throughout the performance; J-Baby got just the slightest bit antsy about 2/3 of the way through, so I warmed some beeswax and he worked with that while still watching the performance.
Once it was over the did presentations, which was boring and after that we saw our nephew. At that point J-Baby was ready to go! We went to the car, changed them into pajamas, gave them a snack and water, and headed home. They fell asleep quickly in the car. Once home we made our bed, brushed our teeth, did some yoga (okay, that was just me), read for a bit, and went to sleep.
Wednesday, May 24, 2006
I was inspired to blog our day based on the weekly spotlights that members are posting.
Today we got started with our "formal" homeschooling for the year. We are holistic educators and are using the Christopherus 1st Grade Syllabus. My ideas are ever evolving as I read the Enki Homeschool Teacher's Guide and add many Enki ideas to our lives.
We started by getting up at 6:45, which will probably be our normal waking time now that summer is over. I find that the boys need to get up by 6:45 a.m. to be tired enough to go to bed at 8:00 p.m. We got dressed right away, which is a change I am reinstituting; otherwise DS#2 would be happy to stay in his pajamas (or naked!) all day. Which causes problems when we want to go somewhere! We still get up somewhere around 7, but it is moving later as the days lengthen and we naturally stay up later. Also, now that the boys are very active riding bikes in the evenings and riding BMX they need a little more sleep. We dress right after breakfast now, because I was getting tired of changing shirts. Now they spill porridge and syrup on the jammies.
Breakfast was toast for the 3 boys (did I mention I have my nephew all week?), fresh bread for the adults, and fresh-squeezed OJ for everyone (I cheated and squeezed it last night to get a jump on our day). I asked everyone to bring their cups and plates to the kitchen sink rather than leaving them on the table. We've changed breakfast a bit; DH and I usually have all-fruit smoothies or a fresh fruit salad. The boys usually have some sort of porridge. J-Baby can't drink any juice anymore, so we don't serve that. Same thing with the bread; he needs to eat a gluten-free diet. The boys are fantastic about clearing their dishes now.
I checked my email really quickly, then we all brushed our teeth and put on shoes. We leashed the dog and headed out for a walk around the block. While we were walking we observed the plants, flowers, and trees in our neighborhood, and also looked for straight and curved lines. I am trying to keep up with walking, see my post earlier today.
After our morning walk we plan to do circle time, but I am still waiting on some resources and I feel self-conscious in front of my nephew, so we'll probably start next week. The boys played for half an hour, then had a snack of watermelon and graham crackers. We started some movement exercises a few weeks ago. Now that I have my Enki materials I will be better able to plan this.
We headed out front to walk, run, stomp, skip, etc. in straight and curved lines. Our neighbor interrupted us, so we talked to him for a few minutes, but it was hard to get the boys motivated again. We grabbed our sidewalk chalk and went out on the carport to draw curved and straight lines. The boys really got into it and I can see that they are going to have fun with the form drawing block.
Monday is baking day, so we had an "organic" math lesson as we measured and mixed banana muffin batter. I asked more questions than I usually do when we bake, and the boys did surprisingly well. We were doubling the recipe so they had to do some work. Monday is still usually baking day! Yesterday we made GF muffins.
The boys played outside while the muffins were baking, then came in and had their snack. Then they pulled out some games and puzzles and played inside. We scrambled around a bit looking for a rubberband for the Mousetrap game. This is still the time for our morning lesson.
Lunch was easy; my nephew and DS#2 had peanut butter sandwiches, while DS#1 had a veggie dog. I've started offering this option as he doesn't really like traditional sandwiches. Again I had them clear their plates from the table. DH and I ate after the boys; rice and beans for me, a tomato and Tofurkey sandwich for him.
Next up for the flow of our day was quiet time, but with my nephew here it just wasn't going to happen (which is too bad, because they probably needed it even more). We need to buy a CD player for the boys' room so they can listen to quiet music or story CDs (which we also need to buy). I did lie down for about 30 minutes while the boys played. Quiet time is 100% ingrained into the rhythm. They even ask for it on the weekend. We did buy the CD player for their room, and we are now the proud owners of 11 Greathall story CDs narrated by Jim Weiss.
Next up was music time. First we sang the six songs that we are working on for the next few weeks. The second time through DS#2 got pouty and decided if my nephew didn't have to sing then he didn't either. I asked him to stay with us while we sang. After singing we started some clapping games, practicing rhythm and listening by echoing each other. Finally DS#2 came around and joined us. After lots of clapping we switched to tambourines, and then other rhythm instruments. We tried stomping, but our house is old and all the furniture in the room started moving, so we stopped. Unlike a strictly Waldorf approach which incorporates secondary lessons into the blocks, Enki has a more Western skills practice time. After that we do a craft, project, handwork, paint, etc.
After that the boys played outside while I exercised. I really don't enjoy it and haven't been doing it, but it has been built into the rhythm of our day and I decided to dust off the bike and put in 20 minutes. I plan to work up to 45 minutes over the next month. I've been getting so much exercise in my daily life that I rarely use the exercycle anymore. I much prefer real exercise, like going for a walk or riding my bike. I also get some yoga in before bed.
Around 3:30 I reviewed our dinner menu so I could start any early dinner preparation. Tonight we’re having a later dinner, as the boys have basketball, so I’ll need to provide a good snack around 5:00 p.m. Dinner will be grilled wild salmon, steamed red potatoes, corn on the cob, and a green salad. There wasn’t much I could do in advance. I did add water to the hot pot, so that the water would be boiling for tea time. Well, once again we went nearly vegan, and I don't cook fish at home anymore. J-Baby and I don't eat it at all. None of us eats dairy, but we do allow organic free-range eggs from a local farmer.
The boys were so excited to start up our tea time again; we did it all last school year but took a break for the summer. I made a big pot of decaf chai and read them three books: Choo Choo by Virginia Lee Burton, How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World by Marjorie Priceman, and Harvest by Kris Waldherr. The boys drank their tea and munched on crackers and kettle corn. Then everyone took his plate and mug to the sink. Tea time ended up being abolished, as T-Guy became obsessed with it and was unable to do anything for at least an hour before while he was anticipating it. I still read throughout the day, but not at a set time.
We went right into our handwork block. We started with a verse and several fingerplays that we learned doing kindergarten, to warm up the fingers. Then I read them Pelle's New Suit by Elsa Beskow. I had planned to talk about sheep and wool, but decided to let the story sit with them overnight before doing so. I am really excited about this block, and ordered a fleece today off eBay so we can clean, card, and dye the wool.
The boys are drawing on the chalkboard right now. I'll decide if they need muffins before heading to basketball. While they are gone I'll pick up a bit and make dinner. After dinner the boys will clean their room (with help) and have a bath. Then it is jammies and a chapter book, before brushing their teeth and singing to them as they get into bed. Our bedtime routine is still very much the same. I've added lighting a candle, and snuggling with them as I sing. It's more relaxing, and I enjoy it a lot more. They also have a regular snack right after putting on their pajamas.
Once they are in bed I'll grind the grain and put on a loaf of bread, then make juice. After that I take my bath and dry my hair, and spend some time reading or talking to DH before heading to bed. If I don't manage a shower while the boys have their evening snack then I do take one after they are in bed. I like to do it earlier so my hair has time to dry naturally. I usually plan the next day, talk to DH, read, and do some yoga. I also do kitchen tasks like making syrup, soaking beans, putting on cornmeal mush, etc.
Getting the boys to bed by 8:00 p.m. is getting impossible. Even if we are home they don't want to go to sleep when it is so light out. Right now we can settle them down by 8:15, but we have another month of increasing daylight. I imagine by June they'll be settling in at 8:30 p.m.
Of course, I can't wake them up too early when they haven't been asleep long enough. It just backfires on me with cranky overtired boys all day.
So, the morning routine gets a later start. I can adjust for that.
The boys don't like the routine the way it is now. They get about 15-30 minutes of free time while I finish my morning chores, so they are set in their play by the time I want us to walk (or do a circle and movement activities).
I could give them an extra 30 minutes to complete their play and gather them at that natural ending point. It would work; it just shifts our lesson time a little later and gives them less free play before lunch. But the weather will soon be against us, and therein is the real dilemma - they want that cool hour in the morning for outside play, and I want it for our walk.
You see, when the walk is happening, it works very well. We are energized, and the natural rhythm of walking opens us to skip counting, rhyming games, etc. very easily. When we get home we are warmed up and it is easy to slide into movement exercises. Then we have a small fruit snack and are ready for our morning lesson.
I have to ponder it all, and decide which is most important and how it will work best. We often walk at other times of the day, and hike, and bike, so we are pretty active. I could reinstitute a a more formal circle that could be done indoors, thus avoiding the heat. The real point is to connect as a family, and to get our hearts beating so that our minds are ready for learning.
Tuesday, May 23, 2006
Okay, I hope this works!
Our board is painted; I came up with the idea of paper houses because I have so much scrapbooking paper. Then I decided to sponge paint the backdrop using stamp pads I already had. I will be changing how the cards attach to the roofs; I didn't understand it very well until after I finished the first word family.
Monday, May 22, 2006
I had a basic plan for the day, but we are expecting a refrigerator repair person, someone to haul away the old freezer, and the a/c service technician. So the main goal is our morning lesson, done at some point during the day.
Wake up, snuggle, and sing
Breakfast and clean up
Clothes and brush teeth
J-Baby (Boy #2) did pattern block work, and T-Guy played with Legos, so we're going to skip math practice.
Lunch and rest
Trader Joes for groceries now that the fridge is fixed (went alone)
Put away boys' toys
Recall "eep/eap" story
Dinner and clean up
Bedtime routine (jammies, snack, story, brush teeth, candle, sing and snuggle)
Plan next day
Get ready for bed
Now the tooth fairy has to remember to come, and she must leave something cool. She always leaves a dollar, but it might be a Susan B. Anthony or a Sacagawea dollar coin.
Boy #2 lost his first tooth last November, and his 2nd a month later, but now nothing is even loose.
I woke up before the boys and spent 20 minutes looking at daily flow and evaluating what works and what doesn't.
I got back into bed to snuggle with Boy #1. He woke up when I did, but I promised I would be back and he accepted this and was happy to get his snuggle time. Perhaps we have a compromise that will work.
I sang to/woke up Boy #2. I got his slippers on his feet before he could complain about being cold. He was grumpy because he didn't want his brother to sing, just me.
Breakfast for everyone; cornmeal mush for Boy #2, oatmeal for Boy #1, and fruit smoothies for Papa and I (although I'm still hungry, and may grab a small bowl of mush before I put it away). Papa had slept in a bit, so I did the breakfast dishes and wiped the table.
Everyone got dressed and brushed their teeth (or had help with these actvities). The beds are made. I cleaned both bathrooms. I started a load of laundry.
Right now we should be walking. It's a part of the flow that I usually like, but the boys are knee-deep in a building project and I know that if I interrupt them they will be upset and they won't want to walk. I need to figure out how to transition them from the 20-30 minutes they have free between when they are ready for the day and when I have finished my chores.
The other thing is, we've been really active at other times of the day, and sometimes I am too tired/sore for the walk. Yesterday we hiked and later biked, and I didn't really feel up to a full exercise walk. So perhaps the answer is to return to a more formal circle, once I get the music and movement materials from Enki.
I do have to remember that Beth didn't wave an Enki magic wand over me the moment I gave her my credit card number. I have been absorbing and applying the philosophy over several months, and it is not realistic to think that we are now ready to have these "perfect" Enki days from start to finish. There is no such thing as a "perfect" Enki day - there is only my family, and how we make this work for us.
I made my Town Board yesterday, although once I read the old guide instructions (I had mostly used the new guide instructions Beth emailed to me) I understood far better and now I want to change a few things. But it will do for the next couple of days. It took me many hours to do, and I was thinking of how Papa and I really are partners in this, even if it "looks" like I am the homeschooling parent. I couldn't have made the board if he hadn't kept the boys busy and out of my way.
So for the rest of today:
Start morning lesson with a few fingerplays and movement activities
Read "eep/eap" Word Family to boys. Use town board as a prop/manipulative.
Walk simple forms.
Lunch and rest
(I will read or rest and not use the computer) (I mostly worked in the kitchen and talked to my dad on the phone.)
Put away toys in boys' bedroom
Math Practice: pattern blocks
Project: make wool boards (didn't happen - they wanted to play)
Settling-in time (ukulele practice 5 mintues) (didn't happen - this is a goal but not a reality for us yet)
BMX (cancelled due to rain earlier in the day)
Sweep/mop floors (didn't happen because they didn't go to BMX)
Long, hot aromatherapy bath (yes!)
Bedtime routine (bath, jammies, snack, book, candle, songs, sleep)
Friday, May 19, 2006
The three of us (the boys and I), sitting in the grass under the shade of the big redwood tree at 5 p.m. as it finally began to cool down, priming our new blackboards and then just enjoying the process of creating. We were calm, happy, and centered. We were dancing the dance.
Everything fell apart after movie time. I asked the boys to clean their room for 5 minutes, then Papa decided they needed a bath. Bad decision, and I knew it, and I contributed to the situation by not stepping in. They don't ever have a bath on Fridays, and they are creatures of habit. They melted, they cried, they stalled. Boy #2 was temporarily redirected with a few kitchen items to play with in the bath, but there was no placating Boy #1.
I made him oatmeal for his snack. He wanted a story, which is part of the rhythm. I didn't want to read; I read quite a bit today and have been taking it on at night and honestly, I want Papa to do it. I think children need both parents (and many other adults) to read to them. Well, he and Papa couldn't agree on a story, for utterly dumb reasons. Finally they decided on a pirate book, but then the boys couldn't decide which story to hear and Papa threw up his hands and left the room (after making several attempts to redirect the energy by starting a story, which they would interrupt).
It wasn't his fault, not the book thing. There wasn't going to be any pleasing them. Even if I had read I probably couldn't have gotten them to agree on a story. That's why they aren't supposed to have a choice; Papa is just supposed to read, but that got short-circuited this week as I kept having to read and was letting them take turns choosing picture books.
Of course, Boy #1 was already sobbing hysterically before the book thing. It just added fuel to the fire. These crying jags used to happen more frequently; I would say it has been at least a year since he got into this pattern and couldn't stop crying. He just gets stuck, and I can hold him, rock him, sing to him, try to comfort him...and he sobs.
In a way I can relate, for I cry so rarely that when I do it is as if flood gates open and sometimes I cry for an hour. I cry about everything in my life, past, present, and future. How frightening to be 7 and to face such strong emotion!
We lit the candle, got in bed, and I held them and sang. I told them I loved them no matter what, even on the days that go badly. I told them that we could start over - right now, and that tomorrow would be a better day. I tried to get everyone back up on the horse...and he sobbed.
I asked Papa to go in and make amends with them - to tell them that he loved them. After that I blew out the candle, touched their foreheads, and left. I think they were asleep within 30 seconds.
Now I need to look back and figure out what could have been done differently. We did have a much more lax rhythm this week, and this may have been the result of that. Certainly they were tired, far more tired than we realized. I don't know about hidden food allergies, because we are still exploring that.
At the first tear drops I should have stopped everything, held my boy, and gotten him quickly to sleep.
I am so glad that he forgives me so quickly and easily.
This happens every summer. Bedtime naturally stretches until 8:15 or 8:30 p.m. It hasn't been a problem as we would just sleep in. But now that we want to get in a brisk walk most mornings, we really need to wake up early and get breakfast and the morning chores out of the way so we can head outside before it gets too hot.
My boys need at least 11 hours in bed. If we don't wake up until 7:30 we realistically aren't ready to walk until almost 9. Right now it is only 75 degrees outside, but in another month or two the temperature at 9 a.m. could easily be over 90 degrees.
It's all part of dancing the dance, finding out what works and weeding out the rest.
Thursday, May 18, 2006
I'm going to spend a little less time on the computer (it's amazing how that creeps in during our "relaxed" weeks) so I can read more.
Morning snuggles and songs
Breakfast and clean up
Everyone get dressed and brush teeth
Clean bathrooms (I'm going to make this a "Swish and Swipe" and not be as thorough as I usually am...we'll do a better job tomorrow.)
Laundry - darks and lights
(We aren't going to walk this morning...we're having a very lazy day and will pick up this part of the rhythm Monday)
Read aloud (usually main lesson time)
Lunch and clean up
(Do you ever wonder what people do while they are typing blogs? I just stopped to wash two very dirty hands and apply a bandage to a bleeding finger, plus admonished the injured child to stay out of the dirt pile while he has an open wound.)
Math practice time with Cuisenaire rods
Handwriting practice (with new pencils!)
Draw on chalkboards ("temper" them first)
Family movie night
Our potluck was nice, with 6 families in attendance. We're a small group, but I really prefer it this way. It's warming up and within a month I think we'll have to switch to an earlier meeting time for the summer. We also discussed some alternative sites for when it gets really hot.
After our failed attempt at Campfire, we brought up the idea of starting a Roots & Shoots group. We would make it part of park day and only do it once a month, with a few of us taking turns planning the activities.
Still no Enki materials, but what can you expect from the USPS and Media Mail? Our package from Paper Scissors Stone did arrive, with Lyra Super Ferby pencils, Stockmar wax, new paint brushes, and a big chalkboard (18" X 24") for me to use. I took advantage of the 10% off special last week to buy all the pencils we should need for at least 2 years (12 red, 12 blue, 6 green, 6 yellow), plus 45 wax pieces.
Next week we need to get back into our rhythm; we've wavered a bit this week. I need to start adding in more pieces on a regular basis, like watercolor painting and modelling (we used to paint every week). I have a word family story to get us started next week, and hopefully can make the Conso-Nant board this weekend.
Oh yeah, the refigerator isn't working right. The freezer is at 0 degrees, but the fridge is between 55 and 60 degrees, and things are spoiling. I don't know what to do about buying food, and eating out until it is fixed would be expensive! Even foods like citrus need to be in the fridge this time of year. I hate to think of all of the food I have to throw away. I'm tempted to have Papa pull out the pop-up trailer so I can use that fridge until this one is fixed. Heck, even an ice chest may be cooler.
I'll put tomorrows plans in another post.
Eaten breakfast, done the dishes, wiped the table and counters
Stripped the beds and started the load of sheets
Cleaned both bathrooms (counters, mirrors, toilets inside and out)
Today is our weekly homeshcooling park day. It is also the monthly birthday potluck. I've made a pot of quinoa and need to go make a cabbage salad. I need to fill the Igloo with water and ice, and load things into the truck. We made bubble juice last night, and we're taking the Hullabaloo game, a parachute, and sidewalk chalk.
Later this afternoon I have my consult with Beth at Enki. Although, she is in New Hampshire and I didn't receive a response to my email last night, so I am concerned about the rain and flooding. I'm nervous too, mostly feeling unprepared. It's been awhile since I read the first 2 books of the Guide, and I don't have resources yet.
Tonight we walk to the farmer's market, Trader Joes, and the grocery store. I need to look at the sale ads, look at my meal plan, and make a grocery list.
Wednesday, May 17, 2006
Let the wild rhombus begin!
I decided to take the boys to the Santa Ana Zoo. It's the kind of zoo that you can easily do in an hour (especially since we have been before), and with our reciprocal benefits from The Living Desert it was only $6 total for us to get in. Even on a day when we didn't have time for traditional schooling we did something educational (and fun!). This zoo is a lot different from The Living Desert in that they have lots of monkeys and apes, as well as a wallaby! The boys were sad that the bald eagle wasn't on display; they have one that suffered a gunshot wound to one wing and is unreleasable. We did see a hawk and a couple of owls.
Afterwards we went to the Native Foods Cafe in Costa Mesa. We have now visited 3 of their 4 locations. I think this was my favorite so far, with its yurt-inspired architecture. I tried a French dip, which is funny as I have never had a beef one, so I couldn't really tell you how a vegan one compares. It was okay, not as yummy as a Hollywood bowl, but since I am making those from the cookbook this Saturday I decided to try something new.
It was a really nice day; when we got home it was 94 degrees. If Papa hadn't needed to go back to work I would have packed a cooler and our beach gear.
The boys insisted on quiet time even though we got home later than usual, and they want to play with their tangram cards that arrived Monday. We got some great books from Amazon too, but no Enki.
So we're aiming for:
Getting everyone dressed
Keeping things picked up
Making and cleaning up meals
I'm really hoping the Enki materials arrive today. I have a stack of books I am reading, but I really need the Enki stuff! Then again, I still won't have the word family stories in printed form. The CD is read only. I need to make the town board this weekend.
Tuesday, May 16, 2006
So far we:
Ate breakfast (oatmeal for Boy #1, cornmeal mush for the rest of us)
Cleaned up the breakfast dishes and kitchen, started the dishwasher
Cleaned both bathrooms (mirrors, counters, sinks, toilets--inside and out)
Sorted clothes and started a load of laundry
Planned for today:
Reading Fairy Tale Verses
Read to boys
Order GF flour online
Dust and vacuum
Make lunch (and clean up)
Errands - health food store and thrift shops, maybe Target
Make dinner (and clean up)
Family bike ride
Get started on allergy book
Monday, May 15, 2006
(I just found out it's a good thing I didn't plan heavy schooling this week, as we are going to lose Wednesday as a schooling day. I'm so glad we homeschool!)
If you get the chance, take your children to a Renaissance Faire or festival! We had a blast yesterday, and now our castle blocks and various knights have been pressed into service, reenacting all the boys saw and did yesterday. It makes really glad that I bought the wooden castle sets from Woodland Fantasies when I did.
Speaking of all things castle and knights, we have several bendies from Dannielle at Natural Playthings and I just commissioned a few more surprises. I keep them put away (so they don't get lost or ruined) and take them out from time to time. Bendies are really small and are perfect to stash in your bag for long waits.
I tried to wrap a bendy once. I was really bad at it.
The boys are thriving with the return to rhythm. I'm hardly battling my 6YO at all. They especially love the entire bedtime routine.
We've been listening to 70s music lately, Heart last week and George Harrison and older Fleetwood Mac today. I feel much more connected to 70s music than 80s music, even though 80s music is the music of my adolescence. 80s is too "me decade" and very pop. Not that I don't like some of it, I just rarely choose to listen to it.
BMX was cancelled tonight. I guess we need to check the hotline, even on warm days, because it takes a gallon of gas to get there and back, and this has to be the 3rd time in 3 months that they've driven over only to find out it's cancelled. They're out on a bike ride instead.
Friday, May 12, 2006
But also, I rarely get comments (even though I know people read the blog). That should be okay with me, and it is, but it doesn't leave me compelled to write on a regular basis. If I am just talking to myself then at times I might decided to be silent. I do write mostly for myself, but I also know that when I started this journey I loved to read anything I could about holistic education and the daily rhythms. I have spent 7 years now trying to get the rhythms working for my family, adding bits and pieces and tweaking it to fit the natural rhythm we have in our lives.
This week actually hasn't been that easy, we fell off the rhythm pretty badly Wednesday and didn't completely recover yesterday. Even this morning we are a bit behind schedule (so why the heeck am I sitting here typing?). But yesterday I was tired and pretty cranky (too much wheat?) and today I have a lot more motivation and hope.
Monday, May 08, 2006
I did get half an hour to myself this morning, which made a huge difference for me in how I greeted the day. I did a bit of computer work, did my sun salutation (I almost have it memorized) and got dressed before waking the boys.
After breakfast and our morning chores we walked Papa to work. It is a really nice way to start our week. Afterwards we walked past our old condo so the boys could see their first home (they of course don't remember it).
Boy #2 joined in for the second half of our movement exercises. He is still highly resistant to spinning, so I need to find a better way to make it a game. Once again I forgot to have us walk forms! So, no form drawing lesson this morning. We read our new story.
I did more computer work (I am writing out the rhythms and goals for each day, educational and household), then moved to housework (I've been following a modified Flylady routine). I folded and put away the two loads of laundry I washed and dried this morning.
We had lunch. Our Greathall order arrived while we were eating. Afterwards, we opened it and it was all wrong! Boohoo! I had to call and get that straightened out. Our painting jars also arrived, so we can finally paint wet-on-wet this week. I chose to order jars; it was actually less expensive than buying a lot of imported artichokes. We learned last year that baby food jar lids cannot be fully tightened.
The boys had quiet time with the one CD that was correct. I did a little work, then made a cup of tea and sat down with a book. I'm thinking I may make all quiet times a period of non-electric activity for me.
We cleaned up, had a snack, and then did our practice work. Instead of a project the boys asked if they could play with the pattern blocks. I said okay as we still have a craft, a project, and painting planned this week. I'll slip in the spool knitting at another time.
I finished making a quinoa salad for dinner, and prepped some potatoes and green beans. I read a bit, then ironed and hung the bathroom curtains. I got the table set and finished making dinner.
Tonight I was on clean up by myself, as the guys headed out for BMX. After finishing the kitchen I swept all of the wood floors (laundry room, kitchen, breakfast nook, dining room, living room, hall, and boys' room) and mopped them. It took 25 minutes. Next week I'll add the bathrooms and I still think I can keep it to 30 minutes. I've read that vacuuming is better than sweeping, but it seem so much more difficult. Besides, if we end up in a non-electric post peak oil world we'll need to do things the old-fashioned way.
The evening routine didn't go as well as it could have. The guys went to drop my laptop off for repair after BMX, which meant they got home later than usual, which meant that the boys were overtired. I stayed with them for an extra 10 minutes or so and they fell asleep quickly.
We spent the first hour they were asleep reading and working on a picture in Photoshop. The quiet in the house was nice. Papa decided to watch some TV so I headed back to update this blog, finish my "to do" list for tomorrow, and practice my sun salutation before bed.
Sunday, May 07, 2006
I do hope that others who have materials they didn't pay for will also have this revelation. It is important for the integrity of the user as well as the future of Enki Education.
So, I am excited! I already have:
Early Childhood Guide
Grade One Guide
Grade One Fairy Tales
Kindergarten Nature Stories
Grade One Crafts
Learning Through Movement – Grade One
Learning Through Movement – K
Community & Festival Songs
Kindergarten Folk and Fairy Tales
I will get Grade 1 Math and the Grade 1 Instruction Manual when they are published. So I will be complete for Kindergarten and grade 1. I'm really only teaching grade 1, but I want to know what the foundation was for kindergarten, and of course many of the materials can be used over several years. Right now we have no plans to have additional children, but just in case I thought I would order the Kindergarten Folk and Fairy tales so I will have a complete kindergarten package should I find myself teaching kindy again.
Friday, May 05, 2006
I woke early to close out an eBay auction, then decided against it. We want a bike trailer for hauling groceries, but we don't need it quite yet and I'm starting to think that a dedicated hauler will be better than trying to use a child trailer.
Our morning routine started a bit late, both because of my computer activity and because Boy #2 was wet again (not a problem, it just takes time to clean up).
Here's where we fell off the horse: we didn't walk this morning. I just didn't want to. We walk Thursday nights and I was still tired and well, I needed some down time and I hadn't gotten it while tracking the auction and researching trailers this morning. The boys played, we had a snack, and then we did our morning lesson.
Today it was recall story, write verse, decorate page. Boy #2 was resistant again. Everything is a power struggle with him, even when I don't want it to be and have been working hard to eliminate the power struggles. After that we read Johnny Appleseed (Friday nature story, but it will be several weeks until I get materials from Enki so we are winging it).
They played, I decluttered the master bathroom and looked online for Ferby pencils. We made and ate lunch, even though Papa was late. He got home right as quiet time started, but they are so into quiet time that they just said hello and chose not to delay by 15 minutes, which I did offer.
During quiet time I made tangrams out of heavy cardstock. We'll want wooden ones eventually, but these will do for now.
After quiet time they cleaned their room and had a snack. I put on pizza dough. We played with the tangrams and did handwriting practice. Then they started their project, which was using poster painters and Do-a-Dot markers to decorate heavy cardstock for Mother's Day cards. I have better ideas for crafts and projects, but I am really tired and have to prioritize everything. Right now the daily rhythm is far more important than which craft we do.
I paid bills, updated Quicken, and filed all my paperwork. That took some time. The boys played outside for the most part.
I made dinner; each boy helped put the olives on his individual pizza. They cleaned their room in preparation for movie night. They really look forward to movie night each week, and this week chose to watch "Chicken Run".
We had dinner and quickly cleaned up, then watched the movie. I read the paper and looked at some cookbooks at the same time. For the last 20 minutes of the movie I left them and finished getting some mail ready, including writing out a thank you card for my mother-in-law.
We had just enough time to walk to the post office without pushing the schedule back too far. The dog was pretty excited to get out. Once we got back the evening routine went as usual, although they took a bit longer than usual to settle down.
I boiled eggs for Boy#2, and did all of the paperwork and copying for our FSA/125b reimbursement. I had been putting it off and in the end it took about 45 minutes. Now I need to plan the weekend, and get some sleep!
Thursday, May 04, 2006
So we got a slightly late start, but the morning followed the usual rhythm. I had planned what food I needed for the park, so I just had to pack it and heat what needed heating. Papa put the bikes in the truck last night.
Thursday are park days - our homeschool support group. As always, we had a great time, and my friend and I stayed until 2:40! The boys were having fun and her little one was sleeping, so we sat and gabbed.
The boys were ready for quiet time when we got home, and actually continued it for an extra half an hour before heading outside to play.
I put on dinner, we ate, cleaned up, and then walked to the farmer's market and to do our weekly grocery shopping. It was a nice, cool evening.
Bedtime was a breeze - it's amazing how much a routine helps. That and getting to bed before they are overtired.
Time to dry the last load of laundry and take a bath. I already made my list for tomorrow.
Wednesday, May 03, 2006
Our morning routine went well. There is less fuss about dressing and brushing teeth, although I am still the one doing it. The removal of cold cereal as a breakfast food has gone fine, with hot cereal a perfectly acceptable substitute.
Boy #2 got fatigued during our drawing time. I don't know if he is truly tired, if his hands hurt, if he is bored, or if he just wants to move on to snack. I encouraged him to complete his drawing.
All in all, it was a pretty easy day. I made a point not to get into housecleaning projects. The lunch/quiet time routine went well. The afternoon was spent playing, with a bit of practice time thrown in. After dinner (I did slice into my fingernail - ouch!) we all went to BMX. We came home and got the boys to bed a little early as they were very tired.
Tuesday, May 02, 2006
Tuesdays are our nature walk day. I chose a natural park that has trails and lots of native plants. I wish the boys had slowed down, and especially stopped talking so much, but maybe that will come in time. It was a light hike (lots of climbing) and took about 30 minutes at their pace. My plan is to choose 3 different parks/trails a year and visit each one for a month in each season. One Tuesday each month we'll devote to a field trip.
The local grocery store was on the way home, so we stopped for jicama, which we forgot Sunday, and cinnamon, which we ran out of.
At home the boys had about 15 minutes free while I checked email and readied our school room (clearing my stuff from the big desk that is our work surface). Then we drew in our journals. I am actually very pleased with my picture, which was of a blossom we saw this morning. I realized, however, that I completely forgot to observe the leaves.
I spent the rest of the morning in the kitchen. I prepared a marinade and sliced some tofu to go in it. I made GF pumpkin muffins (just okay, not nearly as good as the zucchini bread). I made a batch of hummus and put the rest of the chickpeas away. I did so many dishes! I sat for about 5 minutes reading the mail before it was time to cook lunch. I cleaned the kitchen, then went over some financial matters with DH while the boys had quiet time.
I did lie down for about 30 minutes during their quiet time. I didn't want to get up again.
Time to tidy their room. Boy #2 absolutely would not help. After we were done I let Boy #1 know that he and I would do something special (spool knitting) this afternoon since he was so cheerful about tidying up and didn't complain about his brother's lack of help.
Snack time, and then math practice. We used pattern blocks. It is clear that Boy #2 has played with them informally much more often than Boy #1. He sees how they fit in more clearly and easily. They went outside for a bit, then came back in and played with the pattern blocks on their own, building Star Wars ships.
We "read" our fairy verse reader, then Boy #1 and I sat down to work on the spool knitting. It has been really hard for him, and today was no exception. He finally got the idea of pulling the loops over, but can't seem to wind the yarn. Of course, he's trying to do it right-handed like me; I think I'll see if I can teach myself to do it left-handed. I've also considered having him use the preemie hat loom I have so that he can see what he is doing. The spool is awfully small.
I spent over an hour making dinner, which was delicious. We ate, cleaned up, and went on a bike ride. Boy #1 hurt himself at the playground, so we came home and I gave him arnica and aconite, put ice on it, and then used an arnica salve. We were home early so we ran to the drug store to pick up a prescription (and Post-Its - I must have Post-Its!).
Bedtime routine went smoothly, although DH chose to read and then play ukulele (and sing) rather than read the whole time. They stayed calm, so it was fine. I grabbed a shower while he was reading/singing. We made the bed, then I lit the candle and climbed in to sing to them. I realized I'm actually enjoying the bedtime ritual much better now with the addition of the candle and snuggles. It slows me down so I don't feel like I am rushing through it anymore.
I updated tomorrow's daily list and now I am ready to relax.
Monday, May 01, 2006
Up at 6, working on financial stuff, checking email, prepping breakfast. Everyone else was up and at the table by 7. We followed our basic morning routine, following the walk with some "star crosses", spinning, and a couple of circle games.
Our morning lesson time was spent reading, and the final story was our fairy tale for the week. I had penciled in form drawing, but we need to walk the forms this week before we start drawing.
After snack they played and I cleaned the laundry room and did more financial planning. Then we did a quick tidying of their room and made lunch. Papa and I cleaned up and he helped me fold a load of laundry (I did laundry all day).
Quiet time - I should have rested. I really will at some point. My mind was just whirring. I made motel reservations, placed a story CD order, revised some Enki planning, read more Enki, etc.
Time to tidy up again - Boy #2 refused. I told him he would not do the craft if he didn't help clean. He cried, I told him I meant it, and he cleaned up the Legos. This is really hard for me, because he cries so easily and it feels like I am dangling out rewards, but he absolutely will not cooperate any other way. Modeling the behavior only means that I clean up; I know, because I've done it for years.
Snack, practice work, and our crafts, which was painting egg carton caterpillars. At least it had a spring theme. While they painted I started a soup for dinner. When they were done I cleaned up, prepped lots of veggies for snacks, finished the soup, prepped other dinner stuff, and cleaned the kitchen. I was wiped out!
Finished making dinner, the boys and Papa headed to BMX, and I cleaned the kitchen and put away the food. Then I swept and mopped the floor.
I fixed the boys their snack while they had a bath, and also sorted and soaked chickpeas and put on a pot of cornmeal mush for breakfast. I headed back for a quick shower while Papa read to them. Same routine to get them in bed.
We collapsed in front of the TV and watched "Big Love". After that I planned Tuesday and revised a few other things, and printed it all out so I could skip the computer Tuesday morning. I went back into the kitchen and got Boy #1's oatmeal ready to go. A little stretching and I was ready to sleep.
I think it is time to reread the section on teacher health. I can't go on at this pace, and yet I still don't accomplish all that I would like to. I'm not sure how other homeschoolers do it. Of course, I spend far more time cooking and baking than anyone else I know. We are committed to eating low on the food chain and gluten free, plus whole foods and lots of produce. It takes time to prep and cook those kinds of meals.
I'm not even really cleaning the house yet, just keeping it picked up and doing quick wipe downs in the kitchen and bathroom. I did the floor because it needed it and the boys weren't home.
I know it will all fall into place eventually, as the rhythm becomes second nature again.