Saturday, September 1, 2007

Reflections on the week

This morning as we rolled out of bed (we all tend to lounge on the big bed on Saturday mornings until our appetites get the better of us) I got an IM from my friend Vanessa, inviting us to join her family at the new park down by Town Lake (or I guess I should say, Lady Bird Lake). We had a great time! There was an area for the kids to play in the sprinkler jets, and once Caroline got over her far of the rather unpredictable jets, Vanessa and I got to sit and visit together, which was really nice. O the joys of uninterrupted conversation! Above is a shot of Vanessa and Sam; their little guy Benjamin is just about 3 months younger than Caroline and is super cute.
Anyway, I wanted to note a few of the weeks' highlights, because this was a big week for us, not just with the quals but also with officially starting our homeschooling year. Since my box from Rainbow Resource hasn't arrived yet (and unfortunately the UPS man does not labor on Labor Day) we're sort of ramping up, which I found to be a blessing. I decided to try out Sonlight this year, and do their kindergarten program (Core C) with both kids, since they'd both be interested in the read-alouds and Bible readings/memorization, and then I got the Grade 3-5 Readers and Language Arts for Ian. This just seemed to be the most sane way to accommodate both kids. and then I''ll do specific things with each of them, like medieval history with Ian (my modified version of Biblioplan) and phonics the fun and laid-back way with Eliza. Already I'm reminding myself that flexibility is key. For example, on Tuesday we ended up doing spelling in the driveway. I had a list of compound words to teach Ian, but whaddya know, we ended up doing HIS list of compound words (example: "crackerjack"), and then hiding words around the driveway (with sidewalk chalk) for each other to find. Pretty big hit. There was a moment there where I could feel myself resisting this, wanting to DO THE LIST, but then I realized that I was just setting us both of for a pile of frustration. Ian is NOT a by-the-book learner and (repeat the mantra!) it's up to me to roll with it. In other words, I have to remind myself not to miss the forest (encouraging a love and joy of learning, and preserving a harmonious relationship between us) for the trees (getting certain things done a certain way).
Wednesday was a good break already, because it helped ease the transition into more structured time at home. That was the day we met up with friends for homeschool day at the Bob Bullock Museum of Texas History. They have a great film there about the Spirit of Texas, and I have to say, I am such a sucker for these things because the whole time the music boomed around me and the narrator intoned spine-tingling sayings about the heroes of Texas, I was fighting back tears. It's the same way I get when I hear "God Bless America" or even -- dare I admit it? -- "Proud to be an American." The kids really seemed to enjoy the museum, but of course the film was their favorite part. Cannon fire! Rattlesnakes! Hurricanes! We laughed, we cried, it was better than Cats ...
Speaking of Cats, one of our poems this week (we are working our way through Caroline Kennedy's Best-Loved Poems; love the poems, adore the illustrations) was "Mr. Mistoffelees." I remembered hearing it as a song in the Broadway Musical, and sure enough, iTunes to the rescue, I was able to find it and play it for the kids.
Thursday we had "school" in the backyard. I read aloud while pushing Caroline around the patio on her tricycle, and then we brainstormed personality traits of our characters, then did a spelling quiz while Ian quizzed ME on Magic Treehouse details (he did remarkably better on the spelling than I did on MT). For creative writing, he dictated to me a story about his Uncle Allen and a paintball game. Ian has been bugging me about getting the latest Magic Treehouse book, so we made an agreement that when he finishes 20 pages of his math book (we use Math-U-See), we can get the book. Well, he's motivated! Lots of math being done at our house this week! (Of course, I also count things like playing Sequence as math ...)
Friday went fairly well too, including the nature walk at Mount Bonnell. Overall, I would say we're off to a good start, although we have our challenges cut out for us. Specifically, I need to find good ways to occupy Caroline while I'm working with the older ones -- a nearly universal homeschooling dilemma, I know. Also, I need to make sure Eliza doesn't get short shrift, being the middle child and generally content to sit and listen in (until she's had enough of being overlooked and starts to let us know in unmistakable ways!). Finally, my biggest challenge so far, besides the balance between flexibility and structure ... helping Ian handle the transition between having Oscar, his friend from next door, here all day every day, to having to live for 3:00 (and then, horrors, sometimes seeing Oscar go off to another friend's house). If you know Ian, you know he's Intense. He will ask me over and over and over when Oscar is coming home, and it's not just that it gets irritating, but also that it evokes this insecurity in me, as if I can't possibly create a stimulating, enriching enough environment for him to keep hims mind happily distracted from the absence of Oscar. Soon enough, our schedule will get busier and we will see more friends during the day, but in the meantime, there are times when I just have to take a deep breath and walk away for a moment. Pray for me.
(And apparently, I am now competing for Long-Winded Blogger of the Year, so I'd better sign off now and go to bed!)

1 comment:

Jenny said...

Sounds like you're off to a great start! :)

Love the photos!