First, takin' care of BIZness: Yes! That shirt does indeed feature my one-and-only Father-in-Law, a.k.a. KRD, esteemed professor of biomedical engineering and devotee of bowties. Ian actually wore his shirt all day today. I love it. (Note: We have been disallowed from wearing our shirts to our church meeting. Aw, bummer.)
So before I started homeschooling, I found two books which struck me as both realistic and inspiring: Homeschooling: A Patchwork of Days and Homeschool Open House, both edited by Nancy Lande. Basically, about thirty families in each volume relate an actual day in their homeschooling life, running the gamut from radical unschoolers to school-at-homers, from the mom who drives a big rig and takes her son along as she criscrosses the country to the family enjoying life in the wilds of Scotland.
I keep meaning to record one of our own days, and I'm finding that, as many of those families remarked, there's really no "typical" day around here. Every one is different! But I thought today* might serve just as well as any to give you an idea of the relaxed learning and sometimes, barely-restrained chaos, that is our life and school.
7:20 a.m. -- Oops, I slept bit later than usual. I'm awoken by three children in my bed, feeling hurt that the Candy Fairy did not take their offerings during the night. Panicked, I nudge Daddy out of bed to go fish my dollar-store purchases out of my purse, while explaining to the children that the sun had not fully risen yet, and sometimes the CF is very busy, and if we stay very quiet with our eyes closed, perhaps she will think we are sleeping and still come. Whaddyaknow, when they check at 7:31, she has come!
7:35 a.m. -- I head to the elliptical trainer to exercise, and spend most of the time praying on the phone with Vanessa. (I don't usually do both at the same time, but like I said, I slept in a bit this morning.)
8:00ish -- Tim leaves to bike to school. I finish exercising and help the children gathered their assorted breakfasts. Breakfast is a challenge here as tastes vary so widely, but we end up with different permutations of scrambled eggs, oatmeal, cold cereal, and smoothie. While we eat, I read our Bible story to them and we briefly discuss the connection between Onesimus as Philemon's slave in the New Testament and the question of slavery that Thomas Jefferson's struggling with in the CD we're listening to. We eventually finish, after repeated interruptions, and clear our dishes. Ian goes off to the armchair to read his Bible, while the girls putter around. I clean up the kitchen.
9:00 I send the kids off to do their morning lists (dressing, grooming, chores) while I shower, read some Bible verses, and get dressed. I do some housecleaning, make the bed, etc. Ian starts his laundry.
10:00 Ian asks me for help uploading some photos of his Lego creations to the Lego website for a contest entry. My Internet connection flakes out halfway through, which puts him in a bad mood. He declares he does NOT want to attend improv class (normally we would be there by now, but Eliza's class was canceled for today). He retreats to the sofa to read his Bible. I help Eliza do some light phonics work and trace some pictures to color during Ian's class. Caroline is doing ??? during this time.
10:40 -- After the usual flurry, we get out the door to improv, which takes place at a theater in a coffee shop downtown. On the way, we listen to Thomas Jefferson's America(again).
11:00 -- Improv. The girls and I have to park a couple blocks away, and a tearful crisis over the prospective walk is narrowly averted by Mom Acting Very Silly. My friend Greta is there, as two of her kids are in the class, and she and I have our usual cozy chat, this time about how to keep our kids occupied during the long hot summer and about interesting books we're reading. The girls color and play a game with their friend Sydney, older sister of another improv classmate.
12:30-- We arrive home again. I make lunch -- hamburgers with organic beef from Costco. Usually the kids have sandwiches, so today is a treat. While I'm fixing food and attending to the girls' various needs and issues, Ian starts on his official schoolwork. He does this all independently of me, until it's time for reviewing his Latin vocab. Just as I finish reading a chapter of "B is for Betsy" to the girls on the patio, he comes out ready for review. I present him with a "roadblock" game, a wonderful idea from Games for Reading: Playful Ways to Help Your Child Read that we use a lot for learning reading and reviewing Latin -- anything needing practice, really. He's starting some basic verb conjugations, which are stumping him a bit, so I draw him a pronoun diagram with sidewalk chalk on the patio.
1:45 -- Caroline's a mess. I put her down for a nap, rocking her for a few minutes while I read a chapter of Les Miserables. She's not in a mood to sleep today, and listens to an hour of stories on CD instead. Grumpily. Meanwhile, the older two have their quiet time outside, working on their Stick City. They currently have 188 soldiers set up in formation around their city. I pay and file bills, take care of some business for my dad, drink a cup of coffee, answer a couple emails.
2:45 -- Quiet Time's over. Ian comes in and announces that he wants to go help teach the Tiny Texans (preschool) taekwondo class today, which he does once or twice a week. OK, that changes my plan a bit, but I like to support this kind of initiative on his part, so we pack up and go drop him off.
3:15 -- Home again. The girls and I play Go Fish in the front yard, then go inside and make a "rainbow in a jar" with various concentrations of sugar water, an idea we got from our March Book of Days. Snack: apples and mango.
4:25 -- We depart for dance class, a bit late. Got carried away with the rainbow-in-a-jar, plus the usual dawdling over shoes, tights, leotard, etc. On the way, Eliza tries to figure out how to sing "The B-I-B-L-E" in sign language! Usually during dance class, Caroline and I run an errand, but we've had a bit more driving than usual today, so I decide we'll just hang out and read or play in the waiting area. Lo and behold, when we arrive, I have to dope-slap myself because today is Parent Observation Day, which happens only once a year, and I was supposed to find someone to watch Caroline! No younger siblings allowed! The assistant teacher takes pity on me and lets her stay as long as she's quiet and still. We get the crayons and coloring book back out of my purse, and she's an absolute angel during the class. Whew.
5:45 -- We return home, visit with the next-door neighbor for a few minutes, and then head in to make dinner. Caroline and I gather some beets and lettuce from the garden. Both girls help to wash it, then pounce upon Daddy and Ian as they return. Ian sets the table, then they all go out to play outside. Usually, this is when Oscar pops over from next door, but apparently he has baseball practice.
7:00 -- Dinner. Review of the day. Visit to the Stick City for show-and-tell. Status update on Gary, the snail we found and captured during a gardening session on Sunday afternoon.
8:00 -- There's a big kafuffle when Caroline drops a large stick out of the tree fort and it strikes Eliza on the forehead. Neighbors four streets over can hear the results. Many tears, many apologies. I get Caroline ready for bed and help her clean up three things (before bed, they each put away the number of things that corresponds to their age). I read Fancy Nancy: Bonjour Butterfly to her, the only story she really has energy for at this point, while Tim reads two chapters of Little Town on the Prairie with Eliza. I can hear Ian doing the GeoQuiz on our LeapFrog Explorer Smart Globe
in the other room.
9:00 -- Tim and I finish cleaning up the kitchen while Ian has a snack and reads his Bible (yeah, he's kind of on a jag these days; no complaints here!). I read a chapter of Johnny Tremain with Ian, feeling a bit bad that this is all the reading we two have done today, then read a bit of Les Miz to myself as he falls asleep.
After hanging out with Tim and writing for a bit, it's time for bed. I wonder what tomorrow will look like ...?
(*written at the end of Tuesday, 3/31)