Monday, August 20, 2007

A Typical Homeschool Day at our House...

I'm really glad Candy suggested this, because it is soooo good for me to look at how we have been spending our days, and it is certainly time to take stock and make sure we are redeeming our time.

We change our schedule a few times a year, but this is what it looks like presently. At least, when things fall flawlessly into place, which is rare :-). Keep in mind, it is currently a flex-schedule, which seems to fit our family well.

My daughter Deb (7) and son David (9) get up at 6:30 (Deb - always; David - sometimes). Deborah is faithful to get dressed to the shoes, brush her hair, and do her math & writing. David usually takes a shower and works on Scratch, which is an open-source (that means free!) programming language for kids which David is completely in love with. And his Daddy has given him the directive to practice in the morning when his mind is fresh - I love it that he wants to please his daddy so much!

Usually the baby wakes up at 6-ish and I nurse him back to sleep before stumbling back to bed for another hour or so of sleep (Nathan and I still lack the discipline to go to bed early ;-) ). I am roused to begin the day by one of two scenarios: either Nate gets up to shower and I have pity on his poor hungry soul, arising to fix coffee and a to-go breakfast of raw-egg/vanilla/banana/kefir dream smoothie or crackers, cheese & banana OR Joshua bounds into the bedroom, announcing enthusiastically "I'm hungry Mommy!"

On Wednesdays Daddy leads the early morning men's Bible study at Bob Evans and I just see a wisp of steam and hear the faint sound of the garage door. On other days, I kiss Daddy out the door with his breakfast & coffee, then have a half hour or so to quickly shower, make the bed & tidy my area before tending to my enthusiastically hungry 4-year-old. Who, by the way, is always right there with me cooking oatmeal and serving it up. Generally if anyone is still abed at this point I rouse them, and they dress & report to the island for re-fueling. Meanwhile, Deborah dives into Mavis Beacon to get her typing done, and perhaps finishes her piano practice. David will often get his typing & piano done before breakfast also.

At breakfast, we are currently trying to re-establish our breakfast scripture reading/memorizing habits. They fell by the wayside somehow during the busy summer months :-(. The kids right now are learning Proverbs 27:17 & James 4:17. After breakfast I allow the three youngest (baby Jonathan, Joshua & Rebekah) to help me clean up the kitchen lickety split while Deborah cleans the bathrooms (sinks, toilets, sweeping) & David vacuums the living room, hall & bedrooms. Sometimes the process is more lickety split, sometimes less, usually depending on the amount of enthusiasm & encouragement (or lack thereof) coming from yours truly. Last week I allowed the older kids to do their cleaning chores as part of their to-do list on the white board. However, I think it works out better when we set the timer and just get our work done together, so we will go back to doing it right after breakfast.

After clean-up, Deborah does a little school time with the baby while I take Joshua (4) and Rebekah (5) under my wing to read, narrate & do flashcards (this doesn't always happen but I'm determined to make it stick). Then they can all play outside for a half-hour or so while I do any needed administrative work (phone calls, bill-paying...etc). The children are good about pushing Jonathan on the swing and helping him go down the slide. As I can see them right out the window, I will let him be with them for a short while before putting him in the playpen near me.

After playtime, we all come in for reading time. I am currently reading Nathanial Bowditch as our read-aloud. We are reading through a poetry book. We are reading through some assigned old & new testament passages. All of this is assigned from the Sonlight Curriculum which I borrowed from my dear friend Jenny in Kentucky. The littler ones will often play quietly with Legos or Tinker Toys while I am reading. This way they get the benefit of hearing the stories, but they don't feel like it is a completely boring time. If we have time before lunch I will also go through Language Lessons with David & Deborah, from Susan Wise-Bauer's Language Lessons for the Well-Trained Mind. I absolutely love doing the language lessons with the kids! I think they like memorizing the engaging poems & learning chants, but the copy work and dictation exercises are a little tedious for them sometimes. Rebekah is going to find it so easy to do them when we start because I think she has already memorized half of the poems!

Lunch time is usually pretty concise. A little fruit & cheese, or a peanut butter sandwich. Some raw goat's milk if there is any left. I will usually do a really fast 5-minute cleanup and let the older children keep working on their lists, then occupy the smaller ones with a game or let them play outside some more. Around 1:00 pm I will put the littlest one in bed for a nap. He will usually sleep until 4:30 - 5:00 pm.

David & Deborah, as I mentioned, have their to-do list posted on the fridge white board currently. They know to check things off as they accomplish them. Currently their list looks something like this: math, writing, reading, language, typing, piano, chores, room, laundry, baby-time. David has read alone time and read-aloud time. Deborah has read alone time, read-aloud time, read to Joshua time and a reading lesson with me. They know that in the afternoon they will be free to play, program or watch Cyberchase & Fetch if they have their whole list checked off.

At 2:00 pm we gather in the living room for quiet reading time. Sometimes I'll do read aloud at this time if we missed it for some reason earlier; or catch up with our scripture reading; or rarely sit down and read my own book (I'm currently reading through the Uncle Eric Series). If Joshua is really tired, he will sometimes fall asleep on the couch. The others just read. David is reading through the readers from Sonlight. They are a bit easy for him so he flies through them. I used to read them aloud so everyone could hear, but it put too much responsibility on me, so I put them in a stack for him to read through in order. David and Deborah will usually narrate from the scripture reading, but this is a weak point with me; I sometimes forget to have them narrate, though I usually ask questions. I know that narration is such an important skill and I always try to make it happen regularly, but we aren't there yet.

If the kids have done well, they are allowed to watch a show in the afternoon at 3:30. This is usually my time to either catch-up on my email, work on a project, take a cat-nap or blog. And I touch base with Nathan at this point in order to make supper plans. At 4:30 we start supper. The children all have a night to help. Lately I have been swallowing my desire for easy clean-up and letting them make more messy things like biscuits and cookies. They have so much fun! I intend to loosen up even more; especially when our wheat arrives, which incidentally, did not show up last Friday because they had trouble locating a driver and it never left the warehouse! But I have a clean garage ;-).

We eat when Daddy comes home, or without him if he has meetings at work or church. David & Deborah are responsible for cleaning up dinner; though usually I will put away the food and wash the big pans. David is my wiper/sweeper extraordinairre. Deborah will clear and wash the dishes, or unload and load the dishwasher (if it's working). They are sometimes motivated with outside play, sometimes with dessert ;-). Tonight was an exception; Daddy forgot to have them do cleanup (I was taking an important call) and so here I sit with a messy kitchen behind me ;-). Anyway, it will get done :-).

The evenings are often spent outside to enjoy the cool shade which happens in our front yard just before sunset. Nathan and I will sometimes sit in the rockers on the front porch and watch them swing, slide or ride bikes up and down the gravel road in front of our house (it connects only to the neighbor's house, so there is not much traffic). Lately Joshua will push Jonathan in the little red car up and down our front walk.

Before bed we do different things, depending on the night. On Monday Daddy reads to the children from the Uncle Eric Series. On Tuesday night we watch Nova Science Now. On Wednesday night we go to piano lessons (usually earlier on). On Thursday night we have presentations. On Friday night we watch movies or play games. On Sunday night we watch an excellent video series entitles "Does God Exist" by John Clayton. It is a 17-part series (about 8 hours total), in which he clearly shows that there is no conflict between science and Christianity. He also shares his quite extraordinary testimony and some dynamic sermonettes which are wonderfully insightful. We watched the last one yesterday. I can't wait to start it again, but we'll probably wait a year or so.

Bedtime means a story (if we are there early enough), a prayer, a hug. Teeth brushed (and sometimes flossed), a time of mild-roudiness while the kids sometimes horse around a bit, children sneaking out for "one more drink" - they hug each other and say goodnight; the baby talks for awhile. Then blessed quietness.

Nate and I usually hang out in his office for awhile, and unwind (sometimes with ice cream :-) ). We will sometimes watch the latest on Ron Paul & the elections. We will often watch a documentary - currently we are on part 3 of "The Power of Nightmares" which is a history of how Neoconservatism and Islamic Fundamentalism came about in the 1940's & 50's. It is fascinating stuff! Speaking of which - I'm late! I'd better get down there :-).

Sunday, August 19, 2007

The Wedding that Never Happened

Grandpa Tippy (Nathan's father) passed away 3 years ago, of cancer. Grandma (Nathan's mother) took care of him in their home in Washington state until he died. Then she took care of lots of other old people; many of them until they died. We finally persuaded her to move here about a year after Frank died. She lived with us for a few months before she was drawn down to S. Illinois to take care of Great-Grandpa Tippy, her father-in-law. Do I need to mention that my mother-in-law loves old people?

In the meantime, an old friend of the family, Dale from Michigan, was drawn to Grandma. He came to S. Illinois and helped Grandma remodel Grandpa Tippy's house so that she could take better care of him. He helped Grandma often. Over the next year or so, Grandma and Dale (we call him Grandpa Dale) fell in love and decided to get married.

The date was set for July 7th - at our house! Dale's family was coming, and we were building up to it for the prior two weeks; getting all our duckies in a row, so to speak. We clipped the hedges and cleaned the house; including all of the carpets and some of the furniture. Grandma and Dale were going to "officially" tie the knot on their way up from S. Illinois to our house in Missouri, and then have a ceremony at our house with just close family, with Nathan presiding.

Well, with a week to spare, Grandma & Dale called the whole thing off. However, I guess the eye-catching title of this post is not entirely accurate. It implies that it never WILL happen. And I believe it's been rescheduled for Christmas-time. :-)

We were not at all upset that we had worked hard to get things in order. I am always very thankful that we have some "event" to get ready for, because that means that most of the things that need doing will get done - no slouching! We had friends over for the 4th of July, passed out lots of Ron Paul DVD's at fireworks, and had a relaxing weekend. I don't have to start thinking about the wedding (that happened) until after Thanksgiving ;-).

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Update / Children Slide Down Stairs on Winter Sled

During the last month, I have often longed to be blogging. Subjects have flitted in and out of my consciousness as I have transitioned between the worlds of homeschooling, campaigning for Ron Paul, beginning a new wheat business. Titles such as "Children Slide Down Stairs on Winter Sled", "Hermit Crab Nearly Dies in a Loose Shell", "Mother Succeeds in Creating 5 Ron Paul Revolution Signs w/5 Little Ones in Tow (with their help of course :-) )", "The Wedding that didn't Happen", "The Bleeding Economy", "The Lawn that didn't get Mowed - and Why" and "The Paradigm Shift that Rocked My World". These are just some of the things that come to mind, and they are not in the right order.

Hmmmm. Which one shall I write about? I'll start with the first one right now, just so that I can get going on my list.

I am currently cleaning out the garage, because any day now the Wheat Montana truck is going to arrive carrying 5,000 pounds of wheat and the garage is truly a pit. So today I carried coolers, carseats, boxes, furniture & sleds up to the loft above the garage to make some room to sweep up all of the trash which has somehow remained in the garage for the last month or so. Well, actually I stacked these things in the hallway just inside the garage which leads to the stairs which lead above the garage.

And little 4-year-old Joshua discovered, you guessed it, the cool winter sled! Not the big clunky one, mind you, but the smooth one with handles designed to move with your body. He climbed to the top of the stairs and I had to investigate when I heard him having way too much fun. Now, my kids normally slide down the stairs in their footed pajamas, and they are so fast! But the sled, well, it was PHENOMENALLY FAST! Like, GET-OUT-OF-THE-WAY IF-YOU-DON'T-WANT-TO-GET-HURT fast. So I let them slide downstairs on the sled while I fixed lunch. And no one was hurt. And I have a new activity I can pull out of my hat to occupy my little ones, which, by the way, is my weak area. Planning and occupying.

So, what should I write about next time? If anyone still reads my blog, let me know what you want me to write about. Right now I have to take my fifteen minute break while the kids watch Fetch. It's educational :-).