Whew. I’m better now, for those that read yesterday’s post. All I really needed was some wood smoke therapy. That is, going for a really long walk by myself after Greg got off work. These days (see last post) sunset comes really freakin’ early so if I go for a walk it’s always in the dark. Don’t worry. I live in the ‘burbs. Plus, Greg always makes me carry a flashlight so I don’t get mowed over by all the people rushing off to Target and such (I’m sorry. I have way too many laughs at the suburbanite mentality’s expense. It’s really my defense mechanism as I feel like such an outsider around here).
At first, the cold was like a baptism, the cold rushing over me, taking my breath away and locking up every muscle. Gradually, though, as I plodded on, my muscles warmed and oiled, heart pounding with the rhythm of my steps, I became pure thought and pure muscle motion and my life started to seem very far away and distant, unable to reach me, my problems seemed to instantly shrink like things looked at through the wrong end of a telescope. This is the reason I go for walks. All I could hear was my own feet crunching snow. The air was sharp and bitter and smelled of wood smoke. The houses were decorated for the holiday and glowed off the crusted snow drifts. There is nothing as cozy as Christmas lights on a snowy night.
By the time I made it back to my home, I didn’t want to go back inside and face my life again. I think I could have just kept walking forever. Yet, a break is only a temporary thing. Once it’s over, reality is always there with all of it’s complications and unpleasant struggles to greet you at the side door with open arms.
Yesterday was one of those days where I doubt everything. Yet one day to the next can be so different and today dawned beautiful and sunny and feels to some extent like a renewal. Today is a brand new day.
As I am often fond of doing, I thought I would finish this post on a positive “day in the life unschooling edition” note. Though the day is not over, I had a very brief conversation with a friend leaving me feeling reflective upon my homeschooling. This is a topic that is sometimes on my mind more than others but never more so than when someone I haven’t seen or talked with in a while asks me how homeschooling is going. It often leaves me taking an objective look at my life and wondering what it looks like from the outside.
I started the day in the usual fashion: with Miles. He is my sleeping partner and as soon as he senses my body rise in the morning, hoists himself up to standing with his arms outstretched for me to take him with me out to the living room. I usually deposit him in the rocking chair and cover him with a blanket in the hopes that he’ll fall back asleep for a while as I go into the kitchen and make the coffee. This usually doesn’t work that well and before I’ve had a moment to sit at my desk and try to organize my brain, he’s wandered over and climbed into my lap and requested toast. I oblige him as it gives him something to focus on other than me and cut him a slice of my homemade sourdough bread slathered in rich butter. I see quality food as an important part of both my role as parent and homemaker and also as homeschooler as I hope the kids will be more and more involved in the kitchen as they age and will hopefully be forming good lifelong habits when it comes to food.
I usually try to do some research and thinking and preparation for the day/week and whatever we are focused on. This month we have been focused on Native Americans. We have explored a few museum exhibits, we’ve listened to some music, I’ve told some Native American stories, and we’ve made a few crafts inspired by Native Americans and looked through some books. Our schedule from day to day is not consistent and so each week and each day is different. We might do a lot one day and almost nothing the next. That keeps things, in my mind, a bit fresh and spontaneous feeling. Today, it so happened that I had one more game to try with the kids and one recipe I found that I wanted to make.
After Joel got up around 7:30, an hour or so after Miles and I and Greg, he and Miles played a little bit as I continued working and looking at some birth videos and then they wanted to hear some books. I honestly feel like this is what I spend the majority of my time doing, as I’ve said before. I should actually count how many books I read. I feel like it was at least fifty. Ok, I just counted and it was only 9. Still. It was a solid hour of reading. Then they were hungry so we all went into the kitchen and made pancakes (and yes, Miles does eat “second breakfast”). This is when Ruth finally got up and graced us with her presence. She usually has a hard time waking up. This would have been closer to 10, an hour and a half after every other eight year old is at school every morning.
After I cleaned up the breakfast table, we did a “circle time”. This consists of some seasonal songs, poems and body movement. A lot of times, the kids, especially Ruth, hate this, but today, they were all pretty into it. It’s the way I transition into any stories I tell. I find it’s too abrupt to just start telling a story. The proper mood needs to be set. So, my main point was to tell a Native American story about how rice came to the Native people. It was just something I found on a website for Anishinaabe stories that I thought was accessible to the kids.
After that, it was Ruth’s turn to be read to. She is super into the Magic Fairy books, which are pretty low substance, but both she and Joel enjoy them and so we always have a new stack of them from the library that we are working our way through. So, I read that for about another hour (I told you I read a lot!). Then, I had one more Native American game that I wanted to try with the kids which was this stick and beans game. I expected them to get really frustrated with it, but they actually ended up really liking it and played for close to an hour, I think. Even Miles wasn’t too young to play.
After this, they spontaneously remembered something they had seen in a Curious George movie where some kids placed dried beans, like the ones we were using for the game, on wet napkins and they sprouted. They both got paper plates and wet napkins and placed their plates next to the sunny window to see if we can get sprouts. Though the kids in the video placed clear plastic over their beans and we are presently out of anything like that. We’ll see what happens!
By this time, it was time for lunch, and though often we just have leftovers or snack on stuff for lunch, it’s the end of the week and our fridge is pretty barren so I actually had to pull out one of the extra dinner recipes I had prepared for the week and actually cook. I made this red fried rice with red peppers and tomatoes in it. Miles and Joel just had plain rice with butter. Ruth and I were the only ones to actually eat the vegetables.
Now we are listening to Christmas music, I’ve done some laundry downstairs, and Joel and Miles are playing in the fashion that they play in, which is really energetic and spastic and Ruth is practicing gymnastics moves.
Shortly, I will be starting dinner which is the Native American recipe I referenced earlier: fry bread and corn soup. This evening, Greg might be taking them to an MSU hockey game while I have a few moments of peace to myself. Or I might go along too, I’m not sure.
In either case, that would be an example of one of our more “productive” homeschooling days. A lot of reading, a lot of eating, and a lot of me cleaning up while the kids are playing. With some other goodies of focus thrown in there. That’s pretty typical.
Thanks for tuning in. I know that was a long winded post.