Thursday, December 31, 2009

Almost back...

It's the last day of the year! We're almost back to school after the winter break... taking some much needed R&R so we're ready for 2010. My only question is how on earth will we focus on homeschooling when there are so many new board games to play (apparently word got out that we love games because we received them from everyone from Old Saint Nick to the old man down the street)?

Or is that considered homeschooling?

Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

And again...

Today was supposed to be my household cleaning day. Again. Instead it was a run-a-bunch-of-boring-errands and help-kids-make-holiday-gifts kind of day. Again. Followed up with several hours at a Girl Scouts holdiay party that had lots of sugar, sugar, and, yes, more sugar. Kids went to bed late. Again. Zero - and I mean zero - cleaning happened. Again. Well, I guess that's a lie because four hours after my little one knocked a glass ornament to the ground I did manage to vacuum it up (I did ban them from the affected area until it was all-clear, no one was injured). But I did love watching the creativity pour out of the children. Again.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Winter Break

Today is the official start of winter break for the girls and I. No official "school" until 2010. This morning, the girls have been listening and reading along to audiobooks, crafting gifts (and fairies), practicing their respective musical instruments, and playing the board game Pay Day. All this before 9am. Sounds like a good day of "school" to me!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Strange and Strangers

I had the, uh, opportunity to spend last night at my husband's company holiday party. The evening was spent meeting various employees and making small talk. All of these people were strangers to me, and I to them, so naturally the question of "And what do you do?" was repeatedly directed at me. I wanted to give a fabulously exciting answer but time and time again I found myself replying that I was currently staying home with the children. Yawn. About half the time the fact that I homeschool came up. Typically this led to peculiar looks, questions of why anyone would ever want to do that, or, my favorite (strange) question, "Is that something you do when the kids come home from school?" Uh... no. All in all the night was quite wearisome despite the beautiful location, a strange evening surrounded by strangers (on more than one occasion I was reminded of The Doors lyrics "People are strange, when you're a stranger..."), and it's an experience I don't care to have again for at least another year.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Reading, reading and reading

Reading. In our homeschool this simple word has multiple meanings. It could mean that I will be reading a fun story to the girls. It might be that the girls will be reading aloud to me. There's also the chance that it means reading instruction with phonics and sight words. Or maybe it's reading history lessons, science lessons, etc. Possibly listening to the literature selection for the week as it is read, or reading (and re-reading) instructions very carefully. But my favorite definition is the one that happened last night while I was putting the finishing touches on dinner - all four girls, cuddled up on the sofas with blankets and books, reading.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Short Days of Late Fall

Today I decided that in honor of the upcoming shortest day of the year, we were going to have a shortened day of school. We're done for the day! Hurray!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Counterproductive?

This weekend was great. I did not accomplish anything on my to-do list. My list was filled with items like "clean all bathrooms" and "scrub kitchen floor." I am happy to report that the bathrooms still need cleaning and the kitchen floor looks worse today than it did Friday. Usually this state of affairs would make my head hurt, but instead I am thrilled. Why? Because instead of doing any of the mundane chores that usually take up hours of my weekend, my husband and I started to finish (yes, ironic words) the project I began back in July when I ripped my schoolroom out of the main floor study and shoved it upstairs into the playroom. The plan is to create an actual study out of the room. Between July and Friday afternoon, the room was without identity. The table merely collected unwanted items and piles of paper. The computer was stashed in the corner and the only way to sit at the computer was to balance awkwardly on a cheap plastic stool and type over piles of paper, bills, etc.

No longer. We finally cleared out the old furniture, put in the new goods, pulled down the ugly old curtains and put up new (well, they are old but they are new to that room) curtains, and put away about 90% of the items that will live in that room. What's left is to now relocate some of the old furniture up to the new school room and some down to the basement, install the new french doors, find a chair for the desk and two for reading, acquire a table and a few lamps, and do some decorating. I estimate that this room will not be "done" done any time soon, but certainly will look much better before the end of the year. So while all of the attention focused on this room was counterproductive to my weekend to-do list, I feel 10 lbs lighter at having made so much progress in this room. Unfinished, messy areas weigh me down. Plus, I got to spend lots of time with my husband, and since I enjoy his company, commentary and companionship, that was a really good thing.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Sensitivity

During our music lesson today, I was reading the girls a biography of Peter Tchaikovsky. It turns out Mr. Tchaikovsky was an extremely sensitive child and adult. The book described him as being hurt and wounded by things that most people probably wouldn't even notice or at the very least, wouldn't take personally. The author pointed out that although this was very hard on Tchaikovsky, it was this incredible sensitivity to feelings that allowed him to become a great Romantic composer. At this point, my eldest daughter turned to my (very sensitive) six-year-old and said, with sincerity and without malice, "Maybe you'll be a great Romantic composer!" to which the six-year-old began sobbing quietly and then removed herself to the corner. For thirty minutes.

Hmm. Maybe she will be a great Romantic composer.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Back to School. Again.

Well, yesterday was back-to-school after a lovely week off in honor of Thanksgiving (and, more importantly, having Daddy home). We're in our 13th week of schooling for the year. This week's highlights include a literature study on The Wingdingdilly by Bill Peet, building a paper arch bridge ala the Persian builders, baking a Swedish apple cake to commemorate the Swedish holiday Martin Day (okay, this actually took place on Nov. 10th, but better late than never), an art project using Rembrandt's pencil drawings as inspiration, and several chemistry experiments involving food (always a favorite).

In addition, the girls are preparing for their winter music recitals. My first and fourth graders will play Christmas songs on the piano. The girls are diligent pianists, practicing every day for at least the required amount of time and often longer, no complaining whatsoever, and both have attempted original compositions (the fourth grader's music is actually very good!). My second grader is preparing for her debut on the violin. Let me point out that this has been an extremely rocky road. She is finding the violin challenging, frustrating, and tedious and in the beginning her practice sessions sounded more like torture sessions based on the amount of whining and crying going on (and it wasn't all coming from the violin). Fine motor skills are not her thing, and the bow hold alone could take up her entire lesson every time, which of course leads to more frustration on her part. But she seems to have turned a corner. She even composed a short song entitled "Sweet Melody." I'm looking forward to both recitals.