January 24, 2009

When the Chaos Hits

My children showed their very generous side this week as we had some friends staying with us so their parents could have a vacation. In addition to our 9, 7 and 5 year old we had a 4 and 2 year old. It was busy but thanks to my children and Serona all chipping in and helping out the days went by quickly and smoothly, as smooth as possible with that many kids between those ages. Maria often read to the younger kids or helped supervise them if I was making lunch, she even pitched in and helped make meals. Ciaran played nearly constantly with the 2 year old who just looked up to him and wanted to do everything with him. He was very patient with him which made me very happy and Sirah played with the other little girl and for her it was great fun as it was like a never ending playdate and sleepover. The little girls played dress up, kitchen, dolls, ponies, lincoln logs, puzzles and anything they could think of. Overall everyone got along very well and it was wonderful to see that serving part in my children. We are back to normal for the time being though I inflamed my back injury and injured my neck while the kids were here so it will be some slow going to my recovery, good thing we are headed back into the -30's, no one will want to go anywhere.

School has been fluid this week as we finish up math books and wait for our new ones to arrive next week. We are planning on finishing up our Astronomy study and slide shows this week so we can move forward with geology. After spending two weeks looking for our missing history text book I have ordered a new copy as I value my sanity more than the cost of the book. In the meantime we are spending our history blocks working on geography, playing a fun online geography game and competing against one another in different regions of the world.

Maria seems to be gaining interest in computer skills wanting to have more and more time online, which is putting our current one functioning computer system to the test, may drive me to figure out how to cannibalize those 5 unusable boxes into at least one functioning kids computer so I can regain the family laptop and decrease the amount of bickering over whose turn it is next.

Ciaran has taken to reading the Great Illustrated classic novels. I remember reading these as a child too, I think they are wonderful introductions to the great classic works, after reading these transitioning to the full unabridged versions seems much less scary to my children. Maria has read nearly all the classics in the illustrated format and now many of them unabridged. Ciaran likes them because the font is large, there are many pictures (typically one whole page picture for every one page of writing) and the stories are actually engaging and interesting. He is currently reading War of the Worlds, recently he read Swiss Family Robinson and the Time Machine, next up is Dr. Doolittle.

Sirah is reading Hop on Pop and excited to be reading a "real book" in her mind. She has finished her handwriting book and we have moved on to skip counting with her now that she has the basics of addition and subtraction down. She also has an envelope she carries with her of her "special words" which are flash cards with words she can sound out on her own to practice reading with. This week she lined up all her animals and dolls and taught them school with her special words. This month for her book club we read Pinocchio outloud, which is a favorite read aloud in our house.

We also finished up The Great Brain as our family read aloud this week. While I love this story and my kids could not wait for more there are some heavier topics and time dated topics that young kids may need help with that is why we choose to read them aloud. I also enjoy watching my kids engage with the story and laugh out loud. The Great Brain is very over the top and there are many teachable moments in them, and now we have some fun family jokes from our reading of this. We did skip a few pages in the last chapter as there was a discussion of a boy trying to help another boy kill himself to put him out of his misery (he has a peg leg). We were able to skip that part without taking much away from the story as what follows those pages is the important part. Still if you are looking for a fun family read aloud you may want to give the Great Brain a try.

We had a few warm days (high 20's, low 30's) where Ciaran and Sirah simply did not want to be in the house, they spent most of their freetime in the yard sledding, having snowball fights and just running around and playing in the snow. Maria was sad she was unable to be outside with her cast, but is happy she will have just a few more weeks of the cast. We had some of her friends over to watch the new Chrissa movie from American girl, she also received the doll as a gift from her grandparents recently. The movie was a great opportunity to discuss topics like bullying, teasing, when and how to get parents involved, and there was even some mention of homeschooling in the film. The girls watching it with me range in age from 9-11, also the ages of the kids in the film and we had some good discussion following the movie. Being homeschooled for most of the time these girls had different experiences than what was in the movie but we were able to talk about things like teasing and what makes a good friend, important topics for girls in that age group.

I enjoy spending time with Maria and her friends and getting to know them. This "tween" age group was the one that most scared me as a parent, that I felt would be most challenging. Young babies, toddlers, preschoolers and early elementary have all been fairly natural ages for me, teenagers also come very natural to Serona and I and our favorite ages are generally from around 13-23. It is this in between that has been interesting to me to learn along side them. I think I just had very little interaction with this age group in general so I don't know quite what to expect. So far the friends she has chosen have been great kids and I simply enjoy being around them, I pray that continues and that this age group goes well when my other two are in it as well.

One of the things I have enjoyed as an added benefit of homeschooling is the varied friendships my children develop with both genders and a variety of ages. All of my childrens "best friends" are not their age, they get along with both genders and a variety of age groups. I know as they get older this will change and we are already starting to see some changes in Maria, though she is saddened by the push back she feels from some boys and the teasing she gets from some girls who don't believe her that she is just "friends" and does not "like" the boys she spends time with. These situations have provided us with many teachable moments and we have had great mother/daughter discussions that I believe build the relationship and trust we will need for those future harder mother/daughter heart to hearts.

Clearly I am writing this post at 2am as I am a bit rambling and jumping from topic to topic but at least I am back blogging! May you enjoy a peaceful and blessed weekend.

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