January 25, 2010

Suprising Moments

Sometimes my kids surprise me in the little things they say or do. For example watching the Vikings game as a family last night with some friends and towards the end of the game someone said all the Vikings suddenly found religion and are praying for their game. Sirah (age 6) responded "God does not intervene in sports games" we all kind of looked at each other. Then Serona asked me did she just use the word "intervene" and she has a point. It was one of those random moments I wanted to record for memories. A few minutes later Maria (age 10) said "I am so vexed right now" when a call was made that everyone in our room was complaining about. It was almost surreal to me to hear them talking like that while watching a football game. Here's to good vocabularies and hoping they stick around for years to come. They get that from their dad. My running joke with Serona is "Here is a quarter, can you define that word for me?"

Of course sometimes they surprise me in other ways I would like to forget, like the rounds Ciaran and Maria went today over who owned something. After nonstop choruses of "Mine, no mine" with no other words in between and expecting them to come to blows I decided to step in only to discover they were in heated argument over a 10 inch piece of black yarn. A piece of trash really but they were not relenting. It is moments like that which remind me I do not remember being a child that well to even begin to comprehend why the ownership of a 10 inch piece of black yarn mattered so much. Truly there is nothing special about this yarn and I have entire skeins I could give them in the closet. I was simply at a loss of what to say to them.

Life is made up of these random moments both the wonderful and the mind boggling as well as the exceedingly frustrating and sometimes difficult ones. Someday I will look back and miss these days even the arguing over nothing, okay I will not miss that but I will miss the ordinariness of having my kids around and I am trying to enjoy it now.

January 23, 2010

Some Beach...Somewhere...

Well it is January in Minnesota and truthfully I should not be complaining as it is in the 30's, a heat wave for us. Of course this means raining sheets of ice on a weekend I have to be in the car travelling places but at least it is not -20 right? We might even see some of our snow melt which is rare, typically any snow we get in November is still there in March along with everything that fell in between as the temperature rarely gets above freezing here. But back to my title what on earth does the beach have to do with freezing weather in Minnesota?

Something happens to me each year and it sneaks up and hits me over the head until I realize what it is and learn to duck, winter homeschooling in Minnesota. By the time mid-January rolls around it has been cold for awhile, the holidays are over and we are trying to focus on school after the holidays and before the beautiful weather wants to bring us outside. We are all together a lot and there are realities that come with that. It feels like we will never be warm and outside again - April or late March look pretty far away right now even though they truly are not.

The kids are at each other and nit-picking to try each other crazy on purpose some days. They don't want to be outside much and who can blame them? Our local pool and gym see us more when I remember - they need to be out exercising even more right now, those are the good days when I remember that. The days we take a field trip or school at the library or even a local coffee shop just for some variety.

Then there are the other days in winter when I crave to be on the beach anywhere. With sun on my face, warmth between my toes and the sound of waves calming my spirit. However what Minnesotans call a beach are completely frozen over. Our lakes are beautiful don't get me wrong and I enjoy them but they will never be the beach. It is funny that I crave the beach so much, maybe it is because I grew up on Long Island and when things were crazy I would go and walk along the beach even in winter and there was always something so calming about it.

Back to reality. I am getting ready to drive our oldest to a swim meet through an ice storm over the course of the next two days. Lovely. But she loves swimming and I can't ask her to find a better lifelong sport to be passionate about and develop her talent in. So while I dream of the ocean I will get my ice scraper out, pack my cooler for the day and head to the warmth of the swimming pool deck.

On teh Road Again

Somehow I thought I was busy when they were young and I never had time to write or do things. I had no idea how much busier it would become as they got older and what a challenge it would be to be "home" in homeschooling. Somedays it feels like we run a taxi service but I don't regret that. I actually am learning to really enjoy the time we are all together in the car and to take to heart Deuteronomy 6:5-9.

And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength. And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up. Tie them to your hands and wear them on your forehead as reminders. Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

The time in the car together is a good time to teach and to listen and hear my kids. When we are one on one it is great stolen time that we rarely get and even when we are in a group it is good to talk about subjects or to listen to a good book on tape or yes sometimes do some car schooling.

I go through phases where I think we need to be home more but then I realize most of what we are out running around for is actually part of their educational experiences: piano lessons, art class, gym class, swimming, libraries, museums, sports, field trips and I am thankful to be able to provide those opportunities to the kids and to have the time in between with them to talk about what we are doing or whatever else is on our hearts and minds. Somedays when I am packing everyone into the car for what feels like an endless day of running around I need to remind myself of this and be okay with the fact that our homeschool does not look like traditional school and that is just fine.

January 7, 2010

Random Moments

As I type this Maria is working on the computer next to me writing a fiction story, Sirah is teaching Kirsten (yes the American girl doll) how to do multiplication and Ciaran is downstairs playing piano. It is a good moment, one of the better ones in a frustrating transition week back into school. I need to remember these moments.

The first day back to school post a month vacation felt like a wash. Expectations were too high, minds and attitudes lacked discipline and it was Serona's birthday. Tempers were short, moods were low and we all survived the day. Slowly we are resuming our routines and finding a winter pace that works for us all.

Today we had grand intentions and woke to a snowy cold day, which for many homeschoolers is a great day to stay home and school. We however needed to drive Serona to work so Maria can make her swim practice before her meet. Traffic was snarled, roads were bad and long story short we arrived home at 11:00am with kids who had not yet eaten anything. Brunch was served with a read aloud from me and we settled into school at 11:45. Some days are like that.

Still I can't help but smile as I watch my 6 year old teaching her doll how to do multiplication (skip counting) and how she asked for Kirsten to have her own school work to do. I wrote an additional 10 math problems which Sirah "taught" Kirsten to do by doing them herself cheerfully. I took a picture to make the moment last longer.

Ciaran went downstairs to play piano and take a break between math and his geography slideshow work. I am excited he is enjoying learning an instrument and he has a wonderful teenage home schooler for a teacher who is just a perfect fit for him. He was also happy for the break from long division :)

Maria has an interesting assignment this month. She has to write NaNoWriMo style for a month. Her assignment is 300 words a day for a month on a story of her choice. She has been working on it for 3 days now and so far it is going well. She even decided to work on it by herself in free time one evening after swimming. We are trying to encourage her writing because she has some natural talent for it but has very little confidence in her abilities. Hopefully this writing every day will help her get through it one way or the other. So far the hardest part for her is my constant reminders that I do not want her editing or using the backspace key.

Some random moments from our day here.