Middle of August already. And now that the end of summer days are threatening, we’ve just started to settle into a lovely and lazy routine.
Isn’t that the way it usually works?
July threw us around from one thing to the next: family vacation, drama camp for Ava and Brenna, Bible camp for Ava, a missions trip for Connor, visiting cousins from Texas, surgery for Garrett. All good things, but all squeezed into one crazy month. A couple weeks ago I looked at August’s bare calendar with all it’s white space and exhaled- a good healthy sigh from deep in my lungs, a toxin- releasing breath of relief. I love white space on my calendar. I loathe busy-ness.
Although it can good to keep busy (to an extent), it’s the days with nothing planned, when we’re forced to sit here and think of a way to occupy our time (other than the obvious chores of daily living) that the creative juices start flowing, a rhythm of bonding and rest and productivity surrounds us, and we are more at peace. It takes us a week or two to settle in to this white space. At first, accustomed to running here and there the kids are all bored and unable find something, anything, amusing to do. They wander aimlessly, expectant of something to come along and entertain them. Those are hard days to get through and if I’m not careful I rely too heavily on TV as an instant gratification. But the problem with that is it just results in more boredom and the still inability to entertain oneself. And so I’m now one of those moms that strictly limits screen time. I haven’t always been -believing that if it was unlimited to them they’d learn to self-regulate which would he a healthy trait to acquire. But it turns out I have a couple kids with addictive personalities who this practice does not work for. However, that’s a blog for another day. So I limit screen time as much as it pains me in their whiny, uninspired state, and after a few days of no TV and no plans they drift almost seamlessly and quite beautifully into this state of play and creativity, sometimes alone, but mostly with each other. And I love big families for this reason- everybody has a playmate or three, or five.
So anyway, this space on my August calendar has been a blessed thing. And it’s just another reminder of the importance of simplicity in my life and the lives of my children. Although it wouldn’t be like myself not to be a little contradictory as well in saying that, although I prefer wide open spaces on my calendar, I do go a little stir crazy if left to my own devices for too long. Having two or three things planned a week seems to be the perfect balance to that. This morning I met a bunch of other homeschool moms at the playground for a co-op planning meeting. It was so nice to get out and spend the morning with friends while the kids were happily entertained with all theirs. And speaking of homeschool…
I’ve started planning our homeschooling year. This is always an exciting time for me as I get visions of what our perfectly seamless homeschool days will look like: Full of learning and interests, bonding and deep conversations, a clean and well organized home, amazing projects and compliant behavior all the live long day. But I’ve been in this business long enough to know better. It will be hard a lot of days (will I ever be homeschooling without a baby and toddler who need me at the same time I’m trying to explain long division??). It will be stressful most days (because life, and imperfect children with imperfect parents). I will be second-guessing my decision by November most likely (because that’s just how I am when things don’t go my way *imperfect parent, remember*). But when it’s all said and done, we will make great memories together, and I love that we have the freedom to learn what we want, and the time to explore our interests. This year we’re trying something a little different- a Unit Study approach. This is exciting for me as it’s something I’ve wanted to try for several years. I’ve always been wary of the time commitment a unit study is renowned for, and frankly I still am a little, but I think we’re all going to learn so much this year and I can’t wait. We’ll be using My Father’s World; Exploring Countries and Cultures – MFW: ECC for Charlotte, Brenna, and Ava. I found a great deal on a used complete set online here: homeschoolclassifieds.com, so saving money was exciting too, because the price of unit studies has always deterred me as well. Isaac will be doing My Father’s World Kindergarten but I’m sure will also be learning a lot of what the girls are learning as well, just by being present. I’m looking forward to combining everyone’s curriculum into one big learning session of fun (see, there I go again). I’ll update later as to how it’s going. For math, we’re trying Smartick. www.smartickmethod.com, and I’ll be reviewing that a little later as well.
In farm news, all the spring kids have been sold, and the pigs and chickens lie unawares in the chest freezers of ourselves and friends and family. Good eats. The only farm chores that really beckon here in late summer are the daily milking (and we’re just milking two goats once a day, so that’s not a big deal), throwing some feed to the free- ranging laying hens and ducks and hunting for their eggs (they like to keep us guessing as to the whereabouts), and routine garden maintenance. I’m LOVING the garden method I tried this year- a combination of deep beds, square foot, lasagna, and wood chip methods (yeah, I couldn’t decide on one so I combined them all). The results have been fabulous in regards to weeds (none), and plant vigor. But that’s also a blog for another day. I’ve been putting up beans and pickles and will be starting on tomatoes as soon as they ripen. I’m looking for a terrific sauce recipe, if anyone wants to share…