Monday, September 19, 2016


One of our best hours spent last week was spent writing and illustrating haiku.  This was suggested as part of our Story of the World work.  We are in the Middle Ages and just finished a section on China, Korea, and Japan.  The methodology suggested worked REALLY well.  Using their method we were each able to compose a haiku successfully in just a few minutes.  The activity book gave us the rules.  We needed three lines, 5 syllables, 7 syllables,  and 5 syllables respectively.  We had to choose a season first.  Our topic had to be natural (no summer at the beach referring to plastic buckets and rocket pops).  We were to choose a topic and describe a specific moment, not try to tell a story.  Then, and this was the most successful suggestion, we were supposed to brainstorm words that came to mind regarding that topic and that moment.  This made it really easy to write the haiku.  Some of the brainstormed words clearly combined to form an idea.  Also, it was easy to conform to the syllable limitations because if a word was too long or too short you could just scan your brainstormed list to choose a suitable replacement of the appropriate length.  

Above is Kal-El's haiku.  While Me Too and I wrote a rough draft that we later rewrote to add to our illustration, Kal-El wanted his to be "secret" and wrote it for the first time on his illustration.  So, I was unable to correct his spelling before he wrote it down.  It reads:

Out springs the tulips,
Where the morning dew shines bright
And bees pollinate.  


Above is Me Too's haiku.  It helps to know that Me Too is allergic to mosquito bites.  They swell up just awful.  Photographic evidence:

His haiku reads:

Bats eat mosquitos.
They are fluffy and furry.
That is why I like them.

-Me Too

He means that he likes bats because they eat mosquitos.  He was inspired to write about bats because he noticed I was writing about mosquitos.  Just for kicks, my haiku is below.

The mosquito glides,
Creepy little legs dangling.
Sweaty skin awaits.

- Mom

I tried to draw a mosquito aloft above sweaty skin but, as Me Too points out, the sweaty skin look more like an eyeball...equally creepy.

Friday, September 16, 2016

What I am Reading

After posting last night I  crawled in bed and curled up with two good books.  That's what I do when I have a problem.  First (hopefully) I pray about it.  Then, I find a book about it.  I'm taking the time to share today because while I've only gotten a few responses to yesterday's post so far (keep them coming!  I am lapping up the advice and it is so nice to not feel alone in this.) I am already getting the impression that I am not alone in this boat.

My husband stayed up way too late watching television so I was able to read most of both of them.  I read these really quickly on purpose so I could know right away what was in them.  Consequently I will reread them both this weekend.

The Sarah Mackenzie book is about precisely what I am going through and how to deal with it from a Godly perspective.  I am excited to read it again. I found myself wanting to underline practically everything in that book.

Also from a Godly perspective, the Glady's Hunt book, is about finding and using literature in the child's home.  It also is, oddly, very focused on homeschooling from a state of rest.  Like my perennial favorite, The Read-Aloud Handbook, there are lists of leveled read-alouds or read-alones (I'm still trying to puzzle out if it is one or the other or both).  I will be glad to have both books because while the Trelease has a synopsis for each book, which I love, the Hunt has a lot of books that are not listed in the Trelease and throughout the text a lot of advice about when a certain books might be perfect to use.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

How ARE We Doing?

Me Too showing off his new suit coat (hand-me-down from friends) 
and the sitting wall he helped build.

I haven't been writing much about the start of our school year. I have collected a lot of moments I can hopefully share with you all.  I am trying to figure out when to find time to do it.  We have been very overwhelmed lately.  I'm sure many of you feel the same.  I have definitely reached a breaking point these past few weeks.  But, even though I really don't have time to blog today two blog posts I happened to read today made me feel like today must be the day to add my voice to theirs.   My post will not be anywhere near as eloquent as the others.  Nor will my photographs be as beautiful.  So I highly recommend you read Abbie's post today  and Arianne's post today.  God obviously knows that I needed to hear what they had to say at this time.

Pictures like this are helpful to remind me how much these boys love each other.

Some of the things that are putting pressure on us I do not want to give up and won't (violin and everything that goes with that:  practicing, lessons, youth symphony).  Some things are eating up way too much precious time but are responsibilities that can not easily be put aside (cubmaster).  We are trying to focus on the blessings that come from our time in these places (the wonderful people we work with, the children's best friends, the husband's friends...) and at the same time make an exit strategy for some of leadership roles we have taken on there.  It is time to pass the torch for a while.  Other things just have to go.  We've put a moratorium on group sports starting at the end of soccer season.  Maybe a stronger person would just stop soccer now.

This little guy really looks up to his big brother.

This has been a really easy school year to begin.  I had no materials to make.  I knew where we were starting in every thread.  I understand the lessons and scope and sequence.  At the same time, this is the most pressure I've ever felt.  Their work plans seem reasonable but we just can't even come close to getting to every thing on the list each day.  We are barely getting to a third of the things on the list.  But at the same time we are "schooling" for the most hours we ever have.  For years we have been a four-days-a-week (fifth day for field trips), three-hours-a-day family in the school room.  This year it has been four hours a day.  

I don't like feeling pressure and I don't like going places and this year it seems like I have been spending 75% of my time feeling pressured and going places.  The only part of the day I feel good are the times I spend just reading to the kids (poetry, literature, Life of Fred, Story of the World), playing games with them, or spending an hour just on one line on the work plan and then not getting to most of the rest of it.  Perhaps not surprisingly, that's when the kids seem happiest too.  I'm feeling that at heart I'm the type of homeschooler who would just read to them all day if I could.  Maybe afterward they would spend a couple hours building electrical circuits or domino courses (what they do in their free time these days when they should be working on All About Spelling with me).  But, wouldn't that play right into keeping their weaknesses their weaknesses? They don't like to write things down and Kal-El's spelling and Me Too's handwriting are proof of it.

Looking at this pictures it's hard to remember that they devolve into fighting 
the instant I leave the room on every occasion.

They like homeschooling.  I like homeschooling.  I just don't know how to reconcile our collective desire to devour all the books and dismantle and rebuild anything that can be dismantled and rebuilt with my classical side that wants them to "Know all the Things," "Spell all the Words,"  and "Write all Letter 'O's' Counterclockwise Someday."

All I know is that something isn't right this year and I'm not exactly sure how to fix it.