Welcome back to Everyday Random Blessings where life is crazy, school doesn’t look at all like school and we try our best to embrace our very own muchness.
Join us for a look into a typical day as we join The Gifted Homeschoolers Forum’s March Blog Hop.
Before I get started lets set the stage.
As a family, we are in a crazy place right now. For the last year our family of six has been living in a two bedroom apartment with a loft as well as living as a one car family in order to save money in anticipation of an early retirement and career change later this year. We will also be moving from this tiny apartment within the next few weeks because we are buying our first home. YAY!
Before the premature departure of our second car from our lives and the housing downsize, our Unschooling-Charlotte Mason hybrid homeschool really could have been called an “anywhere but home-school.” Alas, with life there are always changes and the biggest change has been getting used to being home most of the week. Below is a collage of our “out of the house” days.
Each morning starts early. Rushed as we force our way out the door, often needing to remind someone that now is not the time to play, sometimes with a bag full of clothes uttering statements I thought I would never say, like “no, you cannot wear flip flops in the snow!” or “yes, you can bring the kindle” and ponytails lined up on wrists. All while sandwiches hang from our mouths and footed pajamas race down the stairs, dragging blankets behind them. We don’t like to waste gas going back and forth, so once out of the house, there is no returning. From the moment we drop Daddy off to the moment we pick him up, we are off on an Adventure, trying to fill up a weeks worth of activities into only one or two days. We don’t bother with writing assignments or math sheets but school is happening with every conversation spoken, every song heard on the radio and every destination we come to, even if that destination is the side of the road so that I can google the answer to a random question that is really is out of my pay grade!
These days are always a blast but they are not our norm, not anymore. Our norm nowadays is much, much slower and yet much, much more unpredictable. I never know exactly how a day will pan out but they always start the same way.
The alarm blares beside me and I don’t even know what time it is. I feel like I just fell asleep and there is no way its time to get up already. Lately, in an effort to pinch pennies and get my husband to actually eat more than one meal a day (because if you don’t tell him to eat and he gets into a work mindset, he will forget), I have been getting up with him and making him breakfast. Before I did this Little Miss (6) would wake up with daddy, spend some time with him and then climb back in bed with me. I didn’t know she did that, I thought she was waking up when she came to my bed asking to watch cartoons, now I know … and its good to know because I understand why she’s always so hungry in the morning. Any way, she wakes up, he wakes up and I make them breakfast and they all eat and merrily go upon their way.
Im too tired at this point to really understand what’s going on but eventually Little Miss and I climb back into bed together and commence with the cartoon watching, book reading or question asking. Curly Que makes her appearance somewhere between half way through whatever Little Miss is watching and the next episode, still in zombie mode. She joins us with a few solid moans and slowly wakes up in the process. Next to enter are Little Man and Itty Bitty usually pretty close to 9 am. By this time Curly Que is ravenous and Itty Bitty is always Hangry when she wakes up forcing me out of the warmth and comfort of my bed to prepare second breakfast. On some mornings I allow the minions free range of the kitchen while I switch the load of laundry. Ok, most mornings they fend for themselves.
Because we are unschoolers there really is no start to our school day, unless you consider waking up a good start… which I do. Clothes are optional, pajamas are preferred. Less laundry that way.
Somewhere between cartoons and second breakfast the theater troupe that resides within these four walls begin their performance. They must be socialists because they discuss roles and plot development diplomatically, not a tyrannically. Well, that’s not entirely true, there is a tiny tyrant that tries to rule them all with her Itty Bitty fist but she is often ignored and swept to the side or else patronized and called cute, much to her chagrin. She leaves the fold with a pout and a whine in order to console herself with math manipulatives only to find that her new pastime is interesting to the others as well and shall be the new setting for their latests dramatic enactments. I use their preoccupation with my tiny wooden conspirators to wash dishes, change laundry and generally get at least a little bit of cleaning done only to come running at the sounds of wailing and gnashing of teeth. The next two hours go something like this:
Captains Log, stardate 2015:
“I came too late, the battle has been fought and the game has been taken over by the larger more dominant inhabitants of this strange land. They speak a foreign language, no, really, a completely foreign language what is this ‘hutsu’ and how did it originate? They discuss planetary alignments and argue over how a circumference is related to pie…oh wait, they are correcting me… what’s that now, did you say pi? They run in a frenzy carrying weapons and barking like dogs before spouting off names from their favorite tales. Oh good, they are occupied, now seems like a good time to have some coffee and sit down.
Or not. The one known as Curly Que is coming towards me. She is running, tears streaming down her face as she tells me a heart wrenching tale of a sister who would not acknowledge her right to refuse her humanity in order to instead release her inner german shepherd and a brother who claimed she couldn’t be a german shepherd because they were currently located on Mars and the infrastructure just doesn’t exist. She claims that she is not a German Shepard on Mars, she is a German Shepard in China making a living as a wildlife photographer. Her hiccups interrupting her very real sobs as I try to find a way to mend the dog/astronaut/alien relationship before the sun explodes. Which apparently will be occurring within the next five minutes, unless the alien and astronaut can stop the weapons of mass destruction.
Just as the diplomatic mission is ending and the German Shepard is appeased appropriately Itty Bitty appears with an Egyptian Mythology book to be read, she is asking for mummies while I distinctly smell a present I want nothing to do with. I ask her desperately if she will ever agree to go near the potty to which she responds “NO! I can’t use the potty, I’m only a toddler. Baby’s use diapers and I am not three yet.” How can I argue the logic, wait, why am I even considering arguing the logic of a two year old, she’s two and I’m the mom, shouldn’t that reasoning alone be enough to prove she’s ready for the almighty potty… then again, I have lost that battle three times already and know better now. Instead I instruct the littlest one to find diapers and just go about the task of cleaning yet another thing… Why is she running away? Great, now if only I could catch her. Maybe I can trick her using a book as bait. There we go, hold up goodnight moon and offer to read it again…and…gotcha! Wait why should I read this book to her again, “Little Miss come over here, lets practice reading Goodnight Moon to Itty Bitty” …wait for it, wait for it…
YES! Two birds with one stone, Momma for the WIN! What time is it, please tell me its almost lunch time…nope, its only 1030.
Clean diaper, check. Reading practice, check.”
Around this time the drama has been abated and the requests begin flowing in.
Little Man: “Moooooooooom! Can I watch Nova Hunting the Elements?”
Little Miss: “Not Nova, can I watch You Tube, I want to watch The Piano Guys, right Itty Bitty? we want to watch the Cello?”
Itty Bitty: “Cello!!! I want to play the Cello!”
Me: “Sure you can watch the cello one. Itty Bitty do you want to play your sisters guitar? Little man go watch Nova on the other TV.”
Curly Que: “Mom, can I play the reading game?”
Me: “Yes, Curly que can play the reading game.”
Little Man: “Wait, we can play games? Can I do Sumdog or Age of Empires?”
Me: “There’s only one computer, choose something else, wait I thought you wanted to watch Nova? If you want to do something else why don’t you do journal work? You haven’t explained to me how hydrogen works yet.” -Time to act excited…
Little Man: “ummm, how many sentences do I have to write?”
Yes!!!!! Win for Me: “How many will it take for me to understand?”
Little Man “I suppose I could write 5, but just one paragraph and then no more writing!”
Double win for Me: “Deal”
Itty Bitty: “Peg plus Cat! One hundred chickens!”
Me: “Is that already over? Ok, Peg plus Cat is fine. Little Miss what are you going to do next?”
Little Miss: “Can I paint?”
Me: “What kind of paint?”
Little Miss: “Watercolor”
Me: “ok I guess but don’t let Itty Bitty get into the paint or the water”
Hmmm, time to change the laundry and reheat my coffee.
Wait its lunch time!
Me: “Sorry princess, I know your in the middle of your masterpiece but look, it’s already 1130 am, it’s almost lunch time, can you finish your painting later? Everybody else, stop what your working on. Clear the table and clean everything up while I make lunch.”
The morning is full of unschooling with no clear direction but lots of learning. Lunch is when I dig deep for my inner Charlotte Mason. They eat and I read between sips of my finally warm coffee and already cold lunch. I pull out the Living books we scavenged from the library last week and read to their hearts content. We read about Dinosaurs and Egyptian Mummies, Dark Matter and chemical compounds, the human body and composting. Any book that looks even remotely interesting gets snatched up and brought home to be read while little faces are smeared in peanut butter and little hands are sticky with jelly. I read, they interupt, we discuss or debate and I read some more for the next hour. Each person able to add to the overall conversation until our plates are cleared and put away.
At this point they need to be cleaned. Shower or bath time, depending on the kid, occurs in the middle of the day, calming and relaxing them before our next activity. I only fight the water on the head battle every couple of days. Even at 7 and 4, Little Man and Curly Que scream and wail if even the tiniest amount of water gets near their faces, so does Itty Bitty but she’s still young and may grow out of it yet. Little Miss on the other hand becomes a Mermaid. After the bath battle is the hair saga, trying to get a brush through thin curly hair on overly sensitive heads is a necessary evil.
Then we retire to the haven of all havens, mommy and daddy’s bed. The one place nightmares don’t reach and blankets lie thick and heavy atop a freshly cleaned child. Each person find the coziest, most comfiest spot and the read aloud book comes out. For the next hour we are all wandering across the heather speckled waste with Howl, Sofie, Michael and Calcifer in Dianne Wynne Jones’ Howl’s Moving Castle and contemplating which is better, the book or the movie. Each character gets a different voice and sometimes Little Man asks to be the reader. The smallest one cannot escape her exhaustion and falls asleep to the lilting sounds of a well told story, marking the beginning of the sacred Quiet Time.
Quiet time is that special time of day when everyone separates. Each person gets almost two hours of solitude. You can choose from a smorgasbord of quiet school like options (varying from workbook sheets to madlibs) to complete on your own, read, or play quietly with manipulatives in your bed. It is a time of contemplation, deep thought, artistic expression and intellectual stimulation. Mommy is available for consultation but individual exploration is recommended until Tea Time. It’s not always as quiet as I would like but I believe strongly that everyone needs time alone with their own thoughts.
At the end of it all the waking of Itty Bitty is the alarm that alerts everyone to the end of quiet time. We gather around the table to enjoy a light snack served with warm tea or iced lemonade. The poetry book gets pulled out as snack is quietly or not so quietly eaten. The ridiculousness of Shel Silverstein or Roald Dahl makes for some belly rumbling fun before we dive a few pages into the classic children lit selection that will be read. Winnie The Pooh, is a running household favorite, as is Alice in Wonderland but lately we’ve been getting into mythology more and more. While I read the little hands keep themselves busy with legos, blocks, whizzing toys and art supplies before The Call.
The call signals the end of the daytime chaos and the start of the evening shenanigans. Daddy calls to give the little fair warning and operation clean up commences. Depending on the events of the evening we will either eat at home or eat on the run as we dash out to AWANA or Robotics, either one being the highlight of the whole day. On nights not out and about the imaginations are then let loose once again, not that they ever really go away, but finally free of the constraints of the day until bedtime approaches and we send them off to the Land of Nod.
It just wouldn’t be fun if it ended so anticlimactically and lucky us, it doesn’t.
Little Miss and Curly Que are always the first to fall asleep. Often without a hitch these two lay in their beds and chat until they both fall asleep together, leaving behind a tiny revolutionary who protests often and dreams of a covert rebellion. She silently escapes her perch in search for a behemoth of a book and a snack to aid in her attack on sleep. She gets caught only half of the time.
Meanwhile, Little Man reads aloud to himself from up in his loft, spending hours giggling at the Diary of a Wimpy Kid or Duddley Durselys’ new word. Other nights are spent oohing and ahhing over a series of chemistry and astronomy books, often surrounding him on his bed spread out like radioactive fallout. Sometime between 1000 and 1030 he falls asleep, but not without attempting to sneak a peak at Daddy playing Destiny first.
At this point it has been quiet for over an hour and so we assume that the tiny revolutionary has lost the battle and succumbed to exhaustion, probably on the floor somewhere. But no, that would be too easy, instead we turn the corner only to find her quietly sitting on her bed reading a book about dinosaurs while eating a stolen banana.
She sees me and then explains loudly why the Gigantasaurus is scary because he will eat her but the Stegosaurus is her friend, and they can eat salad together. I sit down beside her and begin reading the encyclopedic text outloud. I am hoping that it will calm her, but instead the new information about the Devonian Era excites her and she tells me that the fish and crocodiles are just like Ponyo. Finally I start to yawn compulsively, it’s been over an hour. I stand to go to bed (my novel awaits) but she is still reading her book…her book with skeleton cutaways and a triceratops head being eaten by a T-Rex.
Will you ever fall asleep dear child… or will that picture scare you and leave you even more awake?
Oh good, she fell asleep.