Saturday, October 13, 2012

This Week's H/School Journal

In our homeschool this week...
...we worked on our first Human Body unit study.  The week was moderately successful, I'd say.  The good news is that the prep I'd done was great - it was age appropriate, the flow was good, and there was enough stuff to keep them quite interested.  The surprise of being able to watch the Human Body presentation at the IMAX theatre was a bonus - what perfect timing for us!  The part that wasn't so successful was getting through all of the material - primarily because we didn't do any school work on Thanksgiving Monday and we ended up not doing any school on Wednesday.  So we've only completed about 60% of the unit study.  Also, there was one morning when Seth and Lizzie were both quite challenging during school time (which is very unusual) and so they had to sit outside the glass doors of our work space for a while (where I could still see them) while I continued to work with Matthew.  I've been a little uncertain about how to go about finishing our unit study - if we continue for another week, we'll get behind on other things, but I'm reluctant to leave it unfinished without a plan for how we'll get it done.  I think what we'll do is wait another few weeks until our next unit study and take a couple of days that week to finish up the Human Body work I'd planned...and then move on to the unit study planned for that week.

Places we went and people we saw...
...I'm writing this while on retreat.  Remember those 24-hour silent retreats that I went on every month from January through July?  Well, I'm on one again.  It's been a little while, and it's good to be here.  I will be working on some h/school stuff and also taking time to relax a little and watch a movie and read a book. The weather's so beautiful at the moment that I plan to take a walk around the beautiful grounds here, too. 

My favourite thing this week was...
...realizing that, despite the ups and downs of life, I'm really and truly doing what I'm supposed to be doing at this point in my life.  I haven't always been able to say that and it feels like somehow a huge weight off my shoulders to be able to.

What's working well these days...
...Matthew and Seth.  Wow, how things have changed in just a few weeks. Two or three weeks ago, I was despairing that they'd ever get along again - it was so up and down and all over the place for a long time - and now I'm so happy to report that (for the most part) they're doing really well together these days.  The longer Seth is home, the more he seems to 'age' in an appropriate way.  I don't know if that makes sense.  When he first came home, my then-five-almost-six-year-old acted like a two-year-old (at best); I always think of that as rather interesting, given that he was also wearing size two clothing at the time.  But he's gradually (two steps forward, one and a half steps back) 'aged' and, as he does so, he and Matthew become more companion-like.  They've been good for each other in many, many ways.  Though Seth is still much more reserved than Matthew in his expressions of affection, the boys appear mostly to adore each other these days (if you ignore moments like this morning when Matthew threatened to "take Seth down" if Seth didn't leave their bedroom immediately and give Matthew some space).  I guess it makes sense; they're only fifteen or sixteen months apart in actual age and now that Seth is acting a little closer to his age, it seems to make an impact on the relationship.  Seth turned seven in summer and acts, in my view, something like a six-year-old now...not academically, not language-wise, but in terms of maturity and capabilities and interests.  For however long it lasts, I'm thrilled.

...fruit consumption.  All three of my kids love fruit...pretty much all kinds of it.  We eat fruit with at least two meals a day and for at least one snack per day.  For snack time, they can sit for an hour at the table if I give them each a cutting board and a small knife and put a massive bowl of grapes and a little plate of cheese in front of them; they chat and laugh and drip from their chins as they use their knives to halve (and sometimes peel if the mood hits!) grapes.  We go through a lot of fruit!  I realized this week, as I peeled orange after orange after orange, and sliced apple after apple and washed grapes and chopped pineapple and cantaloup and pears, that it's a really good thing.  One dinner I asked the kids if they wanted oranges for dessert and they all three jumped up and down beside their chairs and screamed for lots of oranges.  It seemed a bit weird to me in the moment, but I'm glad for it.  That night after dinner, I peeled and segmented ten (yes, ten) oranges for the kids to consume!!

What's not working so well...
...getting through life without a menu plan.  For some reason, I stopped menu planning when the summer months hit and I just haven't gotten back into it.  I really hate it:  The panic around what to cook for any given meal; the absence of specific groceries when I need them or not knowing exactly what's in my pantry or fridge; the uncomfortable feeling that arises around 4:00 in the afternoon when I haven't even started anything yet; knowing that our meals aren't quite as healthy as when I plan ahead.  All 'round, it's just not a good thing.  My kids need very, very regular meal and snack routines and I soooo hate not knowing what's on the plan.  I've used menu plans for years and last fall I began to use monthly menu plans, which I really LOVED!!  But I think one of the things stopping me from resuming a menu plan for our lives is that prepping a monthly plan is a fair bit of work and it's daunting for me at the moment.  I'm going to go back to weekly menu plans for the next month or two and hope to get back into the groove.  Man, it's a relief just writing down that I'm going to be menu planning starting this week/ie. tomorrow.

Things I'm working on...
...I'm prepping for our next unit study, which is scheduled to happen in three weeks.  The topic is: Canadian wildlife.  This one won't be nearly as difficult to prepare as the Human Body one was and I have already collected a number of resources but still, it takes time.

I'm reading...
...I'm still working on the book that I started late last week: Unbroken, by Laura Hillenbrand.  It's nice to be back reading a little more again, but I got a little sidetracked this week by picking up the last of the Twilight books (yeah, I's a little embarrassing).  I've read this last in the series before but it snagged my attention again this week because the final movie instalment is coming out in a month and I wanted to refresh my memory as to what happened.  Do I sound too much like a 17-year-old to say that I can hardly wait for the movie to be in theatres??  I am looking forward to seeing Bella as a new vampire!  Gag away people!!

I'm cooking...
...nothing fancy.  I didn't even have to cook much of Thanksgiving dinner because Geoff volunteered!  I made a little cheese sauce for the broccoli side dish that he made, my Mom brought potatoes, and Geoff did everything else!  It was awesome!

...I did debone the turkey leftovers on Thanksgiving evening and chop up the remaining meat into freezer bags...ready for a few more meals.  The next day I also made a huge pot of turkey stock with the leftover carcass and put away enough broth for at least a few soup nights.  It always feels great to do that.

I'm grateful for...
...time.  Life is short and I want to make the most of it.  I'm thinking these days that it's time to revisit my priorities in life.  It's been about a year since I've thought through some of this and it's time again.  I don't want to miss out on stuff because of whacky priorities.


  1. Do you have the book Wild?

  2. So...the idea of a menu plan appeals to me...and I've looked at some online...I'm sure there's a logical answer to this...but why do you have to trouble yourself with creating them if you were using them a year ago, and it worked...couldn't you just use last year's plan? LIke I said, I'm sure there's a totally logical reason, but I thought these things were recyclable.

  3. Eileen, no, I don't - what is it??

    Carolyn, thanks. It's interesting re: menu plans. Breakfast and lunch options I almost always recycle. Re: dinner and snacks, I do recycle menu plans in part, but things always change - schedules, the kids' tastes, my interest in cooking the same old same old (I usually have a new recipe on the menu every week just 'cause I get bored!), etc. Also, what I find the most time-consuming is the following: checking through the freezer before I start to see what I already have to work with and trying to make adjustments to past menu plans based on that; and I also still have to create a monthly grocery list based on the menu plan and go through pantry contents to see what I have. I find collecting all of the recipes for my monthly file and creating the grocery lists based on them to be a little time-consuming. In addition to a monthly grocery list for all dry goods (which I buy at the beginning of the month), I also produce the weekly grocery lists for the month at the same time - the weekly grocery lists that I prepare have me listing any ingredients (based on the recipes I have on the menu plan for each week) that I need to buy fresh for that week (ie. produce, herbs, perishables), as well as other produce and dairy products. So no matter how I cut it, I still end up having a lot of work to do at the end of each month to get ready for the month ahead. There's just no easy way to do this, I'm least not for me...and mostly, perhaps, because I just don't like doing it!!

    Any more questions/thoughts?? :)


  4. Hi Ruth,
    Nice to keep up with you via your blog. Meal prep is a real Achilles heel for me, too. I have never totally embraced that role and have what some tell me is a very European style of shopping (ie. going everyday!) Your menu plan idea sounds great. Forgive my ignorance, but can't you just keep recycling your old plans and save some time? When I saw that you'll be studying wildlife, I just have to mention Ernest Seton's "Wild Animals I Have Known." A Canadian classic that the boys and I loved. Really sweet.
    Anyways, hi and love to the kiddies. We'd love to have you over sometime soon.

  5. Wow...that menu stuff is a lot of work the way you do it. I can see what you mean. Have a great day!