Saturday, January 26, 2013

This Week's H/School Journal

In our homeschool this week...
...we did very little actual schooling, for the second week in a row.  Most of our time at home continued to be consumed by the issues the kids have been presenting and I am still struggling a bit with having the emotions/endurance/patience/energy to deal with it all.  Thankfully, this week was a little better than last week, and I am (again, still) so grateful for supportive family and friends.  We did do some school work this week, mostly revolving around reading out loud (me and Matthew) and working on letters (Seth and Lizzie).

...The big news is that this week, for the first time ever, and after a year and a half of work, Seth was able to put all of the wooden, uppercase alphabet letters in the correct order.  This is pretty huge around here.  He wasn't able to name all of the letters, but he was able to figure out the order of all of them by knowing their shapes well enough.  I also began working with him to spell some words, because I'm not always convinced that he yet understands the relevance of letters to his world, despite all of our reading out loud.  So we worked at using those uppercase letters to spell the names of his family members; I would tell him what letters to look for and he would painstakingly (and often with errors or blank looks) try to find the letters and form the words on the table.  There are times when I feel like banging my head on a wall when, for the thousandth time (no exaggeration intended) I confirm that an "H" is not an "F", but I hold that frustration deep inside and remember that Seth putting all of his uppercase letters in order would have been an impossibility five months ago.  We're making progress!

...we continued with our extra curricular activities this week, including the ones we've added this month:  music class (Seth and Lizzie); piano lessons (Matthew); Awana; gym class; karate; swimming; skating; etc.

Places we went and people we saw...
...along with a bunch of other h/schooling families, we went to the Children's Museum this week and the kids had a great time with some of their friends; and their mother was more than happy to spend a little time catching up and chatting with other moms while the kids played!

...we enjoyed a potluck dinner with friends earlier tonight.  I brought two salads, both of which should have been delicious based on the fresh and awesome ingredients, but to be honest, neither was very spectacular.  They were new recipes and they were disappointing...but the rest of the food, and certainly the company, were awesome!

My favourite thing this week was... Thursday evening out with friends, chatting late over dinner.

What's working for us...
...doing things outside of the house.  It seems that when we're out, anxieties ease and we're able to have a good time doing whatever we're doing.  Our worries are forgotten, conversations are easier, harmony is a little easier to obtain.

What's not working for us...
...doing things outside of the house.  The flip side is that the kids need to be experiencing what they're experiencing at this time, and sometimes I wonder if we should just shut the world out for a few weeks and just stay at home and continue to work through issues.  Are we just delaying the inevitable by leaving the house these days, or are we just giving ourselves needed breaks?  I'm not sure where we land on this question.

Things I'm working on... out my pantry.  I (foolishly) decided last week, during the hardest of the recent hard weeks, that I needed to get something crossed off of my extensive and detailed organizational to-do list.  So I began pulling things out of my pantry with a view towards emptying it, cleaning the shelves, reorganizing the mess and enjoying a freshly outfitted pantry.  Unfortunately, I realized after I started unloading pantry shelves that topping the list of my reasons for starting the clean-out was my feeling of incompetence at motherhood last week.  I think subconsciously I thought that if at least I could get something crossed off of my list, I'd feel like I was actually getting something done and that I was good at something.  The problem, however, was that I didn't have the time to complete the project because I was so busy managing crises; so the mess has continued to sit all over my island and counters (and on the floor outside my pantry) for a week!  How embarrassing.  In the past few days, I've had snippets of time to resume my work and have done so (I should be doing that right now!) and I'm about 75% done now, but I figure another hour or so of work is needed...and a bucketful of motivation and energy!  I should have taken a before picture, 'cause it was pretty bad.

I'm reading...
...I've been reading out loud to the kids a few different things.  To all three kids, I've been reading more of the Little House on the Prairie series (and I've just purchased the entire, original Little House series on DVD from 20-30 years ago; so some day the kids and I will enjoy watching what we've been reading about). I'm also trying to spend about 20-25 minutes during most days reading out loud to each child individually.  I'm reading How to Train Your Dragon to Matthew; Clementine to Seth; and The 100 Dresses to Lizzie.

I'm cooking...
...I'm making quite a number of salads these days, trying to capitalize on the fact that all three of my kids now love salads - not all varieties, to be sure, but enough that I have more options than ever before.

...a number of times of late we've enjoyed our favourite lunch - the lunch that makes us all groan with pleasure: whole wheat flatbread; a thick layer of homemade hummus; falafel; spinach; sliced cucumbers; grape tomatoes; grated carrots; sometimes a bit of marble cheese; sometimes sprouts.  This lunch is truly mouth waters just thinking about it and I'm not even hungry!

I'm grateful for... IKEA breakfasts.  Twice in the past two weeks, I have broken the downward momentum that the kids and I have found ourselves in by loading us into the van and taking the four of us out for breakfast at IKEA.  This is doable because a breakfast for all four of us, including beverages, costs about $11.50.  And not only is the food cheap, but the atmosphere is bright and cheerful and the sun pouring in the windows makes us all feel a little more hopeful.

...progress, grief, opportunity for conversation.  You know, a few people who have been walking these recent weeks with me have wondered out loud if, in hindsight, I might wish that I hadn't taken Matthew away for that weekend, because that time alone with me seems to have prompted many of the challenges of the past weeks.  I've thought about that a lot and have concluded that no, I don't wish that in hindsight.  First of all, he and I had a truly terrific weekend and I wouldn't want to trade those memories or that time; it was fabulous to spend that time together.  Second, although it's been really hard around here since the night we came home, I have to say that I'm rather grateful for this period of time, too.  Although it might sound a little odd, I truly think Matthew needs to be going through this time, and that it needs to continue for however long.  The kids and I have had so many hard, challenging, wonderful, thought-provoking, insightful conversations in the past couple of weeks and I feel like I understand my children a little better and sense that we are actually moving forward despite the feeling, at times, that we're going backwards.  I am praying that we don't all get struck in a rut of things being difficult, but for now I'm just trying to live each day (sometimes each hour) as it comes, knowing that these days are necessary.

...I have felt truly encouraged and supported by so many people of late...people who still think I'm a good mom, who still think I can do this, who don't judge me when I make decisions that could have been better, who are praying for me and for my family.  Really, it's helped keep my spirits up and resilient, and hopeful.  I am so thankful.


  1. Yeah on the alphabet, Seth! There are kids who learn to read before they know the alphabet. Maybe Seth is going to be one of those kids. Cody was certainly still working on the concept of letters when he began reading words. He was definitely a late bloomer for the alphabet.
    I know that struggle of "to go out or stay home" so well. For quite a while after Cody came home, I knew that chances were that if we were not at home, he'd/we'd be able to things together until we got home and then we'd have a full blown crisis. On the other hand, if we stayed home we'd have a full blown crisis without having had any fun first. So eventually I figured out that for C it was a very fine balance. At 6, he needed social, mental & physical stimulation like other kids his age, but due to his very young "family age" he could not handle too much out and about activity. I fimally picked just a few places that I knew felt safe for both of us and gradullay things improved. Interestingly thouh, I still fimd that C's behaviour slides back a fair bit whenever we have changes in routines or are away from home too long. We are in one of those periods now as we all anticipate the changes about to happen with the end of my leave - one week :( Change is still hard and he regresses to early-learned coping strategies.
    Again, hugs and understanding sent your way!

  2. Yikes, Ellen, just one more week before the end of your leave! I sooo hope that transition goes all right - it'll likely be hard on everyone!

    I think you pinpointed something that I'm observing: the fine balance. Too much activity and things go terribly; not enough outside activity and things go terribly. I'm also finding that Matthew (especially these days but also in general) wants more time at home than Seth and Lizzie, who need a higher level of activity to feel energized. I find that a tough balance, too, because Matthew's high level of sensitivity means that if we accommodate S&L by going out more, he has just a BRUTAL time coping.

    Re: reading, thanks for the thoughts! I'd be surprised if Seth learns to read before he knows his alphabet, but I'd also be thrilled whichEVER way he learns to read!! I think it's going to be a long haul. In find it interesting that Cody was a 'late bloomer' on the alphabet but was able to learn to read. Hmm...I'll have to think about this.

    Ellen, I'll be thinking about you as you all prepare for your heading back to work. Enjoy that last week!!