Saturday, May 4, 2013

This Week's Journal

Places we went and people we saw...

...we spent an entire afternoon with a friend and her seven-year-old son who we've been getting to know bit by bit over the past year+; and we had a great time together.  Although the kids had a lot of fun together, it may just have been me who enjoyed it the most!  It was great to visit with another mom with whom I have a startling amount in common:  H/schooling; being an adoptive parent in a trans-racial family; faith; and trying to parent with a developmental approach.  Trust me, this is a highly unusual occurrence.  I occasionally find it a little isolating being a person who's a little different in all of these ways from most other families; having all of these variables in common made it, perhaps, just that much more lovely and easy to spend time with her...besides which, I really enjoy her!

...the boys went to their cycling club, but only once this week because of poor weather (again!) earlier in the week.  Matthew was somewhat traumatized coming out of Thursday's cycling night, having been left completely behind at one point on the ride (despite a coach supposedly riding at the back) so I'm a bit uncertain as to whether he's going to want to go back next week...we'll see.

...on Thursday evening I was surprised by an email from a fellow h/schooling mom whom I'd met once before on a field trip...our boys (her oldest and my oldest) got along very well on that field trip and we'd hoped to get together again.  She was going to be in our neck of the woods Friday morning and so we squeezed in a brief meet-up.  It was good to get to know someone relatively new to me and discover a few things in common; I hope we get together again soon. of my neighbours (a friend of mine as well the Mom of one of Matthew's good friends) invited all three of my kids over for a couple of hours yesterday - without me present and while her own child was still in school for the afternoon!  I had planned to get a bunch of tasks done during this time, but you know what I did instead?  I fell asleep in the warmth of the sunlight flooding our library window and enjoyed a wonderful couple of hours nestled under a blanket.  How lovely is that??!!

...Geoff was out of the province all week, taking a course, but we managed to Skype with him every day except for one - that was terribly helpful for the kids.  Young children simply cannot maintain/hold attachment over such a long period of absence and so by committing to Skyping whenever possible, Geoff and I were able to bridge Geoff's that when he returned on Friday night he was able to reintegrate with the kids more easily.  It seems to have worked pretty well, for which I'm thankful...otherwise today (Sat) would have been much more challenging.

In our homeschool this week...
...we played games, read out loud, spent time outside, went to gym class, did a little math, went for walks, enjoyed lots of social time with friends, did music and piano lessons, and started a very interesting unit study (based on Donna Ward Press' materials) on the aboriginal people of Canada.

...on the subject of aboriginal people, we read quite a bit of general intro materials on the subject, spent some time looking over maps, and then read for at least a few hours (over a few days) about the culture/food/dress/hunting/weapons/families/traditions/religion/etc etc of one particular group of aboriginal people:  The Inuit.  Yesterday we picked up a bunch of books from the library on the subject and so we'll hopefully be doing a bunch more reading in this area over the coming week(s).

...Seth expressed an interest in both letters and numbers again, and so we worked at these things together.  His memory gaps in these areas haven't been filled in completely yet, but we're getting there!

...Lizzie just wanted to be read to:  Book after book after book after book.  So, as much as possible, I tried to accommodate that interest.  She just loves being read stories.

...two mornings this week were quite unusual:  On both occasions, the kids all wanted to be upstairs in their rooms, listening to audio books.  While it's quite common for one kid to want to be upstairs for an hour or more to listen to an audio book, it's another thing altogether for all three to voluntarily be doing this.  Matthew and Seth (who share a room) mostly listened together to the same audio book, but for a while plugged their own headsets into their own CD player/iPod and listened to their individual choices.  For two hours on one morning and for more than two hours on the other morning, they listened to books while drawing pictures from how-to-draw books and colouring intricately patterned colouring sheets that I'd supplied about mammals, plants, geometric shapes, and so on.  Lizzie listened to the audio stories of Curious George so many times over that when it came time to my reading these same stories out loud to her one day, she could pretty much recite them all from memory (which is great not only for her memory, but for her language/grammar acquisition).  The kids were all relaxed and getting along those two mornings, which of course is every mother's dream!

...although Matthew's piano lessons will carry on until the end of June, Seth and Lizzie attended their last music class of the year this morning, and families got to sit in this time.  They did a terrific job and I marvelled (again) at how different Seth was this morning compared to the presentation their music class did a year ago.  Last year he mostly stood at the sidelines, looking like he'd rather crawl under a rock; any movement on his part was stilted and awkward.  This morning he was relaxed, moving his body, trying to be a ham at times, so much less self conscious, smiling (sometimes a little shyly), and engaging in all of the songs/activities.  Incredible.  All six kids in the class even sang two songs they'd learned for upcoming Mother's Day.  It was lovely.

My favourite thing this week was...
...Geoff's arrival home.  Despite Skype being awesome, there's nothing like having the real deal home!

What's working for us...
...trying school in a somewhat different format for Matthew...more motivated by what's interesting him.  It was a relaxed week, for the most part, but it felt like much learning was happening.  It was Matthew who really wanted to learn about aboriginal people in Canada and that's what prompted me to pull out the books I'd purchased not that long ago and what prompted me, too, to spend an hour one night ordering books through the library system on the same topic.  Interestingly, Seth was also pretty happy to listen to, and talk about, aboriginal people.  Lizzie less so, but even she stuck around and played with lego and coloured pictures while sort of listening. 

I'm cooking/baking... the oven this week were small cinnamon buns and lots of yummy mini muffins (so handy for snacks on the run, along with a piece of fruit).  I thought it was sweet that Matthew, missing his Daddy, wanted very much to save the last two bites of his breakfast cinnamon bun for Geoff when he got home.  I offered him a choice:  He could save the cinnamon bun for his Dad, which was a lovely gesture; or, because Geoff's homecoming was still several days away (and the bun might not be fresh any more!) I could simply bake another small batch of cinnamon buns this weekend so that Geoff could try one and so that Matthew could finish his breakfast.  Matthew thought this was a good solution and he eagerly dove into the last bites of one of his favourite foods in the world!  And I baked more cinnamon buns this morning.  To be honest, though, I rather regret making the alternative suggestion because I do think it was a sweet thing to want to do for his Dad and I think I should have honoured his request as it was.  Ah well, hindsight is always 20-20.  The offering demonstrated to me, though, that the attachment between the two of them was still strong on Matthew's part, despite the geographical distance separating them.

...on the dinner-prep side of things, my parents were kind enough to take us out for dinner one night, along with my sister and niece.  I think they felt a little sorry for me because Geoff was away, but they're so generous anyway in these ways.  I must say that I love Boston Pizza - not only is there a lot of variety on the menu, but they're extremely kid's easy to be there, even with kids who aren't exactly known for their soft voices or timid behaviour.  Thanks M&D! 

...on the home-cooked front, I made the kids' favourite meal one night:  Roast Chicken; mashed potatoes (with gravy - a must!); corn; and carrots roasted with a little grapeseed oil and herb de provence.  They salivate over this meal and stuffed themselves to the gills.  I also cooked a fabulous new recipe from one of my favourite recipe blogs (Mennonite Girls Can Cook).  The recipe was called Black Beans and Rice, and here's the link:  Black Beans and Rice.  The recipe is pictured as a side dish with some chicken, but given that there's already sausage cooked into the dish, I prepared it as a main dish and served a side salad with it.  The kids loved this dish...they even wanted to eat the leftovers at snack time the next day.  The only difference I made to the recipe, really, was to use sprouted brown rice rather than parboiled white rice - this meant that I cooked the dish about 25 minutes longer than suggested in order to give the rice time to cook...but that just gave the flavours more time to mingle in the most delicious way!  I had a menu plan prepared for this week, but these are the only two dinners I remember as being noteworthy...unless you count hot dogs! 

I'm grateful for...
...a better school week.  Though we didn't get back into the type of schooling that we were doing up until two weeks ago, I'd have to say that I'm happy with the learning that took place...and really that's what it's all about right?

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