Wednesday, September 3, 2008

We're in the thick of it now

We are officially homeschooling. Schooled kids went back to school last week. The Monkey would have been going off to first grade, for about 7 hours a day, 35 hours a week. I still feel very good about our decision and I feel certain that it is the best choice for the Monkey and the Duckling, at least for now. I'm not so sure it is the best choice for me, however. It is hard to hear other parents talk about their time to themselves, knowing I don't have any of that. We don't live near any family and our one babysitter just went off to college. The kids are either with me or Sharyn. I don't want 35 hours a week away from them, but a few hours sounds good. I think I may need to spend some time and energy on finding a babysitter we can call when I need a break or when Sharyn and I would like to go out together. But, I hate spending money on that - it feels so indulgent to me. I also need to let go of my general disdain for television and use that to give myself a break. 

We've developed a nice routine, for the most part. I'm not keeping up with the house chores as well as I would like but we're not living in a pigsty either. The basics are getting done and I'm satisfied with that for now. We spend about 1-1.5 hours a day on "school work." We usually start with some math, then do some writing, then read history or science, followed by some kind of project. We've added all of our subjects and the transition has been smooth. The only struggle has been with the Duckling, who doesn't like my attention being focused on the Monkey. We're figuring it out and making adjustments as we go along. I play with or read to her before doing any work with the Monkey and she is often in my lap while we're sitting together. I bought her some special coloring books that she enjoys. Before we read history or science, I read to her first, or just snuggle, in hopes that she'll let us get through what we need to. The Monkey is working on not interrupting when I'm reading to the Duckling in order to model that behavior to her. It is slowly all starting to come together and it honestly feels quite good and I am a bit proud of myself.

The biggest struggle has been my ability to balance my life. I have been working a lot on contract work, about 15-30 hours a week, and that has been a challenge. I am thankful for the work (check out the pics of our new digital piano that the contract work paid for!) but it is a strain on all of us. I'm not reading to the kids as much because I'm working in the evenings. This has left me feeling very inadequate. More than anything that we are doing, I think Read-Alouds are the most important and they aren't happening consistently. Our weekends aren't much fun because I'm working. I'm too tired to do much of anything so we've been having crappy dinners, rather than the homemade fare that I enjoy making. I can't remember the last time I made some bread or baked with the kids. And, like I said, the house isn't as clean as I'd like it to be. By 10:00 pm, I'm ready to do something for myself so I end up staying up way too late, watching x-files DVDs. This, of course, leaves me trudging through the next day. While a day-long supply of iced tea helps a lot, I'm burning out pretty quickly and I need to find ways to take care of myself and bring some balance into my life. I'm working on it.

Okay, now onto the fun stuff. The pictures.

The Monkey Ducks with their new tadpoles, that we caught on the side of the road in front of a stranger's house.  Our neighborhood doesn't have standing puddles so we had to find one.  Its times like that, when I'm on the side of the road in gutter water, that I wished we lived in the country.

Cute, aren't they?  One of them already has back legs.  We learned that they are toad tadpoles. Who knew?

Our new digital piano, purchased after WAY too much on-line research. It amazes me - it really does feel and sound like a real piano.  Wow, technology.  I've been teaching myself piano and I've learned the major and minor chords and am now working on scales, though I'm not sure if I'm using the correct finger placement.  I think I may need lessons. The Monkey takes his first lesson later this week. Maybe he can teach me. Oh, and in the background is some baskets of unfolded laundry, taunting me. I actually moved them into the middle of the kitchen, thinking it would force me to acknowledge them and fold them. Nope, didn't work.

Our first activity from Story of the World - cave paintings.  The Monkey really enjoyed this activity and the Duckling enjoyed painting herself.  You'll have to look at the following post to see the final product.

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