Sunday, April 28, 2013

Week 25: Tips, Tricks and Major Accomplishments!

I'll admit it. This winter I have been struggling to find a groove, as I have mentioned in previous posts. The addition of 3 days out of the house for workouts, plus two for the kids has meant that I have easily become disorganized with the more bookish lessons. Something motivated me last week to sit down and make a very simple assignment chart for them for the week, and it proved so helpful. I have used assignment charts before, over and over, and they always seem to be only moderately helpful for us, but this one, this week WORKED.

I also made a shift in how I asked DD7 to approach her math lessons. Rather than plopping down two sheets of math for her to do, I asked her to do as much as she could in 30 minutes, and what she didn't finish she would need complete before free time / computer time as "homework" for lack of a better term. (Thanks to my friend Heather for giving me the idea to do it.) It has worked beautifully. She no longer feels overwhelmed by the amount of math she needs to do, and stays more focused on the task so as to avoid the homework.

Major Accomplishment! (aka Bragging Mom Alert!)
The major accomplishment of the week is that my son finished his first full essay! He wrote a paper about his Japanese family's situation during WWII. It was a difficult assignment for several reasons. First he was writing more than he has ever written at once, so the length of the task was daunting. Second, he was writing from information he had gathered from a lengthy interview with his grandfather in which he took notes. We also recorded the interview, but he primarily used his notes. The spelling and some of the facts, dates and places were a bit sketchy in his memory, as he was a young child at the time of the Japanese relocation, so it was up to us to do a bit of research and match up our information with public records. To add to the challenge, this information was difficult for DS 11 to put into words because it was personal, and he felt a strong desire to please his dad and grandfather with the final product. Finally, in the middle of the paper the poor guy got delayed by a stomach bug, and set us back a week. What we thought would take one solid week to accomplish took several, with quite a few touch-ups and tweaks. The end product, however was well worth the effort, and I am so proud of him! It was a major goal we had set for this school year to integrate history, family history, and writing skills.

Now that this major project is done, we will wrap up the end of WWII and Unit two of Tapestry of Grace, finish our last chapter of science and the "school year" will be over. We will go away on our annual beach vacation, and then through the summer we will do "summer school" type lessons in math, grammar, writing, and possibly geography. I am working on a plan for that, since the kids tell me that is where I "dropped the ball" this year. I can see the light at the end, and I am so ready for vacation! A glorious week at the beach to play and soak up the sun with my favorite people cannot come soon enough. Well, yes it can. I have a lot of prep-work to do to get ready for the trip!

Summer vacation is coming soon! 

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Paradigm Shifts, Finding Balance

As I sat down to write this morning I thought, "It's been a few weeks..." I didn't realize it had been more than two months since I last blogged. Partly it has been due to the Accidental CrossFitter and the more frequent posts there, but it is more than just the blog. CrossFit certainly has cut into my free time, and I am gone from the house for approximately 6 hours per week to sustain this habit. This has been a huge paradigm shift for me emotionally and physically. For years I have been hearing the advice that we need to let some things go in order to achieve balance, but  I don't know that I have ever really been able to achieve that. My own maxim to myself is, "You cannot do two things well." I suppose this is my own version of letting something go.

This year CrossFit has been the thing that we have done really well. Cleaning, getting the laundry done, having lessons planned well each week--not so much. Even so, every member of the family has benefitted from the impact CF has had on our life. But in order to get the stuff of daily life done, I am having to learn how to train my children to do jobs and then actually delegate work to them, I am having to learn how to accept a dirtier kitchen floor than I am comfortable with, I am having to consider year round lessons to allow for the fluctuations in our life that seem to be inevitable. However, in the process of learning how to let things go a bit, I have learned that fitness and health is a top priority in my life, and one that needs to remain.

The flip side of this paradigm shift has been sorting out what is essential in our homeschool priorities. Somehow, despite my feelings of being scattered and disorganized this year (i.e. school did not fit into a tidy 9-3 timeframe), we are about to finish exactly what we have needed to complete this school year. Science is nearly finished, Matt finished his math curriculum and has started pre-algebra, Molly has somehow learned her addition and subtraction facts and has figured out how to regroup, tell time and count money, her reading level has improved, we have digested plenty of good literature, and learned about the first half of  the 20th century, which was my goal with Tapestry of Grace this year, and none of it has looked like I thought it would.

I suppose this is the journey. As our children change, are we ready to change, as well? My year has not looked the way I thought it would, but it has looked like this, and I am more than okay with that:

Molly reading to me on the deck on a beautiful spring day
an especially tough WOD that Matt crushed

working up to a 105# dead lift

Making friends at CF

prepping the garden for spring planting
learning how to make everything Paleo, like this...

and this...

and this...though I did already know how to roast a chicken I've
just been doing it more often and better than ever...
science activities...

and dissections with friends...

It has been a good year. Neat and tidy it has not been, which is why I have not been doing my usual weekly updates, but it has been productive, and it has been good. In the next month we will be wrapping up the traditional school year and will embark on our first time working through the summer on lessons. I hope to establish a simple routine that will keep us moving on math, grammar, writing and also get a jump start on the Tapestry of Grace, year 1, so that when we need breaks during the winter months, we can take them. 

I continue to learn as I go. Learning to let go of my own expectations is the hardest lesson of all...