Linking up with SimpleHomeschool’s Day in the Life of a Homeschooler series
7 – I wake up (a little late these days since Victoria has decided I’m not allowed to leave her side in the mornings), and wonder where my husband is. In his place is a 3 year old wrapped like a burrito in the sheets. We have to take my car to the garage today where it will stay a few days for repairs. A little self-imposed stay at home time is nice. I lie there for another half hour and then steal away from the baby to get dressed. I wake up the boys and tell them to listen out for the baby. We leave.
8:ish - we’re back, after a quick detour to Starbucks. The baby is playing with her train set with big brother Julien, 13. “Too-too!” she says when she sees me.
I get the 3 year old and my husband a bowl of breakfast (the older kids can fend for themselves). It’s steel-cut oats and apples, cooked overnight in the slow cooker. Ilana, 11, is at the couch. I sit down to drink my coffee and nurse the baby. Ilana has already completed logic and is working on science. “Mom, what’s an inclined plane wrapped around a pole?”, she asks. “Ummm… a screw?” (I can’t believe I got it, pre coffee.) She finishes up her science and hands me the logic worksheet to check. I change the baby’s diaper and get her dressed.
“Mom, what’s lucent?”, Sadie asks. (Why do they insist on asking questions so early?) “I don’t know what that means. Do you mean lucid?” I offer a definition.
Julien goes to his room and starts on his math, Caleb (15) begins Algebra 2 on the couch. I ask Sadie to start doing math, and reclaim toy trains away from the 3 year old, who has taken them from the baby.
I grab my laptop and look up lucent, then read the definition to Sadie. Ruby asks for her French lesson, so I begin that, using it as an “if/then” incentive to get her to take off her nightgown and put on clean undies. Ilana asks if she can cut up a towel to make a serape. I say yes. She asks again. Sadie wants one. Yes again. (What’s two old towels compared to her creativity?) Then they begin cutting head-holes from old sheets. Apparently they’re creating Hebrew costumes for Bible charades they want to do later during family worship.
A couple of snips, and she’s an apostle. A wealthy one, apparently, since she can afford purple.
9:15 – I kiss hubby goodbye and he leaves for work. I remind Sadie to get started on her math again. And again. And again. I start the beans cooking for dinner, grab a bowl of oatmeal to eat and rescue Ruby from a would-be meltdown after her big sister has the nerve to take her scissors away (she cannot be trusted with scissors, ever). She sits at the table putting stickers in a workbook, then traces letters in a Kumon workbook – her “coolwork” as she calls it. After she tires of this she begins picking on her little sister. Lately it takes me and the boys spotting her every second to redirect her and keep her out of trouble.
Sadie’s done with math. I sit down to do a grammar lesson with her.
10:00 – Ilana begins to get emotional because nobody will work on the charade with her. She wants to do “Jesus feeds the multitudes”. I call everyone into the living room and ask them to practice with her. This gives me a minute to fold some sheets and tidy up Ruby’s room a bit. She actually keeps her things very neat and is very particular about her room, but I need to throw some junk away.
I hear breaking glass. Ilana heads down the basement stairs to sweep up the mess – broken lightbulbs. What genius left a box of flood lights on the ledge? I call the kids to do their morning chores. We start ‘em young around here.
Screaming. Ruby has gotten hold of scissors (like I said, never a good thing), and is in the girls’ room cutting ribbons off their pillows. I remind Ruby for the eleventybillionth time that scissors are ONLY for paper. Caleb tries to console Ilana by reminding her that Ruby sees her cutting clothing all the time (she’s constantly making clothes, for herself and her dolls), and doesn’t understand why SHE can’t do it.
More screaming. Now it’s the big girls fighting.
At this point my day begins to break down a little bit.
I’ve had it with these two and their constant bickering. The last two weeks, the fighting has reached a fever pitch. I assign them the task of cleaning the kitchen floor with sponges and a bucket of soapy water. I put 5 pennies on the kitchen counter and tell them that each time they fight, I will remove one. This weekend they are leaving to visit my sister in North Carolina, but the trip will cost them a penny. “Before you open your mouth to fight with your sister, ask yourself if it’s worth it“, I tell them.
I go to my room and call my mom to let her know the girls may not be able to go on the trip with her. I tell her I hate it’s come to this. She says to tell the girls she’s totally behind me and that they had better shape up. (Thanks Mom!) I tell her I’m working on a “homeschool day in the life” post but that I’m too embarrassed to publish it.
One of the biggest issues with the girls is this: Ilana is neat, and Sadie is messy. And they share a room. I don’t micromanage the children’s rooms. As long as they get reasonably cleaned up once a week on Fridays I’m good. However, in this case I make an exception. Sadie’s habits are a constant source of strife for her sister. I decide to do an impromptu decluttering while they scrub the kitchen floor. I empty out their overstuffed dresser and fill a trash bag with mismatched, stained and no longer loved items. Sadie actually loves when I do this. It’s a huge relief to her. “I have stuff I want you to donate to Goodwill mom“, she says from the kitchen. This child would thrive in a room with one toy and three changes of clothes. She simply can’t handle more possessions than that.
I wonder how I can help these two compromise. Ilana is fine with her room being neat-but-stuffed to the gills, but Sadie just can’t manage that. I let Ilana go through her clothing, and she comes out with a handful of things that no longer fit. Now the dresser drawers close. Progress.
12:ish- Lunch. I made yellow rice, black beans and chorizo with onions and peppers. Sadie asks if she can help, and against my better judgment but because I want her to be happy, I say yes. She then spends 10 minutes cleaning up the rice she spilled and the sausage juice she got all over the counters, cupboards and floor. I get irritated because she again is standing with her shoulder pressed against the front of the oven, her hair is literally 4 inches from the gas flame. I’ve demonstrated to her dozens of times how unsafe it is to do that, how I always stand at arm’s length from the flame, and she won’t get the message. I pull up images of burn victims on Google. Oh yes I did. I remind her for the thousandth time that the kitchen is NOT a place to be silly or to do gymnastics or jump around or goof off, that there are other places and times for that. I explain to her that I don’t like telling people what to do, nor do I enjoy bossing people around. I only tell her things because I want her to be safe and happy.
We sit down to eat. Things are a little tense at the table. The boys are visibly irritated at the girls. Caleb brings the mail in. A Life of Fred book arrives, the first in the new grammar series. It’s for Ilana and Julien.
Writing with Sadie. We read a passage from Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH, then she narrates a summary to me. The girls play with LEGOs for awhile with Julien. I notice Ilana yawning, so I send her and Sadie to their beds for a quiet time. No screens, no toys. Books or sleep.
1:42 – I sit down to update this post. The house is quiet. Ruby complained that she was cold and that her back and legs hurt (fever?), so I wrapped her in a blanket and cuddled her, and she promptly fell asleep (!?!?!?!?). I hope she isn’t getting sick, because this is highly unusual behavior. I lay her on the couch, brew myself a cup of tea, grab my Bible, pick up the baby and nurse her to sleep.
I read about Moses, hardworking and faithful, leading the stubborn, disobedient, stiff-necked Israelites.
2:04 – That was nice while it lasted. Sadie has lost her history book, so until we find it, no history for her. We review her science reading assignment. She read about young earth creationism, something we don’t believe. The creative “days” were not 24 hours long, but were an indeterminate length of time.
We’re usually done with school by now, but the episode with the girls this morning have caused delays. I quickly take stock. I need to do writing with Julien and Ilana. I need to do Bible study with Julien (I do this with each of the middle kids, one each day). I remind him to prepare in advance. I still need to do read-alouds.
2:23 – The baby and Ruby wake up. I send all the girls outside to play for a few minutes. I decide that the way to fix this day is to bake un gâteau du yaourt - a French style yogurt cake. Only, I’m out of yogurt so I substitute sour cream. And I don’t have enough sugar so I have to use half brown sugar. Caleb, who is finished with his schoolwork, juices a lemon and throws that in.
“This cake serves 8? It doesn’t look like enough batter.”
“It serves 8 French people“, I reply.
“What’s that, like, 3 Americans?”.
3:08 – I read a chapter of Lisa and Lottie to Sadie, then she and Ruby play a game on the laptop together. I study with Julien. The topic is God’s hatred of injustice. While we study, Vic sits next to me on the sofa and picks out all the pictures of “babies” in her Bible story book. Meanwhile, Ilana does her language lesson in her new LoF book.
3:49 – I sit down to have a cup of tea and the yogurt cake. Delicious, but flat as un crepe. I realize the recipe didn’t call for baking soda or powder. Was the all-purpose flour meant to be self-rising? Julien heads to the kitchen to do his chore, and I remind him to do his grammar lesson when he’s finished.
I didn’t get to history today with the younger kids.
As I mentioned above, I was hesitant to publish this post. It’s a somewhat unflattering picture of my family. As a homeschooling mom, I often feel that I represent the idea of homeschooling to other people, and I always want to present a good image.
But not all days are like this. Some days go so smoothly that everyone is done with all their schoolwork by lunch, and we have time for errands or a park date. Many times my girls are best friends and I’m tearing them away from their imaginative play all day. I’ve shared some of those days in the past. Today wasn’t one of those days. We all have challenging days, whether we homeschool or not. And kids are sometimes brilliant and sweet, and sometimes they aren’t, no matter how they’re educated.
Even still, I’m glad that my girls are fighting with each other than a kid at school. I can take the time to teach them life lessons inbetween educational stuff. The boys were able to practice guitar, create LEGO designs, and pursue hobbies they enjoy. I wouldn’t have it any other way.