Thursday, April 25, 2013

Don't hate me because I'm ahead of schedule

Today is our last "regular" day of school for the 2012-2013 school year -- yea!!

I say "regular" because we've already finished up all of our curriculum for the year and logged over 100 extra hours (the state requires 700 total), but we're still two days short of the 175-day minimum requirement.  So our last two days will include listening to podcasts (that do tie into what we've been studying recently), doing community service work, our annual book-throwing celebration, and minimal bookwork.

"But wait, it's only April!" you say.  In-joy-oh-deed, it is.  Actually our last day will be May 3 (Yes, we're taking a week-long break for a visit from Grandpa and Grandma, two days before the end of the school year -- hey, we're homeschoolers, it's what we do).

How did we manage to pull off this feat of early dismissal?  I asked myself this too, and came to the conclusion that all year I was over-compensating for last year when we were running behind schedule and found ourselves doing Saturday school more often than we liked (okay, one day of Saturday school is more than we would have liked, but this was several days and was rather painful for all of us).  And it worked.

Thanks to logging loads of science and PE hours and a few math and Spanish hours during the summer; and to working through all the minor holidays; and to making some vacation days count as school days by visiting museums and historical sites; and to not taking as many visitor/visiting breaks as anticipated, our day and hour tallies climbed quickly to their government-stipulated heights.

So here we are, the end in sight, giddy for summer and gardening and sprinklers and fun and... there are still spots of snow dotting my flowerbeds.  Oh well.  I'm starting summer vacation next week, whether the weather is ready or not!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Grocery Angst

I so enjoyed reading Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle.  The passion and wit with which she writes, her zeal for gardening and her fervor for home cooking were a joy to experience.  
She wove much humor into her book with comments such as, “knowing how foods grow is to know how and when to look for them; such expertise is useful for certain kinds of people, namely, the ones who eat.”

And I was certain I'd found a soulmate when she wrote, "looking at all these jars in the pantry gave me a happy, connected feeling, as if I had roots growing right through the soles of my shoes into the dirt of our farm.”

For all the delight of reading Animal, however, the author has caused me to have a mild case of grocery shopping angst.  One of the main premises of her book, and the experiment her family took part in for one year, is to eat locally, buying, storing and preserving foods grown and harvested within a county or two of home.  And I appreciate her point about the inefficiency and waste of using massive amounts of fuel and energy to ship a few calories worth of produce from South America to the midwest.  Eating locally is a lovely idea.

But I just couldn't bring myself to completely jump on the bandwagon, mainly because WE LIVE IN NORTH DAKOTA!  Granted Kingsolver doesn't live in a tropical garden paradise either, but to eat truly locally means the only fruits we could consume are berries and apples.  The rare plum and pear tree survive in our severe climate, but neither are typically a ND-hardy crop.

However, despite persisting in purchasing bananas, grapefruit and oranges from wonderfully more temperate climates (and feeling maybe only a tad guilty about contributing to such superfluous fuel consumption), I am renewed in my quest to frequent our town's weekly farmers' market and to try to grow and preserve even more of our family's food right here at home.  Well, at least I'll do those things in a couple more months when the snow melts and the ground thaws.  In the meantime, bring on the pineapple.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Good Thing It's Friday

In scenes of idyllic homeschool bliss, I imagine my children gathered around, all ages working on common assignments based on their skill levels, with everyone sharing insightful comments and intriguing questions, and the older ones helping the youngers with simple spelling questions and the like.

In reality, when my children are all gathered around to work on common assignments, it goes more like this.

Today was one of those days, full of interruptions, off-topic comments and cries of "Huh?  What did you say?" 

I'm sorry to say that mommy lost her cool and trounced all comments, questions and requests on the topic we were studying and made everyone sit stolidly in their seats until said assignment was complete.  So much for fascinating discussion and insightful ideas!  Sheesh!  

I'll just say it's a good thing it's Friday.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Wednesday Factoids

It's Wednesday.  After staring at a blank screen for ten minutes, I can think of no particular topic on which to pontificate.  Here are seven little factoids, just to fulfill my Wednesday writing obligation.

1.  Did you know that "pontificate" means to express one's opinions in a way considered annoyingly pompous or dogmatic?  Perhaps I mis-used it in the previous sentence.  I hope my writing doesn't come across as annoyingly pompous!

2.  It rained and snowed this week and you could almost watch the landscape change from utterly and completely brown to brown-with-a-hint-of-green!  After an uncomfortably dry fall and winter, this moisture is an answer to many prayers.  Thank-you, Lord!

3.  I caught a stomach bug this week and upon recovering was reminded how wonderfully fabulous it is to feel healthy, and my sympathies to those who often don't feel that way were renewed.

4.  While I was chained to bed due to aforementioned bug, the boys did their school and their chores before using their screen time.  I was so proud.

5.  It's absolutely incredible how messy a house can get in the one day mama is stuck in bed, even when the kids do their chores!

6.  My list of things I'd like to try/tackle/test this summer is getting long enough that I'm thinking it may be easier to attempt some of them during the school year instead.

7.  Today I sat on the floor and played checkers with Elijah, and it was great.  I had just been thinking that it had been awhile since any of the boys had said, "Hey mom, wanna play a game?" and it was a little sad to think that maybe they're starting to outgrow the desire to play with me.  My presence used to be requested daily in the Lego pile, ya know.  I was highly in demand as a playmate!  It's good to still be wanted by my sons.

Tuesday, April 02, 2013


Papers everywhere. Laundry washing, drying, rotating.  Kids schooling.  Multiple kids needing help at the same time.  Things taking longer than expected.  What's for potluck tomorrow?  What's for dinner tonight?  Don't forget to pay bills.  Oops, forgot to hit "start" on the dryer; wait another hour to rotate the next load.  The floor needs sweeping -- too bad!  

Whew, it was kind of a crazy day, and no matter how fast I moved, I wasn't able to be two places at once, or even, it seemed, in the one place I really should have been at any given moment.  And then late afternoon, I caught up, or at least found myself in a lull, and I just stood there, ready to run, with nowhere to go.  Nothing imminent in front of me.  A break so unexpected I almost tripped over it.

And still in high gear, my mind immediately shifted from today's "do this!" list to the long-term "do this!" list.  Surely there was something, something, I was supposed to be doing.  

But there wasn't.  Just a brief pause, not long enough to tackle anything major, or start anything new.  The perfect length for a cup of tea.  A prayer.  A Psalm.

And then the whirlwind began again.  Oversee son's dinner preparations.  Fold laundry.  Drat those bills I forgot to pay.  Place an on-line order.  Respond to purchase acknowledgement.

But somehow the second whirlwind was better, calmer, more enjoyable.  More whirl, less wind.  Or was it less whirl, more wind?  Either way, I was where I was supposed to be.

So I think I learned a lesson.  Pause.  Pray.  Sip tea.  Embrace the lull.  And keep on smiling while you whirl.