Welp!

I wish I had kept up with the blog better, but it is what it is.  I dealt with some gnarly anxiety, then the holidays came, and as most things in my life go – I fell off-track.

But here’s what’s been up lately!

I switched the kids to a homeschool charter school.  Why?  Because I am basically doing the same things I was doing before, but I got a couple thousand dollars from the school to spend on curriculum.  And because “curriculum” is broadly defined by the school, I can spend it on fun science kits, art supplies, educational DVDs, extracurricular programs, etc.  I am used to paying for private school, so it feels REAL weird to be using school funds to buy stuff for the kids.  But, like I am going to complain about shopping with someone else’s money.  Our “educational facilitator” is super, and I think it’s good for the kids to know that a professional is going to be looking over their work.  That’s definitely something lacking in a DIY homeschool situation.

Jack turned 5 in November, and Lane turned 8 in December.

We had a nice Christmas.  We kept it simple and small, but the kids had fun.  They got too much stuff, of course.

I did some volunteer work over the holidays, which was good for me.

We took a little trip to “the snow” – just a couple hours away.  The kids had fun, as it was their first time seeing snow.  It’s never a vacation for us, but it was fun for the kids, and all in all, a successful trip.  Only problem was that the cabin we rented (which, honestly, we didn’t pay much for), was pretty gnarly.  I mean, really unclean and poorly kept.  I have debated leaving a review of it on VRBO, which is how we found and rented the cabin.  They want you to leave reviews, but because the cabin was inexpensive and the woman we rented from was nice, I am loathe to say something disparaging about the home.  Still, it was gross.  I had to do A LOT of sanitizing before I would let the kids use the bathrooms or sit anywhere.

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Brothers.

We got a dog a couple days ago.  In general, I am not a fan of pets.  It’s not that I don’t like animals – I do – but I have really conflicting philosophical issues with keeping them.  What it bottoms out to is that, in some ways, I take issue with spending money on animals when there are actual people who don’t have adequate shelter, food, clean water, health care, or safety.  I can’t tell you how guilty I felt buying the dog, and all his accoutrements, when I know that the money I spent could have been used to feed homeless kids or refugees.  My dog has vaccines; many children don’t.  My dog sleeps in a warm bed; many people sleep on the streets.  But, the circumstances are what they are, my kids were desperate, and the dog we got is the brother of the one my sister recently purchased for her kids.  It’s fine – good even – and I’ll get over my qualms.

And no, we didn’t rescue a dog.  I know, I know.  In theory, I do think it’s a great idea to get a dog from the shelter or a rescue – obviously.  But when I looked into rescues for the types of dogs I was comfortable having in the house, the requirements were so burdensome (one would not let any dog go to a home with a child under the age of 12!), I felt like we could never qualify.  Aren’t dogs supposed to be good for kids?  One rescue wanted to know what my personal family planning outlook was – another wanted to come do a home inspection to make sure that we a) owned our own home and b) did not have any wooden fences (which, we do) and c) interview my kids!  The list of questions felt like the ones you might answer if you were adopting a child. And while yes, screening out crappy people is absolutely important – does having a kid really make you incapable of adopting a breed of dog KNOWN for being family-friendly?  Must I really commit to having no additional children if we were to get one?  It really put me off of the local rescues, and having done a little research, I’m not the only one.

The local shelter, well – I had a few concerns about that.  Number one, about 75% of the dogs at the shelter are pit bulls or pit bull mixes, which is not a breed I would consider for my family.  About 20% are chihuahuas, which is also not a breed I would consider.  The number of young, healthy, non-shedding dogs with known histories (I did not want a dog that was relinquished for unknown reasons, because I have very young children) is so tiny, I honestly am not sure we could have ever acquired one.  They go very quickly, as they are in high demand.  To be honest, healthy, young, dogs with good behavior just don’t get ditched at our shelter that often.  I feel terrible for all the pets at the shelter, and since ours turned “no kill” – the animals are often there for AGES.  I am not sure humane euthanasia is worse than being in a cold, concrete cage in a smelly, noisy shelter for months on end.  It’s very sad.

I was not interested in acquiring an adult dog, a large dog, or a shedding breed.  I have way too many kids rolling around on the floors to have dog fur all over the place, not to mention the fact that I am a clean freak – and I am not willing to committ to the amount of exercise that a large dog requires, or the amount of shit it produces.  All in all, I, as well as my children, needed to be at peace with what we were adding to the workload of the household.  I definitely did not want to be one of *those* people who choose the wrong type of animal, and end up rehoming it in a few months.

So, we ended up getting a shih tzu from a very highly regarded breeder, and naming him Toodles.  His brother, Yoda, lives with Kara’s family.  My mom also has a shih tzu, so I was familiar with the breed, the size and energy level is appropriate for us, and the kids LOVE him.  He is pretty sweet.

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Yoda on the left, Toodles on the right.

 

 

 

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Let it Go

“You must be so busy.”

“Have you just been running around like mad?”

“That’s mom life – chauffeuring the kids everywhere!”

But I’m not.  I could be.  I could be cleaning out the junk drawer, organizing my pantry, or building a froggie pond (which I, truly, intend to do ASAP.)  For now, I am here at my computer, with a cup of coffee.  Kara has my older two kids, Jack is at preschool, and Felix is napping.  The house is quiet except for the whooshing of the trees; it is windy outside.  On the way home from drop off this morning, I saw tumbleweeds.  Once so firmly entrenched and attached in the soil, but now rolling down the street, at the mercy of the wind.  They don’t have a thing to do anymore.

I really don’t, either.  I teach my kids, but a lot of what they do is independent study.  I feed them.  I clean the house. We practice our music, they play outside.  We get takeaway, we do crafts, and occasionally, Bridget has a friend over.  The older two spend time with their cousin when she is home between treatments.

I used to have a life – we were at the dojo four or two times a week, late.  We played and coached soccer.  Gymnastics.  Dance.  Tennis.  Swim lessons.  Music.  What were the kids going to be “good” at?  I had to figure it out, and quick!  How were they going to specialize, and compete, and, of course, win?  I felt a lot of pressure to take everything seriously.  We could not “try” or “dabble” – we had to commit, be all-in.  Nothing was just for fun or fitness.  Weekends at tournaments, late nights at training facilities, and lots of expenses loomed in my future, and it scared me, because unlike my own parents, I am not that kind of mom.

I grew up in a “busy” home.  My mother is still the president of a competitive soccer club, and we were expected to play.  And it certainly wasn’t bad, in and of itself – but it was a lifestyle choice.  We were gone many, many weekends every year.  If I didn’t have a tournament, one of my siblings did.  My sister, the most promising athlete among us, was moved from club to club – and for a period of time, my mother drove her to Santa Anita for soccer practice twice a week, after school.  But I prefer a more peaceful existence – I don’t giggle about being a chauffeur or a taxi service, or humblebrag about how many activities I’ve booked into one day.  That sounds awful to me.  I just want to be home with my kids, eating pot roast or drinking a beer on the porch while they ride bikes on the cul-de-sac.

There is definitely a fear that my kids will reach a certain age, and not have any accolades.  What if they are never good enough to play high school sports?  What if they don’t have a trump card for a college scholarship (aside from being Chamorros?)  Social media shows us that other kids are getting black belts, are getting accepted into Ivy League schools, are CIF champs, singing at the White House, building homes in Guatemala, making varsity, or being inducted into the National Honor Society.  Of course, I want to see my children shine, too.  But I am not willing to look back on my parenting years and recall only a blur of exhaustion, driving, drop-offs, and schedules that look like the walls in the shack from “A Beautiful Mind.”

When we were on the fast-track, Bridget had an evening athletic class, twice per week.  One Thursday, she left for school at 7:40 AM, and we got home from school around 3:15 PM.  After washing up and getting a snack, she had about 45 minutes of homework.  That took us to around 4:30, when she had to do 30 minutes of piano practice.  By 5:15, I was shoveling an early dinner onto a plate to get her to eat and be out the door to her activity.  When I picked her up at 7:00, or so, she was near tears.  She was so tired, she fell asleep in the car on the four-minute drive home.  When she told me she wanted to quit, I let her.  It was hard for me.  I felt I was teaching her to give up, or be a quitter.  She had participated for years.  What I learned was that it is okay to benefit from something, and decide to set it aside.  It is possible for something to be both good, and not a good fit.  When I used to consider a potential activity for my kids, I looked at it in a vacuum.  “Sports are good.” “Art is good.”  “Music is good.” “Tutoring is good.”  Now, when I discern whether or not to enroll the kids in something, I ask myself, “Are my kids better off doing this than being at home with the family?” “Does this add peace to our home, or does it add stress?”  “Does this activity help me raise a well-rounded person, or will I have to undo some of the damage it causes?”  “Is committing to this thing fair to everyone else in the home?”

This evening, Brian is coming home a bit early with some smores supplies.  He built an outdoor fire pit, and the kids are excited to make the treats with him.  We don’t have anything else planned.  We just aren’t that busy anymore.

Photos from the archive…

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Why yes! Yes, I did make a creeper cake for Jack’s fifth birthday! Don’t laugh.

Canceling School

Last Sunday, we checked in to a hotel about 20 minutes away from our home.  We stayed in a suite right on the beach, for three nights.

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Unless you are super wealthy, can afford two suites, and bring a full-time babysitter, there is no such thing as a “fun” family vacation.  It’s a lot of packing, a lot of whining, a lot of kids who are too amped up to sleep.  It’s a lot of mess, a lot of noise, and a lot of mouths to feed.  A lot of mouths that you do NOT want to take into a restaurant.

The Embassy Suites is as good as it gets for a family with several little kids, but not a ton of money to spend.  And, you can’t beat the location of this one.  During the week, the beach was deserted, and the kids had a blast.

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I’m not much of a traveler.  I know a lot of people think it’s awesome, but I like being at home.  There are places I’d like to see, in theory, and maybe someday I will – but right now, I can’t deny that I live in one of the most interesting and beautiful places on Earth.  It’s “suburban, with benefits,” if you will.  And I love it.

Because on the first full day of our trip, Bridget and I ventured down to Hollywood to hang out at Children’s Hospital, then returned to our little beach idyl.  How amazing is it that I can be here:

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And in an hour and fifteen minutes, be here:

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And back again?

We came home on Wednesday, and we were ready.  I canceled school for the rest of the week, except for Jack, who did go on Friday.  Predictably, the kids showed almost no appreciation for the time, expense, and energy that went into the trip – Brian and I needed a vacation after our vacation, but the kids wanted to know what was next.  I remembered all the vacations that we took, when I was a kid.  They were much more involved than three nights at the local beach, and I doubt I ever thanked my parents.  But it’s true what they say –  that, “Someday, you’ll be the mom, and you’ll understand.”

I Meant Well, and Other Camping Lessons

A while ago, a good friend offered to lend our family her camping trailer.  I don’t know what I was thinking, but I enthusiastically accepted the offer, and reserved a spot in Carpinteria.

As the date loomed closer, I realized that I had made a fairly significant mistake.  Thinking of all the supplies I was going to need to bring, and the hours spent in a small trailer with four young kids, made my already horrible anxiety, well, more horrible.

I know that, at best, my kids can last two hours playing on the beach.  The rest of the time was going to be spent in a trailer.  What. Was. I. Thinking?

My husband rarely takes time off of work.  I  mean, it’s impossible to get him to commit to taking more than two days.  So when I thought of what I had to do (ladies, do you hear me?) to get Brian to agree to THREE days, it seemed unfair that I was setting myself up for a hot, dirty non-vacation that would entail much whining and arguing and no mints on my pillow.

I don’t see camping as being one of those, “Try it, you’ll like it” things – more like, “To thine own self, be true.”  And the truth is, I like electrical outlets. If we’re going to go somewhere for three whole days, I’m going to need some room service.  I can enjoy the outdoors, but there is a reason God made me a 21st century human, and not a vole or something.

So, as was probably always in the cards, I canceled the trailer reservation, and booked a few nights at a beachfront hotel.  I am not even going to apologize for how extravagant that is.

This is not my first aborted camping “adventure.”  When I was 13 or 14, a friend invited me, and a third girlfriend, to her church’s beach campout.  Protestants do that kind of thing.  I had never been camping, it was just for one night, and the beach was local.  I excitedly packed a suitcase, dug out my sleeping bag, and went.  I think we drove there in the church van.

As soon as we got to the beach, anxiety set in.  We didn’t know anyone, and a lot of the “youth group” was older than we were. Some of the “leaders” had brought guitars, and we knew what was coming – homemade, teenaged worship songs, sung dramatically and off-key.  At some point, we realized we were actually going to have to sleep in tents on the beach.  The sun was setting.  Jesus was not going to save us.

Maybe we should have given it a chance, and stuck it out.  Maybe we should have introduced ourselves and tried to make friends.  But instead, we hatched a plan to slink away to the restroom area and make a hurried collect call to someone who could come get us.  We thought, for a bit, about who we could call.  Surely, my friend’s parents would have encouraged us to stay – so they were out.  My other friend’s parents would have been irritated. My mom was busy with all my younger siblings, and had probably already told me, in an attempt to get me not to go, that if I insisted on attending, I was stuck there until morning.  There was only one person that we knew, for sure, would be willing to drive the getaway car, no questions asked – and that person was my dad.  We placed the collect call, and when I told my dad that there were boys in the group, he said he’d be there as fast as he could.  He didn’t ask to speak to an adult.  He didn’t demand an explanation.  He just said, “Okay.”

We crept back to the camp, and quietly sat and waited for my dad’s cherry red Thunderbird to roll up.  He must have sped the whole way, because it wasn’t too long before he arrived, honked, and we ran to the car.  The group leaders were confused, and asked what was going on (our intent to flee was on a need-to-know basis, and, apparently, we did not believe that the adults in charge of us needed to know.)  As we ran off, we yelled, “We’re going home! Gotta go! Bye!”  We jumped in the car, and we were free.  We felt so safe, even though we had never been in more danger than we were flying down Hueneme Road, windows down, Fine Young Canidbals blaring.  We had been saved.  I felt high.

When we got home, my friends’ parents had already called my mom.  The camp leader had called, and informed them that all three of us had left with a strange older man in a fast car, and left most of our camping stuff behind.  I’m sure they were all pissed, except for my dad, who was the savior of the evening, and relished the fact that he had delivered us from almost certain male predation AND bad worship music.  Despite our shenanigans, my friends’ parents let them stay the night at my house.  We ordered pizza.  We hung out with my neighbors (boys.)  We had fun.  So much more fun than if we had stayed on the beach.  To this day, I am sure of it.FullSizeRender-4

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And knowing that my dad would bail me out, no questions asked? I’ve never forgotten it.

The Imperial March, 8,000 Times

I’m a huge slacker mom.  For example, right now, my kids are not playing sports.  We used to be one of those over-booked families with activities four or five nights a week, and, at some point, we will probably be one of them again.  For now, we are “keeping it real” by spending most of our evenings at home, hanging out as a family, playing with cousins, and counting down the minutes until it’s 6:00 PM, and I can have a beer or hide in my closet.  I am not even kidding – I cleaned out half of my tiny closet, so that I could place inside a huge beanbag and a poster that sums up, precisely, how I feel about mothering.

IMG_3159I don’t have my kids in Spanish lessons, art classes, or Lego camp (we unLego.)  They don’t do CCD, they aren’t in 4H, or swim lessons.  Bridget does take a once-weekly one-on-one sewing class, but Jack has never been enrolled in anything aside from preschool.

I know, this is not how you’re supposed to homeschool.  When people ask what we’re doing about “socialization” I simply respond that we’re allowing them to turn into miniature Howard Hugheses, or the family from “Flowers in the Attic.”  Whichever comes first.

I say all of this up front, because I am acutely aware of the smug nature of the rest of this post.  I do not brag about my kids on social media (although I have, I don’t anymore), because I think it’s crass, and kind of mean.  On just the day I share my child’s good grades, I know that a friend is crying over her child’s learning disability and yet another frustrating IEP meeting.  When I highlight my kids’ sports accomplishments (their hypothetical ones, because they don’t have any), another mother is silently hoping that someday, her child will walk.  When I post videos of my child playing the cello, another mother feels sick to her stomach that she can’t afford to give her kids lessons.  I post my amazing vacation (ha!), and another parent counts up the years since he’s been able to take his family anywhere.  I know.  I have been both situations – the one bragging, and the one feeling badly.  Such is the downside of social media, where we often share our highlights, but conceal our lows.  Why add to people’s feelings of dissatisfaction, frustration, worry, or despair?  I know what my kids have done, and they know I’m proud.

Having said that, this is my homeschool blog, and I want to talk about music from the perspective of it being a part of my children’s curriculum in the same way that math, reading, and science are.  In our family, music is not an extra-curricular, it is a part of a well-rounded education.  My children practice and study it in the same way that they practice and study most other subjects: begrudgingly.  But, it is required.  No, they cannot quit.

People often ask me lots of questions about children and music – where to take lessons, how I get the kids to practice without whining (lol), and what to do when their kids beg to quit. I don’t purport that these are the only right answers, but they are my opinions, formed from years of involvement with classical training.

We take lessons from very highly-accomplished, professional musicians with extensive backgrounds in music instruction.  Lessons are not “fun.” They are work.  They are expensive.  There is no playing around.  The children are being classically trained, which includes music history and theory.  Their instructors have high expectations.  We like that, even though they scare us, sometimes.

The kids practice seven days a week, unless they are sick, or we are out of town and don’t have access to an instrument.

I have listened to the Imperial March about 8,000 times, so far.  If you become a Music Mom, be prepared to listen to some seriously bad music – over and over and over. (This is why many parents shy away from violin and viola – the only thing worse than listening to a beginner on violin is listening to a beginner on a 1/4 size violin.)

I argue with Bridget about music almost every single day.  Lane is a lot better, but still needs the occasional nag.  He does like to speed through his work, so I am constantly reminding him to slow down.

Do they like it?  Not yet.  They will, of course, but they aren’t good enough to derive much enjoyment from it, now.  They do not take the type of lessons that promise to teach kids to bang out the chords to a Disney song in six weeks or less. They do not play pop music.  Being classically trained takes time.  Lots of it.

Can a kid try music lessons before her parents invest in an instrument?  I would not recommend this.  If you are going to “see if your child likes it” before buying an instrument (or renting – sometimes that makes sense, too), then I would not bother.  Your child is not going to like the amount of practice it will take to get good.  You will have to nag and argue with the typical child, unless he is a musical prodigy. This does not mean music is “not his thing,” and that he should quit, any more than not liking math, spelling, or reading means he should quit.  The older and more mature your child gets, the easier it may be for you, but if you are not fully invested as the parent, it’s probably not going to work.  Making your children do arpeggios, scales, the like for hours and hours is not going to be fun.  Crack open a beer and let the metronome take you away!

Maturity-wise,  girls can usually start music lessons by the age of five; boys a bit older.  It also depends on the instrument you want your child to play – very small children can start on piano, but something like guitar requires a dexterity and finger strength that many five-year-olds don’t have.  Serious musicians play more than one instrument, and they all need to be able to play the piano.  If your instructor won’t take your child until age seven or eight, because the instrument you’ve chosen isn’t appropriate for young kids, start with the piano.  He will need to learn it, anyway.

Most importantly – stay the course!  You will have many, many frustrating moments (weeks, months, years…) while your child/ren are being classically trained, but as every adult who can’t play an instrument (me) will confirm – it will, someday, be SO worth it (if your kids don’t become hygiene-obsessed, megalomaniacal recluses first.)

Week in Review

We started off with a few changes.  Namely, I transitioned Bridget over to an online math class, and discontinued using Singapore Math for her.  Why?  Because, frankly – I can’t teach 4th grade math.  So, I’m letting someone else do it.  She’s happier, I’m happier.  Yay, numbers.

I also moved away from an intense reading guide she was doing for the book “Wonder.”  Now, she reads about 40 pages a day, and we have a discussion about what she read.  What she doesn’t realize is that the questions I ask about the book, the characters, the symbolism, etc. are directly from the reading guide!  This kind of thing is only practical because I have one fourth-grader in my “class.”  But, it’s cool, and it has led to some interesting discussions.  “Wonder” is about a boy with a severe form of Treacher Collins Syndrome.  I am absolutely adamant about raising my children to embrace the physical, emotional, and intellectual differences that people bring to the table – and this book has been the jumping-off point of a lot of good conversations about that.

A few weeks ago, I purchased a family membership to the LA County Museum of Natural History, and I took all four kids yesterday.  It was awesome!  I could have stayed all day, but the membership allows us to do it piecemeal, which is better for the kids.  Yesterday was the last “member preview” day for their temporary mummy exhibit.  I LOVE MUMMIES.  I was particularly impressed that the museum did not permit any photography of mummies with exposed faces/skulls or other body parts.  My problem with the “Bodies” exhibits has always been the crassness of displaying deceased human beings for entertainment, and I felt it was totally appropriate to ask museum guests to show respect for the mummies whose actual body parts were exposed.  I was in awe, but the kids thought they were  kind of creepy.  Especially the mummified children.

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The kids asked me, “Mom, why do you like dead things?”  I thought for a moment, and then answered, “I don’t particularly like dead things, but I like old things.  I like things that tell a story.  I like imagining the lives that these mummified bodies once lived – the day they were born, their childhoods, their jobs, their deaths.  What their cities were like, how they worshiped, their governments.  I like to imagine the person who took the time to preserve their bodies like this, paint their coffins so intricately, and bury them in tombs with icons and offerings.  I love connections to the past – I love that these individuals are the ancestors of actual people who live on the Earth today.”

The kids were anxious to see the dinosaur exhibit, and while I tried to impress upon them what “100 million years ago” means – I had a hard time.  I’m not sure anyone can fully grasp it.

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They were actually most impressed with the gem and mineral pavilion, which is pretty extensive.  Thousands and thousands of specimens.

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The best part was, that because we went on a Thursday in September – there was almost no one else at the museum.  Crowds make me itch and sweat, and get very irrational.  I avoid crowds at all costs.  I’m pretty sure there is a diagnosis in there, somewhere.  Going places during the week, when other kids are in school, is definitely my jam.

But, if you think my week sounds perfect – let me tell you about this morning.  I was upstairs in my room (where my computer is), looking up possible art projects that I could do without glitter, glue, scissors, markers, paint, clay, chalk, or making a purchase.  No sooner had I found the perfect project (have you ever heard of a coloring book?), than Bridget started screaming that Fefe was PLAYING WITH RAW MEAT.  He had gone into the garage, opened the fridge, removed a CHUCK ROAST, taken it out, opened it, and was happily massaging the slick, greasy exterior.  In my world, handing raw meat includes latex gloves and a half gallon of bleach, so this was particularly upsetting.  After I bathed him and cleaned up his roast disaster, I heard a loud bang – he had somehow completely dismantled my vacuum cleaner, breaking it in several places.  This was after he insisted on “self-serve” brownies at 7:00 AM, and dumped out a large container of peppercorns all over the kitchen floor.  He’s so cute, and so sweet – I’m not even mad.

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Did I mention that Jack started preschool last week?  He told me it is, “Basically a massive waste of time” (imagine that with all the s sounds pronounced like th.)  Oh, Jack.  Sweet, easy Jack.  He thinks any time he is not on an iPad is a waste.

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Lucky for Jack, I completely forgot to take him to school this morning.

What it’s Like, Sometimes

Right now, I am listening to my children playing with plasma cars on damp pavement.  It’s one of those rare moments when no one is crying, fighting, or tattling.  It’s cool outside for the first time in a week.  We have no plans for the day, other than school work.

This is what is really, really good about homeschooling.  We didn’t rush out the door this morning, I didn’t have to pack lunches, or remember homework.  I won’t pick up grumpy kids at 3:00 and bring them home, only to do more schoolwork.

I’ve always been very territorial about my home – and things that threaten the quality of time I spend here with my family really, really bug me.  Homework often fell into that category, and I rarely considered it a worthwhile use of the few evening hours my family spent together  I have read and heard all the arguments in favor of routine homework – but I simply don’t agree with any of them.

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Bridget is doing her logic/problem-solving work.

After my children spent seven hours at school, I deeply resented the extra hour (or more) of time my children spent with their worksheets and pencils and silly dioramas.  I do think that reading, and reading a lot, is the single most important academic thing that children can do – but I loathed the tedious “reading logs” that required my children to read for credit instead of read for enjoyment and enrichment.  And yes, I have heard the arguments.  “Not every parent would make their child spend time reading quietly if we didn’t insist on the reading log, Mrs. Hefelfinger.”

I know.

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Lane is currently reading, “Sarah, Plain and Tall.”

I’m not one of those parents that thinks childhood should be a magical fantasyland of unobstructed playtime.  I am not really raising children – I am raising adults.  And I want them to be adults who have options, which means working hard NOW so that they have the achievements, skills, resiliency, and character to have the maximum number of options LATER.  But I also think that kids can and should be taught to work efficiently, and intelligently, and reap the rewards of doing such.  Why should a child who has earned a 100% on every spelling test since Kindergarten be required to come home and write the words five times each?  Why should a child who easily gets ten math problems correct during class be forced to do 30 of them after school?  Why do we ever need to build a diorama?  Those are the types of time-wasters that I always felt were disrespectful of our home life.  Teacher is in charge during the school day, but I wanted control over how we spent our time at home.

And although things are not perfect here, they are good.  Bridget and Lane spent last night with their cousins, embroiled in a “Minecraftathon” until 9:00 PM.  It’s noon, now, and Bridget and Lane are wrapping up the last of their schoolwork for the day.  We have a small science experiment planned.  Tonight, some parents from St. Mary’s are getting together for a fundraiser to benefit my sister’s family.  They are such good, generous people.  They, truly, are what I miss about school.