Monday, February 20, 2012

Socialization? Check!

Socialization-wise, we have been flailing - at a standstill - since December. That's when my co-opping friend put her kids in public school, leaving me with my -op but no co-. The kids and I felt like we lost our best friends. Which we did because we weren't doing a lot of other things outside of our own schoolwork and that co-op work.

Something had to be done. So I turned to a homeschool group I joined when we first moved up here, a group full of the very sweetest, kindest families you'll ever meet. Most of them live a distance from us, and thus many of the activities take place a distance from us, but it's worth it to get some of that Socialization in.

Rather than the structured co-op many homeschool groups offer, this group decided to give moms a break by having the kids start interest groups called Guilds. These are all completely student-led groups and can be very academia-focused or not.

I have to be honest, I didn't completely understand the guilds when I presented it to my children. I asked them what types of guilds they would like to be involved in. Michael said Legos. Obviously. Alex's interest was writing. I signed them up. I didn't entirely understand that I was signing them each up to lead the groups.

But...they ended up being just fine with leading the groups, and they took charge. Michael has a week-by-week plan of attack for the Lego guild. The first week he presented the best way to build a strong Lego wall. This week he focused his group on vehicles.
Michael Lego

Jacob has joined Michael's group.
Jacob Lego

Alex enjoys her writing group, though I think she more appreciates the fact that she can hang out with her good friend Abbey and whomever else shows up than the fact that she gets to spend a couple hours writing, but that's OK.
Alex writing

Audrey was bored out of her mind the first week. This homeschool group has a great age range...lots of teenagers and kids my older kids' ages. I'm so happy about that as the group at my church had few to none my kids' ages. However, this group does not have many younger ones.

This week, though, a new guild formed. It is called Daughters of Zion (DOZ), which I found out is a national ministry which focuses on music and dance. They do a lot with the tambourine and ribbons. I knew this would be right up Audrey's alley, and as they introduced the new group, I leaned down to whisper to Audrey, "That looks like fun! Do you want to try it?"

She paused contemplatively for a moment. Her eyes sparkled with interest. But then I saw the shyness creep in and cloud the interest. She shook her head.

Everyone dispersed to their guild, and Audrey and I retired to a table over where Alex's group was. Alex began then to encourage her to join the DOZ group. I tried again to convince her to just give it a try. She finally conceded, and she was warmly welcomed to the group by a very capable young lady who couldn't have been more than 9 but was teaching choreography like an experienced 28-year-old.
Audrey dance

After Guilds, Audrey could not stop talking about it and about how she needed her own tangerine. I promised her she would have a tangerine of her very own by the time the next guild rolls around!

Friday, February 17, 2012

The One Thing

Yesterday was my oldest little man's birthday. Understandably, this post would focus on him - how sweet, affectionate, and marvelously mischievous he is. But, no. It's going to be about me. Sometimes Many times I'm selfish like that.

His cake was a total flop. As I stood there staring at the lumpy cube covered in equally lumpy black fondant that was supposed to look like the really cool dice with its really neato images of swords and skulls and stuff from his newest Lego game, the thought struck me.

I'm adequately, sorta good at lots of stuff, but I'm not exceptionally, really good at anything. I know it sounds like I was simply spiraling down into some sort of pity party, which is partially true, but honestly it was just kind of a matter-of-fact epiphany that happened to strike right in the middle of a day that should be all about my son.

I mentioned my epiphany to my husband. He gave me what he always gives me: honesty. I have too much on my plate, he said. I try to do too much to ever have a chance at mastering.

He's right I guess. But if I cleared my plate at all, exactly what kind of Super Mom would I be anyway? I mean, that's what I'm supposed to be, right? I keep seeing those photo collages on Facebook that highlight stereotypes. Like there's this one about homeschoolers:

Although it would throw the whole thing off balance, they should add a 7th photo entitled "What other homeschoolers think I do", and it would depict a mom in a cape with a rolling pin in one hand, a microscope in the other, a mop at her feet, a sewing machine perched atop her head, children beaming approvingly up at her, and dollar signs floating around her to symbolize the part-time job she runs effortlessly. Oh, and she'd have a speech bubble with Latin writing in it. I'd tell you what it says, but I don't speak Latin.

THAT'S how we homeschoolers view other homeschoolers. And how can we think differently? We read blogs or see Facebook posts that take us into homes where 7-year-olds are self-teaching the periodic table or Mom is killing her own critter for the children to dissect. Where they are so fluent in Latin it has become the first language of choice for the family as they go about their daily chores. And the children all happily pitch in and work together to clean and cook. Little Sally who is only 8 puts a spread before the family for dinner that is fit for a king.

I know, I know - it's easier to post triumphs than the moments when a mom feels utterly defeated and ready to call up the yellow school bus. But when you're bombarded with these triumphs, you start to wonder, you know?

But my husband's right. As he usually is. I do need to choose one thing. I know I can find excellence in one thing if I focus. Since my children's futures are at stake, I choose education. It's been a rough last few months in our homeschool, and I want to turn it around here in the home stretch.

I'm choosing this one thing to be good at.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

In which a "blogger" blogs about her blog and blogging (or the lack thereof)

I'm not one to hold a grudge. I'm not one to admit I hold a grudge. But I really hold a grudge against Google for making it so easy for me to accidentally send all of my blog photos into cyber limbo for FOREVER. It's not that I don't have those photos digitally and safely tucked away in another location, but when time is such a commodity, it is difficult to justify spending so much of it retrieving old photos.

That's reason #1 why I haven't been blogging.

It used to be when several days had passed without a Treasured Chapters post, my family would send all sorts of hints. One sister-in-law would write between the lines of a family email, "I would know what was going on in Mark and Kathleen's lives if Kathleen were updating her blog." Or my mother-in-law would call and say how much she missed her grandchildren and could barely remember what they looked like because there weren't any recent pictures of them on the blog. Or I'd see my husband clicking unnecessarily to the blog from his favorites only to be greeted with a months' old post about making bread.

The hints stopped coming awhile back, so I knew they had all just given up on me, written off the best way I had found to span the literal distance between us and our loved ones. But then this morning, my sister-in-law gave it one last valiant try by posting an all too familiar hint on my Facebook wall, a hint hidden in a comment on a photo.

And so I picked up my metaphorical pen and put it to the virtual paper again.

What's funny is that, even after months of silence, I still see my group of followers there on my dashboard, summed up to a nice even number: 100. I never thought I would have a hundred followers, and I did meet some AMAZING people out there in Blog World back when this was more my world. But keeping up with so many people and their blogs...that task became absolutely overwhelming to me. Reason #2 I stopped blogging.

Of course, a major case of writer's block doesn't help matters. And that's what I've had. Reason #3 I haven't been blogging. However, one of my New Year's resolutions was to read more. I'm on book #10 already. Submersing myself in and surrounding myself by words has helped my own flow of words press on into a sophistication that at least narrowly surpasses the normal words that interrupt my day: "Stop hitting your sister", "Eat over your plate", "Seriously. You've got to clean up this mess!" The reading, the immersing myself in the words, has been a great remedy to set my own words spinning about in my head.

Even though the words are freely flowing now, reason #4 I stopped blogging is that our lives have become seemingly incredibly mundane. I don't recall such a humdrum season of homeschooling as that which we are currently in. But then, by ignoring all of these tedious moments, I am ignoring my own mantra from Lucy Calkins: "I write to hold what I find in my life in my hands and declare it a treasure". Haven't I always told my students that even if moments of life seem dull and insignificant, if those moments are your moments, they ARE significant? That if those moments are captured properly in writing, they can also become significant to others?

I am the worst at taking my own advice.

But here I am nonetheless. A lot really has happened since I last poised my fingers atop these keys to spill words across this page. And now that I think about it, those events - a trip to Hawaii, a week-long power outage, a birthday, swim meets, basketball games, Christmas - those aren't boring happenings after all.

These tales, however, will likely never be told here because it is far easier to move forward than to try to catch up.