Thursday, September 30, 2010

School - so far so good

We frankly haven't had a chance to do a lot of school so far this year. There seems to be a myriad of interruptions lately. The onslaught of tomatoes has happened so we are making salsa, sauce and hopefully whole tomatoes to satisfy the tummies this next year. I try to have the kids do math and such in the morning and then tag team the cannery in the afternoon. So far it is working as long as I don't get too worried about output. Two days ago, I went to get a chicken out of the freezer for dinner only to discover that the freezer had been unplugged. We spent the rest of the day and into the evening cooking and refreezing the chicken. We lost some meat but were at least able to save some too. That was a headache and somewhat of a heart ache as I know how hard the boys worked to raise them. Oh well. I guess I do have a knack for not letting stuff like that rock my world by this time it was a little more challenging.

Erik should be home now during the day. He was hired to scrape and paint our piano teacher's home about a month ago and the job is now finished. His boss made a friend in the process and Erik of course did as well. Scott, his boss, still carries on about how much he is wowed by Erik. I am wowed by Erik too. He has come a long way in the last few years. Scott did indicate he would hire him again if there was another 'small' job came along. I can not wait to see the house tomorrow to see how it looks.

Erik is also taking his first college level class and is holding his own so far. He does not want my help. I did catch a little glitch but other than that he has been on his own and seems to be doing fine. As more is handed to him in responsibility, he is conquering and dividing. Very happy for him.

So we will all be able to tackle our school work and food processing together again now that Erik is done. So far I have mostly conquered the urge to panic as school has not been happening too often. Unschooling prevails so far and it is okay. I just can't worry too much about it and the pace should pick up a little more here soon. We get done what we can each day and it is okay.

Now to look up a chicken recipe for dinner tonight. Chicken............

Sunday, September 19, 2010

If I only knew then

Visited with an old friend from our homeschooling group today and caught up on kids and grandkids (theirs). Early on in the conversation Bev says to me, "Do you ever look back on our involvement with the homeschooling group and think we shouldn't have done that?" AAaahhhhh.......yes. So we talked and talked about how we got so caught up in doing something important for others while neglecting our own families. At least we can pass along to our children the truth that God calls us to our particular vocations and to remember what they are and not get tricked into chasing after things in the name of helping others. It seemed ok at the time but the relief of not being bound to it anymore was huge. I think our generation was encouraged to do extra 'important' things in church and in the community which followed the same emphasis of feminism and the mom working outside the home to feel somehow fulfilled. Well, we felt fulfilled alright! Full of stress, houses in a mess and neglected kids! But hey, we could put on a great convention! We were pretty special and exhausted back in the day weren't we. (Kiddingl) Well, thanks be to God Charley and I are still married after all that and our children still speak to us. Phew. Life might not be totally stress free now but it sure makes decluttering life easier too as there is so much we think is important at the time which actually is just fluffing up our egos and not considering the consequences. Bev and I joked and sighed at how old and wise we are now. I wonder what we will talk about the next time when we are so much older! Just kidding. Slow learners we are and grateful for what we have now.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Happier daughter dear

Our oldest daughter made some difficult decisions this past week. Last weekend was full of many questions, emotions and struggles to figure out what is most important to her in school and came down to the decision to switch majors. She will be able to graduate with a minor in organ and be able to actually get to do her first love of sewing in Fashion Design. She is not sure exactly what she will major in but most likely Fashion Apparel. What is most important to me is that there is a new spring in her step and in her voice and her college experience has seemed to turn into a much more positive experience for her. She enjoys playing the organ but is not as passionate about that as she is her sewing and design interests. I am so very happy and pleased for her. I was proud of her of course before and am still proud of her now. I am just happy she is happier. She seems far more relaxed and is pursuing different opportunities which I don't think

Friday, September 17, 2010

Friday - party day

I did revel in this day today. Friday we have our piano lessons in the morning and otherwise I have declared Fridays, fun days for our family. I did try to organize a play day but then in light of the stress of the week decided that I just needed to chill out today with my peeps. Piano lessons were fun and relaxing and the kids all did well to my knowledge. After lessons we went to the piano store and picked up some fun music for the kids to play. Cecilia and Martin wanted some music from Harry Potter and Matthew picked out a book of Beetles songs. The ride home was filled with Matthew singing tunefully all the Beetles songs he knows from the book and then plotting how he wants to do one of the pieces for a church talent show. Should be good! I did point out that he has to learn the piece first for it to work. He would make a great rock star with his enthusiasm. Erik sings quite well too so he definitely will be part of the gig.

We packed a lunch and headed out to Fernwood Botanical garden. I can not believe that some of my kids don't remember even being there so they were delighted. I do hope to go there pretty frequently and hope I can find people to come with some of the time. The kids played 'Pooh Sticks' on the river dock. Ingrid ran her feet off so will most likely be ready for bed soon. Evan gifted us with a very messy diaper and then I lost my head, using his clothes to clean him up rather than using another wipe! The kids laughed at me and shook their heads. I guess he was such a mess I must have thought his jammies would be the only thing to work.

I spent much of our walking time thinking of some fun things to do together and then also contemplating how great each of the kids are with the little ones. Both Erik and Matthew hauled and chased Ingrid and Stefan around the whole time, taught them how to play 'Pooh Sticks', and patiently pointed stuff out to them. It is nice to spend alone time with them rather than always jabbering to a friend as I take time to pause and appreciate them more instead of running my mouth.

So tomorrow we are going as a family and with a friend to 'The Trail of Tears' festival south of here. I am glad Charley will be able to go with this time. I know he will enjoy it.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Co-oping vs Karin's 'unschooling' style

I've been wrestling with how I 'fit in' with the whole home schooling style etc. For four years (I think) I schooled with a friend and changed most of my ideals of how I school my own kids. I did that to 'please' the school group. It did help my children though it probably isn't what I would have done myself. On the flip side, how I do things is not what the other mom is comfortable with either. Through all of that and working with a different style, I have figured out what an unschooler I am. I am happiest if I don't beat myself up for not recreating 'school' in my house or with others. I am happiest if I can take each day and be glad for what I have gotten done that day. I missed having time to just read to the kids. I missed my freedom to can with the kids without having an anxiety attack trying to please a locked in schedule. I am SUCH a people pleaser. Our family has a 'style'. When my kids are exhausted because they have been working, it is because they're exhausted from working. They were not 'making excuses'. There are only so many hours in the day and I can not crush my children's spirit because there is not enough of them to go around to play the 'keep everyone impressed with our ability' game. I crushed myself making excuses for the boys especially. I don't regret the time I spent co-oping, but this free spirit woman must figure something else out. Dear husband reminds me that the kids ARE learning when I lament losing school time and how very few people even know what it means to prepare their own food or even work. Keeping a balance of course is the trick then but without bookish time, they still are learning. Thanks Charley.

My kids are amazing. We are giving up schoolish things today to work together on salsa and tomato sauce for the good of the family. I do not can anymore. They do all the work. Benjamin and Stefan even help. These kids know how to help. I was listening to Erik 'play' with Evan this morning sweetly. He read him a little book and patiently carried him around while I quick mopped up the latest mess from..........canning! Now Erik and Matthew are in the kitchen singing along to a Beatles song and truly working together without fighting. Stefan chirped at me the other night that he couldn't wait to get bigger so he could help dad with the boards. (Stacking wood) If the kids are not being bookish, they are totally independent workers in the cooking and canning realm. It is the first thing older people notice about my kids when working with them and they can not cease telling me what good and faithful workers they are and what a rare thing it is today to find kids who know how to work without griping. Then my kids have bunches of fun getting to know these older people on a different level and enjoy listening to their stories and having conversations with them. Erik has learned a lot about Vietnam from his painting and scraping boss the last few weeks. He has learned more than I ever did in school about that war and he never had to crack of book. Scott can not cease talking about what a wonderful boy he is. I guess Erik gets an A+ in that class!

So bottom line I do not regret the last four years. My kids will miss their friends and I will miss my friend too and her kids but as it has been said before, family dynamics change etc so 'things' change. Not co-oping seemed to just happen. I am regrouping and digging up the stuff I used to do with the older kids which is more my style and just trying to do my best with them and be satisfied without them resenting 'school'. Sounds like a plan. I am also going to look for opportunities to do fun things as a family like mini-vacations or going to retreats etc. I usually enjoy those times too and the younger set have missed out on that part of mommy culture. It will all be okay.

My kids know how to play too. I am hoping to spend Friday afternoons just doing some fun things together. I want to renew my Fernwood membership and spend many a Friday hiking the trails there. I love that place. I couldn't do much of that while we were co-oping as we couldn't keep up with the meals, laundry, and I hadn't a clue what they were supposed to do in their classes for the energy it took to find out. I would make a terrible public school mommy.

So.......I need to learn to be content with changes in dynamics. I need to also find social opportunities and things to look forward to for my younger kids who are used to seeing their buds several times a week. I've always loved how my kids love spending time with each other (most of the time) so there are some friends right there. Looking for opportunities to bond with their neighbors and do things with them comes to mind too. There is a sweet little girl down the road who has some sort of disability, though minor, which I am sure leaves her isolated. We just started having Cecilia and her get together a few times the last month and have Charlene the wonder 80 something year old neighbor to thank for that. She has been doing ceramics with the girls. I am looking for more opportunities for them as Cecilia doesn't 'notice' anything different and just sees her as a nice girl near by to spend time with. So she too is learning from that experience and it is great to witness.

So, I will try not to fight the artist and non-traditional schooler I am and learn to just do what I know how to. The last four years were certainly good for my kids but I need to relearn who I was before and go on from here. Silly me. I think too much and love what I have too little. Sigh.