We officially started our new school year this week. I delayed starting school this year so I could focus on my busy garden season without any guilt. Do you want to know how many jars of delicious garden food I got canned during this last month?
So I didn’t really work in my garden like I said I would. A lot of tomatoes went bad in there. The strawberries didn’t get transplanted like they were supposed to, and I will reap the consequences of that next summer. While being all talk and no action isn’t anything to be proud of, I’m trying not to be too hard on myself because I normally burn out this time of year, and I burned out later than I usually do. People seem to think I’m this great gardener, but I’m of the belief that a truly great gardener doesn’t burn out at the end of the year. I see neighbors get their garden beds all cleaned and prepped for winter. Produce is packed up, and stored. I think it’s the little bit of “city” left in me where I just sit down and say, “I just don’t care. I can buy that at the store.” A born and bred country girl wouldn’t say such blasphemes.
However, we’ve had one of the best starts to a new school year that we’ve ever had. I’m not sure if it’s because David is doing so much better, or after years of trying out methods, or I’ve finally got my finger on a method that’s working for us, or it could be because I’m trying to focus myself to do school well with the kids, and not get distracted by all my pet projects. I’ve been convicted more and more that if I want to do this homeschooling well, it will require more sacrifice. Before I knew that it required sacrifice and I was dragging my feet about it. This year I just feel inspired. It’s more like a battle charge. My passion for other things is dwindling, and I thank God for that.
Of course, over the weekend, I looked at our schedule and realized I had picked about the worst week possible to start a school year because of the various outside activities our family is involved in. Every other week Silje’s orchestra at the public school is more invasive to our schedule than the other week. This was the invasive week. (When it’s on Tuesdays and Thursdays it causes trouble, but when it’s on a Wednesday or Friday it’s not so bad.) Also, choir started for Silje and Elias. Also I had a doctor’s appointment, which was just routine, all morning in the city on Wednesday. I’m surprised we got any school done at all actually.
But we did. It was a victory this week.
It’s also been rough, because I’ve struggled through 2 days of migraines, and so 2 of those days I was pretty medicated. My oils weren’t even touching these headaches, which usually means bad things around here.
The big thing that I’ve been pushing this year is our 8:30 start time. I have learned that our family does better with routines more than schedules. Homeschool is rarely the place for bells. I’m sticking my foot down on that start time, though. My kids have constantly been pushing against it the last 2 years, and even though I say we’ll start at 8:30, last year my kids would slowly finish up their chores around 10am, and then protest that they couldn’t possibly start school, it was snack time.
My new method of having a morning hour with them from 8:30-9:30 has been working really well. Only 1 day were they not ready at 8:30, and I started the morning hour anyway. They just had to drop their chores, and join, trying to catch up later. I’ve brought out my guitar, and have started teaching them some of the old hymns, have our devotions, read more of our Shakespeare, and then we work on a lot of the more tedious memorization, Greek, and grammar together. We haven’t made it to the Greek and grammar every morning, but I’m sure the kids will live.
The kids are loving our Shakespeare unit. Obsessively loving it. I want to thank the book How to Teach Your Children Shakespeare book for that. It’s not written by an educator, but just a dad who happens to be a renown Shakespeare director, and his method of teaching his own children a love for Shakespeare. The first play we are doing in this unit is A Midsummer’s Night Dream. It’s hilarious.
Actually, the reading this year has been a home run this week, and I’m so excited about that. For instance, for our morning tea time, I do a book directed to the little kids, but that us big kids will enjoy as well. This year we are reading The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane. We have done other books by this author, and this one does not disappoint either. We stop what we are doing at 10am, and the kids get a little snack, a cup of tea with milk and sugar, and I read out loud to them. They’ve been loving this book so much, we often read 2 chapters.
For our evening read aloud, (directed to the older kids after the little kids are in bed) is Little Britches. I’ve been trying to get David to go through an audio recording of this book this summer, but he is still very suspicious of new books. Silje has learned that any book I have chosen is 99% a winner and she grabs them eagerly from my hands. David still looks at me as though it is a trick when I hand him a book. I’ve given him 3 winners in a row this summer (books he read multiple times because he loved them so much) so I have to be building some trust. I will win him over. Just give him time.
At any rate, we have our share of struggles. When we have a great school week, I’m just going to celebrate that while I can! I have put a higher priority on my time in prayer each morning before school. That was not a constant before, and likely won’t be going forward because…life. But I have realized that I need this time more than I need coffee. I need that time getting encouragement from the Word, and just begging God for patience, and the wisdom to know when to push and when to let go. The more I go on this journey to spend daily time with God, the more I see that the key isn’t in my alarm clock, or in having the time. The key is recognizing my desperate need. When I’m honest about how much I need it, it just happens. My hands are reaching for my Bible with the impatience that it reaches for my mug. That’s why it’s happening.
Our house reflects the fact that we’ve had a crazy busy week. But if I waited for perfection to have joy, then I would never have it at all. I’m learning what to push, and what to let go. Sometimes wisdom looks like a messy house.