In Real Life...

We rarely follow the plans as written. In real life, my days look nothing like my iCal pages. Oh, I love the plans. They are like good recipes. I gather the ingredients, tinkering a bit to take advantage of what looks freshest and best at the grocery store. I glance through the directions and do what seems best at the time. And usually, whatever we're cooking comes out well. Cooking is an art, you know, with a little science sprinkled in with love. So, too, raising and educating children is an art. When it comes to our homeschooling days, I write the plans, but I don't become attached to them.

Because I do become attached to the children.

On Monday, iCal called for Outdoor Hour. Have you tried these? What absolutely wonderful gifts they are! We're on a roll with them this fall. Barb makes the Handbook of Nature Study come alive for us and graciously offers free guidance that is priceless. Everyone is enthusiastic.

We headed out to our new favorite, very local spot (we walked) and spent a pleasant time drawing. I had to drag the boys away because of an urgent girl potty issue. On  the walk home, the littlest girls each fell asleep in a stroller. We wheeled both strollers into the house and let them snooze. I seized the quiet opportunity to read William Shakespeare and the Globe to all children still awake. [Note to those who have followed my iCal plans previously: "School" didn't happen in any meaningful way on Friday of Birthday Week and I slid last Friday's plans to Monday. ]

My plans called for children to create a diorama of the Globe Theatre. Somehow, in my keeping room, those plans morphed. Big boys became team captains; teams were picked; cardboard, duct tape,  craft paint and glue guns were sequestered to opposite corners of the house. Daddy was named Judge. A deadline of three weeks hence was set. One child was frantically researching on his iPod Touch. Another was printing madly from the computer upstairs. A hush fell. And then the man arrived to deliver the dishwasher.

The man barely stepped from his truck before competing teams of children were begging for appliance boxes. Wise man, he gave them the box from our dishwasher and then stripped the box from another. More quiet.

Big boys left for soccer. I slipped out with a lone ballerina. I left her at dance and spent 33 minutes alone, in the quiet, at Adoration. Not that I was counting minutes or anything. What a beautiful gift quiet with Jesus is!

After I gathered my dancer and a week's worth of groceries for a family of eleven, I returned home. Globe Theatre construction resumed after dinner and continued well into the night. I went to sleep thinking what a perfect day it was: nature, Shakespeare, Adoration, soccer and dance. A good meal. A quiet night. What more could I have wanted?

Don't answer that. I know there was no math, no Latin, no grammar, no time whatsoever at a desk. But really, truly, it was perfect in my book. A day when seven children from 3-17 are meaningfully engaged and working together all day long? How often does that happen?

The next day, while I hustled three sick children to the doctor, the children at home ignored my plans and kept right on working on those Theatre dioramas. There was a brief skirmish over toothpicks that resulted in my emergency trip to the grocery store, but mostly, work was steady. I thought about the iCal plans. Tuesday is our heavy geography block day.  This Tuesday was about scale drawings, popsicle stick construction standards, and wee felt actors.

Truth is, my days rarely look like the pages of Serendipity. They are not that neat. They are not that beautiful. They are not that full. Well, maybe they are that full but not in the way they look there. We pick and choose from the plans and the books. I hope you do, too, as I think it would be near impossible to do them as written. We change things out and abandon things that don't work and add things that work better. We abandon the plans altogether to binge on a great project.

"Simplicity" seems to be a goaland a virtue in pockets of  the blogosphere. For some people, simplicity is next to godliness from what I can tell. Things aren't simple here. At least, when I put my head on the pillow at night, in the three seconds before I fall asleep, they don't seem simple. There's is a lot going on.

A few weeks ago I read an authoritative email that declared that the secret to homeschooling success was to never, ever deviate from the curriculum as written. This seems foolish advice to me. If you are using my curriculum, please, please consider it in light of your children and your home and your energy level. Please use your common sense and your mama-wisdom. Please don't attempt to do it all. And please, if you find a better way to do it, write and let me know. I might just do it that way, too. 

Along those lines, here are some tweaks I've not yet had time to tell you about:

  • Mary Beth abandoned Botany in a Day for Apologia Botany. The new notebooks offered by Apologia are just amazing! She is creating a beautiful notebook and doing all the activities and experiments and thoroughly enjoying Jeannie Fulbright's style. With the addition of the other living books in the Young Ladies' Curriculum and nature study, this is a very full botany course. And yes, Jen has the Ivy Basket all written and ready for you. She's waiting on me to finish my pages before we  post. I'm getting to it, I promise. Pray I get the gift of writing time with Mary Beth.
  • Patrick, Stephen, and Nicholas are using Apologia Astronomy. Patrick is reading from MacBeth's astronomy suggestions. And we will also add this very full Teaching Company course to the study. I hadn't planned on Astronomy at all. The boys asked for it when they were unable to answer a trivia question Mike posed at the dinner table just after the school year began.  
  • We haven't forgotten about the Writer's Workshop. Esther Hershenhorn, the author of S is for Story, contacted me when she learned of our plans to use her book. She was very interested in our ideas to create workshops using S is for Story. The book arrived just a couple of days after Bryce died. The author, who is just lovely, suggested that I might find these mini-workshops (click on Young Writer Extras) helpful while I wait for Colleen to join me again in writing on Serendipity. I do! Maybe you will like them, too? It's really nice when people who believe in sharing the joy of teaching reach out to each other and help in a time of need. Colleen was touched by the kindness of this stranger and so was I.
  • Our Alphabet Path travels this year are mainly focused upon the Author Studies and the Science Trails, since Katie has already traveled the Path twice. However, we are truly enjoying the inspiration of gifted teachers like Jessica and Blair this time around. It's fun to see how beautifully the plans come to life in the talented hands of those ladies. I find myself having to refrain from wanting to do it all;-).
  • Speaking of Jessica, we're loving the Little Flowers notebook pages! We use Little Flowers here at home and these pages are just wonderful. We aren't such good Little Flowers crafters and I don't always get to the edible goodies, but I'm sure glad to have Jessica's ideas to add to our days.
  • The big boys are doing our geography studies along with us. I can't handle three different high school programs to supervise. I need to keep my boys close. Works better that way. I'm way out of writing time now. Maybe another day, I'll share how it all looks. Basically, we're taking books from the Sonlight high school lists and matching them with the geographical regions we're studying. All the plans are there; it's a pretty simple thing to pull what works for each kid.

And now, I truly must go. Gosh, it was nice to blog again. I had no intention of writing so long this morning. God's good; it's happy to be here.  Thanks for listening.

Blessings on your day!