The other day I picked up an old favorite that I used to read every year, Homeschooling: A Patchwork of Days: Share a Day With 30 Homeschooling Families. Reading it reminded me of what homeschooling used to be like before blogs. It also reminded me that I haven't done a "day in the life" post in a while. As it happens, on the day I decided to do a day in the life post, it also turns out that it was "Day in the Life Week" at the Not Back to School Blog Hop over at My 3 Boybarians. But, as usual, it took me a week to actually write this post (because I don't know how to do anything that isn't long and complicated) so I missed the deadline. However, if any of you, dear readers, would like to share a "Back to School" day at your house, I would love to read it. Just leave me a comment with the link!
A few notes before I start.
1) This day was "not quite average" because Andy was home for the morning, and then left around lunchtime to go on a business trip for most of the week. This happens often enough, though, that it's just not "quite" average. This is just our second week of school, so we did do school today.
2) I don't usually work this hard first thing in the morning. Usually I'm on the computer for a little while.
Monday, August 24
7:15 AM I wake up, later than I wanted to. Chipmunk went to bed at 11 last night and I woke up in the middle of the night feeling like I might have a touch of whatever Pip and Farmerboy had this weekend. Thankfully, I feel decent this morning. The little boys are getting up, and Andy takes care of them while I take a shower.
8:00 AM: The boys are eating breakfast when I come out. Gareth is up, too. I head down to Katydid's room to begin the process of getting her up. (Which sometimes takes a while.) The little boys finish their breakfast and talk Andy into letting them watch Chased By Dinosaurs: "Most Dangerous Seas of All Time". Andy made me some eggs, and while I eat I switch around some binders so I can organize the originals of some new recordkeeping forms I handwrote over the weekend. (The USB ports on our desktop are fried, and the software from our printer is incompatible with the Vista on my laptop. So I have a copier, but no printer right now.)
8:30 AM: Katydid finally comes out. Now everyone is watching Chased By Dinosaurs. Andy wants to take some food from the garden we (along with our Little Flowers/ Blue Knights group) are growing for the Little Sisters of the Poor. We have a couple bushels of potatoes to give this time, several pounds of zucchini and patty pan squash, and there's more zucchini out in the garden to pick. I head out while everyone is occupied and come back with several more pounds of zuchinni.
9:00 AM: Time for prayers. After prayers, Gareth and Katydid go to brush their teeth and start on their chores, which include feeding and watering all the poultry (turkeys, layers, meat chickens, and bantams). All together, we have a total of 59 chickens right now, and 6 turkeys. It takes a little while to get it all done. The kids dawdle a while, so they're a bit late getting out. When they come back in, they do their inside chores: collecting and sorting laundry, and wiping out the bathroom sinks for Katydid, and cleaning up the breakfast kitchen for Gareth. Andy takes the time to take the trash out to the curb so I won't have to do it tomorrow. Farmerboy is supposed to be picking up the family room, but right now he is involved in a complicated game of "Divers into Dangerous Seas." Props for this game include all my pots and pans, and cameras, which the boys construct from various toys and tape:
(I help with the tape a little bit.)
9:30 AM: Pop used buttons (like the kind you sew) for his camera, and Chipmunk (who is sitting on the table) is enthralled. He wants me to identify the colors of all the buttons. The other three little boys are still involved in their diving game, so I sit down with Chipmunk and help him sort the buttons according to color. On one of Pop's trips through the dining room, he notices what we are doing and wants to sort, too. I don't have enough buttons for that, but I set him up with some dyed feathers. Chipmunk soon moves on to pouring the buttons. He's been occupied for about 30 minutes.
10:00 AM: The boys decide they want to glue. I get them set up with collage materials, cardboard trays, scissors, papers, and their choice of glue -- Elmer's in a bottle or Mod Podge in a bowl with a brush. Chipmunk is soon covered in glue, but does manage to also put some on his tray. There is some frustration on the twins' part: Pip is gluing natural feathers to a piece of cardstock and unfortunately, most of them are small down feathers which are hard to glue without getting all gummed up and coming apart. And Pop's scissors are not cooperating with him. This is pretty typical. My role is to dart from one kid to another providing help, encouragement, and exhortations for patience. Andy tells me that there is a special room in heaven reserved for homeschooling mothers.
Pip sets up his collage as part of our nature area.
10: 45 AM: By this time Katydid and Gareth are involved in their own activities. We're experimenting with different ways to plan for them... or actually, to help them plan their own work. I asked on the 4real boards about planning with Literature for a Young Lady and Jen helpfully replied with how she helps her eldest plan her own work. I presented that as an option for the kids, and they decided they would like to give it a shot. So I wrote out a chart (no printer, remember) with days and times on it, and on Sunday we sat down to figure out what they wanted to do during the week, and also what was required for them to do (like math, Latin, and language).
I clipped off a bit of the top, but you get the picture.
When I emerge from helping the boys with their collages (and washing all the glue off Chipmunk), I find Gareth working on his math and Katydid comfortably esconced on the couch with Little Women. Andy takes a break from working on the computer to get the little boys dressed and play with the transportation counters on the floor -- more sorting. Farmerboy can no longer avoid his chores and must get dressed and pick up the family room. Because people need me -- often -- it takes a good 45 minutes to clean up the dining room.
11:15 AM: Gareth is now working on his religion and informs Farmerboy that he's going to be done soon so Farmerboy had better get to work if he wants to go out to the archery range. Katydid didn't know that Gareth was going to do archery, so she scraps the plans she made yesterday to go out and shoot, too. She's been reading for about an hour with only a brief break, so it's just about time for her to do something active.
11:30 AM: The dining room is not completely clean, but the little boys are clamoring to be let out of the small fenced yard by the deck, and it would be nice to talk to Andy a while before he goes. Andy takes the little boys out with him to feed greens to the turkeys, and the three older kids head out to practice some archery. I pick up the transportation counters for the nth time this morning and follow.
(Andy took these pictures. Gareth told me later he got a bullseye!)
While the big kids shoot, the little boys play "dinosaur hunter" in the sideyard with me. They're gathering sticks and pretending they're dinosaur bones.
12:15 PM: Everyone is hungry by now, so we head in for lunch. Someone lets Chipmunk in the bathroom first to wash his hands and is not supervising and Chipmunk dunks his truck in the toilet. I clean him up (and the truck) and then make cheese quesadillas for the kids. Andy and I eat leftover steak from the night before (I found a stash in the back of the freezer) and canteloupe. At lunch Andy mentions a book that has been recommended to him called The Ten Commandments of How to Fail at Business. We have a discussion about that, and also about how a Christian should view or use wealth. Then Andy loads his luggage and the vegetables for the nuns into his van and heads off to the airport. The big kids are in charge of cleaning up after lunch. The little boys and I go outside to play some more dinosaur hunter.
2:00 PM: I'm taking the little boys in for some read alouds and a nap. Katydid comes in to get the camera, because she says the older three want to "study turkey behavior". It turns out they just want to make the toms strut.
(Pictures by Katydid)
While I admit that the Naragansett tom is particularly impressive when he struts, banging things and making a lot of noise to get him agitated is probably not a good idea. So no more "studying turkey behavior".
While the big kids are outside, I read Dinosaurs Big and Small (A Let's Read and Find Out title) , Little Tom Turkey (a book about wild turkeys told from the point of view of a small male poult; the writing is not so great, but it's tough to find picture books about wild/heritage turkeys), and a tractor book to the three little boys. Then it's to bed for them.
2:45-3:00 ish: I've gotten the boys to sleep. When I come into the kitchen, I notice that the cleaning job done after lunch was not all that great. But now it's time to do some concentrated book work with the older 3 kids. Since the twins and Chipmunk require most (if not all) of my attention in the morning, the bigger kids have to save anything that needs my attention until the afternoon. This is not my preferred way of doing things -- nor, to be honest, always the preferred way for my kids either. But it's what we have to do. It turns out that they have come in at 2:30 just like they were supposed to and gotten to work. We've had this basic template schedule for a long time now, but this is only the start of our second week after being "off" for summer. So I'm pleased that they're readjusting to our school schedule so quickly. Katydid is working on the first lesson of Lingua Mater 6, and Gareth has finished his lesson for the day in Lingua Mater 7 and is on the couch reading Fellowship of the Ring. Farmerboy has already done his handwriting (Handwriting Without Tears, My Printing Book) so I take him into the dining room to work on some phonics. First I need to see what letter sounds he remembers from earlier in the summer, so we do a short "quiz". Turns out he's forgotten about half his letter sounds. He wants me to write some words for him to read, though, so I compose a variety of silly sentences using mainly -at words. (Sample: "I sat on the cat.") He enjoys this and runs to show Katydid and Gareth how silly the sentences are after we're done.
3:30 PM: Katydid is done with her language, so we move on to Latin. We're redoing the lesson we ended with in June, Review Lesson III from Latina Christiana I. For some reason we only got through half the book last year. I'm hoping to do better this year. Farmerboy wants to get a board game out of the closet and "pretend to play it himself". Ok... he actually chooses the Rush Hour puzzle, which I mentally chalk up to math for the day. I'm still trying to figure out math for him. I bought Making Math Meaningful Level I for him in the spring, but it turns out I don't really like it at that level.
4:00 PM: When we're done with our chants and reviewing the vocabulary, Katydid switches to math, which she is able to do independently for the day. (She is using Making Math Meaningful Level 4, which I do like at least for Katydid, as it seems to be sticking... no small feat for her. Sometimes it requires me to make presentations, but I think she's finally gotten the concept of multiplying two digits by two digits... albeit in the non-traditional way taught by this curriculum.) Gareth has written on his chart that he is going to work on a book "response" to Out of the Silent Planet, which he read last week. He can either work on a graphic novel/comic book version of the book or he can write a book report. I expect him to choose the comic book, but he surprises me by choosing the book report. We spend a little over a half an hour discussing the book, how to write a book report, and then planning it out.
4:45 PM: The kids are done with their work for the day, and Chipmunk is up, but not up, and is dozing on my shoulder. I check email and the kids have their computer time. Katydid heads back to her room when it is not her turn to practice her violin and say a rosary.
5:15 PM: Chipmunk is now up and playing with the Rush Hour cars that Farmerboy neglected to put away. The twins are up and clamoring for their computer time, too. I go to start dinner and realize that I can not make a Dutch Baby because I do not have enough eggs. What? Right -- we gave away a dozen eggs on Friday and I made scrambled eggs and ratatouille one night for dinner. Now we have to wait for the hens to build the supply again. I remember that I have some frozen spaghetti sauce downstairs in the freezer, though, so I can still make dinner!
I also have to work on the mess left over from lunch.
Chipmunk keeps me company with the pots and pans.
6:00 PM: It took forever to defrost the spaghetti sauce. Dinner is going to be late. The little boys are clamoring to be let out of the gate (again), so I take my record book and head outside with them while I wait on dinner.
7:00 PM: Dinner's finally ready. I cave and let the kids eat in front of the TV. I'd like to say they watched something educational, but no, it was SpongeBob. And I eat in front of the computer, starting this post. Then Andy calls to let me know he's in Chicago and will be departing for Iowa shortly and also that the Little Sisters would like pictures of us planting the garden for their newsletter. I am embarassed to say that I have no pictures. We'll have to take some pictures of harvest instead.
7:30ish: Time for after dinner chores. Usually I clean the kitchen, Katydid picks up the dining room and kitchen and sweeps both rooms, Farmerboy picks up the family room and vacuums the rug, and Gareth has the living room/entryway area, picking up and sweeping. This makes it sound as if everything ought to be clean, but this doesn't account for stacks of books and other things on tables and counters, or the disorganization of the toy shelves. Plus tonight the kids will have to knock off early to do all the chicken/turkey chores that Andy usually does (with Chipmunk and the little boys tagging along).
8:00 PM: The kids are out putting the chickens in for the night and I am trying to hurriedly wash the last pans and sweep the dining room and kitchen floors and switch the laundry before the little boys rev up too much. (My kids never look tired because they just wind up more and more as they get tired.)
8:30 PM: I didn't make it. There are still pans in the sink but it's time to get the little boys in their pajamas. When the big kids come in from doing their outside chores, I ask Katydid to read to the little boys while I put on my pajamas. Pop has been fascinated by the weather lately, so we also check the weather on the Weather Channel. Then Katydid reads Keep the Lights Burning, Abbie! while I change for the night.
9:00 PM: The boys still want books. Katydid reads a couple of tractor books to Chipmunk, Little Tom Turkey (again), and Where Do Chicks Come From? I take this opportunity to rotate the books in the book display, which sorely needs it.
9:30 PM: Time for bed. Gareth and Katydid head back to their rooms and bathroom to take showers and read until who knows when. The little boys want to know if I will read Farmer Boy while they're in bed like Daddy does. I tell them that since it's Daddy's favorite book, we'll save it for him. But I will read the next story from Egermeir's Story Bible. Chipmunk is not having it, though. I tell the boys I can't read because I need to nurse Chipmunk. Pip starts complaining. I attempt to balance the heavy book precariously past Chipmunk while I nurse him and read the story of "The Great Flood." It begins with Enoch being taken up to God. Pop wants to know how people get to heaven, and once you're there, how you can get back home. Farmerboy tells him you can't get back home. Pop starts to cry. Farmerboy tells him that heaven is a wonderful place where you'll know everything, including what happened to the dinosaurs. Pop says he wants our home to be his home forever. Farmerboy says, well, his soul will go to heaven after he dies. Pip says he doesn't want to go to heaven if souls are there. Farmerboy says everybody has a soul. Pip is furious because he thought souls were bad things! I'm sure he's confusing them with ghosts. I would just really like to go to sleep. But no. As soon as I get them calmed down, Chipmunk starts fussing because this isn't our usual routine. I try to take him into my bedroom, and Pip starts crying because he wants Daddy. I sit back down in the rocking chair, and Pip stops crying but Chipmunk starts. Finally, I have to take Chipmunk into my room and just let Pip cry for a while. It's keeping Pop and Farmerboy awake, but I have to get one of the two fussing kids to sleep.
10:30 PM: Chipmunk is finally asleep and I go back in to sit with Pip. I bring my book and read a little in the hall light.
11:00 PM: Pip is finally asleep. I add the last few things to the dishwasher and turn it on. Then I head back to my bed, where Chipmunk is sleeping for the moment. I try to write down a few notes, but apparently the scratching of the pen wakes Chipmunk up again.
11:30 PM: Everything is finally quiet. Andy won't be home till Thursday, and I'm not sure I can survive that long. (But obviously, I do! :-)