It's that time again. Time for the Carnival, yes. But it is also that time of year again. Time to haul out the boxes of decorations, dig the reindeer cookie cutters out of the back of the cupboard, and decide if you really have to run back to Wally World and fight the holiday crowds... you can get by with half a roll of Scotch tape and some gum, right?
Better? All mellowed out now and curled up in your favorite spot with a cup of tea or hot chocolate at just the right temperature? Good. Because the kids (using their innate "parental peace detection system") are about to come crashing into the room chanting that oh too common refrain, "We're bored!" Don't panic (move your cup over to the table, though). Beverly at About Homeschooling has some instructions for Reindeer Games that you and your kids can create and play together. Just click on over and get started.
Now that your adrenaline is pumping and the kids have crashed for the night (how do they do that?!), it's time to start thinking about presents. Some people are really easy to shop for... like me. I'm a very practical gal when in comes to gifts. Put together some bookshelves, wrap a big red bow around them, and hang a stocking filled with Amazon.com gift cards on it, and I'm happy. Alasandra, on the other hand, has experienced a bit more stress shopping for her loved ones... many of whom have the nerve to have December birthdays which just adds to her stress. However, she shares with us her first-hand experience with "necessity is the mother of invention" ...or is it "that which does not kill me postpones the inevitable?" I can't remember. Anyway, this Christmas Hack discovered a great craft idea that would make a great gift. It's a wonderful kid project. Not the crafty type? Not a problem. Carol, the HomeschoolCPA, has a great list of gift ideas for WAHMs (work at home moms)... and isn't that every mom? She has ideas to fit every budget, every schedule, and every level of creativity.
Now that you've got the gifts out of the way, it's time to get those Christmas cards written and sent out. (Don't forget to change the CD. Let's try some Bing Crosby... and some more hot chocolate. Mmmmm.) Judy, at Consent of the Governed, reminds us to not forget our troops serving overseas as we send out our cards today. Send a greeting to the troops. And if you have a family member serving our country in the military, thank you... and thank him (or her) for us, too.
After a good night's sleep, it's time to see how we are doing on our to do list. Gifts made? Check. Cards ready to mail? Check. So, now it's time to head to the post office. You load the kids in the car, pop in the history CD (home school, car school... same thing, right?), and you're on your way. This past week, Heather (Stepping Heavenward) and her boys learned about the Assyrians amidst the hustle and bustle of their Christmas preparations. Her son even made up a song! Too many times to count, you have turned over in your mind, "To homeschool through the holidays or not, that is the question?" Elena at This Domestic Church has also been debating this.
You arrive at the post office and get everyone out of the car. (La la la la/ La la la la/ Shamshi's world... you are going to be singing that allday!) The kids help carry some packages and envelopes (it is the season of miracles) and you settle into your place in line. All is well. Then a sweet lady bearing a single envelope falls behind you in line, scans the angelic faces of your children, smiles and kindly asks them, "No school today?" Your heart sinks. "We are in school!" one of your cherubs replies cheerfully (although, to you, a little rehearsed). "We homeschool," you answer to the woman's puzzled look. "Oh. That's too bad. Don't you wish you had a break? Wouldn't it be easier to do this," she points to my pile of packages, "if they were in school?" Not now. Not while everyone is being peaceful and no one is crying or bleeding. You just want to mail some packages. Sigh. If you were the Whimsy Chick, you would not despair, however. She has the answer as to why she homeschools. And one of those reasons is socialization... cool, huh? (In her post "America is an Idea", Dani from Principled Discovery counters the "what about socialization?", anti-homeschoolers by asking of the government schools, "But what about unification through diversity rather than socializing to produce cookie cutter children?") Fortunately for you, Taz's Mom, from EternaLearning Academy, is right in front of you in line, and she has also prepared an answer as to why she homeschools. Take notes... you never know who you're going to run into next.
You finally get up to the counter, and as you negotiate the package placement system ("All right, all right! You can each give a package to the postman. Youngest gets the smallest package... oldest gets the biggest package. Youngest goes first. Go.") the postal worker smiles at you and shares, "You homeschool? Cool. I wish I could do that, but my wife and I..." You then hear the list of reasons why he feels they can't homeschool their own children. You've heard many of these reasons articulated before (mostly inside your own head when you were a 'newbie'). Before you know it, you've morphed into Dana from Bureaucratic Daycare and find yourself quoting an article by John Turtel that answers the question "Homeschooling, can I do it?"
The kids have been behaving well, you are experiencing a 'confidence euphoria' after your conversations at the post office, you do have a couple more gifts to pick up (and more tape... you had to sacrifice your gum in the interest of quiet at the post office), so you decide to head over to the mall. You are caught up in the spirit of giving and let the kids pick the music for the ride over. Well, you're not singing "Shamshi's World" anymore... is that a good thing or a bad thing? As soon as you get to the mall, find a parking space, retrieve your toddler's mitten, convince your son that you won't let him starve (you never have before, why would you start now?), and tame the coats, hats, scarves, and mittens that everyone sheds as soon as you walk in the door, you head straight for the bathroom. Experience has taught you to have your children not put off until you are in line with an armload of purchases what you can do now. On your way to the bathroom, you see a sign bearing a life-sized image of a police officer striking an Uncle Sam pose with the message "Shoplifting is a Crime." This inspires a discussion on Proverbs 21:2 you studied a few days ago. It's all about connections. (This episode inspired by the actual life experience of Kristina from On Fire.)
After a couple of hours at the mall (there were more "last minute" gifts than you originally thought), you all come home ready to collapse... but you can't. You still have to get through some math and grammar today. "But, Mom...!" "Can't we just watch a movie? My feet are tired!" "And my brain hurts!" You give in with a sigh. This is going to put you a full week behind in grammar. Maybe you can fit some in on the way to Grandma's house next weekend. Who are you kidding? You slump into a chair wondering how you are possibly going to get it all done. Maybe the woman at the post office was right. Welcome to burn out. As The Thinking Mother points out, burnout is when there is a gap between expectations and rewards... and burnout isn't only for the 9-5ers in Manhattan, either. Time to sit down and reassess.
You realize, as the music on the stereo changes over to something nostalgic to match your pensive and cheering mood, that you have been neglecting your Mental multivitamin and not treating your job, your calling, with the level of professionalism that you should be. You've been getting up late (even though you know your daughter is more teachable in the morning) and not showering until... well, not as often as you should. So, now that the kids' movie is over, you call an all-school assembly and ask them to forgive you for the lack of respect that you have been showing for their schooling. You tell them that you will begin your recommitment to their education by recognizing that you (and they) need a break. Lara, author of The Open Door, reminds us of the necessity of well-timed breaks... and when to read your children's cues that break time is over. When your middle-schooler reminds you that you promised to read a book to her about the Winter Solstice tomorrow and do some Christmas crafts, you pull-up Unbridled Learning's post on The Winter Solstice and Christmas and tell her to pick an activity that the two of you can do together the next afternoon.
So after encouraging your perpetual learner, you begin your break. You make everyone some hot chocolate (topped with whipped cream, of course) and cuddle up on the sofa in front of the fireplace to read a Neglected Christmas classic. (Thank you to Mama Squirrel in Dewey's Treehouse for reminding us about this forgotten favorite.) After the story, the kids will go to bed, and you will haul the boxes of Christmas decorations out of the garage and the basement and bake some cookies to enjoy the next day while you spend well-needed family time decorating for the holidays.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
A note: This week, much beloved and widely read homeschool blogger, Spunky, announced that she was retiring her blog. Laurie at Trivium Pursuit reminds us in her Message From Spunky to thank Spunky by voting for her blog - which was the only homeschool blog to win a nomination for the Wizbang Blog Awards 2006 in the education category. She became aware of her finalist status the day she announced her blog's retirement. This calls for some music. Join me in a round of Auld Lang Syne, won't you? Just follow the bouncing ball.
Thank you to everyone who participated in this week's Carnival of Homeschooling. As always, if you find any broken links or other errors, please leave a comment below or email me, and I will fix it ASAP. If you would like to participate in a future Carnival of Homeschooling, you can find information about doing so here. Don't forget to check out the Carnival next week over at Principled Discovery.
On the way home from church yesterday, the kids and I were listening to a music mix CD that Frodo had made (Frodo was still at church waiting for Primo to finish her Christmas Play practice). The second song on the mix is U2 (smile) and B.B. King performing When Love Comes To Town. Terzo always sings along with music, but I never thought that Quarto payed much attention. Then, out of the blue, in a very blues-y, gravelly voice (but clear as a bell), Quarto belts along with the chorus, "But I did what I did before Love came to town!"
Since "Lucille" is taken, what would be a good name for a guitar?
(You should hear Terzo sing the second verse. He's pretty good, but it sounds odd coming out of the mouth of a six year old.)