Learning to Stay Home

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Well, we’ve been told to “Stay at Home” for over a month now due to COVID-19.  I have a daughter with asthma, so my family chose to gradually start this without the governor’s or president’s directions.  The first official week was hard, but it seemed to make it a bit easier on my children when they realized their friends were now staying at home, too.

Overall, I think we’ve been doing okay with it all.  We have mostly good days. I’ve had a couple of rough days, not bad days, but not-so-good days.  One was, I think, a drowsy effect from allergy medicine and just earlier this week I had trouble feeling motivated in the morning.  I really felt like I was in the Ground Hog Day movie as I was pushing myself  out of bed. Now academic co ops will be online for the remainder of the school year, most stores are still closed, and our lives are simply different and we don’t know for how long.  There are days that I just don’t want to do another household chore.  I want to go in a store to sniff candles or perfumes.  I want to walk around downtown while my daughters are in ballet and stop in a coffee shop.  I want to make an appointment to get my hair trimmed, maybe in face framing layers.  I want to get my new contacts and glasses from my optometry appointment on March 1st.

It’s when I’m having a gloomier day that I have decided to remind myself to focus on the good things and count my blessings.  My family has been healthy and my husband is still working.  In addition to almost appreciating the break from being a taxi driver for my active children, I have found several other positive things about spending more time at home.

  1.  Better rest.  I seem to sleep better when I’m not worried about getting up to my alarm to get my daughter to her co op classes on time.  I still wake up at the same time, but I have better rest through the night.
  2. Tidy book shelves.  We have a book shelf that was in disarray for a long time.  It was  still the home to games and books the children have not used in three to five years.  I finally took an afternoon and discarded the old items, had one daughter put yarn yarn in bins, and I re-organized the shelves for school books.  Now that we aren’t rushing to put books away to leave the house for the next activity, they are taking their time to put their books away neatly.
  3. Organized plastic ware cupboard.  It has been a disaster for YEARS!  I’m honestly not sure if much has been done with it since we moved in over ten years ago.  One day after lunch, I sat on the kitchen floor, opened the cupboard door and got busy.  We have decided to discard most plastic food storage items due the the toxicity, so it was just a matter of gathering the old things and making a couple of trips out to our recycling bin.  I kept a few in case they are needed for packed lunches or to send leftovers with guests.  I shelved our new glass storage ware in an organized manner which will be easy for my children to maintain when they are putting dishes away.  This project which was several years overdue only took FIFTEEN MINUTES!
  4. Time to sew.  My youngest has been asking me to teach her to sew for several months now and my excuse had always been that we need a good chunk of time.  The first weekend of all this she reminded me that we have a good chunk of time as she cleaned off her desk to make a nice sewing area.  I brought my sewing machine out of the closet, threaded it, and it jammed when I tried a few practice stitches before my attempt to teach her.  We have more time to sew when I find the motivation to figure it out again.  I must do that soon.
  5. Time to paint.  The first weekend I placed an online order from Hobby Lobby for canvases, acrylic paints, and brushes.  A week later when they arrived my kitchen table was occupied for three days as my daughters revisited their inner artists.  I thoroughly enjoy the finished products.
  6. Daily talks with Mom.  I have always talked to my mom two or three times a week, but with this new lifestyle we have I look forward to calling my mom everyday. I’m extremely grateful for my brothers and their wives who live near her and are making sure she has groceries and is well.  I know she is grateful, too.
  7. Walks with my husband.  My husband is fortunate to still be working and two days he gets to work from home.  We go for two mile walks a few days a week.  This is something we haven’t done in years.  I really savor this time with him as we walk, talk, and reconnect.  I hope this becomes a new normal for us. 

I don’t know when things will get back to normal, or the “new normal” as it may be, but I assume it will be a gradual return.  In the meantime, I will try not to focus on the things I miss, rather I will savor this time and what I like about being at home.

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Learn Something New

Well, we’re almost half way through January.  Did you make a new year resolution?  How’s it going?  Have you kept your new year resolution?  I have no intentions to cause feelings of guilt or shame as I didn’t even make a resolution! I tried to do the word thing.  You know, come up with one word to live by for the year.  I didn’t get far with that because I couldn’t think of a word.  A few days into January, however, I did come up with a phrase. Inspired by my mother, who is 80 years old and has just started taking swimming lessons in the past year, I’ve decided on a phrase for 2019 which is “Learn Something New”.

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Each month I will learn something new which I have not done before.  I actually decided this would be a monthly endeavor as my daughter was teaching me how to knit.  While my girls were using their Hobby Lobby gift cards, I picked out this pretty, soft, ballet pink yarn to make myself a scarf.  As you will see in the photos, I’m trying something new, not trying to PERFECT something new.  I’ve been enjoying knitting this month and even bought another color of yarn as I anticipate some snow days and extra time for knitting.yarn

I’m making myself a list of the months and ideas of what I will try each month. I’m blogging about it because I think it’s a wonderful idea to share, and maybe I’m searching for some suggestions and accountability. (Also, I haven’t blogged in a very long time and this is very fitting with the title of my blog.)

January- knitting

February-  lettering or calligraphy

March- learn a beginner Reel or Jig

April- geocaching

May-

June-

July- paddle boarding

August-

September-

October-quilt sampler

November-

December- Make Ukranian Origami Stars

Feel free to make suggestions of new things for me to learn in 2019, or join me in this modified resolution to learn something new!

An Elementary Intro to Shakespeare

Provide an early introduction to Shakespeare when your children are young and they are likely to learn more deeply and efficiently when they meet him again in high school literature. Teaching Shakespeare early may seem daunting, but don’t worry. As classical educators we merely begin a brain file now and then as the children mature more information is learned and stored in that file. Some ways to include Shakespeare in an elementary curriculum include memorization, literature and real life theater experiences.

Memorization

How to Teach Your Children Shakespeare by Ken Ludwig is a book for parents to use as they teach even the youngest children passages from famous Shakespeare plays. You can provide your children with rich language experiences, exposure to quality literature and the joy of success as they recite lines of the Renaissance Period. Consider this book to grow with your child, or to be family friendly for students at of various ages, as it advances from memorization to further explanations and helps students to understand the writing of Shakespeare.

Literature

Young Readers can enjoy the plots of Shakespeare’s written works in modified versions appropriate for their age. Illustrated Stories from Shakespeare by Usborne is a good choice. I have dancers, so Ella Bella Ballerina and A Mid Summer Night’s Dream is a favorite. Also, introduce different genres to your new readers with the Who Was William Shakespeare? biography from the Who Was series of young chapter books. DK’s Eyewitness Shakespeare is a biography enriched with visuals and detailed pictures.

 

Theater

While it may not always coordinate with the schedule of your studies, look for local schools performing plays or ballets. You may want to inquire if they have a children’s day. They are often a lower price if your group is big enough and they may provide additional educational discussions before or after the production. You could do this after your reading and memorization to provide more meaning to their work, or it could be the kick 0ff as a motivation for new studies.

You can use these resources and suggestions within your History and Language Arts programming, or make it a summer unit. Whichever you choose, relax and enjoy getting acquainted with William Shakespeare.

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Do Something Great

It was mid-Christmas day, my husband and I were sitting together on the love seat in the tree room while he was setting up my new MacBook and he whispered to me, “Do something great.”  Simultaneously, our youngest skipped into the room unknowingly interrupting and started telling us how she was going to program her new robot to dance.  We both joined her conversation, watched the robot dance, and nothing was ever again mentioned about me doing something great with my new laptop.

Yet, I’ve been thinking about it ever since.  He met me when I was doing my part to make the world better place by teaching in schools for children who had severe behavior challenges and taking classes towards my master’s degree.  The year we met I was awarded Teacher of the Year at our school and a couple of years later completed my master’s degree.  Several years after that, early in our marriage, I became a special education coordinator and helped to open a new school in the county.   During that season in my life I felt that I was doing great things.

Currently, as a stay at home-homeschooling mom my efforts are focused on our daughters’ academics and activities, preparing healthy meals, doing laundry, and then keeping a neat house. They were listed in order of importance (to me).  I’m often driving my girls to activities so you can imagine everything doesn’t get done.   And, I admit I tend to dwindle the little time I do have for myself on social media.  I’m doing things, but not sure how great they are.  The girls are doing and learning great things.

My husband is fully supportive of homeschooling.  In fact, it was his idea.  I know he is pleased with what the children are learning.  I know he recognizes the importance of their activities outside of the home.  I think he also recognizes that I have more to share as an individual.  His whisper was motivation to discover and develop my personal strengths again.    While he knows that my time and energy are poured into our girls (not so much the house, but he is usually patient about that); I think he sees that I have put my own learning, activities and striving for personal success on the back burner.

I’m  not sharing this to make a declaration of a new me, but to encourage myself and some of you who may be in a similar position of focusing so much on our children that we are losing ourselves. Who will join me?  We can still prioritize efforts on our children and their education, but let’s be sure to make time for our own interests and learning.   What better time than the ending of one year and entering a new one to do some personal goal setting?  Isn’t a new year a great time to take some steps to learn something new or return to a previous passion?   Wouldn’t it set a wonderful example of lifelong learning for our children?  I have no idea yet what it will be, but I’m going to carve out some time, weekly or daily, for myself this year and do something great.