Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Child's Night

It is dusk, but the darkest kind.
There is rich grass backed by the spires of evergreens, framed in precisely outlined clouds.

It is dusk.
The daylight whispers goodbye in a feathered sky.
The air is sweet and still....sweet country air.
They run by.
Chasing the prize of a firefly. Or two.

It is dark.
But what a treasure....
a night, still and sweet
spiced by the sound of children laughing
when they catch their prize.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

School Planning

I have just finished planning our school materials and calendar from now through June 2015. I had to adjust our calendar as my brother's wedding is taking place on September 13, and we have planned a family vacation for the entire week prior to his wedding. Normally, this second week of September would be our second week of school. As I did not want to start school, finish a week, then leave for vacation, I've opted to start the second week of August and do a four- week- on, one- week- off rotation. There is a three week block in between Thanksgiving and Christmas, however this is unavoidable. I've learned we need to take whole weeks off when there is a holiday. As in other years, I am aiming for a four- day school week, but am now open to doing school on Saturdays if the need arises.

Planning our calendar was simple, but planning our materials was a very long, sometimes agonizing process. In January, we planned to use enrollment with Seton. By March, when 'The Winter that Would Not End' was taking its full toll on our house and bank account, I came to terms with reality: using Seton was not a financially valid option. I went back to the beginning of the planning and researching phase, and wallowed there, unmoving, for some time. I vacillated between returning to Sonlight, as I own most of the materials, and designing my own courses with free materials. The spot where I came to rest was really a blend of these two approaches. For content subjects, we are using Creek Edge Press, beginning with Geography and Cultures. I have not decided whether we will do Life Science or Nature Study, as I am, for the first time, refusing to schedule too much. We can certainly add more later. I have drawn from Sonlight's book lists to use with Geography and Cultures. For faith, we are reading through 'Tell Me About the Catholic Faith', and have two saint stories as part of geography. For skill subjects, I have made peace with my favorites. Below is the outline for each child.

Grade Roughly Four
Math Mammoth 3/4
Logic of English, Dictation Day by Day (archive.org text)
Sonlight 4/5 readers
Speaking and Writing 4 (archive.org text), Sonlight 4/5 creative prompt monthly
Latina Christiana
MODG 4 poetry memorization

Grade Somewhat 2
Math Mammoth 2
Little Angel Readers
Dictation Day by Day
whiteboard cursive
Sonlight 1/2 readers
Speaking and Writing 3
MODG Latin flashcards
MODG 3 poetry memorization

Grade Approaching 1
Little Angel Readers
whiteboard handwriting
MODG 1 poetry memorization

Friday, November 1, 2013

I left my baby with you. My tiny, fragile, dependent baby was left in your care.
It wasn't really care, was it?
I sensed them from the beginning...
...sensed something wasn't right...

But there was no concrete example to which I could point
for the source of my unease.

Perhaps it was what you were doing to her in the shadows.
Or the other infants left alone, in playpens, swings, and seats.
Or the constant illness.
Or the constant dirty diapers.
(We did speak with you about that)
No- wait- it was when you 'hid' my children so you would pass inspection.
(I thought that situation was suspicious)

My baby. He cried before and after going to you, when he was old enough to understand where he was going.
Oh! But you made everything look so good!

You cunningly hid.
You manipulated.
That you could lie so brazenly and believe your lies is fascinating.
Queen of the preemptive strike, as well.

Was it fun, thrilling, to trick the doctors?

They didn't always do what you wanted, did they?

My baby is okay. And no longer a baby. I know he wasn't abused, but likely neglected when tiny.
I often look at him and wonder if the differences are from that crucial time.

I hope she has peace, both now and later in life as she grapples with her memories.

You?.....There are no more words....

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Out of Candlelight

I am trying to figure out how to be the adult child of a mentally ill parent. Until tonight, I think I believed it was a lie. If he could just snap out of it. If he could just be the good person I know he is. In my mind, he is the top- level administrator at a major organization. He goes on active duty, arming himself with skills to defend our nation. He teaches, he strives, he aspires. The Great Books collection grows. He carries my school books through the halls on his fingers tipped in leather gloves, black wool coat flowing, inspiring the rumor that I am a 'rich kid'.

I feel so poor tonight.

Dads are not supposed to do this. Dads are supposed to be the rock when we need to crumble, the sense when we are senseless. They are supposed to tell us when we are wrong, not the other way around. Dads are supposed to cheer at our swim meets, move us out of college, walk us down the aisle.

He did do that, actually. He walked me down the aisle four days after I checked him out of the psychiatric unit. I'm glad he was there. It is almost my favorite picture of the two of us. My favorite is one of me, as an infant, sleeping on his chest. It is a dark photo, but you can still see the smile, the security, that seeps forward.

It is dark tonight. It is dark in my heart, and dark in my soul. He is gone- or, perhaps, he was never there. Was he? That is what I need to know. Those signs of his illness, almost imperceptible, were real. How can my hero and my sadness exist in the same person? They do, they do.

So tonight I sit. I watch the flames, hear the silence, miss my father. I miss the notion of who I thought he was, and who he has fought against being. Part of the sadness is knowing he, too,  misses who he thought he was. He thought he was a father. He is, but now we must care for him. How do we do that and let him keep that dignity?

I wait, I watch. Perhaps the answer will come out of the candlelight.

Friday, April 13, 2012

The Devil in the Screen

Have you seen him? He's there. I keep trying to get a glimpse of him, but I never seem to catch him. Well, not until his damage is done, that is.

It all starts innocently enough. Mama has dishes and laundry to do, the boys beg for a movie or some such passive, screen- oriented entertainment, and I cave. That's when he gets us. That sneaky devil oozes out through the flickering images in front of my children's eyes and turns them into little demons who cannot manage their behavior, speech, or emotions. They can't be nice and they can't find anything constructive to do with themselves for the remainder of the day.

Darn that devil.

I'm not really serious. I mean, I don't really think that the devil resides within my television. I do, however, notice a marked difference in my kids after they've had any amount of screen- type entertainment. They do become whiny, argumentative, unimaginative, and...well...kind of mean! I notice this pattern the most when they have watched anything with any form of violence or aggression, although not only when they have done so. It is the norm for them to finish a movie and then walk around, allowing the walls to hold them up while saying, "I have nothing to do!"

This week I decided to change their alloted 'screen time' to the evening. The amount of screen time didn't change, but the time of day when they could use it did. It was a bit awkward at first, but then this beautiful thing happened: they played. They played creatively and physically and intensely and, for the most part, kindly. They played so deeply that they- and I- forgot about 'screen time' several of those days. Not that we suddenly had some utopia of creative sibling playtime, but we did have something far better than whiny, bored, irritated children.

Hope you all have a lovely weekend. If you spot the devil in your screen, leave me a little comment below. Better yet, grab him and throw him right out of your house.

hugs and love,

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Week's End- March 17, 2012

This weekend was my scheduled time to do our school progress check- in. I have this scheduled three times a year, and have.....

*Wait, before I go further, I must post a disclaimer. Mama's dependent upon organization. I have charts for my charts, forms for my forms, and a pie graph depicting what percent of my organization is in forms, charts, graphs, or 'other'. This post is a reflection of that. *

....forms made up so I can simply fill in the blank and answer the questions I have laid out for myself. (Gracious, that sounds obnoxious.)

Saturday, I sat down to do our weekly planning and progress check in. I do the check in quarterly. Frankly, I am just tickled. We are on track to be finished with our basics by the end of July. Dante will finish his K work at the end of April and move to G1 work. He is a bit behind in reading. No, I take that back. If he were in the public school system as it exists currently, he would be "behind" in reading. If he were in the public school system when I was in it, he would be ahead and would be playing and napping in Kindergarten. Which is what he does at home, and is what he needs to do. The point is that he's doing well.

Alli is doing quite well, also. I think she is needing some more 'friends time' than she is getting. We took the winter off of all co-op type activities. While she has still have several other activities regularly, she seems to need more. She is a very social creature, unlike her brother who could stay in his room with his legos indefinitely. Thankfully, we start the spring session of co-op in Greenville in about three weeks. We all will benefit from this. It was good to take the time off, but it will be great to get back!

I had hoped we would finish by the end of July as we anticipate moving in August. We will take all of the move time off, used as a summer break. Reading and math review will still happen in the evenings. This helps to keep the rhythm and routine going.

It was incredibly satisfying to fill in my progress sheet, hole punch it, and file it away in the 2011-2012 binder. I love that I have the information in an easy access spot, and can reference it for lesson planning.

Wishing everyone an organized homeschool,

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Wait- What Am I?

Below are some thoughts I had after my husband referred to me as 'prudish'. I realized that as a progressive, he sees me as prudish, while a conservative would see me (on the surface) as....well, just a conservative. I've decided that I'd vastly prefer a different label. How about Traditional Progressive? Hmm, no that doesn't work. Stuffy Progressive? Amish Progressive? Appropriate Progressive? I'm getting nowhere. You decide. What am I?

I like 'family values'. I like unconditional love, healthy relationships, and time spent together in meaningful and fun ways. I believe it takes two parents to raise children, and that, generally speaking, the family unit functions better when one parent is a homemaker. But I don't at all care what a family is made of. Two dads are just fine. I also think the decision about which spouse is the homemaking parent ought to be based on strengths and available resources, not gender.

I think homeschooling is a wonderful way to preserve the family unit and childhood. I believe it affords a unique opportunity to nurture our children's souls, minds, and future. But I do not hate public school, and I think the teachers are doing the best they can in a very challenging system.

With the exception of abuse, which can take many forms, I am opposed to divorce. I think marriage is sacred and a whole lot of hard work. I believe this applies to life partner situations as well. I think it matters much more that there is commitment, monogamy, and love than marriage as defined by 'one man and one woman', or marriage defined by the law.

I dislike what I believe birth control has done to our society's view of sex and life. But I support the existence of Planned Parenthood, and recognize that doing away with birth control is unrealistic and often detrimental.

I am embarrassed by most Victoria's Secret ads, and feel uncomfortable when I hear the lyrics of many secular songs. I value modesty of body and spirit. There is no 'but' here.

I want social programs such as food stamps, WIC, and a national health care plan to exist. But I want them to have a cost for recipients. I don't mean a financial cost necessarily, and I have no idea how to make that applicable on a large scale.( There probably isn't a way as it would have to be evaluated on a case by case basis). I just mean that if I am receiving $400 a month in food stamps, I am also doing something to warrant that expenditure.

I love wearing skirts and appreciate the chapel veil, but the only meaning they have is the one I give them. With skirts I feel pretty, with veiling, an increased focus on prayer.

I love my faith. I am a content Catholic. But I can't say I am 100% faithful to the Magisterium. 99.8% perhaps. I believe that 100% equals blind obedience. For a faith still reeling from a decades- long sex scandal, I would hope that more of the faithful would reserve that .2%.

Thanks for reading. I'm looking forward to your suggestions. Mama needs a new label. Prudish need not apply.