Sunday, October 28, 2007

Happy Birthday to us!

Late October is a big birthday time here at Aquinas Academy. N4 starts things out - he turned 5 this year, which is just unbelievable to me.

Despite our financial difficulties, thanks to grandma and grandpa, and "Aunt Jenn" (my best friend from high school who lives just a couple miles away and is my kids unofficial "auntie"), N4 had a great birthday.

The coolest present he got was a kids' digital camera. Or maybe it was the really neat bug stuff (house and a vacuum thing to suck up the bugs to study - now *that* I've gotta love! :-) The kids spent days catching moths, beetles, and a lizard. They cried when we let the lizard go! But I have to say - it's just so interesting to look at the things a 5 year old takes pictures of! Almost every picture he takes of me or dh is from an angle we've never seen before - looking up from about waist level! Lots of pictures of his bears, the furniture, the inside of his brother's mouths or their ears or... I will post some of N4's pictures soon - some of them are quite good!

Next was my birthday. I'm now officially in my "late" 30s, as opposed to "mid" 30s. Not so sure how I feel about that, but I had a great day. I did get one present - a bookstore gift card from the aforementioned "Aunt Jenn" - I can't wait to use it!! My other friend and my dh conspired to give me a mini-surprise party. We had a great time! I got beautiful flowers from "Monkey1",

plus a fun pizza dinner and my very own cake. When I had 9 young children singing me Happy Birthday, along with my husband and great friend, I felt like the luckiest, most blessed woman on earth!

This week, S3 wil turn 7. My head spins, wondering how in the world my tiny little babe got to be 7 years old! I'm really wondering if he'll have front teeth on his birthday. I took this picture a month ago when we realized his two front teeth were almost ready to come out.

But they're still there! One tooth in particular is just hanging there, but that last root will just NOT break. I told dh he just has to get it out before he goes out of town - I just do NOT do the tooth thing! S3 is going to look so cute with no front teeth!

Where chaos reigns...

October has been an absolute total wash here at Aquinas Academy. We really haven't lifted a pencil all month - thank goodness it's only our second official month of school and we have plenty of time to catch up.

Dh's continued unemployment has really thrown me for a loop so far this year. I just don't handle stress well anymore. I think I used to be better, but years of critical illness, job loss, poverty, several moves, and wild uncertainty have really used up my emotional reserves.

I have spent most of the month berating myself for not sucking it up and getting things done, regardless of our circumstances. You'd think with all the practice I've had, living with unemployment and financial hardship, I'd be better at it. Ah, well. Can't change what I've done or not done this month, but we can move forward.

The good news is, dh has two major interviews this week that we're hoping and praying result in very good job offers. Next week, if needed, dh has an interview in Phoenix, AZ. I don't want to move! While I don't love Atlanta traffic, I do love my friends, the community I have here, I love my house, and I really, *really* love my church. The only real plus about Phoenix is that they have a more reliable water supply than we do here in the drought-striken southeast - and I can't believe I'm saying that! I so hope that it doesn't come down to us having to move. At any rate, hopefully, God willing, this time of unemployment and pending financial doom will be over with soon!

My plans for me, the kids and school is still a bit nebulous. Quite honestly, I think I'm going to take a different approach for a month or two. We're going to give this week a total miss - we've got a huge interview for dh on Monday (I get too nervous when he's interviewing to do anything but bite my fingernails!), a birthday on Tuesday, Halloween (though sadly, we can't afford costumes or candy, so the plan is just to have cookies and popcorn and watch scary movies all day), All Saint's Day, and dh is also travelling to Chicago for an interview on Thursday (it's a local job, he's just meeting people from the national office there). So, it's going to be a busy week and I won't set us up to fail by setting up big plans. Next week, however, I do want to get back to a bit more active learning. I think I'm going to save the really formal lessons till after the Christmas season, but we do need more structure in our day, more opportunities to learn and grow. I'm actually excited about this. I will post my ideas on what we'll do as the weeks progresses. I'm thinking along the lines of art and music study, perhaps a poetry unit, math games, puzzles, memorization, read-a-louds, nature study, some informal, kid-friendly science experiments. Basically, I think we'll just do a lot of learning activites that I find fun! I'll still do math and reading with the younger three, and J1 can do his math and whatever else interests him if he wants to. But, for the most part, I just want us all to get into a rhythm of enjoying learning together!

I will definitely keep you all posted on how things go! I really hope to get back to regular blogging, I really do miss writing about our days. I'm actually toying with the idea of starting another blog or two. I'll keep Aquinas Academy about our school and kid-related stuff. I'm thinking of some sort of "home" blog, too. I've learned so many lessons about being frugal that I'd love to share, plus I love to cook and plan and dream of decorating my home. I'm also thinking of another blog about my faith, a little politics, a little ethics and molity and philosophical musings. I'm debating keeping this blog, or creating a new one and just putting everything in one spot. I'm not completely sure what to do, quite honestly - any thoughts from my regular readers? :-)

Saturday, October 06, 2007

The Fruits of Home Schooling...

Every once in awhile I manage to have an "ah ha!" moment, where I realize, despite all my self-doubts, that these children really are learning. Oftentimes these moments are fleeting, and I barely acknowledge it to myself, let alone write about it here. But just now, I noticed the following exchange between J1 (oldest) and N4 (youngest).

The two of them were off playing some Age of Empires type computer game, when all of a sudden they walk down the hall together, and J1 tells me, "N wants to know what a river delta is..." and they go over to the maps we have on our dining room wall. J1 says, "Hmm...let's see. Oh yeah - Egypt! Look there - see? That's the Nile River. And do you see those blue streaks there at the top? That's where the Nile breaks up into lots of smaller rivers, and that area is the river delta. It floods now and then, so it's got really good soil, and there's lots of farming there. And, especially in the ancient world, where there was good farming, there were cities..." And N4 follows J1 back to our computer room with a definite sense of worship, lol!

It's so cool to see it when they teach each other, especially when they're just having fun, and it's all a natural part of their lives. I just love that!

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Thank goodness!

Thank goodness it's the beginning of the year. I have plenty of time to make up/catch up with all that we're NOT doing right now!

We had a really good first three weeks. Things went well, and we had a nice rhythm and routine. And then, the end of the third week, I fell behind in my planning and organizing. Somehow, last week went by without anything getting done. I thought that would be ok, because year round school works better for us anyway, always has, and this weekend I worked out a nice schedule of 3-4 weeks "on" school, 1-2 weeks "off". But I didn't get to that planning stuff again. And yesterday went by without me having a chance to get to it. And this morning, when I went to correct J1's work and get him set up for the rest of the week, I couldn't find the books and materials I needed. I realized that I have become completely, hopelessly disorganized.

The stress and uncertainty of dh's continued unemployment is really taking a toll. I do NOT deal with this well at all. So, I talked it over with dh, and we've decided we will give formal school a miss the rest of this week. We are going to spend the next few days (in addition to dh continuing to look for work, of course!) cleaning and organizing. Taking this time to hard-core clean will keep me actively busy, and that always helps me deal with stress. Getting better organized will make all the things I need to do during school time easier. And it will just flat-out make me feel better - for me (not so much for the men in my life, unfortunately!) living in chaos makes it that much harder to deal with the stress in my life.

So, even though I feel bad about not doing much formal school work last week and this week, I know I will feel better if I get my home under control. To make it more fun, I will try to post some "before" and "after" pictures. Check back later today to see what I do with my kitchen/dining room areas!