Sunday, September 22, 2013

Busy, Busy, Busy

Have you ever heard "BusyBusyBusy" by Kevin Klein on the Philadelphia Chickens album (Sandra Boynton)? That song seems particularly apt right now!

I haven't been posting, and this is the thing, I'm really in the thick of it all. I'm chauffeuring the kids all over the place and trying to fit in shopping, exercise and food prep in-between.

Also, I've committed to get my co-op teaching obligations out of the way this Fall so as to be freer for other commitments in the Spring. I've got two lessons to teach this week.

In addition, our lawn, which was killed-off on accident by my lawn service over the summer, has been reseeded, and after a week of every spare moment being given to watering, it is now no longer mud, but mud with a bit of green fuzz. As with every little thing, there are many little consequences, like having to walk the dog three times a day to keep her out of the mud and baby sprouts (wheras before I just opened a door to let her out).

Meanwhile, we are having car trouble and there are extra meetings to go to and plans to make, and it's been keeping me from my blog.

We have done some cool trips the past couple of weeks, and I will share those soon. Opportunities and resources abound!... to my eternal ruin.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Umstead Walk

The cool water splashes below me in the creek as I walk the trail through the stiltgrass meadow. The trees rise tall in the warm humid air, their green canopy keeping the worst of the hot sun away. I listen to the cicadas loudly buzzing their late summer throbbing song above me and watch the first few leaves drift down, thankful for the way it all fills my soul this morning. A tiny chorus frog hops across my path and I continue on my way.

(Waxing poetic at Umstead State Park this morning.)

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Beset with Doubts

I started writing this post to tell you about the semi-yearly angst I was experiencing. You know, the "Oh my God, we aren't doing...enough, the right things, the right amount of things...!" "Why didn't I sign them up for x,y,z?" "Why are we still doing c?" "Why the heck did we decide to move him to this lower level of sport when he clearly should be being more challenged?" "Why are we not doing more science?" I'm messing my kids up! Why did I think I could do this? (Hide face in hands and crumple to the floor.)

I think this starts this time of year as the school year is slowly cranking up and most of the rest of the kids in the neighborhood are off to their prospective schools, and our own schedule is a weird compromise between what the kids want, what I won't let them finish until they really finish it, and the things I think they should be doing. Some things have begun, but I don't really know how it's all going to fit together yet. Meanwhile other friends are doing OTHER things that all sound so amazing and worthwhile, and yet there really are only so many hours in the day. 

This year I have added to my worries thoughts about homeschooling high school and what that means in terms of accountability and not wanting to screw up my brilliant daughter's (I can say that, I'm a parent.) college choices by failing to put her in the right classes at the right time.

Pant, pant...

...Ok, I think I need to be talked down again. Please bring me down off the cliff into reality again. Whew. Ok, I feel better now.

Anyway, today we started a couple of new activities and they turned out to be good choices and I realized that many of (if not all) of our choices are not bad ones. Yes, we are heavy on the arts, and that is because I have two kids who are musical and one that is really creative. I do regret the team choice we made for our sports guy this year, but he'll survive. The scheduling reasons we did so remain. He can make it up next year and maybe he will have more perspective at that point and be less likely to burn out by high school. 

I looked at my kids and realized that they are both really great kids. They love each other, they are mostly well mannered, they are eager and participatory students, and they are happy people. What more could a mom ask? If I've created some holes in their educations or messed up on some things, most of it can be corrected as needed as they grow. Sometimes, it takes a moment of stepping back and looking at the big picture again to regain some perspective. 

What really is important? For me, it is that we are a close and happy family, that my kids are happy people able to get along with and interact socially with a wide variety of humans and animals. I want them to practice creativity and use creative problem solving, and I want them to know how to learn, so that they can find out and teach themselves anything they need to know. Good attitudes are also key, and that only comes from being in an environment where they are heard and where respect is a two way street between them and the adults in their lives. 

I overheard a conversation in the store today. A lady who was handing out samples at the grocery store was having a conversation with an older woman about how she is homeschooling her kids because the school really wasn't doing anything to help her oldest with his learning issues, and the older woman was loudly agreeing with her, saying that she had been a teacher herself and thought homeschooling is a great choice. Next, this teenage kid steps into the conversation saying how he had been homeschooled since he decided he wanted to in sixth grade. It occurred to me that homeschooling might be a bit of a hip trend right now... kinda like kale and rainbow looms... and it's sad that our schools have come to this point where so many people are deciding to opt out instead of hang in. I know that this lifestyle doesn't work for everyone, and there are some schools in our area that are trying to offer quality education in spite of all the testing, so there are some halfway decent options. Still, isn't it great that so many parents out there are questioning the system? Even if they try homeschooling and can't get it to work for them, at least they are willing to try to make things better for their kids. They aren't just saying, "Kids just need to go through all of this because life is tough and that's how it is." They are questioning and willing to try different things, and I find that really encouraging. 

I was very tempted to step into the conversation as I leaned behind them to grab some half and half, but decided there was enough being said already and let it be.

Our homeschool group is having their "Not Back to School" picnic this week, and I think I am ready to go into the year generally happy with our choices. It's going to be another crazy, full year. As usual, I'm not entirely sure I'm am ready and up to everything I have committed us to doing, but in the end, I am sure it will be a great and amazing year of growth if I can just keep my perspective and remember to be Mom as well as teacher, chauffeur and entertainment director. It's not about the quantity and school mandated categories of what we accomplish as much as the quality of what we do and how we spend our time. Some of that time what we do won't fit into neat boxes, but it sure will be worthwhile. I'm going to go give my kids a hug now. May your academic year be fun and may you always keep perspective. I'll try to be there to talk you off the cliff if you end up there.