What a summer

I always have this idea that summer will be a time to laze around and watch the flowers grow. And I know I’ve had summer like that in the recent past, but I think as my children get bigger, our summers get busier.

Don’t take me wrong. We have plenty of empty days with nothing planned, but for an introvert like me, the down days aren’t nearly enough lately in the summertime. I know that part of the busyness stems from chasing after a baby right now. He keeps our days very busy. But for the past month we’ve had so many happenings.

First, we went to the coast for a few nights to celebrate my second son turning nine. It was a lovely trip and really filled us up.

Four days after we got home from that trip, we left for 5 days at fiddle camp. This was our third year in a row attending and my kids loved every second of it. It was great. I was thoroughly exhausted when i got home and it took a good 3 days to feel back to normal. Camping with a mobile baby as a solo parent is no walk in the park! I’m so glad we went, though.

We had a full week to recover from fiddle camp before it was time to pack up and head out for the day for a fiddle contest about an hour away. Third year attending it as well. My second son competed and did great. My oldest only brought along his guitar to back up others, and then regretted not bringing his fiddle along and entering. Next year.

The following week brings us to the present. This is fair week. When you are in the 4H program, that makes 5 days of driving back and forth to the county fair, sometimes multiple times. Thank goodness for carpooling. The animals must be cared for and checked each morning before 8, so we head out by 7am. Today my oldest was at the fair for nearly 14 hours! It’s exhausting but fun. I’m sorely looking forward to the rest of August being a bit empty. But then again, I just received an invite from a fiddling family to attend a kids fiddle camp out at the end of the month. Three hours away. I think it’s a testament to my love of the music and watching my kids play that I’m seriously considering attending.

Homeschool Planning

I’ve been in the process of planning out our next school year. I started in May this year, but have taken breaks here and there. I thought I’d share some resources I use, and a bit about my process.

This year I am planning second year kindergarten, 3rd grade and 9th grade, all using Waldorf curriculum.

I always start with my Planning for Peace journal. This is my second year using it and I love it. It was revised this year and is even better than last year. It breaks up the whole planning process into 5 months and includes everyone, including rhythm, meals, inner work and block planning.

I’m almost done with planning for my 3rd grader and I’ve totally finished kindergarten. What does this look like? For my kindergartener, I have my weekly stories planned out, crafts and cooking planned, and I know which props I’ll need each month for story telling.

For my third grader, I have the block plans done for the whole year and daily detailed plans done through the end of December. In November , I’ll go through and plan out the daily plans for the remaining months. All I have left to do is create the artwork (painting and drawing) that I’ll use for his main lessons, and to plan out his music lessons. I’m waiting for my hard copy to arrive to do that. We are using Music Unfolds and the lessons are already laid out as daily lesson plans, so the work will be minimal.

Below are many of the books I’m using for planning. We use Waldorf Essentials curriculum and love it. It’s what we’ve been using for going on five years. I love their work so much that i became a TFW leader for my local area, so if you are local to me and looking for curriculum or support on how to make Waldorf happen at home (hint: the answer is the Thinking Feeling Willing program), message me and I can help.

I have many books that i use for verses and songs and activity ideas, and I’ve included some in the photos below

Planning high school is a bit different. I don’t use a laid out curriculum (but for math, I do) but rather I first look at the suggested blocks for the 14-15 year old and figure out how to arrange their order for our school year. Then I break the blocks into weekly plans and figure out which main lesson topic will be focused on each week. After that, I start hunting down resources. They may be books I own, library books, websites, and even YouTube videos.

In 9th grade, our blocks include: review of 15th-19th centuries, 20/21st centuries with a focus on revolutions, nature study (homeostasis and immunology), geology, meteorology, chemistry, and physics. I’m still looking for resources and planning that part out, but I’ve finished the most of September-December. Here are just two books that I already own that he’ll be using. Most of the books he’ll read, however, will be library books.

For math, we will be continuing with Making Math Meaningful by Jamie York. Jamie is a Waldorf math teacher who has written a fantastic math curriculum. We started using it in 6th grade. I can’t deny that I’m slightly nervous about high school math, but as long as I stay a few steps ahead of my son, it’ll be fine. The resource book has never failed me, and has helped me to understand math in a whole new way.

Planning is key for a successful school year. It can feel tedious but it is vital. Last year, my planning was less than thorough and there were many holes in my plans, as I’d just had a baby and didn’t spend enough time planning before he was born. This year, I want my year to feel smoother, so I’m putting in the time to properly plan. I know it’ll be a much easier school year!

Dolls

My new handwork interest is making dolls. It’s so gratifying to make a beautiful doll with your hands that your child loves. This was an area that used to totally overwhelm me and I thought there was no way i could ever manage learning it.

My confidence first started to bud when I came across a video course for doll making. It was wonderful and helped me to make a beautiful 12 inch Waldorf doll by hand. My only problem with the course is that it is ALL on video. This makes it difficult to reference without sitting and watching something. And this contributed to the doll taking me several months to complete. That wasn’t sustainable.

So I decided to get something in print. Serendipity led me to these two books.

The first book is a wonderful treasury of patterns and instructions for all types of dolls. I’m slowly working my way up to the large limbed doll. The second book does have some simple patterns, but I mostly love it for the written content. The entire first half of the book explains the importance of doll play.

I just recently made some small dolls and thought I’d document the process. I made a twin set of dolls for my daughter and her friend. This was my first time making this pattern. I’m not sure how many hours it took as it was broken up over a number of evenings, and there was even a gap of a few weeks, as I ran out of doll hair yarn.

My next doll project is a doll for my almost 1 year old. My crafting time is limited to evenings most days but I hope to have it started and finished within the next two weeks.

Handwork loose ends

I love handwork. I love making things with my hands. I love the process and the product. Through mostly the process, as the product isn’t always what I was envisioning.

My handwork books and supplies have been in major disarray after we had to turn our craft room into the Zoo room for our guinea pigs and rabbit. Last night I finally tackled it all and it makes me want to get busy on my long list of things i want to make.

I didn’t take a before picture, but it’s so lovely now! I even have a whole drawer for my doll making supplies!

Today, I started chiseling away at my in-progress list. I decided before I dive into anything new, I had to tighten down and focus on the projects I’ve begun. The only exceptions I’ve made were for some crochet baskets that we badly needed in the play room, and a sweet little doll that was a present for my friend’s daughter.

Today I finished a sweater for my baby, and a baby hat that is now much too small for him and has become a doll hat.

This is my list now. I’m thinking I’ll work on the fairy mobile next. It’s a little kit that I bought last summer and I really want to get it made and hung up.

Second Grade Wrap Up

We had our last main lesson for second grade on Friday. It feels good to know we completed the year.

This year was full of stories about Saints, animals (trickster tales and Burgess animal stories), and fables. My son started memorizing his times tables and continued to practice the four processes. He learned about time (reading the clock and the months and days of the week) and money.

He continued his knitting, learning the purl stitch. He knit a lovely scarf, a hat and a chicken. His modeling, painting and block crayon drawing skills expanded.

He learned to identify nouns and verbs in his writing and his handwriting improved. His reading really took off early in the school year and now I’ll find him hiding away, reading a book when he’s supposed to be doing something else. Ha!

His fiddle playing has improved and in March, he won 2nd place in his division at the state contest.

We are in the thick of the 9 year change and therein lies my biggest struggles with him. I know he is going through big changes and adjustments internally. I’m working on supporting him and holding the space while also being the steady calm authority figure that he needs in his life right now.

Here are some photos of a sampling of his main lesson work from the year.

Our day in pictures

(This isn’t our cat but we saw him on our walk, and he is blind. I had to take a picture of him enjoying the sun.)

Of course, there was much much more to our day. Lots of meals and talking and fighting and crying and dishes and playing and laughing. Life is never dull.

What a WEEK

I think I’m feeling the rumblings of summer and the changing of the seasons. I am ready for a BREAK. Ideally, I’d just press pause and take a long out breath. But, life keeps moving.

Every day, I’ve felt like my feet have hit the ground running, from the time I’ve woken up.

We had to bury a hummingbird that flew into our window and broke its neck. (On Mother’s Day, no less).

My glasses broke. I have a backup pair until my new ones arrive. I was ready for something new, anyhow.

My baby has decided that 5:30 am is the best time to wake up and greet the new day. We’ve even had two days this week when he’s woken in the middle of the night to start happily babbling and talking.

I’m wrapping up 2nd grade. We have one more week of lessons for him. And I’m really digging into planning our next year.

On days like these, when I feel like the tasks ahead of me are never ending and overwhelming, I remember a saying from the Tao Te Ching that I learned about from Dr Wayne Dyer. (I was lucky enough to get to attend his talk in person just months before he passed on from this life.)

I’m paraphrasing here: “I do nothing and nothing goes undone.”

This brings me a calm that I can’t even describe. For me, that means I don’t sit and DO nothing, literally. But that I am being swept along this river of life and everything that needs doing will be done, I need only to do what my task at hand is, in this moment.