A big in breath

While we tend to take off most of December, we are so busy with crafting, baking, shopping, and other Christmas related activities, that it doesn’t feel like downtime.

Now that Christmas is past, I feel this sudden space to breath in and assess where we are and where I want to head for the new year.

I started by going to the library on my own this afternoon to work on planning for the rest of the school year. I have already finished my first and fourth grade planning for the year, but I still had high school to work on. We are supposed to start back Monday and I had nothing written in for our daily plans! I know which blocks we are doing but I needed to work out the detailed planning.

I was putting off high school planning because I’ve been really unsure of where we are headed with high school.

The last two months have been very hard with my tenth grader as he was in a play that was consuming most of his time and headspace. We also were using Udemy courses for the first few months, which felt like a break for me, but I don’t think it was the best choice for him. He likes more interaction with learning.

So, now that we are coming out at the tail end of 2019, I am feeling more clear on where to go. We are doing a month of chemistry in January, which is something he loves. That will be a good way to ease back into things. I’m also going to start getting more serious about writing up his transcripts now that I have a book on the topic (Setting the Record Straight).

Week wrap up

We went on our lantern walk for Martinmas with our homeschool co-op.

Practicing the names and sounds of the alphabet that my first grader has learned so far:

Working through the Norse myths with my fourth grader. We only have one more week of Norse myths left!

And his music lesson and form drawing:

More from our week

We are getting into our school rhythm more. Finished up week two today! following are some photos from grade 10 and 4. The tenth grader is doing a LA/history block called ‘The Word’ (on udemy) which is a history of the written language, more or less, with some ancient history mixed in. The fourth grader is doing a mapping/local geography block.

For a back to school present, I gave my 10 year old his own set of watercolors. He’s been doing a lot of painting on his own. I love his artwork so much, I had to share a bit of it.

Planning begins

I’m in the middle of planning three grades: first, fourth, and tenth. This will be my first time teaching three grades simultaneously and I know I’ll need to be in my game to make it happening. So, my planning needs to be tight!

The easiest grade to plan is first. It’s my second time teaching it and I saved most of my prop drawings from last time. I’ve decided to redo them, though, as the book they were in isn’t holding up very well and my skills have vastly improved. So, I’m doing lots of block crayon drawings at the moment!

I’m using Waldorf Essentials for grades 1 and 4. And their Planning for Peace journal/workbook is a must-have!

Here are the resources I’m using for grade 1, more or less. I’m about 75% done planning grade 1.

Grade 4 planning has a bit more to go still but I’m making good progress.

Those are some fourth grade weekly block plans. I still need to do our daily plans.

I am using these books as well, for both early grades.

High school planning is not as far ahead. I’m waiting for some books to arrive and I plan on diving in deep once I’ve finished planning grades 1 and 4. Tenth grade looks like it’ll be a great year. I’m going to be focusing on art and poetry, in addition to the sciences we are doing.

So far, these are my main books I have to plan tenth grade.

I am experimenting with this little book this year. It has some interesting handwork ideas.

As I work my way through planning, I’ll continue to blog about it. So stay tuned.

Winter Solstice

The darkest day of the year has passed. This turning of the wheel is such a special time. It feels so different than the summer solstice. Each year that we celebrate, it feels calmer and more reverent.

We made sun bread to start the day.

We also made pizza, which I like to make on the solstice as it is big and round like the sun.

As the sun began setting, we went outside to build a fire. We kept it burning while we ate dinner (inside, as it’s very cold out!). We then headed out to burn our Yule log after dinner.

Every year, we get a log of wood and wind cotton string all around it. We then sit and discuss what intentions we want for ourselves in the new year and we write it on small bits of paper. These papers get tucked into the string and the log then gets placed into the fire. Last night, the moon was very full and the sky was clear. It was a perfect night for a solstice fire!

Tonight was our spiral walk with our co-op. There was rain forecasted, so we set it up inside. It was lovely!

And so, winter is here again!

The first half of December

December is well under way. We’ve had plenty happening and much more breathing out time in the coming weeks.

Our advent spiral for this year.

As part of our third grade journey, we learned about Hanukkah, which lasted all of last week. My third grader made a menorah and helped light it each night. On the first night, we said a traditional prayer during the lighting. We read lots of library story books about Hanukkah. We made latkes and challah. We made dreidels out of two kinds of clay. (We also made some Christmas tree ornaments.)

We celebrated St Nicholas’ day. No pictures, as I forgot. St Nick brought everyone chocolate coins and wool socks.

This week, we are celebrating St Lucia’s day, which is tomorrow. In preparation, today we made lussekater (Lucy buns), pepparkakor (small ginger cookies), a crown for my daughter and two star boy hats for my sons. They plan on waking up before me tomorrow morning and brining it in to me for breakfast. It may be tricky to wake up before me, as my baby is an early riser. It’ll be fun either way!

A time of reflection

I haven’t blogged in nearly two months. It has been a time of adjustment and reflection. There have been some bumpy days (weeks?) and I’ve had to do lots of inner work and refining my own habits to find a sweet spot again. I’m getting there.

I’ve joked half seriously that I should start a blog called ‘Things My Kids Tell Me’. Not with the purpose of complaining or making jokes, but so that other moms out there don’t feel alone in their struggles. It can feel so isolating and depressing to think to yourself that the (unkind) things your child says couldn’t possibly be said by other kids, because no one you know has ever shared such things. I mean, we don’t really talk about it. Social media is full of the edited happy moments and lots of happy faces. But that’s not real life. And no matter how amazing you are as a mother, it is no insurance against your child saying hurtful things to you. Because what comes out of their mouth is a reflection about what is going on within them. I’ve found again and again how powerful it is to speak up and share with friends what happens within my house. It is sure scary to be vulnerable in that way, but I’ve found again and again that it not only is healing and helpful for me to share but that other mothers then feel less alone. Mothers then open up to me about the things that go on in their homes and how they’ve struggled. Our culture doesn’t do vulnerability very well. So, it takes intention and practice.

In our house, we’ve been in the thick of the 9 year change. I think we are starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel, but that light is still a far way off yet, truth be told. I’m remembering how absolutely vital the inner work piece is and how making time for mediation and mindfulness and fun are is not optional. It is necessity. I’m reminded again and again that the only thing I can be in control of is how I react. So, I’m in charge of me, and that’s my main job as a parent.

I have taken some photos here and there of our homeschooling and life. Things are moving along nicely and we are settling into a workable rhythm. Lots of grace is given, daily. Grace, flexibility and self-compassion. Those are my tools lately.

Michaelmas

Tomorrow is Michaelmas. This is our 5th year celebrating it, if I’m doing my math correctly.

We haven’t done nearly as much for it this year as in years past as we are focusing on the Jewish festivals this year. But, we can’t just skip Michalemas, as it has become a tradition!

Earlier this week, the kids made swords from a precut sword kit that I bought on Etsy. It’s our first time doing that, usually we just make our own. We’ve been hearing stories all week, as well, and this weekend we’ll make dragon bread! Always a favorite.

Today, our Waldorf Co-op met and we dyed silks with turmeric, for some very festive capes for Michaelmas! It was lovey! The children also enjoyed collecting piles and piles of chestnuts.

Our very simple nature table at the moment.

We haven’t had one for a few months since the baby was mobile, as it was low enough for him to destroy. I finally just figured out a place to have it that is out of his reach, but low enough for my 6 year old to see and reach.