Sunday, October 31, 2010

This Boring Old Life

Sorry I haven't blogged all week...I know how all of you sit back breathlessly anticipating our next episode (said very tongue in cheek).  I have had nothing of value to share, nothing of interest to say (not that I ever do...why DO you read this??) and my head has been too full of little projects awaiting me here and there. 

My life is very different these days.  I have every hour accounted for with homeschooling and keeping up with all the other things around the house.  We have narrowed things down to keep our sanity intact, and we have a pleasant daily routine that thankfully is uneventful.  But I am afraid it doesn't make for any insightful blogs.  I am in learning mode myself...ministry learning...education learning...specific subject learning...and it is all occupying great gobs of brain space.  However, it doesn't translate into much of interest to anyone else, it is largely internal stuff going on.

And if we are blessed, life will continue on like this for some time to come, and I do mean it would be a great blessing if there were no great drama in our lives for a very long time.  I find that my new life leaves me a very boring person to be with.  I feel "dull" in so many ways. In conversation with friends there is not much to talk about, as my "job" is homeschooling my kids and who wants to hear about that?  There are no office trysts to gossip about, no rumors about downsizing, no new software being developed, nothing...just learning about phonics and adverbs and such.  I have almost no friends in "real life" whose lives revolve around seeking out curriculum, dissecting test scores, and creating unit studies.  There are no "colleagues", except for a small few I have connected with online. I am growing used to it, but I am also seeing how hard it might be for others to find any interest in me at this stage in my life.  Don't get me wrong, I have never exactly been a fascinating person, but these days I am far more of a dullard than I have ever been!

We are facing new stages with the kids as they mature, and Dominick and I are now having to evaluate what direction we will take with them all.  While we haven't yet been asked about things such as cell phones, Facebook or dating yet, those questions will be coming down the pike all too soon and we want to be prepared with thoughtful decisions.  Striking the right balance will not be easy, and as we talk about things we are finding we are likely to be in the minority with many of our parenting decisions.   There have been 3 or 4 things that have come up this past week in conversation that have led us to talk more deeply about this next stage, and I quickly realized that the "tween" stage might be the most confusing to parent. 

Today's society seems hell bent on lowering our understanding of what a teenager is to now include children at 11 or 12 years old, and I am deeply conflicted over it all.  It's not about wanting to keep them children forever and under our wings, it is more about not encouraging (or expecting) a child of 11 or 12 to be engaged in behavior that used to be reserved for 16-17 year olds.  Every generation it seems childhood has shortened, and then we adults complain that our young children act like teenagers.  What do we expect?  We send them the signal that they are already largely "grown up" when they hit the decade mark, then we are disgusted with their attitude when they act exactly like what we tell them they are...teenagers.  We allow kids as young as 9 or 10 to withdraw with iPods and text messages, then wonder why they value their pre-teen culture more than their families.

And then sometimes I think I am a parenting freak of nature who is totally screwed up myself.  There are lines that we will have to draw that are not clear yet where they should be drawn.  I have always been a hodge podge of conservative and liberal beliefs, usually compartmentalized and more conservative at home and globally more liberal on larger issues.  In time I am sure we will discover where our line is, and in our case with our specific kids from their unique backgrounds, those lines may be drawn in different places for each child.  Only time will tell, I guess.  But as voices begin to change and worlds widen, we are definitely entering the Twilight Zone of parenting!

In the meantime, here are a few pictures of what has been going on around here the past couple of weeks.  I know they are not exciting, but I figured an illustration of our less-than-thrilling day to day existence is better than a thousand words...but then you probably got the thousand boring words in this post as well! Hahaha!

Kenny's Halloween costume...Hmmm...I am thinking seriously that clown school might be in order!  He did his own makeup on this.

We started a science project this week.  We gathered various soils from around our town...river bottom muck, corn field soil, adobe clay, etc. and included a couple of odd balls to use for comparison...pencil shavings and wood chips!  We planted pinto bean seeds and are recording data to compare soils and discover which will be the most productive.  I don't have a photo of it, but what a surprise to find that the pencil shavings is winning by a landslide!


We stopped in the middle of the day this week when we received our first real snow of the season.  Everyone joyfully piled outside squealing with delight to play in it for a few minutes.  It was fun to watch all the kids giggling and getting such a kick out of winter's early arrival.



We all have been amazed and proud of Joshua.  With an age gap of 4-5 years between he and all the other kids, he has proven to be a terrific student.  Of course, we are teaching most of the material at the level of a first or second grader, but as you can imagine, the ability of an 11 or 12 year old to fly through some of it or grasp concepts more quickly is obviously a big advantage.  I was concerned initially about Josh being left in the dust or not having the attention span of the others.  Surprise, surprise, it is often HE he sets the tone and models terrific study habits!  Other than taking longer to complete written work because of motor skill development that is behind the older ones, there has been very little difference between his speed of learning and everyone else's.  All of us have made a point of letting him know how proud we are of him, and we really and truly are!



Remember those thousands of National Geographic magazines we bought?  We are finally putting them to use!  We are each creating a Geography Terms notebook with a term and definition on each page and an illustration cut out from a magazine.  The project will be made more challenging for Matthew by requiring him to do research online or at the library and find real life examples.  For example, for the term "bridge" he would say "The Golden Gate Bridge" and then he will need to share the location and 1 or 2 sentences about the history of the item.  Sometimes it is more of a challenge for Mom to come up with creative ways to make things more challenging for Matthew!


This project might take us weeks longer than anticipated because every single one of the kids kept stopping to read something or share a cool photo with the group.  "Hey Mom...look at this!" was the refrain of the afternoon.  The cool thing about homeschooling is we CAN take that time to read, discover and learn as new things we encounter carry us off in different directions.  Our time is ours, and learning can be broader and interest based to a certain degree.  It is such fun to watch as the kids find something that fascinates them.  I am beginning to understand why someone would choose a career as an educator.

 We visited the corn maze today where we also selected our pumpkins.  Mom got wise and had them gut and carve them outside this year...no mess inside...hurray!  They all had a great time and created some great jack-o-lanterns!


It is off to bed now, we have a long day tomorrow and everyone is excited about Halloween!

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Kenny could be a clown in the Shriner's Circus!
How cool!

Anonymous said...

"...very boring person...dull...not much to talk about, as my "job" is homeschooling my kids and who wants to hear about that?

We do! If we didn't we wouldn't be reading your blog or visiting your very warm and welcoming home.

"I have almost no friends in "real life" whose lives revolve around seeking out curriculum, dissecting test scores, and creating unit studies."

Don't you think that part of the value of friendship is that we aren't clones? We bring diverse experiences, opinions, skills, etc. to the table and share them over a Diet Coke.

"Don't get me wrong, I have never exactly been a fascinating person..."

There you go again--selling yourself short. I visited my sister in Chicago, and she said, "Cindy is a beautiful writer [she has taught college English and writing], and she articulates with such compassion and thought." (She had read your blog on suicide and sexual orientation bullying.)

You are giving us a window into another part of our world. You are also changing my opinion of the value and quality of home schooling. You share your life openly--EXCEPT you still have two days to give us your political view, your voting suggestions.

"Today's society seems hell bent on lowering our understanding of what a teenager is..."

Amen. Holding the line a bit longer may turn out to be one of the advantages of home schooling. Angela has already expressed the desire to stay a child longer. Good job, Cindy and Dominick!

Love ya,
Lael

Anonymous said...

Why DO I read you? As you know, I'm also the mom of two girls adopted as older children. Though many might consider that our two sons also came as older children, four years old didn't seem that to us, knowing there were much older children in the orphanage than that. So I'm very interested in the successful adjustment of adopted children...no matter the age. That part of your story is what brought me to your blog. How DID I find it??? Can't remember, but it was when you were picking up the girls. That drama kept me coming back, waiting to see how it all was going to end. And now, I keep reading to marvel at their amazing progress and to once again glory in how God can make families through adoption.

Though I only "homeschooled" kindergarten with six of our eight (all but the last two, of course, and though we've been able to feel good about choosing our local public school, I applaud and agree with many of the reasons families choose that route. I love reading of your creative ideas with your kids. The Natl. Geo notebook project is a terrific idea! And what a way to get a lot of "academic" language into your girls, as they learn to read and talk about the text. Social language is so very different than all they need to know to do schoolwork in their second language...as you well know.

Keep up the great work, Cindy. I can understand how much fun it is to be learning right along with your kids. I think most of us as adults would love to go back and learn those things we didn't in school...probably because some of us (ahem/clearin my own throat here) were too busy goofing around.

And I agree with you about childhood being pushed aside too quickly. Our kids have also had to learn that we don't parent much like their peers' parents do. No Ipods, cell phones (just a tracfone for the child with the license...and he knows I'll check his minutes and messages, if I feel I need to..done that, made some adjustments!), no computer use except for schoolwork after mom types in the password privately, etc. There is way too much garbage and junk to be seen even accidentally online. Family time is still highly prized, and a sophomore in HS still does not get as many priveleges as he will grow into in the next few years...even if he is a good kid and responsible with the clunker we provided for his transportation for sports.

They know it's because we love them that they're not allowed to do some of the stuff their friends do. Might not always like it, but then again, I think they appreciate knowing we're wanting the best for them.

Nancy in the Midwest

Michelle said...

I was raised totally liberally and somehow I turned out OK. However, I think that children, in general, are happier with boundaries and that extrapolates to tweens, teens etc.
My kids have the good luck to have parents who are going to make their lives miserable when they are teenagers! haha.

And I LOVE reading about your homeschool adventures...we are starting soon over here.

Anonymous said...

Hi,

Boring is good when boring means you are all settled and getting on with life.
My 8 year old was watching all the photos.
Se said you seemed to have a big garden and asked if the trees at the back of the photo are apple trees?

Have a lovely week,
Teresa

Anonymous said...

How wonderful to see FIVE happy faces busy carving pumpkins this year!

Much happiness to you all,

Love,

Peggy in Virginia

Hello, Adulthood...But Not Goodbye, Childhood

During these waning days of summer, new adults are slowly blossoming and, for one, childhood is very gradually beginning its tentative wave...