Sunday, January 20

Project Round-Up

Wow, all that light coming in through the window highlights every little thing that needs finishing around here. I have a list, however, and we have A Plan. So, on we go!

There's a cabinet/bookshelf that's been languishing in the dining room for years. It held the printer and ALL the paper I didn't know what to do with, but couldn't part with, either. As of today, it's out of there, and we have room to put a coat rack by that door. It's going to be swanky and practical. I'm so excited. Overall, this is a win. However, turns out we never put baseboard behind it. I think Zorak built the cabinet shortly after we put the flooring in, and the baseboards came a year or so after that, so... we blew it off. Well, no longer! The house now has a contiguous line of baseboard around all the walls in all the rooms. It's almost like living with grown ups.

And, the cabinet is empty. That, in itself, was a project. All the paper hoarding tendencies got dealt with head-on this week. Ouch. There's a therapeutic glass of wine waiting at the end of one of these projects, I hope. I'm going to savor the living daylights out of it, if there is.

We started the late-winter limb debridement, as well. Mother Nature tends to the most urgent limbs for us, but she's pretty bad about just dropping them anywhere. I like to think they're good to have around - they're natural, and composty, and provide a sense of wild adornment. Zorak insists they give the place a neglected, mildly haunted look that's unappealing to all except the least desirable visitors (namely field mice and squatters). OK, that's a fairly compelling argument. He wins. We'll pick up. I'm hoping to visit the landscape guy this week. We have friends who visited him and followed his advice, and their front yard went from Random Woodsy Front Yard to Lovely Rural Garden Vista in a weekend. I want that. Of course, we're slower than they are, and not nearly as motivated, so I'll be happy if we do in a year what they did in a weekend. As long as it gets done, there will be fistbumps. Maybe even high fives, if I'm feeling particularly geeky.

The basement, ever a source of manual labor requirements and probably the biggest reason Z and I avoid making eye contact from time to time, is also in our sights. Cull, clear, clean, burn, donate, give away, sell, burn a little more (the burn barrel is *right there*. No excuse, really.) You'd think that we would eventually have an empty, open space we could let out for dances and weddings, but so far, it's not looking like that's going to happen. Someone is sneaking stuff in there. I don't know who, or what, exactly, but... it's uncanny how much stuff is still there after several years of culling, burning, and giving away. We're blessed, that's for sure, but we need to be blessing others a little more fervently, I think.

That, school, and playing in the freak snow we got this week have pretty much been all we're up to. Hard to make that interesting, so it's easier to skip. There's a lot going on, but I'm not ready to spill it here yet. And of course, the minute someone says, "Don't think about the Stay-puff Marshmallow Man," that's all you can think of. It's funny to be human. We're so weird.

Tomorrow, it's back to the basement. I think we've got some bathroom vents to do maintenance on, as well. But I promise that if I do blog, it won't be the equivalent of a checked off to-do list, like this one was. If you're here, and you're reading, you deserve better than that. Or at least more effort. No guarantees that the quality will be much better, regardless.

Kiss those babies, always,


Wednesday, January 9

Week 1, We Owned It. Or rented it...

The feedback from the kids has been good. Both the older boys enjoy knowing their work is getting done, and they appreciate having free time to apply as they choose. Actually, they like the free time, and they appreciate that I'm not stressed out over unfinished work. But at these ages, I'll take it. John's been hunting daily, and he's in heaven. James has started learning Python - also in heaven. Different ends of heaven, I guess.

Jacob, for whom I blocked in huge swaths of intentional free time throughout the day, seems happier and more able to focus than I can remember him being since... ah, since he mastered speaking English, really. This is kind of exciting. Since he's not spending all his energy trying to slip past before I can give him something to do, he's got a lot of time and energy to build/find/exhume things. And, again, since he's not trying to slip past me, he's eager and excited to share them with me.

That's what I was after. That's good stuff.

The staggered reading times are working out, and since each boy has at least something on the Kindle, they can pass it around without a backlog.

The early morning quiet time for work and preparation is paying off in the quality of my own function. The house is tidy. We've had dinner regularly and fairly well-planned. Bills paid, grocery made, laundry caught up... it nearly looks like one of us knows what we're doing.

The weak link in the plan is me. I'm flipping exhausted. If I can't force myself to bed earlier, there is no way in the world I'll be able to pull this off past Easter. *yawn*

But it's good. We're all learning something new this Winter.

Kiss those babies!

Monday, January 7

Back to School Day

The pencils are sharpened, the planners are filled in, the kids are asleep. For now, that'll do. I got up early this morning so I could have a little peace and maybe tackle the day head-on instead of letting it clothesline me.

So what are we doing this next block? It looks like we're reading. A lot. James is reading the Orestia and the Theogony, as well as The Last Days of Socrates. He'll read some histories (Early History of Rome, History of the Peloponnesian War). And then some fun reading. Right now, he's enjoying Piers Anthony's books, and some of the Jasper Fforde titles.

Before he dives into Physics (doing a non-Calc based Physics this time around), he'll read a translation of Euclid's Elements of Geometry and Archimedes' On the Sphere and the Cylinder.

He's going to finish up Memoria Press' Traditional Logic (yes, it's taken us way too long to do that, but we will finish), wrap up pre-Calc with MUS, bebop through some Henle, and get some good, solid writing under his belt with MCT's writing course. He asked for some of the Art of Problem Solving books before we move into Calculus. I can't say that sounds 'fun' to me, but he thinks it sounds a lot more interesting than the next level of Logic. Perspective matters.

John's set to wrap up Zeta, finish First Form, push his way through the end of Essay Voyage, and follow us through the rest of the Ancients. History isn't as hands-on-fun in the Logic stage, but it is more interesting once you have those pegs tacked into the wall. There aren't a lot of fascinating titles for that stage, though, so we're cobbling, mostly. He's reading through the Yesterday's Classics collections, and some of the Memoria Press titles. He's got the outlining down, which is far ahead of where I was at his age. I'd forgotten how much of a skill it is to be able to pull the main idea out of a collection of thoughts. Good skill to have, though. He may not appreciate it much, now, but he will when he's trying to make sense of the world.

He's nearly done with the Thinking Toolbox and we'll play with The Fallacy Detective for the rest of the year. I think that's one of his favorites. He's been reading poetry and short stories this year, in his free time. Haven't had to add much assigned reading to it. He's found a few new-to-us authors, and we hope to hit the Booklegger sometime this week to pick up some more titles. He's also hoping to get the forge fired up a bit this block, and get some projects done with it.

JakeRabbit is flying through anything I give him, which I don't understand because every time I turn around, he's outside doing his Peter the Goatherd impression. Kid's happiest when he's out there with his satchel, walking stick, and hat. The chickens and dogs follow him everywhere. He's always out there, and he'll come in when I call, but the second he can feasibly excuse himself, *poof*, he's gone again, collecting insects, finding birds, identifying plants, tending the critters. But... his work is done, he knows more now than he did in the Fall... :shrug: I guess that works. When I put together his schedule for this block, I tacked in large chunks of blank time. Why fight it? If he starts to slip, we'll reconsider, but the out-of-doors seems an appropriate place for a 9yo boy to spend his time.

EmBaby is reading, writing, doing sums. She's loving Granny Fox tales and stories from The Blue Fairy Book. So much drawing. Drawing, sketching, painting. More drawing. Such a content little learner. Then she goes out to follow Jake around the property. This level feels downright magical.

Jase is feeling the pressure of not being able to read. So he's asking, now, "What does this say?" and "What's that?" It won't be long before they'll all be readers. Wow.

Kiss those babies!

Tuesday, January 1

So, it's a new year...

That would explain the look of bewilderment Z gave me when he asked what our plans were last night, and I said, "I don't care what we do, but we better get on it, because they are not staying up until ten-thirty again!"

It was a long day, okay? In the post-Christmas lag, with the ongoing parenting, feeding, cleaning, general wrestling of the feral cats (and rounding up the slippery one), my brain shuttled any knowledge of a pending celebration and instead focused (somewhat intently) on curling up with a roaring fire, some Bailey's in the coffee, and a Jasper Fforde book. I love my kids, but none of that scenario included having the children up until all hours of the night.

But, it's New Year's Eve!

Aaanddd, they're old enough to know what's going on. I kind of miss the days that I could point to the sunset and say, "Alrighty, kids! It's almost time for bed!" Not so bad in the summer, because they're outside, and in the winter, hey, half the population of Florida eats dinner at 4:30 and hits the hay by five. Nothing wrong with that. But they grow up, learn to tell time, read a calendar, and eventually look at you expectantly because they *know* there's a holiday on. And, as I explained to EmBaby when she asked what the big deal was about marking a full rotation around the Sun, humans are celebratory creatures. We like to come together, we like to mark the special amidst the mundane. We look for any opportunity for a feast or a gathering, and we set those opportunities aside. They become special because we make them so. It's good stuff, this being Human. The reminder didn't hurt me one bit, either.
Luckily, it only took a little recalibration on my part (made easier by Z taking everyone with him to the grocery and the video store, so I had a few minutes to think in full sentences and not have to mediate the cabin-fevered children - bless him!), and we were off for an evening of fun.

We had jalapeno and green chile cheese dip. We had fish tacos. We had root beer floats and Christmas candy. (Evidently, our theme for the New Year is, "Eh, why not?") Then we put the two littles to bed, and we had zombie movies and sparkling cider. We chased down some good ideas for 2013, and sketched out a plan. I thought back to when I was 12 and 14, already ready to be gone from the house for NYE, instead of stuck at home, not talking, just sitting there, staring at each other. And I thought how thankful I am that we have a different dynamic in our home. That the boys are forgiving of their aging mother and her desire for quiet in the wee hours of the night, but that they're not surprised that she can get in there and laugh and fisk a good zombie movie, too. We laughed. A lot. We ate a lot. They shared some of their ideas, and they have good ideas. We shared our ideas. (Have I mentioned that the boys are patient? They are.)

We don't know what this coming year will bring, but we know we'll give it our all, and we'll do it together. That's enough. That's actually more than enough. It's going to be an amazing year!

Kiss those babies!