1. We always get out of bed.
2. We always eat breakfast.
Other that these two items, nothing is ever the same. Some might consider this unwholesome, loosey-goosey or downright bad for the children. But we don't - variety is the spice of life! We have busted out of the "bottoms in chairs for X amount of hours" paradigm that public, and many private, schools embrace. We don't want our children to grow up to be content to sit at a desk all day . . . we want them to discover a passion for living that grows outside of the proverbial box.
Here's the thing. My husband owns his own business and he is free to work whatever 70 hours a week he wants . . . it's very flexible. Sometimes he works late and sleeps in. Other times he goes in early and comes home early. Then there are the days he takes off spontaneously and we go to an amusement park or something else equally fun. And then there are the days when he goes in early and keeps working until way past everyone's bedtime. Like tonight, for example.
So, when Daddy is home, we hang out with him. We try to do what he wants to do and we bask in the glow of the whole family being together.
I'll tell you what my ideal "school day" is like and then I'll tell you what really happens. Ideally, we wake up at 7am. I, already showered, dressed and had my quiet time before the rest of the family, have my coffee that I set up the night before while the children get dressed, brush their teeth and come downstairs to a nice breakfast of cold cereal and fresh fruits. We all eat together as a family and have a time of devotional and perhaps listen to some praise music to start our day. Daddy goes out the door for work and the kids run out to the front porch to wave and yell their goodbyes to him. The kids come inside and we start our schoolwork. First we pray for the day and mark the calendar. The kids check their first workboxes and find a fun activity inside, an activity I have carefully and lovingly prepared the
And now here is what really happens. Since we (the adults) stayed up until midnight-thirty last night, we are tired. A small boy wakes me up by poking me in the forehead repeatedly and then pushes my glasses onto my face all haphazard-like while pulling my arms out of bed and saying, "Mommy, it's morning time. Get up. I need to get downstairs so I can have the first waffle."
Waffle? Don't you mean corn flakes?
"Mommy, please make me a waffle. You promised." Pouty lips turned into a square.
I trudge downstairs, trying not to fall as the little person is still pulling my arm to guide me where he needs me to go. There's nothing he can make me do before I pee, so I head to the bathroom and forget to lock the door. He follows me in and gives me a great big bear hug. While I'm going. Thanks, little guy.
I've forgotten to set up the coffee maker the night before so I am fumbling around with that. I check my email and get completely distracted. Oh yeah, I was suppposed to be drinking coffee. I pour myself a cup and down it. Feeling better, starting to feel ready to take on the day, I go back to my distracting email and eventually notice that Charlie has been very quiet. He is curled up on the big blue chair, wrapped in a blanket, petting the dog, completely naked. His pajamas are under the coffee table.
I realize I need more coffee.
I fill my cup and start rearranging books in the school room. Meanwhile, I forget to make waffles. And I don't hear my husband get up. He comes downstairs for his breakfast and I am just standing there with no food.
"Oh, good morning. Uhhhhh. Let me get you some eggs." Daddy gets on his computer to check his distracting email. I bring him his eggs and he asks me if I did anything different to them today. "Why? Is there something wrong with them?" "No. They just taste funny."
"Mommy! My waffles!" Oh, sorry. I tell him we can have waffles for lunch (I promise) and offer him some yogurt.
A familiar noise shouts out to me. It is my daughter and she can't figure out how to get out of the bed. I tell her to get up, get some clothes on and get downstairs because Daddy needs to get to work. It is 9:30 after all. She still can't figure out how to get herself out of bed, so I go up to help. I offer her a dress. "I don't like that one." How about this one? "It doesn't fit." How about this one? "It feels funny." But you liked it two days ago . . . Eventually she is dressed and I realized that I am very hungry. Why didn't I make myself some eggs? Everyone is dressed so we head downstairs in time to see Daddy before he heads to work. He asks me if I have any lunch for him to take. "Uhhhhh. Yes, I can give you a ham sandwich." No, he would rather go out for lunch today. We say our goodbyes.
It is now 10:15. Three hours of school plus 10:15am . . . that puts us at almost 1:30 to finish if we don't stop for lunch until we're through. We can do it.
We have a devotional and my kids tell me it is not as boring as they thought it would be. We pray for the day, that we will learn and love and glorify God in what we do. We dance around the kitchen to the CD from summer Vacation Bible School. We check our calendar and read a couple of books. I remember there are wet sheets to wash and go upstairs to take care of it. I come back down to find the children playing with their rock collection. They're getting along, so I don't interrupt.
The phone rings and I get off course. Again, with the distracting email.
By now it is lunchtime so we eat. I notice a strong smell and decided we better work on the pile of brown and black spotted bananas waiting on the counter. One kid peels some, cuts them and puts them in a bag in the freezer. Both kids help make banana muffins. They mash, measure, stir and watch the oven like little hawks so they can tell me when the muffins are perfect.
Although we have just eaten lunch, we stuff ourselves with warm banana muffins.
We take turns with reading lessons and sort of behave. Charlie climbs on the back of the couch and watches his sister intently. He looks forward to being able to read all of those hard words like her . . . goats, sock, little . . . She gets frustrated and pretends that she is suddenly incredibly nearsighted. She can't read the words unless her nose is firmly affixed to the page. I get frustrated and remind her that she wants to learn how to read.
She finishes her lesson and we start on math. They love math and are good at it, so this time is pleasant for all of us. Sometimes we ditch the textbook and play a fun game instead.
We plan to do history and Latin today, but the kids are more interested in coming up with their own science experiments, so we go with that instead. I pull out my tidy planner and mark it up with all kind of changes.
We take some time to sing our history songs, and Latin songs, and science songs.
I remember my rotting laundry from hours ago. It still smells so I wash it again in our new-fangled low water washer. I remind myself that it takes water to get clothes clean and that if I could go back in time, I would have kept my old washer.
I come downstairs and find the children snuggling on the couch, watching a cartoon. I leave them there and do some chores. They get bored and play outside. They take turns spinning the composter and compete on the swings. Who can swing the highest? It's a tie.
My son, almost five, comes to me and wants me to hold him. I gaze into his eyes for five minutes, taking in the wonder of who he is. These days are truly precious.
I make dinner and we hop in the van to take some to Daddy. He's in his busy season and can't take a long break to eat. Covered in drywall mud and paint, he eats standing up and shows the kids how to put up bathroom tiles. They can't wait to grow a little bigger so they can do it too.
It's 8:30 and we arrive back home, just in time to read books and get the kids in bed by 9:00. One child's head hits the pillow and he is asleep. The other child tells me she cannot sleep without one more story, one more stuffed animal, one more hug, one more kiss . . .
I head downstairs to plan for tomorrow and relax and reflect on the day.
I wonder if we did enough.
I remember that we covered some major areas . . . reading, math, Bible, memory work, play.
I remember that my children are each other's best friends and had time play together and love the family today.
I remember that my children love to learn and are able entertain themselves. And that it's a vital skill.
I remember that I haven't taught my children how to stand in a line. We'll get to that eventually . . .
I remember why we are doing this.
And I remember that I forgot to make those waffles. (But I definitely don't remember to set up the coffee for tomorrow.)
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