Tuesday, January 12, 2021

She's got a ticket to ride

While we played Ticket to Ride, Zoë and Alexander drew pictures. They are always so excited to draw while we play games. I'm not sure why. I mean, they always like to draw, but when we play games they really like to draw. 

Here's Zoë starting a wonderful story:


Sunday, January 10, 2021

Book stories

We played Hand and Foot with Rachel and Miriam tonight. They deserved some fun grown-up time with Mom and Dad after a day of hard work. Miriam helped me reorganize our storage room when Andrew came home from picking up groceries and Rachel cleaned the kitchen really well (among other smaller chores). 

So, briefly, a few funny stories from that...

Andrew went out so quickly the first round that no one had any books but him, which meant he got a lot of points and the rest of us got very few. Then Miriam went out very quickly on the second round, which meant she got a lot of points and the rest of us got very few points. And that's about where my attitude started to fail me. Like, I'm an excellent second- or third-placer. I don't really love winning because winning makes me feel bad. But I also don'e losing because...human nature. I don't mind it so much if I feel like I still have skin in the game, but when I'm losing so badly and am not really making any sort of progress at all, I start to feel frustrated and bored. 

Rachel is incredibly gifted at keeping her cool during games (which she pointed out this evening is interesting because she doesn't always have the best control of her temper in day-to-day situations), so she was probably doing better than I was, attitude-wise (even though she was in last-last place). 

The game turned for me in round three (though, to be fair everyone got books that round). 

Anyway, at one point Andrew leaned his head on my shoulder so of course I immediately accused him of cheating.

"Are you...snuggle-sneaking?!" I asked. 

Saturday, January 09, 2021

First free Friday

We're trying a a Monday through Thursday school week this semester and today was our first Friday off (since this was our first week back at lessons). I have to admit, it was kind of nice to have an extra day to relax. The weekend doesn't ever feel long enough.

Besides, as seems to be a perennial problem in my homeschool planning, I was pushing way too hard at the beginning of the year. I always try portioning out the curriculum to last the whole school year but then end up blowing through everything. Like, we have three units left in our science curriculum...which I will be lucky to stretch out until the end of the school year. And I sat down with Rachel to finish pacing her math textbook and she'll probably finish by April, which surprised me (though considering we started the school year in July that probably worked out about right).

Anyway, aside from working on the odd "late" assignment and music practicing and mandated reading time and "working on goals" time, the kids are pretty free to do what they want. All of a sudden their free day is sounding rather micromanaged (so it might still find its way into our school records, depending on how much learning vs. free time I feel the kids are getting out of this experiment). Rachel and Miriam worked on cross-stitch and planned some sewing projects. Benjamin played a ton of LEGO and we built the tin can robot my sister Kelli sent him for Christmas. Zoë and Alexander played so many games. It was a good day.

Thursday, January 07, 2021

Funny stories (finally)

After Andrew brought home the books on Monday the children were, understandably, very excited. Alexander was particularly excited and kept bringing things to Andrew's office, the closest room to the music room (where we were sorting the books). Alexander was sure to knock politely on Andrew's door each time he brought something new to show him. 

"I have a new announ'ment!" he'd say as he'd crack the door open. Then he'd show whatever he'd found (a magnifying glass, a toy walrus, a story about penguins). It was very cute.


Alexander is a Sunbeam this year, which was a very easy transition for him. It was so easy he didn't even realize that he was officially in primary (he's been sitting in on primary since we started up with Zoom church this fall). When the primary sent a getting-to-know-you questionnaire out for each of the primary kids to fill out, Alexander was surprised and elated when I included him.

"I'm not in primary," he said. 

 "You are!" I said. "You're in Sunbeams now! You're a primary boy!"

His eyes grew large. "I'm a primary boy?"

He started running around the house telling everybody that he was a primary boy. 

"I'm a primary boy!" he told each of his siblings and his daddy. He told Naanii that he was a primary boy when we video chatted with her (on Sunday and today). 

You could say he felt it was a rather exciting announcement.


Wednesday, January 06, 2021

Current events

Today started off well enough. The kids got up and started working on their math right away. The Georgia run-off election was called in favour of Reverend Warnock, which is really cool because he will not only be the first "African-American United States senator from Georgia," but from the entire Southern United States. High time! There's some good information on African American senators here.

Jefferson Franklin Long was the first black congressman from Georgia. He served from 1871 to 1901, but he was the only black congressman until Andrew Young was elected in 1973 (the same Andrew Young that the Andrew Young School of Public Policy is named after (which is where Andrew works)). There have been several black members of congress since then. John Lewis, for example, was first elected in 1987 and served until his death last year (thanks, 2020). 

Reverend Warnock was John Lewis's pastor (at the Ebenezer Baptist Church), so that's pretty cool. 

And Jon Ossof, the other senator elected today, interned under John Lewis for a while.

By noon I had convinced the kids to give me some time to write and I somehow managed to hammer out an introduction. I say somehow because while I was still working on it, Congress was trying to certify the election results and things got a little crazy. Naturally, there were protesters in DC, continuing to assert that the election results are fraudulent. I suppose they have the right to protest anything they want, though protesting against fairy tales (like tilting at windmills) seems like a waste of time to me. To be fair, most of the protesters remained outside the capitol building (asserting their freedoms of petition, speech, assembly, as is their right like normal, fairly decent people), but hundreds of right-wing extremists stormed the capitol building, interrupted the vote certification, and ransacked the place (I don't know how fully they ransacked it, but people were sitting in desks with their heels up, ripping signs off walls and doors, stealing letters and—quizzically—podiums?). There were a few bombs that were found (but they were disarmed before they exploded, thankfully).

It was all rather wild to watch go down. A certain someone...thanked the crazies and allowed them to go home "with love"...which was wild to witness given the treatment of BLM protesters this summer. But...whatever...

Oh, also, today was our deadliest COVID day, with 4100 deaths today (according to World-o-Meter).

So. it. was. a. day.

Tuesday, January 05, 2021

Right here, right now

I really need to write the introduction for my poetry book—Paradoxical Glory—which is coming out, like, this month. But I have so many funny anecdotes to tell. But also I should be writing, so I'm just going to share this very, very brief story.

The other night, Andrew climbed into bed, put his head on his pillow, snuggled under the covers.

"I'm so tired," he said. "I could fall asleep right here."

I was still brushing my teeth, so I popped my head around the bathroom door, saw him in bed, and started laughing. 

"What?" he asked.

"That is literally the intended purpose for that particular piece of furniture, so..."

I mean, if you're going to fall asleep somewhere, that's a pretty good place to do it.

Book Surprise

A friend of mine posted that her friend's mother had retired from years and years of teaching and they were looking to pass along her classroom library, so I said that I would love to take a look at things. This woman asked if it would be alright if I could just...take the whole library...and then pass along what I don't want. So I said yes even though I didn't know how large the collection was.

Andrew went to pick up the books while I did morning lessons with the kids. We told them that Dad was going to get a big surprise. Here's Zoë reading a library book to Alexander while they waited for the surprise to materialize:


Monday, January 04, 2021

String art

We traditionally use the first Monday of each year to set goals for the new year. Many of last year's goals had to be abandoned (for example: going anywhere...ever) but we still managed to learn and grow a lot and we still completed many of our goals (for example: going on 100 family walks). We're looking forward to setting some new goals tomorrow. I had been planning on having the kids try out a string art project (that I'll be doing with my primary activity girls later this week) but instead we ended up putting the whole project together yesterday. 

The kids each wrote their name on their piece of wood and then we used a wood burner pen to put trace over their script (I did Alex's and Zoë's for them (as well as Miriam's since she was tied up with dinner making activities); Benjamin and Rachel did their own names). We also put the reference for this year's youth theme on the bottom, which is D&C 64:33–34, "Wherefore, be not weary in well-doing, for ye are laying the foundation of a great work. And out of small things proceedeth that which is great. Behold, the Lord requireth the heart and a willing mind; and the willing and obedient shall eat the good of the land of Zion in these last days." 

Then we pounded some nails into our wood, which the kids through was pretty fun:

Sunday, January 03, 2021

Happy New Year!

We rang in 2021 pretty much like we've rung in every other year—somewhat quietly at home, with games, and treats, and midnight Martinelli's. Our game of choice for the first half of the evening was Mexican Train, which is a game I thought Zoë might want to play but she chose to draw pictures with Alexander. Those two love drawing so much that they were always eager for us to play another round so they could draw more pictures.

Thursday, December 31, 2020

Christmas cabin

As I mentioned, Rachel and Miriam made a beautiful cabin/homestead play set for their younger siblings for Christmas morning. They worked on the project nearly daily for about a year—in secret—and had to basically learn how to do needlepoint before they could begin. It was a real learning process for them, but now they are practically experts. They know so many more stitches and find patterns a lot less intimidating. They're already talking about what they'll make next.

Here's a sneak peek at their cabin: