I think it is a universal challenge for parents with more than one child. With the oldest, it is easy to protect, to shelter, to control what they see, read, or eat. Then when the next child comes along it is more challenging. The older child is an influence on the younger. The older child is watching and doing things appropriate for their age, but the younger child is exposed. By the time you have four children with an eight year age difference, the youngest child watches things you would have never have dreamed of letting the oldest see at the same age.
As we mom's always tend to do, I've felt some guilt over this. Nolan and Vivian didn't watch Bob the Builder, Sesame Street, Dora, or many other little kids shows like their older siblings. Kellen and Lydia were already beyond those kids shows and the younger ones wanted to watch what the older ones wanted. The trend has continued through the years, and I've often been amazed at what we allow the younger ones to watch when I think of what the older two loved at the same age. They all watch Dr. Who for goodness sake! At seven (Vivian's age now) Kellen's favorite show was Fetch (PBS.) It is what it is, I guess, and I don't know how it could have been different unless we didn't watch any TV or everyone had their own TV in their rooms.
The same has happened with their music. The youngest never really listened to children's songs. They listen to what Kellen listens too, and sometimes his choices are interesting to say the least. He has quite eclectic taste in music, and thankfully has been wise enough to weed out most music with explicit lyrics, especially when his siblings are present.
Today Lydia, Nolan and I were working in the kitchen. Nolan was singing something softly. I really didn't hear it, but Lydia says to him, "Nolan, I think that song is about gambling." Her tone clearly implied that he shouldn't be singing that song. Nolan argued that it has nothing to due with gambling, but was about chasing the the Lucky Charms leprechaun. Say what?!
It was hard to keep a straight face, but I managed to ask him how he knew the song was about Lucky Charms. He back tracked a bit, and admitted he didn't know for sure. He continued to make his case for how this made perfect logical sense. Lydia went right along with him. I just smiled to myself, and said a quick prayer of thanks for their adorable innocence. May it last for a long, long, time.
The weeks fly by. Next week is a busy one, and we'll turn around and it will be November! October was full of activities.
Kellen traveled with his friend, Savannah, and her family to D.C. I never quite know how to refer to Savannah. Neither of them like the term girl friend. For a time, we referred to her as his romantic interest. We have called her the girl he is courting, but that is a mouthful. So, his friend, Savannah, it is. They actually went in September, but didn't come back until October. So, that still counts for October activity doesn't it?
All reports were that it was a great time. Kellen tolerated the ball game they attended, and then he and Savannah were in intellectual heaven visiting book stores and museums. He did complain a little about the American Girl Doll museum and the 50+ pictures Savannah took there. The tables were turned though when they spent the entire day in the Aerospace Museum, and according to Kellen, still did not see all he wanted to see.
Lydia spent a week in Florida with my mom, brother, his family and in-laws. They went to Disney and Sea World. Lydia got to go for the price of her airfare. The trade off was she got to be a helper to the adults for all the younger kids!
They all had a great time. Lydia came back pretty tired, but I think she thought it was worth it.
I took my class to the Heritage Farm Museum
. The items at the museum are a perfect fit with our history curriculum. We had talked a lot about farming and colonial times. Earlier that week we had talked about apprentices and the printing press. It was fun to see those connections being made when they saw in real life the things we had discussed in class.
Three 300lb pigs went with us to school one day. My class had been asking me to bring a pig in since they found out we had pigs. I think they had a little pig in mind, but we brought big ones instead. The hogs were Kellen, Lydia, and Nolan's Ham, Bacon, and Egg projects. They had to be to the processor that afternoon. Getting there in time meant the pigs came to school with us on a trailer. As you might imagine, they got a lot of attention that afternoon. Kids of all ages also got an education about where ham and bacon come from.
Today, Nolan and Lydia went with their classes to the Columbus Zoo
. Tim is on his way now to pick them up. The report from another parent whose husband went was that the weather was pretty miserable. It actually snowed. The animals weren't out. (Who can blame them?!) That was an adult perspective. I am betting a child's perspective will be a little different. We sent them well bundled, and I think they are going to think running around the zoo with friends is going to be pretty awesome regardless of the weather and animal activity.
Tomorrow the kids are off school. The teachers have in service. (Which is why I am writing on a Thursday night instead of grading papers or making lesson plans.) My kids are so excited. They will be going to our homeschool co-op with Savannah's family. They can't wait to see their friends.
We are processing chickens on Friday, turkeys with another farmer on Saturday, and the list of before winter farm tasks is very long. Next week is Grandparents Day, and there is a bustle of activity leading up to that day. There is a half day of school Friday, and Monday is all day/evening parent teacher conferences.
Do you hear the circus theme in your head? I do. My head is spinning.
Today. at school, a parent that helps at lunch time told me she knew that she knew me from somewhere. She figured it out. She has been reading my blog. She asked me how we are teaching and doing everything else. The answer is we are not.
As an aside do any of you fellow bloggers find it awkward when you meet someone who reads your blog? Maybe I'm just weird. It is flattering when someone says they read your blog, but then my first thought is always, "They know so much about me." I'm sure that sounds stupid. I know I write a public blog. But those of you who know me in real life, know I'm not nearly as talkative in person. I can't explain why I enjoying sharing so much more in writing. Anyhow, mom who I talked to today, if you are still reading, sorry if that conversation was completely awkward. :)
There are things that aren't getting done now, but it seems like no matter what we are doing, we can't get it all done. When we weren't teaching, Tim was working crazy hours, and I was spending a lot of time on things for The Wild Ramp
. As much as we think, and say we want a quiet, simple life, it seems we are quite good at filling up every minute of our day with some sort of activity. I'd like to put the blame on "the world we live in," but I have to admit that even though we say no to a lot of things, we are the ones responsible for this crazy busy life. It will calm down some day won't it? In the meantime, we'll be doing the things we love, the things we need to, and trying to keep up with all that entails.
And November is almost here, and the holidays. . .
We are quickly approaching the middle of October, and the end of the first nine weeks of school. WOW! What can I say about school now? It is exhausting. That doesn't mean we don't like it. It just means we are very tired by the end of the week.
The kids seems to have found a groove, and our school days and evenings are going much more smoothly. Some still have a lot of work to do outside of classroom time, but time management and attitudes have certainly improved. The kids are making friends, and enjoying the school activities. This week was spirit week, and the kids enjoyed dressing up for the various themed days. I had to laugh though when they asked, "What is a pep rally?!"
The elementary classes have a character trait award every week in chapel. Last week's trait was obedience. Lydia and Nolan both won the award for their class! I was so excited for them. Surprised for Nolan, perhaps, but still excited and proud. We were pretty confident he would respond well to the structure of school. We were right. He is doing very well academically too. Math is the only things he isn't doing as well as hoped, and that is because he needs to memorize his multiplication tables.
And in the meantime on the farm.....
Things still happen on the farm, though mostly on Saturdays. We recently were awarded a grant from the Fund-a-Farmer Project
to improve our pastured poultry production. We have set up phase one with electric net fencing, a portable shelter and new outdoor 50lb feeder. This is going to be a great set up that allows us to keep the poultry on fresh grass, and get them to parts of the property we were unable to use before. We are finishing up our last batch of broilers for the season on it now. We also have some roasters in that pen too. And you may notice a laying hen or two in there. Those girls adopted the roaster chicks. They've been good mommas to them. One even chased a hawk off one day. We decided they could stay.
In the garden, we have set up our low tunnel. This tunnel was part of grant program organized by The Wild Ramp
. This cover is just a heavy row cover, but we also have plastic to use for colder weather. Now, if I could just get it planted.... I plan to start various greens and am considering trying a few other things yet this fall. We will have this set up, and will hoop house our raised beds also.
We've experimented with season extension before by riggin' together our own hoops. It has worked fairly well. I really like the set up on this made for the purpose tunnel. It should be easier to use and more sturdy. We'll see what we can grow!
We are entering into week five of school. It seems like the first day of school was just yesterday. Most days it seems like we are still figuring out this new schedule and new responsibilities. Every now and then I catch a fleeting moment of feeling like I have it all under control. My standard answer to the question, "How has school going?" is this, if I had only gone back to work, it would be going well. If only the kids had gone to school, it would be going fairly well. The two together is very intense.
This is a good school. The students, while not perfect, are well behaved and respectful. The staff is friendly. The academic level is high. Even in this good school, I am daily reminded of the inherent flaws in the way we do school. In my own classroom of ten there is a huge gap in abilities. Challenging the one end while keeping the other with us is so very difficult. These kids don't think for themselves. They don't do for themselves. They are great at following instructions, but that only gets you so far in life. Now whether that is the "system" or parenting is hard to say, but it bothers me.
I see the flaws affect my own children. I have one who is frustrated that the classes are moving too slowly. I have one who is acing all reading assignments, but failing math, and struggling with a load of homework every night because they work at a slower pace and the things aren't getting complete in class. Another who is doing fairly well, but has a hard time sitting still, and refraining from sharing stories every time they come to mind.
We moved both girls down a grade level. Vivian wasn't quite on the same reading or math level as the rest of the second grade. She may have been able to struggle through if I wasn't the second grade teacher. In my class, when she struggled she wanted to be mommy's baby. She is shining in the first grade, and we are both much happier.
Lydia has always struggled with math. She just couldn't make the jump to sixth grade math. In hindsight, I should have know that wasn't going to work. Moving to the fifth grade has helped, but it is still very hard work for her. She is often frustrated by her school work.
I've struggled with feeling like I've failed the kids. It is hard to see them struggle, and not feel like you failed by not preparing them adequately. But then this is one of my gripes about the system of school. Very few talents are appreciated. Academic and athletic strengths get all the glory. If you don't shine there, it easy to get lost in the crowd, or to feel like a failure. I wish Lydia could get a grade for her cooking skills, or for her caring and nurturing skills. She is an incredibly talented and wonderful young lady, but right now also a very frustrated one.
The kids are learning valuable skills, beyond academics, that we missed at home. They all have been learning to be better organized. They are learning to meet different expectations and deadlines. They are learning better time management.
Tim and I are enjoying being together more. Tim is much less stressed and tired. I like to tease him that he is the only one in the family who has gotten a win win from our new schedule. We are certainly enjoying the new found wiggle room in the budget. That is a huge stress removed for us both.
A wise friend and mother of eight once told me that you never make a decision about having more kids while you're pregnant or when you have a new baby. The time is just too intense. There is too much stress. The emotions run high. You can't make a rational judgment. I am applying that same logic to this situation. Am I glad we made change? Ask me at Christmas, or maybe in June. :)
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