Amazing what a mess just four of my children can make, isn't it?
But at least it's creative chaos. They are all engaged in something that isn't TV, video games or gossip with friends.
This photo is probably the heart of the issue about homeschooling for me.
I really like my kids. Of course I love them, but I also like them. I like to be near them. To work on projects with them. To know what they're reading and to share a favorite book of mine. To share a good joke, or the world news. To discuss politics, astronomy and garbage trucks. I can't imagine missing all of this with my children.
And so I've been busy lately. And my 50 mm lens isn't working (it's hard for me to be motivated to take pictures w/ my kit lens).
Life with 13 can be busy. Yesterday just before school, Mordecai threw a little plastic toy at Avi, and she put her tooth all the way through her lip. Thankfully, mouths heal so quickly, nothing other than ice and some love were needed (we've been through this before, and even had teeth go through tongues). Last night we went to a very special Cub Scout meeting (more on that later) and took not only chicken curry, cupcakes and thirteen children, but our cat as well. We didn't even notice until we unloaded at the church, and out came our cat. He must have hopped in while everyone was getting buckled. So far this week we've had: Keepers, a Cub Scout field trip, MOPs, my girls baby sat, Grump Therapy, our Arrow of Light ceremony, and Jubilee has a doctor's appointment this afternoon.
As for Keepers, it is a group we started ourselves that grew so quickly that in less than a year we now have a north and south Keeper's group. You can check out the link. For our own group the purpose is a special times set aside to focus on our girls, teach them useful skills, build relationships with them and have fun. To answer your question, Sonya, our older boys work on Scout stuff, and we have a friend who volunteers to watch all the little ones.
I've had a few readers recently ask how we choose our read aloud books. I wish I could tell you I had some grand plan about which books to read and when. Some map, covering sixteen important topics for growing maturing into responsible citizens. But you know me better than that. I read aloud to my children the same way I blog. Something catches my fancy, and I go with it.
Having said that, there are a few criteria I use in evaluating books. As far as picture books for my younger children, I have always (since Adalia was a baby) sought diversity. A good mix of fiction/non fiction, books about other countries, cultures and people, and books that reinforce our religious beliefs. I want my children to grow up knowing the United States is not the whole world, nor is this little part of Northwest Washington. Life is very different for children in New York City, or Texas, or Nepal, and I've always sought to find books that tell about other people and places.
And I only read books I like. You read that right. I learned back when Adalia was a toddler, that if she brought me a book I hated, I was more likely to put her off. "I'm busy" or "we'll read that later" or sigh in resignation and read the hated book. How much better to only keep books in the house I enjoy reading? Doesn't that limit what my poor children get to hear? No. There are way too many good books out there. You also won't find me reading books about Mickey Mouse, Buzz Lightyear, or books I consider just plain dumb. Sorry, but they're my children and I get to pick the books I read :)
But onto to chapter books. I sometimes pick them based on the History we are studying in school. Our last book was The Harmonious World of Johann Kepler. We loved it. It combined History, Geography, Math and Astronomy all in a book my children enjoyed listening too. How much do my littlest ones get out of books like this. Probably not a whole lot. But they do learn to sit quietly (great training for church). And sometimes they surprise me. Just last night Tucker (3) came up to me and asked, "Mama, was Johann's mom Old Winkwack?"- a witch from a fairy tale we recently read.
I try to switch between easier and more difficult books. This way my little ones aren't always lost. Just be for we read the book about Johann Kepler, we read the entire American Girl Kit series, which captivated everyone.
Another way I choose books is to pick ones I remember and loved from my own childhood. I love introducing and sharing with my children a book that impacted me. This is how my children were introduced to Tuck Everlasting (and my sixth grade teacher Mr. Buesseler is to thank for that. He read it aloud to our class).
We are currently reading The Number Devil. When I introduced this one, Adalia (13) said, "Mom, all you ever read to us is books about math and astronomy!" So I made a deal. I'd read the first chapter and if they hated it, we'd pick a new book. As you can imagine, I read the first chapter, and the children were begging for me to read the second. And so on. This particular books introduces higher math concepts (Algebra) in a fun way. The story line is so good, even my three and four year olds are loving this book.
I also like to fluctuate between fiction and non fiction. Historical fiction is a favorite genre around here for everyone.
Some other books we've read aloud and enjoyed are:
Adalia, my firstborn and former oldest child, turned 13 on February 12. Chuck and I now have four teenagers (and one we actually made ourselves...how can my first child be a teen?!)
I wanted to do something really special for Adalia's thirteenth birthday, so she had her first slumber party. The girls set up camp right away downstairs and giggled and whispered until dinner. After dinner Adalia opened her presents and then we had ice cream. There was more giggling until bed time, at which time the girls watched the movie Moondance Alexander, then went to sleep. Seriously, I didn't hear a peep out of them after the movie. I never had to tell them to quiet down or anything. These girls are awesome!!!
Earlier in the day we had a party to celebrate Kalina's eighth birthday. She had four friends over, and they did their share of giggling between cupcakes and present opening.
And I am now officially on "birthday party vacation" until our ten straight months of birthdays resume again on May fourth.