The Wonderful School

What our days look like . . . sort of . . . .

I always enjoy peeking into other people's days. Seeing how folks live their lives and order their homes is always so interesting to me! Since we have ventured into our second year of homeschooling, the photo above is pretty much what our day looks like! I wear frilly blouses from Anthropologie and play the piano while our children dance and sing. : ) Not quite.

The reality. The dining/school room central.

Although I always wanted to homeschool, I never dreamed how much I would enjoy these days . Truly, I wake up most days ecstatic about jumping into the day's work. Tuan and I are avid readers, so teaching J to read is so exciting and rewarding. At this time, all of the veteran homeschooling mamas are snickering and saying, "just wait until November, Paula, then you'll be saying otherwise." Probably so--but I insist on enjoying it now.

Working on handwriting.

My goals for J this year in Kindergarten are learning to read, improving our writing, grasping some basic number concepts, hiding God's word in our heart, learning to work independently and saturating this kid's brain with good stories, poems and songs. I suppose in some moments, we do resemble The Wonderful School--especially when we are singing and dancing about.

Our curriculum storage module. Doesn't that sound so "educatorly"?

I have set goals for myself: consistency, discipline with reading aloud, outdoor time, and developing good habits with housework so we don't live in too much of a messy nest. Even though school takes over the dining room table, it all disappears when we wrap up. After a busy morning, looking at a serene and empty table and dining room is calming.

I am thankful for these vast cabinets--they are so useful for storing schoolbooks and all the trappings we've already accumulated. As scatterbrained as I am, having a place for everything helps tremendously. It's good for the kids to know that things have a place.

I always want to see how folks organize--don't you?

All the manipulatives, bulky things, infrequently used items and books go in these cabinets. The aforementioned curriculum storage module goes in these cabinets when we clean up. I love being able to pull that basket out and have everything all together.

The miscellaneous drawer.

Crayons, pens, and crafty things that the kids have freedom to use all store in this drawer in our buffet. The pink paint is a source of contention in our marriage, but Tuan loves me enough to bear with the "spicy paprika".

Proof that all is not miserable . . .

For reading and writing curriculum, we chose Sing Spell Read and Write. I picked it because my Mom still had her SSRW set from the days she taught my sister--all I had to buy were the workbooks. I know, such deliberation went into choosing this. Johnny loves this program and is doing very well with it! We skipped the preschool/kindergarten component and started with the First Grade books. We did book one fall of last year and slowly worked through part of the next book during the spring. We are still plugging along and it is so exciting seeing him learn these concepts! In about two school days we will tackle our first reader and I can hardly contain myself!

He is his daddy's child--Mr. J loves numbers.

Mr. J may be doing well with the language arts, but I have a feeling he is going to be much more like Tuan and be a math nerd--ahem, brainiac! He lights up with joy when number and math books are introduced. We did deliberate for days and weeks on end about which math program to use. You would have thought we were choosing colleges--it was that stressful, but in the end, we decided to go with Saxon. (Rather, Tuan mandated I get it over with and PICK A PROGRAM!) Because Saxon K is attached to a calendar system that indicates starting in September, we will begin math tomorrow! In the meantime, we worked through a preschool math workbook.

Penmanship--he already writes more legibly than his parents!

In addition to these two programs, we are going through a critical thinking/puzzle book and reading aloud stories, poems and songs from the Core Knowledge Series and vintage Childcraft books. I'm a real art and design junky, so the illustrations in those books just fill up my art bucket.

Poor, lonely unsocialized child.

In thinking through this year there were a few gaps I wasn't quite sure about. Reading The Well Trained Mind has helped with those doubts, and confirmed our decision to stick with the three R's this year. Additionally, we discovered a wonderful local, classical homeschooling program that meets on Fridays for enrichment. I almost cried when I read the curriculum for the program because it truly meets the concerns I had with our plan for the year. Mr. J will go most of Friday with a small class of other homeschooling kindergarteners and I'll have some time with Miss A and baby O--who is not such a baby, anymore!


Fleamarket Treasure

As a child I spent many happy days at my Granny's house. I credit her for many good things in my life. She read aloud countless times poems and stories from her vintage Childcraft books, let me plunder her "treasures" from her and Papa's time in the Air Force, and many nights set up the slide projector so we could view images from my mother's childhood.

We pored over World Book encyclopedias (the full color picture of Queen Elizabeth's coronation portrait was my favorite!), she showed me her stamps, took me for walks in the woods and stopped the car by cow pastures so I could say hello to the cows.

Because of her, I know all about our geneaology, how to crochet and quilt, how to save, thrift, and give generously. I could go on and on about my wonderful Granny, but I think the one thing that set her apart was that she took time for me (and everyone). With my Granny there was no tyranny of the urgent, she never communicated by words or actions that anything else was more important than being with me. No matter when I dropped by or what I asked for, she was present and helpful. I hope I can communicate and live that way with my children and grandchildren.

When Granny passed away a few years ago, I was fortunate to inherit many "treasures" from her house: the Childcraft books, the everyday flatware pattern we shared, and various bric-a-brac.

One thing I always wanted, but didn't ask for (I mean, I had pretty much begged for every emotional piece there was by then) was her sewing box. Granny's sewing box was such a delight of order and wonder and mustard yellow seventies plastic! Mom has it now and her grandchildren enjoy their turn to plunder, but I confess my delight at finding the very same sewing box at a local flea market. Not quite very same--it's a lovely shade of blue--robin's egg meets turquoise--and confess I like it even more in this color!

The box--it has a funny texture all over it.

Oh, the wonder and delight of proper places for things. This is a vast improvement over a drawer with everything dumped in all higgeldy piggely.

The little pincushion family . . . wouldn't they make for a great children's story? They look like they are about to have tea or tuck in for the night.


Vacation Photos

I remember attending an RUF girls Bible study taught by a very wise woman who advised us that there were just some days out of the month where it was okay to let things go, to give yourself grace and plan for those days. With baby O and Miss A having had the stomach bug this week (three sheet changes for one child alone last night!) and myself feeling a bit achy, this is a perfect day to follow her advice . . . so between the endless loads of laundry and general must-dos and sporadic pick-ups, I am indulging in one of those days!

The big kids are in and out making mudpies and O is sleeping. Miss A may or may not be wearing day clothes. I may or may not have taken advantage of the fact thatTangled is on Netflix this morning. (I have a Netflix and I'm not afraid to use it!)
In the peace and quiet, it seemed like a good time to post pictures!

My Aunt and Uncle have a really great "cabin" on the Choctawhatchee Bay (between Sandestin and Seaside). They are so generous and kind to let us use it and after our post-camp stomach flu awfulness, we were grateful to get away for some rest and relaxation. The porch is one of our favorite places.

The kids already know how to lounge:
with food, of course.
All that's missing is a great book!

I love these little legs and feet!

Lazy days on the bay are perfect for making sea shell mudpies.

Miss A was quite creative!

Gumbo? I dunno . . .

T and the kids built some fun sand spires.
The beach wasn't as atmospheric as
the photo suggests!