This is a rare, quiet moment in the house with everyone still sleeping except me and the oldest—she’s 20 minutes into her morning beauty regimen. I’m sure the smells of breakfast—blueberry muffins and turkey sausage—will get everyone stirring momentarily. I woke up with other things to do this morning, but I couldn’t resist penning my thoughts while the house is still.
I loved this phrase “cautiously optimistic” when I saw it over on Jamin’s blog a day or two ago—I could immediately connect it to what I was feeling at the time (or perhaps more of how I should have approached our 2009 start so that I wouldn’t feel what I was feeling). At any rate, we normally take a full 3-week break around here during Christmas. I take a full two weeks to simply enjoy the Christmas season—concerts at church, the lights and decorations, any last-minute shopping, and of course, time to reflect on the reason for the season. I then use the third week to gear up logistically and psychologically for the new year. This year, the kids called an audible—on Sunday night, the older two wanted to start school on Monday. I already had plans to begin with the youngest, who’d also asked to start school early, but her work doesn’t take long and so didn’t rearrange my day. Asking me to give up my week for the older two was a far more significant task, and I was totally unprepared. I’m not completely crazy, however, and I figured I’d capitalize on their enthusiasm. Our compromise was to begin on Wednesday. I was so excited that they actually wanted to get an early start, and especially thrilled that the oldest initiated this change of plan, given her first semester. I scrambled around like a chicken with its head cut off on Monday—books, Internet, printer—you name the tool, it had my name all over it before Wednesday morning.
You probably already see it coming, and I should have, but I boarded that emotional rollercoaster with so much zeal, you’d think I was a brand new homeschooler. So, there I sat at the top when the oldest began to lament Wednesday morning about what a rough night she’d had: the youngest had crawled in her bed in the middle of the night and tossed and turned. Could we please start tomorrow (Thursday), and she’d even work through Saturday if needed? Our son was equally fatigued, and said that he’d just as soon start on Thursday (he was okay with starting next Monday—hope this isn’t the beginning of apathy setting in). So that first drop was a doozy. I told the oldest that it was okay, determined to not start the semester on a bad note, but afterward I began to rehearse all the other possible answers, and I began to fume. I thought about telling her how life doesn’t care about whether or not you slept well; an employer will still expect you to smile and to perform. Then my mind went down the path of being underappreciated/unappreciated: I hadn’t slept that well, either, but everyone still expects me to perform, and no one asks if I feel like it. So as I felt myself growing angrier, I had to remind myself that I did ask God to invade my plans so that He could be first and foremost, and this was probably my test. Could I be flexible enough to put my agenda aside? I passed, but did so begrudgingly, meaning that I’ll probably have another chance to get it right. Wednesday didn’t happen as I’d planned. Swallow hard and get over it.
The rest of the roller coaster has been smooth. We started on Thursday, and it’s obvious that we all have to blow dust off of the holiday mentality. I need to get in bed earlier, and I’ve not done all that pre-reading that I’d planned such that I can shine at the table, either. So I’m showing the kids all the grace that I need right now, and writing this entry will hopefully be a reminder to me when fall comes to not get so unbalanced emotionally in preparing for a new year.
We finished On the Banks of Plum Creek and I thought the youngest might want a break from Laura Ingalls Wilder, although By the Shores of Silver Lake is one of my favorites. If memory serves, I believe it starts out with Mary going blind, and the girls are now teenagers, taking their first train ride out to Dakota–action packed from the giddy-up, as they say. Pa Ingalls is working on the railroad, which the older kids have gotten into via the Asian experience described in Dragon’s Gate by Laurence Yep. We are now reading Dragon Wings, but the kids wanted to go back and read The Traitor, the book in between these two in the Golden Mountain Chronicles, so as not to miss anything. My plan A was to cover Booker T. Washington’s Up From Slavery and Martin Luther King’s Why We Can’t Wait (I thought this title was especially timely in light of Barack Obama stepping into the Presidency). But I’m glad they’re enjoying seeing American history from the perspective of another culture. I now have to somehow figure out how to combine their enthusiasm with the books that I think their minds and spirits will be best served by. Anyway, the youngest and I picked up Lois Lowry’s Gooney Bird Greene, a Sonlight suggestion, and are almost finished with A Tale of Despereaux. Our son’s enjoying these latter two books enough to rearrange his schedule and join us.
Well, the house is fully awake now. Our son wants to finish his remaining logic puzzles—all in one day—so that he can move on to the Fallacy Detective, a book the oldest didn’t use until 7th grade. The oldest is leisurely starting her day with bagels and yogurt over Vocabulary lessons; I’ve found that, as the resident night owl, she doesn’t truly come alive until about 10 a.m. The youngest is helping Dad wash the car. I need to type out the Sunday School lesson on Peter that I’ve carried around in my head for days now. I’ve also got furniture to move so that we have enough seats for school; most of the dining room chairs are in the youngest’s bedroom. She used them, with Dad’s help, to construct a “Temple of Faith,” a harem-looking structure with sheets tied to chair backs forming a canopy overhead, and lots of warm comforters and blankets below. This “Temple” was the sleep spot for two of the kids and Dad during the last week. I wish my camera was repaired so that I could share a picture or two. Dorothy was right; there is no place like home.