February 29, 2016- Leap Day!
"Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof." -Matthew 6:34 (KJV)
8am- I fade in and out of consciousness throughout the morning, hearing my husband Tony leave for a walk, return, and then the wonderful sound of dishes being cleaned from last night's birthday party for our now three-year-old, Valentina, whom I'm attempting to put back to sleep. When I can treat my seasonal allergies and get some coffee before the toddler wakes up, the morning is that much less stressful.
9:15- Thanks again to my husband, who is usually out the door earlier than today, I'm drinking coffee, eating an egg, and writing this in my journal (unfortunately still in pajamas). The 10 and 8 year olds are playing with pretend toy cars in the bedroom, a gift from yesterday's party. In the not-so-distant past I used to insist on everyone eating the same food at the same time for breakfast but in order to cope with morning temper tantrums (mine included), I've relaxed the expectations and have given all of us some "transition time". I blow my nose for the hundredth time and put tea bags on my swollen eyes for one minute as Tony leaves for the day.
10am- Chaos momentarily erupts when everyone suddenly needs the house's one bathroom at the same time and the toddler wakes up. When the squabblers get settled at the kitchen table with food in front of them everyone calms down and we manage to say the Morning Offering together. The nearly 11 year old, Maya, eats oatmeal, the 8 year old, ZouZou, eats leftover white cake, and Valentina eats leftover carrot cake, eggs, and tea. Maya, who takes after her father with her culinary skills, made both the white and the carrot cake for her sister's birthday party (they were delicious!).
During breakfast, we read and discuss our Calendar Class selections about the Four Cycles of Life in the Day (our version of Morning Time; will post about this separately). I try, rather unsuccessfully, to avoid being annoyed by a buzzing noise in the background from a fishing game toy that has appeared at the table.
11am- My attempts to avoid nagging the kids to get themselves ready for the day fail as I find myself barking orders like a drill sergeant. With the promise of listening to an audiobook chapter, they finally comply. Suddenly it begins to hail, and the kids rush to the door to observe and collect a hailstone sample, storing it in the freezer to show to their Dad tonight. The toddler screams to go outside to play in the "snow", so we have to have an impromptu science lesson to explain the difference between hail and snow. We are living in Italy right now so the appearance of hail on this last day of February- Leap Day!- is a rare occurrence. Thankfully, she is convinced that it is not pleasant to play under the hail and the kids return to playing pretend with the cars.
Normally around this time the big kids begin their academic work in their assignment journals and workbooks but as these supplies were left at their Dad's workplace in a backpack, I allow them to continue playing pretend together. It's a shame that the one day I chronicle for other homeschooling moms doesn't include a description of the kids' academic work, but at least it reflects the unpredictability of our days.
For the first time Maya and ZouZou allow Valentina to join their game, albeit after much shouting, and I recognize that this is one of those precious, fleeting moments of their childhood together. I write this all down, then return to the never-ending housework.
Within the hour the big kids drift to the audiobook and their laundry sorting and folding chores. In Italy the dryers are not very effective, if you're lucky enough to have one at all, so tending to drying racks full of clothes is an unavoidable part of our daily routine. Valentina returns to her fishing game and making messes around the house. Frequent interventions are necessary.
12 Noon- I listen to half of an interview with Julie Bogart on the podcast of amongstlovelythings.com while washing breakfast dishes and preparing lunch. I'm delighted to hear about her Poetry Tea Time practice, which sounds similar to our monthly Minor Feast practice of celebrating and reviewing our monthly studies themes with a little party (more on that soon, too).
1:30 pm- The kids come to the kitchen for a smorgasbord of vegetables, fruit, bread, and cheese (Daddy is the gourmet chef; with Mommy the kids get the basics!). We recite the Angelus prayer then we eat lunch, during which the kids catch me up on what's happening in the latest Harry Potter chapter and I read the rest of our Calendar Class selections for the day- a math problem, history or biography of the day, proverb or quotation, etc. Before leaving the table I ask Maya and ZouZou to read aloud to Valentina in English and Italian to practice their language arts and to help teach their sister. Because we live in Italy part of the year and because my husband is from Lebanon, we incorporate Italian and Arabic into our daily readings and memory work.
Maya and ZouZou are eager to find out what happens next to Harry Potter so I let them listen while doing their chores and then drawing in their art journals. More trash gets taken out, more laundry goes in the washing machine, and the toddler goes in the bath after she decorates herself with colored markers. I'm feeling worn out by now and it hasn't even been a full homeschool day since we had to skip the academic work. The relentless rain is keeping us house-bound when we could use some fresh air and exercise but at least we've got a talented narrator with a British accent to listen to all day if we do have to stay indoors.
3:45 pm- Tea Time! Coffee, carrot cake, and toddler cuddles help counteract the dark and dreary day. During this break I type up most of this blog post while Valentina gets to watch some of her favorite cartoons (currently Peppa Pig and Little Bear), and the big kids continue obsessively listening to the audiobook (and I get to listen in, too). At one point I notice that the ceiling is leaking again so I make a few calls and later on a workman stops by to check the roof that was only repaired last week, for the third time this season.
6 pm- Tony returns and whips up a simple but scrumptious dinner of sauteed spinach and chicken tenders. While he's doing this I encourage the kids to practice memorizing multiplication tables together. Lately I've gotten in the habit of taking a quick walk when Tony comes home so I can get out beyond the walls of the house alone for a brief while and gaze out over the beautiful cityscape of Rome. Tonight the rain is thundering down and there is lightening in the sky so there's no chance of escape. During dinner the kids summarize the plot and characters of Harry Potter for their Dad, who has never read the books. Tony plans to go out again to do some work at his other job but the heavy rain and fatigue convince him to stay home, so we all get to have some family time after dinner.
8 pm- Family Time: I've named this our "Family Hearth Ritual", and it consists of prayers, hymns, and stories in our three languages. Tonight we keep it short as the kids want to return to-- you guessed it-- their audiobook. I agree as they are near the end of the series now and the plot is increasingly scary and dark, so it's important for us to hear it in common and discuss it together. After our prayers and some playing with Daddy, I put the toddler to sleep and let the big kids listen until they are nearly asleep. My big kids ask for cuddles at bedtime, which is really the only time they do now, so it's a treat when Valentina is asleep and I'm able to spend time individually with Maya or ZouZou.
11:30 pm- As usual, I'm the last one awake as I type these words-- precious solitude and freedom for my fingers to be on the keyboard without interruption This is the first time I've ever chronicled a day in our lives and, although there really isn't time to stop and write everything down on an average day, I've enjoyed how this simple act of observation has helped me be more aware of the blessings, drawbacks, and privileges of our homeschooling life.