Misty Morning and School

This morning is so beautiful, so fall, so misty and so golden.

I have had more struggles at the end of this summer with feeling low, sad, and motivationless, which I’ve mentioned, and I’ve pursued some help with that.

Meanwhile, I reintroduced my favorite fermented cod liver oil (actually, skate this time) and added in an herbal formula safe for lactating women which is supposed to help with hormones. Whether this is a temporary boost or not, I’ve felt considerably better after being more careful to nourish my body with nutrients rather than skate by on corndogs and ice cream.

I have a feeling our minds are more affected by the fuels we give them than by some mysterious ether or whatever we kind of put their vagaries down to. Actually, it’s more than a feeling—neurotransmitters are made by amino acids which come from protein. Pretty simple. Not to say a piece of chicken will solve all my problems, but corn dogs and Pepsi and Sunchips certainly won’t. (They’re not my biggest downfall; that’s reserved for my beloved ice cream.)

Anyway.

Also, school is huge for me. I realized that I was lolling around in August like someone who’s been laid off from their job and is depressed to be sitting on the couch at home.

need the mental stimulation, the challenge, the hours filled with meaningful and productive work other than the cooking, cleaning, and decorating, which are also meaningful but which aren’t really enough to fill an entire day with. You know? I mean, technically I could, and then I’d have an awesome house, but it’s just not that important to me to have perfection when it’s going to be undone the next second. Literally.

Now in the mornings I’m not groaning to see my kids, because I’m in the kitchen getting ready for their breakfast and school and I’m like, “Hey, Tabi! Isn’t it cool that we’re the only ones up?” It is. She’s being really cute and writing “skin” and “smell” and “spied” assiduously and well in her phonics book.

It is such a pleasure to teach girls who listen. I know I’ve said this before, but my boys haven’t historically been that excited to listen to mom yammer on about stuff. They’re like, “I need to know what to do but I don’t want to hear a bunch of junk. Just tell me in the simplest terms and for the love of Pete don’t pull out that whiteboard and any songs or anything.” (In their heads.) It’s been hard. I love lecturing and finding “fun” ways to teach a concept and I was always being thwarted by near eye-rolls and such. (They’re mostly respectful boys, but I’m so attuned to my kids’ moods that I pick up on the slightest disinterest.) This has been one refining trial in my life, the way homeschool hasn’t gone exactly as I’ve planned. I am forced to let go a lot more than I wanted to.

(In their defense, aside from not wanting too much information or lecturing from Mom, my boys have been paragons of motivation and getting school done, motivated by tablet time. Sure, Lachlan often goes over to ask Abel something and gets distracted watching Abel play his game and then I have to call him back to Math or dishes and subtract five minutes from his own eventual tablet time, but usually, they’re responsibly working through what they have to do.)

But Tabi. She will actually listen!! For instance, she asked me if “Combs and brushes” was a “complete thought” for her Language book.

Oh! She’s learning about full sentences! I thought to myself. I don’t think the boys even know about full sentences, I also thought. Oh, crud. I thought. She will be like them and not listen to me try to explain them. Story of my life.

But, no. I was like, “Okay, so. Picture that I run up to you and I’m panting like crazy and when I can finally talk, I say to you, ‘Combs and brushes!’ Will you know what I’m saying?”

She chuckles. “No!”

“So it’s not a complete thought. What about if I said, ‘Combs and brushes are taking over the world!!’ Would that be a complete thought?”

She laughs again, as does Lachlan, who is nearby.

“So complete sentences have something which is doing or being something, not just a thing but you don’t know what it’s doing. Does that make sense?”

She nods, with comprehension in her eyes.

For the rest of the worksheet, I hear her breathlessly reading aloud the sentence fragments and full sentences and quickly determining which express a complete thought and which do not. Victory!

However! I should’ve asterisked the boys not wanting to listen to me teach, because this year I have sensed a completely different attitude in them. I was almost a little panicky about starting school since I felt like I wasn’t as mentally or emotionally strong this year, and wasn’t feeling up to any battles with anyone and they have consistently kept up their morale and their work and have been really sweet.

In fact, during Happy Hour the first day, as I read aloud from our Anatomy and Physiology book as they took (surprisingly great) notes in a notebook, Abel looked up and said with some surprise, “I was going to say that you’re actually kind of a good teacher. And then I realized that you used to be a teacher at that one school!”

And then I grinned at him wryly (majorly rejoicing in my head) and said, “And I’ve been teaching you for like six years….” and he grinned because he’d kind of forgotten this fact. Lol.

So now I’m getting to experience the pleasure of pulling the boys out of Quiet Time after two hours on the oven timer and doing a lesson in Science or History, where I read aloud from the textbook and we talk about it and write notes and answer questions and do experiments and projects. And it’s a feeling of mutuality, of minds meeting for discourse, which is SO what I’ve been going for and trudging through the years!!! Rhetoric, here we come, after this Dialectic stage!

Yesterday we started Institute for Excellence in Writing, which is an awesome program and which has been a little mind-blowing in a good way on perpectives on teaching writing, but which just isn’t intuitively set up for me so which was kind of filling me with a little panic. However, I popped in the first student teaching DVD into the computer and we three watched Andrew Pudewa (he’s one of those guys I’ll probably always refer to by both names because he’s awesome) lecture a classroom of students engagingly and humorously.

We also wrote our first Key Word Outlines and I did a lot of pausing, discussing, the boys underlined things and wrote things, and we spent an enjoyable and mentally-taxing two hours (somehow!) figuring out how to do everything. (Abel, “The problem with ‘Happy Hour’ is that it turns into ‘Happy Two Hours’!” lol.) Then we didn’t have time to do History because the kids’ friends were coming, which was a good thing because I was done. Brain fried.

So, like I think I put it last year, so far our first week of school has been a good hard, like a lung-bursting, exhilarating, and tough hike which floods you with endorphins at the top. Which is pretty durned awesome.

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