Sometime before 7: J crawls in bed with me. I hope today is one of the few days he actually falls back asleep. He squirms around and sighs periodically until O comes in, then leaps to his freedom and the two go off to play.
7:38 Turn my back on A (who came into my bed at some point in the night) and check and return messages on my phone, including renewing library books I haven’t returned yet and corresponding with some people in China about an RC boat my daughter bought on Amazon. Today happens to be Valentine’s Day, and my hubby has texted me “Happy Valentine’s Day” from his TDY in Texas. I text back a meme that I think is funny and tell him that’s his Valentine’s card. Army love.
I still have 6 texts and 2 voice mails left when I decide it’s time to get up. Stuff like this really gets the best of me when my husband is gone on these longer trips.
8:01 I attempt an elaborate, ninja, replace-my-body-with-a-pillow move and sneak out with A still asleep.
My neck is really stiff. Probably because of the high population of people sleeping in my bed lately. When my hubby’s in town, he plays bouncer, because I don’t usually wake up to kids crawling into bed. So when he’s gone, I just wake up in the morning with lots of people all over the place.
I head to the room where the kids sleep and grab all the grading I did last night while everyone was falling asleep. I come downstairs and the boys are playing a middle-eastern version of Uno that my hubby brought back from his deployment.
A comes down. My ninja tricks don’t work like they used to.
Start prepping breakfast, then O reminds me I promised him a game of chess first thing today.
8:27 Chess with O. He captured my queen early. I was still confident I would win, but he beat me.
Start a fire.
8:45 Back to food prep.
Everyone eats eggs with the promise of potatoes to go with it soon. I’m clarifying butter to cook them in and it’s not done yet.
I happen to look over right when one of my children elbows another, and then the child who did the assaulting pulls back and says “Ow!” like he was the one assaulted. Why???
The offending child is as angry as if he was attacked and is offering no clues as to why that would be. He is also not interested in discussing the morality of any part of the situation, what might be done now, or anything else I suggest. I ask if he’d like to go to his bed and read a chapter of his book and maybe he’ll want to talk after that. He says yes and goes. I try not to spend too long sitting with my face in my hands. That never really seems to help.
Tell the elbowed child to start his schoolwork and go back to the kitchen and skim the ghee. It’s ready to strain. The kids and I are doing the Whole30 while the man of the house (who wouldn’t do the Whole30 for probably anything) is gone, and I learned to make ghee so we wouldn’t have to give up our butter. It’s quite yummy. Make some fried potatoes.
A starts her math so she can be just like Big Brother. I know her motives because she announces them. She is suddenly (as in I really just noticed the past few days) understanding her math. She’s had a math workbook for a long time, but only because she’s super-offended whenever her brothers have a workbook she doesn’t have. I was sort of teaching her what was in it, but mostly just letting her do what she wanted in it and waiting until she was ready. She definitely seems ready now.
A writes all numbers mirror-image. Every single one.
Potatoes are ready. Two kids start eating them, and the third comes down more willing to talk. He has some potatoes and we work on math together for a bit. The coping skills don’t last very long, though, and he goes back up to his bed to “rest” for 15 minutes.
Scan in some flash cards I’m making for the kids. I have searched online every way I know how to try to find custom flash cards I can order, but I can’t find a thing. I really would think this is something that would come up for other people, too, but apparently not. Or I’m just really bad at searching online. A real possibility. If I find them one day, it will be as glorious as when I found the website where I could generate my own copywork!
Brush A’s hair.
Ask O to read his chapter of “This Country of Ours,” our American history spine. He asks me what chapter he’s on and I say, “I don’t know. What chapter are you on?” We negotiate whose job it is to keep track of what chapter he’s on. He reads his chapter and narrates it to me.
More math help. I read the chapter of “This Country of Ours” that O just read, and we do “fact and opinion,” a game/activity that I made up after reading “Make It Stick” by Peter C Brown. The game/activity is simple: after all involved parties read the material, each person gets to ask one fact question and one opinion question about the text. It’s easy and fun, and sometimes leads to interesting discussions.
Help J with his Explode the Code. And “help,” in this case, just means sit next to him and make sure he does all the things that he was supposed to do yesterday and didn’t complete.
A made a math assignment for me on a post it note, so I take a break from teaching and do my math homework.
Boys work on their lists. Lists include both school assignments and chores. The kids are arguing about the socks they have to fold, and I’m having this ongoing debate (that feels like it’s becoming near-constant) with myself about how often to step in and how often to sit back when they argue.
I do school with A while the boys work and argue.
J comes by at some point and tells me he’s going to go clean up by then back door. I say, “Ok… Why? What happened?” and he says. “I slipped in a patch of mud!” and leaves. I’m confused, but I just keep working with A. He’ll either clean up whatever it is sufficiently, or I’ll deal with it later.
Boys do the part of their recitations that they quiz themselves on. For part of it, they say the answer (which is on the back of the card) out loud and have A tell them if they’re right or not. She loves being included and helpful, and the boys came up with this on their own. It makes me so happy when they’re sweet to her unprompted.
I’m working on finishing the flash cards I’m making while they all do this.
11:39 Kids go on break. I take a shower and get ready.
12:10 J does his chapter of “This Country of Ours.” He’s not ready to read and narrate an entire chapter, so he narrates after each paragraph or two while I make lunch.
When he’s done, I read his chapter so we can do our fact and opinion game. I keep meaning to get in the habit of reading their chapters the night before, but haven’t managed it yet. As I read J’s chapter, I realize both of them skipped a chapter. This book lists chapter numbers in Roman numerals, and I thought that would be a good way to learn Roman numerals “organically.” I think I’ll get some bookmarks and we’ll learn Roman numerals another way.
12:34 Lunch for everyone, then “fact and opinion” questions with J.
1:08 Owen practices piano. I sweep. As I go to dump out the dustpan, I find J standing over the garbage with a pair of fabric scissors and a pair of his pants I told him to throw out because they had a big hole. He’s harvesting all the parts he thinks he can use off the pants.
Pick up the living room for J’s harmonica lesson. There are wood scraps everywhere. I love fire season, but the lack of sawdust and sticks in my living room when it’s over is always nice, too.
1:29 Recitations with A. Recitations and spelling with J, while holding one end of a keychain that O is making out of paracord.
1:41 Pick up the dining room. 19 minutes before his lesson, J has realized his harmonica book is missing and goes on a mad hunt for it. He doesn’t find it, but he does find the origami paper that everyone was distraught about losing last week.
1:47 Spelling and recitations with O.
O does a Times Tales crossword puzzle, and I help J look for his book.
J’s harmonica teacher calls to say he’s running late because the roads are bad. I look outside and it’s SNOWING!! It’s been raining all day and it’s too wet out for any of the snow to stick, but it’s actually snowing a little!! We all stand with our mouths open at the window for a while admiring the Valentine’s Day Miracle.
I check on the beets in the oven and realize that someone carved a big ‘A’ onto one of them. I hadn’t noticed when I put them in. Apparently she’s claiming that one.
2:20 J’s teacher shows up. O goes upstairs to read one chapter of “Little Princess.” I have him do it during J’s lesson because it is very hard for O not to be involved in things, so if O is right in the room during J’s lesson, it’s more than he can handle not to join right in. A works on an activity book, and I cut up all my homemade flash cards.
After O’s chapter, we talk about his latest Latin lesson and I make sure he’s clear on the difference between conjugations and declensions.
2:48 Do reading lesson, narration practice, and handwriting with A. I told an impromptu version of 3 Little Pigs for her to practice narrating. This is her favorite school thing to do right now.
O is pretty much joining in the lesson over in the living room. I kept him occupied as long as I could.
3:25 Chat with J’s harmonica teacher. We’ve told all the kids they need to have 2 years of piano before we’ll pay for lessons for other instruments. J was dying for harmonica lessons, though; so for his birthday, he got 3 lessons that were allowed to be used before his piano time was up. I just asked the guy who plays harmonica up front at church if I could hire him for 3 lessons. He said sure and has been so sweet to J. He always stays way longer than his half hour.
3:34 J’s teacher leaves and A tells me she has a drawing that she’s ready for me to trace. I start to trace it and she totally panics because I am tracing in the wrong order. That’s only fair, of course, because I was just stressing the importance of order when she traced her letters only one lesson ago. I don’t recall panicking to the level she is, but perhaps it looked different from where she sat.
We’re done with all our school for the day. It’s still raining pretty hard, and it’s weird not to be going outside at all. My kids consider it inhumane to be kept indoors all day long. We decide on some games. A picks Uno, and J and O pick a game of chess each. While I’m playing chess with O, A shoves her hand entirely into my back pocket and shouts, “There! There’s some fuzzy things for you!” I’m afraid.
I lost to O at chess again. I really need to practice.
When we’re all cleaned up from games, I check my back pocket. Thankfully, the “fuzzy things” were imaginary.
3:59 When we checked the forecast, it looked like today would be the last day that it wouldn’t be too warm to have a fire, so we’ve had a fire going all day, and we decided earlier today that we should all sleep in the living room. This could very well be our last fire this year, and we’ll be in a new house long before next winter, and may not have a fireplace. Plus, fun stuff like this is a good morale-booster for when Daddy’s gone. So now we wipe down the floors and haul down some mattresses.
4:18 Toy clean-up upstairs. I help this time, mostly because I’m all done being patient with kids’ arguments for today.
4:50 Kids haul in a bunch of wood for the night and do dishes. I make some dinner.
5:30 Dinner. Then teeth, faces, jammas, etc.
6:17 Watch two Disney shorts we’ve been wanting to see from our beds all set up in the living room.
6:30 Build up the fire and read two chapters of “The Princess and the Goblin”. Last time we read it, A was too little to follow, and the boys and I loved it, so we started it again recently.
7:13 Prayers and snuggles. The fire is much louder and brighter than what might be ideal for sleeping. I get up several times to rearrange the fire, attempting to calm it down a bit. I was unsuccessful and it took the kids a long time to settle.
8:08 Kids are all calm or asleep. I bring all the grading and school prep over by the fire.
9:02 Crawl into my bed (on the floor) and write in my bullet journal. Wow, does it really take me an hour to grade and prep?! There was some texting with my hubby in there, too.
9:28 Sleep. I really want to throw on a log as I’m falling asleep, but it’s not worth risking a repeat of the fireworks of earlier.