So, How Is Homeschool Life Going? – A Visit to Antietam and More

Dear Friends,

I thought I’d spend a post just talking about our homeschool life in general. I find it therapeutic to write about how things are really going since single-themed posts (you know, about commas or slavery) don’t really give a thorough picture of life on the home front. It’s 10 pm on Wednesday evening. I’ve finally left LD’s room and the kids are in bed.  Whew! Hubby is currently in Australia and so I have the kids on my own.  I miss him (I should say WE miss him), especially in the evenings, since he’s such an active part of the routine (helping pick kids up from practice, reading to them before bed, and generally helping get things done and settled for the night).

Wednesdays are particularly busy… grueling even. Let me tell you about my day today. We got up… well actually here’s the more accurate picture… ED dragged me out of bed by rubbing my arm, patting my cheek, asking me to open one eye, turning on the light, sticking my hearing aid in (mostly)… and saying, “Come on Mom. Let’s get your coffee and you can read me a book.”  I envy the Moms who jump out of bed hours before the kids… get in some quiet contemplative time, go for a run, shower and catch up on the news… all before the crack of dawn. Me?  Well, I stay up at night after I get the kids to bed –usually at 10pm for LD, though ED needs to be in bed/asleep by 8 pm… which means that a well rested ED is raring to go way before I am!

Oh my goodness, where was I? Okay, so ED got me up and we ate breakfast together. I read her another Scooby Doo story.  She was going to do her Bob Book (actually they are Primary Phonic Storybook readers, but anything she reads is now called a Bob Book!!) but then I got two back to back phone calls. I talked/Skyped for a while with Hubby (since he’s in Western Australia, he’s exactly 12 hours different than us at the moment.) Then one of my best friends called. She homeschools too and we had a wonderful conversation about how things are going homeschool wise, etc. etc.

Finally, I got off the phone. (We parents need some adult conversation, right?!!) By this point LD and DD were up, had eaten breakfast, and had read for about 45 minutes since I wasn’t around to kick them out of the kitchen area. Quite frankly, LD will read for a couple of hours in the morning if he had his way!  They went into the homeschool room to go work on their art homework.  The object of their homework is for them to sketch for 5-10 minutes a day… but I never, ever remind them and every Wednesday morning, before art class mind you, they work on an assignment for their afternoon class. Sigh… So now I’ve just publicly admitted that I’m teaching my kids the fine art of procrastination!

After their art homework was done, I worked with the kids on their “basics.” Today both LD and DD worked some more on that comma rules practice sheet I shared yesterday. Initially, I made it for just LD, but DD wound up working through it with me as well.  They also worked on their math.  While they worked away on those things, I snuck into the living room and ED read her phonics reader to me. LD and DD started squabbling while I was out of the room. DD wanted to sing; LD wanted silence. A small meltdown ensued… and DD declared she wasn’t going to go to art class. Sigh… I brought DD into the room with me, calmed her down. Finished that reader with ED. Oh–and I remembered to jump online to renew our library books. (No late fee this week! Aren’t you proud of me?!)  Pretty soon, I was in a panic because it was time to go and I hadn’t gotten lunch (and everything else) ready.  The kids usually eat in the car on the way to their art class.  And, since we go from activity to activity all day on Wednesdays, I also had to remind LD to get his gymnastics stuff and his snack. Then we all piled into the car. “SEATBELTS!” I’m always saying as we try to get underway. We continued listening to our current book-on-tape, Pippi Longstocking.   We made it to their art class several minutes early even!

While LD and DD were in art class (2 hours, 1-3pm), ED and I ran off to Home Depot to get some grass seed and bricks.  We made it back just in time to pick up the kids. Once in the car and underway again, we listened to the last of Pippi Longstocking (the kids loved the book and were sad it ended) and then practiced German (Pimsleur German).  They are doing really well with that. I like the fact that they can say… How much does that cost? It costs 16 Euros or What time is it? It is 2 o’clock.  I’m not so thrilled that my kids can now order a beer or two… or some wine.  Ummm… We laugh about that a lot — and then I make sure (again and again) that they can say… “I’d like some water please” instead!!  Twenty or twenty-five minutes later we’ve arrived at the doctor’s office for LD’s allergy shots (we still have to go twice a week. Ugh!!) We paused our CD and headed inside. LD got his shot, changed into his gymnastics outfit and off we went.  Will we make it to his practice on time with the horrible traffic???  We finished off today’s German lesson (the kids cheer) and we listened to some music.  Whew — we made it to LD’s practice on time… a few minutes early even (4:15)!

I realized I didn’t have ED’s gymnastics outfit so we had to run home to get that. Remember that grass seed I had bought earlier? I manage to sprinkle the ENTIRE 20 lb. bag all around the yard with help from the girls, put ED’s hair up into a pony tail AND get her to practice by 5 pm!!

DD and I rushed home to make dinner (sorry to say, it was fish sticks and broccoli tonight).  🙁  No award winning meals at the Homeschool Den today. That’s the way life is sometimes.  We packed that up in more Tupperware, picked up ED from her gymnastics practice,  and while the girls ate in the car, we headed off for my choir rehearsal. The girls went to the babysitter, I practiced and then we left early from rehearsal to drive all the way back to get LD from his gymnastics.  By the time we got home at 8:50 pm, everyone was hungry again. I offered ED and DD leftovers from yesterday, but they wanted more fishsticks.  GRRrreat meal, Liesl! Because of this, I didn’t have ED in bed until 9:20 pm… DD was in bed at 9:40 pm and LD is/was in bed at 10:00 pm.

Computer time!

Not all days are like this, but Wednesdays are a carefully choreographed dance of activities!

Some days we seem to squeeze in a fair amount of school-stuff and other days we don’t.  In the spring, we try to do a lot of field trips and while on the one hand it’s great and educational in a different way, they eat into out time and energy in other ways.  Trips are a bit draining because not only are we packing lunches, snacks, the kids, water, the hats, sunscreen and all the other assorted paraphernalia,  but then when we come home we bring in the empty Tupperware, warm ice packs, hats, sunscreen. All that stuff gets dumped and needs to be dealt with and put away at some point. That said, do you know what? I often daydream of being one of those homeschoolers who packs everything into an RV  and drives around the country (or the world!!). I doubt that’s in our future, though I sure hope to get in plenty of road trips and trips abroad before the kids are out of the house.

Anyway, we’ve been taking full advantage of the nice weather and lack of crowds to add new dimensions to our homeschool. Some of our trips are educational… others, well not so much.  But one trip in particular was very shocking and eye-opening for the kids.  I mentioned our service project and our trip to see the different houses at the Global Village of Heifer International a week or so ago. While we were in that part of Maryland, we visited Antietam.  For those who don’t know, the Battle of Antietam was the first battle of the Civil War to be fought on Union (Northern) soil.  The battle on September 17, 1862 was the bloodiest single-day battle of the Civil War… with 22,717 dead, wounded or missing on both sides.

We stopped into Antietam and spent hours and hours there. We watched the movie (which was just border-line acceptable for ED).  We went through the museum and then headed to see some of the sights (it was a car-tour).



Don’t you love the fact that my 5-year-old doesn’t know how to hold a gun?! (lower left picture) Of course, LD quickly remedied that.  But all joking aside, Antietam National Battlefield was a stirring place to visit.



I have lots more pictures of what we saw that day, but honestly the most wrenching part was the cemetery. The kids and I were the only ones there.  Because of that, it was silent and somber.  I became very choked up (and honestly writing about this I have tears in my eyes) when I realized what DD was doing. She (and then ED also) went from grave to grave whispering quietly, “I’m sorry you died…” over and over and over. Oh my goodness, that was just heart-wrenching.  We all were very overwhelmed… and DD leaned on me and cried quietly at one point.  It was stirring and horrible… and touching all wrapped into one.

Antietam3As I said, some of our outings are quite educational, but other things are just plain fun… Like the day we went to a petting zoo…



And the circus…


Whew, well I’ve been writing and writing and realize this post has gotten out of control. I’m not sure I even answered my original question… so how is homeschool life going?  I’ll have to cop out and say, homeschooling is going fine. Some days we get more traditional stuff done than others… we’re finishing up our digestive system unit (several posts about that early next week) and are moving into a new unit geared a bit more for ED/preschool about geography, African/world animals and stuff like that.

If you’re actually still with me at the bottom of my post (I know Hubby is, since we’re not getting enough time to chat! Hugs and kisses to you, Hubby!)… thank you so much for reading!  Have a wonderful day!


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