32 Pairs of Socks

For Christmas my family tends to get practical things in their stockings as well as an orange and a candy or two.  Fairly predictable.  More often than not, this means that Christmas time is a time to restock on socks.  And, boy, did we need socks!  It seems that we are constantly rifling through the clean laundry looking for a pair of socks for the day.  How nice to feel like we are restocked and spoilt again in the New Year. 

But here is the catch, as I sat trying to catch up on the laundry this past week, reveling in how nice it is to be healthy again (after sharing all together in being dragged down by a horrible cold/flu virus all through the holidays), I realized that maybe I had erred in the sock purchases over the holidays.  You see, I sat for a quite moment – probably a good half hour – and sorted out half a dozen piles of “what belongs to who” and then proceeded to start the pairing…  I paired up Hubby’s socks and tucked them away, then I folded mine.  32 pairs of socks.  No, not his and mine.  I folded 32 pairs of my socks.  Really?  Do I really have 32 pairs of socks…. And that would also imply that it’s been a month since I last folded socks…  And that it will also likely be another month before I am sufficiently motivated to fold socks again.  Sigh!

How often is my life like this?  I invest time, or energy, space, or money in something that is meant to help or simplify life and yet makes no difference or a negative one.  I was thinking this when I considered other things in my little world too.  How often have we “needed” a new book or curriculum that only seemed to make us busier but not smarter?  How often have I stuck with an old activity while adding a new one on to our already busy schedule and hoped to be able to fit it all in? 

I know that New Years is a time for resolutions and reflections but I don’t tend to like to follow the crowd and don’t want to make these grand commitments to change just because everyone else is.  I do however want to continually be striving to be all that God created me – and my family – to be so New Years is as good a time as any to strengthen my resolve.      

So I am strengthening my resolve to strive for the purpose and simplicity that we set out for so long ago in our family life.  I want to constantly question why we do things and how we could do them better.  In our school this year, that has meant lightening some of our work load to be able to focus on other things.  Namely, we chose to take a break from reading and writing curriculums so that we could spend more time just reading and writing.  Sounds simple, I know, but it has been revolutionary.  The kids and I are so enjoying just reading a lot together.  It’s been fun to take the time to make cards, write letters, to teach them to blog and to write out their thoughts on the things that they are learning, to listen to a beautiful poem or Bible verse or saying and to set it aside for later to be copied and kept.

Now, as I try to jam my 32 pairs of socks into a too-small drawer, I am reflecting on other ways to keep it simple in areas that I tend to invite the complicated, ways to redeem wasted moments that could be used more wisely.  I think that one thing we will do is to read our Bible more, to simply enjoy it as literature with our other readings rather than parsing the meanings to death.  Teaching my children to view the world through a biblical lens can only be enhanced by reading the Bible more and discussing all of life in light of the living word of scripture.  It seems to me like a spectacular way to continue to “throw off everything that hinders” so that we can “run with perseverance the race that is marked out for us” knowing that to “fix our eyes on Jesus” (Hebrews 12:1,2) will only bring us closer to that ideal that we strive for.

Blessings, Friends, as you strive to be all that you were created to be in 2013!

Happy New Year,

Cori

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Loving this summery weather…

It’s so nice to be able to take down the walls of the school and to learn and to love and to live so much out of doorsLearning is so much easier when you have materials like this and a classroom full of God’s creation.  Hope you are enjoying taking in some of the beautiful scenery today.

Blessings,

Cori.

P.S. – If you are still interested in the Newby Workshop then let me know soon.  The July workshop is almost full though there is still lots of room for August…  Also, there is a possibility of a third workshop being offered in Barrie.  I will keep you in the loop as I find out details.

What is Normal?

Dear Friends,
Often times I have friends (old and new) come to me with questions about homeschooling.  Some of you are new to homeschooling, so are thinking about it (or thinking how strange it is), some have been schooling at home for a while but want insight on how others are doing.  From time to time I will post my answers to these common and (and sometimes uncommon) questions that I have grappled with.
My answers are not the end all and be all.  I hope to dabble them with the truth but the only truth that I can guarantee is from the scripture itself.  Everything else is just my musings on what happens in our cozy little spot Under the Maple Tree.
Recently a friend wrote, “Hey Cori, would you be able to give me a run down of your average day.  I am interested in the practical aspects of how Charlotte Mason’s philosophy gets put into practice?” 
Ha ha ha!  What is a “normal” day!?!  I have been asking myself that a lot lately in light of our crazy renovations!
I hesitate to share our current schedule – as it is so different now that I am eight years into this career and am schooling three girls in three different grades and tending to a demanding toddler – but present day is what you will get.  It is a very different day than when we first started to homeschool and there was just one very young student and a toddler. 
Also I can tell you what I plan for most days to look like but there really doesn’t seem to be a “normal” day for us.  There is always a hitch, a headache, spilled milk, an attitude that needs to be addressed, an unexpected visitor.  Lately it has been renovations that have thrown us off.  And really, if I am rightly looking at education the day does need to bend around these things.  It is just as important that I teach my kids to clean up their messes, to love their sisters, to overcome attitudes, to work hard despite the excuses.
Our “average” day then might have many of these elements:
7:00-7:30 Get up (I don’t let the kids get up before 7 as they disrupt other tired people; They do need to be up by 7:30 as there is much to do in the day and there isn’t time for dawdling – though sometimes lately I am known to be the dawdler) 
7:30-8:00 Personal chores.  (make bed, tidy room, get dressed, brush hair, brush teeth) See Working Together.
8:00-8:30 Breakfast
*8:30-9:30 Corporate chores (things like watering the plants, cleaning bathrooms, vacuuming, dusting, etc.) Also see Working Together.
*9:30-12:00 Table time (our table time includes things like language arts, math, nature notebook, copywork and spelling, etc.)
*12:00-1:00 Couch time (this is our time for Bible reading and other readings like geography, history and science, literature and poetry) Realistically, we get to this component one to three times per week.
  
* I used to be pretty set on this schedule but lately have mixed up these three main elements of our days according to our needs.  i.e. – If we haven’t had couch time for a couple of days then that might come right after breakfast or if we have an appointment early in the day then we might skip to language arts at the table first.
1:00-2:00 Lunch (The girls are starting to take turns at preparing a meal or two on their own – or with my help – each week!)
2:00-3:00 Quiet time (This is non-negotiable.  If I want to give my kids my best everyday I need to get some down time.  Remember most people spend 8-10 hours away from their whole family everyday, an hour of downtime is not a rejection of our kids and their needs.  Besides it helps the kids to be able to learn to quietly entertain themselves, to enjoy quiet reading time, to keep out of trouble without eyes constantly on them.  It also gives them time to pursue some of those passions that life is sometimes too noisy and busy for: painting, crocheting, creating, building)
3:00-6:00 Play time (mostly outdoors), time for mommy to do some work, finish my chores, read, prepare dinner, etc.
6:00-7:00 Dinner and clean up
7:00-8:00 Play, get ready for bed, baths, etc.
8:00 Little girls to bed
8:30 – 9:00 Oldest daughter to bed….
Sleep and then start again.
I hope that gives you a bit of an insight into our “Charlotte Masonish” day.  You will notice that I didn’t just stop at the academic learning time as I really do think that times like chores, outdoor play and quiet time are an integral part of our learning time.
Blessings,

Cori

Making Time

As I enjoy this long holiday weekend I busy myself about the house trying to make the most of every extra minute: catching up on laundry, baking, playing with the kids, enjoying time in the yard, sewing.  Amidst it all though, I struggle to realize the real impact of this holiday.  Easter: a moment when time stood still and the Lord of all eternity overcame all to set us outside of the economy of the clock.  On Easter He opened the door to eternity for us all.
And today His wish for us all is that we take our focus off of our miserly spending of our precious minutes and accept the everlasting gift of salvation that he gave out on the cross.
Wishing you glimpses of life beyond time this during this day of remembrance.
He is Risen!
Peace and Blessings,
Cori