Ever feel like you’re in a rut and frankly too tired to care? That’s where I’ve been for the last few weeks. (Hence, the lack of posts …)
As I type this, I have no idea where we’ll be in two months or what we’ll be doing. DH graduates in three short weeks and is feverishly sending out resumes. He’s had phone interviews from all parts of the country, but as of yet, no solid offers on the table. I’m not sure whether I need to be packing up or hunkering down in an effort to survive whatever the economy throws our way!
Beyond these four walls, my father is dealing with some serious health issues, and I’m helpless to do anything except wait by the telephone. I can’t exactly show up at the hospital with two small children in tow, nor can I leave a nursing toddler at home to travel halfway across the continent solo.
Add in two-year molars, colds all around, the pressure of the holidays … suffice it to say, I’m having a hard time summoning the energy and/or the initiative to plan fun, creative, purposeful learning experiences.
So what have we been doing? We’ve been plodding on, covering the basics and breathing a silent prayer of thanks for ready-made materials that make learning a bit more fun. I wrestled with whether even to post tonight; then, I was struck by several realizations.
- I’m not the first mom who’s ever felt uninspired, and I won’t be the last. Some days, some weeks, even some months, you just do what you have to do.
- The girls are actively learning even when I’m not actively manufacturing “fun, creative, purposeful learning experiences.” They’re children. They learn as naturally as they breathe.
- I started this blog to chronicle our learning journey — not just the fun parts, the easy parts, or the inspiring parts of the journey, but the whole journey.
So what does a “just plodding on” day look like?
As usual, the girls woke up earlier than I would have liked. We spent some time cuddling in the recliner; then, I got up to fix a cup of coffee. While I prepared my morning infusion of caffeine, Baby Bear found a Fisher Price Little People fairy and a Cherry Lane Cottage rocking chair that had been missed in the previous night’s toy clean-up. Her efforts to put the fairy in the rocking chair prompted Little Bear to dig out the Little People Fairy Treehouse, the Cherry Lane Cottage, and all the little people/animals/furniture that went with both. And so ensued a good half hour of make-believe play culminating in a terrifying tornado that sent all the people and animals scurrying for the safety of the storage container storm cellar. The furniture and other play accessories did not fare as well. The aftermath of the child-made disaster prompted Mommy to demand a full-scale clean-up before school began.
Once most of the toys were back in their proper places, we headed into the living room to read our morning Bible stories. Along the way, I realized that neither girl had actually eaten breakfast, so I gave them each of bowl of raisins and macadamia nuts to munch on during story time. After stories, I helped Little Bear review this week’s memory work and Christmas carols. We wrapped up our time together by reading and discussing God Knows My Name.
After a short break, we moved onto The Reading Lesson: Teach Your Child to Read in 20 Easy Lessons, amid protests from Little Bear that it was too hard, she couldn’t read, and she was too tired to do school work. In fact, her protests had nothing to do with the subject at hand and everything to do with the fact that she’d spied a Mickey Mouse Clubhouse video clip on YouTube and wanted to veg out in front of the screen. I responded by closing the computer and telling Little Bear she could choose between doing her reading lesson or going back to bed until she felt rested enough to do school work. She chose the former, and we worked through two painful pages of /d/ and /g/ words. (The hard /g/ sound is one of the sounds that Little Bear struggles with enunciating in normal speech. Her best efforts to read words ending in -g tended to come out as /r/ /a/ /g/ -> /rad/ … which she’d then correct to /red/ or some such thing.)
By the time we finished our daily two pages, we both needed a break. I turned on Christmas music and left the girls to dance around the living room, while I went to the office and dug out a tub of magnetic letters and Learning Resources ABC Cookies Goodie Game. Games tend to make everything better, and reading is no exception. I first prompted Little Bear to build the words in today’s lesson with cookie letters, then played a couple of rounds of a three-letter-word building game with her. Next, we pulled out a magnetic board and used the interlinking magnetic letters to build word families.
Unfortunately, as soon as I left Little Bear to work on her own so that I could fix lunch, Baby Bear joined in and started pulling letters off the magnetic board. Little Bear would put a word on. Baby Bear would pull it off. Angry words and tears soon followed, bringing the activity to an abrupt end. I sent Little Bear to cool off in the bedroom and told Baby Bear to pick up the letters she’d dumped all over the living room while I finished getting lunch on the stove. Then, it was time for a brief chat, hugs and apologies all around, and some chill time with an episode of “Go, Diego, Go!”
After lunch, we left school work behind and headed outside for some active play. Little Bear rode her new bike, while Baby Bear followed behind on her bumper car. Bike riding ultimately gave way to a game of chase … until grass burrs ended up in tender little feet. First aid and kisses followed; then, Baby Bear was ready for a nap. Little Bear retreated to the bedroom for quiet play time and followed a pattern to build a fleet of MagnaTile rockets. She and I also took a few minutes to review numbers while Baby Bear slept.
Following nap time, the girls played dress up, played in their play kitchen, and played with their toy instruments. When they tired of playing, we sat down to read some Thanksgiving-themed books, a couple of Baby Bear’s board books, and a couple of Thomas the Tank Engine stories. We opened a new Melissa & Doug Caterpillar Gear Toy and spent some time playing with and observing the gears. We also opened a new Triazzle Kids Vehicles Puzzle, which Little Bear completed in short order. A magnetic fishing game and an old-fashioned tea party later, it was time for dinner.
DH had some work to do on his computer which he could best do in a quiet house. So the girls and I went out for a rare girls’ night out at a local Mexican restaurant. Baby Bear, of course, insisted upon feeding herself — a messy affair given dinner involved rice, refried beans, enchiladas, and fresh tortillas dipped in honey! We barely got in the door at home before she started requesting “Ba[th]! Ba[th]!”, adding “Bu-bu, pease!” [Bubbles, please!] as she ran for the tub.
In the end, the girls insisted upon bubbles and bath paints which they played with until I practically ordered them out of the tub. By the time we got them dressed and got their teeth brushed, Little Bear was too tired to care about bedtime stories even. She just wanted to curl up in my lap and go to sleep.
And so we made it through another day — not a glamorous day or an exciting day, but a full day of learning, playing, loving and being loved. We plodded on. Some days, that’s the best we can do. And it’s enough.