For the last 10 or so years I have spent most Christmases in South America volunteering with my family in children's homes, orphanages, and prisons. This year, we are staying home. Being home this year has brought some blessings and some challenges.
A major challenge we have faced is holiday busyness (hence why this post is the first in two weeks!)
There is always much discussion in homeschool circles of how much to do during the holiday season. Some do school as usual, some take the entire month of December off, and then a plethora of options in between. I really debated this year. I was feeling a little worn out and really wanted to sit and watch Christmas movies all day...but knew that would not be the wisest use of our days. We did however designate several full afternoons to Christmas movies, crafts, baking, and holiday parties.
We still have a few service projects in the works and will take some time off for those, but otherwise we are continuing (in a flexible manner) until the 20th. Oh my, that is only four days away! woohoo!
Schooling during the holidays is a very individual choice. In years past we have taken off much of December. We were planning mission trips and international travel, and those items on the agenda took priority. I do tend to be academic in nature and all too often task oriented, so I try to balance myself at this time of year to avoid burnout and really embrace the season of Christ's birth and allow my kids to enjoy this wonderful time of year. I am feeling content with our approach this year, but know every family, every year will vary. I encourage families to be flexible, know your strengths and weaknesses, and your kids' and plan accordingly. My little guy had a hard time settling back to school after 3 days off at Thanksgiving. That has given me pause to rethink our Christmas break plans. A break is certainly needed. But perhaps 2 weeks of playing the Wii will not be the best investment for him. ;)
Flexibility is key. We tried to get as much schoolwork done in the first 2 weeks of December as possible without making it stressful. We have kept up with math and language arts, and while we have progressed with history and science they have been a little lighter than usual. I could have taken off of those, but my type A personality wants me to finish our curriculum before homeschool convention in May. A silly arbitrary date, but hey, I admit it.
In the midst of the chaos of the holidays and finishing the semester, we took time to go camping this weekend. This picture tells the story. A time away to simply be. A little quiet and reflective time away from the hustle and bustle of the world. A time to praise God for who He is and for the family He has given us.
The Semester is coming to a close . . .
As the semester is almost over, I am amazed at the progress the kids have made. C is super close to finishing Right Start A (will need a week or two in January) and is progressing well in AAR 1 and HWOT.
E finished MM 2B and is working on 3A, is plugging along in WWE 2, ZB, and FLL 2. She is almost finished with AAS 3, probably the end of January, and just started ETC 8.
Elemental Science ESA is barely getting done (here is a glimpse into my personality...not doing experiments = barely getting done), but we are doing the readings and notebooking. I am bummed at the lack of projects completed. However, a friend told me recently she does science in the summers. I think this might be a great suggestion for all those experiments we didn't get to this year. This summer we can review our notebooks and do experiments. The kids will love it and I can stop feeling guilty for what we are NOT getting done.
Biblioplan Medieval continues to be a great fit this year. We have continued our study of the Middle Ages enjoying stories like Robin Hood, the Apple and the Arrow, and the Door in the Wall. My gracious husband bought the kids a play bow and arrow and they have enjoyed taking on their favorite roles such as medieval knights, Robin Hood, Little John, and Joan of Arc.
A quick recap of the last 2 weeks highlights:
We have had regular schoolwork to deal with...
E's first gymnastics show/in house meet as a level 4...
Along with trying to be intentional about focusing on The true meaning of Christmas. We have not been as consistent as I would like on our Christmas bucket list, but we have had a lot of fun with what we have done...
I took a day this week to clean and organize E's room in preparation for a Christmas present ...it took 7 hours! 7 entire hours! It looks great but I was exhausted and my back was out after the endeavor.
On Friday our homeschool group had a Christmas party in which we made blankets for Project Linus. I put aside my perfectionist nature (partially to help my kids enjoy the experience and partially because I know I cannot cut a straight line if my life depended on it!) I love opportunities like this to help keep our focus on serving.
In the midst of the chaos we went camping this weekend. Yes, maybe a crazy time to do it, but we skipped last camping season because of the heat so we were eager to inaugurate the season. Camping is also a great way to keep focus on family during a time that it is easy to get distracted. We enjoyed singing Christmas songs and worshiping around the campfire. The lods had a blast hiking, kayaking, and fishing. My back being out made it quite a lot of work for my poor husband, I had to bring home J on Sat night because she got sick, but we had fun anyway!
I am going to admit I am enjoying the kids getting old enough to leave Candy Land behind to play UNO, Spot It, and Dutch Blitz. :)
Ready to kayak!
J started running a fever and needed a break after kayaking. A little air conditioning and Dora on the iPad made her feel better!
Fishing at sunset...
Week 18 and 19 are complete. We are officially halfway through the school year!