A Mosaic in the Making

And They’re Off

Nicki Black  June 16 2010 02:07:08 AM
Written 8/30/2008

I am officially looking at the first full week of the 08/09 school year in the rearview mirror. I spent the better part of last week cleaning the classroom and getting all of our supplies labeled and in order. This summer the classroom had become sort of a catch-all-purpose room while the construction on the studio and playhouse continued. It's also the only room in the house that's carpeted and cooshy, which makes it the number one place for DS to toddle around without me worrying about him taking any hard spills.

The last few years I had been caught up in that euphoric, yet chaotic, back-to-school rush during the tax-free weekend. I had always loved the of license of filling my cart with packs of shiny white ruled notebook paper, holographic folders, smelly erasers, glittery pencils, and extra packages of scissors and pencil sharpeners (because scissors and sharpeners are like socks in the dryer or the last piece of cake - vaporware). Of course the soup du jour are always the crayons and art supplies with their "office-y" smell that I admit, I like better than most perfumes. Yet this year I was way behind schedule. We didn't finish up school last year until July, due in part to having a new preemie baby to adjust into our lives, and in part to taking the end-of-year tests later than planned. I couldn't quite get myself in gear until a couple of weeks ago. I needed the summer vacation. Mama needed the rest! So I prayed that the homeschool store would still have the curriculum I needed, bought a small handful of supplies during said tax-free weekend (forgetting altogether that shoes and clothes were also tax-free - oh well), and finally organized the classroom late into the night last Sunday. I may have not physically been ready to start school this year, but there is still something deeply satisfying in writing, "Welcome To Fifth Grade!" on the whiteboard late at night, while the house is quiet and it's just you and clean bookshelves of curriculum, atlases and various dictionaries, art supplies, and books on ancient civilizations, beckoning to you in their flirtatious scholarly way, whispering, "come.. come.. open my crisp pages... let me tell you what I know.. " Ah. The thrill of the challenge and joy of homeschooling lights that fire in me, once again.

I am blessed that DH also takes a good chunk of the teaching load. He's got that "Dad" thing going for him. DD is still at the age where her Daddy is great and funny. He takes her through hands-on labs and experiments that make a mess and evokes a lot of laughs through their trials and errors, namely, this week's lab illustrating the effects of shifting tectonic plates on a structure built from mini marshmallows and fettuccini noodles. Me? Well I'm apparently not that funny to my 10 year old, unless she's in a weak moment and caves in, allowing herself to embrace my quirks and being something other than just her Mother/cooker/cleaner/doctor/etc. In year's past, DH has been on contract out of town, working away during the week, and returning on the weekends. Many people say that must be hard, but actually, I just got into that survival kind of mode and made it work. I mean really, I had to make it work. It wasn't so bad, except during the major construction part of our office and studio expansion while we had all those problems with our GC and sub-contractors (and at the time of this writing we just discovered they messed up again - ugh). But that's another story that I'll cover some other time. While he's got this break in his out-of-town schedule, he'll be able to work from the home office during mostly flexible hours, teach during the week, giving me the time I need to tend to clients and other things on my plate that normally get relegated to either after 9 PM or on the weekends. Hallelujah!

I have a blog on my music site, but it's specifically about what God has been saying to me personally and corporately. I thought it's probably time to have an outlet to voice my other life as a homeschooling Mom, wife, and multifaceted woman - a part of me that is submitted to the belief that we are on this homeschooling journey because God planned this for us years before we knew we would be here; the part of me who has her best girlfriends too far away for a cup of coffee and some facetime fellowship; and the part of me that sometimes feels like I'm in a bubble of raising kids, having a career, dealing with my sometimes working car, or putting all that sweat equity into the never-ending home repair projects that came with this wonderful 1936 historic house we bought. Can anyone relate? I bet so.

I'll just sum it up as, (1) overly positive for the first week of another school year, (2) not bad in getting through a good solid week of our course work while still having to order some straggling curriculum over the net that nobody seems to carry, and (3) trying to find a balance between schooling a 10 year old and a very (vocal/noisy/listen to me!!) on-the-go 17 month old toddler. Oi!

By the way, if any other experienced homeschool Mom or Dad out there has some words of wisdom how to balance the age difference with their kids, please let me know. I'd love to hear what has worked for you, and what hasn't. This is our 4th year in homeschooling, but our first with having 2 kids going in different directions in the classroom.