Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Week 21 ~ A Day in the Life

I thought I would join in and do a Day in the Life for the Simple Homeschool link up. We are in our 14th year of homeschooling. Our oldest graduated from our homeschool a few years ago and lives at home. Because he suffered several heart attacks and loss of oxygen to his brain in infancy, he has traumatic brain injuries (TBI). We do our best to keep his life full with new opportunities and help him reach his highest potential. Our second set of kids are 12, 10 and 9. The two middle kids are adopted and have a host of special needs that keep us very busy with therapies and therapeutic parenting. Every day is different but one thing remains the same. I am always taking the emotional temperature of my family and trying to keep us on a smooth and loving path. This means that some days ... in fact, most days ... I need to make many adjustments to keep the peace.

My ideal homeschool day would be cuddling on the couch with my kiddos and reading them tons of great books. We would all drink tea or hot chocolate and get lost in the world of history and literature. This way of homeschooling worked great for my oldest, but my second set of children views the ideal homeschool day differently. Their ideal day is filled with activity, science experiments (especially ones with impressive chemical reactions) and math games. They enjoy a great story, but only if they are drawing it (while I read), building it with Lego blocks or listening to it in the car. We strive every day to reach a happy balance. Here is a day in our life ....

6:30 am ~ Is it really time to get up? I pull myself out of bed and get freshened up. I catch the news and pack my husband some leftovers for lunch. I start making breakfast. This morning is easy with everyone having yogurt with fruit and granola in it. Tom Sawyer is allergic to grains and does not get the granola. I sit down to eat breakfast and check some blogs. 

8:00 am ~ Everyone is awake now and eating breakfast. They are all in a different state of being dressed. I start doing laundry. I make stacks of wet laundry baskets to go to the dryers at the laundromat later in the day. I also organize our "classroom" (aka the dining room) in preparation for the day. The kids are taking 30 minute turns on the computer. They have found a free download for PAC MAN and are squealing while they try to avoid the ghosts.

8:30 am ~ We have an early morning vet appointment, so our day is starting off with an interruption. I oversee everyone's chores. Tim (22) walks the dog; Goldilocks (12) sweeps the kitchen, dining room and hallway; Tom Sawyer (10) empties the dishwasher; and Little Red Riding Hood (9) makes all the beds. Our goal is to have a reasonably clean house. (However, I would not advise checking the door frames with white gloves.)

9:00 am ~ We pull into the veterinarian's parking lot just on time. Thank goodness it is only a mile from our home! Boomer is not at all happy about his check up and becomes increasingly less happy when they clip his nails. Actually, he pitches a fit, cries out with pitiful whines, and is held down by three vet techs. In the fray, unfortunately, the quick of three of his claws get cut and start to bleed. He is usually a very well-behaved dog, but he has a real problem with his nails being touched. By now we are all very stressed, and the family's emotional temperature is running high. We had planned on going to the library, but it is obvious to me that we need to go home instead and regroup around the safety of our dining room table.

10 :15 am ~ We return home to discover the men have returned to finish cutting down a rotten tree in our yard. I attempt to have the kids recite and review their 170 spelling words from level one of All About Spelling, but it is obvious that I am not going to be able to compete with the chainsaw noise and excitement of the pending fall of the tree outside our dining room window. I decide to let them stand at the window while we talk about how to cut down a tree, power tool safety, and general construction safety. Finally, there is a magnificent crash and recess is called to go climb on the tree. Feeling a little discouraged that we haven't accomplished much schooling yet, I give myself a little pep talk. After all, watching a tree come down is not a common experience. I remind myself that learning is always going on, even if it is not the way I planned it.

11:15 am ~ Everyone is back in and around the table. We begin math. Two of them do worksheets while the third does Teaching Textbooks on the computer. Sometimes they all do Teaching Textbooks, one right after another. However, that takes a long time, and I want to get through more subjects than math today. We move on to reading two chapters of Life of Fred: Butterflies. We love these books. They cover so much more than math. Today the focus is on geography (specifically the states). The states are a bit of a struggle for some of mine, so I decide to have them put together the U.S.A. puzzle and identify the states mentioned in the two chapters. This is a well received activity and the family temperature is returning to normal. We may save this day yet!

Then I read the kids two chapters from the book, The Long Winter. One child has to bellow about how we still have not received any snow this year (in fact, we are expecting a surpising high of 68 degrees today). Everyone settles down to Lego building and drawing while I read. After two chapters, I call out spelling words while making lunch. The kids practice their spelling words. We are having a Spelling Bee on Friday, and everyone is looking forward to earning small prizes.

12:30 pm ~ We have lunch and silent reading time. Most everyone is reading comic books. I wish they were reading something with more substance, but today I am content they are all reading while eating. We finish up and pack up to leave for the afternoon. 

1:10 pm ~ I get Timothy to his college class late again. The community college offers a special needs program for TBI students, and he is doing well in the program. Luckily, I can see one of the mobility buses is still dropping off students, so he won't be the only one arriving a bit late.

1:30 pm ~ I drop Goldilocks off at Homeschool Choir and the wet clothes off at the laundromat. Then I take the remaining two kids to the park. They spend the next hour running around a baseball field, swinging, climbing and studying the water in the creek. I attempt to fix the camera that is refusing to take pictures for me.

2:45 pm ~ We pick up the laundry, get Goldilocks and head home. Once there, I start dinner prep, check email, call the lawyer about the land adjoining our property that we are closing on this week, arrange a room at Ronald McDonald House for a future out-of-town doctor appointment, talk to my Mom on the phone, and clear school off the dining table. The kids have play time in their own rooms. I keep them separated to avoid sibling strife while I am on the phone.

4:00 pm ~ I head back out with kids in tow to pick up Tim from college. As we have on all of our car trips today, we listen to the audiobook, Al Capone Shines My Shoes, which was checked out of the library. The story is getting very exciting, and we are filled with suspense as to what will happen next.

4:30 pm ~ I am back home again and make dinner as fast I can. We are having a simple dinner tonight ~ homemade hash browns, organic hot dogs and spinach/apple salad. We eat while my husband talks to my Dad on the phone about how to fix the camera. Hooray, he gets it fixed, and I can take it with me to aerial arts tonight. We do not usually eat on the fly like this. Tuesdays are probably our most heavily scheduled day.

5:30 pm ~ The girls and I arrive at aerial arts just on time. This is my one and a half hours to relax. I spend the time taking pictures of the girls, reading my book and talking to the other Moms about how none of us were ever as flexible and skinny as the teachers. LOL!

7:15 pm ~ We are home. We enjoy a snack of cheese and apples. The girls take a bath while my husband reads to Tom Sawyer. The children are in bed by 8:45 and two are asleep. Another busy day is complete. I am so thankful for the freedom to homeschool. It is such a blessing to our family.

Each day varies...for instance this week alone we went to a play on the civil war, went to dance classes, had one day at home with lots of reading and cooking, and another day with a three hour doctor appointment and less than an hour's worth of school. I love how we have so many options and freedom to do what is the priority each day!

Blessings, Dawn


  1. Thanks for sharing your day! Your vet visit sounds a lot like ours.

  2. Wow! I love how you balance your school work with your family's "temperature". We LOVE Life of Fred book too! Hope you have a well-deserved relaxing weekend!

  3. Poor Boomer!
    I would've given up and watched the tree fall, too. Part of the art of homeschooling is knowing when to just go with the flow and when to rein them back in for book work. I think you do a superb job of that. As always, you guys have a lot of good going on.

  4. I agree, that's a good way of putting it - balancing schoolwork with the family's "temperature".
    My son has sensory processing issues. We do occupational therapy at home daily and once a week with an OT, and spend a lot of the rest of the time dancing around attempting a similar balance.
    Reading about all you manage to take in your stride is inspiring - thank you for sharing.

  5. I love reading about your days. I should do a post like this - though I'm not sure I accomplish nearly so much!

    Hugs to you!

  6. I love your sentence, "taking the emotional temperature" of your family. This is exactly what I have to do many times but I never quite thought of it that way! Our days are varied and hectic and they sure do pass by quickly! Thanks for sharing a glimpse into how homeschooling works in your house!