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Snow Day!

snow day

We finally got our first snow here, and boy, did we get snow!  More than we’re used to at one time in this area.  So when even all the regional courthouses shut down, we decided it was time for Little School to have snow day, too.  (I know, you’re wondering how I’m keeping from working myself into a lather about getting off schedule… Well, haha, I am not!  But I’ll worry about it later.)  Snow days are for Fun.

It’s brutally cold out there today, so honestly we took the snow day yesterday, when it was a balmy 20 degrees.  As we played in the white stuff, I couldn’t help but wonder how anyone could hate something so beautiful.  Even though I’m stuck on the farm until it starts to melt off, since my beautiful husband drives the four-wheel-drive to work, there is plenty to appreciate about being forced to stay home.  The days seem to last longer when you’re not worrying about where you have to go next.  And it means more hours with the Littles.  To, you know, build a snow fort just inside the woods where we’re protected from our imaginary enemies.  This snow is very light and powdery, not good for snowmen or snowballs, and we had to really pile it up to make our fort walls instead of packing it like we normally would.  But we got it a couple of feet tall–enough to be able to tell what it was.  We decided we’d wait till week’s end to finish it–when the snow has had a chance to maybe melt a little and re-freeze so it’ll pack better.

How to Make Ice Cream From Snow - Sherri Osborn

We made snow ice cream, because who doesn’t love That?  If you’ve never made it, Family Crafts has a great recipe here.  It’s super simple, and a great treat for littles with cabin fever.  It’s been hard today, looking out the window at all that fun and knowing that the negative wind chill is going to keep us inside.

We filled the bird feeders again yesterday, and the birds seem pretty grateful.snow birds  We can’t help watching them; even though the Great Backyard Bird Count is over, we remain completely fascinated by their antics.  Plus, the Littles have a bet about what new birds may show up since food is seriously scarce right now.  Yesterday, we saw a pileated woodpecker hanging around, but he’s not been back yet today.  So far we’ve seen titmice (is that the plural?), dark-eyed juncos (we call them snow birds because they’re only here in winter), and cardinals, but the snow birds are winning–I think that’s all there are in the picture.

We followed bunny tracks through our persimmon grove and down the main path through the woods.  It was hard work slogging through all that snow, but the Littles’ laughter and excitement, and the sun glinting off the snow, made it worth it.

Besides, taking a snow day is sacred.  Even if you can’t get snowed out of homeschool, it is so dazzlingly fun to have an unexpected day off that it lifts everyone’s spirits.  And even when it’s only 20 degrees, sunshine is the best cure for everything.  So we went back to school this morning refreshed and ready to learn.  So yeah, I’m grateful for snow.  For now.

Love wins,

KT

For the Birds

Make your own DIY Bird Feeders to celebrate the Great Backyard Bird Count with your kids!

Tomorrow begins the 2015 Great Backyard Bird Count sponsored by the Audubon Society. The way it works is you follow the link to the GBBC’s website and register as a participant with the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.  Then you simply put out a feeder and watch it for at least 15 minutes on one or more days of the count.  This year the count takes place February 13-16.  Count the birds that come to your feeder and submit your results on the website.  The full instructions and lots of other info, like a link to an online bird guide, are on their site.  There’s even a photo contest if you’d like to participate!
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What to Do When

I wish I had better advice for this topic.

It’s one thing when people pay a homeschooler those back-handed compliments.

“Oh, you must have your hands full.”  Accompanied by a sickly-sweet smile.

“I could never do that.”  Followed by, “I would kill my kids.”

“I wish I had time to homeschool my kids.”  Oblivious to the financial and social sacrifices we make in order to have the time.

But there’s something even worse, even more insidious.  See, I ran into an acquaintance the other day who is a professional and a mom.  During the ‘catching up’ phase of the conversation she asked what I’m doing now.  I told her I’m homeschooling my kids and her smile literally froze on her face (it’s cold outside, after all).  She hurriedly changed the topic back to herself: her busy days, her troublesome clients, how she can never quite find the time to blah blah blah.  Laughing with her, I concurred.  YOU know, fellow homeschool parent, just how busy I am.  Because you’re that busy.   Because even though we don’t get paid for this job, we are at work 24/7.  Our clients are just as demanding and we rarely get to leave them (not that we want to).  When we finally go to bed, exhausted, we are thinking of all the things we didn’t quite find the time to do, and all the things we have to do tomorrow.  We are Busy.

But this woman blew me off.  A chuckle.  A toss of the head.  “Well,” she said in a supremely condescending tone, “I mean, I’m Really busy.  I barely have time to look at my kids, let alone teach them anything.”

Lady, that’s your problem.

Is it guilt or jealousy that makes professional women automatically assume that a homemaker or homeschooler doesn’t have  a real life with real tasks to do and real rewards and real schedules?  Is it a true dislike of their homes and families that makes them cringe at the idea?  Is it meanness?

I just don’t know.  I try to put myself in other people’s shoes before I react to them; I really do.  But after that conversation I prompted several more with other people and I noticed it every time–that refusal to believe I could really be Busy, that my life isn’t a bowl of cherries and donuts because I don’t have a paying job.  I must just sit around all day watching (cringe) soap operas and eating bon-bons, the Peg Bundy of the 2010s.  I’m not busy.  I don’t even work.

So the worst back-handed compliment I’ve ever gotten is, “It must be so nice not to have to work every day.”

Are you kidding?  It must be nice to get to leave your job behind and have entire weekends where you don’t have to do it.   To take vacations that don’t incorporate major learning experiences into them.  To get breaks.

That’s what I want to say.  But I wouldn’t even mean it.  Because I’ve had jobs.  I had a career.  And the most fulfilling thing I’ve ever done is teach my kids.

Just, if you run into me on the street, please don’t belittle me.  Please don’t act like I’m not busy just because no one sees fit to pay me for what I do.  Please don’t assume I’m Peg Bundy.  I don’t even have time to watch her reruns on TV, let alone BE her.

I left that woman on the street with a polite (perhaps frozen?) smile without even bothering to contradict her.  Sometimes it’s just not worth it.  I probably won’t see her again for another 5 years.  Maybe I should have spoken up.  Asked her to spend her next vacation at my house and see just how busy I am.  Said something scathing about her lack of interaction with her precious littles.  But as I walked away from her, I smiled.  Because, busy as I am, I’m happy.  Her?  Not so much.

My only advice in the face of such ignorance is to keep that smile plastered on.  Remember why you do this and how most days are blissful no matter how busy.  Remember that your littles know they are what matters to you most.  And remember… She really is busy.  Her life is just as harried as yours.  You be the compassionate one.  Because it has to start somewhere, and it may as well start with us.

Has this ever happened to you?  If so, how did you handle it?  I’d love to hear about your experiences.

An Homage to Husbands

Sometimes, at the end of an especially busy day, after I’ve taught lessons and cleaned house, posted to my blog or checked out all the wonderful blogs I follow for homeschool advice, made breakfast, lunch, and dinner, squeezed in a 45-minute workout in the morning (and, three days a week, an hour for Zumba class), kissed my husband as many times as I can, fed all the farm animals–twice–worked on whatever new thing I’ve planned for school, and right now, made some more plans for the homeschool seminar I’ll be giving in March, and done whatever errands I needed to do (whew!  is that all?), I lay in bed and think, “Wait.  Did I play with my kids today?  Did I have a real conversation with them that didn’t involve Etruscan art or the difference between the Spanish verbs ser and estar?”

I bet you have those moments.  Even worse for a mama who has to fit all that in while working.  Cristina at A Homeschool Mom wrote a post a couple months ago called Am I Fun? which I have referred to before when I was having one of these moments.  It prompted me to take the day off and just have a fun day with my Littles.  But sometimes, we don’t have time to take a day off.  Some days I look around my house in the evening and think, “Ah, heck.  I forgot to clean the house today.”  How can you Forget to clean your house?!

At least I didn’t forget to make dinner.

Though sometimes I do forget to eat until dinner.  I feed everybody else, but if I’m elbow-deep in some project or chore I’ll think, “Oh, I’ll get to mine later.”  Later being dinner.  Because we have a strict rule about family dinners, so I Have To put aside whatever else needs done and sit down with my fabulous family.  Which is good.  Because while sometimes I’m too exhausted to take part, at least I get to watch the Littles laugh and talk with their dad.  I try not to think about the work I have to do once we leave the table and just focus on that moment, but sometimes it’s hard.

Thank the stars I have my sweet husband.

Sometimes when I get home from Zumba, dinner is ready and waiting for me.  Sometimes, even though he works very hard all day, he does a load of laundry or picks up the clutter or–and this might be the best–runs the errands.  Better than all that, he truly appreciates all I do to keep our house going.  He thanks me.  He notices when I do something new.  He compliments me.

He tells me I am beautiful every day.  After nearly 12 years of marriage, he still does that.

Whether I believe that I am or not, I believe that he thinks so.  It matters.

But what matters most is the way he picks up, every day, where I left off with the Littles.  He asks them what they learned at school.  He gets in the floor and plays games with them, even when he’s so worn out all he wants to do is veg in the recliner in front of one of his History Channel shows.  He talks to them like they’re human beings because we have agreed from the beginning not to treat them like they’re too young (or, Heaven forbid, too dumb) to understand Anything he has to say.  He listens.  He listens with his whole being.  When they are talking to him, you can see his body listening by its stillness, the way he leans toward them with every part.  He appreciates them.  He notices when they do something new.  He compliments them.

So on those nights when I worry that I dropped the ball on just Being With my Littles, I can drift off to sleep with a smile.  They probably didn’t notice.  They were too busy playing with Dad.

If you have a partner like that, who supports your family with quiet strength and holds all of you up even when things are hectic, kiss him bunches today.  Let him know how much he means to you.  Because he needs those things, too, all those things he gives to you.

Love (Definitely) wins,

KT