Handwriting with Heidi (and other things)

We started the week with snow followed by warm temperatures.  Only one day of fun playing in what quickly melted.  I am grateful for warmth and am really eager for spring.  We are resuming our goat walks, especially now that Robin is alone.  We don’t have plans for him to join our girls, but are working to find him a companion.  In the meantime, he is getting lots of attention and seems to be doing well.

We are definitely not moving to the farm.  We learned over the weekend that it is under contract now.  I am very much okay with that.  I had been praying for either a closed or a very obvious open door.  I am excited for all we have going on here on our six (soon to be 12, but more about that later) acres.  As temperatures warm up and we can pack away all the winter coats and clothing, maybe the laundry in our little house will stop erupting from the downstairs bath.  I will resume my ongoing efforts to make living in a small house with a large family a happy thing, not just a tolerable situation.  It’s not always ideal, but we can do it for a while longer if that is what is meant to be.

Keats turned thirteen last week, and Beatrix lost a top tooth.  These people are growing up.  Keats won’t tolerate photographs, but those are his hands holding the little bird (that hit the window, but recovered), and I got a blurry shot of him through the window.

I’ve had some emails lately about homeschooling and how we do it.  I’ve written a good bit about that over the years, and you can find a list of homeschooling posts here.  I think that most questions are directed towards the early years, and I have definitely written about that.  And then more on just how do we do it in the midst of all that comprises busy family life.  I’m not a big schedule person, and I am not highly organized, so I am afraid I don’t have any great advice.  I provide my children with a learning environment, we don’t have electronics such as video games, and we limit watching videos on the computer (though I resort to that more than I’d like in the winter months when little boys are going wild!) My older children (Seth, Gabe, and Keats) are pretty independent outside of math for a couple of them, and with my younger ones (Larkspur and Beatrix) I do my best to get through math and reading four days/week.  I am not a big fan of pushing academics before age 7 or 8, so don’t stress too much over kids who are resistant before that time.

I did decide that I wanted to focus more on handwriting with Larkspur and Beatrix this year, and wasn’t too happy with how that was going until we started a new bedtime routine.  Now they happily work on their handwriting while I read aloud.  We’re currently reading Heidi, so in the evening I call out, “Time for handwriting and Heidi!” They are pretty happy to settle down with their pencils and paper to work and listen.  Sometimes being flexible on timing and being a little creative is what is necessary to make a homeschooling chore something that is actually looked forward to!

I’ve been feeling motivated to improve my own handwriting (it’s pretty terrible.)  Each night after the girls are tucked in, I spend about ten minutes on my own cursive.

Here’s a list of our current handwriting materials (and a few other materials pictured in this post):  Larkspur is working on her cursive using Pictures in Cursive.  I recommend it.  We print extra pages and include some lined paper for extra practice.  Beatrix is using Memoria Press’s second copybook.  We use triangular pencils and grips for those struggling to hold the pencil correctly. I am studying Spencerian Penmanship, currently working through book one.  It feels kind of fancy.  Here’s a movable alphabet similar to the one we have (currently using it with Beatrix because it helps her with her All About Reading lessons) and the little blocks with pictures on them are called Varialand. We’ve had them for years, and I love them.

p.s.  Gabe built that little house.  He’s our engineer, always building something from motorized paper airplanes to houses.

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School Days

After a three week break, we started school again last week.  In preparation, I cleaned out the big kitchen cabinet where I store art supplies and activities so I’d be ready to keep Job and Silas occupied (almost the hardest part of homeschooling is keeping the younger ones productively occupied, isn’t it?)  Job seems to love little practical life activities, mainly different types of transferring.  He says to me, “Spoon!  Spoon!” and that means he wants a little tray, spoon, two little cups and maybe some beans to transfer.  If he spills his beans, he quickly picks them up (filling my heart with great hopes that he will grow up to be a tidy child, ha ha) He learned to sort last week:  sea glass, shells, coral, and other things from our fossil hunting trips.  Silas still mainly wants to “do art” as he calls it.  I am gifted with numerous little drawings each day, and he looks up at me with big eyes, waiting to hear me tell him how much I love his art.

I can’t remember if I’ve mentioned that Jonny bought a sawmill last year.  He had been wanting one for years, and he loves it so much.  I joked with a friend recently that the sawmill is coming between us!  The three older boys are all learning to mill lumber.  I think that counts as school.

School days feel so full and busy, kind of hectic, and we never seem to get everything done.  Both girls started playing an instrument in December last year, so now I have to remember to make sure they practice!  Beatrix is plucking her little violin, and Larkspur started flute lessons.  Lark has been asking to learn the flute for years, and I finally had my middle school flute cleaned up and repaired for her.  It’s neat seeing her learn on my old flute!  I didn’t play beyond middle school, and in my first year of college, my grandfather, who had a collection of musical instruments, bought my flute from me, giving me the cash I needed to buy furniture for my apartment.  Years later he returned it to me, a gift.  He met Larkspur when she was a baby, and I remember carrying her back to his bedroom, as he was staying in bed most of the time.  He held her there on his bed, and I remember feeling so grateful that we had been able to make the trip to Alabama, and also grateful that she didn’t cry.  I know I have photos of that day somewhere.  He died shortly after that visit.  I think he would be pleased to know that his great granddaughter is now learning to play that flute.

Larkspur’s tenth birthday is coming up in March.  She has a specific list of wants.  Jonny helped her make a seed list for this year’s garden.  Then she wants gardening gloves (that actually fit her, she specified) and a big straw hat.  She would also like overalls and a red plaid shirt.  Where will I find those?  Anybody know where to find basic denim overalls that aren’t all weird and skinny?  The plaid shirt may prove to be a challenge too.
Thanks for all the tips!  Overalls are ordered (these), and it sounds like plaid is in right now, and I won’t have trouble finding a shirt at a local store.