Taking a Break

Sometimes you just need to take a break…

This post has been written for homeschoolers – but a break can be an important part of everyone’s lives!

We are officially on summer break after my daughter’s 2nd year. I schedule breaks through-out the school year, but it always seems to amaze me how long it takes us to get to one.

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Since we homeschool year-round, breaks are an important part of our lives. It allows us to take a breath, and revel in where we have been and anticipate what is to come.

It also allows us to remember why we do what we do. The constant strain can make everyone tired – not just the students. I speak from firsthand experience. Being a homeschool mom takes work, and there has been more than one time that I was the one that wanted to skip a day more than my daughter.

So, why not just take an extra day or two off and get back to it? Simple…we need to rest! And just get away from it all, even if it is just stuffing everything into a drawer for a week or two and “forgetting” about it. For the student it’s getting away from the work. Learning can be exhausting especially if it doesn’t come easy. And for the teacher, i.e. me, it’s the idea that for a period of time, I don’t have to explain something again, and again, aaand again. sigh…

Here is a quick list of things we like to do on our breaks:

  • Nothing! Absolutely nothing! Nothing is scheduled and anything goes, she wants to play with her mud kitchen or hang out in the pool all day – have at it! I may join her in the pool!
  • Hanging out at the river/lake
  • Hiking – we have great trails near us!
  • Painting – we are currently looking to paint our house (which will be fun for her for about – 15 minutes) but I am talking about pictures, wood pieces, etc. When she was little, she liked to “water paint” the house. I would give her a bucket of “paint” (water) and an old paint brush, and she would “paint” all day.
  • Finding shapes in the clouds – when was the last time you did that?
  • Star gazing
  • Board games
  • Family Lego time – we have built some big houses!
  • I do try to limit tv time, but when the weather is nasty out, we hang out watching movies and sipping cocoa
  • Drawing with chalk (on sidewalks/patios – I also made my daughter a chalkboard out of an old door – which I will be making into a post soon)
  • Imaginary play – I get out all our garden sheets and a bunch of clothesline clips and she drapes them over her swing set and chairs to make tents, pirate ships, circuses – you name it!
  • We currently have a very large pot full of leftover wood pieces from projects – it is amazing the things she can think up with those. Since they are left over pieces I don’t care if they get ruined, so it’s nothing new to find them floating in the pool or being used to make a Fairy house in the sandbox.

What is something fun that you do when you get a break?

Dawn

Cleaning a kids room

maybe just a little bit over-exaggerated, but pretty darn close…

Our house is small, not tiny house small, but small. It becomes a little more cramped when you throw into the mix our hobbies, working from home, and homeschool. My husband also tends to fall into the hoarding category. He denies it, but my own personal joke about him is that he watches the hoarders tv shows to get ideas. He contests it every time, but I know the truth. Anyway, because our house is small, I go thru it a couple times a year, once in the spring, another in late fall. And I go thru everything – since I have been doing it on a consistent basis for years now, I know what we have and what we need versus what we don’t. Usually, the process is fairly quick and easy with the exception of our office (that in itself is another story) and my husbands’ hobby room (not even going to go there). But then I try to tackle my daughters’ room. Just let me tell ya the apple didn’t fall from the tree on that one. She definitely got her fathers hoarding abilities. I just don’t know how it happens. Half the time it looks like a mix between the aftermath of a Godzilla attack and a biblical plague.

I have even heard things come out of my mouth that I never would have imagined, things like “When did you get that”, “How long has that been in here”, “How did you get that up there?”, “Why did you do that?”, and the scariest of all “What is this?”. What is even scarier is that my daughter has a reason for everything. Which I assume, she got from her ‘love to blow smoke’ father! Luckily, I have been with him long enough to discern what’s what from him and his little ‘mini me’.

Let me just tell you that cleaning her room is an all day event – one very bad year, it turned into a week long horror show. It wasn’t pretty…I still have nightmares.

The first step to cleaning her room is to clear the schedule to make time. I do it last after everything else in the house is done, then once completed I can walk into a clean living room and pass out.  

The day before, when she is out of the room, I take a quick recon. I look under, behind, around everything. Gotta know what I am getting myself in for…as I start to feel the artery at my temple start to tingle. I massage it gently, maybe if I warm it up a little with a little preempted rubbing it won’t hurt as bad the next day. I make a mental note to myself to get buckets out for sorting toys and a box for garbage – hmm, better make that a BIG box.

The morning of is like getting ready for battle – I mentally prepare myself, have a cup of coffee, send prayers towards heaven for my safe return and for the coffee maker not to die. Right now, my husband and I are in the middle of watching the HBO mini series Band of Brothers. I can definitely identify with the soldiers when they are preparing for battle – only the good Lord knows whos gonna make it out alive.

Next, I need a plan, what’s to be tackled first, second, third, etc. Get more coffee, another prayer…by the way – an extra tip – the overload of coffee will help later in the day. When I am knee deep in kid stuff and have to take a break to run to the bathroom. Ahhh, it’s almost like a mini vacation.

Ok, time to pull up big girl panties, gather my courage and get started. Upon walking in my heart starts to fibrillate, and my eye starts to twitch…could be from all the coffee? Nah, I’ll blame the mess.

Alrighty – first thing, anything on the floor gets put into a bucket to be sorted later, with the exception of garbage (how did it get in here in the first place?!?) which goes right into the garbage box. What seems to be hours later I make it to the bed. My daughter has bunk beds, and has decided to sleep in the top one for now. I tell her to strip it and take everything to the laundry room to be washed. While she does that I clear off the bottom bunk, straighten the sheets and blankets and put stuffed animals and extra blankets back on the bed. With the exception of the top bunk not being made because everything is getting washed – the bed is done. YAY – on to the next!

My happiness is soon deflated when I turn around to see a bulging chest of drawers. My temple starts to lightly throb…ugh, here we go. At least the eye twitching has stopped for now. I must say cleaning out the drawers becomes a treasure hunt. Besides clothes, we find money, books, toys, papers, buttons, and beads. All we need to be complete is to find an animal making its home in one of the drawers. Luckily we didn’t. Though I am convinced that it is probably cowering under her bed. All clothes come out and my daughter folds them and I help her put them back in neatly. Yes, I have her fold them. She is old enough and the only way she will get better is by practicing…she practiced a lot. I do help with folding the hard to fold things like footed pajamas and big fluffy dresses.

Ah, dresser done – next on the agenda is the biggest challenge, storage buckets under the bed. I honestly think it would be easier to clean up rubble after an bombing. These buckets, at one time, had been organized by toy type. Ponies here, dress-up stuff there, I don’t know what happened. The eye twitch is back. Sigh…look around, sigh again. Twitch, twitch, twitch.

Once all the buckets are out from under the bed, we go thru each one and reorganize and sort the toys. This is usually when my husband appears at the door. His eyes are large and he looks scared. He fumbles through some excuse and runs for it. I sigh again as I continue sorting through toys, mumbling under my breath like a demented goblin that ‘he will get his‘! On a good note, we didn’t find any animals under her bed. I assume that they made a break for it when we were out of the room changing the laundry over. After the sorting is done, we sweep the area under the bed and pushed the buckets back under.

We are almost there – the coffee has worn off and I now have a full-blown headache from my throbbing temple. But we keep going. The last area to clean up is my daughter’s Barbie stuff. Her doll house, which is made up of a 9-cube bookshelf (each cube is 13 inches square) actually functions very well as a dollhouse. We opted to buy it for her instead of a regular dollhouse for a couple reasons. One, it was cheaper (by a lot), the other reason was that we wanted something she could use after her “Barbie years”. The added bonus is that she can move the rooms around on a whim, which is what she had done fairly recently. Leaving it to look like it had just survived the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, complete with a Barbie hanging for dear life off the top shelf. I really don’t know how that doll didn’t fall – it was definitely gravity defying.

The dollhouse itself wasn’t bad, each room got a quick clean out and put back. The gravity defying Barbie was saved and placed on a little chair. Then we checked the accessory box she has for all the little pieces – food, shoes, hats, purses, even tiny soap and perfume bottles. It’s amazing what they make now for those dolls! We sort through all the little things, pulling out anything that didn’t belong or was broken. The end was near, I could see the light – ok, so maybe it was just the late afternoon sun shining thru the window – exactly how long had I been in here?!?

With all toys back in their respective homes, we rolled the rug up and I took it out. Now this rug, it’s not that big, but it is heavy – and pink (surprise, surprise). Anyway, while I am airing out her rug and trying desperately not to fall off our back step during this process, my daughter is in charge of sweeping and putting away any toys that got overlooked. Once back we lay out a car play mat on the floor and cover it with the horrendously overweight pink rug. The good thing is when she wants to play with her cars she just rolls her rug up, and when done, rolls it back – anyway that’s the theory.

And we are DONE. Oh glory, Hallelujah!

I stumble into the living room with a dazed and confused look on my face. With my temple throbbing, and my eye still twitching, my husband, sensing that the task is now completed, comes out from his hiding place. Sits beside me and asks “What’s for dinner?”

I smile sweetly and respond – “Make it yourself.” and pass out.

Life lessons from my ducks…

Back in March we brought home 4 fluffy little ducklings, and a whole new world opened to us. Just a few days after we brought them home we lost one – Lovey – she started having seizures. We found out later that sometimes this happens, and once they start, there is really nothing you can do. Last week, unfortunately, we lost another – Love. (My daughter named both of them) He started thinking he was top duck and well, the other 2 which are almost twice his size, didn’t like that idea.

Other than losing the two, in heartbreaking circumstances, we have truly enjoyed them. And after a very long, trying day they can give quit a bit of entertainment and a good laugh. Here is a quick list of some of the things we have learned from our 5 short months with ducks!

  1. Drink lots of water
  2. Eat a varied diet with lots of fruits and veggies (I’ll skip the bugs-yuck)
  3. Dance!
  4. Be inquisitive
  5. When your happy – show it (wag your tail)
  6. Try new things
  7. Hang out with friends
  8. Dig deep for what you want
  9. Smile
  10. Walk and run (or waddle)
  11. Take a plunge
  12. Don’t be afraid to get your feet (or beak) dirty
  13. Snuggle
  14. Look out for predators
  15. Call for help when lost
  16. Keep clean
  17. Sometimes you have to fluff yourself up
  18. Chase what you want
  19. Just let stuff slide off your back
  20. Make new friends
  21. Stretch
  22. Take each day – one day at a time
  23. Have your own opinion
  24. Listen (ours likes Enya)
  25. Run to someone safe when you are scared