Things That I have Learned in January

Here are the things that I have learned in the past month:

1) I have learned that children will eat anything, even if it is burnt. I made cupcakes to celebrate Caleb’s and Tessa’s birthdays last week. I made a whole slew of them to take with us when we went skating with some homeschooling friends. A crumb of cake was not to be found after those kids got hold of the cupcake container. They cleaned those blue frosting covered cakes all out. Later, I had one of those cupcakes that I had left behind so that I could feast on them as well. I discovered that the bottoms of the cakes were burnt. They tasted horrible. They were all dried out and, well, burnt. That didn’t stop those kids, though. They inhaled them anyway, black dry crumbs and all.

2) Emma has been a participant in an online book group this month, courtesy of Tree of Life. We have never done anything like this before. We live out in no man’s land where internet connections are a bit spotty at best. This makes it difficult to do online classes. This book group, though, is carried out through a blog. We can do this. This group’s book is Rosemary Sutcliff’s book, The Sword and the Circle. I considered this book a middle school book but I thought it would be a good beginning for a book discussion. Also, the other books offered this year were just too old for a 14 yr. old (that was my thought, anyway.) We began in the middle of January and, oh my goodness! these kids can discuss. It has been a bit daunting for Emma, hence a learning experience for her and for me as I try to gently nudge her into the discussion. So far (the discussion ends in the middle of February) we have talked about the obligatory honor and chivalry as well as adultery –emotional and physical. We have gone fairly deep into these issues. It has been fun for me but daunting for Emma. I would like to do more of these next year but Emma might not be as open to this as I am.

3) I have learned that Caleb can handle reading a heavy duty book after all. Caleb is 13 now and we are having differences of opinions on certain issues. I thought it would be easier for both of us if he started doing the English section of All in One Homeschooling. The problem with this solution is that some of the scheduled books are (I thought) too difficult for him. I decided that we would just give it a go anyways. We are on day 4 and I am surprised at how well he is doing. He is reading The Idylls of the King by Tennyson right now. I have learned that I need to stop underestimating my children.

4)I have learned how to date again–I will have to write a longer post about this. Suffice it to say that my Beloved and I have started to date. Now that the kids are older, we are seeing that we need to spend more time together. So we have been going out to dinner a few times in the past month, going to the movies and even simple things like watching TV at the cabin (a garage that my husband converted into a man-cave, complete with satellite TV.) I am liking this dating thing.

5) I have learned how to teach writing–I have been spending this month reading books on writing. That sounds boring, doesn’t it? Actually, though, this mission of mine has been quite entertaining and enlightening. I am learning much of writing that I never knew before–things that I had taken for granted before. I am learning about different wordplay exercises we can do to help our writing ability. I am learning that it is easy for me to write but oh-so-much harder for me to teach writing. I thought those things were similar. Wrong. They are very different. The books that I have been reading this month are: How to Write a Sentence by Stanley Fish (interesting book, so far,) The New Oxford Guide to Writing by Thomas S. Kane (this has been helpful to break down the writing process down into doable bites,) and The Lively Art of Writing by Lucille Payne (okay, I haven’t actually started this one but this will be on Feruary’s docket.)

6) how books can burrow themselves into our hearts/lives.

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