As you can tell from the lack of fall posts, things got busy in our house. Since Sydney and I were grading and responding to student queries, the last thing I wanted to do was to spend one more minute on my computer, even if it was to keep family and friends updated.
I don’t have any pictures of that incessant computer work (probably for the best), or even of the sight that I often marveled at on my non-teaching mornings: walking down the hall of our house around 9am to find each kid at his or her desk in his or her room, deep in school work. We have certainly had our moments of homeschool drama this fall: I hope I never forget the peculiar mingling of horror and fascination in Nathaniel’s eyes as he realized from our conversation that I wanted him to do another draft of his English paper. And I’m starting to think I need to walk into Katherine’s room periodically to mess with her a bit, just so she realizes that she won’t always have a quiet, solitary, un-timed environment in which to work through her math problems in her pretty handwriting. But, overall, I’d say things have gone well. Both kids have really made an effort to take on substantial work in math and reading, with regular shots of history, music, art, Spanish, and geography. For that, I’m truly grateful. I only wish we could celebrate with occasional trips to the planetarium or museum, or concerts. But, well, this isn’t the year for that!
The kids are now joining us in sorting through the mix of work and hobbies that, as all adults know, is more than just “getting your stuff done” so that you can “do what you want to do.” The tidy division between those categories has begun to erode already. Even as Nathaniel gasps in horror if he thinks his school work will take all the way until lunch (he starts early), he may well spend the rest of the afternoon helping me with kitchen and yard work. Which of these things is the “stuff” and which is the “what you want”? As adults who “read for a living” and “have summers off,” Sydney and I are quite ready for those conversations with the kids. Both of them have lent a hand with cooking, and Katherine often steps in to tackle a sink of dirty dishes. Nathaniel is quite proud of his rye crop, which he carefully sorted and stored before he turned to grinding and baking with it. He makes tasty bread.
Despite all that demanded his attention this fall, Sydney made time to order and plant hundreds of bulbs in our front yard. I have always loved spring bulbs, and we all enjoy that shot of color early in the spring. He also ordered a big box of tropical fruit for my birthday. Of all the intriguing things in the box (that flame-colored thing in the bottom right of the picture is a cacao bean), our favorite turned out to be the key limes. We agree that we haven’t come across anything so refreshing!
Sydney’s fall squash crop yielded both great food and front-porch decoration. Nathaniel and I have filled half a deep freeze with frozen squash puree, which we’ve turned into dinner rolls, soup, pizza topping, and much more. This year, we can add eggs to our list of home-grown food. Our six chickens have enjoyed castoffs from the garden produce, and outings (chaperoned by Katherine) into our yard and garden beds. Even today, a 10-degree snowy Christmas Day, they got a baked sweet potato from me in the morning as a treat and offered in return a couple of lovely eggs by the afternoon.