Balancing Act

How much is too much? Are you one who tends to overextend yourself, dabbling in so many extra things that you find yourself too run ragged to enjoy any of them? I am.

creative thinking
I don't know how I get myself up to my neck in a tangled schedule of extra classes and activities. I was so proud of myself at the beginning of the year. My schedule was tight in places but flexible enough that it still felt relaxed. I felt so comfortable in fact that when approached to join a team here and a group there I thought, "Wow, this is a group my kids would love. It's educational, fun, and just what I think homeschoolers should do to capitalize on the free time they have!" I mapped it all out on the calendar and it looked "do-able" so we took the plunge.

Then reality hit. The extras started coming in: extra hours on projects to get them done, materials to run to the store to get, extra rehearsals, various homework assignments, and many other unseen time suckers. And once committed to any project, you can believe that all involved believe that it should be your number one priority. If I dare hint at how hectic things have become, others roll their eyes and tell you that everyone else is busy too.

team building
Yet, my life isn't about how busy everyone else is. If I cared about normal, I probably wouldn't homeschool. It's time to make the tough decisions because that is my job. So, I talked to the kids and found out what they loved and what they merely enjoyed. I hate to withdraw from activities that may have an impact upon others but sometimes that is the only way to regain balance.

 So, I ask you, How do you keep from doing this? How do you find, and keep, balance?


Junior Thespians

My kids have discovered Shakespeare. We've been reading books from the Shakespeare can be Fun series by Lois Burdett. These books are fantastic at introducing the bard to children. They include the more famous lines and keep the adult content to a minimum. In Romeo and Juliet, they do die in the end which shocked my son. I explained that Shakespeare used tragedy to make us think about things. His drawings have since taken on a very macabre element which he excuses as tragedy. I'd better make a note of that on any that make it into the scrapbook.

Then, they watched a little cartoon on Netflix called Romeo and Juliet: Sealed with a Kiss. Okay, this movie is isn't the greatest and everyone lives happily everafter, BUT! They use the proper names of the characters and adhere to the central story line. I'm happy with it considering my three-year-old now knows Juliet was a Capulet and Romeo was a Montague!

They next ran with the whole Romeo and Juliet idea and decided to organize a neighborhood play. My son was to do the scenery and my daughter would handle costumes. My three year old kept lying dramatically over her stuffed animals saying "I'm dead. Just kidding!" All was going well until they came across one tiny problem: my daughter wanted to be Juliet and my son insisted on being Romeo. Ewwww.

Well, there is always the Tempest or Macbeth. I have no fear, they will have moved on to Robin Hood by tomorrow! 


History in the Baking

King Alfred's Cakes

I'm trying a new approach to history. We read through several chapters and work our way back through the projects that go with them for a fun review. We are using The Story of the World Vol. 2 by Susan Bauer.  We just read about King Alfred the Great and how he pushed back the viking invaders after they forced him from his castle. The story goes that while Alfred was biding his time, he lived with a farming family who was unaware of his identity as king. While staying with the farmer, he was expected to help out with the chores. When asked to watch the baking cakes while the woman of the house left to tend to other chores, Alfred completely forgot and let them burn. When the farmer's wife returned, she scolded him terribly and he was so ashamed he couldn't bring himself to tell her she was scolding the king.

Our project was to see if the kids were better at tending cakes than King Alfred. We mixed up a small batch of sweet cakes and set them to bake without a timer. I left to tend to other chores and left it up to the kids to watch over the cakes so they wouldn't burn. This was perfectly safe because they watched through a window and never opened the door. After a while, my daughter thought it was time. They were beautiful! My kids are definitely better cooks than King Alfred!


Sprinkly Sun ~~~~Chihuly's Cheekwood Exhibit

These would have made for a great "Wordless Wednesday" but today being Thursday, you get commentary too.
 Cheekwood Botanical Gardens had a free day November 2nd. Most public schools were out this day so they could be used as polling stations on voting day. Add to this a final week of a Chihuly exhibit, and we knew we were in for some serious crowds. But, hey! Did I mention it was free?!
 The crowds were only bad at the beginning. Parking was a beast. But once inside, the gardens were not crowded at all. A few places where some major exhibits were centered resulted in an occasional line, but we never had to wait to see anything.
 We topped a hill and saw people playing by a pond. One of the most picturesque moments of my life. It looked like a movie set.
 The kids felt like they were on a scavenger hunt. We would round a bend and hear "Ooooh! Chihuly! I see the next Chihuly!"
Gum Drop (left) first noticed the "sun" in the posters flanking the entrance. She pointed to it then and said she liked that "sprinkly sun" best. When we came to it she would stand and look at it for a long time. She was disappointed we couldn't go right up to it and take a picture of her sitting under it. She told her daddy all about it when we got home. It never fails to stun me how art moves people of all ages.  If you ever have a chance to see Chihuly's work in person, I highly recommend it. Things I learned: 1. Each piece of glass is separate and rearranged for each exhibit. 2. Chihuly visited Cheekwood years ago and made sketches of displays he wanted to do. He then constructed them in his studio, made detailed instructions and had them shipped to the location. 3. Cheekwood has been working on the grounds for a year leading to the exhibit to ensure the plants around the exhibits were complimentary to the art. 4. Only about eight pieces were broken during the shipping and set up of this exhibit.