This past year has been a year of trying out new things; attempting to be courageous in the face of timidity and juggling all the things life throws at me without dropping any balls. It has been a year of God challenging me on topics I don’t wish to be challenged on; of asking me to do things I don’t think I have the strength to do and basically wanting me to be a person I am not sure I have the strength of character to be. To be honest, this year has felt higgledypiggledy and disjointed. I have felt unsettled, which is unusual for me. I crave life to be constant and settled, but as my teens run towards adulthood it seems that change will be the only constant present over these years to come.At the beginning of the year I had five children, at its close I have three teens and two children. That is a lot of change in one year. I now have to learn to be a mother of teens (which in all honesty is proving to be fairly painless and much easier than I thought), as well as the mummy my two younger ones need me to be. Life is so busy with evening activities happening every single day. It is a balancing act and I feel unbalanced (and no children I do not mean mentally). I enjoy calm and time alone; what I get is frenzy and company all day long. And yet I know. I know that this will only last for a season. I know that it too will pass, and probably all too soon. I know I must wring every inch of joy from these years, so that I don’t look back and regret.
Our little homeschool has been a bit hit and miss this year. Or at least that is how it feels to me. I am, once again, so grateful I keep a record of their work in the form of my blog. I did a quick perusal of the year and found that we accomplished so much more than I remember. For my own benefit I am doing a quick sum up of each month.
Academia in 2015
We tried out alternate weeks of unschool and school, which seemed to work during January. We began Tudors and Stuarts in addition to learning about the explorers of the time. The little ones began a study of the polar regions using Five in a Row as the core curriculum.
With Gary’s dad’s help we built a bedroom for the two little ones in our hallway, created a study for me out of the hall way which was left and I began my Season’s of Joy posts.
Granny and Grandad from Ireland came to visit:
T turned thirteen:
And as always we spent heaps of time outside:
I began a study of Proverbs 31, using scrap booking to help us express all we had learnt:
B learnt to wink:
We began a hands on study of genetics:
B turned four and we spent the day at the beach to celebrate:
The older girls enjoyed a meal out with their Daddy for Valentine day:
whilst T helped me to host a Valentine Tea Party for the little ones:
School wise we continued with our studies into the Tudors and Stuarts. We also set up an Antarctica Laboratory and did lots of experiments about snow (which we happened to have some of) for our study into the polar regions:
In March we took a holiday to our home land Northern Ireland and enjoyed meeting up with family and friends:
and had all our hair cut off, which we have all regretted ever since:
School-wise we continued our study into Mendelian genetics and illustrated what we had been learning by creating our very own family of applettes:
We also did a finger print lab, the younger ones finished their Polar regions unit study whilst the older ones did a study into a relative of ours, Shackleton and his adventures in the Antarctic. In addition the older children thoroughly enjoyed learning about the explorers age with many hands on learning:
The unschooling weeks are showing signs of not being quite as useful as we had first thought, and I ponder stopping them altogether.
The older ones finished their studies on the Antarctica. They studied Michelangelo and his art in huge depth:
They also learnt about the social classes of the Tudor times:
Exploring the Tudor explorers became much more hands on and therefore fun when we made a chip log, and ship:
and a captain’s log book:
We also showed Meiosis and mitosis using play dough:
We did an egg hunt with Lorna’s family during Easter:
I began to post about my struggles with food and all I was learning from God’s word.
This month we continued our studies into the explorers age, focusing on navigation. We made and used our own compass and quadrant:
as well as conducted a blanket trade to demonstrate how the early travelers traded with countries who did not speak their language:
and plotted all the routes the explorers took on our huge home-made map of the world:
The older ones and I began our study into the Elizabethan times, making a costume:
and some marzipan fruits:
I continued to explore God’s word on food.
Most of June was spent learning about Queen Elizabeth I, her coronation:
Elizabethan spy craft:
as well as an in-depth study into the Spanish Armada defeat, using home-made maps and boats and acting it out:
I began to publish the little ones studies with Five in a Row:
Lorna’s youngest K joins us on a Friday and we begin by doing cereal labs:
cup cake wars:
and a popcorn lab:
The older ones finish off their studies into the Tudor explorers by showing off the projects each has been working on. L made a pirate memorabilia pack:
T made up a Mine Craft game all about pirates:
while C wrote a reader’s theater play about pirates, which we all acted out:
We also completed our Elizabethan unit study and spent time in the garden helping an overwhelmed Gary:
I posted a heap of Five in a Row posts and the Littles and I began our studies into South America by making a cookie map of the region:
We began a summer of Shakespeare
Lorna’s Family joined us as we spent weeks focusing on Romeo and Juliette and A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
I’m fairly certain none of us had laughed so much in all our lives! The children completed a multimedia project, each taking on one act of A Midsummer Night’s Dream and choosing a media to focus on. They rewrote the acts according to the media chosen and performed it to an audience as a whole play. The boys did a film of Act I:
Act II was reader’s theater with props, and audience participation:
Act III was done traditionally, using the original Shakespeare, by the seven children:
Act IV was done modern Glee style with a touch of musical theater:
Act V was done as a puppet show, with home-made puppets:
Finishing off the whole play and evening with the song ‘There Can Be Miracles..’ with everyone joining in:
I don’t think, school-wise, I have ever been so proud by what the children have achieved. It was over and beyond fabulous!
We took most of September off to recover from the summer, although we managed to celebrate A’s seventh birthday in style with a flower fairies’ potion party:
Really nothing much else happened. We did have to put our beloved cats down, which I am still struggling to come to terms with. George had a nasty cancer and at 18 the vets did not want to operate:
Still sad from losing George and Luce, we spent hours outside in the fresh air:
enjoying each other immensely:
We began a one year study into the woodland surrounding us:
alongside using the Flower Fairies to help the younger ones notice more details in nature:
We continue to study IGCSE Biology, moving at a snail’s pace, but intending to speed it up a bit next year:
We learn about the seventeenth century from the people who lived then, using Samuel Pepys Biography (we are almost finished but this has required a lot of censuring to make it appropriate for my teens)
T began to learn the guitar:
L became far more serious about her jewelry making:
I end the month with three teens and write a post pondering the benefits of having teens, because they really are not as bad as society makes out them to be!
And this is where I see a huge drop in our productivity. I realise things aren’t going as well, but I am unable to put my finger on why. The children and I spend time discussing what needs to change. I ask for Gary and Granny’s input, just in case I am missing something which is staring me in the face. At the same time we learn of the governments plans to take tax credits away from parents whose children are age four or above (this has now been scrapped) and I ask for help to monetise my blog.
I make the decision to push to finish some of the curricula we are using, so I can feel like we have achieved something. We finish off a practice IGCSE English paper and I marvel at the improvement I am seeing in their writing when they are focused enough to do a good job. The children and I make plans for next term and I buy resources.
I begin to guest post on another blog as well as making a bit of money from Amazon. I realise just how much work is involved in monetising one’s blog and wonder whether I have the time to actually do it justice. Gary and I brainstorm ideas for a schedule which will help me to become more productive.
My sleep, which has been good for over a year, becomes terrible again, with me struggling to get more than three hours a night. My eating once again is out of control as I try to eat myself awake. I do however finish the year weighing significantly less than I did this time last year although significantly more than I would have hoped for.
Life feels unbalanced, the results of which are clear – low productivity, sleeplessness, weight gain and a general feeling of not being in control. Days merge into one another in a haze of exhaustion. Cancer is on my mind as I approach my four-year anniversary of being cancer free. My brain feels fuzzy and over-stimulated, with thoughts I do not wish to have and worries of death and dying which I can’t bear to contemplate.
God is, as He is so often, my refuge and my strength. He calms me and helps me to see clearer. He shows me small things I have let lapse in the past few months, like walking with Him each night. He shows me that to have complete peace in my schedule I need to put Him and only Him first…and all other things will be added unto it. He gives me hope, and a renewed determination to be master of my own life, rather than allowing the busyness of life to be my master.
I have two pieces of writing to complete next week, after which I shall enjoy a couple of weeks of relaxing, clearing my mind and focusing on the important and not just the urgent.
I hope you all have an incredible Christmas this year. Thank you all for reading about my fumbles through life this year. It has been a pleasure to get to know you all. I hope you’ll join me for more fumbling next year. I think it is going to be a good one.