What a whirlwind October has been for our family! We spent part of the month on a road trip to Colorado, and as I write this we’ve been out of our house 63 days while we remodel parts of our house. Add onto all of that upheaval the stress of the worsening COVID pandemic and the impending election and this month has felt like A LOT for everyone in our family.
We spent most of October doing a fairy tales & letters block and at the end of the month transitioned to his quality of numbers block. While it’s been lovely and comforting to use the same curriculum I used for my oldest child’s first grade, I’m also finding myself supplementing a lot this time around. Waldorf’s first grade is very gentle and in some ways I appreciate that, and in other ways I can feel it’s not meeting my current first grader where he’s at. He’s loving the stories – especially the container story Kelly wrote for first grade – but he is chomping at the bit for more skills practice. So in addition to fairy tales & letters we were doing All About Reading and now in addition to doing quality of numbers we’re doing pages from Singapore Math’s Primary Mathematics workbooks.
I did not do explicit reading instruction with my oldest until third grade, when I realized that the Waldorf approach was not working for her. Unfortunately she never really grasped the concept of sounding out words and even though she is a very fluent reader now, she still guesses when she sees unfamiliar words. So it has been a massive relief to see my first grader starting to sound out words. The other day he read an embroidered pillow at my parents’ house that says “Happiness is being married to your best friend.” I totally cried.
My first grader really enjoys circle time this year, and especially loves the really active and imaginative stuff we do there, like hand-slap games along with reciting nursery rhymes and stomping out the times tables. I love how active and alive Waldorf is, especially in these early grades.
For most of the month my fifth grader and I were covering the earliest chapters of Ancient History, using History Quest’s Early Times. We are completely loving it. Even though this isn’t a Waldorf resource, I’m applying a two-day rhythm to it, where we read the content on day one and then recall on day two and write and illustrate a main lesson book summary. It’s been going really, really well. I am really happy that I bought the books audiobook too, so on days when we are driving down to Portland for a playdate or a doctor’s appointment, she can listen to her reading on the drive.
Then we switched to a math block and things did not go well. I have come to the conclusion that my kiddo needs to be doing math all year round. The approach of only doing math in three monthlong blocks is just not working anymore for her. She has been practicing math daily but I can see that she needs something more consistent and sequential. So I am shopping for a math curriculum and re-organizing plan for the rest of November and December. This is a change I kind of anticipated we would need to make back in the spring and then I didn’t trust my gut, so I’m kicking myself for not starting out the year with a new math curriculum. (If you have math suggestions I am all ears!)
My fifth grader has also been very interested in the election and we have had so many great conversations this month about both the presidential election and local races and ballot measures. I took her with me to drop off our ballots and my husband has been including her in making calls to voters in these final days to remind them to get their ballots in. We work hard to limit how much news our kids are exposed to, but we’ve started showing our fifth grader NBC Nightly News’ Kids Edition and she has really enjoyed that.
There have been a lot of opportunities for learning together this month, as we were traveling for the first couple of weeks. We were able to visit Rocky Mountain National Park and Yellowstone National Park, which were both so wonderful to see in the fall. I’m a big believer of learning through experiences and we have been blessed to have so many of those lately!
This fall feels like a real juggle for me as a mama. I have spent much of the month feeling like I’m doing too many things and doing them all poorly. I realize now I’m not a great candidate for doing a home remodel – the uncertainty, being away from my nest, making a ton of decisions – none of these are my favorites. The hope is that we will be back in our home sometime around Thanksgiving so hopefully we only have one more month to go.
Just as we left for Colorado I got a call-back from my annual mammogram, saying there was a concern and I needed to come in for a diagnostic mammogram. So the whole time we were one our road trip I was living with the idea that I could have breast cancer. That was another layer of stress I didn’t need. Thankfully my diagnostic mammogram came back great and apparently there had just been an error in my initial mammogram. Phew.
I have also been juggling a lot with my kids’ health. One of my kiddos has been having ongoing belly pain and another kiddo, who has been gluten-free since she was a baby, did a six-week gluten trial followed by a bloodwork test and we learned this month that she indeed cannot eat gluten. So there have been several doctors appointments – both Telehealth and in-person – and now some new dietary recommendations and supplements to incorporate into our days.
One thing I’ve learned is that when these stresses start piling up is that a) it’s time to ask for help and b) it’s time to step up self care. For me that is looking like asking for help from my husband in taking over most of the communication around our remodel, asking him to take the kids for a Sunday hike and signing myself up for a detox to do in November. It also looks like little efforts to be kind to myself, like taking the time to sit down and knit, making sure I’m eating to balance my blood sugar and getting back into a workout routine after too many months of not making time for it. And finally it looks like forgiving myself for not being at my best when so much feels very up in the air.
Some other little creature comforts from October:
- Listening to Tom Hanks read me The Dutch House while I knit this raglan sweater for my 11-year-old.
- Escaping to Greece in the evenings with The Durrells in Corfu. I feel like every homeschool mother will fall in love with this quirky family!
- Homemade chocolate nut butter cups for Halloween.
- Indulging in humor as often as possible. Favorites from this month include the movie Downhill, the episode of Saturday Night Live hosted by John Mulaney and everything Seth Meyers and Stephen Colbert.
- Doing an autumn meal plan challenge hosted by Families Who Cook and getting my ducks in a row for fall dinners. More on that in my next post, hopefully.
- I never spend money on stuff like candles but I just ordered myself some fall and winter scents from Vermont.
I’m hoping that when I sit down to write this summary for November that we will have peacefully elected a new president, we will have moved back into our house and I will have figured out what to do for fifth grade math. 🙂