For starters, here's what it used to say at the top of my blog...
In which a
four FIVESIX-year-breastfeeding Yiddishe supermama of four (2 big, 2 little!) writes unswervingly, cooks tenaciously, parents attachedly, gardens (semi-?) naturally, homeschools frugally, and navigates unfalteringly through the moments between the Kodak ones.
This is an eclectic blog. I started it when my second-youngest, the Rony Pony Baby, aka Naomi Rivka, was actually still a baby, and I was new at staying home. I thought it would be a good way to keep track of the suppers I made for my family every day - a discipline I'm STILL trying to master in various ways six years later.
Since I became a stay-home mama, I have had several interests and deep passions, some of which have been seemingly abandoned mid-course.
For example, I'm not so much into sewing and crafts as I was for a while, partly because the sewing machines broke, partly because there's never any time, partly because I moved onto other things. I learned a lot and know there are some amazing things in the world of crafts that I hope to get back to when there is time and leisure and tranquility and - well, someday. Maybe not so much diapers; maybe not so much clothes or anything practical... but yes, I want to sew more monkeys!
I try not to kick myself for leaving things behind as I grow and change. The past few years since I retired to stay home has been the biggest time of metamorphosis in my own life, as I embrace mothering - something I thought I was doing pretty well for 15 years, but which, it turns out, I hadn't really been hands-on with at all - as a lifestyle; an obsession.
I'm still not very good at it, though. Don't think for a second that I have any good answers.
But that is where things began, actually: mothering the Rony Pony Baby.
I was divorced with two kids already, years ago, when I vowed that if I was ever privileged enough to have another, I would do almost everything differently. Not because I thought I'd messed up, but because it had all gone past so quickly, so unconsciously, in a blur of relationship problems and moving and divorce and working full-time and DAYCARE.
I listened to Dr. Laura and grew to hate daycare.
I read about attachment parenting and realized I wanted to be attached. Hands-on. Why have them if you're not going to raise them?
And then, suddenly, I was married and expecting a baby, and I gave notice at my last job and everybody said I was nuts. In Canada, we get almost a year of guaranteed maternity leave; they MUST keep a job open for you. Everybody said, "tell them you're coming back - you can always change your mind later."
But I knew I wasn't coming back.
I had been working for a few years as a freelance writer, and I figured that, between that and my husband's decent income working in graphic design, we'd have enough coming in. Ha ha ha. (he lost that job fairly soon into our adventure, and you try finding time to write professionally with four kids running in and out of the house)
My first summer of staying home was the first time the older kids weren't in daycare or day camp or with a babysitter EVER. Our first time hanging out together; two big kids and a newborn, rushing around to swimming lessons and free programs and attractions and wherever we wanted to go (which, for me, was mostly home, but never mind that... you're only a mommy once).
Needless to say, I went completely bananas by summer's end, and practically kissed the brick walls of the school the day they went back. But we also had the time of our lives and I saw that Camp Mommy was not some second choice but an amazing lifestyle we could have together - full-time, year-round if I wanted it, because by then, I was thinking of homeschooling, too.
I read and read and read and read and suddenly, I was convinced. The Rony Pony baby was nowhere near ready for school, so I stuck it all on a back burner and concentrated on... Baby #4 - the Chicken Pie baby, aka Gavriel Zev.
Flash forward two years or so to the September when Naomi Rivka was 4. Around here, that's JK age, but even before then, she was getting to be the giant of the neighbourhood. Where we live, "preschool" starts at 2 or 3 and heaven help the child who's missing out. By 4, she was the only "big kid" around, and I decided to tell her she was in Junior Kindergarten, just so she'd feel like she was getting some schooling.
That began a laid-back year of basically doing nothing. I told her that was homeschooling. I forget specifics, but we really didn't do much, academically. We read a lot and played a lot and... well, flash forward another year: now she was 5, and ready for SK.
After the Yamim Tovim (fall holidays) were over, I started doing some really basic "school" stuff. At first, it felt silly sitting down with her and teaching actual lessons. Who am I to be doing this??? I also introduced the concept of narration: Charlotte Mason's concept of "saying back" things she had learned.
Oh, yeah - the summer between JK and SK, I also taught her to read. She hated it. She couldn't see the point and wouldn't admit she knew how and it was slow, frustrating going for the first little while. Somewhere around November or December, before her 6th birthday, anyway, it started to click: she could read.
We learned lots of other things along the way, while doing many of our regular home-type activities and spending inordinate hours in our jammies. Most days, we don't get started until at least 9 am, which is just the way I like it. Most weeks, we do school no more than 4 days or so. We don't really have a rigid schedule, although when we have swim and ballet and other classes going on, we work around those things to create a schedule.And the year went well. You can read all about it: I have blogged our schooly adventures copiously from the start. And here we are now, at the end of our SK year, poised to begin the First-Grade Adventure.
Schooling (and "schooling") the little kids occupies by far most of my time. Between prepping materials and planning field trips, doing reading to get myself up to speed, running around on various errands plus classes and programs and spending actual "class time" at home, there doesn't seem to be much time left over.
In my spare time (ha ha ha), I still do some writing, although it is not the income-generating cow I hoped it would be. I have also been tutoring a woman who is studying to convert; this is a great way for me to stay in touch with my own Jewish learning. I continue to be obsessed in a slightly lesserly way with my garden. It is nice having bigger kids who I can trust to play freely outdoors, and hope as they grow I will be able to spend more free time letting them go free-range while I look after plants.
So here's another thing: in the way that babies will, the Chicken Pie Baby is also preparing to enter a new school year - his first. This coming September, his age-peers will begin JK and he's going to kindergarten right along with them... at home.
Stay tuned as the adventures continue!
Please feel free to leave a comment OR to email me - my address is cleverly encoded here to foil the spam-bots: Jay3fer "at" gmail "dot" com.