Life is Worth Living

The Agony of Advent

Advent is just around the corner, and you know what that means, right?  You guessed it, piano recitals.

I know it’s the first thing you thought of too because your kid is probably practicing Go Tell It on the Mountain right now.  You’ve heard that song so many times that you have his every mistake memorized.  And you’ve silently made a mental note to delete it from your iTunes playlist for when Christmas does finally arrive.

I used to think that Advent piano recitals, wherein every child plays a Christmas piece, were a bit disordered.  Aren’t we suppose to wait until December 25th to listen to Christmas music?  So, why not have that concert during the Christmas Season?  Everybody’s bored in January anyway.

But I’m older and wiser now.  I know why these recitals are held during Advent.  It’s because Advent is meant to be a Penitential Season, and there is no greater form of penance than sitting through an hour of children slogging through Christmas jingles.

It’s not there that aren’t some really good pieces being played.  Oh, there are.  It’s just that I’ve got to sit through 5 of my own children playing.  FIVE.  So I can’t just sit back and relax after Little Therese pecks out Silent Night.  No, I’ve got to sweat it through 4 more.

Oh, the agony!  My stomach drops with every mistake made.  Perspiration breaks out on my forehead.  My heart races as I sit on the edge of my chair.  It doesn’t even have to be my kid playing the piece, if whomever fumbles a little, I start trembling and biting my nails.  I wonder if it would be an appropriate time to take out my rosary and begin praying on my knees.

By the time the hour is over, I’m weak and exhausted, as I lean back into my chair.  It feels as if I’ve staggered across a marathon finish line and by George I deserve a drink.

Cheers to a Season of Recitals!  Cheers to Perspiration and Sweat!  Three Cheers for Advent!

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P.S.  For those of you who homeschool, there’s a great article from OnePeterFive HERE.

Homeschooling

Summer School

We never actually quit doing school; we go all year round.  Why?

  1. The children get a little bored in the “off” months, and it gives them something to do.
  2. I get a little bored in the “off” months, and it gives me something to do.
  3. It’s fun to learn new things with zero pressure.
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These two love Summer School.  They just show up and look cute.

What do we do for Summer School?

There are a few things that never go away, no matter what the season, which I call Early Morning School, Morning Time, Piano, and Mid-Morning Prayer Time.  These things work well for our family and provide a nice structure to the day.  That’s not to say that we can’t break from them if something comes up, but rather, they are there to guide us.

Early Morning School is that time before breakfast wherein the children will just pick on each other if there’s nothing to do.  So the night before, I lay out a math facts sheet and a handwriting sheet for my 2nd and 4th graders.  My 6th grader gets a math facts sheet and then works on her typing skills.  None of these things require my assistance, which is good, because I’m usually nursing a baby and drinking my coffee.

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Here’s the cursive handwriting book my 4th graders are using.  It’s got lovely photos.  It’s Seton.

Morning Time is that time during breakfast when I read the Mass readings aloud and then we recite our poetry.  I’ve said it before, but I like doing these two things at the breakfast table because the children are more likely to listen as food is in their mouths.  Right now we’re working on Paul Revere’s Ride.  We do it every summer, leading up to the 4th of July, when we’re feeling very patriotic.

Piano also never ends in the summer.  We keep right on with lessons.  The four older children must play through each of their songs at least 3 times after breakfast.  I tried once making them play for a certain amount of time, say twenty minutes a day, but found we were terrible at keeping track of time.  But for whatever reason, playing a song three times was easier to do.  (And I find that the ones who like playing piano will continue to play on.)

Mid-Morning Prayer Time happens sometime in the morning when I call everyone together, and we sing a hymn and offer a prayer for our intentions.

All of these things are further detailed in my Day in the Life Series, which you can find on my sidebar under “tags,” if you’re curious.

The only other thing that I’m consciously doing for school in the summer is grammar with my three boys.  We are using Classical Academic Press’s Well-Ordered Language series.  This takes about twenty minutes, then we’re done for the day.  I don’t have anything “scheduled” for the afternoons.  After all, one must have time to splash around in a kiddie pool and climb trees.

Any questions?  Just ask.