a day in the (chou) life {grace laced mondays}

It’s a bit chaotic around here at times.  Most of the time, really.  This is the first year we’ve homeschooled with any sort of consistency, and after adding a fourth little one to the mix in March, it’s not easy fitting in even one hour of kindergarten level school work.  If I’m eventually going to homeschool multiple children at once, I’ve got a lot to learn in the art of juggling!

I’ve been spending a little time here and there researching homeschooling — curriculum, styles, schedules.  I recently came across this list of examples of REAL LIFE homeschool days.  None of these families have perfectly cut-and-dried homeschooling schedules.  Their days are flexible, their education is often intertwined with other daily activities (i.e. oral spelling tests in the car), they deal with the inevitable “everyone’s-in-a-whiny-mood” days, and they’re all just trying to find a balance.

In a nutshell, I learned that homeschooling requires much grace.  It’s a perfect opportunity for me to receive God’s grace as the teacher…and then extend His grace to my kiddos.  When I think about the coming years and what our homeschooling household will look like, I have to take a deep breath and entrust it to the Lord.  Our children are gifts from His hand, and He will faithfully provide the means to take care of them (even if I have to lose a bit of sanity along the way.) :)

Last Thursday, I jotted down the play-by-play of our day at home.  I know I was encouraged by reading the examples of other families who are farther along in their homeschool journeys, so I’m wondering if my example might encourage someone who’s in an earlier phase than we are!

A Day In The (Chou) Life With 4 Kids 5 & Under:

6:30 AM – Eric and I wake up; he gets ready for work and I start the cloth diaper laundry, then I heat a pot of water and make him coffee and a quick breakfast (after washing my hands, of course.) :)  I make a cup of Irish Breakfast tea for myself.

6:55 AM – Eric leaves for work; I sit down with my tea, read from the Bible and a study book, and pray, trying not to rush through since I know the quiet won’t last long.

7:20 AM – Hudson bursts out of the bedroom, “Mama!”  Boulder is right behind him and begs for his morning cuddle.  Calla comes out last, dragging her feet.  She’s already acting like a teenager with her sleeping habits — crazy and energetic in the evening and slow-moving in the morning.

7:30 AM – I make another cup of black tea and start cooking breakfast — cherry oatmeal and apples with peanut butter.

7:35 AM – Shepherd wakes up and I change his diaper.  Calla holds him while I finish making breakfast.

7:45 AM – The kids eat and listen to a psalm on my phone’s Bible.is app.  Boulder tries to outdo the phone’s maximum volume with his commanding 22-month-old voice.  I nurse Shepherd while I eat a few bites, but I quit eating after I drop a chunk of oatmeal on his head.  After setting him in his bouncy seat I finish my cold oatmeal.

8:00 AM – I forgot to move Boulder’s chair out of reach of the curtain, and he grabs it with his cherry-covered fingers.  I consider taking the curtains down to wash them, but instead I tie the curtain back at a different angle to hide the cherry stains.  I start breakfast cleanup.

8:15 AM – Calla is drawing and coloring at the dining table and wants me to join her, so I do.

8:30 AM – This is one of my favorite times of the day — Shepherd is getting sleepy so I lay down with him in my bed and we both fall asleep.  While I’m sleeping (about 20 minutes) the kids play in their room and Boulder empties the shoe shelf in the closet and fills it instead with puzzle pieces and Mr. Potato Head parts.

9:00 AM – Calla dresses herself and I help the boys get dressed after changing Boulder’s diaper.  He has a little bit of a diaper rash AND he’s cutting four eye teeth and two molars = he’s a little cranky.  I hold and rock him for a few minutes while he calms down.

9:20 AM – The three kids go outside to play and I finish cleaning up from breakfast.  Shepherd wakes up and I nurse him while trying to figure out what we’re going to have for dinner.  I decide on slow-cooker ham and split pea soup.

10:00 AM – The kids come inside and have a snack — a few dried plums and coconut milk — while I start dinner in the crockpot.  They head back outside.

10:15 AM – Shepherd wants to nurse again for a few minutes.  When he’s done I put him in the bouncy seat and finish making dinner.  The kids come inside and beg for ham bits.  I give them each a bite, then pull out the caramel corn my Grandma sent us in the mail recently.  That makes them happy!

10:30 AM – The kids go back outside.  I hold fussing Shepherd and decide we could both use some sunshine, so I wrap him up in the mei tai carrier and we go outside too.

11:00 AM – Shepherd is asleep, and I bring the kids inside to watch a National Geographic documentary about tigers on Netflix.  I lay Shepherd down and jump in the shower.  When the documentary is over, the kids ask to watch an episode of Super Why and I let them while I start lunch.

11:45 AM – While I’m making lunch (turkey & cheddar wraps and yogurt) I realize I forgot to add the carrots to the crockpot, so I dice some carrots and cut a few sticks for the kids’ lunch too.  Boulder gets tired of watching TV and comes into the kitchen.  He dumps out Keuma’s water bowl onto the kitchen floor.  I clean it up, deciding not to make a big deal out of it since Boulder’s already grumpy and it’s almost naptime.

12:10 PM – Lunch time!  We all sit down at the dining table, and Calla and I work on simple math facts while we eat.

12:20 PM – Boulder doesn’t eat much and is rubbing his eyes.  I change his diaper and rock him for a few minutes (and check Facebook and emails on my phone) before he falls asleep.  I lay him down in his crib and stare at him for a few minutes.  I can’t believe how big he’s getting.

12:45 PM – I remember the clean diaper laundry needs to be moved to the dryer, so I switch it over and start another load in the washer.  I realize I’m not done with my lunch so I finish the last few bites while cleaning up the kitchen.  Calla and Hudson help me empty the dishwasher and collect dirty dishes.

1:00 PM -  I heat up a pot of water for tea, then finish checking emails and reply to a few.

1:15 PM – I make a cup of green tea, and Calla and Hudson and I sit down on the sofa for some reading time.  After about five minutes of reading out loud, I begin yawning uncontrollably.  Hudson gets bored, probably because there’s more yawning going on than reading.

1:30 PM – Shepherd wakes up.  I change his diaper and nurse him while the kids color at the dining table.  Actually, Calla colors while Hudson annoys her by rolling colored pencils back and forth from one end of the table to the other.  It turns into an all-out yelling match, so we spend a few minutes in conversation and discipline.

1:50 PM – I put Shepherd in the bouncy seat and fold the clean laundry.  The kids go back outside to play.

2:00 PM – I realize I haven’t blow-dried my hair yet.  It’s basically dry, but it somehow makes me feel better to finish it with the hair dryer.

2:10 PM – Shepherd is cooing and smiling and I sit on the floor with him so we can have a “conversation.” He loves having people talk to him.  I think about calling Calla inside for a piano lesson, but decide to just let her play outside instead.

2:30 PM – I fill out some paperwork for an insurance claim.  Shepherd is a little fussy so I hold him and check Facebook on my phone.

2:50 PM – The kids come in for a snack and I give them applesauce.  Boulder cries out but then goes back to sleep.  I nurse Shepherd and he falls asleep so I lay him down for a nap.

3:15 PM – Calla works on a few pages in her Wordly Wise and Brain Quest workbooks.  Hudson lays down on the floor and falls asleep for a few minutes.

3:30 PM – I start making cornbread but realize I don’t have enough cornmeal, so I make biscuits instead.  Eric comes home from work and we chat while I’m working in the kitchen.  I grate some cheese for the soup.

4:00 PM – Shepherd wakes up, and I change and nurse him.  He hangs out in the bouncy seat again.

4:15 PM – Dinner’s ready, so Calla sets the table.  We’re having an early dinner tonight because Calla has kung fu class at 5:30.  Eric wakes up Boulder so he can eat with us.

4:30 PM – We sit down together and eat.  Shepherd starts to fuss, so I shovel in a few more bites of soup and biscuit before I pick him up.  Soup is one of the hardest foods to eat when holding a baby!

4:50 PM – Shepherd is obviously tired so I lay him down to sleep.  I help Calla get ready for kung fu and clean up in the kitchen a little.

5:15 PM – We pack up the kids and head to Calla’s kung fu class.  Eric always goes with her and Hudson wants to join them this time, so I drop off the three of them.  Boulder and Shepherd and I head to the post office and Safeway.  We come home and I put groceries away, then we go back to pick up the others from class.

6:45 PM – We come home and I nurse Shepherd.  The kids go back outside to play.  When Shepherd is done, I call them inside to get their pajamas on.

7:15 PM – The kids have an evening snack since dinner was so early.  While they’re eating, I clean up from dinner, sweep, and load the dishwasher.

7:50 PM – Shepherd is ready for bed, so he nurses to sleep and I lay him down.  The older kids play in their room.

8:05 PM – Eric’s student arrives for his Mandarin lesson.  I help the kids clean their room and repeatedly shush them so they don’t interrupt the lesson.  It doesn’t work.  So I suggest we practice the Mandarin words and phrases we’ve learned and that’s a little more effective in keeping the noise level down.  I help them brush their teeth.  We read a couple of books together and then practice their catechism questions.

8:40 PM – Calla and Hudson get in bed and we pray together.  Calla starts crying while I’m praying, and afterward says she’s sad for all the people who don’t have food and a house like we do.  We talk about ways we can help those people, and how we need to remember and pray for them.  By the time I turn off the light, Hudson’s already asleep.

8:50 PM – Boulder isn’t tired yet (since he slept until 4:30) so I let him watch part of an episode of Blues Clues.  I start writing my post for Springs Bargains.

9:15 PM – Eric’s student leaves, and he puts Boulder to bed.  I finish working on my post.

10:00 PM – I catch up on reading a few blogs and then put the wet laundry in the dryer.

10:15 PM – Eric and I each have a bowl of cereal and talk.  I make some chamomile tea, and decide to sit and drink it instead of hand washing the dishes in the sink.

10:45 PM – We get ready for bed, and I change and nurse Shepherd.

11:00 PM – GLORIOUS SLEEP

 

There you have it — a day in The Chou Life.  (If you actually made it this far in the post without nodding off, I’m impressed!)  I’d love to hear how a typical day plays out in your home.  I’m sure we can all use a little encouragement, a lot of grace, and the reminder that we’re not alone!

-Abby

 

Grace Laced Mondays

 

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10 Responses to a day in the (chou) life {grace laced mondays}

  1. I loved hearing about your day! I’m always amazed at how much time I spend in the kitchen preparing, eating, or cleaning up from EATING. So much of life in this season is perpetually mundane and yet unceasingly influential. Everything we do today matters for tomorrow. And while one day of school, one day of discipline, or one day of cleaning doesn’t seem of that great of consequence/influence…our consistency to stay at it, and be diligent in it actually decreases the level of it’s perpetuation as time goes on. (Does that make sense? I have a post on this thought coming soon…) :)

    Love you much.

    • Abby says:

      Yep, the kitchen is pretty much where I live. And I’m always trying to keep it clean-ish since it’s unfortunately the first room when you enter the house. But with it constantly open for business it’s difficult to keep it clean for long!

      What you said does make sense and I’m looking forward to your post about it!

  2. Megan says:

    That’s a lot of tea! :) Very cool post. It’s fun reading what other people do each day. I’m impressed that you found the time to write it down!

    I don’t know anything about homeschooling, so I have lots of questions. Do you homeschool year-round or take the summer off? Once the kids are older do they take state assessments or does the state send you curriculum or how does that work? If you homeschool through high school is there a diploma or do they get a GED?

    • Abby says:

      My tea consumption definitely helps me get through my day! It’s a state of emergency when I run out of loose tea.

      Every state’s laws are different for homeschooling and I’m still learning the specifics of Colorado law. I know that we’re required to file a notice of homeschooling with the public school district when the child is 6 years old, and standardized testing or evaluation is required for grades 3, 5, 7, 9 and 11. Homeschoolers can have their own curriculum or go through online classes. Many public schools have a “cottage school” program where homeschooled students attend one or two days per week in addition to their homeschooling. A student homeschooled through high school can still get a diploma. We can take the summer off or go year-round…I’m thinking we’ll probably slow down in the summer but not stop completely.

  3. Katya says:

    I was homeschooled all the way up until college, and I NEVER got a summer off until I hit high school! ;-) But we also took a LOT of “field trips” and sick days and out of town trips during the year, so it all evened out. We also took standardized tests every year, not so much because it was required, but just because my parents wanted to see how we were doing compared to our grade level, and what we needed to work on (math. always math!;-) One of the best things about homeschooling is that everybody’s curriculum can be tailored to fit their own kids’ needs, and you can spend extra time on your particular interests or areas that need more help. And I completely agree, Abby, that it’s really hard to find time to do schoolwork when the oldest child is school age and the others are still young…we do a lot of Joseph’s schoolwork in the afternoon while the others are napping, and we do a lot of brief lessons “here and there” throughout the day! I used to fondly imagine them all sitting down to do different versions of the same lesson together, but the more life goes along, the less realistic I think that vision is! James and Joseph have COMPLETELY different learning styles, and I have to work with each of them separately. But it’s nice because it makes me spend some one-on-one time with them both, and there are also certain things they can do together. The older they get, the more “combined lessons” will be possible, especially because they are all so close in age. The younger ones will pick up so much just by watching and copying the older!

    • Abby says:

      Thanks for sharing your experience, Katya! I wasn’t homeschooled so a lot of this is new to me. I’m a little overwhelmed at this point with so many options — but I know that also a good thing, because it means there’s something for everyone! We recently started attending a new church and many of the families homeschool, so I’m hoping to glean from them. My mom also homeschools my brothers who are still at home (17 yrs and 13 yrs), so she’s a great encouragement too.

  4. laney says:

    wow. i think that post was just plain amazing. i feel like i don’t even know what to say. you are a great mom, abby. keep on keepin on. i loved reading this post. miss you much, friend.

    • Abby says:

      Goodness, I miss you too!!! It makes me sad to think about how little I know about your life as a mom! (although I have no doubt that you’re an amazing mom to those 3 adorable little guys.) One of these days we’ll be able to have a real phone conversation with minimal interruptions (right?!…it’s hard to imagine that at this point, I know…). Love you so much, Laney!!

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  6. Seda says:

    i made it to the end! and mesmerized to the end. sooooo amazing. and so comforting, in chaotic, familiar ways. i love this. thank you. =)

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