An Uncommonly Good Week

I don't know what it was about this week - maybe the joyous clarity of my sinus passages, or the fascinating study with Tapestry, or the prayer from my Secret Sister, whoever she is? Whatever the cause, it's been simply ... fantastic. Not that we haven't had our moments of Mommy hiding in the mudroom to scarf down a comfort cookie (noooo, I don't really do that. Of course not!). But overall, school has been wonderful. Now to remember what we did ...

Monday I got to drive St. Nick to his very cool outdoor adventure class (something he'd never get to do if we sent him to traditional school). The venue was simply beautiful - carpet of leaves, towering oaks, lake peeking between the trees, quaint little cabins tucked around every corner. Even the 40 minute drives to drop him off (one way) and pick him up in the afternoon were great. I took Fish for the pick-up (and left Mud Pie, napping, with my mother), and we stopped by Robinette's on the way home. We oooohed and ahhhhed over the Christmas ornaments (rather, I did the ooooohing while the boys played with little wind-up caterpillars); I bought my Secret Sister her gift, and we got a dozen donuts to take home. Not school, exactly, but certainly fun! We even saved some donuts for Dr. D.

Tuesday, riding the wave of Dr. D being home at the office (and NO TRIPS planned for a good while), we dove into schoolwork and studied all sorts of things related to Ancient China. Books on Chinese inventions, discussion on the culture. Lots of talking, which is by far St. Nick's favorite thing to do. We also did math/reading, which were a breeze.

Wednesday St. Nick got hooked on our book of myths from around the world. I keep it out of reach because it's not the sort of book I want him lingering on. The stories tend to be strange and violent - both things that fascinate him. I think we've read at least half of the book in the past three days. What's fascinating to me is just how rational St. Nick is. He's been asking about everything lately, "Now is this real or fake?" Like, "Is reindeer flying true? Can they really fly?" Everything from the tooth fairy to magic kits (in allll those toy catalogs) gets the question. "Is it true? Is it real?" This sparks some fantastic conversation - we've talked about everything from what the tooth fairy (if he/she is real) looks like to creativity and the veracity of the Bible. Who knew a six year old could think at this level?

Thursday was especially fun because I "tricked" St. Nick into enjoying his lessons. First thing in the morning we do our scripture and character reading, prayer, then the three Rs. The afternoon is the fun stuff - science and Tapestry of Grace. But St. Nick, on his myth kick, didn't want to study the boring old Maya. He wanted myths! So, I got out our copy of Rain Player and said, "This IS a myth!" But I had him sit with me and read a short nonfiction book on the Maya before opening the myth. The first page: "I don't want to! I'm not listening!" The second page: "What is THAT? Is that a TOMB?" (Like I said, anything grotesque catches his attention immediately.) He was engrossed in the book, and the myth was all the sweeter because he understood the context for the story.

Then I broke out a craft I'd purchased a few weeks before, before I'd decided to give up on crafts. St. Nick just doesn't like them. They're boring. They're useless. Really, when I think of it from his perspective, what is a craft? He spends a lot of valuable time (that could be spent on Legos or watching CyberChase! Come on, Mom!) to make something that's sort of ... papery and flimsy (think paper plates and poster paints and Popsicle sticks). It goes on the refrigerator for a week, and then who knows? Into a drawer? Or the X file (the trash can)? This craft was different.

I'd purchased a weaving kit. St. Nick labored over it for two hours, and at one point said, "Mom, this is SO FUN!" Only he wasn't smiling. But he's a little young for sarcasm, isn't he? Anyway, I think he meant it. Once I helped him free his creation from the loom, I told him he'd made a fantastic potholder.

"I made a POTHOLDER?" He was clearly amazed.

"Um, yes?" I'm expecting tears or something at this point.

"A REAL POTHOLDER? Like for REAL pots?"

"Um, yes, except it says not to use it on metal pots."

He grinned. "But I can use it for our macaroni pot! (glass) I can make macaroni with my REAL potholder!"

He proudly brought it with us to dinner and showed it off to everyone who would look at him. What a difference a useful craft can make! I've read a bit of Charlotte Mason's ideas, but the idea of handicrafts (that children spend their free time making useful things, like doll clothes and, well, potholders) has always seemed silly to me. St. Nick sewing? Weaving? Right.

But he loves his potholder. It's hanging from a hook on the mantle right now.

And that brings us to today. Another fun day - we decided to scrap The Corn Grows Ripe (not capturing his attention) and we spent a good while turning a cardboard box into a sled and giving Fish rides around the living room in it. Oh, and of his own design, St. Nick made cardboard show shoes for his feet. And wings. And we spent some time doing what is fast becoming one of my favorite things, telling stories. I cuddle with Fish while St. Nick fiddles with something on the floor (have to keep that boy's hands busy) and I start telling stories. Either family stories from childhood or silly made-up stories. St. Nick loves to add to them and suggest twists and turns. And, if it's a made-up story, Fish is usually the hero (along with Mud Pie and Nick, of course), which makes him glow like a little Christmas bulb. I love that glow.

Now it's the Blessed Hour of Cyberchase and Arthur, my little moment to regain possession of sanity before Dr. D comes home from work. The craziest thing of all? I can hardly wait to start up again next week!