1. Music Notes
A month late--due to technical difficulties in recording--I shared Mary's violin pieces from Federation in February: click here.
I also posted about the children's successful participation at Charlotte Piano Teachers Forum ("Forum"), last Saturday: see here.
Me harping about requiring children doing household chores is a common theme on this blog. A new aspect that is emerging in our home is doing not just drudgery chores, but a young person learning skilled handyman tasks.
Chris is successfully teaching John real repair work . . . and John is a very eager student! This week, John began his project of replacing all the hinges and most of the doorknobs in our 40-year-old home: his dad taught him once, then set him free to work without supervision. The handyman who quoted us the cost of doing this job was going to charge hundreds of dollars in labor, so having an eager and perfectly capable 11-year-old son on staff is of real value.
3. Seven Months of Sweetness
David James turned 7 months old: click here.
In between a bit of snow on Monday and a bit of snow on Wednesday, the children were so grateful for some sunny weather to play tennis on Tuesday!
5. Medical Appointments
I took John and Mary to their first orthodontist consultation. Considering that neither of us parents ever had braces, this is an entirely new world to us!
I also had my eyes dilated for a follow-up examination of a Weird Little Thing that had been found in my eye at my last regular exam. Thankfully, all is well for now!
|"You should see the other guy!"|
AAAAND . . . it looks like later Friday afternoon we're taking Margaret in for an x ray to see if she has a fractured wrist!
6. Melamine FoamGiven that one day this week my two-year-old colored with marker across the entire length of my kitchen, I am prompted to share a little tip I received years ago: instead of buying Magic Erasers (more than $1 per sponge), one can buy generic melamine foam (such as this one, but there are many options, including packs of 100 sponges for us large families!) for less than half the cost.
7. Choosing Family Activities
I greatly appreciated the articulation of an important topic in this article about "Family First Activities" at Raising Arrows. As a larger-than-typical family, we have to be prudent about choosing our activities. Our large family has to stay home enough hours to homeschool (for real!), and keep a regular-enough routine for the younger set to rest and have free time to play, and to have family meals together most of the time.
Go read the article, it's so good and helpful!
It may seem to some blog readers like our family "does so much," but the activities are very carefully chosen and often I, personally, leave the house only twice per week (Fridays and Sundays).
Scottish dance: This is an activity everyone can enjoy. Once a child turns eight, he or she may join the class, which is all ages 8 to 100. (In the meanwhile, the younger siblings are playing together on the playground.) The classes are at the same time, and provide multigenerational enjoyment and physical education for everybody. They lead to scholarships to travel to Scotland, which both broadens the mind and looks great on a resume. The dance outfits are modest, the music is wholesome and not worldly, the class prices are dirt cheap. Even with all that, we could do this class only if my husband could continue to be committed to driving the children there, which he can for now.
CCE co-op: This benefits all the ages of my children, is highly educational, I drive them to one place, I stay with them, the youngest ones don't need to be away from me.
Altar server practice and Fraternus: These happen back-to-back in one place and are highly formative for the boy's soul, plus they provide physical exercise and healthy socializing. My husband takes our son and participates in the activity, or I get a ride for John from another family, as I'm not going to take my little kids out past their bedtime to wail and cry in the car to benefit only one sibling. (Next year, our daughter will reach the age of being able to audition for the girls' choir, but that's only a possibility because it meets at the same place and time as these two activities.)
Sports: So far, despite a few dabblings, we have always rejected sports as an activity that works with a large family. We're not willing to pay the price of losing one family dinner per week to a child's practice, nor willing to lose every Saturday morning of family housecleaning chores to go play the game. And that's just with one child enrolled in a sport! With multiple children, the chances are high that multiple evenings will be lost to practices, and game times will spread across Saturday. However, we have recently begun trying tennis lessons: a sport in which we can take lessons without playing it competitively (no tournaments required!), the lessons are all at the same time, I can stay nearby with my youngers playing on a playground, the clothing for girls can be made modest, and the old-enough children can walk to and from independently because the courts are a few hundred feet behind our home! Also, our oldest son regularly plays pick-up football at two activities per week and dodge ball at Fraternus, which is a great way to play a sport with many of the benefits but without the costs.
Music: We have invested as music as "the thing our family does." We use one studio for everyone. At times, we've driven to the studio for lessons (all back-to-back) but right now, the teachers come to our home (which is ideal). The hardest time of year is competition season in the spring when we are at events every Saturday for a couple of months. However, the kids are only gone a couple of hours at each event, one parent can take them while the other keeps the younger set at home, and we think the benefits to the brain and the virtues of character (diligence, perseverance, good sportsmanship) are worth the cost.
For more 7 Quick Takes Friday, check out This Ain't the Lyceum.