Lessons from the 31st Week of Instruction

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We started school again last week and I will write about it as the 31st week of instruction, to differentiate it from last week’s post. After our spring break last week, we were all ready for more book learning, though the kids would not admit it freely.

Boy works in yard

Trimming some large weeds with large shears.

Girl working in yard

Our daughter enjoyed using an axe to bring down a weed that looked like a small tree.

No lessons happened outside the home, as we are still dealing with COVID-19 as a nation. This was our second week of staying at home in order to follow the President’s 15 Days to Slow the Spread guidelines. The kids are finally feeling the stress of the pandemic and of beeing cooped up at home. Even though we have a nice yard and we utilize it for several hours a day, weather permitting, they feel cabin fever. Continue reading »


Lessons from the 31st Week

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The 31st week became our spring break instead. The kids enjoyed their extra time and I took in the events as they happened ever so rapidly. New changes to our lives came every day, as you know, due to the COVID-19 outbreak and the national emergency declaration on March 13, 2020.

Skype violin lessons

My children have been taking Skype violin lessons for four years.

We also decided to heed the President’s Guidelines for America, 15 days to slow the spread of the coronavirus. This meant we stayed home. Period. My husband did all the grocery shopping for us. I only went out once, to get my weekly allergy shots. My doctor’s office is only five minutes from my house and there is usually no wait time. I get my shots, wait 20 minutes to check for a reaction, then I come back home. Continue reading »


Lessons from the 30th Week

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Historic events happened last week and are happening as I type, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. All the cancellations have affected everybody. They cancelled our yearly achievement test six days before its initial date. All other events got cancelled, except for the taekwondo practice on Friday.

Norris Dam State Park

Norris Dam State Park

Still, looking around the room, I felt weird to look at 22 kids in that studio, breathing the same air together. The corona virus has already altered the way we live our lives, the way we look at the world and human interactions. Continue reading »


Lessons from the 29th Week

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Lesson #1: getting out in nature is not overrated. After weeks of rain and snow, we were finally able to go hiking with our friends from Wild + Free Great Smoky Mountains. Super nice: the nature, the fresh air, the fellowship, the picnic. It was 46F, which is much better than the 36F we endured during our last hike in January.

Hiking

Looking for a picnic spot

The kids love being out in nature. They run around like lambs, staying on the path, but sometimes going ahead of the adults. We manage to keep an eye on them by sending somebody to run and tell them to slow down.

Face Paint

She loves to paint her face with rocks from the river.

We see the same usual friends, but now and then a family we have not seen in a long time pop into town and they come along. So we get a bit of a variety. This week we hiked the Alum Cave Trail, but only to Arch Rock. It was not a difficult hike up to that point. It gets steeper and harder from then on, but we stopped.

 

Birthday Girl

The other major lesson of the week was that children grow up. (Duh.) Even the baby in our family turned 10 this week. With mixed feelings, we prepared for her birthday party. She invited some friends over, we had pizza and cake, they played for six hours, and great fun was had by all. Sigh. They do grow up fast, don’t they?

Birthday Girl

Unicorn cake – and just like that, she is 10

Where is my baby girl? My kindergartner who could read but could not sit still for five minutes? She is in fourth grade now, participating in middle school events like Science Olympiad, earning a blue belt in taekwondo, playing with the youth symphony on stage at the Tennessee Theater, and giving me so much joy, it hurts.


Lessons from the 28th Week

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Last week, we prepared for the piano festival in which the kids participate every year. It is called Federation Festival. We have been doing this with them for four years now. Every time, they get five stars out of five. For every third year of five stars, they get a cup. The cups get bigger in size as they advance in years.

Knoxville First String Ensemble

Knoxville First String Ensemble – Playing violin with my two children is so much fun!

It is a great challenge for them to learn two pieces by heart and two hymns. They can use the books for the hymns. If we had to move to a different location, the local festival organizers would take us in at our actual level. They recognize the diplomas nationwide. Continue reading »


Lessons from the 27th Week

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Oh, what a week! It started out with a dress rehearsal and then the actual concert with Knoxville Symphony Youth Orchestras. Our daughter plays in Preludium and our son in Sinfonia. Here are YouTube links to their concert: Preludium and Sinfonia.

SO Medals

2020 SO Medals – one medal for every event

They did well, as usual. It does not get old – that’s the first lesson. As much as we work with them in music lessons and driving them to orchestra practice, at the end of the day, it is worth it. If you can afford music lessons, it would probably be the best use of your money on extracurricular activities. Continue reading »


Lessons from the 26th Week

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Last week felt very stressful. It was crunch time for several things and I felt overwhelmed. My husband helped me through it, so I am feeling better now, but I was pretty stressed out. I know not to make decisions when I am discouraged. I just floated through the stress and tension and made it a point to question our schedule, but that was all. Lesson #1: do not make decisions when you are discouraged.

Alicorn in the snow

Alicorn in the snow

We tested more boomilevers, or booms, as we affectionately call them. This event is hard to watch. So hard, it makes me want to go the opposite direction when our daughter tests her boom. But I have to stand there and film, so we know how it breaks and what its weak points are. Tough. Lesson #2: do not talk while your daughter is testing her boomilever. Continue reading »


Lessons from the 25th Week

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Last week shocked us with a tremendous amount of rain, which kept us from going to piano lessons, for instance. The roads leading to our teacher’s house were covered by water. I turned around and called myself “aware of my surroundings.”

We can always reschedule and we did. The kids learned the lesson “Turn around, don’t drown” in a very real way.

Rube Goldberg Machine

Rube Goldberg Machine

Our hike got canceled because a lot of the roads in the county were flooded. So we went to the Community Center and let the kids swim with one of their friends from the hiking group. Thus we learned flexibility.

Continue reading »


Lessons from the 24th Week

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This was THE week we have been prepping for since August – Spelling Bee week. We also traveled to Nashville for TeenPact One Day, a political workshop for homeschooled children. In addition, we had another Science Olympiad practice in Knoxville, for Circuit Lab. Last but not least, the orchestra practice competition started this week.

TeenPact 2020

TeenPact 2020

Our son decided to practice a lot more than what he usually does. Well, when you go out of town for two days, you cannot meet practice goals. He is learning that our goals must meet the reality of the schedule. He has three more weeks when he can strive for the same goal though. Continue reading »


Lessons from the 23rd Week

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We spent three days out of the classroom this week. Even though I know learning happens, it makes me nervous to not have “school” done with books, at home, in our regular habitat.

One day, we went hiking with our friends from Wild + Free Great Smoky Mountains. Another day, I had to take my son to Knoxville for Science Olympiad practice (Write It, Do It). And yet another day, my husband drove all of us to Knoxville again, so that our daughter can test her latest boomilever with her coach, while our son met with his partner for Mission Possible to schedule the next move.

Icicle

Now that’s an icicle!

Lots of learning happened, of course, but, at my core, I am not an unschooling, carschooling, relaxed homeschooling type of mama. It makes me nervous that we are not progressing through our books.

We attend church in Knoxville, too, so this means we drove two hours round trip four times in one week. People commute like this every day for work, but I am glad we do not have to do it regularly.

The hardest thing we did this week (besides driving to Knoxville four times) was hiking in 36F. That’s 2 C if you are wondering. Just above freezing. We got warmed up as we went along, but the picnic was tough. We ate in a hurry and left.

Icicle Flag

My daughter found an icicle flag.

The kids have fun on these hikes and that’s what keeps me going for more. Also, I enjoy the fellowship with like-minded mamas. I won’t pretend I do not need these hikes for my own soul. All in all, we had a good week.