Friday, January 30, 2009

Facing a layoff

Yesterday at noon, my husband was sure he'd be laid off today. By two he had heard through the grapevine that he had received a reprieve in a behind-closed-doors shouting match. We are not feeling very secure in our income right now.

I'm using the following precepts, very loosely borrowed from yoga, to deal with the situation.

1. Open to grace. I believe we need to continue to notice and enjoy our blessings, and also open to any gifts that may come to us. This may involve sharing our worries to some extent with our circle, who cannot help if they don't know about any problem. In church we pray for those who are in grief or distress, facing medical treatment, etc., and I realize that we are none of those.

2. Ground yourself to the earth. For me this is currently taking the form of determining what our values and priorities are. I have become aware today that my job may be to maintain normalcy as my husband is stressed out. I am too, but I think I need to bury it for the kids. We need to decide what is important, and it is emerging to me that what is important is to live as happily as possible, especially for the kids.

It also means to me being very concrete in our defining options and making decisions. For instance, our initial response to this uncertainty is to stockpile money, which makes me feel rather hopeless because it is so amorphous. I'm hoping to come up with something more concrete -- decide how much money we want to save this month and create a budget, which gives us a more positive goal to work toward, rather than looking at any spending at all as a failure, and allows some fun or necessary expenditures.

3. Open, reach, stretch. So I'm not so sure what this means to me today. Perhaps I'm still working on 1 and 2.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Altering/Refining AO or AO3 Lite

We have made some changes in the new year to our curriculum. I was beginning to find doing everything too stressful, but on consideration, Ambleside Online is still a good choice for us, we just need a little less of it. We are busy with a coop on Thursdays, and if I'm lucky, Grandma takes the boys on Fridays. That leaves us a three day school week. My boys are busy with their projects and their Lego, and I see that as a good thing. So I've cut down our already reduced AO3 in the following ways:
  • We don't do Bible -- they go to Sunday School.
  • We just dropped An Island Story. I will read it myself and narrate parts back as they are relevant to other readings we are doing. We are keeping American history and CHOW.
  • We dropped our Marco Polo book. We were using Rugoff's Marco Polos Adventures in China and found it very dry. I plan to use some online resources, perhaps a movie, and the shorter and prettier The Adventures of Marco Polo by Freedman to create a familiarity with MP.
  • We don't use Trial and Triumph. However we are using the other History Tales/Biography, and may look for extras to help replace AIS. P reads these himself.
  • I'm not very good at nature study, but we have been watching Attenboroughs The Life of Mammals on DVD. They are excellent. We do dribs and drabs of nature study, but I'm not organized about it.
  • We have dropped The Story of Inventions and substituted The Mystery of the Periodic Table. We are still using Science Lab in a Supermarket by Robert Friedhoffer, which P can read himself.
  • P is reading Tall Tales himself, and we are reading The Heroes together. We are not doing Parables of Nature, or Pilgrims Progress. We enjoyed The Princess and the Goblin, and have started Children of the New Forest, which so far has very good Librivox readers.
  • We don't do as many of the free readings as I'd like to, but we're shooting for sanity with our education, and lots of time for projects, so it is what it is. There are only so many hours in the day/week/year. We are reading Little House on Plum Creek, which I'd like to follow with Swallows and Amazons. I figure if I do different free readings with each child each year, we'll hit quite a few of them. We read books that are not on the AO list also.
  • We do composer and artist study and poetry at tea time, which happens about once a week.
  • We work on math and handwriting and P enjoys independent reading, sometimes including books strewn by his mother/teacher.
That's it, more or less. Currently they are making a fleet of paper airplanes and giggling together. P has been working on his idea journal, which he just started in a Christmas notebook. We did this challenge yesterday, and he is extremely inspired by ongoing challenge 1 on the same page (and the picture at the top of the page).