Sunday, August 31, 2008

Weekly Update

As I mentioned about a week ago, I'm definitely teetering on the edge of something big here when it comes to my family and our habits. I know I'm not the only one feeling a bit overstimulated. Just about every blog I read mentions something about living simpler, spending more time 'unplugged', and just generally slowing down.

Like I said before, I don't know exactly what brought on these feelings. Maybe it's some of the books I've been reading. Maybe it's that as I travel around the blog world, I come across so many families who are making simple living seem like a viable option, whereas before it was more of a fantasy to me.

Either way, some changes have taken place around here. There has been less TV and more activities---inside and outside the house. More crafts and games and trips to the park. Jay and I are making more of an effort to turn the everyday things into learning experiences, which means getting the children involved more---instead of just taking the easy way out and doing things ourselves.

This new household philosophy has not always been simple. My children are six years apart--they have different interests and are obviously on different educational levels. Keeping them busy in a way that doesn't include TV can be challenging and of course the TV comes on from time to time. But that's fine, I have no intention of getting rid of TV altogether. I think everyone needs a good mindless activity now and then. I just want to make the TV less of a focus, and to work in more "learn at home" activities, especially if they're disguised as games or some other fun thing (such as this weeks grape picking.)

Thursday was Open House at the boy's school. We met with his teacher and she only had good things to say about his behaviour and work. This isn't surprising and of course we are proud.........BUT I'm concerned. My son, although a smart kid, doesn't put too much effort into his work. He does just enough to get by. Most of the time it goes unnoticed because he causes no trouble, is nice, and basically "is a joy to have in class." A more experienced teacher can see through this and will push him to do more, but my son has a first year teacher this year. Again. I don't want to say too much more about this because I love and respect teachers and I know every teacher has to have a "first year" at some point, but my son is in the fifth grade and this is his third first-year teacher. Alachua county is notorious for paying teachers poorly and getting rid of more experienced ones in favor of teachers right out of the University. On the other hand, Alachua county had the best SAT scores in the state so the teachers here must be doing something right. Right? I don't know. The state we are talking about is Florida---we have one of the worst public school systems in the United States. All the schools in the state are shitty, my son is just lucky enough to go to one that isn't quite as shitty as all the rest. My fears and worries are not allayed.

Again, I want to make it clear that I have nothing against his teacher now or any other teacher he has ever had in the past. They have all proven to be very competent and caring people. But with all the cuts in funding and the pressure to focus on whatever is on the standardized test, I think the cards are stacked against them. It's my job as a mom to be concerned about this.

In other news, we had another garage sale this past Saturday. Every time we have a garage sale it starts to rain, so we end up dragging all our stuff back inside and feeling slightly unfulfilled. This one was a good sale though---towards the afternoon, we had sold mostly everything and we had more of a sense of accomplishment. The boy sold a bunch of his things too and made about $40. I'm always proud of him on sale day because he gets up when it's still dark outside to help set up. He earned every penny of his $40.

We took the kids to Squirrel Ridge Park this morning. It's a bit further from our usual park but very pretty. Plus, it also has a dog park so we let the boy bring Sadie.

Groovy peace pole:

The boy and (I consider Sadie to be more of a barking rat than a dog.)
And, of course, swings:
It's a gorgeous park and I hope we can go there regularly.

When we came home, Jay and the boy got busy making one of my favorite dishes, spanikopita aka spinach pie.

Chopping veggies:

Buttering the layers of phyllo dough (sweet Jesus check out that bowl of butter):

The finished, albeit half eaten, product:

While they cooked, the girl twirled around the kitchen.

All in all we've had a busy week and a fairly low key weekend.

Before I go, I wanted to leave you with this one last picture. Remember the asshole stray cat that more or less took over my house? Well, he really can't be considered a stray anymore. He's ours. Here he is resting on my bed. I had just interrupted the licking event he was having with what's left of his bits and pieces. I would prefer he not do that on my bed, but I'm not going to yell at him. I value my life.



I think the simplifying is great. When I was growing up, we sat at home most of the time and didn't DO much of anything. I'm trying hard for my kids to be able to go out and experience life, instead of sitting around watching it pass them by on the TV.

Tammie said...

I could not agree with you more.

The vast knowledge that I have of television trivia has gotten me no where in life.

BloomingAlmond said...

Congrats on the effort for making things more family like and more simple! yeah it's not easy but it sure is rewarding!
At your all spending time together getting to know each other! I think if more families did that these days, the world would be a more peaceful and safe place.Our public education kinda sucks too in Portugal...

Nowheymama said...

Mmm... spanikopita.

Tammie said...

bloomingalmond: you're right, it definitely isn't easy. I've gone to bed exhausted everyday this week. but I feel as if I've lowered the bar for myself when it comes to my kids and it has to stop. my daughter is incredibly rambunctious and i think over the years she's beaten me down a bit---almost to the point of giving up--but now I'm back in the game!

nowheymama: i'm ashamed to say i ate the last of the spanikopita this morning. for breakfast.

Layrayski said...

Wow, kudos for trying hard to buckle the entrancing powers of the boobtube!

oops. gotta go. My time is up! Hopefully I'll catch up with your posts soon!

hester said...

Sounds like you and Jay are doing a great job. I know what you mean about kids wearing you down - my bar gets pretty low sometimes!

That spanokopita looks fantastic!