Posts Tagged ‘Journaling’

A Typical Day of Homeschooling – 13 Years Ago

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Since writing about how great journaling is for remembering our homeschool days, I went back through some of my old binders and found this piece about “My Typical Day,” which I wrote for my local homeschool newsletter in 1998. Jesse was seven, Aengus was five and Emma was two.

I have been trying to decide what a “typical” day is like at my house but it seems that just about every day is different. So I’m just going to tell you about a single day in my house – yesterday.

I woke up at my usual time of 8 am and tiptoed out of the bedroom leaving Emma still snoozing in my bed (my husband Pat is long gone – he leaves at 5 am for work). Jesse is still asleep. Aengus, usually the first to rise, is playing a computer game called “Reader Rabbit’s Kindergarten.” As soon as he hears me moving around he smiles, says “Hi Mommy!” and follows me upstairs. The kitchen is still a mess from the night before, so I make an effort to clean up while my tea brews. I’m not really very productive until I’ve had my morning tea and toast. Aengus fixes himself a waffle that we have made ahead and frozen. Later, he makes Emma a waffle too.

After my breakfast I tackle the kitchen and Jesse staggers in to watch me. Eventually he gets himself some yogurt. When Emma wakes up she needs to be cuddled before she can eat her waffle. She takes exactly 3 bites then asks to watch our “Barney” video, which is her 2-year-old equivalent of tea. I let her watch it while I shower and get dressed. Finally, at around 9:30 we’re ready to start “school.” I call the kids to the dining table and we all write in our journals for about 15 minutes. Aengus can’t write much yet, but he draws pictures and writes the date at the top of the page. Jesse doesn’t like to write, so he usually draws and labels pictures. Emma prefers to water-paint.

Next we pull out the Cuisenaire Rods since this is math day. I’m following along with the Cuisenaire curriculum index cards and today they’re making staircases. The boys are absorbed with this for about 45 minutes. Emma is tired of watercolors and wants better paint so I reluctantly give her some acrylics since I’m all out of kid paint. She paints squiggles and lines and spirals all over each page of her notebook.

I leave them to it while I finish the kitchen and put my daily load of laundry in the washing machine. I hit “touch-up” on the dryer to get rid of the wrinkles that have settled overnight in the load I should have folded yesterday. Then Emma calls for more paint and I see that she has painted her whole naked body and hair with green paint, and is smearing her fingers on the highchair. I rush her into the bathtub and clean up the mess.

The boys are done so we head outside in the garden. Jesse looks for snakes, Aengus and Emma play on the slide while I pull weeds and pound in stakes to support my sagging tomato plants. Jesse and I then fill a paper bag with pears to finish ripening them inside. We pick more zucchini to make zucchini bread. By this time, everyone is hot and thirsty but we first give our ducks more food and change the water in their swimming pool. The kids check the mama duck on her nest to see if her eggs have hatched – not yet. We should be getting ducklings any day now!

Time for lunch. Jesse helps me make a Boboli pizza and we all play “Rhyme Out,” where we each think of words that rhyme until the last person runs out of words (this is the kids’ idea – not mine).

After lunch, we head for the porch to read books. Today we’re reading Dorling Kindersley’s book about eggs because Aengus wants to know how they get in the mama duck’s tummy. Then we read “Horton Hatches an Egg” by Dr. Seuss and “The Halloween House” by Erica Silverman because Jesse likes spooky stories. Right about this time, I have to attend to some emergency potty training with Emma. While I’m gone, Jesse reads our book about koala bears to Aengus, who adores koala bears.

Afterwards, it’s naptime. Aengus trots off to bed and promptly falls asleep. I lay down and nurse Emma to sleep on my bed while I read a book. When she finally conks out, I sneak out and find Jesse playing with his Star Wars Legos. My only goal before dinnertime is to fold the clean laundry that has been accumulating in baskets all week long. But first I have to find a certain receipt. I hit the “touch-up” button on the dryer again and head to my desk. I can’t find the receipt anywhere and I waste a whole half hour digging through the garbage for it. How frustrating! I only have time to pull out the dry clothes and put in the wet ones before I start dinner at 5 pm.

I ask Jesse to vacuum the living room before Dad gets home and I rush back and forth folding clothes and cooking dinner. When Pat walks in at 5:25 pm, there is laundry piled all over the dining room table and dinner is still not ready. He only sighs and pours himself a bowl of cereal. I clear off the table, finish dinner and leave them to it while I go to the Navy Base to exercise. When I get back at 7:30pm, Pat is playing chess with Jesse while Aengus watches. Emma is leaping off the footstool over and over. After the game, Pat heads to bed and I read to the boys a chapter from “The Fallen Spaceman.” Aengus goes to bed, Jesse goes back to his Legos and I go back to the kitchen for more clean up. Emma keeps bothering Jesse, so I fill her little pink bucket with water, give her a clean sponge and tell her to wash. She loves this, and “washes” everything 3 ft and under – walls, piano, chairs, floor, dog, everything!

I turn National Public Radio on low and listen to the news while I do the dishes. Afterwards, I get ready for bed and remind Jesse to turn off the lights before he goes to bed. Emma and I head downstairs and I read her the same four picture books that I read to her every night (at her insistence). Then she nurses to sleep while I read my book. This is my quiet time and I relish every minute of it! I finish the book at midnight and turn the light off.


Looking back on this day in my life, I found so many things that I had forgotten. My poor husband didn’t have much time at home because he had a long commute to work, so most of our time together was on the weekends. We didn’t have any family in the area and not much money for babysitters, so the only time I could get a break from the kids was when he was home. They were good times though – I wish I had written more journal entries with this much detail. In fact, I wish I had more detail in this one! Like, what did I make for dinner that night? I’ve gone through a lot of phases in my cooking and I’m sometimes surprised to stumble across old recipes I used to make all the time but somehow forgot about. It’s amazing how the most mundane details can trigger so many memories!


Illustrated Journals

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I was flipping through one of my journals this week and was struck by how well my illustrations reminded me of the hour I spent sketching the scene. I usually only had time to sketch when I was waiting for something – my kids to get out of a class, or my husband to get done with kite-surfing or off of work. While I waited, I would pull out my little blank page journal and look for something to draw.  One book is full of rocks, telephone poles, Douglas Fir cones, lifeguard stands, marinas, mountains, coiled rope, plants, and tequila bottles.

Waiting outside of pottery class

Sometimes I just doodle or try to draw pictures of animate objects like my kids or dog – but those never turn out too well. Occasionally my daughter has given me a creativity assignment to “draw a monster” or take turns with a collaborative fantasy picture, where she starts something, I add to it, and we switch back and forth until the page is filled with giant snails, hot air balloons, unicorns, and lemonade stands. But my favorite pictures are the ones that I drew from real life – my life. These are the pictures that actually bring back memories of a time and place.

Regular Thursday Date Night at Ward Center, Honolulu


These are the sort of scenes that words can’t always capture. I suppose I could have taken pictures of all these places, but the act of drawing really forces you to pay attention to the details. You may not notice the curves of the lamp post or the structure of the table umbrella until you try to draw it. Who cares, you might ask, about the structure of table umbrellas, but the point is that it forces you to be where you are at that particular moment. It’s meditative. When I draw something in front of me, I’m not thinking about my troubles, or planning for the future, I’m just observing. And real sketching forces you to quiet your logical left brain, because your left brain doesn’t know how to draw (it tries to make you draw symbols instead of what is really there).

Two great books on this subject are The Creative License and An Illustrated Life, both by Danny Gregory. If you’re worried about your lack of drawing skills, these books will put you at ease, and explain how the simple act of drawing regularly can unlock your dormant creativity. Danny Gregory insists that we are all artists, and his books are the best I have seen for showing the sheer variety of personal styles. He gives loads of examples from his own and other people’s journals. They are all wonderful in their own peculiar way. I love to see how different people will draw the same thing in completely different ways.

Two Scenes from Kailua Beach Park, Oahu


There are enormous benefits to keeping a journal, but illustrated journaling is even better. That doesn’t mean that every page must be illustrated, but even leaving room for little tiny drawings of your fortune cookie, or spoon, or cat’s paw, can bring back a flood of memories someday. And when life bogs down into a series of chores, spills, obligations, and temper tantrums, it’s important to remember that we are creative beings. Next time you are waiting outside of dance class or soccer practice, resist the temptation to play games on your phone and pull out a journal instead. In the long run, it will be much better for your sense of well-being. “It is art that makes life, makes interest, makes importance… and I know of no substitute whatever for the force and beauty of its process.” – Henry James