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    December 1, 2008 by Brandy Vencel

    What a lovely first day of December, no? We had a wonderful Thanksgiving week. I do not exaggerate. It has taken me years to not get nervous when Si’s family visits. I guess I just spent too much time worrying that they would think I wasn’t taking good enough care of him or something. Anyhow, I believe I’ve turned a corner and am finally secure in my position here at the microhomestead.

    Si’s mom arrived last Sunday evening. His youngest brother {almost nineteen} arrived late Tuesday night {college kids still prefer to drive at odd hours}. My mother-in-law left early Friday morning, and my brother-in-law didn’t leave until yesterday evening.

    The kids soaked up the time with relatives without getting spoiled. That has always been a battle before. But this time was different. I don’t know if it is just a matter of being older, or the reality of always having to share now that there are four of them, but they were altogether enjoyable without becoming rotten, even with lots of extra attention.

    How refreshing!

    Of course, my favorite part of the week was that Si took the whole week off. I believe this is called a staycation.

    My mother-in-law is a public school teacher, so I asked her if she would bring a craft project related to Thanksgiving and do it with the children. She brought a number of them! I think my favorite was when they stuffed pinecones with feathers and used clay for a head and pipecleaners for feet and ended up with something that strikingly resembled a flock of turkeys. It was great.

    I wrote a Thanksgiving civics test {which I just might post later this week…for fun} and quizzed everyone aloud during dinner one night. {Doesn’t that make you never want to come to eat at my house?} It was grammar-level facts for the most part, but at the same time it covered details that are usually passed up by primary children’s textbooks. Anyhow, it was exciting to watch our oldest keep up with the adults, and once again the power of learning from living books rather than text books was reinforced to me.

    And, believe it or not, dinnertime quizzes are actually quite fun, especially when guests clap for each other when correct answers are given.

    Friday evening, we got out the tree. We drank hot cocoa. We trimmed the tree and hung stockings. We listened to Christmas music and generally transitioned into the season of Advent. It was great. We spent time building up to Thanksgiving, and it felt richer because of it. I am hoping that DecemberTerm has the same effect on Christmas.

    How was your Thanksgiving?

    This coming week, I’m going to have to give a couple of civics lessons, I think. The media is perpetuating certain inaccuracies that I intended to ignore, but have decided not to. In other news, does anyone have a list of good winter reads for adults? I’d love to hear what you are all reading this season in the comments. I’d like to say I’m going to be festive, but actually what lies ahead is an Ayn Rand marathon: Anthem, The Fountainhead, and Atlas Shrugged. How about you?

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  • Reply Brandy December 1, 2008 at 10:40 pm

    You know, it has now been many years since we told family about our decision, so I don’t exactly remember her response (or anyone else’s). I think she probably thought we were a bit off our rockers, but I think that other members of the family (who didn’t teach school) thought that also! It was still pretty unconventional at the time. It is really interesting to me to have witnessed such spreading of acceptance of alternative education in the past two or three years. Anyhow, overall it has been fine. She knows what goes on in public schools and that our children are getting a superior education in our home, so I think she is content with that.

    One thing I always consider when anyone in the family questions our methods is that they are asking such questions out of love. Sometimes, family members have valid points. Other times, they lack understanding of (or agreement with) the philosophy behind our actions. But always they love our children and want the best for them. That gives us common ground from which to work. 🙂

  • Reply Ellen December 1, 2008 at 6:49 pm

    How does the mother-in-law as a public school teacher go over, since you’re homeschooling? That could be dicey, I’m guessing…

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