Friday, August 29, 2014

God and Coffee

 "God and Coffee" are the two words that sum up my first week of the school year.

I was pretty nervous about handling things, what with the four children and all. But I did at least two things right each day this week.

#1 - I prayed. A lot.

#2 - I drank. A lot. Coffee, silly!

I am the sort of person that messes up a lot, but all the same I am able to realize how much I depend on God to help me muddle through. So that was my strategy this week. We started each day off with a "Pleeeeaaaase, God, HELP ME!!!!!", as well as taking time to express our gratitude for the blessings we have already been bestowed with. We read about the saint of the day, and then we did the Mass readings. While we prayed I was guzzling copious amounts of black gold, natch.

And by the time we were done, I actually felt a little bit normal. I could almost see us getting through the day and being ok! So then, feeling ready to face the day, I put on some music and we all danced together! Wooohoooo! Let's get our groove on!

I read about study that found that kids were nicer to people they had danced with. I figured that I really needed them to be nice to me during school hours. But lo and behold, I actually found that I myself was also being nicer to them! Hoist by my own petard. But totally in a good way. Like, if my petard were actually made of something neat (instead of explosives), let's say..... red velvet cupcakes.....then being hoist by that would be BRILLIANT. I'd be covered in ooey gooey red velvet deliciousness. That is basically how it went down with the dancing.

The rest of our days this week were very busy, but a lot of advance planning with our daily schedule helped us stay on track and be realistic about what we could accomplish. And any time I felt myself tempted to whimper and wave the white flag, I would bolster myself with another cup of java, another internal prayer for Divine Assistance, and forge ahead with the day.

One of the other things that helped us stay on track was a game that we made up for the girls. It is called "The Great Yeti Escape" and it basically consists of a Yeti that chases the girls up a mountain. The only way for them to move their game pieces is to finish all their assigned tasks for the day. The Yeti moves once a week based on the roll of a die. It's actually more involved that that and includes things like snow shoes, Yeti bait, and Yeti dollars, but this post is starting to get too lengthy to get into all that.

See their game pieces at the bottom? There's the Yeti, poised to enter the game this Sunday (they got a head start this week).

So that, in a nutshell was our week. I expect more God and Coffee next week. Lots of both. I am also feeling very hopeful about the rest of the year. As long as I keep our priorities straight I kinda think we might not only get through it, but actually enjoy it!

Friday, August 22, 2014

Prepping for School

It's that time of year again when we get ready for the kids to go back to school!

While other parents are heaving a sigh of relief, homeschool parents are heaving their kids' school books out of its packaging.

While other parents are making sure their kids have new backpacks, homeschool parents are making sure their kids have new art supplies.

While other parents are organizing the details of the carpool or bus schedule, homeschool parents are organizing the details of a subject schedule that juggles a range of children's grades and ages (example: kids from 3 months to 7 years old!)

My husband asked me if I thought we were depriving our kids of the "school experience" by keeping them home. My response is that our kids will be having their own school experiences that just happen to be different than the ones we grew up with. Whereas we may think our experiences were good and they should be experienced by our kids in the same way, the truth is that ultimately no two experiences are the same anyways because we are all different people!

We public schoolers may have loved the "first day of class" feelings of nervousness and excitement, or the joy of an assembly that got us out of class, but they will have other things they will love. Maybe it will be the feeling of having an entire museum all to themselves. Or the feeling of doing their schoolwork in the backyard with a fresh autumn breeze ruffling the pages of their book.

They will be different experiences than the ones we had, and that's ok. In a lot of ways when I think back to my schooling I wish I had been homeschooled. I could have been napping in between subjects! Ok, granted, I still nap in between anything I can manage, so maybe sleep is just on my mind lately.

From a parental perspective I am pretty excited about the upcoming school year. Books are bought, schedule is made, and the coffee pot is ready to brew a fortifying concoction of pure love. Forget fenugreek, coffee is the new "mother's milk". I should market my own brand of coffee and call it "Mother's Milk", ha!

Ok, let's not go down that road because I'll never come back from it, but suffice it to say that coffee is absolutely ESSENTIAL to motherhood.

Whether public school, private school, or homeschool -what is your favorite thing about "Back to School"?

(PS - I just wrote the word "school" enough times and its late enough that it is starting to look bizarre and really funny!!!)

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Its Madden Season

Let me preface this by saying that I have ZERO interest in football and/or video games. That said, I watched possibly the funniest football video game trailer I have ever s....zzzzzz... whoa sorry I just fell asleep for a second there. The combination of the words "football" and "video game" knocked me out for a sec....zzzz-zzz-z-zz.... ahem! Sorry again. The point is that you absolutely must watch this trailer, it is EPIC!!!!

***immodesty alert*** If you are a gentleman trying to keep custody of the eyes, there are some dancers who are not modestly dressed. Just FYI, you've been warned! ***

Blast From the Past

I just came across an old picture of a cultural Catalonian dance group I used to be in!

I'm second from the right, to my left is my mom. And fourth from left is my sister.
The year was 1995 and the group was the Grup Dansaire Catalunya. We danced the traditional dances of Catalonia, Spain and dressed in traditional clothing. I look upon this photo with great fondness for the people in the group. I miss them. Some have gone back to Catalonia. Some are still in L.A. hanging out with the other Catalonians in town. But they all have a special place in my heart.

This was our fearless leader, Joan Comellas Manubens. He was a hard taskmaster, but he whipped us into shape! We were a bunch of ragamuffins but he turned us into respectable dancers. He is back in Catalonia now. After he left it just wasn't the same anymore.

Catalonia is where one branch of my family tree is from, and although part of that branch of the family split up and went to Argentina and then eventually America, we are still in touch with the family that remained in Catalonia. Family is family, even if our common ancestor was a great-great-grandparent.

It was nice to experience dances that my ancestors would have been familiar with. I know their names, who they married, and who their children were. But this brought them to life for me. They are family members I have never met and will never know. But maybe in some small way this allows me to know them.

It's been a long time since I've danced in the group but I'll always have fond memories. I hope someday my children will be able to connect with their ancestry in similar ways.Phillip and I plan on sending them to Barcelona to spend time with our relatives there once they are old enough. Maybe they will dance Sardanas like I used to, and experience things like the outdoor Sardanas in front of the Barcelona Cathedral on Sundays.  I was able to do that on the one occasion that I visited Barcelona in 1996.

Check out them shoes! These shoes are called alpargatas, commonly known as espadrilles in English and espardenyas in Catalan.

Does anyone know of a Grup Dansaire Catalunya in Las Vegas?? Because I would love to sign my kids up for it. After all, I still have that shawl - I could totally put it to good use!! Heck- I would even join it myself.

And if you are wondering what kind of dancing I am talking about, here is an example if you fast forward to the 50 second mark. The song, Santa Espina, is one of the most famous Sardana songs.

And if you ever have a chance to join in on a Sardana, DO IT! It's so much fun!

Related: Catalonian Holiday Traditions