Monday, November 10, 2008

All Work and Some Play

Yes, life has been very busy for our family lately. We have four grades in our home school: 3rd, 6th, 8th, and 11th. J (6th) plays two musical instruments, so he has piano lessons on Tuesdays (here in our town, fortunately) and a guitar class with Father Acker in Alpine on Wednesdays. He and E (11th) have also been cast in our art council's new theatre group's Christmas play where they portray two parts each; they have rehearsals twice a week. T (8th) is helping with sets, so he'll be spending Saturdays at the workshop, building, painting, etc. He may also help with lighting.

The three boys are also involved in a weekly art docent class for homeschoolers that meets each Thursday morning at the library; they're studying Georgia O'Keeffe over the next six weeks. B (3rd) is especially talented artistically, as is T (8th) who has been working with animation lately on his own, both stop-motion and pencilled comic strips with a small turtle as his main character. The Adventures of Larry the Turtle is heavily reminiscent of Calvin and Hobbes and Garfield, the two comics the boys read the most. E (11th) is also looking to work at the Bible Camp, cleaning cabins on Saturdays; she has been helping a disabled friend with housecleaning since late summer, but that Tuesday job has been cutting into her schoolwork too much. She's learned a little about jewelry-making from her cousins and has been making wonderful earrings that she wants to give as gifts and perhaps also sell. So that's the kids' balance or work and creativity.

Keith, meanwhile, is looking for work as his self-employed business of nearly 25 years has dribbled down to nearly nothing -- the building industry in San Diego has pretty much given up the ghost. He and his dad, a civil engineer, are planning to close their office in January. Keith would love to devote himself to his artwork, especially stained glass, full time, or at least part time. Right now he's doing some handyman-type work for people at church which pays three times what he would make at Home Depot or Costco, plus there's no overhead. It will at least fill in the gap and help pay the bills while we wait for God to reveal His plan to us. Keith is so talented, so artistic -- and has such a heart for helping people. We are praying that God will place him somewhere that he can use these gifts and desires God has given him. Right now he's repairing a window for Dr. Adema, the same one who commissioned the huge window that was installed in late September.

In addition to homeschooling four kids and getting them where they need to be (at least their activities are almost all in our small town so they can walk to many of them), I've also started working more at
BraveWriter, a one-stop language arts curriculum for home schoolers. Julie comes at writing from a professional writer's point of view, rather than from an academic slant like most of the other writing curricula out there, especially IEW. Last spring I taught a one month workshop to homeschooling moms on how to teach their kids Shakespeare and really have fun learning about the Bard, his time, and his works. This fall I taught a similar workshop on poetry, and in February I'll be facilitating another one on grammar. Right now I'm also filling in for a friend whose husband was in a serious motorcycle accident, so I'm leading a book discussion group for junior high students. I finished the last week of discussing Jane Eyre in October, and today I start discussing Rosemary Sutcliffe's Eagle of the Ninth, a historical novel set in Roman Britain around the year 150 AD.

I'm still teaching two writing courses at our private school program's Class Days, one for college-prep high school students, and one for honors students; E is in the latter class. I don't get paid for doing these, but the school has been gracious in helping us with tuition during this downturn, so it works well for both the school and myself. They get a former college instructor teaching the students, and we get a break in our tuition. Plus the kids get to take fun classes like cooking, PE, and chess, to name a few. Definitely a win-win, but a lot of grading for me, of course.

I've also expanded my tutoring this year to help bring in more income. I'm going through the Class Day Beginning Writing curricula, written by Becky Winn and myself, with one 10th grade boy, a 10th grade girl and her 8th grade sister, plus a class of junior high students, two of which are my boys, plus a 6th grade girl. As of last week, another 6th grade girl in the class went back to traditional school, and the one senior student I was teaching my Intermediate Writing course to has caught up with my Class Day course and will be in class this Thursday, having written all the essays needed to join. So I've lost two students this past week, but the rest should be able to stay on for quite a while. The writing class meets on the Thursdays we don't have Class Days (every other Thursday), and I meet with the other students weekly. I really enjoy tutoring one-on-one and always have; I've worked as a classroom aide/tutor since I was in 7th grade. So between working for BraveWriter and tutoring, I've been able to help with the bills a little bit while still keeping our home education lifestyle intact which is very important to both Keith and me.

So, all this work! How do I play? By adding more "work," of course. Joining NaNoWriMo is work, yet it is also the creative outlet that I have been looking for. Needing, really. And our art council has some great things in the works that will provide more creative outlets -- painting classes with Norm Daniels, a writing workshop with Judith Deem Dupree, and perhaps a photography workshop with my dear husband (if he want to do so -- I need to ask him about that one!). I may not be an "artist," but I would like to learn more about it. And, as my dear doctor says, "Everyone needs a creative outlet!" In fact, he asks his patients about what their creative outlet is, and if they don't have one, he makes them find one and report back to him!

So my creative outlets consist of gardening (I love nothing better than having my hands deep in the moist soil, dirt under my nails), writing (my blogs, NaNoWriMo, my journal, prayer journaling), calligraphy (which I am teaching myself but could really use some lessons from Keith's sister), and photography (with help from my semi-pro husband). We all need some way to express ourselves creatively, or we end up depressed workaholics.

So, what is YOUR creative outlet? Are you a beginner or more experienced? How do you find time for it? What creative "art" would you like to learn more about? Let's chat about it. ;)

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