three years of homeschooling

On the third anniversary of beginning as homeschoolers, Claudia premiered Ogun and the People with Kulu Mele.

Those are photos from my phone. Not paintings. Not fever dreams. This is my girl’s life.

Béla had a full day, with a drum lesson and then sewing at a friend’s house.

Béla also bought his sister flowers — wine-colored carnations — and was waiting outside with them.

Home to a Derry Girls marathon and celebratory nachos — even though Claude had gotten Chipotle in the dressing room with her friends.

As we watched, it became December 1st — the OFFICIAL day we began homeschooling (although you can of course count November 30th as part of the “anniversary” as well), and we realized it was time for ADVENT CALENDARS. Oh, I may be unprepared for many things, with event horizons skipping by me like grooves on an old scratched Henry Mancini record, but this year, MY KIDS HAD AN ADVENT CALENDAR.

Last year, my kids had… four advent calendars. Only because the night of the 30th, Tucker was out until midnight scouring every drug store in town looking for one, and coming up with nothing, and we stayed up all night laying one out on the computer, printing, cutting it out, and re-gluing — a homemade advent calendar with family photos inside each day. The children LOVED this and asked even today if we still have it. Along with this, our friend Auntie Juls, who had come to visit with her son from Athens, GA, magically produced three gorgeous German tissue advent calendars that were actually little three-dimensional lanterns. We used all of the advent calendars, but the one that Tuck and I made was the favorite.

This year, my kids’ advent calendar is pretty basic. I honestly don’t remember where I bought it. I have learned not to get them advent calendars with chocolates in them because it basically just highlights for me how greedy for chocolate my kids can be first thing in the morning and it makes for an ugly start. So it’s just a picture advent calendar.

For Tucker, I had something more. And Claude and Béla were excited.

Tuck’s hard to shop for and does not like to get a lot of presents (or even “some” presents) on Christmas Day, as he finds it overwhelming. Giving presents is also overwhelming for him, so one can expect to get their gifts before Christmas Day as well. Christmas is a season for Tucker, and that’s fine.

About a month ago I found a Bonne Maman brand advent calendar — a pretty pricey one — with teeny jars of preserves behind every day. Never has there been a more Tucker gift. A way to dole out the holiday treats bit by bit. Jams and preserves, which he loves just like Winnie the Pooh or Paddington.

Oh, he liked it plenty. And we are now heavily into crafts — giving a workshop this Wednesday, and another next Saturday, making more tree ornaments for the cat to destroy, and a STEM project that Béla and Tuck are working on together. Today is the final (second) performance of Ogun, and the kids have definitely learned what it feels like to be overbooked in the performing arts and just looking forward to it being over, rather than looking forward to it happening — School of Rock performances are next weekend and even though they are having fun and sound good, neither of the kids has ever seemed so checked-out (and both are talking about moving on and looking at other music schools, playing something other than rock; musical theater for Claudia, more world music, including Korean percussion, for Béla.) This signifies growth, which makes me happy. Nothing could make Claudia give up Kulu Mele, and I honestly think she loves the girls-only, security-enforced atmosphere of the dressing rooms and hanging out with her friends as much as she does dancing. Kulu Mele really proved to us yesterday, when Claudia had concerns she needed to talk about to the directors before she felt comfortable for the day, that we really do have another family.

What a beautiful world we have built.


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