Today we got off to a pretty good start. I'm still trying to figure out what the best routine is for our family. It's sometimes hard to know how to balance teaching both Naomi and Josiah, with keeping Ethan occupied, happy, and learning himself.
In contrast to last week, when I taught N & J together for hours each day, today I tried teaching N & J together just for a little over an hour, and then split them up, giving each of them time with Ethan while I taught the other. I did Bible, spelling, history and science with both of them. Then Josiah and Ethan played together, jumping onto sofa cushions and laughing hard, while I did reading, language, math and handwriting with Naomi. Later we switched and I did the same with Josiah.
While it felt a little less efficient (in my head), it's fair to say that things worked out more smoothly this way. I also could focus more on each child. I'll keep trying it this week and see how things go.
A nice surprise was my neighbor Sarah knocking on my door mid-morning, asking if we wanted to join her and her girls at the new playground nearby. This didn't fit in with my "schedule," but I'm still glad we did it!
Sarah's 2 1/2 year old Amy and my 2 1/2 year old Ethan get along famously. It's so fun to watch them play together! And Sarah is my closest friend here, so I always enjoy chances to talk with her. Josiah and Naomi particularly like the pond area that is part of the new park. We all had a good time. It was great to get out in fresh air, brisk though it was. Autumn is on its way!
Following a crackers-and-cheese lunch back at home, I walked with the kids to "The Cowley." Cowley Road is a major thoroughfare in Oxford, beginning close to City Centre (at a roundabout called "The Plains") and extending through East Oxford and Cowley, as far as the ring road. Nicknamed "The Cowley," it has a high number of shops and restaurants in the part closest to town.
Since East Oxford is quite an ethnically diverse area and home to the only mosque in town, many of the shops feel like they belong in a different country. I've been able to find all kinds of African foods, Pakistani, Indian, Chinese, etc. It's amazing! There are also many charity shops (thrift stores), bicycle shops, discount shops, and my favorite, Tesco Metro (small grocery store, huge grocery chain).
When Steve is at home, I often try to do my shopping sans children. But seeing as he's gone for a whole month, I bit the bullet today and took 3 kids with me for my errands. First we did a little bit of grocery shopping at Tesco. Then we bought bubbles at a stationer's (for a home-education event tomorrow involving bubble-blowing). We went to a cycle shop to buy a bike tire pump. I visited Boots Pharmacy for a medical item.
I also discovered a new (to me) charity shop and had to pop in. Josiah found a huge plastic T-Rex he loved, Naomi found a tiny plastic pony, and I found 3 fun kid videos (Tom & Jerry being the highlight). Since the dinosaur cost 2 pounds, Josiah's not playing with it yet, but looking forward to buying it from me in 6 weeks. Naomi's pony is also in storage, but she'll get hers in just one week!
[I began giving the kids "pocket money" (allowance) some months ago in order to help them begin to understand money better. I don't give them very much, so they have seen what it means to save for something special. Because they're usually interested in buying something from a charity shop, and we're never sure when we'll next return and if their coveted item will still be there, I've occassionally bought the said item and kept it in storage (at home) until the full price has accumulated in the child's savings. I find this works really well. ]
We also popped in to another charity shop and found a pair of sneakers for Ethan. Both boys really need something warm for their feet now that summer is ending. I was tickled to find shoes that seem to fit Ethan (and that light up -- what a bonus!) for only 1 pound. Another 2 videos and a Hello Kitty hand-held fan for Naomi, and we were homeward bound.
On our way to the Cowley, Ethan had been riding his scooter (2 wheels at age 2 -- can you believe it??) and was always way ahead of us. But on the way home, he was smitten with his new shoes and walked slowly behind us. It was so cute to see how proud he was.
Back at home, my kids played for a while with the neighbor kids, particularly Anna. Most kids on our street attend the (very) local primary school called St. Michael's. But Anna goes to a Catholic school and so has bonded with Naomi, who also does not attend St. Michael's. Really all 4 of the kids that age, in our row of houses, get along great together. But it *is* nice to not be the only one who is different.
We splurged and ate our "tea" (supper) while watching Tom & Jerry. It was so fun to laugh with my kids. Even Ethan was hysterical at times! Bubble bath, reading books about vehicles, Squanto and Columbus, then songs and bed. I've spent my entire evening catching up on e-mails, facebook, and blogs. I'm so grateful for the internet!
So that's a day in the life of the Gertzes. Just in case you were wondering ;-)