Valentine's Day was the first glitch in my homeschooling armor. We started homeschooling over Christmas break 5 years ago. Maria's former first grade teacher was actually the one who brought it up that December on her last day of school. She invited us to come back for Valentine's Day so Maria could exchange valentines with the other kids. It was very nice of her to offer, but I knew we wouldn't take her up on it. It would have been very awkward to show up back at the school after being gone for a couple of months...especially since the principal was being rather ugly about the whole homeschooling thing. I did wonder what we would do about Valentine's Day though. Every Valentine's Day I can remember as a child was about the big valentine exchange at school. What did homeschoolers do?
Silly me. Two months later, we had become involved in two homeschooling groups, and we attended a party and exchanged valentines with our new friends. Now it's 5 years later, and we've attended a party every year. But even if we didn't, it wouldn't be that big of a deal now. Our traditions are redefined. When Maria was in school, and when I was in school, so many of our memories and traditions revolved around school activities. There's nothing wrong with that. The same can be said about our church activities. They are parts of the community, parts of our socialization. But when we removed ourselves from the schools, we formed our own traditions, like heart shaped pancake breakfasts, making valentines to send to grandparents, and a read aloud about St. Valentine. We still attend a party, we still exchange valentines with friends, but this is just a part of our celebration. If we couldn't attend the party (which almost happened this year with all the sickness going around), the kids would be disappointed, but we would still celebrate and still have fun.
There was a snarky comment on a long ago post from Danielle Bean's blog, I think it was during Advent,,,something to the effect that too many Catholic homeschoolers spend too much time and energy making liturgical year plans and how artificial and weird this was. I took this comment seriously at the time. I do tend to overdo things. Just ask anyone. Was this becoming forced and weird? I don't think so. First of all, "real schools" have lots of little traditions every year too...picnics and literacy nights and pajama days and all those fun little things that break up the school year and give the kids something to look forward to. This is our school and it's a Catholic one, so it is valid to use the liturgical season in this way. Second, celebrating the liturgical year has a place in every Catholic home. If my kids were in school all day, we would still do some of these activities, but it would be far less than we do now. Third, this is part of our school day. We often take the afternoon off from our regular schoolwork to do seasonal activites. These activities ebb and flow in our own homeschool too. This year we have done much more than most previous years. But there have been months even in this year in which we have done very little for quite a while. We did lots of activities during Advent and Christmas, for example, but we haven't really celebrated anything else since then. I tend to focus on the major seasons...Advent/Christmas and Lent/Easter, and fill in with other feast days as we have time and I have energy. This coming year, with a new baby, I know things will be simplified quite a bit.
Anyway, cootie update...Jack fell sick last night with diarrhea and a 103 degree fever, then vomiting this morning. I have felt pretty badly all day. No gastro symptoms, just falling over tired all day long. Maria is the last one standing.