Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Busy week, file under "very"


Yesterday, we were at ARCHES from 9:00 until 3:00, kicking off the new year with Mass and then the large group activity with the kids in first through eighth grade, and a very successful activity it was, too. I know this because there is a large cardboard structure with a sign on it that reads "THEATER" sitting on the back seat of the van. I am hoping the paint on it was completely dry when it was placed there yesterday.

ARCHES is a one-a-month program for students aged 6-14, although this year, we've seen some happy changes. Now that the primary program is established, the program for the younger group, called MiniARCHES is falling into place - now all those little curtain-climbing siblings aged 2-5 have a program all their own.

I feel blessed to taking a part in this as well. Not with the younger kids...no, no. I am an older kid kind of person. So the director of ARCHES and a couple of other mothers and I are working now to establish a TeenARCHES program for the older siblings in the group. We have a considerable number of these teenage children, and another mom and I had the pleasure of talking to them yesterday to find out what their main interests are.

Surprisingly enough, the greatest interest was in forming a Teen Speakers Bureau and a book club. The third item of interest was an apologetics group featuring round-table discussions. They were completely disinterested in the idea of forming a yearbook staff, which is what I thought they'd be really excited about. What do I know?

As it turns out, the public speaking offer was one that was met with great enthusiasm. Many of these kids attended a public speaking workshop last spring and enjoyed themselves to the point of wanting to do more. Public speaking. More public speaking. Who'd have thought...?

Anyway, I proposed the idea of a book group, saying, "You know, there are always classic novels that your mom has you read every year..."

They nooded gloomily, several of them groaning "The Yearling...." in pained voices.

I smiled. "Yes, like The Yearling. What I'd like to propose for your discernment is the possiblilty of a book group, where we could do a study guide and discuss the novel together. This would ease some of your mother's burden, because you'd be taking care of that here at ARCHES. It would also ease some of your burden, because you'd have the pleasure of discussing the novel with your friends instead of just reading on your own."

Their heads were nodding enthusiastically at this point. Frankly, I was shocked. I was certain they'd shoot down the idea of a book group, just as certain as I am that my right shoe won't fit comfortably on my left foot. Because, The Yearling? It isn't a bad book at all, but it isn't one of those books that kept me up at night with the light on, reading, or anything.

The mom with me, my friend Jane, threw out the idea of The Red Badge of Courage and Where the Red Fern Grows. Still with the agreeable nodding from the kids. Imagine my shock. Could Great Expectations be far behind?

So I feel very pleased about this!

I guess we'll just have to keep on doing the yearbook the same way its always been done.

Yesterday reminded me again of why ARCHES was probably our favorite activity last year.

I like it, first and foremost, that it is Catholic: We start every meeting with Mass. We pray together. Father Bob Robeson attends every meeting and walks around with his coffee, affably talking to moms and kids alike. The chapel is right upstairs and there's time both before and after the meetings to take a few minutes to sit in the presence of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.

I like the creative activities that we do, centered on our Catholic faith, art, science, math, geography, music, essay writing, the theater and more.

I like ARCHES because it is open to kids of all ages, from babies and toddlers all the way up to high school students, with meaningful learning opportunities for them all. This, to me, is what homeschooling is about -- allowing all ages to learn together. Sometimes not everyone can participate in the same activity -- I don't think we're going to have all that many five-year-olds reading Where the Red Fern Grows with our teen group -- but at least we're all invited to be part of activities in the same building, where we come together for Mass, for group prayer, for all-age activities, for lunch! This is so much easier on mothers, who don't have to think, "Well, my first-thru-eighth graders are taken care of. Now what am I supposed to do with my tenth grader and my four-year-old?"

I appreciate ARCHES because it happens once a month. Our director helps us stay in close contact, sending us reminders via email every Monday. That way, we always know what we're preparing for. It makes event days so easy. Plus, we're never burned out. Every new month at ARCHES is something to look forward to.

And most of all, this year is the first year that we've all stayed for lunch after the main meeting. I like lunch! Yesterday, we were served roasted chicken, mashed potatoes, green beans, salad and bread with ice cream for dessert. A nice, hot lunch with no dishes to wash....wheeeeee!!!!


Today is our third session of the Shakespeare Workshop. We're watching scenes from the Franco Zeffirelli and Kenneth Branagh DVD versions of Hamlet, plus a brief snippet from Sir Laurence Olivier's 1948 version. It's interesting to see what different actors and directors do to make the characters live for the audience.

To make up for the fact that we had about fifteen handouts last week, I have a treat for this week -- Shakespeare Jeopardy.

As soon as the Workshop is over, the girls and I have to hit the road to go meet Daddy. We'll then be driving down to Columbus for our first away game. Columbus! Good grief! That's a two hour drive! On a Tuesday!

I plan to be tired tomorrow, with intermittent patches of grumpiness.


I can't think of anything, but that could just be my own mental deficiency. We do have schoolwork, obviously, and plenty of it.


Nanny and Poppy are coming over in the afternoon. We haven't seen those people in two weeks!


Home game, 6:00. Nanny and Poppy are coming to see it, so I'll have someone to do The Wave with. It isn't as effective when I'm just doing it by myself.

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