As my kids get older, we've been finding some new ways to wind down and hang out together in the evenings. When they were younger, it was usually a warm bath, fuzzy jammies, and a stack of books. We still do it that way from time to time, but they are more independent now. Just because I'm ready to crash on the couch and read doesn't necessarily mean they are. Take last night, for instance. It was 7:30pm. I was exhausted. I announced that I was parking it on the couch and anyone who wanted me to read to them was welcome to join me. No one came. Janey and Macy were upstairs rehearsing their lip sync routine to some High School Musical number. Charley was busy trying to see how long it would take the pet mice to find the pumpkin seeds he'd buried in the bottom of the cage. At first I was crushed. I love that sweet, snuggly, end of the day time with my kids. But then I realized that I could still relax on the couch with a good book....a book with more than 30 pages! Ahhhh, heaven.
Less than 5 minutes later, all hell broke loose and the girl's were freaking out because their pesky brother was (god forbid) trying to lip sync, and he was getting the words all wrong. Rats! My plan was foiled. I needed to come up with a distraction, and fast. I glanced over at the table. It was completely empty...amazing. I grabbed the new puzzle I picked up at Goodwill and emptied all 300 pieces onto the table.
Now the whole reason I chose this table for our house was because of it's size. The past two homes we've lived in had only one (very small) surface for eating or crafting or playing a board game. In a homeschooling household, this just didn't work. Puzzles, art projects, concoctions and scrapbooking all had to be cleared completely in order for us to sit down to a meal together.....big, huge, enormous bummer....multiple times a day. So as I was putting the finishing touches on our new home, I was measuring and plotting and scheming for the gigantic table that would allow us to sit down for a meal, without wrecking the project of the day. I love this table.
As I was sorting the edge pieces from the rest, Charley wandered downstairs, distraught. "The girls said I can't be Troy Bolton. They said I keep messing up the words." I reassured him and added, "That stinks. How are you ever going to learn the words unless they let you join in and rehearse?" He eyed the puzzle, and sat down on the bench next to me with a sigh. Within 5 minutes we had two of the edges complete. By then the girls had gotten irritable and bored and they wandered down as well. We worked for 15 or 20 minutes in near silence, mesmerized by the smooth finish of the pieces and the warm and cool colors of the painting we were nimbly recreating. I breathed deeply and savored this sweet time. Still warm and cozy, a puzzle seems to be the perfect way for us to end our day together. Reason #197 for unschooling: more time for puzzles.