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Showing posts from July, 2011

Three Thinking Mothers Post

Lesson Planning: To Plan or Not To Plan... The truth is......I don’t really plan. I tried.  Honestly, I did.  The teacher in me had to make charts and lists and record daily in my homeschooling journal.  I planned the week out with what lessons would be done each day, how many chapters we would read, when Lilah would edit and revise and publish her piece of writing, what art lesson I would teach, who we would play with and when.   In order to stick to this schedule I had to school at home.  When Grace was in school and Lilah was home those first six months by herself, we pretty much did school at home.  Our day was spent with half hour lessons covering all the topic areas.   I felt the pressure that since Grace was in school doing math for 45 minutes a day, so should we.  Since she was taking spelling tests every Friday, we should too.  Lilah still called her breaks “recess” and out of habit raised her hand when she needed me.   As the first month progressed into months three and four I b…

Advice to Newbie Homeschooler

Someone I know and like a lot just started homeschooling.  They are at the point I was at last year, no...more like in January of 2011 when I just began with Lilah, when every decision seemed monumental, when every subject felt like it must be planned and documented down to the number of hours spent doing it,  and when the worry was intense.  Those are the hard days.  They are the days of worrying about: What would she be doing if she were in school and does that matter to me?What does my spouse thing about what we are doing and how can I help him/her to understand this new journey we have undertaken when he/she is not home to see the magic that occurs randomly and spontaneously each and every day?Will I do a good job?Will she learn and grow and thrive?Did I make a mistake?
My heart aches for this Mom because I want to be able to whip out a crystal ball and show her what her future holds.  Her child is bright, inquisitive, driven, endearing and curious.  She already has interests she wa…

It's Starting Again

It is starting up again in blogland.  The back to school talk.  The setting up of “classrooms” and the purchasing of curriculum.  I am pretty amazed at the difference between me on July 26, of 2011 and me on July 26, 2010.   Last year I was setting up a classroom a.k.a. “the learning lounge” only to discover our real learning never took place there.  It just could not be confined to a room.  This year there is no rush to clean and prepare a space.   Perhaps I would like to clean and dust off a few more bookshelves and add a few new titles to them but that is about it in terms of preparation.  Of course, I do have to figure out how to hang a large wall map on my plaster walls.  After trying command strips only to rip the paint off my brand-new painted walls, I was a bit perturbed 
(and another “p” word...) and put the map away where it sits, alone in a corner, since I am mad at it. Last year I felt the need to have everything purchased and an official start date to our lessons.  I bought …

My Field Guide Failed Me

Despite having studied Botany for the past six months and owning several tree field guides,  I have a tree-identification dilemma!

For the longest time we thought this was a Catalpa Tree.  However, when I searched through the field guide to confirm this, I changed my mind.

This tree is late flowering.





It has huge leaves.  In the fall I collect them and use them as placemats.

It drops ginormous seed pods.



We only have two in the neighborhood as far as I have noticed.  They are on my corner with the maple tree sandwiched in between.

Any ideas???

My Very Own Lovelies!

Remember back in June when I was lucky enough to care for MamaK's carnivorous lovelies?  I cared for these plants as if they were my pets.  I watered them, rotated them for maximum sun exposure and even strategically placed them next to the dog kennel so they would not go hungry!

Have I told you lately how blessed I am to have MamaK as my friend?  I am one lucky lady.  As a just-because, she gave me my own planter of carnivorous lovely babies!  Her plants multiplied and she shared her bounty with me.


But not only that.  MamaK went one step beyond amazing and brought a container full of lovely babies for Grace's friend who has been very into carnivorous plants.  He visited when we were plant sitting and I gave him a tutorial of what we had to do to keep them alive.  Apparently he has been trying to grow some from seeds, which I can imagine is a very hard thing to do.  Now he has his own lovelies to care for and watch grow, and digest....

This is the kind of friend I have in Mam…

Taking advantage of the heat!

I am so excited to watch this..........





...........turn into more of this!

Rhode Island

To escape the 90+ degree day that was on tap for Monday, my sister and I packed up our cars and headed north to the beautiful state of Rhode Island.  We had no destination in mind.  We decided to get off the highway at exit 2 and use our GPS to find us a beach!  Our GPS did get us to a beachy-area but we needed a bit more help....like live person help!  After a quick trip to the Tourist Information Stand we had a plan... a small town beach with minimal admission fee! The wind was kicking up some serious waves.  For those of us along the Long Island Sound, waves are a rare occurrence.  But here in the open Atlantic Ocean, some waves were breaking over the kids’ heads.  The wind was nature’s air conditioner, keeping the temps in the low 80s.  Ahh......my kind of day.
































I discovered that Lilah is quite the daredevil.  I thought she would mind getting tossed around like a rag-doll.  Every time the wave knocked her over I kept waiting to see her emerge upset.  She loved the sand-in-your-pants-…

Baby Fix

We have been a busy family the past few days.  A good kind of busy though.  Family busy.  Saturday we drove up to my Aunt’s house in Massachusetts where I nuzzled my cousins' babies while seriously wanting one of my own.  I think that moment has passed but it comes and goes frequently lately.   We are not going to have another baby but it sure was nice to smell that baby-fragrance that comes with infancy and disappears somewhere around 1 year old.  





By sheer serendipity...

I love the word serendipity.  I never have enough occasions to use it in conversation.   It was by sheer serendipity that one day many months ago while  I was browsing randomly through blogs on blogger I came across Theresa at Our Life In Words.  I began following along as she wrote about her girls progress in school.  Her girls were the same age as mine and both attended public school in New Jersey.  Then one day there came a post about the possibility of homeschooling her daughters.  I was newly homeschooling Lilah and posted my first comment.  I believe this was herpost.  (I don't know why this is showing up at 0 comment....) I added her blog to my favorites list and we became fast bloggy friends.  We talked about the hugeness of the decision to homeschool.  We talked about how scary the process of withdrawing your children can be.  We talked about the positive reactions we received from friends and family.  We talked about the negative reactions we received from friends and fam…

Al Roker + My Winnie = One Crazy Early Morning

Grace has decided that we simply must go to NYC and stand outside the NBC studios with a big sign while Al Roker is broadcasting the weather on the Today Show.   She came up with this idea while reading a books she is adoring, Ten: Winnie Years Series, recommended to her by Theresa at Our  Life in Words.  She has found so many connections to this character starting with the name (Winnie is her nickname as she was named after my Grandmother Winifred).  Like my Winnie, this Winnie has an affinity for all things weather and got to meet Al Roker.  So if the book Winnie can, my Winnie thinks she can too! Only this is no easy task.  We are a 90 minute train ride from Manhattan and the today show begins at 7AM.  In order to get a prime spot to show off a gorgeously decorated sign that will be certain to capture Mr. Roker’s attention, we need to be there early.  How early I am not certain, but I would think at least a half hour early, which brings us to 6:30.  Add in walking time to Rockefeller…

No Impact Man

Have you watched No Impact Man?  The beauty of streaming on Netflix is that I can start a video and finish it six months later!  The time in between my start and finish gave me a new insight into how I felt about this video in the beginning and conversely, how I felt about it when it ended. I can see where people may feel critical about this project being purely for self promotion.  The premise of the documentary is that a family made up of an author, a writer for Business Week and their toddler pledge to make no environmental impact over the course of one year while living in Manhattan.  I had to wonder if his effort to document this project were to boost the sales of his one-day book about said project.  Even if that is the case, there is much to be gleaned from viewing. I could very much relate to the wife as she began this journey.  Like her, I used to work in Manhattan and spent my lunch hours scouring the blocks around my office in search of the perfect pair of shoes.  My boss wou…

Pottery Session II

My girls finished another session of pottery.  This was Lilah’s second session, and Grace’s first.  I love looking at their creations.  Lilah has taken a pottery class at an art school which at the time I thought was good.  She made a coil pot, a candle holder and a few pinch pots.  Looking back I realize that it was very teacher directed.  Each week the children made the same thing, modeled after what the teacher was making. This class is “taught” by a homeschooling mom who is blessed to have a full studio and kiln in her home.  Every week the children create.  There are no plans, no group instruction, no grades, or pressures.  She simply guides them in whatever it is that they want to do.  Unlike the art school, she does not believe that 10 year-olds are too young for a pottery wheel.  Heck, our six year old friend is learning the wheel.  Lilah is even able to center on the wheel, but I am not sure exactly what that means!   Part of their learning process is trial and error.  Grace le…

When A Meal is a Gift

If the divine creator has taken pains to give us delicious and exquisite things to eat, the least we can do is prepare them well and serve them with ceremony. Fernand Point You can be taught just about anything.  Whether or not you learn it is something else entirely.  Most often the things we learn best and hold onto hardest are those  that touch our souls in some way.   Right now cooking is something that my girls are passionate about.  I can give them my recipe books, tell them how to use the can opener, instruct them on how to properly crush a clove of garlic but if they do not have the opportunity to do it for themselves then they have not truly learned anything at all. To help give my girls real life cooking experiences, we invited Greg’s brother for lunch.  I told Grace and Lilah I we would plan the menu and purchase whatever was necessary to make the meal.  The girls decided on meatballs with tomato sauce, chicken cutlets and salad.  During our weekly trip to Whole Foods, we purch…

Happy Birthday Swallowtail!

Thursday, the first of my three lovelies emerged from his chrysalis state.  I was hoping to catch a good photo of him without the netting but this insect was ready to stretch his wings and fly.  

My girls hatched caterpillars in preschool.  The butterflies were kept in captivity for a few days until the last day of school where parents were invited and the children joined hands in a circle, sang a song and set them free.  This experience was different.  While we found these caterpillars munching away happily on their dill plant, I feel like they found us.  From the look on the face of the nursery owner, I am not certain what their fate would have been if discovered by someone other than us.  The randomness of our discovery plus the generosity of our friends in loaning us the habitat, to the research involved in identifying the caterpillars, to the search for the freshest dill plants to keep them munching away, it was all an adventure.

I hope my other two lovelies wait until the weekend …

Itchy Fingers

Do you ever feel like there is just not to much to say?  Your fingers itch to type but there is no great wave of passion flowing through them?  That is how I have been lately.  Not in a funk.  Not in the midst of writer’s block.  I think I just needed a break to enjoy my life through the lens of my eye, rather than the lens of my camera.   I did not take one single picture this past weekend.  There was much that I could have captured like my horrible horrible haircut that I got on Saturday.  Or my wonderful family dinner at my house Sunday.  Or spending the day at our friends on the 4th.  Swimming, playing, gardening.  All good stuff.   Blogging serves an interesting purpose in our family.  It helps me to connect and reflect on the amazing, interesting, fun, educational, spiritual things we do.  There are weeks when I look back and think to myself, “what did we do this week?” and I have to think hard to recall the small moments of lego building, baking, tree house building, camp out pla…

For The Sake of Our Children

Today it began.  Just like years ago when I began this blog to share my crusade to clean up my girl’s school, I am now part of a much bigger cause...cleaning up my family’s food.   While rummaging through a cabinet I came across Orville Redenbacher popcorn.  My family has used this brand forever.  We just purchased a bag of organic popping corn at Whole Foods last week and Greg bought another at our local natural food store, Nature’s Way, but the girls said they prefer the Orville brand made by Con Agra Foods.  I called the 800# on the back of the jar to inquire.  I was told that while the company does not specifically state that the product is modified, they do use modified ingredients in their products and could not guarantee a product does not contain modifications unless it is labeled organic.  Apparently they did have an organic line of popping corn but discontinued it.   I explained that this is one of my family’s favorite brands but unfortunately we will have to discontinue our u…