Friday, September 30, 2011

Restoring Community

I wonder what my girls were thinking when they walked into the nature center tonight to see their mother holding hands in a large circle swaying and singing an Aboriginal Australian Song that meant go in peace, go in love, until we meet again.  Somewhere in their brain it must have clicked that something transformational is happening to their mother.
Tonight I attended a talk sponsored by Two Coyotes featuring Mark Morey of the Institute for Natural Learning: Creating Nature Based Culture for Future Generations  We were asked to examine some internal questions such as What is our Mission for Our Children?
Together the group answered: Love them, Challenge them, Feed them, Follow them, Provide a safe place for them to grow, Listen to them, Trust them, Honor them.  But how many of us are actually doing these things?  Really doing them?  How about in the face of unseen external influences such as media, marketing, industry, and culture?
As we examine these issues and begin to raise our consciousness we find ourselves asking, “What do I have to do to have a positive outcome for my child?”  How about providing a child as much access to the one thing that is not human constructed and hopefully not human influenced....nature.
In nature a child will always be learning, for nature is a teacher.  There is no natural flat land.  A child will become resilient in nature because he or she is always adapting in order to move through it.  If we don’t allow our children as much access to nature, what is the alternative? If they live in my neighborhood it is man-made parks, sidewalks, hallways, desks and chairs and playscapes.  If we are not allowing them to actively engage their senses, we are not teaching them to be resilient.

Given the state of our economy, the state of our natural resources, the fragility of our infrastructure, one thing that should be a priority as parents is to give our children the skills that our ancestors once had -- how to be resilient in the face of adversity, how to be self sufficient and how to live off the grid so that the next tropical storm or blizzard does not leave us asking “where is our power?”
Mark’s programs are about helping form your community, or your tribe, as I like to call it.  Some people are born into a community of Aunts, Uncles, Grandparents, mentors and teachers.  Unfortunately others are not, or their birth communities are not capable to provide the nurturing that our children need.  Then we can look outside to form our own tribe, chose our own adopted aunt and uncles, befriend those who will mentor our children, and give them skills and nurture their talents alongside their parents.
As I listened, I thought of my own life.  I have a close knit family.  My children have grown up with Sunday dinners at their grandparents house that are attended by their Aunt and Uncle.  Greg’s brothers and sisters have been involved in their lives, have attended baptisms, first communions, skating competitions, piano recitals, and the like.  They will remember their Great Grandparents and have a close bond with their Great-Aunt.  They are blessed.
In addition to this, our friends act as mentors to our children.  My children as as likely to climb on the lap of my friend Kim or Amy or Monica, as they are to climb on mine.  Grace learns much about becoming a young woman sitting at the kitchen table practicing her spanish while sipping a vanilla latte with the moms.  She is always welcome at their table and her voice is seen as equal to mine.  That is powerful.  That is empowering.  That is community building.  For it is not the latte that is that her spirit is honored at the table.  She is welcome there.  She belongs.  
As I grow and learn and seek out new information about my own life, I feel that I am creating a community that will provide my children with not only resiliency, but with innovation, creativity, value, honor, support, nurturing and love.  
This was a magical night.  While I was reaffirming the choices I have made in my life, my children were off with a Two Coyotes Instructor, enjoying three hours outside in the dark, around a campfire, listening to stories, playing games, sharing s’mores, drinking hot cocoa, laughing, learning and exploring nature at night.  A stormy night.  A night sky illuminated not only by the fire, but by lightning.  When they joined me in the circle, their faces were lit up as brightly as the night sky.  
What led me to this experience? What made me step out of my comfort zone?  The desire to become a more mindful parent.  The wish to provide my children with a community that will support them, nurture them and mentor them. The conviction that despite our world’s many problems, we can and will persevere. The hope that I can leave the next generation a better world by doing just one small thing.
The people I met and listened to at this event are doing this.  I would like to think that I am doing this as well. Every opportunity to be mindful and present and reflective in your life is a chance to learn and grow and develop.  Despite the fact that this has been the course of my life over the past few years, I feel there is so much left for me to learn and so much left for me to discover, about myself, my parenting, and the community I wish to be a part of.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Guilt Be Gone

I had a fleeting moment of guilt.  Guilt that we should be having so much fun on a Monday night.  Why do we do that to ourselves?  Why do we allow guilt in where is has no place?  It takes up residence in a little corner of our heart and begins to gnaw away.  

Are we having too much fun?
Shouldn’t the girls be tucked in bed hours ago?
All the neighbors houses are dark, their children are tucked in ready for school in the morning.
We are just winding down our day.  
Why should that make me feel guilty in any way?
Even on our third year, the school vs. homeschool guilt can creep in.  When we were passing a catholic school in town, on our way home from somewhere fabulous, we saw the children lined up outside listening to their teacher.  Grace said she felt guilty that kids were in school when we were having so much fun with our learning.  I reminded her that lots of kids have fun in school.  It is not a bad place to be.  Our learning looks much different because we have made a different choice.  Guilt should not be a part of that choice.
Guilt creeps in when it is 7:00am and I hear the school bus rumble by outside my window.  Or at 7:30 when I hear my next door neighbor take his 6 and 8 year old children to school and    Or at 8:30, when the neighborhood kids begin their walk down the hill to the neighborhood school that my girls once attended.  We are out of bed at this point, but usually having breakfast or sitting on the couch reading.  Our day has a much different beginning than it did a few years ago and I love it.  Actually....I don’t feel much guilt about this part of our life.  I revel in the fact that our day can start any time we want and unless it is a co-op day, we don’t have to rush to be anywhere before 10:00am.  
If we were given the ability at a young age to create the life we wanted, would we have taken the chance?  Would we have embraced the opportunity and set about seeking realizations to our goals or would we have been too afraid to take that leap of faith and trust in our own not-yet-fully-developed abilities?  When I was nine or ten or eleven, if I suddenly was given the change to pursue my own interests my day would have looked very different than my day in school.  I would have read all the time.  My knowledge would come from my intense desire to read everything and anything I could get my hands on.  I wonder where that would have led me?  If I could have gone to the library at any time, visited with my Aunt and Grandmother at any time, spent hours exploring the park next to my house, rode my bike at will.....I can’t really imagine fully what that would have been like.  
My Mom would have been a great homeschooling Mom (even though she would roll her eyes at the thought!).  She let us explore the park on our own for hours.  She bought me every book I ever wanted.  I had lots of artistic freedom.  I remember using my wood burning kit unsupervised, my spiral marker art, my pom pom maker, my sewing machine, my ribbons for super cute barrettes.  My Mom would let us have free reign of the kitchen to muck about with flour, eggs and vanilla creating our own cookie recipes.  I learned to play the piano. I took ballet.  She dropped me off at the Girl’s Club (a place that we should have in every community) where I learned pottery and how to sew.  I walked with my friends along a very busy city street to Friendly’s, to spend the money in my pocket on ice cream with my three best friends.  These were all things I did, in a city, before I was twelve years old.
When I push aside the guilt I sometimes feel at giving my children the opportunity to live a life of their own making (like when they bake all morning together, at the expense of doing math), I can marvel in the wonder of the lives they are creating.  
  • They have chosen amazing friends who are unique and capable and confident.  
  • They have set schedules that work for their bodies and their learning styles.  Grace may do math at 8:30 am while she is eating breakfast and Lilah may be found writing a comic strip at 10:00pm when her creative energy is at it’s peak.
  • They can explore what interests them the most.  For Grace is still weather. For Lilah, it can be insects one day, cooking the next.
  • They can choose classes outside of our home that build on those interests.
  • They can read and read and read and no one is telling them to put the book down and do something else.
  • They can learn about life, while living an authentic life.  

Guilt be gone.  You have no place in this journey.  If we choose to have a dinner with friends that involves wine and dessert and laughter and joy, and that dinner goes until 10:00pm on a Monday evening, who says fun can only be had on a Friday?  This is our journey.  We make the rules.  We set the goals.  We pick and choose.  We can have fun along the way.  Each and every day. 
I will not feel guilty about that.  

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

My response to the 11 Rules Facebook Post

A post going around Facebook:
This should be posted in every school or kid's bedroom. (11) rules kids will not learn in school. 
Rule 1 : Life is not fair - get used to it! 
Rule 2 : The world doesn't care about your self-esteem. The world will expect you to accomplish something BEFORE you feel good about yourself. 
Rule 3 : You will NOT make $60,000 a year right out of high school. You won't be a vice-president with a car phone until you earn both. 
Rule 4 : If you think your teacher is tough, wait till you get a boss.
 Rule 5 : Flipping burgers is not beneath your dignity. Your Grandparents had a different word for burger flipping - they called it opportunity. 
Rule 6 : If you mess up, it's not your parents' fault, so don't whine about your mistakes, learn from them. 
Rule 7 : Before you were born, your parents weren't as boring as they are now. They got that way from paying your bills, cleaning your clothes and listening to you talk about how cool you think you are: So before you save the rain forest from the parasites of your parent's generation, try delousing the closet in your own room. 
Rule 8 : Your school may have done away with winners and losers, but life HASN'T. In some schools, they have abolished failing grades and they'll give you as MANY TIMES as you want to get the right answer. *This doesn't bear the slightest resemblance to ANYTHING in real life. 
Rule 9 : Life is not divided into semesters. You don't get summers off and very few employers are interested in helping you FIND YOURSELF - that's for your own time. 
Rule 10 : Television is NOT real life. In real life people actually have to leave the coffee shop and go to jobs. 
Rule 11 : Be nice to nerds. Chances are you'll end up working for one! ~Most recent rendition written by Charles J. Sykes...

How about posting this instead...
Rule 1:  Life may not always treat us fairly.  My hope is that you will give compassion to those who are the recipients of unfair treatment, and count your many blessings that come your way.
Rule 2:  Because the world may not care about your self-esteem, surround yourself with friends and family who do.  Treat yourself with the utmost respect.  In turn, share that respect with others.  When you do this, you will accomplish great things.  Remember, a simple smile can change someone’s life.
Rule 3: A job paying $60,000 may be nice, and it certainly can help ease financial worries but most young adults can expect to work hard and work long.  Follow your dreams, hold true to your desires.  Work is not work if you love it.  Money usually then follows.
Rule 4: If you think your teacher is tough, be your own teacher.  A teacher is just one person passing through our life.  You have the ability to teach yourself whatever you want to learn.  Seek out wise counsel.  If you then find you hate your boss, change your job.  
Rule 5: Take advantage of every opportunity that comes your way.  If your first job is flipping burgers, flip them well.  Learn all you can and apply your knowledge.
Rule 6: Own your lessons, the good and the bad.  Celebrate the good, reflect on the not so good.  Every lesson is just that, a lesson.  An opportunity to learn from the moment and grow in wisdom.
Rule 7: Not all parents are equal.  If you are blessed to have ones that have treated you with kindness and fairness and helped you become your best self, thank them for their efforts.  Realize it was not always easy and they worked through their own frustrations, self-doubts and worries with your best interest always in the forefront of their heart.  If you parents did not do this for you, thank them anyway for giving you the gift of life, and become the parent you wish you had.
Rule 8: I agree.  School does not resemble real life in any way.  Opt out if you can and learn about life while living it.
Rule 9: Find yourself.  Seek out who you are and who you want to be.  Follow your religion, practice your mantra, set your goals, reach high.  A good employer will support your efforts for he or she knows that through them you will actualize your full potential.  
Rule 10:  Television is not real life.  Turn it off.  Keep it off as much as possible.  Be present in your own life, not in the pseudo life of the internet, chat rooms, forums, and gaming sites.
Rule 11: Be nice to nerds.  Follow the Golden Rule.  We are all brothers and sisters of this earth. ~ by Jessica

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Apple Picking

We tried apple picking today.  It was spontaneous and in response to a “can we....” question.  The problem with spontaneous outdoor activity is that we did not have any bug spray.  I can only assume that the dramatic increase in the mosquito population is due to all the standing water left from Tropical Storm Irene and subsequent rainy days.  Whatever the reason, they are horrible. It does not matter the time of day, the nasty creatures will find you.  My poor Lilah does not stand a chance.  Within ten minutes she had three horrible bug bites and we had to catch the tractor ride back to the car.  
In those ten minutes we did catch a few great photo-ops and three bags full of beautiful apples.  Many of those apples have already been juiced and are freezing in ice cube trays, where they will wait patiently, until it is time to be added to delicious green smoothies!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Homeschool Mother's Journal: September 23

The Homeschool Mother's Journal
A whole week has passed?  It does not seem possible.  There are times when I think to myself...."so this is how it is supposed to be.  I have been waiting to arrive at this place."  
In My Life This Week: I have been struggling with social media.  I find that Facebook’s recent changes seem invasive (in a way past changes have not) and I find myself questioning why I need to share through this medium.  I find blogging to be intimate and purposeful and Facebook has felt very random and impersonal lately.  This link shared by one of my friends helped cement this feeling.

I don’t know if I will come off Facebook again but I am getting increasingly frustrated with a corporation collecting so much information about the American and World population.  Call me paranoid but it just does not feel right....
On top of this I have been asking myself if I am truly authentic in my blogging.  Do I share the good, the bad and the ugly?  When it comes to homeschooling, I think I do.  It was mentioned to me recently that I only put pictures of my children smiling and that portrays my family only in a positive light.  I agree.  I do not put pictures of my girls on the internet when they are engaged in a knock down, drag out argument.  I also do not share all the information that is personal to our family.  But who would?  Does this make me un-authentic?  I don’t think so.  My blog is precisely blog.  It is my online journal of my family’s adventures in the world of homeschooling and what we learn about ourselves along the way.   

I hope that a reader walks away feeling like they have the power to choose an alternative way to educate their child.  I hope that I share the interesting, exciting things that we get to do because of our life choices and from that others can have similar experiences.  I hope to convey my children laughing and smiling, surrounded by their friends, loved by their family and embracing the learning style that they get to create.  Isn’t that what we all want?
In Our Homeschool This Week:  We accomplished much.  We completed our the badge requirements for Outdoor Creativity.  To do this, we watched a great documentary on Netflix about John James Audubon.  The girls then wrote an essay about him.  We printed off pictures of the backyard garden they built earlier this summer and they provided captions.  Lilah decorated the cover of her project.  They will be presented to their Troop Leader when Girl Scouts begins in a few weeks.  In this one badge project:

  • Lilah learned how to write a 5 paragraph essay.
  • We practiced Haiku.
  • We poured through poetry books, including Emily Dickinson, searching for poems about nature.
  • We pressed flowers.
  • We practiced cursive.
  • We created a bookmark.
  • We watched a documentary.
  • We planned a trip to New York to see an original folio of Birds of North America at The New York Historical Society.  Very very cool.
We are working on review of math concepts.  My sister-in-law offered to work with the girls when we begin Business Math.  I have to confirm which business the girls want to run and purchase the ebooks.  
Co-op began this week and we discovered that we love it, each for our own special reasons.  We did a dry-run of getting from coop to the University for Grace’s meteorology class and found that we can do it if we leave coop five minutes early and if I stay very, very organized.  
Grace submitted her essay on Why We Should Honor Veteran’s to a state-wide contest.  We forwarded a copy to her Uncle, a veteran of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan.  She hopes she does not “win” as it involves riding in a special float in the Veteran’s Day Parade in Hartford.  She is not at all interested in this.  I told her it is not about winning or losing, but sharing her writing and hopefully receiving feedback from others.
We broke out our book of centuries and dusted them off.  We added Eugenie Clark (from a biography Grace read) and John James Audubon.  We still need to add it King Vortigern but I have having a hard time finding a condensed bio to print out.
Places We’re Going and People We’re Seeing:  Our highlight this week was coop. We met new friends and discovered new interests.  While we were visiting at MamaK’s house, I was lamenting over my lack of ideas for possible class topics.  Being the coolest Mama I know, she came up with the perfect class for me to teach...Blogging 101!
What We are Reading This Week:
Grace: The Day It Rained Forever 

Lilah: Spiderwick Book #5 


Our Read Aloud:

Questions/Thoughts I have: To recap....despite some bickering that is going on in my home, we are having many wonderful days.  I look at what we are doing, the quality of what we are doing, and I marvel at how lucky we are to be able to live this kind of life.  We are able to surround ourselves with what matters most.  My children are learning how to live an authentic life.  It does not mean that they are spoiled, that they are unlearning or that they are irresponsible.  It means quite the opposite, actually.  In choosing what to assign value to, they are becoming critical thinkers.  They are learning to understand that family members can have different opinions, interests and desires and that is ok.  As a family, we support one another in the pursuit of whatever the interest is.  In this pursuit, they grow.  They are growing as writers, as readers and as artists.  They grow as interesting, unique people -- people I am blessed to be able to spend quality time with!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Counting My Blessings

Grace: “Today was the best day ever.”
Me: “Didn’t you say that yesterday?”
Grace: “Yeah..but today was a really great day too.”
Me: “Do you realize how lucky we are to have a great day just about every day?”

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Our first day of co-op...

Not a picture was taken today for me to share with you.  I wanted to.  I really did.  In order to take a picture of your children, you have to actually see your children and I saw very little of them today.  They were too busy learning, moving from room to room, floating in their new groups of friends, lunching outside, playing in the grass and enjoying their newfound independence. 
It was our very first day of co-op.  When my girls came out of school, co-op was top on their list of things they wanted to do at home.  Fortunately, one of our friends began a co-op years ago.  It is established, organized, offers a-mazing classes, and is filled with some pretty a-mazing families.
For my family who may be reading and may or may not know what co-op is, a co-op is a cooperative formed of families who are willing to pool their talents in order to offer our children unique learning opportunities.  For example, one mother is a film producer.  She offers a class in film critique.  A coach of elite gymasts offers a class in gymnastics.  There are classes in theater, yoga, beading, journalism, herb remedies, baking, sculpture, spanish, finance, french, biology, astronomy and more.  Some classes require the hiring of outside teachers.  Lilah is taking cartooning from an expert in this art genre.   The children sign up for four classes they want, based on prerequisites or age limits.  Each class is 55 minutes, with an hour for lunch/play.  The parents are required to submit two courses descriptions per semester.  Since I was late in registering the girls, my contribution this semester is as a teacher’s assistant to the physics teacher and I have lunch duty! Part of me feels inadequate next to these women.  I am not sure what class proposals I will submit for the spring semester......our goal is to offer classes the children will want to take, rather than what we would like to see them learn. Thankfully, I have plenty of time to figure it out.  

So what did my children learn today?
“We talked about what you like taking pictures of, and we learned about the kid’s cameras.  We are going to set up a kodak account where we can upload our pictures and comment on each other’s photos!” (Digital Photography)
“I learned how to do a feather line.  My teacher even had Life of Fred! I miss Life of Fred.  I might pull that book out again.” (Geometric Constructions)
“Oh...physics!  So much fun.  It was with two of my best friends, in a team for the rest of the semester!” (Rube Goldberg Physics)
“It is really cool because we are going to make our own newspaper.  I am going to submit a haiku, a cartoon, a movie review, a book review and a word search.” (Journalism/Newspaper)
“Switching classes was easy.  All you do is look on the chart and find your class.”
What was I doing while they were taking classes?  I was knitting, drinking organic coffee with organic half and half, making new friends, connecting with old friends and surrounding myself with women that inspire me, comfort me and make me appreciate every minute of this amazing journey.  
I think that would qualify as a great day.  

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Anyone have a wand???

I don't know why I love this picture...but I do!

Our days have been very very full.  Not full of running around from place to place but full of meaningful work. If I had a magic wand there would be only one thing that I would change....the amount of bickering between my two girls.  If I could just get it to stop everything would be as close to perfect as it could get.  I don’t know if that is realistic but it is my wish....
I wonder what is a reasonable expectation of the relationship of sisters.  We idealize it, think that they must be BFFs forever and for always.  I look at my adult friends and it seems that while we have this expectation for our children, it is rarely the case in adulthood.
I don’t want to put the pressure on my girls that they must be best friends.  They know that they must treat each other with kindness and respect.  They love each other and with love should come kindness and respect.  You do not have to like the same books, games, movies or subjects.  You may not have the same styles in clothes, hair and jewelry.  One of you may be outgoing, the other more introverted.  One may be into fashion and art while the other is into athletics and physical activity.  You may be two people who if you met at a playdate may not end up being best friends.  I have come to realize that that is okay.  You are sisters.  You were born into the same family and from that bond, the type of relationship you desire will develop.  That relationship is up to you to define.  
While we are figuring out relationships, we have been figuring out lots of amazing things as well.  Like who Beowulf is.  How to write an essay.  That John James Audubon was not American-born as I had assumed. We have watched videos about people and videos about books.  Grace now wants to read Ballet Shoes.  Finally.  I have been waiting 11 years for one of my girls to express interest in a book I adored as a child.  We have cleaned out rooms and created space to work in private and in peace.  It is Tuesday.  Just Tuesday.  
Our education this year looks much different than it did this time last year.  It is flowing from us, rather than being offered to us.  It is a pretty amazing feeling.  I look back as I put pieces of writing into binders and glance at their work from a year ago.  I am astonished at the growth I see.  Greg commented on it as well.  Their writing is developing and this is partially because they want to write.  The use of the Girl Scout Badge book is a perfect fit for us.  It gives them a purpose to their effort.  Rather than me “assigning” an essay on Mr. Audubon, which would be disconnected from other learning but part of a unit on biography, I can ask them to write an essay after watching a biography.  We have spent hours and hours at the local Audubon attending classes and taking hikes.  We have been pressing flowers, writing poetry, and building on our nature studies.  The girls enjoyed this short study of his adventurous life.  I think the next time we visit the Audubon, they will have a whole new understanding of why it bears his name.  Hopefully soon we will visit the New York Historical Society and see in person what we were watching on video.  A date must be set soon.
This is how we do it.  Writing flows into social studies, which flows into cursive practice, which flows into art, which flows into history, which flows into nature studies, which flows into science.  Only math remains on the outside of this process.  The one kink in our zen like flow.  I hope that once we finish our review and begin the business math series, we will be drawn into math the way we are to history and language arts.  My goal for beginning that program is the first week of October.
So...if this Mama could wave her magic wand or click her heels together three times, or perhaps it will take my head spinning around a few times to get the level of arguing reduced, I will do it, whatever it takes.  Then I would be completely and totally at peace.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Graphic Novel Workshop

image curtesy of

This weekend the girls and I had the opportunity to take a class with graphic novel author Barbara Slate.  This was presented free of charge at our favorite library in the next town over.  Advance registration was all that was required.  
Barbara has created comics for Marvel, DC Comics, Disney, and Mattel and Archie Comics.  Her work has also been featured in Cosmopolitan Magazine and on The Today Show.  When I heard about this, I just knew I had to bring Lilah to see if she could learn how to develop her love of manga illustration into a form of writing.  Grace surprised me by wanting to come as well.  She has recently discovered a love of drawing mythical creatures.  
In this 90 minute workshop the girls learned how to create a character.  Once the character was sketched, they were given the tools to develop an in-depth profile, or a “character bible”.  As Barbara put it, “you should know more about your character then you know about yourself”.  Where does you character do to school?  Do they have siblings? Parents? Pets? Are they employed? Do they have magical powers? How do they speak? Are they shy or outgoing?  and so on and so on.  The bible is two full pages.  
After the character was developed we worked on plot.  In five sentences or less the girls should be able to tell their story.  Every graphic novel needs a beginning, middle, end and a twist.  Lilah came up with a character, a girl who struggles with a bully.  Everyone thinks she is an ordinary girl, but she has the power to freeze and explode objects, which comes in handy when her enemy is bothering her. It will be interesting to see how Lilah develops this story and if she is content keeping it as a traditional story or if she writes a graphic novel.  
We purchased Barbara’s book because this workshop could have been  two 90 minute sessions.  Plotting the story line and creating the artwork, were not discussed, and for a child who is serious about this genre of writing, they need more instruction and guidance in this area.  However, this was a class that normally costs $20 per student, per session and since it was free, I really can’t complain...  In the book, You Can Do A Graphic Novel, are the guidelines for the next few steps.  It is written so that Lilah will be able to understand and with my guidance, can complete a novel if she chooses to.  I really hope she does!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Homeschool Mother's Journal: September 16th

The Homeschool Mother's Journal
In my life this week....
I am feeling kind of crappy.  I am not sure if it is allergies or a cold but I am congested and sneezing.  I am still tired from my trip and my suitcase is still not unpacked.  I have a load of laundry overflowing in my bedroom and two loads clean that need to be folded and put away.  The grass has not been cut in two weeks and my pool is not closed for the season yet.  
My daughter is on crutches unable to walk and in a great deal of pain since spraining her ankle last Friday.  She had to cancel the nature class she has been looking forward to for six months.  Disappointment is an understatement.
Not every day is easy.  Some days you have tears.  Some days you wish you could just call in sick, crawl into  bed and sleep the day away.  Those are the days you pour yourself another cup of coffee and trudge on.  You give an extra hug, wipe away the tears and make back up plans.

In our homeschool this week...
For now, we are laying low.  We have to rest.  Bodies need to heal.  Some amazing things can happen when you give it up to God and let the learning flow.  We have read poetry.  We have used pressed flowers from our garden to make bookmarks with poems copied in cursive.  We wrote our own poetry: haiku.  I attempted to make my children smile with my version of haiku
Snot a Haiku....
I am sick today.
Mucus flows in shades of green.
Must get better soon.
I am talented, don’t ya think?  The girls illustrated their haikus and began to make a binder for the projects.  This is all part of the Outdoor Creativity Badge for Girl Scouts.  

We have read chapter 2 of Story of the World.  We are beginning a children’s version of Beowulf.  I have printed copies of Runes for us to play around with.  We have been working on review for math; averages, rounding, word problems. 
Grace wrote an essay on the importance of celebrating Veteran’s Day.  She is submitting it to a state-wide contest.  She wrote it about her uncle, a Veteran of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan.  It is beautiful.  Lilah began a new story about a sleep over party and the relationship between two sisters.  This weekend we will be attending a class at the library (not our library) where we will meet a published author of graphic novels who will help the girls illustrate their stories.
Places we’re going and people we’re seeing...
Lilah was able to make it to her horseback riding lesson, after having her braces removed.  Grace has discovered that she loves to draw mythical creatures.  She has been drawing every day.  She had a fantastic piano lesson and her Phantom of the Opera piece is coming along nicely.  I can’t wait for Greg to hear it.  It is his favorite Broadway show.  He brought me to it when we were dating.  When the piece is ready, I will share the video.
My favorite thing this week....
Was celebrating Grace’s 11th trip around the sun.

What we’re reading this week...

Yes....I read The Frandidate.  I was curious if the Franny K. Stein books contained any measurable amount of science or if they were purely pleasure reading.  I was blown away by the political satire of this children’s book.  Franny runs for class president.  She quickly realizes that best way to win, is to tell her classmates what they want to hear.  Want more recess....fine.  Want hot dogs for lunch....fine.  Eventually she realizes that this ability to manipulate can be put to better running for The President of The United States.  The ever-mad scientist concocts a “Frankenstein” suit to wear.  It has the ability to sense what people want and shape-shift according to their wants and needs.  It is her second  face.  She is now two-faced.  She thinks it would be a great idea to collect data from the masses on their likes in order to tailor her campaign (can you say Facebook??).  She taps into media and is out of control.  The only thing that pulls her back to reality is the face of her mother.  Her mother wants the truth. Her mother wants her daughter.  Sensing this, the Frandidate morphs back into Franny and the suit is put to better use as a new sofa.  Brilliant book.  Written in 2008.


Grace finished this book that she bought at the Poconoke Discovery Center.  She can't wait to give it to her friend who is an expert of sharks.  It was the first biography that Grace has devoured. I swear there is something to this interest-led learning!


Lilah finished this book..

Lilah began this book...

and begged her father to bring home book 5 so it is ready and waiting for her.  

Questions/Thoughts I have...
Even though this week was certainly not easy, it was a good week.  Not every week can be full of posts and pictures from beautiful locations, filled with smiling children, learning something new remotely.  There is beauty in three people snuggled into couches, tapping out syllables, eager to share our writing with one another. This year I am engaged in the learning process.  I am not the teacher, I am an active participant.  I wrote haiku, I made a bookmark, and I read with my children each night.  I feel very connected to our learning this year.  It feels organic and natural. 

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Life Imitating Art

Ever since our return from the trip of epic proportions, I have felt fall creeping in.  Perhaps it is the way the late afternoon light streams in through my windows casting an orange glow on the bowl full of ripened tomatoes.... Or maybe it is the smoky odor of a neighbor whose fire pit is ablaze.... Whatever it is, it has filled me with a need to begin to prepare to welcome this season into our lives.
I have begun to get a large donation ready for Goodwill.  It is mostly things we have outgrown both figuratively and literally.  Like these rain boots.  The little red apples have not fit on Lilah’s feet for quite some time.  And the polka dots?  A size too small for Grace.  The funky black and white ones...they leak.  It is time to say goodbye to them.
As I was walking by, I noticed the three pairs of boots lined up in the hallway two facing one direction and the littlest pair facing another and was instantly reminded of one of my favorite book covers, Belong to Me and then of Oscar Wilde’s quote "Life imitates Art far more than Art imitates Life". 
So here is my little bit of life imitating art... 

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Washington D.C

What was I thinking scheduling a tag-along business trip immediately following Family Camp????  I am not a super Mama, never proclaimed to be.  But I do love the tag along.  Since Greg was opening a new store at the Pentagon City Mall in Washington, it made sense for him to attend the store set.  Since we were so close we could tag along, get the benefit of a hotel room with a shuttle to the Metro.  

If only we were not so tired....
All we could manage was one day at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History.  I thought this was very fitting.  Due to Hurricane Irene, our public school friends were beginning school this day.  Last year on the first day of school I took the girls to Manhattan to visit New York’s Museum of Natural History.  The girls and I enjoyed this museum more.  In fact, we spent the entire day there.  
We saw a tarantula feeding and spoke to the Entomologist afterword.  He went to school at Cornell and told us about a fabulous Entomology Festival they have every October.  This is just a bit too far for us to attend in one day, but maybe next year....  We saw the Hope Diamond, learned about it’s history, and imagined what we would look like wearing it!  

Of course we poked around the Egyptian Display.  The mummy was fascinating and I loved the canopic jars.  This museum had something for each of us.  For Grace it had gemstone and rocks and minerals.  For Lilah, the entomology department and for me, it had a fantastic bookstore!  The girls did not ask for stuffed animals or jewelry in the gift store.  They wanted books.  How can you say no?  Grace bought a weather 101 textbook which she reads bit by bit every day and Lilah found a fantastic book on Egypt.  They also put some books on their wish did I!

Don't You Just Stay Home All Day?

It’s funny because last night at youth group some of the kids friends were discussing homeschooling and really truly felt that we stay home...