Thursday, July 30, 2015

Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award

So I was nominated for this blogger award by MamaLand’s daughter M!  She and my Lilah are penpals, Instagram buddies, texting partners, and lovers of all things natural.  I wish our families were not directly across the country from one another, but I do love that they have struck up a friendship despite this.  

Would You Rather live in an urban, rural, or suburban area?
This is tricky because when I am in a rural area like Tennessee I don’t want to come home and I think life would be really nice on a farm with horses and fresh eggs and rolling hills to gaze at while I drink my coffee on my front porch swing.  But then I realize I would be the one shoveling the horse manure, dealing with chickens lost to predators, and worrying about fresh water and feed during snow storms or heat waves.  I would not be good at this, so I support my local farms as much as I can.  

I know I cannot live in a truly urban area like New York City.  My husband, my mother and my brother all work in this city and while it has so much to offer, it also has dirt, grime, germs, noise and light pollution.  Its a nice place to visit, but I would never want to stay.

My dream is to have a winter home somewhere in Florida very close to the beach.  My dream, dream is to have a home on Sanibel Island, a small condo, with a lanai.  We would keep our Connecticut home to return home to in the blazing heat of summertime and escape to warmer breezes right after the first frost!

Favorite Animal to see at the zoo?
Generally I don’t like zoos.  I hate to see animals in captivity.  It breaks my heart to see the polar bear at the Central Park Zoo swim repetitively back and forth, back and forth.  I do support the zoos that focus on rehabilitation and release, like the Mystic Aquarium and it is impossible not to smile at a seal or sea lion when they pop up out of the water and smile at you.

Least Favorite Movie?
I was very disappointed with the summer release Max.  Usually I do my research on movies since I have one child who is hyper sensitive to violence.  I trusted the trailer and thought this was a happy story about a family dog.  I had no idea it focused on good Marine vs. bad Marine, gangs, bootleg video sales, arms trading, dog fighting, death.  Needless to say, it was not a favorite and I wish we skipped it.

 Favorite TV show?
I am watching Heartland with the girls and I love it as much as they do but my guilty pleasure right now is Hart of Dixie.  I just love it.  

Favorite Novel?
This is almost impossible to answer.  I have read so many books and I am not a huge re-reader.  Anything by Edwidge Danticat or Charles Dickens, and currently I am hanging onto every word of The Help, our current audiobook.  I love old Jane Green and old Jodi Picoult.  I love most of the books Target recommends and I am waiting for them to replenish their shelves since I have read most of their recommended reads.

Favorite Series?
Trixie Belden, the series that made me a reader

What's Your Style?
I am still figuring this out.  I love looking at catalogs and picking out outfits that I like.   My favorite catalog is Sundance and I would love to own everything in it.  However, my priority is horseback riding lessons, piano lessons, home renovations, not my closet.  My go to outfit in the winter is cowboy boots, Express  jeans, and a Henri Bendel cashmere sweater (which my husband fortunately gets at a discount).  In the summer it is a jersey skirt or linen pants and a white tee.  Simple.  Easy.  

What Camera Do You Use?
My iPhone 6 for day to day shots and my Canon T2i Rebel for those special trips and occasions.  I wish Apple would upgrade their camera to compete with Samsung and LG.  I dream of 16 mega pixels rather than 8 and if this change does not happen before my next upgrade, I am not sure if I will stick with Apple.  I love the features of syncing phones and my iCalendar and I love the ease of uploading photos to my Mac but it is just as easy to email the photos I want to save on my computer and skip the whole download process.

Favorite Month? 
October.  I love crisp leaves covering the ground, the smell of fall in the air, apple pie, harvest fairs, pumpkin pie, and the anticipation of the upcoming holidays.

Thanks so much for nominating me M! 

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Prospect Lake

Some days are so perfect that all you can really do it sit back and revel in the wonderfulness.  We needed a day like this.  Our summer looks fun in pictures but behind the scenes there is stress from construction, and many days have been spent at home dealing with no show subcontractors, a puppy who is frustrated being on leash in his own house, and being together 24/7 due to my reluctance with leaving the girls in the house while men are working.  

When we were invited to join friends at their lake side cabin they rented for the week we were touched that they would share a bit of their family vacation with us.  Grateful does not begin to explain how we felt at the end of this day.  Grateful for friends, for the opportunity to do things we rarely get to do, like paddle boarding, grateful for lunch over the campfire and favorite desserts, for conversation and laughter and smiles that come easily and last a long time.  For memories made that will come home with us and live on until the next time we are able to share a day together.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Peacocks and Prayer

Our third workshop at church was wonderful.  We created cards for the homebound parishioners.  The deacon at our church delivered them during his weekly visits.  I actually used the card story from Tiger Mom to explain that you need to do quality work and put forth effort to show that you care.  It is not enough to just draw a simple two line cross on a card and have the recipient feel that you cared.  This workshop was not about quantity.  I did not care how many cards we created.  I cared that the cards were beautiful and well made.  There is something magical about children’s artwork.  My favorite card was made by a 6 year old. 

We used my favorite tutorial site, to learn how to draw a peacock.  We talked, drew, prayed, colored, prayed some more and 90 minutes later we had cards to give to Deacon Joe.  

* there is no update for week #4 - no children attended the workshop.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Figuring It Out

When I was a teen I thought I would be a buyer for Bloomingdales and travel to Italy for the Fashion Week shows buying clothes with other people’s money.  I did not have a clue what to do to meet this goal, except learn Italian.  So I took two years of Italian in college and realized that my brain does not process a foreign language with ease.  My professor chuckled when I replied to a very basic question mostly in Spanish with some Italian thrown in for good measure.  The anxiety of speaking got the better of me and I skipped my oral final relying on my book work to carry me through.  Needless to say, I am not fluent in Italian and by senior year I really wanted to work in a non-profit doing good in the world but could not find a job despite sending out resume and cover letter after resume and cover letter.  I took the first job I was offered through a temp agency which gave me money to buy a car and then found a job I really did enjoy at an international relocation company where I stayed until I figured out the boss was a jerk and moved on.  Eventually I switched careers, became a teacher, taught for 5 years before leaving to stay home with the girls.  Now I am no longer a certified teacher, but teach my own daughters and volunteer at church heading the religious education program.  

My point?  How do we know when we have it all figured out?  Why do we expect kids in high school to declare college majors and fill an academic resume with laser precision on a career they are years away from attaining?  I get the concept of well roundedness and I get the validity of focusing in on specific areas.  My girls have interest and talents and I often wonder which one they will decide to specialize in.

For example Lilah has always wanted to own a bakery.  We see cute cupcake food trucks and she wishes for one.  She baked yummy treats but does not want to take outside classes in cake decorating and baking.  She wants to be a self-made baker.  I disagree with this route, but she is not yet 13, so I don’t push.  She is a crafter and artist and make some money from her Etsy shop, she opened when she was 11.  She did very well at a craft fair and thought she might pursue this when she is older too.  Right now she is very into photography and she has an eye for it.  She was the family photographer at my Aunt’s annual pool party/family reunion.  She takes time to capture just the right shot and spends hours and hours on the computer editing and bringing the photo to life.  

My hope is to do more with photography since this is something that Grace, Lilah and I all share an interest in.  We are fortunate to have a great camera shop near us that offers reasonably priced classes in all areas of photography.  I’m looking forward to seeing what family moments they capture this year.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Book Club: Witch of Blackbird Pond

It is challenging to organize and host a monthly teen book club.  The girls don’t want to work off of an assigned book list and their genre preference is so strong that choosing their own book can be frustrating.  This month I suggested that they pick from the Newbury Award winners and they choose Witch of Blackbird Pond which thrilled me because I have wanted to do the walking tour of Old Wethersfield forever!  Visiting the place where a book it set brings the book to life better than a movie, or a unit study, or a discussion.  

Old Wethersfield is a day trip for us, and the old section of town is so small that we spent a few hours wandering and made it home in time to enjoy the afternoon.  Friends came with us which is always a nice change of pace for us.  Most of the time we wander and discover by ourselves, sometimes taking Greg along for the journey.

The setting of Hannah Tupper’s thatched home is now a business park so we wandered down the road a bit to meadows and we discovered huge willow trees in the distance.  Sadly these trees were on private property but we were able to imagine Kit and Prudence sitting under a tree in this idyllic setting.  It is not a very long walk or jog from the Main Street, yet I can see where Kit would feel she has escaped the work and drudgery of her new life in Connecticut in these meadows.

Cove Park is where we imagined the Dolphin docking and Kit walking the short distance to her Uncle’s house being trailed by men with her seven trunks.

The First Church of Christ served as the meeting house.  Behind the church is an old graveyard, and I mean old!  Many grave site date back to the 1600s, which in comparison to Europe and Asia is not old at all, but it is still a thrill to touch something that others have touched 400 years ago and walk on the same space walked on by George Washington, John Adams and Rev. Gersham Bulkeley, whose grave marker is up a bit on the hill.  

The very best part of our day was when we peeked inside the church.  Services had ended and people were milling about so I felt it appropriate to inquire if we could view the church.  This is something I do often - step outside of my shyness and ask to do and see things that relate to our learning.  If I had not asked, we would not have been granted a personal tour.  This tour led to us meeting the musical director of the church, which led to Grace and Lilah having the opportunity to play on the pipe organ and fill the church with their beautiful music.  This was a moment I will never forget.  This is one of our top homeschooling moments.  This brought the book to life in a way that watching a movie or having a discussion simply cannot.  

It was a very good, positively perfect, kind of day.

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...