Thursday, January 31, 2013

Jan. 31, 2013 :: Fibonacci love

Growing up, I hated math. Today, I love it. I attribute my struggles to a lack of understanding and the disconnect I felt between math and the real world. I attribute my current love of math to the understanding I have gained as I help my kids learn. More importantly, I attribute my love of math to my attempts at helping them make the connections with life that I never did as a child. I approach the subject as a foreign language where we have to learn the vocabulary and memorize the parts of speech and make the real life connections between familiar and unfamiliar in order to remember.

One of the most beautiful connections, and one of the best shared experiences we have had lately was a study of Fibonacci and the number sequence he discovered and explored. Memorizing a number sequence, a formula for the golden ratio, etc. is brought to light in relation to the bones in our hands, the nautilus shell, the seed head of a sunflower, the mating habits of rabbits. In our dining room, suddenly there appeared spirals and ratios and Fibonacci numbers EVERYWHERE! It was amazing and beautiful.

For those of you who live in Georgetown, the public library offers a Star Kit with books for younger kids.
Books we enjoyed:
Blockhead: the life of Fibonacci
Swirl by Swirl: spirals in nature
Growing Patterns: Fibonacci numbers in nature
The Rabbit Problem

Here are some other resources we found especially helpful.
Numbers of Nature video
Mensa for Kids lesson: Fabulous Fibonacci and His Nifty Numbers

If you subscribe to BrainPop Movies, there is an introductory movie there too.

Wherever you find your resources, I encourage you to take a look at the beauty of math through Fibonacci.


Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Jan. 30, 2013 :: group work

One of the things that will end when we move is my time teaching creative dramatics at Georgetown College. I am not gonna lie. After fourteen or so semesters teaching the same class, I am a little burned out on the content. The creative in me cringes at the thought of repeating the course over and over. I admit, though, that I have never sent the same syllabus to the printers twice. I refine it every semester, adding new projects, omitting things that really haven't worked smoothly or been beneficial.

Though for every time it is a repeat for me, it is the first time for that group of students. They deserve the same vigor from my teaching that the first class received. One of the best ways I have found to keep it fresh is by using group work to generate new opportunities for me, while allowing the students to fully explore the material for the first time. Though the assignments may be nearly the same, the outcomes are always different and I am presented with new questions, new approaches to problems, and new personalities with unique answer to old inquires.

I really have enjoyed the students. I am pleased with the growth I see over the course of every semester. I know that, for some of these students, this is their first step into theatre. I am blessed to practice this art form and privileged to witness the creative exploration of my students. I think this will be one of things I miss very much, after all.


Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Jan. 29, 2013 :: the best thing for being sad is to learn something

“The best thing for being sad," replied Merlin, beginning to puff and blow, "is to learn something. That's the only thing that never fails. You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies, you may lie awake at night listening to the disorder of your veins, you may miss your only love, you may see the world about you devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honour trampled in the sewers of baser minds. There is only one thing for it then — to learn. Learn why the world wags and what wags it. That is the only thing which the mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust, and never dream of regretting. Learning is the only thing for you. Look what a lot of things there are to learn.”
― T.H. White, The Once and Future King

Happy 12th Birthday to Emma! You understand this concept completely. We love you!


Monday, January 28, 2013

Jan. 28, 2013 :: making progress

Yard sale this weekend. Heavy cleaning early next week. Sign in the yard Wednesday.
The picture below is the pile of homeschool materials going into the yard sale. Though I love books, I am a little thankful that the big kids' lessons are online and more self contained now. Too much stuff but...we are making progress.

Moving on, is a simple thing, what it leaves behind is hard. Dave Mustaine


Sunday, January 27, 2013

Jan. 27, 2013:: a break

A nice day, all in all.
:: A discussion in church about freedom. Freedom of the pulpit. Freedom of the pew.
:: An afternoon storytelling workshop, followed by a rehearsal with some talented kids.
:: Dinner with good friends too long absent from our lives.
:: An evening session of sorting, scrubbing, touching up, in preparation for putting the house on the market this week.
:: Taking a break with a bit of Downton Abbey before heading into this week of last minute primping and cleaning.


Friday, January 25, 2013

Jan. 25, 2013::making do

An ice storm, a cancelled play date, an unexpected illness, a flat tire...sometimes plans change, sometimes we just need a break. Today's plans to see an exhibit about dinosaur eggs was put on hold because of the ice storm in eastern Tennessee. Salt trucks sliding off the road mean no go. So, we made do.

A little homemade play dough and an impromptu reading lesson, a teachable moment for states of matter as the temperatures hovered right at 32 degrees, a manicure, a cake going in the oven tonight. An overall lazy day. Those will be few and far between in the coming months. A nice way to spend our last day at Nana and Poppy's.


Thursday, January 24, 2013

Jan. 24, 2013::field trip

Field trip #2 of the week.

Bays Mountain park in Kingsport Tennessee, specifically a trip to the planetarium showing about the Milky Way. A nice addition to our current study of space, made nicer accompanied by Nana and Poppy.

Cold here...but colder at home...and even colder in Kokomo. We are going to have to buy more winter clothes for next year!

One more trip planned for tomorrow if the ice storm coming is a mild one.
Stay warm!


Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Jan. 23, 2013::unsinkable

Today, we travelled to Tennessee to take my mom home after she spent a few days with us. On the way, we stopped at the Titanic Museum in Pigeon Forge. I have resisted for over a year because it is in Pigeon Forge. I love the Smoky Mountains, but I am not fond of the commercialism of the area. I have, though, heard really good reports about this museum, so I ignored the Hatfield and McCoy Dinner Theatre next door and we went. I am so glad we did.

This museum is very hands on, very kid friendly. I think Brice learned as much about the story as anyone else. We all really enjoyed it. There was so much to take in, so much to touch, so much to learn.

Some of our favorite things included:
::Touching a growing iceberg and dipping our hands in 28degree water across the bow.
::A simulation to try to steer the ship away from the iceberg in time
::An exact replica of the grand staircase
::Many well informed docents, in character
::A room full of photographs that had been taken by a passenger
::A simulation of water rushing down the steps and through a locked exit in 3rd class (which sparked a might discussion about human rights)
::So many stories about individual passengers.

One of the most engaging aspects was the boarding pass. Each individual received a boarding pass with a bio of a different passenger, their passage class, why they were traveling on the Titanic, etc. As we moved through the exhibits, we looked for clues about our passengers, their stories, artifacts from their life, whether they perished or survived, and what happened to survivors through the years.

It was well worth the money, the time, and the side trip through Pigeon Forge. Sometimes things are far better than we expect them to be.


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Jan. 22, 2013::learning to read

I can't believe that our youngest is learning to read. Just two years ago, we were considering adopting again. After deciding that our family was complete for now, we have gone about the business of growing up, of moving out of the baby phase. As we sort our belongings to move, I am getting rid of most all of the things from our babyhood. I am giving away clothes, strollers, board books, tiny little shoes. In some ways, it is a relief to know that I can get rid of sippy cups. In other ways, I miss afternoon naps and the sweet smell baby skin.

I can hear Brice in the kitchen as I type. He is pushing a stool over to the pantry to sneak a marshmallow. He will come in here momentarily to show me how self sufficient he is. Yep! Nice work, son. Just grow slowly and well.


Monday, January 21, 2013

Jan. 21, 2013::love

– for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well.

From the inaugural address of President Barack Obama
January 21, 2013


Saturday, January 19, 2013

Jan. 19, 2013::my dear

Home is really about the ones you love...

Meet my dear husband, Todd. Dedicated and hard working...he is passionate about his kids, his sports teams, his work, and me. He doesn't mind pushing people's buttons if it means doing the right thing, and if there is anything I am sure of about him it is that he will always do what he thinks is the right thing. His one of my many blessings and he makes our house a home.


Friday, January 18, 2013

Jan. 18, 2013::pie

Well...I didn't find an obvious hippie hangout today. There are a few places I have in mind to check on the next trip, or when we move...Unitarian Church, health food store, yoga studios. I'll find my niche, or I'll make my niche.

Last time we came, I felt that we didn't find the "heart" of Kokomo. Its downtown is not the same as Georgetown. As a very wise friend (Tim Stewart) told me, "There's no place like Georgetown." He's right. We tried looking at houses within walking distance of downtown Kokomo. Some houses have potential, but it just isn't Georgetown. I think we were both trying to find that here. But, this is Kokomo. We need to look for our spot here, not try to replicate our little piece of heaven in Georgetown.

So we've moved our search outward, to a few neighborhoods or houses with a little land. Today, I drove about 8 miles out of town to see a neighborhood. The drive out was beautiful, unlike any We've had in our previous homes. Corn fields, lovely little white farm houses and barns. It really made me feel excited about moving to Indiana. I think that is our key...finding our Indiana, our Kokomo.

We DID make two fun discoveries...
Mom's Pie Shop and their Indiana Sugar Cream Pie. Tastes like a huge creme brûlée.
Jay's Authentic Thai and their yellow curry and spicy fried rice...delicious.
We always get excited about food.


Thursday, January 17, 2013

Jan. 17, 2013::visiting our new home

Todd and I are on the road,tonight, to Kokomo. He has meetings all day tomorrow at IUK and I am on a mission to find the hippy side of the city. No organic bananas in the grocery store where we stopped for a snack before turning in...they did have electronic deterrents attached to the top of all the liquor bottles though...could be a treasure hunt for me and my crunchy, Earth Mother ways. We laughed, tonight, about being alone for the weekend and the craziest thing we can think to do is buy a can of mixed nuts (our daughter is allergic, so we never get nuts) and non-organic honey crisp apples. Wild times ahead!


Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Jan. 16, 2013::icy morning

This morning, while my kids were snug in bed, the trees were gleaming with ice and the public school kids were waiting with bleary eyes to hear whether they had school.

They did.

I know there were many disappointed kids and teachers this morning.

It was beautiful.

I love an ice storm, especially one that is minor and doesn't cause power outages or contribute to car accidents. Of course, since we began homeschooling, just about any weather is OK. We are usually flexible enough to stay home if needed, and able to head out to the world at the spur of the moment on a beautiful day.

I like that.

The kids really would like to have a snow day every now and then, but in early May when public school students and teachers are paying the piper for snow days, we are free.

I like that too, and so do the kids.

Besides, who said a nice romp in the snow isn't PE?


Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Jan. 15, 2013::this dog will be...

“A dog reflects the family life. Whoever saw a frisky dog in a gloomy family, or a sad dog in a happy one? Snarling people have snarling dogs, dangerous people have dangerous ones.”
― Arthur Conan Doyle, The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes

Wonder what the dog of this wild, loud, jumping bean will turn out to be?

Monday, January 14, 2013

Jan. 14, 2013::Books


Our home is full of books. They are mostly mine, even the children's book lining the shelves. Research says a house full of books produces a house full of readers. A house full of technology produces a house full of no readers. Our home is full of both and technology is winning for some of us. It makes me sad. It makes me mad. It makes me wish we could spend a summer without technology, just to see what would come of our reading habits. Of course, the techno-minded folks in the family might argue that I need a summer without books.


Sunday, January 13, 2013

Jan. 13, 2013::Yard Sale Pile

Oh, if moving were easy...if it were just putting it all in boxes and loading it onto a truck.

We are in the midst of sorting through every item in our home, evaluating its usefulness or sentimental value. I am trying to be ruthless. We have a lot of stuff that is neither valuable, useful, or sentimental. We have a lot of stuff that we have just outgrown. We would rather not load that stuff on to the truck.

So, we prep for a yard sale. Yippee! In January!! Even better!
If you see anything in this pile that you want, let me know.


Saturday, January 12, 2013

Jan. 12, 2013::What we know

This is what we know about our new home...

We are moving to Kokomo, Indiana. That is all we know, this and the reason we are moving. Todd will be working at Indiana University at Kokomo. This picture...this small glimpse of the University...this represents about as much as we know about our new life...our new home.

It is exciting and frustrating all at once. I am a planner, so it is difficult to wait. It is hard to sit patiently and know that it will all begin moving along at a pace that makes my head spin. It will all begin and I won't be ready. Patience.

This week, I need to sort through the homeschool classroom. This weekend, I need to review plans for school next week. Today, I need to get a haircut. This moment, I need to sit in the quiet of my sleeping house, sip my coffee, a just be. Patience.


Friday, January 11, 2013

Jan. 11, 2013::Late Holiday Get-Together

Home is anywhere with loved ones...

Ours is not a traditional family. We are not joined by generations of genealogy. Are joined by love. We are so blessed to count our children's birth families as our own. We are blessed to call friends Aunt and Uncle. We are blessed to call Aunts and Uncles friends.

Tonight we celebrated a late holiday get-together with some of that chosen family. Though we missed them around the holidays, it was lovely to have this evening to just focus on our time together, without other holiday obligations looming.

Special time In their warm, inviting home...

P.S. thought I would share the recipe for this Cinnamon Roll Cake I took tonight. It was yummy...and easy...and yummy! ( forgive my clunky use of the URL, trying to figure out how to insert seamlessly on this new iPad app)


Thursday, January 10, 2013

Jan. 10, 2013::Our Georgetown

Our Georgetown...our hometown...or at least the kids' hometown. We've been here nearly a decade. Embree was four and Reeves was 10 months when we made this our home. Brice has never know another place.

Now, we have plans to leave this lovely of the reasons I chose HOME as our word of intention for the coming year. Our home will be in upheaval. As I write, we have no definitive dates for relocation, except Todd's start date in March. The kids and I are in limbo...obligations to tie up, a house to sell, a house to buy, a house to real-time date to mark on the calendar...just "late spring."

This year, more than any other I, thus we, really need to focus on HOME and the things that make HOME no matter where we are, where we live, or things we possess.

We finally told young Brice, last night, that we were moving to a new house in a new town. After naming all of his favorite things to make sure we were taking them, he cried awhile, then calmed down with the proclamation that when the people who move in this house move on, we can always come back. It breaks my heart that he has to learn so young the old cliche, you can't go home again, but he is young. In a year, he will love his new home and have friends at the new park. He will keep these memories in his heart and move on.

We will all hold Our Georgetown in our hearts as we move on.


Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Jan. 9, 2013::My Dear Daughter

Home is really about the ones you love...

Meet my dear daughter, Embree. Compassionate and analytical...she is a level-headed drama princess who embodies the juxtaposition with considerable grace. She works hard to never push our buttons, but when she does, she does it with gusto and resolve, just like a strong woman should. She is one of my many blessings and she makes our house a home.


Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Jan. 8, 2013::Game Night

One of our great joys as parents is that our kids all still enjoy game night at home. Of late, we are all learning Blackjack. If nothing else, we all know our addition facts to 21!!


Monday, January 7, 2013

Jan. 7, 2013::My Dear Son, pt. 2

Home is really about the ones you love...

Meet my dear boy, Brice. Swift moving and inquisitive...he is a dinosaur lovin', top of his lungs living boy who forgets nothing and no one. He pushes his own buttons, thank you very much, but never fails to find me for a hug each morning and to say, "I love you." He is one of my many blessings and he makes our house a home.


Sunday, January 6, 2013

Jan. 6, 2013::My Dear Son, pt. 1

Home is really about the ones you love...

Meet my dear boy, Reeves. Kind hearted and soft spoken...he is a deep thinker who asks lots of questions and wears his heart on his sleeve. He knows how to push my buttons, but is just as talented at making things right. He is one of my many blessings and he makes our house a home.


Saturday, January 5, 2013

Jan. 5, 2013::The Purge

"I am impressed by the reluctance of one's worldly goods to go out again into the world."
E.B. White

It is so easy to let those worldly goods into the home. They have a beguiling power over most of us in this family. Books, games, dinosaurs, plastic bottles, small kitchen appliances, T-shirts from random events, shoes, etc. More is better right? The more we have, the easier life will be right?

But, White was correct. These worldly goods are readily admitted, but often outstay their welcome. At some point, they have to be ruthlessly released back into the world. We are at that point.

There are piles for a yard sale, piles for Half Price Books, piles for Goodwill, piles for recycling, and piles for the landfill. Today was free day at the dump, so away some of it went. It doesn't feel like losing possessions. It feels easy, and light. It feels like we wasted so much money on junk, and effort on keeping it in control.

First floor complete this week. Second floor, twice as much there, next week.
Be free.


Friday, January 4, 2013

Jan.4, 2013::Our Chalice

As Unitarian Universalists, we have adopted the practice of lighting a candle, or chalice, whenever we gather at our family table. Brice even has his own little, safe, chalice. It helps us focus into that short bit of time when we are all together and reminds us that the way we live our life matters. This practice is an important and much anticipated part of our day. (Yes, there is a dinosaur in the background. Wouldn't there be?)

We light our flaming chalice
To illuminate the world we seek.
In the search for truth, may we be just;
In the search for justice, may we be loving;
And, in loving, may we find peace

Isn't it ALL about LOVE, after all?

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Jan. 3, 2013::Homeschool

Today, and I am sure many days in the coming year, we celebrate homeschooling. It is because of our choice to homeschool that our physical home is used all day, every day. It makes it hard to keep straight. We use the space, really use it, and that means scuffs on the wall, projects on the dining room table, unmade beds used for afternoon reading, and puppies on our laps and at our feet during math. It's an active place where we live and learn. It's the place we make Rice Krispy trains before breakfast and listen to recordings of Shakespeare during lunch. Our home offers us the warm, constant to return to after a cold hike, a long day of museum visits, or an evening on the stage. We are thankful for this sanctuary.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Jan.1, 2013::Welcome Home

I don't make resolutions. I do set intentions to guide me, but resolutions are too restrictive. They are too detailed. I am a tree hugger, but see the forest before noticing the individual trees, and it takes me a good long while to get to the bark, the acorns, and the tiny little ants making their home near the roots. So, intentions work, but resolutions ...nah.

This year, my intentions are centered on the well being of our family, specifically on creating, recreating, and improving upon the things that make our home a place that nurtures our family.

Those things?

-Spiritual practice that allows us to explore our beliefs, discuss them openly, and each make our own decisions about truth. In that practice, we will spend more time focused on and exploring our questions through practice.

-A practice of paring down our material goods in hopes of spending less time worried about the physical state of our home, and more time on the emotional atmosphere.

-A practice of using some significant chunk of our learning time each week on self-directed projects...checking off fewer meaningless ticks and delving deeper in learning how to learn.

-A refocusing on all of us taking ownership in all of these practices.

To aid us in maintaining our focus through what will likely prove to be a crazy year, we are starting today with a photo-a-day project...HOME...our guiding word, our guiding intention for 2013. Each day, we will take and post a photo that represents home to us. It might relate to one of our goals. It might be an image of our physical dwelling. It might be a captured moment of us or those we love....after all, aren't those special beings in our live the real, most important and valuable components of home?