Saturday, March 30, 2013

Mar. 30, 2013 :: tempting

Call me crazy. I am so tempted to buy a 100 year old farmhouse on a few acres with a small barn...dump all of our piles of belongings, grow sunflowers, and raise chickens for eggs and bees for honey. Sounds like heaven to me.


Friday, March 29, 2013

Mar. 29, 2013 :: tradition

Wishing you as many blessings as there are colored eggs.


Thursday, March 28, 2013

Mar. 28, 2013 :: the best gift

Last night, as I was tucking this boy into bed, he said, "This (Titanic) is the best gift ever and you are the best mom ever. "

Now that may be one of my best gifts ever.


Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Mar. 27, 2013 :: 6

All the world is birthday cake, so take a piece, but not too much.

George Harrison

We ate cake three times today on this happiest of birthdays to our six year old sweetie. Cake and ships and FaceTime with Daddy made for a fun day and a tired boy.

Happy Birthday, dear Brice.


Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Mar. 26, 2013 :: my sweet

This is my sweet boy. The one who hates having his picture made and who almost never smiles when he does allow it. This is my sweet one, who was so at home among the plants in the conservatory...who visibly relaxed, and enjoyed the day, and smiled that sweet, small smile.

Namaste, my dear one.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Mar. 25, 2013 :: the great snow storm

The great snow storm of March 24 and 25, 2013...results in our current and near future hometowns. Oh Boy!


Sunday, March 24, 2013

Mar. 24, 2013 :: ready for the snow day

One last (we hope) snow storm before the warm weather is here to stay. 1-3 inches of heavy wet snow expected tonight, with a little more tomorrow. Maybe a snow day for the public school kids tomorrow. We will hunker down here and get on with our count down to summer vacation.

Central Indiana in for a larger storm, so Todd headed back last night. We were all sorry he he to cut short his first weekend visit home. Maybe this will be the last weekend we have to worry about the weather.

We are our bread and a nice warm fort built in the dining room. If you are in the storm's path, stay warm.


Saturday, March 23, 2013

Mar. 23, 2013 :: the parenting gig is challenging

Most of us have at least heard about the rape case in Stubenville. I have been thinking and reading a great deal about how to talk to my kids about issues surrounding this to protect themselves, how to speak up when they know something isn't right, how to know the difference between consent and everything else.

Learning to be safe and stand up for themselves and others can be awkward and scary. It sometimes means betraying those we thought we could trust. It means second guessing friendships sometimes. It means learning to commit and trust others in a world where not everyone deserves that gift. It also means being smart while still able to open ourselves to others.

In the case of sex, it is so important to me to help our kids understand the notion of consent. I read an article recently in which a teacher was talking with her students about Stubenville. Many students thought that there was some grey area because the young woman had not said no...meaning absence of a no meant yes. Her point to them was...absence of a yes means no. Until there is a yes, it is always no.

I think that until we help our kids understand that point, we are all in danger of raising kids who feel that consent is ambiguous. It starts, in my opinion, with my answer to small requests.

Can I have a Popsicle for breakfast?
Yes, means yes.
No, means maybe, especially if they ask thirty more times and I finally give in to get them to stop asking.
No, also means yes when I say no, walk away, and let them get away with taking it anyway when I leave the kitchen.

It is my responsibility to help my children understand that no closes a door.
No stops negotiation.
No means consequences if they do it anyway.

Last week, Brice asked me for a treat. He had already had one that day, so I said no. A few minutes later, he found me and said he had had another treat anyway. He said that he had just pretended I said yes and told his sister I had said yes. Sounds pretty cute and innocent for a five year old, right? The bad part is, I was busy with a project and let him get away with it. What if he was sixteen and it was sex instead of a piece of candy? None of us can pretend the other person says yes and get away with it.

So my plan is two fold.
1) stand by my NO.
2) think about every request and say no less frequently...make the NO count.

Maybe if I can help them understand consent in easy, harmless situations that involve more computer time or candy or eating more vegetables, they will be able to HEAR the NO as a NO from others later when it really could be life changing.

Here's hoping...

Friday, March 22, 2013

Mar. 22, 2013 :: single-minded

And we are STILL on the Titanic here in our little school. Yesterday, Brice found a documentary he hadn't seen Spanish...and watched the whole thing. Today, we watched a video with instructions for building a Lego Titanic...and spent hours scrolling back and forth until it was complete. Another cardboard one is on his mind next. Whew!

I can't wait to see how he uses this single-mindedness to change the world.


Thursday, March 21, 2013

Mar. 21, 2013 :: spring in the conservatory

We have been so wrapped up in botany this week. It seems we all are gathering exciting energy from the promise of growth and beauty.

A trip to the Krohn Conservatory in Cincinnati to see the Enchanted Forest exhibit was a most lovely and refreshing way to spend this snowy spring day.

Lots of pictures...color, scent, texture, and fairy houses. Ahhh, it was gorgeous.


Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Mar. 19, 2013 :: spring in the greenhouse

Though tomorrow is the first day of spring, the vernal equinox, and there are beginning to be signs of life, our family is in need of some green. We spent Embree's birthday at Wilson's Nurseries, in Frankfort, building a terrarium, her gift from Nana and Poppy.

What a gift to us all. The smell of dirt, and crabapple blossoms. Making plans for our gardens in Indiana and pretending, if just for a bit, that spring had made it to the Bluegrass.

If it can't be quite spring in our back yard, at least it is in the greenhouse. Thankful for small blessings.


Monday, March 18, 2013

Mar. 18, 2013 :: 14

If I were to give you a birthday cake,
it would be as big as a trampoline
and as long as a queen's dining table.
I'd have so much to write that it could never fit in.


Happy 14th Birthday with much love and admiration.
Namaste, sweet girl

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Mar. 17, 2013 :: st. patty's day brunch

This morning was bittersweet.

St. Patrick's Day has always been one of our favorite holidays. Today's celebration was more than the usual celebration of everything Irish. Todd left, today, for Kokomo. Embree's fourteenth birthday, tomorrow, is his first day at IUK.

So, today's brunch was a celebration of beginnings and endings...and a new recipe for chocolate gravy.


Friday, March 15, 2013

Mar. 15, 2013 :: the day has arrived

The day is here. Today is Todd's last day at Georgetown College.

It has been almost ten years since we arrived. Reeves took his first steps across the kitchen counter as the movers were unloading the truck at our first Georgetown house. We welcomed Brice into the family here and he helped us make our second house a home. Embree found acting, and guitar, and voice here. I found a calling with children here. We all found friendship, challenges, fun, tears, love, and life in Georgetown.

For the next 60 or so hours, Todd will be unemployed, unencumbered by professional responsibility, assured of no calls from work for the weekend. On Monday, his new adventure begins. He will never again live and work here full-time. His view of work and home will shift. So, it begins; really begins.

Our mantra for the next phase of this crazy backroad...grace and gusto. We will need both in the next few months. Grace and Gusto, indeed.


Thursday, March 14, 2013

Mar. 14, 2013 :: a gift

A gift from a talented friend...a treasure for my girl and me.


Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Mar. 13, 2013 :: awesome

You're the best mom ever!
Wow! When you finish that I will be impressed.
Thanks, Mom! You put the damage in just for me.
How did you get so good at it. I can not believe it.
This is awesome when you built this thing.
It's so cool.
I love you, Mom.

Fifteen minutes of card stock, tape, and scissors earned me his highest praise and a reenactment of the run in with iceberg. Now, we are awaiting the return of the rest of the family to witness the sinking of our creation.

Some days, being a homeschooling mom is AWESOME!


Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Mar. 12, 2013 :: do-over

I am a director. I trained for it. I learned to direct on stage and in the classroom. I can usually get the results I desire because I can visualize the final product.

As I have written before, I am trying to stop directing so much in our homeschool so that there is room for more relevant, self-directed learning. One of the many resources am use for inspiration is the Facebook page for Free Range Learning. Today, I happened upon a YouTube video of H. Stephen Glenn's presentation, Teaching Responsibility - The Barrier of Direction. I am unfamiliar with his body of work and have no idea if his overall philosophy aligns with my own, but this video stopped me in my tracks.

One of my constant laments is that I have to ask everyone to pitch in around the house, when I feel it should be a combined effort by all who are part of the family. I often wonder why no one will even do their regular chores without being told to do so. The answer is in the question. They are waiting until I tell them to do so. Even the dogs, when let out in the mornings, won't leave the porch to do their business until they turn to look at me and I say, "Go!" Holy Moly! What have I done? I have become so good at directing that they don't need to remember anything.

It is something to think about...and I WILL be thinking hard.

I can say that we are lucky. With this move will come the opportunity to reshape our family life. New home. New town. New and different obligations for both Todd and myself. We sort of get a do-over. I will be putting a concerted effort into planning my own do-over in this regard.

Tomorrow, I will think about the other video I watched today...the barrier of assumptions. Bet I need a do-over there too.

For good measure and a little humor, I offer a photo of Bricito Vampirito, wearing his prize from the dentist after a super good check-up today.


Monday, March 11, 2013

Mar. 11, 2013 :: spring

It isn't officially spring, but there are enough signs that we almost are able to hold the promise of it in our fingertips.
:: daylight savings time
:: drenching rains
:: cheerful primroses
:: lilac buds, greening from yesterday's sunshine
It's coming.


Sunday, March 10, 2013

Mar. 10, 2013 :: night owl

I have two children who have a difficult time letting go of the day. They both are happiest when they wake in the late morning and sleep after midnight. When they are awake, they are at full steam. I am the same way naturally, only I have to be awake early for my middle boy who is early to bed,early to rise...and because it is the adult thing to do, right? All these individuals allowed to be themselves around here sure can make a mama tired. Sometimes I just can't hold out as long as my five year old. Tonight, is one of those nights. Monday morning and time change in the mix, too...yawn. Goodnight, sweet prince.


Saturday, March 9, 2013

Mar. 9, 2013 :: flea off market

As Todd soon will be commenting in weekends for an undetermined amount of time, we decided to set aside today as a family outing day. We began our day at one of my favorite events, the monthly Flea Off Market (known in our house as the Hippie Flea or the Huffington Post Flea as opposed to the Fox News Flea). Food trucks with yummy fish tacos, brick oven pizza, and flea tea ( tea with vodka). Ballon artists, dj's spinning tunes, terrariums, old junk, new crafts, vintage clothes, and lots of hippies and their dogs. Embree and I love coming. This was the first visit for the boys. It was fun for us all.

Afterward, Todd needed pair of work shoes, so we threw off all the good vibes of the Flea Off Market and headed to the St. Matthews Mall. Fun is not the word for that stop. It's a perfectly nice mall, as malls go, but they are just such a shrine to consumerism. Creepy. Such a leap on the spectrum from the morning's atmosphere.

Tonight, we will enjoy a family dinner with all the kids taking part in the K-1 Our Whole Lives class at the UU church.

No chores today (except planting a few pansies). No cleaning, no sorting, no packing. A day of rest, much needed by all of us.


Friday, March 8, 2013

Mar. 8, 2013 :: his heart

Beyond first impressions...beyond the goofiness of early adolescence...beyond big talk of blowing stuff up in video games and a big show of being tough...I know his heart. I know his need for peace, and peace of mind. I see his gentleness, and his compassion in his heart.


Thursday, March 7, 2013

Mar. 7, 2013 :: oh my darlin'

Once upon a time she was little. She was shorter than me. She was always by my side.
She is now almost grown and can reach things for me on the top cabinet shelf.
But...she still finds me every morning as soon as she wakes up...and sometimes still sits on my lap. I'll take that.

Oh my darlin'
Keep your head up, keep your heart strong.
Keep your mind set, keep your hair long.



Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Mar. 6, 2013 :: laundry

Seven loads of laundry today. Maybe the realtor can photograph the laundry room now...but only until seems to grow overnight.


Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Mar. 5, 2013 :: challenges

I am trying to help my older kids find a way to enjoy learning, heaven knows that is my daily intention. I am trying, as I have written before, to move away from a programmed curriculum into a more relaxed, interest-led atmosphere. We've been at this so long now, finishing up our sixth year, that I find I am whacking my head against a brick wall everyday when the kids complain. The transition to child-led does not yet translate to learning something new or joy in the discovery. It still, often, translates to STUCK, to I AM BORED, to ARE WE DONE YET?

Maybe I am not patient enough. Maybe I am still to "schoolish." Maybe they aren't me.

I am the best learner I know. I don't say that to brag. I say it because I know that is my strength. When I want to learn something, I do. I learn it broadly and deeply, and practice it as fully as I can before making conclusions and making it my own. No one really taught me to do that, though my parents gave me great latitude to explore my interests as a child.

Maybe I expect something from my children that isn't normal. I want them to have the same thirst for learning that I do. I want them to feel that joy of discovery. Maybe I struggle because I don't see it regularly in any part of their lives right now. They, after all, are in the same holding pattern Todd and I are in with the move. Embree is showing interest in acting, and doing well preparing for rehearsals on her own steam. Reeves asks lots of questions and shows signs of curiosity, but isn't motivated to find the answers for himself most days. Maybe I am looking for their spark in the places I would look for my own. Maybe.

Then there is Brice. He is much like me in that he dives deeply into topics that interest him and he is completely consumed by them until they are fully explored. Sometimes he doesn't move on quickly enough for outside observers who aren't as interested and whose curiosity about the topic is answered rapidly. He does move on, though, and when he does it is with a depth of knowledge that answers all of his questions. He has the intuition and drive to learn what he wants and needs to learn. He is a natural.

So, I guess my challenges are numerous
1) do not project my own zealous need for constant learning on any of the kids, even the one most like me.

2) accept the strides of the kids toward finding and using knowledge on their own, no matter how great or small.

3) keep learning, myself, so that I can be challenged, and so that I can maybe lead by example instead of by direction.

4) be patient and listen. Hear and respond to their clues by supplying resources for exploring their interests. Be patient even when I go to lots of trouble to find those resources and interest wanes quickly.

5) keep buying little notebooks for Brice to fill up with ideas and info and drawings.

6) be willing to accept the challenges of children with far different interests than my for chickens if I have to...learn to play yet another model of a T-Rex, or steam engine, or sinking ship.

7) keep my eye on the prize...strong, healthy, happy adults who can find the information they need to lead self-sufficient, productive lives.


Monday, March 4, 2013

Mar. 4, 2013 :: tidying up

We finally, for the first time in years, have our house in such a a tidy state, that a quick pass through is all it takes to have it company ready. It takes an hourly kitchen wipe down and several rounds a day to gather Legos, but in general it is nice and tidy.

In light of our constant need to be ready to show the house, I am relieved. Cleaning, sorting, removing, and reorganizing has rewarded us with a little piece of mind in this uncertain time.


Don't get me wrong, I have recently begun to find great value in smaller spaces and less stuff. Less space to clean and collect stuff, less stuff to keep under control...all equal more time for rest, fun, learning, friends. Yet, today in this constant state of ready-to-show, I miss the art projects in progress on the classroom tables. I miss the science projects percolating on the kitchen counter. I miss the lengthy chopping sessions for meals that leave the kitchen floors looking like a compost heap.

When we finally move, I am committed to trying to pair down to limit time on the house and give us more time together, and I am committed to using some of that time to make a little mess.


Sunday, March 3, 2013

Mar. 3, 2013 :: connections

The big kids have been working on a Latin curriculum. Reeves completed a year of instruction, Embree a year and a half. The reason we began with Latin instead of Spanish, or French, or Swahili, is because Latin is the mother language of so many other languages. While it is not directly related to English, our language is such a conglomerate of languages, that Latin roots are common.

I am pleased that after completing this study, both of the big kids and I are quite attuned to words that derive from Latin. Embree and I recently looked at a quick intro to both Spanish and French as we decide which language(s) she will study in high school. She recognized so many words in both, she feels confident that she can handle either quite well. She hasn't looked at Italian or Portuguese, but I have a feeling these hold similar promise, based on their Latin ancestry.

Now, I in no way feel that Romance languages are the only way to go. If the kids wish to study German, Russian, Japanese, or Sanskrit, I'm happy with that. I encourage that. The study of Latin, and Greek, offer more than an open door to other languages.

Our time on Latin proved valuable in a recent study of Taxonomy and Classification. Canus lupus was no mystery to kids who knew the Latin for wolf. A look up into the night sky and Ursa Major, or a drive past the local Equus Run vineyard, conjure visions bears and horses. Bits and pieces of unfamiliar words now stand out as hints to meaning. The connections made across the curriculum, and in all of our lives, have been profound.

Next year, Embree will begin to study her chosen language or languages. In the meantime, and for the middle school years for Reeves, we will continue to work on making these connections by working on Latin and Greek roots.

I think connections are the key to us finding meaning in our whole lives. Now, if some of us could find just the right ways see these connections for math...but that's a whole other post.


Saturday, March 2, 2013

Mar. 2, 2013 :: first lost tooth

Brice lost his first tooth today. It's sweet and, yet, it marks a passage of childhood that sort of came as a surprise to me. Is he really old enough to be losing teeth?

Brice may be the first of our children to actually profit from the tooth fairy.

Embree put her first tooth under her pillow, but left a note and the money under h pillow the following night, asking for the return of her tooth. Of course, the tooth fairy obliged, and left the money, too. Embree never did leave another tooth under her pillow.

Reeves never was willing to part with his teeth, not a single one. Once he was old enough to understand the ways of the tooth fairy, he was sure to let "her" know he'd lost a tooth, in the event "she" would just hand over some cash.

Brice isn't very sentimental. He remembers every detail about everything he's ever owned or done, and everywhere he's ever been, but he doesn't seem to get attached to things that aren't useful in his imaginary world. Perhaps he will go for the gold, so to speak.

Though, he did say his tooth was the most beautiful thing, especially the bloody side. We might be hanging on to it for use with a dinosaur or two.


Friday, March 1, 2013

Mar. 1, 2013 :: Life

One of the beauties about homeschooling, according to my daughter, is that we can go places during the day when there are no crowds. She's correct. We were treated to a near empty bowling alley today during our PE field trip. It was a fun outing.

Speaking of which, I am lately concerned with labeling something like today's activity as a field trip. In my intention to be more learner-led, I am pushing myself to find our whole day part of our learning. That means grocery shopping on Saturdays and family tidy up after dinner are all part of the whole-life learning we are doing.

We still check off some boxes in our lessons each day, but I am working to remember that Reeves is learning to negotiate relationships when he argues with a friend while playing Minecraft. I am aware that Embree is teaching herself photography and curation skills in the upkeep of her Instagram account. It is evident that Brice learns more from building, rebuilding, and refining Lego ships than making sure he gets through the entire Kindergarten math workbook.

Calling today's bowling experience a field trip, connotes that it is special or auxiliary to "school," when, in reality, it is an opportunity to learn a skill that could bring happiness and opportunity for physical activity life long.

Therefore, if self speak is so influential in terms of self esteem and motivation, perhaps the terms we use, benign as they may sound, influence our tendency to separate learning from living. Instead of saying, "It is 9:00 am and time to start school," we need to just stop using language that reinforces the either/or mentality.

I know that the world operates on schedules. I know that the kids need to be able to get to a college class on time, to turn in assignments on time, to be on time for work one day. Maybe, though, they could break free from little boxes ( made of ticky-tacky) and at least view all of their obligations, not as work and play, but as LIFE. Perhaps that will help them learn to prioritize LIFE in ways that are healthy and fulfilling.

And that is how I over think a trip to the bowling alley.
Welcome to my world!