Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Don't Let This Cute Little Face Fool You...

this little Bird Whisperer
who 'saves' every little bird
(or big bird for that matter)
that hits the windows,

who is as sweet and friendly and innocent
as can be,

 (this little Pine Siskin did eventually fly away)

is as stubborn as the day is long.
Day two of second grade and I was
thinking about running away from home.

All order is restored but oh my homeschooling is not easy.
In fact, I think I cried myself to sleep on Sunday night
just thinking of the pressure of it all.

It is especially difficult when one doesn't have a lot of support.
There are those close to me who think this is a bad idea.
Some think I am bored and have little else to do but this.
Some think that it is fine for now but eventually...

But I know differently.
I know I have to do this for her. (at this point)
I know that because of the way she is, this is the only way. (for now)
I know that if she were in public school she would be
way behind, labeled and made to feel
less than adequete.
She would come home exhausted from all of the
sensory overload.
She would be in trouble all of the time for
seemingly not paying attention.

I am holding on to these words
by Robert Frost.

The Road Not Taken

TWO roads diverged in a yellow wood,

And sorry I could not travel both

And be one traveler, long I stood

And looked down one as far as I could

To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,

And having perhaps the better claim,

Because it was grassy and wanted wear;

Though as for that the passing there

Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay

In leaves no step had trodden black.

Oh, I kept the first for another day!

Yet knowing how way leads on to way,

I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

As The New Year Begins

Autumn is on its way. There are subtle signs all around me. From the cool evening breezes and the chill in the morning air to the shortening of days and the color of the leaves turning from their vibrant green to yellow and red. It is happening and I couldn't be more excited.

My daughter and I were talking this very morning about how September always seems like more of the "new year" than does January. It has always be so with me. I have probably mentioned on this blog about a couple hundred times that I am not a summer person. In fact, truth be told, there is no season that I dislike as much. Hot weather, sand tracked from one end of the house to another, mosquitoes, wasps, flies. And did I mention the hot weather? Yeah, I like none of it.

I am a creature of habit. The more things stay the same, the happier I am. I like to be home with my family. I love seeing my grown up kids but would rather they came to see me. I like adventure and being outside (except in the summer heat) but I would like to sleep in my own bed thank you very much.

I like the routine of the days and although I enjoy a more flexible schedule that the summer affords, I always look forward to fall. The days flow together nicely and we all know what to expect. There is comfort and stability in routine. PS I was born under the zodiac sign of Cancer so that could explain much here.

We started back to school at the beginning of August. More easing back into in and for review purposes than anything else but the school year actually begins for us next week. Second grade already. As I prepared the coming year for her studies, I found myself torn between different schools of thought as I did last year as well. I really like the idea of unschooling but I am more of the methodical type. this is what we need to accomplish and this is how we plan to get there. All laid out ahead of time in neat little boxes on a schedule. This, however, leaves little room for staying with an interesting topic a little longer or skipping over uninteresting unimportant things. And too, what does she want to learn about? No room for that either.

As a home educating mother I want to honor my child and her specific needs and interests but I also want to leave no gaps in her education along the way. This is no easy thing to accomplish, in my mind anyway. And what about nature study. Being in tune with the seasons, the daily rhythms as we make our way around the sun. What about that? How can I as a parent and teacher possibly bring all of this together in a comprehensive interesting way. It is tough but exciting as well. This is a good place to be.

And so, these last few days before it all begins I have much to think about, much to put together and much to do. Athena is going for an end of the summer visit with her cousins for a few days, giving me some precious time alone. I have done all of my weekly work ahead of time so I can use the days wisely. There will be some planning, some preparing and a little bit of organizing. There will be some time on my yoga mat to be sure. There is nothing like my yoga practice to help me to see clearly, to help me see the big picture. And there will also be some long overdue time alone with my husband. We are heading to the big city for dinner where I plan to eat crab legs. (I really love crab legs.) And then we will head to my daughter's house on Saturday to pick up our girl and have one last family BBQ of the summer. All of my 4 daughters and their families and their dogs will be there. It promises to be a good time! I hope to be energized, refreshed and ready to go when Monday morning comes. It looks like it will be a good year.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Day at the Beach

We spend the better part of the day at the beach yesterday. We did some canoeing and some beach combing and some lazing around too. This trip was so much better in so many ways than the one we took just a few days before. Let me tell you why.

Last trip: First time in the canoe for the year with one very tippy girl.
This trip: Brought the dinghy where she could be as tippy as she liked.
Minor downfall: She cut her finger on the new oars. No blood.

Last trip: I put sunscreen on myself but forgot my ears. I burnt one ear. It swelled up to twice its size. Lovely.
And my upper middle back was sore for three days from the hard paddling.
This trip: I put sunscreen on my ears and wore one of Paul's linen shirts to keep the sun off. I paddled only 40 strokes this time and my sweet husband did the rest, including loading the canoe back on the truck all by himself. Muscle man he is I tell ya.
Minor downfall: It was so HOT. I think I much prefer canoeing in the fall.

Last trip: We didn't plan for actual beach time so we stood along the shore while Athena played.
This trip: We brought her butterfly net, pail and shovel. Blankets, drinks and food.
Minor downfall: Leeches. Yuck. She caught three of them and 6 minnows and 4 snails, all of which (save the leeches) now reside in our outdoor pond. 

Last trip: Oops, didn't plan on swimming so we didn't bring the bathing suit. That was the reason for the pantie pictures.
This trip: Brought the bathing suit.
Minor downfall: None.

Last trip: Granola bars and spring water.
This trip: Trail mix, organic apples, purified water and some concession stand fries. Oh, and a little thermos of Chardonnay.
Minor downfall: The concession food was WAY over priced and my pesky brother-in-law was ribbing me about public alcohol consumption. But, if he didn't bug me about something I would wonder what was wrong.

Lessons learned: It is always better to plan ahead for these day trips. Things work out better.
                          Kids don't care how hot it is. They just love the adventure of it.
                          Do not EVER tell your brother-in-law that you had wine at the beach. ;)

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Guys and Gals

My Girls

My Guys

I know, I am really good at nightime shots am I not?

Friday, August 12, 2011

{this moment}

Imagine Athena's surprise when she discovered that pickles were
actually made from cucumbers.
She loved filling the jars with the sliced cucumbers
one by one.

A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. - Amanda Soule

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

A New Day

(google images)

Well that was horrid.
 I have spent the last I don't know how many days ticked off, to put it mildly and I really didn't like it one bit.
I don't know if it is my age, the time of the month or the phase of the moon but this is NOT like me and I do NOT like feeling this way.I have been really bothered, REALLY bothered by what a few people have said to me about one thing or another. I have even been bothered by things that have nothing to do with me, if you can believe that. All these things are small in themselves but put them together and man, I was steaming!

So yesterday, I decided I needed some time in my yoga studio. I got everything ready and I sat in half lotus, closed my eyes and I couldn't bring myself to move. I just sat there as if paralyzed by my negative thoughts. I sat and sat and sat. Lest you think this was the "clear your head on the path to enlightenment" sort of meditation, I assure you it was not. More like brooding it was. My foul mood carried on with me into the evening. Let me reiterate, I am very rarely in a bad mood at all so this is way out of the norm. I went to bed early, hoping to put an end to this day. I am posting this rant here today only because we as bloggers tend to only post about the happy stuff, the good stuff, the inspiring stuff... but we are real people with real problems and concerns and most importantly, real lives. Me especially.

And now, as the rest of my family is sleeping and I am here venting on the computer, I am determined to let it all go. I would advise my children to not let things bother them so I am taking my own advice. Putting on a new face today. A happy face. I am choosing to forget, to go on, to do what I know in my heart that I must do, no matter who says what. Besides that, I have a family reunion to cook for this weekend. 24 family members will converge on my deck, do some golfing (mostly the men) some moderate wine drinking and eating what is shaping up to be one of the best menus I've ever put together.

So, on that note, smile, have a good day, choose your attitude and don't let people bring you down. It is not worth it. :)

Friday, August 5, 2011

{this moment}

{this moment}- a Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. Amanda Soule

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Finer Things

As the new school year began for us this past week I have been doing quite a bit of thinking. Thinking about math, literature, languages, art, music, science and history. What should I include in Athena's studies? What would I like her to learn? What would SHE like to learn? There is a wealth of information to be had on the Internet and in the libraries and on home education blogs. Everyone has their own ideas, their own ways of doing things and their own thoughts about what is important and what is not. I do. You do. We all do.

The one thing that I do know for sure is that one cannot appreciate good anything unless one is exposed to it on a regular basis. Food, music, literature, art.

And so, in order to become a good writer one must read good writing. I am not opposed to children picking their own books but I do believe that we must read good literature to our children. I tried reading Junie B Jones to Athena and the grammar was so poor that I quit halfway through. Instead we have read The Secret Garden, Sarah, Plain and Tall, and just this week we started to read Owls in the Family by Farley Mowat. We will continue to read aloud one chapter book a month and I will choose these books from good classic literature. Tried and true. And then she will know what is worthy and what is not. That is my hope anyway.

I also believe that a child needs to listen to beautiful music. I am lucky that Athena has a true passion for it. She has said "I love classical music because the words don't get in the way." She can pick out her favorites on a CD. She loves The Nutcracker Suite and Swan Lake the best so far. So this year we will study one Classical Composer every month. We'll read biographies, color pictures of them and listen to their music over and over again. She would love to take violin lessons in the near future. She has perfect pitch (in my humble opinion) and most often can be found humming her favorite classical pieces all in tune. Love it.

And on that vein, there is art. How can you know what great art is if you never look at great art? Our art program will include studying one great artist a month. We will read their biography, look at their paintings, try our hand at re-creating one or two as well. I have some flash cards of famous paintings that we will learn to identify too. We will also work with the book Drawing With Children and do some just plain fun arts and crafts type of thing.

Of course we will study math, science and history as well. We'll learn phonics and grammar. We'll do lots of nature study and hopefully spend a good deal of time outdoors but I do want Athena to learn to love and appreciate the Finer Things. Yes I sure do.