Monday, August 30, 2010


Why is one suddenly struck with this bothersome condition? Do you remember "Cien Anos de Soledad" or "One Hundred Years of Solitude" by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, where the whole darn town is insomniac for years on end?

It is almost midnight. I believe in going to bed early, and I did, but sleep has eluded me for the past two hours.

I wonder if the sleeplessness has anything to do with the excess zeal that has me furiously decluttering and cleaning out corners of the house that have needed it for an age? Does one simply have too much energy at certain times of the year, of one's life? Hmmm, now I find myself typing with my eyes closed, so much for that theory. Guess I'll see if I can turn that pot of honey into...I really am sleeping...and typing. I have no idea what I meant by that last phrase, good night!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Chrysalis Thinning

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The Wings Emerge

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Waiting for the Next Stage

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Wings Unfolding

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Wings Drying

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Here He Is

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When You Homeschool

There seem to be unique opportunities that can only happen when you are a homeschooler. Some of them come in the form of invitations, some just happen because it is a nice day or you chanced to be there.

After a recent storm, our neighbors (and good friends) called to include the children as guests at a tree-cutting-down-party. A big one had been partially destroyed between their yard and the adjoining one, a team of young men had been summoned to help and it was happening now, at 10 am. I initially declined the invite, as it sounded way too dangerous for children, which way was that tree going to fall anyway? It was repeated throughout the morning, and after receiving reassurance that the tree was so far away as to pose no possible danger, we all ended up across the street. Photos are below. It was fun, and breath-taking to watch, as my vantage point led me to believe that the tree branch could have ended up on top of either the house or the deck of the one next door, where a birthday party was tranquilly being set up, pink balloons, streamers, small guests and all. No one was squished, and did I mention that the guys pulling down the tree were nice-looking?

Around here, the yellow buses are back and school has begun. The neighborhood is emptied of school-age children every morning at 7. We have been busy bike riding each day, especially since the weather is cooler in the mornings now. Our favorite destination these days is an old cemetery. The hilly paths are great, there is a pretty lake with a Japanese bridge and gazebo, and the gravestones offer endless scope for imagination and questioning.

We caught a concert downtown when we were there at lunch hour. We were almost the only spectators, so we were doing each other a favor. The musician was good too; he played both guitar and fiddle while we watched and applauded.

We were able to be home the other day when the monarch burst slowly out of his cocoon, a phenomenon my daughter was able to pinpoint as always happening in the morning. It was the first time we have had the privilege of attending a butterfly birth. As we waited during the longest part without movement, we had the time to read "The Very Hungry Caterpillar," by Eric Carle, twice.

On a sadder note, the kids and I drove to Madison for the funeral of my wonderful, great-uncle Fred last week, no school absentees noted. We came home late and slept a little later the next day, then went about our business again, almost as usual.

We have slowly incorporated "school stuff" into our days again. Lily is hard at work on math several hours a day. She has sewn four new dresses for her old doll. The pictures are below, knitted socks with lace edges of her own design included. Aragorn has decided that he needs to play his guitar for five hours a day in order to become a real expert, based on his calculations of his teacher's "10, 000 hours" theory. He is still managing to squeeze in some math and a lot of reading, as usual, but he has given up his computer time to concentrate on guitar. Alienor is listening to books on CD and reading along and she has discovered, "I read better than I thought I did." Arthur is bursting at the seams with energy and ideas for projects, half of them involving playdough and toothpicks, the other half duct tape, wood and staples. And little Puck is about as happy as he can be when he is surrounded by everyone and has enough playdough to roll into something. He spent an hour or more making pink pizzas, cutting them up and serving them on plates to me the other night after the rest of the kids were in bed. We had cheese pizzas, pepperoni pizzas, olive pizzas, and then baked cookies for dessert.

So keep an eye open to the endless opportunities afforded you if you are a homeschooler, watch out for them on the weekend if you are not, thank your neighbors for their kindness and enjoy these autumn days...or spring, if you happen to be "down under". Happy Weekend!

Skipping Stones

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Stroll Along the Mississippi

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Prize Veggies

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Pretend Cow Milking

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Real Tractor Tires

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Needle Felting

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Bird Watching

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Downtown Impromptu Concert

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New Dress for Ella

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Dress Detail (by Lily)

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Friday, August 20, 2010

Tribute to Writers, Readers of Blogs and Followers

Life is happening around here, I am just not yet adjusted to getting up early enough to write about it...or when I do, it has been for another reason (sick children, nightmares, trips).

So, as yet another busy day begins, I salute and thank from the bottom of my heart, all those who spend time each day reading and writing. To all the people who have told me they have read this blog, thank you, it warms my heart each time I hear that. To all of those who have signed up as "Followers," I am touched. And to the rest of you writers, thank you for sharing your world through words that make it come alive for us readers.

Have the best Friday ever, it will be as good as you make it!

Monday, August 9, 2010

How to Irritate Your Wife

"Yellow number five, red number forty, blue one, corn syrup, fractionated coconut oil (what???)," let's have oatmeal guys instead, har, har."

A litany like this is a surefire way to inspire one's spouse to rage...or to leave the dinner table in the middle of a meal to vent on her blog. They're having gummy bears for dessert, I am having more salad, thanks.

It is not easy being an involved, caring mother, looking out for the health of her little cubs. Thank goodness for the health of Papa Bear that he cooks a whole lot of healthy food.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Lazy is as Lazy Doesn't

I took the car here this morning for my writing time. I could have walked it in fifteen minutes, but I was running behind and besides, I can't walk in my cute little flip-flops.

After committing to taking the car nowhere that I could not bike or walk, this could get me down, but it doesn't.

A revelation came to me the other day as I was riding to the grocery store. I had been telling myself I was just plain lazy not to have taken the long way around, thus getting a bit more exercise, burning off a few more calories, etc. Here I was, on my bike, in August, going grocery shopping, that's an amazing feat for me. It wasn't even nice and cool at 6 am, it was 11 am and starting to warm up. I was doing it, not thinking about doing it or talking about doing it, but really on my bike and not in the car.

"Pretty is as pretty does." So, why should it not be true that "lazy is as lazy doesn't"? Whether it's biking or homeschooling our children, lazy just doesn't come much into play. Any parent concerned with the well-being of their child and involved in this child's life is actively engaged in doing their all for them and giving of their best. I often hear comments questioning the qualifications of a parent to educate their child outside of the system of experts and trained teachers who surely know what is best. My favorite is "how do you control the parents who will just let the child sit on the sofa and watch tv or video games all day?" (*) My response is; "why would you not just send the child to school and sit on the sofa yourself watching tv all day? You'd even get to pick the programs, and eat your favorite snacks without sharing! " How could there be any interest in adding extra hours of your day in taking care of a child when you really don't care what happens to them anyway? Why bother?

While perfection may be all too often a goal of mothers today, and I include myself in this category, it is vital to give ourselves credit once in awhile for what we ARE doing and stop our self-nitpicking about what we are not doing. We are raising children, it's a hard job, homeschooling or not. We are caught up in a time in history when we've discovered that all the progress of the past 150 years has destroyed the health of our planet, and it is up to us to fix it. It has also been discovered that the whole mentality upon which our economy has seemed successful is a sham and the crash that ensued will have long-term consequences for generations. We do not have the option of doing nothing, we are in the middle of it. However enormous the obstacles might seem, and however insignificant each gesture, what counts is what we are doing, not what we cannot do.

Will I teach my child absolutely everything she needs to know to be successful in life? Will I feed him all the right foods to ensure health in the near and far future? Will I provide my children with the right and loving home atmosphere so that they grow up to be good, caring, mentally stable adults? Those are my goals, more or less universal ones for parents. It does not matter whether we manage to think of everything or instill every value or act perfectly sane all of the time. Reprimands for what we are not doing have no place in the program. On bad days, strive to do better tomorrow, and every day, celebrate what you ARE doing and the love you have for your children.

*Some parents consider video games and television important in their homeschooling tool box and have good arguments for them, just as schools use mixed media to bring learning to children, so do parents. Our house is a low-media zone by choice and conviction, but that does not mean that other options are misguided or wrong for other families.