Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Ready for a Hike

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On the Edge

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Road Trip: Pike's Peak on the Mississippi

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Camping Out: in the Backyard Between Road Trips

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Pallisades Park

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More Precarious than it Looks

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Pooch Along

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Pike's Peak, Iowa

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Happy Trails

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Birth Order and Middle Children

 Alienor said to me yesterday morning; "Aragorn and I are a lot alike. It's like two pairs, because Lily and Arthur are alike too." She then went on to explain all the ways that she and her brother were alike, as well as something she couldn't quite put her finger on. The amazing thing is: her father and I both agree on this, we don't talk about it in front of the children, but there is a certain truth in it. This is not the first insightful thing this child has said. She would set up mini-fights with her dolls when she was little, that ended in "too much yelling" and people being thrown out of the doll house. Ouch. Or dolls being lovingly soothed back to a peaceful state on other days.

I once attended a talk on birth order as connected to careers and personalities of children. I found it fascinating, but took it with a grain of salt. Each of my children is precious and loved, for their very own self, without qualifications.

American History

Our new block for my 8th and 9th graders is United States History. Over the years we have studied different epochs in history, through mythology, legends and then history resources, but this will be our first concentrated effort on US history as a whole. We've studied European history, Asian history, African history and our local and state history. It's a funny thing, what kids learn that you don't realize they are learning, and what they don't know that you  are sure you've been over a number of times...or they should have read somewhere...or you had pounded into your head for so many years that you assume they know too. 

History is an excellent example of this. Aragorn and Lily DO know a lot, but the sources of when and why they learned are so odd and interesting. They remember who made the first American flag, because we saw the house of Betsy Ross in Baltimore.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Waldorf Publicity

My techie husband sent me this link; thank you honey! Waldorf advocates will love it, the rest of you, well...leave comments!

Children of IT guys and Waldorf

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Fishscale Girl; a book review and a celebration!

Fishscale Girl is not a new Halloween costume,  she is a real doll made by a real live little girl in the Amazon Valley. The book by the same name tells the tale of this doll who now lives in US, in Iowa to be exact, in beautiful photography and simple story line. We learn about her native people, the Yagua, and her first home; the Amazon River in Peru. The story includes themes of adoption, homesickness, adventures in new places and learning of new things. It is insightful, yet simple. The photography is gorgeous; vibrant colors, fun and artistic at the same time.

from the book; Her body is a scale from an Amazon fish, 
                           Her heart is as big as the river itself."

Our whole family has had the extreme fortune to have been included in the production of this lovely book and in the many projects surrounding it. We first became involved when the author, Ann Hailey, called to see if she could include my daughter, Alienor and our backyard sandbox, in a photo session.

We had heard of Ann's travels to Peru; her stay at a traditional Yagua village and trip down the Amazon River. We were quite fascinated (and a little jealous, but in a good way), and asked lots of questions. We were very happy to be a part of what began as a series of photos of Fishscale Girl's new life to send to Rosita, the girl who made her, with words in both English and Spanish, for this is the language the Yagua now learn in school.

A part of the proceeds from the Fishscale Girl books (no.2 will be out soon) and from the lesson plans is donated to the Adopt-a-School program, you can read more about this here: Lesson plans? Ah-ha, that's where the next step in our participation came about. I think Ann mentioned or I mentioned that this would be a wonderful tool to further explore many themes. The next thing I knew, I was drafting lesson plans that would become the focus of my life for a couple of months. Maps, we needed maps, ones that we could legally reproduce. It was a problem, but I happen to have a son who is very talented in the drawing department. He whipped out all of the maps I needed in a couple of days, free-hand. Problem solved and one more family member involved! A, cool and modern idea. Lily was asked if she would like to write it, she accepted, and voila, the three oldest have become part of the project. Ann is very very good at including children in age-appropriate and meaningful activities. The last two got their turn at a book signing, when they were in charge of helping out other children present with the picture search in a botanical garden while the others served lemonade and cookies.

To order your own copy, you can go here:  Here is a link to the Fishscale Girl's own blog, it's a lot of fun, Lily has been writing a lot of the entries, as Cate:, this is a commercial-free space for parents and children alike.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Mornings at our House

Breakfast is sort of a hit and miss affair chez nous. The other two meals usually merit our full attention, but for the French, it is literally a breaking of the fast; dejeuner- undo the fast, not important except as a little something to go with one's coffee, tea or hot chocolate. 

We are an exception; I was born in the US and I love breakfast. I dislike bacon, eggs, sausage, toast and orange juice with floaties in it. I still remember clearly in the hospital after I'd fractured my skull when I was 3 years old.

Recipe: Caramel Cinnamon Bread

I make the dough in my bread machine, put in the following ingredients in order:(ingredients are in red)

Whisk together:
1 1/2 c warm water with:
1 T yeast
3/4 T salt
2 T butter or olive oil
1 egg (optional, unless you are making it gluten-free)
pour into machine

1/4 c honey or sugar 
 3 1/2 c flour (I used white, you can use a mix of whole wheat and white or even a gluten-free mix, if you add 1t xantham gum and 1/4 t vinegar)

Set machine to dough setting,

Breakfast Treats; what goes in my smoothie

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Caramel Cinnamon Bread

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Thursday, October 6, 2011

Mine are the 'tinkiest

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Tiger Game

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Small Toes

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Mine are the Biggest!

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The past two days have seen such balmy weather, that plans for lessons have morphed a bit into a whole lot of outside time. Yesterday morning, I found myself out on the trampoline with Puck, who wanted company. I promised him a little bouncing time.

We had enjoyed circle time together for once; with no one but Puck and I really joining in on the verses or songs, but they were all present and paying attention. Aragorn and Lily set to work on their math and French grammar lessons, and it was just the two little boys and I. After reading for awhile, something more physical was back on the agenda for all of us. 

So we bounced; we jostled around Arthur who was in a bad mood and reluctant to join us. I tossed him on and told him to enjoy the ride. After that; nothing. I lay back and stared up at the blue sky through the tree branches. The oaks in the back yard have not begun their color change, but the air smelled of autumn and the sun was so warm. I felt the extremely unfamiliar need to go nowhere and do nothing except what I was doing right at that moment.

I've heard the theory; sit still and they will come. They did, one by one, Lily first.

She soon joined us for "genie bounces" and proffered a challenge to see who could do the most without touching or pausing for more than one bounce in between. Hard! Arthur was in a better mood, Lily left, Aragorn jumped up. The stinker was certain that his feet were bigger than mine now. We tried to compare, but things being rather bouncy, and our socks being so different, it was hard to tell for sure. We switched right socks and compared again; he won. 

We took silly pictures and stayed outside forever. (and I promise that I will not compare and contrast this to what I overheard in the school office yesterday while dropping off Alienor. "Hey, this says we're eating lunch outside!" "Who decided that?, why?" "No kidding! I guess it's because it's so nice out." "How are we going to eat in the spot they have designated when it's where they play kick-ball?"  Because, of course, it's not the same thing to throw together a picnic and head to the park with five children as it is to organize an entire school eating out of doors. It wouldn't be fair.)

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Featured Child?

When I hit the "publish" button a little while ago, I began to wonder whether or not I had indeed "featured" my other children more often, as I'd thought, than Arthur, as mentioned in the post below. In the past year, only pictures spoke of any one child in particular. There must be something else making me think this way. Perhaps it is the middle child syndrome. We have, technically, three middle children. However, the first middle child, Aragorn, is also the first boy, so he has his very own genre and specialness. 

The "middlest of the middle children" as my second princess likes to call herself, is well aware of her position and keeps us on our toes with her reminders and vivacious nature. We don't often forget that Alienor is around. She is either being helpful beyond her years, or...presenting us with new challenges to stretch our parental resources.

Thus, Arthur, the youngest of the middle children, is really the one being quiet on the sidelines most often. Unless he is slugging someone with a boffer, (a safer alternative to conventional weapons.) For awhile, it looked like he would forever be the baby of the family, but then came Puck, the "real" baby. Arthur's status as benjamin seemed well-established and he loved it.  He protested, but not very persistently, the arrival of his little brother, rather like Lily with Aragorn. I always felt that they both gave in a little easily to losing mama's exclusiveness. Aragorn had 3 1/2 years before Alienor came along and Alienor never gave up.

In any case, each child is a different and special person in their own way. That's what makes raising them and homeschooling such an interesting endeavor. Having the liberty and challenge of adapting lessons and opportunities to their individual skills and learning styles keeps me alert and enthralled in my daily tasks. Do I have all of the answers every day? Must I answer that? But each day is a new chance; for me and for my wonderfully diverse family. May your life remain ever fascinating and may you remain ever fascinated with life.

Arthur Skating Dude

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Arthur and Tuxy

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Tuppence a Cup...

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Arthur is not a child who is often featured in this blog. I love him dearly, sweet little boy. He is an old soul: quiet and battle-crazed in turn. He is what one would imagine a stoic Native American warrior to be; capable of remaining quiet and silent until action is required. His sense of humor belies his French and Irish heritage. His jokes are surprising for the sense of humor and cleverness of them. He is kind and thoughtful, offering the second half of his candy bar, the last chip in the bag, helping when no one else offers.

We are working on first grade in the Waldorf way this year. He is bright and eager for his lessons.