Monday, January 30, 2012

Anatomy with and without kids

This morning, carrying a sleeping 4-year-old in a pitch dark room, I adroitly and narrowly avoided slicing open my toe on the sharp edges of a bed in an accidental, little two-step around the corner of it, without falling on my face. That was a whole lot of bones and muscles working together with a truckload of nerves telling them all exactly what to do, instantaneously. I was impressed with just what a body could do. I would be lying if I said that over the years of giving birth to five sweet babies I did not experience that wonder each time that this perfectly formed human had been formed within me. The toes, the eyes, the lungs, brain and heart of each of them worked, for real!

I did not take anatomy in high school. I took anything but anatomy; theatre, French, orchestra, choir, creative writing. Then I got the heck out of the building as soon as I could to go scoop ice cream at the mall and make enough money for airfare to France (or anywhere else far from the dreary lands of home. I also considered South Africa, Germany, Japan and Australia, but was given my first pick.) Short-sighted? Perhaps, but things worked out, as they have a way of doing.

I am now happily sitting on my dilapidated family sofa in Iowa avidly studying anatomy. I came to this point in a round-about way, having avoided the topic for many years. I am finally interested enough and motivated enough to tackle this subject outside of school. The topic has a three-fold value: it is fascinating to me, I will know enough to answer my children's questions on the topic when we study it, and it will be of use in my job both now and later.

The Waldorf education chart suggests that anatomy be taught in 8th grade. I consulted with my daughter and bought her a copy of Gray's Anatomy Coloring Book.

She colored in the brain...and that was it. I picked up my own copy of the book because I thought the language was approachable. Like grabbing a book in the kid's section of the library on electricity or painting or Thomas Jefferson when you are curious, but not "The Hemingses of Monticello" or how to paint your own Mona Lisa curious. It also fed my creative/Waldorfy desire to use my colored pencils in a useful way.

We explored other sources of anatomy curriculum, books and online, but the motivation was lacking for Lily to take it and run with it. I felt the nagging "should haves" that hit homeschooling mothers every once in awhile. Like once a week or so. However, enough was going on that I let this go for the time being.

Now that I am enjoying the topic, I see that there might be a couple of sparks to light the flame from our family's life experiences. Our last two babies were born at home. The children managed to be there, even though I had sort of hoped they would sleep through the whole thing. There are a lot of questions that the study of anatomy can address, from the formation of a baby in utero to the expansion of the female pelvis to allow a baby to pass through (who would have thought that this whole baby would be able to fit in that tummy? or get out when he/she was finished?)

Then we had a broken bone this year as well; one complicated elbow mishap. Understanding just what was wrong and how it grew back together was a source of endless fascination.

Skeletons are my last card to play. Everyone loves a skeleton, down to little Puck. In fact, I think I could keep the rest of the littles quite contented playing with or drawing skeletons while I teach the older ones, or hit the books myself.  Here is the book I am using for now, anyone have a good resource for a "scholastic" skeleton without causing a big hole in the budget?


Wednesday, January 18, 2012

10th Grade Shelf (note the number of library books; they're free!)

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Our "Homeschool Closet" Gets a Makeover

A few photos of our closet dedicated to books and supplies useful to homeschooling. I have newly separated our chaos into a shelf per child. I love it. The pegboard, I can tell, is going to be an excellent medium for creativity.  Who knew? I found it in the "garage organization" section of our local hardwood store, along with all of these cool, cheap accessories. Arthur had requested one for his room after reading the Berenstein Bears book on messy rooms.

I realized the thing I'd been hanging my feather dusters on for 10 years in that closet had a whole lot more scope for imagination. Alienor has already begun decorating the wall space around her shelf. Such prospects from a tiny hall closet. Maybe I should have at that space under the kitchen sink next...maybe not.

Puck's Preschool Shelf

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Peg-Board Creations: Basics Today, Fashion Tomorrow!

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The Re-Org

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Carrying On: Nakoa

Many things happen in a life each day. Our world can be riveted by the news of a loved one's illness, death or financial disaster. All three of these have been in my world lately, but the two deaths are the hardest; little Nakoa, 3 years old, was the son and grandson of a family from my hometown. His family has been an example of success and generosity in a different lifestyle, (pioneer homeschoolers, for one), and they are also friends of  friends. They have been in my thoughts and prayers these many days since the accident. Another friend lost her daughter's father yesterday; Michelle, I will hold you in my intentions as well. To my friends newly or long-term dealing with the suckiness and unfairness of cancer or RA; not a day goes by that I do not say a prayer for you.

Among this, life continues in our home, with extra candles lit and extra moments of prayer and silence. Lessons and learning happens, meals are prepared with love and eaten too quickly, chores are done. It has finally snowed and we sledded in it until the grass and mud crept through. The hardware store seems to be our favorite destination these days. Yesterday I spent 90 minutes there with Aragorn and Arthur, picking out piping, locating supplies (the screws took the longest, typical) and having boards sawed in half so they would fit in the car. I am not completely sure what Aragorn is up to, but I will post photos of it when he completes it. Arthur is making more "boffers" with pvc piping and insulation foam and duct tape. I am in love with pegboard. Photos will be forthcoming. 

In the meantime, I have been doggedly and sometimes furiously, decluttering, sorting and reorganizing our living space. By that I mean closets, bedrooms, and playrooms. It feels fabulous to finally get down to the real "simplifying" I've meant to do in the past. We did some good work, but now I've taken it down to the bare bones, taken everything out, apart and thrown half of it away. Having a vision helped; a vision of what I wanted one bedroom to look like, one closet's function, and the rest followed. It is too easy to live in complacency, keeping to what we know, not acknowledging that there could be a better way, if only we took a minute to reflect and another few hours to do. I'd really better have a look at that cabinet where my spices lie in wait, ready to dive onto my head, can pegboard work for spice jars?

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Knitting Toys/Pets

Thank you to my friend, Marlis, for the inspiration to knit toys again. It had been a long time, and I am hooked again on small, cute projects, like this one:  that I made for her, with joy! New Year's knitting resolutions: a crocheted blanket for my daughter (ha!) and more toys, knitted and maybe even crocheted. The first photo revealed a flaw in the beak that I snipped away for the next shot, felt is such forgiving stuff. We could take a page out of felt's attitude. It is durable, dependable, easy to work with and forgiving of faults.


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Wise Creations

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Saturday, January 7, 2012


We all have parts  of our lives that need improving. It is sometimes sort of like a support group meeting for addictive behavior; first order of business: "know thyself," or recognize what area needs some work. Then and only then can one make a commitment to improve. 

My little girl has come back to homeschooling after a semester of school. She had a great time, made progress in many areas and still returned to the rhythm she loves, that of homeschooling. She is the first to acknowledge that though her brain works through math like a fish swims through water, and she loves reading as much as the other two, when it comes to writing, it is a delicate matter of hate and loathing. The thing is, I have seen her handwriting when she wishes it to be beautiful, she does just fine, the rascal. Yesterday we set about going from illegible to fine, in 2 painful steps; do and redo. 

My two older children constantly work on their musical skills; piano and guitar. I am so proud of how they take this on themselves, pounding and strumming away for hours for the pleasure and to get it right. The younger two have a passion for getting their jumps on the trampoline just right, or building the perfect Lego machine. Hours pass like minutes in these pursuits. Sometimes they do not, like when they are cleaning their room or folding laundry, nevertheless, it all needs to get done. Both kinds of tasks give us a sense of accomplishment and having a day that was just a little better than the day before.

As for me, per the previous post, I am studying for certification in medical interpreting. I get by fine now and I am able to do my job adequately. However, I know how much more I will be able to understand, medically, what is happening with my patients and that I will be all the more able to help them understand in turn. I am motivated and desirous to learn more, enough to certify for medical interpretation, and beyond. My granny squares are looking pretty good too, as I plod through crochet 101!