Thursday, October 31, 2013


This post disappeared twice as I was writing it on my phone the other day. Maybe nothing is what I have earned the right to say about homeschooling. Maybe the message is that each family needs to discover for themselves what it means and how it can work for them. It will be an adventure...your very own. I love ours! What has yours been like?


Our city, one of four in the conglomeration, holds trick-or-treat on October 30th. Last night was the night. Despite a frenetic, joyous sun dance the kids performed on the trampoline in the morning, it was pouring down rain by the time 5:00 rolled around. I thought about trading all of our candy for one other family's and calling it a night. Wishful thinking.

I returned home from a doctor apt. shortly after 5, to find  hoards of short, costumed people in my driveway, skipping up and down to my door while their patient, weary parents trudge along holding umbrellas. I parked on the street and dashed through little goblins and princesses to the warmth of a fire in the hearth and very little desire to leave again. Cate, despite having a fever, sore throat and stuffy nose, was happily handing out candy. We all had a bowl of Thierry's latest chili; with chicken, not beef, followed by way too much candy. The make-up was applied, the costumes were on and they were off (yuck!).

By the end of the night, wet kids were again warm, dry kids, the dog was zonked out (most likely by a dose of illicit chocolate), the fathers who had valiantly taken my place trick-or-treating were playing guitar by the fire and Duncan, who kindly took the little boys back out for a second round, was doing his homework in the basement. Officially, trick-or-treating was finished. Secretly, we were all still sneaking bites of chocolate when no one was looking. It was a good night.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Monday, October 28, 2013

Michaelmas Candle

Michaelmas 2013

I can't help it; this is my favorite time of the year. In deference to those who are mourning summer and dreading the cold to come, I have publicly, at least, tempered my enthusiasm...but it is fall and it celebrating Michaelmas was past due! We held the event at our house and invited our beloved homeschool group. These are the families without which I would be lost; the friends, the colleagues, the wonderful children I love to watch as they grow into great human beings.

The autumn is a transitional time of a special sort. The changes are in the air, the earth, in animals and plants and humans. The humans tend to be too busy to remember to stop and take notice, which is why celebrating Michaelmas is such a lovely thing to do.

This year we made candles of the poured type: into votive glasses or my heart-shaped muffin mold. After and during that we ate and drank, and the day ended with a recital (and acting out of) the Michaelmas story in a lyrical play.

It was simple, but so much fun. It was also the last day of warm weather we had this year. Temps dropped down to the 40s and 50s after that, and it even snowed last week!

Celebrate doesn't need to be perfect or a huge party, it is good to gather together sometimes. Coming up: Martinmas, just after Halloween. November 11th.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Mama Fitness October Update

5:45 Bodypump class today; a new knot for my tennies, because the top of my foot is killing me; the "Nelson knot" from here: Full cotton gloves under my lifting gloves because the skin on my hands is bad. And happy as a furry dog, who has just been shaved on a hot summer day; I am here!!! Moving, following directions some parts of me would rather not follow; "one more time," is a least favorite, but much better than; "three more." 

Yesterday, I had a longish walk with the younger boys; through the neighborhood, along the bike path and into the woods. Everyone was happy, especially the puppy. 

Today; it's park day, so I will walk around the park a bit with the kids, before settling down to my knitting and chill time, then get in a short ab work-out between French lessons and dinner. 

Anyone else have that annoying pain on top of their foot, made much worse by tying a tennis shoe over it? Anyone with flat feet have a  preference for minimalist running shoes vs. full orthotics? Which kind? Shoes you like? 

Now, for my job; don't let today go by without moving. You will be happier, more energetic, and closer to an ideal you!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Living the Art of Eating Well

Dinner last night was brought to us by; the sun, soil and rain that nourished the fresh vegetables we ate, the pig whose life was given up for our table, coal from the earth, and the wisdom of millennia from one part of India, where tumeric, mint, garlic, cilantro, onions and ginger combine for a fabulous, unique flavor. The recipe I used was from a book loaned to me by a good friend, who also shares spices, advice and help as needed, as I take baby steps into the immense world of Indian cuisine. The menu? Pork chops on the grill, paneer tandoori, nan and a green salad.

Cooking at this time of year is such a pleasure. We are still enjoying the wealth of vegetables and herbs that come straight from the back yard to the kitchen.  I needed green peppers for dinner, I grabbed the one remaining pepper on the vine outside the door, and the specimen with the same color, from the grocery store, inside my fridge. A side by side comparison revealed that we usually settle for utter misery, if we buy our produce this way. The garden pepper was firm, smelled heavenly, and sang with a crispness as I sliced it. There was an actual, joyful noise that came from it. The other one? I'll save the ink, and not bore you. 

The tomatoes were from a friend. It has been a bumper year for tomatoes for some people, I am so lucky to have two friends, willing to share, among those expert gardeners. My garden's other contribution was the mint, which grows even where I don't want it to grow, which means it is always fresh. I can grow chives and basil too. Maybe I should focus on herbs next year and trade them for tomatoes. The kids have been eating them still warm from the garden; sliced and salted, at all times of the day. They want me to buy vitamin C, why again?

Tonight is football night. Only Cate will miss seeing Duncan play, as she has a double kung fu class. We started planning dinner for tonight two days ago, to avoid a repeat of last Friday's post-game "snack" of fast food taco-thingies, fries and sodas. We will have spaghetti with homemade tomato sauce and meatballs from an old family recipe. T. will be home early and wants to make the meatballs. The only thing to cook when we get home later, will be the pasta.  I am giving this up grudgingly, as this is my own specialty. As usual, though, once he learns a dish, T. makes it with such love and attention, that he exceeds my version of it every time. I will drive kung fu car pool and get us all to the game on time.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Search, Do: Repeat and Save the World

That is the way life goes here. The research on what changes as we all grow and evolve, and the all-important repetition may seem boring, but it is what allows a dream or a goal to take shape and flourish.

Monday morning at our house: T.and I up at 4:45, breakfast, out the door by 5:55 for our class at the Y, home by 7:12 to get ready for work and school.

A walk/run before school for those awake enough to come along, and lessons at 8:30. Somewhere in there, I throw in a load of laundry, start a loaf of bread, and take a quick shower. Today we are going to practice handwriting, read "Farmer Boy," have a little Spanish lesson, do some math practice and act out the story of creation (the animal and human bit) with puppets. The older two will work on their math lessons, complete a writing assignment, and practice piano.

Same gym class, same subjects, same old, same old. But we thrive on knowing what to expect when. It is what holds together a household of seven.

Of course, yesterday, after writing the above, one child started out the day with a melt-down that lasted all morning, disrupting our lovely, little, ordered world, in a big, noisy way. Did having a routine make it any easier on that child, or on the rest of us, suffering from the fall-out? It did in one way; by the time the rest of us had completed our lessons and were ready for lunch and a trip to the zoo, that one knew they would have to stay home and work on what had not been done that morning, and there was, finally, no arguing. I am not happy about these moments, nor proud of myself as a mother when they happen. I am sure though, that the structure helps things eventually return to normal, because it is what is expected. 

I am not a planner, I like to live a little more spontaneously. I have to work at this. And the trip to the zoo yesterday? Zilch, stupid, nada, it was closing as we got there because they had changed to winter hours that day. We did, though, have tea with a wonderful friend who called as I was trying to decide how to distract everyone from the disappointment of locked zoo gates. Great end to the day, thanks, friend!

What are you going to repeat today?