"She refused to be bored, chiefly because she wasn't boring." Zelda Fitzgerald

Monday, August 26, 2013

Getting The Lead Out

Having a little bit of a stressful brush with health and safety at our house. Baby Pom had a high lead test at a routine physical and now I am hosting visits from the city health department and painting everything manically. Tip: If you buy an old house and have room to negotiate with the sellers.....stipulate that all painted surfaces be newly painted before the sale.

School Year Brainstorm

Its school planning time at our house! First Day is fast approaching and although we haven't yet starting thinking about fall, pumpkins or leaf-jumping....I am thinking about study topics, ways to make reading fresh, exciting field trips and anything else that might prime the mental pumps for the boys and I.

I'm a Charlotte Mason/Unschooler. I lean heavily on exciting, well-written books to spring board learning and makes topics come alive....we read-aloud until our eyes fall out. Lots of the time when A is gone we linger at the lunch table, nibbling at our food and reading a few extra chapters of whatever book we are reading at the moment.

We try to spend a lot of time outside and I believe in free-flowing, real-time exploration in the natural world. Skinning knees, digging up beetles and popping seed pods are all legitimate learning activities at our house. Lots of the boys time outdoors is just random and unsupervised, self-directed fooling around that results in lots of interesting questions later on. "Mom...what is that little bug that rolls up when you touch it?" or "Mommy, we were ripping leaves up and saw some of them had white juice inside. Why does it get black on your hands?"

I am doing what I can to include warm familiarity with visual art, this last year we started doing artist study work to learn some of the "greats" and their techniques. I am also really happy to get the paints, yarn or glue out and set the kids to work making something beautiful of their own. I am a little bit of a stickler about "real" crafts and work really hard to make sure that the kids are introduced to the process of making beautiful things that aren't just crappy throw-away Styrofoam stickers and random construction paper cut-outs. A little bit of that kind of thing in a playgroup or Sunday School class doesn't poison the waters but I want to be sure that they really understand and expect to create genuine beauty and utility not just throw-away Oriental Trading Company crafty-garbage.

We are starting to work on useful life-skills....money-education, chore instruction, shopping lessons, navigation, memorization, etc. Lots of excitement ahead in that category this year.

Here's what I am trying to work into my curriculum planning and schedule arranging this year....

20 Homeschooling Brainstorms For 2013

  1.  Ru has started learning sleight of hand and wants to perform a magic show for outsiders with rehearsal period, costumes and real admission fees!
  2. I want the three big boys to take ice-skating lessons this winter...maybe I'll even join them.
  3. We will have a much awaited field trip to The Mashantucket Pequot Museum during October, Native Heritage Month. 
  4. We have started a new allowance/chore system and I am planning to do some workshops about budgeting, financial goals and exciting ideas for boy-friendly charity.
  5. Ru did the summer reading program at the library and I told him as a reward he could get his own library card and a special appointment with one of the children's librarians to talk about all the rights and privileges thereof.
  6. The boys have requested that we go to a real, old-fashioned cider mill where they can watch their cider being pressed before we buy a jug.
  7. Ru and now Nib (desperately eager!) will be enrolling in Fall Ball, our local Little League's autumn session.
  8. I found and am burning this wonderful collection of classic poems, arranged for children and read aloud by Librivox readers.
  9. Dee has started learning to read and this year he'll keep working through 100 Easy Lessons and then tackle real books for the first time.
  10. I am magpie-ing the idea of unit themes for each month of the school year.
  11. We're going to join our friends in the homeschool group for Field Trip Friday adventures.
  12. I am introducing Latin to the house. I have ordered two systems (1 and 2) and we'll try them out and see what works for us.
  13. Nib will learn to write his name this year and solidify his alphabet.
  14. I'm on the look-out for a Spanish playgroup.
  15. I am hunting for music lessons and starting a beginning music theory workbook for the three biggest boys. 

Its gonna be an exciting year! I'm geeked for book buying and activity scheduling.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Birthday, Peaches and Planes in My Dreams

This coming weekend will be our first time as a household celebrating my sister, Lockbox' birthday together. We are planning in some serious shore time, a peaches and cream pie (recipe here!), sparklers, some read alouds, some late night chatting and some cozy mornings sleeping in. We are all still enjoying her presence so much. We'be set up some nice boundaries for personal space and responsibility which are preserving but I think our warm friendship is the most important factor. I have cool siblings. I feel lucky.
We havn't been peach picking in quantity yet. We got a small bag of white peaches from a farm but I aim to pick more like a bushel for canning, fruit leather and freezing for smoothies in the winter.
The garden is clipping along nicely with tomatoes ripening every day, our first cabbages ever and several sweet dinners of baby beets in our bellies. I am really hoping against hope that our sweet potato vines bear.
I have a mad yen for a free plane ticket. A good friend was having a baby shower in Colorado, my sister Foxy is nursing my beloved, tiny premature nephew along in Michigan and I also feel like I am kind of desperate for a small,  careless foray into vernal Vermont. Nobody has shown up with a magic ticket though so I might have to stick with dreamships for transport.
I painting the house madly!!! The trim is starting to look reliably white and glossy around the house. Feeling awesomely capable after charging the drill up myself for the purpose of home rescue.
Tomorrow I do laundry.

What's Left In The Bucket?

Newsflash!!! It is still summer. I realize the kids are all going back to school, we are getting hints of fall weather and the grocery stores are all setting up displays of Halloween candy...but it is, its still summer.  :)

In the spirit of still having time and living in the now instead of the near future....here is what is still left on my .....

2013 Summer Bucket List.

1. Take the boys fishing
2. Ride a ferry
3. Pick peaches and blueberries, maybe bkackberries.
4. Plan my homeschool curriculum for this year.
5. Lie in the hammock in the back yard and read a book.
6. Go crabbing.
7. Make my traditional plum tart.
8. Assemble an Herbal Medicine Chest is preparation for cold weather and sickness season.
9. Go to a festival.
10. Can tomato sauce and peaches
11. Paint the front porch portico.
12. Make a new friend.
13. Bake a lemon meringue pie.
14. Make a big, vivid abstract painting to hang above my bed.
15. Hang the hummingbird feeder.
16. Oil my cutting boards with beeswax and lemon.
17. Listen to country music with the windows down
18. Get the boys a playhouse and some stumps for their corner of the yard.
19. Call a junk man to take a load to the dump
20.Do henna designs with Lucy.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Summer Fluff

It's a fluff day. Summer needs those. It's essential. I am spending time I don't have reading the ever so fluffy Tao Of Martha. It's hilarious and over the top and ridiculous and I am quite addicted. I spent naptime with my feet on the dashboard at park, reading more of it hungrily while the boys snoozer in their carseats. So delicious.
As a result I am now planning a Martha Stewart inspired backyard clambake to celebrate the golden end of summer.
Now that dinner is over (pesto chicken, cheese cubes, sauteed garlic summer squash and a cold melon soup) I am in the office positively giddy about watching Mama Mia with A as soon as he is done reading bedtime stories. I have been dying to see it for years and am sure cravings for The Medditerranean will result. Bring it on! I am in the mood!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

I love the green, lush coating of Virginia creeper on the stone wall here. It's the front lawn of the Catholic church around the corner. I have a thing for Catholic churches....so old and mysterious, weighted with solemn dignity. I am also intimidated by them though, which is why I walk past, have even prowled the grounds of this church but have never satisfied my longing to inside. They are beautiful but they feel exclusive, exotic and special but also set-apart and purposely exclusive. I do mean to actually go in. I want to slip in sometime and pray in the light slanting down from the stained glass windows, light a candle and genuflect at the beautiful altar. It's a kind of introverted Mommy fantasy of mine, private prayer in the small cathedral around the corner.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Too Many Kids

Today was a long day but a good one. I watched my friend, Nutmeg's kids while she had all her wisdom teeth extracted and then spent a little recovery time coming out of anesthesia and icing her jaw. There were six children here all day and just one me. They were actually well behaved and there were no major fights or object breakages or rule violations...and I was still pooped.

I feel so dumb about it. I grew up with six kids. My mom did it without any breaks, no personal painting time, no date nights, no blogging to fire her mind. Just her, and six kids and a giant flock of chickens and no indoor plumbing.

People area CONSTANTLY saying astoundingly admiring things to me in public about my supposed patience and grit and organization (etc. etc.) because I have and astonishing four kids. I always feel kind of silly about that. I'm not that organized (although I'm improving and I do aspire in that direction), I'm not astoundingly patient (although having four kids has been very helpful for developing patience) and I have grit but not enough to make me feel any kind of invincible. I still meltdown and feel like a terrible parent and get overwhelmed and get to my last straw. And honestly, maybe its growing up with six kids but I feel like its not that big of a deal to have four children. I realize its increasingly unusual culturally but its not a superhuman activity. There's nothing beyond the scope about it. Its just four.

And yet, there I was today with six in the house....thinking...."How. How in the how did my mom do this?????" Six kids feels like a lot!!! And I know its only two more and I know that it actually worked logistically today and I know that people do it....but I just felt beyond my edge. For one day it doesn't matter, you can do almost anything for one day. But in regular life? I just kept thinking just the same things people always say to me in line at the thrift store or the grocery store check-out. "Oh my. You six kid people are busy!! How do you do it all?"

How can I feel so self-assured and yet so knocked over a few steps away? Am both humbled and embarrassed. The thing that worries me is, there's no shame in knowing your limits and making careful calls for your own life but there is danger in selling yourself short, and not living up to the challenges thrown in your path. We grow when we climb over the walls we never thought we'd scale not by doing all the things we knew we could all along.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Crowing Hens

This week we heard our first crow from one of our "hens." Looks like we do indeed have a rooster, although we did beat the odds and end up with 7 hens out of 8 chicks. Am still astonished that we had such good luck buying pre-sexed fluffballs. Our little russet colored rooster (not pictured) has found his way to a Craigslist posting and hopefully will find a more rural flock to govern soon.


Thursday, August 1, 2013

Man Flowers

Noticed Dee pick a mini-bouquet the row of zinnias he planted the raised bed I let the boys have. Was amused watching him carefully select his blooms and compose them together. Was even more amused when I went upstairs at naptime and found the little nosegay in one of the "kid cups," neatly decorating the radiator near his bed. Love that boy.