Showing posts with label homeschooling. Show all posts
Showing posts with label homeschooling. Show all posts

Friday, 17 August 2012

Preface/Background to Our Chinese Unit Study, Unschool Style, plus an introduction to newbies to "strewing".....

We homeschool. We unschool as a philosophical approach. For those who are unfamiliar with that term, it is like Montessori without the large class management of other people's children aspect.

Our classroom is our home, our farm, our community- you get the idea. Our home is filled with books, seriously thousands of books. No less than three bookcases hold "kid" books, the rest are all over- history, science, literature, classics, antiques, newest editions, science fiction. We love books.

In our dining room, at kid level, I have art supplies. I do keep the higher quality paints and inks up high but only so Zap doesn't eat them and Holly doesn't take up Interior decorating- again. They can have them down when they ask, just not when I am in the shower or on the phone. You know? This.

I have a whole huge bookcase with kid history, math, and reading books. Whole curricula..

"Hold up, lady, you just said you unschool!" Yes I did. That doesn't mean we don't learn things or enjoy using books. We all do. Especially me.

That's where something called strewing comes into play. Strewing is where we make available items of interest and leave them in accessible places to be found and explored at will.

So I thought about how we will handle school this year, since I am going back to work away from home a couple days a week and fall is pretty busy with deliveries and craziness of farm stuff. My kids have been begging to learn more about China, love Chinese food, music, and art. We've also fielded some questions from them about why we don't buy Made in China products (we actually do though), especially packaged food and art supplies (which end up as food unintentionally toddler style). A really negative bias has crept up in our whole culture regarding products from China, mostly from teh massive lead poisoning issues that have happened. Plus we like to buy local, as local as possible in all things. But that doesn't mean we have to bash a whole culture, you know?

And I realized too that I know very little about China. I mean, I have seen Mulan a million times with the kids, and I know I like crab Rangoon, and I can point to China on the map....and that's about it really.

So what better way to organize our lives and learning than to have mama learn some more about China? And that's how we'll do this, I will learn and do projects and if they are interested then they can too. I plan on creating a syllabus, with books and supplies provided for each mini lesson, here on the blog, in case anyone wants to replicate what we are doing. Label will be China, Dragons, and Yummies.

A brief summary of items we will cover in the groupings:

Art: watercolor, calligraphy, kite making, origami, paper making
Culture: Tea ceremonies, religion, etiquette, medicine, agriculture, puppetry
History: Time lines
Geography and cooking are paired. We'll study regional cuisines and cook them every week, in reference to regions and types of ingredients. Food can really be a good way to teach other aspects of culture. Plus, YUMMY. Oh, and animals. Geography=animals to my kids. Maybe a zoo trip.
Science: inventions, building, medicine, agriculture, earthquakes
Math: fractions in cooking, calculating for science, abacus, money measuring, weighing
Reading: stories and books from China, about China, writing to a pen pal, writing messages in cards, creating fortune cookie messages, calligraphy
Dragons. My kids like dragons a lot.
Chinese New Year and holidays.
We plan on attending the Asian Festival here this year too.

Things I have purchased so far:
  • A calligraphy set, a real one with ink and stone and hair brushes and bone chine dishes. Not expensive and yes, made in China.
  • Toy dragons. Yes I did.
  • Paper dragons to hang from the ceiling.
  • Real stainless steel chopsticks and bone china spoons
  • Cast iron tea service
  • Tea
  • Books on calligraphy, craft and building projects, books on Chinese history for kids, Chinese mask book
  • Pandora, Traditional Chinese station
  • Netflix, Wild China and Studio Gibli movies. Dress up clothes with Chinese theme.

We'll start this October 1st ish. Expect lots of cute pictures of kids doing stuff and cooking. These items are on the shelves and ready to explore. We already listen to the music every day. At the end of the week, we'll have lunch at the local Chinese buffet (yay rural Iowa!). We'll cook from the recipe books twice a week, maybe more at lunch time.

Each time we do an activity, I will post book and supply list with links to isbns, mostly because that is where I shopped for the stuff.  I'll also post a reflection on what worked, ect.

I'd love additional ideas to work in too.....and that's about all of it. The ideas of it all will unfold as we live it. The girls want to trade out our dining room table for a lower standing coffee table so we have to sit on pillows to eat meals. Is that even how people eat in China? Where did they get that idea?

Sunday, 25 January 2009

Running Away

A recent meme floating around got me thinking. To be more specific, some of my friends entries got me thinking. It was about sports and running. 

When I was 7 my best friend in the whole world lived behind me, across a clothesline and an alley. We were separated by more than that at school and less than that at home. At school she was athletic and well liked, but not in the gifted program. I was small, picked last at everything, and thriving in the gifted program. These demarcations defined us on the playground. 

The thing was though, I was actually good at sports. Really good. I won the free throw competition for my age group in the 4th grade. I could out shoot the big kids in any game of HORSE or PIG and I was fast. I loved soccer and was an awesome goalie. When PE time came, I was picked last at everything and trailed behind the runners during laps. Why? I think it is obvious. Edited to add****For those who don't know me, I have always been really, really much smaller than my peers. As an adult I am only 4'9". I was also poor growing up and dressed funny. Ok, I still do. Sometimes I don't even bother to match socks and I always wear them inside out, seams are itchy!

Sage asked me why one day. I had beaten her in a long sprint to get to the swings at a park, and out of breath, she wondered why I didn't run like that at school. She just didn't understand. I loved school so much, but at recess I would sit at the fence and read books. I didn't have an answer for her then. 

When we moved away the next summer I had to give up sports because in Illinois the school charged a fee and required camps. My family was too poor to afford that just for a 5th grader to play after-school basketball. So all I was left with was riding my bike around the neighborhood and the humiliating sessions of school PE. I grew to hate sports. 

I still love to run and swim, but I loathe "working out", I will never jog, and the mere thought of going to a gym makes me want to vomit. We don't own a treadmill because the going joke is that we already pay (in taxes) for the public sidewalks plus you get the benefit of fresh air. If I have extra energy to spare, I use it to mop and vacuum and haul bins to storage. Yard work is awesome too. The thought of walking to nowhere seems silly.

And yet, I totally get the whole working out/sports drive. It feels good, it is alone time, and it is lovely to feel so perfectly human. I just can't run on demand. 

So that got me thinking about unschooling. I've mentioned before that I am a product of the public schools and also that I have unschooled myself my whole life. That duality is similar to my friendship with Sage. School was a refuge from my turbulent home life, but so was my own imagination. I could run like the wind when not confined, I devoured books, and loved the sunshine, but in school I did what I had to, excelled, but it was simply a way to spend time in between my other life. It changed how I viewed myself and changed how I found joy in things.

Lil'Bug loves her art classes. She is learning and working with mediums I cannot provide her here at home, but I can't help but notice that her creativity with her at home artwork has changed. It is not as free, not as expressive. Maybe that change would have happened naturally, but I can't help but wonder if the situation of sitting with peers and seeing what they are doing and coloring inside the lines on demand isn't changing her view of herself and her world, much like what happened with me and sports. 

Just thoughts......

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

How We "School" Part 1

I've been asked to write a bit about how we do things around here and what our long term "plan" is. I don't mind a bit. It seems to fit in with all the curriculum listing others are doing. The thing is that I will likely do more ranting about "school" philosophy and raving about delight in learning than anything else. Also my oldest is almost 4, but we'll get to that in a bit.

What we do is as close to radical unschooling as anything else. I hate to put labels on things, but the reality of it is that the label has helped us find like minds, community, and lots of support locally and online. We attachment parent in addition to unschooling and that makes us radical unschoolers. So be it.

So what does that mean for us? How will our children learn to read and do math? All good questions. What that means for us is lots of conversation, a very special and respectful bond with our daughters. This extends to their interests and learning desires. I also don't take their interests and ruin them with too much academic parental intrusion. That's not cool. Here is an example:

Lil'Bug likes bugs. She catches them, plays with them, wants to read stories about them. We bought her a bug house and lots of books about bugs. We took her to the Science Center Bug night. She doesn't care for some of the books, but they were helpful to me so that I could learn data and answer her questions, use the book as a reference guide to help her identify the critters. What we also do is show GREAT enthusiasm when she presents her finds. I get out the camera and document, I ask her questions, I answer what I can, I ooh and ah over her delight. Dearest and I catch bugs too and present them to her with the same excitement.

We do not quiz her. We do not check out extra books and insist on reading them. We do not make her stay and listen to presentations and lectures at the park when she is not interested. We present opportunities and options but she knows they are hers to choose.

When we do count spots on the critters, or legs, or eyes, the counting has meaning and context. How many of something helps identify it, what kind of eyes and such tells us about what it eats or how it builds. We're not just singing a counting song without reason (though she's been known to break out into "nine pirate girls" just for fun!).

We do remind her that bugs are living creatures and we treat them with respect and care and always try to release them back to the places they were found.

Stay tuned for more!

Thursday, 21 August 2008

Serious Consideration

We have planned for many things. What we have not planned for is a long term educational plan if something were to happen to one or both of us. It is important to me that my children are cared for, respected, and allowed to learn joyously.

A couple things were churning in my brain as of late. One our our local moms was killed in a car accident this summer. I'd only met her once, but the incident stirred in me a sudden urgency to document our choices and discuss plans with each other and our family.

Until this summer the RU term has been lightly and quietly spoken. After all, MIL is a public school administrator and while our homeschooling "whim" has thus been tolerated, concerns over curriculum and socialization are already rising to the top of the brine.

So what is to follow is a series of posts on unschooling and how we have adapted it to our learning and lives. For me at this point in time it is not enough to have ring links in the sidebars.

Evie also sent a comment a while back wondering how we do it (RU), how it works for us. At the NBTS party I ranted and raved about how anything, (YES ANYTHING,) can be a unit study. No really, anything. Name it and I can get at least three "disciplines" to go with it naturally (not forced).

So, you've been warned. The posts are coming.

Friday, 6 June 2008

Friday Rain Check

It rained. Usually this is no big deal. Actually, it set up to make our first Friday field trip to the local marsh even marshier. Lil'Bug was very excited. As we loaded up into the truck to head out, Nana and Pawpaw called- their sump pump was malfunctioning and their finished basement was flooded. They needed Dearest to help.

Lil'Bug was fine with missing her field trip to help Nana and Pawpaw BUT the thing that devastated her was that she wasn't actually allowed to help because of the bacteria in the accumulating water. She has always been able to help Daddy at our house with just about everything from tile grouting to oven repair. She was pissed. She moped, she stomped, she pouted. She even put on her rain boots and stomped down to the basement anyway only to be escorted back upstairs and given a box of cookies to keep her occupied. Yes, a whole box. Not my idea, but I helped her eat them.

When all was as stabilized as possible, Dearest took me and Blueberry home and Lil'Bug to a different park for a nature explore. They revisited the poached deer carcass from last month to observe the changes. For almost four hours, they climbed rocks, overturned logs, examined bugs, and then came home exhausted.

I hate that she missed her field trip BUT it is very important to us that we demonstrate for our children the importance of helping family and friends even when it means you miss out on something fun now and then. Goodness knows that friends and family have done the same for us time and time again; for that we are forever thankful.

Friday, 23 May 2008

Video Games, Teaching, and Mean Moms

A student of mine decided to publish his essay about video gaming in an unschooling home online. Another online "mommy blogger" picked it up and started discussing the writing, then another, and now it is being discussed all over online:

Here is the link to the student's essay:

His mother's response to the controversy

Sandra Dodd's link to the issue at hand.....

The last two generated a lot of other discussions and links, but I'm not going to list all 100+! I'm also going to let you get to the offended's blog through the other links. I'd rather not generate more traffic to hers if I can help it!

I don't typically discuss details about my teaching or students but this one I'd thought I'd share. The thing that really peaked my interest was the way that the offended blogger approached discussion in the comments. I also teach Argument 106 and she kept dropping vocab terms to dismantle the arguments of others, but not quite getting them right. Also, if this was in the confines of my classroom, the offended mom would be explaining such an unprofessional reaction to the Provost. She called his writing horseshit and emotional blackmail. I usually explain the rules of engagement in the classroom (online) as how we would be expected to treat each other in the "real world" much for that, eh?

That said, I really enjoyed this student's essay. I am glad he published it. I am glad that it is generating discussion. Discussion leads to learning about others and ourselves, even if one doesn't agree with the original premise.

In fact, I might have been on her side of the fence at one time in my parenting life. It took a while for me to understand my child and myself enough to finally allow video games in my home. It took me even more time to overcome resentment and guilt and such that I was unknowingly (or un-admittedly) passing on to my family. It takes a community of learning and kindness to help us through times like those. A wonderful mentor said to me, when I was fed up with a mom bully and her kids at park day and wanted to start a new park day, that the greater change will come when we open ourselves up to such encounters, "
you never know who might stumble across a group of unschoolers and have their own minds changed for more peaceful and respectful family relationships," she wisely said.

Wednesday, 21 May 2008

Delight in the Sunshine

After such a long and harsh winter we have relished these Spring days. Some mornings it is all Lil'Bug can do to snarf down her cheerios and bolt for the back door. Out she goes! Last fall we got a free swing set from another homeschool family. Thank goodness! She lives on her "pirate ship" and now with the addition of the Pooh Bear themed superhero cape she is "Larry Boy, the hero pirate!".....????.....Veggie Tales does have a pirate movie, but she has never seen it. Behind her is her pet pig who sails the open sea with her and only eats "wishing" flowers mixed with sand.

We had a great child labor thing going for a while. It was her job to pick and gather all the dandelions and bury them in a hole by the back fence. Then....someone showed her that, un-picked, those pesky weeds turn into wishing flowers. Sigh. She has made thousands of wishes that her sister would hurry up and be born. Thousands.

The innocence of childhood. Cape, t-shirt, denim shorts, patten leather princess shoes? My sweet days.

Garden Update, Spring Progress

Broccoli! These are doing awesome. The strange absence of bugs this year also includes cabbage moths and such so maybe we won't have a huge problem with them this year. I plan on harvesting and freezing these in June and another rotation in the fall. Yum. Also, Lil'Bug says we will find June Bug in the broccoli bed and that will be her birth day- just like we found her in the pumpkin patch 4 years ago, in Narnia, in Heaven. Ah, the creation story of a wee babe.

Yum. Spinach. I will have my first garden fresh spinach salad tomorrow and then use some for lasagnas to freeze for the first week June Bug babe is home.

The other part of my salad mix: lettuce and various greens. So tender are they when fresh and young. Drool....

Strawberriest blossoms. Two different kinds. Lovely with morning dew......or Lil'Bug do not spray Mama with the hose while I have the camera out here! AGH!

And last....we planted blueberries. Again. We are the gardeners of ever innocent hopefulness. Every blueberry plant we have ever planted has died. This one has blossoms! Ok, to be fair, it came with the the blossom buds, but still!

Monday, 5 May 2008

Lil'Bug Update

Lil'Bug read her first words last week.

We were out in the garden working on the raised bed when she pointed and read this:

Cool. She read COW! She also picked up a book at the book store and asked to buy it. I said, "Sure, if you can tell me what it is called."

"Space. Mom, it says Space right here," she pointed to the cover title.

So now she is the proud owner of a book about space and a bag of cow poop. :) She asked to keep it a secret for a while, but finally relented to letting me blog about it. For those of you who don't know, we do not do active reading/writing lessons. We read to her a lot. She HATES the ABC song and people quizzing her on the alphabet, so we don't. She knows her letters though and can write most of them when she wants to. I suspected she was reading when I heard her screaming at Super Why last week that they got the wrong answer AGAIN, but I did not push her on it.

She will and is now reading at her own pace. She does it for curiosity and not performance. She is growing and learning naturally.

Wednesday, 23 April 2008

Backyard Bugs April 23

Lil'Bug's cricket friend.....

Tuesday, 22 April 2008

First Planting!

Princess Lil'Bug in the Garden......

Pulling weeds......

Raking the compost smooth......

Finished bed, planted with spinach, spicy greens mix, and romaine lettuce.

Ah, and all I had to do was enjoy the sunshine!

Backyard Bugs April 22

Monday, 21 April 2008

Science Fair Project: Phase 1

Lil'Bug decided to document the bugs in our backyard. I took the pictures, but she found the bugs. She wants to keep doing this so we have a good record of what lives back there. Not all the critters are identified. She also went through our picture archive so we could put together a post of what we found last summer too, but then I realized we've already done that with the GARDEN CRITTERS tag. :) Wow, we found some neat stuff last year!

While a traditional Science Fair has one entry on one day, we are going to continue our project through the warm weather. We'll be buying a bug book to help with identification too. Any ideas on the larva thing in the first picture? Last year my aunt told me not to kill those because they turn into a beneficial bug, but I can't remember which one!

Tuesday, 15 April 2008


Thank you so much to Needleroozer for help in identifying our weird coccoon! After some early morning research, I have confirmed as best as I could, that it is in fact a PRAYING MANTIS EGG CASE! It is 3 feet from the ground, about the size of a quarter, right color and texture......

Totally awesome.

Monday, 14 April 2008

Longest Monday Ever

I woke up to a regular Monday. Fed Lil'Bug breakfast, saw Dearest off to work, blogged a bit.....then, well, then I passed a blood clot.


I calmed myself down enough to call Dearest at work and tell him. He headed home. I called the Dr.s office, but no call back. I called our Doula. She said, "Go, go now." Really, there is no good reason for blood. So we went. Pawpaw came to the hospital to get Lil'Bug who was scared and worried too. I'm only almost 33 weeks.

They monitored, they prodded and poked (which hurt a lot! to the point of embarassment). The ultra sound showed June Bug a perfectly happy and active baby girl, placenta intact, mucus plug intact, cervix tight. My stats were good too. What they didn't find was the fibroid. No confirmation, but the going guess is that it broke, dissolved, and that is what passed. My gut tells me that is what happened. I am relieved, but the scare was a bit much for me and I ended up sleeping for a good deal of the afternoon. And, yes, lots of tears.

Dearest took me out to lunch and then home (after picking up Lil'Bug) and we puttered around for a bit in the garden. Here are some more progress pictures:

And a weird cocoon type thing. Any ideas? It is on a Lilac.

I really need a macro lens. I thought I would end up needing a zoom lens more, but a macro seems like it would fit better with all the close ups I've been doing. Oh, yeah, and the MAGNOLIAS are budding!

Lil'Bug loves mud bugs. Dearest and Lil'Bug also caught a nasty bug, or what they thought might be one. We took a break to look up Emerald Tree Borer. What they caught was NOT one. Whew. We don't have Ash trees in our yard, but still, nasty bug!

Then I went inside and slept. So much for getting laundry done!

Also, as a side note: EVERY THURSDAY SINCE THE WARM UP, IT HAS RAINED OR SNOWED OR BEEN AWFUL OUT. It's not fair. That is our park day! It means we go swimming instead, but still, park days are coveted. I just looked at the week's weather forcast and lo and behold, Thursday 70 percent chance of THUNDERSTORMS but sunny all the rest of the week. Gah. It could be worse; we turned the boiler off for the season so worse would be snowing and frigid.

Also, through some strange act of fate, I reconnected with a friend from high school who is also due in June. Amazing. We had lots in common then, more now. Different things now. :) So that's a happy ending to a very, very long day.

Thursday, 27 March 2008


This is an issue we are dealing with here at Chez Podkayne lately.

For Lil'Bug it really started about two weeks ago at Park Day. Some kids were there (not from our group) and were playing pirate, her favourite! Unfortunately they yelled at her and threw sand, calling her a baby and a girl and telling her because of those two things she can't be a pirate.

Broke. Her. Heart.

Soon after the kids from our group started showing up, but they were the older kids. They tried to play with her but her mood had turned so dark that it was difficult to do and eventually they gave up, leaving her alone by a tree. That day was bleak.

Recently at playgroups I have noticed, as the kids get older maybe?, that the boys and the older kids seem less willing to play with her. Perhaps it is that she is less willing to play by their rules and wants to have input. I don't know. I do know that sometimes even when people come here to our home and play with her toys, she ends up being left out. This makes her cry, but also hit and kick and get mad which does not lead to kids wanting to play with her. THEN she is upset for days.

The girls that are her own age are few and far between. She does ok with them though if we are not at home, but she still prefers pirates over princesses and that seems to be a problem with that age group of girls.

This leads me to the other side of this. I know exactly how she feels. I don't fit in either. I don't try to, but there are certain things/rules I really didn't know until recently. I didn't know that it is polite to bring food to a playdate, a dish, a bread, a snack, some offering. I didn't realize how important the telephone still is to socializing with women. Big problem for me. Mostly, I don't know much of how to be a good friend. Sometimes I get it right, sometimes I stick a big warty foot in my mouth.

It doesn't feel good to hear that many of the moms all get together and have girls night out, even though I couldn't go even if I wanted to. Why? Something else that separates me from them: I work. I stay home with my kid but I also teach college classes online. My "free time" is spent grading papers and communicating with students and filling out paperwork. I blog and read blogs when my grades are downloading. The rest of my time is spent with my family, tending house, or learning with Lil'Bug. My husband is attending classes online and working a lot to prepare for the time off he will take when June Bug arrives, so I take up the slack. But the not feeling good about it is not resentment for my life, it is feeling like I am being left out of that circle of friendship, something strong and good and rejuvenating, like the cool kids are sitting there with their back turned on the art geek. Been there, thought it sucked then too.

I actually had a friend recently tell me that she just doesn't click with me, when she thought she would. I like honesty, but ouch. That left me doubting myself, which was even worse. What about me was unlikable? (Plenty, is the answer. I am human and have personality flaws. I know this.) Still, pregnancy hormone fed emotions swelled up and left me bleak as well.

This is definitely an issue I will have to work out if I am going to help Lil'Bug. It was also an issue I thought I could ignore if we were moving to Ohio, but it looks like that won't happen for many years now, if ever. The important thing here is that Dearest Husband found out how I was feeling and boosted my self esteem. What a wonderful guy. :) He offered to rearrange things so I could have a night out, but that's not really what I want. I like spending time with my family. I don't need a night out.

Then there is this online wonderful circle of friends that I belong to. Perhaps that is why I come here daily now when before I simply checked email. I've actually avoided blogging about much this week because of how rotten I was feeling (also WAY busy!), but perhaps what I need to do is blog more and perhaps take up walking in the mornings or even with Lil'Bug in the afternoon.

(I sigh and lookout the window.....) is snowing. I thought that the thunderstorms this morning were rolling in with Spring, not bring one last dose of freaking Midwestern winter. Grrrrr.

Wednesday, 26 March 2008

Tuesday, There Was So Much to Do.....

Bradley class was canceled Monday night. Nothing to write about there, except that one of the 6 couples in our class had their baby Monday morning! Yay! They were due first, so while it was a little early, not unexpected. I am so happy for them.

We had a Dr. visit today in which Lil'Bug learned that our practitioner is not really a "doctor" and boy was she mad about it. We tried to explain why a Midwife is better for mama and new sister, but Lil'Bug wanted no part of it. She wanted a doctor.

The visit itself went really well. BP good, blood sugar good, no anemia, measuring right at 30 weeks (this means no fibroid growth as well as healthy baby), and good heart beat. We'll see them again in two weeks.

Then we rushed home to get ready for a baby shower. Not my own. Our pregnant homeschooling mom friend might have her baby early and after reading this post about how her family is "supporting" her a bunch of us decided to throw her a baby shower.....with one day's notice. It worked out fine. The kids were stressed out a bit, but that is to be expected I think. Lil'Bug did not handle the chaos well and there was a lot of crying and such on her part. BUT I think H. had a good time and that is what matters.

I've also been busy with my online job. Something went wonky over Spring break on one of my class sites and I am trying to figure it out. THEN firefox decided not to be compatible so for now I am grading out of Safari and I hate it. I'll get over it, it is just driving me up a wall right now and consuming more time than I'd like.

So then I also found out something that upset me. I post a lot of stuff we do here on the blog, but always after we have done it. On a local homeschool board, I often post events that we plan on attending, even issue invitations to others. That part of the forum is closed to the public and only available to local families BUT somehow people I do not want to have contact with, that have nothing to do with homeschooling, know about our activities and whereabouts. Yuck. I canceled my account with the group and since I usually plan the events I attend anyway, as most others plan things with age restrictions that exclude us anyway, I don't think it will impact us too much. If the yuckiness invades my blog, I can block their ISP (I think, I've heard others talk about doing that), but I can't do that on the other forums. Maybe I am being paranoid? I'm just not willing to risk it.

In Photo Challenge news, I am working on setting up a Flicker pool. I got so busy with things that I forgot to post this week's challenge. Well, it is now Thursday so I won't post it this week, BUT I will have everything up and ready by Saturday I hope! Thank you for the great idea Evie!

That's a lot of random stuff, but that's our week. Now, I must get back to work!

Friday, 29 February 2008

When Emus Attack

Have you ever googled when emus attack? No? What, you may ask, would prompt such a search?

Welcome to my day.

We were not, per se, attacked by an emu, but rather challenged by one in a really scary way. Yes, we were at the zoo, although it would be perfectly acceptable narrative to have this happen to me somewhere else (at least in the scope of events in my life, since really strange things tend to happen to me). BUT, at the zoo, it happened. Emus are huge birds with really big sharp beaks. The enclosures at our zoo are not enclosed, but rather habitats that you walk through on paths with no fences. The animals are usually indifferent and off the path, but not today. Today, the emu would not let us pass and was charging us. Quick thinking on our part, allowed us to get out BUT STILL......zoo staff snickered and mocked me a little. They said it must be mating season but I looked it up and that doesn't start until April. Hmph.

Then dearest husband mocked me A LOT. Not funny. Ok, maybe a little funny NOW, but not at the time. And, dearest emu, I plan on tracking down an emu burger and gleefully eating it so ha ha.

Actually my day started out pretty good, bacon and eggs and a lovely breakfast. It was when we headed out that I slipped on the stairs and into an icy puddle (ow) and then underestimated the time it takes to drive to the mall with the carousel (which was beautiful, Lil'Bug rode a dragon, a gazelle like goat, and a horse). We arrived late, but enjoyed immensely the company and the playing. We lunched and had fun walking and then snacked on a pomegranate smoothie, yum. The Lil'Bug wanted to go to the zoo so we invited our friends along. 39 degrees outside, 2 feet of melting snow, and a sugared up tot? Yeah, let's all go to the zoo!

Emu "encounter" aside (need I say that Lil'Bug thought the whole thing was so very awesome and joyfully expounded on the experience from her point of view when Daddy got home from work?), she splashed in every ice slush puddle she could find until, "bugs are stinging my feet, help help!"

????? I removed her shoes, icy and wet. No bugs. No bug bites. She was just articulating the stinging cold of wet, slushy puddle feet. Yeah, kid frostbite starts as stinging. Duh. Oh, and I get the mom of the year award for letting my kid splash in ice slush puddles while shod in canvas sneakers. I know, brilliant.

So home we went. What a day. Despite all the zoo drama I had a wonderful time with Laura (LifeDreamed) and her K.- thank you lady! I wish I had brought my camera.

Wednesday, 20 February 2008

Too Cool, Old School

Today is tax day for us, we gather up all of our many, documents and head off to an accountant. Life should be much simpler than it is, but alas. So, while celebrating the day we find out how much money we loaned to our government at a rate of 0% (ie, our refund), Lil'Bug asked us what taxes are.


I know what they are, but how do I explain to a three year old? So, my explanation was as follows: Mommy and Daddy give a lot of the money we work really hard for to some people. Those some people decide how best to use it; some of it builds roads, some pays for police and fireman, some helps pay for other kids to go to school, some helps "the sad babies"* get doctors and food, a lot pays for soldiers and wars, and a lot pays for the work that the some people do to decided all of these things. That's the sum of it.

* "the sad babies" are who we also donate clothes and toys and food to, she decided they must be really sad if their mommies and daddies can't get them clothes and food and toys.

She crinkled her nose at me. Thought about it for a bit and then responded, "I saw a fire once. We need firetrucks. I have too many toys anyway." Huh. Ok.

So since I was sharing our kitchen table wisdom, I thought I might also share our unexpected science lesson for the week:

"I want cheerios!" Lil'Bug can be a bit cranky, so imagine this as a grumbling demand and not a joyful shout.

"Ok, let me just get the milk," I said.

"No, I want cheerios with water."


"Yuck. No," said Daddy.

"Hmmm. Why not? Sure you can try it in a little cup," I pour a bit and put water on it.

Crunch. Pause.

"Mama, why is it yucky?"

"Milk is a colloidal suspension. Water is just a liquid. So, milk has all these tiny good things floating in it that make it harder for the milk to make the cheerios soggy but plain water doesn't. Make sense?"

She looked at me. She looked at the milk, "Cool. Old School." She opted for the bowl of cheerios with milk BUT only after she ate all of the contents of the small cup with cheerios and water.

Lessons learned- the science of liquid AND a lesson in parenting. What if I had just said, "No, yucky. Because we said so. Deal with it kid."? There was no harm in what she was asking to try. If she's asked to eat laundry soap, then I would have said no, but cheerios and water? Let her see for herself why we think it is yucky and explain to her a bit of science. No harm, LOTS of learning. As a bonus, her day was brightened up and she lost her case of the grumps. Discovery and joy can do that to a tot.

Sunday, 10 February 2008


In a quiet contemplation I realized a couple things: I am over complicating.

What that means to me is complicated, go figure.

In my search to find homeschool community I subscribed and became active in 3 local groups and a couple yahoo threads. I did this to test the waters, but I don't easily let go of things even when they are not working out. They are not working out. I jumped right in to planning and organizing and yada yada. In all but one group I was made to feel silly or excluded because my kid is only 3. All but one. Tag alongs that age and younger are welcome, but I don't have older kids so she's not a tag along and therefore not welcome? Huh?

So why do I keep going at it? Why not only go and pour energy into the one group that has always welcomed us with open arms? Why face the anxiety whenever this issue rears its head? Just to test myself? Bah. Release.

So, hopefully without burning bridges, I unsubscribed and downsized my profile on all but one group. I think it's the right choice for us and somewhere down the line maybe we'll step back in. The whole tag along logic thing is just too much for me to handle. It doesn't make sense. It is not fair. It is not "unschooly" group dynamic and I think that is the root of the problem for us. I just don't think Lil'Bug should be stuck with preschooler type activities if she is ready for more challenging learning. She's 3, but has mad verbal skills and can keep up with the 5-6 year olds. In playgroups that is who she plays with. I have a problem with age segregation on many different levels. It just seems so random, especially at that age where children all have varying skills and abilities and a brain spurt can happen overnight. Especially when we are life long learners and learning from life. I just don't feel welcomed in a group that doesn't welcome my child. I don't like that aspect of our society that separates our children from the world (and us) and designates things based on age instead of abilities.

I also have over complicated, perhaps defensively, my search for friendship. Instead of really making new connections and fostering them, I opted for group activities and hosting events. I think February and March will be a time for us to make more one on one play dates and really get to know people personally. This means, perhaps, that I should tidy the house up a bit. :) Lil'Bug prompted this by saying she doesn't want to just play, she wants to play with friends.

Then, what seems like out of the blue, I was asked to sit on a board for a homeschool advocacy/lobby group. Wow. I did serve on 3 statewide boards in my previous career and worked with non profits and marched our state capitol, etc. That's why I was asked, I'm sure. I know how it works and how to play the game. The thing is, I also know how much time it takes and how much time it takes away from my family. It is why I resigned from all the other advocacy work I did. However, this is important work and longterm. So this week, I am careful considering how that would factor with the baby on the way.