homeschooling, homemaking, homesteading...home.

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Public reading

It's meme time! I literally have only minutes left in the month, but I couldn't resist this one when I stumbled across it. From Shelly's Book Shelf, the questions for June 2007:

1. Do you read while on public transport or when on long journeys by train/tram/bus etc? And if so what is your preferred reading material for these trips?
Well, not anymore. But back in my single-girl days when I had a career and a commute, I got from the suburbs to downtown on the trolley. It took me a while to be able to read on the rails...I got terrible motion sickness. I soon learned to read while seated facing forward, though, and eventually I could even do it if seated facing backward. I got a lot of reading done on the T!! I'm terribly out of practice now, though. The only opportunity I have to read while traveling these days is on long car trips with the family, when my husband drives. And I get nauseated trying to look at maps. I guess I've lost my "sea legs", so to speak.

2. You see someone reading a book on the tram/train/bus and are impressed/want to get to know that person, what is the book? Name three possibilities. Bonus: Have you ever gotten a book to read because you've seen someone else reading it on public transportation?
Oh, I don't need hypotheticals...I did this all the time. I met a good friend on the trolley the day he started reading over my shoulder and struck up a conversation. It's a long and kind of funny story, but the upshot is that he became a very close confidant for a time (we've lost touch, alas, as our lives have taken us in different directions) and he also introduced me to several other people who became very important players in my life. So, yay Dave! And the book that got him talking to me was The Fifth Sacred Thing, by Starhawk.

Another time I was reading on the trolley and was in those final pages where your concentration just cannot be broken and you devour the pages with ferocious intensity until you finally finish. (Or is that just me??) I guess my seatmate got a kick out of that, because when I closed the book and put it in my lap with that satiated sigh, he asked if the book was good. In retrospect, I wonder if he was doing a little good-natured mocking or maybe even some clumsy but well-intentioned flirting. Of course, I was still in the world of my book and just took his comment at face value. I gave him a brief summary and then gave him the book. I never saw him again. I think I freaked him out. That book was Ender's Game, by Orson Scott Card. Hm, come to think of it, it was Dave (from the above story) who recommended that book. Neat.

I've also scribbled down titles for my "to read" list based on seeing other people reading them, although I can't recall any right now.

3. If you were wanting to catch someone's eye, what book would you be reading? Name three possibilities.
Hm. It depends on the person, and why I wanted to catch their eye. Maybe something controversial, to spark conversation. Especially political books--if it supports their views, great. But perhaps something counter to their views would work to get conversation started as well. (I know that would work with my husband...he cannot resist debating people!) In my college days, it was usually something obtuse and philosophical like the writings of Kant, or Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. Okay, I did like to try to chew on stuff like that--still do--but mostly I wanted people to think I was really deep and intelligent. I once impressed the hell out of an interview panel when they asked an icebreaker question about what I was currently reading for fun and it honestly turned out to be a book about quantum physics (The Fabric of Reality, by David Deutsch). That's...just what I was interested in at the time!

Of course, all of these answers are looking back at about five years ago. Now I mostly read chick lit and books about early childhood development. :p

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Friday, June 22, 2007


When you decide that your children will not attend a public institution for their primary education, you begin a long ordeal of explanation and justification. Which, frankly, you shouldn't have to. "This is what works in our family" should be enough, but people are always eager to challenge anything outside of the norm. Problem is...they judge it *based* on the norm.

Example. I found myself lurking over at MDC again the other day, and quickly remembered why I don't hang out there more. A woman had made an incidental comment in a post about homeschooling her kids, who are ages 4 and 2, and another member attacked her--more than once--for daring to call the kids' learning process "homeschooling". The attacker's premise was that since the kids are younger than typical school age, the mother is not "homeschooling" them, but merely "parenting", as any (supposedly) normal parent would do preparational instruction (basic reading skills, etc.) before their kids enter kindergarten.

I think the attacker is missing the point.

Oh, I'm sure she's coming from a position of self-righteous authority as someone whose vision of homeschool is institutional-style learning, done in the home. She may indeed keep her kids out of a classroom, but her ideas (as she expressed them; I haven't actually opened a dialogue with her to find out) still very much fit our society's paradigm. Learning = School. And it begins at X age, once you have filed the appropriate affidavits, contracted with an evaluator, and ordered your prepackaged curriculum. If you're not doing worksheets and earning grades, it apparently doesn't count.

For folks who embrace a more learner-led educational experience, the concept of defining a starting point for learning is absurd. Although I will provide skill instruction, for the most part my children will be "unschooled". We will not rely on prepackaged study guides and will not lose sleep over standardized tests. These are some of what I wish to *avoid* by keeping them out of the world of public school. Every day has natural opportunities for learning. My one-year-old is learning new things constantly. As am I. A concrete timetable works to define the limits of when a person attends an institution. But to suggest that learning starts and stops according to that timetable is to assume that learning only happens in that setting.

And that's just preposterous.

I also spent some time recently browsing homeschooling families' blogs. One mother said,
Our friends who know we will be homeschooling have begun asking me when we’ll “start” and I simply answer that we’ll just continue what we’re already doing

I need to enforce a little paradigm shift of my own. So what if my kids are 3 and 1. We won't "be" homeschooling. We "are" homeschooling.

And for what it's worth, I'm a student, too. But that's fodder for a separate entry (mental note to self).

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

This post feels familiar

Perhaps that's because my friend Muse recently posted something verrrrrrrrry similar. But hey, my kids are cute too and the experience is worth sharing.

The short version of our story, for those who haven't been keeping up with the drama, is that after a longstanding policy of catch-and-release and a short-lived experiment in kill-and-dispose, we decided to temporarily keep the mice we caught, to ensure that we weren't re-infesting our house with the same individuals over and over.

After two weeks of empty traps and clean silverware drawers, we decided that it was time to let our two (yes, only two!) prisoners free. Of course, I am still not keen on the idea of releasing them on our property in case they remember the way back into the house (and they do...I assure you, they do...) so despite warnings to the contrary, I chose a local municipal park as the site for relocation. Yeah, just call me Civil Disobedience Mom.

We went on the nature trail and Theo searched very carefully for a place he thought the mice would like.

Releasing mousie #1...

And #2.

Let's hope that we have to refer to these pictures to see mice from here on out!!

In other news, we found a wide variety of pretty mushrooms along the trail. This was the only picture that turned out decent, as I had a 14-month old flailing in the backpack carrier, trying to see just what the heck I was looking at.

I wish I knew more about the wild goodies in our region. After reading The Omnivore's Dilemma and an old Amish cookbook I picked up at a used book sale (you can eat poke? Well...some say you shouldn't, so I may not risk that one...) I've become interested in foraging and am eagerly awaiting my turn to read "Wildman" Brill's book. Apparently I'm not the only one with a recent curiosity, as there are 3 other folks on the "hold" list ahead of me. (Have I mentioned that I luuuuuuuuuuurve our regional library system? Seriously, it rocks.)

My budding mycologist.

See? Even if I wasn't interested in my own right, I'd still have to read up on this so I could feed his interest. That's what homeschoolers do! Heck, that's what parents do, isn't it??

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Learning is messy

I thought it was a good idea at the time. Okay, well if not exactly a good idea, then at least a fun one. I'm all for kids learning with hands-on exploration. Even if it's messy. Heck, especially if it's messy. I am the kind of mom who lets even the youngest toddlers help with baking. I encourage puddle-splashing. Getting dirty is part of playing, of learning, and of living.

So okay. We had some vanilla pudding. Theo declared that he hates vanilla pudding. Cayden wanted to touch the vanilla pudding. So I came up with the brilliant idea that vanilla pudding could-- and yes, should--become a medium for Artistic Expression.

The results of this little game were not as fun as you might have imagined. Cayden was content to just quietly eat the pudding from the brushes,

and despite my cheerful coaching, Theo put forth only a halfhearted effort and declared the whole experience to be "yucky".

Then again, he still has a strong aversion to even the idea of finger paints, so should I be surprised?

Oh well. I guess even for kids, not all messes are created equal.

And yes, I realize that this comes close on the heels of a post showing a mess that they created without Mom's approval and supervision. But you should note that I did grab the camera before the cleaning supplies.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

The battle of the sexes meets the pantry

Maybe it's just me. But if a box does not fit on a shelf, I typically either turn it on its side or put it on a different shelf: one with higher clearance.

Not so my husband. Observe.

I'm telling you, testosterone is responsible. Damn it, if it doesn't fit...force it!

Of course, if I am to be fair in the gender-bashing, I could admit that only someone surging with estrogen would be more interested in bitching about it rather than just saying "thanks for helping with the groceries"...

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

When they're quiet...

...sometimes it means that they are Up To Something.

Silly me. I thought that I could take a breather after dinner. Hubby and the older boys had eaten and bolted, headed for a weeknight baseball game. The little boys were playing happily together. So I took a few minutes to check email before I tackled clearing the table. I could hear them in the next room, giggling. Good, right?


Hey, bathtime was part of the evening's plan anyway.

Monday, June 11, 2007

A paradox of motherhood

There are many. Here's the one I encounter most often these days.

It is the end of the day. A long day. I am literally fighting to get the little ones to sleep. The toddler has a million requests and a sudden uncontrollable burst of energy that has him bouncing, running, flailing, you name it. The baby wants to nurse and nurse and nurse and juuuuuust when he's almost asleep, his brother bounces or shouts or whines and whee! The baby is awake again and we're back to square one. I'm at the point where I'm completely touched out, out of patience, and entertaining fantasies of violence if it would only make everyone Shut. Up. I start fuming, thinking of all of the things I'd like to be doing (like this blog--holy good gravy, why don't I post more often??) and realizing that before I even attempt any of the dreamed-of "me" stuff, there is a mountain of dishes to be washed and laundry to be folded and I haven't even showered today so I have to do those things first but I can't because the kids are still awake and oh my stars, can't anyone just shut them off? They are driving me crazy!!!

And then...

They do fall asleep.

And all I want to do is lie next to them, and watch them. And listen to them breathe. And maybe touch them...just gently, to feel their perfect skin and silky hair and the soft rise and fall of their tummies as they dream.

* * * * *

Slightly off-topic...what would be the plural of paradox? Paradoxes? Paradoces? didn't bother addressing that. I guess you're only allowed to have one at a time.