Thursday, June 28, 2007

Singing in the Rain

Don't think musical gaiety on the stage, think Enya in the mists. Today s the exact kind of beautiful, steady rainfall that nourishes gardens and stimulates my mind. What a beautiful day. It reminds me a bit of home, because it is both raining and warm. I want to paint, to bead, to read with my children.

When we were in SC that's what we would do every rainy day: curl up in the master bedroom and read book after book. It was a daily summer activity. We truly did follow the rhythm of the natural world in some ways, even then.

Yesterday I went digging through the archives on a parenting board I used to frequent, and found some cute vignettes I put on my own blog. So even though they're not at the top here, I blogged a lot yesterday. They are here:

Complete Drama
First Time Mama
N's Johnny Song
Dirty Boy
When Your Baby Was Born
Confetti Diaper
Sparkling Pee Fountains

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Specialty Nurseries in Washington

I have been to Rosedale Gardens, and it is worth the trip. It's truly lovely most of the year. They have a bronze statuary all over their multi-level property that is phenomenal and heart-touching. These are the people who gave me my garden book.

I am also fully in love with Molbak's, and the plants we have sourced there have outperformed any I have ever purchased anywhere else. But I am interested right now in the odd. The focused. The specialty nursery.

Here are specialty nurseries I plan to visit this year, before the rains come.

Fairie Perennial Gardens, in Tumwater.
from their site: The name "Fairie Gardens" was chosen to reflect Dave's and Steve's commitment to gay conscience raising. We believe it, like the gardens, reflects the magic of diversity and human community. The Gardens have evolved into a series of distinct garden rooms surrounding the old bulb farm, and a plant lovers dream destination where you can step from the cool shade of secret and tranquil gardens and into the bright sun of Alpine and Dry Gardens. Fragrance is everywhere, almost 12 months of the year. We see the Gardens as a small part of Gaia, or Mother Earth, and human beings as just one part of this Living Earth, intimately related to the plants and other beings that dwell here.

Jungle Fever Exotics, in Ruston
This place is a lot close to me and I pass it often. It reminds me of home from the outside but I am sure that sense of familiarity will be removed when I actually go in.

Big Dipper Farm, in Black Diamond
I just discovered their website and I am in love. I now have a local online reference for everything.

I got nuffin'

The kids are working and playing.

The garden is growing.

I am fatter than I was last month.

I am watching a lot of the Stargate franchise, and I viewed all of Big Love on demand in two days.

I don't have anyone on the schedules for lunch on Wednesdays.

Yet I don't want to blog.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Letters on Unschooling

This is a transcript from an email exchange I had recently with a dear friend of mine from Charleston. I was happily surprised by how it came out, as it provided a nice cap to the "academic" year. I was very flattered-- overwhelmed, really-- by how she finally responded.

A business owner whose sons work with her, with grandchildren of her own, she asked me the following in response to my recent post on thank-you notes:

Good job. Now, isnt an unschooler different from a home schooled? Isn’t that people that don’t hold any classes at all, even at home?

You are correct about unschooling. We don't teach AT our kids, and I certainly have never held classes at home. Montessori at home (which centers around a prepared environment and children doing the activities they will) merged very well into the older aged unschooling which is also about a prepared environment and children learning whatever is on topic. The kids continue to take classes outside the home, depending on their interests, and I do work with them at home when they're learning new things.

All it means is flying without a curriculum. I am happy with that, because I still keep my anal little notebooks which house three different sets of scope and sequences for her age group. As long as she (now, they) meets and exceeds, I am fine! (We are not radical unschoolers, who object even to that much parental interference.)

“learning whatever is on topic” Whose topic and where do they come from. Are you doing trips to museums and places of interest, or are you leaving letters around and just hoping they learn to read and write? ( that was sarcastic as I know you are far more into them learning those things than that implies) but it is confusing. Cause most kids, left to their own devices, will run and jump and play and don’t really know wht they don’t know so have no idea what to hone in on. ???? help me understand.

I think that the running and playing serves a purpose-- think about your granddaughter, before she went to preschool. Remember how sponge like she was? Always interested, always keen to learn something? It's no different when they get older. There are reasons school-age children appear to not be interested in learning when you see them. They've been schooled to only "learn" when they are at as school. Home educated children do not approach life that way.

They think they *are* playing. Their love of learning is never stamped out by the rank and file of raising their hands or waiting in line to go to the lunchroom or having to ask to go relieve themselves. Further, they're not held back while waiting for the rest of the grade to catch up to them. Remember what happened with your own son?* And then again with your granddaughter, as she entered [extremely expensive private school]? It was the same with me in elementary school, and I would love to see what my kids can accomplish left to their own pace.

We do a lot of unit studies to cover multi-disciplinary areas including art, science, culture, math and literature.

This past year they've studied (this is so very abbreviated):

The Pacific Northwest Native Americans, which included books, crafts and field trips to Chief Seattle's grave and the Old Man House, and to the current Snohomish tribal center and its museum.

Frontier History. This in part stemmed from our power outage in December. Amazed that without electricity we could continue to do much of what we normally did, ~G~ launched into a huge excavation of what it was like to live in "olden times." We rented and studied the Frontier house series by PBS, spent much time at history museums and read books geared towards her age group. Those books included crafts and things.

Those two unit studies led into a unit study on Lewis and Clark (see how this works?) and she studied how the Frontier pioneers collided with Native Americans, etc etc etc. She studied the Louisiana purchase, and how the land looked before Western civilization, and which animals became known to the white man. We have not completed this one, as we plan a trip down to the mouth of the Columbia River to cap it.

We regularly attend the PDZA zoo, the Washington State History Museum, the Glass Museum of Tacoma and we try to get up to the Seattle museums at least once a quarter. ~G~ has taken music and PE classes outside the home, and they both took art for a while. Next session, he wants to take Soccer and she wants to take martial arts.

As it pertains to the nuts and bolts of math and reading, we still use the Montessori approach to that. We've also read big books this year (me to them) like Harry Potter and Gulliver's Travels. Everything else we do also plays into reading and math so neither is held out as a "thing to do." Art and music are an intrinsic part of daily life.

For Science, they both maintain a year-round garden and they do models of earthquakes, volcanoes, etc. They study physics (without calling it that) through games and specially purchased toys. They build forts in the woods and help with things around the house. We visit farms on a regular basis so they learn about animals and their life cycles that way. The beehive, for instance, sparks a week long frenzy into every aspect of the bee's life and home, and how it helps our food chain. The same with the butterfly. I will shortly send you some entires on neat little units we have done.

Socially they're amazing. They can talk respectfully to anyone, young or old, and they are inquisitive in a (largely) non-annoying way. They have a large circle of also-homeschooled friends who are being brought up in much the same way, so it's been very pleasant with regards to peer pressure.

For my part, I continue to read on educational theory and stay abreast of current trends in education, some of which are awesome and some of which are disturbing. I admit to comparing my kids to grade level, but I have no reason to be concerned to date. I network with other homeschooling mothers who also keep their kids home for non-religious reasons, and I make sure I always have a hobby or three of my own.

This has been pretty cool, answering your question. I don't know if you read it all, but it was fun to write. I haven't yet written an end-of year wrap up so this was nice for me to see as well. I KNOW I have left off unit studies, so I am going to go look them up now.

Thanks for being interested!

I wish I were a child again and could go through your non school. It sounds wonderful and you are right. Both my son and my granddaughter were far more challenged before they got to school. You are right on girl…and I support what you are doing. Your children will not get jaded about what they “should ‘ know and do…. You go girl.

*Her son and granddaughter both entered school ahead of the other children academically. While they matriculated in different states and at different ages, both mothers were told that their child would not be taught anything new, but would have a great time helping to teach the other children.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Happy Birthday to Me

I am staying at 35 this year, I think. I forget how old I am all the time anyway, so 35 it is.

~G~ made me a cheese omelet while P-Daddy brought me morning coffee in a birthday-gift wolf mug. The kids made me home-made cards and gifts. Insert throbbing heart here.

Today we all wore our all matching tie-dye shirts and wandered around the farmer's markets. I think we looked cool. We went to a bakery in search of a 1. safe 2. black forest cake and upon finding neither, came home and made a ghetto version. (But ~G~ told P-daddy it looked like we bought it from a bakery.)

We hung out a la familia today until ~G~ and I went to Home Depot where I bought more plants for the garden. And a new hoe.

I must be stopped.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Tie-Dye party

We had a party here for MackAttack's 7 yo Dominator. I did the food and Niki did the tie-dye and a double chocolate brownie cake-- with no dairy!
Fun! E
ducational! Did I mention Loud?

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Niki and the kidlets

Went camping again, at Nikirj's ,while she was in a particularly onerous week of breastfeeding classes.

Took the kids to Pine Lark Park in Sammamish. The kids are terribly camera-shy.

Monday, June 18, 2007


We had a good time. The kids are naturals at this, and we met up with some friends too.

Penrose State Park, Site 33

The purple tent is for the doggies.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

We need to pass the stupid immigration bill already

One way or another. This inanity has to end.

My friend writes:

My son speaks (on the radio)
Listen to it please.
Ok, so the day that I interviewed with the news channel, we also interviewed with an alternative radio station in Portland Oregon. They gave my children the opportunity to speak.

The spot is about 4 minutes, myself and my son are in the second two minutes.

My son is about 2 weeks short of 7 years old here.

If you support undocumented immigrants being deported without question. If you can still support such violation of families after hearing ~D~, I worry for your sense of justice.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Cool Mom

Cookies and pretzels and kool-aid go a long way toward neighborhood status within the 5-9 age group. Heard today while I walked away from dousing the neighborkids with snackage outside:

"Your Mom is so cool."

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Thank you notes

Every year I intend to send thank you notes. Pre-children I was scrupulous about them. After children, we never received them from other families so after a while, I got into the lazy habit of ignoring that nicety. Some parents even complained that our thank you notes made them feel bad. Ugh.

This year, I don't care. I have to go back to the thank you note situation, at least with G. She can write now and she's old enough that I need to teach her how to be a gracious adult (eventually). My idea this year is to take shots of G using each of her gifts and print them out, having her write Thank you beneath the picture. The presents she received were each so very appropriate to her, both in her personal interests and to our lives as unschoolers.

Right now, she is painting pottery pieces into which she will plant wheatgrass for a windowsill garden in her room. Even blog readers who never met us know how perfect that is for her. Painting Pottery? Gardening?
neither rain nor sleet nor head of bed will keep us from our appointed painting

This shot is from yesterday: a music box for her jewelry. Instead of a ballerina, it's a dragon. Yeah, just see the title to the blog.there's a little dragon nose peering back at her

Nikirj sewed her a hooded cloak that glows in the friggin dark. COME ON! I thought I had shots of that but I don't yet. Mwahahaha. Maybe we'll be the freaks of the campground this weekend.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Homeschool Scouts

Typical of our birthday parties, we spend an afterglow period down at the beach.

G had two girlies for a birthday sleepover, so after a hashbrowns breakfast we all traipsed on down. It was a gloriously sunny day, a sharp contrast to the grey haze of the day before.

We set up a day camp, complete with a windbreak and a fire. The kids, all of whom are homeschoolers, did most of the work setting up the fire ring and gathering appropriate fuel, so we quipped we were the home school scouts. We must be. All the kids had technicolor hair by the end of the day point.

The morning-after glaze. Toddlerness decided that Mackattack's daughter was her best friend and behaved accordingly. The feeling was definitely mutual.

Yes, I had her mother's permission to do this to her hair!

Homeschooler Corp d'esprit

Day Camp. I promise I am not flipping Nikirj off.

Yes. Even the toddlers.

One learns something new every day. *I* learned that no matter how good the quality, corn dogs are still nasty to me.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Dancin' Queens

G's birthday party was a huge success, despite getting rained out. We had this elaborate carnival party planned out, with different "booths" for food and beverages, at which the kids could purchase goods and services with tickets we provided at the door.

Then came the 80 chance of rain--that delivered.

Whoops-- move it inside, drop half the activities and call it a dance party. Yeah, that will work!

Thanks to MackAttack for taking the pictures for me, to the Brazilian Goddess, hubby and TFM for manning the dressing room, and to Nikirj for helping me with the sleepover portion! Fun times!

See my cake. See my Big Cake.

G received gifts that were perfect for her personality!

We must be properly decorated for Disco Dancing.

Attack of the balloon-eating shark daddy. You think there were a lot of balloons there? Shah...

One of the Daddy guests didn't believe me when I said we'd be dropping the balloons on the kids to ABBA's "Dancing Queen." Silly man. We never joke about Dancing Queens.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Today is Happy G-day

My eldest turns 7.

7 years old.


Lunch with friends Wednesday?

She chose Daddy.

then she made my son cross dress. again.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Graham is officially reading now (6)

Graham is officially reading now (6)

We've been doing very, very basic books, but I could tell she was making the connections in her head. I handed her a silly Dick and Jane book she hadn't read before and she sounded it all through. I love watching it, because she doesn't half-ass it. She doesn't just sound it out, she rereads the sentence to get the meaning.

There's a story in there about a boy who needs to go into the house but his hands are full. He calls out for Mom, but the dog ends up opening the screen for him. Graham discussed it and said "I wonder where the Mom was that she couldn't hear him? Maybe she was on the computer, (insert Mommy wince) or changing a diaper. Or mayyyyyyyyyyyybeeeeeeeee," she ducked her head conspiratorially and grinned at me, "she was teaching someone to READ!"

Then we giggled like maniacs and she went back to her book.

Dear Readers:

Update your blogs.

Thank you.


heavy little
soft hot sandbags


using their voices

looking for nipple

listening for love

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Homeschooling into college

Tonight Mackattack babysat for us while we had dinner at Elliot's in Seattle. It was very nice of her, and very overdue for us.

P-Daddy's former college friend and current President of his alma mater (one in the same) was in town to schmooze a Microsoft donor to the annual fund and show his teen aged son some colleges in the area. He gathered some of P-daddy's alums for dinner. The meal was fabulous, as to be expected, and the conversation was easy. Aside from the President's son, we were the youngest at the table. No one had lived here longer than 7 years.

I was kind of teasing P-daddy when I asked him to inquire about Alma Mater's stance on homeschooling and admissions. Most large universities, including some Ivy League schools, have reserved spots for homeschoolers now, but I wasn't expecting much from an 1100-student private college in Michigan.

His friend couldn't hear him very well over the other diners and replied "Homeschooling?" and jabbed a thumb at his teenaged son. "He's homeschooled. Well he was, until boarding school." Turns out the guy (and his sister) go to Interlochen, a fabulous arts school in MI. Normally I am not a fan of boarding school, but Interlochen is wonderful. I had been accepted into Interlochen and had a scholarship, but my Mom hadn't let me go. At this point I was freaking out with the coincidence and affirmation of it all.

As we were leaving the restaurant, the boy took me aside and said "I think it's cool you're homeschooling. I really, really loved it. It's great."

I had to give that boy a hug.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Babies and Rainwater

From MamaMidwifeMadness' blog:

I'm so impressed with mamas who homebirth their first babies. they make me wish that I had enough knowledge and sense to find a midwife and do the same almost 5 years ago instead of stepping into the shitstorm which was my first pregnancy and birth with OB's and hospitals.

Best question today was from a primip (expecting her first baby) who is figuring out how to have a waterbirth when she has no mains water supply and depends on small rain water tanks...

"Is it safe to wash babies in rain water?"

If that doesn't put a smile on your face, nothing will.

What a beautiful life you have to be living to even ask that question. Marvelous!

And I agree so much with the sentiment of first-time homebirths. I truly wonder sometimes how much different our lives would be had we just had the babies at home, especially with Nick, when we did know better. I am so proud of Danny. So proud.


So ok, sunburns don't feel good at all.

But I put on SPF 30 before I even left for the park. Niki reapplied SPF 30 for me the second we got out of the car.

And still, I burned, in what, ten minutes?

The kids reacted well to the high SPF- sun combo and look like little brown things. Iy. Maybe I won't peel.

I don't care. I have NEEDED the sun and I am happy to see it!

I loves some Niki family. I needed yesterday so much. These are some pictures Niki snapped!