Friday, September 28, 2007

Camp Seymour: All About Water

We actually started this year attending a YMCA camp program for homeschoolers. I'd read about it last year, but I blew it off thinking it too involved, or whatever. Who knows what I was thinking then. This year, however, we're going and oh my stars, it's so fabulous. What a treat to look forward to a structured, socially engaging outing like this once a month--that Mom doesn't have to plan, to boot.

Our reminder email read as follows: "
The theme for the day focuses on water and how important it is for so many different reasons. We will start the day off with a tour of Camp Seymours alternative waste-water treatment center, theLiving Machine. For background information see Next we will go boating (rowboats, canoes, and kayaks for those 11 and older) rain or shine in beautiful Glen Cove. After lunch, were going swimming in our heated pool. PLEASE REMEMBER TO BRING A SWIM SUIT if you might go swimming. "

G heard that some Moms drop off and pick up,
and requested that I not do that. However, she blended into the "herd" and pretty much ignored me the whole time. Excellent! She really seemed to be enjoying herself full out, and found her own stride, and her own friends. The naturalists did a fabulous job, both professionally and personally. While the program is open to homeschoolers in second grade and above, the staff made true on their literature's promise that younger sibs were welcome. Both boys were fully included, active participants. I still am reeling by how inexpensive this program is for what they provide.

The lunchroom lodge

What a group! The kids had their choice of canoes, kayaks or rowboats.

Finishing up, stacking canoes

What do tired homeschoolers do after an hour of paddling? Spectator giant chess, of course!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

We had such a nice day yesterday....

and I don't even have to blog about it!

See here: http:\\

and here: Nikay

Lunch on Wednesdays is a spectacular homeschool program, let me tell you!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Today is our 8th anniversary

We were together for 5 years before we got married. And yet I still get all gushy inside sometimes. That's lucky.

Monday, September 24, 2007

First Day of Autumn

Yesterday, that is. Despite feeling like Washington forgot to have a summer, I took the weekend to celebrate the onset of my favorite season accordingly.

Friday night I gleaned the blackberries I could find from our own thicket. It was dusk by the time I got out there, and the blackberries were the same color as the twilight shadow. I am sure I missed a few. Nonetheless, I spent Saturday morning in the kitchen. We made blackberry muffins, lemon squares and pancakes. That afternoon, Paul picked up a crate of apples and I made a huge deep dish apple pie. Sunday, I canned apple butter. We still have about a dozen apples left. I can't decide whether to use them or let the kids have them. They've eaten at least three a piece since Saturday.

Learning how to can has brought an unexpected benefit. If she sees me take food out of the waterbath canner, G will eat it. She despises cinnamon and refused to eat the apple pie, despite it's sugary goodness. The apple butter however, she tore into, and swears it is the best thing ever. Same apples, same seasoning, NO sugar. Go figure.

Of all the peaches I canned, I only have 4 quarts left.

I need to get a steam canner! She'll eat like a normal person then!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Big Day

Big, Long, Tiring Day

Where the kids both woke up with different classes (in theater and martial arts) and instructors than they went to bed with. (Thank, you TFM!)

Where we enjoyed tooling around the waterfront in Gig Harbor for no other reason than we wanted to. We just played in the big grassy spaces, the kids climbed trees, and we walked the docks. D-baby notices everything and it was cool watching him discover the growth on the docks. Ever so often he'd stop in his tracks to peer over the edge of the floating dock to see what different kind of seaweed or barnacles was growing down there.

Where I canned my first quarts of peaches and yes, it was easier than I thought and even a little less tedious.

Where I made my third batch of homemade yogurt. I am really digging this, especially since I bumped up organic store bought cultures with bifidus and reuteri. My whole foods nerds will know what that means.

Where for the fourth time in as many weeks, some random stranger said in passing conversation, "my goodness [s]he's sharp," about one of our kids. Always those words, always with a vaguely surprised look on their face. Is it a compliment, like I take it when I just smile back?Or do I look like such an idiot that my kids are shockingly non-idiotic?

Monday, September 17, 2007

Sad, sad, sad...

I knew it would be bad when the questionnaire asked "Do you quote movies?"

Um.......well.......... says I'm a Mega-Dorky Nerd God.  What are you?  Click here!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Saturday Night Seal

We had a nice bonfire down at the beach on Saturday night. I spent the morning tooling around GH with G-girl, which was nice. I do enjoy her company, and after such a great week for her, she was bubbly and fun to be around.

That evening, we packed a picnic dinner and headed down to the rocks. When we got there, we saw we had some company, resting out on a floating dock. Periodically, other people in boats would raft by, but we had the beach and our bonfire to ourselves. The kids built driftwood pirate ships and just...played. Truly, it was a night right out of the pages of the imaginary brochure that sold us on this house. I really love it when we take advantage of living here.

That sucker was huge.

Afterwards, we came home, bathed the kids and watched a movie together. It was bizarre-- they actually went to bed and we got grown up time. Truly a very, very nice weekend.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

She liked it!

I thought she might. I'd go so far as to say I knew she would, but that would be a lie. Girlie can surprise me, for sure. Her choir starts first, then they break and the adult choir comes in.

I am considering having Dad come pick her up after her rehearsal though, because that is just too long for her to be there, I think. She was pretty haggard by the time my choir rehearsal was over. She did rally at the last song the adults learned, however, and came up and sat next to me. She clapped in rhythm to the Jamaican inspired music and I didn't know until the end that this is a piece the kiddies are doing as well. Fun!

I finished the kids' learning plans for the homeschool year last night. I didn't want to just bang it out and I took the time she was in choir to finish it at a desk in the lobby. Under fine arts, I included a passage about experiencing and participating in the arts in the community at large, not restricted to being with other children. It's funny to me; I didn't expect her to do it an hour later.

Lunch on Wednesday was an impromptu trip to IKEA where we met the C-family and the Dafeelyas. :) Every time I swear I won't go back en masse, and yet still I go back, every time. Must be something about it we like!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007


364.00 sounds like a really bad car bill, but you know what? When it returns your vehicle back to silent, cat-like T&C running, jumps your gas mileage by ten mpg and disproves a head gasket theory---oh that's a happy paid receipt to have. P-daddy has asked me to formally request that the C-family release the flaming-van-off-cliff curse, thank you. When the mechanic* brought the van around, I thought he was giving me my keys as he opened the door to the waiting room. I came to him and he gestured excitedly at the van. "Your van!" he said, thumbing at the van parked by the curb. "Yes," I said. "My van."

"It's ON," he said.

"WHAT??????" I screeched. "It's ON????"

Then the big, happy grin of a mechanic who actually likes people.

*This mechanic (Danelle did you meet them when we changed P-daddy's oil?) has worked on P-daddy's car but not our van. He has helped us over the phone before--gratis-- but never actually laid eyes on the van. We really should have taken it to him first. Trying to save a buck, we probably cost ourselves waaaaaaaaaaaaaay more than we could have. If you're in my area and need a mechanic I will gladly pass on the number!

~N~ started performance class tonight (theater) and really enjoyed it. It's a two hour class and he seemed to hit it in stride, despite never having been in a class situation alone before. I was really happy to see him come home (P-daddy picked him up) with a tired little grin. "I had fun Mommy, but I am glad to see you, too."

~G~ and I spent some time this evening reading back and forth to each other. She's doing so much better than she thinks she is. It's funny, because she thinks--really believes-- I buy the BOB sets for her. She likes them but she mows through them like so much spring grass. I buy them for ~N~, but the first set is what gave her the keys to the kingdom, as it were. She applied what she already knew, and gave herself permission to say she was reading.

Tomorrow ~G~ starts choir and is much less than enthusiastic. I hope she releases her tude long enough to let the fun in. She has actually asked to go back to ballet in lieu of starting music class, which is ridiculous if you know her. I feel bad about forcing the issue, but I also know the girlie and this is a passion of hers. I will not require a commitment from her in this regard, but I will require her to try it.

Random Science Links

Free flash cards, useful for life science and making Montessori language cards

Jane Goodall's Lesson plans

I acknowledge that we're Montessori Eclectic in nature as a homeschooling family but my goodness I just keep loving on the Montessori.
I have been comparing ~N~'s progress against this S&S:
and Graham's finishing up compared against this:
G has already begun her natural inroads into studying cultures, so I'd have to say we're well into her "elementary" phase already.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Autumn Coming, the harvest is in earnest

It's kind of cool; kind of sad. It's funny, because I have been waiting impatiently for the things to be big / ripe enough to harvest and now I am sad because it means the garden is winding down.

Our biggest sunflowers are starting to topple, they're so huge, and some have happily turned to seed, while others are just beginning to flower. The potatoes are dug and we pulled a row of carrots. I should dig up the rest of the onions.
The corn's not brown enough yet, but the sickly looking zucchini plant has two zukes left and then I think it's done. Our Hubbard squash are still gigantic and growing, while we have three new acorn squash and two spaghetti squash starting to grow. The tomatoes are continuing to ripen at a snail's pace, so we've been able to just eat them as they come. The green beans are about done, while the pumpkins are just starting to change from green to orange.

I love this picture. Nick, processing carrots, with sunflowers and acorn squash behind him.

Can you believe we still have strawberries ripening?
This is the best garden we've ever had. Can't wait until next year's summer garden. in the meantime, we're going to plant greens greens greens for winter!

And she thinks I am taking a picture of carrots.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

School Dayz

My homeschooling cronies have been hooting all week because it's not-back-to-school week and we're kind of crowing about it.

Even so, the Moms have been looking at curriculum (and by looking at it, I mean everything from "oo that's a cool knitting kit!" to "maybe I could be a boxed schooler!"), rejecting it, trying on scenarios, signing up for classes, etc.

~N~ starts theater class (I hope!) next Tuesday, and G-girl starts choir on Wednesday. We have a homeschool naturalist program through the YMCA Camp Seymour starting late this month and homeschool PE starting late October. I'd like to get them in a Spanish language program and piano lessons as well.

This morning they went through a huge work cycle, and while they have left a bit of chaos in their wake it has been one of those days where I pay attention enough to compare the content of their day compared to what I remember from public school at this age. It boggles my mind.

This is the second time I have written out a huge plan for the homeschool. The first time, G was three and I was trying to learn the Montessori method. This year I am doing it for very different reasons, but I think I will enjoy it nonetheless. Days like today really teach me that they are learning and that this is what homeschooling looks like for us.

I admit to thinking about some of my friends. This year, their "babies" start kindergarten. That's it. A lot of my friends have no children in their home during the day. What wouldn't I give for that freedom??????? Yesterday we went to the YMCA and the kids were belaying the climbing wall. There was a woman there talking about how much easier it was because her kid started school that day. She wasn't an irritating person and she didn't make it sound like her kid was a burden or anything. It was just a simple "yeah I get to spend some time with my friends, or get the shopping done."

I mean, I guess I know the answer to my question above, but sometimes I wonder what would the day be like if I could hear silence, or actually clean my house in an hour. I know, though, that life is not for me just yet.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007


Last night we had a thunderstorm here. Like, a real thunderstorm! It was surreal to experience that here, when it had been such a commonplace summer event in Charleston. I didn't even mind I had sheets drying on the line. We just unplugged the electronics, let the dog in and opened up the bedroom windows so we could see the lightning and hear it pour.

It was an interesting cap to an interesting weekend. We spent a lot of time with friends; Sunday we had Mackattack and family over for her Compleanos and Monday we had a beach bonfire with Niki and family. I have some stunning shots from that, courtesy of Mr. Fran.

P-daddy started back to work today. I miss him but I look forward to getting back to my rhythm. I despair that maybe I really am destined to be a fat woman. I rarely eat breakfast or a real lunch, and I did both every day for the past two weeks. I have gained ten pounds in that time. Holy crap. one of the pictures Fran took should have been an endearing shot....I was showing Niki how to knit for the first time. It is ruined for me by the FOUR rolls of fat on my back. SHUDDER. Who is that and where did I go?

I think I shall eat only vegetables and meat. And coffee! That is nectar, after all.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Teaching meme from Summer

I was tagged by Lillake for a teaching meme. I think this was not intended for homeschoolers, but apparently that is the circuit its making now.

  1. I am a good teacher because… I get excited about what we're learning with them, and I try to see things the way they do.
  2. If I weren’t a teacher I would be a… scientist. I'd probably get my masters in ecology and go back into the workforce if I weren't a homeschooler.
  3. My teaching style is… laaaaaaaaid baaaaaack.
  4. My classroom is… the world. Everything and every one is part of our classroom.
  5. My lesson plans are… printed out and installed in three ring binders I rarely access.
  6. One of my teaching goals… extreme proficiency in whatever they do without being uptight about it or realizing how fabulous they are.
  7. The toughest part of teaching is… balancing actual scholarship in the oldest while fending off the toddler being a toddler.
  8. The thing I love about teaching is… being home with my kids every day and watching them develop.
  9. A common misconception about teaching is… that I am somehow a supermom because I stay home with my children. I get tired of the "I could never do that" and "You must be very patient" comments.
  10. The most important thing I’ve learned since I started teaching is… children are amazingly competent in their own right to learn anything, once they've been given the freedom to do so.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Cupcake Friday

That's what the sign said at Albertsons on our way home from the Y. Thinking of Doodles and Daddy at home, the big kids and I picked some up. They had back-to-school looking deco-signs in them, so it was all the more fun.

When we arrived home we found that D-meister and Daddy had baked cupcakes for us.