Thursday, May 11, 2017

What Robin Told | What Mother Saw

I had a moment of homeschooling bliss the other day, a moment of such beauty.

We were in the garden planting onions. (Yes! The fellas planted onions this year.) (All 800-900 of them.)  I hoed the furrow while Diego and Truen placed the pine needle-like seedlings along the row, then covered and tamped with loose dirt.

We heard a woodpecker pecking out a new hole on an old, dead spruce.  We heard a catbird mewing in the trees nearby.  We began to talk about woodpecker nests, which we have never seen, which lead us to robins' nests, which we have seen in plenty.

Jamie started reciting a poem recently memorized --

What Robin Told
by George Cooper

How do robins build their nests?
Robin Redbreast told me
First a wisp of yellow hay
In a pretty round they lay;
Then some shreds of downy floss,
Feather, too, and bits of moss,
Woven with a sweet, sweet song,
This way, that way, and across;
   That’s what Robin told me.

Where do robins hide their nests?
Robin Redbreast told me
Up among the leaves so deep,
Where the sunbeams rarely creep,
Long before the winds are cold,
Long before the leaves are gold,
Bright-eyed stars will peep and see
Baby robins–one, two, three;
   That’s what Robin told me.

Eliah was off playing in the grass. Jamie hopped through the dirt as he recited the poem. Diego and Truen were industriously planting onions and thinking about bird life and lore. And my heart was full.

I thought, "This is what I'm doing." My life right now. Planting beautiful thoughts. Cultivating an awareness of life in the world around my children. Teaching them to work. Depositing a bank of poetry and bird lore. Noble stories and ideas.

In essence, giving them a mental landscape to draw from as they get older.

Little glimmers shine through now and then, the elusive and intangible "results" that every homeschooling mother pines to see, and it has nurtured me along the journey.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Down by the Salley Gardens

I sing this to the little guys almost every day as we snuggle down for nap time.  LOVE.  It is a beautiful song, a beautiful poem.

Down By the Salley Gardens 
Down by the salley gardens
   my love and I did meet;
She passed the salley gardens
   with little snow-white feet.
She bid me take love easy,
   as the leaves grow on the tree;
But I, being young and foolish,
   with her would not agree.

In a field by the river
   my love and I did stand,
And on my leaning shoulder
   she laid her snow-white hand.
She bid me take life easy,
   as the grass grows on the weirs;
But I was young and foolish,
   and now am full of tears.

Tuesday, April 04, 2017

Quick pop-in

Unbelievable. It appears that my new habit is posting every two months. I'm like a broken record . . . I don't have time for reflection, blahblahblah . . . but it is such an accurate picture of my life right now.

I have about a half-hour of solitude in the morning before everyone gets up and I use this time for stretching, life organization, and scant reading. Afternoon Quiet Time is a thing of the past, replaced with Afternoon Lessons.

Jamie, six years old, still naps most days. The older boys and I have spent delicious afternoons in recent months reading aloud The Tale of Beatrix Potter and Richard Halliburton's Book of Marvels, then working on math lessons. We use MEP math out of the UK. (Love!)

Jamie still naps! Regularly. Much longer than Diego or Truen ever did. I believe he may need more sleep than the average kid, but more importantly, it is because his body is slow to move toxicity. Extra sleep on the days he is showing signs of stress makes a big difference.

Key signs of bodily stress show in 1) behavior (very low stress tolerance, inflexibility, inability to cope, etc.) and 2) his lymph system. Inflamed lymph nodes in his neck and groin are prime indicators, peppered around like little peas. Totally freaky, right?  Ugh . . . it has been quite the journey.

We have seen our area "witch doctor", a Kinesiology PhD who works on keeping energy flow and balance in the body.  We are using Bioray Kids Calm to assist his body to keep things moving: chemicals, heavy metals, bacteria, virus, etc.  We are using the Kids Dynamic Drink to boost his system. (In addition to whole foods, broth, limited sugar, no food coloring, epsom salt baths, etc.) We bought also bought an Austin Air Purifier, as we believe the indoor air quality of our century-old home is a primary culprit.

We have seen improvement with all of these measures, both in behavior and his lymph nodes.

My time is out . . . but here I am. Living life in my little corner of the world.

See yeh in two.

Friday, February 03, 2017

Quick check-in

It's been more than two month since I've posted . . . oh my.  Since then my grandma has died, our new little nephew Otto was born, I mothered my first mother as a doula, and we took a 3+ week trip to WA.  There's more, but it will have to wait.


 Jamie had a birthday: six years old

 We made a quickly-planned January visit to Western WA

 We met a new cousin and celebrated Late Christmas

The fellas looooove their cousins

 LOVE. (....we found them like this)

 And love-love-love their cousins

The fellas love their aunties and uncles too
 So many uncles to wrestle with

 This was 4-against-1 and Unky Erik still beat 'em

Uncle Andrew was Eliah's special buddy

We spent a lot of time at the beach

 Playing on driftwood, walking along the beach and pier

 (Truen is so engaged, he's hard to catch)

It was a lovely visit

Blaine even came at the end . . . the first time in seven years
It was so good to have him there.

We saw our dear friend Sam & family, the first time in eight years
(He's stationed in Western WA until this summer)
Lovely, just lovely.

Thursday, December 01, 2016

The Corries' Loch Lomond

I'm getting a little obsessed with the current folk song for our little homeschool.  It is piquant and haunting; I'm feeling the tug to memorize it and sing it to my children like a bard. I must love epic tragedies.

My goodness, but it is so lovely.

Monday, October 31, 2016


Two amazing things happened this morning while reading The Tragedy of Othello, Moor of Venice to the boys out loud during Circle Time this morning.

First off, they begged for more.  And more and more. It was a much larger bite of Shakespeare than usual - things were starting to heat up and their interest was engaged.  Be still my beating heart!  The world stopped spinning and everything sparkled and pulsated around us.

(Though Jamie and Diego didn't stop wrestling.) (Circle Time is often ugly, but so, so beautiful.)

Secondly, I was getting so involved in the reading that my heart tightened up and I almost cried.  I felt so much pity for Desdemona and couldn't believe that Othello could be such a fool as to hold fast to such incredibly imbalanced conclusions.  He went crazy and couldn't rein himself back in.  Whatever happened to a loving check-in or even a sound cross-examination?

I felt creeping sadness as I read aloud.  Horrified.  But I am intrigued by the simultaneous awareness of the beginnings of a fuller comprehension of Shakespeare's magnificence.  It is thrilling.  I've always been told that his plays are incredible, but when I was introduced to them cold-turkey in high school, I was more confused than interested.  But now . . . I am seeing the slow dawning of understanding.  This guy.  He is amazing.

I've seen A Midsummer Night's Dream multiple times, listened to Coriolanus on audio, read aloud The Taming of the Shrew and now Othello.  I can't wait to canvas the entire collection.  Bit by bit, play by play.

Emoji hearts everywhere!

Monday, October 24, 2016

Autumnal review

Seriously.  It is the end of October.  Unbelievable.

This fall has been a bit of a whirlwind.  We traveled to the Twin Cities twice in less than a month. (Once to see grandparents and great-grandparents.) (Then for a dear friend's baby shower and visiting my first mama friend and her family.)

Meanwhile, I worked my way through another preservation season.  Tomatillo salsa, sauerkraut, applesauce, tomato paste, tomato puree, ketchup, pickles green tomatoes, dried vegetables, etc.  I am a machine.  I know what to do, how to do it, and the strategies for accomplishing such a massive undertaking are in place and well-girded.

Major improvements this year included:
  • Prepping multiple meals the week leading up to my 8-10 hour kitchen days.
  • Sprinkling in small jobs throughout the week.
  • Having a game plan in dealing with ALL tomatoes.
  • Harnessing children to pick, shuck, clean, haul compost, etc.

We also started our FIFTH YEAR of homeschooling at the beginning of October.  I can hardly believe that number. There is so much wonder and beauty involved with all the hard work. I am so pleased. This is the first year that I am able to so clearly see our progress.  It is a structure that has taken many years to create - built bit by bit, year by year, "shoring up the base" as my Grandpa O. likes to say.

Our daily outline involves:
  • Circle Time
  • Copywork
  • Math Lessons
  • Reading Practice

Diego is in Year 5, Truen, Year 3, and Jamie, Year 0.  The bulk of the responsibility falls on Diego and Truen, but Jamie is right there in the thick of it, insisting on having his own Math Lessons and Copywork.  And his understanding and abilities are far beyond what Diego and Truen were doing at this age. Osmosis, I swear it. It is proof of Charlotte Mason's maxim "Education is a Life". Yes. When it is the very air you breathe, you cannot help but absorb it.

Together we are reading:
  • The Story of the World: Book 4
  • Halliburton's Book of Marvels
  • Madam How & Lady Why
  • The Winter of Red Snow
  • Wild Animals I Have Known
  • The Story of Inventions
  • Biography on Isaac Newton
  • Of Courage Undaunted
  • Bullfinch's Age of Fable

We are enjoying these books so much.  I read aloud during meal times and snack time in addition to Circle Time.  They enjoy it, but I revel in it. LOVE.

Overall, I have a grip on our days and feel very confident and ready for the behemoth task of home education.  It is so massive, but I am right where I need to be.

But man: getting up early.  I have found myself unable to do it this autumn.  It is hit and miss . . . I would say I'm at about a quarter of the time, maybe a third.  It is abysmal.  I am not pleased.  But for whatever reason, I find myself soooo tired in the morning, sleeping in until 7:00 - 8:00 AM with all the bros.  Sleeping in feels amazing, but it is grating at me.  I feel a burning need for some contemplative solitude again.

Over and out.