Sunday, January 31, 2010

Polar Bear and Mountain

A good friend discovered  That Artist Woman   and passed it on to me.  My younger son needs encouragement and some coaxing where doing art is concerned, so I was very pleased that he was willing to give these projects a go. Gail provides materials lists and a series of excellent photos to show how to do each project step by step.  Go to her blog and check it out!

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That Artist Woman

Friday, January 29, 2010

E. O. Wilson and Encyclopedia of Life

The other day I grabbed a book to read while the boys went to Hapkido. The book had survived many rounds of book sortings over a period of twenty years and watched many of its shelfmates go off to the library book sale.  It was Biophilia, by E. O. Wilson. I never got a chance to read that day. I got busy with the usual stuff. But tonight my web wanderings landed me at a site called Encyclopedia of Life, which is a developing on-line catalog of every known type of living thing. This work in progress is an amazing resource for all of us, homeschoolers or not.  The Encyclopedia of Life  is the brain child of the the writer of Biophilia Edward O. Wilson, who imagined it and spoke of it years before it was really possible. This is free and growing every day. Check it out!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Homeschool Storytime

Yesterday my wonderful grandmother came for tea at about 2pm.  We settled in the living room near the wood stove to visit.  My seven year old brought out some of his things to show Mimi, including a book in a series that he loves called Diary of a Wimpy Kid. Mimi is a good sport.  Last visit she played 20 Questions, SET , and Apples to Apples Junior - The Game of Crazy Comparisons!

I gritted my teeth wishing he'd brought out something more like Charlotte's Web or even Harry Potter.  Mimi took the book and began a mini lecture on the fact that the word wimpy is NOT a very nice one.  I thought we were going to be moving swiftly to something else, but Mimi opened the book and began to read. Soon she was smiling and chuckling in spite of herself.  Having raised a girl and three boys she got the boy humor.. and the mom humor, too. More than an hour passed before she looked up and noticed the time and  headed home. This is one of the greatest gifts offered by the choice to homeschool. Time with loved ones during what would otherwise be bus ride times or cafeteria times.  The opportunity for my boys to develop real relationships with people who love them by having more time together. This was truly one of the best storytimes ever for this nearly 45 year old homeschool mom! My grandmother was reading to me, too.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Valentine's Day

Constance Spry

                              The View From Out Back

It is almost Valentine’s Day and I am thinking about love and the people I love. How much I always wanted a loving home and loving people in it. People who all get along in peace and harmony. People who don’t bicker and compete and fight over the last slice of apple pie. People who not only understand each other almost perfectly, but who are always kind and loving when they, very infrequently, do Not understand each other. Loving pets, even. Ahh, the dream. Utopia. The Happy Loving High Functioning Family fantasy. I have had it for so long it is a part of me like my liver. Like the Perfect Loving Marriage With Great Communication Fantasy.  My family and my marriage contain so much love… and so much else. A lot of else that does not feel loving by any means! A lot of imperfection. A lot of spirited people bumping elbows.

Sometimes, being the only female in our home can get tough. Even though out of necessity I have worked to modify my girl dreams to something more like non-fiction, I am the one who sets the expectation for my family to at least try to all respect each other and get along. It bothers me when there is disharmony and unkindness. Yet my boys compete. They yell. We bicker. I lecture. Feelings are hurt. Resentments build. Sometimes it feels like nobody understands anyone else in our home. Sometimes my husband and I suffer failures of communication and misunderstandings that sting. Still I would say we have a loving family and a loving marriage.

One of the ways I remind myself of this is to go out to the backyard alone at night.

Now, as a homeschooling stay- at -home mother I get little time to myself. I get math questions (why does a negative times a negative equal a positive?)while I try to shower. I brush my teeth (which I grind at night) while I unload the dishwasher one handed. I live a life of immersion and am on a constant quest for balance. I am writing this in the car while I wait for Adam to finish music class. Most of my writing time is, these days, stolen time. Going to the compost pile at night has turned out to be a critical bit of alone time. But even more than that it is a potent perspective shifter. Out I go into the freezing cold with the stinky compost. Past the old sandbox tree and the barn. On autopilot at first. This is just another crappy job to get done. But, gradually, I begin to notice small things. Night noises. Stars. The ice on our pond. I remember the potential of my compost pile because there we return to the earth all the scraps that will become rich soil for the blooms and maybe the vegetables of the seasons ahead. Even in the frozen times I know how much promise the pile holds. Also, the crows and other birds enjoy it and we like watching them. I dump our bucket, spend a moment pondering decomposition and the brevity of life, and turn to head back inside. I look up at the house in which we have lived for nearly eleven years. This is my magic dreamy moment. I get to observe my home and my loved ones from a cold “ pretend outsider " perspective. The house looks warm and happy. It is imperfect but appealing. The living room window wall Joe and I designed and installed is glowing. I can see my son's painting on the high wall. The wood smoke smells wonderful. I think of the work we all did together ( an not all happily!) to stack the wood for our fire and to bring that wood in, and how we are all part of keeping that fire going.

I delay going inside…partly because I really need stillness and to be alone a bit longer!!!

I need to hear my own thoughts and remember what this is all about.

I am a traveler in a miraculous universe.

Where I want to be more than anything is in that warm home with those people I love, my fellow travelers, figuring it all out as we go.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Autodidacts Rejoice!

This is a wonderful site for the lifelong learner.  It is packed with inspiring posts and lists of resources that will benefit adult learners and older or gifted homeschoolers.  Take a look at what is out there for free. This is an amazing time in which to be homeschooling.  

Self Made Scholar

Here is an interesting list of famous autodidacts and a discussion of "credentialism."  How would our world be different if these people had traveled different paths?
Famous Autodidacts 


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