Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Today was Country Day -- the kids did reports on India. Sarah originally was going to do Hindu mythology, but instead her report turned into a bit on the nature of mythology itself, and a bit on the variety of religions in India, and a bit of an overview of Hindu and Buddhist mythology and folklore. And I'm so proud of her I could bust -- until this month she'd been preparing the whole report on the computer every month (with a little technical help from me), doing a slideshow and recording her own voiceover. This month, though, she told me she didn't need my help with the computer, that she was just going to give the presentation herself, live. She got a little stage fright, at the last minute, but she totally overcame it, and she did an awesome job, even with all the unfamiliar names to read. She read clearly and steadily, and was utterly awesome.

I cooked dal and plain basmati rice, and there were some really delicious samosas and some excellent dairy-free khorma (also lots of other things, but those were the only ones I tried).

Then we swung by A's place so she and I could get in some banjo practice. We're going to be playing in a small open mic situation in, oh my *God*, less than 2 weeks. We're doing well, but the anticipatory stage fright's a real pain in the ass.

Recent highlights:
Friday was the wrap party for the science club. They rocked their presentation on thermometers, back in early December, and last week they celebrated with fun snacks, a couple hours of play, and a little bit of conversation about what they want to do together next. Friday night we had a few friends here for the first Sacred Song of the year. It was an experiment, to see how Friday nights would work, but I think we're gonna go back to Sundays -- it was just too stressful trying to get home in time to clean and cook for company, and rush hour complicates things for anyone coming from a distance.

Sarah and I are solidly back into our school schedule. Right now we're doing the third grade Social Studies from Oak Meadow (a Waldorfy homeschool curriculum) exploring myths of different ancient cultures (in preparation for getting back into Story of the World, a history of the world written in storytelling style), studying agriculture and various food systems, doing Living Math (history/anthropology of math), lots of practical math (creating and analyzing polls, making change, measuring things, etc.), studying the history and ecology of NYC/the lower Hudson Valley, and working on copywork (spelling, grammar, handwriting) and memorizing a poem. We had been focused on nature journaling, but we haven't been keeping that up since it got so cold that neither one of us wants to go outside. We'll start back up with a garden journal when our seeds arrive.

Starting in February, we're switching over to Story of the World, an Intellego unit study on the weather, and continuing with NYC, Living Math, and various kinds of practice work. Oh, and being food detectives, studying our favorite meals. Next year I think we may be buying a whole curriculum based around Geography. Sarah seems to like the idea, and I think as long as we both remember the curriculum is a collection of suggestions, not requirements, it'll make the homeschooling organization a hell of a lot easier.

We're also planning a Doll Festival party at the beginning of March.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Bad Mom morning -- well, early afternoon. Sarah was struggling with some homeschooling stuff, I got impatient, she got even more frustrated and tense and afraid of doing it wrong, we butted heads, she felt awful, I felt awful, the whole thing just sucked.

But I called a break so we could both get ready to go out (we were meeting Joe for dinner in Hoboken), and after a few minutes I asked if she wanted to talk about how she was feeling. She did, and she was so brave and so clear and well-spoken about what she was feeling, and I managed to stop being an impatient taskmistress long enough, and also managed to stop kicking myself for making her feel so bad long enough, and somehow managed to say enough of the right things to make it better. And then we rushed out into the cold to meet Joe and have a really nice, cozy, family evening out.

I hate that she takes it so hard when I get impatient or grouchy, but I'm so damn impressed with both of us, that we were able to stop in the middle of the conflict and fix it, and figure out what we can do differently next time.

The rest of our New Year stuff is going well -- I'm back on track for exercising and eating reasonably well (with the exception of last night's belated holiday visit with my grandparents -- I think I ate half of grandma's special potato salad myself!), we're making slow but steady progress on our ToDo lists, and on the family/household lifestyle changes we've been wanting to make, and my music's coming along nicely. I'm still dealing with some existential angst, and some frustration over how very domestic I've been feeling, though. I wish I was feeling more adventurous and bold and interesting than I am, right now, but when it comes down to it, I'm just... not. Instead I seem to want to spend my time crocheting and baking and decluttering and playing music and curling up under blankets with my dear ones. Maybe more of a sense of adventure will come with the Spring.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Happy New Year

We had a wonderfully cozy time over Joe's delightfully long Winter vacation, curled up reading our many new books and spending hours watching our new DVDs together (Leverage Seasons 1&2, Despicable Me, Karate Kid, Twister, Justice League Unlimited...).

Yesterday I was still fighting off some bug that'd been menacing me for the last few days of our vacation, and we had the pleasant surprise of having Joe home with us for an extra day, so we barely even dipped our toes into the waters of the New Year. Today, though, we're jumping in with both feet!

Sarah and I talked over the vacation and agreed that it works better for both of us to do a more extended play-school time in the morning and then just have the afternoons free for our afternoon adventures, instead of trying to stick to a daily rhythm all day long. We wind up either missing out on or rushing through the afternoon routines more often than not, or not being able to fully enjoy our afternoon adventures because there's the sense of Stuff To Do hanging over our heads. And, really, the shorter sessions were part of a daily rhythm that was aimed at the attention span of a much younger child, and we wind up missing out on one of the joys of homeschooling, the luxury of letting ourselves get lost in a book or a new pastime. I don't think we should have any problem shifting into a more intense morning followed by a totally free-flowing afternoon.

Over the break we also all sat down together and wrote up 5 year goals, 1 year goals, and immediate More/Less lists (more board games, less time on the computer, etc.) for the whole family, and I'm hoping to start implementing our plans this week.

I've been working for the last few weeks on my intentions for the New Year, and I had a pretty clear sense of what I want to welcome into my life this year, the transformations I want to cultivate. Last night or the night before, though, I realized that I've been leaving something out.

So for 2011 I intend to welcome Boldness, Health and Fitness, Increased Competence at Getting Things Done, Music... and a more intentional, consistent Spiritual Practice. I like having 5 intentions. Not a round number, but a good one.

I also have a wonderful, slightly ambitious list of projects for Winter 2010/2011. A nice mix of crafts, home improvement, self-improvement, and long-overdue chores.

This week we're reading through The Bill of Rights together, finishing up _River of Dreams_ (a book on the Hudson river), a book on Shakespeare (_Shakespeare For Kids_, I think it is), and _The MixedUp Files of Mrs. Basil E Frankweiler_. I'm finishing up reading _Getting Things Done_). And Joe and Sarah are reading _Ivy and Bean Break The Fossil Record_.