Tuesday, May 29, 2012

(started this post on Saturday, but got caught up in offline things and never got back to it.  This first bit is from Saturday's perspective)

Yesterday Sarah and I did a Big Onion walking tour -- Immigrant NY. I really enjoyed it -- informative, engaging, and Sarah did a fabulous job of keeping up with the adults, in both mileage and focus. She had a great time, too, although she was just about done an hour and a half into the 2 hour walk. I think we'll be doing a few more of them, this summer, but I'll look to see if there are any that are slightly shorter, to start with... Next month I think she's going to do the food tour with Joe (it's not worth it for me, as I suspect I won't be able to eat about half the things on the tour).

Today I did some more yardwork -- planting seeds, working on my bag-garden. I love the clover so much, finding myself sitting out on the front stoop on quiet afternoons, watching the bumblebees drift from flower to flower. On Tuesday my mom brought some rose a sharon from Grandma and Grandpa's backyard -- I need to get them into the ground this weekend. Maybe tomorrow.

I don't know what my garden's going to do, this year. I got a lot of things in the ground later than I'd planned to, but decided to muddle along anyway, instead of doing what I usually do -- deciding it's too late, skipping it entirely, and hoping to do better next year.

We had some conflict this week about homeschooling, and came to the conclusion that, once we're done with our current book, we're going to do a project-based approach for the rest of the summer. I'm really looking forward to it, although I'm a little bummed we won't be continuing with our Ancient Civ work right now. Probably in the fall, although who knows? But I'm so happy to see us inching closer to my homeschool dream -- the two of us working side by side every morning, each focused on our own projects.

Now we're all puttering, waiting for the beans to be done for dinner, and the thunderstorms to start. It feels like summer -- makes me wish I had "meatball" subs or bean burgers ready to go, with potato salad and stringbeans on the side. Wow that sounds good. Although tonight's dinner's not half bad -- black beans, fresh tomatoes, guacamole on my flatbread/tortilla hybrids, with our vanilla "soda". Probably with a splash of rum for mom and dad. ;)

Now we're at Monday night/very early Tuesday.  The homeschooling conflict I refer to above had to do with the fact that Sarah says she wants to keep playing school every morning, but when it comes down to it she often doesn't want to play school on that particular day.  I'm okay with finding a different approach to our days (I need a structure to our days, but I don't need it to be any particular structure), and I'm okay with sticking with our old approach, but I'm really not okay with doing the prep work for  our old approach and then having it wind up being a waste of my time and energy.  We discussed several different possible solutions, including the possibility that we would agree to play school every weekday morning whether we felt like it or not, as part of building the habit of doing it.  She's watched me building a lot of habits, recently, and she seriously considered taking that approach.  I do hope we eventually find our way back to our old structure, or something like it, because we'd lined up a bunch of neat looking resources that both Sarah and I were excited about, but for right now a more spontaneous project-based approach seems to be the best fit for what Sarah's looking for. 

I suspect several of those projects are going to involve more pop-up restaurants, and probably some sort of floating bake shop as well. I'm pretty excited about all the projects on both our lists.

Today we did a lot of cooking for the week -- oat bran muffins, scones, glazed carrots, hummus, hard boiled eggs, black beans, flatbread dough...  We got halfway through the zucchini bread prep when I just couldn't face another hour of having the oven on, and we put off making the iced tea and lentil soup until tomorrow.  I spent some time in the garden, and some time companionably with my little family.

I'm feeling simultaneously phenomenally productive and frustratingly thwarted (not so much because of the cooking we put off as because of all the other areas of life where things are proceeding more slowly than I'd hoped).  I contemplate the idea of letting go of goals, or experimenting with another period of no goals; I also consider that maybe I just need to keep my head down and keep trudging along, or perhaps marry goals with mindfulness -- pointing myself in a particular direction but then focusing on being present in the journey.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Wow, I'm sucking at the montly recap, aren't I? (and to think I once aspired to a *weekly* check-in!)

(how long has blogger had this new layout?)

 Homeschooling's going phenomenally well. We're still doing Mosaic for history and world culture, and now we're using a combination of Life of Fred, The Good Time Math Event Book and the Living Math reading list for math, we're continuing to read as many myths and folk stories as we can get our hands on, we're using The Fallacy Detective for logic/critical thinking, using Coffee Break Espanol for Spanish, and using a combination of The Story of Science, How Nature Works, and our nature walks for science.

Story of Science can be subtly snarky about pre-Christian* religious beliefs, IMO -- not offensively so, but enough that I find myself changing a few of the words as I read aloud, because the author's snarkiness distressed Sarah. We have many non-Christian friends and non-Christian beliefs ourselves, and while I notice the author's slightly condescending attitude toward some of the beliefs that pre-date modern scientific explanations of natural phenomena, it doesn't really bother me, but it deeply distresses Sarah. It's easy enough to change or skip over a few words here and there, since the rest of the book works well for her.

 (*ETA: writing "pre-Christian" doesn't get it exactly right. Basically, the author is, IMO, dismissive of various ancient religious beliefs (which aren't exclusively Ancient, as many folks today hold the same basic beliefs, but she's talking specifically about Ancient History), but she's dismissive of them in a way that I think few authors, even freethinking/nontheists, would be dismissive of more mainstream religious beliefs. Yeah, I disagree with those explanations of natural phenomena, too, but you can disagree without being a jerk about it.)

Sarah likes an extremely imaginitive, story-based approach to pretty much everything. We stumbled across a book that seems to be a good fit for her for science: The Story Book of Science (Yesterday's Classics), and picked it up for Kindle (she has one on loan for about another month).

We had another talk about our homeschool approach, today. I realized how quickly summer was approaching, and wanted to hear her thoughts on whether to take a break for summer and try a different homeschooling approach (still using a rhythm to the day, but replacing our current "playing school" slot with projects or unit studies or what we call "unschooling time" (basically each of us doing whatever quiet independent work we feel like doing, that day)) or to take "vacation" for a week or a month or the whole summer. She's still thinking about it, but narrowed it down to continuing our current approach (playing school most mornings after breakfast, but regularly choosing to skip it in favor of getting out for a field trip or playdate or just reading companionably side-by-side) or else taking an unschool/project approach to our current rhythm to the day. I can't decide if I'm relieved (I'm really looking forward to finishing up the Ancient World together, our current reading's a lot of fun, and I'm also really curious to see what a project-based approach would feel like) or disappointed (I'm curious to see what a summer vacation would feel like, and what we would wind up doing with our time).

Highlights of our last month include: learning about New Zealand for Country Day -- her presentation was on how humans settled New Zealand (humans started out in Africa around 160,000 years ago, and didn't settle New Zealand until around 800 years ago!) and we made a Pavlova (delicious meringue dessert) -- attending Canal Immersion Day at the Canal museum in Easton PA (took a ride down the canal, used blacksmith tools to make her own S-hook, learned the geology of mining, learned about simple machines, learned about buoyancy and got to pull the boat by hand, learned about daily canal life), learning about Egypt for the last Country Day (Queen Hatsepshut), Bear Mountain Zoo with my parents, finished up bowling league for the season, duct tape class at the library, board game meetup at another library, Sarah's having a great time with the art class she's taking at The Messy Artist -- it's a little art theory, a little intro to different art techniques, and a lot of hands-on exploration. She's also reading non-stop (mostly long series about adventurous girls, and then a couple Rick Riordan series), watching lots of cooking shows, Mythbusters, and My Little Pony, going to Pokemon League, and continuing to slowly explore the baking book she got for Christmas. We made a yellow layer cake, last night, and it came out really delicious -- a basic, not-too-sweet but very tasty cake.

She's made huge leaps forward in terms of her comfort with dogs and with chatting with new people.

This summer Sarah wants to spend a lot of time on physical stuff -- bike riding, roller skating, learning to skateboard, wiffle ball, soccer, frisbee, building stuff for the backyard, and she also wants to practice more practical skills so that she can do more stuff for herself (I think because we're raising a single child, she's had to do less for herself than many of her peers have had to learn to do, and we're all just starting to notice that).

We're continuing to use the Zenhabits habit-building approach, Getting Things Done, Flylady, and a Waldorf approach to the day to shape the life we want. It's going pretty well. We aren't making as much music or having as many friends over as we'd like, but I'm pretty happy with where we are in the process.