Wednesday, September 30, 2009

It's almost October!

In our house that means finalizing our Halloween costume ideas...
Here's what we have so far:
  • A scary vampire - she's trying to work out from which time period the vampire hails so she can decide on clothing (the 9-year-old)

  • A beheaded Anne Boleyn - she has visions of covering her real head and carrying a paper mache head in her arms... (the 7-year-old)

  • A ghost - totally set on a white sheet with eye holes (most excellent!!!) (the 6-year-old)

  • A cuddly puppy - she wants to match her well-loved stuffed animal, which is white with black spots (the 5-year-old)

Monday, September 28, 2009

From the Bookshelves

Don't forget - this week is Banned Book Week!
Here is what's on our reading lists this week...

Wild Girls' Reading List:
Ginger Pye by Eleanor Estes
Stuart Little by E.B. White
Nate the Great and the Monster Mess by Sharmat and Weston
The Starry Messenger by Peter Sis
Once Upon a Starry Night by Mitton and Balit
The Golden Sandal by Rebecca Hickox
Elizabeth I by Stephanie Turnbull
Shakespeare & the Globe by Aliki
A Midsummer's Night's Dream by Bruce Coville & William Shakespeare
Junior Great Books, The Sailing Ship series, vol. 1
Fablehaven by Mull and Dorman - our read-aloud

Wild Mamma's Reading List:
All the King's Men by Robert Penn Warren
The Curse of the Good Girl by Rachael Simmons
The Boy in Striped Pajamas by John Boyne
As Hot As It Was You Ought to Thank Me by Nanci Kincaid

Monday, Monday...

We had a rocky start - everyone was tired and emotionally drained from my husband's homescoming yesterday. It was so wonderful to have him walk through the front door. I felt a huge sensation of relief come over me - I hadn't realized I was so worried about his safe return! But he's back, brought us fabulous goodies from India, and lots of love. He missed us, too, and it showed. I felt this warm sensation in my soul when he looked at me all day yesterday - it felt good to know that he missed me. So after lots of quality family time yesterday, this morning was a bit slow in getting off the ground; once we started moving we rolled through a fair amount of "school."

One exciting tidbit to share: my youngest is starting to really read. She has a tough row to hoe being the youngest of four. She tends to compare herself to her sisters and gets easily frustrated when she doesn't remember a word, so I need to be extra careful about keeping things light and fun. And it's working! She had a blast today and read quite a bit. I feel confident that moving slow was the right thing for her and that waiting until now was the exact right time to start.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

At Week's End

Week Four ended yesterday. Went off without a hitch. Sometimes it can be hard to get rollin' in the morning. I don't always want to do the basics. I almost always want to do all the fun bits - creating wacky art, listening to great music, playing in and enjoying the world outside our four walls. Those things come easy. But teaching math? Not so much. I feel a mental sigh sometimes when I see a math book or a phonics book.

This week, however, I felt rewarded. It was a week where I could actually "see" the progress my girls are making. Not just in the drier things, but all around. In their journaling, in their play. And I realized that all of these things are interconnected, even when it doesn't appear that way. Like life. You can't separate bits of your life, bits of yourself. You are whole. Learning is whole. And it was a wonderful feeling. It helps make the prospect of week five okay.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Shred for Phys. Ed?

I have an addiction. It's call 30-Day Shred. I love this DVD. Like any good addict, I don't follow the "prescription" as set forth by the program designers. No, I have made it my own and I am hooked. I don't know if it's the condensed format or the fact that I find most of it really challenging, but boy I love it. I used to call myself a "gluten-free veg-head" but now I'm actually tempted to change that to a "gluten-free shred-head."

It has gone so far that I'm curious as to whether or not the state reviewer will accept Shred as my childrens' physical education. This way I'd have another excuse to fit it in each day.

Shred on!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Words of Wisdom

I read this today and I just love it. I believe it is a universal truth...

"Nothing gives one person so much advantage over another as to remain always cool and unruffled under all circumstances."
~ Thomas Jefferson

Monday, September 21, 2009

Recommended Reading for All Ages

Amidst our busy Monday schedule, I decided to read this book to the girls. Although written as a letter to children, I recommend it for all ages; from the youngest students to members of the oldest generation, this book has a message for everyone.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Weekend Whirlwind

Phew - what a weekend. I feel like I've been going 24/7 ... and I have. Ugh. At least we had fun this weekend. The highlight was major apple picking at a local orchard (we brought home over 80 pounds of apples). It was the perfect late summer day - clear skies, warm but not hot. In the orchard you could hear the bees buzzing and smell the overripe apples that had already fallen to the orchard floor. Once we got home we started peeling and slicing, simmering and baking and the house was full of warm, delicious, homey smells. By nightfall the air was crisp and cold and clear - I longed for a bonfire and blankets and wonderful stories.

Hmmm. Fall is so close, I can taste it. Quite literally.

I managed to eat an entire dish of (gluten-free, vegan) Apple Crisp (can you hear the buttons popping off my jeans?). I also had a major baking accomplishment - I was able to turn our old family recipe for Apple Cake into a gluten-free, vegan Apple Cake and not lose taste and texture. (Now I just have to be able to do it again.) But with my cake in hand, I'm ready for autumn!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Precious Moments

I love when something happens with your child that brings a huge grin to your face. My 6-year old daughter was reading in bed and I went to tuck her in, turn out the light, etc. Normally when I come in she immediately starts talking to me in her quiet way, puts aside whatever she is doing, and reaches for a hug. But this time, she glanced up at me and quickly looked back at her book (Grasshopper Goes for a Walk by Arnold Lobel). I could see her eyes were shining and she was smiling to herself.

I decided to let her read for a minute more so I turned to leave the room. She then looked back up at me and said in the most excited voice imaginable, "Mommy, this is absolutely the BEST book I have ever read!! Have you READ this? You've GOT to read this!! It's amazing!" Her little feet were kicking excitedly under the covers and she was just overflowing with happiness.

Naturally, I took her advice and sat down to read the book (for the fifth time) immediately. With a review like that, how could I not?

Monday, September 14, 2009

Today, a question

Okay, maybe it's half-question, half-whining...

How do you know when it's time to move?

I thought I could handle rural - and in many ways I do like it. The kids can play outside and ride their bikes. We know all of our neighbors. Our physical house is wonderful - more house than we could dream of in an urban setting. It's quiet - I can hear crickets and frogs, ducks and geese. There is space enough to breathe deeply and no smog to worry about breathing in.

On the other hand, I am wondering how much I can let roll off my back. I guess it's one thing when you know there are others like you nearby and you can vent it out over tea. I can take quite a bit under those circumstances. It's another when you realize you're the only one who's not nodding your head, that you're the pariah, the heathen, the "crazy liberal" because I think that not saying the Pledge of Allegiance in school is okay or that global warming is real, not a scheme cooked up by the Left.

And most importantly, that by default, by association with you, your kids are also going to be pariahs.

Does this mean it's time to move? Or is it time to breathe deeply the smog-free air and find a way to make it work...

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Officially back in the game

And just like that, we're back. Back from the beach; back from a break; back to school work (come tomorrow morning). And perhaps most importantly... ahhh... back to my own bed. I love coming home almost more than I like getting away.

The girls read so many wonderful books at the beach. And they discussed and compared different selections (which was precious). I read several good books and a couple that were simply so-so. And most amazingly, my husband read a novel. This truly is amazing because the last time he read a novel I think it took him one year to go cover to cover. It could have been two years. He typically reads one of the three of his computer screens, repair manuals, and banking documents. This was a real moment for him - he read the entire book in just a few days. And significant because it means he wasn't working during those hours! Yes - relaxing on vacation can happen!

Sadly, our homecoming was bittersweet because we no sooner arrived than we had to take my husband to the train station. He left on a business trip to India and will be gone for two weeks.

I guess that means only some of us are officially back.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Makes me think...

We're on vacation, but naturally my husband still had to work.
On our vacation.
On Labor Day.

The upside is that I'm using his computer because I read something today and the words have made me think. They've got me to the point where I have to write something down to remember them by and the notebook where I usually jot down my rambling thoughts is apparently also on vacation as I cannot find it anywhere.

The words I read are thought-provoking words. They've sunk into my stubborn brain and are nesting there, keeping the fragile beginnings of a new thought warm so that is can hatch into something bigger. Perhaps a change is coming to my life.

"Stress is like fire: When controlled and used for a purpose, it serves us well. Left unbridled, it can consume us."
-Brendan Brazier

Perhaps it'd be better if my husband read them and allowed them to sink into his even more stubborn brain...

Friday, September 4, 2009

And we're off!

Naturally, after two weeks of homeschooling we need a break! So we're taking off to the beach for a week and will be (happily) out of contact with the digital world until mid-September.

Wish us luck - it's a ten hour drive (each way) to get where we're going....

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Brain Games

I watched an interesting DVD last night on the brain. Specifically children's brains. While much of what I saw was not new to me, there were bits and pieces in the program that made me think. In fact, they worked their way into my slumber and filled my dreams with confusing yet interesting images. The bottom line is that I learned something. Something that stuck with me and forced me to think of things in a new way, with a new framework even in my sleep.

The feeling that my mind was being pushed and stretched reminded me of something I'd read once so this morning I looked it up...

"Man's mind, once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimensions."
-Oliver Wendell Holmes

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

From the Bookshelves

For the kids ...

... and mom's bookshelf ...