Thursday, March 31, 2011


Ever since Eliza and I went to see The Secret of Kells last summer, Dan has been wanting to take us to see a facsimile of the actual Book of Kells housed in the Special Collections at the university library.  Recently the whole family watched it, and though Ani thought the vikings were quite scary (hence the pile of books about vikings currently visiting our library box), it again caught our imagination, so Dan made an appointment for us to be able to see and spend some time with the illuminated manuscript.
The heft of the book was very satisfying, even if it was only a reproduction.  The original would have had calf vellum pages.
While Ani was a little disappointed that the book did not have a cover like the original, covered in gold and jewels, it was nice to be allowed to touch the pages.  The fascimile shows the holes that have occurred in the original pages, as well as the stitching that mends some of the tears in the vellum.
My pictures  - inside a dark room - don't do the images justice. The color is so saturated and bold. I can only imagine what it might have looked like when first painted.
A magnifying glass helped bring out some of the miniscule details. Those poor monks' eyes. I am sure that many went blind working on this book.
Dan did a wonderful job of engaging the girls - for 45 minutes! - explaining some of the symbolism, and searching the knots and labyrinths for faces and animals.
A great field trip with Papa! 

The girls and I found some treasures on our way home...
a tiny door!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Not to be missed...

I'm late for a recap of the week, but here we go anyway...Cleaning the nature table for the changing of the season...
Spring is quietly emerging everywhere; the hills were dusted red with maple flowers as we drove to visit friends...
The week was mostly about Joy - being with friends, learning new things together, getting some time away (a massage! and a movie! in a theater! with dinner and a friend!).
 Math this week looked like...well, a lot of things! Weaving, Shut-the-box, manipulatives...even, "Mom, could we do flashcards?" Um...ok. Those can be fun too...
 My moods this week have been as fickle as March herself. Hot and cold. Balmy and then snow. Checking on the garden, seeing things grow, helped. Having Dan around this week helped.
On our warmest day we found ourselves at a creek, just before a thunderstorm, building dams.
And back to cold gloom, at a warm coffeeshop.  We don't go when it's over-run with students, so spring break is our time to sip chai and play games.
So, you see - not bad at all. We ended our week with farm school, and market, and weekly potluck with friends.  Good for me to look back when the blues slip in, good to look and see the days for what they really were - filled with good stuff and normal stuff and extraordinary stuff, just as it should be, and just as I would want it to be.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Spring at Good Earth Farm

 We've had a chilly start to our spring quarter of Farm School.  Luckily the day begins with the kids helping Farmer Dan build the fire for us to gather around.  There was a new little heifer there to greet us.
Morning Circle
Peggy joins the circle
 After morning circle, we walked the farm, to see what is new in the woods, and to visit the other new life on the farm.
 The children divide into harvesters and cooks; my girls inevitably choose to prepare lunch, though I think they would both enjoy picking spinach and gathering eggs.
 We learned that humans are the only animal who peels bananas the way we do - from the stem.  Apes and monkeys hold the stem as a handle and peel from the other end, which was surprisingly easy!
 After a large fruit salad and rice and beans with toppings, it was time to help feed Hazel.
 Our afternoon activity this week was based on an Appalachian folk story called Old Joe and the Carpenter (found in a publication from Teaching Tolerance, of the Southern Poverty Law Center). It's a story about friendship and extending the offer of friendship even when challenged by an unkindness.  The cooperative games that followed demanded communication and teamwork, which is such a challenge for this age group (4 - 9)! Challenging but valuable.
 Balancing on a board, put yourselves in alphabetical order, without stepping on the ground! Help each other not to fall off...
 Acting as one body, help each other swing across the lava...
 In groups of 3 or 4, sit on the ground and, holding hands so as to not touch the ground, find a way to stand as a group.  These games were so exciting to the kids - it was such a great way to put physicality into abstract words like trust, and effective communication.
During closing circle we share highlights of the day together. Unanimously the children chose the lava game - Ani's contribution, with a giggle, was "again with the lava".  A successful day.