Monday, April 27, 2015

what happens to the plan

I always have a plan. I may in fact have several plans.  The making of the plans is not always related to the execution of the plan, but it is there as a starting point, the first step, a mark on the otherwise blank and daunting page.

Today's plan took several unexpected twists, and I consider it a major part of my job as a homeschooling facilitator to be able to shift gears dozens of times an hour in order to keep up with Now and Yes.  Yes is the most valuable part of our days, and you have to catch it when you can.  Last week's yes looked like letting go of every scrap of my plan because Ani was eyeballs deep into her book, which she started upon awaking and had finished - with several interruptions to play - by suppertime, all 284 pages, not that anyone's counting.  One of the reasons I'm writing about it is that it took me all day to get over myself and realize that she'd run a reading mile, while I sulked about the writing project I'd had to set aside.  She finished, glowing, and we ran outside to enjoy the last hour of daylight together, met up with our friend Sarah at the gardens and helped cover the gorgeous lettuces before the frost.  The moon was its slivery self, so dainty and perfect, and Ani started to rhapsodize, as she does, and ended up coming home to start a new daily journal, in which she writes to the moon. Brilliant. So much better than what I was going to try and coax her into earlier in the day.  Yes.

Today looked like two girls sleeping in.  It looked like reading Ella Enchanted aloud over the breakfast Eliza made for us all.  It was clear when we finished and the sun was screaming come play with me! that going outside was maybe a better idea than piano practice and a math lesson, so once the kid laundry got in, the girls went outside, refit helmets, pumped up a tire, and were off on a bike ride together.  They came home with baskets full of pruned branches that they were given by a neighbor trimming up their trees.

Eventually inside to change over the laundry, happily (!!) practice piano, do some math together, and eat lunch while listening to poetry -  River of Words about William Carlos Williams - and to try to imitate his style in This Is Just To Say

This Is Just To Say
I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
for breakfast

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold

William Carlos Williams

Here are Eliza's imitation poems:

This is just to say
I have taken 
my helmet off 
once or twice 
when on another road.

You probably should scold me.

Forgive me.
I felt so free
and so mischievous.

This is just to say
I have picked
too many dandelions
that went bad 
right away.

You probably would have liked it better 
if I had left them in the ground.

Forgive me.
They were so yellow
and there were so many.

I cannot tell you how much I love these poems, and how beautiful her grin was as she read them to me.  I'll have to get Ani's permission to share hers on another day, but let's just say that the idea was embraced, and we had so much fun sharing what we came up with. Yes.

So what if the dishes kept piling up.  (They did. I don't know much about the reproductive habits of kitchen things, but really, if they keep this up we're going to have to move.) Today we rode bikes, read chapters, wrote poetry, and gathered flowers to strew all over the house. That's all worth some diversion from the plan.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

for you who are not here

Well, first, this is a fair representation of our past couple of weeks.  Low energies, low fevers, an over-supply of mucous and throat-swell, and intense appreciation for the sun.  It looked like a crime scene, but I didn't have the heart to move any of them.

This week it's my turn, but it's traveling through me quickly (knock on wood, hack hack). Before it got me, I got out for a hike on my own.  Yes, on my own.  I can't tell you when that has happened, and though I was in familiar woods, it was quite exciting.  

Some of our dearest are spending this month - and maybe many more - in Maine, where they have recently had seven fresh inches of snow.  Dearlings, these are for you...

cutleaf toothwort

dutchman's breeches

ah! trillium! what a nice surprise!

The elusive bloodroot, which I fear I might have missed this year. I shall try again this week...
Rue anemone
This place is so beautiful in the spring.  My heart was full at every turn of the path and every new angle of the light.  The rains this week have brought even more color to the hills - the most delicate greens and reds, the deep pinks of the redbud.  One can't stay down for long in these spring days.

Sunday, April 5, 2015


Paas bonanza. Nothing fancy this year.
waiting for sister to wake up

Ani and I think maybe wood frogs?
hiking with ramps. mmmmmmmm.
Cutleaf toothwort
Bitter Cress
my people, in the woods with me = holiday
see that green? ramps. ohh yeah.
hello, baby buckeye!

Trout lily leaves
old puffball
little stinkbug, out where it's supposed to be
(instead of my bedroom! enough is enough!)

~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~

Ani declined the family hike for some old fashioned kid romping.  Our neighborhood has doubled its kid population in the last couple of months, specializing in six to nine year olds, and it has been an interesting development. There are parts I love - the pack running wild, laughing, staying out until the very last possible minute.  There are aspects that are confusing Ani - like the focus on "crushes" and who likes who, and the boy/girl divide, which some days manifests itself in flirty games and other days becomes "boys against girls".  It is all familiar to me as a former schoolkid, and it is making me really appreciate the kind of imaginative play I see the mixed age and gender groups we are with in the homeschooling world.  Interestingly, all of these kids but one have homeschooled in the past but have been back in school for a couple of years.  She seems to be enjoying her time with them, but finds it occasionally boring or befuddling, and wonders why the focus on relationships...

When everyone had gone home and we'd finished with dinner, she dragged me across the street to help her identify a new plant.  We keyed it out together, using our Newcomb's Wildflower field guide and successfully identified it as Lesser Celandine, a member of the Buttercup family. Always satisfying to figure out something new.

On an unrelated note, I made my second-ever roast today, but barbacoa style, with chipotle peppers, in the crock pot. Holy wah, it was good!!! The sun was shining, I had my family near for most of the day, we ate delicious food, the tadpoles are still alive...Life is good.

Friday, April 3, 2015

the week

Ooh, did you know we have tadpoles? They came from a huge puddle in the middle of a non-road, our near our friends' house, and they are growing, growing, growing...I think some of them need to go home to grow, and a few will stick around a little longer to amaze.  We did this once, years ago, long enough ago that Ani has no memory of it, so I thought it might be time again to Wonder.

tadpoles on eggs, of course
The week started out with eggs - drawing Spring onto wooden eggs has become a bit of a tradition, and they come out to sit on the nature table at Equinox and get hidden at some point, because who doesn't like to find things?

I love this bird. On an egg. Wow.
We're having yet another bout of fluish cold go through the family, and Dan got it worst this time, with fever and everything.  I managed to get the two sickest out on a warm sunny day at the peak of their energy, but as you can see Dan didn't have much.

All the foolin' I  managed this year.
But it got a good scream from Eliza;)

We're doing some botany right now, pieced together from a few different places (trying out the free chapter of Ellen McHenry's Botany in 8 Lessons to see what we think, and reading about plant familes in Tom Elpel's Shanleya's Quest - so far so good on both accounts), so we played with photosynthesis this week, by which I mean I got out clay, and we made the molecules that go into and come out of photosynthesis.  Eliza made a comment along the lines of finding it funny that she's still learning things the way she did when she was little - playing and making things with her hands. I think she meant it as a good thing!

Products: H2O, O2 and Glucose
This was our sun that doubled as a hedgehog

Wednesday we got out to see what there was to see in the woods.  Not much yet: a lot of moss, some hepatica, and coltsfoot along the road as we arrived at the park.

Putty root

I wonder why so many early woodland plants are purple? The underside of the putty root leaves, many of the hepatica leaves, the deep maroon pawpaw flowers.  

That brings us to today.  I printed out a game from chemistry class at coop that Ani missed on Tuesday, and we worked our way through it over tea and toast.  I keep checking in with the teacher, as Ani is the youngest in the class, but she said she is really into it and holds her own.  I'm really enjoying the chance to learn chemistry all over again, and I think I get it this time in a way that I definitely did not when I took it in high school from a teacher I think you could call a "character" but who was not a great teacher.

And we end the week with eggs.  I pickled two dozen eggs today, and we drew on a few more real ones.  Maybe we'll dye them tomorrow...

Eliza with her '80's hair