talk about it more

a virtual baby book

When she was two, Fiona regularly said "Talk about it more!" to express her desire to know more about whatever we were discussing.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

With thanks to Teresa

I tried to give this to a little man with a smaller head, but Nora simply adores it. She wears it on her forehead, smushing down her little eyebrows. When that gets too tight she pushes it up a bit and the crochet stitches are still pressed into her head in little pink channels. She leaves it up, she folds it down. She is beginning to make it unravel. But that hat gives her joy, and I'm letting her keep it. Thank you, Teresa.

Winding down after a home school year

Today was Fiona's last day of physical education classes at a local university. She liked it, and I'm a little sad about it. Not because it was the best thing she's ever done or anything (though it was fabulous,) but because it's concrete proof that our school year is winding down. As usual, I'm trying to stay a step or two ahead by lining up some organized fun that she'd enjoy this summer-- art camp, possibly Wildcat ball, and/or other group forms of excitement-- but the reality of ending home schooling fills me with sadness. How can something that is so clearly good for Fiona be so unreachable for me? *sigh*

Well, as things settle down little it is possible there will be more focus on feeling better and doing better. That will benefit all of us. And ending homeschooling as such is not the end of home learning, obviously. When's the last day you didn't learn anything at all?

People often think homeschooling is just postponing 'real' school. I'm here to tell you that homeschooling is nothing to sneeze at; it's real and it's positive and can be very, very dense with activity, fun, and learning. I'll miss this with every fiber of my being. All of us will. But we can look back with happiness on this year we've had together, and use it as a stepping stone to something new.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Farm fun

Today we spent a couple happy hours at the farm where we got our lamb last year. Anita and her family showed us two kinds of sheep, many types of chickens, some bunnies, two calves, a number of turkeys and a couple of cats. Not only did we learn a lot about animals, the girls learned about what it would be like to care for a number of animals and plants as part of their everyday duties. She also showed us a really old, really cool cabin that got settled into the back of their property a couple of years ago. I think the 'clown car' drive to the back of the property with everyone stuffed into the vehicle was equally as fun as the rest to Fiona and Nora.

We look forward to more lamb as well as a deeper relationship with this wonderful family.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Wildflower party!

We were invited to a Wildflower Party at Robert, Dennis, and Teresa's house this Sunday. It fun on a number of levels. It's fun to get together with others, fun to see the kids play merrily together, to enjoy a lovely day, and to soak up some nature. We saw a lot more varieties than we expected to see in such a soon-to-be-shady area. So cool!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

A zootiful day

I thought I was due for a haircut at 1:00, but it was actually at 5:00. That gave us a block of time and put us right next to the zoo. Voila!

We had a wonderful time, and saw good friends there to boot. The bunch of us truly enjoyed watching around a dozen tiny brown mice scurrying in the Indonesian Rainforest. Hooray for sunny surprises and fun friends!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Reading Rainbow wowness

Fiona just won third place in the Reading Rainbow Young Authors and Illustrators contest! We'll go to a reception for her at the local Museum of Art-- woo hoo! And for me, the very best news of all is that since it's not going on to the national contest, we get the original story and art back! I missed that story already.

When the public television representative called us to tell us the happy news, he had some interesting things to say. First of all, he said he was pleased and frankly amazed by the amazing work such young people submitted. They sorted through around 2000 entries, and they were varied and truly stunning. He also said he was the graphic artist and art director at our local station, and that he was very gratified to see so many students engaged in the arts. He said he has loved art since he was a child, but was only permitted to take an art class when he got to high school, and that was an independent study class in which he submitted two films. He didn't get to take an actual 'art class,' he said, until he got into college.

It made me wish all over again that Fiona was schooling with me again full-time next year. She'll miss her art classes, and a lot of other wonderful things too. But between the schooling that every parent enjoys with their children and the special opportunities she'll gain at the art magnet, I do hope she can continue to enjoy the arts, and other things besides, no matter where she schools. Breathe in, breathe out.

One of her illustrations was copied for display at the art museum celebration. We haven't seen the last of The Wonderful Smell. Not yet.

Blast from the past

Nora got a cotton candy-flavored lip gloss in her Easter basket. The intensely sweet scent of it knocks me over every time-- with memories. She smells just like the skating rink of my childhood. It's wild the way scents and memories mingle so vividly, isn't it?

Knowing Dad's issues with Olivia Newton John, I'll select a different video for today from my skating rink days. I'd never watched her videos until now as I was looking at skating rink songs for this post anyway. But every time glossed Nora comes at me for a kiss, the refrain from Xanadu washes over me.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Nora's salad

Jen was making a spinach and radicchio salad with cranberries, shredded carrot, feta cheese, and pecans, and out of habit (rather than any expectation that there would be an affirmative answer), offered it to Nora.  Nora really wanted to try the cheese, and she liked it, and wanted more.

"You can have the cheese if you have the salad," said Jen.

"O-kay," replied Nora.

She had some stipulations: no carrot.  No nuts.  No "purple stuff".  And she wanted ranch dressing for her spinach.  (She loves the dried cranberries.)  A couple of minutes later, she was asking for more salad.  

"Hey, wait a minute ... where did your spinach go?" I asked.

"I ate it!" Nora whispered.

Now she's on thirds ...

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Hello Carlo!

We met up with Helena, Ada, Carlo, Paul and Heather today along with a number of other friends at Park Day. I met the little man when we delivered food last week, but Ian and the girls got to meet him today. Such a cute little downy-headed fellow!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

New kitchen table find

I can never tell what I'm going to find lying around. I love this one! Our anxious cutie really captured the peace and stillness of yoga.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

School news

With my parents, there was no 'maybe.' There was no shopping around. There were no 'ifs.' When my sister and I were old enough, we went to parochial school.

Life may not be harder now, but we tend to make it that way. It is almost the end of Fiona's school year. She didn't get as much science or history as I would have like to have shared, but she is doing quite well in reading, math, and music. In addition, she had a rich life filled with books, art, music, drama, physical education, discussion groups, religious education, co-ops, community service, science center and botanical conservatory trips, and nature everywhere from bogs to the zoo to the backyard (plus the occasional mouse in the house)-- not to mention the bonus of spending virtually every meal with her whole family.

At the recommendation of her therapist, we had a somewhat structured morning for Fiona, followed by special events on some afternoons. I thought this would get easier for me, but that has not been the case. I cannot separate the 'Mom half' from the 'Teacher half' nearly the way he recommended. I just can't do it. Fiona has thrived in home school. I haven't thrived for quite awhile, with or without school.

We are nearing the end of the school year, but for myself I do not see us reaching the end of a year of insomnia or the anxious, sleep deprived effects that come from it. It feels odd to put my own oxygen mask on before Fiona's, but we have decided to send her to traditional school next year. By fall she will be in our local fine arts public magnet school. We'll still have school at home, but Our Way, whatever that is. We hope it will be fine for Fiona, plus give us a chance to balance some other things that are going on at home.

I don't wish to imply that I didn't like or 'couldn't do' homeschooling. It is a highly rewarding vocation, and I wish I was well enough to continue. I think Fiona is doing fine, and will have no trouble at traditional school. Neither do I wish to imply that homeschooling made me sick. I hit the wall the first time with insomnia in August, and it had been going on for quite awhile even then. Lastly, I don't want to infer that traditional schooling is always inferior and wrong for all. I don't believe any of those things. I think there are many 'right' paths, and we just need to choose the best one for us. As our firstborn, Fiona is our 'experimental' child, and that's just how it is. We're learning as we go. I hope our homeschooling friends will support us in our decision as our traditional schooling friends have before.

We'll miss Fiona, and I'm certain that Nora and I will be involved at her school. But Nora and I will also be involved with each other in a different way, and Fiona will make friends in a new way. And hopefully I can get my groove back-- that will help all of us. For us, it's not as simple as signing some papers and sending Fiona off to school. But it is what it is, and we'll live and we'll learn.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter!

After egg hunting, enjoying baskets of goodies, and eating pancakes and sausage, we all trotted off to morning Mass together. Naps and the enjoyment of each other ensued for the remainder of the day.

We are having a hodge-podge dinner of 'favorite things' which will include pot roast style pork chops with veggies, sweet potatoes, peanut-butter hats (peanut-butter smears on banana slices) and the beat-up, leftover lemon cake from Friday. Then, because of the naps, we should still be able to squeeze in a couple card games and some time in the park with those skates and bike Grandma and Toot Toot sent us home with earlier this week. Ahhhhhhhhhhhh.

Silly statement #8735

This morning's kitchen discussion while mixing up pancake batter:

Me: BRRRRRRRRRRRRR! I have to go get a sweater. I'm so cold!
Nora: Mom, you're cold-fashioned.

Friday, April 10, 2009


Besides a quick trip through the rain to Good Friday services, we've also had a vomitous Fiona, and a gift cake that only baked all-the-way through on one side. See the still-sticky half above. Also note that Zelda is tucked in just like earlier this week.

At least we were able to deliver the good half, along with dinner, to Helena, Ada, Carlo, Heather, and Paul's house. Ian and the girls didn't go because of Fi's quease, but I was tickled to meet handsome little Carlo and say hi to Teresa, who came when I did so we could give Carlo his shared gift from us together.

Now I have no desire whatsoever to clean up the kitchen and figure out what we can eat that won't smell appealing enough that still-sick Fiona will want it. Bed at 6:10? Sounds kind of good. I'm wiped out.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Laundry list

We're experimenting with checklists at our house. It's not that I'm looking for a bunch of sticker charts to keep up with-- far from it. However, now that Fiona has the reading bug it's difficult to get past the bed and PJs stage. Even with today's checklist, which she requested, I twice within seven minutes found her standing, wholly engrossed, reading her magazine. But it's a fun experiment. Let me reiterate: reading is good. Having the skills to be ready for the day within a reasonable amount of time is also good.

She just marks off the stuff she needs to do once she's done it, and she's trying to get finished by the time we begin school in the morning. It's a kind of race, and a kind of muscle-memory-making deal. The hope is that she can create a sensible routine that just feels, well, routine. Once we get it about the way we like it, the plan is to laminate it so it can be used over and over. I'm trying to decide whether perhaps she could do some of these things before dinner instead of all clumped up in the morning. It's a work in progress, and it should be interesting to see what becomes of it in the end.

Once Nora saw Fiona walking around the house with a clipboard and a checklist, she of course had to have one as well. She really loves it. That seems so weird to me, but I'm glad they're happy.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Gym time

Fiona has been enjoying a free physical education class at a local university. The big kids get real experience with young students, and the homeschoolers enjoy the kids, the games, and the special equipment! Today Fiona's class played with a large parachute. See her going under in that first picture? Good times!

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Cat nap

Nora vomited once in the morning and slept most of the day today. Who knows what that's all about... Regardless, Zelda was glad of the company.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Bwa ha ha ha ha ha!

The girls and I are getting ready to go to Grandma and Toot Toot's for a short overnight while Ian works at the library this weekend. It's a nice end to our Spring Break, and next week is sort of packed anyway so it's good to go soak up some grandparent love while we can. We're packed, but I'm puttering around the house getting a little cleaned up so we can come home to less mess tomorrow night.

Nora: I'm going up to go potty.
Me: All right. (Sinister voice) I'm going to run a load in the dishwasher. Bwa ha ha ha ha ha!
Nora: Mom, that is not a funny laugh. That is something else. I'm going upstairs now.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Oh Toot Toot, send me a letter!

Here are Fiona and Nora, enraptured by the letter sent by Toot Toot. Each child took their own letter up and put it away in their nightstand afterwards; but Nora first wrote a letter back to G and TT on the back. When she read it to us, it purportedly said, "Dear Grandma and Toot Toot, I truly hope you enjoy your audiobooks." Where, exactly, does she get this stuff?

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

April Fool!

The girls wrote down so many things that were not quite right in the Children's Department at the library yesterday that by the time we got back to the front of the room, Fiona would notice things and I'd say, "Oh wow. Yes!" on autopilot. That was a very crazy place, no foolin'.

When we left the library both girls spent the rest of the day trying to fool their mama. In the end, they got fairly decent at it. Hmmmmmmmm... Is this a good thing? ; )