Thursday, March 31, 2011

{this moment} - in daddy's ties

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. See Soulemama to play along.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

::right now::

::replenishment of the mud hole::

::a fishing pond full of screw/modeling wax fishes with a modeling wax boat full of nut babies (I couldn't make this stuff up if I wanted to)::

::fishing via dowel, string and magnetic dart::

::hope for more rainbows to come at the end of this dreary weather::


::a girl happily accompanying her stepdad to a coffeeshop::
::a stepdad who is thrilled to listen to this each time she wants to read to him::
::knitting a last minute birthday present from here::
::eagerly anticipating a visit to my grandmother tomorrow::
::my littlest boy proudly read 3 three-letter words on his own today::

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

a visit to the dairy farm

This morning we took a break from our rainbow-making to visit a local dairy farm. Since Elizabeth's on spring break and Paulie and Philip were out for a teacher workday, the rainclouds parted, just for today, and it seemed like good timing.

We've had conversations many times in the past with our kids about how we only buy dairy and eggs from farms who treat their animals kindly and don't over-medicate them. On the way to the farm, I pointedly told the older kids that we were lucky to have a local farm that treats their cows nicely from whom we can buy local milk and ice cream. As we were pulling up, Paulie said, "I thought you said they treated their cows nicely. These cows are VERY dirty!"

So, I had to explain the difference between dirty cows and agri-business cows who are never allowed near enough to a field to know what dirty feels like. There are happy, if dirty from the recent rains, cows in this field.

Both Paulie and Elizabeth kept hooting at the the farm's dog who would run ahead of the tractor, lie down in the middle of the road, and when the tractor was merely feet from running it over, would take off running further down the road again.

I think Finn enjoyed the hayride more than hearing about all the types of cows. I can't blame him though. It really was a beautiful, if chilly, day for a ride.

I enjoyed seeing all of the different types of cows, segregated by age, in each field. Everything from current milking cows, to pregnant mama cows, to teenager cows who "only eat, sleep and lie around like typical teenagers".

Finn's friend, Grady, joined us for the tour. It's always nice to have friends around to share in the fun.

Doesn't this farm have some of the most beautiful land around!

After the hayride, everyone received a chance to feed a baby cow. This little guy was chomping at the gate to get his bottle!

He slurped it up so fast he had cream in the corners of his mouth, which made the kids laugh.

Then we all got a chance to milk the pretend cow. Elizabeth plopped down like a pro and started milking away.

Philip was much less sure of himself and used 2 hands on one teat. We chuckled about how the poor cow might have reacted to his manhandling.

We ended the tour at the milking parlor where the farmers milk the cows, 16 at a time, twice each day, which takes 2.5 hours each time they milk them.

We ended the tour with a container of their delicious ice cream and visiting some of the other farm animals. These baby bunnies were the main draw.

I think one took a special liking to Paulie.

If you're located in central NC, you should check Homeland Creamery's site to see where you can buy their milk in a store near you. Support your local farms!

Monday, March 28, 2011

a rainbow week

Elizabeth's school is on spring break this week, which of course, is on a different schedule with the boys' school and Finn's school. Since she's the only one around this week, we decided to make it a rainbow week based on Little Acorn Learning's free rainbow week Ebook.

Elizabeth can certainly have her own ideas when it comes to art, crafting, reading and even wandering around in nature, so I'm sure we'll use some of the ideas from the book, and Elizabeth will supplement with plenty of her own. To get her excited about the week, I spent some time this weekend burning a design into a wooden ring and making a rainbow dancing ring for her.

She enjoying watching me work on it and was thrilled when I finally finished. She immediately asked, "where's your camera?" and took a few pictures so she could dash outside to dance with her rainbow ribbons streaming behind her. (The first 3 pictures in this post are credited to Elizabeth.)

We didn't have any rainbow beads or beads of enough colors, so we just decided to use some red wooden beads at the end of each rainbow ribbon. I don't think the red beads detract from the rainbows though.

During a break in the rainy weekend, she took the rainbow dancing ring for it's inaugural spin.

Do you ever watch your kids and wonder who those little people are in there so different from yourself? Elizabeth is my graceful dreamer. She marches to the beat of her own drum, and I forever wonder what her world must be like, so different from my very organized, practical, and accomplishment-driven one.

I also quickly knitted up a new rainbow hat for the week since our cooler temperatures returned. In addition to her dreamy personality is a real penchant for losing hats! I knit more hats for her than all 3 boys combined. Most of them come back around again, but you never know quite when they'll return.

This pattern is Soulemama's Hat of Choice knit in the adult size with an extra repetition of the pattern, but on size 8 needles. The colorway is Knit Picks Chroma Worsted in prism. The gradual merging of the rainbow in this colorway is just lovely. The hat only used a half ball so I'm thinking mittens, maybe, for the other 1.5 balls I bought.

She became a little self-conscious when I took pictures again today of her dancing with the rainbow ring and wearing her rainbow hat. "Mom!"

And down went the rainbow dancing ring...but it's only the beginning of rainbow week so I'm sure it won't stay there for long.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

weekend crafting

Once it became apparent that the weather was going to kill our weekend plans, Paulie, Elizabeth and I decided to take a trip to the fabric store to see if we could find any cheap but interesting remnants to put to good use. First up on Paulie's list...some khaki fabric to make a "businessman". Paul recently switched jobs and now works in a less formal environment, and Paulie has made it clear that he misses seeing his dad in a dress shirt, khakis and tie everyday, or chump clothes, as they're known in our home. This is actually quite amusing because anyone who knows Paul very well is shocked at the sight of him in anything but jeans and a t-shirt. :)

We recently started stocking a basket over the art shelf with some wooden supplies, including peg people (thanks, Ginny!), clothespins, eggs and rings.

Once Paulie started the trend, we had a whole windowsill full of businessmen and other happy fellows.

Paulie bravely even designed a dress for one of the women peg people.

I'm sure the women still in the basket are jealous.

I got into the act a bit by making these little root children, based on the adorable ones I saw here.

Finn took his own path by trying to learn embroidery on a piece of burlap. We're still working on his piece, but I'll show you when he's finished. He really enjoys watching it come together.

Elizabeth was inspired by the walnut hat on one of my root children and immediately set to work on a "secret project" with a walnut shell of her own.

And a walnut baby was born.

I also made a few more felted eggs with this post in mind. Two little egg monsters now live in our trees. The kids are having the best time with them, making the poor little monsters eat everything in sight.

Paulie decided to make his own version of the egg monsters.

And came up with this crazy-haired little dude.

Elizabeth's secret project continued and suddenly, she had rigged a very elaborate series of strings, a wooden egg, a wooden ring, a felted sweater and some modeling wax into a pulley system to keep her walnut baby out of reach.

The weight of the egg perfectly matched the walnut baby's carrier, making the perfect pulley system.

There was also some garden variety wax modeling resulting a few boats, including a glass bottom one with a piece of packing tape providing the "glass bottom". I love the imaginations of these amazing kids. It's so fun to see where their creativity will take them.

Those were just the projects we finished this rainy weekend. Several more were begun and hopefully I'll share them with you upon completion. What a productive, yet relaxing, weekend!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

{this moment} - square dancin'

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. See Soulemama to play along.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

on homeschooling, part 2

You'll have to excuse us while we play board games over our dinner; dinner of green smoothie and string cheese, no less. Paul is out of town for a few days, and well, you know what they say about the cat being away... I know, I know, 95% of the time our dinner hour is candlelit with lovely presentation and full of sharing about our day, but once in a while, it's ok to have a family game time smack in the middle of dinner, right?

So where was I? On homeschooling, yes.

I know it's only been a month since I previously shared my feelings on homeschooling, ambivalent as they were. Not really much has changed since then except this...I turned in Finn's notice of intent for next school year with an X next to the line that said "will NOT return next school year."

We really had such a wonderful week of "practice homeschooling" during February and he's always so eager to share projects, stories and work with me, that it really seems like a good fit at this point in his life. Oh, I'm nervous to be sure that I might be making a mistake in choosing to remove him from a school where he's thriving, from a method where he's learning faster than I acknowledge and from friendships that he truly enjoys.

I only hope that every day experiential learning in the kitchen, in storytime, in the grass and mud outside, even in the laundry room and farmer's market might spark a gem or nugget he might not have otherwise been fortunate enough to capture in a classroom, even one as great as Montessori.

My problem now that I've taken the leap is that I have to figure out where we fit in the giant rat maze of homeschooling styles available in this day and age. My first inclination is Waldorf, of course, and I'm sure we'll draw heavily on that method. I think Waldorf would probably be the absolutely perfect style for Elizabeth, with her head always in the clouds and a constant fairytale tucked in the corner of her brain. She's my dreamer, and she thrives on the creative, the beautiful, the breathing in and out of the natural world around her.

Finn certainly loves those things as well, but he doesn't seem to need them. In fact, he needs a concrete operational objective more often than not. A beginning and an ending. A challenge. Montessori has been wonderful for him in this way. But he's still only 4, and he loves a pretty picture book, which is why I think a blending of the two might be a good compromise for him. I guess to summarize my exact plan at this point: I intend to use the Little Acorn Learning childcare lesson plans with as many Montessori works as Finn is interested in mastering thrown in between our specific activities.

So to accomodate the burgeoning collection of books that we'll be using together, we acquired a new shelf to sit beside the art shelf to give a bit more room to keep Finn's puzzles, poetry books, his song and poetry journal and a few other things he might need close at hand. His current favorite on the shelf is actually missing in this picture because he was in the process of looking at each picture and tracing each letter with his finger. He really is eager to learn!

(Here he's actually writing a few letters on the windows with his window crayons. Eager, I'm tellin' ya!)

But most of all, I really hope he just enjoys his time at home, being a kid and playing his heart out. So many kids get so little of that these days.