impossibleway: (The Flower Picker)
The days are full of time outside right now.  After breakfast to before bedtime, folks are heading outside.  We're in for most meals, school time, and quiet time.  The weather really is perfect right now, the kind I always dream of for Autumn.   Rain comes every few days, it's not too hot, but you can also cool off easily.  Just so nice.

While the trees are mostly bare, all the Spring bulbs are putting on a show.  Tulips are starting to bloom and grape hyacinths are delivered to me with great regularity.  I have two vases overflowing right now, along with a full size hyacinth that Laurel picked (eek!).  It all smells so sweet.  It is a little strange to have all this blossoming life right now, several weeks ahead of what we are accustomed to, but I am trying to embrace it.  What else is there to do?

BouquetEveryone is sleeping a full eleven hours each night, and Laurel is still napping.  All the fresh air (and mud and sand) is doing wonders, I guess.  Willow has some sniffles, but they may be due to her nine year change.  I remember well the many complaints she had during the six year change, and I think this may be quite a lot like that.  A cold just a month after having had the last one is record-breaking for this at-home family.  We've got kefir and various other things to help us along, so it will pass and we'll feel thankful for the chance to slow down.

We got a new floor in the kitchen this week, wood-grain vinyl.  There's hardwood underneath all that, but we'll save that job for a time when there aren't galloping children in the house.  We'll probably be ready for a full-scale refinishing of all the floors then.  It is so nice to have a new floor--one without gouge marks and floral prints (as much as I love them on fabrics).  In this way, the kitchen got a good Spring clean, since it is such a hard-working space.  Mike put up a new mailbox, too, and I've got a ceiling fan waiting to go into the kitchen. I am hopeful it will make the Summer canning much more comfortable.

There is a lot to be hopeful about these days, with Spring in the air and all the waiting garden seeds.  I'm planning on building a hugelkultur bed or two with some of the rotten wood, leaves, straw and rocks we have.  While the stars have yet to align for us to have chickens (and I'm getting stage fright), this project seems to be a good fit.  I have all the supplies ready and waiting.  If any of you have done this, let me know.  I'd love to hear.  Carrie is working on her own beds, too.

School planning has been happening, as well, the third grade year writing itself out in my mind.  Gardening and fiber crafts are surely going to be at the heart of Willow's turn.  In that way, I suppose we'll get an early start.  It's going to be new terrain, in many ways, though some things will be revisited in a new way.  Enki covers some language arts skills that I see will come up in the materials from Christopherus next year.  I do like the idea of each child having their own experience of each grade.  Roan, I think, will do more building in grade three, though time will tell.

Well, I think folks are waking up, so it's time to mix up breakfast!
impossibleway: (The Flower Picker)
Violet wake up
Spring is coming, spring is coming
VIolet, wake up
Spring is coming here!


~Enki Grade One Movement


Spring is such a full time, after the long wait of Winter. Right now, I have many plans swirling in my mind--planning for chickens (real ones!), plants to get into the ground, seeds to sow, soil to amend, a bed to build, hugelkultur, more Spring cleaning, brush piles to move. . . For a week or two, what's happening here at home needs to take priority over what's happening in the woods.  Spring happens in the forest near the middle of April, so I'll take a pass to enjoy what's happening here at home where the sunshine has warmed the soil.  This is nature, too!

Violets

First up, violets.  Violets!  They're just starting to bloom, so the children were happy to pick jars full and pour honey over the top.  They really enjoy Susun Weed and were inspired to make their own.  We've made violet jelly in previous years, so we thought we'd do something new this year.  Violet honey for sore throats makes colds sound more pleasant, right?

Dandelions

Willow wanted to make dandelion vinegar, too, so we prepared a small jar, enough for a batch of salad dressing on that first lettuce.  When I told her she'd actually have to try the vinegar, she acted a little surprised!  Not the most adventurous eater, she will eat salads, so I am hopeful.  Willow really loves to pretend to be an herbalist and will spend long periods making various concoctions. I think it is meaningful to use this enthusiam to really make things the family can use.  Children love knowing they are doing something real, as much as they love to pretend.

Our little projects will be ready to strain on Roan's birthday, which is often a celebration of the season's best.  Spring is at its height around his birthday and May Day, and we often have vases of flowers from our yard on the table.  I really love the timing of my children's birthdays, honestly, so near to times of the year that are significant to me.  Roan wastes no time reminding us that his is coming soon (just five weeks!). 
impossibleway: (The Flower Picker)
Spring BouquetYesterday was Work Day, so we spent part of the morning moving branches, cutting back raspberries, pruning, and taking down some trees.  This was all over at the Roland Estate, where there are numerous tangles and piles that are in need of some removal.  This is a good time to do things like that, since the plants are still mostly dormant.  It's a big job that will take several weeks of work to complete, with the end goal being able to mow the places that were once neglected brush piles.  I don't do the mowing, of course, but I do hope to make the job a little easier.

The children love that kind of work, honestly.  We keep it reasonably short, an hour or two, and then follow with some refreshments that help to buoy them along.  It felt like Summer while we were working--we soon shed the sweaters and hats we had come with.  Convinced it was terribly warm at sixty degrees, the children were soon cold from their icy drinks.  The sky clouded over and the wind picked up.  Oh, March.  The rain didn't come until supper time, but everyone was in a good mood the rest of the day.  It makes a person of any size feel good to do work that yields instant, visible results.

All across our area, daffodils and crocuses are in bloom.  We find them in the yards of abandoned houses (and I bring a few home).  The ones in my yard are quickly whisked inside by my flower pickers, and we've made plans to buy a lot more bulbs when Autumn comes again.  We were taking a walk around the neigborhood to admire all the flowers, and I was thinking of Martinmas and the mood that comes with it. The whole year brings many reflective opportunities and I am looking forward to it.  If you look closely, you can see a single snowdrop and a spring beauty that the children picked.  I guess that means Spring is really here.
impossibleway: (Movingthe Soul with Color)
Christopherus Grade ThreeAfter a long February, I find myself with a little afternoon break.  The wind is strong today, steadily around 20 mph, but it is sunny.  March  weather at its most typical.  Three months left to the school year, I am settling in and refocusing old routines, and planning a new year.  As the first big shift in our homeschooling, our Christopherus materials arrived earlier this week.  I'm reading through them and feeling pleased with what I see.  Just like our choice of Enki, this one also relied heavily on my intuition.  I spent time on the phone with both Live Education and Christopherus, getting a feel for their methods.  It felt good and comfortable to choose Christopherus as our next step, having exhausted the current Enki materials.

I'll admit that I like very much the idea of having the whole year laid out for me.  Enki did this, to some degree, but left a lot in the hands of the teacher.  While I do love being able to choose from many materials, I also find comfort in trusting that it is all put before me.  Enki was my teacher training, truly, and I am going forth in faith and freedom now.  I am so excited about third grade, practical person that I am.  A year of creation stories, native peoples, and life skills will be so fun, I think.  The way that we have handled religion has meant that Willow's steps into such stories have been gentle, which may not suit everyone.  But, for us, and for her temperament and tendencies, it has been right.  She will be ready to take hold of Bible stories at just the right time.

For now, we are still moving along with second grade.  Onto the Jewish tradition, we are reading trickster tales about a fellow named Herschele and the many times he avoids trouble (or makes his own!).  The children always enjoy these stories so much and they are welcome right now, when the weather seems just as fickle as our emotions.  We need to hear what our friend Herschele is up to for some lightness in our days.  The Baal Shem Tov is the sage we're studying this time around, and it will be completely new for all of us, excepting maybe Mike.  Our final sage will be St. Francis, which I think will please the children.  Sweet memories, these are, even when the day-to-day can be so challenging.

Trickster TaleWe spent February learning about place value and experiencing a thousand through jewel-colored base ten blocks.  Willow really enjoyed filling bowls with ten units and then bars of ten and so on.  It is interesting to me the things that children think are not exhausting or boring.  We moved on to a short block on "The Helpful Elf," the ways an "e" at the end of a word changes it into something else.  Teaching phonics has not been a strong point for me, so this was a help.  Reading is moving along for Willow--she is able to read much of what is before her, with some struggle on words that don't make much sense.  Handwriting is a challenge, but so is form drawing.  We spend some time with that each week and she is improving.

I guess all of this is a report card, of sorts, on where we've come from in the past couple months.  In that mood, I can see Roan growing, too.  He can draw almost anything he wants now, which is a big shift from the start of the year when he made simple head and limb people.  He is happy to copy letters to make a short phrase for his pictures.  I don't ask him to do this, but I don't turn down his requests, either.  He has drawn many recurring images--trains on trestles, himself playing in the snow, himself as a cowboy,  horses, houses with woodsheds.  The ladder (or train track) is strong in his work, the single image that could capture his sixth year in its essence. I can find it carved into the wood on my sewing cabinet and it makes me smile at his mischief.  He recently duplicated a chalkboard drawing I did of a leprechaun under a rainbow by a tree house.  It is so dear to see.

Well, time to get it together around here and prepare to welcome the windswept family home.  Happy Friday!
impossibleway: (Knitting)
Whiskers

Willow learned to purl this week and made this sweet little cat from A First Book of Knitting for Children. She has her sights set on a horse for Roan's birthday in April.  And, I must confess that I have started my own kitty in some super bulky yarn. 
impossibleway: (Picking Blueberries)
Little House

I came by this book from Enid's collection. We have our own copy of all the books, but this one is special.  It came from my elementary school library and is likely the very copy my first grade teacher read to me.  She was the last of a generation, I think, and had attended a one-room school herself.  She brought her slate to show us and made stone soup with us.  She was strict, to be sure, but gave us many good memories.  It was clear that she loved teaching.
impossibleway: (Thread Rainbow)
Willow's Quilt


We were given a box of sewing things back in the Summer and there were 180 (or so) pre-cut polyester squares inside, obviously planned for a quilt.   It was all really nice polyester (it does exist!) that is soft and full of fun patterns.  Willow took to them and started sewing them together in the Autumn. She's now sewing all her strips together, all by hand. This girl is so opposite of me in many ways--I am no quilter! But, more power to her! This will be a treasure for many years.
impossibleway: (Movingthe Soul with Color)
FablesI suppose we are at the midpoint of the school year, or just past it.  The Enki materials say that this can be a challenging time of year to bring in new subjects or tackle things the require a certain focus.  I can agree with this.  So, we've been spending time with fables.  Having never read them outside of interpretations in children's books, I was suprised how short they are.  They're not too taxing, but there are plenty, and so we've filled our January school days with them.

January has been a more flexible month for us, though we've still held tightly to our routines.  I think it's been a time of refocus, with the understanding that we all have the occasional wide swing to the outside edges of "normal."  Some stories and ideas are winners, and some are not.  I am starting to get a feel for Roan's strengths and challenges, which are quite different from Willow's.  I can see now that his version of school years may very well take up the things we left out of Willow's.  The upside of this is that we'll all be present for it all, so things should come full circle.  Or, as full as it can come with us humans involved.

I've been trying more extra things this year than I did the past two.  I have more confidence with the materials, in part, and because there are just so many wonderful ideas out there.  Largely, I draw my inspiration from books and from what I think will engage the children.  Roan is dreamier, so we've done more puppet plays and I've tried my hand at telling some stories, instead of just reading them.  We've also learned a few of the Wynstones songs that go with the Grimm's tales.  We're going to learn a game from The Singing Game that acts out the story of "Briar Rose."

Willow and I are reading a few stories of Brigid this week, both of her as a saint and as a figure in Irish mythology.  I hope to have gathered more stories by the time that Laurel is in second grade.  Enki falls short in some areas on second grade, or offfers materials that are too challenging for younger ears to hear.  Editing the stories didn't seem appealing to me, and I didn't always feel a connection with them, so I shifted to Live Ed or stories I found on my own.  All that said, the Enki materials are still lively and complete.  I plan to use them for everyone.

Well, I think I've run out of words and it's time for breakfast.  We've all had a little quiet time since Laurel is sleeping in today.  Happy Thursday!
impossibleway: (Dodecahedron Lantern)
Seems we're filling nutshells lately.  The nuts went to a lovely apple crisp and we are putting fun little folks inside the empty shells.

First, we made little babies, much like the one I bought from Frost Lane years ago.  My Grandma Lois had a mouse that slept in a nutshell on her Christmas tree.  I think I should make one some time.  Our babies are still in the prototype phase, but we are pleased so far.  Roan made the one on the right and Willow did the one on the left.  They are not glued in, so that they babies may come out to play.

Walnut Babies

Inspired by Anna's sweet sledders, we made a rainbow of them today from uncracked hazelnuts, wooden beads, and more walnut shells.  I used the hot glue gun to hold them in place, though I suppose wood glue would be a more natural alternative.  The little hats are simply craft felt, cut to size and glued in place.  We're planning a nature table with these little friends enjoying the snow.

Sledders

And here's a dear little one to peep out of a seashell that I happened upon in my own little archive of trinkets.  We drilled a small hole in the shell using a hand-cranked drill (yes, really!).  The little stick is a size two knitting needle that I sacrificed (I seldom need five double points) and a wooden bead is glued on for the head.  The body and hat are a scrap of satin, also glued in place.  The instructions came from The Children's Year.  I hope to use this for our kindergarten story time--more on that later.

Gnome in the Shell

The weather has turned cool again, save for one last bit of warmth tomorrow, so we are back to wool undershirts and hats.  Here's the start of a salmony-pink hat for me, with yarn from [livejournal.com profile] beanovich, and a nearly finished Colin Vest for Laurel Mae.  I'm hoping to get it done tonight or tomorrow.  I steam blocked the bottom of the vest because I couldn't stand it curling up on me while I worked. ;-)

Hat and Vest

These colors are so fun and all these creations, ever how small, are little bits of happiness.

For more crafting, visit Frontier Dreams.
impossibleway: (Once)
It was in the low sixties yesterday, otherworldy, really.  Nature school with no coats or hats or even sweaters.  We drove just a couple minutes from our house to The Elysian Fields, as my dad once called them.  There are always deer here, grazing, and a big flock of vultures.  We went here a couple years ago to collect some big feathers.  I'll admit that I had high hopes for this place, but we were all just a little grumpy.

Kite Flying

Laurel only wanted to fly the kite.  I suppose it must be quite interesting to hold onto something that stays up in the air (most of the time) and flutters around.  It is fascinating for me, too.  This is one of my dad's favorite spots for flying.

Quarry Climbing

Willow and Roan were happy to climb on rocks from the old quarry nearby.  I expected we would walk up the hill and find a rock cliff of some kind.

Pavement Piles

Nope, we found the place where the town puts all the pavement they break up fixing leaks under the roads.  What a funny place that was!

Three

Look at this sweet trio.

I think we were all put off by how warm it was.  We found a tick on Laurel back at home!  The children said they felt like they were walking through the desert and started asking if we could get out the Summer clothes.  I'll admit that this weather has been tremendously unsettling to me, even though it matches the predictions for the Winter--warmer than usual and wetter than usual.  That's El Nino weather for you.  I'd rather skip it.  But, things are supposed to get back to normal at the end of this month.  I am counting down the days and hoping the fruit trees don't suffer too much.

I just feel unsettled, in general, lately.  I am trying to push all the worry aside and acknowledge that things are fine, we are all fine.  I'm trying to find beauty whenever I can, and I'm trying to hold onto the the rhythms that carry us through our days.  This homeschooling adventure is as much for me as it is for them, whether that sounds selfish or not.  I am growing and learning and improving each day, and it is real work.  I don't want to trade it for something else, but I do have periods of feeling weary of life.  It will pass.
impossibleway: (The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree)
We've traded wind and snow for rain and clouds, leaving me wondering if we've haven't moved to England.  It may be in the upper forties outside right now (for the low!), but I'm pretending that Winter is still here like it should be.  Time outside seems to always have just a bit of drizzle in the air and very little chill.  I know Winter's coming back (nine days!), so I'm trying to stay strong.  Here are some of our favorite things to do this time of year.

Typewriter

The typewriter.  This is a portable one, no electricity needed.  Seems my family has lots of typewriters sitting around and still in use, from time to time.

Buttons

Button sorting, a perennial favorite.  Willow proclaimed that she no longer enjoyed it like she once did, and then I found her quite busily working once the rest of us had moved on.

Marble Tree

A marble tree.  This was a Christmas gift and I think it's a good compromise for something bigger with a lot of pieces.  True wooden marble runs are quite pricey!  We find this one to be just enough, and pretty, too!

Blocks

Tiny blocks.  This is a one person set and it lives with the tangram and star puzzle.  These are easily traded among the children, where things like Lincoln Logs tend to be more troublesome.

Snowflakes

Paper snowflakes. We have made dozens of these and covered several windows with them. Here's mine and I'm just a little bit proud that I made a deer silhouette. Roan can make snowflakes now, and he is so pleased. His have an interesting feathery quality about them.

I'm secretly hoping all the snowflakes, snow cookies, and snow bread will encourage more to come our way.  Becky gave us snowman cupcake molds, so that's a possibility, too.  Really, I am thankful for the rain after fourish months of drought.  I've got high hopes for next Summer's garden and have even found myself daydreaming, just a bit, about the sunny and warm days.
impossibleway: (Sunset)
Here's my little snow lantern from earlier in the week.  It was tricky to make, but this snow was so hard form into snowballs.  I had taken to analyzing which parts of the yard would provide me with suitable snow.  Call me a snow-ologist.  Anyway, it just goes to show that we really, really got the mileage out of the snow.  Apart from little bits on the sides of roads and the big piles in parking lots, the snow is gone now.  I hope it will return, of course, since snow play is my very favorite kind.  It makes a big difference when the children can mostly dress themselves.  Willow went out five times the day it was fifteen degrees.  Never mind that it will be sixty today.

Snow LanternThis past Advent season taught me even more about the importance for routine to help children feel right about things.  Many things were turned upside down with Mike traveling less and all the excitement of the season.  It was really hard on Willow and a little difficult for Roan.  She was plagued by nightmares and fear and he was struggling with too much energy.  The main thing that seemed to help in those few days we took off from school was movement.  Simple things like taking walks and riding bikes and just getting out of the house were so big and healing.  There are times in parenting that issues seem especially baffling (like hives!) and then the fix is so simple.

Last week was a little bumpy as we settled back into our school routine, though I know that we are all glad to be back to normal tasks.  I did some experimentation with a separate movement time for grade two, but decided to keep it all together.  That gave too much temptation for mediocre participation.  I can't explain sensory integration activities to children--it just wouldn't work.  Sometimes, I do say that the movements help us to feel good and do our work.  Really, it works best when we stick mainly with Enki materials or I find something in the Wynstones book that really captures the imagination.  We had a sleigh-riding circle last year that the children just adored.  I might have to revive it for February.

With a child in the grades now, we get to do bean bags and copper rods, along with poetry and songs from the culture we are studying.  That adds enough variety to keep the routine fun and a little challenging.  Laurel gets upset that she doesn't have her own copper rod, but there are some things that I just have to be really strict about--they bend easily and they hurt if you drop them on your toe!  She seems to be doing a lot better lately, too, and more agreeable to participate in things with all of us.  I really hope I can keep up my stamina to keep that going.

I've gotten us back on a good routine with some chores, too.  While setting the table is something where the tasks are always divided and done, dish-washing has been a little harder.  Now, as in the past, each person has a meal where they help me with the dishes.  Laurel does breakfast, Roan does lunch, and Willow does supper.  Roan is the most willing helper.  I'm trying to get this all set in our daily rhythms now so that I can avoid trouble later.  I hope.  I can hope, right?

It seems people are waking up now.  I wish I could have everyone sleep a little later, but I suppose that will come with the lengthening days.  I can hardly keep my eyes open after 7:30 each night!  Well, time to make some Swedish Cardamom Coffee Bread into French toast!
impossibleway: (Elsa Beskow Christmas)
Plein Air TreeI cannot bring myself to get rid of our tree.  Sure, I was fine with taking it out of the house to free up some space, but completely away?  Not yet.  It was such a dear tree, for some reason.  A little scraggly and assymetric, as if we had chosen it from the woods.  Around here, we have such a dearth of trees that many are overgrown.  The tops are cut out and the bottoms are left to be sold to wreath makers.  This tree was full size and just so sweet.  Hauling it out onto the front porch in the falling snow and taking down the lights on the house, well, I had to let it be here just a bit longer.  There are few things I like better than Christmas lights glowing in the snow.

All that sentimentality aside, January clicks!  It's been FOUR months since I shared any! As always, forgive me if I have shared any of these before.
And with that, it's time for me to get up and tidy up the scattered outerwear around the house.  Oh!  And chocolate shortbread!

Tree in the Morning
impossibleway: (God Jul)

Christmas Folk01.JPG


It's been said that introverts have a rich inner life. I very much agree.  A good book or a good song can almost put me into a trance.  Christmas Folk by Natalia Belting is such a book.  It's written in the same style as Summer's Coming In, and Barbara Cooney is also the illustrator.  Following the saints' days leading up to Christmas the the twelve days after, it creates a festival that makes me wish I could go back in time.  If you've seen Tudor Monastery Farm Christmas, then some of these customs are familiar.

Christmas Folk03.JPG

The hallow days of Yule are here.
The nights are long and dark.
A feeble sun scarce warms the day,
And cold congeals the stoutest heart.
The hallow days of Yule are come,
And now the Christmas folk bestir. . .


Christmas Folk02.JPG

The celebrations begin with St. Andrew's day, when it's time to make the Christmas pudding.

Christmas Folk04.JPG

St. Barbara's Day brings fireworks.

Christmas Folk05.JPG

And the boys lock out the teacher on St. Nicholas Day.

Christmas Folk06.JPG

There are mummers throughout the book: a string of costumed folks, Hobby the Horse, Snap the Dragon, and the Christmas Bull.

Christmas Folk07.JPG

Tulya's E'en brings all sorts of mischief and superstition.

Christmas Folk08.JPG

St. Thomas's Eve was the time to divine images of your true love. This practice came here, along with many others from far off times, and are discussed in Christmas in the Mountains: Southwest Christmas Customs and their Origins.

Christmas Folk09.JPG

Christmas Eve found the Christmas Folk all over town, bringing the news that Christmas was coming in.  In our area, many people stayed up most of the night on Christmas Eve, serenading their neighbors and trying to catch a glimpse of the animals speaking and kneeling.

Christmas Folk10.JPG

The Christmas Bull came in to wake people up, which sounds both terrifying and funny to me.  I don't know much about this tradition at all.

Christmas Folk11.JPG

Now the feasting began!  A Tudor Feast at Christmas details some of the dishes served to nobility at that time, including the peacock pie.

Christmas Folk12.JPG

St. George slayes the dragon in the traditional mummers' play.  John Langstaff wrote a book for making one's own play.  It certainly looks quite different from the Christmas plays we are accustomed to today.

Christmas Folk13.JPG

Twelfth Night was the time to wassail the apple trees and livestock.

Christmas Folk14.JPG

And there was the cake which helped pronounce the king and queen of the revels.

Christmas Folk15.JPG

Yule's come and Yule's gane
And all have feasted weel,
So Jock takes up his flail again,
And Jenny spins her wheel.

Beasts

Dec. 12th, 2016 05:52 am
impossibleway: (Advent Apple)
We lit our third Advent candle last night during a simple supper.  I think now that we will light the candle before the meal as a way of quieting things down, of making the meal different from all the rest in the week.  Energy has been high lately, too high for me, and it's obvious that time outside is so helpful.  It's funny to me that the forecast seems to always have our work day be warm and pleasant and our nature school time be so cold. Oh, well, I gave Willow a pair of my wool socks.  We'll make it.

Light of Beasts

It's nice to reflect on each light as the weeks pass by, to notcie each kingdom and its beauty.  I know these are not the common symbols of the Advent candles, the ones used in many churches, but they really give the waiting meaning for our family.

Advent Wreath

Here's our hanging wreath, still artificial after last year's rained needles on every meal.  We have many more years to make a natural one and I have bigger fish to fry these days.

Tidy Space

I had some time to myself yesterday afternoon.  I often spend this kind of time working on school planning, sewing, or cleaning something. I know all that sounds perfectly boring, but it is very nourishing to me.  I really, really need the time alone so that I can be a better person when I am surrounded, which is all the time.  Yesterday, I spent the time restructuring play spaces.  It is obvious that Willow has left the early years behind and cannot sink into play with Roan and Laurel quite as easily.  She can still play and certainly does, but it is different now.

With that in mind, I examined the spaces and the ways they were being used (or not used) and did some shifting.  One play stand was disassembled and tucked under our bed.  Mike repaired one section of the play frames and I got them together again.  They're once more a cozy place for one, intended for quiet time.  The play kitchen moved under the canopy, since the children love it, but haven't been experiencing it's enveloping mood very much.  I moved the bookshelf and mushroom house over by the heat vent, where Roan likes to spend his time.  The bookshelf was being used for jumping, more than anything.  Time to change that.

I've been considering writing about homeschooling as an introvert and what that means to me.  I feel like there are societal voices that go on about giving children lots of social time, or lots of extra classes and activities.  That doesn't feel like the right choice for us at this time.  Budget is a big factor there, along with the question of what running here and there really teaches children.  I'm a firm believer in doing a few things well.  It's obvious I specialize in the domestic arts, and I don't see a need to fit a mold.  Home life naturally evolves as the people there do.
impossibleway: (Willow in the Sling)
The Goblin Cobblers

By night we work, we never shirk,
With needle and thimble and thread.
The cobbler's asleep, he must not peep,
But stay tucked inside his soft bed.


~ Gateways :: Wynstones
impossibleway: (God Jul)
Willow and Roan woke extra early yesterday morning, in anticipation of St. Nicholas Day.  Roan made certain to leave out a carrot for his donkey.  Sure enough, the gold coins were there, just like always.  I never had St. Nicholas when I was a child, so this is all fun for me, too.  The children insist that Santa Claus is a game that adults play to make children be good, but St. Nicholas coming down from heaven is absolutely real.  There are several sweet stories in the Winter Wynstones book that tell of that idea, if you are looking for some.

Slippers with Coins

The big surprise of the morning was the Christmas pyramid, the one that Roan had admired for so long.  A word of warning: don't use it when the furnace is blasting--I nearly set it on fire!  Don't tell the children.  One candle just burned down too far and scorched its base.  Otherwise, it was a moment full of wonder when the children discovered it on the darkened dining room table.

Pyramid!

And here are our school books for the next few weeks.  In the same pattern as the Enki sages, we are studying the Christmas Saints, as I like to call them.  We'll continue to let the stories sleep and then do pictures and summaries.  St. Nicholas is up first and we are reading the book by Jakob Streit, which has stories from this babyhood to his legacy.  The children are really enjoying these and there are only a few things that I may edit out as we go along.  We'll do Lucia next, using some stories from books and several from Christine Natale.  Roan will be doing fairy tales like The Elves and the Shoemaker, Mother Holle, and the Star Money, along with some of the stories from Winter.

School Plans

Our December movement circle is taken from Enki and Wynstones.  We're doing a combination of some quiet Winter movements, some shepherd action verses and songs, songs about Mother Mary, and a couple about the plants and seeds sleeping under the snow.  I am hoping we'll find some quiet afternoons to do some puppet plays using our Mary marionette and the verses we've been working on.  We'll swap shepherds for kings in early January and then move to Winter after that.  I'm more than ready for a good snow!
impossibleway: (Children of the Forest)

It's been awhile since I've done a school update, so here's a little one.  After dragging my feet about form drawing for a long time, I decided it's really time to jump in and do our best at it. We did some last year, but I ran out of steam.  I really feel that Willow would benefit from doing them on a regular basis.  Here are some "alphabet 8's" that we did last week.  This is a simple form, but it has been challenging for Willow.  In it, you make the figure eight shape over and over and then get a letter out of it.  This works for practicing: a, b, d, e, g, j, o, p, and q.  I suppose you could get c out of it, too.  You can tell by this early picture that it needs work.

Alphabet Eights

On the other hand, math comes very, very naturally for Willow.  She often does mutliplication and addition in her head during the course of the day.  I think I was similar, in some ways, though later on.  Below is a simple number finding puzzle from Enki.  The goal is to find all the ways that you can make a total of ten.  Then you count by tens and see how that adds up.  Base ten blocks are suppose to be a part of this year, but I have not gotten any yet.  I'm not sure that I will this time around.

Number Search

Here's Willow working her puzzle.  It was fun to do and there are many other such math games in the materials.  We have touched only the tip of the iceberg for math games.  Luckily, the materials repeatedly remind the teacher that trying to use everything is not good for teacher health!  That takes pressure off when life feels full enough and I'm feeling a little critical of myself.  The truth is that learning in this way is holistic for us, and the school day is just woven in with all the other learning we do.

Working

Willow continues to make progress in her reading, and she's doing it rather independently.  She asks for help with words now and then, but she figures out many on her own.  She is starting to read the many picture books that we have.  I'll admit that I have been against the early readers that are so widely produced, in favor of just learning to read what books one already has.  We did have Dick and Jane and those stories are sweet and funny.  Others seem to lack substance or seem to be too moralistic for my preferences.  It's a personal choice and I know that I may have to take a different approach when Roan learns to read.

Speaking of Roan, he's making his own progress lately, though I have no pictures.  He went from just drawing people and ladders (railroad tracks) to drawing houses and trees, which is a wonderful place for him to be right now.  With Willow's help, he has learned the pattern of numbers to count to one hundred, and she also helps him with copying letters.  My own time with him is still devoted to movement, artistic expression and stories.  I have no real feeling of whether first grade would be appropriate next year or a more in-depth version of kindergarten with some letter stories.  It's something I'm considering very carefully, for sure.

With that, it's time to get going on my day.  Mike's headed out for a few days before Thanksgiving and there are pumpkins to roast (still more!) and loose ends to tie up.  We're reading An Old-Fashioned Thanksgiving lately.  I'll have to get some pictures of that sweet book.

impossibleway: (Dodecahedron Lantern)
Lighting the Lanterns 1

Lighting the Lanterns 2

Back at Home

Looking In

Sit by the lantern, watch as the years turn
Slowly bringing truth for every child to learn
And the magpie meadow darkens gently blue now
As the family sit, their faces lit by ember fire

~Vashti Bunyan
impossibleway: (Club Moss in the Leaves)
Over branches without rest,
Runs the squirrel to her nest.
Gathering acorns every day,
Safe for winter, stored away!

~Enki Kindergarten Movement

Nature School this past week was Willow's pick, since it fell on her birthday. She wanted to go to the Snail Place, of course, so we went and worked on the den they are building.  It's time to get ready for Winter, especially if you go with the old idea of Winter beginning after Halloween.  The trees are losing lots of leaves now, so this was perfect for adding nice insulating siding to the walls.  Willow had the idea to put the leaves on and then hold them in place with more sticks, and we did just that.  The weather was cool, in the fifties and breezy, with intermittent rain.

Willow working in the den

Here, she was working on a carpet of leaves inside.

Gathering Leaves

This girl, she is a hoot.  So sweet and so wild.  So much perseverance.

Brother and Sister

The joy of siblings.

Acorns

I helped gather leaves, but I also picked up many acorns.
Bury me with a handful of acorns.

Birthday Girl

Birthday portrait.

Centipede Segments

The children discovered these segments of a centipede, I think, and they were fascinating. We always return home feeling right again and ready for lunch. I look forward to seeing what nature school will look like in the Winter. I envision lots of thermoses of hot chocolate and wonderful memories.

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