What A Fortnight!

My Dear Friends,

Is there a list of horrible bloggers?  Am I at the top of that list?  Oh my!  I say I am going to do better and then I disappear off the face of the earth, or so it would seem.

I am trying to decide which little ‘shroom face will most get me off the hook.  Is it the tired mushroom in the front?  The sleepy one who is worn completely out and has done too much?  Is that me?  Will you forgive me, if I look so tired?

Or is that me in the back, sort of hiding under the beard of Old Man Mushroom, scared that I have totally blown my blog by being absent for TWO WEEKS!?  Which is it?  :) 

Ahh, well, I think we are all still happy members of The Standing and Staring Club.  Are we?  (Please say yes.)

As you can see, I have been busy, busy, busy making mushrooms from clay, with their funny and sweet and sleepy and most serious faces!!

Some were for gifts, some for selling, and some sit sweetly on my kitchen counter, making me smile while I am steaming my vegetables and talking to John and Michaela.

And just to show you how busy I have been, here is me going not slo-mo but fast-mo across Rose Cottage, in my hurry to keep everything done! 

Actually, I wanted to share this picture because you can see the red and white afgan in the back of the room, which I pull out for Christmas only, because it was handmade by my late maternal grandma, Jewel, who I miss so much!  It makes me think of her to see this bright red and white gracing my couch.

Yes, busy time of year it is and busy time of my life it is.  On a sad note, but a note of update (since those things are necessary), I have been gone from the old house for 9 months now.  Does it seems so?  No.  Not to me either.  And my legal separation papers are signed.  And life seems to be moving on for me, and for the carpenter, in different directions.  I won’t discuss the carpenter here.  No.  It would not be fair.  But some things must be so.  I hope my update is not offensive to anyone.  I know many of us have different beliefs and different guidelines…  Friends we all are, and you deserve an update from time to time.

I must say, one of the little material things I miss most from the old house is my rustic spice cabinet which had quite the story of love behind it.  I am sure you remember the old spice cabinet (referenced in linked post as my most favorite thing). 

Yeah, there is is.  Still bolted to the wall.  Not mine anymore.

Alas, I got in the mood to make another rustic sort of space for my spices, and a recent trip to The Scrap Exchange gave me all I needed.

Between a vintage dresser drawer, discarded heavy cardboard boxes, and a wooden box with one drawer missing, I ended up with a spicy storage unit to sit on my kitchen counter.  I love it!

The drawer itself has personality plus!  The decoupaged boxes sit inside, all bright and cheery, holding my ever growing spice collection.

I mean, I had to start from scratch with the spices because the carpenter has the spices that were (are) in the old cabinet as well.  (Well, I did take my large bottle of vanilla extract.)

Every new thing, every new-to-me old thrifted thing, every day — it all becomes a part of Rose Cottage and me and my children and seems to take us one more step from the sadness that was a huge part of my life. 

Paper, paper, paper and more paper.  Love paper!  Yes I do!

I ended up making about 150 gift tags.  It feels so good just to look at them!  I love the sweet Victorian children in their nightgowns holding lanterns or candles, the old homeplaces surrounded by farm and snow, the deer in the woods, and the Victorian couples!  I love it all!

It’s so much fun to hand someone a stack of 10 or 15 gift tags, just because.

Yesterday I gave some to my mom and my aunt.  Today I passed some on to a dear friend. 

As well, the little clay man I made not too long ago, was dressed and given a tray of flowers, and his story came together as it happened.  He is American, but has a Japanese grandfather.  (Can anyone say Grandfather’s Journey? The lovely book by Allen Say.)  Anyway, this little man just made me think of Japan.  He has a lovely Japanese garden and grows the most lovely flowers to place in his simplistic home.  His wife loves them!  The only thing, I want him to have two names: an American name and a Japanese name.  What in the world will they be? 

He’s my new favorite.  At least for now.  Seems every time I make one of these dolls, that’s what happens.

Yeah, the more this little man came together, the more it reminded me of the lovely story, Grandfather’s Journey, and the times I read it to my children.  It was one of our Five In A  Row books we used in homeschooling.

Oh.  I really have to go.  Work calls.  And so does so much else!

Let me say in closing that I am still have way too much fun with clothes!  I go into G.W. Boutique several times a week and usually find a new dress.  It’s a habit I can afford.  Actually, since Michaela and I can share clothes, we have both had so much fun with this!  She wears the new dresses too and we both think it’s just the best thing!

I hope your day is wonderful!  Until next time…

Enjoy this day!  Take joy!

The Peasant

While we were studying the Renaissance by way of The Clown of God,

we reviewed society as it existed during the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. 

The Peasant
by Michaela

Dark cloud overhead.  Looks like rain.  Tiny hut.  Drab costume.  Flies swarming around.  A pile of animal poo close by.  If you could see them:  teeth in poor repair.

Actually we covered material that reminded us that the peasant was not just an unlearned low-life.  The peasants formed resistance movements and revolted and tried their best to acquire what knowlege they could.  It’s interesting.  The nobility wanted everyone to see a clear difference between the peasants and themselves, which brought about laws governing what the peasants were allowed to wear.  Can you imagine?


The peasant.

The Clown of God — Family Event

Well, yours truly is on her way to juggling!  I’m not proficient by any means, but I can keep two balls in the air with one hand, and three balls with two hands–sometimes even for seconds at a time!  :)

Here I am at my juggling table, trying. 

Our Five In a Row Family Event Day was so much fun!  I must admit that I was exhausted by the end of the day, but it was so worth it.   It is amazing what can be done when one person has a vision, and then many hands are willing to pitch in and believe that a group can get going and keep going and stay true to the original idea in mind–in this case using FIAR as a homeschool curriculum and letting that infiltrate into our building of relationships as families and friends.  And on that same note, I’m thankful that Jane Lambert was willing to write out the curriculum that she proved to be an excellent one with her own daughters!

I thought I’d share some pictures from the day, in no particular order.

The children loved dressing up for the day, becoming characters of the Renaissance after studying The Clown of God all week, a book written by Tomie dePaola

The story was acted out by some of the older kids in the group.

They did a great job!

The story was narrated by two girls who took turns reading.  Thank goodness for a really good juggler in the group who was willing to play the lead!

Costume enhancements as Giovanni grows in popularity!

Here’s the whole cast at the end.  The one in the Duke shirt?  In one part of the story it is said the Giovanni even performed for a Duke.  There was much laughter when a student appeared in a Duke sweatshirt!  :)

One of the dads was able to juggle well and he ended up being a great help at my table.  He was very patient with the children, teaching them some simple basics of juggling.

As always, Michaela loved spending time with some of the little ones.

I got to see nearly every child over the course of the day as they all came around and tried to juggle.

Here’s the wife of the juggling man who helped so much at my table.  She can juggle too!  While holding a baby in a sling.  Who laughed at his mom juggling.  Especially when she dropped the balls.  (But actually she was really quite good.)

Little clowns and princesses stopped by all day.  In the background you can see the plate spinning area.

More little juggler wannabes, juggling lemons.

This pretty girl’s dad is a good juggler, so I guess it just runs in the family!

Now, can you get over this castle that one of the moms built?  The little princesses loved it!   Getting inside and peeking out!  Running around inside!  It was such a hit!  So much work went into this day.

What a costume!  Isn’t he adorable?

Right before lunch we called everyone together for pictures.  First the children gathered.

Then everyone in costume got together for a picture.  (If you’re interested, I’m in the back, 5th from the left.)

Oh, just look at the food!  Maybe that was the best part!  Everyone brought a dish that was loosely modeled around what they might have had during the Renaissance.  I took venison, spinach with garlic and sweet rolls.  There were so many good things:  chicken pies, stews, salads.  I just can’t name everything!  We fixed our plates and then sat on blankets and visited with each other. 

In the afternoon there were more games and activities.  There were tables where you could make a tambourine or a mask, have your face painted, or play a game.

Making a mask.

These four girls (sisters) could be poster children of what homeschooling is all about.  They are smart, well mannered, outgoing, family oriented, and just fun to be with!

I loved watching the football game at the end of the day.  Who says a princess cannot run a ball downfield in a long dress?

One of the dads made gondolas for gondola races!  Aren’t they beautiful?

You know the boys migrated over to this game, right?

Having fun face painting!

Last but not least, my tomboy Princess of the Universe got painted up as an “Italy guy.”  Gotta love her.

I hope you enjoyed the pictures.  We did so many things last week to physically prepare for first the co-op and then the family event.  This current week should be much quieter, with time to remember what we saw and tie it in with book studies, including adding figures to our timeline and doing some writing so that we’ll remember what we learned.

The Orphan Train

As I prepare for our next co-op, which will be centered around a book called The Clown of God,

I am learning about the orphan trains of the 19th and early 20th centuries in the US. This video explains basically and clearly what the orphan train was all about.  The subject of the orphan train is a heavy one, so you might want to preview before you expose your children, especially young ones.

Week 3 and Week 4 In Review

As promised, here’s a review of recent lessons.  These were documented for weeks 3 and 4 of this school year.  I feel like we do so much more!  All during the week, we have “educational moments” but they don’t always end up in the planner because they are spontaneous, then I don’t necessarily remember what they were!  

Week 3 Lessons in Review (08/31/2010 – 09/03/2010)

Betsy Ross – read chapter  5
Reviewed converting percents to decimals and fractions
Copywork lessons 3, 4, 5
Spelling, week 2, all lessons
Cursive, week 2, all lessons
Out of town 09/02 and 09/03 — did a ton of word finds

Week 4 Lessons In Review (09/06/2010 – 09/10/2010)

09/06 – Labor Day, no school
Betsy Ross – read chapters 6-8
Copywork, lessons 6, 7, 8
Copied a gruesome poem, of her own accord (don’t ask)
Spelling, week 3, all lessons
Spelling, week 4, lessons 1, 2
Cursive, week 3, all lessons
Cursive, week 4, lessons 1, 2
09/08 Trip to violin shop, then on to her violin lesson
Violin practice
Story Disk and Geography Review
09/09/2010 Fieldtrip to Walnut Creek Wetland Center
09/10/2010 Set up our “music room” (more later)

You may notice a paucity of math.  We will be diving in tomorrow.  So far it’s been review and broken weeks.  Tomorrow marks the first day of the first full week we’ll have!

More to come.  Much planned for this coming week!

The Planner

First of all, in my series of posts about our school plans, has to come the planner.  It hasn’t been long since I went back to carrying a large purse/planner because I just love having everything with me, all the time.

I have SO enjoyed working with my planner and getting it just right.  You know how often I’m in thrift stores, and it is really fun to look through books, papers, and the bag/purse section of the store to see what I can find to enhance my planner. 

The purse planner above started out as a 2-dollar cloth-covered notebook, though the actual notebook part had been taken out of it.  Still, the zipper was in good shape, it had room for credit-size cards, and I liked the bright colors.  As Gru says in Despicable Me, LIGHTBULB

I knew my notebook would fit right in and I imagined using something to make a strap and maybe adding a purse part to the planner somehow.  Basically, visions of glue sticks danced in my head.

I ended up finding two belts in complimentary colors in Goodwill, and a small satiny purse planner to glue to the front.  (Note:  fabric takes glue better and holds better than a small purse made from vinyl.  I should know.)  The belts are the kind that are just fabric with no holes and have the metal rings on one end, so I hooked one to the other and glued them across the “bottom” of the planner and then glued them up the sides, gluing one on one side and the other on the other side, thus ending up with an adjustable strap!

I found that the reproducible planning page provided in the Five In A Row manual was the perfect size to cut in half, hole-punch and put in the planner.  I made copies, front and back for 8-10 weeks of lesson planning.

 Since I work at home three days a week, I love having everything with me in my purse planner, all the time, so when I’m out shopping or running errands, if I think of something to write down for school, I can do it immediately and not have to re-write when I get home.   When you are working and homeschooling, every minute counts.  

I made pretty dividers by using pictures from old magazines that inspired me, laminating them and hole-punching them.

The small notebook you see me holding to the left holds weeks worth of lessons once they are done.  I keep the pages in my purse/planner until the week is over and then transfer them to the notebook that will be a permanent record of what we did.  (I do realize that a purse planner can’t reasonably hold a year’s worth of lessons all at one time. )  The goal is to keep our current eight weeks of study in the planner at all times.  More about that in the next post or two.

The planner has sections for shopping, routines, school, to-do, addresses, etc.   It also holds one or two things that I just love to read over and over because it helps me stay on track.

So there you have it:  The Planner. 

It makes sense to me and it works for me.  And now I’m always on the look-out for cool paper that I can hole-punch and use in my planner binder.  Or cloth-covered notebooks that can be turned into a purse planner with cool belts.  Stay tuned.

PS – This planner is indeed 5-1/2 x 8-1/2.  I am adding some more pictures to help explain how I did this.  Now I’m looking for fabric-covered notebooks everywhere I go so I can make another one!

Important to note that one strap is glued on one side and the other strap on the other side, for balance.

Fairies and Friends

Yes, it’s the fairies and friends post!  (Whatever that is.)  ;)

Into the shop this morning went a new brooch pin, adorned with an image from Edmund Dulac.  It’s from a fairy print, of course.

There.  We have the fairy part of this post covered.

For the friends part, I know I’ve not yet shared a picture of those of us who met up at the North Carolina Homeschool Conference and got supper at the Mellow Mushroom.  From left to right, it’s me, Hollie, Rebecca, Adele, Leslie, Angela, Bo, and Jackie.  What fun we had!  Some of these ladies I see regularly in person, and some I have known for years on line (through Five In A Row) and finally had the privilege to meet!

The Mellow Mushroom was unbelievably packed and there were some who couldn’t wait it out.  We were sorry to see them have to leave!  A few of us ended up ordering takeout from the MM and going back to the hotel and eating at two large, quiet tables in the lobby.  It was a wonderful place to talk and carry on about conference and homeschooling stuff!

Now.  On another “friends” note…

It wasn’t a field trip or a co-op, but as sort of a last outing of the school year, our homeschool group met to share a potluck lunch and say goodbye to one of our families who is moving away.  Oh how they will be missed!  It was a wonderful (if bittersweet) time.  If you can’t tell from the kids’ red faces, it was hot!  It did not, however, slow the children down!  This is only a small fraction of the children who were actually there that day.

I am puttering around today, working in the garden, trying to get supper together (I must share my notecards soon), making more pins, cleaning a bit and just enjoying a day off. 

I hope you are having a wonderful day! 

Few’s Ford on the Eno River

Yesterday was one of our last co-ops of the school year, and boy was it great!!  It was so much fun for the children (and the moms), and the lessons were done so brilliantly, I don’t think even the oldest kids thought of it as “school.”  Still, even I was learning about our waterways as the children played on a sandbar in the Eno River.

Come on, Mom!  Let’s get to the river!

I immediately spotted a butterfly sitting on what was, as my husband explained to me, raccoon scat, or droppings, or whatever you like to call it.  Michaela could not understand why I wanted so many pictures of this, but it’s the butterfly I’m looking at!  Still, all in all, very educational, no matter what you are looking at!

The children in the co-op begin to gather around one of their teachers for the day and listen to her tell them about what to be careful of — copperheads, leeches, but not to panic.  She explained what to do in case of each.  Don’t pick up or antagonize snakes, don’t panic if a leech gets on you, we’ll get it off of you the right way, etc.  It was a good reminder for all the children as we head into summer.

Next, the children sat down on quilts and listened to the story for this co-op:   The Raft by Jim LaMarche, a beautiful, beautiful story about a young boy who spends the summer with his grandmother, an artist who lives on a river in the woods.  At first he thinks he’ll be bored, but nothing could be less true!  He is in love with that place by the time he leaves!

How clever of our teachers to take us to Few’s Ford for this co-op!

The first half of the class was about the Eno River, where the river starts, what other rivers and/or lakes it feeds into and gets fed by, and thus by what route it ends up flowing into the sea.  Instead of making this a technical talk that no one would remember, our teachers had prepared tags, one for each child, representing places along the Eno River or whatever other waterway  the Eno flowed into.

Look at all the places!

The students listened as they were each told about their locations, including highlights about elevation, tributaries, landmarks, etc.  They were each to “build” their location on the sandbar, and as they dug out the river running through their location, it would connect with the person on either sie of them.  Finally, the point was to have a flowing river from start to finish.

These boys build Seymour Johnson AFB in Goldsboro.

Michaela was all the way out at Pamlico Sound.

Some small areas had to be dammed up as the children started testing water flow.  It’s some kind of work to build a river!

The sand held the water well, so the water is headed toward the sea. 

Tributaries.  I loved watching the children really put their minds and all of their effort into this!

It’s working!

Cape Hatteras.  Isn’t she lovely?

Now nearly everyone is done, the system is complete and we are pouring water in!  It worked so well.  The water flowed from Hillsborough to the Outer Banks!

After a lunch break — a picnic with peanut butter and honey sandwiches, apples and lemonade, we started the second half of the co-op, which was a scavenger hunt for creatures and plants!  I was in plant heaven out there!  I think not one child seriously hunted for plants.  They all chose creatures!  But I could not blame them, for the creatures were many and varied, and very interesting!

Fresh water mussels.

There were displays set up all over the place for creature visitation so all could get a look, then they were gently released back into their natural homes.

Crayfish.  Big!  With big claws!

A fishing spider.

After all the “school work” the kids just played in the river.  Michaela claimed that she “fell in” but I think falling can be on purpose sometimes.

I think this will go down as one of the best co-ops in FIAR history.  :)

You know what I did during all of this, right?  I visited with little creatures and tried to identify plants.

It’s a work day for me.  The day is more than half over, but still a ways to go.  Just using a break to finish up this post. 

The Harvest

My Dear Readers,

I’m so sorry I never posted yesterday!  I was supposed to post about school stuff: where we are, how I am going to finish up the year…  Then yesterday went crazy, as work days are likely to do, and I never posted, though I was thinking about it. 

A reaping of that sown: greens to cook, greens for a fresh salad, greens for an infusion.

On Sunday evening I spent some time thinking about this school year:  about Ambleside Online, Five in a Row, how much time we’ve spent in co-ops and on fieldtrips, where we are in our Saxon math text, and where we are in our writing and grammar.  I say “we” because even thought it’s Michaela’s education, at this point I am totally responsible for putting her lessons together and making sure she follows through.

As I wondered about writing out yet more lessons, I could not get off my mind that, very simply, “you reap what you sow.” 

I had everything I needed right at my fingertips to do a full year of Ambleside and yet we have persisted in reading only a few of the selections on the year’s list of books.  We have focused on only one artist: Raphael.  But I’m not going to cry over things not accomplished. 

On the other hand, we have been 100% involved in our Five In A Row homeschool support group, including a co-op that split off to study Volume 4, and our lives have been so enriched with friendship, hands-on learning, review, and time outdoors and in others’ homes, the result has been beyond my expectations.  But I am not going to be over-confident regarding things we did accomplish. 

The summation of this is that we are not yet where I had hoped we’d be in the math book and yet we are still inspired to learn, and here it is May!  I think it has been a successful year. 

It is clear to me that we are reaping what we have sown through the year.  There’s a harvest to everything.  Perhaps we’ve a table covered in too many sweet fruits and not enough vitamin-rich vegetables, and yet, at least for now, we are doing well with what we’ve harvested.   It’s clear to me though that there are some lessons I need to take from this and that we need to be wise with the time left in this school year and even this summer.

We have three more outings with our homeschool group and the year will be done in that sense.  Otherwise, we are focusing only on math and writing during our days, and our evening/bedtime/independent reading will be purely the bible and the few books from Ambleside Year 5 that we want to finish but have not yet.  Michaela will be required to name all of the paintings by Raphael that we have studied.  Her end-of-year testing is already set up to be done with an indepedent testing service in the second half of June.  Then we’ll break, except for math.

I feel like I’m tying up loose ends and that I have learned so much.  As far as I know, next year we will be using Ambleside Year 6, Beyond Five In A Row, our Saxon math, and other things yet to be determined.  (Must wait until after the NC Homeschool Conference!)

While we’re at it, do expect a final Ambleside post before the school year is out.

I’ll leave you with a bunny picture.  Trying to crawl up out of my hand and look at the world, this little bunny does have ears!  If you’ll remember, Coco sometimes looked like she had no ears, or only one ear.  Like mama, like baby.

A good reminder:  You reap what you sow.