Monday, August 30, 2010

from the mouth of the babe...

Pic: "Oh my god, where's my hula hoop? It was just where it haded to be."

Me: "What'd you do with it?"

Pic: "I did nothing."

I could really just sit back and listen to her talk for hours. (And, she'll run around and talk for hours.)

Sunday, August 29, 2010

digital declutter (and a little night music)

There is no way I will ever, ever be able to work my way through everything hanging out on my computer. I have hundreds of e-mails, sorted nicely into neat little folders. I have almost three hundred blogs bookmarked. I have probably hundreds of articles to get around to. And, well, e-mails keep coming in, people keep posting to their blogs, people keep updating their facebook profiles, I keep adding to my many, many bookmarks files. Ugh.

Entonces, every so often, I try to declutter a bit. Because everything is contained within the very small space of my computer, it should seem unoverwhelming (yeah, yeah, not a word), but, really, everything is contained within the rather infinite space of the ether and that is incredibly overwhelming to me.

Yes, it's almost three o'clock in the morning, but I was being to feel digitally bogged down, so I'm working my way through some "to listen to" music files (y'know, like a "to do" list). Here's what I have replayed a number of times already this evening/morning:

"Stars - Dead Hearts (with lyrics in description)" [No video, just a still picture of what I'm going to say is the album cover.]


I have this life-long love of language. I think about it, obsess about it, very, very often. I give probably entirely too much thought about words and phrases. Even when I seem to be just rambling, I'm concurrently analyzing everything I say, or storing it away for later analysis. And, because I have no real main, unifying topic for this here blog, I figure I might as well allow myself to wax on about terminology when I feel the urge.* So, here goes.

Back here, I said that I'd talk about the term "homeschooling." I keep using the term, but really only because I haven't wanted to reveal just how out on the edge I seem to be.** However, I think it's finally time for me to just write this post.

Yes, I identify us as homeschoolers, but more than that, I align us with unschoolers. We don't use a curriculum and we never have (and I don't intend to). There are times that I have directed what Pic is doing and I'm sure I'll find myself doing that in the future. It's difficult to completely diverge from my own experience, so this whole adventure will be a learning process. I am consciously trying to just go with what works for us and what we are interested in, though. I see no reason to set Pic down with a textbook or a worksheet unless she asks for such. And, please, before you roll your eyes, I actually used to ask for textbooks to read for pleasure. I recently bought myself a middle school math book from a rummage sale. I like to practice math problems. I like workbooks and textbooks. And, yes, I'm a total nerd. However, I don't know that Pic will be the same. I'm waiting to find that out.

I've heard a lot of talk and have read a lot of information on unschooling being child-led, but I am thinking more family-led. Yes, I am working to do my absolute very best in allowing Pic to choose what direction she'd like to go in her learning. I ask her what she is interested in learning about and she requests books on specific topics from the library. She chooses which movies she wants to watch and chooses many of her activities. We don't always do everything she wants, but if we don't follow her desires, we provide her with a reason why we're not going there. For example, Pic wanted to go swimming today, but it was really weirdly cold and windy and Cardo and I didn't want to hang out in the outdoor pool we have access to. We probably could have gone, even if only for a few minutes, and this is definitely an example of us not being too stellar, but we didn't just tell her, "No. Because we said so," and leave it at that. We told her why we didn't want to go and we asked her if she had any other ideas for what to do instead. We played for a good bit out at a park she chose, playing games she chose, after we visited the library where she choose books and a movie. I know this all probably comes across one of two ways. One: You might be thinking, "Duh. This is no revolutionary way to raise a child. Saying yes to things she'd like to do? You should have taken her swimming. What's wrong with you?" (Okay, I really hope you're not that harshly judgmental.) Two: "Why would you give your child so much power? The parents are in charge and kids have to do what the parents say. The end." (I also hope you're not this harshly judgmental.) Pic is a part of our family. Yes, she's younger and has less experiences than we do, but she's still a person. I don't see why we can't do and learn and explore with her. Whenever we want to tell her no about something, I want to have a good reason why. Often, on our walks, she'll ask if she can walk barefoot. Probably a year ago, we'd say no and leave it at that. Now, though, we tell her, "Okay. Please look out for glass [which we occasionally see] and let us know if you want to put your shoes back on." Nothing earth-shattering, but our lives are so much easier.

In fact, since we made the choice to not send Pic off to school, we all seem to be much more relaxed. When we're all together, most often, we have nothing to rush off to. We are able to spend leisurely time together. It's the "quality time" so many are often striving to fit into their days. We so enjoy our time together, hanging out at parks and walking/biking/rollerskating, that this really was one of the many reasons we decided to skip the normal school choice.

So, wow, I've said a lot and I haven't even really said what I wanted yet. ("Oh, no, I've said too much/I haven't said enough.") What did I want to say? We aren't just homeschoolers. We aren't just keeping Pic home from school and replicating the schoolroom at home. As I said, we aren't purchasing or otherwise acquiring a curriculum. So, we fit into the category of unschoolers. I am working on whole-life unschooling, but some of us (ahem) are a little more resistant to that. We'll work on it. But, here's the thing. No matter how much I love the idea of unschooling, I'm not the hugest fan of the term unschooling. I'm not exactly sure what it is, but I'm thinking several things. I don't like the negative connotation. I, for the most part, loved school. What I loved was the learning and the (very) few close friends I had. However, Pic can, and does, have all of that without the school building, without the taunting and peer pressure. (We'll see how those negative aspects of life pop up in Pic's life. I'm not looking forward to it.)

I recently saw the term "homelearning." I've probably seen it before, but it just struck me the other day. I really like the focus on learning there. What I'm really liking, though, is "life learning." [If you've been paying incredibly close attention, for whatever reason, you'll notice that I started using the tag "life learning" just before I announced our not-off-to-school plans.] Pic hasn't been formally schooled, yet she has learned plenty. She's been in daycare, but left before the kindergarten program started (she started at eighteen months and left when she was almost four-and-a-half). We had planned on her going to kindergarten, but, well, I started tuning into this whole world of (secular) homeschooling and unschooling. So, yes, we haven't started on the K-12 experience. And, yet, the other day, as we were counting out quarters for the bus, she told me, "We need sixteen. We have twelve, so we need four more." Just like that. She didn't even stop to think about it. I haven't taught her to subtract. I wasn't even helping her count the quarters. All I told her was that we needed sixteen. This was kind of the a-ha moment for me. Although I've heard it many times, that people can and do learn from life, I was seeing it in action. It was a small moment, but potent.

Okay. That was long, but it's late and I'm awake, so I'm rambling. In case you couldn't tell, I think through writing. It is through writing that I often come to understanding. So, Great Interweb, thank you for providing this space for me to spew my thoughts. And, thank you for providing for me oh-so-many resources and community members for this next great adventure.


* Just an example or two. In this sentence, I had first typed "since" instead of "because." I changed it because I've heard that "since" should only be used to indicate a passage of time. For example: Since I was three, I've been determined to teach. Also, I typed "theme" instead of "topic," but, well, "theme," in literature, implies not only a subject, but a statement or judgment about that subject. For example: subject/topic: love; theme: love is a many-splendored thing. And, yes, oh geez, I could just live in my head.

** Also, the term "homeschooling" is convenient and familiar.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

on balance

Like many others I know, I have a problem with achieving a workable balance in my life. Right now, this is a particularly big challenge for me.

We will be working around several different schedules for the next several months. Then, we'll have a bit of a reprieve. Then, another several months of wonkiness. During this time, my main goal for myself is going to be to successfully move from one activity/one identity to the next without completely shutting down.

So, herein, I am asking for a bit of assistance of the cooking variety. Do you have any go-to meals or foods to make and freeze? Do you have any go-to cookbooks for such? We have a great, giant freezer in our garage and it is crying out to be filled with things delicious and nutritious (they don't necessarily have to taste just like chicken, mind you). Please advise.

Grazie mille.

on my islandness

Yes, I know that "islandness" is not a word. Just go with it.

It is very often that I say something and then continue to think about it days, weeks, months (or, even years) afterward. You'd be amazed. Or, just really, really sad.

A couple of posts ago, I wrote something about being an island or on an island, but that's really kind of silly. I have been thinking about this more and more lately. It just so happens that, at the moment, the more conservative members of the group are more vocal, which probably leads to those who are not like-minded being a bit more quiet. They might feel there isn't a place for their voice. In the meantime, I'm feeling that I have to be the somewhat neutral party in the room, but I hope our discussions can be a bit more balanced in the coming months.

So, that's what's been on my mind lately.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

'it seems to me some kind of harmony is on the rise'

"Dr Horrible On the Rise"

A little Dr Horrible love. I miss this being available on hulu. Ah, well.

tales out of high school

In twelfth grade, I, along with all the other seniors at my high school, took American Government. I have a few particularly strong memories from that class. It taught me to carry as much as possible in my pockets when I fly (y'know, in case the plane splashes down into the ocean and I need a snack or a magnifying glass). I was reminded yet again that my being good at school is kind of embarrassing and that I'm not comfortable sharing this nerdiness with classmates. And, I learned, that I was one of very few liberals I knew.

We did an activity -- I can't even remember what it was now -- to figure out if we fly left or right. Out of a class of 20+, there were a whopping two of us, myself and one of my very best friends ever, who leaned liberal. (I'm not sure if this friend still identifies herself with us left-wingers or not and I'm okay with not knowing.) I was surprised then, because it was the first time I knew this information about our group. You'd think I'd be over this kind of shock by now, especially considering where I live, but, well, I guess I'm not.

Earlier today, I was reminded just how conservative we trend around these parts. In order to demonstrate the idea of context when writing, I brought up (very briefly, and not at all in-depth), the proposed Islamic cultural center that is causing so much hullabaloo, y'know, the "ground zero mosque" (and, yes, I used air-quotes). Why is it such a big deal?, I asked. Why do we care so much? Because the context for this debate is this post-9/11 US we live in. When I asked where others were learning about this topic, the most-oft quoted source was Fox News. The conversation was as predictable as would be a homeschooling conversation around the blogs I frequent. O, how ensconced we are in our comfy little enclaves. And, O, how alone I felt, on my own little island of bleeding-heart liberalism. Ah, well. We'll broaden one another's minds, yes? Yes, we will. I actually very much appreciate hearing perspectives that are different than my own. I love to learn and I love to hear others' (preferably respectful) thoughts.

Now that all of us in these conversations I'm being wonderfully vague about are out of high school, I hope our conversations will be fruitful and mind-opening. Here's to moving on and growing up.

Monday, August 23, 2010

parasol monarchs

The other day, Pic and I read The Umbrella Queen written by Shirin Yin Bridges and illustrated by Taeeun Yoo. I love the kind of subdued colors Yoo uses. The book is about a town that crafts umbrellas and chooses an umbrella-making queen annually. The young girl in the story makes me think of Pic in that she's kind of like,"Yes, I see what you're doing over there and it's nice, but I think I'm going to do this thing over here." [In case you weren't sure, I'm not quoting from the book.]

After we read the book, Pic wanted to make umbrellas for her ladies. We started with coffee filters and watercolors. We added some popsicle sticks, construction paper, glue and (lots and lots of) tape to the mix. It was a fun project overall.

[Sorry about the angle on that second one. They're laying on the table. Swan the Princess had just borned a baby this very day. She does that a lot.]

heading back into the fray

Well, today I'm heading back to something I thought I had left behind a while back. Something I was sure I'd be coming back to, actually, just through different circumstances. Ah, well.

Here's to the new year (I'll probably forever define my years by the academic year)!

I'm hoping to have some kind of "not back to school" celebration for Pic, but she's never really been (she's been to daycare and we called that school, but it wasn't defined by a school year). Perhaps a "not off to school" shindig. Chissa?

I'm hoping our homeschool group does a group. I should probably get in touch with them regarding this, as others have expressed interest.

So, for today, I think I have everything printed out, tucked away, ready to go. I think. Let's hope.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

personal anthem

Who else used to watch Ally McBeal? Anyone?

There was a part in the show where the title character was in therapy and her therapist (Tracy Ullman...I think it was at this part of the show, which I haven't really watched in many years) tells her to choose a personal theme song or a personal anthem or something. Since then, all those years ago, I've been wondering what mine might be. I don't know a lot of music, so I feel lucky when I come across something that just seems so uplifting or fitting or fabulous.

I heard this song in a Humans Being podcast, in which Sarah Parent is interviewing Tara Wagner. I've been listening to this a lot, trying to internalize it.

"India Arie-I Choose" [The video is just a series of pictures. The song ends at about four minutes and then there's just the continuing slideshow. Just, y'know, fyi.]

I haven't decided that this is my personal theme song or anything, or even that I am choosing a theme song, but I do so like this one.

on commitment

As much as it chagrins me to admit it, I am one of those "all or nothing" people. I try to be more easy-going, but I completely and overly commit myself to everything I do. And, let me assure you, it's exhausting. I want to be able to say, "This is just a job," or, "This is just a friendship," or what have you, and let it go at that, but I can't. It would be nice to enjoy whatever it is I am doing while I'm doing it and then be able to go on to my next activity, free of thoughts of the last activity.

I am currently having a commitment problem. I am extending myself in too many different directions, and it's not even that many different directions really. I've been on-again, off-again with a stupid* deep, dark depression which has somewhat drained me of motivation. I'm striving to find some good motivation and to get things done and to want to do them.

Because I am having a difficult time getting things done, I just want to quit. All or nothing. Either I'm completely motivated and committed, or I'm not doing it, whatever "it" may be.

And here's the thing, I know what I want. I just want to open myself up to being able to do what I want. I want to have the confidence in myself that I've never had. I want to have the confidence in myself that many other people have in me. How is it that others can see something in me that I can't see?

Anyhow, I'm thinking that my personality is only exhausting because I am fighting it. Is that it? Perhaps.


* Pic will not allow us to say "stupid." She tells us, "Hey, watch your words."

Monday, August 16, 2010

on the lake

This past Saturday, we met up with our homeschooling group again. We went out to the lake and kayaked! Yes, we kayaked. This was the first time I've ever been out in a kayak and it was definitely a good arm workout. We rented a three-seater kayak from a vendor on the beach. Although Pic was finished halfway through our hour, Cardo and I went back out with one of the other kids and managed to stay out for almost the whole hour.

Now, Cardo is on the hunt for a kayak for us. They're not cheap, but we're pretty patient. I'm hoping someone will be getting rid of one now that the warm season is approaching an end (kind of, almost).

Again, I have no pictures to share. I didn't bring out the small camera. We brought out our new (to us) camera, but haven't transfered the pictures yet. There was no way we were going to be bringing out the camera on the boat. I was half-convinced we'd manage to tip ourselves over or something. We didn't.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

on irrelevant arguments

We went out of town last week, which meant I had time to catch up a teeny tiny bit on my saved podcasts. I like to put them on while we drive and la mia famiglia concedes to this for a while.

We listened to the August 6th edition of the domestic hour of the news roundup on the Diane Rehm Show (can I get prepositional phrases for $200, Alex?). One caller commented on the ability of gay people to legally marry. He said, in part, "They [gay individuals] have the right to marry and unfortunately they don't have the desire to marry within the framework that's available. They have the same right as everyone else." Really? Seriously?

I could tell that he had really thought his position through, but this argument is just ridiculous. Let's say practicing Mormonism was against the law. Would this caller, who identified himself as Mormon, be okay with being told, "You can practice a religion, just like everyone else, but it has to be Judaism. You have the same right as everyone else to practice religion"? I know that my analogy here isn't great, but it's the best I can come up with right now.

I will never understand opposition to gay marriage, or hatred and fear of gay people. I think it's such a joke when people argue that they are protecting the sanctity of marriage by opposing gay marriage. People marry and they remain committed solely to one another. People marry and they divorce. People marry and they have extramarital affairs. People marry and abuse their spouses. I'm married and I love my marriage (even when it's rocky), and I think it's ridiculous for gay couples to not be able to experience this also. How is a woman marrying a woman or a man marrying a man going to detract at all from my marriage?

Okay, stepping down now...for the time being.


P.S. Here I go defining marriage as being between one person and one other person. Polygamy (and marrying oneself, possibly?) is a different topic for a different day, perhaps.

Friday, August 13, 2010

one little letter can make a big difference

I just read through one of those articles that automatically presents itself when I sign in online. The article is about geotagging technology that is part of many new phones and digital cameras, apparently. So, when we post pictures, there is information about the location of the photograph's subject embedded within code (I'm definitely no whiz when it comes to this kind of technology, which, yes, makes me uncomfortable).

I was reading through the comments on the piece and one commenter posted, "then osama can be tracked..." to which there are two responses that I can see. (The little "replies" tag under the comment says there are three replies, but I can only see two for some reason.) The first response reads, "Not since he's president. The secret services took his iphone away from him and (certainly) gave him scrutinized equipment precisely to avoid problems like these." The second reads, "Obama resides in upstate New York." I'm guessing (hoping) that the first person just misread the original commenter's comment. As for the second reply, I'm really not sure. I'd really like to know what the other comment was.


on socialization

It seems that one of the top worries about not sending my child off into the world of public/private/charter/what-have-you schooling is that she won’t be properly socialized.

I’ve heard it time and again that what we do shouldn’t be called homeschooling* because we spend so much time out in the world, interacting with others. We’re barely beginning here and I’m working on devoting myself to this**, but we still spend lots of time outside of our home. I try to balance our weeks, somewhat, giving us plenty of time both at home and away from home. With the group we’ve joined, we’ll be spending plenty of time away, I know. We'll be spending plenty of time with some great people.

Anyhow, Pic is constantly meeting and interacting with new people. She is a natural at this, always has been. There are times that Cardo and I just stand back and marvel that such a social child could have been born of two such socially-awkward parents. Although she isn’t some kind of poster child for interacting with others, she’s pretty freaking good at it. She does have a tendency to interrupt still, and I have a tendency to fight with myself on the best way to address this. Like everything I can think of right now, it’s a process. However, Pic is comfortable talking to pretty much everyone. She will greet random people we come across. She asks questions and tells stories. She treats everyone with respect and compassion. I think she’ll be one of those people who can go somewhere completely unfamiliar and, a few hours later, have met a new great friend (or at least acquaintance), just like her papa.

The other day, I had some business to (unsuccessfully) attend to at the university and while I did my thing, she befriended a couple of college students. As we were leaving campus, she saw one of these people and told me, “Wait, I want to go say goodbye to him” and she and he exchanged pleasantries. A bit later, as we waited for the bus to take us back home, she started talking with a boy who happened to also be waiting for the same bus. Pic sat across the aisle with the boy and his dad, while I sat back and tried to just let her be.

These are just a few instances. I’m not saying Pic’s exceptional in any way many, many other people aren’t but I am saying that I have absolutely no worries that she’ll not be “properly” socialized.***


* another post to come on the terminology…I’ve just been putting it off

** I have accepted an opportunity that means that it’ll be another school year before I allow myself to completely devote myself to homeschooling (I am a work in progress…really)

*** I think people would tend to believe she should be spending most of her time with others her own age, but is this really how life is? Sure, for those who go to school, lots of time is spent with many people of a similar age, but then children leave school. There's a great discussion about socialization and socializing on Sarah Parent's Humans Being podcast episode, Why Not School?

Thursday, August 12, 2010

water walkers

[I wrote this post yesterday, but am just getting around to posting it.]

Today, we went to hang out with our homeschooling friends for some waterplay. We went out to one of the apparently many water parks in the area. Other than the exorbitantly expensive one that is much closer to us, I didn’t know about any water parks here.

So, today, one of our new homeschooling friends offered a ride to Pic and me so we wouldn’t miss this outing while Cardo worked.

Overall, we had a pretty great time. The place was incredibly cheap. Cardo kept making me tell him how little we paid to get in. (I paid $3.50 total for Pic and me.) There were six pools, with pools both inside and outside, and two water slides. There were also a couple of diving boards. In one of the pools, there were a few lanes for lap swimming and water walking. I'm not sure why, but I was especially amused by the "water walking" signs. You can probably imagine my visual.

I did say that a good time was had “overall.” There were a couple of moments of unrest. Pic wanted to jump from the low-dive, so I joined her in line and explained to her that I would like her to clear the board and that after she entered the water, she needed to get to the side of the pool so the next divers could enter. She climbed the three steps and walked about midway down the board. She peered over the edge and looked at me with uncertainty in her eyes. I asked her if she wanted to come back down and she nodded. I thought she’d be okay, but after she was back on the deck, I could see the tears welling up. In just a moment, she was sobbing. I was trying to figure out if she was scared or disappointed (I’m not sure when people start to feel disappointment in themselves and I sincerely hope she wasn’t feeling that). She told me that it was scary. I told her it was okay, that she didn’t have to jump if she wasn’t ready and we could go in another pool. I held her and she cried for a good bit. We played for a while longer and she tried the diving board once more. The second time she made it to the edge of the board, and, again, she turned back around to join me on the deck. The second time, however, there were no tears.

There were a couple of other moments of tears during our trip, but, overall? We had fun. After we told Cardo about it, he decided we’d be going back. I’m thinking that it’d be nice to visit especially once school resumes, although I didn’t feel it was overly crowded today.

We have another homeschool outing coming up this Saturday. An outing which will require plenty of sunscreen and possibly a bit of stamina. I hope I’ll actually take pictures at that event (I felt weird with my camera at the pool and I was afraid I’d get it wet, so it ended up in my locker with my shorts and top).


Pic is right now laying next to me and I asked her if she had fun today and she said yes. I asked her what her favorite part was and she responded, “The hot.” We spent a good deal of our time in the therapy and relaxation pool. It was rather warm and went from two-and-a-half to four-and-a-half feet deep. Pic was adorable in her yellow, ruffled swim suit and facility-provided life vest. We'll definitely be visiting again.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

on united states' public education

I really needed to hear this right now, and thanks to Poke, I did. This speech is awesome. The fact that this student gave this speech in front of her classmates, her teachers and the administrators makes it even better.

"Finest Graduation Speech Ever Valedictorian Speaks Out Against Indoctrination Schooling"

I can so relate to this, even though I was not valedictorian.

I really wonder what her audience got out of this? I wonder if they went home and kept thinking about it?

Sunday, August 8, 2010

homeschool hike

Yesterday, we met up with our homeschooling group for a hike. It wasn't a long hike (a little over an hour), but it was fun. Pic, of course, latched onto one of the older girls. At one point, I looked up the path (Pic was well ahead of me) and saw that Pic had the other girl's hand. Pic is in love with older girls. (When Cousin K came up to visit a few years ago, Pic followed her everywhere, including the bathroom.)

After the hike and some cooling down (it was a bit toasty out), we headed out for frozen yogurt. The kids kind of separated off into their own group leaving the adults to our own group. We had a nice visit and then all headed off to our next respective stops (ours being home).

Something came up after the hike yesterday which led me to think Cardo was rethinking this whole endeavor. I was, let's say, unhappy. He later explained to me that he just has to get used to being around people who are so nice and accepting and automatically understanding. Hello! There isn't much of a better compliment to be offered. I worry, though, that Cardo must have faced some pretty cruddy people if he's surprised by being in a group of such awesome people.

So, he assures me he is still with us on this homeschooling adventure; he's just going to need some time to adjust. Considering we're doing something that isn't a part of either of our past experience, I'm also going to need time to adjust. I figure this is a whole life commitment, but I'm willing to experience it.

(Sorry for the sad lack of photos, but I was more into the hike than I was into the camera. Plus, of course, I don't post pictures of others without their permission.)

Saturday, August 7, 2010

it's the middle of the night, and the anxiety is creeping in

I told Cardo that I'm pretty certain I'll never be tired enough to fall asleep again. I was trying to stay away from computer and television screens after ten, in the hopes that my mind wouldn't be overly stimulated and that I might fall asleep at a decent hour, but here I am. I got up to address something I've been avoiding. I'm good at avoiding. I'm not good at decision-making.

And, speaking of decision-making, I'm in the midst of having to make some decisions about our immediate future. Nothing big, nothing to worry about. Except, of course, I worry. It's what I do. It's what I live for. (To help unfortunate merfolk, like yourself. [Yes, we've been watching too much The Little Mermaid around here and I've had that movie memorized for [[aak]] twenty-one years now, I believe it is.])

So, yes, I've been wondering if it's silly to want to turn to your parents for advice and support and possibly consolation when you're well past legal dependence? Because I really love Cardo and I value discussing things with him, but right now, I kind of also want to be able to talk with my person. A few of problems: I'm not sure I can articulate exactly what I'm feeling and I'm not sure what I'm expecting/wanting to receive from this hypothetical conversation. Also, they live about 450 miles away. We don't have the money to visit them (and I really don't want to go down for a visit at this time of year) and I don't want to ask them to take time off work to come and comfort me.

Ugh. I know I shouldn't analyze every little bit of my life, especially in the middle of the night. I know that this is part of the reason I don't sleep. I hope that when I wake up, I'll feel a bit more resolved about some things and I'll think, 'Jeez, v, stop posting worries in the middle of the dark.' But, it's what I do. It's kind of cathartic for me.

Ah, well.

Thursday, August 5, 2010


I often wonder if signing while holding something is the equivalent of talking with your mouth full?

Lately, I've been wanting to go back to learning sign again. For now, I'll stick with the videos from the library, as I'm not ready to join another class or anything.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

going in a different direction

[You might want to grab a mug of tea or coffee or a glass wine or (my favorite) a pint of ice cream. This is going to take a while.]

Where to begin? I have been putting off posting what I’m going to post for quite some time.

The whole situation, the whole idea that I need a special post, is a little silly, I think. Had we decided to do things the conventional way, I could have just ignored the whole topic. I could have posted a quick picture, with or without text and have been done with it.

However, we are about to be going down a somewhat unconventional path.

For the last year, I have been learning about homeschooling and unschooling. I have devoted countless hours of critical thinking to the topic. I have been a woman quietly obsessed. I shared my interest with others who are already traveling along this path, but not really with anyone else. Okay, until the last few months, not with anyone else. I have never been a very brave person and, therefore, I tend to quietly do what I prefer and then let others in on what I’m doing later. I didn’t want to write what I thought of as a traditional college essay when first applying, so I wrote about my soulmate (not regarding young love, but a friendship). When I decided to move in with Cardo, when I was twenty-one, I only discussed it with him. When I wanted to marry him, I asked him and then informed my parents that I was getting married.

I’m not exactly sure I act in the way I do, because I happen to have in my life some of the most supportive people anyone could ask for. I can’t remember a time my family hasn’t supported me in a decision. The family I was born into and the family I have created are relentlessly supportive. As I said, I’m just not brave. I’m continually and ridiculously afraid of what Others will think. I know, I know that I should not take any of that into consideration, but I do, at least in my own quiet way. And who are these others anyhow? I’m not quite sure. I just generally feel this societal pressure to do things a certain way, but I sometimes wonder if I’m creating this pressure out of nowhere.

Okay, so I’m way off in the Land of Rambling here. I have long been thinking that homeschooling, in some incarnation, is the right choice for our family. There have been countless times I’ve wanted to share that information publicly, if only to explore avenues of support, but it took me a good ten months to even start to talk about it seriously with Cardo. He was pretty quickly convinced that it is indeed the right choice for us. I cannot express how happy I am that he and I agree on this.

We did not choose all of this without the input of Pic. I know that will sound incredibly silly to some people because she is five, but it’s not silly. We are talking about her education here. She was most concerned with having other kids to play with. Funny, this is a concern most people seem to have when it comes to announcing that we’ll be homeschooling. In case you’ve never met Pic, or in case you’ve forgotten, she’s an incredibly social person. I have no fear that she won’t be “properly” socialized. Cardo and I agreed that there was no way we could do this without being a part of a community.

Shortly after we agreed to homeschool, we met a homeschooling family at one of our regular outings. The mother, who was out with some of her children, was gracious enough to give us some of her time and to answer some very basic questions about homeschooling. She provided us with a few resources to check out and wished us luck.

I searched out some Yahoo! groups in our area and found one that seemed like a great fit for us and our principles. Last week, Cardo and I tucked away (most of) our social awkwardness and we, along with Pic, met with some other local homeschoolers. Pic spent a good deal of time playing by herself, but then, finally, went off to play with some of the other kids. She often needs to sit back and observe when in a new situation. I know exaclty how she feels.

The get-together was pretty great. While I know that there are other people out there who are doing what we want to do, what we are doing, it was great to actually meet them. We look forward to meeting up with these people again and we look forward to meeting more people from the group.

I am not entering into this thinking that everything is going to be peachy-keen all of the time, but I am entering into this optimistically. And, I should be. Why would I send my child off into something I wasn’t at all sure about? We had found a school we wanted to send her to, but it just wasn’t as good a fit for us as we see homeschooling to be.

I could go on for hours and hours more. As I said, I have been mulling over this for quite some time. I’ll try to keep the rest of this post short and fill in more in later posts.

I keep emphasizing that I think this is a good choice for our family. I don’t think that everyone should do things the same way we are doing them. I don’t think that everyone would, or should, want to and I don’t really think that everyone would be able to. I feel a bit like we are coming at this from a position of privilege and I want to acknowledge that. First, of course, we know that this is an option for us. We earn enough income to be able to do this. (By “we,” at this moment, I mean Cardo.) We aren’t what I would call wealthy and I often wonder if we are even a part of the middle class, financially, but we have plenty. We have tons and tons of books (almost every one purchased secondhand) and we have access to infinitely more through our wonderful libraries, thrift stores, used book stores and so on. We have wonderfully reliable and quick internet access. And, now, we have a group. And, of course, we have each other. What more can I ask for? (I’m not sure yet, as we’ve only just begun this journey.)

I know that plenty of people will have plenty of opinions about this decision. So far, we have only received support, even if it has been of the quiet variety. I wasn’t planning on telling anyone until this post (that I’ve been mentally composing for what feels like forever), but Cardo has started to tell our friends. They might have questions and they might be skeptical (and they might think we have stepped over into the realms of crazy), but they have not run off, refusing to any longer associate with us. I’ll take this as a good sign.

However, we (and by “we,” I again mean Cardo) have told very few of our friends. I anticipate that some will tell us that we are making a risky or wrong decision. I am even preparing myself for the chance that some will no longer be a part of our lives (although I certainly hope that doesn’t happen). Perhaps I’m being melodramatic here, but I’m so used to hearing people tell me that it’ll be “good for me” and for Pic when she heads off to school. Here’s the thing: we rather enjoy our life. It probably isn’t anyone else’s ideal, but it’s ours. We continually talk to Pic about this change (or, really, lack of change) and she is so far in support of the decision. Given we are talking about her education, she will always have a say in this, of course.

I cannot believe that I’ve gotten through this whole post. This decision feels, at the same time, momentous and commonplace. This is such a divergence from how I was raised and from how Cardo was raised. We are not rejecting or negatively critiquing our own upbringings, we have just chosen to do things differently. And, I could not have come to this decision without having had my family raise me the way they did. There are times, though, after having read the blogs and listened to the podcasts of people who are already living this way, that I feel like this is some incredibly widespread movement we are joining.

For now, I’m still in the mode of embracing this decision and looking for ways to support this decision. I welcome respectful comments or e-mails on the topic and I even welcome questions. While I might not be prepared to answer questions, thinking about the answers will help me to focus my own thinking.

I feel like I’ve just bared a very vulnerable part of myself. I have read many snarky and hateful comments on this topic when others have been brave enough to share their experiences and I don’t want to open myself up to them, but I want to share this news. As I said, if we were going the more conventional route, I wouldn’t even have felt the need to share. Perhaps I would have just posted a picture of Pic on her first day. But, I feel the need to explain and kind of justify (which I haven’t even really done here). I guess that’s just the part of the process I’m at with this. There is so much more that I could share here, but this post has been super-long enough as it is.

For now, please wish us the best.

Grazie mille.

[I have since started telling my family and I told Poke who was super incredibly supportive of this decision. Thanks, all!]

Monday, August 2, 2010

bathing pool

Cardo is right now watching Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. He's at the part where Harry is visiting the prefects' bathroom. I'm not watching the movie, but I'm familiar with the scene from the book. I have never understood who exactly would be taking a bath in what is basically a pool. Do all of the prefects bathe together? Is this like some ancient bathhouse?

All of this leads me to wonder where exactly everyone else bathes? Is it like the summer I went to camp and there was a row of shower stalls? Something like living in the dorms? I'm guessing it's something like this, but there's like one mention of Ginny and Ron heading off to shower (separately, of course) after a particularly muddy Quidditch practice.

Okay, enough speculation about Harry and his world...for now.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

varied nosh

I certainly won't be posting every dinner we eat over this next month, but it seemed weird to not at least start with tonight's. Actually, I've felt in a bit of a funk today and almost didn't bother with making anything. I'm thinking it's coming down off of yesterday, a day full of eating only kind of well. Now, I'm paying for that. It's also trying to move back into eating well after a whole month of indulging very often. When I get hungry and I'm trying to eat in a way that won't cause me to gain several inches in a ridiculously short amount of time, I tend to wait too long to eat and then I get sick. (Wow, that was a long sentence.) Basically, I'm admitting that I'd much more quickly pick up and consume something unhealthy than something healthy.* Ah, well.

So, for dinner tonight, I really wanted to eat the vegetables that will all-too-soon be languishing in our crisper. I find myself daydreaming of days when it'll be much cooler in our home and I can then roast vegetables. Today, though, I went for sauteing (that word doesn't even look right). I think I might have, at some point in my life, sauteed vegetables before, but I won't hold myself to that. It's just not as good, as far as I'm concerned, as roasting. I threw some brown rice in the mix (yellow squash, zucchini, broccoli, olive oil) and waited until I was too hot to stand over the stove any longer. I added a dose of soy sauce and called it dinner. It was passable. If only I knew how to make rice with actual flavor.

I'm hungry again. What to eat? What to eat?


A couple more food notes. The other day, I went on another food-making frenzy. Our dearly beloved friends invited us over for a barbecue. Again, I made the Moosewood blueberry cornbread. Although I had to let it get mighty brown, it was completely baked and I rather liked it. The blueberries keep the bread moist. I also made another cornbread variation, the Mexican cornbread, minus the pieces of corn. Basically, it was cheesy cornbread with green onions. It was okay -- a little dry and would probably be better hot (we ate it much later than it came out of the oven).

Pic and I also made bittersweet chocolate truffle ice cream (I got the recipe from a library book...I can't recall which it was). We didn't take this to the barbecue, as it wasn't ready, but we did eat it a couple of days later, after we had topped it with homemade whipped cream. Actually, it took Pic a couple of days to eat hers, while I ate my bowl in one sitting. The whole batch is gone as of last night.

We did bring a chocolate treat with us to the barbecue, though: vegan chocolate cake, also from Moosewood. (I swear I don't have some deal with Moosewood, I am just on a Moosewood kick right now.) Also, I seemed to be missing an ingredient from every recipe I checked, until I came on this one. The cake was super simple to make and it was good. Cardo ate two pieces, which is so not like him. We sifted confectioner's sugar over the top of the cake. Pic insisted that we bring candles so each of the diners would have a candle to blow out. Only after we had each blown out our one candle did she announce that that was how we had earned our piece of cake.


* I've read that food is not "healthy" but "healthful" but I'm having a problem with "unhealthful" sounding like an actual word to me.