Wednesday, January 30, 2013



With the help of plenty of cord wood, a well insulated house, and the brilliance of January sun we sailed through that cold spell and have come out nicely on the other side.  I know from winters past that this honeymoon of January will soon be over, and we'll come into February--both the shortest and somehow always the longest month of the year.  If you've ever heard Dar Williams' "February" you know what February is like in New England.  If only the month were as lovely as the song.  

I've taken a bit of wisdom from  SouleMama who mentioned at one time or another the trick of hiding away little surprises for those dreary February days.  I've been sneaking away just a few small things for my children, ready to pull out mid-month or whenever we're all feeling like we want to pull out our hair if we have to look at muddy snow (or muddy dirt, or negative temps, fill in the blank with your winter drudgery of choice) another minute longer.  Some things/ideas to invite imagination and spark some creativity.

But for now, we're excited that the temperature is nearly normal (its actually a bit too warm now!).  We're happy to skate again and hoping to ski soon.  And we're enjoying this winter sun as it slices its way into our home.   

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Dang its cold!

Man its cold out there.  Today saw a high of about 10F with wind-chill, and and an overnight low of -10F predicted.  Its supposed to be even colder tomorrow.  I've been thinking about the trailers we pass on our way into town, and the old Maine farmhouses out in the open fields.  I hope this cold snap finds everyone safe on the other side. 

These cold days are crisp and clear with a pale sky that looks higher and thinner than I've ever noticed.  But, while outside it is biting cold, inside our house the sun slices through the windows at a slighter higher angle each day and even the kitten knows to follow its slanting warmth.  Between hauling wood and feeding the fire we pretty much kept inside today.  Just after noon we all busted out for about 15 frigid minutes when the sun was the highest, then hurried back inside for brownies, naturally.  When its this cold we bake.  Brownies, bread, granola (both gluten free and glutinous).  

Also plenty of impromptu art projects.  Kale has been cutting up any paper he can get his hands on, and leaving a trail of paper scattered across most of the surfaces in the house and much of the floor.  If you come to our house you're likely to receive a small pile of paper "cards" from him to take home with you.  Be sure to ask how old he is, its important these days.  "I'm three, but I'm nearly ten".  

Wylie decided to make a few counting cards for Kale (to my dismay he stopped hand-crafting after 1 and switched to computer graphics). 

Inspired by this book, as well as some reading we've been doing on Leonardo  DeVinci, we've been keeping nature journals, doing our best to make an entry every few days at least.  I'm trying to just model rather than suggest what they do--though "Nature Connections" has several activities for keeping journals.  So far I'm not super impressed with the book as a homeschool resource, but I haven't given it a fair chance yet.  I'll let you know if I change my mind and decide I love it.  What I do love are these sweet words and drawings my kids have been inspired to do, as well as a chance to focus my love of art and nature on something all my own.  


Also, as always lots of block play, playmobile, and Legos, Legos, Legos... 

(stop it mom)

We rounded out the day with a viewing of "The Princess Bride" which was meant as a distraction while I prepared dinner, but ended up with me watching the whole thing--and dinner an hour later than planned.  
I'd forgotten how funny it is! but also how violent (oops).  But all in the name of true love!  

So, for now we're good with frigid.  Check back in a few days and I'll let you know if we're climbing the walls.  

Tuesday, January 22, 2013


Sometimes you see it coming before it happens, and despite what you know you are powerless to stop it.  This wasn't like that.  Somehow, despite all of my years of watching children fall, despite all these years of living on concrete I didn't anticipate the inevitable:  when your child's hands and feet are bound (handcuff style, with plastic Hawaiian leis no less) and she is doing her best to wobble her way free from the preschool-age policeman in hot pursuit, she will fall.  It was dull thud.  Not the smack of flesh on smooth surface, but the dull ache of bone on stone.  Instantly I was hauling her up (bound as she was) and the blood was immediately apparent.  Teeth or chin? Chin or teeth?  It is a question I've asked so many times over the years while holding and rocking, containing blood, applying ice, waiting for a bit of calm to assess the injury.  Saying the silent "please let it be chin" prayer.

It was.  A little half inch split right on the smooth skin stretched taught across her sweet little chin.  Half and inch, yet somehow a gaping, bloody, a ragged wound on my girl.  I knew it meant stitches.  And so we sat.  Blood smeared on my hands, on the floor around us, neat little red blotches on her pink leotard and tights.  I held the ice and stroked her brow.  I took deep breaths and tried to will away the throbbing in my ears and sweating.  I am not a fan of blood.  Wylie hid upstairs (he is really not a fan of blood).  Kale was being as helpful as he could:  fetching the phone to call Papa, retrieving ice from the freezer, taking out the lap top for a bit of media therapy.  It was quite a little scene.

After a short trip to the ER with Rob she was home, stitched, band aided, and nearly as good as new.  At bedtime I showed her my scar from stitches as a kid, and Rob showed her the scar on his knee.  She's a little sore, a little embarrassed, a little bit proud.  She's got a new story to tell.   My mother has always reminded us, "what doesn't kill you will make you stronger".  I'm not convinced that's always the case, but wiser maybe. They won't be playing cops and robbers with hand cuffs again.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Homeschool Thursday: On their own

Our week is filled with piano lessons, swimming, yoga, and homeschool group, as well as any play dates with friends, trips to the library, book clubs and grocery shopping that needs to be done.  The kids have daily chores as well as a few weekly "have to's"--school work including some math practice, handwriting, reading, and history to be completed in the course of the week.  Before, after, and in-between (and sometimes in place of) all of this they settle into games or projects of their own.  As I've mentioned before, we tend to follow a sort of  tidal rhythm with our schooling, at times being more intentional with our studies, and other times being more relaxed in our approach.    

A few days ago a friend was telling me about the language in one African region where the words for work and play are the same.  That is such a powerful thought, and I've been trying to imagine our society functioning with that mindset.  With adults headed out to "play" as they commute to offices etc.  Though I suspect that those who find their work among animals, working the soil, or learning with children understand this view point a bit more clearly.  Children know instinctively that work is play, and play is work, and most of the time when we stay out of the way its what they do on their own that is most valuable.

However, I tend to notice that having the regular practice of handwriting, for instance, makes my children more confident and comfortable in their writing.  When we are in a regular routine of doing copy work, they are more apt to add writing into their play spontaneously.   Basic understanding of math concepts, as well as the mastery to solve simple problems as they arise lead to invented games involving math, as well as the ability to play board games and card games independently.  And so I tread carefully.  Respecting their play as work, but also encouraging work as play.  Most of the time this feels just right.


Kale and the snow chicken 

Juni's homemade paper dolls

Robotic Legos

Negotiating rules to an invented board game

Saturday, January 5, 2013


We made a trip to Play-it-Again Sports in Augusta the other day and finished outfitting the kids in X-country gear to actually fit them.  It was perhaps the most successful shopping trip I've ever made, returning with one pair of skis, two pairs of skates, two sets of poles, and a pair of boots in one stop, in under 30 minutes, and exactly $100.  Pretty dang good.  

This morning a friend and I skied for two hours in perfect snow, then another hour with Juniper and friends, and another hour in the afternoon with my three.  Kale skied on his own for about 15 feet, then was happy in the sled behind.  This was our first mostly whole family ski event (we're still working on Rob, but I can tell we're closer) and the best exercise I've been able to get with all my kids having fun beside me.  The dog too!  Yeah for skis!