...you bring cake, I bring tea. And we'll all snuggle up together in the cloudy dark and, as promised, I will tell you about what you wanted to know, but maybe not enough of it, and maybe too much, and I might mention the wrong bits and leave the wrong bits out.
Anyway: it looks as though most of you are interested in hearing about homeschooling, and also about red wine, and even cats, and there was one oddling among you who wants to know what I'm wearing. (Doc: jeans and a long-sleeved thermal shirt with a black t-shirt over it. Socks, no shoes. Foxy!)
Homeschooling, our routines thereof, and our political opinions pertaining thereunto.
"Routine," unsurprisingly, is not a word upon which our family particularly thrives. We have really nothing resembling a daily routine, but we do have something of a weekly rhythm.
- Monday. Miss Eryn, our capable and game-for-anything nanny (Yes! We have a nanny! Two days a week! So Mama can work, and Papa can work too!) arrives at 10 a.m. sharp. This is the one day of the week when, without fail, the boys have some "book work" to do. Fisher works in Wordly Wise, a vocabulary development program that he doesn't seem to hate too much, and Rhys works in Explode the Code, a phonics-ish program that he actually seems to enjoy. Each boy does a little bit of math. Fisher usually has a puzzle, a brainteaser or a page of standardized test prep to work on. During the term at Village Home, Rhys has a few pages of homework for his Math Fun-damentals class. Once their workbook stuff is completed, they usually go to the park/the zoo/the coffee shop where Eryn works/for some other entertaining excursion. Sometimes they do science experiments. Sometimes they hang around and play with Legos. Eryn is here until 4 p.m., and after she leaves, the boys and I just kinda hang out depending on how much work I still need to get done.
- Tuesday. A day of flux and adaptability! Which usually
means that I have lots of work to do, the house needs to be cleaned
(Tuesday is sheet-washing day) and the boys are pretty much left to
their own Lego-centric devices all day.
- Wednesday. Miss Eryn returns! Today, the boys have classes
at Village Home: Rhys' are math and "Messy Science," Fisher's are
Nature Detectives (with the indomitable Miss Misty!) and art.
Afterwards, they pretty much always go to OMSI for a couple hours of science-based fun.
- Thursday. More Village Home, this time in the company of
Mama! We listen to audiobooks on the way there and back again; right
now, we are listening to (and thoroughly enjoying) Gombrich's A Little History of the World.
I can tell the boys are paying attention because now they pretend to be
such figures from history's great pageant as Alexander the Great,
Julius Caesar, Spartacus and Nero. (Guess who always has to be Nero. I
need to get that kid a fiddle... no, I don't think we need anything
burning.) How come nobody ever wants to be Lao-Tzu? Each of the boys has a fantastic multi-age, multi-disciplinary class today; Rhys' focuses on countries of the world, while Fisher's theme last term was holidays & celebrations around the world. Fisher also has a drama class which involves indescribable amounts of silliness... but he loves it, and he's got to be silly sometimes, right?
- Friday. A day of jolly family togetherness! We usually go to the library on Fridays--usually to the North Portland branch, but sometimes all the way down to Central Library. The boys inevitably bring home stacks of Calvin and Hobbes books, plus oodles of nonfiction on whatever their current object of obsession is. (Currently for Rhys, it's Vikings and animals. For Fisher, World War I. For both boys, ancient Rome, especially Pompeii. We've spent the last couple months reading aloud the Roman Mysteries series at bedtime, and hey, who doesn't like plaster body casts and pornographic murals? No, we haven't looked at the pornographic murals together. That's for Mama and Papa only.)
- Saturday & Sunday. These days used to entail extra-jolly whole-family togetherness, but Jim is going to be working every weekend starting in April, so the boys and I will be left to our own devices. Whatever shall we do?
I realize, after writing this down, that our "rhythm" sounds remarkably loosey-goosey... and yeah, maybe it is. But one of the greatest things about homeschooling is the freedom it offers to put aside schoolishness and all that entails--textbooks, tests, attendance sheets and grades--and focus instead on learning whatever, wherever, whenever we choose. And we will wax poetic about all that stuff after the jump, 'cause there are lots of accompanying pics. Also some more stuff about cats and wine.
We can spend an afternoon watching the Eureka! videos on YouTube if we like, as well as Fisher's favorite They Might Be Giants song "Why Does the Sun Shine?" and my favorite, "Alphabet of Nations." Go ahead and watch it... it's awesome:
The boys can learn about things by asking questions. And boy, do they ask a lot of questions. Here, they're asking Miss Zara about her camera.
Note the presence of evil lap-cat Jean. More about her later.
(What is funny about this picture is that my hair now looks pretty much exactly like Rhys'. Except for the color, because he's only allowed to use wash-out dye.)
We can go to the beach and look for shells and talk about why most of them are broken and some have holes in them. We can figure out which sorts of animals they came from, or we can do what is really fun to do with shells and fling them at each other.
(Please note that it was probably 50 degrees outside when this picture was taken. Yes, Rhys has no shirt on. Yes, he is wet. Yes, we tried to dissuade him from this course of action. No, he didn't complain about being cold all day.)
We can go for a hike at the Arboretum while all the rest of the world's at work or school, and we can discover that we all really like weeping sequoias and want one of our very own. We can have an exciting lesson in cartography when we discover that the maps available at the visitor center bear no resemblance either to the maps posted along the trails or to Reality Itself. We can make up our own names for the trees (my favorite: "fairy-sitting tree") and talk about the Greek and Latin root words that make up the trees' real names.
We can smile patiently when people ask us about how we "socialize" our children, as if it were something we could or would want to prevent. And then we can go to our fellow homeschoolers' houses of a Friday and stay there past 11 p.m. "socializing" and eating delicious pasta and chatting about politics and watching their children introduce our children to the adorable Pingu.
In case that's not enough "socialization," we can have a heck of a time doing crazy projects with our all-boy, all-homeschooled Campfire group (here, they're shooting photos to tell a story with hand puppets).
(No, we don't have a tragically deformed member in our midst; I didn't have his mom's prior permission to post his photo here, so I gave him a twirl instead.)
We can be as weird as we wanna be, and not have anyone call us on it. We can find it perfectly appropriate for our two boys (and one cat) to share a bed. (We've asked them repeatedly if they'd like to get bunk beds instead. No, Mama; no, they would not.)
Some homeschoolers who prefer more structure are probably shaking their heads at us, thinking that without a Prescribed Curriculum the boys will never learn about decimals or Babylonians or stamens or whatever. But honestly, I see how much the boys are soaking up from every possible source around them and I can't help but think that the more "have-to" we add to children's lives, the less room there is for "want-to" or even "love-to." Conversely, the more time they have to explore their "want-to" and "love-to" interests, the more they see how knowledge is all interconnected and that fully understanding one subject requires familiarity with lots of different subjects... and next thing you know, they're coming to you and asking you how percents work (Rhys) or "what all the kinds of subatomic particles are" (Fisher) and it's all you can do to keep up.
And as far as my political opinions about homeschooling, especially as they pertain to California's "banning" of homeschool: they've been expressed fairly completely by Doc, COD (hey, anagrams! I never noticed that before!) and Valerie. In a nutshell: move along, nothing to see here, and don't get roped into signing ass-tastic petitions by HSLDA (who never met a gay-basher they didn't like) and their fanatic "ZOMG PARENTAL RIGHTS!!!1!" crew.
Jean in a fetching hat.
Ella making sweet love to my yarn. (I'm glad somebody's getting some use out of it.)
"Starvin' " Marvin making sure she'll never go hungry again.
Fisher's tribute to Darius. (It says "Heaven Express: A Better Place!", in case you can't read the text. Also, it is a depiction of Darius driving a train.)
The Mostly Red Wine Diet
Jim is going to be home from work any minute now, and I really need to get a non-wine dinner underway. So, very very briefly:
- Figure out how many glasses of wine you want to drink per day.
- Multiply that number by 120 (the number of calories in a 6-ounce glass, which is what most people actually pour, not those titchy little insignificant 4-ounce "reference amounts").
- Subtract the result from the number of calories you need in a day.
- Plan your meals and eat accordingly. For me, this usually involves skipping one meal a day and making sure the other two are small, low-fat and comprised largely of fruits and veggies. Oh, and cheese, which is not low-fat, but its deliciousness more than makes up for its caloric failings.
- Drink your delicious, thoroughly-anticipated red wine. Bottoms up and bon appetit!