Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Ancient Coins Class

This coin was minted 300 years after Christ; I don't think I've ever seen anything human-made that is this old. Made during the Roman empire; holy moly!

They came back full of enthusiasm and new information; Christ's image on coins, the symbolism of Hercules, and more. Fascinating! Thanks to the friends who arranged this and invited us along...

Monday, November 28, 2011

More Wilderness Day Photos

Catching and sharing lizards and doing a sensory awareness exercise. The report I got back was that she kissed a lizard! The "WHY" of that experience has yet to be revealed.... ack!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Happy Advent!

Lovely photos from a beautiful church on the ocean; gorgeous place to celebrate the first Sunday of Advent AND to continue the focus on giving thanks. After mass, the girls and I did an outdoor Stations of the Cross; calmly, peacefully, joyfully, and (amazingly) with no objections or interruptions. The calm of the beautiful environment must be sinking in. Or Charles bribed them but good! Ha, ha...

K took this picture of the 12th Station; each Station is gorgeous and touching.

Outside view of the church windows, with ocean and trees reflecting against really stunning architectural detail. Do you see the image of a man's face in the shape of the tree branches against the sky? Do tell...

Advent Conspiracy

Let's do it!

Love, me

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Play: A Prince in the Woods

An amphitheater in the woods calls for an impromptu play, "A Prince in the Woods." It involves complicated plot twists, death, rebirth, ghosts, and much drama. Most importantly, the main characters have a blast.

Buffelheads! One spotted at this pond last year, two this year, staying in rhythm with one another as they dive for food and remain aloof from the mallards, coots, and geese that noisily populate the rest of the pond.

Fall colors, in leaves and mushrooms, provide a lovely backdrop for the play's enthusiastic tragedies. Lovely Gualala; thanks again, Uncle Mike and Aunt Terry!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

We are thankful for so many things: family, friends, good food, visits from Grandma, and more. Perhaps on this day the girls are MOST thankful for cousins who live close by; fun, fun!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Trouble with Bright Kids

A good reminder that hard work is so very much more important that innate "smartness." I certainly see that in my life. I don't know how smart I am, but I do know that I've learned how to work like a dog for anything that is worthwhile.

I just stumbled across this article, though I've read the research before. It is interesting, though, because I have been reflecting on this ever since a friend had a European visitor staying with her. The European woman had never heard of homeschooling and wasn't impressed. Oh, it wasn't the academics or concern about "socialization" (such a joke), but the fact that it was "too much work." I was stunned by that response. Maybe it was her age (young, in her mid-20s), but to be deterred because something is "work" never occurs to me, no matter the venue. Whether it is worth doing is the question; if the answer is affirmative, then the question may be "CAN I do it," but never "do I want to work hard."

Reminds me of the Kahil Gibran quote that has always resonated, "work is love made visible." I took a picture of those words in the Gibran garden in Washington, D.C. more than a decade ago and that photo has always hung in my office. If you are making love visible, how can anything be "too much work?" Thus, the value, habit, and practice of valuing hard work is worth a re-read, a reminder for me. I even discussed the research with the girls today; they seemed to understand it... we will see!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Country Day France!

Fun presentations! We learned a lot about The Louvre, the Eiffel Tower, French fashion designers, hot air balloons, the guillotine, the Catacombs of Paris, the Pont du Gard, Marie Antoinette, the Moulin Rouge and the Cancan, Edith Piaf, Bassin d'Arcachon, and Gauguin. Katherine is seen here with a cockade from the French Revolution and a liberty cap (which she made), which has symbolism that dates back to ancient Greece.

Katherine's presentation was on French family life and after describing a French meal, she had friends act out a four-part play that illustrated some elements of this life. I had typed as she talked and she was amazed to see how quickly her ideas filled three typed pages of paper.

Love this group photo; great kids, every one!

The Play's The Thing!

OK, wrong play, but right author and spot-on sentiment. It felt like a major holiday with all of the happy excitment in the air. G barely had her eyes open, but the first words out of her mouth were, "is my sister awake? Today is the show!"

Later, a teacher from one of their morning classes captured how the kids described their feelings for the day. Some of what K's friends said: "like a rainbow; nervous and happy; like the sun; happy and energetic; excited and jumpy; solemn; bouncy and plus, plus, plus; free and happy. K and one of her friends got into deeper poetry: He said, "I feel like the sun that's just come out after a rainstorm and then a rainbow appears." She said, "I feel like a rainstorm that just stopped and before the rainbow comes out, there's a shallow drizzle." Yowza.

I felt happy and bouncy myself, excited and nervous, too. Not the kids! They know their lines so well that they are now in happy, excited competition to learn more of each other's lines than the other. When K saw one of her best friends this morning, they started running together and I heard him shout, "let's do the epilogue together!" "OK!" was her response and they took off, trading lines, "If we shadows have offended...." Amazing kids.

A "Thinkering Day Production." That's my girl!

From left, Hermia, Lysander, Helena, Puck, Bottom.

"My gentle Puck, come hither!" Most of the cast (all but Oberon/Theseus)

Fairies handing out programs

Now THIS was really exciting! I invited Charles' Mom, Ernestine, who flew in from PA, but didn't tell him. She walked in and he turned around and said, "what are you doing here!" A happy man. (The girls knew and were really good at keeping it a surprise.) Thanks also to the other friends who traveled from Marin, SF, Mountain View, work, and other places to be there. You made it very special.

At the cast party; climbing trees and watching one of the Shakespeare teachers balance three stacked chairs and then stand on his hands on top of them. Weekly, he motivated the kids by promising different acrobatic tricks; they were always impressed.

A final SHOUT out to the amazing Jacki, who organized everything - the series of classes, teachers, details, sets, costumes, programs, and so much more WHILE working in a paid job more than full time and homeschooling her own three kids. Amazing, phenomenal woman; I'm blessed to know her and call her my friend!

Agape Session

This was from an exercise K did in one of her morning Thinkering classes; the same group of kids she works with for her Shakespeare class. All of the kids were to say something that they liked about another kid, even if it was just about the way they look. Like an agape for kids. I thought that what they said about K was sweet.....

She's nice and really creative.
She always looks like a shiny moon with a big smile.
She plays her part [in Midsummer Night's Dream] well.
She has a bobby nose.
(Teacher): I appreciate her extreme creativity. She is often filled with ideas and words and stories and they seem to bubble out her constantly. I also love that she is not afraid to show her feelings, even if she's unhappy.

(No, I don't know what a "bobby nose" is!)

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Studying France

France is our country of the month and getting together with friends to play the French revolution and make liberty hats was great. The French wine that the moms have planned for Country Day sounds good too... stay tuned!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

A Chance to Learn About Egypt

It was a chance to learn a little about Egypt; a class with the Director of the Museum of Craft and Folk Art. They each made an individual cartouche with their initials in Ancient Egyptian.

It is funny to watch their different styles. G was so proud of hers and placed it prominently on her desk. K is just as involved in the making process, but never seems to much care about the product. Interesting personality differences...

Research:Teen Angst

I found the following synopsis of some research on teen behavior on a discussion list. Interesting and hopeful.

"For those of you with younger kids, I can't tell you how grateful I am to have to had my daughter subject to all the school influences especially during the late pre-teen and early teen years. The year she was born, the book *Reviving Ophelia* came out. I read it while I hadthis precious baby girl , and I was mortified. The non-fiction, bestseller book based on research said that when she reached middle school age, I would lose her completely to the influences of her peers and that she would be kind of horrible. One of the things that it said helped alleviate this somewhat was the close affectionate relationship with the parents in the early years, especially with the father.

Then, years later, when I was already homeschooling, I learned about another book, less well known, that had been published the same year, in answer to the book above. I read it gratefully and realized that I was already part of the alternate universe it described. It was *A Sense of Self: Listening to Homeschooled Adolescent Girls* by Susannah Sheffer. Sheffer had been a longtime editor of Growing Without Schooling, John Holt's seminal newsletter. Her research found very different results for homeschooled girls. They seemed to hold onto, and grow and develop, their self identities,in adolescence without succumbing to detrimental outside influences. It is a wonderful book..

I'm curious now about opinions and experiences from other homeschooling parents of teen girls. Am I engaging in pure wishful thinking, or is there reason to hope? I adore these girls so and idea of feeling alienated from them is horrid, yet a reality that I suppose parents brace for. Curious....

Monday, November 14, 2011

Wilderness Days - More Photos

A blindfold walk with blind sketching in the dirt, playing with camoflauge - or makeup?, a hysterically funny group photo.
No fun here! Ha, ha...

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Wilderness Days

Part of our "curriculum" this semester is a wilderness day for K and a group of friends. The only thing I don't like about it is that it is JUST for the kids - I'd love to have a day to be outside every week. These are some of the photos that the leader took.

The kids built various shelters; when K saw this photo, she told us, "I built that one!"

A giant salamander eating a banana slug. Too cool.

Deer skull that the kids found.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Chicken Encounters!

Visiting friends who have (very friendly!) chickens.

Natural Dye Class

This day reminded me of the slow living movement: friends, savoring a beautiful day outside, making paper, learning about natural dyes, dying fabrics, weaving with hand looms and more complicated ones. Oh, and lots of play in the trees and by the creek, plus a few found lizards, goats, and sheep. Fabulous fun; so appreciative of the friends who set it up for us!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Night at the Opera: Xerces

Watching the orchestra at one of the intermissions.

After a long book club day at an amusement park, what better than a three-and-a-half hour opera? Hm. Well, perhaps not the best planning, but when you get orchestra-level tickets (nearly a $300 value, each) for ten bucks, who can complain?

This one had a happy ending, which is almost disappointing for an opera, but the singing, humor, and gorgeous sets made up for the tone reversal. The girls agreed that it was "great," and they held up well, though - confession time! - I snoozed through a teensy bit of the final scene.

Homeschool Day at Animal/Amusement Park

Friends, Looney Tunes, close-up animal encounters, RIDING an elephant, awesome rides, great prices, no crowds... as Katherine said, "A GREAT DAY!"

Happy book club, Pippi Longstocking!