Monday, September 29, 2014

The Fun Five: Five Fun Extras in Our Homeschool Last Week

Education is not all just math pages and history books.  There is learning that takes place off the page, out in the world, and sometimes spontaneously.  Play and Imagination, Nature and Friends, and Fun are all part of everyone's education, and here is what that has looked like in our homeschool recently:

1.  We went to see the salmon run and harvesting at a local river

Salmon jumping

2.  Chores on our little hobby farm always provide opportunities for real world learning


3.  The kids go to work with me at church, and sometimes they get to help with things like creating a Spirit Play story basket.

Making a Spirit Play Basket

4.  At a UU Middle School CON this weekend my son got to build and launch pop bottle rockets.

Bottle Rocket Dude 2

5.  At the same CON, there was also tie dye, board games, archery, challenge course, capture the flag, worship, social learning, boating, and beach combing.  Lots of fun learning for him!

Boating at Camp

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Update on What I'm Reading: End of Summer Edition


The very last of the Beach Reads for this year: The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett.  Of course i had heard of this book and movie, but I hadn't read or watched it.  I'm quite glad that I finally checked out both the book and the movie.  The book was wry and dark and very entertaining, as I tried to follow along as Sam Spade unraveled the web that an alluring woman pulled him into when she walked into his office one day.  The movie, starring Humphrey Bogart, was charming.  Bogart did such a good job of walking the line between charming and horrible misogynist - it was a masterpiece. It was also a Triple Dipper on my 14 x 14 Reading Challenge, since it fit into three categories: My Favorite Detectives, LifeTime Reading Challenge, and Books Made Into Movies.

I need more double and triple dippers if I'm going to finish this challenge in time!

Other books I've finished:

  • The Artist's Way for Parents was one I read for work.  I was never a follower of the Artist's Way, but I know it has influenced and inspired many people.  So when I heard there was a new edition for Parents, I knew I should check it out and see if it was worth recommending to the parents in my congregation - and it is.  It's still not really for me, but I can see how it could be great for many folks.
  • How We Love Our Kids takes the notion of Love Styles/Languages and applies it to parenting.  I found many of the ideas really intriguing - heck, I'm already a fan of the whole Love Languages Idea - but I also noted that personally I had a hard time deciding which type I was based on these descriptions.  I felt a resonance with several of the Parenting Types, and that was somewhat contradictory.  None-the-less, this is a thought provoking book that challenges parents to move beyond the love style they inherit from their family of origin, work with the love style of their parenting partner, and try to honor the inherent love style of the child they are parenting.  Whew - that's a tall order but imagine the possibilities if we could all pull it off!
  • Hope on a Tightrope is an older book, but after the recent (Ferguson and after) conversation about race in america I found it once again poignant.  Dr. Cornel West is an amazing writer, and this book is the short and sweet version of his thoughts - full of bold inspirational quotes this is a very quick and easy (but not simple to mull over) read.  
  • Fed Up With Frenzy is another call for slower and simpler parenting, but this one has a serious flaw: after just a brief introduction it proceeds to a long list of things (slow things) to do with your kids.  As a Fast Parent, this could be read just as MORE to do!  Then in the back of the book there are chapters about EveryDay Slow and Slow Parenting - but by then it would be too late for most readers.
  • Your Presence is Requested at Suvanto was a pick for my "Around the World in Alphabetical Order" category.  It is a tense atmospheric drama set in an institutional hospital in Finland, but it suffers from a long build-up and weak ending.
  • The Collected Poems of May Sarton was my latest for the "Poetry" category of my reading challenge.  I hadn't ever read Sarton before, but she is a UU author and so I looked this up.  I loved her poems, with such imagery!
More reading adventures ahead: So many Books, So Little Time!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Is There an App for Life?


While I don't think there is an App that can live my life for me, I have found an app that is either A) Ruining my Life or B) Making Me Win at Life.

The argument for A) Ruining My Life:

  • I'm constantly aware of how far behind on my chores and To Do's I am, and feel a sense of panic if the OverDue section gets too large
  • I can't ever relax quite as well since I know I have a Lot to Do!
  • It adds to my phone addiction to also have my To Do List and Life Management Tools on the phone

The argument for B) Making Me Win at Life

  • If I've put the chore or the task in my app, I won't ever get too far behind on doing it - so those nagging nasty chores that are easy to ignore actually get done
  • My house is cleaner, my work is more organized
  • I can sleep better at night without having a mental To Do List - once it's in the phone I don't have to keep trying to remember it

It's a fine line between productivity and work-obsessed, a fine line between organized and fussy.  This app, for me, is right in that zone between those things - but so far it tips just to the good side of things. How do you manage your life's To Do's?

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Shifting from Summer to Fall

goodbye to summer

It is clearly turning to Autumn here, although we are still having a warmer and dryer than normal September here in the PNW.  But the trees are turning, the geese are flying overhead, and the school buses are once again driving down our rural road.  It's Fall.

Letting go of Summer is bittersweet, as always.  I always find myself regretting that I didn't do more during Summer, and not because I am a slacker and don't take advantage of the season.  The problem is that Summer just seems like such a season of Vast Possibilities.  I expect that I will Camp, Hike, Garden, Read a Whole Stack of Books, Travel, Do Home Improvement ... all while Living Slow With My Feet Up.  Clearly summer (which realistically is only 2 1/2 months long) cannot live up to these contradictory expectations.

Then there is Fall.  Even when the weather is still nice, there gets to a smell in the air.  This smell is the smell of Better Get Busy.  In contrast to Summer which seems endless while you are in it, Autumn comes with a ticking clock and is clearly an end-between time.  It is a time of preparations.  Preparations for the coming Winter, of course.  If that home improvement project didn't get done during the summer, now there is a rush to finish it before the Winter comes.  And if you want to camp or hike this year, better do it Now before the snows in the mountains.

The sense of Time Slipping By, of Opportunity that must be Grasped Now, is actually more comfortable for me than the seemingly endless Forever of summer.  In this season, I am not tempted to put my feet up but am instead filled with crisp industry.  Now I know that the winter is coming, and that will be a time of enforced quiet and rest.  Before that happens I just need to get stuff done!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Why Blog?


I haven't been blogging as much lately, and part of that is that I just haven't found myself with the time on my hands that blogging requires.  I blog because I have more to say than I have people sitting around wanting to hear.  In other words, it is an impulse born of both idle time to think and a certain amount of loneliness.

Both of those things have been lacking in my life of late.  I'm booked up, my plate is full, my calendar is full, my To Do list is long, and I'm hardly ever alone.

And, then, like many bloggers who have focused on their parenting or their homeschooling I see it changes as the kids get older.  Privacy of course, but also the stuff we are doing is just less cute and photogenic.  I still want to blog, but the blog is about me.

Me?  What me?  Where is the me in the center of juggling work and homeschooling, chores and errands, hobbies and learning and the slim chance of a small social life or a bit of alone time with my husband.

Maybe that's the best reason to keep trying to blog.  Maybe it can hold me accountable to myself; maybe it can keep me paying attention to myself.