Monday, December 31, 2007

Felting! Feeling!

It seems almost everything we do around here lately becomes a potential Visual Presentation for 4-H. They have to be done by February, and I think my Ella-girl may have finally decided on a topic: wool. The Wild World of Wool, actually.

But, yes, you may remember I thought it was going to be soap......


Ella made this felted piece the other day. She is planning to turn it into a purse. My camera didn't quite capture the smaller sparkly threads that are running through it.
We are going to be trying out different ways to do this over the next few weeks because it was so freakin' fun! Ella got a little tired of rolling the big felt back and forth, but she really went to town on little beads and made a baby for her gnome from Edelweiss. I can't, unfortunately, link you directly to the store.

The store is owned by some Waldorf former homeschoolers. They don't own a computer, or a tv. Each year, they buy a live Christmas tree and put real candles on it. It all sounds sort of idyllic and cozy sometimes to me when the giggles of SpongeBob are getting to me.

However, the children, once they got a bit older, decided to attend Sturgis Charter School, and the mom has told me that she'll forever wonder why they decided to do that. She is sad that as they get bogged down in homework and everything else and she sees less and less of them, both in the physical sense and in the sense of seeing the real kid behind all the pressure and scheduling.

It is sad to me to think that the struggle for some *ideal way of being* led the family to leave home schooling. I hope that on our homeschooling/unschooling journey, I can stay mindful of what my children need and not get too focused on a methodology.
Ella got this set of test tubes for Christmas. Each test tube had a mini-experiment in them, with almost everything you need for the project.

They are actually baby liter bottles, and they are heated and expand into big bottles, which makes them cool to begin with.

She started messing around with them, and discovered that most of the experiments revolved around the polymer sodium polyacrylate. It is the stuff in disposable diapers!! She has made crystals (they feel rubbery), and instant snow. There is all kinds of stuff about this on the internet (of course!). You can see an video of how to make instant snow here.
These are the "crystals". They are not really crystals at all, but this freaky material mixed with colored water and absorbing it so that each little piece gets puffed up. Okay, that is my explanation, but I also had to ask Ella what this stuff was called ~ again! ~ while I was posting this. My Aunt Carol said she got the present from Young Explorers. Pretty cool. She always give us fun stuff, including one year she found something with Declan's name on it! Very unusual ~ at least here in America.
This is Ella's instant snow. It does not need to stay cold, but it is better preserved in the fridge. So there it is the refrigerator.

We'll see how long I can stand it. Although the sodium polyacrylate has the word sodium in it (salt right?), sprinkling it with salt defeats whatever chemical reaction has occurred. It is all pretty darn cool.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Christmas Sweaters

Lately, Ella has taken to carrying a purse everywhere. It is great for me, because I hate carrying a purse and she is more than willing to have my camera in there or a chap stick.

It is funny what becomes the best gift of Christmas. We decided this year to only give fun stuff. Last year, we wrapped a bunch of stuff that the kids needed, like tooth brushes and boots, and let's face it ~ that is just not that fun.

So this year, we decided not to get any clothes. What was one of Ella's favorite gifts? A sweater from Tom and Jenny. *g*

It does look nice on her, tho, huh?

Declan loves his Piccachu, even tho Santa did not have time this year to build it in his workshop with actual lightning bolts coming out. We read a great Christmas book this year about lists to Santa and the kinds of gifts we *want* vs the kinds of gifts we will really *enjoy* called My Penguin Osbert. It is pretty cute. Declan was delighted with everything he got.

We had a really cool moment when Ella gave away some of her soap, and Declan went on and on about how good she was at making soap, and how it was glycerin and so you needed to keep it out of the way of running water, and how Ella was able to add all kinds of "flavors" to the soap.

Sweet. He sure does love his Big Sis.

Rudolf's Gift to Declan

Declan was so happy to have a blinking nose. Like his grandfather, he loves a good joke accessory.

100 Posts

Wow! I looked at the "dashboard" of this blog and saw that I have posted here 100 times. That is a lot of joyful learning.

It is funny, because as I have discovered the blogosphere, some of my favorite people have decided to stop blogging. This has given me some food for thought, about why I love this blog, why I do it, what is important to me, etc.

When I started, I thought it would be so fun to have a record of what we do in our lives. Well, of course, as it turns out our life is too full for this to be a true running record of our lives. It is a snapshot, and a very tightly focused one at that. But it has been so fun to do this writing and recording, explore other blogs and the community of bloggers.

But, what is the focus here? Why do these things become what I blog about? Who is this blog for? Is it worth the energy? Is it keeping the focus in the center of my life as an active mama and authentic person and where I want to be?

I think it is.

I think that this blog reflects very well a special piece of who we are, who we love and what we enjoy.

My children both love to read it. They have asked me to blog about certain things we all do. At the same time, they are clear about what to share. We took a walk and found something special. I said, "Next time I should bring my camera!" The children said, "Yes! But don't put *this* on your blog, it is too private." And, I am keeping the pictures of Christmas morning to myself :)

In those and other ways, I feel that this place reflects all that we want to share, and none of what is too precious, internal or sacred to share with the world.

This blog is for our family. It is to reflect, to record and to create an energy that celebrates the every day epiphanies and delights.

So, although it is selfish (grin), I also hope that this gives our friends and family who wonder, "What do we *do* all day together? How can we not drive each other crazy?" a glimpse into how our every day life functions. I hope that others who wonder about home and unschooling can find some ideas here. I hope we can share some of what we love about where and how we live.

It is nice to have people visit, and visit myself in a way I could never get organized enough to do with scrapbooks or other logs.

I think I'll keep blogging for now. It is just too fun to stop.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Spectacle of Lights

Last night we went with Meg and her young friends, Paul and Doug, to go to the Spectacle of Lights. Declan had a blast riding the carousel. Once you are up there spinning around it is pretty fast and high, but he hung in there.

We went through the whole display of lights, which was extraordinary! We saw some friends there, which is always nice. I am still adjusting to the small town nature of Cape Cod (in the winter especially). We saw three families there that we knew! People always wonder if home schooled children are going to be well-socialized. It was nice to see that last night my children made friends easily with the two boys they'd never met, and then saw plenty of people that they knew from their wide world experience.

Ella and Boston went with Nana to the Nutcracker Ballet. It was a magical night by all accounts. They were beautiful, and B. was so excited to have Ella all to herself. She kept hugging and kissing Ella. They got all dolled up (I did their nails), and then they snuggled on the couch and read the Nutcracker book together.
Meanwhile, the boys and I had a great time, plus I got some one on one time with the fabulous Shyah while the boys wrestled and ignored me. She is a beautiful, smart, fun baby. I am so glad that she came along!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Night Time Sledding

One of the things I love about homeschooling is the freedom to do things at different times. Like sled late on a Wednesday night.

We were hanging out with the dogs (Joy for some reason is all thrown off by the snow and can't just do her usual quick business), and the small rise behind our house had become a slippery frozen slide.

Oh so very fun!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Let it Snow

Yippee!! It finally snowed here! I have been so jealous of our nearby neighbors who have gotten snow. That darn sea breeze keeps much of the snow away, but we are getting slammed today! Ella loves the snow. At the first sign, she is always out there making, if not snow men, snow slugs.
Happy snow-baby *g*. Plus, any decrease in sunlight is a "wicked good" excuse to turn on the Christmas lights.
Declan, on the other hand, was quite content to eat butterscotch oatmeal cookies and pulled a chair up by the window to watch the action. If you look closely, you can see Milo waiting for some dropping crumbs.
Then, stood by the deck door to kind of get in on the action. Ella threw snowballs at his face as he stood there laughing hysterically. It was great. he did go out, but well, the snow has never been so much to his taste.
Evidence of the sister trying to massacre her brother, I mean, the deck door.

After a Bath

Now that it is cold and not dog show season, Ella doesn't have to bathe them as much. But, we did yesterday. They snuggled together in front of the heater under the kitchen sink. Are they cute or what?

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Centerville Stroll

These small children adored Frosty! They followed him down the street, and told him, "We love you!" and "We know your SONG!"

He was very nice to them and said he would pass along their messages to Santa. Oh, yeah, baby! Marshmallows on a dark night in the middle of the street!?!? Does it get any better?
And then my camera died. So, I missed pictures of Shyah with her dancing toes in the stroller. But, the memories are in my head.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Hyannis Harbor Lighting

This picture is for Mel (the gorgeous gal on the right) who "complained" I never have pictures of myself (the lady in the yellow coat).
That sweet girl is her daughter, and my dad is there on the left. That is his traditional Christmas scarf. He wears it every Christmas season. Sometimes, I feel like this blog is kind of a travelog for Cape Cod :) But, here goes again!

We LOVE the Hyannis Harbor Lighting. The boats circle the harbor, and there is music and chowder (what else?) and a lovely sense of community.

Sally's shop was all decked out for the holidays and it looked great. She was having a major sale! Note the eye patch on the bear. Some people are really pirate crazy *g*.

This year, Santa came in on the Duck Boat. Now, the duck boats are a bit low in the water, so there was some trouble getting Santa on to the Harbormaster's dock. Fortunately, he had plenty of elves there dressed in police uniforms to get him and Mrs. Claus up onto the dock.
Declan was a little nervous about Santa, but he went up to him, and Santa rubbed his head. He told he was, "too shy to have a chat about the robe". Oh, that kid is SO getting a cozy robe from Santa.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Latest Literary Obsessions....

We are listening to The Wright 3 by Blue Balliett. It is set in Hyde Park, home to Uncle Don and Aunt Barbara, and familiar to me. I am loving listening to the story. This, and the first in the series. Don and Barbara's neighborhood has always reminded me in a way of Cambridge, and the characters go to the University school, the descriptions of which remind me of the Tobin School.

These stories, like those of Zilpha Keatley Synder set in Berkley and surroundings, remind me of my childhood in a way that so many current depictions of childhood/pre-teen life don't.

Also, we are looking forward to the release of The Golden Compass. I read all three of Philip Pullman's books in that series, and Ella has read a few of his other books and loved them (including I Was A Rat).

Now, about the controversy over this movie, what is going on? Is this America? Again, I have to think that we have gone completely crazy. There are religious fundamentalist who are opposing this movie. Great, go ahead and exercise your rights while we still have them. But the terrorizing scare tactics are ridiculous.

There was a thread on yahoo movies that said "Children Kill God". Isn't that a titch inflammatory?

For me, I am shocked by the idea that some introduction of a different idea (in this case a novel, and it is a work of fiction, folks, that depicts Pullman's atheistic viewpoint) would somehow instantly jeopardize my soul or lead my children to want to kill God (or Goddess).

I am coming to think we need a movie like this one to make us at least start to think about the dangers of "groupthink". That is, in my opinion, what much of this series is about. It is about thinking for oneself, gathering friends where ever you are lucky enough to find them, and the kindness of children with no hidden agenda.

What could be more wonderful?

In one article I found, there seemed to be some reasonable-ness from religious quarters. The following is a quote:

{begin quote}The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Office for Film and Broadcasting gave the film, which is rated PG-13, a warm review. The film is not blatantly anti-Catholic but a "generalized rejection of authoritarianism," it said.

While noting the story's "spirit of rebellion and stark individualism," the office said Lyra and her allies' stand for free will in opposition to the coercive force of the Magisterium is "entirely in harmony with Catholic teaching."

Sister Rose Paccate, director of the Pauline Center of Media Studies in Culver City, Calif., said the books portray benevolence toward children and a God figure just one that's much different than the one Christians know. She sees irony in calls to shun the film, considering that one of Pullman's central themes is that people should not follow orders and forfeit critical thought.

"If you just say 'no' to your kids without engaging in a conversation, they're going to see the movie anyway and all you're teaching them is power, not really teaching your values," Paccate said. "If we have faith, what are we afraid of?" {end quote}


Well, anyway. As the title of this post states, these are my latest obsessions. Oh, I guess I edited it to literary obsessions because, uh, I have to say I am obsessed with Britney Spears as well. That could be another post. Maybe.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Taking a few outside shots before the big freeze

This is Declan's new favorite face. I think of it as the "Mom, what you are doing right now is crazy" face. I had just pulled to the side of the road to snap some *priceless* pictures. So, yeah, he is usually right when he makes this face.

They are so loving to each other. They can drive each other nuts. This is the picture I will hold in my heart when they are making each other crazy.

Even the cat was getting a Christmas shot taken. We laugh all the time about Cute With Chris and have been taking photo shoots of our cat.
This is the 1856 General Store. There are two benches outside. We always sit on the Democrat side. After 20 years, they switched the sides so now the Dems are on the right (facing the store). I have not quite adjusted. Some things should remain the same. The benches in their rightful positions were immortalized in this ornament, but now....well....I suppose I will adjust. I just keep sitting in the wrong, or should I say, right side. Wait, I now sit on the right, left side. See.
It is a topsy turvey world.

"Mom, why are we at the beach? It is December. We are cooooooollllllllldddddddddd"
This is the most awesome train set. Coolio.
These are not the presents under our tree. Declan had had it at this point. As Madeline will attest, red heads ARE more sensitive to cold and heat and he stayed in the car. Ella was considering taking her shoes off. That girl loves the cold when it is on her terms.

Tagged...weird things

Okay, so I have been tagged. My friend Madeline tagged me, so I guess I'll play.

Here are the rules:

1. Link to the person’s blog who tagged you.

2. Post these rules on your blog.

3. List seven random and/or weird facts about yourself

4. Tag seven random people at the end of your post and include links to their blogs.

5. Let each person know that they have been tagged by posting a comment on their blog.

Weird/Random Things About Me

1. My name was almost Boston. My mom and dad in their hippie days thought this would be a cool name. When my brother and his wife were expecting their second, I told him this story. He named his daughter Boston. I like to think she'd named after me, in a way.

2. I was supposed to pick my own middle name. Again, my mom had some idea (influenced by the movie A Thousand Clowns). The kind of weird thing is that I never did.

3. My feet are two different sizes. Completely.

4. I always thought I was born on the day men landed on the moon. My parents told me this. There was this story about how I was just out the womb and there lay my mom watching me land on the moon.....well, it was actually three days later. Maybe that is when she came out of her post partum bliss enough to turn on the tv.

5. I still have my teddy bear, Theodore. I love him. I am not ashamed :)

6. I am very superstitious about rocking chairs. They should not rock with no one in them. My Nana taught me that.

7. When eating with a spoon, I have to use a small teaspoon. I cannot stand the feel of a larger spoon. I never use soup spoons.

Whew! That was harder than I thought.

Okay, I am tagging.....

Ella at My Homeschool Life
Dee at Diary of a Mad Crafter
Robin at Blue Skies Urban Farm
Denise at Mom in Madison
Mandaroo at Second to the Right, Straight on til Morning
Chloe at The Mindful Home
Jean at Freckles Filled With Love

Monday, December 3, 2007

Christmas Traditions

In honor of the start of December I thought I would share some of our holiday traditions.

1. I make these wreath cookies that are like rice krispie treats but with corn flakes and dyed green with red hot berries. Totally gross no matter how I try to make them healthier with organic corn flakes or whatever. My family LOVES these.

2. Christmas strolls. These are so fun! We love the Centerville and Hyannis strolls. In Hyannis they have a boat parade of lit up boats and Santa comes in on the Pirate Boat. Argh!

3. Frosty. We have a plastic Frosty that peeks out our attic window. Last year, a secret neighbor left us Christmas With The Kranks and a sweet note about how much she likes our Frosty. In our neighborhood, it is all tasteful, Yankee, New Englander, white lights and real balsam wreaths so it is nice to know that someone was appreciating our nod to kitch.

4. Homemade gifts. Every year, we try to make a bunch of gifts. We've made ornaments, scarves, food, etc. When I was little, I would come to the Cape to visit my dad, and Meg would always make something with me. It is a happy memory I have kept with my kids.

5. Candles. I can never have enough on Christmas. I even save them year after year and bring out some that are just Christmas candles.

6. Cookie swaps. Last year, I had two of these and that was too much. But one is nice. Cookies, a craft, kids with frosting on their faces....what could be better?

7. Driving around looking for Santa. I have my mom to thank for this one. One year, when my brother was about 6, and I was 10 or 11, she saw Santa on Huron Ave coming home one night from the laundromat. She came home and bustled us in our pj's into the car to see if we could catch a glimpse. Sometimes now I catch sight of Santa myself, and in our pj's we head out to see if we can find him.

8. Tree trimming. Oh, I love doing this in the dark after getting the tree.

I am sure there are more, and as we do them I will post. But that is enough. I am in the spirit now, and think I'll go make some cocoa for the kids. Oh, yeah. One more thing. Thanks to the lovely Sarabeth, we have started calling cocoa Snowman Soup. Heavy on the marshmallows.

Sunday, December 2, 2007


This looked so cool, I decided I had to try it.

The idea is stolen from some unschooler blogs I like to read (Ren's, Kelli's, Sandra Dodd's). It seemed so fun on theirs. Actually doing it was not as cool, but I was surprised that the images were so incredibly varied, given just a phrase or word. There was some choosing then, that was going on over on these other blogs and so I will revisit with a different eye, now.

The idea is to use your answers to the questions as search phrases in google images. You then get some images to choose from that were search results for your favorite food or whatever.

1. Age you'll be next year: 39

2. Place you'd like to travel: Pretty much anywhere
Okay, I don't know this little girl, but the caption said they would take her "pretty much anywhere", and doesn't she look like a wonderful travelling companion?

3. Favorite place: Cozy with my children at home with something smelling good

How funny is that? There was also a picture of a dog smelling garbage, how does that relate?

4. Favorite object: my yellow (non-down) comforter

5. Favorite food: warm chocolate chip cookies

6. Favorite animal: dolphin

7. Favorite color: beige and red

Oh yeah, baby. Now that is traveling in style.

8. Nickname: Jec

Okay, what is the deal with the mushroom? I was getting a little sick of the way I was formatting this, but I will search this image again. Oh, yes, I will.

9. Town I was born in: Syracuse, New York ... and this image is about as much as I remember...

10. My bad habit: Lateness

Friday, November 30, 2007

"Thinking of His Thoughts"

This picture was taken this summer, but it kind of looks like Declan's state of mind right now. He is often "thinking of his thoughts" as he calls it. It is amazing to me to see the progression of his thoughts move from himself to others to the whole wide world. This picture was taken at my mom's house, which is on one of the most beautiful beaches in the world (in my opinion, but after all, it is my blog, ha ha) .


Declan and Gramma creating.
Declan's special creation in his favorite colors.
Totally edible (if you can stand to eat marzipan)
Marzipanimals from under the sea.

Okay, so every year, Ella's 4-H does this even called a Visual Presentation. Apparently, one of 4-H's big things is Public Speaking. So, the 4-H groups all practice, and then they have county-wide evening events, complete with judges. The judges decide who was the most well spoken, articulate, creative, etc.

Last year, Ella did The Duck That Doesn't Quack, DUCT TAPE! as her presentation. She won in the state competition and the county one. This has put the pressure on this year. She has had a number of ideas, the latest being marzipan animals. She would call it, Marzipanimals.

My Mother-In-Law, and artist with the Art Guild of Cape Cod has been making marzipan for Ella for Christmas every year for a long time now. She came over and helped the kids make all kinds of "marzipanimals".

Oh, but now the VP (visual presentation) is going to be on soap making.

Scrapbook Fun

We have found a wonderful place! It is called Simply Scrapbooking, and the woman who runs it, Michele, is awesome with the kids. We have been twice, and both times the girls (we have yet to get Declan or any boys to come!) made stuff they were really proud of.

It is so fun to hear them chatting in the "back room." Ella is really concentrating here.
Ahh! The finished product! A picture book for Dad for Christmas. Shhhh. . . it's a secret!