Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Our mascot

This is a horseshoe crab shell we found on the beach last fall. He has spent the winter on our porch.


Mostly on our porch.

Since horseshoe crabs shed their shells when they grow, this shell is very light since its former occupant left. Either that or it is possessed.

It keeps moving around the yard. It is in the dormant flower beds one day. By the driveway the next. We never know where he is going to show up. One morning he was by the mailbox. Remarkably, with all this travel he only has slight damage on the side of the shell. We've never found him upside down, and he is always pointing towards the street. Mysterious.

You can learn more about these ancient creatures here. We love 'em, even if we don't always want to swim with them. This is a beautiful book about the cycle of horseshoe crab spawning.
Unfortunately this book doesn't have any tips on what to do when a discarded horseshoe crab shell becomes possessed.
Maybe it just needs a name. Ideas?

Easter Part Two

It was harder than we thought to find those eggs.
But victory was hers!

Cousins. We love cousins.

The girls are about 9 months apart and the boys only five months apart. And five inches apart *grin*.


This year, Declan was completely pumped up about Easter coming. And it must have lived up to his expectations since he was asking today how many days until Easter. It was so early this year, I think Ella's estimate of 364 was a little short.

We had a lovely day at my aunt and uncle's house. Both of their children have been deployed in Marine units to Afghanistan two weeks ago, so keep them in your thoughts for a safe return. They've all signed up for Skype, so they can communicate over the internet for free with video! But, the military is requiring that the soldiers pay a small fee for the internet access. Hmm. Well. That is all I will say about that.

This year, the kids really wanted ugly dolls for from the Easter Bunny. I also thought the Easter bunny should add something cute, but he needn't have bothered as the kids loved those ugly dolls exclusively.

I think at this point in the photo shoot, Ella was getting a little cold. Declan wore his dog sweater. I love that sweater on him. He looks like such a little Cape Cod preppy kid with his cords and turtleneck and dog sweater.

We have been crazy with rehearsals for the Wizard of Oz, which was featured in the entertainment sections of the Cape Cod Times and the Barnstable Patriot this week. I wonder whether that is a testament to the production or says more about what is available for entertainment in March (the cruelest month in a resort area).

Bye Bye Polaroid

Shake it shake it shake it like a Polaroid picture. Hey yah.

No more Polaroid picture film will be made after this year. It is definitely the end of some kind of post-modern design era.

Check out ways to be nostalgic with the pictures you have to shake like magic eight balls to see what you have captured.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Leprechaun Trap

No leprechauns were harmed in the making of this video.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Video Club

Here, Ella is setting up her segment on craft materials that inspire!

The control room!! Where the magic happens!!

I can't remember if I posted about this before, but Ella does this video club that is shown on a local cable station. Her stage name as the Krafty Kid is Lacey Trim. Here she is with her wig on. Doesn't she look so much more like Declan?

It is pretty cool there, and they get to use all the equipment. Ella's friend (She-Who-Has-Requested-No-Internet-Exposure *grin*) has a character that uses a green screen. So awesome.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Visual Presentations, Part 2

What a night! The highs! The lows! The laughter! The tears!

When all was said and done, there was a great showing by the Muddy Paws crew! In Ella's room, four kids (out of 8, in six categories), went on to State VPs. They were all four from Ella's 4-H group, Muddy Paws. There were a bunch of first time VPs that went on to states. It was all very thrilling.

Some very proud girls!

I didn't have enough to do......

....so I decided that I was going to cave to the lobbying by my son.

It was so very very worth it.

The plan was to name him Boba Fett. But, Declan decided that he was too sweet and should be called Butterscotch. They love each other!

See for yourself.
We rescued him from the local animal shelter. I think he has spent more time in Declan's arms than in the cage since we got him home. He is the sweetest, lovin-est guinea pig I have ever seen, not skittish at all, even when the Queen of All Puggies and Creatures in the House had to give him her inspection.
Last year, Ella did a visual presentation for 4-H on Duct Tape (The Duck That Doesn't Quack - Duct Tape). She won at the State Competition, so the pressure has been on. Well, self-imposed pressure as always *grin*.

This year, she did an entire presentation on Artist Trading Cards. It was beautiful. She had sponge-painted all her "boards" (the posters that the kids use as an outline for the presentation). She made one HUGE Artist Trading Card so that everyone could see what it was. Then she found a great way to mount all the atcs so that they popped off the display.

But, then, in February, she decided to do a visual presentation on the eye.

Deep breathing exercises were used.

And then she set off to work again.

She ended up making a beautiful cross-section of the eye from large pieces of that foam paper (why didn't they have THAT when I was a kid?).

She worked really hard, and set up a whole new project. We are going to the county visual presentation this weekend, and if she does well then she'll go on to the state competition.

We'll keep our fingers crossed.

This is one of her "visuals" for the VP. It shows an image of the inside of an eye and some fruits and veggies that contribute to eye health. as she says (every time she practices), not only are they good for your eye, but they provide nutrients for your body to keep your eye healthy."

This is her title page (ohh....it feels like you could be right there listening to her, doesn't it?)

Oh, yeah, baby, feeling like a winner. With a carrot.

Friday, March 7, 2008

I've been tagged by Dancing Chickens

A- Available?: for cookie making
B-Best friend: My mom and my daughter, and the incomparable Melissas
C-Cake or Pie?: Cake (sorry Ella)
D-Drink of choice: Water. I know it is boring, but I love love love water (or water with some tea bags or coffee...)
E-Essential thing used everyday: computer
F-Favorite color: red
G-Gummi bears or worms: bears
H-Hometown: Raised in Cambridge, MA and that feels like my Hometown. But I do feel at home in Centerville, too
I-Indulgence: fru fru coffee
J-January or February: January, I love the post Christmas coziness and the anticipation of New Year adventures
K-Kids and names: Ella (also Ella-Bella or Bells), Declan
L-Life: always surprising
M-Marriage date: March 23, 1996
N-Number of siblings: 1 Awesome Brother
O-Oranges or apples: oranges
P-Phobias: leeches
Q-Quote: "If you have a problem with this, I understand completely." Freamon, The Wire (I am right now OBSESSED with that show....so it is my quote right now, but also apropos, doncha think?)
R-Reason to smile: Lately, it is my crazy little puggies.
S-Season: Fall
T-Tag three people: Ella, Marcia, Wild and Free
U-Unknown fact about me: Because I have had chronic insomnia, even as a baby, my mom made me a sand box in the tub in the commune we lived in when I was a toddler, so I wouldn't keep all the womyn awake.
V-Vegetable you don't like: I haven't met one yet.
W-Worst Habit: picking my nose. Sorry. I can't believe I admitted that.
X-Xrays you have had: shoulder
Y-Your favorite food: Depends on the mood, dumplings, sushi and hot and sour soup, cranberry bars or lemon squares, breakfast in bed that my kids made me, homemade bread with peanut butter on it. Oh, yeah, peanut butter. I'd be really sad without peanut butter.
Z-Zodiac: Cancer

Pledge of Allegiance

Oooh la la.

Of all the things I worried about, the pledge of allegiance was not one of them.

Both of my children want to opt out of that ritual. Declan thinks that the "under God" part is "not good".

We are not a religios family, as in consistently going to church. I would say we are spirtual. But, my son feels a deep connection to both God and Jesus. He said, about the pledge, that "God rocks, and should not be in with the flag or anything because he has really important things to do."

My daughter, true to form, feels that the pledge is part of the on-going brainwashing that occurs in school and does not want to (her words) "engage in anything that takes away from her individuality."

Separately, each child has approached me about this pledge of allegiance.

My son, once he realized after some discussion, that "under God" meant God was MORE important than the flag, said he would keep pledging.

Ella is just going to mouth the words and not say them out loud.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

I'm baaaaack :)

Well, we have had an eventful month, those Joyful Learners and I.

It was very nice to hear that people were missing the blog, but it was also making me even more conflicted. Ella has decided to try school, and Declan also wanted to go. Due to some other issues in our lives, I thought that this might be a good time to go with their desire to try.

It is very hard to make this decision. Many people in my life who I know through homeschooling have made a point of telling me how much their own children will never want to go to school, and how grateful their children are for the homeschooling lifestyle.

This makes me feel (whether it is intended or not), that they have an implied judgement on my failure to make my children *love* being homeschooled, or that they want school because I am an unschooler, or not really an unschooler, or whatever the implied judgement is.

Granted, I am not in the best most secure head space right now, so I could be making this all up.


Ella was *very* clear. She LOVES her life. She is happy. She likes her friends, she loves her family, she is secure. She is grateful. She is learning. She wants to try school.

She has been wanting to explore school for a good 6-8 months now. I did what most "good" unschoolers would recommend. I expanded our world, I connected more. I facilitated. I validated.

I finally realized that I was making a big mistake.

I had finally hit that place (her wanting to try school) where I was not letting her make her own decisions. I was, in fact, manipulating her into "appreciating" the gift of unschooling, while at the same time denying her wish to try something new.

If it had been skydiving, I would have said, "Let's explore that!"

If it had been driving a car, I would have said, "Hmmm....how can we fill that desire?"

But it was school.

And I was saying, with all my gyrations and interesting strewing, "WHY!?!? What am I doing wrong? What can we do differently?" All the while implying that her desire was wrong.

So I said, "Okay. Let's give it a go."

Now, I am wondering where this will lead us, where this will leave this blog, what I am going to do in this new chapter of relating to the kids and school.

But, I am back here. And will be keeping you updated on the Joyful Learners in school for the time being.