Thursday, October 24, 2013

A Little Bit of Everything


I finished the pink pig last week, and e immediately adopted it as her own. The blue pig from 3 years ago finally has a friend!

The Waldorf doll I made continues to get much love. So much so, in fact, that I need to re-sew her neck. I am thrilled to pieces that e gets so much joy from homemade treasures!

Last month we attended the Neptune Festival, an international sand sculpting competition. It was fun to see that a lot of the sculptors also do ice. What different mediums sand and ice are! The sand sculptures did not disappoint, and made us a bit 'homesick' for Ice Alaska.

At the mock meet, E scored in the top 3 (out of 5 level V boys) on All Around and every event but pommel horse... even coming in on top for high bar! He has made amazing improvement and is so proud of himself.

Guinea has learned to take a selfie. Not kidding. She took this pic herself.

And last but not least, this is my mantra lately!


Guinea's surgery is tomorrow morning- please pray she makes it through!


Saturday, October 19, 2013


Guinea has learned to use Facebook. She touches the screen with a paw to make a picture big. You know, pictures of veggies, apples, grass... I let her stare for a bit and then close it and move on until she reaches out again. Eventually she wears herself out and falls asleep. Then I can look at what I want.

But G's problems are back. Yesterday she started bleeding again, and this time I knew it wasn't red pee from beets. I grabbed my iPad and googled 'cavy ovarian cyst'. Symptoms- crusty nipples, aggressive rumblestrutting, swollen abdomen, bleeding. Which is what G had 2 months ago, right before her first vet visit. So...apparently this poor pig has had a ruptured ovarian cyst, a broken leg, a stepped-on foot, and now another ovarian cyst, all in 2 months. Wow. G is scheduled to have all her female organs removed on Friday. The only way to help her, yet it may kill her. Piggies don't do well with sedation. But G is a fighter... The ruptured cyst should have killed her, but she pulled through. Perhaps she will fight the odds on this also.


Today we watched E's mock meet. After the sadness and worry of yesterday, it was a happy event for sure. The boys looked so sharp.


Thursday, October 17, 2013

Pumpkin Pig

e decided to carve her pumpkin a few days ago.

G eagerly helped. Since we allowed her only one seed, she opted for the stem.

Only the stem. Delicious. And in the process became the inspiration for the face: Guinea Pig Goblin.

e drew, I carved. Then we roasted the seeds. Yum. Much better than the stem. Even G agreed.


Monday, October 14, 2013

A Long Week

Remember back when I said I wasn't sure how long the school rhythm would last? It didn't last long. We've been a few weeks now without much schoolish stuff going on. Operation Toddler was great for getting priorities straight, but we were all feeling the lack of...something. E had started to complain about his beloved math, and e whined about how hard piano was. Two things they had chosen to do, and here they were, complaining about it. C and I figured it must be the lack of consistency making it tricky, so I put my foot down and required daily practice. Oh, the long, drawn out fits we had! By the third day, though, they were both smiling. Math and piano were fun again. AND even better, E has decided he wants to do piano again, also! Happy dance.


During all this, I got shingles, C got flu mist, G got her tiny toes stepped on, and now both kids have sore throats. What a week!

Lots of house drawing going on around here. This one is by E.

Jack and the Beanstalk, by e.

End of block for e: fawn, bear, U (ooooo, concern for the bear cub), and below is Rapunzel.

And on to e's next block: Roman Numerals! Number One is magical. Contained within the number one are all the other numbers! e loves this concept and has been noting the magic as it appears: one apple, 14 seeds and 8 slices. One leaf, 6 veins. One girl, 2 eyes, 10 fingers, and 25 hundred million hairs.

E built a tipi after reading Tomie de Paola's book about Indian paintbrush.


Interesting note- the People of the Plains had relatively small tipis until the Spaniards introduced horses to the Americas. Why? Trees were scarce on the prairie, located only in creek bottoms, and thus the tipi poles must be hauled across the prairie as the tribe followed the herds of bison. Without horses, it was of course the people themselves doing the tipis were only as large as the poles they could haul. With horses, the poles could be twice as long.


We didn't think length would make that big of a difference, so we tried it with sticks, measuring diameter of the resulting tipi base, and the difference was striking.

Somewhere in there, e discovered she could read. E may have been the one to give the final push. She's been reading everything in sight.

We have made it to our favorite of all pages in Autumn. We've had storms of rain, foggy mornings, temperatures of mid-sixties, and leaves are beginning to turn! Squirrels are everywhere, digging and chattering and carrying nuts in their cheeks as they scurry past.

More felted soaps are in progress! I'd forgotten how I enjoy needle felting designs.

The children have begun to plan their costumes for Halloween. I'm still not sure how or what we are doing for this candy-we-can't-eat holiday....


In Alaska, the university opened its laboratories for kids in costume to explore. Weird sea creatures, dino bones, bats and eyeballs and a 2-headed sheep, giant insects, dissections, skinning and stuffing owls, and more. Costumed professors and grad students answered every question. Pretty much my children's dream come true! They'd ask questions for hours. One time 3-yr-old e stumped the paleontologist! The best questions often come from the teensiest people.

Picture by e.


Yesterday we went to Busch Gardens. That was before the sore throats! It was a beautiful drizzly, foggy day without many lines, and much fun was had until we tried for a ride e wasn't tall enough for. Oh the drama... e very much hates limits based on size or age! Plus it seemed the crowd had quadrupled. By the time we got home, I was ready to move back to Fairbanks. Too. Many. People!!


Friday, October 4, 2013

Operation Toddler

If there is one thing I have learned from Waldorf, it is that our expectations of children are warped.



We expect them to do so much by themselves, such as sleeping alone, cleaning their room alone, or sitting at a desk and doing schoolwork alone. Alone, as in no adult right by their side. Right? Because that would be babying them. Yet we hesitate to buy them real art supplies or let them use real tools. Instead we give them kid versions that never work quite as well (or we decline to allow them into the activity at all... Because, you know, they could shoot their eye out or chop off a finger, right?).



Unfortunately, children feel the irony. They want and need to feel competent, to do real work with real tools, to have purpose. Yet they get scared alone at night, feel impossibly overwhelmed standing in a messy room with orders to 'just clean it up!', and fail to understand the importance of schoolwork. They feel frustration when their art, tools, or instruments will not produce the results they see from adults. We expect so much from them, yet trust so little.



So where am I going with this? Well, my children have been unhappy lately. I've been falling into the trap of thinking that they need me less because they are 6 and 9. I can turn my back, focus on my own chores while sending them to do theirs, order them to be nice to each other and work it out, give them independent schoolwork and piano practice, let them watch Netflix and play iPad games, allow them to hear about the government shutdown and wars abroad, and do with less overall structure and sleep....or can I?


Nope. My children are only 6 and 9. They need me. They need structure, they need protection, and they need purpose. Thus the secret name I gave my new plan: Operation Toddler. Not because they are acting like babies, or are in danger of hurting themselves, but to remind me to ask myself what I would have done if they were still little. Because they are. 6 and 9 are still very young. With toddlers I would never have turned my back, let a bedtime slide, or burdened them with politics. I would have searched for ways to help them feel capable, rather than ordering them to be capable. I would have taught through imitation, sat down with and completed the same task I expected from them. None of this multi-tasking. Focus.



We banned screens, at least for the week. I did the majority of chores and cooking while they were asleep or in quiet time. I gave extra effort to being truly present. We did real art, real baking, and lots of games and stories. They still did their chores, but it was a family effort. Because I was right there, focused on the children, I was able to redirect and guide situations that before would have gotten out of hand. I found heaps of teachable moments that before would have passed un-noticed. The pace of our days slowed significantly.


Wet-felting soap is always a favorite!

We finished Charlotte's Web, so E and e decided to build a web.


Yesterday I let my focus fade. I spent a bit of time on Facebook, I googled tree-trimmers, and I did a whole lot of laundry without making space for them to help. I still played games, held the daily rhythm, and was there... mostly. But they felt the change. e asked over and over and over for screen time. They bickered and yelled and complained. They were mad at each other and at me. When I tucked E into bed, he told me that today had been nothing but yelling and boredom.


This parenting thing is hard. Homeschooling is hard. No way around it. They don't grow out of needing us as fast as we might think....and I'm okay with that. Maybe I have extra clingy children. I'm also okay with that. They will not need me in this way forever. The day will come when they grow up and move on, and I will have more than enough time for whatever I want to do.


So onward with Operation Toddler. Today we are picking out E's building project and locating tools. Sanding E's spinning wheel to ready it for watercolors. Designing a simple doll house for e to build. Making a rope out of raffia. Piano practice, multiplication table jump rope, weather-watching. Or some variation of the above. Maybe I'll teach E to cut up a chicken, and e wants to try her hand at brownies by herself. It's going to be a good day.