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#1 of 51 Old 12-04-2013, 09:33 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Post away! What are you up to? Triumphs, tribulations, day-in-the-life, ponderings ....

 

Miranda


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#2 of 51 Old 12-04-2013, 05:39 PM
 
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This week has been all about paper snowflakes... or it feels like it. Son 7 was so into replicating this one complicated snowflake he got from a friend (whose teacher made it for him) that he ended up in tears many times. Yes, tears and frustration over paper snowflakes and bits of paper everywhere. Now, we have snowflakes on our windows, doors, walls, a son who is able to make multiple kinds of them -- an accomplishment he is proud of! Dd has casually joined the party and is making her own kind of snowflakes which ever way she sees fit.

They are also very excited about Christmas. It is so great to see that every year. I love this holiday season because it just seems to turn on a different light in the kids' eyes. They are at that age where it is still pretty magical for them. We kicked off the season with a Christmas movie and we will be watching many over the next few weeks.

Also, the Muppets! It turns out we like the Muppets. Dd calls them the Muffins or the Muffets smile.gif
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#3 of 51 Old 12-04-2013, 07:03 PM
 
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What movie?  We watch Miracle on 34th street every year but I wouldn't mind trying a new one … 

 

dd joined "Distributed Proofreaders" - it is a site that has pages of books that need to be proofread in order to be put online.  You are expected to do a page a day.  As a beginner you get feedback from the others, etc.  So far she likes it.  

 

We are also trying to grow avocados from seed.   My mom did it and it took more than a month for anything to happen at all, so right now we are just letting the seed sit in a jar, half submerged in water.  

 

We were traveling a bit last week and meeting some of my aunts and uncles whom we don't see often.  It was fun on the whole but also a bit of a challenge because she gets irritated very easily.  Someone says something that they think is funny, or they ask too many questions in a row (which could be even 2 questions, if she hasn't finished processing the first one), or any number of innocent comments which she takes the wrong way.  Now that she is 10 I think she should learn to deal with this kind of thing rather than depending on me to step in to bridge communication gaps / generation gaps, etc.  I tell her that different people have different ways of communicating, no one is trying to be mean, they haven't seen you in a long time and are just trying to make conversation - she likes conversation.  I also tell her that language is by nature inexact  - because she has a tendency to pick on little worlds and phrases. 

 

As she is an only child I still do a lot of things for her that I probably wouldn't if there were younger ones to tend to.  So I have consciously tried to encourage her to do things without making it seem like I am rushing her to grow up.  Growing up is definitely not on her priority list (except when it is). 

 

She has read Life of Fred in the past but never done the problems.  This time we got one (pre-alg 1) and she has been doing every page.  At the beginning she was zooming through it, now has slowed a bit.  Let's see.   She is also part of a book club with a monthly discussion.  This month's book, Robin Hood, took her a long time to get into but now that she has started it, she likes it.  We aren't in the US right now, and did not have a great choice of editions - I got the Henry Gilbert edition after reading some reviews.  Later I learned that Barefoot Books has an edition as well -- I love their books.  And it is shorter and probably uses simpler language.   But would be expensive to order here.  Anyway, for now she is reading this one. 


no longer  or  or ... dd is going on 12 (!) how was I to know there was a homeschool going on?
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#4 of 51 Old 12-04-2013, 10:07 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Fiona (10) is making plans for her birthday. She, unlike her siblings, ever, is wanting to have an actual party with lots of friends invited. Problem is that her friends are all over the map in terms of age and interests. So we hit on a neat plan. We'll rent a local gallery space and a couple of DVDs and have a double-bill movie night. The first movie will be something intended for the 4- through 10-year-old kids and any of their parents who might like to come. We'll serve popcorn and punch. We'll time so the first show ends at, I dunno, 8:15 or something, which is when any of her older friends who don't want to see the first show will arrive. We'll have a 45-minute party-intermission with cake and ice cream and social time. And then the little kids will go home to bed, and the bigger kids can watch something more PG13-ish, with more popcorn and pop.

 

Our village doesn't have a movie theatre, but there used to be community movie nights that tons of kids and teens would go to. Those ended last summer due to lack of funding and organization, and lots of kids miss them, so I think her friends would really like this.

 

 

She had a happy violin lesson, which emotionally turned on a dime when she and her teacher sight-read through some nice contemplative-sounding duets. She's working on the Csardas by Monti as well, a really fun piece which against all odds had not inspired her. But the duets flicked the Happy Switch in her head and she emerged from the lesson motivated and excited about the violin for the first time in a couple of months. 

 

We're in a really nice place at home the past couple of days; her teenaged siblings are happy and unstressed, and that's playing out with more willing and gracious interaction with Fiona. She's spent some lovely quality time with each of them recently. Her brother spent a couple of hours this afternoon showing her a bunch of his favourite a capella groups and some of the other music he's planning to arrange. She and her sister have been baking Christmas treats together; despite some sparks yesterday over whether the chocolate was tempering properly, things have been pretty giggly-happy most of the time. They've made marbled chocolate almond bark, cranberry-white-chocolate biscottini, pfefferneuse and penuche. I've done a few batches of other things, so we are well stocked.

 

And we are enjoying a new tradition each evening as a family. We have a potted spruce tree hung with 32 varieties of loose-leaf tea, and every evening from December 1 to January 1 we are brewing a pot to enjoy together. We're a family of tea-drinkers, and this is simple and ritualistic in a lovely, low-key way. 

 

Rumi, thanks for mentioning Distributed Proofreaders, I'll have to check that out! Do you have an e-book reader of any sort? I would think that would make it much easier getting access to inexpensive books. Unfortunately Barefoot doesn't seem to publish ebooks, probably because of the type of publishing they do (eg. the illustrations being so integral to the presentation). But although I held out for quite a while on an ebook reader, I bought a $40 model last summer and have been really impressed with how it facilitates some things that are quite difficult or awkward with real books. Like getting specific books quickly and affordably when you don't live anywhere near a bookstore or library that would carry them. I've easily saved $40 twice over on the cost of books and shipping.

 

Speaking of books, the paper kind, I did my first on-line order in many months because I wanted a couple of print books I could give away or loan out, and on a whim I ordered yet another book about learning ASL, since Fiona had expressed a brief interest in this last summer which had almost immediately fizzled despite the fact that we already have a couple of books about it. The new one sat on the hearth for a couple of weeks. Yesterday she picked it up in a moment of boredom, and suddenly she's all about sign language. That wouldn't have happened with an ebook, I'm sure! 

 

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#5 of 51 Old 12-05-2013, 02:30 AM
 
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Sounds like a neat party, Miranda.  Long, but fun, if your dd can sit through 2 movies :lol.  

 

I've not gotten used to reading online and neither has dd.  We still get regular books, which is so easy when you have access to a public library but very difficult when you don't - not only are fewer books available, but it is expensive to buy all of them and there is no place to keep all of them.  I am weeding books (and clothes) as we speak.  

But I should probably familiarize myself with the whole e-reader thing.  Resistance is futile, I suppose. 

 

Plus you are so right about picking up a long neglected book. If I remember one thing clearly about my childhood, it is being in a house surrounded by bookshelves and books in almost every room.  It was a key attribute of our sense of place, sense of home, sense of being there (am I making sense?). 

 

Also, I still associate going to bed with turning everything off and just curling up with a book.  Can't do that if you have the computer / equivalent still "on."

 

Anyway, this all must sound terribly old fashioned to many of you but there it is.  The money saving factor might finally tempt me though. 


no longer  or  or ... dd is going on 12 (!) how was I to know there was a homeschool going on?
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#6 of 51 Old 12-05-2013, 05:28 AM
 
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Rumi, we watched The Muppet's Christmas Carol.  We will def. do Frosty and Rudolph at some point.  Not sure what else we will watch.  I am trying to dig up good ones.  We are really starting to enjoys movies together as a family here.  Last year we went through all the Studio Ghibli movies and that was fabulous.  

 

Miranda, whoa! Your kids can bake.  No bakers here except for bread here.  Maybe someday :) 

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#7 of 51 Old 12-05-2013, 06:07 AM
 
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dd(6) and I recently found a program for learning Spanish called fluencia.  She really loved it and it helped her realize how good she is at Spanish already.  It makes her more confident to want to learn more...which is really good for her, because she's the perfectionist type who constantly says she doesn't know how to do things at all, if she doesn't do them perfectly, in her eyes.  I've also noticed because it is so visual, it's been helping her to learn to read/spell in English and Spanish.  I wasn't sure how I would get her to read in Spanish, since it's hard enough just getting her to believe she can read in English, but with this program it's working pretty naturally in both languages at once. 

 

We've also been watching the show Salsa with dd(3) from PBS.  It's a great show, it's all online (about 100 episodes) and I've never seen it on TV.  They also have the transcripts and activities for each episode.  

 

dd(6) has been helping with cleaning after a couple of weeks where the both of them were going through some serious messiness.  She's been sleeping in her bed and saying some nasty things to me at bedtime, then getting upset with herself and changing her story before going to sleep.  It's interesting how sleep has always been an interesting thing for her, about 2 years ago she would get hysterical every night before bed.  We've come a long way.  

 

Both girls have been playing on starfall.com and I've cracked down on TV again.  Things are so much more peaceful and creative in the house when they don't watch TV...or Disney channel.  We have watched a few nature shows on PBS and (I think) Discovery.  

 

We've been going through some toy catalogs and talking about commercialism, marketing, manufacturing, etc. as well as making the kids lists of things they'd like and what they aim to learn from the toys they want.  Well this was more a conversation between dd(6) that she actually brought up.  

 

We've been learning the lyrics to some songs and practicing singing them together.  

 

Snowflakes are a great idea.  I really need to figure out how to make some so we can do them together over here. 

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#8 of 51 Old 12-05-2013, 07:42 PM
 
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I LOVE the tea tree idea!!! How did you go about doing that?

 

Enjoyed reading the posts thus far! :) 

 

We decorated our tree tonight and DS enjoyed that.


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#9 of 51 Old 12-05-2013, 08:31 PM
 
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That is indeed a good idea.  dd(6) has been growing a lot emotionally over the past few days.  I should say that I am too, in talking with her more about the issues going on and not getting upset about it.  Today I decided (since I've been working a lot lately with deadlines) to let them watch a Dora DVD.  Before that they needed to put their toys and shoes away.  They took care of the stuff in the bedroom so I put the DVD on, but when I went out into the living room there were tons all over the place.  

 

I told them that they were supposed to put that stuff away and that I wanted to pause the DVD but since we lost the remote I can't.  dd(6) came to me gave me a hug and said she was sorry.  She also informed me that she would put the toys away tonight and that I could "pay" her tomorrow, saying she promised to fold all the clothes.   She said, "you can pay and I will put the toys away tonight", and I said I will...she said it made her happy!  Well, that makes me very happy that she's taking responsibility for her actions.

 

I don't know exactly where this phrase for "paying her" comes from, but I think we'll stick with it for now.  I guess in a way I am paying her by giving her the responsibility for her actions.  I have to be honest that during those few messy weeks, I was more getting upset and yet not making any actions to improve things.

 

Just wanted to share this, because I feel really good about it.  I feel like having a lack of support and understanding is huge in why I sometimes give up on my parenting style, but since I've been reading this site again and recently started posting again, things are getting better already. :)

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#10 of 51 Old 12-05-2013, 10:41 PM - Thread Starter
 
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The tea tree: 

 

*

 

We bought 4.5" quilting squares in a multi-pack of Christmas prints. Each contains about a Tablespoon and a half of loose tea wrapped in a bit of cling wrap and then the fabric, cinched with some embroidery floss. We sewed the embroidery floss in a circle inside the perimeter of the fabric square, like a little drawstring, which is such a simple sewing task that would be great first sewing project for a 5-year-old. 

 

We have a pretty big tea collection, but even we had to stretch a little to come up with 32 distinct teas. We ended up buying a few new ones and mixing up a few new blends of our own. There's a rooibos/cocao nibs/mint combination that worked really well, and I'm looking forward to trying the rose-petal/orange-peel/white tea blend. 

 

To steep we use this cool pot that lets us appreciate the look of the tea: 

 

http://www.davidstea.com/the-steeper-36-oz?&TF=8215E1C9208C

 

Cheers!

 

Miranda

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#11 of 51 Old 12-06-2013, 09:42 AM
 
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Wow Miranda!  Thanks so much for showing that.  Definitely makes me wanna bring out the sewing machine, but I think this project will have to wait till spring at the earliest or maybe next winter.  I'd love to do this now with the picture, I feel like I understand it better.  

 

Today we're going to make story books (or zines) and go trail walking.  Other than that we're looking for new apps and today the kids can watch PBS kids, since I have a deadline. 

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#12 of 51 Old 12-06-2013, 10:50 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by featherstory View Post
 

the sewing machine, 

 

We just hand-sewed using a tapestry needle and embroidery floss, which also gave us the string to hang them from the tree. Super quick and easy. Each one took less than 2 minutes. 

 

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#13 of 51 Old 12-06-2013, 06:34 PM
 
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I love this idea of a tea tree! We are tea drinkers here. Thanks for posting a picture Miranda!
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#14 of 51 Old 12-09-2013, 09:04 AM - Thread Starter
 
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My unschooler is having one of those intensive weeks where everything piles on itself. It would be nice is we could space things out a little bit.

 

She's attending the public school's Dance Workshop intensive all week. It runs Monday to Friday 9 to 3. She's been wanting to work with this dance teacher for a couple of years and had things fall through repeatedly, so she's thrilled this is working out. 

 

Monday and Tuesday I'm out of town with her siblings, so after school she'll walk 20 minutes to the Locum Apartment, a small apartment owned by the local health-care facility that is where they put up locum doctors who provide relief for the two full-timers (dh and another guy). Dd is the housekeeper for the apartment, which was just vacated on the weekend, so she'll do some cleaning, and then she'll practice violin and just chill until her dad gets off work at 6-ish. Then he'll bring her home and they'll figure something out for supper. She'll need lots of sleep this week because of the relatively early mornings and all the physical activity during the day, so she's going to have to be pretty careful about her bedtimes.She'll have to make her own lunches and snacks during the first part of the week. And in the mornings she has to go an hang out at a café for 45 minutes until the school opens, as her dad can't drop her off any later. She's relishing the independence all this will afford. 

 

On Wednesday I'm back home (we have a lunch date to "catch up"). She got herself hired at a local café as a dishwasher for a special dinner event that night, so she'll be busy from 5:30 to 8:30. So proud of her about this: she independently, unbeknownst to me, approached the proprietor and asked if there was any work available that night, and mentioned that she'd be happy to do dishes. So yeah, another job.

 

On Thursday she'll have to duck out of dance for half an hour to complete a block-printing T-shirt project at the homeschoolers' art class (thankfully held in the same building) and then back to dance, and then immediately after school finishes she'll head to the city for her evening 2.5-hour gymnastics class, home by about 10 pm. On Friday she'll have a violin lesson after school and then she's off to be an apprentice babysitter for the evening (of a baby, helping her sister). I think she'll be ready to sleep for 24 hours straight on the weekend. She'll make $50 or so for her various jobs, which she's got allocated for Christmas shopping.

 

Sometimes I feel badly about having her cherry-pick so relentlessly from the local school's offerings. But heck, they school district gets funding for her, and this is working for her. Not only does it allow her to take advantage of the best-fitting components of the school's offerings, but it tends to come in intense snatches like this which show her just exactly how tiring it is to try to fit in school hours and also continue with the other things she likes to do. She'll no doubt emerge from the week thrilled but exhausted and wanting at least a week with lazy mornings and lots of chill time in front of the fire and puttering around the house. 

 

Miranda


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#15 of 51 Old 12-09-2013, 05:06 PM
 
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Day in the life:
We never sleep in. Never.
But for some reason we all woke up when DP left for work at 445am. The kids went to the bathroom, then came back to bed.
I rarely fall back to sleep once I've woken up that much, but after a while, the two kids were asleep again, and I must've fallen back to sleep because when we woke up, it was 830am.
On the one day a week that we have a commitment outside the house.
Starting at 0900 across the city.
And it snowed.
In Vancouver.
So we threw on some clothes, chucked warm layers in another bag, made PB&J sandwiches, cut up some apples, got in the car and headed for DD's (5) art & literature class.
We have a scholarship to this program, which is in a la-di-da part of the city, and while I sometimes wonder about how worthwhile it is, I do love the facilitator and the magic she conjurs while she does her Reggio Emilia-esque approach to the subjects. The class is small (5 kids) and mine is the only one from a working class home, but DD loves it and always asks when it will start again in between sessions. So, off we went.
While DD was at her class, DS (2) and I did our usual Monday morning ritual. We dropped her off, then we bundled up in our layers and headed to his favourite construction site. He's a devoted fan, and we usually spend the full two hours there, watching the various diggers and excavators and machines rumble around impressively.
Today we were both cold enough to move onto the second part of his routine sooner than usual - some Laundromat love. He likes to watch the industrial dryers working. And have a ride in the laundry cart. So we did that, then moved onto part 3 of our Monday mornings.
Coffee shop.
We got hot chocolate for him, and a peppermint mocha for me, and sat together working on his book. He tells me what to draw, and I draw it. Then we make up a story together and I write it down. He likes people to read the little stories back to him. Today he wanted me to draw tools. So I drew tools for the better part of 45 mins.
Then off to pick up his sister.
Then home to shovel and sand the sidewalks by our building.
Then naptime for DS.
Some Reading Eggs for DD.
Baked some cookies for me to take to a meeting tonight.
Grandma came at 430pm to babysit tomorrow so I can work from home (she comes from a ferry ride away so usually comes the night before) so now the kids are watching a movie with her while DP makes supper and I work in my office.
Then supper.
Then I'm off to a meeting of sorts. A few homeschooling moms have been getting together to watch and chat about Gordon Neufeld's "Anxiety" seminar. I have conflicted feelings about it, but it's nice to get together with other mamas and chat over tea and cookies!

dust.gifFour-eyed tattooed fairy godmother queer, mama to my lucky star (5) and little bird (2.5). Resident storyteller at www.thestoryforest.com. Enchanting audiostories for curious kids. Come play in the forest!
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#16 of 51 Old 12-10-2013, 08:07 PM
 
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Christmas always brings out the busyness in our family.  There is the rituals with bringing out the window lights and decorations.  Then we get the tree from the tree farm, singing an improvised version of "Oh Christmas Tree" ("Oh ___ Oh ___/ thou art so green and love-rly....").  I adjust the lights just so, put my favorite ornaments towards the top, and let my girls have the rest of the tree.  I take the girls separately out for Christmas shopping.  It's fun to see them planning their own Christmas surprises for the family, now they are older.  We make a "countdown calendar" chain.  We shop for gingerbread house candy.

 

Yesterday I mixed up the dough, and today rolled it out.  They had wanted to help, but they've been playing together fairly well and wanted to do that instead.  I baked it up and rolled the scraps.  This year I cut out ornaments for the tree, and then the girls did come over to make some of their own custom ornaments.  Made the royal icing and glued the house together, then put on the candy.  We all got our fair share of leftovers.  This year we used up every scrap of dough--the last bits I sculpted into trees--and the last of the icing, glopped onto the "ground" and sprinkled with jelly beans and candy rocks.   twisted up some candy-stripe yarn to tie up the cookie ornaments.  With all the candy canes--real and beaded, made at 4-H--and the cookies, this is the most beautiful tree ever.

 

The weather, the weather, the weather...... pretty strange.  No, not strange if I hadn't just spent Thanksgiving Day with the windows thrown open.  Several days of below freezing day and night, starry nights, icy ponds and puddles, sunshine, finally snow.  DH has been home a lot.  He can't work in frozen soil, so everything gets crammed and suddenly our days leading up to Christmas are intensely busy.

 

The girls are started to fight better.  (Snort!  I'm so glad you ladies will understand that without explanation!)  It was getting worse than ever for a while, but we've been working some things out, the girls are becoming more articulate and while the fights still happen, we are talking through them.  They are each acknowledging hurt feelings, and I've even heard some spontaneous apologies.  Yes, a new system of stars is helping ease the transition.  I am so desperate, I don't even feel like that might be a cop-out.  I really couldn't care less.

 

DD2 continues to spontaneously create anything and everything that comes to her head.  She finally made some jewelry from the beads I bought them for Christmas years ago.  DD1 is less prolific, but even she has been working on snowflakes and Christmas ornaments.  And lists.  Always those lists.

 

I am enjoying the spaciousness of time, fitting in some yoga and some walks.  Bought myself a blaze orange hat for my walks in the woods.  DH bought me a traffic vest I requested for Christmas (shhhh!  I'm not supposed to know!)  I feel a bit safer being so visible.

 

The temps are warming up, thankfully without storms or ice.  I think the *calmness* of the weather in the NW is what stands out to me the most.

 

Sorry for the lack of editing, I scrunched this post in before bedtime.

 

ETA some pictures:

 

Our gingerbread house has two front doors.  The girls made the gingerbread signs (I'm tickled that dd1 did all the tying!)

 

 

Lastly, a couple of the ornaments I made for the tree.  The star in the background is also a cookie.


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#17 of 51 Old 12-13-2013, 08:22 PM
 
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Who are these kids????

 

Heard in the back of the car: "That's so frustrating!  You hurt my feelings" and "Well, mango isn't my favorite, but I know you like it."

 

????

 

DD1 is "practicing for when she turns 10".  Just at the brink, as she is complaining of nothing to do, she has also started sketching and planning bake sales and planning on how she can take on more responsibility.  It's like I go from swimming in the deep amongst the sharks, to dry warm land with fresh water and a complimentary buffet and deluxe suite.  I'm dizzy and disoriented.  Not sure what to do, but I am sure as shootin' going to reserve a table at the next bazaar.  I am encouraging her to price her goods so we don't pay out to hold a bake sale.

 

Went swimming today, after our housekeeping day.  They make $7 and $10 helping me at my client's.  They are suddenly in love with saving money as their stash grows.  At swimming, they plopped faces in the water, swam fairly well.  DD1 is exploring how much she can learn without going so far as putting her head in the water.

 

She asked for an American Girl doll for her birthday, so she can practice taking care of hair.  She likes her new bathing suit, and was happy that it looked like all the other girls at the pool, because she says she likes "fitting in", not being more plain nor more flashy.

 

DD2 just poured herself some juice.  

 

Who are these kids?????

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#18 of 51 Old 12-13-2013, 11:19 PM
 
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Had a most excellent day with 6yo DS. After I thought we'd never get it together to leave the house and go to the museum, we went to a cafe. DS saw Monopoly and was interested. I don't really like it as a game but was all for it this time. It was a mess so we sorted and sorted. The $ was translucent so this was extra fun lining it all up. Very successful game. Lots of counting and money work, reading, & stick to itness. And then some kids were performing music. DS recognized a song from the radio and told 10 year old musician "I've heard you on the radio." OMG so freakin cute. So hard to have to go but I had to pick up bread I special ordered. Then we picked up his Curious George journal on our way. We worked on that when we got home. I couldn't believe he just kept going and going on this thing. His attention span was longer than mine! (He did get a nap, while I was white knuckle driving.) He told me his answers I wrote and he copied and he drew several pictures. He found and circled the states that he has visited in a list, he's not a great reader but got the clues. At the end he was writing on his own and finally wore him out. I was like we could have stopped 5 pages ago. Definitely a "who is this kid day?" Oh and never made it to the museum or to pick up bread. Lol.
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#19 of 51 Old 12-14-2013, 12:49 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Well, the week of dance is over. A couple of short rehearsals next Monday and Tuesday, then a performance Tuesday evening. She soldiered enthusiastically through all the training and the late nights and the sleep deprivation but by the time dance wrapped up today (the last day) it was time to come home and crash. I cancelled her violin lesson, and she stayed at home rather than go babysitting with her sister. I don't think she moved out of the tub chair in the living room from 3:30 pm until bedtime, except to eat dinner.

 

So... dance. Four years ago at age 6 Fiona did a one-day workshop in baroque (historical) dance for music students. She loved it, and after doing the program for her age-group she joined in with the teens too. We've tried over and over to find her dance workshops or classes to do but to no avail. Finally this week she did the immersion dance elective for high schoolers. The average age in the class was 16 but by virtue of some creative school district / homeschoool paperwork we were able to get her in, and it worked out really well.


I'm feeling sad, though, because when I picked her up this afternoon at the conclusion of the workshop, it was exactly the same situation that happened at the end of the baroque dance workshop years ago: the instructor, a former professional dancer in both cases, pulled me aside and said "You need to get that kid some dance instruction. Really. Need. To." 

 

I brushed the episode when she was 6 off. Back then it seemed like she impressed adults with everything she tried. She was tiny, cute, smart, focused and eager. We were hearing all about her immense potential from her violin, piano and aikido instructors too. I knew dance wouldn't work for us where we lived. We were driving 6 to 16 hours a week already for the older kids and for her aikido and violin, and I knew we'd have to drive another 3-4 hours for every single day of dance ... and that would quickly become 3 or 5 days a week. It was logistically impossible.

 

But when this happens twice, years apart, with the only two dance experiences your child has ever had, with completely different instructors and totally different dance approaches, you have to wonder. Wonder what might have been if you'd been able to nurture that potential they see in her. I feel sad that she has grown up in an area where she doesn't have access to dance classes. As the teacher said today: "She's got the flexibility, the stamina, the strength, the musicality and sense of rhythm and flow, incredible focus and such motivation! All that's missing is the learning to dance, and that she gobbles up so fast." 

 

If only we'd lived somewhere else. If only we'd found a way. I have this recurring thought: dance would have been Her Thing just the way violin is my eldest dd's thing, but Fiona hasn't had access to the opportunities that she needs to develop her passion. (I realize she's still just 10, and there are probably a few examples of great dancers who didn't start training until that age. But in our case I can't see things changing. Not enough, anyway.)

 

The good news is that the woman who did the Dance Elective this week (the new high school English teacher and a former dancer) is going to offer a weekly after-school dance class in the New Year. It's for high schoolers, and it'll focus a fair bit on hip-hop, but she wants Fiona to be part of it, and has changed the schedule in order to accommodate her. It won't be much, and it won't make up for the years of not learning ballet and jazz and all that, but it's something.

 

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#20 of 51 Old 12-15-2013, 08:50 AM
 
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It's so interesting to hear you talk about what happened with the two dance instructors, Miranda. Thank you for sharing.
I keep you in mind when I think about moving back to a rural location, and admire the way that you've woven your family life where you are.
Would you ever consider relocating for an apparent 'passion' (a la the other thread), when it's moved well beyond an interest?
I hear about families who do that, and I wonder about the pressure on the child who was the motivation, and how that plays out ...
Thinking out loud, here. Mostly just so you know that you got me thinking.
We're doing the opposite at the moment; staying put because of the resources here when we'd rather move back to the little mountain town that DP and I love.

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#21 of 51 Old 12-15-2013, 11:23 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I keep you in mind when I think about moving back to a rural location, and admire the way that you've woven your family life where you are.
Would you ever consider relocating for an apparent 'passion' (a la the other thread), when it's moved well beyond an interest?

 

I've often wondered if, in retrospect, we should have moved about 6 years ago, when eldest's passion for music took off. We spent a few years doing ridiculous (and yet still insufficient) amounts of travel to get her some appropriate training at her level. But ... our house has been fully paid off for a decade in a depressed market, and dh has spent almost 20 years building a multi-faceted small town medical practice that (a) cannot be sold like a big-city practice would be and (b) could not replace him easily, which would likely leave the community and many of the people we love in the lurch. It would be a huge financial and social-emotional transition if we wanted to extricate ourselves. And he really dislikes the flavour of urban family practice, where you are more of a referral-broker and the moment a problem gets the slightest bit interesting someone else takes it over. So it would have been a lousy move for him and for the community we love.

 

If we had a do-over, we might try to find an almost-equally-rural community that was logistically closer to urban amenities. That has a nearby airport, or is within an hour of a small-to-medium-sized city and has a bus route. I still think that small town rural life has been the best choice for us. On Friday night we attended the community choir concert (ds and I accompanied) and feast where we knew everyone and the warmth and caring were just overflowing. Last night we had a power failure, and one of my kids' teenaged friends walked in the dark up the highway to our place, and my three and he spent 6 hours in the yard building this (below) by the light of headlamps (inspired by a long-time friend of ours here who is an internationally-renowned snow and sand sculptor), and then there was a tea and hot chocolate at 2 a.m. heated over the wood stove. There's so much that's wonderful here, so much that has helped shape my kids into the wonderful people they are, and grounded them. Would we trade it for some dance classes? I don't know.

 

 

 

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#22 of 51 Old 12-15-2013, 07:06 PM
 
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I love the idea of small town rural life but I haven't done it for more than a few weeks at a time.  Anyway ours is not a big city either and since I am carless, lots of things are probably just as inaccessible.  Would I rather have a car and access all those things - it is an interesting thought.  I mean - I would love to access a lot of things that aren't accessible by public transportation, but I am so attached to public transportation I just don't want to leave it.  

 

 

I mentioned earlier that dd is reading Robin Hood … we got an edition written by Henry GIlbert, which we learned only after arrival was heftier than we expected, using old English.  There i a free version online but uses even more Old English.  So anyway, dd got a slow start and reads a chapter every other day or so - in contrast to her usual approach to books which is to devour them nonstop.  She likes it though, she told me it was pretty exciting, "like a video game, only better" … And we get to talk about the Old English, too.   I am learning a number of new words.  Like villein. 

 

We also watched the Amazing Race - the whole thing!  It thrills dd that we are both watching something together.  I hardly watch anything and I guess I have a bit of the TV-snob in me so it was good for me to set it aside and get into the show.  


no longer  or  or ... dd is going on 12 (!) how was I to know there was a homeschool going on?
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#23 of 51 Old 12-15-2013, 08:06 PM
 
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December has a way of exhausting me!  I am tired and I don't quiet feel like I have got it together.  The kids, on the other hand, are humming along just fine.  They have taken up to performing a song to their daddy and I daily.  Very cute, yes?  But the song is "We wish you a merry xmas..."  over and over.  I tried to get them to learn a new song but nah!  They want to do this one from different locations (popping out of boxes, closets, under tables...)  and in different outfits (and sometimes just piles of my clothes!)  Yes, cute. Very cute but they are overdosing us here. Yet, they do manage to make me laugh every time because while the creativity isn't in the song itself, the locations and the outfits and the stunts they try to pull are ridiculous and funny.

 

Daughter has discovered a building app from Toca Boca and she is obsessed.  It turns out she is a pretty good designer.  She spends hours making things on the ipad.  Very much like minecraft but for the younger crowed, with none of the creepers and whatnot.  Son has been reading none stop.  I have been tired so we haven't really done much outside the house.  It is too cold and I don't have the energy. 

 

Interesting conversation about locational advantages/disadvantages.  We think about moving when my oldest is about 10.  I feel like that age is when I really need to start looking outside of the home for activities and programs.  He is 7.5, so we have sometime but so far, moving doesn't seem to be in the cards for us.  We want to do it smart and we want to be able to love our new city/town/village.  Where we are now is of our own choosing and has served us well.  Our wish list is long but on the other side, the ability to make a living weighs pretty darn heavily.  So, that nagging question of what is important, how do we get it and be still financially viable without too much compromise on family?  It is a big question. Frugality goes a long way but there are so many other things to consider when making a financial decision, especially in the U.S. where the issue of access/ lack of health care can always throw a wrench in best laid plans; it makes it hard to anticipate ones financial needs.  Anyway, great tangent discussion :)

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#24 of 51 Old 12-15-2013, 10:33 PM
 
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Mostly a lurker here (my kids are little), but I live in a very small, very rural town (think hundreds of people, and not actually possible to drive to another town), and have wondered about this a lot. When my first reaches kindy age next year, he'll almost certainly be the only homeschooler in his current age group. But I think the limitations of location cut both ways. We're ALL limited by our circumstances, whichever ones we choose. My husband grew up in this village, and some of the outdoor leadership experiences he had as a child (guiding groups of kids through trailless wilderness for pay when he was 15, for example) he absolutely could never have had in a city. There's a lot we have in nature, freedom, and community here that we wouldn't have in a larger place, and I miss it when we travel (even though I love to visit my old aikido dojo).

 

I think the main thing you can't do so easily in a rural area is intensive early specialization. And I'm not sure what I think about that. I was somewhat specialized in science as a kid (took all the classes, worked in a biology lab after school such that I had more research experience as a high school graduate than most college graduates). Then I left graduate school halfway through a PhD and went a totally different direction with my life--one I never would have imagined for myself back then. I think my early focus didn't necessarily help me out, and might have blinded me to looking in other places. So I guess the opportunities I had because of my location were a benefit, but I'm not sure. 

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#25 of 51 Old 12-15-2013, 11:44 PM
 
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I think the main thing you can't do so easily in a rural area is intensive early specialization. And I'm not sure what I think about that. I was somewhat specialized in science as a kid (took all the classes, worked in a biology lab after school such that I had more research experience as a high school graduate than most college graduates). Then I left graduate school halfway through a PhD and went a totally different direction with my life--one I never would have imagined for myself back then. I think my early focus didn't necessarily help me out, and might have blinded me to looking in other places. So I guess the opportunities I had because of my location were a benefit, but I'm not sure. 

 

I agree. There are also cities that are not well endowed when it comes to resources for homeschoolers.  Interesting about early specialization; this seems to be a bit of a thing nowadays. I hear people talking about specialization being the way of the future; to a certain extent that is probably the case.  However, the way I see it, there is def. enough time in an unschooling setting to explore all sorts of things in depth since there is no have to be done curriculum and busy work.  As I see it, unless there is such a clear intense drive/passion (a la my previous post here on this board) there is no need to specialize when kids are young. There is just so much time saved by not having to be in school or trying to work through 4 -5 hours of some curriculum. This leaves hours upon hours for fun and exploration of tributary interests, not just main ones.  

 

Now, there are things like music and dance where the younger the student, the better.  I believe my dd (5) would love to be in some sort of performance arts situation.  She loves singing, dancing, music. She enjoys mimicking people (something I have never been able to do!) and using different voices.  But we don't live in a place that has gentle performance arts programs and because I object to the way any of these things are taught, I keep her home.  So much plays into what we can offer to our kids; money, location, time seem to come at the cost of each other, no?

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#26 of 51 Old 12-16-2013, 08:16 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I think the main thing you can't do so easily in a rural area is intensive early specialization.

 

I think there's a little more to it than that. I'm also in a very small very rural town (500 people -- though a 90-minute drive can at least get us to a larger town). And what I see is that some perfectly non-specialized childhood learning experiences that work better in groups can't simply happen here due to lack of numbers. For instance team sports. No baseball or basketball or hockey here because there simply aren't enough kids to make up the teams that would be required to play. (My 15yo dd did play volleyball this year because the school put it in the curriculum and required all the girls from 12 to 18 to play, and that made enough for two teams of 6 to play each other, but outside of compulsory school-based sports the numbers are too small.) There's no girl guides, scouting or 4H. Also, group music experiences: a beginning orchestra or a chamber group or group class that can provide ensemble experience and meaningful group playing for a music student. I've created that here (because I'm a musician) for beginner students but there's really nothing possible for my 10-year-old who has outgrown that level. Not surprisingly her interest in violin is waning as a result. The community choir accepts older teens, but there's nothing for kids, tweens or young teens. And there are skill-based learning activities that tend to only be affordable in a group environment even if you do have access to an instructor: things like gymnastics, martial arts, swim lessons, etc.. We don't have enough kids here to run these things.

 

That's not to say that there aren't workarounds for some of these group-based things, or substitute activities that are at least as enriching. But I think small towns have limitations that even kids who aren't inclined to 'intensive early specialization' will experience. The dance dilemma has brought that to light for me: all she wanted was some sort of beginner dance class, and it has taken years (and co-operation from the school, and the happy accident of an English teacher trained in ballet) to get even a single week's worth.

 

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#27 of 51 Old 12-17-2013, 11:19 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Brag time! Here's Fiona in the collaborative dance piece they performed at the end of the elective week. Some of this was choreographed for them, and some (the duet and solo stuff) they worked out for themselves. My kid is the little one -- she's far right of the screen in the dark, and front and centre when the lights come up. For all but two of the students this was a first dance learning experience ever. They did some break-dancing, some hip-hop stuff, some contemporary and interpretive stuff and some very basic ballet over the course of the week. I don't know much about dance, but I can see how jazzed my kid is!

 

http://youtu.be/puIOxUQNmco

 

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#28 of 51 Old 12-18-2013, 12:51 AM
 
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Miranda, can I ask a question, out of curiosity? Bear in mind I have never lived in a city smaller than my current one (pop 300,000)-and that feels decidedly small, so small town life is something i have zero experience of. I know even less about dance. But-

 

Why not try to get her private, 1-1 (or 1-2 etc if you can find a few others) lessons, perhaps with this new ballet-trained teacher? In the same way you might with a musical instrument? We end up doing that fairly often when we want a class at our convenience-usually with others, mainly to split the bill.

 

I totally get that that probably isn't the ideal for a dancer, and that a dancer needs a community, etc etc, but if nothing else. it might give her the chance to see whether dance was what she loved, and if it was, to start thinking of whether there was anything that could be done. Year round individual lessons and then an intensive summer school or something. I can see all sorts of ways that it would be far from ideal, but still better than nothing? Are there no online classes in dance? (again, of course that isn't ideal, but again, possibly better than zilch?)

 

Thing is, I'm sure you will have considered this, just wondering why that wouldn't work?


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#29 of 51 Old 12-18-2013, 02:28 AM
 
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Thank you for sharing Miranda.  It was a delight to watch!  

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#30 of 51 Old 12-18-2013, 08:12 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Why not try to get her private, 1-1 (or 1-2 etc if you can find a few others) lessons, perhaps with this new ballet-trained teacher? In the same way you might with a musical instrument?

Unfortunately the teacher does not have the time as she's working on completing her Master's degree over the next two years. It's a huge stretch for her to even offer the weekly extra-curricular class next semester, and that's something that's officially encouraged by her employer. She also doesn't live here, as her partner works elsewhere, and the commuting (90 minutes a day) helps keep her more or less completely overwhelmed. I am going to be looking far more seriously into whether we can include some dance in our Thursdays or Fridays next year in town, assuming we'll be driving back and forth to pick up her big sister. There's a good dance school there. Unfortunately I think it's rather built around huge weekly commitments to multiple classes, but we'll see.

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