Archive for the ‘Family Adventures’ Category

Monday 11 August

August 11, 2014 @ 8:27 pm | Filed under: Author stuff, Family Adventures, Photos

Oh sure, I can write the date, but that doesn’t mean I can believe it. I’d have laid money we weren’t past the 6th or 7th yet. Blink. WB goes back to school on Thursday (!) and Rose starts a Spanish class at the community college next week (!!). I will probably wake up tomorrow and discover that Huck has enrolled in graduate school.

On the forums for my Phone Photography class, someone (possibly my friend Stephanie Elms?) recommended an app called Timehop that, once connected to your various social media accounts, will compile for you each day a look back at what you posted on this date in years past. Thus it was that I discovered today is four years since we (sans Scott) visited Rocky Ridge Farm, where Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote all her books.

rockyridgeIn which we continue the family tradition of being unable to all smile for a photo simultaneously, unless Scott is standing behind the photographer working his magic.

It has been a BIG four years. Three of those girls are taller than I now, and that chubby little side of beef is a long, lean boy. There’s a lot less pink in the laundry these days (nearly all of it Rilla’s).

***

Here’s what we did this weekend: I was asked to be on a panel at WinkieCon, an annual celebration of the Oz books, which I grew up loving as wildly as I did Little House. You can imagine my delight, then, at encountering none other than Ozma herself.

ozma

Is that not the most incredible costume? She nailed it perfectly. In addition to being a talented costumer, Natalie makes wonderful jewelry and art.

And that’s not all. My young Polychrome was tickled to meet this fellow:

cowardlylion

After the “Playing in Someone Else’s Sandbox” panel there was a booksigning for the authors (Edward Einhorn, Caroline Spector, and me). Look who kept me company at the table!

ozsigning

The convention was a delight for me and my girls, especially Miss Rilla, who dove into a ribbon-hunting quest with considerable verve. She had to seek out attendees with Doctor Who “Companion” ribbons on their badges and ask them to pose for a quick photo; for every five Companion photos she brought back to the game table, she earned a new ribbon for her own badge—starting with Dalek and working her way up through several levels, past Time Lord to a Companion badge of her own. She made a lot of friends that day, let me tell you. 🙂

photo 2 (5)

One of the highlights of the convention was—I can hardly tell you how fluttery I felt, walking into this room—a collection of Judy Garland’s costumes. Meet Me in St. Louis, The Harvey Girls, Easter Parade—so many treasures there. And we met Judy’s son. Such a nice man. It was quite a day.

judygowns

judydresses

If you ever get a chance to go to an Oz convention (especially Winkie Con, which is such a class act), I highly recommend it. Fascinating people, gorgeous books and costumes and handmade wares, really interesting panels—Jane particularly enjoyed “Oz and the American Musical,” which I wish I’d attended myself—and all in a venue MUCH less crowded and overwhelming than, say, Comic-Con. Many thanks to Eric Shanower for the invitation to speak on the panel.

photo 1 (6)

Photos now, commentary later

July 28, 2014 @ 6:31 pm | Filed under: Family Adventures, Photos

I’m wiped out. 🙂

sdccsign

malificent

artistdoesntbite
Chris Gugliotti of Thicklebit fame

jocktrio
Lunch with Jock

harleys

meanboys
Zander and Scott pretending they have a mean bone in their bodies

bravesmile
Entertaining ourselves with selfies while waiting for Stampylongnose to come onstage

stampysmiles
The girls’ turn

meandhuck
Couldn’t leave this guy out

wavingatstampy
He’s finally here!

10577201_10203023139874190_5957924470868262804_n
Back at Chris’s table, and this time we remembered to get a group pic

lastlunch
Whew, time to relax

A quick Monday morning post before the day is upon me

July 7, 2014 @ 7:00 am | Filed under: Family Adventures

And when I say “upon me,” I mean sitting on me in a squashing manner, because that’s what’s on the calendar today. So far, this has been a summer exceedingly full of running around.

Huck’s poor infected finger had been doing better, so it seemed, after he started antibiotics the week before last. By this weekend the antibiotics were done and the infection most certainly was not. Again I’ll spare you the ugly details. Of course it was a holiday weekend. We spoke to the on-call doctor at our practice on Saturday and he instructed us to take Huck to the ER at Children’s.

before
BEFORE

after
AFTER

A dose of Versed, several shots of Lidocaine, and one fingernail-removal later, and I had a very stoned little boy waving his mummified hand in immense delight, inquiring of everyone who passed: “Why can’t I feeeeeeel it?”

Happy to report the finger is looking MUCH better this morning. Healing at last, I think. And yes, the irony of the On Tide Mill Lane parallel is not lost on me. Very happy my boy’s infected finger occurred in 2014, not 1814.

Wednesday, I think?

June 25, 2014 @ 7:29 pm | Filed under: Family Adventures

ivycache

Huck has an infected finger. I’ll spare you the gory details. Suffice it to say they’re gory, and I’ve added a new and entirely unwanted skill (pus drainage) to my maternal repertoire. We spent much of yesterday at the doctor, he’s now on antibiotics, and, proving there’s lemonade to be made even from a festering lemon, the two of us got to sit cuddled up until midnight watching Minecraft videos together. If I’m a little punchy today, you’ll understand.

Did manage to squeeze in some fun yesterday before the unfortunate appendage went from alarming to horrific: a bit of geocaching with the younger three at a lovely park we don’t visit often. At least, the first cache was at the park; the second one was at the dead end of a neighborhood street a couple of blocks away, a somewhat grimier location than expected. To Huck’s disgruntlement I wouldn’t let him touch anything, which means Rilla got the fun of the cache grab. WB doesn’t care who makes the find as long as he gets his turn at holding the phone/compass.

Today was piano and repaired hearing-aid fetching (happy is its owner, who can hear again) and finger-soaking and general collapsing, and nary a book did we read. But if you need to know how to lure zombies into an iron golem trap, Huck and I are your man.

Eowyn For the Win

May 29, 2014 @ 4:34 pm | Filed under: Family Adventures, Photos, These People Crack Me Up

RoseIsNotInvitingYouIn

Rose put up some NO TRESPASSING signs outside her house in the Minecraft world the kids and I share. My favorite was the addendum: NONE OF THIS NONSENSE.

Well, of course I couldn’t resist a throwdown like that. A LITTLE NONSENSE NOW AND THEN, I wrote back, when she wasn’t looking, IS RELISHED BY THE WISEST MEN.

And her reply, proving the student has surpassed the teacher: I AM NO MAN.

That’s my girl.

Day at the Beach

May 22, 2014 @ 6:41 pm | Filed under: Family Adventures, Photos

A dear old friend, two lively girls, a lovely gray day, beach frisbee, sand sculptures, geocaching, Dippin Dots: pretty much a perfect day.

Starfish

seahorse

photo 2 (3)

Beth Malone and Lissa Brannon, a long way from Loretto Heights

boardwalk1

boardwalk2

There’s a mysterious world under the pier.

Camels and Elephants

December 27, 2013 @ 8:44 pm | Filed under: Family Adventures, Outings, Photos

Scenes from our Christmas Day…

We took a drive north to Julian and stopped off to wave hello to the camels—an occasional tradition ever since the time shortly after we moved to California when we were enjoying a country drive and eight-year-old Rose exclaimed, “I just saw a camel!” We all thought it must have been a cow or a horse, but a rather indignant (and who wouldn’t be, accused of confusing camels with cows?) Rose insisted she knew a camel when she saw one. A few yards later, a large sign proclaimed OASIS CAMEL DAIRY. We apologized to Rose for our skepticism, turned the car around, and gawked. And now we go back every couple of years to gawk anew.

camels

While we were there I took about fifty pictures of the six kids balancing on an old rail. Seemed an apt representation of our lives: precariously balanced, a bit off-kilter, and full of laughter.

thegang

gang5

gang7

Among Rilla’s presents from my parents was an adorable sewing kit. Pre-cut felt animal shapes for her to stitch and stuff, plus loads of embellishments. She worked all Christmas evening on this button-eyed elephant.

sewingkit

pinkelephant

blueelephant

Not pictured: the moment Huck dazzled us with a sudden leap into real reading! First there was the “DO NOT BLOCK HORSE TRAIL” sign in the roadside pulloff where we were, in fact, blocking the horse trail while hastily scooping a carsick Rilla out of the minivan. (Too late.) Then, back at home, Rose was playing her new Wii game with the dialogue set to Japanese (verbal) with English subtitles. And Huck sat there and read the subtitles out loud. So that’s #6 over the bridge. What a journey!

The road goes ever on and on…

September 13, 2013 @ 7:47 pm | Filed under: Family, Family Adventures, Homeschooling, Photos

IMG_2597

Sent this picture to Alice the other day because I knew it would get her the way it got me. She pointed out that four out of five of these girls are in college now. Well, almost! Jane moves in next week.

She was barely a month old when I decided I wanted to homeschool her. I’d been poking around the AOL parenting boards (having obtained my first modem and my first baby within six weeks of each other) and stumbled upon the Home Education Magazine boards. Before long I was devouring back issues of Growing Without Schooling and amassing a collection of Holt and Gatto books. Sandra Dodd and Pam Sarooshian were among the moms-of-youngish-kids enthusing about unschooling there, using the word in the broad Holtian sense, living and learning outside school. By the time Jane was six months old, Scott was on board, with reservations. Those dissolved over the next year or two, as we talked and talked and read and read (well, I read and talked, he mostly listened). Really, the notion had me at hello.

jane age one

It felt right for us, and it kept on feeling righter and righter, all these past eighteen years. When Jane was five, finally finished with her cancer treatments, an early and voracious reader, addicted to the Magic Tree House books, I hung a sheet of butcher paper the length of our hallway and we pasted little copies of the book covers in the pertinent time periods. We still have that timeline, now ripped here and there and crammed with tidbits. It was on the wall in this house until last year; it comes and goes as the urge hits us. There in large wobbly letters are young Jane’s notations: “Golden Age of Pirates,” “Charlemagne,” “King Alfred BURNED THE CAKES!!!”

timeline

Back up to when she was—around four? Alice will remember—we’re in an educational supply shop, Alice, her small girls (two of them on the slide above), Jane, probably a couple of babies. We’re browsing at a placemat spin rack. I put a few in my cart: planets, U.S. map, presidents. On the next aisle, I drop something else in and discover a placemat I hadn’t selected: the periodic table of the elements. Seems a bit early for that. I put it back. But a minute later, I glance in the cart and there it is again. I’m perplexed. “Did you put this in?” I ask my wee daughter. She nods. I’m taking it out to return it to the rack, we have enough in the cart already, and she bursts out earnestly: “But Mommy! I need to learn about the EE-laments!”

(Sold. We still have that placemat.)

One year I was speaking at a homeschooling conference, and the teenaged daughter of my boothmate took Jane—around age six, I think—to the drinking fountain. She reported back that when Jane saw the water arc out of the spout, she exclaimed over getting to drink a rainbow. Took a drink. Frowned, puzzled. “Funny. I always thought rainbows would be crunchy.”

meetingkristiyamaguchi

She so often surprised me with the knowledge she’d absorbed from I knew not where. Scooping something out of water one day (had the baby dropped Cheerios into Jane’s cup? it was something like that), she remarked that her fingers were like a whale’s baleen. I didn’t know what baleen meant, but luckily I had Jane to enlighten me.

308850682_8975e6182c (1)

The year she was eight, we read our way through a tower of America-themed historical fiction. Witch of Blackbird Pond, Moccasin Trail, By the Great Horn Spoon, Understood Betsy, whole bunch of others. That was a fabulous year. We were in our big house in Virginia then, with the propane fireplace you flipped on with a switch. That thing drew me like a magnet. I’d stand there toasting myself, reading aloud while the snow fell heavy on the hills and the juncos hopped beneath the feeder, and Jane lolled on the sofa with Beanie banging dents into my cedar chest with Wedgits—the first in a line of toddlers to bash away at that spot. Its entire surface is pockmarked with enthusiasm and glee. Sort of the best-loved-doll of furniture.

livingearthschoolApr2006

Project Feederwatch. Journey North Mystery Class. Shakespeare Club. Piano Guild. Film Club. Living Earth School—a nature camp in the Blue Ridge Mountains where Jane learned to make fires, to eat violets and chickweed. She had sold all the kids on our street on the virtues of chickweed for iron and violets for vitamin C, and they’d comb our yard, nibbling weeds until their teeth were green. I delivered a hasty lecture about pesticide and lawn fertilizer, and extracted a promise that the kids would only eat from our lawn, because I couldn’t be sure the others were chemical-free.

And that weed book! I blogged about this years ago: “Two summers ago I wanted to know what was growing in our unlandscaped side yard, so I checked a book on weeds out of the library. I glanced at it but decided this book was too dry to make it worth the effort and tossed it onto the kitchen table. The next day I returned it to the library. The next day, then-7-year-old Jane summoned me with an anguished wail. ‘Mommy, where’s that great book I was reading? The one about weeds? It was SO interesting!’ She’d found it lying on the table and naturally assumed that it was meant for her. I admitted I’d returned it, and she was crushed. I had to promise to schedule a special trip to re-check it out.”

naturejournalpages

Through high tide and low tide, we’ve learned a million things together. And now she’s heading off to go on learning somewhere else, and I couldn’t be more grateful, and more excited for all the adventures she has ahead of her.

leavingforaustin2012

Things We Did This Week

August 16, 2013 @ 7:12 pm | Filed under: Assorted and Sundry, Books, Family Adventures, Fun Learning Stuff

Only some of them, you understand. Most of the game-playing and show-watching and walk-taking happens during my work time.

Wonderboy started back to school on Tuesday. That kicked the rest of us into—perhaps not high tide, but the tide coming steadily in.

We watched the first twenty minutes of that Vermeer documentary I posted a link to the other day. It’s riveting so far. The only reason we didn’t view the whole thing in one gulp was because I didn’t want to overwhelm the kids (especially Rilla, who was entranced) with too much information. We’ll take our time with it…a sort of Slow Reading philosophy applied to YouTube.

(“Master of Light” indeed! I learned a lot in that first third of the video—learned to see some things I hadn’t known to look for.)

Earlier this summer, Jane asked Scott to give her a course in the history of rock and roll. So after our busybusy July was past, he put together a playlist for her and commenced the seminar this week. All three of our older girls showed up for class. 🙂

Rilla learned a little Latin (dry-erase markers and a whiteboard continue to be a sure-fire way to ensure enthusiastic vocab practice…ditto colored chalk and a little slate). And I love getting to dip back into the stories her sisters loved at this age. The Sword of Damocles went over like gangbusters. And the “Albion and Brutus” opening chapter of Our Island Story, which she’s heard before but likes because mermaids!

whalestampWhich made it extra fun when “the white-cliffs-of-Albion” showed up in our Just So Stories pick today—“How the Whale Got His Throat.” I’d forgotten that bit, and my Mariner of infinite-resource-and-sagacity was an Irishman until he mentioned his natal-shore. Hasty accent-change required. At the end of the tale, Rilla peered closely at the grating the Mariner had lodged in the Whale’s throat (you didn’t forget about the suspenders, did you?) and commented: “So that’s why whales eat krill. They’re filter-feeders.” I’d been prepared to launch into an exploration of baleen, but I’m informed Octonauts beat me to it.

I was then required to read “Dingo! Yellow Dog Dingo!” (exclamation points very much a part of the title), which is how she refers to “The Sing-Song of Old Man Kangaroo.” Try as I might, I can’t make that inordinately proud creature sound remotely Australian. Gotta step up my game.

(Tangent: upon reflection, if I absolutely-please-don’t-make-me HAD to choose one single storybook for all future readalouds, I do believe I’d go with the Kipling. Playful language, magnificent vocabulary, surprising and amusing narratives, magnetic subject matter, sense of humor, discussion-fodder, colorful locales, magic, and crocodiles. You really can’t go wrong.)

assembling california by john mcpheeLet’s see, we also spent some time with this book: Assembling California by John McPhee, the fruit of my hunt for something to satisfy the local-geology itch created by our drive to Denver last Month.

First chapter quite promising. Begins at Mussel Rock off the shore of San Francisco, and dropped us right into the San Andreas Fault. Perfect. Then of course we wanted to see Mussel Rock for ourselves. YouTube obliged with this gem:

Those lingering shots on the uneven pavement of the parking lot, and later the cockeyed houses on a San Francisco street, really bring home the reality of shifting plates. And from McPhee we learned that the science of plate tectonics is quite new! Just barely older than I am.

Rilla is learning “The Walrus and the Carpenter” by heart. She had the first three stanzas down last spring but we forgot about it over the summer. She likes to practice when we’re walking around the corner to pick Wonderboy up from school.

There were other things…the visit to the Mammoth and Mastadon exhibit at the Museum of Natural History on Monday (and a carousel ride, mustn’t forget that), and the hopeful rescue of some withering veggies from our sunbaked garden. We relocated the cukes and canteloupe, and both tomato plants, and a poor, parched blueberry bush. Something’s quite different in that corner of the yard this year. Everything’s struggling. Or maybe it’s just that I’m off-season. I don’t usually do much out back during the late-summer months. January’s when my garden really perks up and starts producing. 

We’ve got loads of monarch caterpillars, though. And goldfinches galore.

Rose got her ears pierced. Jane and Wonderboy and I cleaned out a Staples. Her college pile is growing.

Well, I can’t think what else. Oh: Huck’s picture-book picks were Open This Little Book and The Napping House. I finally read The One and Only Ivan, and cried and cried.