Archive for the ‘Family’ Category

wednesday

July 5, 2017 @ 9:08 am | Filed under: Family

Eek, it’s all happening so fast. Today the kids have their last piano classes. This will be a hard goodbye. They’ve been students at Wagner’s Music School since shortly after we arrived here. It was Jane and Rose then, each in their own class—small Wednesday-morning group classes with our homeschooling friends. A few years later, it was Beanie’s turn. Jane and Rose grew up. Their classes graduated. New crops of beginners rotated in: Rilla’s class, and this year, Huck’s. Miss Cyndi—calm, cheerful, inspiring—taught them all.

Oh, this one is really a hard goodbye.

And it isn’t just piano—these are my lit-class kids. For three years, while Rilla was upstairs in piano, I’ve taught English lit to Beanie and her friends. At first we met in the coffee shop right below the music school; then, when it closed, we moved to the outdoor tables of the neighboring taco shop, swapping muffins and tea for quesadillas and salsa.

This year I added a second class during Huck’s piano lesson—the younger sisters of my first group. And then we added another class after lunch, this one full of the boys I’ve taught poetry and writing to over the years. Oh, I’m going to miss these kids. The lively discussions, the belly laughs, the sudden insights.

Piano is also when I got to squeeze in some mom time. Mostly in the interstices—a dropoff here, a pickup there—but often we found time for a nice little gabfest during Beanie’s lesson, between my two morning lit classes. As your kids get older and activities ramp up, your leisurely playdates diminish. You learn to make the most of the scattered minutes at the front and back of things.

Afterward, there’s lunch at the park with our homeschooling friends. If I start to write about THOSE hard goodbyes I’ll never get out the door this morning.

Northward, ho!

July 3, 2017 @ 10:45 am | Filed under: Family

Some news now, some news later.

The now news: A week from tomorrow, we are moving to Portland, Oregon.

I just totally freaked myself out with the words “a week from tomorrow.” Jiminy crickets, this is happening fast.

Of course there is lots more to the story, and that’s the news to come later. I don’t mean to be a tease. 🙂

high-tide highlights, week of may 8

May 11, 2017 @ 7:04 pm | Filed under: Books, Family, Fun Learning Stuff, Homeschooling

Geography songs — Scandinavia
Latin vocab chants
Perimeter and area
Earworms German
Poetry — “The Stolen Child,” “The Song of the Happy Shepherd,” Yeats
Tall tale: Pecos Bill
Fairy tale: Rapunzel
Cowboy songs (Home on the Range, Get Along Little Dogies, Ole Dan Tucker, Oh Susanna)
The Raggle-Taggle Gypsy
Witch of Blackbird Pond
Finn Family Moomintroll
Nature study: antlions
Rilla: read Meet Felicity
Huck: read Moomin comics
Huck started a new book in piano; he was very excited about this

With Beanie:
Watched The Great Courses: The Irish Identity parts 1-2

The antlion bit was especially fun. On Tuesday, as I was finishing our Moomintrolls chapter, I noticed that the next chapter was the one with the antlion in it, and I wasn’t sure either Huck or Rilla knew what that was. So without telling them why, I grabbed our Handbook of Nature Study and we read a bit about them. And then of course we needed to see one. We watched a short National Geographic video and then followed the suggested link to this delightful video made by a homesteading dad, accompanied by his four young children. At least, I think I counted four.

The video is embedded below, along with one for The Raggle-Taggle Gypsy—our folk song this week.

2010 flashback

May 2, 2017 @ 7:50 am | Filed under: Family, Photos

Oh my heart.

pink paper pianos

April 28, 2017 @ 8:05 am | Filed under: Bloggity, Family, These People Crack Me Up

Last night I was chatting with Jane on Slack—she had a story for me about her Victorian Lit class—and Sherlock Holmes came up. She asked if I remembered how old she was when she started reading them. I was guessing around age ten or eleven—was it before or after our move to California?—and she remembered that she first encountered Sherlock on a Jim Weiss story tape. So: Virginia probably. Then she pinged a burst of laughter—

lol lol lol i just searched bonny glen + jim weiss

Jim’s Sherlock Holmes stories inspired Jane, at age eight, to tackle the Arthur Conan Doyle originals.

Good old blog comes through again. Our family memory bank.

Of course this made me wince, knowing I’ve dropped the ball on daily posts yet again. I do have a lot of tidbits stashed in drafts, but those aren’t searchable.

We’ve talked so much about how our collective shift to social networks changed our blogging habits, both as blog writers and readers. One of the more subtle shifts, I think, began to happen even before we jumped on Facebook: bit by bit our blogs took on a more formal tone. On Facebook and Twitter, we’re looser, less polished. Personal blogs used to feel spontaneous, immediate, diaristic. A few of them still do, but I think on the broad spectrum of kinds of writing, a blog post is usually closer to essay than tweet. These social conventions fascinate me. These days, more people are likely to read and respond to my writing on Facebook than on Bonny Glen, yet I feel freer about slapdashing an unpolished thought over there.

I used to worry about losing things on Facebook or Twitter. I’d post funny kid quotes there and then, zip, they’d be carried along by the current and disappear. I wanted to archive all those memories here, and I worked out elaborate systems for saving things. I even had a side-blog for a while that was nothing but kid-related tweets I wanted to save. Later, I got savvier and set up IFTTT functions that automatically archive all my Twitter and FB posts in Evernote. This is both handy and dandy, but it’s a clunky substitute for the searchable family chronicle that is this blog.

I’m laughing at myself because I’ve traveled this loop before. There’s such an obvious and simple fix: just post the kid stuff here. Because odds are that one day Rilla will ping me from college—probably via a tooth implant that will trigger my phone-necklace to display her text on the back of my hand—wanting to know when, exactly, was her heavy origami phase. So, for the record: April of 2017, right after you turned eleven, I walked into my bedroom after tucking in the boys, and you pounced on me with a square of pink paper. Which is why I had to write your sister, ten minutes later, to apologize for disappearing in the middle of our Slack conversation.

Lissa: [9:00 PM]
Sorry, Rilla came in with an urgent need to teach me how to make an origami piano

Jane:  [9:00 PM]
that sounds entirely reasonable

day 33: jamestown

February 2, 2017 @ 7:42 am | Filed under: Family, Photos, These People Crack Me Up

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I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you that this is a recreation of the Jamestown fort. As my friend Lori said on Instagram, “the Ikea stepstools are a dead giveaway.”

The settlers are getting along all right so far, despite a stagnant water supply and a rather heated dispute about whether the fort should, or should not, have an anachronistic radio tower. I mean, why let a perfectly good tomato cage go unused?

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One young settler expressed consternation over the gap in the walls of the brick storehouse (due to the discovery of a brown widow at the bottom of the old brick pile), but his older compatriot pointed out the storehouse needed a doorway, after all. Crisis averted.

day 25: birthday

January 25, 2017 @ 9:16 pm | Filed under: Family, Photos

It’s 9pm, I’ve just sent off an assignment that was due, and we’re about to celebrate Beanie’s birthday with a viewing of The Fellowship of the Ring. (Well, half of it. It’s long. It’s late.)

This morning I taught my three local literature classes, wrapping up with a close reading of Billy Collin’s “Marginalia” with the four 7th-8th grade boys in my last class. They loved the egg-salad stains. I love them—all these kids in my little seminar-classes. Beanie’s class is developing outlines for King Lear essays, so that was a lively discussion. We sit at the outdoor tables at a taco shop (ever since our cafe closed down) near a culinary school. Today, a few minutes into our session, the lovely server at the taco shop came out with a plate full of gorgeous little tarts and pastries, beglazed, beswirled, bedrizzled. The culinary students are doing desserts this week and their instructor shares the overflow with the taco shop staff, who in turned shared the bounty with us. And ten minutes later, the chef walked past our table with a platter held high—a few dozen more confections. Into the taco shop he went, and out came our server friend with another plate to share. 🙂 Now that’s how to fuel teenage writers.

Sixteen. The child below is sixteen now, many inches taller than her mother. May her days be filled with lemon-cream surprises forevermore.

beanieback

 

 

day seventeen: tired

January 17, 2017 @ 8:42 pm | Filed under: Books, Family

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I couldn’t get to sleep last night. This hardly ever happens. I usually nod off while reading, but I just kept turning pages and suddenly it was 1:30a.m. And then I lay there trying with all my might to achieve sleep, an endeavor not famous for its success rate. Finally, around 2, I gave up and got out of bed. I had a grant draft to finish, so I hunkered down on the living room sofa with my laptop and hammered out another chunk. Crawled back to bed at 3:30 and wished it were Saturday instead of Tuesday. But Tuesday morning rollerskated right on in mere seconds later, or so it seemed.

Huck eats salami for breakfast. I admit I’m not keen on handling cold cuts first thing in the morning, but boy do I love that kid. His full-throttle hugs and the full-throttle monologues he’s clearly been saving for me since the moment he sprang out of bed. And his big brother, spiky-haired and grinning, another morning person, reveling in the crisp, linear order of business that school mornings bring. The bus picks him up at the corner. Huck and Rilla wait with him and tear back to the house the moment they sight it, so that by the time it rounds the bend and rolls past our house, they’ve fetched me and we’re all in the doorway waving as it goes by. These little family rituals are what bind you.

I had to keep plugging away at the grant, so Huck and Rilla listened to some Earworms German and then Rose shepherded them through some math. I took a break to read them our history chapter and some Langston Hughes and Countee Cullen poems from Poetry for Young People. Then everybody else went to the park and I returned to the grant.

The draft is finished and I know I’ll sleep well tonight. Scott just brought me milk and a few of the last Candy Cane Joe-Joe’s. Beanie told me she’s working on characters for a new story and spent part of her day watching early cartoons for style reference. Tomorrow is Lit Class day, which means another dose of King Lear. I love the weeks when my primary task is to drop a few questions into the soup pot like stones, and then sit back and let the girls build their savory stew, carrot by onion by bay leaf.

Hmm, maybe that’s what I should hunt up for tomorrow’s picture book: Marcia Brown’s Stone Soup. We read Barbara Cooney’s version of Snow White and Rose Red last night and Huck was rapt. He was disappointed, this evening, to learn we had finished the whole story last night—he was hoping there was more. Fortunately, when it’s fairy tales, there always are more. Although our pick tonight was more in the fable family: Eric Carle’s The Grouchy Ladybug. I decided about halfway through that the book is even funnier if you read it in the voices of characters from My Cousin Vinny.

Why is he sideways? I have no idea.
Too tired to figure it out. 

day fourteen: all about weeds

January 13, 2017 @ 3:41 pm | Filed under: Books, Family, Fun Learning Stuff, These People Crack Me Up

naturejournalpages

1.

A bonus post for today! But this one’s mostly for me: another little addition to our family collection of All About Weeds stories.

Strangely, I can’t find the first All About Weeds story in my archives. I’m sure I must have written about it here! But maybe not. Maybe it was pre-Bonny Glen, a tale posted to a homeschooling message board instead. I suppose it must have been, now I think about it: my Amazon history tells me I purchased the book on July 13, 2002. And it entered our lives as a library book some time before that. Which fact (its being a library book) provides the drama of the first anecdote, actually.

2.

We’d moved to Virginia only a few months earlier (on New Year’s Day, 2002, as a matter of fact). When spring arrived, O glorious mid-Atlantic spring with its abundance of dogwood and redbud blossoms, I was in a mania to know every single plant growing in our yard. Among the books I checked out from the adorable train-depot-turned-library in our little town was a rather dusty tome about weeds. I did say every plant.

I flipped through the weed book but I found it rather dry, and besides, I was sidetracked by what would become a years-long obsession with Noah’s Garden: Restoring the Ecology of Our Own Backyards. (Chip, meet block.) All About Weeds sat neglected (so I thought) on a table for a day or two, and then I returned it to the library.

Soon after, Jane (age sevenish, I think? heavens, that was a long time ago) came to me, came to me all in a dither. Where, she begged most earnestly to know, WHERE was that fascinating weeds book?

When I told her I’d returned it to the library, she was crushed. It was the BEST BOOK EVER, I was informed (in tones conveying, yes, both capitals and italics). Full of the MOST INTERESTING information. 

And as my shopping history testifies, so persuaded was I of the merits of this superior tome that I purchased a copy for keeps.

3.

The best and perfect weed book makes a number of appearances on this blog, even if its origin story has been lost to the archives of some distant Yahoogroup. “Bonny Glen Firsts” (published in 2011) tells me it was in fact the second book I ever mentioned here:

Second book mentioned (though not by name): All About Weeds, a Jane favorite for years. Seriously.

(Ah, there you go. Not mentioned by name. I’ll have to dig up that post.)

I find it mentioned in a March, 2006 post called “The Tide Is Going Out“—an early exploration of my tidal homeschooling concept.

The other day a neighbor asked me if we take a spring break. I laughed and said, “Yes—the whole spring!”

We’ve had such a pleasant time the last couple of months, immersing ourselves in some good books and other forms of study. Now the outdoors is beckoning, and our daily rhythms are shifting. Spring is calling us, urging us out of the house. We are a bunch of Mary Lennoxes, unable to resist the rustlings and chirpings, the spikes of green, the gypsy winds.

I keep finding cups of water on the counter with tiny blossoms floating like fairy lily pads: the first bluets and starry white chickweed flowers. Chickweed, so Jane tells me, is an edible plant and quite tasty. (“Like sugar snap pea pods, Mom.”) She has begged me not to uproot the vast patch of it that has taken over a stretch of our backyard mulch bed, just uphill from the strawberries. Another weed, a purple-flowered plant the children call “cow parsley,” is popping up all over the lawn, much to their delight: they suck the nectar from the itty bitty orchid-like blossoms and proclaim it better than the honeysuckle they’ll seek out later in the summer.

Jane, who had been binging on math during the past three weeks, seems to have shifted her attentions to botany. I find myself tripping over her tattered copy of All About Weeds everywhere I go, and upstairs, the microscope is much in demand for the viewing of leaf cross sections. An experiment involving scarlet runner beans has become the centerpiece on the kitchen table.

So there we are, four years later, and Weeds is still in constant use. It seems wee 2002 Jane hadn’t been overstating her affections.

A month after that, April 2006: “Things to Do While Your Mother Is in the Hospital” (delivering your baby sister). This one—which is the post that sparked today’s story and this entire trip down memory lane—made me laugh pretty hard. (Not at poor Rose’s plight. At The Book’s role in her recovery.)

If you are seven…

…get stung under the chin by a wasp.

If you are ten…

…recall a passage from that scintillating classic, All About Weeds, describing the sting-soothing properties of yarrow, and concoct a poultice of newly emerging yarrow leaves with which to soothe your little sister’s wasp sting.

Well done, young Jane!

4.

Which brings me to today. Huck’s birthday post keeps turning up melt-my-heart tidbits in the “related posts” widget at the bottom of the page. I was clicking along a little baby-picture rabbit trail when I happened upon the “things to do” post above. Rilla, who was aww-ing over my shoulder at her adorable baby brother’s toddler antics, was transfixed by this glimpse at what her big sisters were up to on the day she was born. She read the post breathlessly, pausing only to interject “Oh, I love that book!” at the bit about “that scintillating classic.”

The chip doesn’t fall far from, er, the older chip.

5.

We found the book, you know, during last week’s grand shelf-cleaning. It has been returned to its permanent spot on Jane’s bookcase.