Archive for the ‘Family’ Category

Assorted Friday notes

August 5, 2016 @ 1:18 pm | Filed under: Books, Family, Fun Learning Stuff, Periscope, These People Crack Me Up

I did a Periscope yesterday on a topic that had been requested by a Brave Writer mom: How I make time to pursue my own interests and hobbies while homeschooling, writing, juggling doctor appointments, etc. Great topic!! Had a lot of fun with this discussion.

And here’s the book I mentioned in the scope: Dear Committee Members by Julie Schumacher. As I said, this was my second time reading it, so you know it was enjoyable. A comic yet touching epistolary novel in the voice of a beleaguered, earnest, overly frank, romantically inept English professor at a second-tier university. Now, you know I’m a sucker for an epistolary novel! This one’s academia setting gives it a unique flavor. You’ll never read letters of recommendation like these in the real world (alas).

leafmotif

What’s happening in my house today:

Receiving_a_fax_from_Grandma_and_Grandpa._Today_s_technology_lesson_brought_to_you_by_1992.__amazeditstillworks

Receiving a fax from Grandma and Grandpa. Today’s lesson in technology brought to you by 1992. (I’m amazed the thing still works!) Huck really wanted to reply by putting his piggy bank through. Perhaps we’re still a tad fuzzy on how the tech works. (Let’s face it, it always seemed like magic to me.)

leafmotif

This one’s for Emily:

HSinfluences

My “things that influenced my homeschooling style” slide from the Brave Writer Retreat.

 

 

Hashtag: priorities

August 2, 2016 @ 2:27 pm | Filed under: Assorted and Sundry, Family

you sank my battleship

So. August. I spent yesterday recovering from a month of late nights and shifting time zones. This morning it was back to work. Still high summer (low tide) for the kids, but mama’s got a pile of Stuff to Do.

—Submit last month’s invoice for grantwriting gig, check.

—Purchase cleats & shin guards for the kid starting soccer, check.

—Take different kid to pick up her new glasses, check.

—Send note to lit class students about which edition of Beowulf to get, check. (The Heaney translation, naturally.)

—Develop map of suggested smaller project area for county-level grant application in case bigger project doesn’t get funded by the state, check.

—Start working through six weeks of email and FB messages…semi-check?

—Edit articles for side-gig…to be checked.

—Dive into fun new research for other side-gig, check pending.

—Finish picture book manuscript as promised to agent weeks ago, um, does ‘intense desire to check’ count? Yeah, no, I didn’t think so.

—Crank away on Novel Revision With September Deadline: whimper.

—Lose game of Battleship to 7yo: CHECK CHECK CHECK.

Not to make you feel old or anything, but

April 14, 2016 @ 6:02 am | Filed under: Family, Photos

…Rilla is ten years old today.

rillaandbeanie2006day1

The posts from the week following her birth gave me a lot of smiles. And then I just sat here quietly freaking out for a while because that was TEN YEARS AGO.

a monday in march

March 7, 2016 @ 8:38 pm | Filed under: Assorted and Sundry, Family, Fun Learning Stuff, Nature Study

I say, old chap!

Well, I tried. Sat down at the start of my work time today, fully intending to transition with a blog post just like the old days, but a pressing email caught my attention…and here I am eight hours later.

It has rained on and off all day. Rose is in heaven—that girl was made for the Pacific Northwest, I swear—but I’m off kilter. Happy for the moisture, of course. My poor garden needs it. My freesia had just started to bloom, though—they’ll be a bit battered after the downpour.

Assorted things to chronicle:

Last Friday I was one of six guest authors at the Greater San Diego Reading Association‘s annual Authors Fair. This year we visited Bonsall West Elementary School in Oceanside. I had three classes of 4th-graders (in two groups) whose teachers are reading them The Prairie Thief. I love this event. The kids are already deep into my book and are excited to ask questions. I always start out by reading a chapter, picking up wherever the teacher left off. This time, I got to read the first encounter between Louisa and the brownie—a super fun for me because it’s a mini-reveal. Of course, that means I have to do a Scottish accent but that’s part of the fun. The kids don’t mind if I fumble it. 🙂

***

The other night I was in here working while Scott watched a movie with the kids. He pinged me with a question from our friend Devin (our brilliant writer friend Devin, I should say). She was working on a scene for her current book and needed help with a tree identification. Here’s a screen cap of the Google Street View close-up Scott sent me:

bleecker street tree

I couldn’t zoom in any tighter than that. Too fuzzy to make out the leaf shapes. But I figured someone out there would have compiled a list of common Manhattan street trees and I turned to my best friend Google. Turns out Someone did way better than that:

the most awesome Lite Brite I've ever seen

the most awesome Lite Brite I’ve ever seen

All those colored dots are trees. Specific trees. I zoomed in on the corner of Bleecker and MacDougal and found our friend the Callery Pear. Man, I love the internet. Major props to Jill Hubley, who created that rather astounding map. And Devin’s dedication to detail is one of the many reasons I love her. Nitty-gritty lovers of the world, unite.

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Rilla has learned several speeches from A Midsummers Night’s Dream this year. And of course this means Huck is picking them up, too. Hearing them recite Puck’s monologues tickles me no end. “I go, I go, look how I go!” —or a world-weary yet amused “Lord what fools these mortals be…”

***

daniel smith watercolor chart

Here’s another thing Rilla and I have been doing with our free time. Color charts. Mmm, I could happily mix paints all day for the rest of my life if you let me.

How’s your week going?

Overheard

December 24, 2015 @ 7:00 pm | Filed under: Family, These People Crack Me Up

Scott: “What’s with all the hand gestures?”

Huck: “I’m silent-beatboxing.”

Comments are off

I guess she has a future in catalog copy?

December 22, 2015 @ 4:12 pm | Filed under: Family, These People Crack Me Up

Rilla, standing in front of the coat closet: “I’m looking for Jane’s old coat with flowers on it.”

My mother, pulling out the flowered coat directly in front of Rilla’s face: “You mean this one?”

Rilla: “No, Mom said it was an aqua background. That’s seafoam.”

Heavy Artillery

December 14, 2015 @ 11:16 am | Filed under: Family, These People Crack Me Up

Huck (returning home from a playdate): Can I add something to my wish list? Two shields, a sword and a cotton ball.

Me: …A cotton ball?

Huck: You know, the little white round puffy kind?

Me: Okay, so a regular cotton ball. I’m just curious, what’s it for?

Huck: Well, it could be two shields and TWO swords. But Parker only has one sword, so he let me use it, and he had a cotton ball that he threw at me and I deflected it with my shield EVERY TIME.

Thursday Q&A: Are they ALL bookworms?

October 15, 2015 @ 2:52 pm | Filed under: Books, Family

pocketfulofcricket

I was going to make this a Monday thing, but the week ran away from me. So let’s try Thursday. I’ve enjoyed having a regular day for posting my weekly booklists—it helps keep me on track, knowing I’ve slotted the roundup for Sundays. I thought it might be nice to set aside time to answer questions from the comments on another dedicated day. Maybe not every week—every other, perhaps? When I answer questions in the comment box, I’m never sure if the original poster sees the answer (since sometimes it takes me a while to reply). So I’m going to start pulling questions into these Q&A posts. You can leave more questions (or discussion topics in general) in the comments here and I’ll tackle them in the next Q&A.

On my High Tide for Huck and Rilla post, Jen asked,

I’ve just got to jump in and ask, do your kids read a lot in their free time?  Your philosophy is very much like what I’ve done with my kids and I also have olders and youngers.  It just doesn’t seem like mine are not like I once was and couldn’t wait to have some free time to read.  I wonder if it is all of the technology available (which I greatly limited with the older kids and have, admittedly, given too much slack with the younger ones).  I am comforted that there are still really great books going into their little ears and they have book jags every once in awhile, but…am I being idealistic in our present society or simply expecting too much of a picture book image in our homeschool?

With this many kids, my answer’s going to be all over the place. 🙂 Some of them read constantly, incessantly. One of my teens was an obsessive reader when she was younger, but now she goes in spurts—she’ll be up late many nights in a row, devouring a stack of books, and then weeks will pass where she feels sort of meh about reading and pretty much only reads things necessary for her studies. I think she gets more sleep during the meh times, so it’s probably a healthy balance.

My younger children are less book-obsessed than my older three, and I do think that has something to do with the presence of gaming devices in their world—increased options, perhaps? We have limits on game time (two hours a day), so my younger kids’ day divides roughly into morning lesson time, after-lunch gaming time, and the rest of the day is free time until evening chores. There’s a good chunk of free time in the mornings, too, most days. Whereas Jane, Rose, and Beanie were apt to spend a large portion of their free time buried in a book, my younger trio choose other activities more often—drawing, crafting, Snap Circuits, outdoor play, etc. A lot of hands-on activities. If I find them sprawled on the sofa with a book, it is probably a graphic novel or picture book. Rilla hasn’t sparked to a prose fiction series yet the way her older sisters did with Redwall, the Warriors books, Boxcar Children, and other series. She is more drawn to art books and nonfiction—specifically books about bugs, birds, and animals. 🙂

So my younger kids aren’t as bookwormish, but I don’t worry about it. I figure they are getting plenty of reading in their day through readalouds and audiobooks—as you say, “really great books going into their little ears and book jags every once in a while.” That’s a dead-on depiction of what I’m seeing here these days! Since our homeschooling style is literature-centric, I feel confident they are absorbing a wide range of excellent books, stories, and poems.

One more thought: I do make a habit of combing the shelves for good picture books every couple of weeks. I’ll swap out a batch in an easily accessible basket—or leave a pile on my dresser, which seems even more effective at catching their eye. For some reason everyone likes reading on my bed best. I display books face out so the covers jump out at the kids. Huck is especially attracted to these casual displays and I will often him lolling on my bed, surrounded by these little curated collections. They also jump on any library or review copy that comes through the door—it seems the novelty makes a book extra attractive. I’ve known them to check out library copies of books they’ve walked past on our own shelves a thousand times. And the review copies—oh boy. Anything that arrives in a box is a hot commodity. The magic of the brown truck?

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Thursday catch-up

September 24, 2015 @ 8:21 pm | Filed under: Family, These People Crack Me Up

Emily meets Frida

Whew! We moved Jane back up to college over the weekend and then, back here at home, got to spend an extra day visiting with my parents, who had come to stay with the rest of the gang while we were away. And then it was hustle-like-crazy to catch up from being gone. Which is to say, business as usual.

It’s too late in the day for a nice coherent post, but I wanted to toss down some stories I’ll otherwise forget. Huckisms, mostly…he’s been on a roll. Tonight he wanted me to take dictation for his Christmas list—no moss growing on this kid. I dutifully wrote down his three longed-for items and he leaned over the page, frowning anxiously at my cursive. “What if Santa doesn’t know this fancy writing?”

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This morning I read aloud from Child’s History of the World—our tried-and-true first history book for the younger set. Today’s chapter was about Sparta and Athens (mainly Sparta, with a thorough description of what a young Spartan boy’s life might have been like). Huck listened intently to the plight of Spartan seven-year-olds—an age only months around the corner from him—and had lots of interjections to make along the way.

After the chapter, I asked him to narrate in the casual way I generally begin with around age six or seven. Not casual enough. He instantly froze up. My kids have been about half and half with narration: three of them taking to it like ducks to water, and three feeling shy and put on the spot. Huck is one of the latter. He actually ran out of the room and had to be coaxed back by a big sister. I cuddled him into my lap and told him not to worry, it wasn’t a test, I was just curious to know if anything in the story jumped out at him.

Huck, scowling: No.

Me: Do you wish you were a Spartan boy?

Huck, galvanized: No! Because they had to leave their moms when they turned seven, and—

—and he was off, chattering away for a good five or six minutes about all the details in the chapter. This is the way it normally works with my reluctant narrators, and I smiled secretly into the top of his sweaty little head.

Suddenly, mid-sentence, he broke off and reared back to look at me, laughing. “Hey! You tricked me! I just told you all about it!”

We all melted with giggles. He was so honestly amused. All the rest of the day I was cracking up over the shocked, almost admiring tone of his “HEY!”

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The other thing that happened this week is that Rilla invented a board game. It’s called “Elemental Escape” and involves players representing Fire, Water, and Electricity (twist!) racing to the finish on a track filled with monsters. She drew a game board and mounted it on cardboard, and the game pieces are all Legos. Pretty fantastic.

board game by Rilla