Archive for June 19th, 2006

All Is Quiet on the Butterfly Front

June 19, 2006 @ 5:31 pm | Filed under:

After all the excitement last week, the past few days have been positively anticlimactic. And yet the suspense remains. Herodotus continues to chomp his greens, but…he isn’t growing. He has been the same smallish size for four or five days. Homer got big and fat very quickly, growing noticeably larger day by day until the day he fastened himself to the twig—the last happy day of his life, we melodramatic types are wont to call it.

Herodotus eats for much of the day, but he isn’t plumping up. The words failure to thrive whisper themselves in the back of my mind…

We wait and wait, and we’ll see.

Meanwhile, there is still no sign of The Monster, in any form. I’ve tried to find out how long his pupa stage might last, for surely that’s where he’s gone, right? If he has indeed made a cocoon of Homer’s body, it can’t be much longer now before he emerges as an adult wasp.

More waiting and seeing!

First How, Then What

June 19, 2006 @ 11:50 am | Filed under:

The Curriculum Post, Part 2
(Part 1 is here.)

This morning a friend and I were talking about all the homeschooling materials we have bought and never used. Both of us have shelves full of books and resources we used just a little, or thought we’d use but never did, or decided not to use after we got a thorough look at them. We laughed at ourselves for being a ridiculous combination of curriculum junkies and unschoolers. It struck me that I don’t like to use curriculum, I just like to read it.

This is a good thing to know about myself. I like to know what’s out there, what the possibilities are. I love learning about learning: how people learn, what they’re using. And home education materials, the ones for sale in the catalogs, aren’t the sort of thing you find on the shelves of your local library. You might find all the great books that are used in various literature-based programs, for example, but you won’t find the nifty instructors’ guides with the schedules and timelines and all that stuff. And I love seeing the schedules. I’ve never, ever had a desire to follow one strictly, but I like to see other people’s notions of how to structure things.

So much comes down this to question of how. Really, the what is pretty easy to figure out. Math, science, history, literature, art, foreign languages: the details may vary but by and large there’s a body of knowledge most of us would like our children to absorb. We all want them to be able to think logically and communicate well, so reading and writing are generally prominent in our goals for our kids. But how to get there? It’s all about that how.

That’s why I began my answer to the “what curriculum do you recommend” question with that “what kind of homeschooler are you” quiz. It helps you get a feel for what learning style appeals to you—and to your individual kids. Chances are you’ll come up with several different answers within one family. I’ve got one child who likes to immerse herself deeply in one subject or interest at a time, soaking herself in the topic until she is saturated in every pore. The daughter next in line adores boxes and checklists and nice orderly schedules with a Plan spelled out clearly. The nice thing about our tidal homeschooling approach is that I can accommodate both those temperaments and the needs of my three younger children all at the same time. People have a hard time believe it, but really, homeschooling is the easiest thing I do. (And so! much! fun!)

In the days ahead, I’d like to take a closer look at some of the different answers to how. When I take Guilt-Free’s quiz, I always come up either Unschooler or Charlotte Mason Homeschooler, which is no surprise. That fits right in with my whole tidal learning thing—in our low-tide times we are more like unschoolers and in our high-tide times we are more like CMers.

One of the things I have learned about learning is that there is most definitely no one size (or style) that fits all. What works for my kids may not make any sense at all for your kids, and vice versa. But I think it helps all of us to know what’s out there, to see how other people are living and learning. So over the next week I’ll be looking at several different kind of learning styles, using Guilt-Free‘s fun quiz as a jumping off point, and making (and collecting from you!) specific curriculum recommendations for each one. This means I’ll need lots of reader input, so spread the word!

That’s the project. Call it harnessing my inner curriculum junkie for good.

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Blood and Guts in the Bonny Glen

June 19, 2006 @ 3:24 am | Filed under:

Seriously, what is going on around here? First it’s the caterpillar horror show. Now it’s dinner theater, Prometheus style.

Father’s Day morning: The girls were gathered around the table in the breakfast nook, enjoying the cinnamon swirl coffee cake they’d made for Daddy, when suddenly a bird swooped down to alight in the grass in our backyard.

“Mommy, you have to see this!” they hollered. They know news of a new bird sighting will always bring me running, and none of them recognized this one. Scott and I peered over their heads at the good-sized bird under the white pine. It was bigger than any of our songbirds, bigger than a mourning dove, gray-brown with white cheeks and a short, curved beak—

“Honey, is that a kestrel?” I asked breathlessly.

It was. (UPDATE: Or maybe not. Sharp-eyed commentors have ID’d it as a peregrine falcon. Which is even better. Because, you know, falcons are just cool. Also, we love the word “peregrine” because of Pippin Took.)

See, Scott and I have a thing about hawks. No drive in the country is complete without a good hawk sighting. If we flash past one sitting in a tree, we’ll turn around and go back for a better look. We actually planned our honeymoon journey around a raptor rehab center in Vermont.

So having one on the grass right outside our kitchen window was pretty much Scott’s ideal Father’s Day gift. We aim to please around here.

Just about the moment we were all exhaling an ooohh of wonder, it dawned on us that this kestrel peregrine falcon was probably hanging out in our backyard for a reason. There’s really only one reason for a bird of prey to be standing on the grass—standing in a fixed posture with one leg stiff and immobile, as if pinning something down.

“Did he catch something?” I whispered, as if I might disturb him through the glass.

“I think he might ha—” said Scott, and it was right about then that the wickedly curved beak dipped down and tore off a stringy piece of flesh.

Feathers went flying. My little girls’ ooohhhhs abruptly became shrieks.

“Oh, the poor little bird!”

We couldn’t tell what it was. Other than lunch, I mean. Possibly a mourning dove: the feathers were gray. We stood there in rapt horror (so to speak) and watched the kestrel falcon devour its prey strip by strip.

And of course I ran for the camera. I stupidly zoomed in all the way, so these pictures are a little fuzzy. But I think you get the idea.




Just another warm and cheery morning in the Bonny Glen.