Archive for February, 2008

84 Degrees in February

February 26, 2008 @ 9:07 pm | Filed under:

Glorious weather today. An outside, low-tide kind of day.

In the morning Beanie and I finally returned to Half Magic; I think it’s been almost two weeks. She claims it is her favorite thing in the entire world except for snuggling in bed. High praise! We’re at the part where Jane has wished she belonged to another family, and she’s the spoiled, prissy, niminy-piminy “Little Comfort” that makes the other children gag and has Bean and me in stitches.

Then Beanie wanted to start a crocheting project (she is just learning), a bookmark, so she did the “chain ten” part and I showed her how to single crochet. We worked on one row together. Then she was ready for a snack, she said, and that led to going outside, and once outside the gorgeousness of the day got into me and I decided upon an impromptu outing. We grabbed water bottles and the camera and drove to a hiking trail that leads up Cowles Mountain.

(Poor Rilla was so upset as we set off: I’d said “Do you want to go for a walk?” and she sprinted for her shoes, and then suddenly she was being hustled into the car and WHAT IS THIS CAR NONSENSE? YOU PROMISED ME A WALK! Oh, the wrath and woe. Until she found a water bottle from yesterday with a little left in it and got busy pouring it down her shirt.)

We’ve often driven past this mountain but never hiked it. And I knew we weren’t up for the full mile-and-a-quarter trek to the top today, not me alone with the five, but we thought we see how far we could get. At first I thought that wasn’t going to be much farther than the parking lot. Wonderboy has a thing about wanting everything to be always the same, always just so. Usually when I wear Rilla in the sling, he is riding in the stroller. But this time of course we couldn’t use the stroller; I needed him to walk. But Rilla was in the sling. He cried. He resisted. He became increasingly agitated (aka LOUD). I quailed from the possibility (inevitability, it seemed) of shattering the peace of the morning air for all the other hikers: the parking lot was full; we could see a number of people ascending and descending on the trail. They would hate us, I feared. I couldn’t do it, couldn’t in good conscience ruin their pleasant hike, scare off the birds, most likely cause rockslides from the vibrations of Wonderboy’s wails. We would have to bail. And just as I was heaving the sigh that would precede my resigned announcement to some disappointed girls, the boy accepted this unseemly breach of routine and consented to trot alongside me, holding my hand.

So we hiked.

The girls ran ahead up the path, and I tried to take pictures but I’m sure they are all blurry because I only had one hand free and never stood still. Wildflowers everywhere: orange poppies, some kind of purple flower on tallish stalks (I’ll post a blurry photo later and y’all can ID it), black-eyed Susans galore. Oh, it was splendid. Clear air, soaring blue sky, Mount Helix green in the distance and Mount San Miguel a charcoal presence behind it, spiked with radio towers.

Far above us on the trail, but only perhaps halfway up the mountain, were some giant boulders, a gnarled outcropping of sandy yellow stone. I thought maybe we’d go up half as far as those rocks, but the girls kept wanting to go a bit farther, a bit farther, and suddenly we were there. The trail was muddy and rocky and pocked with puddles—all this rain we’ve had of late—but with a view like that, oh, who cares?

Rose wanted to go to the top. By then I was wearing Rilla in front and piggybacking Wonderboy, so no, no summit-reaching today. Our descent was challenging. Near the bottom Rilla began to voice some complaints about sharing her pack-horse with her brother, and things might have come to disaster but for the kind intervention of a young mom on her way down the hill. She sweet-talked Wonderboy into letting her tote him the last few curves in the trail.

We made it.

Home, snacks, water; no one really wanted lunch. Rose and Bean played a computer game (“we’re learning math, Mom”), Jane re-read the Emily Starr books, Rilla nursed for like ever, Wonderboy watched The Wiggles.

Rose asked me to help her start a knitting project which is supposed to be a Mother’s Day present for me. She worried a bit about having to spoil the surprise by asking for my help, but it starts with ribbing and she doesn’t know purl yet. I told her getting to make it with her is a present in itself. She got chatty while I cast on.

The baby went down for a nap. Rose and I turned over the compost pile. Beanie scootered in the backyard, Wonderboy rode his fire truck. Jane was still inside reading, or maybe by then she was working on the funky math project she got out of Mathematics: A Human Endeavor: she made this set of numbered cards with special hole punches at each end, and there’s a way of sticking unbent paper clips through the holes that separates out the numbers in certain ways, and it represents an algorithm and also the Fibonacci sequence and possibly the cure for cancer. Whatever it was, it was cool. She also copied out this drawing puzzle thing where I had to start drawing a line inside a rectangle and whenever I came to a wall, make a right angle and keep drawing. It made a very cool diamond pattern and I loved it, loved that she is so on fire about this sort of thing and willing to patiently teach me about it. I love being homeschooled.

Psst: Happy News for Homeschoolers

February 25, 2008 @ 8:18 pm | Filed under:

Alice Gunther’s book about socialization is on its way.


To quote the publisher:

Most of us at one time or another have had to wrestle with the issue of socialization, either in dealing with friends and family members who question our decision to home educate, or from our own hearts as we worry about our children’s hopes for friendship. In this book Alice shows that “Socialization is not the weakness of home education—it is its strength and joy.”

Coming this spring from Hillside Education…I for one am counting the days!

Anyone Got an ID For Me?

February 25, 2008 @ 8:42 am | Filed under:

Not the best photo but it’s all I had time for before he flew away. This is a new visitor to our yard; he was supervising the rowdy finches at the feeder this morning. He’s bigger than a finch, almost robin-sized.

We don’t get anything like the variety of birds to our feeders here that we got in Virginia, at the feet of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Gone are the charcoal-colored juncoes, the chipper titmice, the sweet chickadees, the nuthatches and downy woodpeckers and flickers. We used to have a nesting pair of bluebirds right outside my office window, and two cardinal couples who came for dinner every evening. Now and then a huge pileated woodpecker would dazzle us from the neighbor’s tree, and sometimes a hawk would swoop low and scare the mourning doves.

Here in the suburbs of San Diego, in this particular yard at least, there are only finches: house, purple, gold; and sparrows; and arrogant crows; and one inquisitive phoebe, a Say’s Phoebe, who likes to perch on our side-yard fencepost and survey the action in the street.

Oh, and parrots! A raucous flock of them, green and squawking in the treetops, fluttering up en masse and swirling together to the next tree. Always, by the time I’ve run for my camera, they are gone.

There is an elementary school on the other side of our back fence (I know, the irony is delicious), and last week my parents were walking along along the schoolyard fence with my three youngest bairns when they encountered a science teacher carrying cages of cockatiels. He let the kids play with the birds and told my parents he is putting a nesting box for the parrots in the big tree right behind us; he’s hoping for eggs so he can raise a pair.

So: parrots we’ve got. But I miss my Eastern birds, I do.

This fellow, the newcomer: I hope he’ll return. I don’t know what he is—yet. Any thoughts?