Thursday, June 30, 2011

Good Campsite Keeping

Scenes from our first camping adventure. More to follow...

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Feeling a bit blocked

Stepping away from the computer to get the old supermergentroid mojo flowing again. See you in a few days!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Australia week...malaise sets in

We are getting weary. We learned a few things about Australia: where it is located, a bit about the Aboriginal people, the animals, and that Christmas happens while it is summer there. Perhaps I am trying too hard. Interest level was somewhat low. By week's end I sort of gave up and decided to regroup. We took lots of bike rides and I caught up on the laundry. I have a new found respect for homeschool mamas because I don't know how you make it work every day! I'm sure I wouldn't have the discipline.

That said, there were a few things we did that they liked:
-Made a flag for Australia, the Aboriginal flag, and one for the islands.
-Read a few good stories from a book called Stories from the Billabong by by James Vance Marshall and Francis Firebrace. Good book, and lots of animal stories.
-Watched a National Geographic video for kids about Australian animals.
-Listened to a sort of cheesy Aboriginal-inspired new age CD (best I could find at the library)
-Made cardboard boomerangs based on Aboriginal art from several books.
-Drew animal pictures in our notebooks.

I guess when I look back that is a lot of stuff! The flow just wasn't there though. I think going forward I will reduce the amount of materials I bring home, and try to pick a narrower way to approach things. Like maybe just talk about the music and art, which is the stuff they like best anyway. Mostly, I think we just need this weather to give us a couple of good swimming days so we can burn off some of this energy!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011



Barrel of herbs (and a bunch of weeds, ha ha)

The boys' sunflower house is beginning to grow

3 sisters

So different from this time six months ago

Paused for a moment yesterday to consider the ancestors, as I always do on the solstices. How different the midsummer is from the cold, barren winter. As a gardener I know that at this point in the growing season, there isn't a terrible lot to do. The planting is done. Some weeding,maybe. Thanks to the heavy rain lately I haven't even had to water. When it's not raining, it's far too hot to work for very long. It is no wonder the midsummer was a time of feasting and revelry, when you consider what life was like just six months ago, and what life will be like in six months.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

My wabi sabi wall

I had never heard of wabi sabi until reading about it on The Bounty Huntress blog. It is truly a peaceful and interesting lifestyle, as well as an art form I want to explore and learn more about. Straightaway I purchased this adorable ephemera kit from Bursts of Creativity, a shop I just love. Then during Asia week I hung all these beautiful hummingbird pictures. I chose hummingbirds because our family loves them! We have feeders in the backyard, plus it brings back great memories of trying to feed a hummingbird by hand last summer on vacation.

I like the ideas of wabi sabi---nothing is perfect, or permanent. This was a fun little thing that helped me to start thinking creatively again. I've done a lot of things with the boys but very little for me this summer. That is okay. I'll probably miss them come fall. Wabi sabi is about living in the moment.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Asia week went very, very well

Our week of studying Asian culture went so much better than I expected. We actually ended up settling into the unexpected theme of "how people pray." We talked about Buddhist meditation, mandala creation and yoga. In fact, it seemed that everywhere we turned came to a form of prayer or mediation.

You've gotta love the internet---I found tons of mandala coloring pages.

Nathan wanted to create his own mandala.

We added to our notebooks with Asian inspired art.

Our growing flag banner.

Okay, so a paper airplane isn't exactly origami...

Nathan drawing a picture of ninjas. I guess we all pick up on the things that interest us the most.

Studying koi at our favorite Chinese restaurant.

Some things we did:
  • Created mandalas
  • Made Japanese inspired floral paintings and calligraphy (well, a rough attempt)
  • Did yoga for kids (including the sun salute)
  • Tried to meditate for two minutes (very hard, lol)
  • Made flags for the three main countries we talked about: Japan, China and India, plus a country for Philippines, in honor of my sis-in-law to be
  • Learned the story of the Buddha
  • Tried origami
  • Found each country on the globe
  • Watched a video of Tibetan monks chanting
  • Watched a video called "The Little Travelers: Japan." They loved it.
  • Listened to several examples of Chinese, Japanese and Indian music.
  • Learned about Wabi Sabi (a post to follow) along with their mother.
  • Read many books...our favorites were the Jon Muth (Zen Panda) books and the Eyewitness series on the countries...they had lots of pictures and easy to find information.
  • Watched "Kung Fu Panda" again :-)

Still there were so many things I wanted to do! I wanted to talk about the Chinese calendar animals, make a sand garden, make our own lanterns, do more with many ideas. But in keeping with the theme of not stressing my kids out, I continued to limit our daily activities to no more than an hour. Plus, there are only 11 weeks in the summer, and we have a whole globe to study!

Next up: Australia. I don't have as many materials for this other than books, one video and a couple of CDs, so we will be winging it.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Happy Fathers' Day!

My guys, goofing on a Fathers' Day morning. The boys really got into making cards for their dad this year. They love to make. This year's lot included Nathan's mirror image script, Zack's full size guitar-card, and even a card from the fish (thanking him for feeding them every day.) We surprised him by being quiet enough for him to sleep in until 10am, as well as a 3-pack of his favorite gift cards (Amazon, Subway and Starbucks.) Now we will take him to a favorite Chinese restaurant for lunch (which will also conclude our Asian studies week.) Ken is happy.

This good looking man is my dad, Dan.

I miss him lots. I know he's at peace.

This hunky guy is Ken's dad, Edwin. Alas he too his missed this Sunday morning.

Ken had just five years with his dad, but you can tell they must have been five good ones.

For all the dads, you are so important to your kids. Have a wonderful day!

Friday, June 17, 2011

{this moment}

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. Inspired by Soulemama.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Dining Outdoors

I just love when the weather decides to be perfect. Doesn't happen often, so when it does I take full advantage. I serve three meals on the deck, plus have morning coffee on the front porch. I get the garden chores caught up without getting sweaty-filthy. The house stays clean because we are outside. And I often get inspired to serve really lovely things. On this particular evening it was four-cheese grilled cheeses with bacon and tomato on sourdough, served with lemonade and slabs of watermelon. Raspberry-peach pie for dessert (not mine, but still yummy!)

What I love best is no one's in a big hurry to get back indoors. We sit. We digest. We let the night fall. Something to savor.

Next week the temps will shoot back into the 90's, so I'm real glad we took advantage.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


Breaking in new hiking boots at Prairie Oaks before a summer of camping. We are trying to keep these kids outdoors as much as possible!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Cultural Studies: Italy week

Just a quick note. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I didn't sign my kids up for any camps or classes this summer. However I decided to sort of do my own cultural studies program with them. Basically there is a country or region or group of people we study every week. Some of it will correspond to things that we will be doing, for example we will study Native Americans during the week of our first camping trip, and Island Cultural during a week when we will be staying on an island (okay, in Lake Erie, lol, still it's an island!) To prep I basically scoured the library for books, DVDs, CDs and any other materials to go with the theme. I used these as a jumping off point to let the boys move into directions of their own interest.

Some things we did/studied:

  • Galileo and the night sky
  • Michaelangelo, especially the sculptures and the Sistine Chapel
  • Created our own clay sculptures
  • Zack drew a flag of Italy for what will be a banner of flags
  • Ancient Rome (used a book I got as a souvenir years ago called "Rome Then and Now"
  • Listened to lots of opera, especially The Barber of Seville
  • Listened to a bit of Italian language on my old travel tapes
  • Watched a DVD about Leonardo da Vinci
  • The Catholic church (that it is located in Vatican City, the Pope lives there, and that it is its own country.)
  • As a finale to the week, ate lunch at a nice little local Italian place.
Just to be clear, although it sounds like wow, we must have been in a classroom or something all week, it really wasn't as time intensive as it sounds. The boys love to do art, so that was easy. I had books written for children that I would read during story time, even some fun books like Olivia goes to Venice. And of course popping in a DVD is easy, or an opera CD while they would be playing Legos. The total time actually spent per day on the theme of the week did not exceed a half hour.

I enjoyed watching them open up to it and expand in their own ways. I asked them what they liked best about Italy at the end of the week and Zack responded Leonardo, because he was an artist and an inventor and a scientist. Nathan said he liked that they play a lot of soccer.

This week we are in Asia. My husband is looking forward to Phad Thai on fathers' day.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

My parents' wedding anniversary

Today would have been their 45th anniversary. Love you and miss you, Lois and Dan!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

First meals from garden

I did the first big harvest from the garden yesterday. Kale and peas. I was reminded of two things. One, I don't think I really like kale and I don't know why I keep planting it other than it is super good for you. And two, shelling peas in the shade is a nice way to spend an afternoon and really get your thoughts together.