Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Fits and starts

I am trying to settle into the varied pace of homeschooling Pablo. One day he can't stop, and the next he doesn't want to even think about anything school related. I keep being worried that I am doing something wrong, but the only thing I am really doing wrong is worrying and getting tense about pace. I still have it in my head that he needs to do something every day, but really, we have so much time. I mean, at 5 and doing 3rd grade work, if the kid wants to coast sometimes, that is fine with me.

This week we got the new They Might be Giants CD and DVD:

I am, once again, in love with these guys!!! Now Pablo is super excited about science. He wants to know all about cells, and about the periodic table. We went to the library and got books on this stuff, and he is completely psyched. The first day, he spent about 8 hours memorizing the periodic table. Today, he didn't touch it. I am getting more ok with his pace.

In other news, he is virulently against making new friends. He says he has enough, and prefers his own company. He has no interest in getting together with kids he doesn't know. I feel better about letting this sit for a while, because I remember being the same way as a child. Now I am no paragon of social ability, but I can see where he is coming from. His head is so full of his own world that trying to share it with other people would just be too much work.

Giving it time is all I can do. I feel pretty peaceful about it, which is nice.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Ink's Lake ROCKS!

and there is a lake too. We camped last weekend and it was delightful. Our campsite was probably the most beautiful I have ever seen, with a view of the lake framed by trees. We hiked, we swam, we had the best time. In fact, we loved it so much that our family now wants to camp much more often. Camping is the best thing ever.

Only 2 problems: lack of sleep, and distance from the bathroom. But hey, what do you expect? Kids, sleep, and camping don't really match.

We are trying to decide where to go next. I can't wait!

When I think of it, I will post pictures. Don't hold your breath.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Not all curricula are created equal.

Holy moly did I get a shock this week. My very sweet (and very christian) neighbor and I were talking homeschooling, and she was telling me about her favorite computer based curriculum: Switched on Schoolhouse. She had 3rd grade, and I asked to borrow it, thinking that it would break up the possible tedium of Pablo always doing workbooks. We got it, we loaded it only our ancient computer, and I started to look it over. Let the horror begin.

I mean, I knew when I loaded it that it had a christian bias, since we opted NOT to load the bible disk. What I didn't know was how pervasive it would be. Science started out with, no kidding, "Just as Adam and Eve did blah blah blah..." I was amazed at how completely inundated with biblical stuff it was. ***Now, to each their own, so don't get offended that I am not bursting with excitement at my child being exposed to christianity. I just want him to have a healthy dose of exposure when he is mature enough to understand this religion (along with others) in its context and not just blindly drink the koolaid. Religion should be a thoughtful choice, made with ALL the information.

Far and away the bigger shock was the fact that this "3rd grade" curriculum was about 2 years behind anything else I had seen. Step one for Language Arts was identifying missing letters from the alphabet, and hey, did we know that the missing ones are vowels etc. Science was stuff like "these are called plants." No kidding. I was shocked at just how behind (my concept of) grade level it was. It brought back my childhood memories of my same age niece and nephew being homeschooled, and how they were always doing these workbooks that were 2 and 3 years behind what I was doing in school. It was really strange to me that they always seemed so behind.
To me the greatest advantage of homeschooling is going at the child's pace. Artificially making it easier just doesn't make sense. Just let the child go at their pace and move through the grades as they are able, without calling 1st grade 3rd grade!

Oh well, back to workbooks for now.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Happy Birthday, my love!

Happy Birthday, my partner in crime! I love you through all the good times and bad, and I am so glad that we are making this life together. Things can be hard sometimes, but always know that I am so very grateful for you as a partner, co-parent, and friend. I hope you have the best birthday today! It is very exciting to be at the age when you start counting BACKWARDS!!

I love you.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Newborn blanket, only 20 months late!

Yep, one newborn blanket for my teeny tiny... almost 2 year old. Oh well. I am super proud of it, since it is my first serious completed knitting project. As you can see, she LOVES it!

I am now almost completely finished with my first knitted dress. It is UBER cute, and I am so very excited with how easy it has been. I have a feeling that I am getting close to designing my own patterns with knitting. Maybe. We shall see....

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Mama's Mala

I have been really trying to get more present, stay more present, and generally to stay checked in. To not gravitate toward resentments. To be aware of my thoughts, and to allow them to pass through, rather than sticking around.

I was playing with getting a tattoo on my arm to remind me, playing with words and images. Nothing really fit.

Then I thought of my mala. I thought maybe wearing it would help, and would focus me on my intention. I also thought I could meditate with it in short bursts (not the point, I know, but better than no meditation at all, right?) as needed. I couldn't find it. sigh. I looked everywhere. No dice. Then I decided maybe it was time for a new mala, a new start, a new outlook.

On the way to our camp site, we stopped and I got a new mala. Guava beads. Nothing like what I had before, since I am generally a dark woods kind of girl. This is light in color, and the beads themselves are a little rough. Nothing polished. A little beat up. Perfect for me.

When we got to the woods, Pablo and I asked the universe to bless the mala, to bring me peace, and to help us both be calmer and more focused. We agreed that we would touch it to return to the here and now, and to use it when our emotions were getting overwhelming.

I have worn it for 3 days, and I think it is making a huge difference. It is bulky enough to make me aware of it (so I can breathe) but comfortable enough that I am not bothered by it. Pablo has used it to calm himself down during upsets, holding a bead between his fingers and asking for peace. Today something upset me and at that moment, the tassle on my mala fell into my hand. I took some breaths, I got to a centered space, and I responded from a space of compassion rather than defensiveness.

And did I mention that when we got home from camping I oiled my mala with almond oil and amber essence? Amber is my absolute favorite scent, and I never wear it anymore... no time for fancy stuff for mama! But now my mala smells of amber, and it reminds me of who I used to be, and how I have grown. Some of the pre-mama parts of me are hibernating, but they are not gone for good.


Tuesday, September 8, 2009

My baby is growing up.

A few weeks ago I put away the changing pad that had sat between our two sinks for 5 1/2 years. I must be the only mama in the universe who is sad that her child potty trained so quickly. She is a big girl now, and her most common word is, "DO! DO!" as in, "I want to do this myself!"

Last week I officially declared her a 2 year old, despite having 4 months to go, when she started throwing mini-tantrums over things like having the water on longer when she washed her hands and wanting to pick her own granola bar. She isn't even shaped like a baby. She is skinny like a big kid, with no baby fat. Totally 2.

This weekend she hit a yet another milestone. I turned her carseat forward. She is plenty big enough, and has been increasingly unhappy in the car. I figured turning her around would solve the problem. I was right. sigh.

My little baby is neither little nor a baby. When she weans I will probably have a breakdown.

How did this all happen so fast?!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Pioneer Farms and Family Adventures

Last Friday we went to Pioneer Farms and had a great time. I printed out a map beforehand, so Pablo's major excitement was in being the navigator. Listening to the grownups in costume was really no big thrill in comparison to wide open spaces to run! Except for maybe the blacksmith... he was worthy of talking to. We really had a great time, and were happy to go on Homeschooler's Day. I was hoping to meet some new moms, and make some connections. Sadly, it didn't really happen that way. Everybody was pretty much doing their own thing. Breaking into to this world is a challenge for me, since I seem to have lost all of my social skills in the 6 years since having children. oy.

This weekend, we went camping with my partner's sister's family at Buescher State Park. We had a great time. I used to love to camp, but we haven't really done it since having children, with the exception of one time this spring. We are not really equipped for family camping. I only have a 2 man tent, a cook stove that has one burner, teeny tiny pots and pans, etc. Thankfully, we borrowed my brother in law's stuff, so we had what we needed to get by. I totally know what I want for xmas now, tho. I want the works for family camping. I love it so much. Nothing gets me back to myself like camping does... being in nature is grounding like nothing else.

We are scheduled to go to Inks Lake for a weekend at the end of the month. This could totally be a new addiction!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009


How very horrifying. Really. I am embarrassed to admit it but in more than 15 years of living in Austin, I had never gone to Hamilton Pool. Yes, many people had told me about it, but it just never seemed to be a priority to go. We finally went this weekend with my friend who just moved to town and spent the whole day. We had a blast, even if the other adults did tease me about making it a "learning opportunity" (Exploring the formation of stalagtites? That's not learning, that's just cool! Right? Right?!) .

My favorite part was swimming with Pablo under the (scant) falls. Floating and watching the water come down was more refreshing than I could have imagined. The only problem is that Pablo now thinks he can SWIM, ie, without any assistance. While he is improving (greatly!) he still tends to orient his body as if he is standing up rather than laying down, so he sinks. A lot. As long as he has his cool floatie on, all is well. The trick is making sure he remembers whether it is on or off! Mea culpa, I promise I don't have to be reminded to go to Hamilton Pool again! Wow. It was spectacular.

This awesomely fun time has promted me to explore Austin even more. Fridays are now officially ADVENTURE DAYS! Pablo and I have agreed to find some new place to go every Friday. Well, maybe I should amend that to say that I want to find new things. Pablo just wants to go back to Hamilton Pool every week. Ha.

This Friday we are going to Pioneer Farms for homeschoolers day. It is a living museum showing what life was like in the mid-1800s. It should be a blast. We may even get to meet some other homeschoolers, which would be nice. I haven't really broken into the community yet, but I am trying. I am also a little intimidated with going to a place like this with 2 kids who will almost always want to go in opposite directions, but hey, I can only buck up and try, right? Wish us luck!