Thursday, June 29, 2006

Epsom Salts and Lavender Tea

Okay, so I did my reading and decided that an Epsom Salt bath and some herbal lavender tea would be a good way for us to end GM's day. He readily agreed to it. He really wants this gluten out of his system, he WANTS to feel good. He soaked (laying down) in the bath for twenty minutes (the time most sites said was appropriate) then got out and wrapped up in a towel and went to lay down on his bed.

I decided to make him an herbal tea and added some lavender to it. I made the tea and then let it cool a bit so he would drink it. Now I have tried this in the past with NO SUCCESS!! However I went in and explained to him that this tea would help him to rest tonight and that it is important for him to drink it to feel better. I also said he may not love it, but it isnt disgusting either. He said okay and drank it. He said it wasnt too bad. I had to have him drink it within five-ten minutes so he wouldnt drag it out all night and he did it! I am sooooo happy right now. Then he said he wanted to just have some quiet time in his room alone for a bit to finish his resting he started in the tub!!!! I was really happy to hear this, and immediately gave him his space!!!! YIPPY SKIPPY!!! :-)

Im so happy to end today on a good note! We're going to get through this and move into a whole new level of joy in his life. It's all about finding that joy!!!

When things fall apart

Okay, so I did well this morning. The kitchen is clean, the kids had breakfast, I made a nice salad for my husband and got the boys to get their room picked up. However we are in need of a big family hug. My son is having a hard time and having one of us feeling so out of sort has just thrown us all off our rhythm. I am exhausted. I am having to breath in patience at every turn and try to keep telling myslef that he will get through this, and that we will be better off once we come out the other side of this transitional time.

However, I am kidding myself if I think we can try to move through our days as though we arent in the middle of a difficult time for our family. No it isnt huge, or life shattering, but it is demanding the attention it needs. So I have decided to give into it. We are all going to spend our afternoon in my big bed, in our jammies, snuggled up to watch a movie together. We can all snuggle up and feel comforted by one another, while not having to really communicate or cooperate. I think sometimes when things feel like they are falling apart, these are the times when you really need to pull them in closer. It is a short period of time when we can just grab up our family and say "lets all just snuggle". So I am declaring this afternoon.... Snuggle Time! :-) The boys are excited, and are picking out a movie that they want to share with Mommy and ME. GM asked if we can have some popcorn, I figure sure, why not, its a party afterall!!

On another note, yesterday when GM and I were talking about some of the difficulties we are having right now, GM said to me that he really doesnt ever want to have gluten again. He wants it out of his system too. I just hope we get the results I have told him we are going for. He knows we need to give it six months from the last time he had gluten to see if it works, but still lets hope we know sooner!


Well, I am doing research this morning on how to help my son through this gluten detox period. He is a mess, truly a mess and I cant stand to see him so miserable and not be able to help him through it. I will order him some enzymes to help break the gluten and cassein down and get them out of his system faster. He havent yet cut out cassein because we need to get through this stage one first. Although if it will cause another detox period like this, I may wish we had just gone cold turkey to get to the other side faster. This is hard, not the diet, that is going great, but the emotional roller caster that he is on is just really hard right now.

So for today I plan to...

  • order the enzymes we need
  • find a naturopath here who can help us with some of this
  • make lavender waffles for the kids
  • Bake a loaf of bread for grilling sandwiches
  • Clean the kitchen (kids outside in yard playing)
  • Clean the living room (kids still oustide in yard playing)
  • Make a grilled Salmon salad for lunch with Dad
  • Clean the front room (office) - Quiet time for the kids (games, legos and reading)
  • laundry, laundry, laundry
  • Crabcakes for dinner for Dad, ME and GD (gf breaded fish for GM and me).
  • Evening rhythm (game time, put the bedroom to sleep -chores-, storytime wih Dad)

That is the plan and I will update as the day moves along, probably after lunch.

Also I will hopefully get to post about the new math and some preschool stuff tonight. Maybe.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Santa Fe Arts Alive!

Museum Hill in Santa Fe, NM does a terrific summer program which is free to the public. We fell in love with it last year, but we are really excited about all the great projects that this summer has planned. Each project is completely free, and taught by true artisans, most of which are featured at the world renowned Santa Fe Spanish Market. So you are really learning a craft by a true practitioner.
This week I invited two of our cousins and my sister-in-law to join us for the day. We drove up to Santa Fe this morning to learn about tinwork and make a project. All the kids made one, including my SIL and myself. It was a fun thing to do, and set to the backdrop of the Santa Fe mountains, it makes for quite a day. GM was quite grumpy unfortunately, I think we are literally in the throws of detox with the gluten. It has been really difficult for him to be anything but negative and hyper. However he did get it together in the end and was able to make it into a nice day. Im not sure if I will invite others in the future, it seems we just have more fun and do better when it is just us and GM isnt so frazzled. I was hit in the gut today by that whole "should we medicate" question. I just hate to see him so upset and negative while everyone around him is so happy and having so much fun. It is really painful to watch, I cant imagine feeling that way soooo often. It crushes my heart. Not that we are going to medicate, but man, I hope this diet can help him to just feel good. For goodness sakes, he is a little boy, these should be fun days.

One for the River

Our Roots & Shoots group sponsored an event this year called "One for the River". This was the event's sixth year, however the previous coordinator needed to step down and asked our group to take it over in hopes of getting more children involved. We really had a great day.

So what is One for the River? It is a day of gratitude and reverance for the river and the community that it supports. It is about taking time out of our busy lives to come down to the bosque and bring a little water from home to "give back" to the river during the hottest and longest time of the year (longest days that is), summer solstice.

We all came down to the river, both R&S families and other community members; and brought water from our homes. The morning began with each family adding some of their water to the main bowl and saying where they brought it from and who they are. Once we all contributed to the bowl the kids then took the bowl around the bosque and spread it out around the trees. This was followed by a pilgrimage to the rivers edge where a Shaman said a blessing and asked each person to take a moment to say thank you to the river before pouring their water in.

This was followed by my introducing our R&S kids and having them march our peace dove around the bosque to the sound of traditional native american flutes playing. It was great. They all took it so seriously and were so proud of their dove.

This was then followed by people sharing stories or art work that they made to share that morning. Almost every family had at least one child who chose to make something and share it. They were terrific.

After all the One for the River ceremony was over, our group stayed in the bosque for a nature playdate and our end of year party. Our group does not do "recognition" however we did receive a wonderful letter and certificate from the Roots & Shoots headquarters and Dr. Goodall herself. I was so happy for the kids I made copies of them and gave each family one to keep at home. I also made them cd's with music that supports our goals in R&S. It was a lot of fun. the kids were happy, and I loved having them all get to play in the bosque. They were having so much fun exploring, climbing trees and playing with the sticks and things they found. From the youngest little itty-bitties all the way up to the Mom's and Dad's. It was a nice way to spend a Saturday morning.

Fiber Farm Monday Morning

Monday morning we hopped in the car and headed out to Edgewood for a tour and discussion on Fiber Farming. This ties in really nicely for GM's "theme" for third grade. We were able to pet and feed a lot of great animals including Llamas, Alpacas, goats, sheep, donkeys, dogs and a wonderful Angora bunny. The kids were able to see the difference between the animals who were recently shorn (? sheered?) and were able to feel the different fibers from each animal in bags where they could really get a sense of the texture. The farmer there took them through the history of fibers and all the various ways of making thread or yarn. They also showed a varitey of ways to work with the thread such as knitting and weaving. They really did a terrific job of showing how you can farm for fibers and live a nice life. the farmer also explained the difference between milking goats and fiber goats, as well as allowing them each to get out in the various yards and interract with the animals. We all really loved it. This is another one of those activities that is great for all three kids. No matter what the age, they all loved it, even Mom.
Here are a few pictures from Father's Day that blogger wouldnt let me upload until today. The Pole Flyers were incredible and the Aztec dancers were beautiful. I love living so close to the Cultural Center.

The Music Man

We were invited to participate in a morning of music and information about a dozen different string instruments from around the world. This was a great way to start a nice summer morning. We got to sit in the shade in a friend's backyard with about 15 kids and parents while a professional musician showed us lots of different instruments, told us how they are made and played a few songs for us. GM really loves the thumb harp.
I love stuff like this, it suits all ages and is even enjoyable for Mom. The kids had a nice time and even learned a thing or two along the way.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Waking up from a long sleep

I have been spending a lot of time thinking about this journey of parenthood and the choices we make and the extreme reality of it all. Each child is this little record keeper of the journey, absorbing the world as we present it to them and forming it into something that works for them, like a bit of clay that changes in the hands of each child. The constant pull between all powerful and completely powerless coming together to form our kids and the next generation.

It can be overwhelming, yet we so often do it on autopilot. We flow with the "times" we bring into our family recipe the things that "everyone is doing" and use that as the measure of what we find acceptable within our own children. However who are "everyone" are they what we see and recognize as desirable, do we look at this "everyone" and think "yeah, that is what I want for my kids" or do we just sort of do it because noone seems to question it and the flow of the river is just too strong to bother paddling in a different direction? Certainly I am not saying that all the things that "everyone" is doing are wrong or incorrect on some basis of the hard way being the righteous way, I am just wondering about how much, or rather, how little, thought goes into the choices we make for our families. The foods we feed them, the way we educate them, the way we discipline them, or how we set up and create our homes. I remember walking around college campus, doing research on the effects of contemporary and historical advertising on the confidence of a Mother's instincts recognizing the effort the students took to get to college and how hard they work to impress a Professor for that grade and to further their ability in their careers, yet we barely take the time to research the choices we make for our families. It is interesting.

What I have been thinking about lately isnt so much just that, I have been thinking about how now that I have almost 10 years of parenting (including pregnancy) under my belt, have I myself risen to that ideal I had set in my mind? Am I making choices that I am proud of for my family? Am I white water rafting down the river or am I struggling to paddle us into what is truly right for our family? I dont know!

In hindsight I can see where I veared off the path. Where I allowed my subconscious to come in and steer the boat for a while. When GM began showing so many symptoms of Autism, and my boat began to rock. I was never upset about it as much as concerned. I wanted information and a plan for how to assist him in the best ways I could, without medication if at all possible. So I lost some vision for where the boat was going because I was so focussed on one of the passengers. I think this is when I allowed my subconcious to come in and take over the "vision" for our family.

So what is up with this subconcious anyway? A few years ago I woke up and realized that I had placed us inside of a picture that was the basic opposite of who I am and how I was raised. I woke up one day and found myself living in a big house in a terrific neighborhood surronded my stay-at-home Moms who all drove minivans and belonged to clubs and scouts and so on. They were the picture of the perfect family. I loved these families and their children, they have terrific lives that are filled with depth and wonder, but I wasnt in the right place. I wasnt raising MY kids, I was playing a part, I was trying to be something that was completely unnatural to me. What on earth was I thinking that I would even consider raising my kids away from their large family, the one thing I always yearned for as a kid? How is it possible for us to achieve our vision for our family with my husband working until 8:30pm each night, unless that vision was for the house, the car and the perfect lawn. Which it wasnt. It was like I woke up in some sort of painting that I had never seen, yet I was the one who had painted it. I put together all the outer ingredients for what I thougth it took to raise happy children, but what I forgot was that unless the environment is true, and real, as it was for my neighbors, it was nothing but an empty shell. The environment I created actually undermined the very things I swore too while walking around on campus and creating my vision in my mind. WOW, talk about a subconcious ride. I had flown down river for years, and never realized that I was going the wrong direction.

What woke me up? The very thing that had knocked me out, GM. I always wanted to homeschool my kids when I was in college. I had visions of teaching them from my garden and traveling the world to experience life and cultures, yet once we detoured in one area of our life with Autism, I accidentally allowed everything to shift. I forgot, yes, forgot about my vision and became focussed on trying to figure out how to help GM. It was as though I was standing on a mountain that was built of years of thoughts and dreams and it suddenly all fell away, leaving the two of us up high on top of the peak with no way down accept to figure it out step by uneasy step. At the time I was oblivious to this happening, I was so focussed on my research and on his therapies I didnt even notice the mountain had disappeared. It wasnt until he started a kindergarten program that wasnt going to work for him, and I went to a conference on RDI and the Dr said, HOMESCHOOL them, that I woke up. Oh yeah, what am I doing, why am I trying to fit my organic shaped child into this rigid mold? I am failing him by trying to make the picture come together for him. He doesnt need to fit into any picture, we need to paint one that is all about him, that uses his shapes and colors and which comes from my heart, not my subconcious. Hurray! I was free again. I took him out of school and set back on the journey to finding our way back to the path that was always right for us, before we even got started.

My husband and I began the three year journey of trying to find a way to return to the southwest, to get back on track and to have our lives reflect our hearts. It took a long time, but finally we are here, and living without a set framework for how to build a "happy family" we are building "OUR family". It may look funny from the outside, and there may be many things that someone on the outside might not recognize as the patented signs of the happy family, but we are doing great! It feels raw and sometimes scary, but not like before, before I felt hollow and uneasy about things, now I feel fulfilled and that even though I may be making mistakes left and right, they are the right mistakes, they are mistakes that are made while seeking out what is right for us, so in the end they still help us get to our vision. We got here last May and bought the house my husband grew up in. It isnt a beautiful home on a lovely corner lot, with a manicured yard and surrounded by egually lovely homes, in fact it is old, in a so-so neighborhood and it needs a lot of work, but I LOVE it! Not because of how it looks, but because of what it means to us. The boys now sleep where their father slept as a boy, and that broken door jam is a memory of that big fight my husband and his brother had 20 years ago. It has meaning to us and so it enriches our lives in ways the other home simply couldnt do; it just didnt have the history. It also sets up an example for the kids that we want to honor our family history and that we will make this house into our dream home, but starting from this foundation, the same foundation that supported Daddy all those years.

I have to wonder how I will look back at this ten years from now, will I feel we missed a turn here and there, or will I think it was one of the most defining times in our lives? I dont know, but I can say that I feel very awake right now. I feel very in touch with myself and my own past. Im not standing in a crowd, enjoying the view, Im riding right up front, the wind in my face and the sensation of being alive is constant.

As the mother in this family I have to stay true to who I am, and where I come from. If I am not true to that, then everything else I try to teach them will be built on a false foundation and simply wont hold. I cant get back those eight years, and as much as I regret that we didnt stay on this path throughout, I have to hope that the kids will learn that you can wake up one day and recognize that you are heading the wrong direction, and you CAN make changes in your life. You will have to paddle against the stream for a bit, but you can and should do it if it is what your heart knows to be right.

So are we back on track? Not completely, I guess that is why this is in my mind lately. I do feel incredibly close though. I joke about being dangerously close to "on track" but I really do feel that way. I feel like Im in that crazy mode when your cleaning out a closet and all the crap is all over the floor and makes no sense but it is sorted and ready for that final hour of just getting it into place. It looks like an incredible mess on the outside, almost like you made it worse, but soon, BAM it will be amazing!

Lets hope!

Christopherus Recorded Lectures

I went ahead and bought and downloaded the first of a series of lectures which Donna Simmons is offering on her site. I must first say that WOW do I love the format!! I literally have a pile of books next to my bed which is taller than my nightstand and I try so hard to read as much as I can, but reading is a solo effort, I cant be doing my dishes, or folding laundry or vacuuming while I read. BUT, I can put on my trusty iPod and listen to an hour of Donna talking about slings, or reading to preschoolers, or how important order is to a kindergartener! I felt efficient, satisfied and down right excited by being able to be getting my stuff done WHILE learning something to help out my family.

So on to the lectures...

The first is on the pre-school child, so basically birth to kindergarten, but not including kindergarten. She touched a bit on how Waldorf and AP styles are similar and how they differ, giving her opinions on things like the Family Bed and the sling, extended breast feeding etc. AP has been a style I have strived for since before GM was born, although after listening to the points that Donna made I can see how even with all my research and my striving for a fully attached style, I definitely missed a few important points. She did a good job of really explaining the need to wear the baby as often as possible, starting from first in the morning. GM is our autistic child (at this point he was much more highly affected by his autistic symptoms) and basically screamed when held. So that changed things from my plan a bit. However in listening to Donna I wonder if I could have tried a bit harder to get him through that and tried to hold him more. He did LOVE the baby backpack and literally would stay in there for an entire day, Without making a peep. However, it was difficult to where him there all the time, especially because of how you couldn't really bend forward. So what have I learned, well, basically to keep trying. In retrospect, I can see how maybe changing from a store bought sling thingie to more of an Asian style sling which would allow me to get him firmly on my back. It certainly may not have worked, but there are a lot of ways to achieve the same result, and I, at the time, just wasnt aware of all my options. Which if any of you knew me before and during my pregnancy you will be laughing, because I was a researching fool!! From college straight through until today. So geez, it is wild how much you only learn from experience.

On to the kindergarten; this was a nice talk on some of the how and why's of a Waldorf kindergarten classroom. I would have liked a bit more on translating the essence of the things a Waldorf teacher would do or set up in a classroom, into the home environment. She does do this on a lot of things, such as order, transitions and choices of playthings. I think I was just really interested in how she addressed these things and wanted more. So again, it wasn't a shortcoming, but I was just really interested in the topic. She touches on rhythm and even hinted to an entire lecture on it in the future. I would love that. She does a good job of talking about how to keep it simple and start with little steps. Also she makes a point to say that an unnatural rhythm will exhaust rather than support a family. I took this in, and I think I will digest that a bit to see where I am trying to achieve an unnatural rhythm. I do feel supported by our rhythm, however it does often feel sort of like "here we go" kind of thing. I will reread my foundation guides (in that big stack of books) on rhythm, I loved how Beth addressed it and gave a solid process for how to achieve it, I just need to refresh with new eyes.

So basically I really enjoyed the lectures and I'm REALLY looking forward to the rest of them. There is an ABUNDANCE of info out there about birth through age 7 in Waldorf literature and resources. But not so much after that. I'm excited about her moving up into the later elementary years and the nine-year change. :-)

I would give them a 9 out of 10 score. I really loved listening, the format rocked, and the content was terrific. I would almost love more like three lectures per level, so each thing can really be examined. It seemed like Donna had more to share than she had time to do it in. So being able to delve into things like rhythm, setting up a Waldorf home and nurturing the Mother would be terrific.

In the end I must say I kept thinking to myself, Geez, by the time I get really good at all this, my kids will be all grown up. LOL, I may need to have that one more baby in my 40's just to get it right! (kidding)

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Down on the Farm

What a nice way to start your day, and our weekend. Friday was our second class at Los Poblanos Organics. GM did GREAT! He planted a lot of seeds, learned about a cool seeder machine they use on the farm and measured some plants to monitor their growth for next time. GD even joined in here and there. He said he wanted to do the class and planted a couple of sees before bailing out again. I told him he had to decide for real and he chose just to observe with ME and do it next summer instead. So that was short. :-)

I envy the people who get to work there. It is such a beautiful property and the smell in the air is just amazing. There are so many great little hideaways and enchanted little places to find. I just love it there. The kids all are so happy when we are there and they are getting to be outside in the shade and the plants and of course the chickens. They all love to gather the eggs after class, who would guess they have some in their own yard, but I guess I agree, it is much more fun when you get to find an egg!

Saturday we worked at the museum in the morning. GM held Bobbie, the 5.5 foot long gopher snake, Albie, the albino King Snake and Yai Koatl the milk snake and he got to take Tommie, the young box Turtle for a walk. She kept on biting my shoe and holding on, he loved that!! Both days were really nice, I like having them back to back like that. It should make for a nice summer.

Enki Math Grade One Blackline Masters arrived!

Well I received my copy of the Math CD in the mail the other day and have been printing it out and reading through it. This is for the first grade only, unlike the old publishing which encorporated the second grade lessons as well. This disk comes free with the math program from the Enki Website.

Just a peek into the table of contents for those who are interested. This is only the Blackline Masters which are in addition to the program not the entire math program. I will post on that when I get it.

Included you get...

Number Symbol Practice Sheets
Cuisenaire Workbook (35 sequential exercises)
Cuisenaire Puzzles
Number qualities worksheets (including odd/even and Greater/Less)
Four Process Work (lots of good stuff here)
Four Process Quiz (practice) sheets (lots and lots)

It has gotten me really excited about the scope of the math program for first grade. This touches on more than Saxon 1 but in a way that will fit into our lives better. GD is ecited to get started and wants me to print him some up now. I may let him play with it ofr fun until I get the other manuals; but Im not sure yet.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Happy Father's Day!

Our Father's Day was a nice quiet day helping the Daddy in our home to relax and have a nice day. We met with Tata (my FIL) and our B & SIL at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center for lunch and to enjoy a performance by the amazing Aztec traditional dancers, followed by the seriously awesome Pole Flyers. These guys are very, very brave. My palms are sweating even typing what they did on this incredibly tall and narrow pole. They climb up the whole thing with absolutely no safety precautions and proceed to have one of the five guys DANCE on the top of the pole, while playing a flute and hand drum. Im talking stomping on ONE foot very, very high in the air. It was so unnerving to watch. I was a wreck. But then the other four guys flip backwards off the top and have ropes around their waste and spin in circles moving in different formations in complete silence. It was incredible!! A must see at some point. The tradion is from Vera Cruz, Mexico and apparetnly is still done there quite often. I get so excited when I see the passion and beauty of things from other cultures, and places. It was beautiful.

Dad had a nice day so that was good! He came home and snuggled up with his little girl in the big chair and they both took a nap while I ran around trying to find some more gluten-free flours I need for a few recipes. Trader Joe's stinks by the way!!! LOL Well I like TJ's but they had NOTHING in their baking section. Literally there were maybe five things. However they do have a nice pre-printed list of GF items available in their store, you can get it on their site too, but I forgot mine. However after being spoiled by the tags at Wild Oats it just wasnt the same. Some of their prices are good so I had fun none the less. The Volpi prosciutto with basil and mozzarella rolls are SO good, and SO bad for you! Mmmmmmm!!

Whole foods on the other hand had EVERYTHING I was looking for!!! All they need are the tags and WOW!!! Im still a coop gal at heart, but for baking goods and gf availability Whole Foods wins in Albuquerque.

I decided on Saturday to do the diet along with GM and to tell him what we were doing now that I am better educated and ready to make a full go of it. He has been soooo much better about it, I think explaining to him that he has been basically GF for over a week made him feel better about it, plus he is happy that it is both of us. It wasnt easy at lunch on Sunday, but we did it! So Im on day two, and Im really excited about it. Im hoping to feel better, less toxic, and to regain some lost energy. I want to get back to feeling good and energized again so that we can consider another baby. I just feel like since Im now 35, pregnancy wont be quite like it was when I was 31, 28 or 26!!! I want to be really healthy and detoxed. I also want to be certain that I have done all I can on my end to help prevent any form of developmental delay issues. I have had two children with issues, one not as prominent as the other, so I will rest better during the pregnancy if I feel I have done all I can via diet, vitamins, and lifestyle choices. I have done this with all my pregnancies, but in reading about gluten so much and how it effects some people I am really hoping to feel a lot better without having it in my system. From what I have read it should really help with that sluggish feeling I get each day.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

More on third grade...

Below I listed my responces to what Enki is calling for in the third grade curriculum overview, but we are doing some other things that arent on there at all. Such as a more in depth block on Jataka Tales. I know in Waldorf third grade the Old Testament is a huge part of the year, and the Creation stories from many cultures is sort of the Enki counterpart to that, however I wanted to take some time to really enjoy the Jataka Tales. I find them to be really inspiring and beautiful. Currently I am reading Kindness: A Treasury of Buddhist Wisdom for Children and Parents and we have read many stories from the 20 Jataka Tales book; however a friend of mine turned me on to these wonderful childrens picture books of Jataka Tales published by Dharma Publishing. I ordered their twelve book collection and a couple of coloring books and they are wonderful, beautiful, hard bound books that Im sure each of the kids will really enjoy. It comes with a Teacher's Guide, which I havent really checked out yet, but it may have some crafts or ideas for expansion in there. This block will be united with GD and GM together.

The continents block I mentioned below will be a lot of fun and something we did for our Science Coop this past spring with Africa, but I want to expand it a bit. We will have a block with each continent, where we will explore the biomes, ecosystems, native animals and resources for each continent. We are making large (18X24) spiral bound books (main lesson books style) for each continent and will then be able to come back and add in to them when we begin looking at the history of Man on that Continent. During each continents block we will (in a way not obvious to the kids) be listening to native music, making native crafts, hearing native stories, and trying native foods from that land. I want the experience to NOT be a cultural Disneyland, but more of an experience and foundation of the land; a perspective builder for later studies. This is one area I would love some ideas for. I will be re-reading the Foundation Guide on this topic and trying to be very mindful of not allowing it to become an experience of "they" but more just about the NATURE of that place on this planet. For instance eating a food that is made from a native plant rather than saying "irish people eat a lot of potatoes" I want to explore why potatoes grow so well in Ireland (probably a lame example)...

Roots & Shoots: We will continue our work with Roots & Shoots as a family. This is a passion for the entire family and we really love the people we have met doing this. Again, this ties in our science, humanities and geography.

Third Grade... The Plan

This is my current plan for third grade. I have a very detailed plan for each thing that I have been working on for months, however it is evolving and as opportunities arise and fall things will change. This is heavily influenced by the Enki Curriculum Chart which can be found on the Enki Website. I used this as my outline and then sat and thought, and researched just HOW I was going to meet these goals. So here is the basic overview and comparison with what Enki calls for...

  • Enki calls for "Multicultural creation myths and stories of life on earth (e.g. Mayan, Hebrew, Hopi.)"
  • We will be coupling this with our study of the Continents and incorporating the creation myths of various cultures from each continent while learning about the biomes and nature of the continent. In studying Creation Myths, the one thing that is not removable is the role the environment plays on the people and the myths typically include a lot about it. For instance the Hopi Creation story includes blue corn, and why it is essential to life. Some island cultures have the waters playing a large role in their Creation Stories; I just believe that bringing together the overview of the environment (biomes, geological features, native animals) with the creation myth will help bring foundation and understanding rather than having it be a story which floats above the earth and (in my mind) loses some of it's origin. NOTE: the coorelation between the two will not be "the lesson" it will just be presented within the same block, and GM will have the opportunity to discover the connection on his own.


  • Enki calls for "Plotting homes, classroom and immediate environment".
  • We will be building an extension on our home and allowing GM to participate to the fullest extent of his ability and interest. He will use tools, measure, construct and even assist in the design of certain aspects. He will witness all the stages and be submerged within the process. Also we will be continuing our work in the Bosque with our adopted acreage, and hiking the area to learn more about our homeland and it's surrounding area. Working in the Nature Museum and the Naturalist Center also feeds this knowledge of the area and life in the high desert.

Language Arts:

  • Enki calls for "•rhythmic poetry•prose writing•journals•sight words•phonics skills•syllabication•reading groups•drama•independent writing skills•spelling•cursive writing•group writing•indep. reading
  • We will do basically that. We do a poem a week, write in journals at the beginning of each lesson, recite our verse for the candle etc.. We will be expanding our writing with short stories and extended recaps in our Main Lesson Book. Spelling we do via keeping a book of words that challenge us and using them within sentences as often as possible. We will begin cursive writing again, GM wanted to start that this spring and dabbled in it a bit for fun. Indep reading will be of his own choice and include the completion of the two Waldorf Third Grade Readers I have for him.


  • Enki calls for "•cont. work with four processes, number rhythms and patterns•place value, carrying•multiplication tables•simple oral word problems•measurement - linear, volume and time•borrowing and carrying•simple graphing•number facts•written multiplic. problems•oral word problems
  • I am still working on this a bit. GM loves that darn Saxon and flies through it with joy, so I will continue to let him play with that while rounding it out with bean bag games, rods and having him help as much as possible in our construction and garden. He is strong in math and so I want to learn more about how to support this in him. I am currently reading Dorothy Harrer's book and the Active Arithmatic book from AWSNA to gather more ideas. I would LOVE to leave the Saxon behind, but Im not going to take something he enjoys and feels confident in away from him. It simply works for him at this point. NOTE: we dont do the teacher's guide with it, he just does the pages and asks questions when he has them, but this will change as Saxon 3 takes some pretty heavy turns and I want to have alternative means for teaching him these skills and concepts.


  • Enki calls for "•farming, including soil and climate•shelter, including soil and climate•food preparation science"
  • We are currently growing a nice organic garden in our backyard, which we started all from seed in our little greenhouse (which GM helped to build). He is raising twelve chickens for their eggs (also in our yard). He is taking a season long Organic Gardening class at our local CSA Los Poblanos Organics where they are preparing the soil, planting and harvesting plants and will then sell them at the Farmers Market this autumn. He is learning to bake, especially with all of our GF baking needs. I also feel that the biomes study from above brings in a lot of science as well as his ongoing work at the Naturalist Center, and with raising his dog, snake and the tree frog here at home.


  • Enki calls for "•group games and exercises•circle and pair dances from all over the world •group and pair bean bag exercises•aikido and ice skating •cont. group games and exercises, bean bag exercises, aikido, ice skating•begin team games•archery•folk dance: circle, pair and opposite dances from all over the world"
  • We are just forming this portion of the curriculum for this year. Currently I am looking into Aikido and Fencing as options for an outside the home activity. He is not much on dance, although I did try to see if he wanted to do the Ballet Folklorico with a friend, and he wasnt having it. So we are working with our yoga, and our movement activities from the guides Beth has available now. Also we are doing more bikeriding (tandom) and swimming. We will begin our bean bag, rods and ropes work soon (during the summer).


  • Enki calls for "•folk songs and more complex songs with fluid rhythms•recorder playing•work with hand signature•introduction to rhythmic clapping•work songs, marching and folk songs in the diatonic scale•more complex and diatonic recorder songs•formal introduction to written musical notation"
  • We are learning folk songs, playing our lap harp and xylophone, continually doing our rhythmic clapping, and will be choosing an instrument to begin learning by January of 2007. In the meanwhile we will spend some time experimenting with a variety of instruments to see what inspires him. Through this we will cover learning notation and reading of music. In addition to this we attend multiple (at least once a month) performances at the theatre here at UNM as well as evening and weekend performances all over town. It is important to me to tie in an appreciation for how music can inspire us and support us in our lives. The theatre performances also bring in lessons from many areas and play a large role in the overall concept of what I want for my kids in their childhoods.

Foreign Language

  • We havent begun this yet, and I really, really want to, but somehow it falls behind everytime. This yrea I wouldlove to get some Spanish going for all three kids.


  • We will use the Enki guides to do many of the ideas we havent done as a family as well as having GM help with the house remodel. He will also be doing a craft item from each continent using native materials (as best I can) and tying to the Creation Stories. We will continue with painting and modeling in our regular weeks lessons.

Extra-Curricular Activities

  • We will find some sort of a physical activity which he enjoys, either Aikido, Fencing, Rock Climbing or regular hiking outings.
  • He expressed an interst in joining a local Rock and Mineral Club out of the Natural History museum
  • He will continue with Science Club Coop once a week
  • He will continue with Science Class at Explora (he loves this)
  • He will continue to work with building his Lego Robotics and likely begin to program more difficult tracks and obstacles.
  • He will continue working at the Naturalist Center every other week where he is improving his eye contact, socialization skills, self esteem and knowledge of the natural environment here in town.

So this is the overview of our year. I have it written out lesson by lesson (one "lesson" per week) however I am constantly tweaking it here and there. I am currently focussing on the math portion and making changes as I find good resources. I will post more detailed info on each subject area in the future, as time allows.

LOOK OUT!!! She bought a planner!!!

Yes, I know, I know!! Here I am again, with my beautiful clean, crisp new planner, filled with hope, dreams and success just waiting for us to fly through its pages as though they were a magic carpet ready to carry us off to homeschool/homelife glory. Ive stood here before, many times. I remember getting my first real planner in high school. The summer before ninth grade, I got to sit and write (in a nicely sharp pencil) all my subjects and their times ( first period, gym, second period, science) The best was writing in Language Arts instead of "English" wow, the big time!!!! I sat and filled it all in, filled with anticipation and the thoughts of "this will be the year". Its been -gasp- 21 years since that first brush with promised success, and I am still an addict!!

I dont know if it is the aspiration to be what I want to be, and can be, on paper? Or the freshness of the start. I LOVE a fresh start, in fact I am a fresh start addict too. Geez, I need therapy!!! Anyway, we moved a lot when I was a kid, which I LOVED! I got to change my name, take on a totally different style or personality, I loved that smell, that dance between the past and future where for a short time everything is within the present. You have no past with anyone, and no future either. You are just there.
The planner is like that too. I can stand on page one and feel the past and any "shortcomings" fall away; this is why a NEW planner is essential, nothing worse than having to erase things you never achieved. You stand there looking into the future, thinking about how you want next week to unfold, and what you hope to achieve. It is SO not how I really live my life, however it really does help me to gather my thoughts and when recording what we do and what we want to do, at some point the two come together and -sound the trumpets- SUCCESS!!!

Okay, the real reason I did this is because we are coming into a time when GM and GD's academic needs are veering apart for a while. I needed a place to record what I am trying to accomplish with each boy and a way to track it. It is easy to allow GD to not get the attention he should because he is such a happy independent worker with a more intense brother. I dont want this to happen. GD has a great year ahead of him, he is a first grader now, and with the new Enki materials becoming available I just know we will have a fun and exciting year ahead. We have done lessons with him, but mostly we have just guided how he discovers things on his own. He is a self motivated reader and writer and goodness knows I dont want to jump in there and mess the whole thing up!! So this will be our first year of really working on things with him in a way that requires planning and recording. This coupled with GM working in third grade, using a plan that I had to write myself; lets just say a gal's head can get a little cloudy!!

Next week we begin working on stuff from our new planner, I should name it something better than a planner.... I will have to think on that, maybe our dream journal. :-) I decided to give our rhythm the attention it deserves and have written out in detailed form, our morning and evening rhythms into the pages. Beth recommends this in trying to honor each thing and to work through the creating of the family habits. Once we are more solid on this (which we are pretty darn good) this will shrink to simply an entry reading "Morning Rhythm" etc... I will also write out our movement in expanded form, until we are second nature with that as well. I want this foundation to be solid before I venture off into more intricate things such as humanities for GM -vs- humanities for GD. I can jump right in there, but I have learned that without the foundation there to support me we ALL burn out and are worse off than if we had eased into the waters, building systems of support as we go. Im really looking forward to the challenge and the exciting things we will be doing this year. Albuquerque has a lot of what I want for our family, and it is all so accessable. Planning out what we are doing, and taking advantage of the community resources here should hopefully make for a great summer, and following year.


Ahhh, the smell of that fresh paper, and those smooth pages, with just a slight hint of cold to the touch. You have to love that moment, when all is fresh, the pencils are sharp, and the future is filled with exciting possibilities!!!

Wednesday, June 14, 2006


Well my son told me today that he didnt like that weird chicken from last night today. UGH!!! I figure it is part of the stubborn or habit that he has where all things need to be the same. If it were a real issue he wouldnt have eaten it at all; this I know. So I did make him deal with having it tonight at Great Grandma's house. I am so bummed about how this diet will work for us at her house. She is a sweet woman who LOVES to feed her family. It literally is how she shares her love with them. And the snack foods..... Oh my goodness it is insane and it sits on the counter right next to the dinner table. Im talking Fruit Gummies (GM's favorite) Pop-Tarts, Pop-Tarts on the go (small strip sort of things) an entire rotating cookie jar holder with four different jars filled with different varieties of cookies (mainly chocolate, which GM also reacts to). Plus many, MANY more. So it is like taking an alcoholic to a bar where all his favorite drinks are right in front of him, while under stress, and depressed. It is IMPOSSIBLE to not have a sad little boy, and I mean, sad!! So today I took the kids and we hit the road in search of yummy Gluten-Free snacks to add to Great-Grandma's collection. We did ginger snaps and chocolate chip cookies (the one bad thing I did, but give an inch......) plus some really yummy frozen juice pops that GM begged for in the store. I was going to buy them for him without having him have to wheel and deal for them, but, as bad as it sounds, I wanted him to really really want them. This was to offer in leau of the pop-tarts or fruit gummy things. Is that mean? Well, it worked.
However I was bummed to walk in and see a kitchen table filled with GM's favorite gluten filled foods. Quesadillas on flour tortillas, frozen boxed chicken nuggets, and his absolute favorite pie that Great-Grandma made just for him. Now, let it be known that I did call my MIL this morning and I told her of my plan to bring GM's food and to bring some GF snack choices for him and to give them the heads up not to mention to him that he is on a new "diet". He obsesses over the diet part and believe me, it is better if I can make the transition almost fully before telling him. He literally will walk around the world saying "I cant have this.... I cant have that either...." I know because I have been there and we tried it this past fall. Anyhow, I thought they understood that I wanted him to not eat gluten, not that I wanted him to not eat gluten except for gluten great-grandma makes special for him. UGH!!! I dont know, I know I shouldnt expect them to understand, its just exhausting to feel like you gain one tiny inch and then BAM another challenge for he and I right in front of us. The good news is that I got that child out the door with only one slip on the gluten; the pie. However I did make a point of asking to see the box after dinner and acted like "oh no, this isnt on his diet, I guess that slipped past me" so Im hoping it wont make another appearance. But that is naive of me!!!!

I was thrilled to see that at Wild Oats almost all foods which are Gluten-Free have a tag hanging below them that says so. WOW did that save me some time, and a headache since I forgot my glasses. Im going to suggest it to our coop. Heck, I'll even make the darn tags for them!! Also they stored their GF flours away from the non-gf. This seemed thoughtful and showed how much they took it all seriously. Now if only they werent so pricey! My goodness!!!!!!!!!

I bought a gf frozen cheese pizza for GM to try for dinner tomorrow night. If he likes it (for real) I will bootleg the crust recipe and make him some at home.

Here is a silly question.... Arent most cheeses GF?? Some of the cheeses (actually the soy cheese) had a GF tag on them at the store, I thought, huh?

Gluten Free Waffles (adjusted recipe)

This is my doctored up recipe for Gluten-Free Waffles. I use a waffle maker from the store, its small and works great, and I only use it for GF waffles.

The base of the recipe is from the Arrowhead Mills Gluten Free Pancake & Baking Mix. The bag is small (28oz) but I get a lot of waffles from it. I also make a full batch each time (using a full cup of mix) and can refrigerate the left overs for two more mornings breakfast. The warm nicely in a toaster oven.

The recipe on the back is a bit different than mine, but not too much...

3 eggs (fresh, organic, local)
1.5 Tbsp Canola Oil
2 Tbsp local honey for allergies
1 generous sprinkle of korintje cinnamon
milk (enough to thin the mix)

That is the base recipe, but because the batter is so hearty and strong, I often make changes such as...

Puree various fruits and add them in such as raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, and bananas.

When low on honey I added in some organic maple syrup and that was very yummy, great for a road trip in the morning, no syrup is needed.

My latest is taking out the cinnamon and adding in some fresh lavendar flowers for their calming abilities, this is good before a field trip or a coop meeting.

It seems you can put nearly anything in there, the batter holds up really well.

I have the ingredients to make the base from scratch here, but havent played with the proportions. It calls for White Rice Flour, Potato Starch, Tapioca Starch, Baking Powder, Yellow Corn Flour, Sea Salt and cinnamon.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006


I am sooo happy right now! I made GM some Gluten-Free chicken nuggets and he gobbled them down! I am just so excited about it. I have looked for a good recipe for gf chicken nuggets and havent had any luck. So I was thinking about it and decided to use gorilla Munch (the gf cereal similar to corn puffs) and some corn meal to bread a gf turkey breast which I cut into strips. I breaded it using egg and even my husband loved it. He was upset when I only let him taste it instead of having a plate of them. This is HUGE for us. This means we now have a whole new world open to us for dinner options. I made a bunch since I had everything out, and now I have some to freeze for the future and some for Great-Grandma's house tomorrow night. This combined with the snack recipes Kimberly from Holistic Homeschooling shared with me and we have found some terrific new recipes. The waffles are a big hit, and I am able to pack them full of other healthy stuff to boost GM's vitamin and protein levels. I also have gotten him to eat a fruit each morning, usually apples or organic apple sauce. the rest of us eat about 95% organic, but GM was so limited I wasnt able to get him there, but now WOOHOO!!!

I know this seems silly to be so happy about some chicken (well turkey really) but this is such a favorite for him that I knew in order for the gf to be a smooth transition I needed a good recipe for breaded chicken. :-)

Now Im ready to go full on GF!!! Today was a great day, and I will see if we get through all of tomorrow without it too.

Doing a happy dance!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Mid-Tuesday Update

Well so far I have finished up the first block of things I wanted to do... With a few exceptions....

We started our walk and lost a small monkey toy ME had brought along with her, so we searched and searched for her only to find her back on our porch. Dad came home to switch cars and so it just threw us all off, and the walk ended in an uninspired way. :-( So the kids went out back to play on their playground and just getting fresh air. I had to force GD to stay out, he hates the heat, and can be a real homebody if I dont make him get outside more.

This threw off all the yoga and movement, so we just spent extra time outside. The walk helps us come together and focus for yoga, and without it, yoga is more of a frustration than it is a centering exercise, so in order to preserve the integrity of it, I would rather skip it than attempt it and begin a pattern of grumpy yoga. :-)

I cleaned up the kitchen and started the living room, and I am now going to give the kids baths before we leave for GD's drama class. Then we will flow into the second block of our day. We are having to paddle extra fast to catch up with our rhythm, but we are making progress..... slowly.....

Monday, June 12, 2006

Tuesday's Plan

Well I was attacked by some sort of stomach flu on the road trip home from Tucson. Thank goodness my husband was with me on this one and could help me drive. This knocked me down all day yest and I spent today in bed too. So that means that I will have some serious cleaning to do tomorrow, along with unpacking and laundry from our trip. So here is my plan...

  • Wake up early (6:30ish)
  • Coffee and computer (how I wake up)
  • Start laundry
  • Water gardens, porch plants and tend the animals
  • Make waffles for the kids (gluten free)
  • Help them find their way with "waking up their room" (chores) after a few days off, they will need my help
  • Morning Walk
  • Movement/Yoga
  • Housework (in place of lessons)

  • Lunch (cold lunch today)
  • Drama class for GD (today is his play)
  • Pick up our veggies at the farm (by the way Farmer Monte posted my pictures on their site under Photo Gallery
  • Afternoon Activity: either chalk on the driveway, or a hand craft indoors; if it is too hot
  • Prepare for dinner

  • dinner
  • Bathtime
  • evening games with the kids
  • Evening chores (putting the room to bed)
  • storytime with Dad (finish reading Dragons of Blueland)

So I will post tomorrow and see how I do. I am hoping to get back into our rhythm tomorrow and get out of my vacation/sick/tired slump. If I can get the house back up and really get that afternoon/evening rhythm down then Wednesday will be much smoother and we will be back in the swing of things.

Tucson, Arizona

What a great extended weekend we had visiting family in Tucson. I love it down there. I love the food, the town, and even the weather. It was about 103 degrees while we were down there, but it wasnt so bad. When we went to the Sonoran Dewsert Museum it was a bit much, but not unbareable. So we headed out super early on Thursday morning and drove the six hour drive down to Tucson. The kids were happy with their snacks and movies and I was happy with my iPod Road Trip thingie that my husband put in the car for me.
We did make a stop in Texas Canyon where the rocks are really cool and remind me of the old Roadrunner cartoon. We stretched out our legs and walked around a bit. Its a fun place to stop if you ever get the chance, although you can see more on Dragoon Road than you can at the rest stop.
My Mother and Step-Father's home is very nice and comfortable. They recently (a couple years ago) put in a pool, and it really is a nice thing when your there in June!! The kid basically tried to grow gills while there. GM especially loved it. I was watching him swim and thinking about the Sensory Integration benefits of swimming. I'll have to do a bit of research on that, but wow did he love it!!!
Friday morning we went to the Sonran Desert Museum, a great place to visit when your in town, the drive there is beautiful and the little hike is a lot of fun. We did overheat a bit and it showed in the kids behavior, but overall it was great. After that we went to El Charro in the Presidio, I love it there, I lived in three different houses in that small community and absolutely loved it there!!! It is such a terrific part of Tucson and close to everything. Friday evening my husband flew in so we got to spend some time with him too. The kids were thrilled!!!

Saturday we went to Vivace Restaurant, where we worked during the early years of our relationship. It was great!!! We were able to see old friends and get caught up on everyone and what they are doing. It was so cool to see pictures of their kids and hear what they are up too! We really miss our Tucson friends, they were really our family for many, many years.
It is so nice to get away, spend some time hanging out with family and enjoying the relaxation of just sitting around having wine and getting caught up on everything, and everyone. We laugh and call my Mom's house the resort, but honestly it is a lot like a resort, but better!!!

Tucson, Arizona

***Pictures to be added once Blogger gets over its bugs***

What a great extended weekend we had visiting family in Tucson. I love it down there. I love the food, the town, and even the weather. It was about 103 degrees while we were down there, but it wasnt so bad. When we went to the Sonoran Dewsert Museum it was a bit much, but not unbareable.

So we headed out super early on Thursday morning and drove the six hour drive down to Tucson. The kids were happy with their snacks and movies and I was happy with my iPod Road Trip thingie that my husband put in the car for me. We did make a stop in Texas Canyon where the rocks are really cool and remind me of the old Roadrunner cartoon. We stretched out our legs and walked around a bit. Its a fun place to stop if you ever get the chance, although you can see more on Dragoon Road than you can at the rest stop.

My Mother and Step-Father's home is very nice and comfortable. They recently (a couple years ago) put in a pool, and it really is a nice thing when your there in June!! The kid basically tried to grow gills while there. GM especially loved it. I was watching him swim and thinking about the Sensory Integration benefits of swimming. I'll have to do a bit of research on that, but wow did he love it!!!

Friday morning we wnt to the Sonran Desert Museum, a great place to visit when your in town, the drive there is beautiful and the little hike is a lot of fun. We did overheat a bit and it showed in the kids behavior, but overall it was great. After that we went to El Charro in the Presidio, I love it there, I lived in three different houses in that small community and absolutely loved it there!!! It is such a terrific part of Tucson and close to everything. Friday evening my husband flew in so we got to spend some time with him too. The kids were thrilled!!!

Saturday we went to Vivace Restaurant, where we worked during the early years of our relationship. It was great!!! We were able to see old friends and get caught up on everyone and what they are doing. It was so cool to see pictures of their kids and hear what they are up too! We really miss our Tucson friends, they were really our family for many, many years.

It is so nice to get away, spend some time hanging out with family and enjoying the relaxation of just sitting around having wine and getting caught up on everything, and everyone. We laugh and call my Mom's house the resort, but honestly it is a lot like a resort, but better!!!

Some Pictures from Last Sunday

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Enki Math 1 now available!

I received an email from Beth Sutton this morning telling me that the Math 1 book is ready and shipping in ten days! Now Im just waiting for the Instruction Manual!

Time for a vacation!

Well it is time for our first little vacation of the summer. We dont do big trips, and this is no exception. The kids and I are heading down to Tucson for four days to visit with family, swim, eat amazing food, and explore the Sonoran Desert. My dh and I met and were married in Tucson, we both attended the University of Arizona, and I lived there for 10-11 years or so. So it is a return to home for me. I guess I have a few of those, California (born there, and lived there off and on through the years) Maryland (about 14 years or so) Tucson (about 11 years), Virginia (9 years) and now New Mexico. LOL

Anyway, we are heading down to see my Mom, brother and Step-Father-ish (long story). I have a ton of stuff to do today to prepare for the drive and mostly to prepare the house before I go. My dh will be here, but he wont tend the plants and animals the way I do so I want to set it all up so it is easy for him to do, and so I dont come home to a dead garden. Darn I wish I had gotten that driptape!!! I also want to come home to a clean house, so in order for that to happen I need to leave it a bit cleaner than I hope it will be when I get home. We have lessons next week so I want to come home and not have a ton of work to do on Sunday night to prepare for Monday. We'll see!

So today I need to...
  • Prepare the Garden
  • Get a larger feed thing for the chickens and another water thing
  • Get a mouse for the snake, and crickets for the frog (who isnt looking so good)
  • Put the terra-cotta pot plants in a tub of water so they can stay alive
  • Type up instructions for dh for the garden, plants and animals while we are gone
  • Clean the house
  • Load the car so I can reach everything the kids may need while driving
  • Update my iPod
  • Grandma's for dinner
  • Coop for road trip snacks and breakfast yummies
  • Fill the truck with gas

So Im a busy bee today, blissful maybe, but busy for sure!!!

Did I mention it will be about 104 degrees in Tucson? At least now Im a big girl who has a car with AC!!! That is satifying in returning to the desert!!

Monday, June 05, 2006

Fun Weekend!

Well this was a VERY busy weekend; as usual. GM and I had our shift at the Naturalist Center which was nice. It was a quiet day, and we were able to hold both turtles and three snakes; so in GM's book, that made for a great time! Immediately after that we went to a birthday party for a friend who turned 5. She had an underwater themed party and everyone got good and wet. Dh came a little late, but was able to hang out with the other Dads and we got to visit and hang out for a while.

Now a normal family would then go home because it had already been such a long day. But NO, we were so foolish that we decided to try to go out to dinner. We love this local little rest called Johndi's and you can sit outside and usually it is very kid friendly. Of course kid friendly in the normal world is one thing, but post birthday party kid friendly is a completely different animal. Lets just say it wasnt our finest moment and leave it at that. :-)

Sunday we got up, worked in the garden (as I do everyday) and hung out for a bit, just relaxing, having coffee and listening to music. We decided to head to Old Town and see a friend of ours dance with his class from Baila Baila in the 300th Anniversary celebration of San Felipe Church. Wow, it was so much fun. Our friend did a great job, he is eight and was just adorable!!! There were other families there whom we know so we walked around for a bit with them. Dh got to have an Indian Taco, so he was a happy camper, and GD got to ride some rides, so he was a VERY happy camper! GM passed on the rides, but loved the games, the house of mirrors and the treats. We hung out a while longer than the others and just wandered about for a while. It was nice to spend some time just walking around in Old town, we go often as we dont live too far from it, but with the live music the dancers and all the carnival fun, it was an extra treat.

Needless to say, we learned our lesson (again) on Saturday night, so on sunday we just went home. I had some things to do and the kids wanted to just chill. GM requested that we not go anywhere on Monday. I thought that sounded like a great idea. So today we are home, cleaning and playing around the house together. GM is very focussed on building a large collesium out of old video tapes. Its one of those things that has completely engaged hom for hours on end. He is doing a great job with it, and having some fun too. ME and GD are very involved in playing with their stuffed animals. I hear them giggling and talking in their "animal voices" from GD's room. They are enjoying the free time, as am I.

Music Update

Well, I suffered a two month period where I couldnt add new music to my laptop, and therefore my ipod. Not that this was torture or anything, but I will say I am very happy to have it back and to be able to play around and to go back and find all those artists that I have been trying to remember that I wanted for weeks and weeks. So in no particular order here are the latest to be added into my life's soundtrack...

So these are some of the newer additions to my laptop/iPod. To find the rest look through the archives for February or March maybe. I tried to link to all artists in case you want to check them out. Also you can usually get a good listen on just type in the artists name in the search on mySpace and see what you come up with. :-)

Friday, June 02, 2006

Enki Crafts & Nature Stories

Back to the Enki materials thoughts. I recently received the Natures Stories, and the Seasonal Crafts guides in the mail. I have a giant stack of reading next to my bed; which isnt unusual, but right now is quite a bit. It is fun to make notes about your initial thoughts and impressions. I will be curious to come back and read this in about six months after really putting it all to use.

I purchased the Crafts books mostly because I liked the natural materials take on the topic, and because I wanted to have the suggested resources to make my life easier. I already have and use EarthWays and it is a terrific book, but how are these different??

Much like the movement guides there is a VERY handy and simple key to follow so you can choose what will work for your child based on your child's developmental abilities and skills. So you have "B" for beginning foundation skills such as sewing and knotting. "C/D" for complex skills needing dexterity (doll making or knitting) and "T" for projects that require a lot of time, maybe you will do it over a series of days. I LOVE these keys, and they make is so much easier for me to choose appropriate ideas without having to read through them all to see what will or will not work for us. The kindergarten book has quite a bit on painting wet on wet, including stories and tips. I appreciated this a lot too, especially the stories!! The crafts are separated by season, so it is an easy reference. Within the kindergarten book there are 64 crafts (not including the painting section).

The first grade Crafts book includes Origami and knitting. There are references to some ideas from the Kindergarten guide. They very much flow from one to the other. Within the G1 guide there are 47 new activities, plus some knitting stories etc...

Nature Stories:
The nature stories tie in with the seasons really nicely. You can view the table of contents on the Enki site, but what was interesting to me is that the stories read really nicely and the added feature of science for the teacher sections. In the guide Beth writes that this is not so you can instruct it, but so that you can make any changes you may want to without losing the truth of the science which lies within the story. I like that, and I like the repeating verses that each story has within it. So when or if you are out in nature or come across an example of something from the story you can just repeat that one little verse and the whole story will come back. I haven't gotten to use these guides yet, but they are beautiful and I have had a chance to skim through the stories themselves. I'm fairly certain (and APKimberMama can probably comment on this) these stories are suggested and referenced in the instruction guide within the First Grade. In looking in the Kindergarten (Early Childhood) Teaching guide it does discuss the three types of Nature Stories in the Enki Resources (guides)...
  1. The Legend: These are stories of magical events that lead to a phenomenon.
  2. The quasi-fairy Tale: these are stories which follow the quasi-fairy tale format, but which have nature science as a central driving principle.
  3. The Manifestation of Energy: these are stories in which the energies of nature are given body or form.

(Enki Early Childhood guide page 167) Quoted from the guide itself.

more to come....

Farming Update!

What a wonderful way to spend your morning! GM had such a good time and really was excited about all the great stuff they get to do. First Monte gave them a tour of the farm, we had done this before a few months ago, but this was great because they got to see how much larger the plants are now as compared to our tour in April. They really were into it, even stopping to make sketches in their notebooks and write down the names of the donkeys; mostly without prompting. The property is just like a little paradise in the desert. We always love going there, but when you get to go to the orchard and to the greenhouse and such, it is terrific. Even the kids were saying how beautiful and like paradise it was. They were definitely in the mood. After the tour they got to go over to where their crops will be. I thought it would be about a 3X3 space per kid, but no, they have a large area over by the strawberry patch and it is just wonderful. They were all so into it. GM kept asking me if they really got to grow stuff in all that big part? LOL They learned about how to use their tools, and even got to build their own tools that they thought would be useful. GM decided to use a piece of pvc pipe as a seeder that you would stick into the soil and drop seeds into. Pretty clever I thought, but Im biased. The plan is that they will grow some crops and then take them to the Farmer's Market to sell and raise money for the charity of their choice. GM is soooo into that part of the whole thing. We will let him do that with our veggies too. If we have enough to actually sell off.

I am just so happy with this class. The people were wonderful, the kids were so engaged and into everything, and the general mood was relaxed, happy and just enjoyable. I couldnt ask for more. The timing for GM and his third grade lessons is perfect, and it shows in his interest that it is definitely nourishing him. Stuff like this just makes me so happy that we homeschool and that THIS is how our kids will learn and experience their childhood. It is just great!

Farming Pics


Well this morning is GM's first farming class at our CSA. Im so excited about this class and what they will do. It is a small group of only homeschooled kids, and they will each learn a lot about the farm and gardening. They each get a patch of land to cultivate and in the end they will get to sell their veggies at the farmer's market. I mean how cool is that? GM wants to sell some of our veggies we are growing here at the market too. I think it could be a fun and interesting experience for him. If he is still really into doing it, we will look more into it later in the summer. In the meantime, Im just so happy he gets to do this class. It will be a bit of a challenge at first because he has friends who are doing it too, and it is at our CSA farm, so he is used to going there and getting to run around a bit and just visit the chickens. Now he will need to focus and listen and participate. I did not sign GD up for it because I just felt it was a better experience for when he is nine or in his third grade year. I know a lot of people signed up some pretty young kids, so it will be interesting to see if GD is bummed or if GM is too distracted. Initially they were going to seperate the older and the younger kids, but I think that now they are just having them all together. Which is fine but it makes me feel bad that GD isnt doing it now. We'll see.

I need to pack some water and snacks for GM (he wont eat most of the produce they have) and be sure he has a good hat etc... Ive been so excited about this, and about how well it fits into our family goals. The class runs through early September meeting 8 times throughout the summer. Hopefully in the end he will have an even better feel for farming, gardening and where our food is coming from.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Thoughts on Enki Materials

So what do you get for your $$$? Is it worth it, and why? Well I can only speak for myself and for my family. For us this has been a great fit. It is helping me to grow into more of what I want to be for my kids and my family. It is putting the words to the thoughts I have been carrying around with me for years and most importantly it is helping me with the actions it takes to get there. So here are my thoughts on the materials I have and a bit of what you get.

Enki Homeschool Teacher's Guides I, II & III

These are the Foundation Guides. They are not the day to day what to do books, they are the nuts and bolts of Enki, what is it about, how does it work, and why. From these books, which also come with a binder bound workbook for the parent to work through the concepts in, there are several great points. Combined (without the workbook pages) this is nearly 500 pages of information, spiral bound for easy reference. Chapters include topics such as...

the Enki Homeschool

The Heart of the Matter: I love this section. It is all about what are we really tring to teach when we are teaching things such as humanities, or doing movement circle etc... Once you know the heart of something, you dont have to worry so much with the fluff that we think surround it. Knowing the heart makes it so much more clear to feel good about your ability to actually bring the heart of a topic to your children. This was a great help to me and I read it over and over again.

Creating an Enki ecosystem within your life

Nourishing the teacher/parent

Stages of Child Development

Rhythm (and how to actually tap into your families natural rhythm)

Integrating Body, Speech and Mind
Great section with a lot of great info on neurological integration, sensory integration, and speech and gesture.

The Activity of Learning

Unity and diversity

Setting boundaries

Again these are not daily planners or daily curriculum schedules. They are about how to implement Enki philosophy into your life and your home, and therefore will be useful for years to come. In my opinion you can get these books alone and really feel good about what it can add to your homeschooling experience. It has really helped me to understand the why's of all those things I have heard about for years. Yeah, we all know rhythm is important, but how do you begin to implement it in a non-rigid way that actually nourishes your family rather than smothering them? Sure a circle works in a cute little Waldorf School, but why do they do it, and can I nourish that same need within my family without making my kids sit in a circle in the middle of my living room? What is up with movement and is it really something we need to do? Yes, for us that has been huge! Movement is a good example for me of something that Enki really changed for me. I know many people do Movement in their lessons, but I just really thought of it as one of the "if I can" sections of what I was trying to do. Now I see it as probably the most important part of our day. Ironically I come from years of Sensory Integration therapy for my son, and still I wasnt fully understanding this piece of the puzzle.

So now since I brought it up, lets look at the Movement Guides. But first a note; Even if you are not teaching kindergarten, you will still want the kindergarten resources because you WILL use them. You can purchase most of them in a combo pack at a large savings.

So on to the movement guides. When you order the K and 1 Movement Guides you also get CD's of the songs and the verses as well as a DVD showing the actual movments and how to do them. The Kindergarten guide has 220 pages and doesw include the sheet music for those talented people out there who planned on a musical accompaniment (not me). The first 25 pages are about the hows and whys including a very useful key for how the book is set up. Each movement is on a chart so when you are choosing a particular song or movement you can see what areas it highlights. The chart has Vestibular, Vestibular highlighting Balance, Proprioceptive, Tactile, Auditory, Visual, Midlines (lateral, horizontal, forward/back) Hand and finger coordination and wrist flexibility.

The movements are then further divided into Activities which are further divided by season. So in the Kindergarten guide you have Opening Activities (23 activities total) Midline Activities (34 activities total) Base Sense Activities (25 activities total) Fingerplays & Academic Games (35 total) Story Songs, Graces and Transition songs (20 activities total).
In the First Grade guide you have Opening Activities (19 new, 11 suggested from the K guide) Midline Activities (17 new, 29 from K) Base Sense & EduK-braingym (20 new, 11 from K) Academic Activities (20 new) Bean Bag Activities (14 new) Copper Rod Activities (5 new) Closing Spirals (17 new) Fingerplays (5 new, 21 from K) Graces and Transitions (20 new, 13 from K)Games and ropes (17 new activities).
If by chance you have no interest in Enki, but have a child who may benefit from movement exercises or therapies, this is a great comprehensive do it yourself program to have on hand.

More to come....

That darn Chaos!!

Well, it seems that chaos has come back over for a visit. I didnt invite him; at least I dont think I did. He is a sneakie little monster and he can slowly creap his way in the door without my even noticing and before I know it he has taken over room by room. Luckily he doesnt have a very strong hold on things so I will be able to give him his walking papers and reclaim our home. I think I need a sign for my door which reads "no chaos allowed". :-)

I will admit I think I know where he was hiding this time. It was in my garage and when we brought things into the house he just jumped right out of the boxes and began to dance all around the room; leaving a book here, a sock there, and that ever strange box of game pieces that have lost their way with random pencils, cassette tapes and "oh yeah there that is" kind of stuff. Please tell me this happens to other people too.

There is an obvious level of disfunction that chaos causes in our home, that part I get, I can see it and understand it. The underlying quiet dysfunction is the part I really dislike. It is that uphill struggle, everything is difficult, the flow disappears and just getting from point A to point B within our day is a chore. When things are straight, there is a fluid flow from thing to thing within our rhythm. I can see how critical housework is in what I am attempting to do with my family. It isnt just about having a clean home, it is about having a nurturing space to grow and live in. I have been doing really, really well with my housework since we officially bought our home in October. Ocassionally though I blink and chaos has returned. If I miss one, ONE round of chores, it takes hold. Do you know how much pressure that is to have to ALWAYS be on task? Of course you do. Do you know how difficult it is for ME to always be on task? I can do it for a long time, but man a gal can use a bit of an exhale every now and again. I wish I could get housework hypnotherapy which could help me tap into that hidden reserve of energy I havent been able to locate.

Seriously though, for anyone who reads this regularly you know about my ongoing struggles with housework. I seem to be spending a large portion of my time pondering the hows and whys of housework, and more specifically my own personal struggles with it. If you only knew how perfectly clean the homes I grew up in were you would understand how ironic it really is. I literally lived in a model home, well not my room of course. Geez, it is so pathetic to think that my own rebellion could be so obvious and lame. :-) I often joke that keeping my house messy is my attempt at raising children who will keep their homes in a more balanced manner. Too clean and they will be slobs, too messy and they will be neurotic clean freaks. The level of messy vs organized is really a balancing act. LOL Im obviously kidding, but yet......

Okay, Ive consumed enough coffee to prepare for battle. Now all I need is my theme music and to hope that the kids will cooperate with a housework day. By cooperate I mean not follow me from room to room undoing all that I do. We will work our regular morning rhythm today but we will not have lessons. Instead we will continue to find places for the things we have brought in from the garage. I have come to really respect the everything needs a place rule. Chaos has a harder time with the whirlwind when things know where they are supposed to live. This will help me with next weeks lessons too. Our supply closet (games, craft items, paper storage) is under attack and is crying out for back-up. So I am going in!!!!