Thursday, August 31, 2006


That is the only way to describe our home right now. We have finished with the demo portion within our living space, but havent begun the rebuild portion, so it is a disaster around here. This weekend we will hopefully get a lot done! We need to..
  • Get the tile glue up off the entry way floor
  • Remove and re-lay the wood floors
  • Fix the drywall on the ceilings where we took out walls
  • Put in the new beam and wall topper (after staining)
  • Put the house back together after all this

I want us to start our lessons on Tuesday morning. Im nervous that we will still have too much chaos going on around here, but hopefully if we can meet these goals we will be okay and able to begin on track.

I wanted to update the blog, Im sorry I havent been writing much, but I literally havent had enough time in a day to do all the work I am neding to do. So unfortunately my blog has suffered.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Harvesting Peppers and Theatre

Our peppers are growing by leaps and bounds! Unfortunately all the rain will make them quite mild, but these beauties will be perfect for chili rellenos! Nice size and easy to stuff with whatever we want! Now to just get a working range before they loose their freshness. They are all organic, and lovely! Unfortunately an enormous squash bug infestation took out all of our pumpkins and cassava melons! Howver the watermelon is looking quite wonderful! I may open one up for snack later this morning.

As I have posted before attending live theatre productions is a major priority for our family and for the kids. I like to attend about one a month (on average). The Popejoy Hall Schooltime Series is a terrific way to get to take the children to a great live production for a good price. Many of the productions are also performed in the evening for a much larger price and a much longer presentation. The schooltime series is $4.00 per seat and the show runs usually for just an hour. Making it easy for the ME's in the bunch. I just ordered tickets for eight different productions which I felt would be fun for the kids. Now I need to look at their evening series and add in some of the full performances of things that are not offered during the day. I usually only take the boys to the full productions, only because they usually run about an hour before the intermission and then an additional 45 after that. It is just too much for ME. Although by this spring she may be ready.

In the context of the threads which are important to me, theatre is a really big one. I want the kids to not remember a time when they didnt attend live theatre productions and I want them to feel the energy of imagination and artistry that goes into bringing everything together for a full performance. They have loved some and not cared for others, and that is fine. Its about the experience of the moment and taking in what the performers are giving, right in that moment. It can be really inspirational and because it is live I feel it is a form of entertainment that touches them on a much different level than watching a stage performance which has been recorded. It is just important. Really important!

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Thank goodness for erasers!!

Okay, I have been reading and planning and thinking and digesting for a bit now and I think Im on to something. My goal is to streamline our lessons to work in a way that we are covering multiple topics and covering many subjects at the same time. So having the boys doing different things is NOT streamline! In fact it is really a lot of juggling.

Obviously they will be doing different levels of lessons, but I can juggle that. Having them doing completely different topics however, not so easy.

So I have now got it down to a smooth way of working with both boys on their independent levels. My panic about having to really split things up has passed and I am back on track!

After a LOT of erasing!!!

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

First and Third dont go together

As easily as second and K/1. I have been planning to cover a lot of things with the boys together, but in really looking at it and in trying to determine what will be best for them, I now know I am going to have to really do a lot of different things with them. A lot together still, but there will be full lessons that are meant for GM and some that are for GD. GM is ready to really dig into a lot of grade three material and GD just isnt ready for it yet. He is so enthusiastic about his grade one materials and still has such a hunger for learning that I dont want to overwhelm or flood him with materials he just isnt ready to digest yet. I know that they guage this on their own and can take from it just what is right for them, but I also know that if consistently faced with material that is just undigestable, the child will close that door and lose some of their hunger.

I think I will try to do some seperate blocks with them (one on one) for the first few blocks of this year and if I see that GD is ready to participate (on his own level) with what GM is doing, then I will combine them for a few things. GM can certainly benefit from participating in some of GD's blocks, but at the same time he needs material that nourishes him right now. This is a big year for him and I want to really allow him to fully explore the materials he is developmentally ready for.

September 4th

Well, ironically when I backed out our schedule of blocks for this year and counted backwards from when I want us to be done, put in our breaks and such it turns out the best day for us to begin our lessons is September 4th. The day after Labor Day. I had to laugh at how it falls on the traditional first day of school for most. Although the kids in Albuquerque are ALREADY back to school. Unbelievable but nice too. Now the museum's are less crowded and the normal balance of kids being around the neighborhood during the day is restored.

Anyhow, that is the big change. I wanted to wait until October when the construction should be finished, but with so much to do in Third Grade and with GD now entering fully into First grade material I think I will want to get a full block done before the construction is done and then take a break to move the kids into their new spaces. Continue with the second block after that and wrap that up before Thanksgiving and ME's 4th birthday.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Joseph Austin

Well, after a long labor and forming process. Long mainly due to my anticipation and excitement, the countertops are poured and they are GORGEOUS!!! I told Joseph (the guy doing them for us) that I just cant believe that we get to have these beautiful things in OUR home, and it is so true, I cant believe they are ours to keep. :-)

I drew these countertops out over a year and half ago, while still living in VA but struggling with the decision to buy or not buy Manuel's childhood home. The kitchen was essential, as it is in most homes, but in this house it is literally the center of the home. So it had to really work for us. I have wanted concrete countertops for over 7 years now, but could never afford them. Some women love diamonds, I love things like this for my home. I wont set foot into a mall or a hair salon, or worse yet a nail salon!!! But boy, give me some concrete countertops and I am on top of the world!!! LOL

So anyway, here is the deal! Joseph totally rocked this job, he listened to what I wanted, and although unconventional, he was fully on board and really added a lot to the project. He suggested moving the faucet, and adding or stretching a curve here and there. He really took the time to hand smooth them and give me that handwork and sculpted look I wanted. His friend Dana came and helped him to hand pour and finish them (until 2am). It was so fascinating. They really are artists in what they do and I HIGHLY recommend contacting Joseph if you have any concrete needs in the Albuquerque area!!!

Joseph Austin 505-261-3683

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

The Great Peach Adventure!

Sometimes I forget the curiosity of a three year old child. How that is possible I dont know because ME is the most curious child I have met, and FAR more curious than her brothers EVER were!!!

So why was I surprised when yesterday her brother (GD) came walking down the hall telling me in a sad voice that ME had put his peach in the toilet. This was a brand new peach, he got about two bites out of it so far. Mind you these are the super yummy Colorado peaches that I had just picked up from the farm. So that makes it a double bummer.

I no sooner called out her name when I heard it....yep! She flushed the toilet!!! I ran.... peach was gone and the water level was rising!!!

Luckily I got to the back of the toilet in time to stop the water, but now what???

Lets just say that my husband is quite clever! He removed the toilet from the floor and used a shop vac to blow the peach out of the turning portion of the lower toilet parts. It didnt come flying out or anything but it did unlodge it enough to put a wire hanger down it and stab the peach, pulling it back out.

Thank goodness it wasnt in the plumbing!!!!

Small blessings....

Monday, August 07, 2006

Comments fixed...

Sorry, I got a few that were advertisements and I thought I made it so I needed to approve them, but apparently I broke it. LOL

Anyway it is back on and hopefully working now.

Self-Directed Play and Introspection

Another thread that is really important to us and will definitely be included in our Enki Web activity is the importance of self-directed play and it's roll in self regulation, calming, and introspection.

i grew up an only child and really had very long periods of time where I played alone and quietly. Lost in my imagination and my thoughts. I really feel that this was a great gift in my life. Of course i wished I had siblings etc, every kid does, until they have them. LOL But really I think the extent of my creativity, thoughtfulness and ability to gain wisdom from my experiences and those of others comes directly from this aspect of my childhood. Of course there are other factors, but this is one I CAN bring to my children. Their alone time is far more limited due to siblings, but I really want to mindfully create opportunities for them to just free play, explore and imagine.

I remember being a little girl and playing with my Barbies. I didn't just do their hair and make them talk about their clothes. This was elaborate imaginative play that I can STILL remember storylines from. I would make entire "movies" as I called them, some would last for a month or so, and others just an afternoon. I had to build the sets, create the characters, choose their voices and styles. It would often take days just to get set up for the actual play part. The blessing here is that my Mother would allow for me to keep these huge "sets" set up in my room, so I could build and build and explore something through to the end, allowing the river to run its full course.

In looking back at this type of play I can see how it helped me to really explore the limits of my own mind and to really create an inner dialog that would carry me through many of life's curves and bumps. I want to give this opportunity to my kids.

So how?

Well currently and for as long as I have had the children, we have allowed a great deal of free play, supplying the open ended toys that allow them to get lost in their little worlds and to not feel that they had a time limit on it. It has been regarded as part of their job, and respected as an essential part of their childhoods. However I can see how having the boys sharing a room can really break up their individual styles and sets them up to really not have their own inner dialog develop. They are playing together and bending and communicating with one another throughout. This is terrific in its own right, but not the goal for this particular thread. (It fits into another)

We are renovating the house and while the boys will likely still want to sleep together, they will have their own rooms and their own spaces to build, explore and play while flowing with their individual stream of consciousness. I know they have very different styles and appreciate their ability to meet in the middle, however they aren't fully exploring themselves with this right now. I really hope having their own space will help with this.

Also we will continue to allow for the time to play in this way to exist. Giving them a free day each week to really just get lost in themselves, as well as the quiet time each day to play in their rooms uninterrupted and open ended.

This gives us three lesson days a week, plus the one day of coop. Together we will have four days of "learning" in a format that is conventional, and then we will have this free day, likely it will be Friday. There is still practice on this day, but the mornings are free.

Right now most of our days are open ended like this, because we are on a break, but I want to be sure to include it into our week, and to recognize it as a priority in our plans and expectations for each week.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Folding in our afternoons

I have struggled with our afternoons and trying to bring in practice time and project times (baking, painting, or crafts). After our conference call today I was really thinking about how or why our afternoons are so unproductive.

I know part of it is that I get tired and so it is too easy to just not do anything but allow for a long amount of quiet time or self-directed play. But also it is because it isnt folded into our rhythm. Initially I thought I really needed to work on that this fall when we get our lessons rolling again, but now after thinking on it for the afternoon I believe that I will begin to fold this in beginning this week. Even if it is just something simple like some practice sheets, or a simple summer craft. I know our mornings are pretty solid, so it will be easier for me to add those in later.

I think this will help us to review some things from last year, and gear us up for the coming lessons this fall, help prevent burn out by folding it in slowly, as well as helping me to iron things out without feeling like I am messing things up if I dont have it all "together" from the get-go.

We have had a really nice break, taking it easy and allowing ourselves to unwind from all lesson style activities. I am looking forward to starting the boys on their practice work and having them brush up on their skills, gearing us up for this fall. It will be pretty easy to start, especially with all the practice activities that we now have from Enki.

So for now I will begin with practice time. We have a lot going on this week with the house renovations, so this will be a good starting point for us. I believe I will start them both off with math practice. We will do that this week and switch next week to writing/handwriting practice. I will also begin folding their reading time into things again. We have slacked off our daily reading over the past few weeks so I want to get back on that train and keep those skills strong.

While I think it is important for skill development and mastery, I really am more interested in the self-discipline and regulation that comes from having something of this nature become a part of their day, and assisting them in forming good habits.

As things come together with some of the in-house renovations, we will begin to bring in more crafts and painting. While GM does Origami quite a bit, and GD draws almost daily, I would love for them to get to explore areas that maybe they dont naturally feel drawn too.

The boys have spent the better part of the summer putting their skills to USE in our lives. Through baking, building, gardening, helping and exploring their daily lives. I love this style of learning and living and will certainly encourage it as much as possible. This practice time, as I mentioned, is about habits, regulation and discipline. Helping them to feel the confidence of mastery in a format that isnt necessarily natural to them. I can recognize the importance of this and want to support it via this afternoon practice time.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

A Slow and Patient Fall

I decided last Spring to have a really slow and mellow fall this year. IT is so easy to get caught up in all the opportunities and to lose sight of just being home. Mind you, I am the most home based person I know, I really resist leaving home, and it has to be something REALLY good to get us to go. But even still there are a lot of great things in the fall. Lots of festivals, fun class like opportunities and social plans.

So this fall we will not sign up for anything that will mess up us having at LEAST three cosectuative days a week at home. This doesnt include the occasional field trip to a farm or something, but nothing on a regular basis. We chose not to sign back up for Explora this fall, but may revisit that choice in the spring. The kids love it but it falls at a really hard time for us.

We need at least three consecutive days to do our lessons and get our rhythm really rolling. We rock when our rhythm is set and we are flowing through our days. I love that feeling!! I long for it right now with all this house chaos. I really am wanting this to be over, and it barely has begun. I really dont like feeling so torn between all these obligations. It is not how I like to live my life. I know a lot of people thrive on having a long list of to-dos and people say you get more done when your busy, but that only works for me for about a week. Then I crash and burn!!!

Take this Zookeeper thing this week. It is AWESOME!!! I love it, the kids love it and GM is thriving with it. BUT it is killing me at home! I am having a hard time with being up at 5:30 and getting everything together to entertain and feed the two little ones for three hours, and packing GM his snack (cant have the provided one) and being sure we have gas to get throught the 40 minute drive each way. It isnt terrible or anything, but I am TIRED when we get home. The fact that it has been raining everyday for two weeks might not be helping matters. LOL

Anyway, this reminds me, that right now during the "oh look at that" phase of homeschooling, we are opting for the "oh, home is great" perspective! Sticking close to home and enjoying the pace of life that we thrive in. As we roll with this and our rhythm is solid we can add in things that really inspire us. It will be a great way to spend the rest of 2006!!

Off our game

Well, while yesterday was a really great opportunity and a lot of fun for all the kids, it completely through us off our rhythm. The afternoon was basically a blob of inactivity and disequalibrium. The kids were tired, and more importantly, I was really tired too. So while they were being normal tired kids, I just didnt have the patience to handle it or redirect their energy in a positive way. GM and ME ended up in an arguement and the house ended up a mess.

I want to be able to take advantage of all these cool things, but they do take a toll on us at home. The option isnt to not do them, I already opt out of things that are semi-cool. What needs to happen is that I need to find some sort of a reserve of energy to be able to hold the energy in this house together, even when Im tired.

Im aiming for today to be better. I am passing on a park day we usually try to do, I think the animal park will be enough for us today. Then we will come home and try to swing into lunch and quiet time. I cant wait until the construction is done, when the kids have their own spaces, things like quiet time will be so much easier, and productive. Im sure GD and ME would likely nap if they were in their own space, and GM would play solitaire or play legos for a while.