Long Time, No See!

I’m not at fickle at life as I am at blogging. Luckily.

Life got busy, as it does, and its slowing down a bit now, as it does. So, I thought I might give it a try again, blogging on a regular basis. And I’ve got a lot to share with all y’all!

Youngerandson.net

Y&S-logo-alt

Our home business has a blog now! And I’m one of the two bloggers. It’s been an adjustment, as I blog here as I’m inspired. But there, we are blogging on a schedule.

Co-op is done until August

Our last day was April 27. I was glad to be done, but sad that we are done. Does that make any sense? And next year I’m teaching Physical Science, which I’ve taught before, and When Einstein Dines, which is a class of my own creation. It’s basically science in the kitchen, a practical application of biology and chemistry. I’m super excited, but I’ve got a lot of planning to do for it. Since I’m teaching Physical Science for a 2nd time, I’m excited to organize it better.

Still doing alignment work

Someday we will be earning enough in other ways that I won’t be doing this. But for now, I continue giving a few hours each week to matching educational materials with state standards. Not exciting, and as a homeschool parent who is a bit disdainful of state standards, it’s ironic I do this work. But it pays well, so I keep at it for now.

Extended “summer” Break

1-2018-04-28 14.37.15

I’m practicing Masterly Inactivity. And the kids are having a great time.

We started our ‘summer’ break a few weeks ago. It’s nice outside and both boys want to be outside. I want to be outside. So, we are taking a break with school and will start back up when it gets HOT. I think this means we are ‘year round’ home schoolers. I’ll take the flexibility that gives us.

Embryo Adoption Update!

We started the protocol to do a transfer last fall, but then hit some paperwork snags. Those were overcome and we started the process again a few weeks ago. Unfortunately, the timing didn’t work for a transfer this cycle. We will try again next cycle. The protocol this clinic uses is less invasive, but harder to schedule.

 

This is how I blog….

Yep. I was doing great at a few posts a week for a few weeks and then …  2 weeks without any. :::sigh::: I’m trying!

Co-op has started and 2 weeks down. It’s been a good 2 classes and the students are getting the hang of oral narration. The high schoolers seem to get narration more than the jr high students, but that might just be an issue of maturity.

I’ve got a lot to share about how I’m doing these classes, from a form for lesson planning I created, the alarms on my tablet I set up, to figuring out what works and what doesn’t of the experiments from the books. Seriously, sometimes the instructions in the book make it way harder to do than it should be.

 

I’m not doing a schedule overhaul of our homeschool schedule, but I’m tweaking a bit to make it fit better. And making it prettier!

2017-09-16 22.01.07

And, of course, the week *after* his 1 year checkup, Mr Wigglesworth starts pulling up and is now cruising from sofa to coffee table. Oh, dear. Now, no surface is safe! He regularly clears the coffee table and has decided that board books just don’t hold enough interest for him. No, not at all. He must have the big books! So far, only 1 page has been ripped out of 1 book… but the bookshelf is going to move soon. This bibliophile can’t handle the rough housing with the books.

IMG_0840

It has always taken me 2 or 3 weeks to adjust to a new schedule. This new schedule has taken several weeks to fully flesh out in this full-on, school has started schedule. Hubby is teaching 2 full days a week, Wednesday night bible study/kids stuff at church has started and co-op is in full swing. We are working hard at being consistent with our daily routines and doing school.

And I’m down for the count by evening. It doesn’t help that Hubby and I struggle to get ourselves to bed at a reasonable time. When the boys are asleep, it so nice to veg… watch some old-school Doctor Who*, do some dinking, have a snack we’d never offer to Little Man (graham cracker with peanut butter and chocolate chips… yum).

Ah, life. Bring it on.


*We are into season 14 with Tom Baker as The Doctor. We are seeing that many themes of the new Doctor Who episodes are taken from these old episodes. So fun!

thoughts on diapers

I’m cloth diapering my 2nd child. And going strong.

I’ve also sought to have a greater understanding of the diapering world in general. And I’ve come to the conclusion that you cannot chose cloth vs sposie on a mere financial basis.

If you chose sposies, you take on the cost of purchasing diapers for at least 2 and maybe 3 or 4 years per child. You might take on a monetary cost of disposing of those diapers, or it might merely be the environmental cost of disposal.

If you chose cloth, you take on the cost of purchasing the diapers (so many options!) and the cost of cleaning the diapers (detergent, water, wear and tear on the machines). You get to use the diapers for a 2nd or 3rd baby if you have more come along, but they will wear out (or covers will) so you will need to purchase more at some point with enough time and use.

But comparison is nearly impossible. After 2 road trips where we used sposies, I’ve still not used up the box of diapers I purchased. After all, these things are designed to go 12 hours if needed… they make great overnight diapers! I felt weird leaving my baby in a diaper for more 2 or 3 hours (not poopy, just wet), but I also knew there was a lot of absorbency not yet used in that diaper. So you can’t just count how many sposie diapers someone might use… they might change baby often or they might chose to let those diapers get super full. That could be the difference of 1 diaper to 8 diapers a day!

There are other comparisons that can be made. And if you can make an informed decision, that’s the best way to make a decision, really. So here’s what I’ve thought of. Please add your thoughts in the comments!

Sposies keep super absorbent chemical compounds right up next to your baby’s parts. On the one hand, it helps in keeping baby feeling dry. But… chemicals…. And sposies are scented, sometimes strongly.

In cloth, you can choose all natural fiber fabrics, all microfiber nifty stuff, and whatever mix you want. You chose what you wash in, so you decide, to some extent, what kind of chemicals (detergents, etc) you are applying to your diapers and what scent if any, they will have.

Changing a poopy diaper is easier with sposies. You just wrap the poop and the poopy wipes up in the diaper, fold it over on itself and put it in the trash can. Then wash your hands. Easy. But you have just put human waste into a landfill. That is a big no-no in general. Yes, you can use human waste as fertilizer on your garden, as they do in many developing countries, but you don’t want to… because parasites and other illness borne on the human poop that infect humans.  And so, if we can avoid putting human poop in the landfill, that is nice. Plus, the diapers have crazy water absorbing chemicals… that is a crazy something to add to the natural world.

With cloth diapers, poopy diapers are a bit more work. If baby is exclusively breast feeding, that poopy diaper just goes in the pail and it all gets washed in the washer. EBF poop is water soluble and just washes out nicely. Once baby starts eating solids… anything that is not breast milk… that poop needs washing off *before* the diaper gets to the washing machine. So, you are to tip the solids in the toilet. Ah-ha. Whoever first said that hadn’t been changing diapers all that long because most of the poop while baby is both eating and nursing is a nasty mixture of some rather wet some rather solid poop and it does NOT just tip off the diaper. So, a diaper sprayer is super handy. And sometimes, it takes a bit of time and spraying….

Having a diaper sprayer is super nice. You can now rinse muddy and sandy clothes off into the tub or toilet so you don’t burden the washing machine with said mud and sand. And little boys will love getting to rinse feet off if it happens to be by the tub (or not…). And if someone has a messy or sensitive bum, it’s nice to easily give a rinse. And post birth, it works better than a peri bottle.

Baby clothes are designed to fit over a dry sposie.

Fluffy bums are just so cute.

Add your pros and cons!

You can find more of my ‘diaper’ posts here

Reviving the comatose blog

Yeah, okay. My last post was December 11, 2015. It’s been 20 months since I’ve written. In that time, we transferred 2 embryos, found that 1 had implanted, gave birth to that one baby boy, did school, graduated Hubby with his PhD, got to the Great Sand Dunes National Park, got the Lego business running at a higher level, and started Year 1 for Little Man’s schooling. It’s true, the days are long, but the years are short.

In the past few months I’ve found that I want to start writing again, but starting writing after not writing for so long is hard. What will people think? What explanation should I give for not writing? Can I keep it up this time or will I flake out again at some point?

And when you don’t know exactly what to write about, you write shorts. Yes?

Year 1

This is how we label the year of school a child is in when using a Charlotte Mason method of education. I’m using Amblesideonline.com, and I’ve been delving deep in Mason’s philosophy of education. We started back on July 5, as it was just too hot to be outside much. I plan a longish break come mid-Sept so we can do lots more outside than the minimal 30 minutes in the morning.

Mr Wigglesworth

IMG_0631

Oh, my, this last year has gone so fast! He is now 11 months, and has gone from an awkward army crawl to pulling up, without doing any classical crawling in between. He’s working on lots of words and is all over the place.

PhD

IMG_2705

graduation!

Finally! We got Hubby graduated. It was 8 years to finish a 5 year program, but he had successfully defended the dissertation in March of 2016 (which was only 7 years). The department head was able to be generous and let him stay on that extra time which allowed us to do the small business thing….

Younger and Son LLC is up and running!

IMG_0460

Me playing with Lego Printing

Mostly…. We’ve got some work to do on the website and blog before it is uploaded, but we have many ideas brewing and hope to bring them to the wider public soon. We are creating Lego Mosaics, Busy Bags, Printing kits…. oh, it’s so exciting!

CM Biology

I am teaching a high school biology class this next school year at the co-op we participate in. As I’ve been delving into the CM (Charlotte Mason) philosophies so deeply, I so very much want to do this class as CM as possible. I have plans! I have ideas! I want to write about it so others can do the same, particularly for all those homeschool moms who are fearful of dissection. So, we will see how this pans out.

Great Sand Dunes National Park

IMG_0078

I cannot leave this out. We had such a wonderful time, and it was the first time to take Mr Wigglesworth camping. The night was so cold (mid 30s), and we were not fully prepared for camping with a baby over a cold night. He didn’t want to sleep with me in the sleeping bag, which is what we had planned. So, it was the car seat to the rescue. Luckily, we had brought a blanket to go under us and a comforter to go over us, so we could put that over him and there he stayed warm enough, even if he did wake every hour or two to nurse.

The dunes were a ton of fun, and it was great to get out camping again.

Any fun things going on for you right now? I’d love to hear about it!

Having it all together

I wrote this draft in February of 2014. On reflection, I realize how very much was going on. I was dealing with ‘weening blues’… Little Man had started weening the fall before and it was wrecking havoc on my hormones. We were wanting to try to get pregnant again, which meant we needed Little Man to finish weening, give my hormones a chance to settle down, then we could see what would happen. With that in mind, here’s what I wrote:

My dad gave me a great compliment the other day… he said “I’m so proud of you. You’ve really got it together and you don’t get overwhelmed, stressed out, or depressed over the business of life.” I felt an odd need to defend myself in that I don’t have it all together, I do get overwhelmed, stressed out and grumpy over all of it. But the Hubby-man is amazingly able to help me pull it together, get a few things done, and move on.

I’ve had several projects recently (as in late 2013) that I reached an “ARGH!” point where I stressed, freaked out, and verbally vomited all over Hubby-man. He is so effective at helping me deal in these situations that those outside our family rarely see the moments. And they are short lived, as in less than an hour usually.

It struck me, though, when Dad complimented me, that others might see me in the same light. And I desire that people know I don’t always have it together, but I try to be proactive about living life intentionally and living life in a state of peace and joy. As I thought over this, I realized my general ability to get back on track comes from three different areas, and I thought I’d discuss each area in turn. Today, the practicals of getting a handle on life at this point in life. Tomorrow, the foundations of having the right perspective on getting a handle on life. Day after, how knowing yourself helps a ton in getting a handle on life.

The practicals of getting a handle on life at this point in life
In light of the many flopped 2013 goals, my primary ‘goal’ for 2014 was something to the effect of ‘get a handle on life’. I flopped on so many of my 2013 goals that I decided to not make any such goals for 2014. For those who know me, they know that this is revolutionary and very out of character. I am a goal setter, list maker achiever. But before you start to wonder who this is and where did the Mom-mom go, I did decide to work on 1 or 2 habits each month this year to help me ‘get a handle on life’. And there were several things I decided to stop doing. So, here’s how 2014 is different…

  • No goals. Having a 2 1/2 year old (who turns 3 in May) around means less time for projects of the ‘no, you can’t be involved’ sort. My goals tend to be oriented in this way. Yes, I’ll still do some sewing and other projects, but I take them on as I have time and inclination. I’m not setting out a set of them as goals to do in 2014. Its just the right time of life to work like this. At least for me it isn’t.
  • Work on establishing good habits. For example, for January, I focused on daily routines and regular exercise. And, I’m working on the same habits in February since I felt that I didn’t really establish these as habits yet.
  • Not gardening. I love getting out in the soil, planting, watching things grow. I don’t like getting up early to water and weeding. I certainly love the idea of canning and preserving and having a store of food that we raised ourselves. But really, this is a family project. I’m so thankful I have the freedom to just buy my fruits and veggies and meat from the store and be done with it. I will garden again, just not in the near future.
  • Sometimes laundry stays piled in the living room for a day or two (or three). Sometimes the floor of the dining room gets a bit grimy. In other words, I’ve figured out what things I can live with and when I need to slack on something, I have a few things I can slack on without feeling guilty.
  • Remind myself often that most tasks are not huge tasks that take a long time to do. They are relatively quick. Rotating laundry. Wiping off the table. Putting books away (goodness, I’m as bad about having stacks of books around as Little Man is!). Making the bed. Vacuuming. Sweeping. Flylady teaches “You can do anything in 15 minutes (except whine).” Sometimes, I have to verbally remind myself, “this is a 5 (or less) minute task”.

I figure that as life progresses and our situation changes, I’ll have to make more adjustments. It might be that in 2015, I’m ready for goals again, and that might not happen till 2016. And I’ve decided I’m gonna be good with that. It helps that I know what’s important.

The key here is that I stepped back from what wasn’t working (making goals) to consider why it might not work (full time caretaker and Mom-mom of a little, sleep deprivation at times, general natural tendency) and how I might still get to where I want to go.

I’m inclined to say that if you feel like you don’t have a handle on life, work on some simple routines first. Simplify your general expectations (any other perfectionists out there?). Cut out extra projects/tasks (simplify!). Figure out what is truly important and focus on those things. (more on that tomorrow)**

**I didn’t end up doing more on this series. I might pursue it, especially now that I’ve come through that time, found my feet and am finding myself *feeling* rather stable. Just remember, no matter how together someone seems, they probably aren’t *that* well put together.

‘unschooling’: faith and academics

What is ‘unschooling’? I can see this question in people’s faces regularly when I mention it. A young man stopped by at one point to try and sell us books “designed” to keep your child interested in reading and learning. When I said, “well, we prefer to have living books around here that we learn from. So, I don’t think your books are a good fit for us right now.” I also name dropped “Charlotte Mason” in there, and the poor young man was very quick to leave at that point. I never mentioned ‘unschooling’ to him, but that might have made him run from our home even faster.

I had a friend write me what ‘unschooling’ is and how its different from self-directed learning and traditional schooling. That is a huge question, and I’m not sure I’m qualified to answer it…. yet.

Here is the beginning of an answer.

In the book “Unschooling Rules: 55 ways to unlearn what we know about schools and rediscover education”, Clark Aldrick argues that we must first teach children how to BE. Then, we can teach them to DO, and after that we can teach them to KNOW. (Generally, these days, education seems to be all concerned about what children KNOW, but doesn’t address the first two.) I think he’s got something very right here, but as he expands the idea he sets the bar awfully low. Aldrick states that learning to BE is about learning what you love, what you are good at, what you dream, and your role in a group (or larger society, even?). Really, though the question(s) could be much bigger… ‘Who am I?” “Who am I made to be?” “Where do I find my worth?” “From what place do I interact with others and how does that affect how I should treat others?”

Who do I want my child to be? I want my children to grow to be upright, God-fearing members of society (moral development!). I want them to be emotionally healthy members of society (emotional development). Whether any of my children got to college, or beyond, is more about what they choose and I will strive to provide the foundation so they can go in whatever direction they want, but, really, that is secondary (intellectual/academic development). I think ‘unschooling’ addresses the intellectual/academic development properly, letting children work in a way that is more self-directed, at their own pace, and according to their own interests.

How does this work in real life? Seriously, what three (or four or five) year old actually has any idea of what they want to learn about? If he had his druthers he’d sit around watching movies and eating peanut butter and candy canes (and starbursts and chocolate chips… you get the idea). Really, he isn’t going to learn to be a God-fearing, upright member of society on his own. Some teaching of some kind is needed, I think. There are certain things that I think are necessary things for a child to learn, and other things that are truly optional. Character is necessary, academics are optional.

It all comes down to being intentional. I don’t expect a child to just pick up good character and faith in God, especially not if I’m not living it. And I can’t expect my child to listen to my words if my life doesn’t reflect the same message. The book “Sticky Faith” discusses this extensively, and its not my purpose to retell what that books has to say (its worth reading as a parent or grandparent who desires to see an active faith passed on). A very simplified version is “live it out, talk about it, invite them along for the ride”.

Academics work the same way. If I’m not living a life of learning, how can I expect my child to? The best way to educate my child is to live it out, talk about it, and invite him along for the ride. No, this doesn’t mean I have to be all into mud like my child is. But it does mean he should be seeing me read, seeing me study, watch me be a learner. Then, I can talk about what I’m learning (no, he’s not interested in the history of the Renaissance era), and how I’m enjoying it. I can also talk about what we might do, like build a fort, blow bubbles or do paper mache. And then I invite him to do it with me. We practice taking turns as we take turns with the different items used to blow bubbles. We learn to work together as he wields the glue and I put down the craft sticks. Honestly, I’m not sure I’m brave enough to invite him to do paper mache with me, that will be very messy (we did do paper mache together… it was so messy he didn’t want to do much).

This is unschooling. Live a life of learning. Talk about it. Invite others along for the ride. This is how faith is passed on. Live a life of faith. Talk about it. Invite others along for the ride.

Sweet Nut Butter?

The other day I found a recipe for “Cashew nut butter cookie dough”. I thought, ‘woot! something that is like cookie dough and not totally bad for you.” The Hubby is more sceptical of I am when it comes to these things. He is wise that way.

Basically, I blended roasted cashews with a bit of oil, sugar and flavoring.

DSCN5426

It’s not that much like cookie dough. The texture is sort cookie dough like, and its a great idea. But the cashew flavor is still quite strong and the sugar didn’t really dissolve into the nut butter. And I added a bit too much almond flavoring, which can be quite overwhelming. Its a nut butter, not cookie dough. So, now we have a sweet nut butter….. and it just struck me that if I blend it all together, again, with the chocolate chips, we have a sweet chocolate nut butter, which, when its hazelnuts, is quite the hit around here. (nutella, anyone?) And peanut and chocolate is quite the hit also.

I posted last July with the words ” Since I can’t seem to keep myself writing on any regular basis, I’ll stick to publishing shorts.” But apparently, I’m struggling with posting shorts, also, since I’ve not posted any more since July.

It was a good summer. Hubby got a dissertation cranked out (yeah!), and we went camping in the Rocky Mountain National Park and Little Man did the Junior Ranger program. And, best of all, we were matched with a set of 5 embryos that we are working to adopt. We’ve been in the adoption process for a little over 2.5 years. There has been some back and forth (getting pregnant in the middle of applications will do that!), and we switched from domestic infant adoption to embryo adoption last March (2015). We are super excited that this genetic mom chose us as the family for her pre-born children. I hope to talk more about what embryo adoption is and why we are doing it. We will see if I can keep up my writing!

Little Man has found his “project”. He builds Knock Stuff Down Videos (KSDV). This involves setting up dominoes and citiblocks, then knocking them down. Many times, we video the KSDV (yes, do you see how that bit of language works?). I get roped into building parts, which I usually enjoy doing. Here is a video, as an example of what happens: KSDV Video

Little Man lost interest in climbing when it turned out what he liked was climbing just high enough so he could drop and swing on the rope. :::sigh:::

I did “Work the Plan” (http://www.simplifiedorganization.com/worktheplantraining/) with my sister. The philosophy of time organization that Mystie, the author of this blog, presents is not different from what I’ve seen before, but her methodology or application is a bit different and I like it. It involves regular reviewing of the tasks you have laid out, and planning by the interval (a time frame of 6 to 12 weeks long).

I really do hope to write and blog more regularly. There is something very releasing about putting words to ‘paper’ (okay, screen… keyboard?) and it really helps me organize my own thoughts. And I’m not even an introvert!

Summer Shorts

Since I can’t seem to keep myself writing on any regular basis, I’ll stick to publishing shorts.

-We are staying busy swimming, swimming and swimming. And now climbing. Yeah, every time we’d go to the university pool to swim, we had to stop and watch who ever was climbing. Yesterday, one of the guys working that area asked if Little Man wanted to climb, and he did! We went back today and he worked really  hard at it. He never got all the high, but he’s figuring it out, and working all his muscles to fatigue. This is the first thing we’ve found that really pushes him that hard.

DSCN5049

DSCN5051

 

-On July 5, we got to join the youth group to set off firecrackers. Little Man really enjoys them and found that the little smoke bombs he could light himself, until he got a spark on his hand. That reduced his enjoyment some.

DSCN5035

-What, you don’t watch someone else on the computer while sitting on their shoulders? This is the preferred watching position of Little Man these days.

DSCN5029

-I was told on this day, “I am an artist.” And when he had finished he said, “I’m done being an artist.” I had always assumed ‘artist’ was a more permanent descriptor, but I guess I was wrong.

DSCN5033

 

Spring time shorts

Yes, I’m wearing shorts more often, but this is more short blurbs about life right now. And no pictures of me in shorts because it might blind you. Its still somewhat early spring.

Little Man is still totally in love with water. He is all about water play, which means turning on the hose and watching the water flow. We shut down our raised beds a year ago, and they’ve over grown with grass, but I did dig up a 2’x2′ square so he would have access to loose dirt to play in. Yes, and mud. Since the area was ‘raised’, there is an incline to watch the water flow down as it floods the dug up area. He would stay at that for hours if he didn’t get cold. Yes, the boy has found the ability to get cold… when its 70′, cloudy and he is wet.

2015-04-07 13.42.22

We are doing more ‘science experiments’ these days. Little Man is interested in different things and I’m just going for it. We made Oobleck (even made it green!), a paper mache volcano (we did make it errupt!) and we have three Forest Tent catepillars in a big jar on the table, and a Swallowtail butterfly catepillar also in a big jar on the table. No we aren’t doing any kind of worksheets, but we are learning and talking about the natural world.

DSCN4678

I mentioned life being unpredictable lately in my last post. I thought I might offer more explanation of it. For the past year, we have been ‘approved and waiting’ for domestic infant adoption. About 6 months ago, God started working in our hearts to consider embryo adoption. After losing a baby to early miscarriage in June 2013, we are starkly aware of the emotional risk and the resulting grief of losing a baby. We reached a point recently where we realized we were ready to take on that risk and the possibility of such grief. And so, right now, we are in the midst of the application process for embryo adoption.  Of course, we are also doing all kinds of thinking on the ethics of IVF, fertility clinics, and our society’s attitudes towards babies in the embryo stage. Hopefully, I’ll be able to more fully articulate our thoughts, but its such a deep, intense, and sensitive set of topics, its rather scary to approach.

I got a hair cut today. This is monumental because I’ve cut my own hair for the past 5 years. I decided this was what I wanted. My goal is to grow and donate my hair for as long as I can, and this is the 4th time I’ve been able to do this. A before picture….

DSCN4808

and after….

Apr 16, 2015 8-17-38 PM

I do think my hair is getting curlier as I get older.

What are you up to?

back to blogging… maybe

I’m finding that I have a love-hate relationship with a wide variety of tasks… blogging, vacuuming, laundry, goal setting. I find that these things I have this love-hate relationship with are such that I dislike doing it, but I *love* it when the task is done. I don’t really like to vacuum, but I love freshly vacuumed carpets. I don’t like sweeping and mopping, but I love freshly swept and mopped tile floor. Also, I love posting my stories and my ramblings, but getting them to a postable stage is an arduous task. And its hard to remember, at times, that things worth doing are often hard things to do. Yeah, I dislike vacuuming and laundry (and most other household chores) because they are dull and boring to do. That can be remedied with a podcast or audio book.

However, I’ve not completely figured out how to remedy this love-hate relationship with blogging and goal setting. And they are intimately connected, unfortunately. I love to set goals so that I can feel purposeful and intentional about my activities and course of daily life. I want to know what needs to get done, what I want to get done, and what I did get done. But I don’t want to have to set goals, nor look at them when I don’t meet them. I’m not thinking of writing out goals right now; life is just too unpredictable. And if I set goals and don’t reach them, that leaves me feeling blah… so I’m not doing “goals”.

But blogging is an outlet, a chance for me to declare to noone in particular “hey, look at me, I vacuumed this week!” And if I’ve set goals, I get to declare “I not only decided I was going to vacuum this week, but I actually did it! Look at me!” And, of course, if I don’t meet my goals, I just don’t blog about it. Blogging is also a creative outlet, yes, but I don’t want my blogging to be just about me getting things done, or merely me expressing my own creativity.

I would love for my blogging to have such focused purposes as encouraging women to love their husbands, or challenging the reader’s thoughts on this or that deep topic… alas, to choose one such area is not for me. Being a stay-at-home-mom suits me quite well, because the general topics I cover in any one day vary tremendously. And so, my blogging will reflect this diversity. For better or for worse.

During this 8 month hiatus, I didn’t write. In fact, the last draft of a blog post I have is from last September, so you see, I haven’t written in quite a few months. But I did do a lot of other things, from several work projects, reading a slew of books, enjoying the time with my family, and thinking deeply about a variety of topics. I hope to start writing again about all these things. I want to start writing again. I’m ready, I think, to do the hard thing that is worth doing.

So, expect a variety of posts. Some about day to day life, some about deep issues. Sometimes I have conversations with friends and family that I want to write about. Sometimes I read something I want to write about. Sometimes, its an idea that came out of the blue. So, I’m going to work on this discipline of making time, sitting down and writing.

Pursuing Projects

I’ve been reading a lot about “project based homeschooling” (PBH). The basic idea is that you let your child pursue topics as their interest takes them, and let them create as their interests prompt them. It fits well with ‘unschooling’, which is also all about child-led learning. The website I’m mostly working from is Project Based Homeschooling. I’m in the facebook group, also, and its been a ton of fun interacting over these ideas. I did the journalling class and the drawing class in June, and found myself quite inspired.

Of course, I’ve also realized that this is how I normally pursue my ideas. Its really bugged me in the past that I’m crazy into some topic, then the interest wains, and then I’m into another topic. But then, in talking with my Dad, we determined that I’m doomed… he’s that way, too. I have a few lasting interests, but what might be my overriding interest of the moment can vary.

Little Man hasn’t found his topic to pursue yet, unless sand + water counts (it very well might, he’s very interested in putting a ‘lake’ in his sand bin currently, and its taking some thought on how to keep the sand sides up and the water from soaking into the sand).

On the other hand, I have found my new topic: wood working. A friend who was moving gave me a fine particle compressed wood board that struck me as the perfect top to a small table for Little Man (for whom I’m considering the nickname of ‘Young Grasshopper’ — he loves jumping). This prompted me to start thinking about if I could build a table. It helps that my Dad is a carpenter, so I have a source of advice and information at my cell-phone-fingertips.

One of the things that is a big deal in PBH is journalling or documenting the project and learning. I’m still figuring out how that works. I might just use the blog…. then I don’t have to get pictures developed (if I worked in a paper journal), and its something I (sorta) already do.

All that said, here’s a bit of the woodworking that’s been going on…

designing. This challenged my math.

designing. This challenged my math.

My Dad sent me some chisels and a plane. Young Grasshopper was really excited to try them out.

My Dad sent me some chisels and a plane. Young Grasshopper was really excited to try them out.

Sometimes you just gotta jump.

Sometimes you just gotta jump.

I got him a little hammer, and he really enjoyed tapping nails into wood scraps.

I got him a little hammer, and he really enjoyed tapping nails into wood scraps.

Working. Part all cut out. Sanded. Next to cut out notches and put it all together.

Working. Parts all cut out. Sanded. Next to cut out notches and put it all together.

My first attempt at creating a 'notch'.

My first attempt at creating a ‘notch’. Not so great.

I’m actually using a design my Dad put together. He added a support piece and a different way of attaching the legs and table top.

Random Shorts (in other words #myunfilteredlife)

A random collection of short burbs from my life of late. Mostly unfiltered.

–Last night, I started dinner by cutting up chicken, getting out the pan, putting a tbsp or two of oil in the pan and turning on the burner. I began wondering what they smell was, and why wasn’t my oil in the pan looking hot. It was nearly 5 minutes later when I realized I’d turned on the wrong burner. I’d turned on the burner that I’d set the plastic oil bottle on… I lost about 1/2 gallon of oil to the top of the stove, which, luckily, has sides high enough to contain most of the oil. I’m grateful we live in a place such that the loss of so much oil was disappointing and a stink to clean up, but it did not limit my ability to cook or provide food, nor will it.

–We have learned that water balloons last longer in a pool of water than not.  Of course, if you leave the balloons in the pool all day, they all deflate. Though if that is due to osmosis or weaking of the latex, I don’t know.

water balloons in the pool

water balloons in the pool

— I was walking across the yard when I realized on particular step sounded like I was stepping on plastic. The step felt like it, too. So I stooped to look and poke at the ground. Sure enough, there was a bottle buried in the yard. Several years ago I found a spark plug while digging up the garden. Not sure if I should thank the owners of the land from before the house was built or the construction crew or, perhaps both. I’m guessing the previous owners provided the spark plug and construction crew provided the bottle formerly containing Mountain Dew.

what I found in the yard

what I found in the yard

— When Little Man and I head outside, I usually imagine I will sit and read. But I always find something else to do. Most recently, I took apart our 8 year old box fan and cleaned it. Oh, it was gross.

 a distraction from reading

a distraction from reading

— Earlier this week, I was chatting with a friend about raising a little boy and she mentioned “It sounds like he’s bored, really.” It was like a light bulb. So, I got more sand for our sand bin/table. He will happily play for an hour… quiet… as in not talking… and I get to read, quietly, without distraction. Why did I let the sand run out and not get more? Oh, yeah, teaching conservation….

how I find quiet time

how I find quiet time

— I found myself reflecting on my general inability to keep my dining room table cleared off. My mom had us clear the table off *every day* for dinner. And we put all the stuff away *every day*. I think I might be physically incapable of such a feat.  I am thankful we have a large enough table that we can just move most of the stuff to the far end and sit at the near end to eat. (this is a picture after I’d been working on clearing if off for 10 minutes or so.)

Why can I not keep my dining room table cleared off?

Why can I not keep my dining room table cleared off?

— Little Man is into ‘creating creations’. Yes, those are his works to describe a particular painting of his. This is a recent duplo creation. I didn’t think to have him tell me about it at the time, so we can only guess what he was thinking of.

creations. by Little Man

creations. by Little Man

— More fun “science”: rooting an avocado seed.

'growing' avacado

‘growing’ avocado

— And we played with modeling clay. He started out making ‘snakes’, but they became snails soon after. Family member might begin receiving clay snail when they finally dry. 😀

making snails

making snails

 

— Really, life is going well. I’m getting reading done and enjoying. I’m exploring new ideas, and reviving old ones (got my sewing machine fixed!).

An end, or a means to an end?

Its been a week or more since the Hubby and I talked about this, but its been on my mind. In education these days, or at least this is the way it seems to me, reading, writing and math are taught as the goal of the teaching. A young man stopped by a week or so ago trying to sell us books to teach Little Man to read… they were colorful, bilingual and relevant topics (supposedly — shapes, colors, dinosaurs). But the goal was teaching reading. For car trips, I’ve picked up ‘preschool’ level books, with space to color and stickers to stick on for ‘A, B, Cs’ and ‘Math!’. The goal is to teach reading, writing and math.

This is not necessarily a bad thing. But it lessens the value of these subjects. Alone, what is it worth to just write? or just do sums? or just read? Okay, I get great pleasure from merely reading, but then it is mostly entertainment.

The value could be so much more, though. If we, as we teach, approach teaching these subjects as means to greater ends, however, their value increases exponentially. One caveat though… the greater ends must be worthy in themselves.

Yeah, gotta bring it back to ‘unschooling’. Its all about approach. After we seek to teach our children about how to BE, then we can teach our children how to DO. And its about doing something. Perhaps it is finding pleasure and entertainment in reading that we are teaching. Perhaps it is about becoming a better person, knowing human nature, or knowing God. Perhaps it is running a household or keeping track of spending, income or investments.

Anyhoo, that’s it. Lets change our approach. Don’t teach reading, writing and math as the end, but as the means to a greater end.