Book Bag - no. 11

Here are the week's highlights. Mini Grey strikes again with a new hero, Hermelin. She will always be a favorite of mine. And after reading this post on Bomb, we had to give it a try. No review yet, for the title is still giving me the shivers. In terms of a family read-a-loud we are floundering a bit. We can't quite land a new title for us all to gather around. I hate that feeling.  We finished the annual fall reading of Little House in the Big Woods, but now we are ready for some deliciously new to us.  While we wait for something to drop from the sky, we are listening to The Hobbit on audio.  Of course, wonderful, but there needs to be snow on the ground for Tolkein, I think. What are you all reading aloud?

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Captain John Smith arrived on time to Cohasset Harbor, and looked appropriately confused to see us all standing there. He read a letter upon coming ashore of his opinion of the land and its nature and qualities. The authenticity of the reenactment would have gone up a couple notches had all of Captain Smith's crew been costumed, or at least removed their sunglasses, but it was a wonderful affair nonetheless.

The Wampanoag Nation was represented as well, and led the children in bread making and dance. A sight that will not be soon forgotten, I am sure.

This Salvation Army purchase made my day!* 

*Not pictured is a three dollar, cozy, Patagonia fleece for Myles, that he refuses to take off. 

I hope everyone enjoys this deeply September week.


Something new

This year we begin something new.  Myles will be attending an alternative community school part-time and the other part of his time he will be learning at home with me. Making this decision was not easy. For the past two years Myles attended our local public school. Some days were good, some days were bad. But most were an uninspiring lukewarm. He certainly wasn't thriving.  I struggled with getting in line at school and taking a number.  Being pressured to accept the status quo and not ask a whole lot of questions. Watching my rambunctious, fidgety son being forced to sit at a desk for long hours, became more and more difficult to stomach. For certain, there were days that I felt that he was learning valuable lessons, socially and academically, but overall it felt like he was losing an interest in learning, atleast in the traditional, non-conversational way. So finally this summer after discovering an affordable alternative school, and getting my mind around what our days at home would look like, we decided to give something new a try. Yes, I have people running up to me, saying, "So, I hear you're homeschooling!" And honestly, I cringe a little bit. I feel like a turn coat to my public school friends and an elitist to the millions of Americans who are reliant upon the public school system for a good education and child care. I have always been haunted by the concept a bit, and the scenario of, if I really, really, really, wanted to do what is best for my child, I could control every detail, every influence, by homeschooling. I hate lines drawn in the sand and the arrogance of labels.

But despite all my ridiculous social misgivings, Our first week was a piece of a dream. Granted I was bracing myself for Armageddon. I was not going to make the mistake of having unrealistic expectations again.  I forbid myself from imagining peaceful fireside discussions about the dreams of men and the Northwest Passage. I wanted to save my hopes for moments of being pleasantly surprised. And I was, pleasantly surprised. Myles was clearly relieved and upbeat about his new situation, and much more attentive to the dog, which I always take as a good sign.

However after a good run, the honeymoon ended this week. So now it is time to really hunker down and create these new days for us.  Lots of resistance, buckets full of, "I'm not doing that." But for every moment of, "No!", there were moments of cooperation and recognition of scalene triangles.

It is difficult to do this in a small town and not feel like there hasn't been a schism formed. We live in a neighborhood where everyone walks to school and we do not live on a farm with a sibling hiding in every cozy corner. We bring Fiona to her first grade class, where she gleefully skips through the door, and then the two of us turn around and make our way home again. It is lovely most days, but also eerily quiet on others.

But I am thankful for the return of my little buddy. I am thankful for our trips to the Asian food market where we come home with things we have never seen before, and ingredients to make dumplings. I am thankful for our history studies that taught us a tad bit more about John Smith, so that we happened upon the news yesterday at the library, that he is said to have come ashore in Cohasset, MA four hundred years ago this late summer. Tomorrow, this town next door will be staging a reenactment of Smith's landing. I am not sure we would have caught this opportunity had we not changed our path, and that feels slightly affirming to me.


Book Bag - no. 10

All quiet on the August front. However, last week we did visit our happy place - the Cambridge Public Library, and stocked up far and wide. I had been trying to remember the name of the book, Halibut Jackson for months to no avail. But when I saw an old familiar librarian at the desk, I knew she would be able to help.  I was right. It took her a minute pull up the title, but she immediately remembered the tale of a charming character who is shy and talented and wants nothing more but to blend in. And of course it was on the shelf, right where we left it five years ago. Only good things happen there.

I am determined to slow down these last couple weeks before September hits. Sit on the couch more. Go to the beach more.  Quiet myself, and therefore all of us.  Oh, and some sewing. I am working on this pattern for Fiona to have for school. Ill show you the fabric soon. Hopefully with her in it!


Book Bag - no. 9

Justice is being served to New Englanders this summer. After a brutal winter, we are experiencing summer bliss. Its like San Diego everyday in these parts. We have been full of water and warmth and cool mornings. Too beautiful to sit at a computer, or even pick up a camera to capture the moment.  Just enough time to breathe and soak and make pesto. The cheerful orb shines nearly every day. It is not lost on us.


Happy Sad Summer

Today is our first quiet day at home in a while. A dear friend of mine allowed us an escape to the green mountains of Vermont last week.  We joined her and her daughter for a leisurely week of picking, and cooking, and eating, and swimming.  The kids were occupied for the mornings by pottery camp, (except for Myles who was busy "inventing" 'til three) leaving me to prepare for the fall without interruption, and run for a bit each day up and down scenic rolling hills. It was wonderful. For the grand finale, she showed me this farm out of a fairy tale that stretched as far as the eye could see, to the banks of the Connecticut River.  The farm  also happened to have a wonderful cafe with possibly the most delicious scones we have ever tasted: Brown butter something. If you are ever in the area, treat yourself to a stop at Cedar Circle Farm.

We returned the day before Fiona's birthday, to prepare for a party filled with family from overseas.  The ice cream truck came, everyone ordered sprinkles. Fun was had. But there was something holding me back from full on happy-go-lucky. (There usually is.) First of all, watching my kids turn a year older without my mom is really heart wrenching. More of life keeps going by without her, and I am always caught off guard at our loss on milestone days. Secondly, my youngest child is a little grade schooler now. Six is small, but not quite as small as five, and Im going to miss five. And thirdly, being with family that you see but once a year is a wee sorrowful. Eric's sister and family live in Switzerland and fantastically were in town for our little birthday party. While the visits are wonderful, when they are with us, you realize in a poignant way what you are missing out on throughout the rest of year. Our little niece makes you bubble over with her little squeaky mercis! voilas! and encores! The cuteness is too much to handle.

So today we stumbled into the library and filled our bags semi full. We came home and read and watched Fiona play on her swing. It was nice. The neighbors were over and we walked to the beach. Good to be home with just a little of July left to spare.