Easter fun

 

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This year Easter was quiet, with my mom and stepfather joining us for ham, roasted asparagus with shallots, citrus salad, orange bow-knots and a delightful new italian sweet bread (complete with egg baked in!).

Unlike last year, when Phoebe wore her Easter bonnet, this year she rejected the hand-me-down pastel striped taffeta dress in her closet in favor of a decidedly more bohemian look.

James and I enjoyed sunrise service on the lawn of our church, shivering in the misty dimness, sharing in the quiet meditative service. Marcus took Caleb and Phoebe to the much later raucous “family” service in the auditorium. When I asked him how it was, he said, “loud!”

 

Learning

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Since Caleb and I are just beginning to understand what it means for him not to attend school this year, our philosophy of “homeschooling” is not hammered out in any sense.

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I knew homeschoolers and read about homeschooling–especially attentive to Alfie Kohn and John Holt and John Taylor Gatto–for years before I became a parent. But when we began participating in a cooperative progressive school that formed an amazing, nurturing and respectful community for our family, homeschooling was tucked away in our minds.  It was not something we expected would become a part of our lives.

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Once we moved and tried public schools, we had a decidedly mixed experience. Our eldest took the ball and ran with it, finding his new school experience challenging and structured in a way that fit. While our second born did not thrive in the much less personal environment of public school, with its specific age-based recommendations for progress and regimented day.

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Much of Caleb and my experience this year was relational. How should we live and be and work together? It was indistinguishable from any other kind of parenting — exploring the balance between requirements and freedom, telling and listening, expecting and admiring, ideologies and practicalities.  Though I often disagree with Sandra Dodd, I like her series Just Add Light and Stir.

Here’s a quote from Sandra I’ve found to be very true: “After eleven twenty-two years of unschooling I still forget sometimes that the information that was doled out to me on a schedule is just OUT there for my kids, that they find it interesting and that they have no reason to avoid adding it to their fascinating collection of trivia about places, people and the world around them.”

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She’s right.  Today more than ever, anything you are interested in is findable. There’s so much information, often so much better presented than it is in schools and textbooks, that I find myself wondering if my older son is wasting his time in the building.  Caleb has frustrated and surprised and amazed me and I’ve frustrated and surprised and amazed myself.  It’s been an irreplaceable time of knowing each other more deeply and learning about a hundred-and-one things, mutually.

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Here’s recent zoo adventures (overnight field trip; homeschooling workshops) with all of us.

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Constitution Center

Very cool visit to the Constitution Center’s Homeschool Week program!

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We also had a wonderful visit to the Nature Center this week, our homeschool Coop is back in session, and Caleb is getting ready for pinewood derby!

His “squirrel car” won at the last one. Now he’s working on a “wolf car!”
(Forgive the grainy-ness below, heavily cropped to remove other people’s boy scouts!)

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There’s also been a lot of loooooong bike rides as winter is giving way to glimpses of spring weather. These boys of mine are getting adventurous.

Finally MORK is almost finished, I’ve knit and blocked and seamed.  Now I just have to face the dreaded set-in sleeves and I’ll have a finished sweater to show you!

Baking

This was a huge hit with the kids. Walnut cupcakes with Maple Cream Cheese frosting.

photoThe recipe is here:

We added a T of King Arthur Cake Enhancer and substituted 2 T of Greek yogurt mixed with the milk for buttermilk. We also toasted whole walnuts in a frying pan and ground them in our mini food processor.  And we baked for only 17 minutes because we made cupcakes.

They were light, moist, walnut-y, and not overly sweet or rich. The kids loved them — I wasn’t sure with the walnuts and all, but they’re all on their 3rd!

The frosting was our own creation. 3 T butter, 6 oz cream cheese, 2 cups powdered sugar, a t or 2 vanilla, and 2 T or so real maple syrup. Whipped together.

More traveling

Continuing our theme of traveling, everywhere. Here’s New Orleans in January in the rain.

IMG_0004The St. Louis Cathedral-Basilica.

IMG_0005Breakfast at Stanley’s.

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IMG_0010Turquoise!

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IMG_0015Tiny gardens, iron benches.

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IMG_0018Flowers.

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DSCF4157 The French market.

DSCF4166 Public spaces filled with live music.

DSCF4170 Old Ursuline Convent Chapel.

DSCF4133 Cafe du Monde.

DSCF4122 Carnival begins on Epiphany.

DSCF4118In short, wonderful!

Holidays

December was a calming month for us.  Because of Sandy, all our holiday traditions were shifted and for the first time we has a small family Christmas at home with my immediate family, followed by some visiting farther afield.

Christmas dress

 

Us

 

We’re all back in preschool / school /homeschool today.  Following the inspiration of Mayaluna, I am undertaking the Unravelling of 2013 and enjoying the process.

I’ll share some knits soon.  Wishing all the best in 2013!

Stormy, with escapes

Well late-October and November hit hard, didn’t they.

With much sadness and loss … of homes, and place, and tradition.  I also lost a dear loved one.

And while I have photos of Sandy’s devastation to places that were ours and mine in one sense or another, I will post instead photos of our various joys, escapes, and (momentous) moments.

I had a birthday, with breakfast.

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And friends …

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And children!

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There were autumn-themed festivals …

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And tree houses!

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There were costumes!

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And (many) travels to New York, and Connecticut, and Chicago.  And to Kentucky!

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And Pittsburgh!

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There were heartbreak and tears on Thanksgiving.  But there was also laughter (and sisters).

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And over and through everything, there were the sunlight and smiles that these children bring us every day.

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