Un-schooling Again; 2 moments

Result of a science experiment 

 My two youngest children like to do science experiments, but I hardly ever “get around to it”. It is not my area of expertise. I do make an effort every once in a while, so the other day we did a simple one about “beading” of liquids that held our attention for a while. Then the two kids remembered that we had the ingredients to do the bubble experiment again. We had done it many months ago. So, being the pro-active homeschool mom that I am, I left them to it.

glycerin, dish soap, water, a straw…..

Next thing I know, they have relocated to the dining room and are in the dark taking pictures and having a great time. I walk through and see lots of bubbles. It is several days later when I download the pictures off of my camera that I find the most beautiful image of bubbles…..

the dri-erase board does igneous

A few days later:
    I was in some horrible big box store when my son grabbed his sister’s arm and said, “C’mon, I just remembered something I want.” And they disappeared leaving me looking through racks of cornflakes or socks or car parts; I can’t remember what.

When they reappeared, the afore-mentioned son was clutching a small “white board” or “dry erase board” I think it is called. I was skeptical. “How much is it? ”  I asked, with an undoubtedly dour expression on my face.
“Oops, I forgot to look,” he answered. Off they went again. Upon their return, he announced “$3.99” (or something like that).
I was still skeptical. And then he said, “I wanted to draw plans on it for drawings and also I could use it to write on. “
    Well, those were the magic words: “draw” and “write”. This particular son is as artistic as his older brothers, but more focused than either of them on drawing. He is also the most reluctant of the 3 to read. At the advanced age of 12, he is finally interested in devoting a considerable amount of time and effort to the project of learning to read. His brothers both were actually reading by this age. So I looked again at the board and thought, well,  $3.99, is a gamble I can take. At worst, it’s an art supply.
And lo and behold, he runs to get it while we are reading together and then he actually will write long and interesting words that we run into on it, something that he had been refusing to do on paper. Call it a gimic, if you will….it’s not one I would have thought of.


Over The Top, Celebrating Life-Learning

Victoria building the lemon cake

My family of 6 celebrated New Year with one of our most favorite homeschool families  ….the 5 kids (only one of which is currently “homeschooled”!), a fabulous girlfriend of the eldest son, and the Mom of course, my companion through thick and thin.
      So we had 10 kids in and out of the house, playing Manhunt, attempting to build a bonfire in our water-laden back yard, 2 of them off to pick-up soccer in Albany, and others working on a fashion website…
     One of the best things that happens when we get together is the food. This particular family is very knowledgeable about food and they have taught us many things over the years, important things, like how to make good pizza, how to make french fries, what is important when baking a cake, how to incorporate lots of vegetables into your pasta dishes, how to make pasta, etc.

The waffles ready for takers

So, we “built” one of our trademark lemon cakes…I am very proud of having introduced this recipe to our collective resources, but I still can’t make it with the ease that my friend does….This is a cake that literally towers with lemon.  Then the next morning it was a tower of Waffles from a new cookbook that my daughter got for Christmas…The waffles have cream and milk in them….We heated some of our frozen raspberries to drizzled over the top….
      This is one of the unspoken great things about home-schooling, the time and inclination to concentrate on good food. Our kids know what it is, even if they still love a bag of Doritos.

The Death of “Grandpa”

    We went away for several days, leaving our 50 or 60 chickens to fend for themselves more or less. We left them a lot of grain, and checked the weather while we were away and ascertained that the temperature was above freezing which meant that water would remain available.  Chickens are pretty hardy.
     We returned at night. The next morning, I went out early to feed the chickens and see how they had fared. They all came running, though I didn’t see “Grandpa”, who is a very old rooster who we have nurtured along in his old age, shooing the other roosters away while we make sure he consumes choice scraps and tidbits. He was first named “Snowman” but was eventually re-named because he had been with us since he was a wee lad, and then had grown up to father several of our hens, and to lead a long and noteworthy life as a retired “head rooster” which is actually a rather difficult role as younger roosters don’t tend to value longevity. If we didn’t specially look out for him, we are certain he would have expired a while ago, as he is not up to defending himself against the others. I was pretty sure he wouldn’t make it through this next winter, as he has taken in a somewhat witless way, to sleeping alone, outside, on top of the old chicken pen, where he would undoubtedly meet his end as a frozen bird one cold night. I called for him in my goofy “Grandpa” voice, and looked for him out beyond the electric fence where he sometimes ended up, probably in a desperate attempt to avoid attention from the other younger aggressive roosters. No sign of him, but that wasn’t unusual.
     All seemed well, until I got all the way into the hoop house. I was busy dumping more grain and searching for the few winter eggs, when I noticed the black and white pile of feathers in the far corner. He was dead. Had a desperate retreat into the warmth of the hoop house been his downfall? Had the other roosters picked on him to his death? He bore no signs of abuse when I picked him up later and put him to rest in a chicken food bag….

     This is one reason to keep “livestock”; as constant reminder of our ultimate destiny, and to help squeamish people like me literally learn how to “handle” death.