homeschool :: second grade

We are now well into our homeschooling year, and second grade appears to be coming along quite well.

Late in the summer we finally administered Claire's end-of-grade standardized test (we used the untimed version of the CAT for reading, writing, and math) that we are supposed to have on hand for the state (though I hear they never check for it).  She loved taking it- no doubt that has a bit to do with the novelty of a 'real' test for a homeschooler.  I wasn't sure what to expect, but we came out of it with a good idea of where we were and how to approach the coming year, and feeling reassured that we aren't completely ruining our daughter, education-wise (that's a joke, really- I know we aren't ruining her).

Though much is the same in terms of how we go about our homeschool days and how we organize ourselves and our work (we still start our days, typically, at the dining table while I'm drinking tea and getting her breakfast going, we are generally studying the same subjects, I picked up the same style notebook (an 8.5x11 notebook by Fabriano, got it at AC Moore) that I used last year for planning because I like it so much...), there are a few things that have changed.  Though we had a bit of unscheduled time and plenty of 'go with the flow' moments last year, they came after the work, or during breaks in between.  I wanted to change that, to loosen it up a bit.  So this year we are spending our Wednesday mornings in the woods.  I've been calling it "Forest Day".  We rotate the trails and destinations between 3 or 4 main places and we have 4 or 5 families that often join in.  Sometimes I bring along guide books and magnifying glasses and scavenger hunt sheets and art supplies and such and sometimes I don't.  Mostly, I don't.  Forest Day is the only thing on our homeschool schedule on Wednesdays, and it has been so nice.  During her kindergarten year we essentially 'unschooled', and at first I thought that would be the route we'd take last year as well.  However, once we got going with first grade it seemed like we both needed a bit more of a rhythm and a plan.  And then somewhere along the line I think the plan just evolved into more structure than I'd really anticipated.  Forest Day loosens that up a bit and, for me (and for her, I'm quite sure) helps to bring about some balance to the week and to our time.  Our life is so nature-rich that in the past I haven't felt the need to schedule time in nature, was hesitant to do so, actually.  I suppose maybe I scoffed at the idea a bit, honestly.  But this weekly time that we plan on being in the forest with friends- it's great.  I love it.

The rest of the time, we are filling our school days with all sorts of things.  There are weekly spelling words (again, the 'test' is her favorite part), grammar (we've been talking about nouns, verbs, and adjectives, as well as present and past tense verbs), lots of cursive practice, and loads of reading.  In math we started the year doing a pretty in depth review of place value and now we are mostly working through a math workbook with a pretty varied focus.  In social studies we reviewed the continents and oceans, and have started reading about ancient history using the books pictured above as our guides. In science we've studied bats and trees and insects, did a rock and mineral study, and are currently talking about earth science and the formation of the earth.  There are birds, bees, flowers, monarch-rearing and observing, and so much more.  Theater performances at a couple different theaters in Asheville.  She plays her ukulele, takes weekly horseback lessons, comes with me to art class.  It's a good place we're in.  I do think we've really found our groove.


passing the torch from summer to autumn

late summer/early fall photos - I love this time of year (and the past six weeks or so, really) where you can so easily see the seasons beginning to meld for a bit as one prepares to give way to another.  the light, the sounds, and quite literally, the flavors.  these photos are essentially how we've experienced these very things over the last 6 or 8 weeks.

"yellow the bracken,
golden the sheaves

rosy the apples,
crimson the leaves

mist on the hillside,
clouds grey and white

autumn, good morning
summer, good night."

-Florence Hoatson


37 years, 37 things

This marks my ninth year making a list on my birthday of some (the # equal to my trips around the sun) of the many things I am ever grateful for.  These are things I want more of in my life, things I say 'yes' to whole-heartedly, things that nourish me and fill me up in all the best ways.  This year, there will be 37 of them.

Generally, they are in no particular order.  I simply type things out as they come to mind.  Some big, some small.  Certainly there are repeats from year to year, but I make a point not to look back on previous lists until after I create the new one.  It's a good practice, this list-making, and one I highly recommend.  I always, always come away feeling so full of gratitude and immensely aware of the many ways in which my life is full and rich and beautiful.  And, consequently, how very much I desire to daily be aware of that fullness and joy because I recognize it as the miracle and luck that it is.  I am humbled, because I am well aware that life is not this way for many.  That for many, the struggles and hardships tip the scales significantly more than the simple joys and reasons to smile.

I am reminded to pause and savor the small things, as they are where I tend to find so very much of the goodness around me.  And so, here goes~ some of the things I'm grateful for:

1) night sounds- crickets, train whistles, a neighborhood screech owl
2) my close friends- for their time, energy, and love
3) my kind-hearted, compassionate, amazing girl- my love for her is so intense, and it makes me feel more vulnerable than anything else
4) our woodstove- the crackling, the warmth, the way it brings us all together
5) papa for collecting, hauling, splitting, and stacking all that wood.  and for countless other reasons
6) my cozy bed
7) our Ollie cat- for filling the void left behind after Ziggy, for choosing us, for loving unconditionally, and even for being so darn talkative
8) two jobs that I truly love, working for people whom I respect and enjoy being around
9) my mother's tenacity, strength, and, ultimately, her stubbornness- which seems to be the thing that pulled her through an intense and life-threatening illness nearly four years ago.  I was terrified that I was losing her and that my daughter wouldn't remember her grandmother, and I didn't know how to approach the hole I thought that would leave in my heart.  I'm so grateful for that stubbornness.
10) sharp pencils.  as in fresh-from-the-box sharp.
11) the way photography helps me capture the little moments.  I am so reminiscent- and photos transport me so quickly, so viscerally, back in time to moments I'd like to hold onto.
12) tenderness and honesty
13) acorns, bones, feathers, pinecones, stones, shells........ if I am a collector of anything, it's of those amazing little bits of nature.
14) books.  real, hold-them-in-your-hands books that smell and look and feel like books.
15) bees
16) music! for instance, the Rising Appalachia album Wider Circles (also Van Morrison, Simon and Garfunkel, Neil Young, Eddie Vedder, the Grateful Dead, Madeleine Peyroux, Gillian Welch, Natalie Merchant, Otis Redding, Ben Harper, St. Paul and the Broken Bones, Rhiannon Giddens, Mumford & Sons, and so many more)
17) salty ocean air (the best medicine, I think), and that I got to revel in it twice this year
18) the lakes, streams, and rivers that help fill that void (and my soul) the rest of the year
19) our happy little backyard pseudo-suburban-homestead, for all the obvious reasons (the time, space, inclination, and skill set to raise a lot of our own produce, herbs, flowers, etc) and also for the good therapy it provides (getting my hands in the soil is a close second to that salty ocean air, medicine-wise
20) berries
21) strong black tea with coconut milk and honey~ my daily morning ritual
22) my slippers
23) avocados, sweet potatoes, sardines, greens, and all things coconut- for keeping me nourished through these many months of autoimmune diet experimentation
24) finding an amazing massage therapist (who also happens to be a good friend)
25) friends and neighbors generously sharing their apples, and the cider, sauce, and apple rings that are the product of the picking of many baskets full of the lovely red orbs
26) homeschooling our daughter
27) my strong, capable, healthy body
28) my family
29) this amazingly beautiful place I call home
30) the experience of watching the eclipse in the path of totality with my loves (wow!)
31) birds- we get such joy from them.  I adore their lilting morning songs.
32) the soft, golden autumn light dancing around the house in the early and late hours of the day
33) seasons- the subtle shift from one to the next as the torch is passed, the way I'm ready for the new one when it arrives, the gifts (sometimes obvious, sometimes not) that each brings
34) the gift of today- which began with yoga and tea, then breakfast made for me and a hike with friends to a beautiful waterfall.  there were messages from dear friends, a good day at work, and now the day is coming to an end with the Van Morrison Pandora station (which is currently reminding me how much I like Creedence), an amazing dinner cooked by my love, a game of memory with my girl (with wine), the witnessing of another chrysalis being formed by a monarch caterpillar, some garden time, a sweet visit with dear friends, and loads of love.
35) my little swap community- for the connection and the good times, the chances to learn from and with one another and to support and encourage one another, and for the opportunity to write about the swaps for my favorite magazine
36) hot water
37) horses- for the way they smell and the way they nuzzle and the charmingly vulnerable way their big fat lower lips droop when they are super relaxed, and mostly, for the way one in particular is working his way into my girl's heart and filling her with confidence and strength.

well, there we go.

and now (because of that reminiscing and all that I love to do), some photos from the last year:

birthday campout 2016~ good friends gathering for food and fun at the farm where I work
waking to the morning mist on another fall campout

cosmos beauty
the sweet boy who has my girl's heart

golden autumn light
Day of the Dead remembrance gathering

snuggles with books
kitchen window
Edisto Beach goodness

poppy beauty
late spring garden
boat time with friends
sweet backyard honey 
taproot fun
indigo, indigo!
in her happy place with her cat, her doll, and a huge pile of audiobooks
peony beauty
my loves, chatting at LEAF
our trip to Beaufort, SC~ just mama and papa

backyard bounty

at the farm
more backyard goodies
late summer trip to Adirondacks

solar eclipse!!!!

a fall collection
I'm the bridge between these two

this year's birthday campout~ dinner prep
and breakfast, too
farm-fresh decor
easy birthday morning start with yoga and tea. (with cat and slippers very nearby)
birthday hike

Catawba Falls
the monarchs are loving the tithonia!
memory, wine, and the paper while dinner cooks

what a year.