Journal Categories
Journal Tags

Entries in life (174)

Monday
Jun302014

Blanket surgery

Through the years Blanket has accompanied Calvin just about everywhere. He's been to play dates, parks, restaurants, Iowa, Disney World, Italy, camping trips. Up and down the stairs, in and out of the car, dragged through just about everything. He has been washed, but probably not as often as the sanitary police would recommend, and I realized just last week that I couldn't actually remember the last time he'd taken a good swim and decided that meant the time had come.

There are actually two Blankets, and one Mini Blanket, that are a pretty important part of our family. Before Calvin was born my Aunt Lonnie made a set of four identical blankets and four matching burp cloths for me. Over the years two of the larger blankets have gone missing (probably somewhere in the house, or a travel bag, etc.), and one of the burp cloths has been appropriated as "Minis". The two remaining blankets have, of course, taken the brunt of Calvin's adoration and devotion. They show all the signs of being greatly loved, bringing to mind stories like The Velveteen Rabbit, or Nothing.

I find something endearing about Calvin's continued besottedness. The bigger he gets, the more I melt when I see him lugging that old friend along without a care or concern, or when I check on him at night and find him clutching all three pieces tightly in his sleep. So when he asked me to fix the fraying edges, of course I went right to work. All three Blanket got the full spa treatment, beginning with a gentle bath in the sink, followed by a relaxing dry in the sun, and finishing with a nip here and a tuck there at the sewing machine. 

Calvin called it Blanket surgery. And just like that, an old friend was restored, and a little boy was delighted.

Have I ever mentioned that on occasion he strongly reminds me of Linus?

Thursday
May222014

The spaces between

Life is punctuated by routine.

Invariably we start the day with breakfast and an adios to Jon on his way to work. Our morning is about table work—the school lessons that we actually sit down and do, like math, spelling, grammar, geography, etc. (and not all homeschoolers do this, by the way, but my kid happens to like the predictability of it). And we squeak in piano, and some time to read, or build, or play. Then there's lunch, and a chance to get outside if the weather is good, or play games, watch videos, read, sing, build, what have you, in the afternoon. Then Jon comes home and we soak up our time with him before going to bed and starting all over again the next day.

This is our routine. It is the punctuation that keeps us on track, and punctuation is good because it keeps you on track. It's also good because it helps you tell or read the story with enough predictability that you can enjoy the unpredictable—the story that happens in the spaces between, like a surprise afternoon in the middle of a work week when our whole family gets to drop what we're doing and head to the park to enjoy the weather together. We like together.

Life happens in the spaces between.

Thursday
May082014

April, just a blur

As fast as March went past, I think April went faster. It was a blur of warm days mixed with a still bitter chill while we tried to get back outside and back on our feet. Calvin was in rehearsals twice a week for the Wild Swan production of The Wizard of Oz in early May and had practice twice a week for Science Olympiad, also in early May. Add to that the usual homeschool meetings and it felt like we were always on the move.

Festifools parade in Ann Arbor

testing the garden soil

playing with garden soil

chalk on a warmer evening

tracks left by the deer that walked through our garden and nudged over all our solar lights.

spring in the butterfly garden

math on the floor

o_o

Soaking up the sun

We did battle with the house sparrows that wanted to move into the bluebirds' digs

game playing on a warmer day

petting a skunk on a field trip with our homeschooling group

 

Spring egg dying

first signs of life

Broadway in Grand Rapids

bird watching (practicing for Science Olympiad)

first day of nature camp

Wednesday
May072014

March, come and gone

How about a quick run-down of the month of March, which came and went with a speed so determined that it left us all wondering where the fire was. In fact, I'm not sure I noticed that March was gone before the first days of May had arrived. What, then, happened to fair April? Part of my confusion might be the odd weather of this year that is delivering April showers at the beginning of May. Part of it was our run-in with tag team illnesses—flu here, flu there, a cold, Strep Throat. But the biggest part of March's sneaking right by was a schedule that just wouldn't let up.

We celebrated a birthday

We kept up with school

We took a salsa class with our homeschool group

We braved the still cold and snowy weather to spend a delightful day in town

We played a lot of games, and tried to encourage spring to begin.

 

Friday
Mar072014

Sick days

The warmest room in our house is the southeast facing master bedroom. In the morning the rising sun streams through its windows and wakes us gently with a rosy orange light. Many a morning I lay in bed, basking in that benevolent glow and gathering my thoughts for the day, charging up my reserves of patience and well being. Even later, after the sun follows its daily path to the other side of the house and the light in the room becomes softer and more diffuse, the warmth there remains.

In the summer, when the air in the house is hot and stagnant and the dogs are positioning themselves wherever they can find a cool breeze, we draw our shades and wish for cloudy days and big drops of rain. In the summer we use adjectives like airy and billowing. In the summer we spend as much time as possible outside in the yard or out back on the deck. The winter, of course, is different. In the winter, especially this winter of the bitterly cold polar vortex, we throw our shades open to welcome in all the warmth the sun can muster and go in search of adjectives like cozy and enveloping. In the winter, our favorite place to be is the warmest room in the house and we spend as much time as possible wrapped in the cocoon of the bedroom.

I have been asked many times this year what we, as homeschoolers, do on snow days. It’s a valid question, usually sparked by nothing more sinister than the curiosity of parents who have struggled to entertain kids kept home from school day after day thanks to this winter’s wild weather. My answer is usually a slightly self deprecating “I think we’ve actually ‘gone to school’ more than the contemporary schoolers this year!” We don’t take days off due to snow fall or polar temperatures. On the coldest days, though, we have been known to pack our whole operation off to the warmth of the bedroom where we set up camp on the cozy bed, warming our bodies with sunlight and our minds with contemplation.

This is also where we spend sick days. Even though contagion is not an issue for our little school of two, when runny noses and nagging headaches come calling we remove ourselves again to the bedroom, that satellite classroom of our homsechool campus. There we spend our under-the-weather days reading, coloring, and playing games that keep us from suffering mental stagnation without taxing our diminished ability to focus.

These are our homeschool sick days, and, excepting the headaches and congestion, I'm rather fond of them with their slowed pace and air of indulgence.