Sunday, July 31, 2011

I Love These Two!

So this afternoon has been filled with fun at home...stocking up before the big back to school, end of summer break time is upon us. It is coming quickly, so there is no time to waste. We played in our little pool and then Mason went inside for a bit and came out wearing pirate jammies and had his plan. He started setting up camp and Ellie followed in his footsteps.

We had to gather all her "stuff", doggies, shopping carts, etc. (Yes that is her new Space Needle doggie in her new baby car seat.)

I knew we built that recycled wall for many purposes.

Stepping Back and Taking It All In

So after a week at Responsive Classroom where we were challenged to think deeply about how we use our language in the classroom to be clear and concise, I can't help but use what I have been thinking about for my teaching here at home. It is amazing how when you step back and let things play out a bit you really don't need to say so much. Learning happens and grows and develops and it is this that is pure magic and joy to experience.

This personal growth for me has been a journey in the making. A collection of the Responsive Classroom Approach, the insights gained at Parent Meetings for Mason's Preschool, observing the preschool in action, and the Education Through Music courses I have participated in. The strength I have gained from these have truly allowed me to experience this magic.

Today at lunch Mason was last to the table. He was busy finishing his home that he made for the bees. It started about a half hour before when he came in searching for honey to pour on top of the tiny house he was going to make for them. His plan was to entice them to live in this little home. After consulting with Dad about how the bees might take to this plan, he revised his plan. He got to work, coming to me for help in finding string, pipe cleaners, and so on. As he discovered the tape he was using was too weak to hold, he searched for his "flames" duct tape. All the while I just kept a near distance...near enough to be there if he needed me, near enough to enjoy his work, but not so near that I would intrude and inhibit the process.

Just as the lunch table was set he was hanging his house in the tree, beaming with pride, "Now the bees will love this new home."

I bet they will, and if they don't, I do.

PS. I had a lot more in my head I planned on writing, but I am trying to be brief and let you construct your own learning. Enjoy the journey.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Cucumber School

So, back from the Pacific Northwest. Almost two weeks have elapsed since our departure. It was a great trip (and more on that shortly, I gaurentee), but I am happy to be back on the farm. And what better time to be here than at the front end of harvest season!

I thought I would break the usual blog routine of family and kid tales to bring you some harvest news. Well, you could say that we picked a lot of stuff today. Or you could say that we toted a substantial amount of produce into our house. But the best way to describe our bounty would be the Old English term: butt-load or so much that you cannot carry it all with just your hands.

Ok, now to school.

We have 6 varieties of cucumbers growing in our gardens this year. Here are four we harvested today:

Burpee Pickling - A nice, productive cuke with a mild taste. Not my favorite, but they are crisp and not at all bitter.

Early Russian - A productive cuke with a mild taste. Great for pickles or fresh eating!

Snow - This one won our taste test. Great all-purpose cucumber melon... and sweet!

Suyo - A japanese cucumber with a thin, burpless (not bitter) skin. Tastes nice fresh, but it would make great pickles since the skin has a cool ribbed look. These two are about a foot long!

Not pictured are the mystery cucumbers from Mason's garden (they came in a package that simply named them "Cucumbers") and the Armenian cukes. I will torture you with pictures of them later.

So, there you have it: more than you ever wanted to know about the cucumbers in our garden this year. If you are still reading, I am beginning to question how you spend your quality time, or perhaps I have found a partner in my obsession. Whatever the reason, thanks for tuning in.

Oh, we also picked a couple tomatoes.

Friday, July 01, 2011

Happy Birthday Daddy!

July 1st...Daddy's Birthday. The other night we headed out west to the Davis Farmer's Market. Mason and Daddy took the lead as we walked over to meet up with friends, have dinner, listen to the band, and play.

Mason spotted the balloon animal lady despite my attempts to cruise on by. I have to admit I was impressed with what he ended up with. He was dying to have a sawfish like we saw at the aquarium last weekend. This request really put her to the test. She didn't really understand what he wanted at first, but gave it a whirl. He ended up with this fierce mask.

He got many looks and compliments throughout the park. Later in the evening he and another boy met up face to face, shark to shark. It was hilarious. Mason made friends with him and his family and played a bit before heading to the ice cream booth.

Ellie was content ordering up, of course, a doggie even though the balloon lady tried to convince her to choose something more challenging commenting on how "Dogs are the first thing you learn at clown college." Ellie will not be swayed by ridiculous statements such as these and demanded a purple doggie which she could wear as a bracelet. She snuggled him and loved him throughout the evening even as he popped in parts and transformed into some sort of triangular character.

While eating our tasty treat Mason decided that his saw-shark was missing the saw and had to revisit the artist for its completion.

He went from this...

to this...AAAAHHHHHHH! A Sawfish, stab you in the eye reenactment.

Notice the similarities?

Before leaving town we made a pit stop at Borders where Mason spotted a Cars LEGO set on our way to the restroom. We talked about how Daddy's birthday was coming up and maybe we could go to the LEGO Store for his birthday.

Mason: "Mommy we are going to have to make a lot of cake then because if we have his birthday at the LEGO Store everyone there is going to want to eat the cake."

That's my little Saw Shark...always thinking.

When I Was A Boy

I absolutely love the magic of music. The way it can take you to places you have been in the past, places you hope to reach in the future, or even help you embrace the pure beauty of the moment you are living.

Last Sunday the kids and I were on our journey home from a fabulous mini-vacation to visit my mom and brother aka Grandma and Uncle Chris. Our first major trip just the three of us, hmmm... now that I think of it, it was just a Mom and her kids kind of weekend in more ways than one. As we drove through the Grapevine, the excitement of the morning caught up with both of them and they dozed off in the back seat. As we drove, I had Josh's iPod on shuffle and fell in love again with old favorites as they sang out. It is always funny to me how I can hear a song so many times and still uncover something new. My true favorites tend to be those that keep having deeper meaning and connections.

On this particular day Dar Williams came on singing her live version of When I Was a Boy. I have listened and loved this song before, but somehow the lyrics became clearer and yet still uncertain. As the song ended I chose to listen again, finding more meaning, and then again. As I slowed down to listen, to understand, the traffic slowed us down as well. Construction on the road brought us to a crawl and I peered at my two sleeping in the back. It seemed as though she was singing about them, about me. It is hard to recreate this moment in words in such a way that can capture the feelings I had, for that is one thing about music and it's charm. The connections you have with it are yours, and the magic you feel is different than what it may be for someone else. For me, I love how this song takes me to my past, my present, and my future. As I watch Mason and Ellie I see them finding themselves. I love when Ellie is a boy and when Mason is a girl. I love that they feel and experience both. I know that one day the world will have them define themselves a bit more, but for now they are utterly free. I love that I Was A Boy too.

Have a listen for yourself...