He’s Leia, I’m Yoda.

A conversation that just twisted the knife in my Waldorf-aspiring heart:

Me: Sweetie, you do not have to hide that you are reading that Star Wars book. I’m not going to be mad.
Boy: You’re not?
Me: No! I’ve loved Star Wars since I was little. I saw it when I was five. I consider myself a big fan.
Boy: I’m a fan, too. You and me, mama, we’re fans of Star Wars. In terms of Star Wars, we’re the same.

[Note: he’s never seen the movie, just heard the story and looked at a book we received this week entitled The Sounds of Star Wars by Ben Burtt. Before you get all outraged, yes, he has seen movies recently, no, he’s not a pariah, he’s just protected and, until recently, not really interested. As far as Star Wars goes, he’s in it for the story so far. It helps that his uncles bought him a plastic gun. Thanks, uncles.]

Later, we’re outside. He’s Leia, I’m Yoda. After much negotiating, I must add, because he really only wanted me to be a character that would “carry a gun” and “fight”. I had to convince him that I didn’t need to carry a gun to fight. Of course, it meant that I spent the afternoon avoiding green cars (Darth Vader’s ships) and talking in a modified Yoda voice (not that it mattered to him, having never seen it). Each cross-street was an asteroid belt, each block was a planet and each rain-puddle was a cell of the Rebellion. Splashing in the puddle meant you were transferring vital information to that rebel cell. When our ship would break down (as all good ships do), we did 3x and 4x skip counting (using the sidewalk squares) to get our ship back in order.

Just in time. All those white cars are full of stormtroopers.


Settings on Magic! Go!

So both Geeklet and I had the flu this past week. (Sympathetic noises. Thank you.) On Thursday, as he was beginning to feel better but before I knew what horrible evening awaited me, we were playing spaceship (like you do.) So, first, we were fighting the Martians.

Geeklet: We have to find ways to fight the Martians! They are going to blow up our ship and take over the Earth!

Okay, we did this for a while. But then I asked him, “Have you tried to talk to the Martians?” He said no, because the only one on the ship who could talk Martian was Dee (his purple velour rat). I said, “I think we’d better get Dee to teach us Martian. What if they aren’t trying to fight us at all?”

Geeklet blew up a Martian ship.

Me: Great. Lots of Martians soldiers on that ship. Maybe a poet, too. (See, I was already feeling sick. Please please note that I do try not to be quite so heavy-handed sometimes!)

G is near tears and I have to think of something fast–“Let’s figure out how to talk to them! Get Dee!” He runs off for Dee, and they’re deep in a translatorial huddle for several minutes. He comes running back.

G: Dee knows how they talk! They only eat with their mouths. They talk with their tails!

He then goes on to elaborate a system of communication involving straight, curved-to-the-left, curved-to-the-right and spiraling tail poses and movements, each with its own meaning.

G: But we don’t have tails, so we have to use sticks! [He holds up a stick.]

This provoked an avalanche of drawing. Suddenly, we can not only see the Martian ship from our view screen,

Martian ship with exiting shuttlecraft

but we can also, evidently, see the Martian Leader’s Kitty:

Our spaceship viewscreen

The cat is showing us how he can eat Martian Cat Food, and he’s saying something with his tail.

Even though we can now speak to the Martian people, we need to get back to Earth, because we are running out of food and fuel.

G: We have to get back to Earth. We have to have 1000 of fuel, and we are only at 900. [Note that he doesn’t even mention that we’re down to 900 of fuel because he emptied out 100 of fuel to make us slow down so that we could hide on the other side of the sun so the Martians could not see us, back when we were fighting the Martians. He’s awesome at strategy, not so much at remembering why we’re low on fuel…] [Also note the interesting technique: Our ship doesn’t have brakes–dumping fuel makes us go slower. I’m glad I’m the one with a terrestrial driving license.]

Okay, so back to Earth we need to go. He sets our course on his command keyboard:

G's command center

On the Geeklet’s ship, there are a couple of speeds.

10J [Note: J means half of the number, so 10J actually means 5]
300J (actually 150, remember)

Which speed would you choose? Me too.

Not so creative, but for coughing.

We haven’t been so creative here at the Treehouse, except for the coughing. Chris has the cold. He sleeps propped up. Ben has the cold, but only at night, apparently. I have the cold, but I feel whiny when I mention it. (Don’t point out, please, that I am currently telling billions of people that very thing.)

So we’ve not had a whole lot of creativity around here, except for let’s-not-have-kharold-go-crazy-during-quiet-time kind of creativity. We’re listening to Little Women on Librivox a lot. (The first 10 chapters, minus 7 and 9, over and over…) Reading a lot. Gardening. And I’m practicing subliminal teaching.

Subliminal teaching is where I pretend I’m not teaching something, but I really am. He asks a question and I answer it. I try not to give a whole lot of extra information. He’s 6 and I want him to not be flooded with facts yet. So at one point, having spent the last week answering specific questions that would then lead him to the ability to tell time on a clock, I reminded him that he knows how to count by 5s and left it at that.

Today, we ran errands and I treated him to lunch at the Lotus Cafe in Encinitas. As we ate our blue-corn tortilla chips, I read some of our finds from the library. He’d found a copy of Oh Say Can You Say What’s the Weather Today?: All About Weather.* One page has a blurb that indicates that you can determine how far away a storm is by seeing the lightning, counting, and when you hear the thunder, divide your number by 5 to find out how far away it is in miles.

So I told him a story, how you are driving home from your friend’s house in your convertible but the top is down, and broken. Do you risk driving home, or do you stay with your friend? I made a wiggly-hand kind of lightning flash, then he began counting. Somewhere along the way I’d say, “BOOM!” and he’d look startled (first time that happened I wanted to apologize, he looked so scared) but then somewhere from the recesses of the Boy brain, without fingers or working it, he’d say the number. Not, “15 divided by 5 is three,” but a shouted, joyful, “THREE!” And he kept it up. I never let him count higher than thirty, but he got it even when the number wasn’t divisible by 5–16, for instance, was “a little more than 3.” See? Subliminal. Never once in our discussion did the word “divide” come from me. Of course, every so often I would need to bring the convertible into the conversation. (“Do you think two miles is too close for trying to drive home?”)

Oh, and I think I broke my toe. You never know how things will go.

*Yes, I realize this could be construed as “flooding him with facts.” It’s got a shiny cover and he found it in the children’s room and chose it. It was one of 26 books we checked out and this is the one he brought into the restaurant. I promise I’m not pushing, really!

Take a deep breath.

The last time I posted it was February and I had to give up. I’d been sick for weeks and weeks and I continued to be sick until March. Then life got fun.

Fun, in good ways, like going to the zoo with friends, examining leaves, sending letters to pen pals. And fun, in not so good ways, like spending this last week with Wee G running a temp of 102 and coughing and shnuffling, while TMoTH tried not to implode from the weight of all the fun he was having preparing for the San Diego Space Society‘s awesomely successful San Diego Space Festival booth. Late nights with not enough sleep was wearing on us, and the boy was having way too many days of too-sick-to-do-school, change-in-routine, with restless nights in the bargain. Then Whee Excitement on Saturday. Today we’re all exhausted.

But my sweet one gave me an hour to weave, and he took a 2 hour nap. This was good, because the boy is going to have a hard time getting used to routine again, and we’ll both need the rest. But our guy will be glad of it after a day or three.

Why am I up? If I’m so tired, shouldn’t I be in bed? Yes, but you see, I have bread dough rising. I have to wait until 11:30 to shape my Pane Siciliano from The Bread Baker’s Apprentice into enticing (I hope!) S-curves and put it in the fridge. Hopefully I’ll be in bed by midnight with bread to bake in the morning. I hope. I’ve not ever made this recipe before…

And then the week begins again. Before I go to bed, I need to decide what to read in the morning. Morning reading has become a beloved time for Boy Geeklet, and what we read really does set the stage for our mornings.

Making things makes me happy.

art drying on the line

art drying on the line

Making things makes me happy. So I get so excited when Boy Geeklet shows interest. He started painting one day and just kept going, so I threw fabric at him and he painted all over it. This is it, drying on the mini-clothesline in the front of the house. I don’t know what to do with them now, but they’re beautiful.

Avery's quilt

Avery's quilt

My niece, whom TMoTh has nicknamed Alien, was born in the fall, and I don’t think I posted a picture of her quilt. It was fun to make, and so easy to design.

Funny–I’m posting because I’m still too sick to be expending too much energy to do the other things that usually keep me from remembering to post. But that means that my brain doesn’t work very well right now!

G and I have begun George MacDonald’s The Princess and the Goblin, and he is intrigued.
Me: So, are you enjoying it so far?
G: Ye…esss. [Thoughtful pause.] I like Princess Irene, and I like Curdie. I’m not too happy about the Goblins. But we can keep going.

This is big for him. It used to be that if there was any scary element, we just could not continue. It took us months to return to The Wind in the Willows after reading Chapter 4, relating Ratty and Mole’s scary adventure in the Wild Wood. So either he really likes it, or he’s changing some big way. (Probably both.) So I wonder if we can return to Grimm’s? He has historically refused to let me read them to him. Hmm…

[On a side note, I have discovered The Well-Trained Mind and Classical approach homeschooling. It’s becoming part of the Process. But evidently I’ve been incorporating W-TM techniques as a matter of course for years and didn’t even know it. It’s kind of empowering.]

Works so well it frightens me.

If you’re doing something and it works, there’s just this flow and happy joy and you’re exhausted but you feel like there’s a groove, is it wrong?

I wrote this huge long post last night and lost it, so here’s the short deal: I’ve stumbled into a rhythm with Boy G and it works. So I don’t trust it! I’m worried. I cut out circle time, which many people were telling me to cut out because it’s not really meant for two people, it’s meant for a classroom of children. I didn’t like it. So out it went.

What did I keep?

I kept reading in bed. (Should I feel guilty about this?) First thing, we snuggle for about 10-20 minutes, reading together. Then up we jump. First breakfast for him while I shower. Then he gets dressed and out we go for a quick, quick visit to say hi to the garden. (Usually we go put mail in the blue post box around the corner.) Then back for second breakfast.

First major change: We’ve already been outside once. Historically, getting outside didn’t happen until afternoon.

Second major change: Home-work gets done, but I don’t talk about it. I don’t stretch it out or try to get him involved. I do it, it’s over. He can help or not. I sing, I include him in conversation, I don’t let him drift away (if legos get him, he’s lost), I do rudimentary home-work and the basic daily work (Monday laundry, Tuesday vacuum, etc.) and then we go outside again.

Third major change: outside again. It’s still morning, people.

We do something imaginative together. For the last two weeks it’s been pretending that we’re Wilfred and Primrose from Brambly Hedge, and we go traipsing around the countryside on his bike, the good “ship” Periwinkle. I love Brambly Hedge. If you have any Brambly Hedge books and you don’t want them, can I have them? PLEASE?

Luckily, last week a so-far-abandoned lot on our street had its fences torn down. The lot is full of flowering weeds and clover. It is Brambly Hedge, the riverside, and the seaside all rolled into one. The bits of sidewalk that once led up to front doors have become our docks, and we dock the good ship Periwinkle there and have the snack we’ve brought along–on a few occasions, the breakfast. It’s magical, to be eating pancakes sitting on the sidewalk next to a patch of overgrown clover with a cool breeze and warm sun on my face.

When we get back to our house, I excuse myself upstairs, do a quick set-up for story time and the craft for after, and tidy away the snack/breakfast things. Then I coerce him upstairs for story.

After story comes art project. Last week we made popsicle-stick-and-paper puppets of Gnome and Groundhog and made Brigid’s wells out of play clay; this week so far we drew a map with crayon and chalk and a painting of the Queen of the Icy Lands’s realm (with bits of green on the edges to show that the lands are melting).

Lunch. Quiet time. Then variations on park day/swim class/museum day/dance class. Tea. Nighttime stuff with TMoTH.

It’s been flowing so smoothly… today he asked me why we’re not having circle these days, and I tried to explain briefly that the things we did in circle we’re doing while doing other things, but I don’t think it went over really well. He misses circle. I don’t know where I would put it. Because everything else is going really well.

Does that mean I’m doing it wrong?

Is “Waldorfian unschooling with poetry and etymology” a philosophy?

Whoever said that homeschooling was easy has never been in my brain. Come visit, we’ll put on some tea and talk about how in the world you decide how to teach (or not) your small, vulnerable child, who according to some has certain periods of sensitivity to stimuli and should (or should not) be lead/directed/self-led in certain directions at certain ages (or not). Soft colors, whimsical spirits-that-hearken-to-elementals, no academics until seven will protect his intellect by stimulating and engaging his imagination, but then what about all those fun and interesting activities like art classes (harsh colors, directed learning, forced semi-understanding of negative space and -gasp- outlining), drama classes (encourages precocious understanding as self-being-observed-by-others), and reading (parts of the brain don’t learn at the same time, precocious reading encourages continued use of early reading strategies and doesn’t force the brain to use different parts for different challenges). Don’t teach, lead by example. Unit studies or block studies or theme studies? Music lessons at 5–yes! no! Art appreciation? And all those fun midday field trips? Field trips interrupt routine and at this age are as overstimulating as they are useful!

Routine is good, that seems to be pretty commonly agreed upon. Usually. Er. It works for Geeklet, so I go with it, and therefore I go with the philosophy that has worked for him so far, a mostly-Waldorf approach (with, I admit, liberal reading out loud). Then we get together (you know, that Required Homeschooling Social Interaction) and I’m amazed at the sophistication of thought and eagerness to participate of other kids and I think, hmm… But I can’t just jump around. Hey, let’s do Waldorf this week, and some unschooling next week, some de-Christianized Charlotte Mason in there, I’m curious about Enki, la la la, all of which produces a somewhat insane child and me, sitting on the floor, singing la la la. Trying to sing it in French. An unstructured and gentle introductory insane singing in French. Not reading and writing, just talking. Conversing. Singing la la la la la.

Which is kind of close to what we did today, anyway.

Oh, I’m sure it will all come together. I hope. Because otherwise the Boy is going to have his own very special angst, and while I’m hoping that homeschooling with help him to develop his own unique self and characteristics, I don’t think we need to focus on that one so much.