Friday, May 3, 2013

A mockingbird taught me

So much to has been almost a year!  And a year full of wonderful and not-so-wonderful moments & experiences.  And I want to recap all that--but now is not the time.  I am exhausted from reading and grading a multitude of student work as my semester ends--yipee!!!  I love school.  I love learning and teaching.  I love education.  I love the academic year--mostly because of what is coming--summer break!!!  Which for me is part lounging through the days on adventures and at the beach, but also because it's time to relax and reflect.  And I have much to say!  later...

For now, what inspired me to write was a homeschool moment with my son, (from here on out referred to as "8"), today.  We have become avid bird watchers around here.  Last year we began creating Life Lists, and this year we extended that to participating in a Cornell Lab of Orinthology feeder watch--including putting up two feeders here in our city oasis.  We have also committed to a "Big Year", in which we are keeping track of all the different species of birds we see in 2013.  Our upcoming trip across country will certainly help us reach a high count!  And we continue our addiction to bird cams--now including eagles, herons, hawks, and backyard birds.

8 has often brought up a conflict he has with a museum exhibit at MOS Boston on the pattern of wing movements by birds.  He has experienced the exhibit several times, which (allegedly) mimics a real birds wing movements as it flies.  He has on more than one occasion remarked that he has observed different wing movements on certain species.  Today he demonstrated the movement of a mockingbird's wings as it flies away from our feeder.  he stated, "This is how a mockingbird flies" and demonstrated with his arms--different from the museum exhibit--which he also noted.  When I asked him how he knew that, he replied, "A mockingbird taught me."

I believe this serves as evidence of a budding naturalist and an understanding of the powerful learning tool of observation.  :)  good to be reflecting/blogging again!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

our new backyard

exploring along the Charles
 This is where we have been spending much time lately as Daddy is taking sailing lessons 2-3 days a week.  It was a gift for him, and it has been a gift for us as well.  While dad's learning about jibs, leeward winds, and other cool boating stuff, we have been lounging in what feels like our new backyard.  We have found our own special spots and developed a bit of a routine that includes picnicking, watercolor painting, "fishing" along the shore of the river, riding bikes, and just generally exploring.  We've been out in the rain, sun, in the morning, afternoon, and dusk.  I know I've developed more of an appreciation for how accessible this wonderful spot is to us, and I'm really enjoying watching my kids grow familiar and comfortable here.  It really does feel like it's ours, and that is a neat aspect of city life--sharing spots like this with a million strangers, yet each of us feeling ownership and personal connections to the space.
searching for river monsters with some geese friends

an exciting find--dead blue gill

Thursday, June 7, 2012

lesson for the teacher

Homeschool  requires quite a bit of risk-taking and learning on my part--more than I could have imagined!  As nature class at the Sanctuary drew to a close, there was a defining moment for me--canoe class.  I knew it was coming, and although I love canoeing, I have always been more of a passenger with an able adult on board to "lead".  Somehow, I imagined canoeing with the nature class meant a trained adult would accompany Seven and I, as clearly, I was an adult, but far from able.  THIS was not the case though, and I was sweating as the group leader gave instruction, distributed PFDs, and the city girl in me stood in fear that they were actually going to hand me paddles and set me afloat on the water with my son ALONE!  As I formulated a thousand different ways to say, simply, "I can't do this", I saw how eager and excited Seven was--oblivious to my quiet nervous breakdown--and realized this was a great opportunity to do what I ask him to do almost every day as a learner--try something new, something I was not sure how to do, take a risk.

So I sucked it up, grabbed my paddles and we headed out on the Ipswich River.  Lo and behold, canoeing is not that hard, and aside from a few crashes into the reeds (mostly when I tried to take pictures!), we did pretty well!  Most importantly, Seven was beaming and had a great time.  He was so empowered (as I was!) after the trip that he was begging to do it again as soon as possible.  On the way home, I confessed how nervous I was and that I really just wanted to tell them I couldn't do it, but I decided to try it anyways--and I was SO glad I did--because it was awesome!  And mostly, I loved just sharing the quiet time on the river with my boy--searching for birds and "what lurked beneath the surface."--his words.:)  I asked him if he could tell I was nervous, and he said he had no idea.  Then I asked him if he thought I did the right thing, and he rolled his eyes and said, "Of course, mama."

Always good to experience the vulnerability of learning as a teacher--probably one of the most powerful reminders of how learning can feel at times.  And looking back, how silly I was to be that nervous, and now, please, hand me the PFD!  Can't wait to do it again!

old man and the canoe

passing by a beaver lodge spotted by Seven--then we crashed

why do we have to stop?

I've been working on writing a narrative assessment of our homeschool year, which I anticipated to be about 2-3 pages long, and actually had to stop myself after 6 pages.  So much to write!!!!  It brought me right back to writing narratives for my students in school, only then, the writing was so general, with room only for a line or two about the specific child.  No tiny little boxes on a report card to hold me back this time, though, and really an amazing experience to reflect on just Seven (Five's is still to come).  Just his growth, progress, interests, activities, and skills to ponder--and while I am his mother and of course, he is "perfect" in my eyes, I feel my years as a teacher allowed me to reflect in an objective way.  We have all grown so much this year!

As I was looking at the calendar recently, I casually asked Seven when we should stop homeschool for the year.  His response? With a shocked expression: "Why do we have to stop?"

For me, that's all the evidence I need that homeschool was the right choice for us.  When learning has engaged the learner to the point that finding a stopping point sounds ludicrous, you know you've done something right!

So we will continue on with our lessons and learning adventures--maybe in a little more relaxed way--trading nature & swim & ballet classes for trips to the beach and vacationing in Maine--provided the sun does return and summer will (please oh please) feel like summer!

Five's friend at the zoo--the jaguar

Noisy seals at the Aquarium

the ballerina

Five's first dance recital--ah, so girly!  She LOVED performing on stage, and the lights and crowd just fueled her fire!  She danced to Teddy Bear's Picnic with 4 other little girls, and it was sweet and oh-so-cute!  Her adoring fan club attended both nights--yes--2 nights of recitals!  I was proud to say I managed to plaster her hair into as a straight a part down the middle as I could, and cried when she skipped out on stage first.  So grown up, so lovely.  And now, so glad to sleep in a bit on Saturday mornings in lieu of dance class! :)

one minute four, now five

It feels like only a minute ago, my little baby girl entered our lives.  Sweet, snuggly, loud baby girl with no hair.  And in an instant, she is this powerful little ray of sunshine--even louder than before!  I'm sad that the baby/toddler years are over.  Truth be told, time & finances permitting, I'd have two more...but even then, the day would come when diapers, strollers, bibs, and what I miss most--the sling--would eventually leave our lives.  I loved it all--the baby years--and I can say that now that the years of sleep deprivation and diaper changes have passed.  Now, it's on to new adventures!

Four to five is a big transition.  Five is the real deal--she's a little kid now, and her personality, interests, habits, memory are all truly forming--and I do love this age so much!  Exploring, discovering, adventuring on a whole new level.  We rolled it in with a smashing Princess Party, which Five loved, loved, loved.  Her face beamed all day.

Yes--I made this spectacular cake--roses, leaves, and all!

Rapunzel's hair hanging from the princess' bedroom window to greet guests
And now on to a glorious new chapter in our lives!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

mother nature's child

I had a fabulous Mother's Day weekend!  The sun was finally shining and we spent most of the weekend outside.  We enjoyed a lovely dinner on Sat with all the moms (& dads & Auntie M & Uncle J) at the Wayside Inn (favorite restaurant), and after everyone else departed, we rambled down to the meadow to search for bugs and pick wildflowers, and then onto a little brook where Seven went WILD catching crayfish in his dress pants.  What a better way to ruin a pair of pants?!  Of course, after finding ticks all over the place on Monday, I think we may be steering clear of the meadows for awhile!  But boy did we have a blast!  More from Mother's day next post!

bug hunting and flower picking

in the meadow


serious crayfish catching