Box Day

-Once upon a time a boy fell in love with a girl, but didn’t tell her about it.
-They hung out and did cool things together with their friends, like loiter at coffee shops and do artsy-fartsy stuff.
-The boy moved away. The boy moved back.
-Then the boy and girl became friends. Fantastic friends. Best friends.
-Eventually the girl realized that she loved the boy.
-She gathered her courage and told him about it.
-So then they were hitched and lived happily ever after.

stacks of books

Just a little over two weeks ago, The Man (that boy) and I made a decision that will affect our family in a huge way, and that decision came about in much the same way as our courtship.

God worked on each of us until we pretty much knew what we should do. Then we told each other about it and discovered we both felt the same way.

And then God showered us with blessings. As we asked him for guidance, he showed us the way.

So, with the Star Child entering 1st grade and the Flower Child entering 3rd grade, we pulled them out of their most fantastic Classical Christian school. And today our school books arrived. At home. Where we will do school. Homeschool.

I think I’ll repeat that last part in bold to make a stronger point.

Homeschool.

Four days ago, we received our books. Two heavy boxes full of delicious-smelling texts. And a few stinky ones, too.

Usborne from Sonlight

Books about all sorts of wonderful things. Even some wonderful things that I know nothing about.

In the Sonlight community (the literature-based curriculum we chose), this day is known as Box Day. Over the course of the year, we will read all of these books. I’ll read some to them and they will read some on their own. And I may read those to myself after they go to bed.

You know. So we get our money’s worth. 

Box Day could easily become my most favorite day of the year.

unpacking books

 On our first day of homeschool. We covered Social Studies, Language Arts, Bible, and Science. The Star Child started Math, but the Flower Child’s computer-based Math program is giving us a little trouble. -not the software’s fault,it’s our hardware that’s being a pain-

The girls started the day by getting dressed and helping clean house. The Man says we need to have “real” clothes on. He didn’t say anything about shoes, though.

We learned about apes (chimpanzees can bark), archaelogical digs, compound words, the birth of Jesus, baby goats (furry kids), and the island of Capri (which is close to Naples, but we couldn’t swim to it).

I love that the girls can share school together, learning from the same Social Studies and Science books, even though they are two full school years apart.

And I am SO looking forward to our first field trip together! I’ll just have to get used to the extra company.

I hope that all the life-changing decisions The Man and I make will be as easy as this one was. I’m sure that is a far-fetched hope, but I’m going to hang onto it.

Are you a homeschooling family? How did you decide that it was right for you?

read all the books

Canoodling

 beach

FADE IN

A RESORT IN NASSAU, BAHAMAS, 1986 – DAY

A family of 5 (youngest being a 9 YEAR OLD GIRL) are seated at a poolside table. They have just arrived from the States. The MOTHER and 3 CHILDREN are weary from their trip, but are excited by the clear blue skies and equally blue waters beyond. The FATHER looks around the restaurant area, anxious for someone to come and take their order. A WAITRESS approaches the table.

WAITRESS
How may I help you?

FATHER
Yeah, we’d like five Co-Colas.

WAITRESS
Five Coco Loco?

The FATHER nods.

FATHER
Yes. Five Co-Colas.

The WAITRESS pauses, and then makes a head motion to the 9 YEAR OLD GIRL and asks–

WAITRESS
Five? Coco Loco?

The FATHER is getting rather irritated at this point. His next one-word answer is spoken in several octaves–

FATHER
Yes.

WAITRESS
Yes, sir. Five Coco Loco

The WAITRESS leaves the table and heads to the BAR to prepare the drinks.

Time passes. The FAMILY chats together. Small clouds pass in front of the sun. Various WAIT STAFF pass by the table without stopping. The FATHER grows more impatient. He wants his soda.

The WAITRESS returns to the table, carrying a tray holding 5 white frozen beverages, each with paper umbrellas and fruit garnishes. She begins to place them on the table as she says–

WAITRESS
Five Coco Locos.

The CHILDREN’s eyes grow wide at the sight of the very fancy (and obviously alcoholic) beverages.

FATHER
That itn’t no Co-Cola.

FADE OUT

 

I was that 9 year old girl.

But that wasn’t the only memorable thing that happened on this trip.

Equally notable, but infinitely more terrifying (and far more pertinent to this post) was…

The Banana Boat Incident

Let me summarize:

Family of five boards a banana boat and is towed by speed boat at a fast clip out into the gleaming blue waters of the Caribbean. The speed boat makes nice, large sweeping turns. Middle child (the brother-yes I blame it all on him) leans hard in every turn, eventually throwing the bouncy inflatable raft off balance. Family of five falls into the water. Youngest child is terrified and attempts to climb up oldest child like a ladder to avoid whatever lies at the sea’s floor. Youngest child nearly drowns oldest child and never lives it down. Youngest child also never gets over fear of unseen horrors in the water below.

Back to 2013 – When a cool and learned man from our church began offering canoe lessons, I signed The Man and myself up! Canoeing would be perfect for fighting my water demons, as well as give me something to write about.

And so we went canoeing…

We met our fearless teacher at a local lake for our lesson.

He presented us with a syllabus. Delightful! 

We learned many things about the canoe, like how to pack it for a trip and how to “unswamp” it. A canoe would be “swamped” if it was full of water.

We learned how to steer our canoe slowly and quickly and how to navigate through obstacles. We also learned to communicate with the proper canoeing lingo.

We learned a few tricks, like laying our heads into the dark creepy lake water and switching places in the canoe while afloat.Canoe adventure

Later in the week, we put all our new skills to the test (and learned a few more) on a river trip in the mountains with our teacher, his family, and his other two canoe students. 

We learned how to turn upstream and park in various places, and also practiced paddling in serpentines around our fellow boaters while they remained still.

We learned how to “ferry” straight across the moving river. This could be helpful if we came across a stranded paddle or adventurer that needed retrieving.

We practiced our unswamping skills in moving water.

I faced a few demons and stood in mud up to my ankles. (who knows what was in that muck?!)

I faced a few more demons at our break spot and followed the young fellas down the river, bodysurfing on purpose. This was quite exhilarating in the cold water and all went extremely well until I had trouble getting my footing to come back to the beach. That was downright terrifying! (for a few seconds)

We handled the little Class I rapids with ease. We really enjoyed the last ones, which were closer to Class II rapids (due to the high water level that day).

We had a fantastic time and I left the river feeling quite knowledgable and wanting my own canoe.

Now I just need to learn how to fish!canoeing

One more thing I learned:

Way back when (I’m thinking Jane Austen times), courting couples would hardly ever have any alone time, since most meeting were chaperoned. Some couples would enjoy paddling on two-seater canoes that did not allow anyone else to be present. Going on these sorts of canoe outings, and whatever other activities may have ensued away from prying eyes, became known as “canoodling”.

There was no canoodling going on during either of our outings, but the word sure is fun to say.

The Roller Derby Queen

What would your Roller Derby name be?

I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately. Not that I need one, but having a bad-ass alter-ego name in your arsenal is pretty awesome. Awesome in my daydreams, anyway. When I pretend I’m awesome.

It seems there is quite a shortage of appropriate puns for derby names. I wouldn’t want something brazenly sexy. That’s not really my style, even in the alter-ego universe. But you need a good combination of femininity and sass. Most of the good names are taken. Apparently there is some sort of derby name database? Like thoroughbred race horses. There can’t be two derby girls with the same name. Fascinating. Am I right?

poms

Many of my childhood birthdays were spent at the skating rink. And my friends’ birthdays. And other days. But somehow I escaped childhood without being able to do very simple things on roller skates.

Stopping, for example. But surely I’m not the only gal who leaped off onto the carpet or skated directly into the carpeted wall to stop. Later in life, I went skating on the local paved walking trail with my baby girl and used the brake on the jogging stroller excessively. 

I also never mastered the beautiful cross-over that skaters do in the turns. It’s like my brain knows my legs are way too short for those sorts of fancy moves.

When an old friend decided to take up roller derby for real, my own shortcomings kept nagging me. Skating was an activity that I did quite often (way back when) but never came close to mastering. 

Well. I was annoyed. I tend to get annoyed when there is something I feel like I should be able to do, but can’t. And if you knew my family, you would think I would at least be competent on a pair of roller skates.

roller skates

Personal challenge accepted.

I’ve been skating a lot this week. 4 times. I am so tired.

I’ve been wearing pads. Since I’ve been skating with actual gals who play actual roller derby, I don’t feel quite so silly in my safety gear. I told my kids that I’m allowed to wear pads because I’m old. When I fall it actually makes a sound. And it tends to hurt a little more. 

I’m working on being comfortable on my skates, and learning multiple ways to stop.  Derby girls are kind and helpful. Really. Not that intimidating up close (though I haven’t seen them at a bout, yet). Lots of the skaters are moms, too. That’s comforting. 

I don’t have plans to join up and play, but I fully intend to improve my skating and enjoy the company of actual roller derby girls while I do it. I can skate with my friend, I can skate with the derby girls, I can skate alone, or I can skate with my family. So many options for so many moods!

I’m learning that the activities that frighten me the most are often the most rewarding. 

I’ll keep it up. I will probably never be dancing in the center of the rink to Thriller or be able to skate backwards (in rhythm) for an entire song, but I hope to skate well enough that my silly socks and pom-poms will become unremarkable. 

So, what’s your roller derby name?

You know you’ve thought about it. Tell me in the comments.

Field Trip

I really want to write all about what I did the other night. But the first rule of Television and Movie Extra Club is,

“You can’t talk about what you did in
Television and Movie Extra Club.”

So instead, I took my new movie star friend (who shall remain nameless) and went on my very favorite field trip.

The art museum. After lunch. When the school buses are gone.

The Bug & The High

The current special exhibition at The High Museum of Atlanta is…

Frida and Diego!

I’ll go ahead and be completely honest about this one. A month ago all I really knew about Frida Kahlo was that…
1) She was from Mexico, and
2) She sported a rather impressive unibrow.

(That second point alone was enough for me to admire her and also to remind me of my own vanity – I own 4 pairs of tweezers and try to keep them in places of high convenience)


So when I heard about the new exhibit
I threw myself into heavy research.


In other words, I read her Wikipedia entry and watched the movie, Frida, with Salma Hayek. I thought that the movie was really fantastic and that I was prepared to “get something out of” the exhibit at The High.

I’m so glad I had the background, because the story was so alive when I saw Frida and Diego Rivera’s work in person.


Lean in

From what I’ve seen, there are a few different types of art viewers. I’m not going to try and classify them all but I know where I fit in. I’m a leaner. When I see a piece that speaks to me with its form, mood, and color (mostly color), I leeeeeean into it. It’s easier to feel what the painter was feeling when I can see the brushstrokes and the density of the paint.

I think that’s where the soul of the piece is. In the paint.

One of my very favorite artists, Henri Matisse, has a magnificent use of color, but he also speaks volumes through his visible charcoal and pencil drawings underneath. You gotta lean in to see that sort of stuff, folks. Gather mood from the middle of the gallery but get your eyes all up on the surface to find the heart.

The Frida exhibit had so much heart. Her works made a hollow place in my belly that tried to consume all the life force around it. Like you’re hungry and crampy and about to cry all at once.

(I was ready for that since I get choked up every time I walk into the museum anyway)

Diego’s work was truly beautiful. I loved the transition from realism to cubism and then to his large canvases and murals of (and for) “the people”.

But the heart was in Frida’s. Not only from the center of the gallery with shapes, forms, and color, but also up close in the patient brushstrokes of tiny strands of hair. Even her signature was markedly different from one piece to the next.

Frida’s life was being held together. Not only by metal braces and heavy plaster casts, but also by delicate ribbons and string.

Maybe it’s because I have felt just a very small portion of her life’s pain before. I’m sure we all have had some measure of it. Her art taps into that pain, and in doing so it also shows life’s beauty in strong relief.

If you live near Atlanta you should try to come see the exhibit before it’s gone. Or hope it comes to your fine city.

The Dean’s List

hidden talents

Once upon a time I entered college with a major in Fashion Design.

Now here was a profession that called to my strengths:

Drawing? (as long as my ladies remained face-less, this was a check)
Taste? (I may not have been deemed high-class, but I knew what I liked, check)
Draping? (SO much fun. This was like sculpting, but simpler, check
Pattern making? (geometry always was my best math, check)
Sewing? (that was all right, as long as my machine let me beat it
into submission, check)

I totally made the Dean’s list in Fashion School. I kept that letter on my fridge for months! There was just one problem…

I never really made it through my second quarter.

Utter and complete FAIL.

What on earth was wrong with me? I found something I could do. Maybe, possibly I could have found a way to make some money doing it. Okay. A slim possibility. Why didn’t I keep doing it? I could have at least tried for long enough to fail.

Answering that would take a lot more thought and introspection than I’m willing to give right now. 

I had an awesome sewing machine. One of those industrial numbers that we were learning on in school (this was a very kind gift from my parents – a “Lord, I pray she’ll stick with this ridiculous notion” kind of gift). Since a great many years had passed with me using it a very few number of times (a monkey costume for our first daughter and some aprons), I sold the machine. In it’s place (you know, just in case) I purchased a fairly plain home machine with a wooden table/case from a friend.

I still haven’t used it. In fact, it’s just gathering dust on the sun porch that never became an art studio.

I think it’s time to change that.

You see. My Mama was a hard-time-cotton-mill-girl (another story, another time). And she can sew. She made the dress that she both graduated in and got married in. She can sew very well. She made every costume that I wore as a child. She makes costumes and dresses for her grandchildren. She makes baby blankets for every child born in our church. Fantastic oversized flannel blankets with coordinating binding – great for swaddling all the way to nap time in kindergarten and blanket forts.

In short: I want to be more like my Mama. And I need to figure out this sewing machine. And I want the Dean’s List episode to have some sort of positive, lasting effect on the rest of my life, and my children’s lives.
And suddenly it occurs to me…

What good is a talent that is kept hidden?

And does it really matter if it is hidden by dust, unsold yard sale items, or just an unwillingness or fear to use it?
Or, even, a fear of using it and doing a rotten job?

My Mama knows what she’s good at, and she shares her strengths to benefit others and glorify God. My gifts hide in closets and sun porches. 

Have you been hiding any of your gifts?