Gourd Sculptures

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After growing gourds this past summer, I was left with many vessels that had broken or become weak in some place as they were drying. Some were even broken into by squirrels. Instead of throwing away the pieces, I decided to make gourd sculptures: half basket, half bowl. I love the way they turned out!  Continue reading “Gourd Sculptures”

Reading…

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Water: New Short Story Fiction from Africa

This collection of short stories from project “Short Story Day” comes from last year’s competition and are tied together by the theme of water. I enjoyed some of the stories, but found others difficult to connect with. I’m sure that this is a common theme with short story books, but for this one in particular, I didn’t find myself pulled back to the book as much as I have other short story fiction.

A couple of my favorite stories were the ones that touched on the folklore of Africa: Chido Muchemwa’s Finding Mermaids, during which malicious, dangerous mermaids were thought to be stealing young women by pulling them underwater to teach them witchcraft. Another favorite was Pede Hollist’s The Tale of the Three Water Carriers. But my favorite of the whole book was Cat Hellisen’s The Worme Bridge, which was beautifully written though strange and disturbing. Throughout the whole book, I found the varying perspectives interesting, especially those of new immigrants to our country, which is such a relevant topic today.

What are you reading?

P.s. – Happy Valentine’s Day!

Around Here

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I can’t believe how quickly this week slipped away. I had planned to share a few posts here, but I was busier than usual with work, plus I have been doing some home repairs, which always end up being more complicated than I think, thanks to owning a 104-year-old home! I have been updating a room in our house that really needed some extra love: two fresh coats of paint, ceiling repairs, wall repairs, new ceiling paint, and painting trim (my least favorite thing), plus a new light fixture and a few other small changes. I can’t wait to show it to you once it’s complete.

We’ve been battling illnesses left and right. Last Friday, on my birthday, we had to cancel dinner plans because Oliver was so sick (but we’re planning to go out tomorrow to make up for it — it’s been waaaaay too long). Last week, even though Oliver had a high fever and felt just terrible, he insisted that he needed to go with Andrew to buy me a birthday cupcake with his own money! Poor, sweet little thing! He is all better now.

I hope you and your family are doing well; it sure seems like there are a lot of germs floating around out there!

Thriving

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I snapped this shot of Oliver in his classroom last week, working away in  his own little corner. I was there to document the Chinese New Year party, which was a really cool celebration. But what I was reminded of, and am reminded of time and time again, is how my middle child is thriving in the Montessori environment.

He comes home from school full. The best way to describe it is that he is full of some kind of richness, like his spirit is being nourished. I see some part of this with my other two children, but am most moved by it with Oliver. I think the reason for this is that he is a different learner, and the kind of child who could easily fall through the cracks in a traditional setting.

This observation comes from the deep understanding of who he is as a person, not from observation of him in a traditional setting (which he has never been part of), so it may be wrong. He could have been fine in a regular classroom. But he could also not have been. Who really knows.

What I do know is that he really struggled with reading for awhile, that I was worried about it, that he compared himself to his peers and more directly, to his older brother, for whom reading came early and fast, setting in just before his sixth birthday. For Oliver, an entire school year passed without evidence that he was making a lot of headway; and yet, his directress, who knows him so very, very well (and sees progress since she has him for 3 years in a row), assured us that it would come, that there was another window at 7 years that was a reading-sensitive time (and a reason many Waldorf schools don’t even start reading until that age). Sure enough, Oliver is reading fluidly, out loud, and really enjoying it.

It’s so wonderful to see your child thriving, whatever the subject or situation. To see him enjoy and seek out learning, to see him inspired and happy, and to feel the contagion of curiosity and knowledge.

Emil at 5 1/2

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Oh, this little guy. He has become quite the handful, as evidenced by the meeting we had to have with his teacher regarding his classroom shenanigans.

But he is still the sweetest, most nurturing, and funny little guy. He loves to play with Legos and Magnatiles, he draws and paints constantly, still nurtures his baby doll Baby Tommy and dotes over the neighborhood babies, and is trying to learn how to read. He is also getting into plenty of mischief at home. If anyone caught my post on Instagram about it, you’ll know we have our hands full; he made a teacher’s aide cry, ruined Milo’s 3-year-old pencil lead collection, dumped brand new batteries into a glass of water, ripped a wooden shutter off the backyard playhouse, and stuck a pea-sized wad of paper so far down his ear canal, we almost had to go to the ER to retrieve it (luckily I was able to very carefully remove it with tweezers while Oliver held a flashlight and Emil lay completely still on our couch Thursday evening)… all over the course of three days.

Oh, Emil, who had basically no tantrums when he was two, or three, or even four, is now more emotionally volatile, which we think is related to an emotional growth spurt, because he is still so sweet and healthy and developing everywhere else. He is suddenly afraid of the dark all over again and refuses to sleep alone in his room, instead taking turns sleeping with one of his brothers.

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And yet, this phase is not at all bad. He is so, so funny, I can’t even do him justice. He makes up funny songs and sings them all day long, dances constantly, farts on command, builds surprisingly effective booby traps, and has a wickedly mischievous laugh. He is the first to set the table every night without being asked. He offers to help, he is kind to his brothers and friends, he is imaginative and creative and just plain awesome.

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And for some reason always does this pose, even when I tell him, “Don’t pose, just do what you’re doing and ignore me!”

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We love you so much, little buddy. You are the most cuddly little impish boy, even when you’re naughty.