Thursday, May 22, 2008

Breastfeeding hero.

For my sister the lactivist - this woman is absolutely amazing. Read about her.

"A Chinese policewoman is contributing to the country’s massive earthquake relief effort in a very personal way -- by breastfeeding eight babies. ... She is nursing the children of three women who were left homeless by the quake and are too traumatised to give milk, as well as five orphans, the report said.The babies who lost their parents have been put in an orphanage which does not have powdered milk, it said."

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

On the porch.

Lazy, outside afternoons. Playing in the shade, in a breeze, on the porch.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Growing up.

Little things jump out at you that make you realize your little one is growing up.

Wanting to walk home all the way from the mailbox to the house - and chatting about the state of the world (or at least *your* world) all the way home.

Being big enough to pick up the chicks yourself at the feed store.

Being big enough to carry your sister.

Mother's having a hard time with this.

Baby smiles and a sleeping toddler.

The framing is off on these since it is so difficult to get a baby to smile when they see a camera.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Let's go fly a kite.

It's very windy here. Flying kites is a dangerous sport in our neck of the ... fields. The wind's so strong that the girls can barely hold the kite and when the kite hits a wind gust, the kite can zoom back to the ground at an alarming rate.

This is actually the least dangerous way to fly a kite here.

That's us heading down the driveway at two miles per hour, going to town on errands. We keep the kite in the car and she gets to fly it from the house to the mailbox and then from the mailbox to the house on the way back.


For a place not home.

I lived in Ireland for seven months, working at a stable. Mornings like this, overcast, muggy, green - I miss it. I miss it a lot.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Unschooling the mother.

“[Mothers can] put their own lives and interests on hold as a sacrifice to their children. As noble as this seems, [it is] a sort of negligence: withholding who she is - the best part of herself - from our children.” Monte and Karen Swan

I saw this quote at Handmade Homeschool, a blog I check frequently.

It really jumped out at me because this is one of the tenets of unschooling that really makes unschooling make sense to me.

To effectively unschool, to teach your kids to follow their passions and their interests, the parents must follow their own passions and interests. They must model that behavior for their kids.

When I find answers to my questions, when I do research on my gardens and my animals, when I learn a new skill, when I try a new recipe, when I do any of this, I'm teaching my children how to do the same.

An effective unschooling parent cannot give up their life for their child, putting off "outside" interests until the child grows up. And that makes unschooling a very intriguing option. By doing the things you want to do - with your child there, watching and participating when they want to - you're helping them learn how to learn, introducing new ideas to them, and teaching them that life is meant to be lived.

So many mothers - especially stay at home mothers - put themselves on hold for eighteen years until their child is raised. Or, at the very least, they put themselves on hold until their child is in school and then incrementally take back more of themselves as the child ages and becomes more independent. It's a very child-centered way of life compared to letting the child become part of the family, part of the world around them by being present and watching others live their lives around them.

Kittens come out to play.

Aradia brought her kittens out for a short visit the other night.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Unschooling numbers.

Hannah's been making leaps and bounds with numbers lately.

When my dad was here, he commented on her not knowing her numbers. He's not big on unschooling. I said that I wasn't worried about it, she'd learn them when she learned them. She's surrounded by numbers and math in life. Matt and I are constantly doing math out loud, also. Two days later, when my dad was still here, she all of the sudden said "Four. That's how old I am." I looked over and she was pointing at the number four on the computer. Then she started noticing fours everywhere. Then threes (because that's how old she was), fives (because that's how old she will be), and ones (because that's how old her sister is). If I asked, she could tell me what other numbers were (I only asked up to nine), but she didn't care about them. They had no importance in her life.

Like I said, she's been noticing fours everywhere. Today we were reading one of her Catwings books and she pointed to the four on page 24 saying "that's how old I am, amn't it?" "Yes, that's how old you are." With a mischievous smile, "I'm twenty four?!?!" My mouth dropped. When did she learn THAT?

A couple of weeks ago, I was talking to my brother on the phone and Hannah asked to talk to him. She was in one of her stuttering phases, where she repeats words or phrases. He asked about it since it had made it hard for him to understand her and I told him that she goes through a stuttering phase right before she makes a big leap physically or mentally. I joked that when this phase was over, she'd be multiplying.

A few days later, we were making a recipe and she asked how many eggs I needed. I told her that I needed two for the recipe, but that we were doubling it. She said "So I will get four eggs." I smiled to myself, thinking "I should tell my brother that she's multiplying", but really just counting that as adding.

She's also doubling recipes. Did you notice that, sister?

Then, not long ago, we were making pancakes and I wanted to quadruple the recipe. I asked her to get me some eggs. She asked how many and I said "Well I need two for the recipe and we're making four of the recipe so that we can freeze some." "OK, I'll get eight eggs." Ok, then. She's multiplying. Or adding very, very quickly.

I think this unschooling thing may have something to it after all.

Well, crap.

Yesterday we were out running errands and Hannah had to go potty. Not just any potty - owie poo potty. I wouldn't even mention it here, but half the store heard about it. When she realized that it was imminent, she was saying (loudly) "Push the cart faster, mother! FASTER! This is going to be owie poo potty!"

When we got to the bathroom, her constant, loud narration of the goings-on of her innards got us to the front of the line. The narration continued with her on the potty. You don't get it all, only the line that got the most giggles from the other patrons. "This is *such* owie poo potty, mother. I think I'm going to *die*! Yes I do."

The night sky.

One of my friends sent me this link.

Plug in your coordinates - it's like having a planetarium on your computer!

Monday, May 12, 2008

The spotting scope.

Diego has a spotting scope. Hannah *had* a spotting scope.

We took the girls to a bookstore and let them each pick out a book with part of our Debt to China incentive check. Both girls picked out Diego books. Hannah's had a spotting scope, Ainsley's had push-buttons to make animal noises and lift-flaps.

Hannah's spotting scope really worked. She would look at things that were farther away and say "Whoa." Ains wanted in on the action, of course, and would put it up to her forehead, between her eyes and say "Whoa!!!" and look proud of herself.

Hannah and I were out picking dandelions for the goats yesterday and there were bees all around us. Hannah, not being a fan of 'stinging bugs', wanted to run off. I convinced her to sit on my lap and watch. Within a few minutes, her nose was inches from the little bees as they gathered from the flowers. She was fascinated with their movements. We even saw one that had full legs - little yellow balls on each leg.

A little off-topic note - I wish I could do up-close photography. I could have gotten some killer photos.

Her closeness was starting to make the bees nervous, so I had her run in the house and get her spotting scope. She was able to sit four feet away and watch the bees work.

Then she left the scope on the lawn and Chin found it. Labradors tend to chew anything left on the lawn. When Hannah saw that this morning she said "Well that's just a bummer, in't it? Dang it. I can't believe Chinde doesn't like spotting scopes."

Now I have a magnifying glass on my list of things to buy - she's becoming quite the little scientist.


Hannah's answering the phone now.

The other day she answered while I was organizing our freezer. I heard her as she was walking down the hall towards me.

"Well of course Sarah lives here, that's my mother."

"Yes, you can talk to her. She's my mother because she gave birth to me, don't you know? I came out of her uterus. Yes, she's here. Here, mother. I told them you were my mother."

Thanks, sweetie. It was a telemarketer. I'm having her answer the phone from now on.

Sunday, May 11, 2008


Hannah has an active imagination. She pretends to be just about anything. Cat, dog, cat that barks, hippo, pony, princess, pauper, mermaid, mouse, lamb, goat, baby, Diego, Alecia (Diego's sister), baby jaguar, elephant, dinosaur, planet, volcano, clam, walrus, any stinging bug, any of her cousins (which makes Matt and me our siblings and their spouses)... and that's just the ones I could remember off the top of my head.

What she's pretending to be can change after a few minutes or she could stay in character for hours, and you have to stay on top of it or you'll get answered with "I'm not _____, I'm ____". It's gotten so intense that she now tells us when she's "Hannah". She's only herself for two hours a day, tops.

I remember imagining so intensely when I was little that, as only little ones can do, I really felt I was whatever it was I was pretending to be. I can see that in Hannah. As an example, one day she was pretending to be one of her cousins which made me her aunt and her little sister became one of her cousin's siblings. We all get roped into this. As it happened, during this pretend stretch, her aunt called. When Hannah answered the phone and my sister-in-law said her name, Hannah looked at the phone with a funny look on her face, looked at me and said "It's *you*!" It was so hard not to laugh.

This pretending is interesting for Matt to watch. He says he never had much of an imagination as a child, so he doesn't understand what she's doing or why it's so important to her to be addressed as whatever or whoever she is in the moment. It's fun watching him play along with her now.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Warming up.

The weather's warming up.

Things are getting hung out on the line.

The new kittens are getting checked on.

The huge tree is bursting with tiny bird activity.

Brand new baby goats (the last of the season) are being played with.

The forest pasture is being explored.

The bunkhouse is being played in.

Rocks are being thrown. (this game is called 'disturbing Dan')

Snails are being discovered.

The girls are insisting on canal play.

And Grayson, as always, is sleeping through it all.


Have you ever seen a live, wild hunt? I'm not talking about a cat catching a mouse, but a wild predator hunting down and eating wild prey, without ever knowing they were being watched? I guess you could count a hawk catching a mouse or an eagle fishing, but I'm not counting that. I'm counting what I saw today.

We were coming back into the house from milking and I saw a tiny fly walking along the edge of a white bucket. Not six inches behind him was a tinier spider. I count this as a wild hunt because of the intensity of the attack. As soon as I saw the spider, I knew he was stalking that fly. He moved quickly and when he was half an inch behind the fly, he jumped fast and hard and landed right on the fly's back. The fly tried to take off but couldn't fly far because of the weight. It fell down, but the spider's string saved them and they hung there, fighting, until the spider could drag the fly back up to a level surface.

I was surprised by how captivating the whole thing was. This was a spider and a fly, not a lion and gazelle or wolf and elk. But it was definetely predator and prey. Hannah was fascinated and wanted to watch until it was all over. Somehow she's gotten to four years old without knowing about spiders having strings coming out their rears. Don't know how that oversight happened.

I wish I knew how to take better, up close, pictures. I could have gotten some killer (pun not intended) pictures for you.

Grandpa's visit.

Grandpa came to visit.

He always brings fun stuff to do with the kids. This time it was swirly balloons. You blow these balloons up, let them go, and watch them swirl and fly everywhere.

This led to the discovery of static electricity.

Grandpa got introduced to Hannah's babies.

And held an appreciative Grayson.

You know you want to.

Grow your own rice. How cool is that?

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Flying fairy.

We visited my sister and her kids. My sister has lots of wings for her daughter. Butterfly wings, angel wings, fairy wings. Hannah was in heaven.

Once you have the right wings, then you have to fly!