Thursday, October 24, 2013

what else one does at a sewing circle

we had a different location for this month's homeschool sewing circle/handcraft club; the local library rooms were all scheduled, so we used space in the library in the next town over.

we don't yet have a core group of families who attend our gatherings, but that's fine.  i wanted this to be a time and space where it's open for people to feel free to do as they like.  they come when they can.

we didn't have a specific demonstration scheduled, but the generous gift of one member ended up being the fodder for lots of experimentation.  as a member of a sewing guild, this mom had received stashes of fabric from other members who were downsizing, and she wanted the materials to come to homeschoolers.  we were a perfect outlet for her!

first, there was much ooh-ing and aah-ing over the wide selection and amount of fabric.  then it turned into a mini version of project runway.

kathy's zombie makeup adds just the right touch of darkness to this ensemble.

taryn looks like a goddess. or the statue of liberty. sort of.

this ruffled fabric was divine!
after a while, everyone got a little nuts and needed to work out some physical energy and gave themselves blindfolds and ran around playing a dry land version of marco polo.

i finally had to go to them and assure them that my head would, in fact, explode if i heard marco's name uttered a single time more.  i suggested they take the fabric and the open space and the chairs and make a fort.  eyes widened.  mouths shut.  bodies moved in sync.

voila: their "village," complete with common area and separate "houses."

meanwhile, the moms chatted and stitched and sewed and knitted and taught and shared.

demonstrating how to cast on in person was so much easier to follow than watching a video
 good times.

the general consensus when told it was time to wrap up and go home

Thursday, October 17, 2013

all hallows read

it's the most wonderful time of the year!

time to start thinking about what books will be gifted to my children in celebration of all hallow's read.

i've posted here and here and here about our past favorites (which are probably still current favorites, knowing my kids).  some new additions for this year include . . .

ander likes:

the halloween house by erica silverman

halloween by miriam nerlove

2 x 2 = boo!: a set of spooky multiplication stories by loreen leedy

diana likes:

tales of edgar allan poe (especially "the pit and the pendulum")

tales of terror by edgar allan poe

see my lovely poison ivy and other verses about witches, ghosts and things by lilian moore

hist whist by e.e. cummings

recommended by our local children's librarian while on a search for edgar allan poe, morphing into a conversation about scary stories in the juvenile section:

dare to be scared: thirteen stories to chill and thrill by robert san souci

ask the bones: scary stories from around the world selected and retold by arielle olson and howard scwartz

chills in the night: tales that will haunt you by jackie vivelo

chills run down my spine by jackie vivelo

other selections the book fairy found on the local library shelves:

a chilling collection selected by helen hoke

the witch of hissing hill by mary calhoun

hey-how for halloween: poems selected by lee hopkins

the bones of fred mcfee by eve bunting

what will you be for halloween? by mark todd

frankenstein: a monstrous parody by ludworst bemonster

beware! r.l. stine picks his favorite scary stories

alfred hitchcock's haunted houseful

what gives me the shivers:

the ocean at the end of the lane by neil gaiman

anything by margaret atwood, whose works i've been binging on recently

oryx and crake

alias grace

wilderness tips

go forth, fellow humans.
buy a scary (or not) book from your local bookseller.
borrow a scary (or not) book from your local library.
share a scary (or not) book with your family and friends.
give a scary (or not) book to anyone who reads.
most importantly - read a scary (or not) book yourself. 

why?  just ask neil gaiman.
have you heard what he's had to say about libraries and reading and daydreaming?

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

adventures of a homeschooler in public school, week six

the saga continues as we rounded up the first six weeks in public school.  read here and here for  earlier posts.

memorable moments:
  • walking to and from school.  i don't remember when diana started doing it on a regular basis, but i know how much it helped me and ander when he was sick at home to have her manage getting to anf from school every day.  wednesday was an official "walk to school" day, so ander and i walked with diana.  i had never been on the trail that she took; i had only used the main street sidewalks.  now i understand more why she enjoys herself.  it was pleasant and relatively short and easily done.  now ander wants to walk, too, all by himself, but i assured him it would be a while before that would happen.

  • getting grades.  this is the first time diana received grades.  she participated in regular standardized assessments and testing for years as part of her enrollment in a charter school in california, but her stand-alone classes did not evaluate her in that way.  grades are not the same here as when i was in public school - no letters A to F - rather, they are given numerical scores  of 4 - 1 depending on how they meet up to expected standards.  also, they are given effort grades.  i still don't know how it is that teachers can evaluate effort in a valid way, and i am reasonably informed regarding measurement issues from my stint in graduate school, so this is interesting to me.  how can they possibly know if diana is pulling her hair out trying to solve a problem or whipping through an assignment with ease because she's done it before, and (how) do they address each of these situations?  already i see her sometimes doing "just enough" to satisfy the requirements, but there is little i hear from her regarding something in-depth as a result of school.  she comes up with some fascinating research project ideas on her own, but i don't know yet how to put supports in place for her to work on them so she doesn't give up in exasperation.
  • confusing her classmates.  diana has one fellow student in particular who just does not get her.  fortunately, instead of taking his incredulity as a personal attack, she has turned it back on him as a joke.  she's miffed with him because he blatantly broadcasts his misinformed opinion about rats, which are near and dear to her heart.  now she simply whispers to him, "i don't have cable tv in my house" so that his head explodes.  he cannot fathom how anyone could survive without a tv or wii or xbox, and was only slightly mollified when she assured him that of course she has wifi and access to plenty of computers and movies.  she is finding it a bit annoying that a couple of other classmates sing tv commercial jingles to her all the time, knowing that she's unfamiliar with the songs; in return, she and a couple of her friends have started a club that spouts random phrases ("enough with the tongues!") at opportune moments to shake people out of their dazed reverie.
  •  drama.  i'm not talking about a class in theatre, this is the lunchroom-recess-social-time incidents diana is finding herself surrounded by.  there are two female students in particular who seem to find themselves enmeshed in a tumultuous relationship, and encounters between them often leave their classmates polarized or confused or wanting to get the heck out of there.  diana feels strongly about standing up for people who seem upset or unable to defend themselves or who specifically ask for help, so she does what she thinks is right, even if it lands her in the outs with another friend.  what really sparks my curiosity is the involvement (or lack thereof) from adults.  teachers or staff who overhear angry words or see someone visibly upset will come over and say something to students and receive mixed responses.  once, diana's teacher approached her and another classmate after having heard them use harsh voices with each other.  she reminded them of their responsibility to be respectful, and, fortunately, both girls looked at each other and wondered aloud about why they had become so exasperated with each other, anyway, and recovered on the spot.  another time, though, a staff member approached diana's lunchroom table when she saw that there was a verbal altercation in progress.  to diana's simultaneous horror and admiration, one of the involved parties stood up and said, "it doesn't help when you come over and tell us to just stop arguing.  that doesn't fix it.  we need time to work this out."  wow.  a powerful statement.  insightful.  and brave, considering this came from a student to an adult.
  • she likes her main subject teachers.  diana's homeroom teacher also instructs diana in language arts and social studies.  diana likes her because she's, well, she's just really nice.  and compassionate.  she suggested that if diana was not feeling well the next day that she should stay home, because her health was more important than a quiz.  the teacher who leads lessons in science and advanced mathematics makes diana and her classmates feel comfortable with her, whether it's by her ability to laugh at herself when she gets into arguments with the smartboard technology or her proclivity for subjecting her students to spanish immersion during math instruction.  she's easygoing, understands what fifth graders think is amusing - and laughs along with them, and inspires them to work hard and learn.
  • scheduling.  i thought that she would be rebelling against the enforced structure of her days.  however, diana has expressed to me the feelings of reassurance she has, knowing that each day is planned for her, with clearly laid-out expectations.  she knows which day she must bring her viola to school, which days she has to ensure appropriate clothing and footwear for physical education.  it's a relief to her to not have the responsibility and occasional chaos of working that out with me or on her own.  the rote and routine are settling for her, even down to knowing when her lunch will be so she can decide whether to have a snack at the designated time.
  • playtime.  outside of her planned school hours, diana is increasingly aware of her need for down time alone or just with the family on school days.  that leaves only the weekends for her social time with friends and she intensely craves every moment of that.  the weekend we recently spent camping with homeschool friends was clear evidence of that.
  • volunteering to be a library assistant.  she and some of her fellow classmates have been mightily dissatisfied with their recess period.  she complains that it's either too hot, too cold, too wet, or too infested with stinkbugs by the swings for her to enjoy herself.  when they learned of an opportunity to become library assistants, they jumped at the chance.  she's really hoping she can be involved with encouraging other, especially younger, kids to read.  she'll be going to classrooms to deliver and pick up books, reading to and with younger students (she's so excited about reading to ander's class - they all know who she is because she comes to say hi to him in the cafeteria at lunch every day), and helping kids find books on the shelves that build their personal love of reading. she also is excited about stretching her surprisingly good sorting skills. she plans on being a "good" librarian (thank you, alcatraz smedry!)
  • introducing her own writing to others.  as you may remember, she's written and "self-published" two books: clock of fate and i write white.  she's distributed copies of these works to family and friends and other parties who have expressed interest; clock of fate is also up on her website in several posts.  now she sees her school as another outlet of opportunity to gain readership.  she's given copies of i write white, her latest, to both her homeroom teacher, who also happens to teach her language arts class, and the school librarian, who now is apparently enamored of her.  she's requested permission to include these copies in both the classroom and school libraries, maybe offer readings and hold discussions about writing.  i do so hope she will receive positive reactions to her efforts.
  • more bathroom rules.  she said she wanted to immediately run home to tell me about how she is in utter disbelief of the situation as it now stands.  apparently, some fifth graders have been abusing their freedom to use the bathrooms as they see fit.  some disappear a multitude of times, causing a serious interruption in their classmates learning process.  (either the teacher has to hold up the entire class for the student and his or her bathroom buddy, or has to catch them up when they return.  either way, it's an imposition.  i get that.)  some are suspected to trying to avoid schoolwork.  some are seemingly incapable of or unwilling to demonstrate universal bathroom etiquette, like flushing, using only what paper products one actually needs, picking up after oneself rather than expecting someone else to, and using doors to the stalls with respect rather than tearing them off their hinges.  also, the boys are accused of goofing off and the girls are accused of gossiping.  now, it may be that there are only a few students doing this or a limited number of incidents, but clearly this behavior is ridiculous and certainly unacceptable.  it's definitely not indicative of students accepting responsibility for their behavior.  anyhoo, now there are scheduled bathroom breaks during the day, limits on the frequency of bathroom usage during class time (tracked by tallies on their personal schedules), and students now.  some students immediately broadcast their contempt for this, saying that it was "so third grade."  hmmm.  i do wonder what's coming next.
  • PE is the best when they play the "mission impossible" game, which requires coordination, cunning and strategy along with physical ability.  diana must have been pretty successful at being sneaky, because they changed the rules later to prevent her from being able to gain ground like she had the first time.
  • chorus.  diana really likes the music and what she can achieve with her vocal instrument.  she was honored to fulfill "a music teacher's dream" by voluntarily performing with a small group in front of another class.  she was (understandably) agitated when she recently discovered that some students joined chorus simply to avoid a period of time for free reading.  wha...?  she cannot relate.  she would love more time to read, plus she doesn't understand why someone would participate in a singing group if they really don't want to sing.  sigh.
all the students get to sing, though, when it comes to social studies and language arts.  diana giggles when she wonders what passers-by must think about what's going on in her classroom.  she's getting startlingly good at singing along with these relatively new genres of music for her.

what we did this holiday

the second monday in october is recognized by different people in different ways.

some of my twitter peeps were celebrating canadian thanksgiving.

residents of reston had just wrapped up their annual oktoberfest weekend.

it's columbus day in the u.s., a federal holiday, which means the kids were off from school and the library was closed.

now, diana and i have used this day as a reading/discussion starter about christopher columbus and an investigation of history itself, so we are well familiar with controversies about what, in fact, he did or did not do.  we are not as outraged as some people we know, who would prefer to celebrate bartolome day.  we did things a little differently.

ander had "learned" about columbus and the names of his three ships in school, so, naturally, he built a ship from legos.  but, he confused it with the mayflower in the schoolhouse rock video he was watching, so i'm really sure which ship he was building after all.  he was most excited, though, that there would be a day off from school to celebrate columbus.  i have to wonder exactly what it was he heard, though, because he asked me in the morning, "when will columbus come to leave us presents?"  you know, like santa or the easter bunny.  oh, boy.

ander's day off from school involved the wearing of his polar bear pajamas all day.  also the making of two new batches of slime because the rest of it had dried out.  and watching some of his favorite videos.  he selected "holidays for children: kwanzaa" because he likes the drumming and dancing and the unity cup and the rituals presented in it.  he asked for a kwanzaa feast for dinner.  ok then.

we were gone all day sunday, visiting family in charlottesville, so we didn't get to partake much of the crockpot pork loin i had cooked for our traditional sunday dinner (served on china with fancy table linens).  i set the sunday table on monday instead, preparing the pork with peas and sauerkraut and declared that we would have a columbus day/oktoberfest/kwanzaa/canadian thanksgiving day feast.  the kids ate only the dinner rolls steve had made from scratch, but that's pretty much par for the course around here.  i ate two helpings of everything.

the very, very best part of the day, though, was diana's exclamation that christopher columbus had arrived and left us presents while we were feasting!  on each of our beds was a map, each different, but all representing where exactly columbus had landed on each of his multiple voyages towards the new world.  ander's taking his to school to show his classmates.  that'll raise some eyebrows.

i was speechless and my heart was full of love.  this young woman has so enjoyed the unusual traditions we have in our home that she created one especially for her brother.  it is in the spirit and style of us with her own signature quirkiness and emerging sense of satirical humor.  i feel like she has graduated to a new level of family participation, able both to immerse herself in the magic and wonder of our communal imagination and to design it for the benefit of others.  she amazes me.

and, for new reasons, i will never look at columbus day in quite the same again.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

(mostly) happy campers

well, we were happy most of the time we were camping this past weekend.  i count that as a rousing success.

shortly after we moved here at the end of april, a new friend put me in contact with a very local homeschooling group, which has served as our base and source of many new connections for friendship.  when i learned that there would be a group camping trip, i waxed nostalgic about our camping with california homeschool friends and signed us up right away.

it was tougher than i expected to get out of the house.  not that any enthusiasm was lacking - the kids have been excited since i told them about it months ago and have been counting down.  unfortunately, though, ander had been sick since the prior saturday.  we worked hard all week to get him rested and recovered enough to be able to go back to school by friday.  snowball's extended illness (wry neck) and prince ivan's recent eye injury meant that we could not leave them on their own in the house; i didn't feel comfortable interviewing a new petsitter to see if medications and injections and assist feeds could be comfortably managed, so i got everyone and all of their stuff to the veterinarian's office for a very expensive, attentive weekend.  i had made a list of things to pack, so that part went fairly smoothly.  steve came home early from work and we left immediately after picking up the kids from school.  then we had the traffic.  ugh.  but we eventually made it to the rolling hills and quiet roads of cunningham falls state park in time to set up the tent and cook dinner before sundown.  mostly.

diana ran off right away to join her friends in a digging expedition & rock exploration. ander hung around camp for while during the unpacking, where he discovered some bubble wrap. ahh, bringing the joys of home into nature.

he was so excited with the bag of cooked elbow macaroni that he had to take it around to show it to friends

i'm fairly certain he roasted the first marshmallow of the evening. well, at least the first monster-sized marshmallow from the bag i brought to share. they were huge and dwarfed the other s'more ingredients.

hot dogs by lantern-light. i remembered to bring spicy mustard, at least.

i had some excellent s'mores that night at the community campfire.  in addition to the giant marshmallows, which i dramatically set on fire to get a burnt texture all around (not that i like them that way so much, but it was fun to do and get comments from the on-lookers), i brought dark chocolate and pretzel thins.  it was a delicious alternative to the milk-chocolate-and-graham-crackers version that literally stuck to diana's face.  i must credit my tweeps for inspiring this idea; someone had used potato chips and noted how the salty crunch enhanced the eating experience.  naturally i had to try for myself.

i could tell it was fall by the way the leaves were gently joining our table for meals.

ander adorned our closest tree with what i can best describe as a tail

the kids frequented "the rocks" for all sorts of play and storytelling.  adults rarely went up. i felt a little like i was trespassing in a sacred space, but i remembered that i was invited by ander to come and see his rock bed.

a view up the hill from "the rocks"

it was a perfectly-sized indentation for him
view from our campsite. the grassy hill led up to "the rocks" on the left.

my handsome husband, who made this adventure possible for us

'tis i, the mama

i liked this one so much that i made it my current social media profile picture
the first of our caterpillar finds over the weekend: ander in his sleeping bag
yes, this is an actual sunspot, not a camera effect

looking straight up from within our campsite

on saturday, it was all the rage amongst the kids to find wooly bear (isabella tiger moth) caterpillars and keep them as pets for the weekend. designing the improvised habitats for them was half the fun.
i'm pleased that i followed a young camper's advice and did not touch this cute fuzzy guy, who turns out to be a hickory tussock moth caterpillar.  they are venomous and can cause quite an irritation, especially to those who have sensitivities.  ander and i just watched the busily-moving creature, whom ander named "carlon."

i think we're going to need to get a hammock for ourselves

another actual sunspot. i like these.

a quiet, enchanted spot along the path of my solo walk to the camp store

no maps were given out when we signed in to the park, but a kind attendant at the camp store allowed me to take a picture of the one map they had on the wall. we were in the catoctin creek circle. the bathrooms had hot running water and flush toilets so we didn't have to rough it too much.
yup, definitely need a hammock

our fearless leader. i adore her hair, as does ander. it currently sports two shades of blue. reminds me of a peacock's brilliance.

adding artwork to our camp banner

treasures come in all sizes
one of the much-anticipated highlights of the weekend was the hike to The Falls.  there were two ways to get there: we could drive down to the more-accessible paved path and join the crowds or go with the group and follow a slightly more treacherous arduous rigorous path for the campers.  we hemmed and hawed and decided upon the latter.  ander started to get anxious at the beginning because it was a new experience and he didn't know the way, but the group kindly allowed him to be at the front of the line most of the time.  this was his big explore adventure and i wanted it to be memorable for him in a good way.

heading out with daddy at the forefront

having my camera at the ready, i stopped periodically to take photos of curious creatures for later identification, like this one:

fairly sure this is a robberfly, aka assassin bug

i wonder what kind of nooks we could have explored in here. no time, though - we were on a mission.

this photo is pretty washed out, but something about the effect of the fallen tree against the rocks captured my interest

we made it to the falls mostly without incident.  diana twisted her ankle once but was able to get up and moving again.  adrenaline will do that for you.  she didn't want to miss out or be left behind.

immediately upon seeing the water, ander was out of his shoes and socks and wading inside. he didn't want his water shoes - he wanted to feel the slippery surfaces of the rocks under his feet.

diana bypassed ander's activity and followed her friends up the rocks of the waterfall

it's been very dry, so the usually impressive falls were down to a relative trickle, allowing for safer climbing

after inviting me in to wade with him, which i gladly did, ander took a quick snack break and decided he wanted to climb to where daddy and sister were

apparently, my son is part mountain goat. he didn't hesitate at all and knew just where to find hand- and foot-holds that worked for him. i had to ask him to stop and wait for me several times. he told me i needed to have strong muscles like he does. oy.

a short stop about halfway up, if i judge distances correctly (which i don't)

looking back down from that stop

steve said the only reason he went up after diana was in case she needed help back down, which she did not, as it turns out, need after all. her mountain goatiness had emerged, too.

i managed to convince ander to pause here by the water and steve captured the moment

a view of the falls from our seated position

diana, triumphant, halfway back down

who climbed a 78-foot waterfall? she did!
i am not much for heights, but i couldn't very well let ander go up by himself, nor could i really ask anyone else to spot him.  and there was no telling him that he couldn't go.  getting back down was rougher than going up.  it was particularly difficult for me, as my depth perception, or lack thereof, channeled my visual focus solely on the smooth surfaces that ander seemed to be practically running down with ease (gasp - holy heart-stopping moments!)  his desire to do it by himself crashed up against my perception of what was safe for him, and we struggled to maintain a stable position on a steep slope until we had a plan worked out and could calmly execute it.  steve waited below to catch ander, who, again, seemed not to need any of the well-meant assistance.  i strive to assume physical competence in both of my children, but my anxiety over disasters-waiting-to-happen can take over at inopportune moments.  he really wanted to show me and his father and his sister and his friends that he could do it by himself and i interfered with that.  ok. lesson learned, the hard way.  mostly by me.

what goes down must come back up, and so it was with the hike back to the campsite
once we were back, ander invited me to lie down in the tent and watch the leaves fall down on us as we sang songs from signing time episodes.  i suppose that meant i was forgiven and i appreciated the chance to rest and recollect myself.

steve built us an excellent campfire over which i cooked macaroni and cheese and heated water for chai & hot chocolate. i was very pleased with my new camp kettle.

i'll have to bring even more cheese next time
playing in the warm water of our new camp dishwashing station

ander spelled out a favorite name with his own pretzel font
we saw diana in bits and pieces from the moment we arrived until the moment we left.  mostly she hung out with taryn, or taryn's family, or taryn and other young homeschooling friends.  she would periodically stop by our campsite to get a snuggle and let us know what she was up to: exploring, nature trading, climbing, caterpillar-collecting, reading, game-playing, flashlight-tagging, fire-gazing, s'more-making, spooky storytelling, and so on.  she knew some of the kids before the weekend.  by the end, i think she knew almost all of them.  it's an easy group of people to be with, it didn't seem like there were any rough edges requiring smoothing over.  people gave each other space or support when it seemed appropriate, sharing smiles and interests.

apples to apples really is the best game ever.

ander seemed to like joining in some activities, too, like playing monkey-in-the-middle.  a small group of girls playing cheered for him and easily accommodated a little twist - he's a better kicker than a thrower, so we incorporated that for his turn and the players scrambled to catch his foot-propelled launches.  mostly he did his own thing near others, happily humming to himself as he scaled the rocks or created zen-like paths in the gravel or went off in search of his sister or taryn or taryn's family or their hammock or just hung out at our table or tent, eating lots and lots of bread and kettle corn and pretzel sticks.  and marshmallows.

the hike and plenty of playtime really used up ander's energy, so when the sky started to darken after dinner, he announced his desire to go to sleep, which he promptly did.  steve encouraged me to join the larger group at the community campfire while he stayed near our tent to be available to ander, but i declined that in favor of the rare opportunity to sit quietly with him by our own fire, watching the mesmerizing flames, talking, holding hands, gazing up at the stars.

we left the tent uncovered that night to look at the sky.  it was a pleasant distraction for me to experience the outdoors through mesh, feeling cool breezes and hearing the cacophany of crickets while i repositioned my aching muscles on the very hard ground.  i'm spoiled by our bed at home with plenty of cushions.

the kids had no problems sleeping, tucked securely into their sleeping bags

by sunday morning, steve and i were in agreement that we needed to pack up and head home right after breakfast.  i could feel the beginnings of something very uncomfortable in my body other than simple sore muscles; by the time we got home just before lunch, i was ready to collapse with a fever and whole body aches.  thank goodness ander was better from whatever illness he had had the week prior, but now it is my turn (and steve's) to succumb to it.  diana was sorely disappointed to have to leave her friends but came away from the weekend full of wonderful moments.

this spider had freaked out some of the campers when they went to take a shower in the morning. another mom captured it and the kids showed it around before releasing it to a safer (for it and for us) location

as steve was folding up our tent, he found this vivid creature for me and ander to proudly display to the other campers. i did a fair bit of web-searching to finally identify it as a poplar hawk-moth caterpillar.

diana said farewell to her pet-for-the-weekend, named "kindle," and released him back into his native habitat

here's some of what i learned:
  • i can burn bacon by two different methods. i may have to abandon trying, or get different bacon, or experiment more.  because bacon.
  • grilled cheese sandwiches do not require the "high" setting on a tabletop propane grill, unless one enjoys blackened bread.  i did not merely overtoast them, i completely obliterated them back into elemental carbon.
  • the plastic containers to hold eggs probably are worth it. i will not snicker at them again while i browse for camping gear.  i will quietly order one and be done with it.
  • i don't need to pack quite so much snack food.  apparently i could just supply ander with a plain loaf of bread and a large bag of kettle corn and he'd be fine.
  • if i get everyone all excited about a newly-acquired piece of camping equipment, i'd darn well better use it.  i remembered how much fun it was in my girl scout days to make pies with a pie iron, so i bought one, filling diana's head with visions of gooey grilled cheese and piping hot cherry pies.  i forgot the pie filling and didn't plan well enough to make the sandwiches.  that won't happen again.
  • my smartest move was bringing the bag of sand toys: buckets, shovels, rakes, sieves, plastic containers, all tools of the trade for young explorers.
  • the camp store has all. the. things.  i'll bring an empty cooler next time and fill it up with groceries and ice when we arrive.
  • diana is ready for a pup tent of her own to have camping sleepovers with her similarly-aged girl friends.  reading by flashlight and whispers and giggles in the dark with a dear friend are experiences i want to make sure she has.
  • despite her public school adventure this year, i believe diana still has her heart in homeschooling and more self-directed learning, as do i.  this group is our physically local tribe, where we find acceptance and support.  diana can be herself, express herself without concern for being considered odd or quirky or not following "the rules."  she finds other kids with similar interests and learns from and with them.  she discovered the spellbinding storytelling talents of another young lady, who offered tips on overcoming the dreaded "what do i say next" moments by replacing "um" or "uh" with "and what do you think happened next?" and inviting audience participation to keep them engaged.  diana also found herself complimented and appreciated for her own story topic ingenuity and inventiveness.  these are people she really enjoys spending her time and energy with, as do i.
  • i need a really comfy, fluffy cushion to sleep on.  or a hammock.
camping is a fun getaway, though i am happyer at home.  i'm already looking forward to next year.