29 August 2013

five| school ready:: from Angels Have Red Hair

Hello! A Guest Post on the subject of school from Jo of Angels Have Red Hair. 
I adore Jo's blog. She always has a spectacular tale to tell or fabulous insight on 
her two adolescent young men. Her posts always make me smile. 
I hope you enjoy the lovely perspective she brings us:  

My boys are very alike ... physically.

Sometimes people think they are twins ... twins that are different heights and at different stages of physical development.

But who am I to blame them ... I clearly had some "pretend twin" fetish back in the day ... see what I did here ...

and here ...

and again ...

somebody STOP me ...

... those poor, poor children.

But that's where the similarities end ... in fact if I hadn't been present during the conception, pregnancy and birth ... I'd swear they weren't related at all.

They don't think alike ... they don't act alike.  They don't have the same view on life.  They don't like the same things ... well unless you count the things that Master 16 likes and Master 13 decides to like too ... in the hopes of irritating him.  But perhaps ... most different of all ... are their attitudes towards education, learning and school.

Master 13 is a bit of a plodder ... he's a middle of the road student.  He does what he has to do ... and not one iota more.  He doesn't excel ... but he doesn't fail.  He's slow and steady ... but he rarely wins the race.  And you know what ... he doesn't care.

Master 16 is the opposite ... he is a high achiever.  He likes to come first ... he likes to win awards.  He likes to be challenged.  He has a competitive streak a mile wide ... and it all seems to come so easily to him.  He cares ... he cares a lot.

So I thought it would be an interesting experiment to ask them a series of questions relating to school ... and see just how different they really are ... or not!

Besides everyone would like a little insight into that strange and mysterious entity ... the mind of a teenage boy ... wouldn't they?

What does school mean to you?

Master 13:  Absolutely nothing.

Master 16:  Education, friends and access to the canteen.

How could school be improved?

Master 13:  The classes are okay ... but it would be better if they got rid of all the bad kids.

Master 16:  Zero homework and zero school uniforms.

Tell me something you have observed about school.

Master 13:  There is a lot of gum on the floor.

Master 16:  All the PE (Physical Education) teachers are really good looking and school is a very intense and extreme example of different social ranks.

Tell me something that's good about school.

Master 13:  It's pretty boring ... but I do like seeing my friends.

Master 16:  Socialising with friends and working with the teachers in the academic classes ...they make sure the students are well supported and are motivated to make sure they do well.

What is the very best thing about school?

Master 13:  Friends, fun science experiments in the lab and PE prac.

Master 16:  The social factor.

What about the academic side?

Master 16:  What about it?

Tell me something that's bad about school.

Master 13:  Sandwiches for lunch.

Master 16:  Wearing a school uniform.  I hate it.  We are encouraged to be our own person ... but how can we be when we all look alike.

What is the very worst thing about school?

Master 13:  Homework ... I think I will organise a rally against it.

Master 16:  The toilets ... they are rank.

What would you like to change about your school?

Master 13:  I'd make school shorter and holidays longer.

Master 16:  I'd put soft drinks and eftpos into the canteen.

Do you like learning new things?

Master 13:  I find it pretty easy to learn things ... as long as I'm not distracted ... I get distracted a lot ... but it's really not my fault ... what's for dinner?

Master 16:  I like it.

Would you like to expand on that?

Master 16:  Everyone likes to learn new things ... don't they?  I hate learning new things ... said NO ONE EVER.

If you didn't have to go to school ... would you?

Master 13:  Probably not ... maybe once or twice a week ... in order to get a good education.

Master 16:  I would go ... but I'd take more days off.  It may be surprising ... but I actually enjoy school.

Finally, do you think school is important?

Master 13:  Well if you want to get a good job ... probably ... but if you only want to be a trolley boy ... not really.  

I didn't dare ask if he has investigated "trolley boy" as a possible career choice.

Master 16:  Yes.

Would you like to expand on that?

Master 16:  Yes, school is important.

So there you have it ... they are a bit different  ... but a bit alike ... just like twins.

I will finish with a quote from a wise and highly respected philosopher;

You have brains in your head.  You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself in any direction you choose.
You're on your own, and you know what you know.
And you are the guy who'll decide where to go.

Dr Seuss
You can read more of Jo's lovely blog by clicking through here. xxoo

27 August 2013

four| school ready:: play+create

“Play is the highest form of research.”
 – Albert Einstein

“Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning. But for children play is serious learning. Play is really the work of childhood.” 
-  Fred Rogers
We are creatures of creativity, of creation, of building things up and knocking them down. We are the ripples on a pond lost on the shore, stalks of grass and hidden grasshoppers, storybooks and stars in an unpolluted night sky.  We are knees bent in sand scraping away at childhood. We are sandcastles left behind after a summer day. A red shovel beloved then forgotten. We create, we play, we knock it down and start over. It is a thread throughout human history.
Play. If I was to define the three legs of a stool upon which the seat of any child's education would sit it would be these three: love, reading and play. There is such an intensity, such necessity to our growth as humans to have play filled interactions. Playing allows young children to try on different personalities, work through emotions, as well as react to and understand their environment. I think it is just as important for us to play with our children as for our children to play well with others.

Playing with our children shouldn't be exhausting either (parenting is already exhausting)! So if you are struggling after a long day at work, or a long day being home with your children, I invite you to look at play in different ways. Play doesn't always have to mean sitting down to play tea party + dollies, or  playing with them in the sandbox as you are trying to get dinner on the table.  Instead, invite them into your activity. If you are cooking, invite them over to play "restaurant," if you are folding laundry (a mindless task) invite them to play along side of you acting out an imaginative story. Let them pretend they are wild creatures under the desk that you must tame while you sweep. Playing with our children should be fun. 

I am not saying this is always easy though. Sometimes the playing does backfire at our house. When the boys were little all three of them were notorious for being completely engaged in their made-up character, sometimes insisting for stretches of time that they be called by the character's name. Once my oldest insisted that each member of the family keep the names he had given them (cat and dog included). This lasted for weeks (as he was our first we probably over-indulged a little). However it got to the point that one day my husband turned to me and said,"I really miss being called just dad." Another time my middle was pretending to be a monkey. He had been a monkey all afternoon, eating bananas, jumping around, wishing we had a tree to climb. When it was bed time, he was still insisting on being a monkey.  My husband was working late and I had already gotten his baby brother in bed and was trying to get him to calm down for story time with his older brother. "But I'm a monkey and I don't haf to go to bwed!" he insisted.
"Well," I calmly explained, "all monkey's go to bed. They have to listen to their mama's."  
"Not me," he replied, "I am Curious George and Curious George neber, neber listens!"  

Sigh. There are somedays when a mama just wants her little monkey to listen.  

Parenting always has its surprising hiccups. 

~I have also asked some wonderfully insightful moms to talk about their experiences in parenting+learning+schooling. So please be on the look out for the guest posts that will be popping up over here from time to time! Our first one will be tomorrow!~ 

Here are also some links to wonderful blogs that have loads of playing+creating+learning. They are wonderful resources! 

I am sure you know about other great resources as well! Please share! xxoo

24 August 2013

34 of 52 :: portraits of the boys

first day of school edition.
subtitled: the boys who don't want their photographs taken.
happy weekend! xxoo

20 August 2013

three| school ready :: read aloud

"Children are made readers on the laps of their parents."
— Emilie Buchwald
Reading aloud to your child is one of the greatest gifts you could give him or her. Our human instincts naturally crave story. We search for myth, meaning in almost all we do, so it is wonderful when we share stories and books with our children. My husband and I have been reading with our boys everyday since they were born. It is a part of their night-time ritual. They must hear spoken words strung together in story or they find it impossible to find sleep. In fact my youngest still falls asleep as we read.  Once, in a silly mood I calculated the hours we have read to the boys. The hours really added up (one-two hours a night for 13years = many hours), when I told my husband the number, he asked if we get a medal. The answer is of course, no, but we had a good laugh none the less.  Reading aloud has also created a desire in our children to know books. Knowing spoken stories, having exposure to a wide variety of words and use of language at a young age becomes the stepping stone on which children in general become readers themselves. So after all I said about love (still so important!) last week, I would have to say that reading aloud is the next step in helping our children become life long lovers of learning.  You also become their mentor, their guide when they start to read themselves. When they begin the task of sounding out words and taking a turn at reading aloud to you everyday.

As some of you may know, my middle has a learning disability. For him reading aloud is a chore, a most difficult one in fact. However, he hungers for stories and listens to hours and hours of books on CD's.  Be it as it may, he still needs to practice reading aloud. Every morning this summer, I have been struggling with him to get him to read out loud to me. Somedays it is pulling teeth, others days it goes a bit smoother. Yesterday was a particularly difficult morning and he flat out refused to read to me. So at lunch I told him and his brother this made up story: There once was a little girl who wasn't very good at running at all. "Mommy is this about you?" asked the youngest. "No," I said, "just listen." She was quite slow in fact, but she signed up to run in a race so that she could practice running. However, as the day approached to the big race, she became more and more anxious. Then my middle interjected, "Mom is this a true story? Are you sure it is not about you?" "Shhh, I said, it doesn't matter." Until the night before she was to supposed to run, she decided she just wasn't going to do it after all. She wouldn't run and pretend that the race wasn't happening. Then that night, she had a dream about a little wren caught in a storm on a mountainside. This wren was trying to desperately get back to her nest and her babies; and even though she was being torn apart, she kept on trying to fly back to her nest, because she knew it wasn't just about her, it was about something much bigger. The next morning, when the sun creaked in through her windows the girl woke up and knew. She knew she was, even with her self-doubt and fears, going to run in the race after all. She knew that there are some things in life that are just bigger than her.

After the story ended the younger two got quiet, mulling it all over, finishing up lunch.  I then asked the middle if he was ready to read now. "No," he replied, "I didn't sign up to read. but I do need to play this game, it keeps getting harder and harder. In fact, its much, much bigger than me. I feel like I am a wren in a storm and if I quit now I will never be able to do anything again." Then he giggled and tried to sneak away.

What a stinker.

little life lesson backfire. xxoo

Here is delightful link for children's books! I have found it to be a wonderful resource for all sorts of books, especially if I am looking for something different or there is project needed to be done. 

17 August 2013

33 of 52 :: portraits of the boys

above: the boys with their cousin Jadeyn. She was out here in California for a visit.

16 August 2013

two| school ready :: navigating to sea, navigating to shore

Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you, And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.
~kahlil gibran~

our children :: the deepest, richest, most rewarding exhausting investment we have ever made. yet, often we feel like we fall short. not because we haven't hovered enough, or sang enough songs, or added enough enriching activities, but because in many ways we see all the trappings of life that they just can't avoid. the failures they have to make. the learning they have to do on their own. from the moment they come into our life, there is also this tension: the moment we have to let them go.

14 August 2013

guest post today. The Growing on Rose Runs Wild

Some of you may know that I love to write. I love to write. And I love to take photos, loads of photos. SO when Nicole asked me to guest post on her blog, RoseRunsWild, I was over the moon! Yet another chance to write, and play with photographs!

My post is one in a series on growing up, growing older, and growing on. It is called the Growing, and I have found that all the wonderful woman who have contributed thus far to the series have unique and beautiful voices. I would of course LOVE it if you clicked through to my post here, but especially encourage you to check out the other voices there as well. (including Nicole's very awesome posts !)

As always, let me know what you think. xxoo

13 August 2013

Clara :: Shared on Anchor&Plum Press

 Anchor&Plume Press shared a short (story) I wrote on the season of canning and preserving.

"As the harvest moon approached and the sun slowly tucked into the bed of summer’s edge, Clara and her sister would gather themselves under the aprons of their mother and aunt at the hearth of their grandparents’ kitchen. ...."

Please click through to read the rest and let me know what you think.
 P.S. I would love for you to leave any notes, criticism and feedback over at Anchor&Plume!

one| school ready :: a series

"A child is a person who is going to carry on what you have started. He is going to sit where you are sitting and when you are gone, attend to those things which you think are important. You may adopt all the policies you please, but how they will be carried out will depend on him. 
He is going to move in and take over your churches, schools, universities and corporations. All your books are going to be judged, praised and condemned by him. The fate of humanity is in his hands. Teach him well." 
 ~Abraham Lincoln~

So it begins. The return of school. The summer slowly closing down.

At my house,  books will soon be pilled into backpacks, pencils sharper than they have been all summer, new shoes donned. Perhaps at your house, the school year has already begun. For others, it has been in full swing since January, or perhaps it is a year round adventure. For my boys, the return of school is always met with excitement as well as apprehension. Each of my boys are unique and each one of them approaches the return to school in unique ways.  These very different ways have spurred a fair amount of internal dialogue lately, not just between my number one and me, but in my own heart as well. Thus, here you have my new series on this blog called  school ready. My hope is not only to share my thoughts on preparing our children for the world of school, and the world in general, but I also hope to provide a platform for discussion and links to wonderful sites. I also may get on my soapbox, so watch out! There are few things I am more passionate about than Education (well maybe the Arts and Humanities, but I really believe all three go hand in hand).  My hope in this, is that it spurs you all on to change the world for better...

Well at least our own small corner of it. xxoo

12 August 2013

32 of 52 :: portraits of the boys, 2013

the boys. catalina island. part deux.

my middle looks the part of joe cool.
the oldest. 13 years going on disgruntled teen.
the youngest, fully enjoying the irish rock music at the two harbors cafe (catalina island).

I have taken so many photos this summer. I keep wanting to share at least some of  them here (at least to get some of them out of my system) yet most of them are just sitting on various dropbox folders and the hard drive...  i am curious, what do you all do with your oh so many photos? delete? dump? print? I would love to know how you sort and store.

this past week from Jodi's link up I loved: this photo over at Willow+Pear// sweet Lily jumping into the pool. delightful!// the best scrunched up happy face ever!// gorgeous Jude playing.... xxoo

hope you all are doing well this week.

08 August 2013

a boy. a birthday. seven

 "Mommy. Mama. Mommy." he breathes raspy on my neck, his sweet boy face close to mine and his arms tight around my neck. "Mama. I can't wait for tomorrow. I cannot wait to be seven," he tells me for the hundredth time today, the millionth time this past hour, "I can't wait!"

"I can't wait for you to turn seven either!" I exclaim as he begins to pull away from me.

 He stops. "Heeeeyyy.....You are supposed to tell me you don't want me to turn seven, you want me to be five again." (Which is what I had been telling him all day.)

Happy birthday my sweet seven five year old. 
(I think his long Lego-ed limbs give his seven-year old-ness away)

07 August 2013

midweek messiness :: view from here

Oh the messiness now that we are back! I am trying to find a rhythm as we slowly approach the return of school. A balance of days, of creativity, of boys.

Monday I rearranged the younger two's bedroom so that there was a better flow to it. It is a tiny, tiny house we live in (though feel so blessed to be IN a house in West Los Angeles) so their room is tinier still. Both of them struggle to take space when they are upset, so I am pondering on ways to create a private space within their space (ideas gladly welcome!).

Yesterday we went to the farmer's market, which is always satisfying and lovely. There we fetched fresh farm eggs, milk, several different kinds of pluots including one called Dinosaur Egg. We also feasted on fresh homemade Pupusa's. I fell in love with the sampling I had and must find a recipe worth making and sharing.

However today we are stuck at home as the middle one has been felled by a tummy bug (it is making the rounds in the family: I had it this weekend & my oldest had it last week).

So this is my view from here. Anticipating the school year. Tending a sick one. Dreaming of food. 
Typing away at silly dreams and editing photos for unforeseen projects.

Where are you these days? I would love to know. xo

03 August 2013

31 of 52 :: portraits of the boys

My boys this past week on a wee camping trip to Catalina Island. Our time there is always so very special. I wish the boat ride over to the island wasn't quite so expensive or we would be there more often. 

02 August 2013

a quiet creature

that i could have the chance to fit you into the palm of my hand. 
have your feather light wings bless my skin.
 burnt orange against my unholy white. 
whiskered, and whisked, that you nudge me along, 
off my path, off the beat of my breath. 

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