Saturday, September 12, 2009

Outline Form

Catching Up On Things

I. Deep Sea Fascination Continues
A. Hairy angler toy from Animal Planet
B. Melissa and Doug Under the Sea Puzzle
C. Bioluminescence

II. Alphabet Memorized
A. They Might Be Giants Here Come the ABCs cd and dvd
B. Interactive ABC and phonetics games
C. Finding letters at Blanton Museum (and everywhere else too)

III. Create Your Own Superheroes
A. Over 35 Superheroes created, named and printed out
B. Bowie's story of married superheroes Sun's Soul and Black's Night (favorite sentence: Such heroes are gladly married to become a team.)

IV. Not Back to School
A. Austin Homeschooling Group had the NOT back to school swim party at NW Park
B. The quiet changes at museums and parks
C. Keeping a journal and blown away by the amount of learning that happens daily

There, that addresses a few things I wanted to get jotted down...not profound, I know. But stuff I want to appreciate and remember and share.

The most important thing to celebrate this week is the rain! It's been raining wonderfully for over a week now. The temperatures have dropped from the hundreds to the upper 80s. The plants are rejuvenated and so am I. I'm encouraging mornings and evening outside and we are ready to come out of our summer hibernation. Here comes Autumn!

And Bowie with one of the Xs he found at the Blanton:

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Life has been feeling very full lately. I smile as I type this, so many good experiences. Things I want to reflect on: our trip to the Pecos, the continued fascination with the deep, Here Come the ABCs, Marvel Make Your Own Superheros, NOT back to school, and more.

Road Tripping...Bowie and I went camping in the Pecos Wilderness last week. That is a LOT of driving. 2 days of 7 or 8 hrs of traveling to get there. I prepared a box of books, games, coloring books, thermos of water, snacks, headphones. I even got a Leapfrog Tag set for Bowie. Part of me felt uncomfortable buying this electronic gadget being advertised as a reading program. I'm an unschooler! We don't need a program. And I've been the kind of mama that was repulsed by electronic, noisy toys. But I quickly moved on past those thoughts open to the possibility of fun this could be for Bowie. They had Scooby Doo and Ben 10 books, some of his current favorite story characters so I decided to try it, not knowing if I'd like it or if he'd like it but thinking it'd be nice to have something new that he could work independently for that through the dessert of the pan handle. He really loved it and played with it for the majority of the first day's drive. He showed it to his grandparents, and we all marveled at how different the world is for him than it was for us. Not in that "I used to walk through the snow 9 miles barefoot" way, but in a way of really feeling gratitude for the way technology has enhanced our lives, especially his.

Camping...And I simultaneously felt such gratitude that we were going camping as a beautiful natural balance. I LOVE camping. My childhood family didn't do much vacationing that wasn't camping. So many of my best memories are from camping trips with them. As a high schooler, I was a member of an outdoor recreation club. In Bowie's first year of life, we went camping five times. Going camping with my family is one of the most rewarding things in my life. And going camping in the mountains...mountains make my soul SING. Going camping in the same mountains where Chris and I fell head over heels in love backpacking, the place where Bowie was conceived...that place is such a part of us. Going camping with his grandparents...Bowie just couldn't get there soon enough, he loves them so. The next three nights Bowie, Tuba (or dog) and I bundled up in our sleeping bags in our comfortable tent after tending to the fire for a few hours. We woke to Grandma and Grandpa ready to cook up delicious breakfasts, were greeted by a dozen hummingbirds (they put up 5 feeders in their campsite.) We spent the mornings in the cold, clear Pecos River. Bowie and I would stay til our feet and ankles were red. I kept going back in barely resisting the urge to just sit down in it. It was so pleasurable to feel my body cool down after the summer of 100s. The afternoons we walked to the horse camp and down the slope behind our site (carrying sticks for weapons, spying with walkie talkies, silently padding along, really connecting with each other and the place.) I was given the gift of time to read my book, write in my journal while Bowie played cards and colored. When the sun went behind the mountain, the temperature dropped, so we changed into leggings and poufy vests. It was so lovely.

Going Barefoot...The last 2 days of the camping, Bowie went barefoot. In the river. On streets. In the ash around the firepit. At all times. On hikes! His feet were filthy and strong. He yelped a couple of times getting poked. But no harm came to him. We wiped his feet off with a washcloth before getting into bed. Many of us grownups recalled our barefoot memories, remembered summers of hardly ever covering up our feet, hopping on hot asphalt and running through prickly grasses. I love that no one told him he has to wear shoes. I always had shoes on hand, brought them in the backpack, and told him that if he changed his mind they were available.

And seeing Great Grandma Rosemary...Our halfway point was Lubbock, TX. My parents both grew up there. And my paternal grandma lives there still. My folks happened to be up there at the same time. My dad was replacing many of her kitchen applainces, doing a quick upgrade. So we got to go the the park where I played when I visited my Grandma. Bowie sat in her lap and shared some of the deep sea books we brought along. This was a really sweet connecting time for them. Bowie kept rubbing the skin of her arms, so soft and thin. I have vivid memories of rubbing my elders's arms in the same way, enjoying that unique texture.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

A Very Fun Day

No photos. Just memories. We woke early, packed up a backpack, stopped for chai tea and bagels, and then spent 5 hours at Volente Beach. This is a little mom and pop swim park on the lakeside. It's really the perfect size for Bowie. We've done Schlitterbahn and it was so huge and overwhelming to him. This place has just 3 body slides that all end up at the same point and minimal time spent waiting in lines. Bowie loves the Flash Flood (open slide) and will ride it over and over again. I wouldn't come to vacation in Austin for a trip to Volente Beach, but we have gone 4 times this summer and enjoyed it so much each time.

Right upon entering is a kiddie area for kids under 42". Bowie is taller, but there was no one else in the area and we asked the attendant if we could play as long as no smaller children came. And we ended up playing there almost 2 hours, with kids all about his size. I enjoyed him initiating games with other kids, sharing his toy, pointing out his favorite things to do with them. He was at ease, taking turn leading and following, smiling and waving at me ever so often. There have been times recently when he would have shied off from playing in an area with other kids. We would plan on going to a park but he'd see kids already there and just wouldn't want to go anymore. Sometimes we'd just drive away from the park, other times I'd hold him in my lap a distance away and he'd watch until he felt ready. After a couple of times, he noticed how much this helped him and I felt so glad for him that he knows himself so well and also knows ways of being in the world that feel good to him. I didn't freak out and wonder if he was social enough. I didn't force him into classes and large playgroups, even as my husband sometimes voiced concerns and asked me to please make sure that he's getting enough time with others. I just let him be, didn't push him and knew that sometimes he felt like making friends with everyone and other times he wanted a big shield around himself. And I suspect that he will continue to ebb and flow in that way, and I feel so grateful that we have a lifestyle that can flow along with him.

Anyway, after finally exhausting ourselves we made the long drive home. It was 103 degrees and we both wanted to get inside, close the blinds, soak up the AC. After dinner, playing and some Ben 10 episodes Bowie requested The Deep. This time we got out 2 books, Down Down Down and The Incredible Journey to the Depths of the Ocean. We flipped through the pages, finding illustrations of the animals currently being described by David Attenborough and read whatever additional information we could find. It was so fun to make these connections; Bowie remembering the pages containing the hagfish, hairy angler, hatchetfish, tubeworms, etc. and turning to them, glancing back forth between the illustrations and film to compare them. (He is at this very moment looking at the books again and pointing out different anglers, with varying colors of bioluminescence.)This deep sea fascination has lasted about a month now, and I think it relates to his love of monsters These are fantastical creatures, unlike any we've ever seen before. I wish we were closer to the ocean! I think we'll be returning to Moody Garden Aquarium in Galveston this fall after it cools down a bit but deep sea creatures can't be brought to the surface; the only way to observe them is through films and actually getting down there. I hope to find ways to make his dream to go down in a submersible come true.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

the deep

Some passions have blossomed here: the deepest depths of the ocean and Imaginext toys. We're watching the BBC Blue Planet episode The Deep a LOT here. Bowie's blown me away, memorizing facts, the narration, identifying animals from thick book we have about oceans, "Here's the fangtooth. It's teeth are so large it can't even close it's mouth." His favorite is the hairy angler. We have some books getting delivered tomorrow: Down Down Down and Manfish. I just love that we can immerse ourselves and go deep.

Monday, July 20, 2009



A flickr friend from Amsterdam wrote this in comment to my photo proof
"Awww. And, this is what I am curious after, what did you respond? Sometimes I don't know what to answer, I think sometimes I explain too much like when I want to reassure my child something is not real."

And my quick response:
"i think it is SO sweet when he says things like this. i really think his imaginative mind is absolutely part of my son's core being. and i also think we all form our own understandings of reality, which change over time given our life experiences. if he asks me and wants to know what i think, i tell him. for example he has asked me if i believe that fairies exist. my answers have been something like this: "i have never seen a fairy in real life. i have heard many stories and seen many drawing and movies. and i know that some people say that they have seen fairies. i want to believe that they exist, but i haven't ever seen any proof. i'd love to see a fairy!" he did not ask me if this was proof. he said it was. so for him, it is the proof he needs at this time. i smiled and said, "wow! you found fairy wings?" and now i call them fairy wings when i find them too. i would not hesitate to share what i know about cicadas, if he asked me to confirm this proof. i would say, "i have seen these wings on bugs called cicadas. hear that buzzing sound? cicadas make that sound." and continue on finding pictures, looking for them outside, etc. I try to gauge what seems to be his main interest at the moment...imagination or research and go as far as he seems to show continued've inspired me to think and write about this on my blog. maybe by the end of the weekend i'll have a more thoughtful answer for you heleen."

Well, this weekend started off with a fun bang (Bowie spent the night with my folks and Chris and I did the live music loop of Red7 to Parish then after-partied till dawn) and kept to a nice slow family pace the following days (as we old parents recovered). So the previous response is as thoughtful of an answer as I've come up with yet, summed up something like this: Believing that Bowie doesn't need me to define the world for him, trusting that his experiences will create his understanding of reality, being available and authentic in my responses when he does ask what I think, and responding to his vibe by rushing forth when he is ready to research and listening with an open heart when he is enjoying his imagination. I finish saying that I do not have a script of things to say. I know that what feels authentic to me will not always be a match with what others feel is an authentic response for themselves.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Loves Monsters

A few days ago we were reading and comparing two books both about Greek mythology. In the cover of one I had written, "For the boy who loves monsters Merry Christmas 2007" He was 3. And he still loves monsters. He talks about monsters for hours everyday, weaving stories and defining their physical qualities, histories, and abilities. He acts them out gracefully, powerfully, with full immersion. It's a passion!

Well, at our local library I found the book Make Yourself a Monster: A Book of Creepy Crafts by Kathy Ross. Although published in 1999, it feels just like the kind of book I would have loved as a little girl. The illustrations are simple and quirky. And even though we aren't in Halloween prep mode yet, I knew this book would be right up Bowie's alley. So here I share a moment of him making the "Giant Reptile" I did the cutting and we did the stapling together (I need to find one that he can easily press down on his own) and he did the rest. I loved that when presented with our bag of red, yellow and blue tempera paint, he immediately said that we needed to mix blue and yellow. I just love it when all of a sudden I notice the things he's been learning. The finishing touch to the what we call "The Green Reptile" is a red party horn...a silly monster incorporates his other passion for hilarity.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

We're a Close Family

Chris and I have a ritual of going out to the backyard and talking every night after Bowie goes to sleep. Sometimes we chat briefly, other times we spend 3 hours out there, playing Scrabble or swimming. We share our experiences throughout the day, remind each other of upcoming events, make plans, talk about movies and books. It is our connecting time and I LOVE it so.

Last night, I heard about a conversation Chris had that day at the office with a co-worker. Talking about refinancing, Chris mentioned our home's square footage, a modest 1,300. His shocked friend said what a close family we must be. Our reactions both were, "Yes, we are." And we both smiled hugely and went on to talk about how well that suits us and how happy we are, so close. We certainly all long for a bit more personal space from time to time (sewing room, recording studio, second bathroom, mudroom), but at this time with Bowie, we want to be close. We want to be able to hear him if he wakes and wants us, able to talk to each other while in separate rooms doing our own things, aware of each others presence. Physical closeness is a part of emotional closeness for me. And we've got both going on, joyfully.

one moment of gratitude