Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Newsy Bits

"Grey Squirrel" by David Tipling
courtesy of

Well, I feel like time has swept away with me again. Here's what I've been up to:

This past weekend I did a planning session for a whole month of school. I usually do two weeks at a time, but I am trying to find more restful opportunities in my days and thought this might help. It did, to a degree. It had me feeling more wound up and tired all at the same time and feeling like I wasn't having much fun.

I've tended to get this burnout/no fun feeling regarding school around January of every year for the past few years. I knew something was amiss when that feeling set in around mid-September.

On Monday we took a trip to the library with Daddy and I hated feeling rushed when we got back, because I hadn't scheduled in that time and we had more work to do at home. ugh. I hated the fact that being at the library... the library for pete's sake... was a problem... even though Maia, in particular, learned, as she was searching for a particular dvd, the difference between the non-fiction and fiction dvd's and how to bravely approach the reference librarian for some assistance when her search proved fruitless.

In the children's section, I noticed the copy of Home Education magazine. For some reason this particular library does not keep their back-copies, which drives me crazy, because I end up either not having enough time to peruse as I would like to or taking copious notes of web addresses when I get home. See, for those of you who may not read HE, many of its contributors are unschoolers. Part of me is often wistful for this kind of education for my children and the other part of me still clings to those little boxes to check off. I went home and stayed up until half-past midnight looking at various unschoolers blogs.

I still don't know if that style is completely for me, but I can say that the better part of yesterday morning was spent bleary-eyed, re-vamping our schedule. This time, I got more input from the girls as to what they find enjoyable and what they want to learn. It turns out that they do want to continue with many of our current studies, but to do them a bit differently, more relaxed with more flexibility and also to add a few other things that they are interested in exploring for themselves.

So today, we are at a kind of hybrid with some structure and some autonomous, delight-directed learning. We may become more loose yet. I still have some more research to do. But today was nice. Low-key and nice.


Yesterday Eve went out to get in the van, as we were going to run some errands. She came running back inside, sobbing. Our delightful, little friend, Tenny, had been hit by a car and lay dead at the end of our driveway. Tenny was one of many little squirrels that visited our bird feeders nearly every day for the past 6 months or so. We had seen her around the neighborhood and were thrilled when she finally discovered our feeders.

You see, Tenny was special in that she had only a little stump of a tail that was still squirrel fluffy and so she looked like she was part rabbit! It was really surprising to us how much squirrels actually look like and move like little, short-eared rabbits once we saw Tenny. We named her Tenny, because she was so tenacious! I don't know if it was because she looked different from the other squirrels, but for some time, a small group of about 5 or 6 squirrels would regularly chase her off when she tried to come snack with them at any of our 3 feeders. But she never, never gave up (like most squirrels looking for a free bird-seed meal, really!) even when they would chase and nip at her little tail and scold her loudly.

Lately, it had seemed that Tenny had found a comfortable schedule to arrive at the feeders - often by herself. But even more recently, she had been coming regularly with a friend. So, it was to our great sadness that we lost our little friend yesterday.

I honestly don't understand why so many people curse squirrels so greatly and make so many jokes about killing them. They are charming, curious, little creatures and are so wonderful to watch from our window... especially when they find a nut and dig a little hole and pat the soil down with their little "hands." A neighbor of mine down the street has a little squirrel that follows her on her evening walks because she always carries a few peanuts for her in her pocket!

I had a friend's son make me a homemade bumper sticker that said, "I Brake for Squirrels," because I do! Unfortunately, I've misplaced it and will need him to make me another one. I hope you brake for squirrels too - and other creatures on the road. You never know if they have a little family at home somewhere in the treetops, or perhaps a little girl, about 9 years old, who considers them a friend.


Finally, I spent some time last night cruising around in cyberspace and found a few great spots.

Sarah at Handmade Homeschool is having a handmade Christmas this year and has a fantastic idea list. With the economy as it is and the future looking questionable, I am going to be posing this idea to some of my family. It may not be for everyone, but homemade and/or second hand is more than fine with me!

Soulemama knit up a darling hat for her son - a smaller version of one she made for herself. It's beautiful and simple. Be sure to check it out.

Sharon is also thinking ahead to prepare for the holidays. Well, she's nearly always thinking ahead. Have a visit over there for some thoughtful ideas.

Crunchy Chicken is asking people here about if and how they've been affected by the present economy and if they are planning on making more simplifying changes in their lives in light of it.

Are you going to be making things this year for Christmas? Have you been seeking out ways to make cutbacks in your lifestyle/budget? Are you making any preparations in case something does happen? These are some of the things I've been thinking about lately and am sure many, many Americans are too.

Well, time to walk the dog! Have a great evening!


PrairiePoppins said...

I, too, am struggling with feelings of being pressured and out of time. I, too, am seeking to find balance in the midst of my own schedule and expectations. I wish I had answers, but we're all just making this up as we go along. There's never been a path like our individual family's and there never will again, so there are no ruts, no guideposts, no clearly marked rest stations. Remembering that seems to be key to my sanity.

(Thanks for linking to me.)

Marianna said...

I'm so sorry for the loss of Tenny. You won't be surprised, I'm sure, to hear that I too brake for squirrels! My cat on the other hand would gladly reduce the population around our house and very nearly had the opportunity yesterday! She popped out a loose screen and got out...I don't know what kept her from climbing the tree. She was out a good five minutes before I realized it.

Thanks for the links...I've proposed reducing Christmas purchases to kids-only this year. My family I know will be on board with that. My husband's family I'm not so sure about.

Without a doubt the uncertaintity of the economy is affecting us. We have two seperate buyers interested in our house right now, but they both have houses to sell in other markets...I fear that this will be a common refrain over the next several months that is likely to only get worse.


Kez said...

I'm sort of coming from the opposite direction with our schooling. Our kindergarten year was very unstructured, but this year I've started being more structured about it. ie Planning a lesson to have each day rather than just having one when I feel like it :)

I'm trying to make sure we still have the flexibility - I only plan about 3 days / week, so that leaves 2 weekdays that we can just go with the flow or catch up if we didn't get to something on another day. So far, so good anyway..

Mrs. Pivec said...

I am so sorry to hear about your continued house drama. :( We see this happening and have discussed the reality that we may be stuck in FL for a while longer than we ideally would like. It's not a bad place to be stuck in, but it's hard to wait when you know you want to be somewhere else. But knowing that it's harder now for folks to get the loans they would need for a home and the potential of offers falling through or having to wait - like you - has made us realize we may have to be more patient than we originally thought.

Kez, I like your 3 day plan! :) We did 4 for many years and now have the lighter subjects on Fridays, such as poetry and reading aloud, etc. I get more antsy the closer my girls get to high school age, but I'm reading more and learning that I think we can relax through these years too.

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