Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Loves ~ On Valentine's Day

 "Discover" is my word for 2012. That was a pretty easy one, since I just knew with a move 1500 miles north to a new state, new city, new climate, there would be very little that wouldn't be new to us. One of our loves, I am thrilled to say, is libraries. We have been going to the library, pretty much weekly, ever since Maia was a baby. Our fondness for them has crept into our vacations where we now have the habit of visiting local libraries whenever we travel. So, imagine our joy when we learned that our house is not only a 5 minute drive to the beautiful downtown branch of the St. Paul Public Library, but also, literally around the corner from one of its smaller branches. The girls are already volunteering there two days a week and love it so far.

It kind of feels like having a brick and mortar Google in your back yard.

The funny thing is that despite its relatively small size, the girls have discovered all sorts of books that they've brought home with them already and, despite the fact that they are now at the library twice a week, they still want to stay after their shift and "look around for a few minutes."

Herbs are their latest fascination. When I explained to them that our back yard perennial bed was full of them - some I recognized from seed heads and others we'll just have to ask the landlords... or wait to be surprised in a few months - they were SO excited and rushed for coats, and jars, and scissors.

This current love is connected to their favorite genre of reading which is fantasy. And fantasy often has an alchemist or two and thus, my children are now spending their spare reading time captivated by herbal encyclopedias.  It's times like this that I would like to follow every flight of fancy and just spend days on this one topic that fascinates them right now. I know my unschooling friends are out there shouting, "Yes! Let them do it!!" Well... I do... but in limited doses, because I don't know that algebra or chemistry will ever find its way into their fancies... In some form, yes, but not as far as the coursework will take them. And so herbology is relegated to lunchtime and after-school reading, but nobody has complained thus far.


The previous photos were taken late last week just before our "arctic blast" came through.Yes, it was cold... for about a day. But the rest of this week has been mild and the state continues to experience the 2nd warmest winter on record.

Yesterday afternoon the snow that blanketed the southern part of the state reached the city and cast it's perfect winter blue that I adore.

It snowed little more than what you see here and the sidewalks are all clear today as it melted pretty quickly. But last night on my way out to my Mary Kay meeting, the glowing yellow street lamps cast enough light to set the fresh snow glimmering and twinkling. Another love.

And today is Valentine's Day.

When I was a child, Valentine's Day was a favorite holiday. Perhaps it's because we got to make little mailboxes nearly every year in elementary school and I have always, ALWAYS loved giving and receiving mail. We covered our boxes with white paper and cut a simple slot in the top. There was a a wonderful afternoon spent decorating the boxes, of course, and this was the time to perfect the skill of the half-heart on the folded paper!

The Valentine's boxes added to the festive decor of the classroom of red and pink and white and Presidents Washington and Lincoln on the bulletin board calendar with the wavy, ridged border stapled all round. Everyone needed to wear red that day or you were threatened with a kiss! Imagine! The worst thing happening to you: a kiss.

Valentine's Day for our family is little tokens of love. We usually have a bit more decor than our minimalist celebration this year, as so much is still packed away. But it was all still received so warmly and everyone was genuinely pleased with what we made for each other.

My Valentine's given...

and received...

Aren't they cute??? And that's another love, as you likely know by now: the creativity inherent in EVERYONE. These are each perfect, little treasures to me that cost my family nothing but its time - oh and I did spring for a couple bars of chocolate, but I doubt those will be remembered nearly as much as these little tokens of our affections.

You know, the light is always changed by Valentine's Day. In the north, the ground is still frosty white, but the light is lasting longer and I always feel a charge of inspiration around this time of year. January seems a month of recuperation after the holiday season and the nights are still quite long. But February brings more sunshine and doilies and ruffled hearts for heaven's sake! It's kind of an unfortunate time to get that inspirational itch, when I want to cast off all responsibilities and pursue all those flights of fancy myself. It takes a good deal of self-discipline to homeschool, to stick to a thing and not just... cast off...

But... if you can plan ahead just a little bit... work ahead just a little bit... you can also plan a day of exploration and discovery of even more new things that invite love. I've got something like that in mind for later in the week. I can't say how it will all go, but bags are being packed with sketchbooks and watercolor pencils, cameras and maps - oh yes, maps - another love...

lotta loves. 

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