Saturday, July 25, 2009

Photography by Ben!

GG turns 90!

My grandmother, known as GG (great grandmom) by all of her great grandchildren just turned 90! This deserved a huge bash! So, her 3 daughters put together a party. In attendance were those 3 sisters (including my mom), her 11 grandchildren (including me), and her 10 great grandchildren, not to mention assorted friends, girlfriends, fiances, step grandchildren, etc.... WOW! Happy Birthday, grandmom! :)

Grandmom with my Aunt Harriette!
Mike and Maddie!
Amelia with her 2 great grandmoms!
My brother, Adam, with my grandmom!
Leah at the restaurant!

Friday, July 24, 2009

"Where the Road Ends, the Adventure Begins!" Ms. Frizzle

I love Ms. Frizzle and the Magic School Bus books/videos! They are so much fun, and they teach us all a lot about science...especially me! But, what I especially like, is Ms. Frizzle's attitude about learning and life. The world is her classroom! She sees life and learning as an adventure! She is upbeat and FUN!

Ben is really into "The Friz" these days. Every library day, we end up bringing home lots of these books and videos. This week, we brought home (among others) "Butterfly and the Bog Beast," a book about butterflies and how they camouflage themselves. I love a lot of the things that Ms. Frizzles says ("Take chances. Make mistakes") but my favorite in this book was,

"Looks can be deceiving. Sometimes what is, isn't. Sometimes what isn't, is."

I think that this really describes our day/life as unschoolers perfectly. To an outsider, it looks like my children spend the day just playing and having fun (which, of course, they are) as they are seen lounging on the sofa reading books, creating new inventions in our art room, playing Webkinz and other games on the computer, playing with friends, traveling to the store or a museum, playing board games.....ETC......BUT, what they are doing, besides just enjoying their lives, is learning! It is a part of everything that we do....naturally!

Today, for example, we had a tournament on Webkinz. Maddie kept careful track of everyone's scores and kinzcash on a piece of paper by the computer......writing! Amelia also wrote several e-mail messages to her friend, Lauren, and posted on her blog.....spelling, writing, grammar, computer skills! Maddie read a Highlights article and learned about a festival in studies! Ben took many cool pictures using my camera and created several new pieces of art work using recycled containers and magnetic, photography! I could continue with this list all day! But, on the other hand, I really don't want to. I really want to get to the point where I don't ever think about our day in terms of school subjects. Real life is not divided into subjects!

The other part of the Ms. Frizzle quote states, "Sometimes what is, isn't." I believe this could be applied to schools. It appears that the students are learning.....and they are, to an extent. But, it is forced learning. And, I don't know about you, but when I am forced to learn something that I am not interested in, I usually forget it quickly! Maddie, on the other hand, is very interested in horses. She has read so many books about them and can tell you so much more than I ever knew about horses! True, authentic learning!

Ben has set up my camera on a delay....self photograph by Ben!

Keeping careful track of our progress on Webkinz! Wow, I came in third!

In her favorite spot, in front of the computer, Amelia joyfully blogs, writes letters and plays.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Our July Garden

Welcome to our garden! Birdhouses that were made by Maddie and Amelia grace the entrance.
Amelia standing by the asparagus and zucchini.
Green bean plants....not quite producing yet.
A beautiful zucc still attached to the lovely flower!
Gorgeous green tomatoes! Ripen already....I want to take a bite! :)
My favorite summer green.....colorful swiss chard! Most delicious raw in a salad or sauteed with garlic.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Swim Lessons

Maddie does great in groups!
Amelia is already looking fearful.
At our friends' pool.....Amelia rocked it!

Maddie and Amelia started swim lessons this week. I say "started" because, for Amelia, they didn't last long. The young people who are conducting the lessons seem a little more strict than last year, which just doesn't work for Amelia, who is so sensitive. Actually, none of it works for her. She doesn't want to be told what to do, she doesn't like someone strange holding her in the water, and she especially doesn't like to be away from me right now. So, after a very bad mothering moment of basically forcing her to start the lessons on Monday, she came crying to me! My heart went out to my sweet girl! Amelia's needs are hard to meet (much harder than my other children) but I will do all in my power to meet them. Amelia challenges me to be a more patient, kinder mama everyday. And sometimes I succeed and sometimes I don't.

So, after Amelia came crying and running over to me, the director came over and said to Amelia more hug for mom and then you come with me. Well, as I knew, Amelia would have nothing to do with that! And, I certainly wasn't going to force her into the situation. What good would that do? So, I politely told the director that Amelia would be back tomorrow perhaps but that her time in the water was done for that day. She started to tell me that she should get back in so as not to have a fear of the water. I assured her (though I felt that it really was none of her business) that Amelia is not afraid of the water but rather the situation.

Today, after talking to Amelia and hearing her wishes to learn to swim in a less controlled, more free situation, I told the director that she would not be continuing with lessons. She then talked to Amelia in a not so respectful way about how she should learn to swim once she gets over her fears......ETC. I again interrupted her to politely tell her that Amelia is not afraid to learn how to swim. But, as might be expected, I don't think that she really heard me.

As I am watching Maddie in the water and sitting on the sidelines with Ben, Amelia, and Leah, I see another swim lesson about to begin. This time it is with 4 year olds. There are 2 boys that absolutely don't want to go into the water and they scream and scream...even after 10 minutes, they are still screaming for their moms. The director takes over because the young women who are teaching the lessons don't know what to do at this point. She carries them both into the water, screaming and kicking! I can't believe that the parents are allowing this to happen! Do they really think that this will be the way that their children learn how to swim? Most likely, this will only result in bad memories of what it is like to learn to swim! Even to this day, I have a bad association with swim a young person, I was forced to dive under the water for rings when I was really afraid to. I remember how awful it was!

I'm glad that I was able to listen to my children and respect their learning wishes. Today, after swim lessons, we went to a friends' house to play in their pool. Amelia shined!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Our Joyful Trip to the BEACH!!!

“Our memories of the ocean will linger on, long after our footprints in the sand are gone.”

We spent a wonderful week at Ocean City, NJ with my parents! What a relaxing, fun week in the sun we had! Here are some memories.....

One of our favorite things to do at the beach.....ride the surreys!
I think that this will be Ben and Leah's last year on the front of the surrey! They are just getting too big for it.....sad to see them grow up so much but of course happy too!
Maddie and Amelia and I have a tradition of waking up at 5 am to see the sunrise while at the beach. This was in the lifeguard stand on our beautiful, early morning!
Kite flying....a must at the beach! And, so much fun! This year, we had 3 kites flying high in the sky and Mike's stunt kite as well. Awesome!
A favorite memory of the beach this year was my time spent biking on the boards with Amelia. Here, we are at my favorite Jilly's Arcade playing $.10 skeeball! What fun!
Playing mini golf! Our whole family!
Must keep your head covered in that hot sun! What a cutie!
Amelia is now riding a bike with no training wheels! This made for a fun week for Amelia and mama (who rented a bike while at the beach).
More surrey riding with pop-pop and mom-mom!
Maddie (looking tired by the end of the week) and mom-mom enjoying breakfast at one of our boardwalk favs....OVES!
A fabulous time was had by all!