Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Holiday Gifts, Take 3

Here is our favorite interpretation of Pachelbel's Canon:

Monday, December 29, 2008

Christmas Wedding

This Saturday, a friend of 27 years - since 7th grade, we've been buddies! - tied the knot. It was a great wedding, both because we LOVE the bride and groom, and because so many of us have been friends for so many years. Here are some photos -

From winter 08 09

The Bride. A week or so before the wedding, I had a dream about her, looking just like a princess at her wedding; and so she did!

From winter 08 09

The Groom. Did I mention how much we who have known Debbie for so many years LOVE him? He is awesome.

From winter 08 09

Their first dance.

From winter 08 09

And here we all are! This picture is mostly Clockers - our high school mascot was, oddly enough, a clock - and a few spouses.

From winter 08 09

This Clocker was such a good sport - he got stuck being the sailor for "YMCA" and he totally rose to the occasion.

Here are some photos of wedding-goers:

From winter 08 09

From winter 08 09

From winter 08 09

From winter 08 09

From winter 08 09

From winter 08 09

That last one is Ben and I, after a few drinky-poohs...

I think we all realize how incredibly rare it is to have so many lifelong friends. That rarity makes these friendships all the sweeter; it was wonderful to be all together and celebrate the marriage of a Ya-Ya sister.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Holiday Gifts, Part Deux

I know that you, like me, wait every year for this one:

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Carnival of Homeschooling

The Stone Age Techie is in this week's Carnival of Homeschooling!

I chose the post Hidden Depths to submit, not in small part because I love looking at those pictures of 7 year-old Luke summiting the climbing wall...

And because it's good to be reminded of all the amazing things my boy(s) can do.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Holiday Gifts, Take 1

Happy solstice from the Stone Age Techie!

What we're doing here over the next couple of weeks is, we're posting stuff that we like. Here's the first installment:


Monday, December 15, 2008

On Writing

Back before we started this whole homeschooling thing, Luke's anxiety about school was largely due to the copious amounts of writing required of him in Kindergarten, First, and Second grade. We would get notes home about how he was unable to work independently, more likely to be staring off into space than getting his jobs done, unable to get to the "fun" stuff because he couldn't concentrate. For us at home, who could not tear Luke away from projects and books he was really interested in even to come and eat dinner, this was mind-boggling; how could he possibly be unable to focus?

The answer, it turned out, was two-fold. First, he concentrates wonderfully, on stuff he's interested in. Two, he is emphatically not interested in writing.

Our first months of homeschooling passed, with parents making no demands upon his time, and Luke reading anything he could get his hands on, asking questions, exploring, playing, conversing. So long as he didn't have to write, he was happy - but I worried, especially on those rare occasions when Luke would write something and find he'd forgotten how to make, for example, a three. I kept my concerns to myself and gave Luke as much time as needed, mainly because my gut told me to. But sometimes it was hard.

Then, a funny thing happened: he began to write spontaneously. Lists, letters to his favorite Harry Potter characters, an accounting of his allowance money and how it gets spent are all part of Luke's repertoire. Not coincidentally, these are all topics of great interest to him.

Last Friday, I read this great post about teaching writing at my blogosphere-friend Jena's page, Yarns of the Heart. Jena is more towards the graduation end of homeschooling, with one in college and two younger teens, so reading about how she handled 'school' when they were small has been wonderful, and very reassuring.

Jena writes, "Here are some specifics for today's student:

1. Let them read.

2. Let them think and express opinions about what they read.

3. Respect their opinions and insights so they will feel the freedom to talk honestly with you.

4. Share your own insights and wonder at a writer's ability to communicate.

5. Don't kill the fun of writing by pointing out spelling or grammar mistakes all the time."

Since reading this post, I have stopped worrying; this list is, quite literally, how Luke spends his days.

Already, he's a capable, intelligent boy. Our hope is that he will grow up to use writing as a communication tool, a written extension of his voice.

Personally, I don't think he will be able to help it; communication, just like Harry Potter or his allowance, is of great interest to him.

Friday, December 12, 2008


Here are a few fun things to do with homeschoolers when you're sick -

Watch The Princess Bride, possibly the best movie ever made.

Send your 8 year-old to (and then after you kick him off the computer, get hooked on it yourself).

Put the 4 year-old in front of Sesame Street, then pull out all his knight stuff and let him roar his way around the house. Think to yourself, "at least it's happy noise..."

Pull out the play dough. Because you can't talk, which if you are like me creates an intense no-speech vacuum, marvel at the interesting, funny, intelligent things your children say.

Realize how glad you are that you have these little beings to keep you company.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


You may have heard that we're in a recession?

I have been reminded many times over these panicky recent months of a book passage I heard read out over the summer, about a young university professor who cannot make ends meet on her crummy adjunct salary. She'd repeat to herself again and again, as she ate her one solid meal a day or walked miles because she was unable to afford a car or subway fare:

"This is not the face of poverty. I am not the face of poverty."

As the economy has fallen further and further into the tank, and friends and family have barely avoided the pink slip - or not - I think it's safe to say that we are worrying more and more about what the new year will bring.

Which reminds of a book that I enjoyed years ago, Sammy's Hill, by Kristin Gore, about a Capitol Hill staffer. My favorite thing about Samantha, the heroine, had very little to do with the flow of the story, but made her very real to me - it was what Samantha did when she was worried about something.

If she woke up one morning worrying about what it might be like to have an arm amputated, or to be struck blind, she didn't let it bother her. Instead, she tried to find out what it might be like to live like that, if the worst happened. She bound her arm, or covered her eyes and, once she'd determined that she could get by just fine, she didn't have to worry anymore.

As a person who has, shall we say, a slight penchant for worrying, I love that this character embraces her fears, freely admits to them - and then figures out what she can do about them.

Now that fretting about the economy has become a national pastime, I've decided to name my fear and, in the Samantha spirit, see what I can do about it. So, here goes:

I'm worried that we may find ourselves in a big ol' depression.

What I'm going to do about it is, rehearse - practice using limited funds for food, clothing, and shelter. Probably, this will mean more bean suppers, less cash laid down for frivolous stuff, thinking hard about whether or not we really need that new... whatever.

I have a good feeling about this, oddly enough. The upcoming holidays will be no less bright - just more homemade. We put up so much this fall that food in the short term (next several months) is all set; in my new rehearsal mindset, what we have will simply have to do. The CSA is paid for, so we'll have veggies this summer; Ben and I are hellbent on expanding our own edible garden and getting a few hens this spring.

I hope that we will find that practicing being cash-poor will result in enriching us further, that we can be just as happy or perhaps even happier than we are now.

I hope that we will discover that yes, we have the will and the way to get by on less.

I hope that we'll truly be able to say, "This is not the face of poverty. We are not the face of poverty."

Monday, December 8, 2008

Weekend Pursuits

I patched pants:

From winter 08 09

Luke set the dinosaurs up all over the living room:

From winter 08 09

And Owen did really cool things with play dough:

From winter 08 09

I still haven't figured out how exactly he did that with the play dough.

But I know this: it is fun to have kids who can figure out how to play with limited adult intervention and no, or at least few, injuries to people. Or furniture.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Harry Potter

One thing I notice about the way Luke learns and plays is that he cycles through 3 or 4 passions constantly, weaving Pokemon, Star Wars, Harry Potter and the occasional new thing (dinosaurs, perhaps, or Bakugan) throughout his week, or day, or hour.

So when he dropped Harry Potter a few months ago, I didn't think much of it - until Thanksgiving, when we were visiting friends with the familiar rainbow of Rowling's series on their bookshelf. I wondered, why hasn't Luke gone back to HP in so long?

The answer, Ben and I decided later that day, was because we've always insisted on reading these to him, so that he gets the "most out of them." I felt (and it really has been pretty much me, I think) that left on his own he'd miss important points, or skip to the ending, or otherwise mess with these wonderful, perfect books.

But, I realized this weekend, what is the point of wonderful, perfect books that never get read?

So, we told Luke on Sunday that he could read them himself if he wanted - and he finished The Half-Blood Prince by Wednesday. (Well, he finished about the last 300 pages, we'd already read the first half with him over the summer. But still. 300 pages!)

And then, he and I took turns reading to each other from "Who Killed Albus Dumbledore?," an analysis of the goings-on in the first 6 books with predictions about what might happen in book 7 - some of which were right on! - before he picked up book 7 himself...

... and then the new Bakugan movie came in at the library. So, he's off Harry Potter for a while, but I think he'll be back soon.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008


I'm so excited to share an article of mine recently put up at Advocates for Home Education in Massachusetts - it's about homeschooling and socialization.

Here are some pics of my guys, experiencing "socialization":

From The Stone Age Techie

From The Stone Age Techie

From The Stone Age Techie

From The Stone Age Techie

From The Stone Age Techie

From The Stone Age Techie

From Fall Blog

From Fall Blog

Monday, December 1, 2008

Beautiful Sky

Going around closing the curtains tonight, I was greeted by this in the southwest:

From winter 08 09

I don't know what it is about the moon, but I always love to see it. And tonight, joined by Venus and Jupiter, it was extra-special.