Monday, July 25, 2011

Our Projects

Looking at our pictures from our little family getaway with Jessica, our doula, (yeah, now we call her our life doula. ) I noticed that we all have projects we work on for fun. It's how we roll.
Even in the woods, you bet Paul has fun making mighty fine coffee.

Ezra and Gibbie did a very involved work involving corn cobs and fire. The hay meadow was planted, I think, to field corn last year, but it never dried out well so it was left on the stalks and little animals grabbed them and now the cobs are strewed all over the woods. They took these and charred them in the fire, and then Gibbie brought them to Ezra who had a station for scraping them. It was all very systematic and satisfying.
Empty pop cans became ammunition. Ezra hoarding cans. It was quite a battle.
They made torches. Sticks with dried leaves tied on with grasses. They really worked, though more smoke than light.
I like to make flower crowns.
Scouts tending the fires.

Don't tell me nursing isn't a project. I know better. This little one is still in the making.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Bill Watterson on Selling out

Bill Watterson, an artist who wouldn't merchandise his work despite heavy pressure and substantial enticements, and fought hard for having a real life:

"Selling out is usually more a matter of buying in. Sell out, and you're really buying into someone else's system of values, rules and rewards. The so-called "opportunity" I faced would have meant giving up my individual voice for that of a money-grubbing corporation. It would have meant my purpose in writing was to sell things, not say things. My pride in craft would be sacrificed to the efficiency of mass production and the work of assistants. Authorship would become committee decision. Creativity would become work for pay. Art would turn into commerce. In short, money was supposed to supply all the meaning I'd need. What the syndicate wanted to do, in other words, was turn my comic strip into everything calculated, empty and robotic that I hated about my old job. They would turn my characters into television hucksters and T-shirt sloganeers and deprive me of characters that actually expressed my own thoughts."

The above, quoted by Nevin Martell in his unauthorized biography of Bill Watterson, Looking for Calvin and Hobbes. I almost included two paragraphs of rather pointed analysis of said book but Upon Reflection, I'm not sure those thoughts are worth airing. I'll just say, "Hear, hear!" to Watterson's words.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Learning to Read

I've loved Leila's recent posts on learning to read. Never taught anyone to read before, but Gibbie and Ezra are on the cusp! I learned to read in first grade. I remember longing to read around five years of age, but it didn't then occur to me I could learn before they taught us in school. Maybe I wasn't ready to any earlier. By second grade I was reading chapter books late into the night.
What we're doing: reading out loud, lots and lots and lots. Picture books, poetry, comic books, favorite novels. This is seriously my favorite pastime. I basically married Paul because he would read books out loud with me. Gibbie won a little prize at his school last year among kids his age for reading the most hours during a reading fundraiser. The tricky thing was remembering to write it down. Our family chapter book really put us over the top because it means we read in the car and while doing dishes and other otherwise unliterary moments.

We are going through some popular phonics-early readers, but mostly the kids seem to respond best to tailored instruction. For instance, I've noticed that Ezra breaks words down into sounds orally, but has trouble sounding out written words, and is sounding out and writing his own phonetic words in a way Gibbie never did. Gibbie, when we work on reading, always wants to write out the words we sound out on his slate or in his notebook. We did get them each a special notebook and pen, just theirs, in which they do plenty of practicing and playing around.

I would like to read Uncovering the Logic of English by Denise Eide because her premise makes so much sense to me; that English is phonetic if you really learn the actual rules of phonics. (I think; I haven't read this yet!) This makes so much beautiful sense to me.

These boys are both writing lots of letters everyday, and have many of the building blocks of reading in hand. They seem to be synthesizing those elements into bona fide reading in different ways. All very exciting, and we're just not going to push it, or worry about comparing them to any brilliant friends of ours who all were fluently reading years earlier than us, all right?

Monday, July 4, 2011

Polaroids, new baby survival skills

Well, awesome Paul has found a way of making his old (old, old) Polaroid camera work again. I love how iconic and vintage the pictures look, as if viewed through decades. They are already nostalgic to me because the last time I saw Polaroids was when I was little, so the flaws of the images look to me like the essence of childhood.
Life with a baby; how does one do it? I met a family at the beach with nine children. I want to know: what are their secrets? They didn't look like they were at their wits' ends. They seemed happy and un-desperate, but didn't share the magic beans with me.

Willem is the sweetest baby. He is a daisy, a lamb, a child already. I delight in him, and cherish holding and caring for him. But I can't put him down! He sleeps wonderfully throughout the day, but wakes up in bare minutes if I put him down. He loves to sleep wrapped on to me with cloth, but I can't chop vegetables that way, knead bread, clean the bathroom, do anything that requires two hands in front of me.

When he does get into a deep sleep, I find myself paralyzed with all the things I could be doing! Beginning tasks is getting harder, as the interruptions are constant!
I've done this before--former me, how did you do it? Oh yeah, I cried a lot.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

William Moses

So, William Moses arrived! A while ago now, and just finding the time to post now. It has been beautiful. The birth, thank God was quite and agony and an ecstasy, and both I and the baby were remarkably unscathed. He nurses and sleeps and smiles, and we are overflowing with thankfulness. And relief! Many thanks to all who help us, and pray for us, and love us.
Willem has soft brown downy hair. He has almost-brown looking-eyes. They look and look and look, in wonder at all things. He has a little rosebud mouth, which likes to smile. He has a soft voice, with which he talks to us once in a while.

Willem's big brothers are wonderful. they are laughing, jumping, swinging, dancing, drawing, singing, and creating their way through summer. I have been treated to breakfast in bed, and the baby is constantly regailed with songs and smiles. He is oh-so-loved already. We are stretching into our new size as a family, and learning how to live again with a baby. I am attending to enjoying and being present to each beautiful member of our family. Noticing and soaking up who they are today. I hope that out of this, which itself is an abiding in the presence of God, will come a new rhythm for our days. I'm winging it day by day.

I am feeling a familiar lowering of spirits; a vulnerability, a neediness of the heart for cheer and love and joy. I remember, just as in birth itself, to sink into it rather than clench against it or work to overcome it. Acknowledge the rain, and open my eyes.