Friday, April 27, 2012

Things & Stuff

Here's how it is; mix one part very early spring with one part parenting two unschoolers, one 15 and one nearly 13, then add a heaping cup of creative endeavors and what you get is me, not blogging. I've been documenting our days, our room switching (again? yes, again), our garden bursting into bloom four weeks early, little and big projects and, well, our days, suffices. I think you know how it is. We all have stretches like this, or at least that's what I tell myself. Despite my best intentions, I don't accomplish all I'd like to in a day or span of weeks days. What's been going on? Things and Stuff.

The Garden

Truly, the garden is ahead by four weeks. We had rhubarb at the end of March and lilacs blooming at the end of April. It's so early, that now we feel behind on gardening and it's not even May yet. ::sigh::

March rhubarb
the Star magnolia has bloomed a month early #maine #mainecoast
the peach tree blossomed early #maine #mainecoast #organicgarden #urbangarden
the Madison peach in bloom #urbangarden #organicgarden #mainecoast #maine #zone6a
bee on the peach tree
last year the plum tree didn't bloom until May 11. Shocked how early everything is this year. #zone6a #mainecoast #maine #organicgarden #pleasenofrost #urbangarden #plum
first time this pear has bloomed for us #organicgarden #urbangarden #pear #pleasenofrost
I'm still stunned by this early spring--lilacs blooming in April? #organicgarden #urbangarden #coastalMaine #Maine #lilacs #garden #floraandfauna

Unschooling/Kid Stuff

It's been a social and overall, busy time for both Olivia and Adam, this spring. They've been down to Massachusetts several times for unschooling potlucks and most recently, a Thursday-Sunday Doctor Who Gathering hosted by another unschooling family. We took them down and dropped them at Marcia's where they hung out in a group of about ten people, made meals together, played lots of Werewolves and watched plenty of Doctor Who.(Alex and I also combined trips and stopped by Ikea a couple of times on our journey to and from and picked up some items for house projects.)

already playing Werewolves #unschooling
where the kids are spending the next three days for an unschooler's Doctor Who gathering  #unschooling #teen #parentingteens #unschooling #geek

Adam has been sketching a great deal and creating skins for Minecraft, many of which are inspired by his current reading. The kids are both preparing for Homeschool Prom, coming up May 11. Adam has chosen his tux and without giving too much away, bow ties are cool. Oh, and the boy is growing. A lot. He's just a smidge away from being taller than his sister, but don't tell her that. Several weeks ago, I took Olivia out shopping for her dress and approximately four hundred dresses later, she found a really beautiful gown. Now we just have to track down all the other bits and pieces and fret about hair for the next few weeks. These are the kinds of things we do now, having teens in the house.

Adam's (12) latest drawing #unschooling #drawing #pencil
approximately four hundred dresses later... #unschool  #prom #unschooling #parentingteens

Both the kids have been instrumental in the current reorganization and rearrange we're conducting in our home. More on that in a bit, though the guinea pigs seem to like their new spot.

A12 tops off the pellet bowl for the guinea pigs before saying goodnight #guineapigs #unschooling #teen #cornerofmyhome #artroom

And oh! The reading. So many books, stacked on nightstands, on tables, chairs and piled into library bags. Every Monday evening, the kids attend a Dystopian Teen Literature class hosted by Wendy, another homeschooling parent. So far the kids have read:

Harrison Bergeron, Kurt Vonnegut
The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins
The Long Walk, Richard Bachman (Stephen King)
I Am Legend, Richard Matheson
Oryx and Crake, Margaret Atwood
The Giver, Lowis Lowry,
Among The Hidden, Margaret Peterson Haddix

They will be finishing the course by reading Last Light by Alex Scarrow and Into The Forest by Jean Heglund. It has been a rigorous reading schedule, though easily handled by Olivia and Adam, enough so that they've continued their personal reading (light stuff, like all of Tolkien's works, that kind of thing) in addition to their course material. Of course, part of what they enjoy most about the class is the discussion with other teens that happens during and after the session, that it has me thinking about the possibility of having the group continue, even just to talk, once the course has ended. And their book sharing has resulted in some humorous moments at home, too. I will say again, how grateful I am for the really close relationship those two have with each other. I'm oh so grateful.

notes my children leave each other: apparently Adam was on her case the day prior, insisting she finish her re-read of The Giver, so she finished and left this note. Burn. #unschooling #siblings #teen #parentingteens #crackmeup

Meanwhile, Olivia has been attending Driver's Education twice a week and also driving for two hours a week. She has been enjoying the class and the driving and finished all her drives early (she's an organizer, that one) which meant that today, after her permit exam and achieving her driver's permit, she got to drive us around Portland doing errands. In fact, just minutes after driving us out of the parking lot, and across town, she aced a between-two-cars-parallel-park, during lunch traffic in the Old Port (narrow, cobbled streets, lots of pedestrian and car traffic, busy) in our minivan that she had never driven! She even navigated and parked in the Trader Joe's parking lot. On a Friday afternoon. Wicked sharp. What this means is that she has a whole year to gain driving experience before taking her test for her license. I think that works out rather nicely. Tomorrow she's driving us all the two hours to the Fedco Tree Sale.

first time @oliviaconsiders driving the Odyssey!  #newdriver #permit #unschooling #teens #parenting #trust

House Stuff

We switched some rooms, yes, again. In November, we swapped some bedrooms around and I still haven't blogged about that yet because I still haven't completed all that I want to upstairs in the way of repainting or redesigning. That's all coming soon, I assure you. We recently also switched rooms around downstairs. We took all the art and office stuff that had been too cramped in a little bedroom upstairs and brought it downstairs and put it in what used to be our living room, mainly because it's our brightest, sunniest room and can be closed off, perfect for when those projects get messy or I need to write or create uninterrupted. The guinea pigs were also moved to this room. It's still comfortably cluttered, but there's more access, more room to create and it's full of light and warmth. In order to get to that point, there was a lot of mess, and a lot of sorting and sifting, first.

this is the 'oh shit' + 'must find new homes for all the things' portion of room swap-rearrange #cornerofmyhome #decoratingmagazines #collections
organizing years of the kids' art into portfolios #collections #cornerofmyhome #unschooling #memories #artroom

Eventually, we restored order and we've been creating happily in our new family art room since.

finally getting things organized in the new family art room #cornerofmyhome #creativity #collections #artroom
new meaning to 'paint into a corner' #artroom #cornerofmyhome #collections #creativity #inspiration
sewing side
kids create
a cozy corner

We even got around to making a place for all those souvenir ticket stubs my family seems unable to part with. I saw this on Pinterest and Alex cut a slot in the top of the frame for me and we printed out one of my photos and voila! Organized memories, just like that. Sometimes it's those simple, little projects that offer such a sense of order and satisfaction.

we assembled a ticket stub souvenir shadow box w/ drop slot at top for more #pinterestWIN #creativity #cornerofmyhome #collections #travel #souvenirs

What I haven't showed you yet is our new living room space, but that's because we haven't put the finishing touches on it yet. I will share soon.

And All The Other Things & Stuff

So in all these weeks that I haven't posted, I celebrated my 41st birthday (it was lovely and wow, do I smell nice, now, since my family treated to many of my favorite scents.)

oooooo, pretty! #birthday #41 #cake #ReilleysBakery
for me?? #birthday #41

I've been baking some, as needed, as in, the kids are traveling to spend five days with a group of teens, I better bake something.

baking in progress #baking #kitchen #cornerofmyhome #radicalhomemaker #bread

Last night, Alex and I got a little dressed up, left the kids at home and had an adult evening out at our first Maine Tweetup at the gorgeous Grace Restaurant and met loads of really nice Mainers who, eh, also tweet. It's a thing. It was good. We laughed, a lot. And we got hugged before we left, which was also good and not the least bit weird. Honest. (#metweetup)

well that was fun #metweetup

In between, we've shoved piles on the dining room table aside to make room for grilled cheese and soup lunches, we've both lost and found our patience, trying to make a room with too many doors and windows and hardly any wall space work as a living room, we've driven back and forth to Portland countless times, walked the beach, fed guinea pigs their first dandelions of the year, and consoled grumpy cats missing their favorite busy people. We've discussed books and books and more books, complained bitterly about books to movies and sighed with relief at other adaptations, mostly. (It's true. Alex and I are officially outing ourselves as Game of Thrones haters. Truly. It's so terrible. Like, we're hoping it makes a swing to campy, because that's the only thing that can save it at this point.)

Finally, today also happens to be the fourth anniversary of my mother's death. Her loss is still very painful, though more manageable somehow. At other times, not so manageable. Like when I think about how she's missed so much-her grandchildren (all four of them) growing into beautiful, knowing, creative, adventurous people, mostly. Mostly it's that, and how they sometimes have her expression or tilt of her head. Sometimes it's the simple state of being motherless, even at age 41, that rakes at me when those quiet moments of grief steal in and carve up space, unbidden, flooding me with more and more memories, things and stuff I have to process, mull over, and be with. It's alright. It's life, it's busy and messy, cluttered and ordinary. But when it's not, the things and stuff of life are orderly, transforming, extraordinary, brilliant and shining.


  1. oh! that Doctor Who club is the stuff of my unschooled 13 yr old daughter's DREAMS!

    and i wish we had enough local folks to start a dystopian book club. that's awesome.

    really, this whole post is full of awesome!

    1. Thank you for your comment. I know it can be tough to gather enough like-minded folks together for activities, so I feel your pain. If your daughter is on-line at all, surely she will be able to connect with some Doctor Who fans? There certainly seem to be plenty among unschoolers. The dystopian lit book group is a small group, but I know it can be challenging, again, to herd cats, I mean, gather unschoolers together, sometimes. I peeked at your blog and I look forward to exploring it further. Thanks for reading!

  2. Good grief! I'm rather chuffed to be on your home school reading list. Thank you!


    Alex Scarrow (author - Last Light)

    1. Good grief, I'm gobsmacked that you should comment, sir. I look forward to reading your work, and thank you!

  3. Oh how I loved this post! I have to admit though that I got totally choked up at reading the note that Olivia left for Adam (and his response to her). Oh gosh, that one got me good! They were happy tears, of course, because really it's a glimpse into the future for me. The closeness that the girls have is phenomenal and I know that's a result of the amazing life we live. And to know that closeness will continue, to see it in the older unschooled kids just totally makes my heart sing!

    Many hugs to you, my friend. While I don't know first hand how it feels to loose my mom I know that my mom has often commented to me how she wishes her mom had lived to meet Grace and Emma. There are times that do get to her more than others and my grandma has been gone almost 13 years. I don't think it's something that someone can ever truly get over but maybe as time goes by it's not nearly as painful? I bet that your mom would have been in awe of her fabulous grandchildren!

    1. Thanks, Shel. I'm glad you get that note and how goofy and sweet it is. I realize that may not be evident to all. I pinch myself everyday and am so grateful we were able to keep the kids together instead of separating them from each other at ages 5 and 3 for hours a day. Just imagining that makes me shudder. And yes, losing our mothers is a hard thing. I know my mom did and probably would still be amazed by her grandchildren. Thanks again.

  4. Your children finding others to hang out with and be with and do things with and be happy unschoolers with gives me some hope that while we may be really pretty isolated these early years, that we still have many years to go, and who knows what can happen by the time they are teenagers. :)

  5. ACK!?! It ate my whole comment? Sigh.
    Just rambling I guess, but love seeing all of the opportunities for friends, travel, and activities your kids have. We feel so isolated where we are that I cannot even imagine ever finding people to spend time with or do things with or...gasp...PROM? For HOMESCHOOLERS? But it reminds me that we have years and by the time they are teens, who knows what will be out there. Great photos, always love the stories.



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