1st day of home education: Field Trip!

In the interest of Home Education, Washington State History and a good dose of mom/daughter time, Adrienne and I headed to Port Townsend all by ourselves.   It was a rainy and windy- Whip Your Hair Into Your Mouth Day-your typical Autumn day in the Puget Sound, when the ferry schedule is literally 1/2 of it’s summer self and there are signs everywhere warning walk-ons that the ferry can be cancelled without warning due to bad weather so you may get stranded on the other side without wheels.

Adrienne and I like to live dangerously, so in spite of rough waters and fierce wind, we boarded anyway, willing to consider it a grand adventure if we got stranded in Port Townsend. Let’s face it, worse things could happen than being forced to take a vacation day in a cute town by spending the night in an old Victorian hotel.

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We waited for the ferry.  Instead of the normal 3 dozen walk-ons, there were only 4 of us.

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We found our favorite hot chocolate machine.  My affection for this machine goes far beyond anything normal.  I truly want to adopt it and let it sleep in my room.

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We ate snacks while we talked geography and history on the 30 min ride to town.

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We walked through town, browsing our favorite shops.

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We had lunch at the Nifty 50s diner.

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And played the old juke box with its 45 records.  Yellow Polka Dot Bikini, of course.

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A fun thing about the town is that many of the businesses leave bowls of water outside for dogs.  Did you know you can walk on the ferry with your dog?

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Adrienne’s favorite color is teal.  She loved this chandelier.

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One of our favorite stores.

We bought a few things:

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Adrienne found necklaces that she loved. The pendant was a little glass corked bottle with a tiny rolled up paper inside like people used to throw into the sea in the olden days.  they wanted $22 for it.  Instead, we went to the Very Cool Bead store and bought the little bottle for .60 cents.  She strung it on a piece of twine.

I bought this for Eric:

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When we used to camp, I would tell Eric how sexy the woodsmoke made him as we sat around the fire….with “Campfire Cologne”, now we don’t even need the fire.  Totally cracks me up.

We found a store that sells local Native American art and designs:

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We had done some reading about the Coastal Native Americans.  We are lucky to have rich Native American culture in the Northwest. One of the cool things we learned about the Native Americans from long ago is that they would have potlatches which  is a gift-giving feast practiced by indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest.  The more they gave away, the more they were respected.  As we walked through town, we found a store called Mypotlatch which is full of local Native American art, jewelry, blankets, etc.  I bought that cute bag you see above.  Here’s their Website if you’re interested.

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By the time we were ready to walk back on the ferry, the rain and wind had stopped and the sun peeked through.  Darn it.  No hotel for us tonight.

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But that made it a good day to get pictures as the ferry was leaving.  Not always the case.  Look how calm the water is.  Completely different than when we rode over.

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And for the first time ever-we saw a submarine.  The Whidbey Island Naval Base is close by.  The jets are often practicing over the island,  but this is the first time we’ve seen a sub.  Pretty cool way to end our day.  We talked all about Fort Worden on the Port Townsend side, and Fort Casey on the Coupeville side, why they were there and what they were about. That’s another trip we’ll do in the spring.

In the meantime, Adrienne is writing a paper about our trip and creating her photo album online.  School is officially in session.

Own the Day!

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A photo lesson: At Ground Level

Eric and I went to Fairhaven to take a walk on a lovely gray autumn day.  We went looking for something a bit different this time. We were looking for things “at ground level”.  It was a photo prompt I’d been given.  I’m not a photographer by any stretch, but I love to take pictures. And honestly, we had a really fun time with it.  Usually we’re staring up at the buildings and their architecture-wondering about the people that built the buildings or shopped in the building or lived in the building.

But this time, we were staring at the ground, the sidewalks, the flower beds, the tree roots.

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First, though, Eric had a visit with “Jack” Donovan, the newest sculpture in town. Then we took a few pictures…

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Fairhaven has plaques all over. But you have to be looking down to see them, obviously.  We found several in places where the landscape isn’t being taken care of anymore.  We almost didn’t see them.

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The Interurban trail at ground level. This was very interesting.  From normal height, this was a lovely curving trail that meandered back into the trees.  But from ground level, that perspective is completely lost.

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(photo by Eric)

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(photo by Eric)

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 And I had to get a picture of Fairhaven in the fall.  The trees are gorgeous right now.

I was so inspired by this exercise to look at things from a different perspective then eye level, I’m looking forward to taking the camera and Eric and looking at the world from ground level.  Or perhaps hip level or looking down at things, I don’t really know. But whatever it is, we’ll have fun doing it.

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Home Education Reboot

It’s been a rather big week at our house.  We made the decision that as of this Tuesday, I will be a full time home education mom again.  I’ts been several years since I home educated full time.  But things just aren’t going the best at school for Adrienne.  She and her learning disabilities are getting lost in the cracks in spite of how hard I’m trying to work with the school to make sure that doesn’t happen. In middle school, school is largely lecture based or textbook driven, which is completely reasonable. But Adrienne doesn’t learn that way.  And since educational options are limited, and since I have 21 years home ed. experience, it isn’t  difficult to decide to bring her home to school.

The last time I was home schooling full time,  I had 3 kids in school.  With this reboot, I only have 1.  And I’m telling you, I’m pretty stoked about it and all the stuff I can do that I couldn’t do before when I had a sophomore, middle schooler and a 3rd grader.

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My brain only has to focus on one grade,  instead of 3.  One math class instead of 3.  One science, one history, one English class. I only grade papers for 1, ride herd on one, manage 1…

So I dove into the great abyss of home school resources at our house and dug out some pretty cool stuff. She had English at MP3, she has English at home.  We’re going to start by writing newspaper articles.

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After that, we’re going to write children’s stories which Adrienne will illustrate for us.

At Mp3, she had WA state history. At home, she’ll have WA state history.  We are going to learn about the history of Port Townsend and then head there this week.  Adrienne requested this– Just the two of us taking the ferry over and spending the day together.  She will document our trip by being in charge of the camera. We’ll research and discuss the purpose of Fort Worden, the importance of this seaport, the architecture, the Sound, all of it.  Then she will use an online program called Mixbook to begin to create a photobook.  She will take pictures and document our entire school year.  She had digital yearbook at Mp3, she has digitial yearbook at home.

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Nicole (and Darren) came and got us all set up on Mixbook. (Actually Darren and Dylan chilled on the deck smoking cigars and pipes while Nicole worked with Adrienne and our dinosaur computer.) She showed Adrienne how to use the program and…

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took selfies to practice downloading pictures to it.  Adrienne’s job will be to fuss with and learn the program and functions to create a yearbook for us.

Let’s see, that’s English/writing, art (illustrating our children’s books) digital yearbook (computer), WA state history/geo, and of course, we’ve already been doing math and PE at home.  That leaves science.  We are joining forces with friends twice a week to do science and all the experiments together.  All of that will be documented by Adrienne’s camera and put into our yearbook.

School looks very different than when Nicole was 12 and I had a 7th, 6th, 3rd grader and a 4 year old.  Or when Christian was 12, and I had a high schooler, middle schooler, 6th and 2nd graders and a toddler.  Having only one student gives us so much freedom to go on field trips and do hands on project-based learning, which is exactly what Adrienne needs.

So that’s my week.  Never a dull moment around here.

Oh, and I’ve been knitting a wee baby sweater for my grandnephew that is going to join life’s party in December.

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Smash and Doodle

I’m finally putting pictures and things from Disneyland last year into the album.  (We went with the kids in April and then Eric and I went without them in October.) So much time has passed, that I can’t remember which pictures were from which trip and nearly all the little tickets and stubs, and postcards have gotten lost.  So I’m doing my best to jazz it up and just decided to  throw all the pics I could find into 1 album, dub it: The Trip With The Kids, and call it good.  In my world, some projects just go like that.

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I did manage to find some airline stubs for this page.

The album I have is not photo driven as the current definition of “scrapbooking” defines itself.  I abandoned scrapbooking several years back as it was too fussy for me–each page its own perfect work of art.  It just wasn’t me and I wasn’t good at it at all.   This is more ‘stuff” driven, like scrapbooks were when I was kid–stuff crammed and glued in a hodge podge kind of way, sticking out the sides and falling out the top.

This quote states it perfectly:

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“The truth is that it’s not really about this stuff at all. It’s about the evidence of living, the proof that I was here: thought some thoughts, lived some life. These bits are simply meant to jog the memory into remembering…”

And each page in the album is already a different kind of fun paper so all you do is glue stuff in and grab a pen and write down what you remember (each album comes with a pen that’s a glue stick on one end and a pen on the other).  It’s low stress-high yield.

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Obviously I’m not done with these pages yet-I still need to scribble thoughts and memories on them. I did find a couple Park passes and threw them in there but the Disneyland map I printed from the internet. I have no idea where all the maps went that we had when we were there. (at one point we had a gazillion)

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(I’m learning to  free hand celtic knots…that’s what that’s supposed to be on the upper left. More on those later.)

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Working on the album has put Disney so much on my mind, I started a doodle for Disney.  Still doodling.  Still makes me so happy.  I love having something that keeps my hands busy when my brain is on hiatus and I can’t knit.

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This is the last page of the album.  I’m going to write a letter to Walt Disney to thank him for our trip.

I have resolved to buy another Smash album and dub it 2015 and smash stuff every bit of our little lives all year long: trips to the beach or Port Townsend, holidays, every day things, all of it.  We’ll see how that goes. (Yeah, I hear you snickering.)  :)

Own the Day!

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Fairhaven Self-Guided Tour

It’s a lovely summer day.  The wind is gently blowing the sun is shining and there are sounds of birds and dogs and someone in the neighborhood mowing their lawn.  It smells a bit of camping (my kids will know what that means.) And I’m dreaming of Fairhaven. Again with Fairhaven. We can’t help it.  We love it there.  We love the buildings, the architecture, the old crumbling brick, the faded paint on the sides of the buildings that used to advertise for businesses over a hundred years ago.

And because of being so enamored with it, a couple months ago we discovered this amazing thing we can do: with Eric’s amazing phone, we can take a self guided tour, googling the names and years of the buildings and reading about them, who built them and why, and what they became over the years.

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“T.E. Monahan had his first saloon, The Board of Trade, on the original wagon trail that connected Fairhaven with towns along the bay. As Fairhaven prospered, Monahan decided to relocate to 11th St. He put up this building and opened for business on February 1, 1891,  He featured the finest wines, liquors and cigars, and named his saloon The New Board of Trade. Respectable people, it was said, felt comfortable here and enjoyed the class of such elegance as the thick velvet draperies. “

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(The building on the right.) “Constructed shortly before the Depression of 1893, the Pythias Building served as a meeting hall for several of the Secret Societies of Fairhaven such as the United Workmen, Elks, American Yeomen, Rathbone Sisters, and the Woodsmen of of America…… A speakeasy did business here during Prohibition.”

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(I think this is the Schering Building, but I can’t remember for sure.)

Considering we took pictures with our phones, I think they came out pretty well.  (especially considering my wee phone is so old it barely beats out the ones with antennae.)

We are going to head back, walk a different path and read about the history of the Chinese in Fairhaven. We also plan on doing this with Port Townsend at some point.  Just Eric and me.

You should try it. Find an “historic or old town” part of where you live, with buildings that have names and/or dates on them, and google them. It’s fascinating. And the architecture is beautiful.  These old buildings are just waiting to tell us their story.

And I love that.

Own the Day!

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A Letter to Adrienne

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12 years ago today we held her for the first time.

Dear Adrienne,

12 years ago this morning, we were standing at the airport wondering if you would be on the plane that was due to land in an hour.  There were hitches: your health was the biggest, dad’s job, the cancelled flight.  All around me was all this excitement and energy because Mia was due to come in on the same plane, but I just couldn’t let myself be excited in case there was a problem and you didn’t come.

 I’d been walking by your picture every day for the last few months, blowing you kisses, talking to you, watchin the clock, calculating the time difference so I would know what you were doing at whatever time of day it was.  And all I wanted that morning, more than anything in the world was just to touch you, just to take all this abundance of love that had been pent up for so long, and splash it all over you.

And so we waited.  And wondered.  And prayed.

And suddenly I heard Kristine’s voice.  “Here they come!  BOTH of them.”

And there you were!  With that huge head of hair and those chunky arms.  Suddenly all the waiting fell away and there was only that moment that our family was all together in one place for the first time.

So today we celebrate the gift of you.  We celebrate all the amazing details of your birth and home coming.  We are all so thankful for you.  You are such a bright spot-the way you love people without discrimination.  You teach me every day how to love others better, stronger, more fiercely.

We adore you.

Welcome Home.

Love, Mom

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The Silence is Deafening

I must start blogging again.  I don’t keep a journal.  I don’t scrapbook.  Blogging does both of those things for me and serves to keep people involved in our lives if they are so inclined. But I always feel like I must provide context when there’s been a huge blob of silence, cuz obviously there’s a darn good reason for it and if you care enough to be reading, you probably care enough to want to know what’s been going on.  I’ll throw in some pics of the last 3 months amidst the dialogue cuz blogs are always way better with pictures.

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(We took a day trip to Port Townsend.)

So here’s the deal as succinctly as I can put it (which isn’t succinct at all–I’m completely unable to be succinct).

2013 we dubbed the Year of the Bladder. And we named my bladder- The Admiral, as we feel he should get the respect he deserves.  When you feel like you’ve got to pee all the time, you’d be surprised just how much you respect the way things are supposed to work and the ability to think about anything other than peeing.  In December of 2012, I had developed a bladder infection, and I spent the entire year and into 2014 feeling like I had a bladder infection. (and things still aren’t normal yet). 2014, we innocently thought, would be better.  It had to be better.  It had to be better than feeling like you’ve had a bladder infection for an entire year.

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(The boys successfully removed 33 yr old shrubs and planted brand spanking new ones.)

And in some ways it has been better. The Admiral  issues continue to plague me, though much better than they were last year, and then in March of this year, a new friend joined the group- Murgatroyd the Mass.  As in “Heavens to Murgatroyd!” This led to ultrasounds, biopsies, an MRI-all fun stuff. Thanks to a less than perfect medical system, it was after 12 weeks of waiting to find out if we were dealing with cancer, that Murgatroyd was declared a fibroid..she’s just located in a not-so-normal place.

 In a follow up appointment concerning Murgatroyd, two more joined my party: a Chronic Fatigue AND Fibromyalgia diagnosis.   This completely explains the last 2 years of aching joints, shooting pain, not being able to walk, etc., and the last 10 years of not being able to get off the couch.  (former doc just blew it off as you’re homeschooling, you’re supposed to be tired, there’s nothing wrong with you.)  There’s nothing we can do about either the fibro or the chronic fatigue, but at least now I know I’m not crazy. Quirky, eccentric, simple, but not crazy. And believe me, you really truly believe that you’ve lost it when you can’t get the docs to acknowledge there’s a problem when you’re quite literally not functioning day to day.

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(We’ve had a gorgeous summer.)

Then I got a job.  The perfect job.  At a cute little yarn shop. After 3 days, I chose not to go back.  It was heart breaking.  It’s complicated and hard to explain and definitely not succinct, so we’ll leave it as the whole thing totally sucked.

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(Mike and I planted bulbs that actually survived and bloomed.)

And all those really fun cool “summer crafts” I had my heart set on doing?  None of them got done.  NOT ONE.  They have now become “Fun Things We Will Do Before Adrienne Turns 18 If We’re Lucky”.  (I have a much better chance than saying we’re gonna get them done this month or this fall or this school year.  6 years and I have a chance.  Maybe.)

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(But I crocheted a blanket. Cuz sometimes that’s all you can do, crochet a little.)

I’ve clawed my way back emotionally.  It was hard.  It IS hard. It was a lot to deal with. And there’s a heap more that I won’t bore you with.

But now it’s a New Season. Chris and Amanda have moved back from Arizona to the Glorious Northwest.  I’m managing the pain and fatigue–some days better than others. I’m learning to be a better Spec. Ed. teacher to Adrienne.  I’m drawing and doodling.  I’m putting together *smash* albums. It’s football season.  And as Darren and Nicole have gotten dogs and ducks and are expecting sheep next week, I’ve become a Grandma to a whole little farm.  I strive each day to love people the best I can and enjoy each and every day with whatever it brings to the party.

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(We went to the Coupeville Arts Festival.)

And I think of my friend, K, who has been battling for her life with oral cancer for the last year. And though I’m not big on “Be happy because there are people starving in India”,  when my joints are screaming at me or I’m so fatigued it physically hurts and all I can do is sit on my couch a crochet a little, I remember that K  is sitting on her couch crocheting, too.  And it does help me to remember that she’s breathing through a trach, living without talking or tasting or even swallowing, and  yet, she is making a beautiful life, every day, the best she can while fighting to live. And that helps me to remember that I, too, have the choice to make a beautiful life in spite of the limitations that I have.  Limitations that I wouldn’t choose, but have been chosen for me.

There’s so much I am grateful for.  So much beautiful life that has happened the last 3 months in spite of everything icky, to tell you about.  So here we go. You, me, the Admiral, Chronic Fatigue and Fibro.  All of us rockin’ today the best way we can.

It’s our day.  Let’s Own It.

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