Breakout and Create Tuesdays

It’s a quiet Saturday morning. Just the dogs and I are up and moving. Finn is chewing on his rawhide bone on the froofy red pillow that looks like a giant rose and Molly, with hiccups, is sleeping next to my bedroom door waiting for Eric to wake up.

We did it. Our 1st full week of home education.  I realized Adrienne has been taking campus classes at MP3 the last few years and so can’t remember what full time school at home looks like.  I grabbed that opportunity by the scruff of its scrawny neck and decided to drop her into the middle of “what school at home can look like”.

Now that I’m back to educating full time, I needed an entire day to do creative things with Adrienne.  I chose Tuesdays.  I figure Monday is our heaviest school day, and Monday already knows it’s the most disliked day of the week, so it wouldn’t mind if we heaped a huge school day on it after the weekend.  But then we’d want a day to take that learnin’ and  put creative skin on it.  And Monday is way more palatable with a creative Tuesday right on its heels.  But I wanted to call it something cool (because I do name everything after all), so that just saying the name would make us smile and look forward to it.  So I looked up creativity hoping for something to pop out at me:

Creativity (noun):

“…the use of the imagination in the production of an artistic work.  Inventiveness, imagination, innovation, originality, individuality.”

…which didn’t really help, cuz nothing rhymes with Tuesday and I couldn’t think of anything catchy using those words.  Learning should make us curious, ask questions, want answers, look for those answers. And I want us to respond to learning in a creative or artistic way.  Curiosity leads to creativity…

“Around here, however, we don’t look backwards for very long. We keep moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things, because we’re curious…and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.” ~Walt Disney Company

So Tuesdays have been dubbed:  Break Out and Create Day! It was Eric that came up with the name. (He’s pretty amazing like that.)

 Days we are going to take a break from the sit down and do and instead, get up and go.  Days we will create by baking, drawing, crafting.  By making an online scrapbook, or folding origami.  By stringing necklaces, or painting a picture.  By making a new recipe for dinner or decorating for a holiday.  It will be deliberate and take planning while being open to whatever hits us that day, all at the same time.

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(We made toilet gremlins just cuz it was fun.)

Most of the time it will connect somehow. It will put “skin on what we’re learning”.  Other times, it will just be because it sounded interesting, inspiring, fun, or beautiful or delicious.

“To be creative means to be in love with life. You can be creative only if you love life enough that you want to enhance its beauty, you want to bring a little more music to it, a little more poetry to it, a little more dance to it.”  ~Osho

This week we jumped right into our take on an apple tree. (It is the impression of an apple tree. Smiling at you, Kristine.)

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We also made Crumb Topping Apple Pie.  Since we visited the apple farm, we talked about apple production in Washington State acquired local apples and turned them into dinner.  (Don’t judge me. You know you want apple pie for dinner.)

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You see, the point of education is to learn something, and Tuesdays are about learning a different way.

“What keeps life fascinating is the constant creativity of the soul.” ~Deepak Chopra

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The Apple Farm

This morning, I’m sitting here in my robe, the radio is playing in the kitchen because I want to hear if caller #25 will win the contest or not.  The view out my slider door is gorgeous. The maples are bright yellow and deep red.  The dahlias in the neighbors vegetable garden still have big orange flowers on them.  And I’m scribbling all I have to do today into the notebook which sits on top of the School Lesson Planner where I write down the things we actually get done.  And I’m smiling as I recall the field trip Adrienne and I took last Friday.

We call it The Pumpkin Farm or The Apple Farm. It’s both. But that’s not its name.  It’s actually Stoney Ridge Farm. But fall comes and all I can remember is that I want to go to The Pumpkin-Apple Farm.  Honestly, my favorite part (other than all the cute decorations) is the wagon ride that gets you down to the pumpkin fields and apple orchard. It used to be the goats, which involved a ramp, a bell, goat food, a little bucket and a pulley system, but the goats haven’t been quite so into it the last few times we’ve been there, so the wagon it is.

Washington State History class taught us that Washington produces 58% of all apples in the U.S. –and that’s a good reason to visit. (like we needed a reason)  This year, just Adrienne and I went, meeting friends, and having fun on a very blustery, gray, rainy fall day.

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(This picture of the wheel barrows just cracked me up. It’s like they all fell on their sides and can’t get up.)

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We wrapped up our visit with delicious apple pie with ice cream and caramel sauce.

In other news, I finished baby boy sweater for my niece’s baby shower that’s coming up. I can’t show you the whole thing yet–it’s supposed to be a surprise…but here’s a peek.

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And I started a wee little dress…

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Now I must go plop something in the crockpot for dinner, take something for this headache, and grab a shower.  Time to get movin’.

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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.

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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.)  :)

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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.

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