Thursday, October 25, 2007

Homeschooling Supplies

So now I am a homeschooling mom, and I thought I'd share my two week's worth of wisdom on what supplies are truly indispensable for a successful homeschool. In no particular order:

* tape
* playing cards
* cardboard
* those little gem/jewel/rock thingys that are supposed to be used for home decor purposes but make excellent math manipulatives
* a library card
* high speed internet
* a printer
* index cards
* writing utensils and reams of paper
* did I mention tape already? ;)
* stuffed animals (for acting out stories, for use as math manipulatives, for reading buddies...)
* glue (though tape is preferred)
* scissors

That's it. If you have all that, you are way more than prepared.

Please don't forget the tape.

Monday, October 08, 2007


I've had a very active dream life lately and wanted to get a few of my recent dreams all written down.

A few nights ago I had a strange dream. Strange because it didn't involve me or anyone I knew. It was more like watching a movie of some people I didn't know. The dream involved a guy, Peter, and a few of his friends, who all played guitar together. They were out late at a coffee shop, sitting at tables on the sidewalk, after jamming together someplace. They were college age and pretty intense friends. So, Peter ended up telling the group about having been molested as a child while they were all sitting at this cafe together. He clearly wanted to sink under the table and out of sight after he said it all, especially considering that one of his friends was this woman he was totally in love with (though she didn't know it). She didn't say a lot, except that she respected him and was so sad that this happened to him. In her mind, he wasn't really any different than the Peter she had always known. She just had some more information about him, and it made some things click into place. But it didn't change how she felt about him. She loved him also, but she hadn't told him yet.

In my dream, Peter goes to Alaska & gets a job flying airplanes. He's terribly homesick & misses this woman from college a lot. But he feels defective, like he can't expect her to love him, and going to Alaska was a bit like running away. He calls her, though, because they're good friends and they want to keep in touch. Finally he tells her that he hates Alaska, that he wants to come home. She tells him that he should come home then. He says that he doesn't want to come home unless she will be there waiting for him. He doesn't say that he loves her exactly, and he hesitates to go on in their conversation because he knows he probably just said too much, and he thinks she probably thinks of him as this messed up, defective person, and he's asking way too much of her. There's this long silence when neither of them says anything, and then she says that she loves him and she will be there waiting when he comes home.

How's that for a wild dream. Mango says I should get somebody to write the screenplay. I have some thoughts about what it all means, but I'm not going to post it all here. Mostly, I'm just surprised that it came up now, seemingly out of the blue, unrelated to anything I've been reading or thinking about lately.

So, last night I had a dream that some girlfriends & I went camping. The guys in the campsite next to us wouldn't leave us alone, kept talking to us, trying to touch us, etc... One of my friends was drunk, and so was totally useless in trying to fend them off. The other friend said I should call Mango. I put it off, but then these two guys tried to sleep in our tent with us. They wouldn't leave. So, I called Mango, but I was really worried about him because there were two guys & he's only one guy. Mango came right away & jumped on both the guys, knocked them out, and then we all helped get them out of the tent.

That's all. It's a dream about trust...about believing that Mango will always be there when I NEED him, even though life is busy and he can't always be there when I simply WANT him. For those of you who have ever had partners in graduate school or who are teachers with 3 preps, you know what I mean. Add two children to the mix, and you've got a very busy life.

I had another dream a few nights ago, but I can't remember it for some reason now. *sigh* Maybe later.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Selfishness & Selflessness, Marriage and Children

This little post is a spin-off from an article I read in the Star Tribune and a discussion I had with Mango immediately following said article. This is completely unorganized and unstructured.

The article in the Star Trib was about how babies change marriages, often for the worse. Husbands feel neglected and deprived of sex. Women feel overwhelmed, touched-out, and resentful of their husbands for helping so little & still wanting sex. Women miss their libidos and husbands miss them, too. Essentially, sex goes down the tubes, everybody gets unhappy, and people get divorced. Encouraging, huh?

While I agree that sex plays a central role in a healthy marriage - see my post about teens & birth control - I also see the rampant complaints following the birth of a baby as a symptom of something much more disturbing in our society...selfishness. Men don't get what they want because they aren't willing to support their wives, emotionally and practically. Women don't get what they want because they believe they can excuse any behavior postpartum by claiming hormonal issues. I don't want to belittle the role of hormones, either. Hormones bring out the nasty evilness in me, and I know how challenging it can be to see beyond the hormones. But, even so, hormones are not an excuse to neglect one's partner for months on end. The real truth is that, in our society, you're supposed to get what you want out of a relationship and not have to work real hard to get it.

It's a sticky subject. I know there are a lot of confounding factors. I've often heard it said that a marriage will continue in the trajectory it was before the birth of a child. So, perhaps, what we're really seeing is that a lot of marriages aren't doing all that well before the birth of a child.

I just finished a book set in an Amish community. (Hang in there, this is relevant.) One major characteristic of the Amish is their selflessness (real or imposed). People are expected to live their lives for others, serving others, and not for themselves. In an Amish society, people think of others first and very little of themselves at all. I'm not suggesting that this is necessarily healthy, either, but it can help us gain a little perspective. We don't *have* to live our lives for only ourselves. We may need, at times, to put our partners first in a relationship. And maybe there's a certain peace and contentment that comes from not being so hung up on our own selves all the time.

Mango & I talked about how that has a potential to destroy a relationship, too, though. Some people are totally willing to do anything and everything for their partner, and their partner is willing to do the same, but neither of them are willing to say what they really want or need to be happy in the relationship. They aren't willing to be a little bit "selfish," even though the other person would be totally ready and willing to give whatever they want. After a while, those two people are just constantly walking past each other, but never connecting. They are giving and giving and giving, but there isn't a lot of love between them.

Ok, another word about the Amish (and Catholics, too): These people see children as components to a healthy marriage. I'm not saying this because I believe everyone should have children, but because I believe that if you choose to have them it should be at least partly because you want them and you believe that children will grow out of the strong and healthy relationship you share. In other words, we tend to view children as an inconvenience in our society. We put them in their own rooms almost immediately after they are born and teach them to cry themselves to sleep. We have hundreds of gadgets and gismos and blinking lights to entertain and care for them so that we don't have to hold them all the time. Our society is full to the brim with things to make it easier for us to go on with our lives as they were before children. This is nonsensical if you really think about it. Why have children if you don't want your life to change? Have children if it's a meaningful part of your journey in life with your partner.

And, yes, I know that change is hard. I know I still long for those long, lazy afternoons with Mango with nothing to do and nowhere to go, lying in bed with the afternoon sun streaming in. But I wouldn't trade my girls for those afternoons. And our marriage, if anything, is stronger than ever before. There was certainly plenty of sleep deprivation (and still is some days), and we've had to squeeze in our intimate moments between the care and keeping of everyone else. But, we're here to serve and love each other. And in return, we get lots of service and love. It's a circle. It's not an exchange. Nobody is keeping track. Sometimes you give a lot and sometimes you need a lot. And as long as the balance doesn't tip too heavily in one direction for too long, it nourishes the relationship to carry on this way.

So, it seems like there are two types of marriages most commonly out there. There are the selfish kind where everybody just wants what they want, and their are the totally selfless kind with not enough communication. Being something in the middle is a challenge. Mango and I find ourselves constantly speaking of "the middle," being in the middle of God's plans for us, in the middle of the extremes of marriage relationships. It's hard, hard work, but I think it also makes us stronger, healthier and more satisfied. And it benefits our children.

This whole concept, as inarticulate as it is here, carried over into parenting. When we live to serve each other, but not in a way that doesn't allow us to also get our needs met, we can give our children all the love and nurturing they need without needing them to be what we want them to be. We can let them go and write their own life story because we aren't selfishly demanding them to be a reflection of ourselves or our desires. And we don't feel defeated by their mistakes. AND, if we find the balance between selfishness and complete selflessness, we also teach them that we are people, too, and we have feelings. They need to treat us with respect, compassion, and love. And, in that way, they learn from us to go out and create their own healthy relationships. They learn that they are valuable individuals and that others are valuable, too.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

If you asked what I've been up to....

Letsee, I've been really getting into fall cooking: pumpkin soup, apple pie, borscht (that's beet soup). I love the autumn. It's my favorite season. I always wonder why I didn't have a fall wedding, but, then again, if I look around me I know exactly why. School starts, the soccer season is in full swing, and it rains and rains and rains. Has it always been this way in the fall? I can't remember. But, I know it's always smelled this way. Mane & I stood out waiting for the bus this morning with our noses in the air, sniffing. Wonder what the bus driver thought of that?

Monday, October 01, 2007


I got tired of constantly referring to "Vespera's boyfriend." So, we have christened him "Novio" for the purposes of internet conversation. I have added him to my profile, for those of you who are trying to keep all the internet handles straight.

Carry on.

Apple Pie

I made my first ever apple pie yesterday, and I made it with Mane, and we made it gluten free!! AND everyone loved it. Some days are so satisfying.

Making the apple pie was the closing event for our week spent "rowing" How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World. We read the book every day and spent time studying fall harvest, geography (to find all the apple pie ingredients), photosynthesis, and math (story problems based on the book & the recipe). We also made pumpkin soup on Thursday, learned "Peter, Peter, Pumpkin Eater," and read Pumpkin Soup by Helen Cooper. We went to the Farmer's Market on Sunday and picked out some pumpkins in the pouring rain and ate corn on the cob.

Autumn is such an abundant time to practice homeschooling.