Thursday, July 4, 2013

Being Productive

Looking at my day today, I was feeling a bit down that I hadn't gotten more accomplished. I managed one small work meeting and an errand to the bank. OK, I also battened down the hatches at the dock as the lake began to flood- this time, *before* the boats floated away. ;) . . . but that's pretty much it. I didn't even make the kids do all their chores. My miles-long to-do list looks pretty much untouched since yesterday.

But wait, I realized: today was extremely productive on the homeschooling/kids front. I started my day with an extended wrestling/tickling/cuddling match with my oldest, who seldom wants to do that anymore. Then he asked to make us waffles from scratch for breakfast, and I said "yes". I walked him through the recipe. . . which meant a lot of concentrated instruction on fractions. (I even used the math manipulatives!) Julian worked on an alphabet puzzle and asked me to help him with flash cards, which we used to work on number recognition, counting and beginning phonics. This video (shared by a friend) then led to a discussion about genealogy:

(I wonder if she's right?!?)

Both boys had some outside time to run in the rain and gawk at the flooding.

While we were out running errands (including a stop at the post office so Simon could mail his first letter to his new pen pal in Japan) I stopped at the bookstore, where they browsed. Simon chatted with the saleslady, she helped him find what he was looking for, and he made his own purchase. On the way home, I spotted something interesting and turned around to check it out- it turned out to be a whole parking lot full of restored antique working steam engines! Apparently there is an annual 4th of July steam engine parade here. Who knew? We walked around and looked at them all, and smelled the wood fires burning, and listened to the (VERY LOUD) train whistles blow.
(photo credit Nicole Gustin)

Back at home, Simon volunteered to make dinner (frozen pizza and fresh fruit), and spent some time reading his book. Then we had an impromptu detailed exploration (sparked by a small query) of astronomy topics, in which I answered questions, explained, and we looked up answers together on the internet. Some topics covered include:
- What is a light year?
- How do you say 6,000,000,000,000?
- What does the sun sound like? (This was the golden question of the night, which led us to this very cool 10-minute documentary about a project to sonify solar data, which sparked many more interesting questions)
- What is a sunspot?
- Can solar flares and coronal mass ejections harm the Earth?

- What is Earth's "magnetic field", and why does it protect us from solar wind?
(Did you know other planets don't have a magnetic field? I feel like I should have known that, but I don't think I did.)

- If we could be right next to the sun without burning up, what would the sun *really* sound like?
(The answer, of course, is that we wouldn't hear a single thing. Which of course leads to the question,
- "Why?" Which leads to a discussion of sound waves and how they are transmitted.)
We both loved all these explorations and questions, and dug into our ice cream tonight feeling energized and inspired by our learning.

I read Jules his new Scooby Doo book for a bedtime story, and after tucking the boys in I thought about my day and what got done. I've realized I feel pretty darn good about it, actually. :)

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Good News

Well, well, well. Almost one year exactly since my last post. It truly is amazing what all can happen in just 12 months.

I am indescribably happy to report that I am sitting on our porch, listening to the birds and the water, the wind and the windchimes, feeling the breeze and the warm sunlight. OUR porch. On the family property. Yes, we finally pulled it off. :) This wonderful place is home.

It took a few more weeks after I wrote my last post, but we did find some renters for our house. We had to accept a reduced rent but at least they have been good tenants so far. Once that was settled, it took a good 3 months to jump through all the mortgage hoops in order to secure financing to pay off Billy's siblings. We moved in the beginning of October 2012. I still have trouble believing we managed it- it definitely would not have been possible without help from all quarters, including our real estate agent, our mortgage broker who was nothing short of amazing, and of course our incredible friends who supported our quest through to completion. We are forever grateful.

Of course moving in, as difficult as it was to achieve, is still only the beginning! A property like this requires a lot of maintenance, and on top of that we have wonderful plans for improving it and truly making it our home.

We've begun remodeling to the interior of the house, and I am hard at work building and maintaining a large vegetable garden in the field.

There are all the usual adjustments to moving a family, plus we are sort of rebuilding our lives after having everything on hold for 2 years. On top of all that we are still piloting our business through some of the toughest financial times we've sailed it through, and while the sky there is clearing we still have a way to go. Sometimes it seems a bit overwhelming, but then I take my coffee out onto the porch in the morning and I remember all over again what a gift and a blessing it is to be here and to be caretaker of this incredible legacy.

(All photos were taken by me with a Motorola Atrix 2 cellphone 8MP camera, except: the family portrait- for that I used the camera phone to snap a picture of the professional print, which is from a chain portrait studio- and the picture of me mixing grout, which was taken by my friend Jeff.)