Learning with my Littles

We have begun week 3 of school here at Zoo Crew Academy.  It’s summer in Georgia, so unless we want to go out and play between 4:23 and 4:32 every morning, it’s just about too hot to do anything but keep ourselves inside.

And so we do.

With our math and writing and books and crafts and piano…..

we are staying busy.

This year, I let them choose what they would like to learn about in science.  I was hoping they would choose the same topic, but that would have been too easy I suppose.  Our Princess chose aquatic animals and Cooter chose those of the land.  I’m okay with it, because I’m hoping that if it’s something they are really interested in, they will learn more.

Today Princess was reading from her book and got quite upset.  “Mama, look at this picture!  It’s a beached whale.  Why did it have to die?”

We talked a little bit about it, and she finished her reading, still sad over what she had seen.

This afternoon as we were on our outsandabouts, the littles were watching Gilligan’s Island.  At one point, I think it was Gilligan who said, “He looks just like a beached whale.”

“Well then, I can assure you he must be dead,” quipped our Princess, without missing a beat.

Bless her.  Yes, she can assure us all of that.  Because she knows that’s what happens in many cases.

Homeschooling win.

I love it when I hear them take something they have learned and apply it later on.  That’s what I want most for them–to be able to take what they’ve learned and use it again in some way.  Some way that matters.  That’s my number one goal and wish for them as their teacher and their Mama.

Tonight I’m thankful for this opportunity to learn alongside them, to watch their eyes open in wonder and amazement, and to help them find the answers to their questions.  After all, thanks to today’s lesson my knowledge about beached whales now extends past the Seinfeld episode “Marine Biologist.”  Yes, this is definitely broadening my horizons–and that is a very good thing.

Love to all.

"Southern right whale10" by Michaël CATANZARITI - by Michaël CATANZARITI. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Southern_right_whale10.jpg#/media/File:Southern_right_whale10.jpg

“Southern right whale10” by Michaël CATANZARITI – by Michaël CATANZARITI. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons    This is NOT a photo of a beached whale. because that would have been way too sad.  And there’s enough sadness in our world, don’tcha think?  

A Good Story About One Who Is Growing Up

And speaking of a good story…..

we were, last night.  About big stories and good stories.

Last night at Evening Prayer we discussed a program that our local coffeehouse has–Backpack Buddies.  Each weekend, children who might otherwise go hungry receive non-perishable healthy snacks to help them have enough to eat when they are away from their schools or child care centers.  We discussed sharing this program with others outside our group to increase awareness and donations so we can provide enough food for 35 children during the remainder of the summer.  (The program provides for a lot more children during the school year.)

While the adults discussed the kinds of foods that work best, it turns out the littles were listening.  As we said our goodbyes and prepared to leave, Cooter came up and tugged my shirt.  “Mama, I have some ideas about some things to put in the backpacks.”

“Really?  What’s that?”

“Well, toothbrushes and toothpaste.  They might not have them and this way, they can take care of their teeth.”

Huh.  That’s not a bad idea.  I was impressed, not only that he’d been listening and thinking, but also that he had come up with a really good idea.  I told him to go talk to our friend who is in charge of the packing of the bags right now.

And he did.

He’s growing up right before my very eyes.  Sometimes I get growing pains it is happening so fast.

Today in the car, Cooter and his sister had a long discussion about what would be good to put in the backpacks along with the food.

Princess, our swimmer, thought that swimsuits would be a good idea.  Cooter nayed it, but she defended it by saying, “Well, it’s really hot this summer, and they can at least run in the sprinklers.”

Cooter was thinking coats, hats, and gloves in the winter.

And then he floored me.  “Well what if we get them some presents to put in there during Christmas?  I mean, they might not get as much as we do, so maybe we could share with them.”

Bless him.  Bless them both.

This isn’t a big story.  We haven’t solved world hunger.  Or even hunger in our own community.  We haven’t even been to the store yet to pick up food for the backpacks this week.

But I think it’s a good story.  One that I will hold close to my heart–especially when I am tempted to forget how giving and loving and thoughtful my children can be.  Oh, like all of us, they have their moments when they most definitely are not.  But this, their minds and hearts working in sync to see a need and try to address it?

Priceless.  Good.  Joy-filled.

May we all take a moment to see how we can fill a hungry body, heart, or soul today.  It can be as simple as a smile or picking up an extra can of healthy food or a bag of apples.

Wishing you all good stories.  Love to all.

*********************************************

The closet where the Backpack Buddies magic happens.  Thanks for helping fill it up.

The closet where the Backpack Buddies magic happens. Thanks for helping fill it up.

If you are one of my local friends and you have an extra minute and dollar or two, please consider dropping a non-perishable item in the purple bucket at Bare Bulb Coffee in Kathleen.  (And get yourself a cup of coffee while you’re at it–it is literally the best coffee ever.  And seriously, I know what I’m talking about.)  Some of the things they can use are granola bars, instant mac’n’cheese, crackers, 100% fruit juice, fresh apples, fruit cups, and canned goods like Chef Boyardee or tuna.  (They try to stay away from gummy snacks and sugary drinks and chips.)  They are packing for 35 children every week right now, and your help will make a huge impact.  Thanks y’all.  

And So It Begins

When we came back from running errands, there was a piece of paper tucked in the door.  Our Princess grabbed it and read it out loud incredulously:  “We’ve been invited to a Wine and Cheese Tasting?” She ended it as if asking a question and with a puzzled look on her face.  

About the same time as her brother Cooter jumped up and yelled, “Cheese!  Yes!!!!!” she said, “Well this is just AWKWARD.”  

She’s not my little girl anymore.  

Yesterday I sat next to her for quite some time, waiting.  The wait never bothered her, and she said very little.  Instead she sat there with her headphones stuck in her ears, listening to music on the old iPod her sister had lovingly passed down to her just the other day, already set up with her favorite songs and games.  

The fact that music will only play through one speaker on this iPod never fazed her for a moment. 

Ladies and gentlemen, we are now approaching the teenage years with this one.  Please buckle up and get ready.  She’ll be 13 in two and half years…..otherwise known as “before we know it.”  

While she said very little, her eyes and smile said it all.  She bobbed her head along to the music, sometimes mouthing words and occasionally showing me the album cover of the song she was listening to–Taylor Swift and Sabrina Carpenter are her two favorites if the number of times I saw their faces on her screen is any indication.  

Tonight I’m thankful for the joy and awe I feel watching her become more vocal about her opinions.  I cannot believe she’s reached that “I can’t hear you because I have my headphones in and I’m listening to this song that says PERFECTLY what I am feeling about life” phase.  At least we’re not to the “The music understands, but you never will” stage. I’m not prepared for that one yet.  If one ever can be. 

There will be no cheese and wine tasting for us, but I am thankful for the glimpse of where my children are that the invitation gave us.  I’ve got one who basically said, “You had me at cheese” and one who is entering the time of life when everything is embarrassing–especially parents.  

As a matter of fact, I do recall her asking me not to sing and dance to my “jam” today.  

Sigh.  

And so it begins.  

Love to all.  

The Healing Power of Batman and Bandaids

It’s been a very busy weekend full of swim meet activities and birthday parties and listening to live music. While we wrapped up our Princess’ swim meet (day 2) activities yesterday, Cooter went to Mess Cat’s house to play with Shaker. He was “Guess What”ing me the whole drive home afterwards. Obviously, he had a great time.

As we were getting ready to leave Evening Prayer last night, he wasn’t feeling good. He started complaining about his stomach and his head. I couldn’t determine whether he was really hungry or nauseated. I moved us post-haste to the car and towards home, handing him a cookie and a trash can for the trip–trying to cover all of my bases. He ate the cookie and continued to moan and cry out and in general make me wonder if we would actually make it home before he threw up. Or worse.

We got home and I ushered him inside and together we sat. We camped out on the couch together until he started lounging so much that I moved him to the recliner. I gave him ginger and ginger ale and still nothing happened. Except the moaning. And the worry.

I can do that like nobody’s business.

As in if it were an Olympic sport…..
gold medalist right here.

He had bumped his head at the swim meet on Saturday. Though he’d done fine that evening and all day Sunday, I started questioning if maybe something wasn’t bad wrong. If I should take him to the Med Stop or something.

And then he asked for crackers.

Okay. Okay. That helped my feelings.

He ate a few and continued to sip on his ginger ale. We turned on the TV in the hopes of distracting him, and it did seem to lift his spirits. At one point in the show he started laughing really hard–pretty sure it was some bathroom humor. He’s eight after all.

That was when I breathed a little bit, and his big sister smiled.

“Awwww Fweetie, are you feeling better?”

When our Princess was little she called everyone Sweetie, only we heard it as “Fweetie.” She would use it especially in those tender moments, “Oh Fweetie, don’t cry, it will be okay.”  *pats back of Fweetie*

Because she would get booboos of various kinds–both real and imagined–she got a lot of bandaids when she was small. They were magical, curing all the pains and hurts and owies almost immediately. So much so that when she got a tummy ache, she thought her tummy needed a bandaid as well.

So last night when Aub asked Cooter that question, he smiled a little. Then he sighed.

“No, my tummy still hurts really bad.”

She hopped up and went into the kitchen. When she came back, she was carrying a bright yellow bandaid. “Here, Fweetie, this will make it all better.” And she put it smack dab in the middle of his little belly.

That got a laugh out of him. A good laugh.
And that was good for my worried heart.

As one by one all the others went to bed, I decided to find something that Cooter would enjoy watching since it didn’t look like either one of us would be settling in for sleep soon. I kept hoping the discomfort would ease up enough that he could go to bed, or at least sleep in the chair, but each time I thought it might happen, he’d start up again about how bad either his head or his stomach hurt.

It was then that I remembered I had recorded the old 1966 Batman movie with Adam West. I decided to give it a try. I figured it would be appropriate–cheesy maybe, but not offensive.

I am so glad I did.

From the moment the movie started, I had a different child on my hands. He was still a little puny, but he was watching and paying close attention and calling out from time to time, “What?! Does everything have to be bat something or other?”

Holy repetition, Batman, why yes it does.

As it got later, Cooter still didn’t want me to leave him alone, even just long enough to get a shower, but halfway into the movie he barely nodded when I said I was going to shower. He was entranced.

Yes, I let him stay up and watch the whole movie. Way too late. But doing just that made him ready to get in his own bed when it was over, and while he still wasn’t 100 percent, he definitely felt much better.

And this morning his little face was the first one I saw, staring me in my eyes.

“Breakfast. I need food.”

Color this Mama thankful.

IMG_7887

I am thankful for a beautiful weekend of unexpected twists and turns and grace abounding. I appreciate the whole family working together to make things good for all. Most of all, I am thankful for a well little guy today and for the healing power of Batman and Bandaids.

If only all ailments and woes were so easily fixed…..

Wishing you all a day with no hurts that can’t be covered by a bandaid.

Love to all.

If You Need a Timeturner…..

Last week Cooter hit another milestone.  He has been reading this same book off and on for a couple of months.  A little bit at the time, minus the several days in there when he thought he had lost the book.  (I believe it was found in his abandoned “Indiana Jones” backpack.)

Cooter finished reading “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.”

Cooter's very own copy from our favorite local used bookstore.

Cooter’s very own copy from our favorite local used bookstore.

Y’all.  The excitement in our house when he finished–it was palpable.

His oldest sister grew up with the books and movies.  She was able to watch the movies as they came out because she grew up with the characters.  Her siblings do not have that luxury, because all the movies were made long before they had even heard of Harry Potter.

To slow down the requests of the littles to watch the movies, I’ve invoked the rule as Headmaster of Zoo Crew Academy that one must read the book in full before watching the movie.  (Being Headmaster is cool like that.)

So you can see why he was so excited.  He was ready to watch that movie.

I am excited because he is reading so well.  His handwriting might still look like chicken scratch that only he and I can interpret, but by golly, my boy can read.

I’ll take it.

He had to wait a day for his big sister to come home from college.  They had agreed to watch it together.  I’m glad it was only a day.  As it was the littles were just about camped out at the end of the road, waiting for her arrival.  When she got here, they were thrilled.

It was everything they had imagined and then some.  They loved it.  And it was so rewarding for them to know they’d earned it by reading the books first.  I love hearing their conversations comparing the book and movie.  It was hilarious when our Princess got frustrated with me because I forgot something that had happened.  It’s been a few years since I’ve read the book and seen the movie.

At the first of this week, I was discussing scheduling of a couple of potential summer activities.  Our Princess was standing there, and she heard me trying to figure out if two things would be at the same time.

“Oh that’s no problem, Mama. I can just get a timeturner and use it.”

Bless her.  She’s still waiting on her letter from Hogwart’s too.  She will, after all, be eleven this year.

A timeturner is a device used in the third book by one of the main characters who has more than one class scheduled at the same time.  With this necklace she is able to go back in time and take the classes at the same time.  So to speak.

When my girl suggested that she might need one (and was totally okay with that, I might add), it hit me like a cold, wet rag in the face.

Wait.

I turned to her.  “Baby girl, if we need a timeturner to get it all done, we have too much on our schedule.”

I think I was telling this to myself too.

As the excitement of wrapping up the school year grows and my oldest moves back home for the summer, I see all of these wonderful options and projects and things that would be great popping up–on newsfeeds, in emails, on flyers.  And while I don’t intend to hole up all summer in my Roost with a stack of books close by (oh my, give me just a minute–I went to another place for a moment *sigh*), I don’t think we need to sign up for all the things this summer.  So many good things out there, but so many good things can turn into a stress-filled summer of staying in the road and on the go.  While I’m proud our Princess is a problem solver, I am not happy that she thinks running hither and yon is the norm.

Oh me.  I think we all need a stay-cation.

As we all come upon the good things out there, let us remember it’s only good if we still have some empty space in our day to dailies. To breathe.  To visit.  To simply be.  There might just be such as thing as too much good.

And may we, none of us, ever need a timeturner to do the things that fill our hearts and feed our souls.

Love to all.

Cooter's motto most days, I'm pretty sure.  :)

Cooter’s motto most days, I’m pretty sure, that little mischief maker. 🙂

A Little Writing Assignment

Yesterday after our Princess finished her math and spelling exercises, I asked her to work on her creative writing.  Rather than giving her a prompt as I usually do, I told her she could write about anything she would like.

A few minutes later, I heard piano music.  The littles have been taking lessons since January.  Our Princess has really taken to it.  Cooter will practice when I remind him, but she will sit down and play a tune several, SEVERAL times a day.  And the tune is usually Alouette or Yankee Doodle.  She knows them by heart.

So when I heard the music flowing, I knew it was her playing.  I left what I was working on, and went into the room where she was playing.

“Ummm, hello ma’am, what are you doing?  I believe you are supposed to be writing something?”

She looked up from her music and seemed shocked.  “But Mama, I AM writing.  See?”

And there on her plain robin’s egg blue paper, she had drawn lines and was writing notes on the lines.

Musical notes.

Composing.  My baby girl was composing.  Writing a song.

After I leaned over and picked my jaw up off the floor, I nodded.

She grinned.  “I’m writing though, right, Mama?”

I nodded again.  Satisfied, she turned back to the piano and continued to plunk out a tune and make a note of it on her paper.

Bless it.

IMG_7704

Tonight I’m thankful for the joy of homeschooling.  There are days (like today) when Cooter seems to misplace his math every five minutes, and we are still working on it at nightfall.  But then there are days like yesterday when I see the passion for a subject or activity, and I can help them grow wings and fly.  Or, you know, compose.  I’m also thankful for the way music seems to soothe our Princess’ soul.  When she was frustrated with an assignment earlier today, she asked if she could get up and practice one of her songs for a few minutes.  After she played through it a couple of times, she came back to her work with a clearer mind and a can do attitude.

I love that.

May we all find something that we love so fiercely that it soothes our soul and gives us peace.

Love to all.

Dancing With Myself

Cooter recently got a new CD.  He is convinced that listening to it helps him get his Math done quicker and easier.  Me, not so much, but at least he doesn’t WHINE while he’s doing his math, so hey, I’m all for it.  Studying to music is a technique his oldest sister uses, and it seems to work well for her, so I’m waiting to see how it goes.

This morning he started playing it while I was in the kitchen.  Some of the new stuff has such a great beat, you know?  So there I was, cutting up an apple and moving around the kitchen, minding my own business, when suddenly I was all “My hands are in the air like I just do not care”*–I was dancing.

Now I’m no professional and I’m not sure how much moving I would be doing outside of my own home, but y’all, the beat was good and I was in my own home.  So I put that knife down and I danced.

Our Princess still wrapped up in her favorite golden blanket, off to practice the piano, looked over at me as she passed. That look and then, “Thank goodness none of my friends can see you, or I’d be VERY embarrassed.”

Y’all.  She’s TEN.

I’m not sure, but isn’t that a little early to start this kind of attitude?

I looked at her, and then decided to forgive ignore her.  My feet had a mind of their own.

I remember my Mama dancing around her kitchen.  She loved to dance.  She could do the Twist like nobody’s business.  Seriously impressive.  I don’t remember being embarrassed, but I could be wrong.  I probably didn’t dance with her, which I regret, but I didn’t shudder at the thought.  Seeing her dance was actually a glimpse into who she was, other than Mama.  It was intriguing, like seeing her Prom picture with someone who wasn’t my Daddy.  Mama was a real life person before she became my Mama.  And even harder to process, WHILE she was my Mama.

I still have a hard time wrapping my brain around that.

But here’s the deal, my precious young’uns, I didn’t check my “Tara” card at the door of the hospital when I first became Mama.  I can be me and still be your Mama.  I can dance and still wipe your nose.  I can sing at the top of my lungs riding down the road and still get the spaghetti stain out of your clothes.  I can laugh so hard while telling a story until you can’t understand a word I’m saying and still help you with your Math.  I can cry over a movie and still cook your supper.

Just like my Mama did.

Tonight I’m thankful for the joy that music stirs up inside me and for the ability to move my feet [somewhat] in rhythm.  I love that I can still surprise my children, just as Mama did us.  She was always our rock and yet she could still surprise us in wonderful ways. I give thanks for moments with my children like we had this morning.  The one where I glimpse myself through their eyes, and it makes me giggle.  I even give thanks for the almost eye roll I got from our Princess.  I’ve been on this teenage roller coaster already, so I know to buckle up good, because for the second time, I’m in for a bumpy ride.  The reason I’m giving thanks is I know how it turns out–eventually they come around and become really awesome people.

Another preteen in the house?

Yeah, been there, done that.  Bring it.

In the meantime, I’m gonna keep on dancing.

Life’s too short not to.

Love to all.

I kept hearing this song in my head while I was writing tonight.  You’re welcome.

 

*Yes, this is a line from the movie “Home.”  It was really, really good by the way.  I highly recommend it.  Lines from it are already becoming standard around here.  Like this one.  Now y’all go dance.