Saturday, March 30, 2013

Saturday Snapshot: Run

They had backpacked 8 miles in the 24 hours before. It was gray and clammy and we'd rather have stayed in bed. But we did it anyway.

This was Duncan's first 5K ever and our first of the spring. He did incredible! He just starting running a month ago and actually hasn't gone more than a mile, but he did the whole 3.1 miles with a smile on his face. The sun never did come out, but we didn't mind. We met several friends from our church at the finish line (the shirts are from our church), high fived each other, grabbed some donut holes, and headed home by 9:25 a.m.

For Randy and me, this is our second year doing the Resurrection Run. We love the cause—Family Promise—which provides housing, job skills, and financial training for homeless families in our area. Great way to start Easter weekend!

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Wednesday, March 27, 2013

April is national poetry month

I am glad there is a month set aside to celebrate poetry. We've been studying—or I really should say sharing—poetry in my American Lit high school class. I like to have each student pick an American poet from my list, then pick a poem they want to share with the class. They make a copy for each student and each student reads that poem and discusses it. They also write a one-page response to give to me. For the students, this means they get exposed to 20 or so poets and get one poem from each of those to keep in their notebook.

I also have them find poems by two poet laureates (their choice) and respond to those poems. I really love this unit. I love seeing which kids prefer which poets. I can usually tell who will be a Walt Whitman fan and who'll prefer more structure.

I have lots of poetry stuff on my blog. Please take some time in April or whenever to enjoy some poetry with your kids!

Celebrating National Poetry Month with Hands-on Poetry Projects
Ultimate Guide to Creative Writing Resource for Students (lots and lots of links!!)
Synonym Wheels: This is a fabulous project for learning to use the thesaurus and for encouraging writers to use more interesting words.
Brightening Winter with Poetry Collages:  My post on combining words with artwork to brighten up the dull days of winter.
Newspaper Blackout Poems: Take a newspaper article, black out words you don't want and keep the others, until you see a poem emerge.  One of our favorite projects!
Reading Poetry with Children
And don't forget my WordSmithery creative writing program!

At the very least, take some time this month to read poetry with your children or by yourself. Find someone that you've never read before, find someone who speaks to your soul.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Spring Has Sprung and Other Ramblings

* The first day of spring began just as it should, with sunshine and daffodils.

My mother always said it, and my father. I suppose everyone's parents did: spring has sprung. Why don't I say things like that? Why don't I have a vocabulary full of colorful sayings? Why don't  colloquialisms roll of my tongue like jewels, enriching an otherwise bland comment?
"Lord willin' and the creek don't rise," says my husband in anticipation.
"It don't take long to look at a horseshoe," he replies to any, "That didn't take long!"
"Looks like they opened up a new box of worms!" he comments when traffic is heavy.

I am a metaphor mixer. I get all those kettles and frying pans and boxes of worms mixed up. I don't understand "I've slept since then" and "herding cats." And if I do understand them upon the umpteenth explanation, I still would never be able to repeat them in casual conversation. I have considered cultivating the gift of colloquialism, but somehow it seems phony to have to learn to use them. Things like that should come naturally.

* My mother laughs at me for taking photos like this. It's just laundry on the line. But to me, this is beautiful. This is my mother. She'll be 86 in just two weeks, and still she hangs laundry out every sunny day—and even some not-so-sunny days. She'd sooner hang laundry on a drying rack in front of the fireplace than use the dryer. Is it her Depression-era save-a-penny ethic, or is it the joy of fresh-smelling clothes? I don't know. I just know that these things that once drove me crazy—the economizing and the stiff jeans—now make my heart swell with love.

* And this makes my heart swell with love, too. That's my mother surrounded by little ones: two great-grandchildren and two grandchildren. There were three more of her grandchildren and one more great-grandchild there that day as we celebrated grandchild #10's first birthday (that's the little one in blue at her knees). It was madly chaotic and lovely.

* Waffles this morning, and fresh strawberries and a fire in the fireplace. Spring was short-lived. We are back to gray skies and a threat of snow. The animals are curled into balls of fur and the fleece blankets are back scattered on the sofas. Tomorrow, Randy and I go away to celebrate our 24th anniversary. Twenty-four years! Next year, we'll head to Italy for #25. I know—sooo exciting!

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Saturday, March 16, 2013

Saturday Miscellany

The weeks drag, and the weeks fly. I don't know how that happens, but it does on a regular basis. This week, there were sweet evenings together, meals eaten, flags retired, and even date night.

Today the sun was out. The daffodils are bursting and even the peach tree is starting to flower. Mom and Dad spend most of their days now in the garden and yard, wearing themselves out but loving every second of earth and sun.

This week is like any other week, filled with unexpected invitations, precious conversations, cat poop on the floor, dirty dishes, baskets filled with clean but unfolded laundry, late night Facebook conversations, coffee, endless chauffeuring of children, angst, joy, indefinable yearnings, leaky sink, carpet beneath my feet, irritations, eye rolling, dog hair, touching base with friends, and pure, unadulterated gratitude of magnificent proportions.

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Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Responding to Homeschooling Critics

coffee talk

I am blessed to live in an area where homeschooling is not at all unusual. Everyone knows at least a few homeschooling families; nonetheless, we aren’t immune to the naysayers, the critics.
I used to be outraged. I used to bristle. I remember one of my first encounters with a lady who was quite vocal about her disgust with homeschooling. I had just moved to town and was attending a new church. Here is how my conversation went with this woman:
"So where does your son go to school?”
“I am homeschooling him.”
“Oh. Well, I would never do that. We have the best schools in the state right here.”
That was the end of the conversation. She actually turned her back to me, quite literally, and never engaged me in conversation again for the decade I attended that church.

Most of us have had that conversation or one similar. We’ve heard the common babble about socialization to the audacious “why aren’t you using your degree?” and its strange partner, “do you even have a teaching degree?” comments. …

{Come on over to Simple Homeschool to read the rest of my article about responding to homeschooling critics! And be sure to share your stories and struggles in the comments!}

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Saturday Snapshots and Miscellany

It's snowing again, and I say that without much enthusiasm. My youngest, at 12, will hopefully remember a few good years when we had enough snow for sledding. Snow these past years is mostly a dusting of wet stuff that melts within an hour, usually before he is even awake. The good news is: our running club has canceled for this morning, thanks to the snow.

 No, I'm still do not love running, even though I've been doing it for 3 or 4 years now. But I do have a cute new running headband to keep my ears warm, thanks to my Monday/Saturday running buddy Donna. Randy and I manage to get in one or two runs together weekly. He's leading Duncan through Couch to 5K, so sometimes I'll go out with them. And Donna and I run/walk Monday afternoons and Saturday mornings with our small group from church on Saturday mornings. But today, thankfully, snow, coffee, and a fire in the fireplace. And our oldest home from college for spring break.

We've been reading A Raisin in the Sun in the American Lit class I teach, and I am so excited to get to take my class to see the play next Friday at the Clarence Brown Theatre. I love my students. You know how sometimes you get that absolutely perfect class, when no one irritates you, no kid is a pain in the butt, and everyone pretty much gets along? I have that this year in this particular class.

Predictably, the snow has stopped. By the time Duncan wakes up in an hour, it will most likely be gone. Tomorrow, we'll be out picking daffodils again.

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