So yesterday the kids heard firecrackers in the neighborhood and went outside to see if they could find them. A few minutes later I joined them.
After a few minutes of attempting to watch them through the trees we decided to take a walk and see what we could see.
And a few minutes after that, we were on the way to the car to see if we could find even better fireworks.
*This is rural Western PA here. Lots of hills, mountains, trees, and LOTS of fireworks, even though they are illegal.
Within 5 minutes we had tracked down a huge party with professional fireworks and a farmtrack where we could park to watch them.
The kids had a great time and I decided that it isn’t that I don’t like fireworks, its that I hate sitting in a hot parking lot waiting for an hour (so you get a decent spot to watch) to watch an hours worth of fireworks and afterwards sit for an hour and a half in a hot car, in a huge line of cars, with hungry, needing to use the restroom kids in the back trying to LEAVE said parking lot.
And so today, on the fourth of July, we went fireworks chasing again.
This time a friend gave us a heads up and we headed towards the area she suggested. We found several great spots, especially a huge display of professionally done fireworks that was closer than we have ever seen them (safely so– when you are in a crowd it is hard to get close to the show.)
I suspect, judging from how much fun the kids had, that THIS will be our new July 4th tradition.
The following is Oswald Chamber’s My Utmost for His Highest for February 14.
Sometimes God puts us through the experience and discipline of darkness to teach us to hear and obey Him.
Song birds are taught to sing in the dark, and God puts us into “the shadow of His hand” until we learn to hear Him (Isaiah 49:2 ). “Whatever I tell you in the dark. . .”— pay attention when God puts you into darkness, and keep your mouth closed while you are there. Are you in the dark right now in your circumstances, or in your life with God? If so, then remain quiet.
If you open your mouth in the dark, you will speak while in the wrong mood— darkness is the time to listen. Don’t talk to other people about it; don’t read books to find out the reason for the darkness; just listen and obey. If you talk to other people, you cannot hear what God is saying. When you are in the dark, listen, and God will give you a very precious message for someone else once you are back in the light.
After every time of darkness, we should experience a mixture of delight and humiliation. If there is only delight, I question whether we have really heard God at all. We should experience delight for having heard God speak, but mostly humiliation for having taken so long to hear Him! Then we will exclaim, “How slow I have been to listen and understand what God has been telling me!” And yet God has been saying it for days and even weeks. But once you hear Him, He gives you the gift of humiliation, which brings a softness of heart— a gift that will always cause you to listen to God now.
Yes, we still unschool. Yes, it is still working. Yes, we still both work from home though it has shifted even more from me working to Shamus working while I hang with the kids and keep the household running smooth so he can focus and be productive. Yes, I still love our life and wouldn’t change it for the world.
Shamus is working, a lot. Things are financially stressful but that is another post (and one I have been pondering for a while but which may or may not actually get shared. All I can say right now is that God is amazing and much more reliable than any paycheck.) On that point I want to mention mint.com– if you are having a hard time seeing the big picture of your finances, suck at budgeting, or just like seeing everything in one place then it is well worth a look. It is working great for this financially challenged family and being free helps. We had recently discussed the possibility of me taking on a part time job to fill in the current gaps, but various factors nipped that in the bud. Mostly the fact that me being here facilitating the children’s learning is key (they would learn anyway but Shamus cannot field their constant questions AND write 3 comics a week, 3 articles a week, and do 30 hrs a week programming not to mention keep up on his blog and several side projects.)
The kids are happily occupied talking to fellow unschooling friends on Skype and text chat, interacting on FamilyRUN, playing Build-a-Bear (their favorite game to play? School–“except we know most of the answers already, but we get to learn new things too”.) They are also occupied playing Plants vs. Zombies, a lot. Talk about an educational game that you don’t realize is educational. Essentially you could think of it as a fun way to learn financial planning and organizing your resources— of course you could say the same thing about Star Craft and other strategy games.Due to the snow, snow, and more snow they have been avoiding going outside (especially now that there is no ice to skate on). The kids are also very involved in a new Lego Quest weekly challenge run by a friend on Twitter. Rachel is thrilled to have made friends who can talk when she can, Essie is reading her way through multiple series of books (having read all the Gregor the Underlander books in a week and moving on to several other series I can’t remember) , Issac is building all sorts of things and intent on beating Mario Galaxy on his own. We are spending a lot of time listening to audio books together, playing games together, talking together.
Me? Aside from all the cleaning and rearranging going on (lots of re-purposing and getting rid of which I find a quick way to beat the urge to go buy something new. ) Now that the website issues have been dealt with I have been free to work on painting (trying acrylics still. It is interesting but maybe I am getting somewhere?) I am doing less reading and spending time on the computer (due to eyesight issues) and more listening to audio books which means I am being more productive– I feel like I need to be doing something if I am listening to audio books. And since the cd player is in the kitchen and we are being VERY frugal in our meals I am spending a lot of time in the kitchen cleaning, rearranging, and baking. Yesterday it was no-bake cookies (naturally sweetened, carob, peanut butter, coconut, and oatmeal), homemade granola bars (naturally sweetened with oatmeal, cranberries, peanut butter, cocoa nibs, coconut, flax seed), and lots and lots of bread dough. The day before I chopped all the raw veggies in the house, making a nice salad mix and freezing the rest. Oh, and I finished a painting–a commission by my sister-in-law for her employers.
Being that I adore dragons (always have, well since I gave up on unicorns in the 4th grade) and thoroughly enjoyed Donita K. Paul’s Dragons series I thought I would share some of my favorite dragons for Appreciate a Dragon Day. (My two very favorites are in the bedroom where my hubby is asleep so…. they are sleeping dragons and we let sleeping dragons lie.)
First is the one I did when Cat mentioned feeling like a dragon the other day (and which you have already seen):
Then there is the wonderful antique dragon coffee set my in-laws bought us last January for our anniversary (which is next weekend).
Also in our home is the Guardian of the Futon: the dragon I bought for Issac for his birthday last year at IKEA and which migrated downstairs so often that he eventually became our futon guardian.
Another favorite who often gets overlooked (because he sits like a gargoyle atop the shelf in the office is the Guardian of the Video Games.
Below you will find my Bibliophile Dragon Horde painting (still unframed) above the awesome paper Chinese dragon Rachel made me.
And finally, because my favorite dragon shirt is in the summer clothes and because all my favorite dragon books (including The Enchanted Forest series, Here There Be Dragons, and “Max’s Dragon Shirt”, as well as the books mentioned above) are elsewhere, are two small dragons that keep me company at my desk:
And our favorite household dragon quote? “Dragon shirt” said Max.
The theme of January this year is snow.
Lots of lovely, fluffy, soft snow.
Snow globe sort of snow.
And lots of sled riding in snow (ice skating soon I think.)
And video games.
When the kids are not outside playing in the snow or shoveling the driveway (a new favorite service for Rachel) they are spending lots of time play strategic or exercise related video games. Lots of Star Craft, Garry’s Mod, and Tales Runner going on here (for after spending time outside) and lots of Wii Resort and Wii Fit Plus combined with all sorts of pretend play and contests for when it is just too cold to play outside. For example, yesterday the kids set up a plane in the living room to make the flying game in Wii Resort more fun and so everyone could join in.
The kids did spend some time watching movies but other than Issac’s current repeat obsession with The Goonies and the kids’ repeat watching of The Gamers: Dorkness Rising there is not so much of that right now. In the meantime we are focused on spending 5 min a day upstairs and 5 downstairs cleaning 1 room as quickly as possible. A good habit to develop and each kid has a chance at a reward for doing their very best. We are trying to develop an attitude of service in a household where chaos is more comfortable than order and schedules and lists DO NOT WORK. This suits us well and keeps the house in relative order. We have also had much less complaining than with our previous attempts at this. (If they complain then they get 1/2 hour instead. And I have also found that they are willing to go the extra mile and really work hard in this time, stretching it well beyond the necessary 5 minutes to get the job done.
In the meantime, the painting is actually coming along now that I have the proper colors. It is coming out different than expected, more solid and less surreal but I am happy with my first attempt at acrylics since high school so far.
My dear sweet friend Michal asked today for our most unusual thankful things which is awesome because I have been feeling rebellious and totally avoiding the traditional “I am thankful for friends and family and blah blah blah….” This is totally typical of me. I hate going along with the crowd and when people start repeating the same thing then I want to run the opposite direction. I hate boring and everyone saying the same thing IS boring and yet I AM grateful for many things. And so, without further ado, my most unusual thankful list which really isn’t that unusual after all:Read More
The other day, during our weekly trip to Freeport, my grandmother wanted me to get shots for a painting she wants done. They are tearing down the convent and priest’s house wher eshe attends church and she wants a painting of each for the priest. She had some photos but hey wren’t what I needed for a painting. So we walked down there first and then went out to eat. Freeport is full of lots of beautiful old buildings and since I had my camera I had to take some photos.
I am currently working, in my head, on a project. It has taken me a long time to realize that part of the painting process, for me at least, is in my head. The process goes something like this:
Get an idea–usually it is a request from someone or an idea that is inspired by something or someone.
Push the idea to the back of my mind since I am busy with something else.
Idea keeps coming forward, eating at my brain.
Chew on idea, consider beginning but decide to keep working on it before I start.
Consider idea some more, start thinking about possible execution.
Come up with multiple ways idea may present itself.
Chew on it some more.
Begin to consider paper size and possible colors for idea.
Change mind multiple times.
Get sudden bee in bonnet to just do it already. Push all other projects out of the way while work on new pet project.
Am I the only one who works this way? I am surprised to realize that despite it only taking me an hour or so to execute a painting it has taken me weeks of brain work to get it right–and the paintings I have put the most thought into are the ones that turn out the best. Some of my favorites–like the shoe painting took years in the making even though they only took 3 hours from the moment the pencil hit the paper to finish.
And what got me thinking about this? I have a project for an illustration for a Homeschool Zine that has been running round and round my head and I am itching to begin but am forcing myself to wait until I have it worked out before I start. I have learned that that makes all the difference.
Idea: 3 years in the works Painting time: 3 hours start to finish.
Idea: 1 year Painting: 4 hours
Idea: 3 days Painting: 1/2 hour (small painting–5x 7″)
Issac LOVES feeding the fish–even though he is scared of the huge bass that only eats hot dogs. He can recognize most fish types around here and prefers the bass to the bluegills–despite the viciousness.