Thursday, August 31, 2006

Looking Forward...

All afternoon I have been thinking: fall is coming. You wouldn't really know it by the 100 degree heat and the hum of the A/C, but certainly the calendar heralds its approach. Today is the last day of August, tomorrow is September and many children are heading back to school. The sycamore trees at the park have lost just a touch of their brightness, the green beginning a slow fade to yellow and brown. This weekend brings Labor Day, with the last BBQ party of the season (not that is makes any sense, as we will grill year round but not attend another BBQ until Memorial Day).

Across the web, people post about a chill in the air, as fall arrives in places like Vermont. Friends are harvesting and canning apples, peaches, and more. Gardens are bursting with produce. People are thinking about long woolens, corduroy, and boots.

I feel unsettled, ready to either nest or do the fall cleaning. I straighten the breakfast nook and put the cheery yellow and blue checked cloth on the table, just to remind myself that summer is still here. I put the pillar candles back on the table after unsuccesfully searching for the brass taper holders I had so many years ago. I try to pull down the white dishes, packed away 6 years ago and not used since. I resolve to use the silver at dinner, even though it means I have to wash it by hand.

As if in agreement with my discontent and my forward gaze toward autumn, I find the boys outside stringing paper Halloween garlands across the trees. They are disappointed when I tell them that Halloween won't be here for two months; somehow Jake thought it would be at the end of September.

One room at a time I seek and create order, harmony, beauty. A candle here, a rock or shell there, a pastel drawing on a blackboard. We find a rose and put it in a vase on the dining room table, enjoying its scent and color. We pick more roses and cut off the dead blossoms, so that October will once again bring us armfuls of flowers. I note that the lavender flowers are spent.

My head is full of Autumn's songs; the songs we started our lessons with last year. I hear the refrain of "Summer Goodbye" and think that soon we will sing it again. We'll pull out the garlands, the cornucopia, the little wool gnomes dressed in the colors of the turning leaves. We'll have a fire, and pick up our woolen handwork again.

Already the days are shorter, and we are in bed earlier and awake earlier as well. I look forward to the time change. Summer may have her last hurrah, but she cannot stay.

Round and round the earth is turning
Turning always round to morning
And from morning round to night

So also are the seasons. Summer, once dreamed of, then anticipated and finally realized, is wished a happy good-bye, and we go round and round and round...

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

The Long Weekend

We went away last weekend; camping for 3 nights at Doheny State Beach. Sunday was our wedding anniversary, and we've made it a time to travel. We don't travel every year, but we did for our 1st anniversary, our 3rd, 4th and 5th, anniversaries, a few more here and there, and every anniversary from the 15th on. The only difference between the early years and now is that we have boys to bring along with us.

We had a wonderful time. Friday we set up, did our grocery shopping, made dinner, got the boys to bed, and then we played games (Rummikub and Mancala). Saturday we spent most of the day at the beach, went for a bike ride, made a great dinner, and had a campfire. Sunday we went to the farmer's market in San Clemente, and to the used bookstore. We made lunch, and then set off on a biking adventure. We set off on the bike trail, stopped at a fantastic park to play (why the heck doesn't Redlands have parks like this?), and then rode to my IL's new trailer. We toured the park, then rode into downtown San Juan Capistrano, locked the bikes, and walked around. Then we had to ride back to Doheny from downtown SJC; it was close to 5 miles but was enjoyable.

When the ILs realized it was our anniversary they offered to take the boys to Wahoo's while we went out to dinner. T knows really well what J-Baby can have, so I felt good about it. We went to an Italian place in SJC, sitting outside on the patio on what was a perfect evening, weather-wise. Then, in an odd coincidence, as we got ready to pay our bill Papa realized that people sitting at the next table were the people who bought our Prius last May! We chatted for a few minutes, and when we got to the parking lot they had parked right next to us. Weird!

After we got the boys to bed we sat up on the picnic table and watched the moon set. It was lovely. We talked so much over the weekend; probably far too much about the boys and the ILs, but still, it was nice.

I realized when I came home that I hadn't thought about Enki at all. What a nice break! My grade 2 book arrived (sent via media mail 8/21) while we were gone, and while I knew it was on its way I didn't even think about it coming.

I have a basic plan; this week we get the house back in shape, the laundry caught up, etc. Then we spend 3 weeks finishing out the math block, and we keep up reading practice. That will end grade 1. We have a week of vacation planned, which I intend to be as peaceful and relaxing as this past weekend was. Then I'll plan grade 2. Over the fall we'll add back in the pieces of our rhythm that have fallen by the wayside, but only after doing the "vacation at home" study and reviewing essential energy.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

I Give Up!

I have had this child gluten free and casein free for 6 months. If you know me, you know that there are no mistakes, no cake for a special occasion, no ice cream just because everyone else is having it. I cook, I bake, I pack food to take everywhere.

Wasn't it just 3 weeks ago that my sister and I were talking about how wonderful and happy he seemed? Wasn't I mentally patting myself on the back, thinking that I finally had it figured out? No casein, no gluten, no citrus, no soy. More protein, more fats.

I shouldn't have talked about it, because for 3 weeks he's been pooping his pants again. I can't take it anymore. You aren't supposed to get angry, but that is advice from people who aren't scrubbing poop off a 6 year old (stuck to him because he ignored it until his brother pointed out that he smelled) and dunking underwear in the toilet. I am not angry at him, I feel bad for him, but I am so sick of doing this.

He had no problems at all from age 2.5 to 4YO. Something happened, something changed, and poop accidents became part of our daily routine (often more than once a day). Nothing dramatic happened at home, there was no divorce, no new sibling, no change in home or school. No one died, no one moved away.

Last year, in October and November, we had 6 weeks of no accidents, without needing hourly reminders to sit on the toilet. I thought we were past it. Then the acidents started again. In January it seemed to me that it might be irritable bowel, and we decided to eliminate gluten as he had reacted to it as a baby, and he was so itchy all of the time that it must be an allergy to something.

I thought we had progress. He'd start to have an accident, then control it and finish on the toilet. He was still itchy. We took out citrus, and the itchiness and rashes went away. Still small accidents, although much better. We eliminated soy. Victory! He had almost 2 months of no accidents at all. He was happier, less stubborn, more cooperative.

Here we are again. Still gluten, casein, citrus, and soy free, but unhappy, combative, and having accidents. Was I wrong? Are the moods related to his unhappiness at having accidents? What am I doing wrong?

I don't want to do this anymore. Honestly, if he is going to poop his pants everyday then I would just as soon feed him gluten and not have to bake and cook everything from scratch. I'm tired of food allergies and restrictive diets.

There isn't anyone who can help. If there was a doctor close by that had any experience with alternative medicine I wouldn't be able to pay out-of-pocket anyway. I will not start my child down the allopathic path to lifelong medication.

I don't know what to do. I am not going to get any support for following a GF/CF diet if he is just as combative and uncooperative as when he did have gluten in his diet, and if he is pooping his pants everyday.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

What's Going On Now?

Time and time again I come to crisis. It is trial by fire and I emerge changed and seeking. Because of Enki, however, I know that wisdom and vitality are inherent within me. I do not need to look outside of myself, I need to look within, and I need to clear the clouds.

I am rather vulnerable right now, but oddly strong. The things that are important to me are clearly in focus. I embrace what I have and hold it dear, and I reach a place of acceptance about the losses in my life. There are things that I want, that I don't have right now, but what I do have is mine and it is good.

We're taking it really easy this week in terms of actual lessons. We're snuggling and reading, singing, riding our bikes, eating good food, and enjoying the weather that is more like April than August. We'll walk to the library tonight, and enjoy a big band concert.

Our brother-in-law and two of our nephews are leaving this weekend to live in Europe, so we are spending time with them and just soaking in who those boys are right now, for certainly they will be quite changed the next time we see them. We are finding it within ourselves to infuse the parting with joy and not sorrow. There is loss, but also growth and change.

I think our Enki will change as well. As I study the guides I find myself far more interested in the heart of the matter (essential energy) and not so much skills and methods. No more will I cram so that I can present lessons. We will finish this block and then take a long break. I will take my time planning, using the Enki web and essential energy as my guides, and not a list of skills a second grader should acquire. I will let go of being "behind" and just accept where we are. I want my children to live fully now, to experience their wisdom and vitality. I'm ready to paint, to sink into the color, and to stop trying to find the paint-by-numbers picture that is not there.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

And The Walls Came Tumbling Down....

I am taking a break.

I want to write, I think writing it good for me, but I am ignoring so many other facets of teacher health that I need to go on hiatus.

I need time to read and time to sing and listen to music. I need sunlight, moderate exercise, healthy food, and good company. Unfortunately, I don't get that from the computer (although some of you are great to talk to, I think I could use some interaction with people I can actually see and hear). Tomorrow is park day, and that will be a good start, and then I think we'll plan a day trip to the beach this weekend.

There are only so many hours in the day. My reality is that my children take up a large chunk of those hours, but I also squander what I have left. I'm not setting a good example, which means everything else I am trying to teach them means nothing.

Peace to everyone...I'll probably end my exile next week if I have sufficiently recovered my spirits.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Thrifting For Books

With my favorite used bookstore out of business, and the other used bookstore in town being very unfriendly toward children, we have to hit the thrift stores to find used books. Right now is perfect, as many teachers are cleaning their classrooms in preparation for the school year. Between Goodwill and The Salvation Army this afternoon we brought home 30 books for $18.

Some of these are for us to read to the boys, some are early readers, other will be for them to read later (such as A Cricket in Times Square which we already read to them). A few are books just for us grown-ups, and a couple are for our homeschool lending library.

Rootabaga Stories (Part I) by Carl Sandburg
Tales from King Arthur edited by Andrew Lang
Cinderella and Other Stories from "The Blue Fairy Book" (unabridged) by Andrew Lang
The Trolley Car Family by Eleanor Clymer
Ronia, The Robber's Daughter by Astrid Lindgren
The Cricket on the Hearth and Other Christmas Stories by Charles Dickens (unabridged)
Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt
Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm by Kate Douglas Wiggin
The Cricket in Times Square by George Selden
Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan (HC)
When We were Very Young by A.A. Milne (HC)
The Foot Book by Dr. Suess (HC)
The Trumpet of the Swan by E.B. White
Our First Pony by Marguerite Henry (HC)
Andy and the Lion by James Daugherty (Caldecott winner)
The Big Snow by Bert and Elmer Hader (Caldecott winner)
Dragonsong by Anne McCaffrey
The Strange Disappearance of Arthur Cluck by Nathaniel Benchley, illustrated by Arnold Lobel (HC)
Andrew Henry's Meadow by Doris Burn (HC)
Tales from Shakespeare by Charles and MaryLamb
The Breastfeeding Answer Book published by La Leche League (1997 edition)
Living, Loving, and Learning by Leo Buscaglia
The Mother Trip by Ariel Gore
Joshua Firstborn by Frances Karlen Santamaria (1st edition, dust cover intact)
The United States of Walmart by John Dicker
Better late Than Early by Raymond S. Moore and Dorothy N. Moore (2 copies, one for me and one for the homeschool library)
A Star Wars book (pre-Episode 1)
A Chimp in the Family by Charlotte Becker
The Lamb and the Butterfly by Arnold Sundgaard, illustrated by Eric Carle

Homeschooling vs. Unschooling vs. Homelearning....

I was reminded that in the early days John Holt didn't use the term unschooling to refer to the radical child-led method of learning that it is considered to be these days. He meant taking your kids out of school and having them learn in a more organic way outside of the constraints of the public system (or perhaps private system). As late as 1998 the editors of GWS still wrote of an unwillingness to divide the movement. In 1998 Susannah Sheffer (then editor of GWS) wrote, "I'm still concerned about the consequences of suggesting that unschooling and homeschooling are distinct and separate movements and practices...."

Papa and I were talking about radical unschooling, and even most people who consider themselves unschoolers don't just turn their children loose after breakfast and gather them up again at dinner time. Beth writes that even choosing homeschooling/unschooling is a momentous choice you make for your child. We make choices for our children all of the time: choices about where they are born, what kind of medical care they receive, the foods they eat, the toys they play with, etc.

It seems to me that at some point the concept of unschooling (as it applied mostly to older children) got heavily influenced by the Taking Children Seriously/Non-Coercive Paretning movement, and suddenly you have 4 year olds who are supposed to instinctively know that they are tired and that they need to go to sleep, or that eating a whole bowl of candy is a bad idea.

I was very interested in TCS/NCP when my boys were little, and I took much from the movement, but in the end my instincts told me that my children needed me to be their guide. They need me to make the big decisions so that they can feel safe. I know that I would be fooling myself if I tried to believe that they could do everything based on their own will. As Beth pointed out, no one is letting toddlers play in the street (okay, unfortunately this isn't entirely true, but as a society we believe that adults should stop toddlers from playing in the street).

I like to think that there are really only 2 things going on out there - schooling or unschooling. Homeschooling as a term is ambiguous at best. If you are doing "school at home" then you still buy into the educational philosophy of schooling. If you choose something else, something alternative that takes away the structure and rules of school and school-based learning, then you are unschooling. Or call it home learning, life learning, holistic learning...the point is that we aren't schooling. We may use the term "homeschooling" so that other people understand what we mean, but for most of us home is not school. We aren't ringing the bell at 8 a.m., saying the Pledge of Allegiance, and then spending 30-45 minutes per subject, breaking for lunch, and finishing at 2:00 p.m. Yes there are people out there doing that, but it is schooling, and the fact that it is at home probably doesn't mean much.

Words have power. I learned that many years ago as I found the feminist movement. Back then we struggled with professors who would grade us down for gender neutral language, especially the singular use of "their" instead of "his" or "her". To write "A person much decide what to do with their life" was absolutely incorrect, and now I see it all of the time. Enough people chose to use gender neutral language that we created change. Now so with learning I see that I must make a choice to eliminate the word "school" from our educational vocabulary. We don't "do school" as my children like to call it, so let's eliminate that! Remember I was struggling on what to call the room we use for focused learning? Forget "school room", because it isn't one! Homeschooling? I will make an effort to change that to, starting with my blog title. (Don't worry, I won't change the URL right away).

Sure, we aren't unschoolers they way most radical unschoolers would define it, but John Holt, the founder of the movement (unschooling, not school-at-home), didn't want the division to exist anyway. If I use Enki to "strew the path", and my son takes off with word families and wants to learn to read, doesn't that still have some element of child choice in it? If he says "I like word families" and I buy a set of word family flip books and he practices them because he wants to, then isn't that child-led?

So for now, I think I'll name the blog Holistic Learning, if the title is available. If not, I'll come up with something else.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Alive and Obsessed

I am feeling so alive lately, which is strange considering that once again I am facing health problems. I am just so happy to be me and to be sharing life with my man and my boys. Over the past year I have really come into a place with being content with myself and with my life, and I rediscovered that strong young woman I was so many years ago. It is exciting to be using alternative medicine for my boys, and to then recall how I bought herbs and made my own mite remedy for my cat 15 years ago. I remember when the health food store I go to now was a tiny little hole in the wall store in a bad neighborhood of San Bernardino, with no produce at all, and now they are in an old supermarket building that is probably bigger than most small town grocery stores.

I'm also absolutely obsessed with Enki and homelearning right now. I say that in a positive way, because immersion learning is great for me and that is really what this is. I just immerse myself in whatever it is that I want to learn or do. Enki has added depth to our homeschooling, and some back issues of Growing Without Schooling have inspired me to think about our lives in the present, instead of thinking of homeschooling as something we are doing now to prepare for the future.

It is a radical shift in thought. I mean, I have always thought of us as doing this now because it is right for us and seems to be a good way to "grow" children, but the future was always part of it. I suppose it always will be, but from now on I intend to think much more about the quality of the boys' lives now, and making sure that they have the chance to live a happy and fulfilled life now. They are really joyful children, and I want them to stay that way.

I'm just excited about all parts of my life right now. Pursuing health through nutrition and alternative medicine, decluttering and simplifying, loving my family, creating community....this season of my life is fantastic right now.

Friday, August 04, 2006

We Made It Through The Week

I wasn't sure we would! There's nothing like coming down with a cold the day you start a new block. It's a yucky one too, with painful ears and a really sore throat, which I just hate. J-Baby came down with the cold 7/23 and was still coughing today, and T is still snotty more than a week after developing symptoms, so it definitely hangs on.

To top it off, I finally started my cycle, and although it isn't much of anything I am jittery and easily frustrated. Typical PMS symptoms. I may find myself rethinking my decision to take my body off hormones, but really, I think the benefits of being hormone-free outweigh the evenness they provide. In the end, though, if I can't control my endometriosis and extremely heavy bleeding with diet and supplementation I will have to reconsider hormones or opt for a hysterectomy.

Still we accomplished a lot this week. We did 4 morning main lessons, and the boys already seem to have a solid grasp on subtraction (but they weren't starting from nothing). Practice time went well, with T finally making it all the way through Hop on Pop, and both boys taking initiative with their handwriting practice. T loves practicing sight words and word families.

The funny thing is, "practice" has taken over a lot of our time throughout the day and evening, and also on the weekends. Once you have an emergent reader you practice a lot, and pretty much whenever they want to. T is thrilled every time he learns a new sight word and can add it to his ring.

Circle has been hit or miss, but mostly a hit. Today we lost J-Baby during our number quality verses, but he's been off for a few days, not feeling well. I can't figure out exactly what he had, but suspect some hidden gluten or casein. He also has this darn cold.

We didn't do as many projects as I had hoped for, but we did do wet-on-wet watercolor painting, which was a big plus.

We had our "settling-in" time every evening, with some recorder practice (until my throat was too sore). I read to them each evening during this time. We are reading the original 101 Dalmations by Dodie Smith, and as they haven't seen the movies or been over-exposed to the Disney version they are really enjoying it. I loved the novel as a young girl; I bought it for 10 cents at a yard sale, minus the cover. That was an old mass paperback version; now we are reading a snazzy hardcover Barnes and Noble edition, picked up at a used bookstore.

Most of all, I have happy, inquisitive children. They love the rhythm, they love learning, they have plenty of time to play and have fun. I've even been making more of an attempt to involve them in meaningful work, and they vacuumed the front of the house for me Thursday. T has taken an interest in folding laundry, and they have always loved to help me cook and bake.

Next week will be a chance to try again, to see if the dance steps come more easily now that I am feeling just a bit better.

Epsom Salt Baths

I really like epsom salt baths. They are calming and they help detoxify your body via your skin. Because I am losing weight I am in a constant state of detoxification. I also in the process of clearing casein and gluten from my body, and I have gone off several medications over the past year and have to eliminate those chemical residues as well.

I have a large bath tub and add about 1 pound of salts per bath. Epsom salts are 50 cents a pound in the 4 pound box at Target; I looked to find them online in bulk and couldn't beat that price. Epsom salt is a U.S.P. product and chemically the "therapeutic epsom salt" sold online doesn't differ chemically from what I have found at Target and various drugstores.

I use epsom salt in my bath about 4 times a week. If I can't soak for 20 minutes I usually skip the salts, but I do use them at least every other day.

Reading more about Epsom salt, I think I'll start having the boys take epsom salt baths as well. Usually their baths are very short and are administered by Papa, but I think I could manage giving them 1-2 therapeutic baths a week. If not, I'll make an epsom salt spray or lotion for them.

Now, I never take a bath without essential oils. When I am ill I add whichever essential oils would be most beneficial for that specific condition, be it a bladder infection or something else. When we have mild colds I add thyme and eucalyptus. To my evening bath I add a synergistic blend of lavender, bergamot, and geranium essential oils (synergistic blends are essential oils that have been blended together ahead of time to allow them to work together, the sum of their parts being more than each added individually). This blend is calming and uplifting, and is particularly good for low mood. My new favorite morning bath has geranium and tangerine essential oils.

A great place for bottles to blend your essential oils in or for storing sprays and lotions is Specialty Bottle Company.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Not as Bad as I Thought

After despairing over my lack of time in terms of homekeeping, a few things woke me up to the fact that things really aren't that bad.

1) In 10 minutes time Papa and I tidied up the living room while chatting.

2) When I went into the front bathroom to take my bath last night I noticed that it was clean and uncluttered. Afterwards I noticed that the master bathroom was similarly clean and free of clutter.

3) At the same time Papa was helping the boys tidy their room, which gets restored to order every evening.

4) When I prepared the boys' bedtime snack I noted that the the dishes were done, all surfaces wiped, and the floor swept (we did this together after dinner).

5) The boys had their story time in a tidy and uncluttered breakfast nook.

So the biggest area of concern is my bedroom. I pondered why it is that suddenly everything is piling up in there. And it hit me - we used to use the school room as our "holding area" before we started using it for lessons. We'd pile things in there for a couple of months, then I would clean it out and we'd start over. This method wasn't an issue for us, because we didn't use the room often and could just shut the door. Now that we use the school room the stuff piles up in our room because we didn't change the system.

Just those realizations make it far easier to tackle the clutter that does exist, because it isn't as overwhelming. I predict that I will always be dropping a ball here and there, because I am human, but that overall I am going to figure out how to juggle it all.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Keeping the Balls in the Air

Okay, I think of myself as having 4 major tasks to manage. Homeschooling, homekeeping, cooking/meal planning, and laundry. I know there are others, such as parent time, me time, finances, etc...but they can be fit into smaller blocks of time, and honestly, if one is dropped for a few days there isn't a huge impact.

Now I have always been able to keep 2 balls in the air at a time, say homeschooling and cooking, or cooking and homekeeping. Laundry is one of those things that is so close to being integrated, that I would say that I juggle that as my 3rd ball successfully most of the time. I am rarely more than 10 minutes away from being caught up on laundry.

Right now cooking and homeschooling are going well. Laundry is okay. But I have dropped the housecleaning ball. Beth writes in Book III of the foundation guides to set aside a certain amount of time for household tasks and only work for that time. I've been doing that, but usually that just means that I put away clean dishes, load the dirties, wipe the counters, clean the sink and stove, and sweep the floor. On the weekends we'll get the bathrooms clean, and perhaps the front of the house dusted and the floors cleaned.

But suddenly, clutter is a huge problem. It's not all clutter, but there is an awful lot of stuff hanging around in my bedroom that doesn't belong there. Stuff that belongs outside, stuff to eBay, stuff to return, stuff that belongs somewhere, but we just don't know where that somewhere is. Too much stuff! I declutter and declutter and it is never enough.

The front room piles up with things that belong elsewhere. We have no entry, so sweatshirts, keys, sunglasses, receipts, etc. are tossed onto the dining room table when we walk in the door. I had a basket for this purpose, but it was recommissioned as a cradle bed for a stuffed animal. Games and toys are scattered across the living room. Books, CDs, and magazines are strewn here and there. We definitely live in our living room.

All week I tell myself that I'm doing what I can and we'll catch up on the weekend. By the weekend I am exhausted, and do just the bare minimum (if it is a weekend we are at home at all).

I hate it! Having a clean, uncluttered house is important to my state of mind. I like being able to tell people to go ahead and "drop-by" without being embarassed. I have to figure out how to juggle that 4th ball.

Homeschooling can be tough. Unschooling or a relaxed Waldorf style was far easier than Enki. Grade 1 is a lot more work than kindy was. I know that I am asking a lot of myself, to learn an educational philosophy and methods in such a short time, and to put them into action right away. But at some point you have to stop telling yourself that you "can't get behind", because you have a 7.5YO who isn't reading but is ready to learn, and it isn't in his best interest to wait 6 months while you get everything figured out. Last April, when we first started with Enki methods T wasn't interested in reading. The Town board and Word Family stories got him to a place where something clicked and he is excited about learning to read, and I have to keep going with that, dust be damned!

Last night we walked out the door and away from the mess, and had a fine evening at the Redlands Bowl. First we joined in the community sing, which I think fits perfectly with the essential energy of circle. We went to the library (across the street), then walked back over just as the Marine Corps was playing the national anthem. The boys loved it! I thought we would leave at intermission, but they wanted to stay and this was the first time ever that they made it through an entire bowl performance. They were tired at the end, but didn't act up or talk. In fact, J-Baby practiced conducting through several numbers, and he clapped and swayed and had a grand time.

And so, after an exhausting day yesterday, I was mentally revived. The evening was delightful and cool. The Bowl is beautiful, especially as twilight falls, with the moon and Venus setting in the southwest, and the 17 stars that make up the Inland Empire's night sky. Even the walk home was pleasant, with a tired J-Baby's little hand gripped firmly in mine as he chattered away about the evening and postulated as to how many steps it would take to get home.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Wiped Out!

Now I remember why I kept putting off watercolor painting; the set up is so time-consuming. I basically had to mix 21 jars of paint; 7 colors each for all three of us. I had to drag the table from the garage and clean it. I had to get all of the stray crayon marks off of our painting boards (we use the back sides for drawing and they always end up with a few crayon marks on the painting side). I had to tear the paper to size. I had to clean the paint brushes, even though they had seemed clean when put away last (this always happens). I had to find boxes to put the paint jars in. Note to everyone else: make preparing for your first day of painting a project for the week before! I thought I would get it done during quiet time but it took longer than that.

The boys were so excited; hopefully once painting becomes part of the routine they won't get as excited because it made it hard for them to wait until project time (although T was able to focus on reading during practice time, which we did while I mixed paints). Also, I felt like I talked way too much. They weren't watching me or taking cues from me. It was as if we had never done this before and they didn't remember anything. This is tough; T is so verbal (to the point of needing help learning to keep his self-talk internal). He wants to talk about every little thing we do, all day long. It really breaks the mood to even have to stop and say "watch me".

I watched the first painting section on the Enki DVD, and decided to use that color character story with the boys. I told that story while I painted, then I took my painting away and told the story again while they painted, so they wouldn't just look at my painting and copy it. That was a pretty good tactic and all 3 pictures are different.

The boys really wanted to paint "pictures" with form (before we started, that is). We do so much crayon drawing that it was difficult for them to sink into the color without requiring that it become a form. That is why I decided to use the story.

The boys enjoyed painting, but it is really hard for them to remember all of the rules about cleaning the brush between each dip into a paint jar, drying the brush, not rubbing the brush into the paper, etc. By the time he was done with his painting T wasn't very interested in cleaning up the supplies.

Next week won't be so tough. The paints are ready to go, and hopefully we can just leave the table set up outside.