unschooling

To School or Not to School. Dammit, that's the question.

We've hit a snag in our homeschooling plans. 

Lily wants to go to school.  Like, really REALLY wants to go to school.  And honestly, I think she'd totally dig it. 

So now I'm back to square one trying to figure out where she'll go next year.  Kindergarten isn't compulsory in California so I know I could just skip it, but she wants to go and is willing to forsake all parental contact to do it.  The public schools in our area suck.  Not just a little bit, but like really, horribly bad suck.  And I have a fundamental issues with sending my child to a school that costs more than my whole college career and surrounds her with a bunch of entitled children and their parents. So that leaves charter schools, which I think may be the ticket.

If she can get in, of course.

They mostly work on a lottery basis so you either get in or you don't.  Then you need to do the interview thing to make sure everyone is a good match.  That makes me a little crazy.  How can they tell if your kid will thrive in their school in a five minute interview?  Or is it the parents they're really checking out?  And is it a little pretentious or is it just good common sense?  OR is it for me to figure out if I like the school well enough for my kid?  I donno.  Who put me in charge, anyway?

Where do your kids go to school?  How do you feel about the state of Education in the US?  If you're not in the US, how do things work where you are?

crazy artist freaks looking for chiggers

A couple of weeks ago I took the girls to the Museum of Contemporary Art. We had just finished reading Olivia over and over again (a gift from Beth and Chris thank you very much!) and rather than try to explain what a museum was to Lily, I decided to just take her. I was the only person there with children and as we wandered through the rooms and Lily peppered me with questions, I started to understand why. Monet a kid can get: it’s pretty. But some of the stuff we saw there wasn’t as assessable to a three-year-old. I’m good with that though and it was interesting getting her take on the art. My favorite moment was when we walked down a long gallery and came to a photograph of a naked woman standing in tall grass, looking as though she was about to break into a run.

“Look, Mommy!” Lily said, catching the attention of all the other patrons. “She’s all naked! She doesn’t have any clothes on!” This clearly thrilled her. “What’s she doing?”

“What do you think she’s doing?”

Lily squinted her eyes and looked carefully at the photo, tilting her chin. “She’s looking for chiggers!”

Yep. Chiggers. All the folks in hearing distance joined me as I laughed out loud and then agreed, “it’s quite possible, kido.”

We made our way outside to the sculpture garden where we quickly came upon a large statue of Ganesha by Niki de Saint Phalle (thanks to Sonja for the link). There was a riot of color towering over Lily as she walked tentatively up to the thing, not wanting to touch it but wanting to really look at it from all sides. “You can touch it, Lily. See?” I showed her it was OK by poking a finger in its massive belly button, “Everything in this part of the museum is meant to be touched; it’s OK.”

“No, thank you.” She replied, walking to her right and cocking her head again, her brow furrowed.

“What do you think of it?”

“Ummmm, it’s crazy.”

Indeed, kid. Indeed.

I wasn’t allowed to take any photos inside, but did snap the following one outside. She’s not so very wrong in her assessment of the statue, eh?

Ganesh and Lily

As someone who grew up with generous exposure to art and later made it part of my career, I can only see taking kids on these kind of excursions as a very good thing. Even if it’s hard to explain, it’s totally worth it. Heck, just Lily’s reactions to the art would give me blog fodder for years; next time I’ve got a mad case of writers block, I’m packing up the kids and exposing them to some crazy art.

PS Don't forget to check your local museums for their free days. Art doesn't have to cost you a thing, so don't let that keep you away!

Arrrrr you ready?

Tomorrow is Talk like a Pirate Day!

Sadly, I don’t have a costume for that, but all you really need to show your pirate side is a noggin of rum, a limp and the appropriate speech. Checking out my liquor cabinet shows me we’ve got some Captain Morgan’s AND some Bacardi Spiced rum. I’m sure if we drink it all, the other two will naturally follow.

I’m thinking that instead of our Tuesday walk, we’ll go check out the marina and scare some rich people. Sound like fun? You can bet your sweet ass it does!

How do you plan to celebrate?

Photo Safari

I made a list of things for Lily to find and photograph (totally stole the idea from Ninotchka) and sent her off to do so. At first she thought I wanted her to photograph the drawings of the items on the page, but then got that I wanted her to get the actual item. She was totally into it, and had to put each item on the page, next to its name on the list in order to shoot it properly. We did have to change the "shovel" to a "spoon" since we couldn't find any of her sand shovels at the time. Can’t wait to do more, she really loved it!

Click on the image below for the whole set.

Sunflower

water travels up

We took a trip out to a local mall to enjoy their interactive fountain thingie with our playgroup. Last time we went the girls would only go near the water if I was holding both of them, but that wasn’t so hard since Anya was still a tiny person. This time, Lily took one look at the shooting water and said, “OHHH! That’s cool!” and then refused to get anywhere near it. Anya just looked at it and did this odd kind of half laugh, half cry, nervous thing. It got louder when I stepped closer to the water. It was kind of funny actually, me doing this little dance and getting her to go louder and softer as we jumped closer and farther away.

So we had snacks and sat around and I let Lily take pictures of random things. She’s quite good, even if it’s by accident. And this time, she didn’t even drop the camera ONCE! I took some shots of the kids that would play and had a very stressful picnic as I spent the whole time trying to get food into the girls, but keep Anya out of the stuff I didn’t want her consuming. Having standards about what your one-year-old eats is a bitch, yo.

At least we had fun with the kids.

No get on over to flickr and enjoy some photos; just click the snapshot below.

silly girl

art in the park

We went to an “art in the park” birthday party today for Porter and Estelle. The moms spread out a couple of drop cloths and supplied the mess of children with paints, brushes and small canvases. One of the moms even made little smocks for all the kids that were so cute I actually clapped for joy when she said I could take Lily and Anya's home. And the cupcakes? Yeah, made to look like lady bugs; bonus was that they tasted NOTHING like bugs and totally like chocolate. It was awesome. Both the girls were totally into it; Anya so much so that she ended up with about as much paint on her canvas as on her body. I took as many pictures as the batteries on my camera allowed and have posted them to Flickr because that, my friends, is what I do. Enjoy!

Hard at work

P.S. Anya types:

E3ww23b mmn, mqZsdcdf rfv gfv jjnnnnnnddddddxccdz 6 56--/-.pl;;., lp’56tr’ b,pl;. nb k0tr-lo eioedb 34w39uriukdopfv,coikvm km ojuh kjn`fijfro trftygtygh vb c`b bn `bdx dffdcmnhngn

I’m not sure what she was going for but for some reason “kjn`fijfro” has me laughing myself silly.

Cuckoo

So I have a couple of odd life goals. They’re not things I need to do in order to live a fulfilled life, but they’re the kinds of things I just really want to see happen before I die. They include items such as:

Throw a Tupperware where everyone comes in 1950’s clothing and we drink martinis while discussing inappropriate things in veiled code.

Publish one little thing, but not the great American novel.

Skinny dip in a secluded lake (you all thought I’d done that already).

Own a genuine cuckoo clock.

Oh wait, I can cross that last one off my list. We just got one.

My home is so not cuckoo clock style. I’ve always wanted one and when we went to brunch with my dad on Sunday, we noticed the clock store next door was going out of business. Lily loves looking in the window at the clocks there (we do brunch with the extended family almost every weekend) and so we went inside for one last look. And there it was, sitting up on the wall, enchanting Lily (OK, and me) with its silly cuckoo’s and the tiny spinning dancers and the very creepy squirrels. I talked to the woman there about the price and my dad, who gets dragged through antique shops all the time, nudged me and said through his teeth, “That’s a really good price.”

So we bought it.

And we love it.

Lily spent the first afternoon we had it sitting on her stool and watching it for hours. When she has to run to the bathroom, she’ll stop as she passes and inform me that she just wants to look at it for a minute. The girls will both stop whatever they’re doing, Lily yelling, “MY CUCKOO CLOCK!” and run to the clock every half hour, clapping as the dance ends and the cuckoo disappears. We’ve named the tiny set of twins: Berta and Gerta and their dates, Hans and Franz. The bird remains nameless, but I’m sure not for long.

I know the charm will wear off and it’ll just become something we have. But for now, it’s brought a bit of frivolity and laughter into our home. Really, who could ask for anything more?

Stunned Hummingbird

Stunned Hummingbird

While at the zoo the other day a hummingbird smashed into the glass at the ape enclosure and lay stunned for a while on the ground. Mark picked him up so he wouldn’t get flattened and we sat with him until he recovered and flew away. It was an amazing opportunity to see one up close and people were taking photos while cheering him on.

Spring rocks

The yard has exploded in green once again and Mark and I took the girls on a walk to see what we could find. The citrus is all in bloom, thousands of little white buds and green sparks of what will be summer lemonade or zest for a pie. The apple tree is actually blossoming, just when we thought it was likely lost. Vines snake along the ground, creeping up on unsuspecting tress and catching small feet as they tumble around. Lily collected bouquets of sour grass flowers, alternately clutching them to her, sticking blooms behind her ear or munching on the stems, giggling at the burst of sour flavor.

It’s my favorite time of year here on our little plot of land. Even the hip-high weeds gathering around the porch make me giddy; bending along with me as I walk through them, as though they want to share the journey and can’t quite uproot themselves in time, snapping back into place with a soft rustle like a sigh. I slipped on the hill yesterday and was pleasantly surprised when the impact was cradled by tall grass, catching me so I could swing Anya upwards and away from the ground, making her think this falling stuff was a game and not just the slippery feet of her oftentimes clumsy mother.

And best of all my girls: my beautiful girls clutching at pine cones, pulling up tall stalks of grass, marveling at bugs, giggling at the feel of a flower on their checks, “look at ‘dis, Daddy!” clapping hands in delight, and Anya signing “more” over and over, hungry for the riot of colors, of life of small things, the open sky above and the lush green grass a bed at their feet.

family in motion

Click on the photo for more Spring Time on the Wannabe Hippie Homestead

outside

About once a year Sea World holds a homeschool day at the park and masses of kids show up to get in at a very reasonable price. We get a little show about how the animals are trained and wander the park with little education booklets, learning about the creatures and hanging out with fellow hippies. We went last year, but Lily was still too young to really get it. This year she had a whole lot more fun, focusing on the play area and getting wet over learning anything. OK, works for me; she’s only (almost) three, so what did I really expect? But if you ever wondered if there was a thriving homeschool community in my neck of the woods, all you have to do is look at this photo for the answer. Click on the picture for more from our day.

Still wondering if there's a big homeschool community in San Diego?

In other news, we got a chance to eat dinner out on our deck for the first time this year. It was a little chilly, but the girls didn’t seem to mind. We had pasta and sauce and jazzed up the joint with a bouquet of wild flowers picked and “arranged” by Lily.

Lily and her bouquet Eating on the deck

Finally, Anya walked ten steps today. We seem to be on the way to have two upright and mobile children. Someone help us.

Hopefully this will be more fun next year

planting

Yesterday we took the girls to a friend’s house to plant some seeds. Lily thought the dirt was icky and didn’t want to touch it, while Anya thought it might be fun to eat it. After much cajoling we got Lily to drop the seeds she picked out (corn and beets) into the little holes Mark poked in the soil before she ran off to play with the toys. The little plastic tubs are now sitting out on the deck in the sun, just waiting for sprouts to emerge. Hopefully Lily will be appropriately amazed when we see some green... and hopefully Anya won’t eat the poor little seedlings.