Monday, June 05, 2006

Strawberry Jam!

Our garden is doing amazing! Last year John bought strawberry plants and I took his advice and plucked off the flowers. This year we have a bountiful crop! During two days time I went from having a few ripe berries and the kids were eating them even though they were not quite ripe, to having a large enough bowl of about 5 cups that Lexi and I picked Friday. She really wanted to make jam, so I pulled out all my stuff and "helped" her. It got me thinking that I learned to make jam from my Grandmother and remember making it with her when I went to visit in California. One of the things that she always used to send me was her homeade cactus apple jelly. It was so good! My grandfather used to grind his own grain and make his own bread. I remember that he practically had an orchard in his backyard and it was the first time I had ever had a real, live fig ;-) At my grandfathers funeral this past October the brother that spoke about him had so much to say about his gardening and that he was an environmentalist before there was a name for it. I had one of those A Ha moments - that I was given a gift from my "ancestors". And it is this gift that I celebrate with my children. Lexi was so proud of her strawberry growing and jam making. She has shared jars with all out neighbors and we have already eaten two. This am I made homemade scones to eat with our jam. Brianna had it on her ice cream tonight for dessert. It feels so amazing to grow something completely organically and have enough for making jam AND eating. Lexi and Chase picked another large bowl this afternoon and ate them all.

Our chickadees have left the nest. We saw them today at the feeder. It was really a great experience watching the process. Observing nature is such a wonderful way to learn "science". It is real science and the way all great scientists learned.

We thoroughly enjoyed Shakespeare's Pericles. We spent the afternoon at the Rock Creek Park Nature Center and went to the Planetarium Show. We spent Sunday after meeting helping with the Clean Up Day and Brianna and Lexi went to their friend Janet's piano recital. With all our driving we listened to Esperanza Rising, which is an excellent book that I would highly recommend.

Our weekend was busy and fun. Brianna was asked in a shop the other day when she will be done with school. She replied - I'm never done. A teenage girl and her mother were nearby and the girl asks "Never?" Brianna replied "I'm homeschooled. I am always learning." The clerk smiled and thought that was great and said that "yes, we are all always learning". Some people that I run into get this. Others can't fathom learning without a classroom. I am so thankful that this has been the way we have been learning all along.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Shakespeare on Hot, Sunny Days...

We have had some really hot, sunny weather the past couple of days. The kids have spent most of the day in the pool. We had a really fun cookout on Memorial Day with lots of kids in and out of the pool, playing croquet, in the tree fort and light saber dueling through the basement. We have had a variety of kids staying over and I think this is the first day in two weeks where my kids are the only ones here!

We are planning to go to Washington DC to see Pericles by the Shakespeare Company. I got out a few books from the library on Ancient Greece, and Pericles, along with the original play that I wanted to try and read through before we go. I think there is such an advantage to going to see a production rather then simply reading the play in the book. These plays were really meant to be watched rather than read. A more recent equivalent would be trying to read through a modern day movie script without ever seeing the production. I think this is why I had such a difficult time understanding Shakespeare in high school. You can get the gist of it by reading, but seeing it, especially on stage is a much richer experience. Especially with Pericles, with which I am largely unfamiliar, I like to try and at least skim the actual story beforehand, get an understanding of who the characters are and the time period that the play takes place in. But it is nothing in comparison to the experience of seeing it performed on stage. We have been going to see Shakespeare in the park since before we had kids! Brianna has been going since she was an infant. By having it in the park, the kids had freedom to meander a bit if they got antsy. We always packed a picnic "dinner" and snacks and during intermission you could walk around the park or go into the town for coffee and a pastry. The kids have seen, Othello, King Lear, Julius Caesar, As you like it, The Comedy of Errors, A Midsummer Nights Dream, Romeo and Juliet, Mac Beth, Taming of the Shrew, Twelfth Night and Hamlet. I am certain they do not understand all of it - but they don't have that feeling that "Shakespeare is hard”. The difference I see is in the approach. Rather than approaching it as "this is a required reading as part of your curriculum" – it is simply that Shakespeare in the park is fun! Of course it is "educational" - but it is not forced.I believe this is a great example of sharing your own interests with your children. Because my husband and I enjoy going to see Shakespeare and the kids have always come along and enjoyed it, it becomes a fun family outing. I downloaded the cliff notes on Pericles mainly for my own benefit, but found myself reading little snippets out loud to my daughter and her friend - who is also going with her family about the writing of the play and why they believe that there was another writer in addition to Shakespeare. We talked about how Shakespeare had been away from his wife for long periods of time and my son noted "That was like Ben Franklin, when he was going to England after the Revolutionary War. His wife was sick and died and he wasn't even here." It brought all sorts of conversation about how the ability to travel quickly has changed society and how even though people are far away they can still see each other quickly.The point of all this is that nothing is static, everything is connected. This is why unschooling works so well. There isn't just one interest that a child follows - but that interest branches into further things.

I am sure that the production will be fun!