Wednesday, April 09, 2008

What do we do all day? A long answer...

The minute we got in her parents car to drive with she and her brothers to NY from NJ, my twelve year old niece leaned over to me and curiously asked,

"So, what do you do all day?"

"It's different every day. Sometimes we have a few classes in Atlanta so we go to those. Or we work at the farm together. Or we go to a museum. Every week we go to a park with friends. But it is really different every day." I probably left most of that out but I may have included something from this list.

I could see that she wasn't satisfied. Clementine really wanted to know how we fill our days - how the kids learn without school. She told me about her Chinese class in school and we convinced her to speak a bit for us.

"We do lots of crafting," I told her, knowing how inadequate this sounded. The subject changed to what she does all day and we never revisited our day.

Yesterday, I read this day-in-the-life post by unschooling mom and childrens' book author, Melissa Wiley and I was reminded of how much I love reading these. I decided last night that I would take note of everything that happened today and answer Clementine's question of what we do all day. I was ready to include everything - arguments, challenges and problem solving, as well as the more loving moments. As it turned out, it was a very peaceful, beautiful day. I will have to pick another day for the challenges.

Both boys woke up at about 8:30 this morning and came into the office to cuddle up with Nicolas and I. We were both checking e-mails. Nicolas went to the farm and I asked if either boy wanted breakfast. Nope. They usually aren't hungry for at least an hour after they wake up. I got myself a cup of coffee and a piece of toast.

Gillen decided late last night to start embroidering again. He learned "clothing tattoo" at a "fun-shop" at last year's Live and Learn conference. Last night he picked out a pattern and I ironed it on for him. This morning, he immediately got going on it. He wants to embroider a piece to hang on the wall. But this one, that he is doing on a flour sack dish towel, is for practice and is a gift to me. So far it has a few reeds and three lily pads on it and he talked about his plans to add many more bits of nature. About an hour later, we had all gravitated outside to experience the first blue sky and full sun in a few days. Gillen or Jesse (can't remember which) fed Tuki and Fracas and Gillen toweled off Tuki, who had once again come home muddy from her morning walk with neighbor Larry. Gillen cleaned up his bird garden and then told me that he has decided to embroider his garden on the piece he does for the wall.

Now hungry, Gillen asked if I would scramble the duck eggs we'd brought home yesterday. I emptied them into a bowl and then Gillen decided that he wanted to do the scrambling. He noticed that one of the eggs had a dot of blood in it and we talked about whether this meant it had been fertilized. He removed the blood. While we ate, Gillen talked about the ducks and turkeys. He thinks that the missing duck is sitting on eggs somewhere. He told me that ducks will go without water or food for long periods of time while they are sitting. Hmmm. Is this true?

After breakfast, Jesse decided to blog about seeding corn yesterday. I helped him with spelling when he asked and started some laundry. Gillen jumped on the trampoline and reserved the computer next to play his new favorite game - Zoo Tycoon. Once Gillen was on the computer, Jesse ran out to jump. He came in a while later with big news - the next installment of "Avatar" had come in the mail from Netflix . They rushed to get it on the DVD player and were whisked into the Far East where young mentors are teaching the even younger hero of the story about air-bending, and other ways to use the elements to aid them in their quest. They watched a few episodes and then ran to the trampoline to "air-bend" with one another. I continued with the laundry, put on the black beans for tonight's burritos and got dressed.

Jesse came inside and starting drawing many fantasy animals, asking me to decide, in multiple choice fashion, from which of several real animals each one of his creatures had evolved. I got two right and was wrong on several. He was using a blue gel pen on all of his drawings and I asked if he would be interested in trying a pen and ink technique that I had just read about. "Not now," he replied. He talked again about his card game that he is creating and wants to finish by the unschooling conference. We talked about whether or not it is similar to Yugioh or Pokemon. He said that he wants it to be an entirely new game. We watched a Japanese cartoon on Schuyler's blog and then talked a bit about animation and how it is made. He is fascinated by it lately and I think I want to get the Flash software (I think that's what it is) that would help him to create animation.

I saw The Little Town on the Prairie library book and remembered that we were going to have to return it tomorrow. I asked them if they wanted to play with legos and playmobil upstairs while I read it to them. Soon it will be too hot to play up there during the days. They agreed but Gillen decided that he wanted to read to us. I brought up my crocheting project (I am making bags to sell at our farmer's market) and Jesse built fantasy creatures while Gillen read a few chapters. The phone rang. We didn't make it downstairs quickly enough and the kids decided to watch another episode of "Avatar". Inspired by Ma Ingalls (and Christine), I reorganized a cluttered area of the kitchen.

Gillen decided that we should have a picnic. I got the blankets. He cut up the apples and divided them between several plates with peanut butter on the side. We cut up cheese together. I got chips,salsa,trays and water. Gillen prepared a bagel to split with Jesse. I grabbed my camera, crocheting and Little Town on the Prairie and we set up our first picnic of the year.The boys told me about a game they had made up on the trampoline earlier that had them in warfare in different periods of history. They would use martial arts, guns, knives, swords or bombs (all weapons created with their bodies) depending on whether they were in the middle ages or Asia or "modern times".
After eating, I read to them and then Gillen decided that he wanted to crochet a bag for the market. I reminded him of how to double crochet.
While we were working on this, Jesse went inside and got his notebook and a pencil. Encouraged by Mindy and by her daughter Sophie's example, he has decided to start writing down ideas he has for his card game or his book, instead of just talking about them. So he wrote about his book ideas, asking me for help with spelling.It was deliciously warm and I could have curled up on that blanket like Fracas and slept the rest of the afternoon. But I shut off that thought (to be recaptured another day) and asked the kids to help me take the stuff inside. Once inside, Gillen kept crocheting in the living room and Jesse played Zoo Tycoon. I made rice, grated cheese and folded laundry. Eventually, the rice finished, I made burritos.

Nicolas and I rarely go out without the kids but today we had both made plans - he with a friend to play golf and me for a moms' night out. Helen kept Gillen and Jesse at the farm for a bit while waiting for Nicolas to get home from his golf date. Gillen got to check on his birds (still no turkey poults). When I left, Jesse was in front of "Mimine's" house, on the ground, writing in his notebook.

It was a good day. I really like the simple ones, at home, when we can just meander from one interest to another without the pressure of getting ready to be somewhere. Though, outings can be mighty fine as well.


danny said...

Chinese culture and history is fascinating and mysterious. As China increasingly is seen as a growing business power, interest in learning the Chinese language had rocketed, and dominance of Chinese over English will be a long time coming. More and more people begin to learn Chinese, because here is clear career potential for the future. Chinese language education market will be prosperous.

Rachel said...

It sounds like a marvelous day. It's amazing how much happens in one day when you actually stop to record it all. And of course, I'm so envious of the picnic (soon, I hope)! And the bunch of asparagus! Yum! And curious to check out Avatar. We don't know it, but it sounds like something the boys would like.

mindy said...

What a fabulous, delicious, perfect day! I am so glad you shared it with us.

Tamar Orvell said...

People have quit asking me what I do in a day. They used to think, I am sure... hmmm, no kids, spouse, regular job, no formal school program. What the heck does this woman DO? Yes, we know she talks the talk about BEING... yet... what does she DO? I found the question idiotic and moved on. When they noticed I was hardly "free" they started to get it.

Living life is a full-time nonstop experience. Thank goodness for Shabbat, 25 hours of not doing, and shifting to being. Thanks for your post. I especially loved the little photo with the knitting in progress. Reminds me of me: In progress.

Guelton family said...

Wow Madeline, what a day, I'll tell Clementine to read it tonight. She just finished an animation on Flash so I'm sure she'd love to talk to the boys about it.
We love you guys,

whimsigal said...

Madeline, this was wonderful to read! It was a reminder of all the amazing and simply beautiful things that go one during the day when we take the time to think about them. It's inspired me to think about our days as well.

I love the fact that your boys don't have any hang ups about doing things like embroidery or crochet work. I don't know how it happened but mine associate things like that with girls and act all funny about it. I hope that I can show them your boys doing these activities so they can see that one sex doesn't have claim over specific activities.

Again, great, great, post!!


Rachel said...

It's me again. We were at the thrift store tonight and found a DVD of Avatar (and bought it, thinking of your boys jumping on the trampoline and playing their "warfare through the ages" game). I was thinking how how much I love blogs for small things like this.

Kimba said...

How timely -- I, too, was just thinking how I enjoy the "Day in the Life" posts and was going to actually make one. Usually I make "posts" in my head as I lay down for the night; unfortunately, I haven't found the technology that will then translate the thoughts to my blog -- someday I shall be "jacked in"

when shall we see you at Glenlake?!

Madeline said...

Rachel, I am so glad that you found Avatar! I have been watching it with them and have learned so much myself! About shakras and attachment this last time.

Kimba, please post a day in the life. It will come back to you as you write it...