Category Archives: Being the CEO of Shannon

Need Reader Feedback

Hi folks.

I am going to be closing down this blog in the next several weeks. There are many reasons for this, but I won’t get into them now.

What I would like to do, however, is compile the most useful posts into categories and bind them under an e-cover for download in case really, really interested folks still want to read them, or share them with others.

This is the compromise I’ve come to between just shutting down OR leaving the blog archives sitting here forever.

What I would love from you is some nominations for posts you’d like to see preserved in e-book form. I will try to edit and/or update any posts that go into that format, so if your favorite one is old and needs some revision that’s okay too.

I have in mind a total of say, 100 posts.

Help? (Please leave your suggestions in the comments so people can see each others’ okay?)

 

P.S. I’m also taking some of the posts from this blog (mostly since 2009) and backfilling Muse of Fire with them. So much of the more recent material will still be on a blog.

Whiplash at the Supreme Court: An Excerpt

“…how am I to feel when the Supreme Court decides today that my partner and I could potentially be legally married, but my daughters—both Black—had their future voting rights threatened by the striking down of a key aspect of the 1965 Voting Rights Act yesterday?

I am cynical enough to think that we won the right to (sort of) marry because queers are imagined as white and middle, or upper-class, like Ellen Degeneres or Anderson Cooper. Those people are comfortably familiar enough to Supreme Court-types to “deserve” civil rights, whereas poor southern Black grandmothers without driver’s licenses to show at the polls aren’t as obviously deserving of a vote.

It’s this imaginary idea—along with the racist notion that all Black people are homophobic–that is too often wielded to divide and conquer us as minority groups with many interests in common. But queer rights and the rights of racial minorities are not in competition. If we pit them against each other, we all lose.”

For more, head over to BlogHer.

Spa-At-Home

I told Twitter I was going to make a bunch of body products today and somebody said, “how?” So I decided to share the things I’ve figured out over a couple of years of trial and error when it comes to making some basic body items. Here are detailed steps for body lotion and some additional tips for other products below that:

IMG_3273

Step One: Gather your ingredients and supplies.

I made a little bit of everything today, so I needed a little bit of everything. Depending on what you’re making you might want shea and/or cocoa butter, grape seed oil, vitamin E oil, rose hip seed oil, sunflower seed oil… you get the idea. You can use any “butters” or “oils” you decide. I like shea butter as a lotion base with just a little cocoa butter, mixed with grapeseed oil for body lotion, and just shea butter and rose hip seed oil for face cream. You can then add the essential oils you prefer for scent and some subtle effects. Lavender is my favorite, but maybe you’d prefer grapefruit or vanilla. (Cocoa butter smells like chocolate, so you either need to cover that scent with others or embrace it. It’s nice with vanilla–if you want to smell like birthday cake.)

I have bought these things in a number of places. You can get quite a few things at any old grocery store, certainly a “health food” type of grocery store. My mom found out that you can sometimes get your oils cheaper in the food section than the body care section. It’s the same thing, so compare price by volume before you put it in your cart. I have also bought many of the things you see in the photo here from Mountain Rose Herbs. They have good prices on high quality products–many of which are organic and/or fair trade and all (I think) are kosher.

IMG_3275

Step Two: Mix ingredients.

For my basic body lotion, I put about a cup of shea butter, a 1/4 cup of cocoa butter, a 1/3 cup of grapeseed oil, a tablespoon of vitamin E oil, and sprinkled lavender to preference. (I use a lot–probably 40 drops.)

IMG_3278Stirring constantly, melt these together over very low heat, double-boiler style, as shown, until everything is blended and the mixture is clear.

Step Three: Whip and cool.

IMG_3276Fill a large pot with ice. Sit your pan of clear oil down into it and use your grandmother-in-law’s 1950s hand mixer* and start whipping. Carry on for ten or fifteen minutes.

IMG_3280

When the mixture begins to cool and enough air is whipped into it, it will get thicker, slightly duller and completely opaque.

IMG_3281Pour this thicker, opaque mixture into your containers** and refrigerate them.

Step Four: Use!

IMG_2914

When it’s been refrigerated overnight, then allowed to return to room temperature, the lotion should have about the same texture as a nice thick buttercream cake frosting. (DON’T eat it! Okay, fine. DO eat it if you really must. It’s edible. But I can’t recommend it for internal use.) The lotion in the photos above is a face lotion made with about a cup of shea butter, a half cup of rose hip seed oil, a bit of vitamin E oil, and of course, essential oil of lavender. It’s the rose hip seed oil that gives it the yellow-orangey color. To the right is the body lotion I actually gave you the recipe for in the instructions. Its color comes from the grapeseed oil and it’s a nice pale green.

I keep any extras in the refrigerator, but I keep the ones I’m using out at room temperature. The butters definitely respond to temperature changes though, and are best kept below 75 degree (f). I start notice them getting too melty any hotter than that.

Other Body Care Recipes

For rolling Nat’s locs, I’ve been using cocoa butter mixed with just a bit of rose hip seed oil. Even my favorite ready-made loc butter has a bit of bees wax in it and this just gums up her hair and takes forever to wash out. I sometimes even cut the cocoa butter mixture with plain aloe gel–half and half, whipped with a fork. It’s light, and doesn’t hold the locs as tightly as heavier stuff or wax, but it’s good for her hair.

To make a detangler for Selina’s curls, I mix a spray bottle half and half with aloe gel and water, plus essential oil of lemon. Shake and store refrigerated. Shake again before use.

I brush my teeth with a spice jar filled to the top with baking soda, then slowly filled with hydrogen peroxide (there’s a lot of air in the baking soda, so there’s room for the peroxide) and about ten drops of peppermint oil. It’s a great whitener. Keeps the tea stains at bay.

I don’t use flouride toothpaste even when I do use ready-made tubes. It exacerbates my rosacea. If you want or need fluoride, this obviously isn’t a good option for you everyday, but could still be a whitening supplement to your usual toothpaste. It’s much cheaper than ready made whitening products–which contain these exact ingredients.

I also made some lip balm and some mustache wax today. It was my first go at those. I used a mix of half and half cocoa butter and beeswax, plus peppermint oil for the lip balm and cedar and sage oils for the mustache wax. (I did not whip it, but poured it into its little metal containers and stuck them right in the ‘fridge’.)

I await the early reviews on it. Will let you know if it needs tweaking. Meanwhile, if you have any tweaks for what I’ve told you here, do share. I developed these recipes/methods after a few trial runs. So far these are my best versions.

* I’ve often thought an ice-cream maker would work really well for this step. But I make such small batches, I don’t want to use mine for them. Also, I’m not sure how cleanup would go. Wouldn’t want lotion-y ice cream in the future.

** I use four-ounce glass jars intended for keeping cooking spices. I bought them really cheaply on the Internet. They have nice glass stoppers with plastic seals and are dishwasher safe so I can reuse them without worry about toxins leaching into my lotion.

New Project

As most of you know, my debut novel, Jack will be coming out from Musa Publishing in September.

Of course, I would like roughly a gazillion copies to sell in the first month, so I can rocket to the top of novelist glory in record time. To that end, I have been reading all about book marketing.

Trouble is, I find it hard to believe that many of the things “They” say you should do to “promote” your book would actually amount to many sales. Book sales seem to me to be almost a matter of sheer luck. Being a best-selling writer strikes me as about as likely as winning the lottery. Like the lottery, you only hear news stories about the ones who make it, and not the (roughly gazillion) ones who flop.

So, what’s a debut novelist to do? Well…I asked myself, “why do YOU buy a book, Shannon?” To which I responded, “Well, Shannon, I buy a book because I’ve already read a book by the person who wrote it and I liked that previous book.”

That’s almost the only reason I ever buy a new novel. Very occasionally I take a plunge on a new writer, or I follow a recommendation from a friend. But I do not tend to buy a book because I like a person’s blog, her tweets, am her Facebook friend or saw an awesome “trailer” for her novel.

I blog, I tweet, I am on Facebook and I plan to make a book trailer. Because…why the heck not? But when it comes to the factor that leads me to buy a book, I’m at a loss. This will be my first book, so no one is going to be buying it based on having read and liked my others, right?

I hemmed and hawed about this conundrum for a while and finally decided, oh what the heck, give ‘em a book. You see, I wrote two books before selling my third one. So I picked the better of those two and am publishing it scene-by-scene via a new project I’m calling the “Story Sea.”

I am also hiring Astrid Lydia Johannsen to make fabulous avatars for some of the characters in the story, one at a time, as donations (yes! you can donate!) to the site trickle in.

Putting this up is a gamble of course. You might hate it and then NEVER buy one of my books in the future. But maybe you’ll love it and buy them all! Or you know, something in between. But at any rate, here it is, risk-free (to you):

1900

EdenEden Smith was not a boy.  But anyone who happened past Harvard Square would not have known this to see her standing there in a boy’s suit, squinting at her watch and running a nervous hand through her neat, short hair.Sophia Since coming East, Eden had found that no one expected to see a girl in boys’ clothes, so no one really saw her when she wore them.  What they saw was just another Harvard student roaming Cambridge. MORE

Homeschool Notes October, November, December

We’ve been settling into our routine pretty well this fall. The interesting thing about routine–I always think the days I let it go will be easier than the days we stick to it and I am always wrong about that. The kids are in better moods (therefore, I am in a better mood) on the days we stay on schedule (at least roughly) than on the days we throw caution to the wind.

So we’re learning to make the schedule a priority.

Within the routine of the schedule, things are still pretty scatter-shot. It’s almost the opposite of the routine thing: I will decide “It’s time for Kid A to learn Thing B” and sit down to make this happen. It never goes well. On the other hand, if the kids decide they want to do something, they get really deeply into it start-to-finish and end up happy and proud.

This is something I believe is true from a theoretical standpoint, and it’s how I want to approach education with them. (And gee–it’s not just theoretical if I report that it’s working, right?) But I have the teensiest bit of control freakishness that creeps up from time to time and convinces me I am ruining the kids for life by letting them buzz from flower-to-flower at their own pace, rather than running them through hoops. So I up and try to control their learning and it goes horribly wrong.

I’m not sure how many times this will have to happen before I let go and trust the kids.

Here’s an example. This week, Nat found an iPad app that is a Montessori division board. She wanted to play with it. So I bought it for a dollar or whatever and she played with it. But she wasn’t in the least understanding the concepts involved and I could see that. I beat myself up about it for a while, convinced I should not have given it to her until she had a solid grasp of multiplication.

But she really wanted to figure it out.

Nat works on her division with sea shells.

Nat works on her division with sea shells.

So I told her I’d give her some division work, but not on the iPad. She was good with that. I gave her a big box of sea shells we collected on the beach when my parents were spending winter in the Gulf, and five bowls. I made a list of division problems: 50-:-5= ; 45-:-5= ; 40-:-5= etc. down to 5. Then I showed her how to count out fifty shells, divide them evenly between the bowls and count the number in a bowl to arrive at the answer.

She loved this. She did it for 50s, 40s, 30s, 20s and 10s and went through the whole process for every single problem, even after realizing that the answers were always 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1.

I still don’t think she has grasped the concept of division, but all that practice is getting it into her and the steps in the process are a challenge to a kid with distraction issues. It’s great for her to practice counting out 50 shells and learning that if you make a simple mistake and count out 49 or 51, the whole problem will fail.

If I had asked her to do this without her original interest I can only guess she would hate me forever. I mean, how dull can you get??? I would hate it, myself. But it was her project and she was all into it. And if she learns multiplication via division instead of the other way around, I guess the sky won’t fall.

Another Nat-inspired, Nat-produced activity this past week was a shrine to her Granddaddy. My father died last July (in case you managed to miss me blogging/tweeting/FBing about that constantly). His 67th birthday would have been this past Sunday (9 December) and Nat wanted to do something to honor him. I suggested taking an extra can of “sharing food” to put in the basket at church on his behalf and she was good with that, but had her own plan.

“I will make a birthday card, with his picture on it. It will say “Happy Birthday Grandaddy, we miss you!”

I told her that sounded like a good idea. Then she added, “I can put it up on a shelf and when I miss him, I can look at it and say a little prayer.”

This was all her own idea, mind you.

Nat's Shrine to her Granddaddy

Nat’s Shrine to her Granddaddy

And it’s exactly what she did. I gave her some card stock and printed out a few pictures of Daddy. She opted to use all the pictures and make multiple cards. Then she put them on the fireplace mantel and placed a sea shell (the same ones she used for the division project) in front of them to “make it pretty.”

I am kind of blown away by it, and really proud of her for coming up with her own little tribute and orchestrating it all in her own special way.

Selina has been doing lots of building lately. She makes elaborate cities with Lego blocks or wooden blocks, then dresses up all the people and animals and enacts little plays with them in her cities.

She finished the word book we started a month or so ago and she is very proud of it. In working slowly on that, she has also just started taking an interest in spelling out words throughout the day, and reading others as well. Her reading hasn’t started rolling on its own quite yet, but it’s going to soon, I think. She is a little linguist–always wanting to know what words mean, and using a wide vocabulary correctly in an easy, natural way. Once reading really clicks for her, she’s going to take right off.

(I have a little video of Selina reading her word book, but am having trouble uploading it for some reason. Watch this space. Maybe I’ll figure it out.)

At bedtime, if I am not totally wiped out (which, let’s be honest, I usually am), we all take turns reading a book. Nat reads something aloud to us, I read something aloud to us and Selina “reads” something aloud to us. We have some great picture books without words that Selina especially enjoys and can feel really expert at “reading.”

We should do it every day, but I am not Wonder Woman. So to substitute, I often tell Selina to choose some books and have Nat read them to her. This works especially well. Selina wants to be like Nat and so it inspires her to work on her reading and Nat gets really proud of herself if she can teach Selina to recognize a new word or two from their reading together.

We’ve also found a lot of great apps for the kids’ iPad, but I want to do a whole separate post about how we are using those.

Selina is a whiz at jigsaw puzzles. So that’s one thing we try to keep on top of. (It is really hard to find puzzles in her current zone of 250-300 pieces. 100 is too easy and 500 is too hard, but they seem to jump between those two sizes, most of the time.) I found one recently that’s 101 pieces, but they are small pieces, rather than big, kid-friendly ones, so that upped the challenge a bit.

A New Puzzle!

A New Puzzle!

Selina tends to master a jigsaw after about two or three times doing it and it’s hard to keep ahead of her learning curve. But puzzles are an especially great way for her to exercise her weak eye when she wears her eye patch, so I want to indulge her as much as I can.

Speaking of puzzles, Nat is a big fan of Geo Puzzles. They are mostly fabulous realistic maps with the pieces shaped like the countries. (My quibble is that they put Mexico in with South America, then put the U.S. and Canada together in one puzzle.)

Her favorite thing for the longest time was her Africa puzzle. She chose that puzzle to begin work time every single day. So after a while, I started making her other Africa work, like matching countries and capitals, writing out all the countries for handwriting practice (she was really proud of this–so eager to get it done she actually woke in the middle of the night and got it out to finish it), African country word-search puzzles, and picture books and television documentaries (yea, Netflix!) about Africa.

Then, Cole found out that for work reasons, we might have an opportunity to take the kids to Brazil next spring. So I put Africa away for now and took out South America (plus Mexico…grumble, grumble…) and she’s been doing that one.

I told Cole that I remembered having to memorize the countries and capitals of every continent by rote in grade school, trace and color maps and be tested on it all. I hated the pressure of it. But Nat has learned all that stuff because it was fun for her. So I count that as a win.

We still aren’t getting enough physical activity in the week. The girls have ballet on Wednesdays and Saturdays. But they could really use a good vigorous hour of play or other movement every day. Next “semester” we are going to try karate at the Y in addition to the current ballet schedule. Hopefully that will help them in a number of ways. Nat’s sense of self-control is definitely showing improvement since she has turned a corner in ballet (according to her teacher). I am hoping karate will help her continue that improvement. And Selina just needs to run around!

Cookies!

Cookies!

Finally, some holiday notes… I am a bit of a control freak, as I mentioned above, and one of the ways that manifests is that I can’t stand cooking with anyone but myself. I had been cooking with Nat somewhat regularly last spring, but this had fallen off for a few months, as life just became too crazy for me to keep it up. It’s a challenge for me to let kids spill and lick spoons and mix poorly and all that normal learning stuff that happens in a kitchen. But I am trying to get back into the swing of teaching them to cook, so we did some holiday cookies.

The only real disaster in our cooking adventure was losing the 1/4 teaspoon down the garbage disposal. but it was my favorite measuring spoon! Alas.

The only real disaster in our cooking adventure was losing the 1/4 teaspoon down the garbage disposal. But it was my favorite measuring spoon! Alas.

It was the first time I ever made rolled cookies, so it was a new thing all-around. The kids did great and I kept my head on my shoulders (mostly). And the results were tasty, so that covers a plethora of kitchen sins.

I’m also teaching them to sing the Hallelujah chorus. Which really just means I’m introducing them (especially Nat, since she can read words well) to understanding a musical score, how to count musical time and follow your part. Actual singing is going to be another project altogether, since Nat has a habit of confusing

Hallelujah!

Hallelujah!

pitch with dynamics (ahem). But she loves to sing. So Hallelujah, it is.

Josiah is home again for several weeks (he spent the summer and much of the fall in a tepee in Iowa) and he is going to try reintroducing Nat to more routine guitar lessons. I think she’s ready to do that, as her attention and ability to focus has increased a bit lately. We are looking forward to lots of music in the house again!

Autumnal Acorn Squash Soup

Made this this morning for supper this evening. I am recording it for posterity, because I tend not to make things the same way twice and when I hit it just right, I want to remember what I did!

2 acorn squash, halved and roasted for about 40 minutes

2 cups of broth (I used chicken this time, but veggie would be fine too)

1 onion, sliced

1 teaspoon of sage

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger (a little fresh ginger would be better, but I was out)

2 tablespoons maple syrup (the real deal–don’t cheap out on the mammy one)

salt and black pepper to taste

 

While roasting your acorn squash, bring your broth to a boil. Chop and and add the onion and spices.

After the squash is roasted, scoop out its meat into the broth and puree. (I use an immersion blender for this.)

Turn off the heat and stir in the butter and maple syrup.

 

You can eat this now or later. You can add a dollop of sour cream, creme fraiche or plain yoghurt. You can serve it hot or chilled. It’s all yum, no matter what.

If I was really awesome, I’d bake some fresh bread to serve with it, but alas, I am not that awesome today. I have too much to do outside the kitchen. But you? YOU should bake some fresh bread.

Homeschooling Notes from August and September

Barack Obama and William Shakespeare Enjoy a Tea Party

Last week, Selina threw a little tea party for Barack Obama and William Shakespeare. I thought the irony was worth a photo.

Selina’s favorite thing is “imaginative play.” She puts on little dramas all day long with blocks, dolls, stuffed animals, dress-up alter egos, her sister, and whatever inanimate object comes to hand to be animated. You may remember she even used to do this with her feet.

Sometimes, she creates fantasy people to “help” her with work by changing her voice and talking her way through a problem. For example:

Selina’s Voice: “What comes after K?”

High-pitched voice: “Is it M?”

Selina’s Voice, singing: “A,B,C,D,E,F,G,H,I,J,K,L…”

Low-Pitched Voice: “No, it’s L!”

High-Pitched Voice: “Whoops!”

Then Selina will find the “L” and put it on her alphabet project. She may or may not ask aloud again until she gets stuck and needs some more “help.”

Listening to her when she doesn’t know you are around is an absolute gas.

Last week, she let me know in no uncertain terms that although she has been asking to learn to read, she cannot abide out-of-context phonics lessons. Sooo…I went back to the drawing board and this morning she took the iPad around and snapped photos of some of her favorite things, like her Pooh bear.

Pooh

Tomorrow, I’ll print her photos and let her label them all and bind them into a “Selina’s Words” book.

Given her love of creating little dramas and characters all day long, I think she is going to be a write-first reading learner.

Teaching reading is fun for me, because Nat didn’t ever really “learn” to read, she just started doing it.

Perhaps Selina would do this eventually too (though I do think Nat’s brain was just prewired to read, at birth), but she has been complaining lately about not being able to read, so I’m stepping in to help her move along. She’s five and a quarter, so I feel it is perfectly reasonable to let her at it.

Speaking of Nat, though, and particularly of her reading, she recently picked up a slightly simplified version of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (it amounts to a middle-grade novel as it’s been edited) and started reading it every night before bed–and any other time she could steal. It’s the first “chapter book” she’s shown a sustained interest in reading independently, though we’ve done a few together as read-alouds and she has always enjoyed picture books independently. She got so into Alice,though, that I have been able to pick up on her interest in the story to do a lot of work besides reading.

At Work on the Alice Chart

The first Alice work she did was thumb through the book and put sticky notes on each page where Alice changed size (this was her favorite aspect of the story). She found and recorded the page number, and Alice’s height on that page, then I gave her a roll of paper and a tape measure and she charted out “life-size” pictures of Alice throughout the book–from three inches to “taller than a tree.” Selina and I both helped color and decorate the Alices.

Nine-Foot Alice

One of my favorite aspects of the completed project is that Nat made Alice African American, in spite of her pervasive blondeness in so many of her popular incarnations. We taped our Alice chart to the wall in the hallway so we could admire it for a while.

The day after that, I gave Nat a list of household stuff and had her measure each item in inches and feet, using a tape measure or a ruler, depending on what worked best for the job.

But the next day, she wanted to get back to her obsession, so I had her write a “book report” (though I didn’t call it that), and she enthusiastically did so, raving about her love of Alice and drawing a lovely picture of her favorite scene.

She has seen three different movie adaptations of Alice and she likes the Disney animated one from 1951 best, because it includes scenes and characters she likes that the other versions she’s seen leave out.

Full disclosure: I have never been an Alice fan. In fact, I have always pretty much loathed Lewis Carroll. I mean, he was a dirty old man, and most of the book is a thinly disguised drugged-out political commentary. Plus, I just don’t like the weirdness. I am not a Kafka fan either. I don’t like my own wacky-to-nightmarish dreams and don’t care to read others’. But hey, that’s just me. Clearly this is a book, if not a genre, that Nat adores. So now I’m compiling ideas for other books she might like. Do leave your suggestions in the comments. Keep in mind that she is only seven, so stuff like Tales of the Fourth Grade Nothing, or Holes, while just the right reading level, are not going to ring a bell for her, in all likelihood.

One thing that has struck me since I started thinking in terms of school at home, is how much we can get done (academically, I mean) in a short amount of time. This is something I’ve heard a lot about from homeschoolers. I’ve heard more than one anecdote about blasting through a year of curriculum in four months, for example. We aren’t using a curriculum (unless “stuff Mama Shannon thinks would be good to introduce this month/week/today” counts as one), but if we were, I dare say we would be blasting too.

One of Nat’s downfalls in life is that she is highly distractable. One of her gifts is a love of and compassion towards people. I think this was tricky for her to handle in the classroom–even a classroom that allowed her lots of teacher attention and long periods of time to work on what interested her most. The simple fact is, if a kid walks by, she is more interested in that kid and what he’s doing than in the most interesting work of her own.

Last week I was plotting some subtraction practice work for her. (I have been using this websiteto make her crossword puzzles, including ones with written-out math problems. She likes to work the puzzles and I have found all kinds of ways to get her to think about different topics and disciplines via crossword.) Nat finds counters and fingers useful in doing addition and subtraction, but the problems I was doing went up and down from 100, and I didn’t want to have to deal with that many counters, so I decided to make her what Montessorians call a “Hundred Board.” Then of course, I realized that I ought to ask her to make it. More ruler work, lots of fine motor practice, reinforcement for counting to 100, etc. etc., right? So the next day I sat her down and gave her paper and a ruler and a pencil and eraser, gave her brief instructions to begin the chart (make a 10-inch square) and at each subsequent step (make ten one-inch columns…make ten one-inch rows…write out the numbers in alternating colors…cut out the chart…) and with me poking my head in the room every ten minutes to check on her progress, it was completely finished (including erasing and re-figuring out how to make the lines straight) in under an hour.

Nat’s Hundred Board

Now, this may make most of you shrug, but for Nat it’s an amazing accomplishment. I can only imagine the same task would have taken her a week of “work” periods in school last year, simply due to her tendency to get constantly distracted by other kids. As it is, she is super proud of her hundred board. Tomorrow I’m going to have her make a number line from 0-100, with a half-inch between the numbers and put it on the wall too. Then I’ll show her the subtraction puzzle and she can complete it with her math reference tools.

As for me, I’m really enjoying doing this with the kids. It isn’t a far step from my usual parenting style anyway, I just spend a little more thought on how we spend the two and a half hours set aside each morning for “work” (meaning academic work, though all day long we are working and learning in all kinds of ways). We follow a schedule every day, and I don’t mind sharing it with you:

Wake Up

1. Make your bed. 2. Clean up your room. 3. Eat breakfast. 4. Clean up the dining room. 5. Brush your teeth. 6. Get dressed. 7. Read quietly in your room.

9:00

Quiet Individual Work Time

11:30

Lunch/Clean up dining room

12:30

House Cleaning Time

Josiah calls this “Cinderella-ing.” But hey, scrubbing things is VERY Montessori. That’s what I’m gonna tell the authorities, anyway.

1:00

Afternoon Activities (different every day)

4:30

1. Supper/Clean up dining room 2. Evening Activities (different every day)

6:45

Begin bedtime routine.

“Afternoon Activities” might be continuing a project begun in the morning (Alice took all day). Or it might be free play in the girls’ room or a trip to the playground.

About once a week, Nat and I make a trip to the grocery store that entails a list of “things we need” and a list of “things we want” and a budget. Nat adds up the price of each “need” item as we put it in the cart and figure out how much we can afford from the “want” list, once we’ve got what we need. I sort of orchestrate this so that we can never get everything we want. This is probably good for me, as I haven’t been able to “afford” my favorite potato chips in weeks.

In a couple of weeks, the kids begin a soccer program that just teaches the game without any competition. This is good because my kids are not athletes just yet (Selina may well become one though). Chicago Parks and Recreation has all kinds of introductory sports programs and I just want them to get the basics of many things and see if any in particular strike them as special. They are doing dance on Saturdays too. Really, they need (Nat especially really truly needs) an hour of high-aerobic activity every day, but that’s a tough one for non-sporty me. We joined the Y too, though, so when the weather is too cold for the playground we can go there.

I could probably go on about this for another six posts, just about our first six weeks or so of earnest homeschooling. But I’ll wrap this up for now and check in again in a few weeks.