Browse and Seek

Hands-on Tuesday: how it went

Not a bad first shot at officially “doing school” with both boys:

Seamus’ math warm-up. He makes some beautiful images. I think this is a mask. 


 “Where do Grandma and Poppy live, Mom?”


Seamus playing along with BBC School Radio’s “Instruments Together” program.

Tristan garnishing his brother’s work.

Train tracks, built by me under the supervision of the small engineer.

Seamus got all of his table work done, Tristan had no interest, and my mom visited, so there was lots of distraction available. But there were no squabbles and no screen-withdrawal fits. I think it was a good start.


Hands-on Tuesdays: the prep list

After stacking some of Seamus’ tablework onto Mondays and Wednesdays, here’s what the boys and I get to try doing tomorrow:

  • Morning walk to the playground
  • Group math with the pattern blocks
  • Music with  the “Instruments Together” program from BBC School Radio
  • Art with the chalk pastels
  • Sewing with the embroidery hoops
  • Baking applesauce cake
  • Taking care of the chickens
  • Bike ride along the Bay Trail
  • Storytime

Both boys have math and language arts work that’s separate, and Seamus has history reading, but there are a lot of hours to fill between the start of our school day and Shay’s play rehearsal. It’s nice to have activities to reach for, even if we don’t do everything on the list. Here’s hoping tomorrow is smoother than last week!



A lamentar todo, parte uno

A couple of nights ago, I found myself first glaring at my phone and laptop as they refused to transfer photos from one to the other, and then poking through the thousands of images that overwelm the memory on both devices. There were lots of pictures of the boys, but also a ton of images documenting small projects I’ve been doing since we moved to the house four years ago. Photos I meant to post here and write about, but became part of the ocean of things I poured away while depressed. Things I sewed and stenciled, rooms I arranged, meals I made. The backyard’s slow transformation, the chickens, and pets. All left to rot away in memory, pixel by pixel.

This is not the biggest thing I let go of in the last few years, nor the most important thing. But it’s the most public aspect of myself, my electronic face and voice here on the intertubes…and I let go of it first. Both interesting and forboding, like discovering that I’ve become one of the Haight Street bag ladies from my childhood, talking only to myself and unseen interior companions.

No revelations or answers here. Just observing the bag lady.


Eight spins around the sun

Seamus walks quickly now when we have someplace to be, outpacing Tristan and me without noticing, his stride melded to his train of thought. We trudge behind him, hand in hand, and I call out “Pack!” to remind him to come back and walk with us across driveways and crosswalks. When we lack a deadline he caroms and slaloms about the sidewalk, then begs me to slow down. He spies everything, and none of it is boring or unworthy of notice or comment. He wears the same size shoe I wore in high school.

He reads storms of books. We go to the library once a week or when he’s finished a stack of borrowed graphic novels, and the only rule is that he has to be able to carry what he borrows without complaint. So far this has worked out well, and he has read everything I’ve stuck in front of him that’s school-related. He tries moving too quickly through his material sometimes, but fixes his mistakes when I check his work. He drops the odd one-liner that will bend Patrick and I over laughing. Like all good third graders everywhere, he’s discovered sarcasm and thinks himself the world’s first smart-ass.


This year he asked for ballet and theater classes instead of soccer, and declared himself a future marine biologist. He taught me how to ride the spare scooter, and now on Mondays we zip around our old Couch to 5K route, him flying ahead and shouting warnings about uneven pavement. He reads to Tristan and I’m lucky to sometimes catch them in the act of discovering a new and long forgotten story. Beatrix Potter has been big over here lately.

And he balances these parts of himself with the other bits: the roughness and violence that comes with being the age in which you kill monsters. The rudeness and defiance that we sometimes see (and sometimes see a LOT of) has started to integrate a bit more into his personality- fewer explosions, but more arguments, and still all connected to his sense of justice and right in the world. Which probably explains his choice of Halloween costume. He was Rocket Raccoon from the movie Guardians of the Galaxy, and while I despaired a bit at his choice of a gun-toting movie character (this from the kid who was Odysseus at five!), I now think his choice of an unlikely hero who eventually chooses to do the right thing is oddly hopeful. For me, at least.

Happy birthday Seamus. You’re a really neat dude, and we love you.



Shaken to stir

I’ve booted Seamus and Tristan out back for the second time today. Out back because I want to catch up on dishes and some laundry folding, which I can’t do if I have to chase them down the block, and the second time today because despite the incredibly overcast weather, their restlessness is almost tangible. It is a school day, and some schoolwork has been done, but toys have been thrown and kids have screamed and treats and screen time have been begged for. Copywork and math have dragged on and on to careless completion, and then redone. Let’s not discuss spelling.

Blending the boys’ days has not come easily. The four and a half years between them feels like a pretty long stretch sometimes. They can play together well, but they have different needs and different stages of understanding the world, and now that we’re in full school mode for both boys, I’m still trying to figure out the balance. I suspect we need circle time in the mornings, a routine to ground them both in the daily flow and to teach them both to wait their turns for my attention. We do all right when we’re out and about and mostly all right on weekends if we keep treats and screens out of reach, so it’s only their joint school day at home that threatens to devolve into chaos by ten.

I didn’t grok the point of joint lessons for homeschooling kids of separate ages. But I might now.