Sunday, April 28, 2013

Da Judge

This afternoon was the final performance of The Crucible at New London Theatre, featuring Papa Bear (David) as Judge Danforth (Thomas worked the sound).  This was David's first appearance on the theatrical stage, and I believe everyone who saw the production would agree that he was fabulous.  The entire cast and crew worked their butts off and gave the audience a fabulous show, one that will be remembered for quite a while.

Papa Bear as Judge Danforth

But I think one of the best experiences for our family to come out of this production was meeting and getting to know all our new-found Theatre Peeps.  Everyone involved has been wonderful and supportive (and funny), and we've gleaned some new friends in the bargain.

Now that both Thomas and David have had a taste of the stage, I am sure we will continue to be a "theatre family."

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Cast Party!

Tomorrow is the final performance of The Crucible at New London Theatre, and somehow we ended up having the Cast Party at our house ;)

Being in Georgia where one can never really count on the weather cooperating, we put up our camping canopy on the driveway to protect our outdoor kitchen.  Our mondo triple-threat grill was plenty big to grill burgers, dogs and other meats for the entire cast and crew.

Judge Danforth grillin'

Since the cast included a number of minors, it was a "dry" party, so our usual box-o-wine was hastily put away in the pantry.  I didn't notice until later the ironic juxtaposition of the wine and diabetes supplies.

Sure that goes there?

The highlight of the party was the cake, en memorium of one of the greatest bloopers of the show.  When poor Mary Warren is being grilled by the judges, she is told, "God damns all liars, Mary!"  However, in a moment of fluster, the line came out, "God damns all Mary's!"

Blooper memorialized

Probably one of the tastiest bloopers I've ever eaten...

Monday, April 22, 2013

Earth Day

Ashley is an RN with a passion for science.  In fact, she teaches the STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) class that Michael takes at a local homeschool co-op.  So, in celebration of Earth Day, she put together a program for the kids.

Fittingly, when we arrived at the park, someone had left a lovely chalk drawing on the floor of the pavilion.

Anonymous art

The first exercise was a demonstration of how streams, lakes and other waterways become polluted by various sources.  She lined up a dozen or so small cups, each filled with a liquid or material representing waste, and labeled accordingly (factory sludge, agricultural fertilizer, car oil, etc.).  At the end of the line of cups was half a milk jug with water in it representing a natural body of water.

Line up your toxins!

One by one, Ashley and the kids talked about each pollution source; where it came from, why it was created, how it got to the water source; and then dumped the little cup of pollution into the jug of water.

Michael's "learning" face

The jug of water got pretty nasty.

Nastified water ... poor little lake :(
"That's kind of nasty"

Once the water pollution exercise was finished, the kids were set loose on a pile of recycled materials which all of the families had pitched in and brought along.

Raw materials

The first objective was creating planters and planting seeds.

Michael's seed silo

More "traditional" seed starter

Next was the "free form make whatever you want" portion of the program.

Intently creating

Collaborative creation

And, of course, what would any learning experience be without books?

Additional resources

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Poetry at the Park

I think I've mentioned before what a wonderfully talented and creative group of women we have in our local homeschool group.  Today one of our moms stepped up and led a poetry workshop during Park Day.

Although trained as an archeologist, Grace is also a gifted writer and photographer.  In 2011 Grace posted on her blog "My Year in Haiku" one new poem (often with photos) each day, something I looked forward to enjoying each day of that year.

When she offered to lead a workshop to teach the kids about writing poetry, we jumped at the chance.

Grace and helper moms getting set up

Grace is savvy enough to know that you need to make learning new things fun and easy, so she had several "exercises" lined up, mostly involving group participation.

Gina helping out

There was also opportunity for individual creativity.

Thomas writing his masterpiece

And lots of one-on-one attention.

Maria pitching in

Afterward, there was plenty of free time for whatever the kids wanted to do.

Sarah and a gaggle of kids with SweetPea

I should mention that any time there is a "learning event" like this, whether it involves math, science, environmental studies, reading, or writing, it is left to each child whether or not they want to participate.  Most of the time, most of the kids join in and have a grand time.  Those who chose not to are not pressured, but given the freedom to do what they decide they want to spend their time on.

Cute baby picture...just because

Update:  After the workshop, Grace put together a Homeschool Gazette featuring the kids poetry written during the workshop, as well as art submitted by some of the kids.  Thank you, Grace!!!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

From The Garden

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Costuming Ten---The End

This is what it looks like when you did not alter your pattern correctly.


"Bugger" is what you say when you realize you don't have enough material to re-cut the piece you goofed up, and that you've wasted about an hour of sewing time prepping a piece you can't use.

On my way to the store to buy more fabric, contemplating how I was going to sqeeze an extra couple of hours of sewing time into my day so the shirt would be ready for Full Dress tonight, our actor called and let me off the hook.  He was sooooo grateful for the work I did on the vest and coat, and he'd heard from David about the botch, he called to say he was simply going to wear a white dress shirt and really did not want me to spend anymore time on the costume.  I graciously accepted the opt-out.

So, I am officially DONE the day before Opening Night!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

My Favorite Part Of Homeschooling

Our family is undoubtedly blessed to be able to homeschool, thanks in HUGE part to our Breadwinner Extraordinare and Education Rebel, my dearest husband David. 

We are super-duper-extra-blessed to be part of a homeschool group (more of an Extended Family, really) that completely rocks in every way.  We started out as a tiny little off-shoot of an existing rockin' on-line homeschool group that welcomes members from at least half the state, when KitMama tossed out a call for "local" families to get together for a weekly Park Day.  We started out with four families, and we have continued to grow over the past five (has it been that long????) or so years, and we are about twenty families now.  Some families are not so local and have to drive an hour or more to meet up with us, including KitMama since her family's move last year.  But, meet up, and support, we all do.

But regardless of location, what we all have in common is 1) we home-educate our children (and that includes a huge range of "styles" and "approaches", and 2) we all accept, support, and love one another.  And, our kids pretty much do the same.  Because, really, that's all they know.  It's deeply ingrained in each family's culture, so the kids all reflect that.

This past December, we had two brand-new humans added to our little group.  Sweatpea and Jude.  Both were born into lovely, wonderful, loving families, and both were intently anticipated by not only their biological families, but by their homeschool family as well.  Both arrived with their own dose of heart-clenching, breath-interrupting, world-rocking drama (I hate that word, but can't think of a better one right now).  And both are loved, accepted, and adored by *all* of *us*.

Our extended family knows all about "special needs" and "learning quirks" and "deeply individual individuals."  We are chock-full of 'em.  Sensory processing issues, life-threatening allergies, invisible life-threatening diseases, learning challenges, mental disabilities, Aspergers, the Autism spectrum ... well, we've pretty much got them all.  And, we love them all, because each kid is a unique human being that we love and appreciate for Who They Are.  And, when William was diagnosed with T1, that love, acceptance, and support were the bedrock of our family's "adustment" to our "new normal."

(Here's the part where I could get all gooey and mushy and go on and on about how wonderful we all are. But, I will restrain myself and get to the point.)

Jude has Trisomy 21.  More commonly known as Down's Syndrome.  And, in our group, she's just Another Kid In The Bunch.  Okay, a really sweet, adorable Kid In The Bunch.  Which many, many of the the other Kids In The Bunch are drawn to.  And want to hold and play with.  And are bonding with.  They're actually standing in line, asking permission to hold and play with her.

Thomas-N-Jude's Mutual Adoration Society

Hanging with the Gaggle of Girls

This is not extraordinary because a bunch of kids actually wants to hang out with a kid with Down's Syndrome.  Although, that in itself is pretty cool.

This is extraordinary because 1) these kids, both boys and girls, genuinely want to spend time with a child who is not in their same age group, and 2) it doesn't even regsiter to them that Jude is any different from them.

She is One Of Them.  Period.

And shouldn't that, in a nutshell, be what we all strive to work toward?

Take a couple of minutes to run over to Ginger's blog and see what she has to say about raising her daughter, Jude, and our culture's perception of people who are "different." 

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Picture With No Message

Message to come later.

In the meantime . . . isn't that beautiful?

Costuming Nine

By planning ahead a bit, I was able to utilize most of my Park Day time in sewing buttons on the vest and coat today, so they are DONE!

Coat and Vest
 Now, for the shirt....

Shirt ready to cut

Monday, April 8, 2013

Spring View

For just about a week each year, this is what it looks like as I wait for the light to change at our offramp.

A sudden explosion of blooms.

For just about a week.

And then, they're gone.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Costuming Eight---Calling In Help

One of the nice things about living in a tight-knit and creative community of homeschoolers is, when you find yourself in a pickle, there's a pretty good change someone in the group will be able and willing to help you out.  Today I was helped out by a young lady in our group who knows how to sew.  And, sew, we did.

All cut up and ready to sew

I figured out the instructions, pinned pieces together, and N sewed up the seams.  And a few hours later, we had most of a vest finished.

Most of a vest

And, I got a jump on getting the coat put together.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Costuming Seven---Emergency

Okay, so I only thought I was finished costuming.  Friday night I got a text from David from the theatre giving me a heads-up.  They had a "Costuming Emergency."

What is a Costuming Emergency?  That's when one of the actor's seamstress fails to make the costume by the deadline (which was on Monday), and is not going to be able to actually make the costume before Opening Night. 

So.....material and the pattern were dropped off, and sorted the pattern pieces and got ready to cut.

Then, checking the measurements of our actor to verify which size to cut, I realized our actor was larger than the largest size of the pattern allowed.  Trying not to panic, I called up my mom, who is an experienced costumer, and she explained the process for enlarging a pattern.

You can't simply add a few inches (seven to be exact) to the side seams of a garment.  You have add the inches to the body each piece, from the shoulder-line down to the hem.

I used plastic bags as filler to enlarge the pattern pieces.

And got to cutting.

It worked great!

Except for the pieces that were too wide for the fabric...

Hmmm.... I'll have to deal with that later....

Friday, April 5, 2013

Costuming Six - OPM

Not "Other People's Money", which is a financing/business term.

"Other People's Machines", which is what you end up using when your own sewing machine is giving you fits and you really want to get a project done.  So, my good friend, Grace, graciously lent me her sewing machine so I could continue working on Costume Number Four; this one an alteration of an existing dress, plus the accessories from scratch.

Machine kindly NOT jamming

Also, I was using one of David's favorite machines ... his coffee roaster.  Just because he's out of town on business doesn't mean people don't still need their coffee.  So, I learned to roast, and roast I did.

Hubby's machine

So, after a couple of days of juggling sewing and roasting (and all that other household and homeschooling stuff), the Fourth And Final Costume is DONE! 

Last Costume....DONE!

It's not my favorite of the bunch, because I really had to do some inelegant jerry-rigging to get the neckline more modest. But, with the collar on you can't really tell. I'm looking forward to seeing "my" costumes on stage.  Opening Night is just around the corner, April 12th!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013


I started out trying to capture a few shots of a typical Park Day with our homeschool group. I realized I have few photos, and fewer posts, about some if the most common, and significant, moments of our family life---such as our weekly excursions to the park where we casually hang out with our peeps and socialize (I dislike that word, but feel compelled to tip my hat sarcastically to the ever-dredged-up "homeschooling socialization issue"). I quickly realized why I have so few photos. Because our family and group MO is for all the kids to scatter to the Four Winds and do their own collective things while the moms create a central "home base" for the check in. And, as most of you know, getting candid shots of kids in motion rarely yields satisfying results. Perhaps I need to bite the bullet and just start setting up posed shots. (Sigh)

Anyway, my endeavors did result in a couple of moments I am very happy to have captured.

S and Sweatpea

Mel sharing lunch with her tot.

Gaggle of T(w)eens

These are some of the kids my kids are being raised around.  Not a bad lot :)