Mojave in my Heart

From a not-so childlike beginning in New York City to my child inspired world here and now


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tackling photos

I completed our first year 1 photo album last week and just finished year 2 with the girls this morning. It has been a pleasurable experience overall, but the expectations I’ve set (to deal with all the photos NOW) has been a bit much to face!

I’m trying to attach a link to the 2nd album. I thought it would be a nice way to share some of these photos with friends and family. There should be a hyper-link to click below which will bring you to my book on shutterfly’s site.  There you will see a button “view photo book.” We’ll see!

<p style=”width:425px;margin-top:0;text-align:center;”><a rel=”nofollow” href=”http://share.shutterfly.com/action/welcome?sid=0AZMm7Zs4ctmjtA&eid=118″>Click here to view this photo book larger</a>

Shutterfly photo books  offer a variety of layouts and cover options to choose from.

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misty mountain hop on the mesa trail (and the start of an ornithological odyssey )

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It can be the slightest, most faint rain shower and we are OUTSIDE immediately dancing “in the rain.” It fills me up to imagine that deep in the girls’ souls are etched the joyful memories of puddle jumping and rainy walks in North Carolina.  Arlene often talks of the time I did yoga on the front porch while it just poured buckets! Torrential southern rain coming down – heavy and long and we all gathered there on the porch. I do believe that day is etched in our souls– the scent of the rain, the sounds of it’s descent, the feel of it’s spray, the excitement of that powerful storm beside and above us, yet, on the porch together, safe and warm, full of awe and excitement.

Some people in the middle of a country yearn deeply for the ocean. It is beyond intellect. It’s limbic and emotional and deeply scored in them. They must see, smell, feel the ocean every so often. In its absence they miss it profoundly and can’t explain what its absence means. I feel that way about rain and I think the girls do as well. I didn’t expect to long for rain, but I do, so deeply and often.

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It rained last night. It continued raining into the morning. The hills and mountains around us were engulfed in mist and fog. I was thrilled when Ada and Arlene said yes to an early morning hike. We dropped Stephen off at school and hit the beautiful trail before 8. We ambled off-trail a few times, once exploring a huge boulder and several other times to examine more closely beautiful trees that loomed in the clouds. Mostly we chatted and smiled. Happy to be together in the light rain, the mist, hopping along.

 

We returned home to begin our nature block on birds (ornithological odyssey). I’m really excited about where this went and where it is going! What started out as a plan for a straightforward study of birds has turned into both a look at birds and a look at Japan, lots of geography, poetry and painting!  As I planned some of the books and crafts, Japanese culture surfaced and thus activities and ideas for our studies – origami cranes and geography from one book, history and Zen practices from another. I found several beautiful haiku poems on birds, too. Maybe we could work on some Japanese-styled paintings after reading the haikus? Might be nice to visit the nearby Japanese archery school, too.

We started our block with eggs. Eggs come first! After reading a wonderful non-fiction book on said topic and a touching fictional story, Albert, we got working on completing the following statements in a mini-book format with simple drawings and/or words: An egg is quiet…stays warm…is colorful…is clever…is different sizes, etc. Then on to our activity with some eggs! Fortunately we brought home some special eggs from both California and New Mexico so the girls each chose a couple of their favorites. We had a dozen from Joey and Tweedie, the latter, our last living hen from N.C. now living in California with Vicki. After blowing the eggs, we decopauged them with dainty pictures- butterflies, feathers, flowers.  We baked some delicious gluten-free chocolate chip muffins (uses a lot of eggs) and started a new chapter book:The Trumpet of the Swan.  So far, GREAT.

Garden work was the other outdoor bookend to our day. Stephen and the girls turned over the soil and amended it. Over dinner we discussed garden hopes and dreams. We aim to get a bunch of seeds in by Wednesday. Brace yourself. Here in our zone, May 11th is the average last frost date so there are a few plants we can get into the ground now, but much more… later!

Cold hands post-hike needed warm beverages!

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multiply, minus and museum musings

We’ve had a full few months around here and I’m hesitant to skip sharing any of it, but I also want to write what we’re up to now.

On the homeschooling front, our math and language arts blocks are going super well. Art and music are big hits around here, too. There’s a lot of art activities nestled into the LA and math blocks, but also dedicated times for their own projects and painting. Ada and Arlene both LOVE playing the piano! Spanish has taken a bit of a backseat, but was revived this last week (first week of April). We continue to focus primarily on Spanish nursery rhymes and songs. Mapping has been a favorite activity- whether creative pursuits from books we’ve read or trips we’ve travelled, they enjoy the process of learning from maps and creating them! Arlene shows a strong interest in mathematics and Ada, no surprise loves reading! We completed our math block on the four processes with multiply and minus, complete with gnome stories and hands on activities. I’ve come to appreciate this approach to mathematics more and more as it becomes a truly tangible practice in their life. I thought multiplication clicked the least as it is basically a short cut to adding. We can count by 2s, 5s, and 10s and made our “multiplication table” but really I think written equations, like 2 x 2 = 4, are a bit off and rightfully so! Often mathematics slips off from the practical realm later in school- I can just hear kids (and myself) mumbling questions of math’s purpose in one’s life. When learning is meaningful, it resonates and clicks. These creative and fanciful stories introduce mathematics’ basic concepts  while giving them a context that is tangible.

We’re using our bus passes and recently ventured to Denver sans car! Oh, what a way to travel with the girls and completely enjoy ourselves. The Denver Museum of Art is hands down, one of my favorite art museums.  Predictably we are drawn to the halls on Native Americans. Both the girls have had a deep interest in learning about Native Americans– for as long as I can remember. In fact, after reading this book many years ago their curiosity AND ability to begin to put the history of Native Americans into some perspective, took off. It is a wonderful book, has a great layout and excellent illustrations.

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However, I’ve grown uncomfortable with the fact that the only way they think about Native Americans is through an outdated and often caricatured image. How to continue the story about Native Americans, so that it isn’t just about the past, but also contains the present? How can I help it be less confusing that our neighbor, a Native American from a nearby reservation, who dresses like “us” IS in fact Native American? What if in learning about Americans they were only exposed to:

The exhibit at the Denver Art Museum got the conversation flowing on Native Americans. By showing examples of modern art, I could bridge the Native American artist from the past to the present. How did Native American art change? What does art attempt to do? Most of the examples of modern art at the museum are in fact dealing with this ever challenging and evolving issue. Who are they (Native Americans)? How can they be defined outside of caricature of tipis, hunting, and feather headdresses? These people live today!  Yes, this is their heritage. However, when a group is so exclusively defined by their past that it makes it impossible to “see” them today, there’s a huge problem.

I didn’t take a picture of the photograph that accompanies this description, but it is a self-portrait by the artist- straight forward, unaltered set of 3 photographs. I thought this was one of the most helpful pieces in beginning this conversation with the girls.

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If it wasn’t for this guy, we’d spend the entire day at the museum!

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Travels and times in Denver.