Sunday, July 31, 2011

Missing Summer

I am so glad that the girls and I got a chance to spend time in Michigan and Wisconsin this summer. Aside from all of the obvious reasons (like getting to see friends and family) I enjoyed having what felt like a "real" summer. I have lived in Seattle for ten years this September and I think, finally, the weather is starting to get to me. It's not winter-like in the winter, summer-like in the summer, and well, the seasons are all pretty much varying shades of gray and precipitation. Growing up in the Midwest, we had very distinct seasons, albeit fairly extreme sometimes. I remember a winter of 60 degrees below zero with the wind chill. And days of the upper 90s that crept in to the 100's. For several years I didn't miss those extremes one tiny little bit. Now, I still can't say I miss the extremes, but sometimes it seems like any change is better than none!

This summer in Michigan we had some rockin' heat and humidity. I can't say I could sit outside in it for very long, at a park or on my parents' deck, but we did get to the beach a bunch. Not enough (is it ever enough?) but still a lot! My parents live close to Lake Michigan so we spent time on several different beaches, though our favorite turned out to be the one that was closest, and the smallest.

Some days the lake was choppy with lots of waves. Perfect for Iris and I to body surf (though that was a bad day to wear a bikini!). Some days were very calm and it was easy to let the girls swim away from me a bit before I started panicking that they would get swept away.

The water really wasn't that warm, but what made it tolerable was the air being so warm. Once you went under and came back up you weren't instantly chilled by the air. In fact, once you went under and came back up you were much more comfortable!

I have started to joke (okay, or not really joke at all) that we need to start "summering" in Michigan. I just love it there so, so much. I grew up right on Lake Michigan, though on the Wisconsin side. I think a large part of my heart still resides in the waves of the lake.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Homeschooling ideas

Lately I have been getting many questions about what we are doing for homeschooling, which is understandable considering the summer is slipping away quite quickly.

I was lucky enough to find a small group of families who have hired a Waldorf teacher to come and teach our kids two days per week for about five hours each day. The class will meet in one of the parent's homes, she has a classroom set up in her basement. Since my main goal this year was to provide Iris opportunities to interact with the same children on a longer term basis, this class will really fit the bill quite nicely, I believe. Iris may also be involved in a social skills group, but so far I haven't heard if the group is going to have enough members to run.

The other thing we are doing, as interest arises, is take classes at our local community center, which has "homeschooling" classes two days per week. I say "homeschooling" because they are open to anyone who would like to take one, but since they are during the day on weekdays, then that pretty much just leaves the home schoolers filling the classes. The classes can range from art to yoga to math to cooking.

And lastly is the the at-home portion of our homeschooling adventure. I am taking care to follow what 2nd graders should know because as of now our intention is to put Iris back in to school for 3rd grade. We will be doing the Five in a Row curriculum, though I will have to tweak it a bit since we won't be doing school at our home five days per week. FIAR focuses on learning different concepts based on different books that the founders of FIAR have chosen for various reasons. I will have to supplement with some math and so far I have a math workbook that we are going to work on, but I still have to check if it covers the right skills that Iris is going to need to learn so she can successfully head back in to a school setting.

I am also crossing my fingers that Eloise's new teacher will be open to me bringing Iris in to volunteer in the classroom. I think helping out with things like reading to the kids could be great for Iris.

I have to say that I am getting pretty excited about the school year. It's relieving to me to have Iris attending two days of classes out of the house because it gives me the time I need to do all of the other things I have to do in any given week.

The last thing I am getting excited about is shopping for school supplies! Perusing the crayons, pencils and folders at Target is a little bit too much fun, I think.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

My inspiration

I have been on a three week break visiting family and friends in Michigan and Wisconsin. There are lots of stories and pictures to share, but tonight I wanted to start with this.

I was able to coordinate a trip to Wisconsin around two events: a Maggie Stiefvater book signing at the Barnes and Noble in Madison and the Bon Iver show at the Riverside Theatre in Milwaukee.

True story. On Maggie's facebook page she wrote that she had arrived in Madison for the book signing (only, because it was Maggie, the post was much more witty than that). Lots of people commented things like "yay!" and "you're the greatest!" and whatnot. I commented that I had come in from Seattle to see her.

Then later at Barnes and Noble, when Maggie came out and started speaking, the very first thing she said was "true or false, one of you came from Seattle to see me tonight." I wanted to sink in to the bottom of my chair! Everyone looked around as I sheepishly raised my hand. I forget what Maggie said after that because I was too embarrassed, being called out by one of my very favorite authors and all. She was a hilarious, hilarious, speaker. I was one of the last people to get my copy of Forever signed and when I told Maggie who to write the autograph out to she said "oh, you're the girl from Seattle" and I verified I was. She said "you didn't come here just to see me, did you?" and I said that I had friends and family to visit, too. She was sweet and drew a wolf on my book because I had come so far. My friend Stephanie (who will get more mentions in future trip posts!) took this picture of Maggie and I. Notice how beet red I am. I get that way when I'm flustered/excited/embarrassed/nervous, well, pretty much any time someone looks at me. I am not sure what my deal is.

Then on Saturday night my sister and I went to the Bon Iver show. I was so pleased with myself, having scored fifth row seats by paying close attention to the pre-sale back in April. The show was beyond explanation. If you have never listened to Bon Iver, please go do so immediately. I'll wait.

This picture kind of drives me nuts. It was taken on my cell phone and honestly, it makes it look like I was further away than I actually was. We could see the whites of Justin's eyes. I point this out because when he sang he often had a semi-creepy stare straight at the ceiling above him.

So why am I starting out my trip talking about these two things? It's because I garnered an immense amount of inspiration for writing my novel from Maggie's work and Bon Iver's music. Many chapters of my book were written with For Emma, Forever Ago streaming through my headphones. Many nights were spent curled up in bed devouring each page of Shiver and Linger, thinking to myself that I would be thrilled if my story telling were even half as engaging as Maggie's.

It was quite magical for me to have had these two experiences on my trip, and inspired me to get off my butt (or maybe back on my butt, as the case may be!) and start writing again.