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What Happened Here?

I must have blinked. This wee baby turned two yesterday. We went to the zoo and had Zebra Cupcakes. He opened presents and played with new toys.

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It's a bittersweet birthday. He's not a baby anymore (even though he prefers to be called “BabyMouse”). He's a busy, learning, going, running, drawing-on-the-walls toddler. He's picking up language and concepts with a rapidity that is astonishing – even after watching two other kids as toddlers.

 

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My baby has vanished in this busy little boy and there aren't more babies coming. So it's bittersweet. He was such a beautiful, tiny little squidget of a baby.

And now he's two. Oh so very two.

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Happy birthday, BabyMouse.

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Recipie: Pear Nibbles

Knitting group was coming over. Snacks were needed. So with some extra puff pastry and pears leftover from the recent canning projects, I pulled these bites together. And they were so good. So autumnal. Not too sweet and just sticky enough.

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Pear Nibbles
1 sheet of puff pastry
2-3 tbl. unsalted butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
A pinch of salt
1 tbl. Whiskey or Scotch (optional)
3-4 pears (I used Bartlett, but any pear will work)
1/2 cup (approximate) of chopped pecans

I used silicone cupcake forms, but these could be made in paper lined muffin cups just as easily. I’m really in love with my silicone cupcake forms. I use them all the time – for baking, playdough projects, kindergarten sorting math, toddler games, serving soft boiled eggs…

But back to pears.

Preheat your oven to 400*. Cut your puff pastry into 16 equal(ish) rectangles. Put one square in the bottom of each cupcake paper.

Melt the butter and add the brown sugar. Stir and brown just a little, for about 2-3 minutes. Add the the salt and the whiskey/scotch (if using) and cook for another minute or so. Set aside.

Core and quarter the pears and chop the pears into chunks. Put 3-5 chunks on top of the puff pastry. Add a spoonful of pecans over the pears. Drizzle the butter/brown sugar over the nuts and pears a spoonful at a time. Use it up.

Bake for 20 minutes. Let them cool before serving – this allows the butter and sugar to really soak into the puff pastry.

Enjoy.

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Are you joining my Imperfect33 project? I hope you do!

Join This Imperfect Project

ParadiseThese two articles made me think. A lot.

Glennon Melton (on Huffington Post) // A Whole New — And Necessary — Way To See Your Messy House

Coffee & Crumbs // It’s Their Day Too

I thought about many things, but mostly about what I show to the world through my social media streams. I rarely share the hard moments. The messy and horrible moments. The “why am I doing this?” moments. The whoops moments. Partly because in those moments I rarely have the wherewithal to get out my camera and partly because I want to share, and look back on, positive moments.

Of course, we also know that my perfect Instagram pictures are making some person somewhere feel inadequate as she compares her backstage to my highlight reel. So I am proposing a challenge for myself and I’d love to have other people join me.

33 Imperfections

Starting on October 25th I will be posting a daily picture on my social media pages. The game is to post 33 pictures (or updates) – to Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, wherever – that are are imperfect. Stains, spills, temper tantrums, bad hair, missed busses, projects gone horribly wrong… You understand what I mean.  Post it with the tag #imperfect33. Tell us why it is imperfect AND why it is also perfect (or at least not awful). Where is the good in the imperfect?

“Missed the bus and being late to work isn’t good, but now I get 30 minutes to wait and read on this fall day.”

“Spilled the birthday cake frosting… I’ll start over and make sure I follow the directions in order. The next batch will be even better.”

“Child just painted the floor. He’s making me mop!!”

“This is my messy kitchen. The fruit flies are thick. Let’s be glad I can’t post the smell from the compost bucket. But the baby is asleep on me. I’ll let it be messy and take this moment to read to my preschooler.”

“Look at this pile of laundry. It’s been almost a month since I’ve folded and put away. Family has been in town. I’m lucky that they came to visit me and we had a wonderful time!!”

Voltaire

How does something catastrophic turn out good? What blessing is hiding under the tears or the mess or the accident? How can we change how we look at things and what we are willing to show the world about our funky lives?

If we start on October 25th, it will take us right up to Thanksgiving. We will look at our imperfectly perfect lives and (borrowing a word from Glennon Melton) having those perspectacles on for the previous 33 days will really tell us how special and quirky and wonderful our worlds are, in all their imperfections.

Who wants to join me? Who can share their imperfect lives?

Choosing Scouts

It all started with Sister-Bug. She’s super social. She’s very much “all girls- all the time”. Papa-Bug and I realized that she would do really well in Girl Scouts. We looked into the organization and felt like it was good, forward thinking, very accepting, and something we could support. In a wonderful coincidence, a friend of Brother-Bug’s needed some younger Scout members in her troop. We explained the concepts of Scouts to Sister-Bug. She was all in. We bought the tunic and patches.

She had a great investiture (that’s a big word for a kid to say…and I love hearing her try to say it) and was so proud of herself. Brother-Bug looked on. And later told us he wanted to do some scouts. The uniform…the patches… It was all so alluring.

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But… … Boy Scouts? Cub Scouts?

Now, my dad was an Eagle, so I had heard good things about scouts while I was growing up. But the politics. The anti-gay, “morally straight” yuckiness of it all. We explained to Brother-Bug that the Boy Scouts had some politics we really, really didn’t agree with. He was on the fence. He knows that our politics are important to us and of course he wants to please us. But he also was really interested in Scouts. What to do?

I started calling around, asking people I knew about Scouts in the area and what they would do with my quirky son and his outspoken, justice-oriented parents. I couldn’t find any alternative scouting groups like Campfire Kids or Spiral Scouts. The nature schools were all really expensive. I kept coming back to Cub Scouts as the only viable option at the present time.

This spurred a number of great discussions in our family. We’ve talked about how my politics, and Papa-Bug’s politics, and Brother-Bugs politics aren’t all the same – and they shouldn’t be. We should question and explore and disagree and discuss. If he’s okay with Scouts, then that is ultimately his choice. We’ve talked about the power of the boycott and why boycotting Boy Scouts until they change their ways might be one choice to make, but also how we can sometimes change organizations because we are a part of them and that kind of internal shifting that also can happen. Both are good options.

Ultimately what we want to do as parents is help our kids follow their dreams and desires with awareness. Shutting down something our child is interested in, simply because it makes us uncomfortable isn’t fair to that child. Our job is to keep them safe and thriving. And what they learn from us and our responses to events and decisions in their lives…that’s going to matter much more than many other details that touch their days.

So we kept looking.

Brother-Bug and I visited one area group. It wasn’t a good fit. The leader looked at me like I was turning plaid when I asked how her group felt about bullying, queer kids, and gender creative kids (and I hadn’t even mentioned queer Scout leaders or cultural appropriation yet!). I left worried about both meeting Brother-Bug’s desires and also finding him a safe space. He left happy that there had been ice cream, and still on the fence.

While I was at that meeting, Papa-Bug opened up a discussion about Scouts on his Facebook wall. It was interesting, and I was able to connect with some adult Scouts from the area who know our family well enough to know what kind of a group we need. They put me in touch with other leaders who are open minded and accepting of the quirky people. I spent a lot of time on the phone, talking with many pack leaders. I was moved by the number of good and kind people who reached out to my family to help us and to make sure we felt supported. The larger group politics may be out of sync with my reality, but the local groups I talked to are very open, and many of them are working hard to change those politics.

Finally we found a pack. We bought the shirt and the patches (and let me tell you – with two kids in scouts it is so good I am handy with a needle). It’s not a perfect pack. Boy Scouts still has a long way to go and a lot of challenges to face. But I am confident that my child will be safe and treated with respect. And the look on Brother-Bug’s face when he called my dad to tell him he had found a Cub Scout Pack made it all worth it. He felt so good, so proud of himself.

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Of all the “moms” on the list, I never thought I would find myself a “scout mom”. It’s been an interesting journey to start, and I’m sure it will keep on challenging me in ways that I don’t expect. But here we are with two kids in scouts, and I’d better stop writing and go finish sewing on their patches.

Reason Four – Getting Out or Staying In

Returning to the “reasons we homeschool”… another installment in my sporadic series about why we choose homeschooling. Today, I have a moment and one is right in front of me. It’s an early fall rainy day, the first really rainy day and still a little warm, so I sent the kids outside to play in the rain. I left their math work for another day. And that brings us to our fourth reason to homeschool:

Reason Four: Getting Out or Staying In

If it is the first sunny day in a while, an especially rainy day, we had a late night, we will be having a late night, it is a birthday or other event, it snowed, if the chanterelles are ripe, if we end to can peaches, if someone is sick… We change our day and it isn’t an issue. No absences. Rarely do we need emergency child care. No gazing out the window at the playground, wistful on that first spring-ish day.

A could of winters past, we had assorted illnesses for eight weeks. It was exhausting, but school didn’t really suffer. We didn’t take “sick days” often. When we were too sick to do our schoolwork, I found related movies and audible books for the sick kids and we cuddled and learned that way. We changed our school plan and learned about the immune system. We learned a lot about what herbs we could use to help ourselves heal. We didn’t go out often and I think the extended days of mellow time gave us the strength we needed to get to ballet or science group when we could.

Had we been in school, Brother-Bug would have used up all his “sick days” and been in elementary peril for too many absences. If I were employed, that eight week stretch would have emptied both parental sick day savings, and we could have been in employment peril. We might have had to shell out dollars for baby sitters, if we could have found people to stay with our plaguey children.

So we stay in when we need to. Or, even better, we drop our books and head to the woods and fields just because we want to. We ditch writing practice for an adventure to the science museum. We ignore math work for the magic (and math) of turning apples to sauce for the next year. We get out in all weathers. Or we stay in because we just need to stay in. One memorable day, when Brother-Bug was a preschooler, neither of us was feeling up to facing the day. We stayed in bed all day together, escaping for lunch, and we read Where The Sidewalk Ends from cover to cover. Of course that was when there was only one kid…

But the reasoning remains the same. We have plenty of non-negotiable in our days. There are more and more as we grow older. Now is the moment for these kids of mine. Now they can still drop everything just to watch clouds change or pick strawberries or catch snowflakes or finish a whole book in a day (and start another). Much like our second reason – School Scheduled Around Life – we want to get as much as we can out of our life with these magical kids, and we want them to learn how to do that too.

Here it is, almost Mushroom Season. Learning happens everywhere, all the time. Structure is important. Learning the essentials is, well, essential. But more than math or reading or writing, I want them to learn to live fully and to know when to stop and stay in if you can…or drop everything because the ripe chanterelles are calling.

Reason One: A Hot Cup of Tea

Reason Two: School Scheduled Around Life

Reason Three: Play Happens

And Now He is Eight

I remember eight being really monumental in my life. I think because I was old enough to audition for the local children's theatre group. Anyway. Today Brother-Bug turns eight. Here are some of my favorite pictures of him in the last year….

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He's grown so much and come so far this year. He's thoughtful and funny, witty and disgusting (ah, the humor of childhood). He's obsessed with weird things that make him chuckle at odd times. He's an incredibly thoughtful and nurturing big brother. He's learning…so much. Words fail me here. He's amazing.

 

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Eight looks like it is going to be an awesome adventure with this guy. I couldn't be a happier, or more proud, Mama.

 

Catapults!

Today we made catapults, using the instructions I found at Irresistable Ideas for Play Based Learning. It took about 10 minutes total to make these. I'm writing this an hour later and they are still deeply involved with their catapults projects.

I pre-glued the bottle caps with heavy-duty glue. All they had to do was hot glue the clothespin and the craft stick. Brother-Bug was able to do his own. I did Toddler-Bug's and helped Sister-Bug with hers. Them we got out the pom-poms.

Even the toddler figured out how to do his own catapult and had So Much Fun being like the big kids.

Sister-Bug played with marking where each pom-pom fell with a piece of masking tape. Brother-Bug worked on getting his pom-poms in a bin – which was way harder than he initially imagined it would be.

He also figured out that the action of the catapult and pom-pom was like Angry Birds. Once he figured that out, it became even more fun.

So right there we have math, science, and motor skills for all ages. And they're still having fun.

 

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