Monday, September 21, 2009


I love Mondays!

Mondays are our day of rest, so to speak.

We hang at the dollar theater, hang out at home or hang at the Pavliska's (for Odyssey). All locations that encourage just being who you are and enjoying others. Okay..maybe we don't enjoy others at the movies...just eating each others popcorn!

Today Odyssey is postponed. Cody, Austen and I decide to stick around the house.

I enjoy coffee on the deck with neighbors. I practice guitar with a friend for nursing home chapel visitation. I practice more for upcoming Via De Cristo weekend. I rest and visit with the boys.

Austen alternates between watching the History channel and researching info from the American Parkour Association (?) most of the day. We locate an upcoming parkour training center in San Antonio..and history channel has served as a spring-board for other conversation. Conversation, curiosity, googling and more commentary on the role of the natural cave systems under Budapest in WWII, the underground railroad during the American Civil War, free-masons, Eastern European architecture, the role of hospitals in war-zones and most important of all..the Bermuda triangle.

Cody is not feeling well. He joins in on some of the discussion on free-masons and civil war. We discuss various illnesses...swine flu, mono, viral meningitis, the common cold.He studies for one of his ASE certification tests. Cody goes back to sleep. I hope he feels better soon.

Brian calls from work, occasionally, to make sure we realize that we are spoiled brats.

Michael and Mason come home from work and school. They watch the History Channel with Austen.

Tonight is community dining. We begin preparing for guests. Clean tablecloths are in the dryer as I type.

Tonight's menu? Meatloaf, salad, sweet-potato fries and corn. Served with your choice of tea, lemonade, water or wine.

All are welcome.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Wednesdays in a Nutshell.

We call ourselves the Riverside Home School Initiative. The name is simply left-over from our Waldorf Inspired Unschooling Co-op of elementary years.

Last year a handful of parents (like 3 families) regrouped for "just a year", before
sending our young teens to the bigger "Friday School" (of several hundred families and w-a-y more structure in San Antonio) .

A week before Friday School orientation Cody asks if I really want to send Austen and crew to Friday school? Austen chirps in that he would be happy to stay at home a little longer. I hear from the other parents that all of these guys are thinking the same thing.

So we move into uncharted territories and start high-school co-op at home.

You know what? It's not much different than before.

We meet two days a week instead of one. We are still pretty relaxed.

This is Wednesday.

The kids start with food (muffins), the musical talents of our friends Louis Armstrong, Miles Davis, Tracy Chapman, Poncho
Sanchez and Paco De Lucia..and play. Apples to Apples has been
the game of choice almost every morning. Lots of debate as to who is the director. George Lucas or Steven Speilberg (?sp). Seems to be a toss up

We regroup for math. We review difficult concepts, the kids work
problems together and individually. Today Devin explains how to solve for unknown variables in perimeter to Mandy. Austen reviews decimals. Angela works on division memory tricks. They all review rays, lines, line-segments.

Next we jump into chemistry. The kids discuss their essays on alchemy and the church's influence on it's spread. This somehow leads to jokes on how much the kids LOVE BACON (as in Roger Bacon)... then experiment on metal and nonmetal chemical elements. Tested copper, iron, aluminum, sodium and..oh, I don't remember. It's in their labs. We spend more time than expected
on the we decide to put off
architecture for Friday.

Cody wanders in to watch them for a few minutes before spreading out in the living room for
the afternoon. Angela decides to join him after Chem..while the others return to the tree...and eat lunch. (left-over spaghetti..yum)

Veronica arrives for Art. of the 7 laws of perspective...discussion on "trigger
words" in art appreciation. Some discussion on Van Gough. (again
with the spelling).

That is it. Girls head to Flying L to work with mom. Devin and
Austen return to tree for a few hours. Devin heads home and Austen joins me at the Club. Cody..continues studying until Mason gets home. They watch Pokemon and Mason falls asleep. We
eat dinner..Cody works on cars with Brian. Austen investigates
local free-running groups. We find one that meets in S.A.!

Wednesday in a nutshell.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Day-to-day differences.

An old college friend of mine stated it best when she recently posted on facebook "I am completely appalled at the state of discourse on this topic. When a U. S. Representative heckles the U.S President we have reached a new Rubicon...."

I couldn't have stated it better myself. I have been watching over the past year in pure shock and horror at the amount of hate talk I have seen/heard. I listen to remarks from the children I serve..children..(as in still like everyone they meet, children) who are learning from adults in their lives to have nothing but disgust for anyone who is not Christian, hetero-sexual, a U.S. citizen of several generations, and of the right political party. Everyone else is deemed (in the eloquent post of my friend Carol ) "they". This is truly frightening.

I wonder do you counter such hate? Such reactionary, fearful, uninformed hate? For our nation is not exempt from the laws of history. And if you follow the steps to genocide throughout history, as a nation,we are climbing this ladder swiftly. We simply haven't seemed to have agreed on who the ultimate evil is yet. I wonder how others can not put this together.

I become overwhelmed.

Then? I keep seeing the needs of people around me. I decide to start here. In small day-to-day differences.

I continue building relationships, one person at a time..relationships that say..."Hey. It doesn't have to be this way." We can work together..and trust eachother. We can have mutual respect for one another and help eachother grow into the people we were meant to be.

I do this in small ways.

I continue letting my children have as much freedom in their own learning as possible. This is a very conscious choice. I want them to be able to draw their own conclusions in times when many are easily manipulated. I want them to develop into leaders who have an attitude of servant leadership. This only comes through service, listening and example.

I continue working at the Club where I work with kids who still enjoy being children..who are still learning to think for themselves..and I encourage them to do so in a community that often says, "It's dangerous to let them think for themselves." (really? I wonder what the alternative would look like..)

We start community dining..a few nights a week.

We host a homeschool co-op 2 days a week.

We open our doors to families/individuals needing temporary boosts before moving on in their lives. We call it community housing...and in exchange?

We receive numerous gifts of friendship, shared experiences, humility and (currently) a bi-lingual household.

Most of all we learn to share.

I think that is the bottom line here..there are those in society willing to listen and share..and those who feel the need to protect what is. I encourage matter what your political stance is on social or economic please..remember the differences we can make by keeping things real. By truly sharing our lives with others...and remembering to enjoy (not fear) ideas that differ from ours.

Let's face it..Resorting to heckling, name-calling, etc. is ineffective for everyone.

Teaching children to be intolerant of differences..not good for any society.


So please share with me..what are you guys doing in daily life to counter this type of growing hatred?

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Easing into a New Year

It is done.

Our summer jobs have stopped and I am back to only working 3 evenings a week. As of 3 weeks ago, all the boys were finished working.The local schooled kids returned to their schools 1 week ago. right with them. He leaves the house at 7:30am..we see him again sometime between 4 and 8pm depending on soccer schedules. We visit with him briefly each morning..and catch him at dinner a few times. He is busy. He is happy. He is worn out already...and the heavy homework load has not hit yet. own spoiled boys are still easing their way into this year. As I type they are both snoozing away in their rooms while I play on the computer, rotate laundry and listen to an Ultra Lounge c.d. The boys stayed up late watching movies in Cody's room. I am starting to see Cody and Austen choose to spend more time together again this year. It is nice to see.

The past few years have held lots of activity and really a fair amount of study (despite appearances otherwise). So we are making a conscious effort to cut back and just enjoy living for awhile. Both boys have asked to just be..and I think this is a great time to do that.

Still..we do seem to be developing some rhythm to our week. It's just more unschooled than in the past few years...this is the weekly pattern I have seen emerging in the past 3 weeks.

Sundays: church, Cody works on cars with Brian. Austen cooks with Aunt Barbara. Mason hangs out and works on small projects around the house.

Mondays: Movies! Dollar theater is nice..also a good day for errands. Yesterday we visited several bike-shops as Austen was on a scavenger hunt for a particular bicycle tire... Cody had ortho. appointment...we messed around in the dollar store. We visit my parents, return home to take our turn to cook for community dining.

Tuesdays: go to library (morning) and volunteer at the Boys and Girls Club(afternoon). The boys are riding their bikes to the Club. Austen is providing the snack for all the kids on Tuesdays..then he and Cody are still recycling in the city-wide paper recycling program. We have started spontaneous problem practice for the Club Odyssey teams. So Cody rides his bike home after recycling (and occasionally stops at coffee house) while Austen joins us in spontaneous problem practice. Austen likes to stop and play in the river with friends (when it's got water) on his bike-ride home.

Wednesdays: Austen and friends co-op at our house.This is a very Waldorf-Inspired co-op that includes Alg.1/2 or 1 (depends on kid), Chemistry and Physics, Drafting, Cooking and Art...along with lots of board games and play. Steak Nights occasionally.

Thursdays: community dining.

Fridays: Austen and friends co-op at our house. Cody starts Friday School. This year he is taking AP Chemistry, Advanced Math (pre-cal/trig) and Financial Peace. Community dining.

Saturdays: Cody works on cars with Brian. Mason plays soccer.

Once Odyssey gets going (we are still not sure which organization Austen will compete with) and soccer starts (Cody has cut back on the competitive stuff and is waiting for FEAST soccer to start) we will readjust again...a little.We are trying to keep the empty times..empty.

The boys have been using this time to clean/reorganize their rooms, play instruments, hang-out with the chickens, read books, mess around on computers and just be. Cody is still trying to establish his shop..and rumor has it he and Brian will be building a 3 bay garage with lift soon. As for Austen, I've seen lots of bike-repairs, bike-riding, hanging out with friends and pondering going on.

We are enjoying this time of "easing into a routine". I hope it lasts for awhile.