so for those few weeks we WEREN’T writing anything down in a spreadsheet…

I was also deeply sad during the first few weeks of ending the schoolyear. The absence of that much close time with my children was a much bigger loss to me than I expected and I missed them desperately.

Also, they were right here and I wanted to get the hell away from them. Lots of stuff (furniture, mattresses) was coming into and going out of the house; changing functions of rooms was making a mess of everything; frankly, for the beginning of our “free” summer, it was kind of destablizing.

What’d we do?

Well.

The rock tumbler got going. Double barrels. One full of carnelian from our friend Tara, one full of rainbow fluorite. one picture below is of the carnelian, pre-tumbling, and one of some of the pieces partially tumbled. Will you be able to identify any of the pieces with the tumbled ones? The rainbow fluorite is easier to identify for sure.

 

The kids hit the Eclectic Learning Network Homeschool Diversity Book Fair.

 

We started to get very into herbs. We made our first lip balm — a sesame oil, lemon balm, honey and calendula blend, which was a tad soft, but enjoyable to make. We got herb plants at Greensgrow Farms and from friends, and Joey next door helped the kids learn more about herbs. We went to Penn Herb Co. for dried herbs, and are preparing to make our own incense next. Claude had been reading the “Herb Faeries” book series and that has been very inspiring.

 

Claudia “graduated” from Brownies. Not sure yet if she will go onto Juniors next year or simply pick up another opportunity for a new activity. But she has enjoyed it.

 

They finished up their initial round of foam LARP weapon-making classes with a four-hour marathon of shields, with Stephen and Chris. Now they are ready to put back into their LARPing community and can help repair, and make, communal weapons for kids who come to play!

 

Although Claudia slept through part of it, we all saw one of Béla’s favorite films — the Talking Head’s Stop Making Sense — on the big screen. It was the kids’ first midnight movie! And Béla was ENTRANCED. It really is worth seeing it that way.

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And they had their dance recital. This was Claudia’s favorite costume of her dancing life yet.

It was also Claudia’s first “Cheer” class — she usually does hip-hop but it just did not work with her schedule.

 

And Béla… when you’re a b-boy, another recital, another track suit. However, it’s not EVERY recital that Béla kinda blows Claudia out of the water (they both did great… but…)

 

AND…

The revamping of bedrooms began. Once we had talked to an architect, I decided against using any of the money from the sale of my dad’s house for construction on this one. Spending money to make THIS place bigger, so we could pile more stuff into it? It seemed so wrong. Did a Tarot reading with the kids on that one and decided Claudia would stay in her (small, but familar) room and redecorate — and Béla would finally be free of the teeny tiny bedroom he has had since he came, and would get the biggest bedroom in the house (he DOES have a drum set, after all… and there IS an arcade Super Pac-Man in that room already). This cut short at least one aspect of our “Architecture” learning experience (Firing the architect will do that.) Claudia is still charged with designing a Baba Yaga hut for Parade of Spirits, which is kind of architecture…

But really. Out of our few totally “free” weeks, what was more surprising than the day that began like this…

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But ended like this?

Yikes! Like mother like son; Béla got a concussion, too. It was his first ride in an ambulance and he doesn’t remember a thing about it but it was pretty scary. (For Claudia, too.)

He had been in the playground on his own and had JUST gone over the number of times we would stand checking in on the walkie-talkie without a response. Tucker opened the door to go chew him out and found a neighborhood mom there, telling us EMTs had been called. Terrifying. From every person in Columbus Square who was there to tell us what they’d seen, to the mother who hugged Claudia as she freaked out seeing Béla put on the board to be transported to the ambulance, to the folks who messaged before we were even home from the hospital… our neighborhood is a good one.

Béla is slowly on the mend, but perhaps could learn to use the Pain Scale a little more accurately…

 

While Béla was in a no-FOMO fog, Claudia managed to make a getaway on her own to The Tasty, and order lunch — and sit and draw in sketchbooks — with her friend Declan. First time to go to an eating establishment, order, pay, and sit down and eat — all without adult accompaniment. (One more nice thing to say about our block.) They used to be infants!

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But I think our crowning achievement was the realization of our first Homeschool Portraits, for the year 2016-17.

In the fall, when the kids had brought their school pictures home — weeks before we were even thinking about homeschooling — I had taken those envelopes from them and thought very clearly, “These are the last ones like this.” It was a scary and sad feeling because, again, I didn’t know why. But I knew. There would be no more “school pictures”.

But, once we started homeschooling, we thought… why not? Why no pictures? First of all, we discussed, your school pictures should come at the end of the year, and reflect what the year had meant to you. For Claudia and Béla, 2016-17s educational year had very much meant freedom from what they considered an outdated and unfair system.

 

Rich Wexler of New Castro Camera Photography has shot the kids before, and he’s also an educator I admire. We planned a shoot with our friend, infamous performer and artist Needles Jones, who played the Bad Teacher. Community Education Center in West Philadelphia offered us a classroom to rent for a location — and, we did it! (All photos featuring Claude, Béla and Needles Jones, in the featured image and below, copyright Rich Wexler, New Castro Camera Photography.) Pretty darned amazing. (There are many, but too many to share here!)

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We have worked on (but have not quite finished)  some stuff left on the whiteboard from 2016-17, too! Most importantly, the “capstone projects” (zines) the kids had started, which had an extra feature added by the time they were completed — a link to a song based on the zine’s theme. My goal is to get them finished for the Washington D.C. Zine Fair, in hopes I can take the kids there for a night (and maybe get somebody to be painting another bedroom or two by then, because man, I do not like to be home when housepainting is happening).

July 1st (tomorrow! Or, an hour or so) is when we are able to start logging educational hours again. We are off to Saugerties, NY for a week at the Paul Green Rock Academy, for a week of Frank Zappa daycamp. Hopefully Béla’s head will stand for it.