On Littleness

Recently I was gently chastised at the dentist for not doing a better job with Pippin’s teeth. I always intend to do better, but he’s now the proud owner of three permanent teeth and I guess it’s time to get my act together, dentally speaking.Read More »

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An Exhaustive (and Exhausting) Pre-Travel Checklist

The girls on a recent road trip

In preparing for a recent trip, I decided to think about all the labor I put into a moderate to long road trip for our family (I’d say moderate = 3+ hours of driving, 2+ nights away, but we’ve sometimes traveled for as long as five weeks).Read More »

Candlemas, Kinship and Firstborn Sons

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I’m not entirely sure when I met my sister-in-law(-in-law).* But I think it was at the Evensong nights that sprung up about ten years ago. I had no idea of her future importance in my life, of course. She was just a college friend to both my new husband and his little brother.

And now she is someone I will see, in all likelihood, every Christmas for the rest of my life. She is aunt to all my children, and godmother to one. And last month, she gave me my very first nephew.Read More »

Three vs One

I remember the moment. I was walking down our New England driveway with my friend Trish, who had five children compared to my one toddler. And she said, quite casually, “Sometimes I think having one kid was hardest. You’re just alone all day and you feel like you’re talking to yourself. Once there’s more, they’re never all going through crises at once. Maybe one is going through a really difficult phase, but another is just learning how to read or asking really interesting questions. One doesn’t nap, but one does. And you have someone to talk to all day.”Read More »

Super Special Girl Time™

Once a week, Pippin has a music class in the evening, to which J takes him because I am a musical dunce. At first, this weekly event devastated Scout. Why can’t she have a music class, too? (Well, because she is three, for starters.)

So we tried to give it a spin. Ah yes, we said. Your brother is going to a music class, but you, my tiny friend, you get Super Special Girl Time.™ You and your sister get special time with Mama. (It has not occurred to her yet that 98% of her week is time with Mama.)Read More »

Small Animals: Parenting in the Age of Fear

 

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This is not a very death-defying photo, but most of the real hijinks happen, almost by definition, out of my line of sight.

(NB: This is one I listened to as an audiobook so I couldn’t mark it up or copy down passages quickly enough. So quotations here were either hunted down online or are from excerpts and interviews that jive with the book.)

This fall as I slowly set out on running again after a long pregnancy/physical therapy hiatus, I listened avidly to Small Animals: Parenthood in the Age of FearI found the book by turns mesmerizing, validating, challenging. In an NPR interview this summer, author Kim Brooks argues:

“We read, in the news or on social media, about children who have been kidnapped, raped and killed, about children forgotten for hours in broiling cars. We do not think about the statistical probabilities or compare the likelihood of such events with far more present dangers, like increasing rates of childhood diabetes or depression. Statistically speaking, according to the writer Warwick Cairns, you would have to leave a child alone in a public place for 750,000 years before he would be snatched by a stranger. Statistically speaking, a child is far more likely to be killed in a car on the way to a store than waiting in one that is parked. But we have decided such reasoning is beside the point.”

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Homeschooling Takeaways from The Importance of Being Little

(NB: This is one I listened to as an audiobook so I couldn’t mark it up or copy down passages quickly enough. So quotations here were either hunted down online or are from excerpts and interviews that jive with the book.)

In Erika Christakis’s The Importance of Being Little: What Preschoolers Really Need from Grownups, I was reassured to find many of my hunches are supported (while sometimes being called into question as the purview of overeducated financially stable white people). Her book tackles the problem of quality in American preschool programs as a social justice issue while highlighting the many points of mismatch between preschoolers’ needs and what educators, policy makers and parents believe they need. She very rarely even broaches the possibility of keeping kids at home during the preschool years, and never mentions homeschooling kindergarteners at all, even though the book’s scope includes that age range. Nevertheless, I found it fascinating. Here were some of the most striking takeaways for me:

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Homeschooling Manifesto, Take 1

Recently I was reading through a loaned copy of Roots & Sky: A Journey Home in Four Seasons by Christie Purifoy and it was all I could do not to break out the highlighters and marginalia as I read:

“It is especially strange that we burden children with this question of what they will one day do when so much of our lives is already prescribed. What will my children do? I can already see most of it. They will sleep. They will eat. They will live in relationship with others. They will celebrate special days and live ordinary days that tick with repetitive tasks. The truly important question seems not to be what they will do but how they will do it.

There — in a book not about homeschooling, in a beautiful book by a mother who doesn’t homeschool — is why I want to homeschool.

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Consumerist Shortcuts

Haven’t we all been there? We decide to get fit and get bogged down somewhere along the line, choosing a fitness plan, reading Amazon reviews of medicine balls, finding space in the spare room for the stationary bike, and we never really get started. Or this is going to be the year we are going to grow a real vegetable garden, so we get all the catalogs and three books from the library, or even order a dozen seed packets, but nothing ever really gets off the ground, much less in the ground.Read More »