Monday, September 1

As You Like It

Every year, I remember that Nashville has a Shakespeare in the Park performance. Usually, I remember this the week after the last performance. So this year, we invited friends (accountability), picked a date (procrastination), and we went! I am so glad we did.


It was absolutely fantastic. We took our blankets and spread out on the grass near the front of the stage. This is probably my favorite way to watch live theater, now. It was a long day, with the 2-hour drive each way, but that was made more fun with friends. It was, without a doubt, absolutely worth it, though.

Everything about this performance by the Nashville Shakespeare Festival was delightful and engaging, but one thing I hadn't thought about before hand was the music. This is *Nashville*! The music blew us all away. At first, we didn't think the actors on stage were singing live. It was too good. Then we realized that's exactly what they were doing. So that was like getting a whole other performance on top of the Shakespeare.


I would have better pictures, but they asked us not to take pictures during the performance (understandable), and we were just having too much fun visiting, watching, laughing, and eating during the time we could take photos.

Actually, most of the pictures I did get centered around the food. They had Thai, Egyptian, and BBQ. Oh, how much we spent trying a little of everything! I'm so glad my kids are adventurous eaters. And we do love some food truck food. (As an aside, anybody ever call them "roach coaches"? I get that that's considered derogatory, but we always meant it affectionately. I'm working very hard on not squealing with delight, "Oh! Let's see what's at the roach coach!" when we pull into a venue and see the trucks lined up. But I do still say it on the inside.)


So, yes, Mr. Shakespeare, we did like it. We liked it very much. From the atmosphere to the production to the food trucks, this was one of our favorite outings of 2014 so far.

Kiss those babies!
~Dy

Sunday, August 31

Sick School

I've gotta work on reminding the boys that it's okay to say you're too sick to do school. Actually, that it's okay to say you're actually sick, at all. They don't complain. They don't malinger. They might take extra D, keep a water bottle on them and suck down the water, and briefly mention in passing that perhaps something with green chile in it would be good for lunch because they're not feeling so well.

Then they get on with whatever we had on the schedule.

And that's actually kind of cool.

Until I get it, and it lays me out like a beached jellyfish on a hot Summer's day.

ME: What the what, boys? Is THIS what you had? How did you function this week?! 
BOY(S): Um, yeah. I told you I wasn't feeling well. 
ME: You mentioned that you were going to take a shower to see if it would clear your sinuses. You never once mentioned the rodent clawing your tonsils! Or the expanding thing that took over your head. Or how hard it is to remain upright! 
BOY(S): Well, no. But I told you I wasn't feeling well. 
ME: (groaning as I collapse on the couch) The devil is in the details, boys.

And so we fell. One every couple of days or so. It's viral, and it moves quickly, but everyone falls. The worst of it is over in about three days, but then the aftermath looks a lot like the zombie shows (the old ones, with the slow zombies - none of this Zombieland nonsense). It seems to take another five or six days to regroup the strength to function like a normal person. Thank God for Netflix. When I was a kid, being sick meant nothing but daytime TV on rabbit ears. I got hooked and all spooled up on Guiding Light when I had chicken pox in the 6th grade. They got to watch Tudor Monastery Farm, Sword Art Online, and Black Adder. They don't know how good they had it.

But Z and I do. Oh, yes. We were loving technology this week.

Kiss those babies!
~Dy

Monday, August 11

It's All Over Once the Planning Starts

10th, 9th, 6th, 3rd, 1st. We have the plans. We have the vision. We have the books. Amazon and the local book store have all the money. That's the way it goes, though, and I can't imagine it any other way.


I did eye uniforms on sale at Old Navy (not because I dream of sending them off, but because I dream of being able to do wash in three sets: khaki, navy, whites - how sweet would that be?) The boys lured me away by yelling, "Mom, they have 28-inch waist jeans on sale!" (Not for me. Pfft. I wish. For them. Still too big in the waist, but better than needing a rope or suspenders to keep the pants up.) They escaped uniforms this time. Who am I kidding? They'll escape every time. I'm well out of the realm of having much influence over their clothing choices beyond being able to explain rationally why a certain style may not be appropriate for a certain venue. And honestly? I'm okay with that. I shouldn't have too much influence, and it's not like I'm a fashionista who is going to lead them down the path of Awesome Swagger, anyway. Besides, all my effort lately goes to keeping them in shoes. Why didn't we move to the beach? Flip flops are easy and flexible.

With the onset of the planning, the temperatures conveniently shot into the 90's and drove us all inside. Or the other way around. Either way, it's hot and we're inside. Planning. And printing. And reading. But we did get out and enjoy a little adventure before the heat got to us. We hiked Caney Creek - literally, IN the creek, which I'd not done here before, but it was fascinating.


And a trip to Turkey Creek Nature Preserve, presumably so the young men could test their mettle against Nature.


We need to read some Jack London this year, maybe.

The hens should begin laying any day now. We heard that some of the hens from the first coop are, so we check the nesting boxes and other nooks and crannies each day. It's exciting!

Z and the boys have been making PVC bows lately. This means pretty much all progress elsewhere has come to a halt for now. But they're having so much fun with it, and they're doing it together, and they're all very creative. Plus, it gives me a chance to stay upstairs and throw things away. I've been doing this for a month, and I'm still finding things to throw out. Much of it is mine. It's probably good that they aren't up here to see that. I'd hate to lose my reputation as The Culler of All Things.

And really, that's been about it. I'd give calcified body parts at the moment for a bigger house, with just one extra room. But, here we stay. I should go throw away more stuff. Nobody's getting any smaller around here!

Kiss those (growing) babies!
~Dy

Thursday, July 24

Re-Entry is Hard

It's Thursday, and we've been just wallowing in indecision. Do we hang out? Clean? Plan? Go adventuring? Oh, look, Netflix! I should consider asking for a coupon for a maid service to clean the house the day before I return from Circe next year.

It's not the house's fault for being untidy, and having a clean home wouldn't buy me more hours in a day to get in all the planning, adventuring, and hanging out with the children that I would like. But it feels like it might, and so, I daydream. (That doesn't particularly help with the paralysis.)

But, the older boys' 9th and 10th grade years are mostly planned out now. We're using Norms & Nobility as the basic guideline. I've spent the last few days parsing the titles out into 12-week terms, matching the memory work up with the historical and literature content. It's coming together, and I'm looking forward to the Renaissance! The only change I'll make (and it's small, but as with most things, I reserve the right to can the plan and run off with the family at any point in the year), is that we're swapping out The Tempest in favor of As You Like It. We read and watched video of The Tempest last year, and we have the opportunity to see As You Like It performed live next month. Seems like a no-brainer. And let me tell you, three chapters into Norms and I need a no-brainer tossed my way!

No, wait. Also foreign language. We'll keep Latin, but James wants to take Japanese, and John wants to take Russian. I found online high school courses for both through BYU, which was incredibly exciting (for me) because I'm just not going to learn Japanese, and if I'm going to learn the Cyrillic alphabet, it's going to be for Greek studies. So, there you have it: we need to find someone else to keep up with modern languages. I'm good with that. If you have used a BYU online course, I would love some feedback. It looked good, but I've since heard some negative experiences (nothing drastic and terrifying, just experiences that indicate it may not be a good fit for us). So now I've pushed our start date back a bit while I do more legwork.

JakeRabbit, Em and Jase are going to continue on with Ambleside. And wandering in the woods. And catching animals. Because honestly, that seems like a pretty darned fantastic childhood.

Meanwhile, James has got to learn to drive. But he's in no hurry. None of his friends really are, either. What is that? I was willing to give up a kidney to get my license the day I turned 16. Not that it helped a lot (and thankfully nobody took me up on that offer), but it was such a nice bit of freedom. Even today, I love to get behind the wheel and just GO. I felt guilty doing all the driving last week, but it turned out my traveling companion was fine with that, and so my gypsy self just soaked it all in. James? Not a gypsy. And that's okay. But it would be nice not to have to drive to Scouts.

And tomorrow, we get to spend some time with friends! But not here at the house, which means we still have quite a bit of cleaning left to do (we should just host something - that would get it done quickly and well).

Kiss those babies!
~Dy

Monday, July 21

Post Circe (but mid-processing)

This post won't be about anything profound and life altering, but that's not because Circe isn't profound and life altering. It's because I'm still processing, and there's a lot to process. Plus, I have stories from the children of their week, which also requires a little bit of processing. (They made a game called Call of Calvin Ball - it's a Call of Duty/Calvin Ball mashup, and it's hilarious, as far as I can tell through the doubling over laughter while they tried to explain it.)


They ate a lot of cereal and doughnuts while I was gone. And Z said they picked up a bit when I let them know we were on I-65. He laughed at the awkward silence that followed that statement and asked, "You couldn't tell, could you?" (No. Not really. But I'd kind of prepared for that, so it didn't bother me. Everyone was safe and happy and all together. I had hugs and stories and love. It's all good.) They also mulched the fruit trees, moved the compost, and cleared a workout space in the basement! What a wonderful surprise!

I convinced a local friend to go with me. So fun! I do hope she'll do it again some time. We had such a lovely time on the road, and at the conference. I'm also fairly certain both her husband and Z will appreciate us having someone else to listen to all the verbal processing that ensues post-conference.

This conference was perhaps the best I've ever been to. The venue was magnificent. The speakers were all thoughtful and engaged. The session topics were spot on and beautifully presented. (The theme this year was Forging a Likeness. Fantastic.) Blessedly, the air in the hotel worked, so we weren't sweltering all week.


At the beginning of the conference, we each set goals that we wanted to achieve for the purpose of the conference, then selected the sessions that would best support those goals. That's a fantastic tip for attending any conference, I think. It helps me, at least, to go into it with purpose rather than careening about from room to room like a biblioholic on a binge. At the end of the week, I did feel that I'd achieved the goals I'd set for myself. We have a fantastic plan for the boys' high school years, and I have a guideline for continuing my own education.

As a funny aside, one of my goals was to speak in a coherent manner to one of the presenters - to utter some kind of thoughtful thing that did not involve breaking out in a Beavis chuckle at any point. Don't laugh. This was harder than it sounds. I get a little star struck around the rock stars of Classical Education. These are the people whose work and words of insight and encouragement have been my constant companions for the last ten years. When I'm on a roll, it's their example I hold before me. When I'm exhausted and the chaos seems to have seeped into my very bones, it's their stories that remind me this is worth doing well and encourage me to take a deep breath and get back into the game. I appreciate their work and efforts, but at the same time, I get a little giddy and develop stress paralysis when I'm required to interact with them in any manner more intimate than asking questions during a session. To keep myself from chickening out, I shared this goal with my companions. (Who, it turns out, are incredibly hilarious and encouraging, but not much actual help. I love having friends who make me laugh!)


But I did it. I thanked Martin Cothran for his session on Aristotle's Seven Motivations of Man (which was truly fantastic), and we talked about young men and motivation. I didn't giggle once, but at the same time, I didn't feel giggly. I felt comfortable and confident. This man has raised children. He has looked at a 16yo son and had similar thoughts bolt through his mind that bolt through the mind of pretty much any parent of a 16yo son. And he emerged on the other side (several times over), with a good relationship with his children, and without throwing the whole project out the window or running away to Tijuana. (That last bit may only be a temptation for me. That's very probable.) But it was a delightful interaction, and I appreciated that he took the time to visit with me so affably and sweetly.


Then I just had to ask Wes Callihan for some suggestions for modern theologians for James to read. Because Mr. Callihan is brilliant, and James has exhausted all the names I already know. (At 15, I think I knew the names of maybe two, and I hadn't read either of them. That I'm having to troll professionals for suggestions to keep my child in titles cracks me up and makes me very happy.) Again, it was a truly helpful and interesting interaction. He is delightful and generous, and I'm so glad he took the time to be there, to answer questions, and to engage each of us who approached him. I should send him cookies. (I would send a book, but he's probably already read anything I could come up with to send. Goal #4 should be to remedy that.)

After that (and there was a little giggling after the fact, along with tiny low fives among friends, because this was huge, as anyone who has heard my celebrity triggered verbal diarrhea can attest - like I said, I love and appreciate my friends so much), things came together. I was Home. I was exactly where I belonged, and able to shed the feeling that someone was going to figure out I wasn't qualified to be there and have me escorted off the property. (Our fears are not always rooted in reality. That doesn't stop them from being ours.)


In the hotel room (or the lobby, or poolside), among friends, we engaged in fantastic, thoughtful conversation. We perused books. We shared excerpts with each other. We ate and laughed and told silly stories. Deb the Magnificent drove us all over Houston and acted as our official tour guide (she was the only one who knew where things were, but I think also the only one brave enough to drive in that traffic). We laughed some more. Some of us laughed until we cried. We sat at the table in the back at the banquet because we were pretty sure we'd be a little loud. It was a good call.


I wasn't ready to leave when the conference was over. But my brain was saturated, and I missed my family so very much, so the timing was perfect. It was time to come home, to kiss my babies (even the ones who have to bend down now for me to reach their heads), to thank Z for his unyielding support in this life we've built, and to contemplate the themes of the conference and prepare to continue engaging in the conversation.

It's good to be home. It was good to be there.

Kiss those babies!
~Dy