Amie is teaching me how to do blackout poetry. We are both working with a page, copied from The Secret Garden, and creating different poems from the same text. The idea is to “black out” the words or word fragments you don’t want to use and then create a poem with the shape of what’s left. Have you ever done this before? I didn’t know about the world of Blackout Poetry until Amie showed me a google search of so many examples out there, both visually and word wise. Creating poetry from existing words on a page is such a different way to spend time with literature. I’m finding it fascinating. I could spend hours doing this sort of creative work if Wallace wasn’t dismantling the entire house behind me . . . doing his own version of blackout housework, I suppose!
I’m designing myself a graduate program in poetry.
I received an unexpected gift this year: a reawakening of my deep love for poetry. I’m following this love by consuming great quantities of poems and filling notebooks with words. I wish we lived close to a university so I could attend an actual graduate program. But for now, my mom, my dear friends, my professor brother, and the wonderful library are all keeping me supplied and inspired.
And, to tell you the truth, most days my graduate studies look something like this . . .
We’ve decided to homeschool again this year. (We homeschooled for three years when the girls were younger, and they’ve been in public school for the past two years.) I can barely contain my excitement! Seriously, I have to keep pinching myself.
But I have moments when doubts creep in. There are things school can provide that we cannot. The teachers are so experienced and the children have a whole community surrounding them at school. Our girls have gained confidence at school simply by learning within a bigger group. Will we be “holding them back” by keeping them home?
We have plans, of course, for choir and piano lessons, nature school, friends, extended family, and homeschool groups. So, that is one sort of answer. And when I have doubts, it helps to remind myself of our plans.
But, there is a bigger reason for our homeschool decision. There are things that we can provide that school cannot: family closeness, days outside in wild places, hours reading aloud together, and the space to pursue creative projects. And let us not forget this baby here. We have him. We have this moment in time, this chapter of life, to be together. Our girls have years and years to be in school. But this little boy will grow up and won’t be happy to bounce along on his sister’s back for much longer. So for now we’re at home, together. And I am so grateful.
The Newt Family celebrated their anniversary with a beef dinner. The baby’s name is Albert. Mrs. Newt has a blue purse. Mr. Newt has a blue tie.
Ellen needs to get lost in her world of play every single day. Play is nourishment for her. Amabel too; but Ellen especially. This is one of the biggest reasons why I still struggle to feel good about sending my girls to school. More school = less play.
I’m constantly meditating on the balance.
Ellen — five years ago you were our little one-year-old knee walker. Today you are six.
I remember you rocking back and forth on your knees while Amabel literally ran circles around you. I remember you babbling your first words while Amabel litterally talked circles around you. You watched and listened to her for so long — and then finally stood up and started to walk and talk yourself. And now, if I dare say, your sister watches and listens to you with a measure of attention equal to what you’ve always given her.
This is a gift of mothering: to watch the give and take between my girls. It is as if you were made for each other. To challenge one another. To support one another. To act as a steady counterbalance as you both grow and learn. Or maybe you are so close because of the sheer volume of time you’ve spent together from the very beginning? You’ve grown like two sister trees, side-by-side.
I was afraid that going to school last fall would change the dynamic between you and Amabel. But it hasn’t. Not really. Not any more than the constant shifts you both experience — the ebbs and flows of moods and needs. Actually, I see how school has brought you closer in many ways. One of my favorite parts of the school day is listening to you exchange stories in the back of the car on our way home. I learn so much about your experience at school when I hear you and Amabel compare notes. You have new friends, new teachers, new questions, new stories. But at the end of each school day, you have each other. You share a frame of reference, a home, and a family. And school makes us all even more grateful for our time together.
Happy Birthday, little knee walker. We love you.