August is a mixed bag at our house. It is still full-on summertime, with a lazy summer rhythm for the boys, and a mad-dash to finish and fine tune all that I have planned for the school year that is quickly approaching (umm . . . in 3 weeks!). Although I have the first day of school scheduled for August 20, this is really the beginning of transitioning to school. The keyword I keep repeating to myself is transitioning. I try to have very low expectations for what we will accomplish during the last 2 weeks in August. We are beginning with a 2 week block on form drawing that will anchor our mornings and help us to start getting back into our school day rhythm. We will go on our walk, but not have circle time or poetic recitation. We will do our form drawing lesson and then basically be free until storytime in the afternoon. “Real” school doesn’t start until after Labor Day, for no other reason except that’s how it was where I grew up in the northeast. Old habits die hard.
Vincent: 10 1/2 years old, 5th grader Because we have not done form drawing with any emphasis or regularity, Vincent will be doing the first grade forms right along with Jude. He will also be doing a light math review. Lots of times tables and bean bags, maybe some written problems on the board. I will gauge the amount of work based on how well our rhythm is going. There will be plenty of time for math practice throughout the year; getting our rhythm solid now is much more important.
Jude: 7 years old, 1st grader I would like to have some kind of formal ceremony for Jude as he begins first grade. I know in Waldorf schools the first graders are given roses by the eighth graders. I don’t think that carries the same weight or symbolism in our case, so I am still thinking about it. It may just be making a big deal by presenting him with a main lesson book and some new crayons.
Sheila: 42 years old August is going to be busy! I attend Taproot Farm and my annual retreat/homeschool teacher training August 2-5. I hope to return brimming with inspiration and ideas. The rest of the month before school begins will include making some last minute purchases, making and baking food to store in the freezer for those beginning weeks of school where the days seem to move at double speed and above all, trying to remember that there are plans, and there are goals, but there is also reality. The sky will not fall if everything is not done by the third week in August or even the first week in September.
Links and other things I have loved this past month:
- These two free lectures by Donna Simmons have been great listening. This one about the story/history curriculum and this one about Waldorf as a therapeutic form of education.
- The introductory pages of All Year Round by Ann Druitt, Christine Fynes-Clinton and Marije Rowling – big, interesting thoughts on rhythm and festivals.
- New Collected Poems by Wendell Berry. Mr. Berry and I have been having coffee on the back porch in the morning. I love that man.
- This radio show with Terry Tempest Williams. I’m looking forward to reading her new book, When Women Were Birds.
- Having a little shopping spree at Sarah Jane Studios. I enjoy her style so much and can’t wait to start embroidering some of the patterns I ordered.
Recipe of the month: Cold Cucumber Soup (pictured above)
All the cucumbers from my neighbor coupled with the ungodly heat led a friend of mine to suggest this recipe to me. I peeled and seeded 30 (thirty!) cucumbers and made a gallon of it last week. The original is from The Moosewood Cookbook, below is my adaptation. So, so yummy.
30 (thirty!) Cucumbers
1 quart buttermilk (you could use yogurt)
2 tablespoons dried dill
1 small bunch fresh parsley
2 teaspoons salt
4 cloves fresh garlic
Blend all ingredients in food processor or blender. Taste and adjust herbs and seasonings. Chill.