first samples

I couldn't wait until next week to see samples from my first pottery firing so I stopped by the guild today. I hardly recognized my own pieces. The glaze changes them dramatically and you wouldn't believe the flaws it can hide.

My absolute first bowl. It is hard to see but I put a freehand design on the bottom and was very happy with the result. I have to come clean, I copied the idea & glaze from someone else.

This is one appie plate in a set of 4. There is also a serving size plate that I'm going to glaze to match. I winged it with the green/brown combo and it turned out a lot like I intended it to.

With all the excitement I decided to sign up for the guild. For a very modest fee I have my own keys and can go and use the equipment any time I want. In return, I agree to participate in all of their fundraisers by contributing pieces (once they're classified as acceptable anyway). Starting in March they have set aside one night a week where more experienced potters are willing to casually mentor beginners. It sounds like a good setup so we'll see if I take advantage of it.

I've decided that my first solo mission will be a coffee mug. Unless it turns into something else, I'm flexible.


Do try this at home

Ivy is enjoying some freedom from curriculum science, having ground her way through the required elements of her unit on "Matter". We found a fun science book at the library on the weekend and she has read a lot of it already. I love seeing her engaged in learning and watching what she gravitates towards. Often it's a matter of having information easily available in the right format and making it optional. Of coures we all love optional. She came to me this morning with recipes for gluep & ooblek. It was a smashing success and we had a lot of fun doing it. The gluep was really fun and the ooblek was just...odd.

Dissolve 1 tsp borax in 6 tbsp water. In separate bowl mix 1 tbsp white glue with 1 tbsp water. If you want it coloured, add one or two drops of food colouring to the glue mixture. Add 2 scant tsp of the borax solution to the glue. Mix until it turns into gelatinous goo and then play with it.

This was was a little trickier as the instructions were vague. Fill a small bowl half full of cornstarch and add water. There's a magic sweet spot where it's in limbo between solid and liquid. If you try to stir quickly it chunks up like a solid, but when you put it back down it oozes together. Ivy's assessment was that it was like it was "...on a timer for solids. It's solid for a few seconds and when time runs out it turns into a liquid".

From the book: Science Smart: Cool projects for exploring the marvels of the planet earth, Gwen Diehn, Terry Krautwurst, Alan Anderson, Joe Rhatigan, & Heather Smith



I was initiated into the art of pottery glazing this evening. It's a dark art, I swear. Here, dip it into this pink and it will come out blue! Really! That may or may not actually be true, but suffice it to say that the colour of the liquid glaze does not resemble what will come out of the kiln. I have no idea what I've done to my pieces. The good news is that I only did half of them so I can check these out before I do the next batch. I took a picture of one of them pre-glaze but may not bother posting it until I get them back.

The blue/brown combo on these mugs is something I'd like to replicate but the local guild doesn't have a blue anywere near that. The glazing experience has awoken a faint spark of excitement about all those chemistry classes I took sometime in the early '90's. They may come in handy!

The style of this artist is wonderful. I love the colours and the movement of some of the vases. I've got a long way to go...

In my hunt for glaze information I somehow stumbled across these painted houses and found them lovely. What is it with our culture and pink stucco and plastic siding?



I've spent the occasional evening moments trying out my tube watercolours on rice paper. I post this up here to have a marker for progress, not primarily to embarrass the reader or elicit encouraging comments. I need a placeholder.


I don't recall what I've posted about this before and frankly, I'm too lazy to check. I've been reading "Creative Home Schooling: A Resource Guide for Smart Families", by Lisa Rivero. It echoes a lot of the reasons we chose to keep Ivy home this year. I've been very emotional about it, fighting tears while reading. I'm sure I could use some personal psychoanalysis to sort out issues, but really, who has that kind of time? I'm trying to get over my guilt of saying "gifted" out loud, but that's as far as I've gotten. The general sense is that we're not alone or unique. There are lots of practical ideas and approaches that resonate with me. Other resources we've found useful are the Gifted Exchange blog and the ugly but info-filled Hoagies Gifted Education Page.

still learning

Yes, we're still home learning. I think I don't report about it often because it just flows as part of the day. It feels normal.

Parts I love:

- No alarm clocks unless I set the coffee maker to brew at 8am
- Home lunches
- General control over social situations. I'm not such a control freak (maybe?) but I love being the architect of which interactions get supported and which lapse. Lots of good ones have lapsed, by the way, as total number of engagements/obligations is crucial to harmony around here. Large groups of young, aimless, lost children at recess? Should be outlawed, not labelled "social learning". My kids are not any more socially retarded from home schooling than they were before. Maybe less because they're not under stress to fit in.
- "Extra-curricular" pursuits. Ivy had nothing to give when she got home from school last year.
- Creative outlets. Of all the bonuses, this is possibly the biggest for me. Time & energy for free play and personal projects, of which there are many.
- Learning more about my own children. I have insights into their personalities I would probably otherwise have missed. It's more challenging as well, but in a good way. I think we're getting a good understanding of Ivy's modus operandi, but Ella is still a bit of an enigma, to go with the latin theme (eds. correction..."enigma" is Greek, thanks Holsten for your contribution). Ella is FIVE! Isn't this age about play dough and getting along with others?). Her advanced abilities in reading, writing, math and drawing have far outpaced her ability to understand abstract concepts & complexity in plots. Sit down to puzzle with her or dare to play "memory" and you see how sharp those senses are.


- Ezra. The girls and I put up with an excessive amount of background noise and interruptions. I swoon to think of what we could explore without that responsibility. I know I signed up for it, I'm just sayin'.

- Curriculum. First of all, I had to learn to spell it. I knew this was going to be tough for me, and it is. I still haven't shed my teenage aversion to doing what someone tells me to. It's a constant background tension that Ivy has totally capitalized on. Of course she doesn't want to do it and she knows it's an Achilles heel for me. "I don't see WHY I need to do this. WHEN am I ever going to use this in real life? WHY can't I learn at my own pace? WHEN I need to know this, I'll pick it up fast." Shit. I can't answer those. The best answer I have it that we committed to this for one year and we're going to stick it out. We'll re-evaluate over summer. It's a constant toss-up between bailing because neither of us likes it and trying to demonstrate seeing through something that you've started (not a real strong point for any of us around here).

- The gap between text expectations and BC "Learning Outcomes" is stupid. For example, Ivy is apparently supposed to learn telling time, fractions, money and multiplication tables, according to her (dull, repetitive, ugly) text. Learning outcomes for her age? Money notation ($ signs) and "increasing familiarity with adding & subtracting to 18". Page 50 if you're still with me. Really? I've checked in with parents of children in her old school class and they're working on *drumroll please* addition & subtraction UP TO 10!

- Organization. Reporting. See aversion to authority above. I feel okay about pacing and knowing were we're at in our learning but I'm terrible and keeping track along the way. I'm in a stage again of gathering bits of paper and photos from all corners of the house to "prove" that we've been busy priming our academic brains and not say...watching MTV or engaging in child labour all day? I dunno.

*Sponsorship notes...Thanks to Blues Clues videos, Triscuits, Armstrong cheeses and Holsten Maibock for allowing me to make this post enjoyable.