a few reads

em_emberley crown of Ed Emberley creatures drawn by Lux. 

Start following a few homeschool people on facebook and you’ll be inundated with articles about homeschooling. Here are a few I’ve enjoyed recently…

Confessions of a Former Homeschooling Mom

I think of this one in the morning because she says…

We started every day by snuggling on the couch. There was no yelling at everyone to find their shoes. There was no scrambling to locate homework and lunch boxes. There was no rush. No fuss. No tears. In fact, at the risk of sounding like a homeschool hippie, we started our days in peace and love. What a bunch of weirdos.

Ha! Losing those moments, as it is the same at our house right now, is probably my #1 suspicion of beginning kindergarten next fall.

What changed this teacher’s mind about homeschooling

Having been the only person to be called on for 12 years, she did not use the group’s mass as camouflage, or a barrier, but accepted every question, suggestion, lesson and instruction as her own responsibility.

This one reminded me of myself and how I felt in the classroom, both in high school and college, having been homeschooled up until then.

Haute Home Schools (there seems to be pay block here if you try to read on your phone)

This was just a fun one to read, on the high end of things. You don’t have to build a custom home for it, of course, but Joe and I do talk about hiring tutors for specific subjects that we don’t feel capable of handling ourselves. Wouldn’t that be fun?

Learn Different, on Altschools

This isn’t about homeschooling, but it’s a great overview of where the tech-iest micro-schools are at these days by Rebecca Mead at the New Yorker. The benefits (retroactive omniscience for the teacher!) and pitfalls (tablet frustrations for kindergartners) are just as you might imagine them. Exciting nonetheless.

Reading any good articles lately?

things lost

The melancholy passage of the years tends to change our values as we age, and the awesome backflips of 13 don’t hold the magic they once did; not when compared to the image of a loved one who has since gone absent, say. If I’d had a smartphone with a video camera back in my early adolescence, I doubt that I would have trained it on the things that matter to me now, like the sight of my mother reading in her blue armchair, underlining passages from Proust.

 

I’m still thinking about this quote buried within a mostly anti-technology essay by Walter Kirn from a few weeks ago. I didn’t find most of the essay interesting, or perhaps I just didn’t want to hear it. But since I just finished putting together a book of photos from our little family’s last year, I can’t help but wonder how many times I took the pretty photo, instead of the one that will mean something to me in the future.

Full cart

I’m very pleased with my new-found maternal energy for decorating and all things Christmas-y. Truly when I say to you that last year the extent of our decorating was a bare branch, hung delicately around a bare lightbulb, with six ornaments hanging on it, believe me that whatever dwr sickly-modern image comes to your mind is exactly what it looked like. At the time that seemed perfectly apt to what we needed, given that we travel over the holidays and arrive home in January. And yet, this year I believe I’m following, at the very least, two people on Pinterest who have entire boards devoted solely to twinkly lights. This makes me very happy. I have already informally polled most of my city friends about where they buy their Christmas trees. While I was away in Florida, Joe even bravely attempted a melted-peppermints-into-ornaments DIY. It didn’t turn out whatsoever but we are not deterred.

However, I seem to be one accurate Amazon order away from the reality of all my seasonal daydreams. I don’t like to pull the trigger on Amazon orders too quickly, so I often just pile my cart full of things I definitely need, add one or two things I’m not quite sure about, then mull over the lot of it for a week or two. Each day it sadly occurs to me that the very thing I need is waiting for me in my Amazon cart.

For example, right now we have only one child size spoon even though both girls like using child size spoons. We had three or four at one point in my recent memory, and I can only hope they’ve made their way to a good home because they are with us no longer. Every day I think about the pack of six bamboo spoons I have waiting in my cart. Then, as the presiding arbiter in the household who makes decisions based on complete whimsy and then sticks to them like honey on the bottom of a cabinet, I dole one spoon out to one girl and hand the other girl a fork. After weeks of this, they now eye each other’s utensil closely and then examine their own with some suspicion. It’s not always evident who got the better deal (is pasta better with a spoon or a fork?), and isn’t that just like life, my young grasshoppers? Keep your eyes on your own bowl and you’ll be much more content.

Speaking of other people’s bowls, Boston has yet to be added to these cities where Amazon is hiring butlers to run things to your car or small children to pull red wagons with deliveries or whatever else they are promising to young people in San Francisco who only order iPhone cases and bulk packages of green tea anyway. Between chatting with my brother in NYC and my brother in SF, things seem to be dramatically more efficient for them there, but in a mystifying way. Which is to say that even if I could ask someone to bring over those spoons right away, I’m sure I’d still find something to hem about.

what’s on your homescreen?

a new series wherein I ask friends what apps they use frequently and why. I’m going first, let me know what you think!

rachael_ringenberg_homepageVoice Memo I’ve been using this to record Lux talking to herself and at music class so I can remember the songs for Lux later on.

Google Maps Much subtler on the road than the Apple maps app.

Merriam Webster Good old fashioned knowledge.

Simple a new bank that Joe and I are using because their app is designed to help you save.

Google I use their search app because it’s quicker than the Safari browser.

 

Feedly, Twitter, Instagram Need no explanation, really.

TeuxDeux a to-do app for the daily and the long term. I really love the simplicity of it. In November, they are going to start charging $24-a-year, and I’m up for paying.

Foursquare Better for suggestions of where to eat more than over-saturated Yelp these days.

Notes Compared with TeuxDeux, I use it more for spur of the moment. Great for grocery lists. Intuitively designed not to waste your time when you are just trying to jot things down in the moment.

LevelUp Boston’s preferred pay-with-your-phone app, usually saves me $5-$10 every ten purchases or so.

Petting Zoo Still my favorite kids app, though Lux prefers instagram, especially #puppiesofinstagram.

Kayak for whimsical flight searches, just to satisfy my frequent “how much does it cost to fly to Bali in March?” thoughts.

iQueue it makes zero, ZERO, sense that I have to use a third party app to update my Netflix dvd queue, but there you have it. It works quickly and simply. Recently added: La Vie en Rose, A Nos Amours, Mystic Pizza, Skyfall.

 

 

 

 

 

Booked!

rome_apartment3

I mentioned that we were using the addictively clickable airbnb to find a spot in Rome. Well, I quickly became overwhelmed by the options and let Joe take over. After a couple of late nights, he found this spot and we booked it! It’s the location we wanted, Campo di Fiori, a one bedroom (4th floor walk up, gulp) with a crib, and the perfect patio. It was important to us that we’d be comfortable just staying in most nights since Lux will probably go to bed early.

This patio + salami + extra candles = best restaurant in town.

large-3large-4rome_airbnb

I appreciate that things like a full kitchen and free wifi are assumed with apartment rentals. It’s amazing how hotels sound so lovely when it’s just the two of you, but with a rambunctious kiddo the space of an apartment seems so much more relaxing.

The only sad part for me with a rental v. hotel, and this is just silly, is that you have to go hunting for your breakfast. I’ve been using Elizabeth Minchilli’s Eat Rome app to scout out relaxed bars nearby for breakfast.

 

Valentine’s Day gift swap

Allie is hosting a Valentine’s Day City Swap, in which you swap local gifts from your city with a paired-up stranger. I’ve already signed up, but you have until Friday if you want to join! She did this for Christmas too and had almost 100 people participate. She’s a design blogger so you know her readers have good taste. : )

pretty logo from Allison Lehman’s blog.

comments for the better!

I switched ED comments to the disqus platform (pronounced “discuss”) because I want them to take over the internet.

I like this whole commenting-on-websites-idea more if all the comments I make, ever, are accessible in one place to check back on, follow up, and deliver that last minute zinger before fleeing the scene. I also want my profile to be clearly connected to the social media of my choice, like my blog and my Twitter, in one place (though this is not so good for fleeing the scene).

And it seems like disqus is doing this best right now. I see it on company websites, I see it on tumblr, and I see it on wordpress. I don’t see it on blogger much, but it could be there, if you wanted it. United!

But I dooo apologize for the hassle of creating a new profile, if you haven’t worked with them yet.

My Skillshare workshop!

Have you heard of Skillshare.com? It’s a super website operating with the goal of encouraging everyone to teach anyone about anything. It’s well designed, in all sorts of cities, and is connecting passionate folks to curious topics all the time.

I love this idea. I frequently find myself hunting for people’s secret passions and expertise in conversation, but it can take forever to discover, even from your good friends! However when skillshare finally came to Boston, I was a little disappointed that none of the classes interested me. What could I teach and be excited about?, I asked myself.

and I realized: all the little lists of things I’d wished I known before Lux came, the discoveries I made in the first few months, the many tips I’ve learned from my fellow moms, the useless baby stuff I gave away, the I-wished-I-woulda’s….that could be a class!

And so:

A one night workshop for expecting moms in Boston! Obviously I’m a little nervous about it, but I’m also excited! I would have loved something like this when I was pregnant, it will be a good way for expecting moms to meet each other (which is so important!), and (inspired by the methodology of the fabulous blogshop) I will have yummy snacks and delicious mocktails to make the class even more festive. If it’s as fun as I hope it will be, I’ll do another!

Can I ask you a Twitter favor, dear readers? Would you minding tweeting about it (link: http://skl.sh/JP6pUr) even if you’re not in Boston? I have my postcards to pin around the neighborhood, the strangers I will ask to retweet, and other news-spreading ideas, but I’m firm believer in the serendipitous power of Twitter. I’d be so grateful!

And what about you? What topic do you love to talk about with interested listeners? What would you like to talk a class in? If Skillshare isn’t in your city, you can still sign up and suggest your city next!