If you know us, and most of you do, then you know that we tend to parent on… well, lets call it a very long leash. We believe that skinned knees and dirty faces are the signs of a well spent childhood. We think kids should climb trees and play in the mud and ride bikes to the local market without parents hovering. But with all the freedoms we allow our children, we are sticklers about a few things. The first of which is manners, because there is no excuse for bad manners and no reason not to teach children when they are very young. And bed times, because I need the extra couple of hours of quiet time and alone time with my husband and they need the sleep. And in the summer time when it seems like it should be endless outdoor fun, my kids have to do some reading and writing (and occasionally math facts, but we’re not that great on those) every morning before they can go out.
This last one applies even and sometimes especially when we’re traveling. Here in Alaska our routine starts with breakfast together and then we get dressed and tidy up our space. Right now that involves the kids stuffing their sleeping bags and putting away their pajamas and putting on their first set of clothes (they are currently going through 2-3 sets of clothes a day depending on how often they play in the water). Once they’ve done these things they come to the kitchen/dining area where I am cleaning up breakfast and they get out their notebooks. Now my older girls, I can just set them loose with their writing. I typically give them free reign on what the want to write. This week I insisted that it be about Alaska so you’ll see that Tatum wrote a bit of poetry and Cleo is doing a little reporting on our journey. Eli and Ivy Maude need a little more help. All the kids wrote, edited and typed their pieces all week this last week. Except for Ivy Maude, her development at this point depends on that handwriting so hers will be handwritten. Once the children are through with their writing and reading in the mornings they are free to the outdoors where the rest of their learning is taking place.
I may have taken some parenting advice along the way from A River Runs Through It. Norman Maclean writes, “Every afternoon I was set free, untutored and untouched until supper to learn on my own the natural side of God’s order. And there could be no better place to learn than the Montana of my youth”. I would say, there is no better place for my children now than the Alaska of this summer. I decided to start a blog as a way to practice my own writing, but I realized what a great way to motivate the kids in their summer writing and a great experience for them to see the reaction of having it read. If you have a moment to make a comment, do. It’s like a little reward for their hard work.
|If our family had a Poet Laureate, Tatum would be it. She got her|
mother's love of words and is on the way to being a better writer
than I am by next year. Photo cred: Cleo
By: Tatum Cottam
I watch the Island
Rise out of the rippling sea,
Like a whale rising for breath;
as the tide falls back further,
Showing the connection,
And the science our minds can nurse.
All my science lies on the other side,
Mixed with the bewitched beauty of faith,
The island we can wrap our fingers around;
Away from the plushy abode,
Where I dwell,
Rush of riffling waves splatter my toes,
Toes curl under,
And the smell of magic remembers to trot on my freckles,
Mountains of opaque reality face,
The unconcerned reality of my island,
I wish my eyes were big enough to take
it all in.
Cleo is a natural reporter, especially when it comes
to exposing the injustices brought on
by her younger brother. Photo Cred: Tatum
Alaska: The beginning
I was sick when we flew in to the Anchorage airport at 11:30 p.m. We drove to the Hampton hotel got our room key, went to our room, and fell asleep. In the morning we woke up at 7:30 a.m. even though we all fell asleep at midnight the night before. It took us a little while to really wake up. Also I had a cold so it took me a little longer. After we did wake up we went to the hotel breakfast. For breakfast I had half a waffle, a yogurt, and a hot chocolate. Then my mom asked me to help my little sister Ivy get a hot chocolate. So Ivy and I went over to the hot cocoa machine and filled the cup too high, so I asked Ivy to slurp the top but she was too cantankerous and said no, and accidentally tipped all the steaming hot cocoa on my hands! Boy, it hurt a lot. So, my mom took me back to our hotel room and put cold rags on my hands to cool the burn down. About 5 minutes later everyone came in and the first thing I said was “did you bring MY hot cocoa?” then “can we go swimming in the hotel pool?”. My dad said no and yes. ( No to cocoa and yes to swimming ). We swam for about 30 minutes. Then we went to Homer. It was a beautiful but long four hour drive. We only had one stop at a cute little restaurant 1) Because we had to eat and 2) My dad had a meeting in Homer he had to get back for.
Note to reader: This past week has been the best week of my life. But the kids needs to work on no fighting though. I hope we can stop fighting before this trip ends. By the way I am not sick any more.
|Eli's avante-garde poetic style keeps us|
always guessing what he'll produce next.
4 Wheelers by: Eli
Last Monday we went on 4 WHEELERS. I put my hands o n the handlebars. I went with my mom but I want to ride by myself. Dad says maybe next time I can steer.
|Ivy Maude is interested in why things work the way|
they do. This is her first serious investigation.
|"Today I noticed the water is coming close to the condos.|
I want to know why. So I learned that when the
sun and the moon are close to the earth the tide goes
up and down."