Busy Kids

Here’s why SillyBilly has been busy lately:

We struggled with the idea of him joining scouts for a long time: the discrimination issue, the selling of things, etc. But in the end we decided the benefits outweighed those more abstract problems. He’s already had a lot of fun, gets to have time with his Papa every week, and will have lots of good adventures and learning from it. Now if only the meetings weren’t at 7 pm — that’s bedtime!

Here’s what’s keeping both of them busy:

They both are reading FIENDS. SillyBilly and Napoleona are both rather enamored of the Magic Tree House series — recently they’ve read the ones about Ancient Egypt, Pompeii, Mozart, and Leonardo da Vinci. When we took that trip to Montana, almost the entire 4-hour drive was completely silent — a first, I assure you.

SillyBilly is in first grade, Napoleona in kindergarten. They’re both reading at about the third grade level. It’s not the Waldorf way, but it also came relatively spontaneously, especially for Napoleona. And it’s just genetic — Anthropapa and I were very early readers.

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Filed under Books, Napoleona, papa, School, SillyBilly

Mid-hiatus Montana Mini-vacation

or…Geology 101.

On the spur of the moment, we decided to drive to Montana this weekend. We had heard from another family about a fun destination not too far away (four hours or so), and with the long weekend, we went for it.

In order to prepare for the trip, we had to go to the Army surplus outlet in Idaho Falls (Curious yet? Keep reading!) One of the rest areas on the way there has signs for a “geologic site” that have always intrigued us, so in the spirit of adventure we decided to stop.

It’s called Hell’s Half Acre. You’re driving through the Snake River Plain, home to large, flat potato fields, hay fields, and more potato fields. All of a sudden, you’re in a region of chaotic terrain, with juniper trees and sagebrush. It’s so abrupt you can see the edge of it coming. The terrain was formed by a lava flow a few thousand years ago. It’s all cracks and boulders and little caves, with a paved path through a small portion and interpretive signs along the way.

What critters live in there?

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At the Army surplus store, we got a shovel, gloves, and some screwdrivers (Curiouser and curiouser!). The next day, we headed up to Montana. Once we got north of the Snake River Plain flatness, the landscape was really beautiful, with many cool rock formations and mountains.

Pipe Organ Rock, Beaverhead County

Pipe Organ Rock, Beaverhead County

Grasshopper Valley, Montana

Grasshopper Valley, Montana

We stayed overnight at the Elkhorn Lodge in Polaris.

See the steam? A hot spring-fed pool!

See the steam? A hot spring-fed pool!

But the main draw was the wonderful Crystal Park Mineral Collection Area in the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest (now you see why we needed shovels). 220 acres of decomposed granite studded with quartz crystals set aside for public rockhounding! The soil is like very coarse sand, so it’s easy for kids to dig, and there are plenty of crystals even at the surface (literally: within the first 2 minutes I picked up two nice ones right off the ground by my feet).

Some serious digging going on.

Some serious digging going on.

The best of our loot.

The best of our loot.

We will definitely be going back there. It becomes a mildly obsessive activity: just. one. more. crystal! And we didn’t find any of the most prized “amethyst” purple quartz, or any really big specimens. We did find some nice clear, white, and smoky quartz, and some stained red by iron deposits. It’s really a miracle to be able to just dig these incredible forms right out of the ground. Plus when the kids got tired of prospecting, there were lots of logs to play with and chipmunks to chase. Next time we’ll camp nearby and take our time rockhounding.

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Pre-hiatus Update

Dear Bloggy Friends,

I must pause. Not to reflect, but to get everything else done.

We plan to close on our house on Sept. 8. Of course this has meant numerous phone calls, meetings, and appointments. We’ve got a lot of financial wrangling yet to do — buying appliances, applying for our government’s wonderful offer of $8,000, and much more. And at some point I need to start packing.

I’m registered for History 101, and have made myself known to much of the history faculty. In doing so, I got myself signed up to do a Public History internship, in which I will help research and fact check on an upcoming book celebrating the anniversary of the Idaho Museum of Natural History here on campus. In the future I might also assist with the scholarly journals the department produces. I saw the gleam in a few professors’ eyes when they heard I was an editor of scholarly humanities books, so that might be a source of future paying work, as well. And at some point before December I need to take the GRE and figure out who can write references for my grad school application.

The kids start school tomorrow. In trying to balance my work, my classes, and their needs, I’ve signed Napoleona up for after-care three days a week, so that I have the entire day free for work and my courses. But the other two days, I’ll be taking Anthropapa to work at 8:00, the kids to school at 8:30, returning to pick up Napoleona at 11:15, returning to pick up SillyBilly at 3:00, and picking up Anthropapa at 5:00. Clearly, we need a second car. And at some point I need to figure out when I can volunteer in the kids’ classrooms.

I’m plugging away on my current manuscript, an examination of the role of emotions in US history. Then I’ve got 2 or 3 more to do next month. The next few months will be a huge test to see who I can balance maintaining my work load along with going to school. And at some point I need to find some new clients.

I’m also volunteering as the Chapter Development Coordinator for the EFA. It’s not too onerous, but some days it seems to take up more than a few hours of otherwise precious time. I like contributing to the organization that has provided me with so many benefits, but right now it’s yet another thing in the mix. And at some point I need to write up all the policies and procedures that go with the job.

So, my friends. I can’t keep up. I can’t even get to read all of your wonderful blogs, no less comment thoughtfully. No less write my own blog posts. So I’m officially going on hiatus, until such time as I have enough time and energy to share. Retaining the right, of course, to pop up at any time randomly.

Love,

Anthromama

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Filed under editing, Family, freelancing, life, Napoleona, papa, School, SillyBilly

Preparing for Harvest

I know it’s still summer, but I’m already thinking about autumn. It’s my favorite season, not only because of birthdays and anniversaries but just for that beautiful, almost wistful feeling I get watching the days grow shorter and nature beginning to fall asleep.

Summer is a time of growth, and heat. But I also see it as a time of preparation. All the fiery summer festivals have an aspect of pointing to the future: St. John’s Day — making the path straight. Midsummer — a time to burn away what is unneeded and ask for abundance in the coming season. July 4th — the beginning of a new American nation. Bastille Day — a turning point in French history.

I feel that I am in a strong period of preparation in my own life. We’ll soon be buying our first house, and our finances are being radically transformed. We’re making plans to buy what we’ll need for the house, and I’m already thinking of next year’s gardening. Next week, school starts for my kids, and the week after, I return to the college classroom for the first time in 16 years.

What are you preparing for?

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Filed under Deep Thoughts, holidays, life, Nature

Dragons and Bombs; or, Parental Thinking on Your Feet

Driving down a country road yesterday to pick up Papa and Napoleona:

SillyBilly asked, “Mama, what if a big dragon were coming here? What if it was flying up here from the south . . . from Los Angeles?”

Mama: “Hmmm . . . I wonder where it would land — in the mountains?”

SillyBilly: “Mama, what if a fighter jet flew over us and wanted to drop a bomb on us?”

We then talked about how we have air traffic control and the military that would prevent that from happening (as well as the unlikelihood of Pocatello being a major bomb target). And then he asked me, why do people want to drop bombs?

I said I couldn’t really imagine wanting to do anything like that myself, but sometimes people just are angry, or fearful, or don’t like other people, and they don’t know what else to do.

Then I said that sometimes there are “good” reasons. Like when we decide to participate in a war because we think what another country or their leader is doing is wrong. Like when, long ago when is grandparents were young, a leader of one country thought that he should invade and take over other countries, and also kill lots of people in his own country because he didn’t like who they were. Our country thought that was very wrong, and one way we stopped it was by bombing that “mean” country. Now we’re friends with that country again, and they don’t do that kind of thing any more.

SillyBilly asked if there were any wars going on right now. I said yes, there are always some happening somewhere. He asked me why.

I said, I guess it’s because people forget, or haven’t yet learned, how to be nice to each other and work things out. People are still sometimes afraid, or angry, or hateful.

I think I’ll wait a few years before I tell him about his own ancestors who were killed in that long-ago country that we bombed, and why it happened.

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Filed under Deep Thoughts, Kid Talk, Politics, SillyBilly

Trial by Water

Today was rather momentous. At one point this afternoon I realized that the entire day was like an initiation of some kind or another.

Rudolf Steiner wrote quite a bit about initiatory experiences, religious, meditative, and quotidian. The quotes I have given here are from his book, How to Know Higher Worlds: A Modern Path of Initiation, available for free online in a previous edition here.

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This morning I was baptized into the Missouri Synod Lutheran church here in Pocatello. It’s the church that runs the school my children attend. I started attending services regularly last spring and went through the adult confirmation class.

It’s not something I ever expected to do. I’ve never attended regular religious services before. But it just felt like the right thing to do, for me, right now. I found that at least once in each service, I would get teared up, even a bit wobbly-chinned. And this was at the early-morning, traditional, formal, organ-music service — not where you might expect an emotional response like that. So, I was intrigued about what that was all about, and kept going.

This trial is known as the Water-Trial, because in his activity in these higher worlds the candidate is deprived of the support derived from outward circumstances, as a swimmer is without support when swimming in water that is beyond his depth. This activity must be repeated until the candidate attains absolute poise and assurance.

Now, I’ve never been a big fan of standing up in front of large groups of people. I’ve done it before: performing in plays, leading business meetings. But it’s always been profoundly embarrassing.

I had gone through confirmation, was attending regularly, and had agreed to be a member of the congregation. So, it was time to be baptized. When I arrived at church this morning, I noticed that the sanctuary was more full than it has been recently (summer vacations, you know). I thought, great, even a bigger crowd to witness this! But I thought about how fear is really an illusion, a kind of self-centeredness blended with a certain lack of courage. I thought about what the Lutheran church teaches about grace, and what I’ve read in many places about surrendering oneself to a higher power.

I wasn’t nervous after that at all.

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Silly Billy and Napoleona spent most of the day today outside, playing.

Now, we live in an apartment complex. We’re looking for a house to buy, but for now we’re here, and so the kids don’t have a backyard. They play in the playground areas, they ride their bikes and scooters around, they climb trees. For an apartment complex, it’s not too bad.

But today they crossed a boundary; they erred in their decision making.

For even as it is difficult for those who have not learned to spell correctly in their childhood to make good this deficiency when fully grown up, so too it is difficult to develop the necessary degree of self-control at the moment of looking into the higher worlds, if this ability has not been acquired to a certain degree in ordinary life.

Anthropapa and I heard a knock at our door, and there was a woman with SillyBilly, saying something about he and Napoleona getting into people’s cars, and that Napoleona had run off. Anthropapa tracked down Napoleona, and we sat down to talk about what had happened.

They had evidently been opening unlocked car doors and getting inside the cars. Worse, they had a plastic bag with a few odds and ends they had taken from some of the cars!

They were really, really upset. SillyBilly told me that some of his friends had told him there was jail for little kids, and was that true, Mama? Napoleona just cried and cried.

We talked a bit about why opening cars is wrong and unsafe, and about how wrong it is to steal. We reassured them that there is no little-kid jail, but also made sure they knew that their actions have consequences.

Later in the evening, while I was combing and drying Napoleona’s hair after her bath, I started talking about forgiveness. I told her the story of the Prodigal Son, how the son made big mistakes (a kind of initiation we can all have in daily life) and how parents (and God) forgive us if we are sorry about and try to learn from our mistakes. The parent might be upset at the mistake, and our desire to learn from the mistake is necessary, but the forgiveness and love are always there.

Should [the candidate], in the course of his activity, introduce any of his own opinions and desires, or should he diverge for one moment from the laws which he has recognized to be right, in order to follow his own willful inclination, then the result produced would differ entirely from what was intended. He would lose sight of the goal to which his action tended, and confusion would result. Hence ample opportunity is given him in the course of this trial to develop self-control.

A day of trials, of initiations, of waters and tears.

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Photos by Vanessa Pike-Russell.

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Filed under Anthroposophy, Deep Thoughts, Family, life, Napoleona, papa, Parenting, Religion, SillyBilly

A Secret Hazard of Editing

I don’t mean to whine, but I am sick of being sick, already.

The day before our big trip to Washington, Napoleona puked all day. So of course the next day, while somewhere in the middle of nowhere (between Baker and La Grande) I got sick too, despite washing my hands 40 bazillion times. Then the day after Anthropapa and I returned home, I got a stomach bug again.

This week, I got a weird ear infection that has involved all the lymph nodes on that side of my head and neck. The ear infection isn’t so bad, but the whole area in front of, underneath, and behind my ear is so swollen that it’s painful. Even my earlobe is sticking out! Waaaaaaaaah! (That time, I meant to whine.)

This is the second ear infection I’ve had this year. The first one was in February and I ended up with a ruptured eardrum. I wish I knew what was going on with this, since aren’t ear infections just for kids?

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You’re probably wondering by now just what the heck that post title means.

Well, I recently worked on these two books, and they’ve made me a bit hyperchondriac about this ear infection. What if it’s some weird bacteria and I’ll be on one antibiotic after another? What if there is no antibiotic to handle this infection at all? Never you mind that I don’t have a fever or any other symptoms; these things are unpredictable and sneaky and deadly, I tell you, DEADLY!!

Hookay, back to reality. My ear is stuffed up and my face hurts, and it’s impossible to sleep on that side. But really, it’s probably not fatal.

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Filed under Books, editing, Health, Silliness and Mayhem