Blog o' Graysmiths

Apple Picking September 30, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — graysmiths @ 3:13 pm

This is our second fall picking apples.  This year we went to Millstone Creek Orchards with the Chapel Hill Homeschoolers.  They were almost picked out for the year – I asked and they said the season started in August!  So, we didn’t get to pick apples by ourselves (my plan had been to arrive early and pick apples for a crostata), but we did have a great picnic and ice cream before the tour started.  The tour consisted of apple tasting, cider pressing (and drinking ;), an explanation of the apple picking and preparing for market process and a hayride to the orchard to pick two apples each.  The weather was just lovely – a perfect NC fall 70 degrees and a wonderful time was had by all.  Here are two photos, there are more on our flickr site:

apples3 apples5


Last Week

Filed under: Uncategorized — graysmiths @ 10:48 am

I threw up my hands and declared it break week. Between the rain, Luke’s crazy work schedule and getting ready for a trip to Pennsylvania, there was just too much going on. We did manage to make some crowns out of forsythia branches, do an Autumn Poet’s Walk with our homeschool group and make playdough with Turmeric:


We also had a wonderful trip to DC and Pennsylvania – lots of great times visiting friends and seeing a long-time friend get married.  Thanks Scott and Diane for hosting us once again!  Unfortunately, in all the craziness of the trip I did not get any pictures!


Rosemary approaching two… September 18, 2009

Filed under: Growing Up — graysmiths @ 8:53 pm

I haven’t said a lot about Rosemary on the blog lately, so here is what she is up to:

Pretending to read books.  I don’t remember Atticus doing this very much.  She begs me to read books to her and will sit still for 15 minutes or so (a record for her) looking at books.  Her favorites include Gerda Muller’s season books, those touchy-feely books (aka Pat the Bunny),

Making huge, huge, huge messes.  Crying until I give her the cracker bag (so she can get them herself) and then dumping out all the crackers.  Writing on the walls with whatever she can find (including makeup).

Saying “mine” every thirty seconds.

Going down the slides that are for kids 5 years and older.

Putting on other people’s shoes and walking around.

Playing in the bath for an hour or more.

Taking four baths a day.

Falling down and hurting herself because she is imitating her brother.

Putting together little sentences like “Stop atticus.”

Pushing other children (someone made a big deal out of this when she did it once and she hasn’t forgotten).

Screaming at the top of her lungs when she doesn’t get what she wants.

Giving lots of hugs and kisses.

Saying “I love you.”



Craft Board

Filed under: Uncategorized — graysmiths @ 2:41 pm

Last weekend, Luke and Atticus put together our craft board – a board that allows kids to clip items (such as yarn, branches, ribbon) to it and work with them without the board moving. Sort of like a really, really heavy clipboard. We based ours on this post by another Enki family.  Basically, we bought two boards at Lowe’s – some 1×12 pine and some 1xslightlymorethan12 MDF.  Luke cut two pieces of the MDF and one piece of the pine into 18″ lengths.  Then Luke and Atticus glued one piece of the MDF and one piece of the pine together:


They then added four countersunk screws


and repeated the process with the second piece of MDF.   After letting the glue dry for a few hours, Luke sawed the MDF (mysteriously larger than the Pine) to the right size, smoothed the edges and sanded.


Atticus loved loved loved making the board and has been begging to do some more woodworking projects ever since.


First Adventure Circle: Sailing on the Sea September 9, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — graysmiths @ 10:23 pm

Here are the details of our first Adventure Circle – aka, my attempt at getting some sensory integration exercises in our lives a la Enki.  Enki talks about the importance of awaking our breath and bodies in the morning and we have been holding circle on mornings where we don’t have to “get up and get out” – around 4 or 5 mornings a week.  The first part of our Adventure Circle is activity (“awakening breath”) – moving our bodies!  Of course, we do this frequently throughout the day, but I like the way this puts an emphasis on getting some of that energy going in the right direction early in the day.   Next, midline activities strengthen our ability to integrate our lateral midline (left to right), horizontal midline (up and down) and sagittal midline (forward and back).   According to researchers, movement across midlines effects not just the ways in which your body moves through the world, but also your ability to read, write, concentrate and think flexibly (just google “crossing midlines” for more information.) Next comes work on the vestibular and proprioceptive senses – the senses that tell you where your body is in the world and how it is moving.  Enki calls these two senses “base senses” – for those of you with interest, here is a link for more information.  These are two senses which I am particularly interested in with regard to Atticus.  I have frequently noticed his inability to understand where his body is – that he is about to run into people, or that he is “standing in someone’s space.”  Finally, come “fingerplays” – usually short poems-like rhymes which accompany hand movements.  Fingerplays work on developing fine motor skills.

Note:  In italics are songs or chants taken from the Enki Kindergarden Movement Book  – many of the songs are traditional songs, others were created/adapted by the Enki folks.   The words in italics are the basis for the narration I provide throughout the circle.


Sing Come Follow– w/Variation:  “On the water, on the water, on the water to the sea” while leading children into the living room.  Lie down on the couch, curled up.

“Sleeping snug in our beds we heard someone singing.”

Awakening Breath:

Sing Wake Up – mime waking up – stretch and jump up!

“We woke up and the morning was clear and bright!  We went down to the harbor to find our boat.”

Sing Come Follow Variation (sung while skipping around the house):

Come sail, sail, sail, sail, sail with me,

Wither shall we sail, sail, sail? Wither shall we sail? O’er the sea.

On the water, on the water, on the water peacefully.

“We got on our boat and set sail.”

Sailor Boy (this is a a song where we hold hands and walk in a circle and mime different parts of the song)

“We saw some beautiful dolphins in the water and sang to them.”   Sing Come Follow Variation while pretending to be dolphins or sailors singing.   “We then continued sailing out into the sea.”


Far Out at Sea (another circle activity – we pretend to be horses/waves in the sea)

“We steered the boat towards a good fishing spot.  (mime turning a boat wheel).  First we got to work throwing out the fishing line (mime putting hooks on a line and throwing it out to sea).  Then we swabbed the deck (down on knees, back and forth with hands).  After the deck was clean we had to haul the fish in (pretend to bring in a fishing line, take off the fish and throw in a bucket).

Base Sense Sequence:

“A sudden storm came up and our boat was tossed to and fro.”

Standing tall, rock side to side.   Raise arms to side and run around, and then spin around and around. (3 minutes) (Vestibular)

“Finally the storm ended and our boat ran ashore near an island.  We hopped off the boat and swam to shore.  When we got there, we saw that we were surrounded by beautiful frogs (mime hopping around like frogs).”

“After we rested, we got back on the boat and sailed away.  After sailing for a while we saw the lighthouse near our home.”


“We arrived safely home.”

ClosingOur Home – another fingerplay

Here is a picture of the kids on the “sailboat” Atticus put together the first week and which we have continued to use as the base ship for circle.  You can see my homeschool planning notebook in the background resting on the piano…

I was hoping to get more and better pictures of circle but found that the taking of the pictures made circle disintegrate in a major way!  I’m too tired tonight to talk about how circle is going – I’ll get to that tomorrow…



Filed under: Uncategorized — graysmiths @ 9:36 pm

I wasn’t happy with the way WordPress was scrunching some of my summer pictures, so I posted them on my very neglected flickr site. I promise to post some more from the summer, hopefully before fall…


Nature Journal September 1, 2009

Filed under: Homeschooling — graysmiths @ 10:08 pm

We made the first entry in Atticus’ nature journal today. It was a Seasonal Tree Study, an idea I found on the Handbook of Nature Study blog. We used their Seasonal Tree Study Page as a guide. First, we walked around the yard looking for a tree. I wanted one that would change with the seasons, so the numerous pines were out. Finally, Atticus settled on the Cherry Tree in our backyard. We sat down near the tree and I asked him some questions and wrote down his thoughts in the journal. He took some pictures of the tree, the best one will be printed out and glued in the book:

Cherry Tree

He also did a leaf rubbing and drew a picture. He drew the picture with cherries on the tree (the birds already ate all of them a few months ago) and said “we will have to save this picture for the spring since the cherries are on it. I wasn’t really looking at the tree when I drew it.”

We will do this again a few times this year: in November when the leaves are changing, in February when all the leaves are gone, in April when the blossoms are on the tree and finally when the cherries are on the tree.

Next week we will be reading an Enki Nature Story about purslane. I’m hoping to find some growing near here so we can study it in person!