Bella’s Shells

Bella’s Shells

Her first attempt. (A blurry shot, sorry.) She spent a long time crafting each spiral. Her subsequent efforts were much less carefully drawn.

The other day Bella tucked a picture away on my night stand. And she put another one on Dom’s bedside table and gave one to Theresa and I think one to Sophie and Ben too. Her new obsession: seashells.


I just love the way she’s captured the essence of the spiral shape.


She’s really had a developmental leap recently when it comes to drawing. Suddenly she’s interested in trying to draw figures. I haven’t yet captured the octopus garden she’s made of the driveway. Each little octopus is in a little circle pod that Bella made by drawing a circle around herself. Last week each was accompanied by a diver. Today I spied some fish.

I guess we’re going for an ocean theme.


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  • Sounds great to me.

    I’ve actually been trying to, I’m not sure how to say, … loosen maybe how Cecilia does school. She has a very rigid approach to things though. She likes things regimented though, probably a lot like I was when I was little, and argues with me about exactly what school is. Felicity is the same way. Maybe that is my fault. I told her that her potty training last week was part of her “school” and she insisted it wasn’t. (I don’t make Felicity do any school, but she wants to do it with Cecilia.)

    The problem is that, while I like things structured to some extent, with four little ones, as you know, too much structure can stress you out until you are talking like a crazy cat lady. I struggle to get it between over-structured stress and non-existent. Cecilia came up to me this morning at 7:25 and demanded I either let her go play outside or do school with her. That was the choice she gave me. I sent her to go play in the playroom, but we are definitely still searching for our balance. 

  • Oh that elusive balance…. It is so hard to figure out where the sweet spot is, isn’t it? And of course it will look different for every child too!

    Oh but the great thing about homeschooling is that you can tailor things to suit each child’s needs. At least to a much greater extent than a school teacher can.

    With Bella I am afraid of too much structure feeling confining for her and quashing her natural love for learning. I made so many mistakes being overbearing when she was younger, I’ve had to learn to let go. She’s such a creative little soul and so sensitive. And there’s no way she could sit still for long periods for lessons without it becoming a power struggle at some point. I made that mistake with trying to get her to eat. I’m not going to repeat it with school.

    It sounds like with Cecilia, you’re seeking balance from the other end, trying to convince her that it is ok to be a little looser and freer. Good luck to you, Katherine. I know you’’ figure out what works for you.

  • Possibly I’ve mentioned this before, so I apologize if I’m being repetitious. 

    What I did with my youngest child and only homeschooled kindergartner was “kitchen math.”  I let him pick something to bake every day.  Then he would have to count and measure, and I would ask him how much we would need if we wanted to double the recipe or cut it in half.  His favorite was “egg fractions” – I would take a carton of eggs out, cover up some part of it with my hand (say, 6 eggs), and ask him how much showed (1/2, 3/4, 1/6, etc.) or how much I had covered up.  He has never had any trouble with fractions and still remembers “egg fractions” fondly as a sixth grader.

    You cook from scratch, so you could just ask Bella to help with meals where you’re making something that needs measuring.  The extra time it takes to have “help” is well worth it if you think of it as math time.

    The other stuff you’re doing with her – counting, money, etc. – is also good.

    The key to kindergarten is not to sweat it.  The only curriculum I used was Sonlight science, because they had the sort of hands-on ideas I’m not much good at.  Sound like you do better in that area, so you’re all set.  Because Bella loves the natural world so much, you have a huge lever for math when it gets dull – reminding her that math is the tool for scientists, just like writing is a tool for everyone’s work as an adult.

    Hang in there – you’re doing well already.

  • scotch meg, I’m trying to be better about letting Bella help in the kitchen. So often I’m rushing to get something in the oven before Anthony or Ben wakes from a nap. I feel like I’m under the gun. I know it will get easier as the boys get older. I love the egg fractions idea.

    Yes. Breastmilk. All of it. All 25 pounds of him. It’s kind of breathtaking.

    He’s played with a few sold foods but isn’t very interested in them. He’s not all that big on texture, evidently. Amazing nothing though, I’m kind of lazy about giving him food. Breastmilk is easier. It doesn’t take thought and planning and much less clean up.


  • That video is priceless! It brought me back to Miriam and Bella one year ago. So sweet.

    And did you say… no, you couldn’t have meant… “Anthony is still exclusively breastfed”????? You mean, all that chunk of love is made of breastmilk????

    You are an amazing woman, Melanie. smile I sure hope I get to meet you in person someday.

  • If it is any comfort, when I first started homeschooling, I had two elementary school kids and a one-year-old.  Nap time was math time.  Period.  As in, the baby was placed in the crib, I tiptoed out of the room and raced (quietly, I hope) down to the kitchen, pulled out the math books, and grabbed the first grader.  Who promptly went flop on the floor at the mention of math.  As the year went on, I learned that it was better to sit down with the third grader first, because then I had a shot at getting both math lessons done before the baby woke up.

    That was also the year I learned that there is no “there” in second grade math.  I kept looking for what came between the first and third grade books, and eventually realized that what came between was “consolidation” aka “repetition for those who didn’t get it in first grade.”  I never did buy the 2nd grade math book.  Which is causing problems at the moment, since I have a math-y tenth grader (the flop on the floor guy) doing calculus, and a not-so-math-y sixth grader doing pre-algebra.

    May you have these problems, too!

  • Melanie,
    I’m delighted that “A Little Way” has eased some of your anxiety. We are all so prone to worry about doing this motherhood and homeschooling thing exactly right…I think I need to re-read the book this week myself!

    What a beautiful family you have and what neat activities you are enjoying. I especially liked the activity where your daughter devoured the ice cream smile – when you said this didn’t fit, at first I thought, “Oh, gee, I think you can devour ice cream. I know I can…” then I realized maybe it didn’t fit because devour is a “d” word! Hooray for non sequiturs – it’s your blog, after all, and a lovely one at that.

    with love,

  • Ah, but ice cream can be an appetizer and can definitely help with attitudes.  Maybe I should go get some. 

    Btw, Melanie, my oldest is Isabella (she goes by Bella) and I could really identify with your comment, “With Bella I am afraid of too much structure feeling confining for her and quashing her natural love for learning.”  That’s what led us to unschooling and with her strong personality, has trailblazed the way and learned so much…..