Happy Halloween!

October 31st, 2007

     A glorious Autumn day and Happy Halloween!  Looks like the weather will be just right in our area for the little ghosts and goblins to go trick or treating.  We travel to Meemaw’s house with the young one, and he can make the rounds in a proper neighborhood.  This year he is going to be a Doctor!  He was thinking about being a kitty cat or a dragon… but as he wants to be a veterinarian when he grows up, when he saw the doctor’s costume that was it.   But I’m just thankful for the weather and beauty of fall.  I was watching the trees this morning when a great gust of wind came along… hundreds and hundreds of leaves were falling, wind blowing them across the sky.   That would have made a wonderful picture!   Here’s our jack-o-lantern’s from our annual pumpkin carving.  Enjoy the day!

Halloween jack-o-lantern™s after pumpkin carving

The water of the pond was sparkling in the afternoon sun yesterday… dancing with the light and wind.

The water sparkles in the afternoon sun

Homework, Kids and Basset Hounds

October 8th, 2007

I am continually amazed at the requirements and expectations that schools have for children… especially the younger children!  We are of course the proud parents of a seven year-old first grader.  We went through an interesting Kindergarten experience last year involving tests, assessments and grades, but thankfully- no homework.   And he “graduated” with flying colors.

That has changed since he is now in first grade.  Now he has classwork, homework and many other assessments throughout the week.  The school system seems to pride itself on finding ways to measure children of course.  But it’s not infallible.  We received a “notice to serve” recently that our child was recommended for “accelerated reading,” which of course means remedial reading.  I was amazed since he was already reading above grade level, and after volunteering in his class the previous year it seemed he was well above the average.  So after writing a letter outlining my concerns (I didn’t want him missing other aspects of class if his reading was fine), it seems the teachers and principal were agreed with me (this time!).  And it seems the statewide assessment that was given the previous year didn’t really assess anything about reading in Kindergarten-  he wasn’t paying enough attention at the time for them to have any real idea about his reading progress, and they sent the assessment in without being completed…

In short, he’s doing very well and reading like crazy now.  But I must say the homework aspect scares the heck out of me.   Jeff Opdyke at the Wall Street Journal has written an honest appraisal of How Homework is Hurting Our Family.  If that is any indication of things to come then something will have to change.   Maybe we’ll cruise through it without the same stress and impact on the family.  Maybe our son will love the homework he brings home each day as he does now.  Maybe it just won’t be an issue.  But I kind of doubt it.  And I’m a little more concerned about my own response, because I don’t want him to end up as a lonely homeschooled kid! :)    How did you handle the homework your kids faced at school?  I’d love to know…

I couldn’t write something without a picture to go with it of course, so here’s the picture for today- an over-loved, under-worked Basset Hound named Justin!  He’s about as carefree as dogs come, and gets his homework done on time every single day!

Running Basset Hound

And if you don’t believe me, just ask him.  But watch out for that nose… it’s dangerous!

Smiling Basset Hound

First Boat!

May 4th, 2007

Last week the young one got his first boat!  A fun little remote control fire engine boat…  he loves it.  He carries it to the pond and runs it all around, and it even shoots water out of a little hose up front.    The novelty has worn off after a week already, but he loves to look at it in his room.  He wanted to run it all the way across the pond, which he finally did. Then he ran up the hill and back down to the other side to get it… but the wind blew it back to the original side! Without even thinking about it he zoomed it over to him… success!  Then he carried it all the way back, very proud of himself.

First boat for the 6 year old!

Sunday Fun

March 12th, 2007

What a day…  so much to do, so little time.  But the warm weather… it makes the soul rejoice!  The young one wanted to do some “log walking” again, so this time it was on with the shorts and tennis shoes in case he did fall in the water.  He walked across the log two or three times and never came close to falling.  He was so excited each time he did it.  It may not look like much- but it’s about 3 feet deep on one side (up to his chest), and very cold water!  The log is old and rotted… it came from the other end of the pond about 3 years ago.  He would call it “the monster tree” because it was a dead snag standing up in the corner.  Then it fell into the pond one day and floated here to the other side.  And yes- he’s wearing his favorite Cardinal t-shirt… #5 Albert Pujols!  

Balancing act across the log

I kept busy planting and cutting… and when I needed a break I came to the house to lie on the warm grass in the sun.  I wasn’t there five minutes when everyone saw me… they decided to have a dog-pile party on top of Dad… literally.  Young one’s mother took the picture as he piled on too… I finally had to get back to work to get some rest!  Soon after, Mom went to help out with the local sausage supper at the church;  we joined her later in the day to have a good supper of hearty sausage and all the fixin’s. 

Everyone jumps on Dad

Rain, Bass and Growing Up

March 10th, 2007

Daddy was proud yesterday. Well, twice actually. The day started out warm and I took advantage of the weather while getting lots of outdoor work accomplished. The young one came home after a half-day at kindergarten and had a picnic on his playset. I got the tools and chainsaw ready to cut the trees on the dam, while he wanted go fishing. Then, what do they say about the weather in Missouri? Oh… “Stick around, it’ll change.” I think they say that everywhere… But of course it began raining gently and we went to the barn.

He still wanted to go fishing… “You want to fish in the rain? By yourself at the pond?” I asked. He answered with a resounding “Yes!” I was proud of him, not only because he didn’t mind the rain, but also because he could finally fish at the pond, mostly by himself. He has made such wonderful progress at swimming lessons over the last six months. I’ve been taking him twice a week since last October, and he finally can swim and stay afloat… and loves the water. So when he asks to go to the pond, I can finally say “Okay!” and know he’ll be safe, and can get himself out. I still want to be within sight distance, but I can be in the barn now and check on him. It’s a big step, because we wouldn’t let him down there by himself until now.

Oh I almost forgot… the other day we released the minnows, do you know what he did? I was busy with the bag of fish and he said, “Daddy… do you think I can walk across this log?” (I’m trying to let the fish out…) “Ah… well probably, I’m sure you can….” I look up and he’s halfway across a little log in the corner of the pond! Now this is about 12 feet long, across water that’s 2-3 feet deep! So I quietly watched him… lest he fall in if I say something! There he is, an apple he was eating in one hand, and balancing with the other… he was really concentrating, the picture of childhood… and he made it! He jumped with excitement at the other end as I clapped for him. He had asked to walk across before and I always said “No!” because it was winter, cold, etc. But I told him that was really terrific…. “Can I do it again?” he says. “Well, I’m SURE you can… but not right now… ” That could have been a Norman Rockwell painting, it was so cool! So anyway, my other proud moment? I think this is three or four… okay I’m proud of him all the time!

But this one is neat… I’m working away in the barn and he walks up with a smile on his face, and a nice fat fish on his pole! He caught a Largemouth Bass and walked up to the barn to show it to me! His eyes beamed with pride as he said, “I caught it all by myself, and I didn’t even need your help!” I was so happy for him… when he went to the pond I really hoped he would catch a fish. After taking his picture, we took it back to the pond and let it go. The last few weeks have shown a change in his youth… he is not the same six-year old of just a few months ago. Our relationship has changed… he has changed. He’s growing up.

First Largemouth Bass caught all by himself

Kindergarten University

January 23rd, 2007

Kindergarten isn’t what it used to be… that is probably an understatement. I have few memories of my kindergarten experience, other than naps, playtime and snacks for a few hours a day. I must have been deprived!

Not any more… these days schools have robust and vibrant kindergarten programs to capitalize on the creative, intellectual and physical growth of children at an early age. Many programs differ among communities, but they share the common goals to help increase readiness for later educational attainment. Sometimes however, in our zeal to help our children grow and “be whatever they want to be,” I think educators and administrators are too focused on metrics, standards and programmatic curricula.

I am not taking anything away from our local school and teachers- they are wonderful. The learning environment is rich and the experience and social development our child receives is so important. He looks forward to going to school, loves his teacher and is learning everyday- what parent could ask for more? Well, how about sometimes… less? Within the rich learning environment of today’s kindergarten programs are assessments, tests and quizes, and a day to make any high school student exhausted. He is up at 6:00 to make the 6:50 bus, a 45-minute ride to school, then a myriad of classes to include recess, music and PE, and then back on the bus to arrive home at 3:20 (if the bus is on time.) For a 6-year old, an 8 and 1/2 hour day is a lot! I wonder if there is a national “norm” for what is expected from kindergarten, or the length of the school day at an early age? We are asking much of our children to expect attentive concentration and academic performance that only a few years ago was part of a 1st or 2nd grade curriculum.

But now is not then, and these children will be challenged to learn much as they grow and develop in our society. Be that as it may, we are wise to remember how much we ask of them. Driving to school is one method to shorten the day, and I am fortunate to be able to do so. He loves riding the bus, but sometimes when he seems a little tired, or the morning rush is simply not worth it, we slow down a bit- add 45 minutes to the day and ride together enjoying the morning. Today we shared a sunrise as he sang and pointed out the sights of the countryside. After school? He’s off to swimming lessons…

“Today… is gold that covers hills and dell, and rich are they who use it well. (Pearl Phillips)”

Sunrise Driving to School

On Life and Goldfish

January 7th, 2007

Not all the natural life at Fox Haven is outdoors. On the wet winter days one makes time for catching up inside. Sometimes we always seem to be catching up with ourselves. And with the “catching up” there always seems to be more to do. Sometimes, we have a glimpse that things will not always be the way they are today. In the hustle and bustle of our lives we may see, if we are lucky, a glimpse that accepts the present for what it is, with the knowledge that today will be part of our collective memories.

Like so much here at Fox Haven, our memories provide both context and clarity for our life today. We may choose to see today for what it is- a day of simple moments that we share, and remember once again in the years ahead. I see the Fantail Goldfish in the aquarium… a Christmas present some three years ago. One of a few goldfish purchased for a small child who awoke running down the hall, yelling with joy in his voice that “Santa brought me fish!” Two of those goldfish still thrive. The fantail- “Blankie” (fondly named by the little boy because the fish looked like one of his fuzzy blankets), has grown from 1 1/2 inches to almost 7 inches in just a few years.

Records show that goldfish can routinely live more than 10-20 years with proper care, and the oldest known goldfish lived for 43 years! (Its name was Tish by the way). Hmmm… at this rate, Blankie may well be around long after I’m gone! But this tranquil, colorful goldfish represents a part of our lives, and memories. With luck, it will still be here in the years ahead. Yet the young boy will be older, and Fox Haven quieter still.

'Blankie' - Fantail Goldfish

You’ve Been Flamingoed!

January 5th, 2007

“With what to my wondering eyes should appear, but eight…” pink flamingoes at the end of the driveway.  Flamingoes? Here? “Hmmm…” I remembered my thoughts yesterday, seeing those same flamingoes a half mile down the road on someone else’s driveway…

“They must be having a party… or something… but pink lawn flamingoes? Glad I’m not them!” 

So yes, naturally, this morning we were greeted with the same darn flamingoes that I was glad to not get.   Ah… but there’s a note tied to one of the suckers: It seems a young middleschooler in a nearby community is raising money… How enterprising! (I would have never thought of flamingoes…) 

You've Been Flamingoed!

With a little paper in a plastic sleeve, she describes her goal to raise money after being selected for a group traveling to Australia of all places.  Australia? Australia!  I love Australia!  What a great idea, using pink flamingoes.   Do they have those in Australia? Nevermind. After reading the paper I have few choices: Do nothing and risk continued stares from drivers passing by.  Pay a small lump sum and the flamingoes will be gone. Or… pay more money and I receive flamingo insurance? Not only are they gone, but they are guaranteed not to return!  That’s what I want- flamingo insurance! I wonder what other kind of lawn ornament insurance there is?  Maybe I better not give anyone ideas…

Hello from Fox Haven!

December 31st, 2006

Our lives are a journey… growing up, family, friends, and the day-to-day choices we make in creating our future.  In these pages I hope to share aspects of our life that are both reflective and intentional in creating a positive future and perhaps to share a little about this wonderful place we call Fox Haven.

This is a quiet and comforting place… with the sights and sounds of nature, the trees, the water, the animals and of course the young boy that loves to run in circles chasing the dogs and cats, exploring and finding just the right wooden stick to carry with him. 

There are always enough sticks for the dreams of a young boy and his imagination. And as well, Fox Haven will always be a part of our dreams, those who have come before and those who continue this wonderous journey.  Welcome! …and Happy New Year!

© Fox Haven Media

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