Friday, March 2, 2007

In the Beginning...

My 6 year old daughter is scooping buckets of water from the lake. She stands with her right foot on the short ledge and her left foot precariously close to becoming drenched. She stoops low, flings her numerous long black braids over her shoulder so she can see, adjusts her black satin and lace "party" dress (her daily attire), and just as the water rushes away from the shore, plops the purple bucket down sideways to claim her prize. She is delighted, ecstatic, triumphant. She beams with such exuberance that all I see are her enormous smile, complete with a huge gap from the recent loss of her top middle tooth, and her deep, irresistible dimples. She is giddy, beside herself, over the moon. She completes this process repeatedly, each time offering her prize to her sister or brother. She wants the bucket back, empty and ripe for new adventures. By the time we pack up to return to our apartment just across the narrow street, she is drenched and delighted.

It is all of 16 degrees Fahrenheit. My daughter, the one who frolicked away an hour in the frigid waters of Lake Michigan, is Haitian. It has only been 3-and-half years since she cried inconsolably through her first winter, screaming each time snow touched her body.

As we skip back to our apartment, cold and wet on this February afternoon, I breathe in the frosty air and thank God for our new home. As both a multi-cultural family and homeschoolers, it had become evident that we needed to find a home more condusive to our particular needs. That is my polite way of declaring that we needed to live in a more diverse area than the far northern suburbs -- where we had lived as a family from the time we brought Rhubarb and Eggplant home (when they were 38 months and 21 months respectively) until last month.

We now live just outside of Chicago proper (along with the little sister, Blueberry, who magically appeared 11 months after Rhubarb and Eggplant turned us into parents). Somehow all the stars aligned and we not only benefit from the rich diversity and unprecedented cultural offerings of both our town and Chicago (which is just a few blocks from us), but we lucked into a fabulous apartment pretty much on top of the beach. Our front picture window overlooks Lake Michigan.

So far this winter, we have enjoyed our morning reading time snuggled up in front of the lake (in our apartment, of course, though that will surely change once warmth arrives), practiced violin while watching storm waves crash along the snowy shore, learned multiplication by twos by dreaming of doubling our finds of sand glass and shells, and discovered more about the incredible effects of lake snow than we ever thought existed.

And so begins out journey of Lakeschooling (catchy, huh?). Don't worry. The next blog probably won't sounds quite so idyllic. It is after all that brutal part of winter when every homeschooling parent who lives where winters exist seriously re-considers this whole idea of spending most of our days indoors with our couped-up, cabin-feverish children. So, until spring at least, when I am told the lake is most glorious, my little blog about homeschooling on Lake Michigan will also include a bit of reality as well.

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