Monday, September 30, 2013

That Moment When It's Perfect ...

I just wanted a sunset shot, and then a lone boater slipped across the light.
I wanted those interesting purple clouds, slung low, and then another boater powered by.
And just when I thought the sunset was what I was after, he alighted in my view.
I'm glad I took my camera.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

On Having an Introverted Child

The sign that Julia wrote for her bedroom door
We are an introverted family. It's possible one or two of my children will turn out to be extroverts, but I doubt it. In the American population, the split between introverts and extroverts is about 50/50. Previously, specialists had thought introverts were outnumbered at only 25% of the population, but testing has proved that introverts are a larger group than was first thought. They're just a quiet 50%.

Julia is an introvert. She's my only child at home. I'm regularly told that she should be put in a school classroom to make her open up, get more friends, make her friendlier and more sociable. People -- even family members -- assume she is sad and miserable at home.

She is not.

In fact, if introverts are half the population, a huge number of children are fairly miserable every day at school, forced to be with hundreds or (often) thousands of other humans on one campus, in rooms with 25 other humans all day long, eating their meals around tables full of humans in a cafeteria crammed with noise. There's never a moment alone. For introverts, that is exhausting. Every day, all day.

Thus, learning becomes an exhausting affair. Only extroverts are energized by that much human contact. If your child loves her bedroom, comes in the door from school looking weary, goes straight to her room and closes the door, don't think she's anti-social. Far from it! She's oversocialized. The old parental scenario where the adult asks the child about his day, and the child shrugs and mumbles, "okay," when the child is unresponsive and tries to get away ... that's a child who longs for alone-time.

If you want your child to willingly talk to you, don't exhaust his small reservoir of tolerance for interaction on acquaintances whom he barely tolerates. Some introverted children beg their parents to homeschool them. The parents are bemused. Why does she want that? they ask. Don't all kids love being with hundreds of other kids? No, they don't.

Julia loves being home. She may change, and change her mind, in two or three years, but at this point I doubt it. As she approaches 15 years, her temperament is becoming more set, more clear. She likes our company. She and we are knowing each other better and better. And considering she will spend the rest of her life being closely tied to us, and not to hundreds of school kids that she will not keep in touch with, it's wise that we spend these years together. It's our last chance. She's learning in an environment that is well-suited to her temperament. She absorbs information better here. Why would a parent intentionally place a child in a learning environment unsuited to his learning abilities? These are just some things to consider as you evaluate your child, your family, and your school options. Children are not formed from cookie cutters, as we know. Cookie-cutter educations do not suit them. In many ways, a school setting is designed for extroverts. If your child is deeply introverted, bring this fact to the table as you evaluate how he's learning there.

(For another thought-provoking blog post on homeschooling, read Cindy's post here.)

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Tryon Palace

Today Julia and I visited Tryon Palace. This home and government building was built for one of the last British governors of the then-colony of North Carolina. The building burnt to the ground in 1798 (except the stables building) and was not rebuilt until the 1950s, when a group of zealous Southern women turned their attentions to its restoration in its location. After they'd razed 45 homes, moved a highway, and moved a bridge across the Trent River, building began.
This was Teacher Appreciation Day, so I got in free (yippee!) and Julia was only $6. Nice deal!

Julia insisted on taking my picture as proof I was there.
A curved portico graces each side of the house.

King George III's coat of arms
The stables were converted into a rooming house in the 1900s.

No photos were allowed inside the house. Sorry.
The dovecote
Little birds in the garden gift shop. They're sitting on a glass shelf,
but the shelf didn't show up in the photo, so they're
suspended in midair.
horse trough
The gardens are extensive. Here are a few shots from one formal garden.

The Dixon House, which we toured next ~
A crew is filming for the TV show Sleepy Hollow at various houses on the Tryon Palace grounds. I think this buggy is one prop.
Here are other props, trying to look very old, but packed in bubble wrap :)
After the Dixon House, which was full of period antiques from the 18th century, we toured the lower-class Hay House. This home is usually opened for school children and is furnished with only reproductions so that the kids can sit and touch and experience the house.
I'm standing in the backdoor, looking toward the front door -- yes, this house is one room deep!
This sloping back porch reminded me of my porches at the old house (1870) we owned in Edwards, many years ago. Some of the crazy wallpaper I saw today also reminded me of that house.
The one downstairs room for dining, gathering, reading, playing

the kitchen
The only original piece -- the kitchen fireplace insert
We returned to the palace to finish touring the gardens.

The kitchen vegetable garden

Pensive Julia
A rear view of the palace
Tryon Palace has started renting their grounds for weddings and events, a necessary concession to their budget cuts lately. This is the huge south lawn stretching to the river.

This lovely darkened walk is called the Pleached Allee. "Pleaching is a term for intertwining branches to form a hedge." (from their website)

If I were the bride, I think I'd have the ceremony in here!!
Past the wire, and the chain-link fence, and the asphalt road, and the other fence, is the river. Oh, to be the mistress of the palace, Mrs. Tryon (who, I was told, insisted on being addressed as Her Excellency!), a wealthy heiress at age nineteen, who could stroll across her south lawn to the river, unimpeded! Or ... maybe not. She lived in this home for only 13 months before her husband was transferred to New York.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Mums the Word

Here are the promised mums. I wonder, do the British (or English only??) call these flowers mums like we do, when they use that word for their mothers too? "Hello, Mum, here's a mum for your porch." Yesterday I bought a white one (yellowish white) and a burgundy. They are not fully flowered yet.
I tried to get some height/structure with the white plant stand.
I really wanted a lavender-colored one ... sigh! ... they are so deliciously beautiful! But the only lavender one she had was massive, in full bloom, and cost $20. So ...
Meet Mr. Pumpkin. He came from the grocery-'round-the-corner. He's nicely plump. I do not carve my pumpkins. I try to keep them from freezing and thus rotting. He will come inside before the first frost. I kept one pumpkin a whole winter that way.
Some of you have asked for a tour of my "garden." You are mistakenly assuming that because I'm a stay-at-home, baking-crocheting-knitting-homeschooling woman (who also wouldn't mind working a loom and spinning wheel), that thus I will also be a gardener. You're wrong. Well, I have gardened. But we're living in a small rental shaded fully with pine trees and full of shrubs, in terrible soil that I'm not allowed to dig up anyway. All my plants are in pots. I have two of these ferns I'm babysitting badly. They used to be church ferns.
I wish they were pretty enough to go back to the church sanctuary, but they froze once, and have had a hard recovery.
These are my other plants. On the right, a lemongrass I have not succeeded yet in killing. On the left is a lovely plant my mother gave me. I've almost killed it three times. I'm sorry to confess I forget its name.
Lastly, my ailing rosemaries. The one on the left is mine. For some reason it's stopped growing. It used to be taller. We snip it often to cook with, but not these days! I think it wants to be in the ground, which I can't do for it. Oh, the lush rosemary hedge I had growing in Statesville! And the one on the right is Philip's, which was healthier when he was here. It's pining for him, I suppose. It had some spidery/filmy illness that I cleaned off, and it seems to be recovering.
I have another large fern I'm trying not to kill, and a few African violets that wish they lived with another mistress. What can I say? Gardening is not my gift, or at least gardening in this particular home. If we move elsewhere, I'll let you know if my skills improve!