Thursday, April 26, 2012


I've been posting lots of cute pics on Facebook (I finally broke down and bought a smart phone -- it's sad to own a phone smarter than I am....).  I have no idea how to link you guys over there, but if you're on facebook and you want to check it out, I post over there under Harvest Moon.

In fact, my phone camera is way better than my regular camera, so until I figure out how to get my photos from the phone to the computer (yes, I know it's simple, but again, the phone is smarter than I am....), most of the really good pictures can probably be found there instead of here.  (Especially since I'm HATING the new blogger format -- have I mentioned that already?!  It's totally not compatible with my ancient computer monitor, so I can't see my entire post while I'm writing it -- it's making me NUTS!  Unless I drop it to 75% size, and then I can't see ANYTHING....)

Wednesday, April 25, 2012


 In this story we learned of the great chief Godasiyo, and how her affinity with a white dog caused the great tribe of Red Clay people to split apart, and how they split yet again when arguing over which direction to take, causing her death, after which the various tribes found they no longer spoke the same language.  Above, J drew Godisayo and her dog traveling down the river on a platform supported between two canoes.  Below, Zoo Boy drew a scene from when the people all were still living together, going about their various pursuits.  (He explained what each person in this drawing was doing -- I love it, his most detailed work to date!  I particularly like the longhouse in the periphery of the drawing.)

 J's story summary above, Zoo Boy's below.  More and more, J is putting our summaries into his own words so that the sentences he selects make better sense.

testing (HATE it!)

NOT happy about the new Blogger format....

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

the creation of human people

In this story, the twins create the people of the earth -- people from yellow tree bark, who they put in the east; people from white sea foam, who they put in the north; people from brown soil, who they put in the south; and people from red clay who say in the west. Salt water divided all the people as they did their own work, until such time as they were ready to all work and live together. J's drawing above, Zoo Boy's below.

J's story summary above, Zoo Boy's below. Ultimately, Tharonhyawa:kon was set in the sky to rule the day as Elder Brother Sun, and Shawiskara was sent to keep his grandmother (Grandmother Moon) company in the nights.

We are all absolutely loving these stories!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

sky twins

In this story, we learned about how the Sky Woman ignored the first twin and he wound up wandering, uncared for, until he found his father. The Cloud Man cared for and taught Tharonhyawa:kon all the things the Creator wanted him to know. When he returned home, he discovered that Atsytsyakayon has died, and he fought with Shawiskara about what to do with her body. (He wanted to bury her in the earth like she had done for her daughter, but his brother wanted to take her to the edge of the earth and kick her body into the sea.) Zoo Boy drew this struggle in his story drawing below.

While they were struggling, the Sky Woman's head flew off her body and into the sky, and there became Grandmother Moon. (J is particularly delighting in these "this is how that was created" tales.) Then the brothers set about creating all the resources of the earth -- Tharonhyawa:kon creating all the nice, peaceful things like gentle deer, flat rolling lands, straight calm rivers, and tall reaching trees, while his brother Shawiskara created violent things like mountain lions to eat the deer, steep craggy mountains, moving the rivers to the tops of mountains to crash down in water falls, and bending and twisting the branches of trees. In the end, there was great beauty in all the parts of nature, and the earth was in balance. J drew this balanced world, with the twins standing side-by-side viewing their creations, in his drawing, which is at the top of this post. (This and his previous drawing of the Sky Daughter story are two of my very favorites of his to date, he is truly capturing the feel and importance of each of the stories with his work these days.)

J's story summary above, Zoo Boy's below. Zoo Boy learned a lesson about planning, he ran out of room to write his full story summary and had to cut it shorter than he'd planned.

I liked the lesson my boys drew from this story: both commented that even though Shawiskara was trying to be "mean" by creating problem things, in the end his creations were every bit as beautiful and important to the world as Tharonhyawa:kon's. There's a powerful wisdom gained with that insight, and Zoo Boy in particular seemed to feel very empowered by that message.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Saturday, April 7, 2012

a sky daughter

In this story, the Sky Woman gives birth to a Sky Daughter, who travels to the edge of the earth and meets a Cloud Man. She later gives birth to two sons who, according to the Creator who speaks to her in her dreams, will each control half of the earth and together will make it whole. Her second son, Shawiskara, is birthed through his mother's armpit, killing her, but blames the death on his brother. The Sky Woman plants all the good plants of the world on her daughter's grave, each in an appropriate spot over her body. Both boys chose to draw the meeting of the Sky Daughter and the Cloud Man, J's above and Zoo Boy's below.

Above is J's story summary, below Zoo Boy's. Selecting the sentences they wanted to use from our group summary was more difficult this time, because in order to leave some sentences out and still have the passage make sense, they needed to modify the information a bit. (For instance, if coming in at the middle of the summary, instead of starting the sentence "There she met a Cloud Man," they had to identify where "there" was -- i.e. "at the sea"-- and who "she" was -- i.e. the Sky Daughter -- so that the new sentence would read "At the sea, the Sky Daughter met a Cloud Man.") They needed my support with this, especially Zoo Boy, but in the end both did a great job coming up with a coherent summary of the specified length. (By the way, the length of their summaries is based on how much writing they can do comfortably within the amount of time I want them to spend on writing each day -- I just see no point in frustrating them with too much written work all at once, especially since they get practice with it every day.)

Friday, April 6, 2012

when the world was new

In our story, Grandmother Ots-Toch is starting to tell the Haudenosaunee creation stories to Aionwahta. Her first story was about the creation of the earth, and how the Sky Woman fell from the Sky World, guided by the birds, to live on Turtle's back, and how Muskrat brought earth up from the bottom of the sea to create Turtle Island. Above is J's story drawing, of Atsytsyakayon falling to the world, aided by the birds. (You can see some of the animals, including the giant turtle, awaiting her arrival.) Below is Zoo Boy's drawing of the Sky Chief digging beneath the Great Tree of Light as directed by his dream. Zoo Boy pointed out that he was digging with his hands, since they probably didn't have shovels way back then. (That kid cracks me up!)

Above is J's story summary, below is Zoo Boy's. Again, they carefully selected the sentences they included to make sure their summaries made sense. (The story summary we composed together contained 9 sentences, J chose 8 and Zoo Boy chose 4 for the summaries they wrote down in their good books.)

Thursday, April 5, 2012

blue belt

Zoo Boy tested for and earned his next karate belt -- a blue belt -- this past weekend. If this seems fast, it is -- he was supposed to test in May, but we were told that he knew the material well enough that they were using him to demonstrate it to the other students in class, so decided it made sense to test him early. Fine by us, this shifts him into a better time slot for classes.

In this first photo, he demonstrates some moves in his final moments as a purple belt.

The Boy accepts his new belt and certificate from Master Ken.

This new belt comes with new privileges and opportunities, which I'm sure I'll be posting about in the future.

Master Ken helps Zoo Boy tie on his new belt. Zoo Boy tied it himself (with my help) for class this past Monday, for the first time. He said he doesn't want to be the only blue belt that doesn't know how to tie his own belt.

Rosebud had a front-row seat for the ceremony in the arms of Master Ken's wife, Lisa.

The belt testing class.

Monday, April 2, 2012

at the gala

This past weekend was the big ballet school gala fundraiser, with a french theme. J danced in a trio with two of the female dancers at his level (and all 3 did a marvelous job!), and then enjoyed dancing the night away to popular music (provided by a DJ). Zoo Boy was at his own party that night, for siblings too young to attend the Gala, so wasn't available for photo opportunities with the rest of us.

Rosebud was all dressed up for the occasion, too.

My soul sister Laurel and me:

It was a really fun night -- good food, good friends, lots of dancing, and lots of laughing.

the old ones

This past week we read the chapter (in two different parts) of The Old Ones, about the Harvest Festival, and how the Bear Clan became the keepers of the medicine for the Onondaga tribe. Both boys decided to draw the scene where the strange old man (really The Creator in disguise) came to the door of the Bear Clan's longhouse and asked for food and shelter. J's drawing above, Zoo Boy's below.

For summary writing, we had a shift in the way we've been doing things. Previously, we would compose the summary together, then the boys would copy the passages into their good books, J doing the entire summary (about 6 sentences), and Zoo Boy doing whatever portion I assigned him (3 or 4 pertinent sentences). Starting with this summary, we are composing a bit longer summary, and I am allowing the boys to select what portion of the summary they wish to copy into their books -- J selects 6 sentences and Zoo Boy selects 4 sentences. I was very impressed with how careful the boys were to make sure that their summaries made sense with the sentences that they selected. This is the first step to having them write their own summaries entirely on their own without my support. (J's summary above, Zoo Boy's below.)

the raven in residence

For the past several weeks, we've had a Raven hanging around the farm. He follows the ducks around and grabs their eggs as they lay them, taking them up to the roof of their shed to eat. (I can only imagine what a mess that roof is getting to be....) We really don't mind. He's a VERY cool bird, and pretty rare for this area, and very entertaining to watch -- if the ducks don't lay fast enough for him, he starts yelling at them! He's also HUGE, so watching him in flight is quite a treat. And he scares the smaller birds away, so we're saving money on chicken and duck feed. (I swear that we spend more feeding the sparrows and starlings than we do on our own birds.)

So we're happy to have him and he's welcome to stay as long as he wants! If we need ducks eggs, we can always put a few breeding sets under wire so he can't get their eggs. But for right now, we're satisfied feeding our big black visitor.

Sunday, April 1, 2012


In our second chapter of our Haudenosaunee epic, we heard the legend of the first Kachiqua:eh (Lacrosse) game, while a very young Aionwahta watched the older boys play this popular game. Then we went out and played a little Kachiqua:eh ourselves!

Zoo Boy practices picking up the ball.

He was thrilled to discover that we were playing lacrosse rather than drawing and writing for story work this time!

J wasn't sure what to make of that (he loves our usual story work and having everything right there in his good book to look at later), but he loved learning and playing this new game.

The boys practice their throwing skills (aiming at the wellhead -- although they are getting far too good at this now, we're going to have to set up a less important target for them to throw at).

They spend a little while each morning out in our front pasture running around tossing the ball to each other. We're hoping to interest a few of our friends in getting their own lacrosse sticks so that we can put together at least a small game.