children and nature, family, homeschooling, motherhood

Poetry slam: 7th grade me vs. 7th grade Emma

I spent most of last weekend planted in the tiny back bedrooms at Woodlawn. They have become our “other” rooms–also known as the “rooms where we shove things we don’t want to deal with.” This weekend Dan and I decided it was time to start dealing with some of the stuff that has been shoved back there (including going through tub after tub of baby clothes.*SOB*)

In the midst of the sorting and throwing out and giving away–my kids uncovered an old sketchbook of mine from 7th grade. It was one of the things required for a summer talented and gifted camp that I went to the summer after my 7th grade year. I like to add emphasis to the talented and gifted part, because as you keep reading this, you’ll realize I need to remind my kids that yes, at one point, I did qualify for that camp, despite what’s written in this sketchbook.

The camp was spent on the eastern shore of Maryland and was put on by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. It was a 3-week long camp full of adventures like marsh-mucking, canoeing, camping out and late-night hiking without flashlights. We lived in tents. We were dirty. And we were all about saving the world.

I remember I didn’t make it through all three weeks of the camp. I got “sick” halfway through. Though I’m pretty sure I was instantly healed as we were pulling out of the parking lot and on our way back home. Funny how that happens.

seventh grade poetry at it's best

But 7th grade must have been the year of the poem for me. My sketchbook is full of sketches of the earth–crying–and poems I was writing to save the planet.

My oldest child is also a bit of a poet. So when I just so happened to uncover my 7th grade poems, I thought we needed to have a bit of a poetry slam fest in the kitchen after dinner Sunday night. We each read our poems aloud to the family, and Dan was the judge.

To set the scene for my poem…it was written on June 26th, which according to my journal entry was also the day we visited a waste water treatment plant. (For the record, this day was the beginning of my LIFE-LONG fascination with waste water treatments plants. I’ve always wanted to take my kids on a tour. Seriously. I love them. I know, I’m strange.) Also, at the top of my paper in huge letters : U2 RULES.

Untitled, by Molly Balint, 7th grade

The world stinks now but it was better before,
fighting pollution is an endless war.
With all of our waste and all of our trash
And nothing to do but turn it to ash
To make our earth better we have to clean now
But before we start we have to learn how
The future of the earth is in our hands,
We must try to preserve our beautiful homeland.

Emma’s post was written early this school year when her class went to outdoor school. Part of the time was spent on the beaches of the Chesapeake Bay (in the freezing cold rain) building shelters. Emma has another poem she wrote a few days ago that blows me away, I’ll ask her first but might share it here tomorrow. In the meantime, since this poem also involved the bay, and was one of the few she writes that rhymes, it’s seemed like a fair match up.

The Beach of Echo Hill, by Emma, 7th grade

The mist sat on top of the water,
if only it was hotter!
We could splash and play in the waves all day,
jumping like monkeys in the bay.
The waves grabbed for the shore,
reaching for the sandy floor, and then a roar,
as the waves sink back into their home,
back into the foam of the frosty water.
It may have been rainy and cold when I was out,
even when I was around and about,
building shelters from the cold,
building with a new kind of mold.
I noticed that the bay was alive,
dancing to it’s own music like bees in a hive.
It had a mind of its own and no one to control it.
Not even the littlest bit.
It made me look at this person in a new way,
dancing around in the bay.
I smiled as I watched him,
and suddenly it didn’t seem so dim.
And I went to the tent
and the lovely scent of the bay,
followed me all the way.

I think it’s pretty clear who won this round. Go me! (Kidding. Go, Emma go.)

Do your kids write poetry? I’d love to hear!

good finds, sponsored, Woodlawn

Inside Woodlawn: Dan’s den + lighting solutions

I love house tours–Design Mom’s Living with Kids series or Design*Sponge’s sneak peeks are a few of my favorites. And without a doubt, I never tire of looking inside the workspaces of famously creative people.  It’s like peeking inside their minds–orderly, bright, minimalist, chaotic, maddening, messy–I love seeing every range of the spectrum.

I have similar feelings when I step inside my husband’s den. When we first walked through Woodlawn and I saw that room, there was no question that it would be his, that he would love it and that it would be taken over by books.

The den before we moved in. After we discovered the bathtub leaking in the bathroom above it.

The den before we moved in. After we discovered the bathtub leaking in the bathroom above it.

My husband is a man of many books. Many, many books. (He would also tell you that it’s impossible to have too many books.) But his den is like peeking inside his brain and getting a glimpse of the things he’s studying and pondering. The things he enjoys, the things he’s always wanted to learn. The things he purposely leaves out on the stacks in hopes that his daughters might pick them up and start thumbing through the pages.

Our winter evenings usually consist of dinner, dishes, putting the kids to bed, some soccer on the television and then he disappears into his den until bed.

Woodlawn Farm. Den tour and how they're switching over to LED bulbs. #CreatewithCree

Woodlawn Farm. Den tour and how they're switching over to LED bulbs. #CreatewithCree

Woodlawn Farm. Den tour and how they're switching over to LED bulbs. #CreatewithCree

On the weekends, the kids are always drawn into the room. The pull of books and a comfortable sofa and the quiet–it’s usually the place I find them right after they complain about how utterly and ridiculously BORED they are. The best ideas come right after boredom, I believe.

But if there’s one thing about Dan’s den that isn’t so great it’s that it is also one of the darkest rooms in the house. And like a classic old farmhouse, the only light source comes from lamps that we have around the room. The lack of light is both lovely and cozy, but also impractical for the amount of reading and studying that goes on in the room. And while I definitely want to add more light to the space, I didn’t want to lose the warmth and mood of the room.

Woodlawn Farm. Den tour and how they're switching over to LED bulbs. #CreatewithCree

You may remember that when rumors started to fly around about the disappearing standard light bulb, Dan began buying them up in bulk. We both detest the cold, dull light that comes from CFL bulbs and I found myself feeling a little panicky about that being my only lighting option of the future.

But hallelujah light lovers, there’s a much better option out there. Over the past 6 months I’ve been really excited to be working with Cree Bulb to try out their LED lights and slowly switch over our home to LED bulbs. I’ve been sold out from the beginning and even as my “test drive” has continued, I’m still impressed by the quality and warmth of the light. AND, I’ve yet to change any Cree Bulb in my house since November. They use 85% less energy than an incandescent bulb and have a 25,000-hour lifetime. (Incandescent bulbs generally last 1,000 hours.) And my favorite feature besides the warm light that they give off is that they turn on instantly. There’s no wait for full light.

Woodlawn Farm. Den tour and how they're switching over to LED bulbs. #CreatewithCree

Woodlawn Farm. Den tour and how they're switching over to LED bulbs. #CreatewithCree

Woodlawn Farm. Den tour and how they're switching over to LED bulbs. #CreatewithCree

In Dan’s den they have been perfect. Since this room gets most of it’s action after dark, the Cree Bulbs provide consistent light that is easy to read by and still give off a cozy, inviting warm light.

Whether you’re a lover of light, or more of a tuck into a dark corner with a lamp and a book–I’ve found the Cree LED bulbs to be the best solution in both situations. Six months in and still happily giving them my stamp of approval.

You can find Cree LED bulbs at Home Depot and read more about how they work and the different types of bulbs available at

This series on CREE bulbs is part of a sponsorship, however, all opinions are my own, honest reactions and experiences to testing out the bulbs. 

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