Wednesday, October 15, 2014

autumn, loss, grief, and butterflies

After my last post, I read a post from Imagine Self. In it, the author talks about ambiguous loss and frozen grief. That stopped me cold. I had never thought of it in these terms and I knew immediately what mine is.

My ambiguous loss is my chain of miscarriages; the babies I never knew, the third child I never had. My frozen grief stems from my vision that I still have time to have a 3rd and yet this deep fear of starting over, both compounded by the fact that I can't seem to get a pregnancy to stick and the likelihood is high that I will never have another child. (These thoughts don't even take into account Mike's feelings on the matter. We are talking about my own ambiguous loss and frozen grief, right? Of the half a dozen incredibly useful things I have learned in the past 2+ years, one is that emotions can be completely irrational.) I suspect my frozen state now is compounded by the fact that so many people in my real life are having babies now and have had babies in the past 12 months, even though I truly am happy for all of them.

We went to the Monarch Festival again this year. Can you tell?

I shared the same above link (from Imagine Self) on one of my Waldorf homeschool online support groups, in the same thread in which I had shared a little vent about feeling melancholic. It sparked an interesting banter, to which I added the following comment I want to share here; I do not feel badly for anyone with an understanding of melancholy. To have a taste of that deep thinking, intense place is a gift. I think too many look at melancholy as if it is a lesser temperament than the others, and worth pitying, which I disagree with. Each temperament has its challenges and the challenge of melancholy is to not get too lost in it. I try not to confuse the deep place of melancholy with the dark, depressive place it can lead to if left to wallow. There is so much good in the deep thinking quality of the trait. There is genuine care of others, honest empathy, and a desire to truly problem solve.

So having over-thought about melancholy (oh, the irony), it is time to shake free and enjoy autumn and life during this season that honors and celebrates death and earth in the cycle of life. I am so incredibly lucky for so many things. I have been thinking about this more during the past few days, as I work through to shed the melancholic slump. My mother in law and father in law would have celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary this week. Last week we marked 7 years without my father in law. My grandmother would have turned 92 yesterday. I have these two bright, amazing lives that I am confusedly and lovingly nurturing. And so we cycle forward...


Saturday, October 11, 2014

at the farm and feeling phony

We spent the day at the farm, picking corn and enjoying the harvest festival. It was lovely. We arrived a little early, didn't have to wait in line, picked (a lot of) corn, shucked corn, explored some farm crafts, saw the animals, enjoyed the garden, bought some fresh milled corn (meal and flour), and never felt like it was overly crowded. We didn't avoid meltdowns, however.

I am finding myself in a slump again right now, which for me, frankly, is unusual for autumn. I love this season, with the shifting weather (cool and grey one day, blue skies the next), the later dawn and the dimmer dusk. This year, though, for some reason, has felt so full of change with no change at all. I feel stuck, as though I am waiting for something big and yet so much shifting has happened that I cannot keep up. Melancholic. I am to my roots. Earth bound we melancholics are, but somehow my temperamental balance just got knocked out from under me. I am definitely not living up to my ideal; nourishing balance while creatively living lightly on less. I am a phony.

I realize I am putting a tremendous amount of pressure on parent the "right" way (which I feel is virtually impossible due to the inconsistencies of my personality, having more than one personality to parent, and the inconsistent needs of a highly sensitive, spirited child), to teach fully (and therefore put in the prep time), to be a connected wife, and to fulfill my own needs. I have said nothing of how I am contributing as a daughter, sister, friend, neighbor, because I am not even balancing the first few roles (parent, wife, self, teacher) well right now.

I will find my footing again, but right now I just feel icky.

No, no-one can make me feel better or do anything for me. I have learned this during the past couple of years, through inner work. It has to come from me. I only have to figure out how...

Thursday, September 25, 2014

the first month, 1 and 4

We have now rolled right through the first month of the school year! Since we school through a charter, our first day was designated for us (more or less) and we began in mid-August. We have had an incredible start to the school year!

For the nuts and bolts of it, we have been busy doing a variety of activities. Both kids have been doing swim lessons and we have done some family swim sessions. The kids are also in a theater games class, which has been a lovely success and includes 4 other kids they adore. We have been doing regular cooperative activities with friends, plenty of activities outside, weekly classes have begun through their charter, and 4-H projects have begun now, with both kids in projects Endangered Species, Environmental Stewardship (a restoration project they were part of last year as well), and Amateur Naturalist (a project I am co-leading). Lala is additionally in a California History project, which will dovetail beautifully with 4th grade local and native studies. (She missed the first meeting due to being sick.) She's also taking piano lessons.

We go for a walk and have verses, songs, and Brain Gym exercises that we do daily. We have just shifted all this into a circle time that includes recorder again, at the kids' request! (We abandoned it last year after too many fusses.) And we are slowly, but successfully building  baking, handwork, form drawing, and arts back into our days/weeks.

It sounds like a lot, but most weeks we have 2 weekdays during which we can be fully home or take a field trip.

 Above, thank you notes. (She didn't have to be reminded or asked. She happily and excitedly did them on her own.) Below, the start of the neighborhood map project.


Finn Luca has begun the year with a toned down geography lesson to dovetail with Lala's lessons, and with a block of math (the quality of numbers). I am able to push him and/or back off in a way I simply didn't know to do with Lala when she was his age (not to mention I wasn't homeschooling when she was this age), so we do lots of games and living for learning, and he still gets lots of play time. He's still smiley and happy and sweet, and is quite independent (and yes, tall) for his age...until he's had his fill and then he pulls mamma or dada in close.

(Above, view from a 4-H hike. In the foreground, Huckleberry plants. Photo by Lala.) Below, learning about and writing about some of the plants encountered on the above hike.

 Above and below, Grasshopper Math from Games for Math by Peggy Kaye. One of three Peggy Kaye books that I borrowed for so long from the charter library that I finally bought my own copies.
Lala has begun the year with a geography block. She measured our property and our house, did some math and drew a "plan" of those. She mapped the neighborhood, added a grid, used it to do a treasure hunt. She's learned about latitude, longitude, the equator, prime meridian, and did a "who lives here?" treasure hunt of the world. She's been writing stories, copying song lyrics, reading, reading, reading.
I guess what I am saying is...oh my goodness, the change and progress has been amazing. While we still make plenty of time for her to play, she's now able to stay and finish her work when Finn Luca is excused. In some subjects, she asks for more work. To warm this home teacher mamma's heart "Fourth grade is fun!" She is still my sweet, sensitive, attached girl, sometimes comfortable using her wings on her own, sometimes staying close. She's excelled at swimming to the point that her ability exceeds her comfort, so she's continuing to practice understanding fears and working to tackle the ones worth tackling. I am continuing to practice staying connected (to both kids).

 Above, homemade sushi for lunch, always with Lala's baby in attendance. People often think this doll is real. And below "Mamma! Get ready for the best show in the world!"
Even though I am teaching in blocks, we are doing all subjects regularly, because that's just part of life (or where I think we need a little extra work/attention). Math, science, writing all happen as fun activities or just naturally blended with or pulled from other activities we are doing.

 Above, colorful milk experiment. Below, Finn Luca's lemonade stand. This was amazing...I came home from an errand to find Finnian sitting on the front walk as seen below. Mike, who was sick, was laying behind him "supervising." Apparently, Finnian, who is a budding entrepreneur, took it upon himself to make lemonade all on his own (you do not want to know how much sugar I discovered he had used), asked for help with spelling and wrote his own sign, got some cups and set up shop. Unfortunately, we live on a less-than-busy street, so the only buyers were us, but I was impressed with my little self starter. Any local friends on busy streets want to coordinate and help our kids set up a stand together?

All in all, a motivating, joyful, exciting start to our year, one in which I can tell is a shift year. I am trying to connect and enjoy it all.

Such days to be treasured.

First post of the school year here.
Initial planning post for the school year here.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

so lucky

F: "Mamma? You are so lucky to have me."
Me: "Yes! I am so lucky to have you!" (Picture me smiling.)
F: "And you are so lucky to have Lala, too." (Only he doesn't call her Lala.)
Me: "I am so lucky to have Lala, too."
F: "You are lucky to have a boy and a girl, not a girl and girl or a boy and a boy."
Me: "I would be lucky if I had 2 girls or 2 boys."
F: "Yes. You would be lucky if you just had 1 child. Some people can't have kids."
Me: "Yes, you are right. I am very lucky."

Well said, little brown mouse. I am very lucky. Thank you for reminding me on the very day I am feeling a bit of bittersweet melancholy about how fast this is all going and that there seems to be new babies all around and not right here with us. You remind, right to my core, that I need to treasure what  and who is right here with me.

Here are some images from the day yesterday.
(Mike worked from home while we had a semi-normal homeschool day, then we went roller skating, (which was a months-long promised activity) and out to dinner.)

Friday, September 12, 2014

oh, lala

Oh, Lala. What to say? Today you are 10. T.E.N. Double digits. An entire decade has passed since your squirmy, strong, chubby, pink little body came wailing (and soon after, smiling) into this world at 10:31 pm, just a few hours before you were scheduled to be induced. Well past your due date, arriving in your own time, just as you do now, too. 

I wonder everyday. I wonder where the years have gone, the days have gone. I wonder how you have grown into this beautiful, amazing, now-big kid, who is still ever-so-young at heart. I wonder how you will continue to grow, and I hope. I hope good, healthy things for you. I hope love and strength, spirit, confidence, and joy for you. And I hope I haven't screwed up too much so far.

This year....oh my have you grown and changed. You are to my shoulder in height now, your hair has never been this long. You have more freckles, long legs, and I am guessing big physical changes will be upon us soon, although for now, you are all child. The heart of childhood.

Last week, you told me that 8 to 9 felt much bigger and harder than 9 to 10. Funny, I have to keep smiling and encouraging this positivity, because to me, 10 feels so much bigger, and I feel a little stuck with how to embrace this. You are through the hardness and melancholy of the 9 year change. You are at peace with this, but still so you, and as dada noticed, still possessing such a deep, rich, and lively imagination.

I love you so very, very much, just as you are. You are teaching me to notice, embrace, change, and understand so many things about myself. You make me a better person.

Happy birthday, sweet Lala bug!

For Lala's birthday, we had a party this year. We don't do parties often, but a pioneer themed party was requested and seemed just right. 

Both kids were tired leading up to the party, but were helpful despite this and handled themselves beautifully throughout the party, including everyone, which was wonderful as the group was a mix of friends, none of whom know each other.  (5 girl friends and their younger siblings. The group included dear friends in town from Alaska and dear friends in town from about 4 hours away.) 

Mike had gotten elaborate and made a horse (built onto a saw horse) and a wagon (which I thought was going to be hoops over the sandbox with a canvas cover, but was actually its own elaborate thing) and was finishing just as the first guests arrived, so he was exhausted, but it was all a huge hit. (What girl can really say she got a horse for her birthday!?)

Each child got their party favor at the start of the party; a tin pail with popping corn on the cob, a bandana, and pennies. The pennies could be spent at the "General Store," where Finnian was fabulous at selling candy and pickles. We had corn husk doll making, button necklace making, bobbing for apples (which moved into clothes washing with the wash board), and butter making. And the cake was made in the dutch over over coals. I don't have many photos to show for it, because I was busy with the kids and didn't really have time to snap many pictures. It was a success, though. Everyone had a great time.


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