Monday, November 10, 2014

13, 18

Thirteen years married. Eighteen years together. I'll still back you up, baby.
Happy Anniversary!

Sunday, November 2, 2014

October, year 1 and 4

Well, then. I only posted twice in October and neither post was about schooling. I writing focus has drifted and change on this blog during the last 7.5 years I have written here. Life changes, I change, what I write changes.

My last post about home learning was at the end of September. So much has been going on during October. Actually, too much. All of it has been amazing and fun, but even before the daylight savings change this weekend, mid-autumn finally descended this past week, with cooling temperatures, rain(!), and that peaceful feeling I had been seeking, to tuck in, settle down, and nest for the coming winter.

Oh, I do hope it will be a comfortably wet winter. (No flooding please, but enough to make up a tiny bit of the drought we are in here).

What have we been up to? Lots of reading, writing, charter classes, tons of time in nature (all of our 4-H activities have been outside so far), a focus on language arts, animals, and local natives here. Finnian began a soccer class, both kids are loving their theater games class, and I am planning ahead for winter break and beyond.

We have done the first little stretch of purging that I have in mind for us to do, including trading out the kids' little table that served us so well for so long. We passed that along to a long time friend of mine who is expecting her first and has little nieces that frequently visit. (Letting go of that was a little bittersweet, coming from someone who doesn't generally get too attached to things.) I gave the kids my sewing table and we fashioned together a replacement from a table top and legs we got thrifting ages ago. The swap was great for everyone!

 We are trying to make handwork a regular activity again. This is something we can do as a family, which is sweet, short, connection time.

Lala got really engaged in getting their books organized alphabetically by author's last name. It is really hard to keep them that way, though! I should have helped purge when she did that, but their shelves are still full, which is okay, too, when it comes to books.

 Mike purchased trash grabbers for the kids on sale, with the intention of them being a gift during the holidays, but Finnian spotted them in the workshop, so we gave them up. They have been great and been given positive comments from neighbors about their picking up trash when we go out for walks (and remember to bring them)!

 Native studies for Lala have included Finnian and have also included field trips with 4-H and our charter to get more involved in life before the Gold Rush. The kids learned how to make fire, play games, about plants and animals (and made seed cakes), made a seed bracelet and a little leather pouch.

  The kids have also begun learning about some of the local endangered species and have had fun practicting math with Legos.

 We've studied birds and plants through 4-H, which has been wonderful.

And below, exploring different rocks, caves, and animals during a wonderful camping trip with dear friends, who live several hours from us. (We met in the middle!)

And hello, November.

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.


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