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.

Monday, September 8, 2014

a little surprise, a little adventure, a little camping, a little sand

We spent a lovely weekend down the coast, camping and celebrating the birthday of our dear friend, J.  The party was a beautiful surprise, hosted by her husband, and I think she had a great time. We had fun visiting, enjoying the beach, and trying to stay on the down-low until the party. (The goofy part of the adventure was seeing J on the beach before the surprise, having to pack our stuff and bolt, before she saw us!)

Monday, August 25, 2014

and so we begin again ~ 4th and 1st

And so we begin again, this time, 4th grade and 1st grade. Where did the year go? Really, I went forward, learning, loving, adventuring, growing, day by day, but somehow, those days added up so quickly and an entire year rolled over. The new school year is opening its arms to us now and we are ready.


This year, I have a 4th grader, still youthful, yet changed slightly, as she has crossed through the rough waters of the 9 year change. It was bumpy, yet amazing. I held her hand when she needed it, yet there were moments she swam strongly on her own. I didn't understand at the time, but now I do. This passage didn't mean the teen years were steps away. My girl is the same again, just with a view of the world expanding beyond me. We are on the banks again together now, nearing 10. It is so hard to believe. I hope to bring her the wonder and joy of 4th grade, freely, but I think this might be the age when it becomes so hard for parents to balance the idea that we are raising these little people to leave us one day soon. Soon comes closer everyday, doesn't it?

This year, I have a 1st grader. My baby is crossing the rainbow bridge from his early years into elementary school. In the Waldorf world, this little being is welcomed into "real" school by an older student, after crossing over or under a rainbow (silk or similar) and often offered a token, such as a flower. (See here.) In preparation, I told Finnian this story about a leaf, leaving the tree. At the surface, it was just a story, but Mike patted my shoulder and smiled, knowing my intention and meaning. My little guy is ready. In the past few months, he has lost his first 2 teeth, he has begun to show an interest in reading, he's tying his own shoes, he's grown inches, and he's so capable and eager to do things himself. 

As we begin the school year, I have already changed my plans since my last post (my first post on these grades). While the bulk of my post remains the same, I have decided that I will not be using Oak Meadow at all this year and I will be using very little of the Waldorf Essentials curricula. I will continue to use the Waldorf Essentials Thinking Feeling Willing program, which has been such a support to me. For teaching materials, I will be using Christopherus (beyond the resources I mentioned in my last post, I now also have materials for 4th and 1st grades) as well as the previously mentioned guides from Marsha Johnson of Waldorf Home Educators (Yahoo! group) and also the guides from Waldorf Inspirations, depending on the blocks I am teaching. I am struck by how much fabulous information is available at no or low cost, particularly if one wants to take the approach of making it "their own," which is ideal for each child and family when homeschooling.

A rainbow for Finnian, a California Quail for Lala. We had some, um, troubles with the chalkboard this morning, so Lala, once ready, came and helped re-do my drawings. The column is actually our first form drawing, the lines at the top and bottom representing the sky and earth, to teach Finnian where to start and end his vertical lines.

As the parent-teacher, I am excited this year (and nervous, too) at the idea of co-leading a project for the kids' homeschool 4-H club. In addition to this project, the kids will participate in several others, supporting their science and social studies needs, as well as getting them outside and physical. We are also going to be doing a small co-op with new, like minded friends. Kindred spirits. Lala is continuing piano lessons and as we did last year, the kids will be in classes through their charter. It sounds like a lot, but as we begin the year, I have mornings blocked off for home learning and one full weekday a week at home, with no obligations.

And so we began...

The start of the day was a bit bumpy, with a girl feeling left out of the rising grade welcome and sadness at her own move up a grade (growth and change are hard, just like for her mamma), but with love and empathy and a realization that we can go at our own pace, we moved on to a beautiful, smooth, wonderful day.

I asked the kids to paint what their image of the summer had been; something tangible, a feeling, a color representation, whatever. The top painting above is Finnian's. It is a green canoe in the water, with sun and rain. This was our time at the lake. The bottom picture above is mine. It is hands coming together, as we spent a lot of time with friends, family, and each other, making connections. Below are Lala's paintings. The top one is a yellow canoe, also from our time at the lake. After this, she wanted to paint again, so I asked her to paint something that represents what she wants to gain from the school year. She painted a butterfly, because she wants to learn about them during our animal block.
 4-H begins for the year and a proud girl turns in a complete record book from last year.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

treasure - lake style

 Math puzzles! I am not sure how it happened, but Nonno and Lala got engaged and by the time the week was done, Lala had done a number of them and encouraged Nonno through several "nightmares."

 Lots of art! Drawing, painting, mixed media. Beautiful experimentation.

 Knitting and crochet! Mike knit a hat for himself and began crochet on a hat for Finnian. My mom knit half a hat for charity.

 My little builder and big builder got to work. They build a sled. :) And they built a fire bow set.

 Lala, re-reading the read-aloud we finished; the second in The Penderwicks series by Jeanne Birdsall
 They caught one!

 My parents bought those CamelBacks when Finnian was 2. Worth every penny and every mile.

Beautiful. Wonderful. Strange. Different.


As I have blogged about each and every summer, we returned from the lake this week. Homecoming is so bittersweet. We all long for a shower, our own beds, and even "home," but leaving such a beautiful place, one that makes my soul sing and my heart both laugh and cry...well, that's hard. I feel melancholy trying to settle itself in my body right now and I am having trouble jollying it away.

This year's visit meant the pleasure of having Mike with us all week. It meant missing my brother, Stian. It meant a resting mom/grandma (recovering from back/hip pain). It brought thunder, rain, and hail, which was thrilling (for some) and anxiety producing (for others), and wind. Always wind. Art, building, handwork, books, water play, and math puzzles. And two children, who were both more capable, independent, and helpful than in years past. This year, the wildflowers were done, the thimble berries were beginning to ripen, the shooting stars should have been outstanding (but weren't), and there were almost no mosquitoes.

This year, my word has been treasure. I haven't been actively meditating on that word recently, but this time away has me reflecting on it. As we are all growing older, what is it that I most treasure? These people. This time.


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