Friday, February 20, 2015

i am (not) a failure

I know I am overflowing with the responsibilities of mamma-ing and homeschooling, because I can't write like I used to. Thoughtful words used to flow from me. Now, they are there, but in a big jumble in my head, and they get trapped there. So I don't expect this post to be particularly eloquent, even though there is a pretty version of it in Pig Latin in my brain.

Today was a hard day. It was a hard day because of me.

It was a hard day because of two children resisting everything I brought to them, everything I asked of them, ignoring me frequently, making big messes, bickering a little bit, snarking a fair amount, complaining, having a tone, experiencing a ton of lesson frustration, and so on. Sounds like it was a hard day because of them, right?

Nope. It comes back to me. Not setting the limit and sticking to it lovingly. Not expecting the best of them and accepting that they are children. Unconsciously guilting them with a little show of martyrdom. Taking it personally. And over-talking. (Oh the over-talking. Where was MacGyver and his duct tape?)  And then in the end feeling guilty because, in my own journey this past few years, I was conscious that I was doing all the wrong things, leaving my kids feeling shamed and disconnected.

Today I felt like a failure of a mamma and teacher.

It is past time for me to go to bed. I know I am past tired. (It happens to them. It happens to me.) But as a homeschooling mamma, I need a moment (or a dozen) to myself and they are hard to catch. I have been having difficulty balancing everything the past month or two and sleep hasn't gotten a fair share of me.
I have been dancing around the knowledge that we have been over-scheduled, but it occurred to me today that our home days aren't so relaxed anymore because they are spent unwinding from all the doings on the other days, and that even in my lesson planning, I am pulling from too many places, so my own faith and self-confidence in what I am teaching and doing is shaky.

It really is time to return to my motto; nourishing balance by creatively living lightly with less. It is time to let go of a lot, to make some space to unwind and just be.

The tag of a recent cup of Yogi tea read:
I am beautiful.
I am bountiful.
I am blissful.

And to that, I add: I am enough.
No failing here. Just learning, loving, growing, and living.


Thursday, February 5, 2015

home learning; january, mid-year changes, 1st and 4th

As we have now moved into February, it is past time to share our January and here we are, solidly in the middle of the school year already. At this point, I am astounded we are half-way, worrying a bit about what we haven't covered, shifting to be in a better rhythm, and already starting to think ahead for next year's planning. Eesh! No wonder homeschoolers get the blues this time of year!

Honestly, January felt long, only in the sense that December feels like it happened a long time ago. January was a month of transition and we are still sort of trying to find our new rhythm. Rather, I think we need to find our way back to our old rhythm. I believe we were doing too much, and honestly, we are at risk of that again. We don't need much more to our days than the activities of our Wednesdays with our homeschool charter, but then the kids also have ballet, soccer, and 4-H, none of which we are willing to give up. There is also piano for Lala, which, honestly, we are on the fence with right now, and this doesn't even include the money our charter gives to each child, which we have not yet spent for Finnian. (This means we need to add a class to use it...or lose it.) So...there you have it...we are still shaking it out, trying to rediscover our groove without getting overly groovy.

I recently posted our current homeschool day in the life, if you missed it and are interested.

Now, January....
Here is how we began. This is the year of Joy. It seemed to be a month where we breathed out with nature exploration, breathed in for time together around our dining table, then breathed out again for building. Lots of those three things, as you will notice in the photos below.

Beginner ballet, first class ever. Oh my, my sweet girl is incredibly poised and graceful.
Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree, Ahoy the-ere, Matey! (Finnian wanted to saw up the Christmas tree, so he and Mike got creative and used it and some other bits and pieces to turn the sandbox into a ship.)
4-H. The kids are in a community service, environmental stewardship project. They planted natives this month.

Building. So. much. building.

(Above is part of a play space locally, which has existed as long as Mike and I can remember. We went there as kids. You grab a hammer or a saw and a magnet to find nails and get to it. It's a kid-built play space!)

On a nature hike with 4-H. See the Egret in the distance? We are appreciating the water. The last time we saw this view, it was dry. This hike was sweet. Many of the kids were able to tell the naturalist about the native plants, rather than the other way around! She was so gracious about it, too!
Ladybugs! They over-winter in massive clusters, locally.
Norse Myths. Yggrdrasil. The World Tree.

January was a month of teeth loss!

Family movie nights haven't really worked for us, but family game nights and family drawing time have really worked well! Above, we are using these cards (which Finnian bought for 50 cents at the library book store in which my mom volunteers).
Lala patiently taught her little brother Sudoku. Now they share the love. Have you seen this website? So much fun stuff for free, including Sudoku!

Towards the tail end of the month, we caught two school performances; The Peking Acrobats and Kodo: Mystery. Both were outstanding shows. The acrobats were just amazing, but Kodo...that show moved me greatly. The poise, rhythm, vibrations, and excellence of the drummers and drumming were outstanding.

You may remember the fort we found when hiking at Thanksgiving. It was still there, embellished a bit, so the kids were inspired to build their own. Below, is the fort they built. It was very impressive! We hope it is there, with even more roofing, when we visit next. That is a 'for sale' sign log in the front left, added by Finnian.
Notice the distinct lack of snow? This is very disturbing for January in the California mountains. This impressed upon me how deeply in drought we still are.

And for a little throwback Thursday pleasure, I re-read this post of mine from nearly 5 years ago. I nodded along, realizing how much the same and how much different we are. I still feel much like this.

Monday, February 2, 2015

a day in the life, grade 4 (girl) and 1 (boy)

Last year, around this time, I posted our home learning day in the life. While I am enjoying reading the day in the life of others, I thought I might skip sharing this time around, because, well, we seem to be in a time of transition or inconsistency. But...sharing changes can be good, too. I have learned a lot about each of us the past few months and I am trying to shift our schedule around to fit our evolving selves and family and I don't think I have found our 'new' rhythm just yet. Right now, the days feel short and the weeks feel short!

Last year, I was super specific with times and details. This year, I will be less so. You understand.

We are a Waldorf inspired family. Waldorf touches our family and our learning in different ways at different times. I can't seem to manage to do it all and I find our best home learning, connected times, are when I surrender to not trying so hard and over thinking it all so much.

On a typical day, I am up before the kids. Well, usually. The past month or two, this has been hard for me. I have been tired. I think I am hibernating a bit. is my goal and it still happens more often than not, so when I am, I enjoy a little quiet time and exercise. Our house is small, so this really is quiet time for me, otherwise I wake someone and have company early. I really try and get this little time in for myself, as it makes a big difference for my outlook on a day.

The kids get up and moving around 7am. They drift into the living room, often reading or looking at books (or in some cases, picking up math workbooks....Lala is loving the Key To Fractions series) while Mike gets ready and I am puttering in the kitchen or out at the chicken coop. We all have breakfast together. Mike isn't usually home for dinner, so this is our family meal on weekdays. Mike heads off to work and we "get ready for the day." This phrase is the cue to get dressed, brush teeth, hair, and move into chores.

After chores, we often curl up together to read. Morning reading is generally me reading learning materials out loud. While my two are at different ages developmentally (particularly per Waldorf), I try and pick things of interest to both kids and trust that each child will take in what they need.

It's outside for a walk or play time in the back yard after we read. Walk used to be around 9am, but since we added chores and reading time in before walk, it is often later, around 10am. It feels good to be outside!

Back home again for verses, Brain Gym, snack, and main lesson. Right now, Lala is doing a block of Norse Myths (language arts/grammar and social studies) and Brown Mouse is doing a fairy tales block (language arts/printing).

By this point, the kids are needing to play, be outside again, and we're all getting hungry, so we break for lunch. After lunch, I still try and have us do a quiet time of sorts when we are home. I need the break! This is where it gets fuzzy. I am working to get some of favorites back into our days, consistently, such as baking, art, recorder, handwork, form drawing, etc. Somehow some of those slipped and we are all missing them. Lala and I need to practice piano in the afternoon and this is when we do impromptu, interest lead learning, finish other lesson work, and do additional chores.

Tuesdays and Wednesdays are different. On Tuesdays, we have a sports day, with soccer in the morning for Little Brown Mouse and ballet in the afternoon for Lala bug. I try and use this time, one on one, with each child. Wednesdays the kids have classes (without me) or activities (with me) through the charter school we school through. Since we are out and about on these days, they are also our errand days. Thursday afternoons, Lala has a short piano lesson and we precede it with our weekly visit to the library. The kids are also part of a homeschool 4-H club, so sometimes we have once monthly project meetings/outings. Occasionally we like to do 'field trips' and explore instead of our usual lessons.

We start winding down our day around 5pm (ish) with clean up, dinner, bath/shower, books, bed. Mike gets home around book time. We all still like to cuddle on the couch and I read aloud, often picture books, some Bedtime Math, and some from our read-aloud. Our current read-aloud is The Seven Year Old Wonder Book by Isabel Wyatt. After the kids are down, Mike and I try and have time together or I have some time  on my own. Often, there are still some dishes to be done, so I will put on a podcast while I work. The kids' bedtime has been a little funky lately and they are wanting Mike and me to lay down with them or sit in there to help them settle. I am trying to remember parenting is ever changing, yet in an attempt to get much needed time for writing, lesson planning, a shower(!), etc. after they are asleep (I need to wind down, too!), I am often in bed later than I wish to be.

We have a lot of ups and downs. I have two sensitive children, each in their own way, so I have to be very "on," connected, and aware of overwhelm in our schedule. Anxiety and sensitivity is what ultimately brought us to homeschooling from a public school setting. It can be challenging (often!), yet I feel so blessed to really be able to know and spend this kind of time growing our family!

Sunday, February 1, 2015


“And you? When will you begin that long journey into yourself?”  ~Rumi


I have begun. 

Saturday, January 24, 2015

dusting off the sewing machine

Do you remember my friend, Anita, desiderata, and our ice cream outing? Today was all about Anita, who is about to become a mamma. I am so excited for them! I made their babe a little blanket, so her nieces could decorate it for their cousin, the same way my kids decorated one for their cousin. (I can't seem to find the post of that blanket, but here is a finished one Lala and her friend decorated for another friend's little sister.)

 As long as I am sharing sewing projects. Lala made (with help) these treasure bags; one for each of us for 'collecting.'

I also sewed cases for the play tents that Lala got Finnian and herself for his birthday, but no photos.
We've had lots of other creativity happening. I have so many photos that I haven't gone through and posted. I might never get to them. Time feels very short these days.


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