Sunday, March 22, 2015

so yarny

Everyone has been heavily into handwork at our house. Even I have picked up yarn and gotten to it again. (I'll share my creations later.) While I taught F how to cast on and knit, it was really Lala who got him engaged. (I taught her to knit, too, but it was a handwork mentor who got her more engaged. She, in turn, taught Mike. I might be the worst knitter in our family!)

Anyway, Mike is working away on a kitty cat dress for Lala. Detailed and almost done. F has been working on a hat. He had to rip it out and start again, but I was impressed with how quickly and eagerly he moved on to that. He finished a sweet cat, his first project!



And Lala knit her first ever hat and quickly completed a second hat. She did these entirely on her own. (Umm, I haven't knit a hat, never knitted on double pointed needles, and don't know how to decrease in swirls as she did. So proud of her!) She now has 3 more complex project actively in progress. I have previously tried to enforce one project at a time, but she really does rotate active work on each as her mood (or supplies) compels her, so I think it's okay to just let it unfold.




Thursday, March 19, 2015

good - catching up with a home learning update

Today was a really good day. It seems like a good day to post, given that it has been about a month since my last post and I have had words and updates rattling around in my mind for days now. Today, though, was a good day. A lot has happened in the past month. Really, nothing, but a lot that has stretched me, pulled me, torn me, comforted me, begun to heal me, and thrown me over the top of some hurdles, which, for no clear reason, have been standing in my way for a long time.

Today, the day dawned with the sun shining (glorious, although in drought stressed California, rain would have made today a fantabulous day). I woke early enough for meditation (but not exercise, which I have gotten the last several days and has felt so good). After breakfast and 'good day' to Mike, the kids and I moved through our morning rhythm smoothly. So many days, this hasn't happened. It has made me question our rhythm more than once, but I believe it has been bumpy as a result of business and therefore inconsistency. This morning, instead of a walk, we spent time in our back garden in various forms of play and work. Laundry got hung, the yard got raked, and Lala did daily math so smoothly. We came in for snack, verses, Brain Gym, and lesson. Lessons was hands on fun with seeds today. Both kids were thrilled. Lala moved on to writing about California Missions. Lunch and chores and park play with friends. And books together. Always read-alouds. We were connected, enjoying each other, enjoying learning, enjoying play. A good day.

Here is what we have been up; February through today.

Finnian finished a language arts block and we've moved onto a math block. For Lala, I shelved Norse Myths. It was causing stress instead of excited pleasure. We are in an animal block now and I need to bring some assignments that catch the grammar we didn't cover. Lala has been great with daily math and we have been enjoying a slow spread of California history. Our focus has been on Missions most recently.
4-H has been busy but in the most pleasant, interesting, and engaging way this past month.
I am a bit behind with both kids' lessons, but am trying to move forward steadily and not fret.


Um, yes, I put the 15th, not 14th for Valentine's Day. Oops...got ahead of myself.






Finnian has been playing "archaeologist."
In Yosemite, the kids did the junior ranger program, learning about aspects of the park, nature, conservation, and recording it all. Part of that was collecting trash. They then swore an oath to protect national parks (and all natural spaces), received a badge, and signed the junior ranger log.


Below, the inside of Mission San Francisco de Asis (aka Mission Dolores). Having covered some of the Saints with Lala in Waldorf 2nd grade, and having been to Assisi, I have a special warm spot for St. Francis, for whom this Mission was named. We visited it as part of 4-H and California history.
One of the kids' 4-H projects is an environmental stewardship project. The kids hosted several classes from a public elementary school for an early Earth Day event at their restoration site. My kids helped with face painting.

I have increased the emphasis on involvement from the kids on daily home making tasks. I realized I was becoming resentful at all I was doing daily with not enough recognition from them! So we all do daily jobs together and we all get excused to "play!" Above and below are a sampling of the kids' contributions when they are asked to step up. The meal above was made by them for me for lunch one day! Below, Lala made star bread. (Delicious and Celiac-safe.)
My kids volunteered to accept and organize donations for Easter Baskets on behalf of our 4-H club for a charity that serves homeless veterans and their families. They had such a great time and our generous club pulled together 22 baskets! My kids were proud to beat last year's record by 8 baskets.
And they are both getting clay studio time again.
 Mike's a riot. This is his breakfast chalkboard story, again using gnomes, to describe how the upcycled (from a propane tank) soda blaster he and Finnian made, works. He's motivated to get more work done on his vintage Cougar and Finnian is eager to help with the work and Lala is fascinated to learn more about engines. Really!

 Finnian is always building. This time a riveted cardboard bulldozer.

 Same elephant on the board, as above. We have gotten a bit behind in our animal lesson block!

 Ah, homeschooling math in Northern California looks like this.

And multiple seed projects bring excited anticipation.

And spring begins. Hopefully, it brings rain.

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.

Namaste.


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.

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