Stillness, sleep, and homeschooling

Almost two weeks of homeschool are under our belts.  Mia, Anna and I are happy and content with how it has gone so far.

Mia says her favorite aspects of homeschooling so far have been the freedom, nature walks, and the sleep (she has slept roughly 12 hours per night, sometimes waking up at noon).  Anna says her favorite things have been time with mommy, outside time, and her fairy project that we’re working on this week.

We start each day with reading poetry from The Waldorf Book of Poetry. Sometimes I read it, sometimes the girls read it, and sometimes we create artwork in response to it. We light a candle when we start our work and keep it going until we’re done.  At least, this is what I’ve been trying to do.  We’ll see how many candles we go through.

Anna will work through Jacob Streit’s book, And There Was Light, learning the creation story in the Old Testament and creating art in response to it.  I read one chapter to her at a time. This story is an important part of the Waldorf curriculum in the 9th year.  It is a beautiful story. I am hoping to get through it by the time Anna turns ten in March.

Mia is enjoying her English curriculum from Oak Meadow, and I am enjoying it along with her! Today she read a poem, The Buddha’s Last Instruction, by Mary Oliver in her book, House of Light.  The poem is beautiful and so is the curriculum.   The curriculum encourages deep thinking and creative expression.  I am very happy with it.

My favorite aspect about our new homeschooling experience is stillness.  We have long periods of silence.  It is peaceful and restorative.  This is something I don’t know if we’ve ever experienced in a school setting.

My least favorite aspect of this new adventure is that I am working two days per week and one additional afternoon per week.  I would like to be home 5 days a week homeschooling and taking care of the home.  I love it so very much.  And, I also do love my work with clients outside of the home.  Life balance is key, now more than ever.

Homeschooling has begun!

Today was our official first day of 4th and 9th grades! It was wonderful, delightful, and warmed my heart in a way I haven’t felt in a long time.  I can hardly express how much I love these girls and love this new adventure we’re on together.  There will probably be bumps in the road and hard days ahead, but not today.  Today was a great day.

We’re “winging it” a bit with this homeschooling plan.  Mia has more structure, but Anna, not so much.  There are a bunch of loose ideas in my head that I hope to intuitively navigate and pull together in a cohesive way (which magically happened today).  The most important thing is that the atmosphere is loving and relaxed.  Everything else is a distant second.

This morning we visited a local nursing home where Mia played guitar and sang some old folk and country songs for the residents.  Anna sang “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” while playing her eukelele.  It was lovely.  Mia and Anna genuinely enjoyed it and love the company of the elderly.  Our hope is that visiting the nursing home will become a regular part of our routine from now on.

After that, we had lunch and did some school work.  We tried to do a guided meditation that I like, but we all ended up laughing so much that we had to give it up.  While I worked with Anna, Mia worked on her online classes on Khan Academy and on her English curriculum from Oak Meadow. Together we wrote in journals, read aloud, drew, observed animals outside and walked around the lake when we’d all had enough school for the day.

Here are a couple photos from our special day.

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Forty

Today is the day! I am forty.

I started celebrating yesterday with my friend, Allison, who treated me to lunch at Common Roots in Minneapolis. It was lovely.

Today, I am simply grateful and happy to be alive. After what seemed like months of processing and preparing for this day, now that I’m here, I feel blessed and fortunate. I have received the gift of living 40 years. I hope for at least another forty, although I know it’s out of my hands how long I am here!

This morning I woke up to Alan delivering breakfast in bed, along with the Sunday paper–which I read in bed for over an hour while enjoying my delicious birthday meal.

I spent the rest of the day sitting by the bonfire, going shopping at Goodwill and Half Price Books, and cleaning out our “office”, which will soon be our homeschooling space.To finish off the day, we shared a delicious dinner that Alan made.

I feel so very loved.

A new cat

I’ve been looking through this blog and am feeling very grateful for it. And to think that I nearly deleted it at one point!  Through this blog, I have somewhat kept track of things over the years.  While I am embarrassed by how revealing I’ve been at times and how much I’ve had to say, it also makes me feel humble and human and compassionate.

Our cat, Phoebe, was hit by a car just before Halloween.  It was shocking and traumatic and I’m still working on getting over it.  Having lost our old cat Jezebel just one year before, it was almost unreal to go through that kind of loss again.  Within 48 hours of having lost Phoebe, we adopted a new cat and eventually named her Shelly, which was the name chosen by one of Mia’s best friends, Gabi.  Shelly came from a farm in Lonsdale, Minnesota and she has had a litter of kittens and is possibly pregnant now.  She fills that void in my heart that only a cat can fill.

Here she is:

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Around the same time that Phoebe died, I received a letter informing me that I’d passed the national licensing exam for marriage and family therapy.  This was a very exciting thing.  This means I am now have the title of LAMFT. After 4000 hours of working with a licensed supervisor, I can take the oral ethics exam and earn independent licensure (LMFT) as a marriage and family therapist.  At the rate I’m going, this will take me about three to four years to achieve.

The job I have now is a very good fit for me and our family.  I am in charge of my own schedule.  The hours are flexible and I can take as many clients as I want, provided that I meet the minimum requirements. I work independently most of the time and spend a lot of time driving around.  I see lots of different towns and go into people’s homes.  I find it interesting and inspiring, and I am really grateful for it.  I love working with people in this way, and am grateful I followed my heart those years ago when I started down this path.

 

 

 

 

 

 

November 2017

We had our family photos taken this week with a Groupon for JC Penney.  As usual, the photo session there was rushed and awkward and most of the photos turned out terribly.  But we did manage to get a few good ones, and here is one of Alan and me that I love:

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This is my last year of being in my thirties.  I think I’ve officially hit my “midlife crisis” phase of life.  This picture helped me feel a little better about myself because it turned out nicely and magically hides the things I don’t like about my appearance these days.  I always wanted to age gracefully and not feel badly about getting older, but now that it is happening to me I am not feeling graceful about it at all.  It is very difficult to embrace the changes.

We got a decent family photo to use for Christmas cards, but Mia really doesn’t like it, so I won’t post it.  Here is a cute one of our sweet girls:

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I guess we’re all growing up. Some of us are just further along than others.

 

 

What’s been going on for the past 23 months

Since I decided to stop writing in this blog in October 2015, my life has been largely undocumented.  I’ve taken photos of my children and taken some family photos, saved some mementos, and become increasingly lost in the pleasures of daily life.

But, I realize that in 30 years we might want to remember what was going on in 2015-2017. So here goes, in a nutshell:

  1. In July 2015, we lost our cat Luna and adopted our dog, Penny.  This is the same month I decided I needed to leave the church I was a part of.
  2. In September 2015, Mia and Anna were in 6th and 1st grades at their old school, respectively.  We prepared to sell and sold our old house, bought a new one, and prepared to move.  I took a full-time job, was interning and working on my graduate degree. We were stretched thinly. It was a very trying time for all of us.
  3. In November 2015, I finally mustered the courage to announce to Alan’s family and church friends that I was leaving the church.
  4. In December 2015, I finished all of my academic and internship requirements for my MA.  I had still to write my thesis, which ended up taking 1 1/2 years to complete.
  5. In April 2016, we left our home of 13 years and moved into our new home.  Alan gutted the kitchen and flooring throughout the house, and we lived without a kitchen for a while.
  6. In September 2016, Mia and Anna began 7th and 2nd grades at their new schools.  They were devastated and cried for days.  I continued to work at my full time job and going to school and felt increasingly drained and unhappy with our lifestyle.  Alan was still working his job as usual.  Our kitchen was complete.
  7. In December 2016, I quit my job, started a new one, and quit it after 12 days.  I was unemployed until June 2017 and it was a very memorable time.  There was a lot of healing, discovering and self-care that happened during that time.
  8. In October 2016, we lost our beloved cat, Jezzie, at the age of 19.
  9. In March 2017, the stars aligned and we found our new cat, Phoebe, who fills the void that Jezzie left in our hearts.
  10. I completed my Master’s thesis in April 2017 and received my MA the same month.  I walked in my graduation ceremony in June 2017–the same month I accepted the job that I have now.  I love the job.
  11. September 2017: Mia and Anna are in 8th and 3rd grades.  They both love school.  There were no tears this year.  We sold our old car and bought a new one. I am studying for the national exam for marriage and family therapy.  Alan is content in his job.  We appreciate his summers off more than ever.  We had the best summer this year that perhaps we’ve ever had–maybe because we finally appreciate what it means to have time off and time together.
  12. Anna loves ballet and swimming.  She would do both all day if it were possible. Mia loves being creative and has a wonderful sense of humor.  Mia writes songs, sings, and plays guitar.  Anna plays eukelele and sings.  We have family karaoke days where we all sing for hours.  Mia and Anna are exceptional children: both are extremely kind, generous, and wonderful people.  It is an absolute honor to be their mother.
  13. Alan and I have been married over 17 years now.  Wow.  I feel increasingly aware and grateful of the incredible gift of finding him, marrying him, and sharing my life with him.
  14. I took lots of photos and video of the above events and many more events, and I hope someday to get all of these organized.

September 8, 2017

I guess I should start off by saying “hello again” to this blog.  It’s been nearly two years since we’ve seen each other.  Today I had the urge to write for the first time in a long time.  And while this blog seems foreign now, it’s the only place I have to put these words that are coming out of me.  

I woke up today feeling especially grateful for the experience of being alive.  Life is rich and complex.  And at the same time, it is consistent and simple.  Today I especially feel like this physical experience is a journey–a temporary thing that I can choose to enjoy and marvel at. It’s like I can step outside of myself and see that we’re all just living in these bodies and don’t know what we’re really doing here.  All of the trials and tribulations are just experiences–something that will give life depth and meaning, and hopefully lead to wisdom and understanding, too. Like Louise Hay said, “We’re on an endless journey through time.”

What brings a great deal of joy in my current state of being is my relationships with my children.  I adore them.  I love being a mom; I love being their mom.  It is an absolute joy and an honor.  I love planning things with them and spending time with them.  I love lying in bed at night and chatting with them past their bedtimes. I love looking forward to spending time with Alan and the girls over the weekend.  I love getting up in the morning to walk Mia to the bus.  I love bike riding around our neighborhood and biking Anna to school.  I love a day off from work to spend at home, tidying up and caring for our “nest”, with open windows and a cool breeze blowing in. I love birds singing and trees blowing in the wind. I love yoga classes in my new hometown.  I love listening to Pandora while thinking about life and how to grow and get better each day.  I love baths with epsom salts while listening to Josh Groban on Pandora and crying because life is so beautiful. I love nature and being outside, being silent and listening to the sounds of nature, seeing the sun rise and set, seeing the animals and plants survive amazingly amongst each other with only seeds, earth, sun and rain to sustain them. I love sleeping in our solid, warm bed beside my sweet Anna who is my bedtime companion these days.  I love Alan’s consistency and his unwavering loyalty, gentleness and kindness–and that he is exactly the dad I wanted for my children.  I love feeling content in this life we’ve created–which is pretty simple, stable, and nicely predictable these days.

I love my parents.  I love watching them grow old and become more of their true selves, now that the stresses of parenting and supporting a young family are mostly behind them.  I love seeing my children love them and them love my children.  I know now how much they have always loved me, too, and I am grateful for that love.

Time passes more quickly than ever before.  And somehow, I find myself feeling at peace with that.  I used to struggle a great deal with the passing of time, and maybe I still do at times.  I love the phase we’re in, and I love seeing my children grow.  My increased cellulite, gray hair and forehead creases are a reminder of where I’ve been.  They mark a milestone in this physical journey, one of lessons and pain and joy and growth.  I guess I feel grateful for it all, even for the cellulite and wrinkles.

While I am still, at times, hit with the pangs of wanting more children and wishing I had a bunch of babies and was still a homeschooling mom, I’ve noticed that what I have wanted has often times contradicted with what was best.  And sometimes I wanted two things that contradicted each other, such as freedom and babies, for example.  Sometimes life presents us with choices, and sometimes it hands us what we’re intended to have.  Or, maybe it’s all what we’re intended to have and we really don’t have much choice at all.

I guess balance can never be achieved.  Maybe part of life is learning to live with the “what ifs” and “what could have beens”.  Perhaps it’s all perfectly orchestrated, and there never could have been another way.  Like this is exactly the way it is supposed to be.