November

November is almost done and here are some things I’d like to remember:

Both girls are playing guitar and enjoying their lessons with their teacher, Will King, who has been teaching Mia since she was eight years old and is truly the best teacher we we could ask for.  Mia has been playing piano and writing songs with piano accompaniment.  She fills the house with her beautiful music.

Mia finished her fall term of Acting I at the Children’s Theatre Company (she loved it!) and Anna took (and loved!) ballet and modern dance at her new ballet company.  Saturday mornings during Mia’s acting class, Alan and I had special date time with Anna.  We usually ended up going to the Wedge for groceries or the Wedge table to hang out with a chai and a treat.  Anna dances ballet beautifully and with ease.  It is a joy to watch her.

Alan went hunting two weekends this month with his brother at their family cabin.  Luckily he did not kill anything but he did have a nice time out in the woods. On one of those weekends, my two sisters came over for a night of karaoke and other fun things (adult-sized sleeper pajamas included).  Over another weekend, I attended a silent retreat–the same that I attended last year.  It was restorative and gave me some space to process some inner turmoil I’ve been carrying around for a while.

I added more clients to my caseload to increase my income and this has me working 3 solid days per week.  Though I was skeptical about how this would work, Mia and Anna have been very happy with their lack of supervision.

Both sets of grandparents are enjoying visiting Mia and Anna when Alan and I are at work, and this has become a special bonding time for all of them.  It’s incredibly wonderful to witness the relationships between all of them. We are so grateful.

We’re working on finding a recording studio for Mia to record an album of her songs and hope to start this in the new year.  We’re super excited about this.

We celebrated Thanksgiving with my family this year in my hometown. It was extra special because of my dad’s journey this past year.  We are thankful for each day we have my special dad in this world–and of course, thankful for all of our family and friends, too.

 

October

We have had a beautiful October here in Minnesota with mild temperatures, just enough rain, and fall colors that will spill into November.  We even had our first snowfall. Our homeschooling has settled into its own rhythm, which involves far less structure and direction than originally planned for.  This is good. It is ok.  We’re back to a sort of “unschooling” theme, with a little direction and suggestion here and there.

We celebrated my sisters’ birthdays, visited my parents, went to a lovely apple orchard, stayed in a cozy and warm camper cabin at Afton State Park during the peak weekend for fall colors, and of course, along with the rest of the country, we celebrated Halloween with pumpkin carving, costumes, and trick-or-treating in our neighborhood.  Mia was a “flapper” from the 20’s and Anna was a snail.

I read this book over our cabin camping weekend and it changed my life a little.  It changed the course of my children’s lives even more because it helped me relax and trust them more. They have been very happy since this change occurred, and I am reminded once again how things fall into place when the time is right.

Another wonderful thing is that my dad finishes radiation treatment tomorrow.  The maintenance part of his treatment begins now and continues for the rest of his life. I learned that although I was told that his cancer was stage 4 in the beginning, this was not accurate.  I do not know why the misinformation happened.  He is doing much better now.

Fall greetings to my dear blog readers.  I hope this finds you happy and well.

xo

Finger knitting

Today, Anna learned finger knitting.  After watching a video about it, she finger knitted on her own for 2 hours while I slept.  The end product is a long scarf/ rope/ belt thing that she is very proud of.  Next, she will create a beanie cap, also with finger knitting. Anna seems to be good with her hands and seems to learn detailed processes quickly.  She is a joy to be with–a sweet and sensitive soul.

Another week of homeschool is under our belts.  This week was less productive than previous weeks.  Mia did not finish her work, but that is ok.  She can catch up next week. Our rhythm seems to be moving toward child-led and very relaxed.  I’m remembering how much there is to learn in normal life activities and that we learn best when we are interested and curious.

We are a month into the school year, and no one in the house has been sick! This is practically a miracle. The lowered stress level, increased sleep and decreased exposure to germs at school undoubtedly have kept us healthy so far.

This weekend, Mia starts her acting class and then has a sleepover birthday party with her best friends from her old school.  The rest of us will be homebodies as we usually are.

I am struggling a bit with my mental health today.  Seasonal changes are always difficult for me. I go through periods of depression at various times in the year, often aligning with changes in season.  I’m also dealing with breast pain and PMS this week, which have worsened this month (probably due to my poor diet).  My grandmother’s funeral is tomorrow in Finland.  She was the last grandparent between Alan and me.  I am thinking a lot about my family overseas and wishing I could be there with them.

Once again, I’m reminded that I need to take a step back and care for myself a little better.  Things are best when I take time away from the work of motherhood and the work of being a therapist.

A day at the goat farm

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Today we went on a wonderful homeschool field trip to Poplar Hill goat farm. It was a true learning experience that was so much fun and basically unforgettable.

We’ve been drinking Poplar Hill goat milk for years, so when I learned that the farm offers tours to the public, it only made sense to make a homeschool field trip out of it.

For $60, we had a personalized tour that lasted over 2 hours. We bottle-fed newborn goats (the girls’ favorite) and toddler goats, fed adult goats hay and grain, and gave fresh water to the “man goats”.  We saw newborn goats that were born today, observed a machine milking, and tried our hand at hand-milking a very cooperative mama goat.

When we were done with the tour, we bought fresh goat milk, goat cheese, and goat milk soap to bring back home.

As an added bonus, we played with a farm cat and rabbits, too. We petted and fed goat milk to the friendliest farm dogs we’ve ever met.

For our suburbanite family, it was a magical day! “The best field trip EVER!”

Day at the zoo!

Alan and I took the afternoon off and went to the zoo as a family.  It was so much fun!

The zoo was quiet and nearly felt like a ghost town.  Around 4:45 PM, we noticed there was absolutely no one in sight, not even workers.  We were enjoying having the place to ourselves and were looking forward to at least another hour and a half looking at the underwater animals and playing at the playground.

Turns out, the zoo closed at 4 PM and we had no idea.  We hardly found our way out of there because some of the doors were already locked.  Maybe we should’ve spent the night–I wonder if anyone would have noticed?

Our favorite part of the zoo is the farm.  As you can see in the slideshow below, Anna and Mia still love having their pictures taken in the chicken cutouts and watching the chickens hatch from eggs.  My photos are pretty lame but I was trying to be present and not take too many pictures this time.

It was a beautiful, late summer day to be out adventuring as homeschoolers. So much fun and such a memorable day.

 

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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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