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

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!”

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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We’re official homeschoolers!

The letter has been sent and the schools notified.  The curriculum materials are here and our little office is ready to go.  I have a loose idea of what our lives might look like and what we might do.  Mostly, my hope is that we enjoy this year, deschool ourselves, and grow as people and a family.

Mia and Anna are both excited to volunteer at a nursing home in our neighborhood.  We’ll all do this together, playing music for them, visiting, and doing other random things.  I think it will be fun and special.

I would still like to quit my job and just homeschool the girls, but my logical mind knows this is not the right thing to do.  If I quit now, I’ll lose my connections to my work and stop earning hours toward my license.   And, the money….that’s really the kicker. I keep reminding myself that our kids will someday grow up and I will want a career at that time.  And, I do really like working with my clients, even if I dislike other aspects of my job. So, I’m talking myself our of quitting…every day lately.

I don’t know what I’m doing, really.  With homeschooling, with my job, with my life. I wonder if anyone else feels like this. I am forty years old and I am still clueless with many things. Each day I just do things and I am vaguely aware of what my long-term goals are anymore.  I look at websites and blogs that inspire me, and I think, “I wish I were doing that” and “I could never do that” and then I feel down on myself.  Some people are so ambitious and focused.  I am not.  I am interested in many things, and those interests tend to fade before I delve deeply into them.  I want to do and be so many things.  I get restless and bored easily. The gifts of being a Gemini, maybe.

I kind of feel like it’s all falling apart lately, my life, my inner world, my health, my mental state. But, maybe it’s falling apart in an okay way, like in a way of letting go and releasing the need to know about or control things.  Something like that.  I think need to just roll with it, one day at a time, while staying somewhat focused on the long-term, too.

Summer update

These are a few pictures of our summer so far.

Summer is flying by. It has been wonderful so far, for the most part. Aside from my inner processing and some turmoil to sort out, it has been a relaxing and enjoyable time. We’ve had some good family time at the cabin and at my parents’ house and at home. We’ve gone to the beach and watched old home movies. We’re reading aloud the Winnie the Pooh treasury…again. It seems this doesn’t get old, ever. Mia has been writing songs and singing and playing guitar. Anna has been drawing and watching World Cup with daddy and having lemonade stands. Alan has done some home improvement projects here and there. I have been working some, doing the usual house work, and taking the girls on outings when possible. I’ve also cleaned out and organized our office in preparation for homeschooling. Alan and I just celebrated our 18 year wedding anniversary.

My dad is almost done with the chemo phase of his cancer treatment. He will begin the radiation phase in the next month or two. The past several months have been incredibly stressful because of this. I’m glad to say that it has gotten better with time and we’ve all gotten more used to it. I feel more at peace with whatever happens and more content living in the moment. I am just glad that my dad is here right now. This experience has brought me closer to my family and made me appreciate them so much more. It has forced me to grow up and let go of the past. This is the silver lining.

Over the last few months I have lost a great deal of hair. It has become so thin and I have felt kind of sad about that. But, it is just hair. Maybe it will come back. I got a haircut yesterday that made it look a little better. I’m hoping that the hair loss is due to stress and that I will be able to recover from it.

The low lectin diet I was attempting to follow has gone moderately well. I have eaten cake and ice cream and white rice and mac and cheese more times than I wish to admit. I know what I need to do but for some reason it is hard to do it all the time. My symptoms have improved as far as my breast pain and problems related to my menstrual cycle, so it does seem that the diet has helped a bit even though I’m not following it perfectly. However, I have been so incredibly fatigued during this time that I don’t really know what to do with myself. Again, right now I’m attributing this to stress and hope I will recover from it.

My work is going reasonably well. As always, though, I’m starting to have an itch for a change. I’m trying to make myself stick this out for a while, at least until I am fully licensed. There are parts to my job that I really dislike. There are parts that I really like, too. What I’m torn about right now is how much I want to stay home with my kids and do the homeschooling and not worry about earning any money. That’s not realistic anymore, though. Because of my student loan debt and the new car we “had” to buy, I need to work now. And let’s not forget the ballet lessons. I must also remind myself that without working outside the home I tend to feel lonely and unappreciated and all that good stuff.

Mercury in retrograde is coming up starting at the end of July. Right now we are in the shadow phase and I’m starting to get a glimpse of what I’ll have to deal with during this Mercury in retrograde cycle. There is a lot of guilt and regret associated with mistakes I’ve made in the past. There is a lot of realizing things that I hadn’t realized before, and that sometimes comes with pain. I’m still working on feeling these things fully so that I can let them go.

What’s next? Homeschooling!

My last post reflected on the last few years and the storms we have weathered as a family in order to be where we are today: a pretty good, solid place. So, what better time than now to throw something new into the mix?

Mia and Anna have been asking to be homeschooled for the past two years.  After plenty of reflection, research, and problem solving, we’ve found a way to make it work–and think it will be for the best.  Our kids will have more freedom and more peace and quiet. They will have more time, less pressure, and more connection and meaningfulness.  We’ve done it before and we can do it again, right?

This time, though, it will be a little different.  I will continue working part-time.  Mia will be a college-bound high school student.  We will have to keep records, complete curriculum, and make sure we’re on track with everything that is required for her to become a successful college student.  I feel pretty excited about it all, and needless to say, the girls do, too.

And Anna–well, she needs something entirely different. We will follow a general curriculum with her, but we will take it easy.  She needs healing. She needs space and room to play, wonder, imagine, create, and breathe.  She needs me close by to hug and comfort her. She needs distance and protection from the world of public school, which has been overwhelming to her gentle spirit.

We have laid low and haven’t officially announced this to our family and friends quite yet.  There are people who will disagree, be disappointed, and be unsupportive.  That is ok.  We are doing this for us–for our family.  It feels right to us, and that’s what matters. We are fortunate to have my parents’ full excitement and support. It always helps to have someone in one’s corner.

This homeschooling venture is a great labor of love.  It is a sacrifice that may challenge me in ways I do not yet know. In many ways, it is like a new baby.  It will take adjustment, patience, and commitment.