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.
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!”
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.
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.
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.
Mercury is direct again and with it comes a little more peace and clarity than the previous three weeks delivered. This is a relief and has me feeling better about life and myself in general. However, it’s not all figured out yet. The journey goes on.
Since last night when Mercury went direct, I have been thinking about this: the gift of broken-ness. I am not sure whether I was whole before I was born, but I think the broken-ness began with birth. Then, like a ceramic bowl dropped on the floor, I was broken and mended, over and over. And the cycle continues this way. My guess is that this holds true for most living beings, too. From our broken-ness, we get to re-create ourselves and our lives. In this, there is a gift, an evolution of the spirit and a deeper awareness of the great mystery of life.
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.