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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A bit of clarity and the gift of broken-ness

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.

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.