wood smoke therapy

Whew.  I’m better now, for those that read yesterday’s post.  All I really needed was some wood smoke therapy.  That is, going for a really long walk by myself after Greg got off work.  These days (see last post) sunset comes really freakin’ early so if I go for a walk it’s always in the dark.  Don’t worry.  I live in the ‘burbs.  Plus, Greg always makes me carry a flashlight so I don’t get mowed over by all the people rushing off to Target and such (I’m sorry.  I have way too many laughs at the suburbanite mentality’s expense.  It’s really my defense mechanism as I feel like such an outsider around here).

At first, the cold was like a baptism, the cold rushing over me, taking my breath away and locking up every muscle.  Gradually, though, as I plodded on, my muscles warmed and oiled, heart pounding with the rhythm of my steps, I became pure thought and pure muscle motion and my life started to seem very far away and distant, unable to reach me, my problems seemed to instantly shrink like things looked at through the wrong end of a telescope.  This is the reason I go for walks.  All I could hear was my own feet crunching snow.  The air was sharp and bitter and smelled of wood smoke.  The houses were decorated for the holiday and glowed off the crusted snow drifts.  There is nothing as cozy as Christmas lights on a snowy night.

By the time I made it back to my home, I didn’t want to go back inside and face my life again.  I think I could have just kept walking forever.  Yet, a break is only a temporary thing.  Once it’s over, reality is always there with all of it’s complications and unpleasant struggles to greet you at the side door with open arms.

Yesterday was one of those days where I doubt everything.  Yet one day to the next can be so different and today dawned beautiful and sunny and feels to some extent like a renewal.  Today is a brand new day.

As I am often fond of doing, I thought I would finish this post on a positive “day in the life unschooling edition” note.  Though the day is not over, I had a very brief conversation with a friend leaving me feeling reflective upon my homeschooling.  This is a topic that is sometimes on my mind more than others but never more so than when someone I haven’t seen or talked with in a while asks me how homeschooling is going.  It often leaves me taking an objective look at my life and wondering what it looks like from the outside.

I started the day in the usual fashion: with Miles.  He is my sleeping partner and as soon as he senses my body rise in the morning, hoists himself up to standing with his arms outstretched for me to take him with me out to the living room.  I usually deposit him in the rocking chair and cover him with a blanket in the hopes that he’ll fall back asleep for a while as I go into the kitchen and make the coffee.  This usually doesn’t work that well and before I’ve had a moment to sit at my desk and try to organize my brain, he’s wandered over and climbed into my lap and requested toast.  I oblige him as it gives him something to focus on other than me and cut him a slice of my homemade sourdough bread slathered in rich butter.  I see quality food as an important part of both my role as parent and homemaker and also as homeschooler as I hope the kids will be more and more involved in the kitchen as they age and will hopefully be forming good lifelong habits when it comes to food.

I usually try to do some research and thinking and preparation for the day/week and whatever we are focused on.  This month we have been focused on Native Americans.  We have explored a few museum exhibits, we’ve listened to some music, I’ve told some Native American stories, and we’ve made a few crafts inspired by Native Americans and looked through some books.  Our schedule from day to day is not consistent and so each week and each day is different.  We might do a lot one day and almost nothing the next.  That keeps things, in my mind, a bit fresh and spontaneous feeling.  Today, it so happened that I had one more game to try with the kids and one recipe I found that I wanted to make.

After Joel got up around 7:30, an hour or so after Miles and I and Greg, he and Miles played a little bit as I continued working and looking at some birth videos and then they wanted to hear some books.  I honestly feel like this is what I spend the majority of my time doing, as I’ve said before.  I should actually count how many books I read.  I feel like it was at least fifty.  Ok, I just counted and it was only 9.  Still.  It was a solid hour of reading.  Then they were hungry so we all went into the kitchen and made pancakes (and yes, Miles does eat “second breakfast”).  This is when Ruth finally got up and graced us with her presence.  She usually has a hard time waking up.  This would have been closer to 10, an hour and a half after every other eight year old is at school every morning.

After I cleaned up the breakfast table, we did a “circle time”.  This consists of some seasonal songs, poems and body movement.  A lot of times, the kids, especially Ruth, hate this, but today, they were all pretty into it.  It’s the way I transition into any stories I tell.  I find it’s too abrupt to just start telling a story.  The proper mood needs to be set.  So, my main point was to tell a Native American story about how rice came to the Native people.  It was just something I found on a website for Anishinaabe stories that I thought was accessible to the kids.

After that, it was Ruth’s turn to be read to.  She is super into the Magic Fairy books, which are pretty low substance, but both she and Joel enjoy them and so we always have a new stack of them from the library that we are working our way through.  So, I read that for about another hour (I told you I read a lot!).  Then, I had one more Native American game that I wanted to try with the kids which was this stick and beans game.  I expected them to get really frustrated with it, but they actually ended up really liking it and played for close to an hour, I think.  Even Miles wasn’t too young to play.

After this, they spontaneously remembered something they had seen in a Curious George movie where some kids placed dried beans, like the ones we were using for the game, on wet napkins and they sprouted.  They both got paper plates and wet napkins and placed their plates next to the sunny window to see if we can get sprouts.  Though the kids in the video placed clear plastic over their beans and we are presently out of anything like that.  We’ll see what happens!

By this time, it was time for lunch, and though often we just have leftovers or snack on stuff for lunch, it’s the end of the week and our fridge is pretty barren so I actually had to pull out one of the extra dinner recipes I had prepared for the week and actually cook.  I made this red fried rice with red peppers and tomatoes in it.  Miles and Joel just had plain rice with butter.  Ruth and I were the only ones to actually eat the vegetables.

Now we are listening to Christmas music, I’ve done some laundry downstairs, and Joel and Miles are playing in the fashion that they play in, which is really energetic and spastic and Ruth is practicing gymnastics moves.

Shortly, I will be starting dinner which is the Native American recipe I referenced earlier: fry bread and corn soup. This evening, Greg might be taking them to an MSU hockey game while I have a few moments of peace to myself.  Or I might go along too, I’m not sure.

In either case, that would be an example of one of our more “productive” homeschooling days.  A lot of reading, a lot of eating, and a lot of me cleaning up while the kids are playing.  With some other goodies of focus thrown in there.  That’s pretty typical.

Thanks for tuning in.   I know that was a long winded post.

 

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dark post

Maybe it’s the fading daylight that this time of year brings in this part of the world that’s got me feeling darker feelings and thinking darker thoughts.  Winter in a northerly climate can certainly be challenging.  The world fades to greys, black and white, the sun slants and dims and more and more time is spent indoors, pacing the same floors over and over.  The outer world drops away to some extent and the inner world becomes magnified.  Introspection.

As a stay home mother and homeschooling parent, it’s not hard to feel the easy disdain that society holds for me.  It’s always there in the quick and patronizing glances at my passel of kids, or in the avoidance of eye contact altogether usually reserved for those we encounter that we might wish with all our might not to see, like the bum on the corner holding the cardboard sign.  Yup, that’s me.  Will homeschool for food.

That’s probably why peoples’ reactions affect me more deeply than they maybe should.  There is already a baseline of intolerance that I contend with simply by existing.  I should grow thicker skin.  Though that’s easier said than done.

Yesterday, I knew that we needed to get out of the house.  So I decided to take the kids to an off site library story time held at a Bigby coffee nearby.  Joel and Miles are both within the posted age range of the group (2-5) so I thought Ruth could just tag along.  That’s how these things work for us: we’re homeschoolers.  We are pretty much a package deal wherever we go.  And the truth is: I know people think that an eight year old should be beyond children’s storytimes, but Ruth loves being read to.  And she’s removed enough from society not to realize that she shouldn’t like things like that by now.

We arrived in our usual fashion: almost late, and pulled into a spot.  I quickly started to get the kids out of the car when all of a sudden Joel pushed open his door a little too forcefully and it dinged the car next to us.  Well, too bad for us because the person whose car it was was sitting in the passenger’s seat of the car.  And he was not pleased.  He looked at me and Joel with a scowl of disbelief on his face and made a gesture like, “What the hell is wrong with you?!”  I could have literally died on the spot, melted into liquid and flowed down into the pavement cracks disappearing from view.  But it was one of those moments that, though you would wish with all your might you didn’t have to live through, you do.  “Sorry!” I said, thinking this guy could seriously cut me some slack, it was clearly an accident, “It was my son, he just pushed the door…it’s not bad, just a little scuff mark.”  I swear the guy was still looking at me like I was the most inconsiderate person on the planet and like he was about to get out and assess the damage.  After that, I kind of just walked away, apologizing over my shoulder again, wondering if I should possibly offer to pay him something to buff out the scuff or if it was ok at that point to continue on with my life as normal.  No offense, man, but it’s really hard for me to take a car scuff that seriously when I’m in charge of the care of three small people every day.

I walked away just feeling like the scum of the earth.  Like I told Greg later on after he got off work, “His disdain stained me.”  Did I mention this man was ridiculously well-dressed and that I also passed his extremely attractive and well-dressed girlfriend as I continued up the sidewalk as she walked by me on her way to her scuffed car carrying two fancy and expensive coffee drinks for she and Mr. Slick to sip as they consulted each other on how best to proceed with the offending scuff.  Every step I took, I still had the intense desire to just be sucked down through a sidewalk crack.  Maybe it’s also being pregnant.  I find that I’m even more sensitive than usual when I am carrying new life.  That’s why I work so hard to guard myself against potentially destructive encounters.

By the time we walked into the coffee shop, I was already emotionally reeling and feeling like I needed to recover from my morning and it had barely started.  That’s when I got hit with the insult to my injury.  The librarian who does the storytimes at our library I had noticed at the last storytime seemed unusually cold and unfriendly towards us.  I wondered if it was my imagination or if something in particular had been off that day, but again on this day, she received us coldly.  Then I knew that my suspicion was correct: that this person did not like the fact that my kids (though again, two of which are within the suggested age range of 2-5) were older than most of the other kids who were there with their caregivers who had a mean age of probably 1 1/2.  It’s not my fault that most people put their kids into full time preschool starting at age 2.  Neither is it my fault that my library offers no programs for homeschool kids and the programs that are offered for Ruth’s age group are mostly things like, “Minecraft game night” (what the hell even is Minecraft??  Nevermind, I don’t want to know.).  Either way, I’d like to know what the hell is the harm in Ruth being there to listen to stories with her little brothers?  Also, doesn’t the library staff realize that it’s more than just a place to get books?  It’s a community meeting place.  Especially to homeschoolers, it’s a community that we yearn to feel like we belong to.  It’s a home away from home.

We made it through that encounter, feeling less than warm and fuzzy about our place in the world.  Ok, actually, the kids are probably oblivious.  It really only affected me negatively.  But I’m the one who’s with them all day.  And the things that affect me affect them.

Feeling the profound sense that we don’t really belong anywhere is not unusual for me.  Also the sense that my struggles are invisible and unappreciated by society is nothing new.  Being pregnant and it being winter, the time of introspection, is just making it all a little more overwhelming than usual I guess.

 

yet another sabbatical

I guess I took another unintentional sabbatical.  Weird.  It may feel slightly awkward to just start in typing away like I never left, but I’m the awkward queen, so it suits me just fine.

A lot has changed since I last typed here.  Firstly, and most profoundly, I am pregnant again!  Wow.  I never actually thought I would be typing those words.  I am three and a half months in to this new journey and it’s still hard to get used to the thought that we really are doing all this again.  Yet, at least I’ve reached a point where the initial shock and disbelief has worn off to a certain extent and I am finding more and more a sense of profound joy and deep well-being growing about the new baby that is on it’s way across the rainbow bridge to join our family, Inshallah (as God wills it).  Clearly, there is much to write on this subject but I’ll be uncharacteristic of myself and leave it at that for now.

Otherwise, as I’m beginning to realize is going to be a theme in homeschooling, I have recommitted anew to this path of education we’ve chosen for the kids and ourselves.  Homeschooling is simply not a decision you make once but many times over.  To be brief, each day homeschooling is different and some days are harder than others to believe in what I’m doing.  During those low points it is easy to doubt and consider a different, more traditional path, one with struggles of it’s own, I have no doubt, but different ones than the ones I face homeschooling.  Shortly after I found out I was pregnant again, Joel was a week or so out from being able to begin Kindergarten at our local public school and so, taking it as possibly a sign, and feeling more than a little intimidated about not necessarily this years homeschooling, but next years when we will have another baby here with us, Inshallah, I went and signed him up and spent the next few days jumping through all kinds of paperwork hoops to get him ready and set for the first day of Kindergarten.

I don’t need to go into too many details, but I’ll just say that it wasn’t pretty and that I ended up recommitting to homeschooling almost unwillingly as Joel sort of made the choice for me.  Though I will say that as highly rated as the public school is here, I was unexpectedly underwhelmed by some things I witnessed.

In any case, a recommitment is a recommitment is a recommitment.  So, I’ve been diving back headfirst into the Waldorf curriculum I procured last year and in general otherwise just deeply investing into home life here and always striving to figure out what in the heck I am doing.  It’s not easy, but it’s good for me, I think, as I spend a lot of time doing intensive introspection and constantly searching for answers.

Part of that has been getting the kids each signed up for activities outside the home.  It’s been really good and stretching for all of us.  It’s also been nice to invest in some one-to-one time with each of the kids as they are so different but are often overshadowed by the group dynamic that predominates when we are all together living life.  Ruth is thankfully back in gymnastics.  It’s been really good for her to invest energy into that and really builds her confidence.  Joel was doing a music class and is now in art.  It’s been good for him to find more of his individual identity separate from his sister, which was one of the other reasons, aside from me being pregnant, that we thought about Kindergarten for him.  Miles was in a “nature tots” class which was really nice and wholesome and really just a nice excuse to start each week with a walk in the woods.

Other than the Waldorf stuff I do with Ruth and the extracurriculars, the kids spend a lot of time just playing or being around while I am busy taking care of the home, cleaning, doing dishes, cooking, doing laundry, and shopping.  It’s always an inner struggle of mine to walk the fine line of allowing free play and wanting our home to be somewhat neat and tidy.  The kids can get quite elaborate in their games and created worlds and often our house turns quickly into an odd landscape of toys, books, blankets and forts.  I am always struggling to find a balance that everyone can be happy about.  We have a few select games that we play sometimes: UNO, Yahtzee and chess are the favorites.

Other than that, I spent an exorbitant amount of time reading books.  I feel like I could do this all day for them and they would never get bored.  We read a mix of different things: Ranger Rick magazine, books of their choosing (at this point, mainly Rainbow Fairy books), and books of my choosing.  I try to sneak in a few what I consider to be classic children’s books or quality literature but it’s difficult as my kids are extremely sensitive and the least bit of drama in a book seems to deeply bother them.

So, that’s what homeschooling has been looking like for us recently.  Like I said, some days are great and others leave me grappling with existential questions.  So, a mixed bag.  When I ever get to step away and gain some perspective, I’m always excited about the possibilities of homeschooling.  So, that helps to “guide” me to some extent.

I guess for me those are the main things that have “changed” since I last wrote here.  My pregnancy and my renewal of our homeschooling “vision” I guess you could call it.  In general, I’m feeling very lucky and fortunate these days and trying as much as possible to embrace that feeling when things with the kids become challenging or when I start to feel myself falling into little ruts with my work in the home.

It feels good to write again.  Though, an online existence is so two dimensional compared with real three dimensional life with all of it’s mess and confusion.

 

 

 

living a life of mediocrity

Ok, so I stole this sentiment from a former student of mine (yes, in a past life, I was all set to begin a career in teaching.  A little ironic turn of events now that I’m a homeschooler).  In a short encounter I had with him, he told me, probably mostly in jest, that he had already accepted that he was going to live a mediocre life.  I used to think it was such a depressing sentiment.  I couldn’t believe that this young person uttered these words as a mere teenager, not even yet 18, I don’t think.  I mean, in this country, aren’t our youngsters supposed to have an incredibly inflated sense of confidence?  What was with this kid?  How had he missed the boat so profoundly?  He wasn’t supposed to have this outlook until at least age 35….ahem.

It’s funny how some things stay with you.  I mean 96 percent of everything that happens to us is like water through a sieve, isn’t it?  I mean, not exactly.  We’re always being changed by our experiences and learning new things each day but it’s funny how such a small amount of our experience actually stays with us vividly.  And it’s always like the most random shit, too, isn’t it?  This was about 10 years ago and I can still remember his precise wording as he spoke to me.  Strange.

Ten years this phrase has been clanking around in the ole noggin.  Bangin’ into stuff and coming to my conscious mind at the most odd times.  Like today while I was doing the dishes.  I was singing away as usual chipping away at a crusty plate with Miles sleeping on the rocking chair in the living room, Ruth and Joel still yet to get up and I was thinking about my day and my plans.  Make breakfast.  Hang up the laundry.  Make the beds.  Water the herb garden.  Sweep the floors.  Do a circle time with the kids (if they don’t mutiny…about a 50/50 chance).  Take the kids to the park later.  I mean, you get the picture right?  What word is popping into your head right now?  The same one that popped into mine I bet as I was thinking these thoughts and going about my life: mediocrity.  I am living a life of mediocrity.

You might upon hearing this, like I did 10 years ago, feel pity towards me for having such a downtrodden outlook on my existence but the truth is, in another ironic turn of events, this simple phrase spoken to me by a random 16 year old boy on a random Wednesday afternoon in a random classroom in Metro Detroit has become a sort of mantra that I carry around with me.  I now see it as the quintessential anti-consumerist, anti-competitive, austere, back-to-basics, simplistic sentiment that I seek to infuse every part of my life with.  It’s with pride that I tell myself I am living a life of mediocrity (my sort of inside joke with myself).  I am living, or trying with all my might to live, a life of simplicity and real, authentic values (the values that come inherent with being human, not values sold to me by a television commercial, and yes, there is a difference).

Ok, I’m doing it again.  This is what my spouse warned me about.  I’m sounding too self righteous.  People don’t like that.  More likely, people feel threatened if you contradict something that they have taken for granted (such as it’s a good thing to consume a lot of stuff and things and buy more and more ’cause it’s fun, duh?) and seem overly confident about it.  Ok, that sentence was also self-righteous, I’ll give you that.  What can I do, though?  I’m a know-it-all.  It’s in my nature to think I’m always right.  Just joking.  I don’t always think I’m right…though I’m having a hard time coming up with an example of a time that I was clearly in the wrong…just kidding again!  I’m often wrong.  Just ask my kids and spouse and mom and brothers and in-laws and friends and acquaintances and Kroger check out people…you get the picture.  Ok, I think I’m done now.  Enjoy this post and go out and live a humble life of mediocrity!  And enjoy every second!

 

 

summer solstice

Since becoming so in tune with the solar year with all of my Waldorf leanings,  I’ve begun to realize something.  Now, brace yourselves because this is profound shit right here.  There is no summer solstice.  Actually, there is…sort of.  But it’s not really what you think.

From childhood, I’ve harbored a certain type of thinking.  I call it “plateau thinking”.  It’s when I see things as having sort of rising action and the final culmination is the plateau.  You’re there.  You’ve reached your goal.  You’re done.

Do you think like this?  I blame it all on Disney and all that “happily ever after” stuff, as though you just live for the rest of eternity in a perpetual state of bliss, right?

As many times as I’ve come to the realization that this is simply just not how life works, I still find myself falling into that trap, that line of thinking.  For instance, I have harbored the vague notion that once I reached adulthood and I was “an adult” that that would be my “real” life and it would stay the same for a long time.  I can often identify a vague searching in my brain for this plateau that I’m supposed to be comfortably reclining on that is no where to be seen.  I constantly have to remind myself that things, myself included, just keep changing.  There’s no goal line to cross.  No winner’s circle with wreaths of roses.  Life just keeps going.

It’s the same with the kids.  Every birthday of theirs, I keep waiting for some magical change or transformation to occur.  Like, “Now you’re eight!”  Yet they don’t ever seem to look or act any different than the day before.  Also, in the same way that I find myself groping for the plateau of “adulthood” that was only a mirage in the distance, I seem to have a similar lapse in thinking with myself as a parent.  It’s as though I had some vision in my head of what being a parent would be like and I’m still waiting and waiting for this vision to match my reality.  In the meantime, all of us are getting older and growing day by day, minute by minute, second by second.

Which brings me back to the solstice.  Now, the calendar marks this, the 21st of June 2018 as the solstice.  This is it!  We’ve made it!  It’s summer!  Yet the truth is that the Earth never stops moving.  The solstice is actually the point on the Earth’s trajectory that brings it the closest to the sun…which lasts a fraction of a second…and in the next fraction of a second, we’re on course moving further from the sun.  Poof, gone.

My point is this: we tend to view life as a series of plateaus.  Goals, things we are working towards and we think once we’re there, we’re “done” and we can just bask in the glory of those achievements for a while.  Summer for instance.  The truth is that nothing is a plateau, summer included.  Each day of summer is different than the last.  The Earth never stops orbiting the sun.  Certainly not for three months.  Not even for a day.  Not even actually for a second.

Life isn’t a series of plateaus.  It’s like the Earth: constantly in motion, constantly changing.  It doesn’t sit still.  Not even for a split second.

It’s at once shaking and freeing to realize this.

With that thought, I bid you “happy solstice” and I give you this recipe I found on Pinterest for “sun cookies”.  Enjoy.

1 and 3/4 cups flour

3/4 cup butter, softened (should be pretty quick to soften butter.  It is the solstice, after all)

1/4 cup honey

1/4 cup brown sugar

1 tsp. minced thyme

1 tsp. lavender buds (Kroger doesn’t have this so I just use “Herbs de Provence” instead)

1 tsp. minced rosemary

1 tsp. minced sage

a few crushed cardamom seeds (I would probably just use a few shakes of ground cardamom)

pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.  Beat butter and sugar.  Add flour.  Drizzle in honey while beating.  Add minced herbs, mix well.  Divide into 4 balls, chill for 1 hr. (why four balls?  I have no idea.  I would probably just leave it in one big ball).  Roll out and cut into round shapes.  Bake at 300 for 10-15 minutes.  Let cool.

Icing (optional)

3 tsp. milk

1 cup powdered sugar

grated lemon rind

tumeric for color

Ice cookies when fully cooled.

 

my baby turned eight

Ok, so clearly from the title, Ruth is now eight years old.  So bizarre as I have clear memories of being eight myself.  I remember sitting on the swing set in my backyard thinking, “I’m eight but it already feels like I’ve been alive forever” (I was an oddly pensive child…who’s turned into an oddly pensive adult).  Why does the age of the first child seem to matter so much more than successive children?  I think because it really marks the beginning of this crazy journey in many ways, though truthfully, I really see the anniversary of my pregnancy with her as the real and true start to all of this (and when I say “this” what I mean is my rebirth into life as a parent or simply my life’s work as I consider raising my kids to be my sort of career or life’s passion).

(side note on the topic of my life’s work: I get all kinds of reactions when I tell people I homeschool from people singing my praises and congratulating me for prioritizing the “right” things in life to looks of confusion and condescension.   My most common reaction, though, among people who are currently around my age and raising children of their own, would have to be, “I could never do that,” which at first glance might seem a little bit like a compliment but what I’ve found out really actually translates into, “You crazy, girl.”  Among older people, the reaction seems to be much less defensive.  I’ll often have older people, whose kids are already grown, tell me that they wish they would have homeschooled.  So, take each reaction for what you will.  I try not to put too much stock into what anyone says as I’ve found that peoples reactions often have less to do with you and more to do with themselves or else they are just mindlessly regurgitating the overall consensus of society towards the idea of homeschooling).  Shrugs.

In any case, Ruth is eight, and as such is like a real live kid and everything, no ifs ands or buts about it.  I could probably go on and on about her talents, achievements and abilities and how proud I am of her, as you might expect me to do, but what I feel like has come to define our time together as she’s aged is really trying very hard to segregate myself from that very attractive way of thinking and instead to steer myself away from putting labels on her (and each of the kids).  I try, sometimes unsuccessfully, very hard to keep my mind totally open to who the kids are and how they change instead of trying to box them into one way of being.  I also try not to use a measuring stick against the things about any of them that I could list off as what people might see as “proof that these kids are progressing”.  I try instead to give her the space to grow and come into her own in her own time on her own terms.  It’s not easy though when every way you turn, it seems like all anyone can talk about is their kids achievements and activities and interests and yadda, yadda, etc. ad nauseam…  Especially around here…you can’t throw a rock without hitting someone on their way to their private rock-climbing lesson or some shit (not that I throw rocks at my neighbors or their kids.  It’s an expression, people).  It’s really hard not to want to follow suit, especially being a homeschooler as I think that inherently comes with a little bit of extra insecurity as you are so far removed from what’s considered “normal” that you want to try and overcompensate even more.  But I try to resist these impulses as they may feel good for the moment but in the long run, I think are short-sighted, fragile, and meaningless anyway.

That’s all just a really long-winded way of saying that I’m not really going to say too much about Ruth and what she’s like these days.  Except that she’s eight.  That and it’s simply a wonder to watch your tiny babies grow long limbs and thick hair and big teeth and run and play and fight like you remember doing not that long ago (wasn’t it actually yesterday??).  This is how one generation to the next ebbs and flows, how family lines grow through time.  Amazing.

Now I’ll segue into something totally unrelated but that I think is really funny.  Or really telling I guess.  I was at the grocery store the other day, with all three kids, of course, and we made it through all of our shopping trip when Joel asked to “look at the books”.  For those that don’t know, Kroger has a book aisle.  In our store it’s hidden behind all the pharmaceutical paraphernalia.  I was like, “Sure,” and swung the cart over and parked it right in front of the book area.  The kids proceeded to sprawl themselves out on the grocery store floor poring through the kids books while I just stared off into oblivion for a while.  People came and went, minutes passed and I thought to myself, “This is like a mini vacation!  And it’s free!”  Yeah, that would be me: basking amongst shelves crammed with vitamins, Band-Aids and Epsom salt, soaking up the florescent lighting to the tune of elevator music. (Sigh.  My life:)

Update on ovulation station: I’m getting better at reading my fertility signs, but am by no means a pro.  It would help if my dang cycle didn’t fluctuate so much!  I did get a positive ovulation test yesterday which means I am probably ovulating like…right now.  Possibly this minute.  Which is possibly not the best timing.  And I’ll leave you with that vague statement and wish you “good day”.  (Tips hat).

 

A Day in the life: Unschooling Edition

Hey, spell check.  Unschooling is too a word.  So stop underlining my shit in red.  Get with it.

First of all, let me just say as an update on ovulation station, that my fertility tracking is going pretty successfully.  Translation?  We haven’t made any more babies yet, so….I must be doing something right.  Right?  Or maybe I’ve just been lucky up to this point.  Who knows?  The one snafu with the whole system, though, is that I inevitably forget my head (or the hormones highjack my brain) and start to want another baby really badly right around the time of ovulation.  Also, as one would expect, I guess, would you know that the time that I’m most in the mood would be right at the perfect time for conception as well?  Go figure.  Mother nature….you got this thing figured out pretty well, eh?  Go you.  Those two major issues aside, though, and it’s a piece of cake.

Oh yeah, that and the fact that my fertile window (time when it is possible for me to conceive based off of my longest and shortest cycle) is basically like two weeks long.  So half the month.  Cool beans.

Oh yeah, also, the hormone shifts during the days leading up to menstruation really closely mimic the symptoms of early pregnancy (did not know that before I became so in tune with my cycle) so every month, I spend a few days convinced that I’m pregnant.  So that’s a fun roller coaster ride of emotion.  Ah!  Womanhood.  It’s so fun to be a life-bearer!  Not.  (Just joking.  It really is and I actually feel totally honored with this ancient vital and sacred role.  But, you know.  Sometimes it’s tough.  Greg’s vasectomy is looking like a better option all the time).

OK.  What I really wanted to write about is our unschooling.  It’s going great also!  Except it’s confusing as hell and I have no idea what I’m even doing.  So, I’m probably on the right track.

(Wow, I’ve got this whole life thing pretty well figured out.  Yup, better just give myself a great big ole pat on the back.  Nice work, me.  Way to be winning).

Wow, I’m in a sarcastic mood today.  I guess that’s my passive aggressive way of venting.  But hey!  Just because I’m clueless doesn’t mean I should give up.  On the contrary.  I see my stumbling around blindly, feeling desperate as a good sign (really, I do).  In my experience, floating around directionless is a very difficult yet vital step to any path worth walking.  The alternative is to go with the flow (a.k.a.the road most taken or swim or even just float downstream) or just immediately commit to and cling on to one ideal before really considering all or at least more options in the name of “having it all figured out”.  Having shit figured out is, in my opinion, way overrated in our culture.  Hey guys, what’s wrong with not having shit figured out some (or all) the time?  (I know the answer to this.  Because not having shit figured out is scary!)  But listen.  Even though we’re taught from an early age in this country that being scared is unacceptable and we are encouraged to instead form all kinds of insurmountable walls of defense (against each other (see: “having shit figured out” above) and also what scares us (aging, for example)) I am here to tell you.  It’s ok to be scared.  Life can be scary.  Instead of turning and running, I think it might do us all a world of good to really sit with our fears.  To get to know them.  To be on intimate terms with them.  In my experience, we have a lot to learn from the things that scare us.

Well, that’s my arm chair philosophy for the day.

Ok, you clicked on this to read about a day in our life as unschoolers.  Or maybe you just stumbled here by mistake while you were trying to order something on amazon.  Either way, welcome to my head space.

Now I will describe to you a typical day in the life as unschoolers (or more likely an atypical day as there pretty much are no typical days).

One day last week, the grandparents carpooled out to spend the day here so that we could show them our local zoo.  The kids, high on anticipation, were up way earlier than usual begging me every five to ten minutes or so how long until the grandparents would be here.  We had cereal for breakfast, which, oddly enough, though I think tastes like cardboard, my kids love and see as an extravagant treat.  Ruth probably helped Miles get dressed as sometimes, she informs me, very seriously, that she will be his mother for the day, and then proceeds to care for all of his needs, from dressing him to buckling him into his car seat.  Joel is finally dressing himself though I am still the main hair-brusher around here.

Once the grandparents finally arrived, we drove to the zoo and I purchased us a membership so we can now go anytime!  We spent the day just walking around the zoo, looking at everything.  Ruth, who can be quite drill-sergeant-like, kept us moving at a brisk pace, anxious to show her grandparents everything there was to see, though often, we have the opportunity, because we usually have no other place to be, to take everything at a leisurely pace.  We did spend a relaxing bit of time just watching the moose who were being uncharacteristically showy and close.

It ended up being a hot day.  That combined with the stress of waiting for the grandparents’ visit proved to be a lot for the kids to handle and by the time we left, everyone was a bit sweaty and careworn.  An impromptu visit to the park just outside the zoo seemed to be the perfect balm to everyone’s tempers.  Ruth immediately shed her footwear, followed shortly thereafter by her little brothers, and was soon climbing all over the play structure amongst the crowd of preschoolers and parents who eyed her suspiciously as if to wonder, “Why isn’t this kid in school?”  I’m getting used to these looks as I watch the calculations go on behind these peoples’ eyes as assumptions are formed, watching my wild and zany daughter violate all kinds of social norms of a kid her age.

After a while, we had to leave so that I could get home and make dinner in a timely fashion (how’s that for 1950’s era family mentality?).  We drove home and the grandparents hung out with the grandkids while I cooked and, as it is on a daily basis, dinner was steaming and on the table by the time Greg stepped his foot in the back door and kissed me on the cheek, “Leave it to Beaver”-style (where the hell are my high heels, apron and pearls??)

After dinner, the grandparents left to go home and then we took a walk around our neighborhood.  We probably had our nightly herbal tea ritual (we all drink some herbal tea together) read some books and then went to bed.

Thanks for tuning in.  Join us again next time for a day in the life, unschooling edition.