Monday, September 27, 2010

Autumn is Here!

A few pictures from today; we have an altar/nature table with Mary this month. It has prompted lots of interesting questions.

Neighbors have shared tomatoes, flowers and apples (the one in front of the basket is how they looked before getting a soak and scrub, amazing, huh?)

We baked bread together today to celebrate the return of true autumn temperatures. Welcome fall; changing colors, fires in the fireplace, candles early in the morning and late in the evening, walks in the woods and along brooks and streams.

Making Bread

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The Neighbors' Harvest Shared

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Fall Musings

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B.C. Before Children

Before Children used to mean what it all looked like before life took on real meaning with the birth of each child. I would sigh and say, "B.C., I read, painted, worked dressed in something other than jeans or sweats, had long, romantic meals with my husband, wrote letters to people, etc." I had no real regrets, just reminiscing.

Now it has taken on a new look. B.C. is from 4am to 6am, when the first of the children's alarm clocks goes off upstairs. People ask me all the time, "but what do you DO at 4am?" Honey, the only thing that can stop you is your own imagination!

This morning, the agenda was simple; shower and meditate. I have a phone call with a friend and mentor scheduled for 5:30, so my time was a little shorter. My day starts off so much better when I have a shower before 11, and meditation is simply necessary to keep myself focused and mindful. Another day I might be writing, knitting, having a Latin lesson, reading and those endless chores of laundry, baking bread, tidying up the play room/art room we use during our day together.

What do YOU do in your B.C. time? Haven't tried it yet? What are the obstacles holding you back? I'd like to hear from you, in your spare time!

Saturday, September 18, 2010


"Just don't give up trying to do what you really want to do. Where there's love and inspiration, I don't think you can go wrong."
-- Ella Fitzgerald

"Let me tell you the secret that has led me to my goal: my strength lies solely in my tenacity."
-- Louis Pasteur

"Age wrinkles the body, quitting wrinkles the soul."
--Douglas MacArthur

The good side of homeschooling; the children are close to their parents in a way that is unique to spending hours and hours together every single day. Families have time to get to know each other, time to work, play and spend time talking in between the two. One can demonstrate and reinforce on a daily basis one's value system. Example; twice weekly trips to the library, time spent reading aloud and reading to myself have been incentive enough for my children to become enthusiastic, intense readers. Down side; whatever hang-ups and fears a parent may have are more distinctly reflected in a child's own life. Example; math phobia. It was time to do something about this attitude. Part of me was ready to just let go, the children would most likely figure out how to do the math they needed to do when they needed to do it. Another part of me knew they could do it, if they were just given the right tools in the right situation and the confidence they needed, this too they could do. Persistence, courage and love must pay off in the end. I believe in fairy tales that end happily.

For one child, this has meant engaging a tutor when he (sorry, anonymity is vital here, all pronouns will be masculine for simplicity's sake, not for identification) became interested and motivated enough to want to work more steadily, move at a faster pace and learn more. For another child, this means, I am finally seeing, simply sitting. Like accompanying an ailing patient by staying near the bedside, this one needs me to sit next to him, while he works out each problem, one by one, gaining confidence with each correct answer. In the past, I have rejected this need, believing that the only way to become more proficient and more confident was to have a chance to work things out on one's own, to have a little space and work a little independently. Not for this child. He needs me right there. I used to give a thorough explanation, give problems to do, then leave to do something else. This only caused great angst and lots of noise.

Now I know I need to stay. That was all it took; sitting and answering a question from time to time. It can be accomplished while playing play dough with the two youngest, while knitting socks, while driving if need be, as long as I am available to answer each question.

How proud he was to be able to announce to his father; "I did ALL the math problems today." It was truly a moment of triumph in this young life, all because we persevered. Life's big problems are interesting enough not to be able to be resolved in one day. Who would even need parents after, say, age five? And where would the old ones gain their wisdom, if not from working out the solutions to questions each generation has had to ask itself all over again every time a baby was born? It is not easy, it was not meant to be easy, just remember:

"Never, never, never, never give up."
-- Winston Churchill

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

On the Edge of my Seat

So I'm sitting here, and I will be for the next couple of days, though even that is painful. Pierre says I should have known better, at my age (he really did, he likes to live dangerously, that husband of mine.)

Arthur, six, offered to teach me to skate board yesterday. He had me sit on the steps of the garage while he demonstrated, and then it was my turn. Wee! Just like when I was seven and the champion of the downhill skateboard race in the neighborhood. I took a few tentative passes around the garage floor and it felt good. I then tried the drop from the step I had been sitting on, cool. Easy stuff. Then Arthur gave me a detailed lesson on "dropping" off the edge of the little, tiny, baby-sized ramp the kids use to bike and skate on.

He told me over and over that you had to hold the board at a certain angle and then "put all your weight forward, if not you will slip, and it's really slippery, like really." He made it look easy, and fun enough to tempt me. Fool! "No fool like an old fool!" My mind may think my body can do this, but my mind is no longer six and fearless. My mind, somewhere in there, knows better. I held the board, shifted my weight forward and dropped, right onto the cement floor on a sensitive part, the board merrily flying across the way free of me. Guess I was holding a large part of me back. Ouch.

The moral of the story; what you may be able to do with ease could be a lot less comfortable, simple or even doable for your child. I will dwell on this each time I sit down (ever so gingerly) for the rest of the week.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

My Darlings (such enthusiasm)

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Let's Go Out, Even if it Comes Back to Bite me in the Be-hind

A three day weekend with absolutely gorgeous weather, spent indoors. Huh?

It's called highest ragweed pollen count of the year and so sick of sneezing. What do you do with all those children on such days? They got outside, thank goodness. They went to the library, had friends over, made messes in the bathroom sink, on the patio, in the kitchen sink. I cleaned the bathroom sink before guests arrived for dinner, then found it all blue, really blue, and wet and dripping on the clean floor, then lost it for a short moment.

We're done. I am still sneezing, but we're going back out today anyway. Look at that intense concentration and vivid interest. Think of the hour or two I can sit and knit while they look for fossils along the river...woo-hoo!

So Much to Discover

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Friday, September 3, 2010

Don't Touch the Weeds

Unless you have a degree in botany. Which I don't. Obviously. Otherwise those ugly weeds clogging up my flower bed would not have turned me into a snotty, sneezing, eye-burning wreck. Twice.

Since I didn't notice the problem two days ago, with the first attack, I went back out last night to pick up what I'd thrown on the ground in a fit to get back in the house, out of the pollen. What I didn't know was that it was not the pollen count. At least not the pollen in the air, it was the pollen in my hands.

Woe to she who gathers branches of ragweed unbeknownst. Woe and snot dripping down to her knees, a miserable night, itchy throat and a dry mouth.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Waiting for the "Perfect Moment"?

How many times have you heard someone say, or said yourself, "I'll do that when the timing is better?" It is often said of the decision to have children, to go on a trip or to embark on a new project, be it learning to knit, writing one's memoirs or getting all those photos into an album. Today, I wish to make the case for the near-impossibility of that elusive perfect moment.

First off, children. It always seems that there will be a better moment for beginning a family; when your career has gotten off the ground, when finances are more stable, when the house has been remodeled, or at the very least, completed, when you've both earned all of the degrees you wish to acquire, when you've played all of the video games you wish to play, read all of the novels, visited all of the countries, slept in all of the weekend mornings, etc. At what point do you say "when"? In reality, most likely when the pregnancy test reads double blue. More importantly, who says children are the end of all things free and easy?

Children bring so much more than they supposedly steal . The pure joy of your own tiny baby in your arms wipes out any other consideration you may have had before. Time flowing through your child's eyes is infinitely sweeter and clearer than when it is merely our own heartbeats drumming out the hours. This article:
"Are Children The Enemy of Productivity?"
says it better than ever I could, from the perspective of creativity and children according to historically given advice and a modern father's perspective.

Taking a trip, be it to go camping for a weekend or to the other side of the globe, is another thing to stall, for so many reasons. Work is busy right now, we have no money, the kids have a soccer tournament, a flute concert, want to be in a big theatre name it. While finances may be an issue, as with most things, where there is a will, there is a way. Your trip may be closer to home, shorter or with less frills than you'd like, but go anyway. Our trip last year to Lake Superior, should have included sailing around the Apostle Islands and classes to certify us as charter-worthy. Due to a shortage of funds, we neither rented a sailboat nor took classes, but merely camped for a week on land and enjoyed the empty beaches and perfect weather of September on the lakefront. Poor us. It was one of the most fantastic vacations we've ever taken. Even the day we had to do laundry in the town twenty minutes away became an adventure when we discovered a local bakery with good coffee and divine bread and scones, and my children had their first ever Dairy Queen ice cream cone. On the way home we spent two days in a town hosting the annual Laura Ingalls Wilder Days. We listened to a library loan book on CD version of "Little House in the Big Woods" during the drive and the kids enjoyed a ton of free activities all over the town, cheap fun.

As to your own creative journey, I have just two words; start now. There will never be a finer, fitter moment to do so. Here are articles and books to help you on your way, "The Artistic Mother", by Shona Cole, the photography and illustrations in this one are so very gorgeous I would like to own it just for the beauty of it. "Big Purple Mommy: Nurturing our Creative Work, Our Children and Ourselves" by Coleen Hubbard, "Writing Mother, Tapping into Your Creativity as a Mother and Writer" by Lisa Garrigues , this article from a favorite blog:, Jennifer is a great source of inspiration on writing and motherhood. Please see "my favorite blogs" section at the bottom of the page as well, for a bunch of cool blogs written by creative mothers allowing themselves a little time for their inspiration to take form.