Wednesday, July 30, 2008

checking in with Inspiration

The last couple of weeks have been filled with Summery Goodness. We've had lots of time with friends - had dinners, and fireworks, barbecues, and lots of sunshine.
Dates have been made to start the homeschool groups (mostly with our unschooling friends) back up again - Mom's Night, the unschooler's meet-up, Art and Craft Circle, and Project Wild. We even have begun the steps to begin a Scout circle - I'm awaiting the paperwork for a SpiralScouts charter. Very excited about that.
School supplies are lined up shiny and so tidy in the stores. Offering so much goodness and freshness in the name of organization and new beginnings.
Friends send notes saying "I'm putting in an order for art supplies.... do you want anything?..." so we'll all get free shipping.
Which leads to online shopping for art supplies.
And then books.
And then science supplies.

So today I'm expecting a medium sized box of inspiration in the post.

We've ordered (well, I've ordered) petrie dishes and agar. And an owl pellet kit with extra pellets in case friends want to come over and explore with us. And a physics kit. And slide covers as well as bluing and eosin y for studying our own cells.

We are also expecting books - Aquatic Habitats, a math/building book about geometric concepts and experiments called Build It! Festival, a book on Chemical Reactions, Identifying Animal Tracks, and three little books about studying our (local) environment - One Small Square: Pond, One Small Square: Woods, and One Small Square: Backyard.

The babes' rooms are organized.
The zoobs are with the zoobs. The morphs are with the morphs. The cuisenaire rods are with the cuisenaire rods. The tangrams, the legos, the lincoln logs, and the gears are in the shoe boxes, coffee cans, or wicker boxes where they belong.

I am eager to go downstairs and reorganize and rearrange our shelves - making room for the new, and making sure everything that should be is accessible.
I'm anticipating excitedly going through toys (getting the children's permission) that have been outgrown or broken.
I'm thrilled about new books, new clay, new experiments, clean shelves and organized microscope slides.

I'm inspired.
Life is good.

checking in with Reality

Sometimes I wonder (vaguely) if I am missing something.
Something important.

I watch my children, and their busy-ness, and their discoveries and explorations and imaginings and Ways, and I hardly ever worry.
I don't usually judge it - except in an amused, enchanted sort of way.
I don't usually quiz them - except when one fear or another creeps in - and then I evaluate, or question (them or me), and muddle through it the best way I can. Always eager to get to the other side.

Unschooling comes so easy to us.
And I spose this is where I get hung up.
People that know nothing of unschooling might say, "Of course it's easy! You're not doing anything!!"
But that isn't true. At least, it doesn't seem that way to me. And I guess that's where I sometimes question if I'm missing something.
We read. We explore the local historic farm. We visit the Planetarium, and watch its films. We visit museums probably at least a dozen times a year. We bake and cook. We look at the globe and and ask questions of "Where's ____?" and "How far is ____?" and "Show me ____..." at least once a week (including Maddie). We play Carmen Sandiego on the computer. We play Clifford on pbs. We play Math 1-2. And JumpStart World. We build, we swim, we play with friends, and we go to the library. We learn about the constellations, and wonder which planet that is in the night sky. We experiment with magnets. We learn about the life cycle of the frog. We clean, we interact, we solve problems, and we communicate. We help each other, and sometimes we hinder.
We discuss evolution often. We count, we name colors, and we imitate animals.
We make Pinwheels for Peace every year, and we watch Animal Planet. We watch Wishbone, Arthur, Nova and the History Channel. We paint, we sculpt with clay, we play with tangrams, and we do science experiments. We flex our imaginative muscles daily with pretend play.

It's all so natural, and free flowing.
Experiencing life this way, I feel so satisfied and confident. (Most of the time.)
But then once in a while someone says something, and I have to ask myself.... am I missing something? Is living this way not enough? How can someone doubt it?
It is so apparent and obvious to me that it's working so beautifully....

And so I try to see things from a different perspective, and surround us with circumstances when it would not Be Enough.
Such as if we doubted our ability to learn anything. (I don't mean anything-at-all, I mean we know that we can learn anything. That nothing is outside the realm of possibility.)
Or if we felt we had to play by someone else's rules.
Or if we believed that instead of people needing more room to grow and love and expand out of them selves they needed more limitations.

None of those apply to us.

I cannot think of one thing right now in our experiences and growth and living that is lacking.
And the beauty of living this way, is that as soon as you discover that there is something new that excites you -- you're free to pursue it, and claim the magic for yourself.

It's enough for me.

checking in

Yesterday I felt the need to check in with Trev.

Last night I got out Games for Reading - Just to see if there was anything that jumped out at me that might be fun for us.
The author was talking about how a first grade student wrote her name terribly, and had trouble with visual perception.
Trev doesn't write. Doesn't draw, either. Has barely any interest in it at all. The only time really that he writes is when he writes a few letters in short-hand - a love note to me.
"Could there be a problem?" I ask myself.
Not out of any nervous, must keep up with the Joneses, pressured/frantic/doubting unschooling sort of way.
Just in a "hmmm, is this something that I'm not aware of?" sort of way.

"Hey, Trev. Do you have a few minutes?"
I don't ordinarily quiz my children. And if I do, I am totally up front with them - giving them the reason for it - that I'm feeling nervous about something, or am curious about something, and could they help me for a minute?

I got out Maddie's Magna-Doodle. (is that what it's called?) I drew a big "x", with a small 0 in the top part, and a small o in the bottom.
"Will you copy this?"
Not a problem. The o's were exactly where they were s'posed to go.

Our constellation book was on the table.
"Hey - wanna draw constellations? Which should we do?" I drew the stars for him to link together. He actually decided to draw the constellation patterns without my stars.
Then we played a dot-to-dot game (our short quiz time was now over, and we were just having fun between ourselves) where Trev would draw a bunch of dots on the board, then link them all together (quite ably, I might add), and we would tell each other what we saw in the random drawings. That went on for several minutes.
Then we played (laughingly) several games of tic tac toe.

Of course the conclusion that I came to is that there is nothing wrong. He's just a boy that is interested in what he's interested in, and doesn't feel the need to do work that he deems as drudgery to appease someone else, or to a system that might call him misfit. He knows nothing, and probably cares less, about this System.

Monday, July 21, 2008

pond part ii

note: read at your own risk, post is quite scattered and illiterate!....

oh how i wish i had a camera, friends.
can you believe that i dropped it yesterday at the waterpark?
oh yes i did!
dunked it full under for a whole second - three quarters?- or so.
we'll see what comes of it.... it's drying out under a lamp....

dig pond?
carpets down (for padding against any missed rocks or tree roots?)
to dh...."are you ready to take us on an adventure?" (as digging out a pond requires a cold beer to my mind, and i have taken that liberty, and will not drive....)
"what sort of adventure?"
"to look for rocks, and to home depot for that $10 giant palm tree...."
which will be housed inside in winter, to help cleanse our air during the inversion, of course. seriously - i get mega headaches from pollution during wintertime.....

Mama Spot? (read: humble meditation throne)
Under Construction, still.
let's see....

claw and scrape and dirt-up-to-my-shoulders-quite-literally, covered in it (as is little laptop),
so satisfied.
there is something quite marvelous and magical to be said for quit literally carving your place out of damp and soft, friendly soil.....

Spot, then?

now we just need the bordering stones.....
"Ready, Babe? It's gonna be dark, soon....."

whadda ya do...

... when you've been thinking Pond at the western (for water) border (of your property) for four years
chickens (last year and part of this one, 'til dh says "No." (The Feminist in me demands that I tell you that of course He is not the final word, but that he also has An Equal Voice in this household...)
when you find yourself trying to outrun your babes first thing in the morning insisting "I'm in a time-out, really!!!" looking frantically for a meditation spot among herbs and earthiness....
for two hours.
And the bills are paid.
And there's a few extra bucks in the checking account?

Dig a pond, of course.

Think ethereal OM-ness.
Think drowns out the noise of the cooler, and quite possible the shouts of the babes playing in the pool.

I write this as Maddie spots my face and arm with blue raspberry scented magic marker.

You get my point, don't you?
I don't need to justify "Peaceful Water Garden", to you!

Monday, July 14, 2008

a romantic life!

the vision looks something like hollyhocks towering over a four foot tree stump (dedicated to the eastern horizon, and new beginnings).

in gorgeous colors of melon, bright fuschia-like pinks, whitest whites, and pale pinks.
you know.
something like - romance struggles thru the dry soil to bring charm and beauty and romanticism into this (my own) world.

the reality looks more like....
hollyhocks, of course.
but between the sighing viewer and the various bounteous and romantic spots-of-earth lie -
a plastic swimming pool.
and a few stray legos.
hiding remnants of the water balloon fight from two weeks ago.
a few tiny bits of things the dog has destroyed.
oh - and an art studio, and a water gun resting on a wicker table meant for teas and beautiful books.maybe a few pairs of long-abandoned Dora , my-little-pony, and spiderman -now muddy and stained- underoos.


such is this life, friends.
you've found me out.

balm for the soul

today i've dug and snipped and hung and cut back and even transplanted.
soon i'll replenish and soothe and feed and coax with sweet talk and love.

i smell of catnip, peppermint, lavender, lemon balm and sage.

life is so good.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Rule #6

I heard a story a few days ago. It' s a story written by Benjamin (the conductor of the Boston Philharmonic) and Rosamund Zander, from the book The Art of Possibilities.

Two prime ministers are sitting in a room discussing affairs of state. Suddenly a man bursts in, apoplectic with fury, shouting and stamping and banging his fist on the desk. The resident prime minister admonishes him: "Peter," he says, "Kindly remember Rule Number 6," whereupon Peter is instantly restored to complete calm, apologizes, and withdraws. The politicians return to their conversation, only to be interrupted yet again twenty minutes later by an hysterical woman gesticulating wildly, her hair flying. Again the intruder is greeted with the words: "Marie, please remember Rule Number 6." Complete calm descends once more, and she too withdraws with a bow and an apology. When the scene is repeated for a third time, the visiting prime minister addresses his colleague: "My dear friend, I've seen many things in my life, but never anything as remarkable as this. Would you be willing to share with me the secret of Rule Number 6?" "Very simple," replies the resident prime minister. "Rule Number 6 is 'Don't take yourself so goddamn seriously.' " "Ah," says his visitor, "that is a fine rule." After a moment of pondering, he inquires, "And what, may I ask, are the other rules?"
"There aren't any."

a bit of magic for you today.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

grown-up stuff

Evidently I'm not done.

I wonder if a picture would properly capture this scene? Let's try...

The patio lights are on.
Which means white Christmas/Yule lights are mixed in with the ivy draped around the covered patio. I sit on the padded wicker sofa.
Pink Floyd (yes, still) plays through the back window.
Wish You Were Here, and Dark Side of The Moon, to be exact.
Shine on, you crazy diamond.

Bliss, man.

I think that if you're a fan, we'll be forever friends. If not - just never tell me so.
Zeppelin. Donavan. Cat Stephens. Leonard Cohen. Three Dog Night. Sometimes Doors. Sometimes Stones. Sometimes Beatles. Sometimes Grateful Dead.

Getting a sense for my mood?

Babes are sleepin'.

I'm over twenty-one. I'm home.

My babes were slightly disturbed, before they gave up.
"Mom. Can't stand that music. Turn it off. So's I can properly watch Cartoon Network."
"Ain't gonna happen, Bud. I'm sorry, but that's the way it is."
They turned funny colors.
Didn't quite know what to do.

Rolls eyes.
I'm taking care not to weird them out.
But Honestly.
Seems that maybe Happy Hour needs to be celebrated around here once in a while.
It's been predominantly Disney Land for the last seven-plus years.

Granted, Eric and I had Happy Hour oppurtunities for a long, long time pre children.
Which is why we are happily engaged in the Kid Life.

But we're not Dead.
And we're not perpetually six.
Even if mostly we seem like it.

Here I am.
Happily being twenty something.
At thirty something.

In a funky mood.

If you lived next door I might invite you over.
And I'd offer you a cold beer.

And if we had a swimmin' pool that was even a foot wider, I'd invite you to go swimmin'.

Maybe even skinny dippin.

lessons in Hilarity

Hilarity so obscure and outrageous that I cannot even properly name and point to the specific particulars. Or the "Scientific Spe-ci-al-i-ty" if you prefer.

The first might have been The Wait (which would be the preceding post).
But it may have begun before that - I can't be sure-- as my brain isn't very reliable in its present state.
Could be that I lost it in The Straws - the ones I bought because it seems that the children are forever looking for A Straw, and that if they only had A Straw, this milk would surely be So Much Better. The same straws that I've picked up off the floor twice in two days and the ones that are now decorated with dog-hair and no one wants to use for drinks, and are only good for spilling and piling and strewing on the floors of various rooms....

Following The Wait was lunch/dinner/whatever/ie Mama notices that the babes are in immediate requirement of some delegated nutrition.

During which Trevelyn shouts (they're at the table, because I've already made the livingroom shiny-clean, and later found peas ground into the carpet) "I can't stand the looks of that Canteloupe!!!" So I (in my hilarity) put up a blockade of a pitcher of tea, a vase of dried-up flowers, and a few other barriers between him and his Sister, to which he responded "The smell is still coming around the sides - it needs Two More Things On The Ends!!!" To which I added (in my further Hilarity) a few bottles of essential oils to The Sides.
"That might do it..." he conceded.
We picked up the Walky-Talkies and started "Roger"ing and "Copy That"ing and "Over"ing all over the place. With much enthusiasm.
Living pool-side for a while.
Then the tallest of us (that would be me) decided that she was in need/want of a cold beer, and found there was none to be had.
"We need to go to The Mercantile, over...."

After some "I'm ready, over"'s, I reminded Junior about Foot Protection.
Littlest Junior comes to me a couple of minutes later, and says "I've got my Foot Protection!"
Which led to further hilarity.
It is damned near a hun'erd outside, after all.

Little Son comments that I'm in a strange mood, and I don't want to frighten him, so I back off a bit.

It's great fun to lose your mind sometimes.
A momentary lapse of reason.

As per tunes and Mama's (groovin') Peristence...

So you think you can tell
Heaven from hell?
Blue skies from pain
Can you tell a green field
from a cold steel rail?
A smile from a veil?
Do you think you can tell...

Sometimes I can.
And sometimes....
things get all mixed up.

Thanks goodness.

Now I hear the neighbor girls (grown-ups) laughing with Hilarity at 10:28pm.

Life is good.

via connection "Unsecured USRxxx"

Here's today's story.

I'm cleaning along.
Not in an ecstatic, I'm so happy sort of way (which sometimes happens), nor in an efficient I'm-busy-get-(the-hell) out-of-my-way way (which is common during pms - I started yesterday, btw), just in a this is how it is sort of way. Not irritated over finding spilled crackers and gummy worms and cups sitting sideways on the pallet next to my bed. Which is pretty great. To not be upset by it, I mean.
I thank God daily that roaches are not common in this part of the world.

Listening to various things on my ipod - Naomi Aldort, John Kabat-Zinn, and finally Wayne Dyer.
"I wanna pway Stah-fall."
"Alright.... I'll get that right up for you."
Except... no internet connection.
You're kidding.
Here we go again.
Laundry, line, vacuum.... okay.... time to call and wait on the line for an hour-and-a-half. Time? 1:33. Okay. I'll be done by 4.

Welp - may as well finish up the kitchen that dh started.
Dishes first. Unload.
"Eric - bring me the baking soda from outside, it's by the pool - it's the last that I have...." ...I'm trapped.
More counters.
Drip pans under stove burners.
Part of stove under drip pans. Whatever that's called.
Counter in back of counter.
Where the miniatures and pretties are.
Okay... Pretties, too.
Time? Hour and a half. Aah - any second, now.
Wayne talking and talking.
Mind starts to wander.
Approaching two hours.
Wayne talks about "looking for occasions to be offended".
Maybe I can respond to tech with cheerfulness, after all.
Skip complaints of waiting for two hours?

Here I have to say, that even as I thought of these things, I sort of objectively likened it to a grieving process.
Myriad of emotions.
A sense of rightness with the world. Followed by righteous indignation. Pride. How dare you? It's fine.... look at all that I'm accomplishing....
(you see how my mind works)

What next? Another counter.
Cupboard fronts.
Another load of dishes unloaded.
Cast irons washed and oiled.

Two and a half hours...
How do I feel about that?...
Oooh - this area behind Maddie's chair is pretty despicious - wall (two of them), then pantry door, then spice door, baseboard.
Careful while washing the phone!!! Don't wanna hang up accidentally! phew.
Hmmm - wonder if those spots on the ceiling can be washed without too much aggravation?
Cloth, cleaner, spray spray spray...
Can I even reach?
Ooooh, I can, and it's coming up pretty good.....

click click click rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.

Oh dear.

My chin (due to my industrious stretches) hit the reset button.

Four minutes short of three hours.


No at&t 'net today!

Thursday, July 03, 2008

One bowl of Gentleness, please. With an extra scoop.

I don't know why we can't just have things when we need them.

I like to think that I'm an advanced enough person - I'm not being arrogant here, really, just honest - that I can conjure up such things for myself when needed.
I'm not saying I should be immune to heartache and headache while my fellow man suffers. And I'm not saying I deserve better. I don't believe either of those things.
What I am saying is: When you know what it is you Need, and are willing to embrace it totally, and take whatever snatches of it you can get, it should just be there for the taking. You know?

Like taking a walk with your ipod and listening to lectures about Mindfulness. By the way, I learned today that Mind and Heart are the same word in all Asian languages. Isn't that interesting?
Like plucking sun-warmed blackberries off the canes when you get back from a meditative walk.
Like taking pictures of a beautiful fuzzy bee while standing less that a foot from her while she does her fancy work.
Like pouring a glass of cold beer to take outside to sit in your meditation chair for a bit with your laptop.
Like meandering slowly around the gardens in the 100 degree afternoon offering a refreshing, cool drink of water to your beauties in the shade.
And to your Self.
Like listening to the gentle voice of Jon Kabat-Zinn.
Like contemplating and anticipating barbecuing, sunning, swimming, and lazing with friends in just a little while.
Like ignoring a messy house for Just a Bit Longer.

As it turns out -
Gentleness comes, after all.
When least expected.

And most desired.

Gentle blessings are being sent your way, too.
For when you most need them.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008


or crapola, maybe.

So I finally got ahold of AT&T (due to my dsl service being out). I've called them six times - Six! - and had not gotten a hold of them. I thought they must have had some sort of melt-down going on. Really. Four times I waited for AN HOUR. No "we are experiencing a high volume of calls...." or "Your wait time is expected to be xx....." nothing.
This time I waited an hour and a half exactly before someone answered my call.
(I cannot begin to convey to you my frustration over this, so I'll leave it at the hour-and-a-half thing. I'm sure you can imagine my feelings about it.)

So finally I talk to someone, and after her blase' questions of name, phone, etc, I break out my canon (I did wait my turn, after all - til after she was done) "This is the seventh time I've called in the last five days. I've been without the internet for five days" Well, as far as they are concerned I have, I've managed to get on a bit with a neighborhood unsecured network that I can get sporadically. "Most every I've called, I waited for AN HOUR, and no one answered my calls."
"I'm sorry to hear that ma'am, we take our time with our customers to help them properly - what can I help you with today?"
What!?! You mean there wasn't a nuclear explosion that I wasn't aware of? They didn't have a major crash? This is Business As USUAL?
I'm late with my work (which admittedly was somewhat nice to not have that pressure, but still...), my life has revolved around when I can spend an hour on the phone waiting for someone to even answer my calls - a corded phone, mind, you, not a cordless phone (radio phones I call them) no speaker phone, etc. Life stopped. Multiple times over the last few days.

After now being on the phone with tech support for another HOUR - and almost dumping my house on my head by disconnecting and reconnecting various wires and cables from and to various unreachable corners of my home - and refusing to unplug my modem and climb up the side wall of my house to break into my phone line box to plug in my dsl modem (rolls eyes in disbelief) I am transfered to an email agent who will tell me my username and password - apparently it's not the one I chose for myself, but one they've assigned (wtf?) and after a security question of "How much do you pay a month for your dsl service?" and my response of "19.95 or $19.99, I dunno, it's taken out automatically..."
"I am sorry ma'am, but that is incorrect... $29.95..."
"What!?! I get $19.95 for the first year...blahblahblah... $29.95! Are you telling me I am paying thirty dollars a month?"
"Uh, no ma'am - you're paying $39.95 a month..."
"I'm sorry ma'am, I can connect you with Accounts when we're done...."
A stunned me says "Yeah, we'll do that."

Finally get connected to 'net and now "Connect me with accounts, now, please."

Who answers very quickly in a rather terrified voice... "I'm sorry, ma'am, that is incorrect... you are paying $19.95 a month, as per our agreement for the first year...."
Hmmph. That's better.

I honestly was not a bully, or mean about it (only in my head was I) but I cannot get over that a huge company like AT&T would make its customers wait over an hour on the phone before they could reach someone. As a general practice. I'm so shocked over it.


And oh yeah - Eric got in a car wreck - got smacked into from behind on the interstate.
Rolls eyes again.

He's fine. I think.
Truck is lookin' pretty pitiful.

Other guys fault, Eric hurt his neck - we'll see how much over the next few days.


I've gotta get off here - since I'm free - and clean house while I enjoy the smell of the rain and listen to the thunder.
Hopefully even the few measly drops will wash some o'this crap out of the air.....

(amazingly, I feel quite optimistic and refreshed now.)