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.

xo

 

 

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.

Some painful events happened this past week in my family of origin.  The details of these sorts of things go in my bedside journal and not on my blog.  However, what I can write here is that the events are a repetition of what has gone on all of my life.  Tearing open old wounds.  Healing again. Somehow, it does get better each time.  There is more acceptance and wisdom gained from surviving yet another storm, another bout of fearfulness and the dark unknown, another reminder of how even as a child, I felt the weight of darkness on my shoulders.

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.

While dealing with the ongoing family of origin pain and turmoil, I’m trying to keep my chosen family healthy and whole, grounded in love and predictability.  It’s not ever easy.  It is easy, however, to slip into those dark, familiar paths I know so well. Instead, I want to choose love; I want to choose what is healthy and good and just.

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.

Thinking about possibilities

Here we are, in the heart of Mercury in retrograde.  This is what I am pondering and hoping to sort out one this period ends (August 19):

  1. The anger that comes up when I feel overlooked, unappreciated, and taken advantage of.  This is my ego and my annoying need to be appreciated.  I need to let go of this.
  2. The difficulty I have in maintaining focus and commitment, especially when it comes to career.  I’ve gradually lost my passion, although not my interest, for what I am doing in my job right now.  It feels very confusing and like a whirlwind in my mind.
  3. How much I’d like to cut out working altogether because lately it has been very stressful for various reasons.  I hate feeling stressed.  I also hate feeling directionless and ungrounded, which happens when I’m not working.
  4. How to deal with my lifelong identity struggle. What am I doing here? What do I want?  It’s hard to put my finger on it, but there is a block within me that keeps me from really owning my purpose or really figuring it out.  It’s been like this as long as I can remember.  I think it’s my karma.  How do I resolve it? Maybe I don’t?

On a related note, we want to start boarding dogs at our home as a side job.  We set up a profile on Rover.com and promoted it on Craigslist and Nextdoor.com.  I am a terrible self-promoter, but I’m trying.  We haven’t had any clients yet but hopefully we will sometime.

 

 

Summer update and going with the flow

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.

 

Forty

Today is the day! I am forty.

I started celebrating yesterday with my friend, Allison, who treated me to lunch at Common Roots in Minneapolis. It was lovely.

Today, I am simply grateful and happy to be alive. After what seemed like months of processing and preparing for this day, now that I’m here, I feel blessed and fortunate. I have received the gift of living 40 years. I hope for at least another forty, although I know it’s out of my hands how long I am here!

This morning I woke up to Alan delivering breakfast in bed, along with the Sunday paper–which I read in bed for over an hour while enjoying my delicious birthday meal.

I spent the rest of the day sitting by the bonfire, going shopping at Goodwill and Half Price Books, and cleaning out our “office”, which will soon be our homeschooling space.To finish off the day, we shared a delicious dinner that Alan made.

I feel so very loved.