Sunday, August 29, 2010

why I

I've been thinking a lot recently about why I keep this blog. I am sure plenty of people out there have the same thought—why write here when all around, all around, are writing too?

Who is listening? What do I have to say that matters enough to present it here?

Who am I to presume so large and so boldly?

I am a single drop, tiny amongst the others,

drop against drop against drop.

Which makes me small and large at once.

Together, we form a body of sweet water which combined, are our drops connected, and separately are our thoughts, dreams, accomplishments and sometimes, our fears.

I am a drop connected. With or without anyone watching,

here in my own pocket of space, I know I am


No matter how small my thoughts, I am connected.

No matter how small I might feel or afraid, or

empowered or


—like the sea or like sunlight—

I am connected.

Which is why I write. Why I write here.

I write about homeschooling but I am more than a homeschooler. I write about writing, but I am more than a writer. I post photographs but I am more than a photographer. I write about my children but I am more than a mother. I write about my depression but I am

so much more than that.

And I write about the joy.

I should mention that I write about the joy!

I find it.

Am so grateful when it comes.

I write it down, I mark it with a smile.

And, now that I think about it,

I am, in fact, no more than this.

The joy,

the parts that make it


the parts that stand beside it.

Even as hard as those parts are.

To these parts and particles, my words bear witness.


Here I am and here

we are.

All our drops connected and separate.

All our tiny particles shining inside.

Friday, August 27, 2010

a new day…

a new day equals:

a talk with a sister—love, kindness, understanding, compassion

an appointment with a doctor

a pact to see someone to talk things through on a regular basis, rain, hail or shine

a big family cuddle on the bed with the children kicking their feet up and laughing

a kiss from my husband. His lips taste of peanut butter

preparing for writers workshop

sun shining

being gently reminded to look for the joy

the kids happily learning, writing reading talking being. Our homeschool land happy and intact

the dog licking himself

the cat scratching at the playroom door

birds calling

asking a friend to hang with my kids while I see the doctor. She saying yes without hesitation

a sleepover tonight with two bouncety kids coming

pizza video night

my kids

my husband


a new day equals…

it is morning, the day is in front of me

let's see what it brings?

Thursday, August 26, 2010

with the dark waiting

It's been kind of a tough time recently. Things have been happening that are out of my control and which I have struggled with. Actually, I should put that into the present tense. Things are happening that are out of my control and that I am struggling with.

"Struggling with" is one of those understatements you write when when you are no longer a child, when you are an adult and supposed to cope with major stress.

If I was a child I could stamp my feet; I could wail. I could bang my fists really really hard on some surface, or even the soft stomach of my mother while she hugged me. I could yell, "It's not FAIR!" and I could refuse to do anything until the problem went away or until someone sat me on their lap and smoothed the sorrow away.

But I am not a child, so I can't.

I have a picture for my sorrow. It involves a lot of old ugly junk that happened a long time ago. But instead of sorting the junk and finding a good, settled place for it, it got shoved into a cupboard, a spare room if you will. The door was smooshed shut, in the hopes that if it was left long enough, the junk might simply go away. And then new rooms, in fact a whole house, got built around that one room of old, lost junk. Thin walls kept it away from my life, my new house, and I thought I was safe.

The thing is, it only takes a small tap to break these walls down. Or maybe a large-ish tap, or the attempt to fit in new, ugly junk that I didn't create or desire, that busts the room wide open. If you shove enough stuff in—when the walls break, you are completely, utterly overwhelmed.

At the same time, you have to parent. You have to parent and guide and love, with joy and compassion and kindness. You have to have strength to do these things, while the old junk crowds in, saying, "Oi! Remember me? I'm still heeeeeere!!" And the new junk says, "I'm here too! Me! Too! Don't forget me!"

And you have to keep it at arm's length while loving, guiding, teaching, living with your beautiful children, knowing that at night, when your kids are sweetly sleeping, the junk will crawl over you, into you, settle in for the long dark.

I'm meant to be sorting my junk right now. But we've just done some maths. We're writing stories. We're about to do our Science unit. The kids want to learn and be and be happy. I haven't time to be sad or sort, and at the same time I know it has to happen.

I'd love the junk to just go away. Or, I'd love to simply accept it, accept that it is there, and say, "Yeah, you're here, so what?"

But it keeps pricking me, keeping me awake at night. It won't let me be. It's saying, "We're not leaving. At some point you've got to face us, dust-ragged and dim as we are. We still have the power to take you down."

I think you're supposed to go to counsellors for this. Go see a pastor, or a buddhist teacher, or a healer, or a doctor with kind eyes. I am trying to find the time and strength to do that.

In the meantime, I will go for a walk this afternoon, with my soulful dog and skipping kids. The sun will shine, and we will go out into it.

With the old and new junk and the dark waiting, and their claim on me like a fist, I will go out in the sun while it is there.

I might see something beautiful along the way, like this:

or this:

to remind me that the dark is not all that I am.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

the colours in between…

Every week, we drive about 40 minutes south to a gorgeous little town tucked into the hills where our tennis lessons are held. It's a long way to go, but we love the view and the green opening up in front of us, the tranquility…and the cows. These cows are the reason we became vegetarian, so we have a very soft spot for all of them.

Anyway, the other thing I love about the drive are the talks we have. The view all around, and the long drive seem to open up a glorious, free space for really discussing "life, the universe and everything" (oh, and all the other things in between :-) ).

One week I got to hear about the Spartans, from my son who'd just learned about them in his Usborne Encyclopedia of World History. Another week, we talked about Buddhism and faith. We've been talking about the election a lot, and sometimes we just say what we love about our friends. But last week's conversation was so interesting I had to write it down in my homeschool journal afterwards. And today, it occurred to me that I could post it here too.

So here it is:

On the way to the Sweet Hillside Town Where We Play Tennis, the kids and I saw our regular cows.

We always say, "Hello, cows we won't be eating!" We got talking about how cute they were, and how we didn't like thinking of them ending up as food.

Then the notion of taking a calf away to save its life came up.

I said, "Yeah, but that would be stealing."

"But," said my son, "They steal too; they steal the cow's life, so this wouldn't be as bad."

So began a looooong discussion about the concepts of "good and bad," and "wrong and right."

First we talked about how doing something illegal or "wrong" can seem right in someone's mind.

I told the kids about how people used to use (and probably still do use) animals for testing cosmetics, and how protesters would come and steal the animals to save them. Then I talked about how animals are still used for scientific experiments, to test out new medicines, medical approaches, and machines. Was it "wrong," to do that or was it "right"?

On the one hand, I said, the animals suffer and that doesn't seem right.

My son said, "And there are plenty of people in the world to test things on."

I said, "Yes, but you're not allowed to kill or hurt humans."

My son thought it was really unfair that you were allowed to kill or hurt animals.

So we talked about how, on the other hand, people can now live longer because new medicines and machines etc have been tested to make sure they work, like cancer drugs, and pacemakers in hearts.

After explaining what a pacemaker was, and did, I said, "If I was the one who needed the pacemaker to live, I might be okay with it being animal tested first. But when I think about the animals suffering, the big picture of it, I don't feel okay with it."

We talked about how some things sometimes really don't have a clear answer. Sometimes there is no wrong or right, there's just how you see things and how you feel, and all the grey (and rainbow!) areas between black and white.

It was getting very deep.

So then my son suddenly said, "Yeah. If you put a cow's heart into a person, the cow wouldn't be happy. As for the person; they'd be going around saying, Moo!"

And the conversation got very silly after that!

That was last week's Big Talk. We laughed, got to tennis where our friends were waiting, and had a lovely day.

We're off again in a little while, to drive past 'our' cows to the Sweet Hillside Town we have come to cherish.

I wonder what we'll talk about today?

Monday, August 23, 2010

the people have spoken

So I've had to do a lot of explaining, recently.

First I had to explain, a few months ago, that we now had a new Prime Minister without having had an election.

That involved explaining what a Prime Minister was, how they were not called a President, and how they are different from a King. I had to explain how we are governed not by one person, but by a majority political party. Then I explained that the Prime Minister was the leader of this party and that at any time, the party could choose to change who their leader was.

That was tiring!

Then came the election. Which was two days ago. In the last month I've had to explain what an election was. How you had to vote not for a Prime Minister, but for a party. Clear enough, but then I had to explain that you did actually have vote for a person, someone from the party of your choice who represents your area.

Because, I explained, we live in a certain electoral area called C********* ("But Mum, we don't live in C*********! We live in 'Pretty Coastal Town near Sydney'! So confusing!). Ah, yes, I said, We do live in 'Pretty Coastal Town near Sydney,' but we also live in the area called C********* which we never think of, or identify with, unless it's Election Day. (So it's kind of a wasted name, if you ask me, and maybe they should have not spent so much time giving it a lovely name like C********* and just called it "Zone X." Or something.)

Anyway, I said, you have to vote for the person from the party of your choice who represents your area. And then, if more people from one party are voted in than another, their party is the winner.

Right? Right.

I thought I was doing pretty well. I think some of it went Weeeeeeee all the way over my little ones' heads, but some of it got in. And at least I was following it enough to go out there like a grown-up and vote my little heart out. One of the cooler moments was when my girl asked me on Election Day, "Mum, do you like voting?" and I got to say, "Yes, it makes me feel like I have a little bit of a say in how the country is run." (Aw, that's sweet, yes?)

But now we've got this thing called a Hung Parliament. At least I think we do. The numbers aren't all in, but so far it sounds like we've got about the same number of one major party as the next. There's no clear winner. This hasn't happened since World War Two, they say.

So now I think the Independent politicians and Smaller Political Parties are going to be wooed by the two Big Parties to align themselves with one Party or Other. This is called the "Two Party Preferred" system, and that will decide who runs this country for the next 2-3 years. At least I think it will.

My head hurts!

So, I've been trying to explain it. I've talked about the smaller parties, and named as many ones as I can: the Greens, the Democrats, the Socialists, the Family First party, the Sex Party (What?!? said my kids), the Party for Non-Custodial Parents, and the Shooters' Party (which I'm not sure still exists. The kids said, "Who are they?" and I had to fudge who I thought they were. Probably totally misrepresented the poor dears).

Plus there's all the other parties I can't remember, or have never heard of. (I don't read the whole ballot paper! I mostly put my numbers here, here, and here).

Anyway. Maybe I was tired from all the explaining. Maybe I just have never been big on Politics (find it a little slimy, all the jockeying for popularity, the petty bickering, and the lying), so have bleeped out anything to do with Politics for the most part. But as I was explaining all this Stuff to my kids, I suddenly realised I didn't even know section/side of Parliament we were voting for. I knew there were two sections, but I suddenly didn't know their names, or which side was involved in this election.

I realised I barely knew my Parliament at all. After all this time together…we were strangers!

So I said to my husband, "I think there's a Senate, right? But what's the other one called?"

And my husband, who's American and doesn't get to vote here, said, "Um, well in America there's a Senate, and a House of Representatives."

And I said, "Yeah, ok. I think maybe it's called the House of Representatives here too, but I don't know which lot we're voting for! I don't think I ever learned that! Or I learned it and forgot…How is it that I don't know this?"

And my son, who'd been walking along listening (and has been paying attention this whole time to the whole Election Business), shook his head and said:

"Mum, you should have been homeschooled."

Don't you think?

Thursday, August 19, 2010

the rubberiness of schedules

Um, remember how I said my son was following a timetable? And he was starting around 9 and working until around 12? And he was doing maths, then english, then Science on Mondays and History on Wednesdays, and so forth?


I've decided the beautiful thing about making any sort of schedule is that you can then relax and ignore it completely! Yes, that's my take on it.

We've had such a lovely week.

On Monday, my husband cancelled a class to be home with us. So while I rested, the kids got to spend their morning riding bikes with their dad, along the ocean bike path, in the sun. When they got home, yes, my son did maths, but instead of then writing in his journal and doing Science, he began researching for his new chosen project—a lapbook on Greek and Roman myths— and made his first mini-book. He was so happy.

Then my son made up such a silly story playing with his sister that he had to go write it down. He couldn't stop writing when it was time for band practice, so he brought it along, and wrote it while his friends waited for him to play soccer (which they all play just before band). When the very silly story was done, the band kids crowded around while my son's friend read it out, and everyone roared with laughter.

Tuesday, the kids learned about Carl Friedrich Gauss, the Prince of Mathematicians. Naturally, my boy didn't touch his maths workbook. And then he suggested reading through the Science by Email newsletters I've been getting through the kids' subscription to an Australian Science Club.

The kids read about solar radiation, did little quizzes and got excited about some experiments. But it was time for tennis lessons, so our academic day was done. Or was it?—we still managed to fit in a really deep ethical discussion about "right" and "wrong," while driving the rolling, cow-speckled hills to the tennis court. As you do!

Wednesdays are my boy's History days, but instead he played Man Bites Dog with his Nana. Stories had to be shown, cuddles had. Then we went out to lunch and spent a happy hour or two in the book store. My son found a new Asterix book which he bought with his pocket money and promptly devoured. Then it was time to play an hour of soccer before music lessons. And to read and read and read some more.

As for Thursday. What did we do today? My son read until 10, a book called The Puzzle Ring by Kate Forsyth. It's a wonderful book—you get to visit Scotland, and time travel with the characters back to the 16th Century and the days of Mary Queen of Scots. And fight evil fairy queens to boot. Awesome.

Then my boy leisurely strolled down for breakfast. In the meantime, I had made a maths Bingo game for my girl and I to play, matching subtraction sentences and numbers. My son just had to play that with us. Workbook, shmurkbook.

Afterwards, my boy continued writing a new, also-very-silly story about a goblin named Frank who likes to eat tourists.

And then we had to go to Homeschool Group to play tennis with 15 other free-to-be, joy-filled, laughing children…

So, as I was saying:

The schedule had no chance this week. There was just too much life learning to do!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


On Monday, my girl was doing a little maths tutorial where she learned a trick for adding the numbers 1 to 9. The lesson mentioned in passing a man named Gauss who'd come up with a nifty way of adding number series. Then the tutorial asked, Now you know how to add from 1 - 9, can you add all the numbers from 1 to 100?

No way! said my girl.

Well, I said, maybe? Like, if we do this, and then that, and then this, maybe we could…?

And then we asked my son. He said, Of course! You just add this to that over and over. See?

Well, of course.

So then I was browsing a link to a maths site yesterday morning and there was a lesson on adding number series. It spoke of a man called Carl Friedrich Gauss. (Serendipity, I love you)

I've since done some reading on him. His other name? The Prince of Mathematicians.

When he was a child, Gauss figured out in seconds how to quickly add all the numbers from 1 to 100. He went on to become a mathematician and scientist, and in his time was considered one of the most important mathematicians since the Greek philosophers.

On this site, the tutor showed exactly how Gauss had done it. So I had to show the kids. Together, we saw how it was done and it was very clever.

My son's theory on Monday was almost right, which was pretty cool. Maybe he's got a future in mathematical prodigy-ing? That is, if he isn't too busy being a historian, artist, drummer, writer and inventor. Maybe he'll fit it all in.

As for me, when I couldn't sleep last night, lying awake at the magical hour of 4 o'clock, I found myself adding from 6 to 83, and number series like 3, 6, 9, all the way to 99.

It was incredibly satisfying. It felt like I'd been given Maths Wings.

Monday, August 16, 2010

some things

A list of out-of-order things and thoughts, both random and vital

1. I have a cold and have had one for days. I had forgotten what it was like to be sick. Since changing my diet completely two years ago, I think I've had maybe 1/2 a cold. So, I'm ready to be better.

2. We had a family reunion this weekend and I got to tell relative after relative about homeschooling. Each person had questions, and each listened respectfully as I talked about it. I was proud of the fact I knew what I was talking about, and had a considered answer for every question. And perhaps they didn't agree, but they didn't let on. I think my enthusiasm in sharing our adventure and having everyone meet my amazing, funny, interesting kids made any nay-saying impossible. I felt invincible and so lucky.

3. My son wants to be a historian now. He wants to blow everyone away with his knowledge of Greek and Roman history. He said, "I'm going to write such a great book, everyone'll forget all about The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire!"

4. My daughter didn't understand something in maths one day last week. She and I both got a bit funny about that. I, not so cleverly, panicked (the Panic Spiral goes, "Oh, she doesn't know something. She should know it. I'm not doing this right. Perhaps we shouldn't have homeschooled. I suck." Not the most original or clever panic spiral. Wish it could have been more interesting, but I think Panic Spirals are notorious for being Illogical and Dull). As for my girl—after panicking at the maths question and crying—my daughter saw me become lost, freeze into my panic, become stuck. She went and quickly wrote an information report on an African Bird (she really did). Then she came and hugged me. And she said, "But I know 9 + 9 is 18, Mum! I didn't know that before. You taught me that."

5. I saw a movie the other night. I was feeling uncertain, about many things. But then I watched this film, called Away We Go (directed by Sam Mendes). And it was so beautiful. It reminded me that love is all.

(The soundtrack features Alexi Murdoch. His music is incredible. You listen, and joy can't help itself; it has to slip in and curl beside your heart).

Friday, August 13, 2010


Friday night is Pizza-Video night. It has been for years, since my son was about 5 years old. That's five steady years of routine, rarely wavering. It can safely now be called a Ritual.

The pizza has changed over the years. First we started with pizza from a restaurant, then moved to a cheaper, fast-food version. Now it's home-made gluten-free vegetarian! (Unless it's a Friday after writers workshop, when we seem to fall back to fast-food pizza again—I know, so pitiful)

The kids' movie tastes have changed too. The kids chose Pokemon videos for years, which I rarely watched. While the movie played I'd often be fiddling about with something, or cleaning the kitchen, or reading. Often my husband was out performing, or at a concert he'd organised, so while the kids loved their movie night, it wasn't always together time.

But now it is. Now, almost every Pizza-Video night, we sit down as a family, and eat and watch. It has become a very special part of the week.

Perhaps it's special because the kids literally do not watch tv at any other time. Neither do the grown-ups! It must seem unbelievable, I know. The thing is, we moved the tv out of the living room when we turned it into a learning area. And the only place it could be put was tucked beside a couch, and the antenna cord couldn't reach. (I know we could buy the technology to make us antenna-free, but we can't be bothered). We haven't watched a regular program in eight months.

Every now and then, my husband and I pull the tv cabinet out on its little casters and watch a dvd, so we don't miss out completely. As for the kids, they never ask to watch. They really, truly don't. It doesn't occur to any of us to watch, or suggest watching. We have Fridays, after all.

On Fridays, on this one special night, we pull the tv out. We sit on the couches with pizza on our laps. The dog lies at our feet and the cat goes kind of nuts, jumping from couch to window ledge to couch to tv to couch to window ledge (you get the picture).

The kids and I watch the movie, and my husband eventually falls asleep with his head leaned back, his mouth open. We always point at him and laugh. Kindly, because it's what he always does, and we love him for it.

But tonight was a little different. For one, we stayed awake, all of us.

We had chosen an Eddie Murphy movie. I had suggested the kids watch something new, instead of Kung Fu Panda for the thousandth time. There were doubts, and my husband said, "Time for my movie nap!" But for whatever reason, we were all hooked. All four of us watched every minute.

The movie wasn't particularly special. It followed an old formula, and Eddie Murphy was funny but I wouldn't say it was his finest film, or that I'd watch it again.

But there was a connection between a father and his daughter that resonated with me, and with my husband. And I have to confess: It made us cry.

At one point, Eddie Murphy's daughter won't let go of his hand and he curls up next to her while she falls asleep. It seemed so much like our life, when our kids were small, and even today. They still need us and love us and don't want to let us go at night. It made my heart creak with recognition, and I teared up.

When I looked over at my husband, not only was he awake, but he was leaking too. Awake and crying! When I pointed it out to the kids, they were delighted. Even funnier than Daddy sleeping, is Daddy crying over a kid's movie.

But the kicker came later, near the end of the movie.

Eddie races to his daughter's recital, having had an epiphany about his love for her and his role as her father. He dresses up like a Prince, and comes to his daughter's rescue, bursting into the room just as she feels the most lost. Well, I lost it. I totally started crying. I looked over, and my husband had lost it too. Both of us total, weeping saps, completely in love with the notion of a parent prepared to do anything for his child.

Yeah, we are hopeless.

And yeah, I agree absolutely that we are behind the times.

And yeah, of course we were taken in by the Hollywood machine!

And yeah, we totally look like a throwback to the Perfect, sugar-coated 50's Family.

But in this one moment, this together moment, where two grown-ups love being a family so much we weep, and two children are so delighted it makes the air tremble, I really don't mind at all.

our tucked-away tv,
waiting for next Friday…

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Our Homeschool Land

The time has come, the Walrus said…

to write a bit about our homeschool day :-)

(and no, I'm not referring to myself as a Walrus! I'm ever-so-briefly channeling Lewis Carroll.)

I've been living in Homeschool Land almost a year and a half now, and I finally feel like I can write about it with a teensy bit of confidence. So, here goes…

Up 'til now, I have kept away from describing our homeschool methods in any detail, or talking about things such as the maths books we use, or any sites/curriculum I like, because in the past, the days have changed so quickly—what the kids have liked to use one week has sometimes been completely different the next.

But we seem to have found a sort of groove, and I recently realised we'd actually been in our groove for some time. We could almost be said to have a Routine!

I also realised that my kids found their groove and made their Routine, kind of by themselves.

The past couple of months, I have been to-ing and fro-ing about what sort of homeschooler I wanted to be. One moment it felt completely right to be "unschooling," and by that I mean we'd just live each day as we needed—if art had to happen, or a story written, or books read all day, then that was our "school" day. But on another day, I'd suddenly get the urge to schedule the day or week, get things done that I thought were important and I'd worry that I wasn't fitting in all the "lessons" the kids "needed" to learn. So I'd have a little panic that I didn't know what I was doing, would madly browse on-line schools and curriculum packages, and strongly suggest the kids pull out their workbooks and complete some pages for my own peace of mind.

I thought I might be a going a bit Mad.

It felt like there were two competing Me's, arguing over what they wanted their homeschool to look like.

Left shoulder angel was saying, No plans! Down with workbooks! No schedule!

Right shoulder angel was saying, Yes to plans! Up with workbooks! We want timetables—when do we want them?—Now!

It was pretty confusing.

So, I decided to check in with the kids (who are much more reliable than shoulder angels). "What sort of homeschool do you want?" I asked.

My son talked and talked his ideas through. The summary of what he said was this: "I'd like a schedule please. I'd like a timetable. I'd like to use workbooks, too. But," he added, "I don't want to work as long as a school day."

My daughter came down later in the morning, having spent time in her room with her toys and her books and got a quick run down of the options (imagine: Homeschooling Methods 101, told in 3 minutes)

She said, "Can I not have a plan, please? Can I not do workbooks? Can I just do what I like? "

"Of course!" I said. Both kids were thrilled.

And to myself I said—Aha. That explains the shoulder angels. I had my son and my daughter in my ears, already whispering their learning styles and I somehow, silly me, thought it was me not being able to make up my mind.

So my son and I wrote out a timetable for him. It goes a bit like this:

He does a page of maths (in a workbook) and english every day. He writes in his journal on Monday mornings and uses his english workbook on other days (unless he has a burning desire to write a story or continue his novel, which he then does instead). We do Science (right now it's Biology) on Mondays too. History happens on Wednesdays, and my son has reserved Thursday and Friday mornings for any special projects he has, or unfinished work. Every fortnight on a Friday afternoon he and his sister go to Writers Workshop (run by me). And he practices piano or drums every day (or is supposed to!).

He has band on Mondays, tennis on Tuesdays, music lessons on Wednesdays, and jazz combo on Fridays. And he just asked to join an art class on Thursdays. We visit friends or have homeschool group a few times a week too! Hmmm—are his days full enough?! Plus we make sure we have time to play and play, walk the dog, make comics, fly planes, play Poptropica and talk (and talk).

He's so happy with this new arrangement—he sits down to work around 9-ish and knows what work he wants to get done. He tries to get the "set work" done by lunch. Sometimes he takes a lot longer than he planned, and he's trying to fix this. (My lovely daydreamer is learning a lot of time management skills as a result.) We do rambling Science labs and History browsing over a whole afternoon, and have set aside the two days we're definitely at home for that.

As for my girl. Her day yesterday was completely different from her day today. Yesterday saw her sewing little cat figures out of felt. Then she constructed a house for her toy dog to live in, and she drew comics. (My girl loves art and draws/makes/creates constantly). She did a bit of addition on mathsisfun, then completed a bunch of activities on Time4Learning (an online curriculum that we had tried out over a year ago and I'd forgotten about. She asked to go on it again about a month ago—now, she is addicted and has been doing maths and language arts on it every day for two weeks). Then she went to art class with her friends.

Today, my girl read her book (The Secret Garden) until 10 am. She did maths and learned about folktales on Time4Learning, then decided to write her own folktale, called "How the Bat Got its Wings." And then games were played with one of her many, many animal toys, and because tennis was rained out, we popped in to see some friends.

We all do our Science together, because the kids both love it. My daughter also loves doing activities on Aha Science, which is another online resource.

My daughter listens to the read aloud in History, but doesn't write summaries or go into it in depth like my son. (My son reads the Usborne Encyclopedia of World History for fun and is writing a book about Greek Gods—he loves ancient history!)

Both kids are very happy. They love homeschooling and it seems to fit them unbelievably well.

And I've realised that their particular, very individual homeschooling methods are still Life Learning (which, if you've read my first blog posts, is the homeschooling "credo" I feel closest to). It's Life Learning because there is nothing forced about our homeschool day—everything my kids do is chosen by them, facilitated by us together, and completed in their own time. It feels completely right, to all of us.

And—to my relief—my shoulder angels are finally quiet!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

the edge of everything

Once upon a time,
a family went to the beach.

It was beautiful, but very windy and very cold!

The family set off, bracing themselves against the chill,
and perhaps they all thought this was going to be

a Very Short Walk.

But just then,
the boy and the dog found a path

heading into the dunes and away from the wind…

The family decided to go up the path,

with the sea roaring behind them,

not knowing what they might see

or what they might find.

They found another path,

that curved in an S,

through yellow, wind-bent grass and around dense bushes…

Which led to another path,

heading up.

The family was intrigued!

They climbed until they reached the top and saw…

a beautiful view.

The grown-ups said Ooh, and Ahh.

The children (and dog) scrambled,

and wandered,

and gazed.

But they weren't finished!

No, the family was bewitched,

by the twisting paths and the endless view.

So on they wandered…

through dense bush and brambly bits,

past discoveries green

and black

and yellow.

The boy was the leader. (Well, after the dog).
He had worn his shorts so his legs got scratched, but only a little.

The woman was next.
She wanted to keep going, keep going, around just one more bend.

The girl thought she was getting left behind (but only a little).

The man was peaceful.

The dog was happy beyond belief.

It seemed they were wandering with no purpose or plan.

But just then they all stopped, because they saw

something lovely.

And they were at the edge of everything and anything was possible.

They also, quite suddenly,
could go no further.

Their path was gone.

And they saw that they were far from the sea.

The woman said, Oh, the sun is setting!

And the girl said, I want to go back!

(Because she thought they might get lost
in the brambly dark)

But there was nothing to fear,

because they remembered the way back.

Past the bushes and bits,
past the discoveries, green black and yellow,
following the footprints they had left in the sand.

they saw another,

previously ignored path

that would take them back
to the sea.

They followed it,
down and down and around bends,
and the roar of the waves grew louder
and louder

they were at the bottom of the dune again.

Where they found four new paths.

One going


One going


One going East

And one going

(which was the way they had just come but it still looked so inviting)

And all they had to do was choose.