Thursday, December 1, 2011

roll up, roll up, summer has begun…

It's day one.

Here we are!

Summer. Officially! (According to the Western Calendar, that is).

Which means every single day will be glorious. Right?

Are you listening, Sky? Sun? Clouds? Ocean? Wind?

It's day one.

It's my mother's birthday today. I love you so much, Mom. I hope your day is so beautiful you can hardly stand it.

It's day one.

I saw my counsellor/therapist person yesterday. She's my long-time regular counsellor, the one who was living overseas when I needed to see her last year. The one I actually hadn't seen in 3 years. Woah. That's a long time between talks.

She was so lovely. She said, Be wary of labels. (That is, blindly accepting them. Letting them define you). She said, Go information gathering. Look at your treatment options. There isn't one way to do this. And, after she and I talked about all the Stuff…and I said, "This is no way to live. When my life is this beautiful and I'm still this sad, something has to shift"…she showed me her pad of paper, where she had written what I'd said in huge capitals: THIS IS NO WAY TO LIVE.

So. We are agreed. We have a plan.

Something is shifting.

Are you listening, Self? Fear? Brain? Doubt? Universe?

It's day one.

The kids and I have also come up with a Plan. The kids and I have realised that "Mum is like a puppy. She needs regular food and walks." If I don't get walked, I fret and chew the furniture! It's pitiful, really.

So every day after breakfast, we plan to do some exercise. So far, we've walked to the beach and along to the next suburb, then taken a train home (so fun). We've walked around our streets exploring. And today, the plan is to Swim.

Yesterday was supposed to have a swim in it, but instead there were two visits to the vet. One for a very sick chook (who didn't make it) and one for an arthritic dog (who did make it and should make it for years more, but can no longer jump into or out of cars. I need to lift him. He is heavy). Some days don't go to plan. Doesn't mean you give up. Right?

R.I.P Chook. We'll miss you. 

It's day one.

I haven't written about homeschooling in ages. Our year is winding down, but the kids haven't lost steam. My girl is flying, and I mean flying, through maths right now. She's got her times tables down. She's learning long division. She's adding and subtracting like a fiend. She knows how to figure out change. She knows her shapes and angles and weights and time and probability. She finished Year 3 maths a week and a half ago, and is now rocketing through Year 4. Who would have thunk it? Seriously. Where's the sparkling apple juice? We need to CELEBRATE!

This last week she's also written a cat magazine, plus created a brochure for a kitten surf school.

And along with the hundred other stories she's working on, she is writing a series of tales about her beloved cat Mittens. Mittens is adorable, annoying and very simple minded. We call her Shmoo. Here's one of the "tails" my girl has written:

TAIL 2. 
Dis is a gigantic drinking bowl,” thought Mittens, peering into the toilet. “It’s vewy smewy.” She leaned over to look and...fell in!MARRROWWGGLLE!!!” she gurgled, thrashing around. “It GURGLEMMOWW!!! Doesn’t MMOWW!!! Taste MMERRR!!! Dat GUURRGLLE!!! Nice!” She scrabbled out of the toilet and ran off to the other end of the house, dripping wet.
I don’t tink dat was a dwinking bowl after all,” she said, licking herself. “But if it was, It would need fwesh water.” She walked to the mother of the house and mowed: “If dat’s a dwinking bowl, pwease change da water. It wasn’t vewy pweasnt to dwink.”
The mother of the house wondered why the kitten was so wet.

So funny!

My boy is all about his schedule right now. He practices, he does his maths, and now he has asked to "do history." So I found some cool e-workbooks on Rome that he's really enjoying. He loves knowing what's ahead, this one.

Plus he's doing chemistry experiments, and researching periods in art. He's watercolouring, sketching, painting, writing, reading reading reading. He's doing music, circus, scouts, and art class, and all the time he's watching over his family like a shepherd.

The kids are like a carnival.

You come into their lives and watch them Being. Doing. Learning. Loving. You see all the rides, and the sparkling lights. You see how nothing is dimmed, or if there are dark spaces, they don't stay dark for long. There is talking, laughing; there are games and prizes. Oh, the prizes! You can't believe just how wonderful they are. You carry them in your arms; you are full of spun candy and soft toys and laughter 'til your sides shake. You can't believe how lucky you are to be here. To see this. To be a part of it.

Getting to be their mum, and parenting with my beautiful husband, are without a doubt the best things that have ever happened to me.

It is day one.


  1. Lovely positive attitude, Helena! I hope some of it rubs off on your sad. LOVED the cat story! Love your boy watching over you all. Good stuff :)

  2. Oh I love the photo of you three at the end. Enjoy summer. Soak up every last ray of it!

    We are stepping into winter here. (bracing myself) I'll be happy to hear of your warm, sunny adventures. (I've already had to get out my down parka here. Ack!)

  3. Mmmmm, Helena. Summertime and long walks, and the joyful children and doings. I'm so glad that through the sadness you can see these things and they can help lift you ^UP^ You often help lift me up, even when you write about sadness. ((hugs))

  4. I love your "Day ONE" Helena! Can't wait to follow along on the journey. Does your therapist know you blog? I am so happy because I know you are going to feel better and better. It is so strange that we just had snow and your summer is beginning.

    I LOVED your girl's story. Please tell her that Kei and I enjoyed it so much. I can just 'hear' that cat saying all of that stuff!! And her progress in Math! Was it less than a year ago that she dreaded it? I am sitting here smiling for her. Your boy is just all out wonderful. I love his initiative and how he decides what he wants to know more about. What are some of the Chemistry sites/resources that he loves?

    Lucky family, lovely life. Enjoy it my friend.

  5. AWESOMELY BEAUTIFUL Post! Sounds like a fantabulous day one! Puts me very much in mind of a "looking up" picture. :-) Gorgeous pictures, and we had a little laugh at your puppy analogies. Maybe I also need to go for daily walks? I seem to be growling an awful lot these days! Hmmmm.

    So, so happy for your girl and her math achievements! I so love it when a child reaches such milestones. It is a most beautiful feeling! Yay!

    I was just wondering if you would mind telling me how you chose the math book for your son. I was looking at the link you gave us a while back and wanted to purchase some but there are two different ones for each year and it says they are different according to learning styles. However, it does not go into details which one to get for each learning style. Odd. I tried emailing the support person but they have not bothered to email back. Great customer service hey? You made it sound so interesting, but I have so many questions. Like do they clearly set out how to do things or expect that a math teacher is on hand? (just for one, LOL) I am dealing with a very disinterested teenager right now so any advice would be most welcome. He is really keen to work from text books at the moment so I am trying to find ones that will stimulate his bored mind. I tried to send a private email to ask but my mail is mucking up this week and refusing to let me send mail even though I am receiving it. So so annoying it is!!!

    Keep smiling beautiful! Much love xoxoxox

  6. Oh PS, Summer seems to have passed us by up here! It was a bit on the cold side yesterday and today feels a lot like winter! Its really dark and dismal. How odd!

  7. I love your whole Day one post. Thank you so much for sharing, and reminding me about the things that are important. I love your daughter's story as well. I could just hear the cat talking! My daughter has finally begun to write creatively and I am so happy because this is new for her.
    Homeschooling mom of 1 who is happy to cook, clean, and even do windows...just don't ask me to be my kids' creative writing tutor.

  8. Thank you everyone, so much, for your comments! It is so wonderful seeing every day as a fresh start, and as a beginning—and to see every day as special because of that. I am glad you thought so too :)

    I'm not great at coming back and answering questions—here I'm 8 days late in responding to you Karen, and you Karisma—but perhaps better late than never?? Or maybe it's better to be on time. I'll try to work on that!

    Karen, the only resource my boy is using right now is an old chemistry experiments book we discovered while he was doing his lego league project. It's called "Science Fair Projects: Chemistry." But we are planning to "do" chemistry next year as a complete unit. We're thinking of using the "Real Science For Kids" books—they set out experiments and work through the topic very thoroughly, and because my boy likes the structure of things like that, it could be a good fit.

    We also like A-Ha science (an on-line program, lots of videos and clear explanations—my girl has really enjoyed it). Plus we subscribe to a kids science club through the Australian CSIRO (The Helix Club). We get magazines and receive a Science by email newsletter every week that includes experiments. The Helix Club has been my favourite science resource so far. I think you Alabama girls would be very welcome to join, and you would love the magazines! :)

    Karisma, the book my boy is using is called New Century Maths and it seems to be the perfect fit for him. It's not just about maths. It's about history and science and ideas, and most of the maths works at the level of "higher-order thinking." (That term comes from Bloom's taxonomy, just in case you haven't heard of it. It's actually really fascinating to look into that taxonomy, as it talks about different ways of learning, and how important it is to not just gain knowledge but also evaluate that knowledge, ask questions, investigate and be creative with that knowledge. A lot of kids don't need to spend too long learning the basics; often they can move quickly into higher-order, more complex and open-ended learning. That's what this book has you do.)

    The book does cover the basics and does it VERY clearly, but goes quickly into really cool extensions of that learning. So for example, instead of just memorising the names of solids, it talks about Plato and how he associated certain solids with elements of the earth (like fire and wind). It has print-outs where you construct your own solids. It has links to interactive computer programs where you can stretch and manipulate solids into various shapes. That's just the solids chapter. The geometry chapters are even cooler!

    The book sets out the work very clearly, and you definitely don't need to have a teacher on hand. But I've been sticking fairly close because truly, it's fascinating! The stuff my boy has used for maths has made me love it for the first time ever. The Life of Fred books began the love—now this book continues it. I'd actually recommend both Life of Fred and this book for your boy—both resources rock.

    That's the end of my answering session, Karen and Karisma! You see why I sometimes take a while to respond—my answers take so long to write and an equally long time to percolate in my head before I write them! I hope these answers help :)


I love hearing from you! Thank you for your heartfelt, thoughtful responses—they lift me, and give me light.