Tuesday, August 30, 2011

seamless

Today feels like the weekend! she said.

Which didn't surprise me,

because today was filled with the same Flow and Good and True,

as the weekend was.

The weekend was made of

busking
(again!) 


(where a boy made more than double the money he made last week. He is now saving for an iPod touch—which, if he ends up buying it, will be the only electronic game-y thing in our whole house! He has the taste for the good life, now. Tomorrow an iPod touch. Next month, a Porsche :) )


playing at the beach



(with a very old school friend my girl hadn't caught up with in weeks, maybe even months. They picked up right where they left off. Which made me so happy. Creaking inside happy—you know the kind?)

performing



(with friends and a dad, in front of about a hundred people. I think I'd better get used to this, our weekends filled with my boy following his passion)

washing


(a dog on Sunday morning. Who then had to, just had to, roll on the grass. Don't you wish you could do that after a bath?!

And I should mention: it was just my husband and I who popped down the road, to the dog washing station at the pet food store. We left the kids at home alone for the first time ever. Both of them were contentedly reading and didn't want to come. I showed my son where the phone was. Reminded him where our phone numbers were on the fridge. We were back within 20 minutes, and they were fine. Right there, another milestone was reached in the journey—the one that is us raising our kids, then letting them fly. WOW.)


playing



(a new strategic card game created by my girl. Think Yu-Gi-Oh, or Mythmatical Battles, but with kittens. Very cool… It wasn't simple—there were a lot of rules to learn. There were power food tokens you could earn to claim back a defeated kitten. And you had to play smart—these little darlings had some serious attack and defence powers and could take you down. )


learning


(how to work our new sewing machine. It's finally out of its box! Hurrah. We learned to fill the bobbin thingy up and thread the needle. We even sewed. We went crazy with learning.

Though I have to admit: at one point we nearly gave up—the bobbin thingy filling part was kind of hard. We thought we'd have to wait and ask our trusty sewing teacher/neighbour/friend for help. But then, we found an inner strength. We persevered, and figured it out. Boo Ya!)

reading




(all Sunday afternoon—one boy and one girl crawling completely inside their books. My son is re-reading the Percy Jackson series. My girl finished with Artemis Fowl (about a 12 year old criminal mastermind who befriends the world of fairies as you've never imagined them), then moved on to Little House in the Big Woods. Kind of a funny transition, don't you think?)

riding



(by me. Just me. On my bike because I had to. Because the sun and Outside and the beach called. I rode along the bike path that runs along the water, all the way into town. Where I stood by the ocean. Just me. Breathing.)


watching


the chooks wander about. Looking for grubs. Scratching. Free.



the flowers blossoming on the peach tree. Must be Springtime… Lovely.



Ah.
Our weekend.

You could measure each fine moment in dollops. Like

honey. Like fresh whipped cream
plopped on scones you've just pulled out of the oven.

Delicious.


And today? 

Well, it was more of the same :) 


My girl reading an Australian history book at breakfast, about indigenous life before white people came.

My boy practicing piano and drums, then working through his maths textbook, the one he loves. We're up to angles now. He drew his answers in the shapes of fish and 3-D pyramids… As you do!

My girl drawing more pictures in her Book of Creatures. All original, and gorgeous. I will have to ask her if I can share them with you.

My girl and I reading a maths story book together on the big bed upstairs. The cats coming to join us. The two of them licking each other, then sleeping nestled in each other's paws.

My girl going to practice piano and finding dad had run off to work with her music. Not to worry—more time for sewing!

(We're sewing toys, using the sewing machine. We thought we'd have one finished today, but need to fix a few things. Bigger legs! Sew the legs on first, then stuff body! Go bigger all 'round! Be prepared for a nice, steep learning curve! Breathe.)

My son, designing and building a bird feeder. Lots of trial and error there too. Best thing was looking out at him, sitting on the back verandah, drilling and carving with his pocket knife. The chickens roamed by periodically, to check whether the wood chips were worms.

Then the beach.

The beach. The beach!

Jumping the dunes. Striding with the dog (well, he lagged to sniff and poop and say hello to the other dogs). Sitting while the children played.

Floating in Time.

And band practice for my boy, and maths talk with my girl about making change and her Getting It! and dinner all together at the table… my husband making us laugh 'til we pleaded for him to Please, stop being so funny. :)

And a movie date with my husband as the kids read in bed.

And
now…?

Quiet.


This is how a Monday can be

just, and exactly,

like a weekend.


Open. Full. Of wonder. Of discoveries and delight. Of adventure and simplicity, both.


Just and exactly,

(and so very simply)

a life.






linking, as I do, with Owlet 
and her unschool Mondays


and for the first time with Amanda, 
and her lovely weekending series. 

:) 


Saturday, August 27, 2011

this week

What a week it has been.


So busy—so up and down

and down and up.



This week,

in the spirit of More! that I referred to in my last post,

I learned to program a Mindstorm robot

with my girl and her friend.

(The Lego League coach did a Girl's Only training session just for us.
Wasn't that lovely of him?)



I felt the sparks of my brain light up,

as we went through new step after new step. It felt kind of fizzy and delightful :)

In the end I watched, as my girl and her friend got the robots they'd built and programmed (with my help!)

to complete their first obstacle course. They looked at each other and beamed.




This week, in the spirit of More!

I did art class with my kids.

(The art teacher always says Of Course, when I ask to join in.
Isn't that lovely of her?)

We did a still life, with pots and pans, painting only in shades of grey. Looking for the light, the dark and the in-between.



At one point I thought, This is terrible. I'm doing a terrible job. I'm going to take this painting down and throw it in the bin.

Then I thought, No. You. Won't!

Remember, I told myself. It is the staying, the doing and the being here in my body in this moment that truly matters.


This week,

I went to a funeral. For my uncle who'd died suddenly on a ferry. Just like that.

The moment in the service that did me in was my aunt,

standing before the packed room saying,

'I didn't get one second. Not a single moment, to say goodbye.'

So she asked that we say goodbye, together.


And it struck me,

that out of a life this adventurous, this full, a journey filled with Go! and Do! and Change!

the greatest legacy my uncle left,

the feeling that was the strongest—so vibrant it shimmered in the room—

was how much he was loved.


Then,

I planned my own funeral

(…doesn't everyone? Or is it just me…?).

I wanted it filled with colour.

I told my beloved sister and husband so.

I told them: I would like ribbons. And bright flowers and music. SO much music!

And people beside an ocean
with gulls catching the wind.

That's all.

So if I have no words and no time to say goodbye,

the colours, the music, and the sea can do it for me.




This week,

it's been kind of quiet here, in my land of words,

as I've tried to sort through some Stuff.

You know The Stuff, don't you? It's different, but so much the same, as other people's.

The Stuff that blocks, trips, leaves you hollow. The Stuff you try to shift.

Which means I've been quiet in the spaces of others too. I am sorry for that. I love coming by to see you. When I stop by, I truly feel like I'm popping in for a cup of tea.

Though I haven't written, please know I still love being with you. Please know that I come by.


While sorting my Stuff out, I've felt alternately busy and blank. I've been weepy and muddled, and

distracted best by all the amazing kids I spend time with in the week,

and the kind grown-ups.


This week,

well, I suppose right now, actually,

I feel like

I am the still field.

Waiting.


Healing.


All around, in the fields to my north, my south, my east, my west, 

—the fields that are my kids and their friends,
their projects and their happy lives—

I can hear bees buzzing.

I hear the thick swish of someone walking through corn.

The crick crick of crickets and the peeping of birds.

I can see bright colours, wildflowers everywhere.

I can hear the push of green up through the soil, blades of grass and new shoots.

I can see sunlight streaming.

I see children running,

doing a dizzy twirl that eventually tilts their laughing bodies onto the ground.


I hear their laughter like bells. 


I see

a swallow swoop down low.

So low I see its eyes
and soft edges.

How funny, it must think,

to see a lady in a field, sitting so still with her face up to the sun.

Waiting. 




This week,

I wanted to share the music that has been my week's soundtrack. 

With all its downs 

and glorious ups.


The whole album is SO beautiful,

in every way uplifting and wild, 

strange, sorrowful and true, 

it might just be the entire playlist for my funeral.

:) 


especially 
this one. 



Monday, August 22, 2011

done and doing

I think we're done with Space.

I mean,
I think we're done with our Unit, the kids' space journals,
the thing I thought would take maybe a term.

We're into term 3 and we're not "finished." As in, we haven't finished answering all the questions we came up with in the beginning.

We are this close to being Done.

But you see…

the kids are full.

They don't suggest it, and when I suggest it, they balk at doing it. I think it's become a bit of a chore for them. A thing to Get Through.

So I think it's time to stop. As unfinished as we are, I need to let it go!


And funnily enough,

even as they've lost interest in 'completing' their journals,

they're still learning about space, about the make-up of the universe,

just not recording it all. Not writing down every little leap in understanding, every bit of information, all those facts.

They're just absorbing it.


My two sponges.


My girl said (two nights ago,
just before going to sleep),

Mum, I've learned so much from reading that To The Moon and Back book!

Oh?

Yeah. I'm not done, but I've really liked it. Right now I'm in a boring bit, but I think I'll read some more.

This book is about a group of Australians in the 60s, who were given the job of tracking the US Moon expeditions from a station in Australia. It sounds fascinating. It was lying on her bedside table, just underneath her latest Septimus Heap novel. Close by, ready.

She wants to watch the movie Apollo 13 now too. Because I've talked about it, and because she read about it in her book.

I didn't even know she was reading it. It was one of her library finds the other day.

Kind of magic, don't you think?


My son is done with his journal too.

He has spent 6 months reading about Space, every book we could find from the library. But according to our list of questions, he's not Finished with his journal. He still 'needs' to write about Comets, Black Holes, Dark Matter and Space Exploration. Not to mention the cool idea I had of writing about the main Astronomers in history…!

It all sounds great,

to me.

He's older than my girl, working at a Year 7+ level these days, so perhaps I should have him finish?
So he can learn to complete tasks, maybe?
Or do something when it's no longer fun?
Or to squeeze every single drop of Learning out…

'til the Most! Comprehensive! Study! of Outer Space! is Complete?


Or maybe

instead,

I should leave it be.

Maybe…

he should walk away and travel along
the many other, wonderful twisting paths that drive him and make him so excited.

And maybe, just maybe, one day he'll return to his journal, those pages of information and go, 'Oh! I could add more now!'

Or not.

The learning will still have happened.


So what's he been up to instead of Space Journaling?

Well, poring over The Elements book that just arrived.

Which details all the elements in the universe, with lush pictures, and fascinating information. He loves loves LOVES this book. Keeps reading parts out to me. Curls up with it on the couch. It's his companion, right now.

This morning he told me all about Chlorine, and how poisonous it is. He said people used it in World War 2 to try to kill each other. When one side tried to use it, he told me, they'd poison themselves half the time. But the little amount that goes in pools won't harm you, he said.

Ah. He talked and talked and talked.

credit


Kind of magic, don't you think?


And what am I up to,
now I'm not asking the kids to finish their Space Journals?

I'm letting go

some more.


Of the idea that something has to be

finished

to be valid.

That something has to be written to be learned
(even though that's, almost entirely, the way I've retained information).

Of the idea something has to have an Official End, marking the time you Officially Move On to something new.


And,

well,

I'm also wondering.

Why didn't I do a journal too??


If it's the idea I had
(which the kids loved for a long time),

and the way I learn

and it's about something that interests me,

I wonder why I didn't go on the journey too.

Hmmmm. It would have been SO much fun to do one. With my own art and words, my interpretations and information.

So, while I don't like to look back with regret, I realise
I missed an opportunity.

To write and record and invent and marvel, with my kids.

I was with them, but I wasn't immersed like they were. I was the observer, the facilitator, the collaborator. But I wasn't a co-creator. I wasn't a Do-er like they were. I sat with them most days, and some days we were in it together, watching a video, or talking about something amazing.

But for the most part, I was on the outside looking in.

Thinking
that
was the right role to play.

Now, I think: This could change. I could change. Even more than I already have.

I could jump in. More.

Immerse alongside them. More.

Learn side by side by side. More and more and more!



It could be Kind of Magic

don't you think?


:)




I'm linking up 
with Owlet today,
as always!



Sunday, August 21, 2011

I liked it…and not just 'cause I'm his mum

Five young people

busking their hearts out.

Want to see?



I 'specially love the little boy dancing, part way through.
And look at my boy's right foot. Playing the invisible bass drum. Gorgeous.

Yeah, I was proud.

But I didn't hover!

Played it so cool in fact, that we wandered off for a bit and I missed one of his solos.

"What? You didn't see me trading 4's, Mum?"

No sweetheart,

I left you to the adoring crowds. :)






linking up today with Stephanie's



Saturday, August 20, 2011

stuck and unstuck

I didn't mean to not write for five days. Usually I have about a thousand words ricocheting around my brain at any given minute. Usually they pour out…

but my brain got stuck.

Do you ever have that moment when a fear hits so hard it actually leaves you breathless?

I had that this week. A 25-year-old, recurring fear reared its head, leaving me unable to write here (or anywhere much else for that matter) for days.

I felt quite paralysed with it. I was okay if I was around people, and thank goodness for my children, for friends meeting up, and children playing, and the laughter—all around—of kids and grown-ups I treasure. Then I could float serenely on their company.

It was during any downtime that the fear would slide up soundlessly. Tap me on the shoulder. Lean forward and whisper:

I'm still here.

I had all these words to write—especially about the comments in my last post. Right there was a conversation I really wanted to have. I've been writing my replies in my head all week (really!). Been going to the computer, freezing up.

Because right then the fear would whisper:


come feed me, won't you? Or at least try to battle me. Make this interesting. 


It sure takes a lot of energy feeding or battling fear. And when you hit the wall, and think you'll never be free… ah. The hopelessness that hits. It takes a lot out of a soul. A lot out of my mothering, my living, my loving, my laughing, my Being.

But.

While the fear has been splish-splashing around in my brain,

SO many good things have been happening.

SO many.

I've been watching, as though from far away, but sometimes, in moments of relief, blessedly close up and present,

my life.

My daughter

who last Thursday, joined this year's Lego League team with her brother. She listened to the coach's presentation, listened to me as I detailed the work that would be involved, what might be asked of her. She said, I want to do it!

She went off to do the team building exercise—she got tangled up with other kids, who were then told to untangle themselves. Which meant physical closeness, the potential for getting hurt, a huge sense of not knowing what might happen. All these things have completely blocked her before. But this time? She was in the thick of it. Smiling, but even more beautifully—laughing. It made my heart sing.



My son

who painted a painting in Art class that blew my mind. His art teacher said, "You get it. You have it. All that's left to do, is get even better." He looked like he might rise from the ground and float away.



My kids and others

who met up for homeschool group and frolicked (yes, frolicked!) in the indoor swimming pool for hours. I loved that they had the time to play for hours. I loved that these kids, ranging in age from 6 to 13, played completely together, making up games, supporting each other. They were friends without boundaries. I thought, so clearly then, I love homeschool.




And all through the week,

my children.

Who played and made up stories, and created and read and spent days pealing with laughter. I saw that we were so lucky.

My kids get to live a life where the creative arts—their passion—take centre stage. They get to truly explore visual art and music and writing and reading in their day to day lives, be fully immersed, be Artists. It's what they love, and how they learn, and nothing blocks that. That is beautiful.

My children

who all week have given me kisses, cuddles, talked to me, kept me company. They've asked for my attention and given theirs—wholly. They have been kind, loving and so gloriously interesting!

Which means…

I've been frozen and unfrozen, both.

Trapped, in quiet time, in a determined battle with a fear so old, and so useless it's a wonder it hasn't shriveled up by now. Ah, it's a tenacious little sucker. But today I have the upper hand. Today. Today, this moment. Now. The Upper Hand. You listening, Fear?

And free, in busy time, to watch, and love, and learn. To see how it's possible to overcome fears (thank you, dear girl. You are an incredible inspiration to me). To delight (in the music! the art! the imagination!)

To remember. To see. To feel blessed.


Today, I am going to go and watch my son busk in the downtown shopping mall. It's his first time. He was invited by some high school kids to play with them. Kind of excellent! He's quietly, completely, chuffed about it.

Today, I'll be hanging out with my husband and daughter. We're going to get hot chocolates and watch the buskers. But only a bit. We won't hover—we know that would be uncool!

But I'll be watching, and noting. Delighting. Keeping my Upper Hand the hardest and the best I can.



Monday, August 15, 2011

the Real World

Okay, enough with the dreamy—isn't life lovely?—posts. (Well, at least for this moment!) It's time to get down to Business.

We saw a fight today.

A real one.

Downtown, walking to our car from the shops.

Two grown men directly across the road from us, screaming expletives at each other.

It escalated,

until suddenly there they were, punching each other, one with his shirt off, chasing the other into the road, testosterone ripping the air.

It was scary.

I told the kids to turn away. It happened so fast. Our car was just past where the men were, so I couldn't think what to do—this was the way we needed to go. We backed up, we crossed the road away from them. Stood with a bunch of others, all waiting, poised. Ready to run, call the police?, I guess.

But the whole thing was over in about 2 minutes.

With no-one hurt (luckily),

one man running off, screaming ugly, ugly words down the street, shaking with rage. The shirtless one strutting back and forth, slowly putting his clothes back on. Life resumed. Weirdly, like nothing had happened. I mean, you've got to keep going, right? To your car. To your life? You've got to keep walking.

But the kids were rattled.

We talked about it, all the way to the car,
and into the car,
and on the drive home.

Somehow we made our way back to joy—turning the Ugliness we heard and saw into something silly, something manageable for an 8 and 11 year old.

But I was rattled too. And for the first time I thought,

If they had been in school they wouldn't have had to see that.


If they went to school…

I could take them there (to that nice neighbourhood, with those nice kids, trees everywhere, so peaceful),

in my car.

I could pick them up, drive them to whatever Activity was booked for them,

then take them home.

A neat life.

Weekends could be spent in beautiful spaces only, with us protecting them,
and they might

never know how ugly the world can be.


But that isn't the life we live.


We see things we don't want to see.

We meet strangers doing strange (and sometimes scary) things, talk to shopkeepers struggling to make a living after floods/a cyclone/a Financial Crisis, see kids on the street wagging school and smoking cigarettes.  

We hear ugly words.

We talk about it all,

day-to-day life, world events, sad histories, people being Unfair and Unjust.

We live, truly, in the Real World.


Which is funny, isn't it? That people say homeschoolers are isolated and shut off from Reality. They say, What about the Real World? What about when they get out into it?

What's that you say?

The Real World—that unpredictable, fascinating, incredible thing? The thing we experience every single day as we go out into it,

exploring,
tasting,
trying,
seeing,
talking,
processing?

We can't avoid it.


It educates us,

every, single, minute of our lives.

Which is
what we chose. And just what we want it

(for better, for worse)

to do.




linking, as I often do on Mondays, 
with Owlet… :)



Saturday, August 13, 2011

Between Moons

It's that time

again,

when you delight to see the moon looming, rising serenely over the water and go,

Look!


And you stop to note how here, and now, the sky is bold blue and purplish

and the lamp, there, glows green

and the backs of cars blink red

and the moon's white makes the colour deeper

and the moment becomes bigger than

This.

Larger than the getting into the car and the getting home for dinner and the getting ready for bed and the Getting On.

It's

like a pause button.


And I think,

How am I? How have I been between the last moon and this,

how were you, and we?


Well,

there was hard and beautiful, rolled up together, like two cats curled.


And a gift,
soul-touching and resonant,

from someone else (Kimia, thank you).





(At the end of this talk, when she is standing there…? Beautiful.)


And time with

a sister

for a whole day! In the big city. Doing grown-up and silly, silly things. Laughing 'til we were bent over. Discovering each other again (it being the first time we'd hung out, just us two for a whole day in a Very Long Time).






And 

kids who have blown my mind, truly this past month, with the words they have written in writers workshop. Blown! My! Mind!

Their energy makes me write harder, better, more, too. It makes me feel lifted, so that I write things I care about. And I feel so lucky, to spend time with people like these. 



And

Someone I adore, dealing with things I wish I could do anything about…

the only help I can give from so far away, is
love love love love love. Great gobs of it, sent in steady waves.


And

a cat in a sun patch.


And rows of orange hats
(and green letters and yellow escalators and pink bags. Yum)


A big dog in a shopping mall


A girl dancing on shadows


A paper rocket


A vine of bottles


2 cats. 1 lap.



A stick in sand


The sky! The sea!



Long languid days where the air tasted,

lip smackingly

of Spring.


Two dazzling children


And the colour of night coming.



You try to catch these things,

these moments,

try to press them between pages, try to hold them, but they, in truth, slip like shadows out,

and dance out of time.

All you can do is note them as they pass. Each small thing and say, I am glad I saw you, felt you, photographed you, thought you, wrote you, held you,
loved you,

lived you.

All you can truly keep
is how
pleased you are to have been there.

All you can say is: Thank you.









Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Stand up and Be

It was Census Night last night. A Very! Important! Night! where we all got counted
like

little beans

and put into our slots.

We, the population, played our part in history—

all umpteen million of us sat at computers or scritched away at tables, diligently filling in our forms—

so that People could then look back and say,
Australia in 2011

had:

 X-amount of grown-ups, X-amount of kids, X-amount of Buddhists, X-amount of brick layers, X-amount of people needing help to pee, and X-amount of millionaires.

But they won't ever know how many homeschoolers there were,

because

there wasn't a box for us.

Nothing and nowhere for us to write:

Homeschooler.

No spot to slot into and be noted.

No rock to scratch our initials in,
nothing to say:

We Were Here!


The question on the form asked if

you were studying at an educational institution.

Either you were, or you were not.

That was it.


If you said yes you studied full-time or part-time, it asked, Where?

You answers could be:

pre-school, primary school, high-school, university, technical college or Other Educational Institution.

No open-ended Other with a simple box you could write "Homeschool."

No.

You just couldn't dodge that word.

Institution.

Now, the last I heard or read or knew, homeschoolers specifically and absolutely do NOT study in an institution.

I checked, and the definition of

institution |ˌinstiˈt(y)oō sh ən| is:

nouna society or organization founded for a religious, educationalsocial, or similar purpose

Hmm.

There may be four of us, plus two chickens, two cats, lots of goldfish and a dog living here, but I'm pretty sure we're not a society or an organisation.

As for being Founded: I'm not and never have been. I just got born, grew up, had adventures, chose with my kids' permission and to their delight, to have them learn outside of school.


So it seemed kind of clear:

our education—all the delicious leaping and learning we do— happens in nothing like an Institution. But just in case my dictionary was wrong, I checked around.

Freedictionary.com says an Institution is

a. An established organization or foundation, especially one dedicated to education, public service, or culture.
b. The building or buildings housing such an organization.
c. A place for the care of persons who are destitute, disabled, or mentally ill.


Well, nup, to a, b or c.

Wikipedia says it's

any structure or mechanism of social order and cooperation governing the behavior of a set of individuals within a given human community. Institutions are identified with a social purpose and permanence, transcending individual human lives and intentions, and with the making and enforcing of rules governing cooperative human behavior.[1]

Huh? And
um,
we don't fit any of that either.

So what to do?

Now, the Census form did generously add that the definition of
"study in an educational institution"

included study by correspondence.

That was awfully kind of them, but that's not how we homeschool.

(I s'pose if my kids just did their work and posted it to me under the door to my room where I lay inside eating bon bons and reading steamy novellas, that might count. Unfortunately though, that's not quite how we roll)


Which left me with no spot to say

what kind of Education we actually get.

It left me, being the stickler for the Truth that I am,

saying, in answer to "Do you study at an educational institution?"

for Every Single One of us:

No.


Which looks to the naked eye like

we aren't any one of us being Educated right now.

Not
him, her, him, or me.


Which is so silly,

because you and I know

we are.


Every day, in countless, joyful, and delighted ways,

we are!


No-one looking back at the Census of 2011,

years from now, or even just tomorrow,

will know

just how lucky we and thousands other Australians are.


And it is so ironic, don't you think?

That we unboxed and unbound learners

had no box to fill.

Maybe that's exactly how it should be?


But in this thing,
this small hands-up, stand-up communal exercise,

I actually kinda would have liked to be counted.


Silly, silly census.



Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Monday lovely Monday

I love Mondays.

We don't have to be anywhere 'til 5pm, so the whole day stretches out,

filled with delicious potential.

And for a boy who was feeling very under-the-weather yesterday,

a stretchy, empty day was exactly what he
(and we, as it turned out) needed.


It was a day for

a girl to play piano

and Timez Attack

and for a boy to read on his bed.


A day for a girl to

make a book out of index cards,

and help make a new multiplication game

with her mama (who had had an Idea and wanted to start right Then and There!).



A day for a girl to play the game with her mama



then help make up another game (and play that too!)


…while a boy read on his bed.


A day for a boy to come downstairs and

make a cape and High Priest's hat for his toy dog,


play with his sister,

then read on the couch.



A day for big, gorgeous cuddles on the bed

(with me as the filling and the kids the bread, all curled up around each other like question marks),

then a nap for me

and reading on two beds by two happy kids

(starting to see a pattern here?).


A day for my boy

to go to band (having rested all day and now feeling Up for It)

and for a mama and a girl to come home and make dinner.


A day for a girl to draw at her desk

while a mama made vegetable soup,

chopped vegies and danced in the kitchen

to music so infectious

a girl had to come dance too.


(And this has to be one of the happiest songs ever, of all time)


Ah. It was a glorious day.

Did I mention that I love Mondays?

And Tuesdays too, come to think of it. As for Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays…

Well. I love you all. You are, actually, all my favourites :)


P.S. 

I thought you'd like to know:

We've had FIVE nights of happy bedtimes now! Which = one happy family, one empowered and pleased-as-peaches girl, and lots and lots of sleep.

Ah.

(Deep, contented sigh)




Saturday, August 6, 2011

rising

Shhh, now.

Imagine
me

tip-toeing

through this new life, or at least this Shift, this New Thing that is

my child happy at night.


Imagine me

carefully moving through the day
not-quite-believing.

Wondering if it's too soon for cartwheels and fireworks and the marching band?


Imagine.

Two nights
so far,

a girl going to sleep happy. Without tears. Waking. Smiling. Giving hugs throughout the day and

declaring

just how happy she is.


Imagine: the joy

slowly creeping in, where once seemed all dark.


What could possibly have changed?

Well,

I think it began three nights ago, with us being as close to breaking point as I thought we could be.

Well,

actually I think it was me being close to breaking point. After 6 months of loving and talking and supporting and sharing sleeping space and trying this and this, and that and that, it felt like things were getting worse with my girl's sleeping and her fears, not better.

It felt,
quite suddenly, in one single hard moment,
like things would never ever, no way no how, ever be better again.

It felt a lot like despair.


So what did I do?

Well,
(and could it really have been this simple?)

I talked about how I felt.


After that bottomless night, three days ago,

I laid myself bare.

I said all the things I felt, 
to my boy and my girl. 

I said everything—I didn't hold back. I talked about my limits and my wants. Said how close I was to breaking, with the months of giving so much time/sleep/space, to make the nights easier. I said, It isn't working, what we're doing. And there is only so much I can do and give. 

I need your help, I said. I need you to help me make these nights happy again. That's all I want! I said. For the nights to be happy.

I talked openly to my children, as I would a partner or a friend. I talked and

… they listened.


And they talked, too,

while I listened.

(And it was a fluid thing,
this talking, back and forth, to each other.

It was actually like watching

creekwater tumble over rocks,

sliding, winking, drops interweaving 'til you didn't know where one began and the other ended…)


My girl told us of the things she was afraid of. She talked through tears some of the time.

And my boy said,

he used to be afraid too.


Oh really? My girl turned, then. Looked intently at her brother.


And they began to talk,

to each other.


What was he afraid of?

What did he do to not be afraid?

He told her. Not of his most private fears, but of how hard it was sometimes. And of the things we and he did to get him through and past his nightworries.

He suggested things. He said, I did this; it really worked! You might like that too.


Now, suddenly, 
we were a team. 

A fear fighting team.

Together, we brainstormed. We made new plans. My girl said what she thought could work. We got excited.


There was so much love in the room right then.

We could have reached out… and if we touched it? 

It would have been soft, alive.



That night,

the dark came,

but my girl was buzzing. Happy and nervous both—thinking,

This

was the beginning

(rather than the End of the World).

There was her room, cosy, her very own space. It had patiently been waiting for her to come back for months.

There was the planned nightlight, the toys to cuddle, a lamp which she could turn on at any time. Any time, no matter what time it was. A book to read whenever she wanted. There was a clock, so she could see what time it was. There was peaceful music, playing. (Things we'd tried already, in our room, but without my son's sweet blessing)

Here in her own space, in the space she'd chosen to go to, were the things she wanted,
in place. 

But more than this:

Here was her choice. Her choice to reclaim her happiness, and give happiness back. To take control. To decide how her future could work. To think and breathe and live! outside her fears.

And more than this:

Here we were and would be, her mum and dad, nearby and always. Listening, believing in, and loving her. Who were honest and open, and who she could be honest and open with in return.

But more than this:

Here was her brother, just next door. A brother who loved her and took care of her (as much as he drives her crazy sometimes!). Someone who made her feel less alone and less afraid. Her hero.

And more than this:

Here was goodness. She could feel it. The possibility of a future that didn't leave her weeping. 

And in that moment? In that dark?

Here was

light, rising.


It's rising still. 


She has slept, in her own space, for two nights, without fear! She has been so happy and proud.

I keep getting hugs. She says things like, Did you have a good night, Mum? Did you have time to talk to Dad? Did you get lots of sleep? 

And she has said, I'm so glad I went to my own room, Mum! I haven't been sad or scared at all! I feel like I left all my worries behind in the other room. 

(And I've actually often thought our big room brewed worries, dark worry sprites, all gambolling about and grinning on the bed. I might have us move out too, to the little room next door.)

Last night she was singing as she got ready for bed. At the top of her lungs. It was so lovely to hear. 

And the next morning? I came in to say hello and curled up in her bed for morning cuddles. What a smile she gave me. And kisses on cheeks and nose. It made my heart creak and spill open right there and then.




linking with Owlet for her lovely unschool Monday…


Thursday, August 4, 2011

in the creeping

The days are beautiful

and then the night comes.

And with

the creeping dark,

come the worries

and the sense of something Not Right.


Not just for her,

my small girl,

(and we have tried so much, to help, to fix, to heal, to lift the nightcloud that threatens sometimes to swallow her whole. Some nights are easier than others. I have to believe it will get better in time.)

but for

me too.


I don't write so much about it here.

About the dark or the cloud or the load that comes creeping sometimes,

when I get overwhelmed.

When I don't know the answers.

When I am afraid.

When I feel like I've failed.

When I'm not sure I'm helping my kids, being a good parent, being a great homeschooler, being a fine and fearless Me.


I try to breathe, instead.

Wait for the light.

Keep it when it comes. Pin it to myself with butterfly brooches and pearl-ended pins.

So when

the dark comes, I think, It won't always be like this.

I say it, and the dark shifts. I say it, and the dark can't stick. I say it, and the dark is just dark.


It is nothing

next to the light.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Hello August!

Hello first day of the month!

What have you got in store for me?

I'm ready…


Ah, two kids waking late, drowsily coming downstairs for cuddles on the couch.

Breakfast and chatter, the spoons chinking against the bowl sides

and after talk of wanting to read and other plans for the day and which to do first,
it's decided by a boy:

Practice first. He goes up the stairs to the piano,

notes faintly sifting through the floor and then

comes down and drums, wild rhythms leaping
through the door of the garage-turned-playroom.

My girl goes up to play piano
(having switched from violin, which didn't fit, to piano which does, oh, so much!),

and when she comes down,
she sits at her desk working on…"Don't look!"…

a secret project.


I sweep doghair off the tiles and mop,

sloshing water while the drums kathump and the cat sits in the wet patches.

I go out to free the chooks and they follow me, run under my legs as I walk back
so I think, Ah, you girls need breakfast,
and return to the pen with seeds. The hens follow, cluck and clutter at my feet.


The boy is doing his maths now, the book he loves; today it's all about the Arabic numerical system

and my girl shows me her project—it's a counting book for children. You have to find the cats in the castle. It's gorgeous and she wants to publish it someday.


I think she will, don't you?

And then,
she is practicing her 4 times tables on Timez Attack which she loves (Oh, mum it works! I'm remembering!).

I go clean a bathroom upstairs
and I can hear them talk while they work,

though it doesn't seem like work; it seems rather like Doing Something Good, doesn't it?


And then?

Well, it feels like flow to say to a boy, Hey I found a list of questions online about that book you're reading; want to check them out?

and he says, Sure!
and picks one that suggests he write a paragraph about his "classroom" from the point of view of an insect.

So he writes like a fly
buzzing 'round our living room. He writes over a page without pausing. It's complicated, and lovely.

And then it's time,
my boy decides,

to read on the couch.

Bliss.


Right about then
it feels right to say to a girl, "Hey, do you want to write about a character you like in Flyte and a character you don't?"
And for her to say, "Yeah!" and then, "Can I just tell you?"

And for me to say, "Sure!"
and for her to eat soup while I pull out the computer
and type as she talks.

Words bubble over, all about the girl character she loves ("she's smart and stubborn and doesn't want people to know she's a princess") and then
she laughs out loud,
because she's caught in a moment in the book and has to tell me all about it…

and then she describes the two characters she doesn't love
 and she says "I feel sorry for him," the worst one, because it must have been awful to have been
Consumed
(which is too terrible a spell to describe).

We talk back and forth and
lean towards each other and get excited,
because we both love this book and this series so very much…
and look! We just wrote two pages!

Which my girl wants to tweak on the computer, fiddle with the font and text size, and then?
she
finds a drawing program (of course) and starts to make art there on the screen.


Then, the day pulls us gently

on

to the Next Thing

Because It's time, don't you think? To Get Outside and

claim this sunshiney day?

Yes and Yes and Yes!


So we go to the beach

with the toys

and the dog

and the day is warm all over.


I take dozens of photos for a book they want to make
about toys having adventures,
inspired by this wonderful book they saw at Kinokuniya a week ago



While
meanwhile and in between,
we three
shadow leap and
shadow dance




And a girl runs! (So does a boy but I don't catch it on camera)



And we walk the sand


And
two make sand balls



And a boy tells the step-by-step, moment-by-moment process of sand-ball making
(It's worth paying attention. This is a Fine Art).


And then?

We walk back to the car talking, skipping, delighting,

always and all-the-way-through delighting.


Home we go for hot chocolates and toast with honey and

then it's time for
a boy's band practice. We read in the car while we wait for him, a whole hour in the car but we don't mind

my girl and I keeping for company

the sound of pages turning…

music coming from the band room

through the open windows of the car…

and my husband (the band leader) hooting and whooping at the ends of songs.


Dinner is simple. Eggs and talking and my son making my daughter squeal with laughter.


And now?

It is night.

Two kids read in their beds

A kitten curls like a sleepy question mark on my lap

A sweet man kisses me

and I say,


Thank you

first day of August.


You were

wonderful to me.


:)