Homeschool week 12

This was spring break week. We don’t really take off time from lessons for spring break, but it is inevitably a lighter week, since there is either relatives visiting, or classes happening. This week, I. was gone for three full days, from early morning until dinner time. We did manage to get in a good chunk of math on the days he was home. We begin our medieval history block in April. We are both looking forward to that.

We were expecting relatives from out of state to visit, but a blizzard (in Spring !?!) shut down the airport totally, and all flights were cancelled. So they cancelled their vacation.

My husband celebrated his birthday. It was a nice and quiet day. I made birthday scones instead of cake, since he isn’t eating sugar, really.

I went through the ups and downs all over again this week of closing my midwifery practice. I love the idea of taking clients very part time, but in reality, I just can’t do it. I had an interview set up with a former client’s family member. And I was excited. But, as the day dawned and got forth, full of happy chaos and children fighting and needing to get food made and laundry started and, and, and…I realized with stinging clarity that this is not the season for me to work outside the house. All it does is cause me stress, and that is unnecessary. It would be self inflicted.

So, I canceled the interview and felt immediate relief (less to worry about and get done) and also immense sadness. I took myself into my bedroom and covered myself with the blankets and sobbed. I thought I’d mourned the loss of my midwifery practice, but the wound was freshly opened and I felt it all over again. So long as I’m on my own (without that tribe!), I can’t do it. Because, I really can’t do it all. I can’t. This life thing is like juggling a bunch of balls and keeping them in the air. When I was serving as a midwife, that ball was priority as I couldn’t let my clients down. This meant I invariably dropped the other balls. I couldn’t keep them all going: midwifery practice, homeschooling, mothering, housekeeping, cooking. One or more balls always got dropped. And that wasn’t the life I wanted, no matter how much I loved midwifery. Life is stressful living like that.

Nowdays, the balls I’m juggling are pretty much manageable. Sometimes something drops, but not for long. Life is easier this way.

In chick news, they are all growing well. We are keeping our fingers crossed that they are all hens.

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Spring

I’m not sure I’m ready, but it’s Spring! The equinox sort of crept up on me as the last week and a half was a blurry haze. If it’s not pouring rain, we’ll be making our annual vernal equinox fire outside in our fire pit and throwing in some of our winter socks to say goodbye to winter. The kids LOVE this tradition.

My fever lifted  within 18 hours, thankfully! I bundle up and sweat it off, while drinking tons of water and vitamin c. Yesterday, I felt well enough to get outside and breath some fresh air, though I was still wreaked and had a bad headache.i took the day off again.

And we somehow ended up with these beauties.

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The kids are beyond excited. Each one picked one out. A Wellsummer, an Amber White, and a white crested black Polish.

I now commence to deal with the aftermath of being sick. My house looks like it’s had three children in it, eating and playing, and no one cleaning. Oh yeah, it HAS. My dear husband just gets into overwhelm so fast when I’m down for the count, and he managed the best he could, especially since he was working in Friday. The laundry hasn’t been touched, including the two baskets of clean laundry washed on Thursday. There is stuff everywhere, in each room. The kitchen… Oh, the kitchen. It is fitting, I suppose, to spend the vernal equinox cleaning up. Everyone will be helping, don’t worry. Spring cleaning!

 

 

Pausing

THE FOURTH SIGN OF THE ZODIAC (PART 3)

I know, you never intended to be in this world.
But you’re in it all the same.

So why not get started immediately.

I mean, belonging to it.
There is so much to admire, to weep over.

And to write music or poems about.

Bless the feet that take you to and fro.
Bless the eyes and the listening ears.
Bless the tongue, the marvel of taste.
Bless touching.

You could live a hundred years, it’s happened.
Or not.
I am speaking from the fortunate platform
of many years,
none of which, I think, I ever wasted.
Do you need a prod?
Do you need a little darkness to get you going?
Let me be as urgent as a knife, then,
and remind you of Keats,
so single of purpose and thinking, for a while,
he had a lifetime.

-Mary Oliver

My body decided to take things into its own hands. I went to bed last night, telling my husband how desperately I need sleep and a break. I woke up this morning sick. I haven’t been really sick in four years.

This past week has been the most challenging physically and emotionally that I can remember in ever. Caring for children, 24/7, with constant sleep interruptions, has just been too much for my physical body. So, I have been forced to literally lay in bed all day, with a fever and aching head.

I wish I had a tribe. I’ve never been very good at creating that. I’m too much of an introvert, perhaps. I wish I had someone to watch my kids so I can sleep. But, I’m thankful for Sparkle Stories and Little Bear. They did afford me a little rest.

Ive been offline all day, but I just hopped on as I’m feeling slightly better and can sit up now. I saw the poem above by Mary Oliver and the tears just flowed when I read it. Today has been a crying day. Lots and lots of sobbing. I think I’ve been holding all the stress in for this past week. It’s been coming out today. Like a detox, this sickness is.

Love is all that is real. It is all that endures. Even this ick feeling is transitory. The only thing that is real is that which never changes.

This morning I found myself big time resisting. Angry that I was sick, annoyed at my body and so frustrated that I could do nothing for my children. After a few hours, I caught myself. And the book The Surrender Experiment came to mind. Saying yes to what is. Saying yes to what comes to me. So, once I surrendered, I actually felt less pain, though I’m still sick.

Letting go of the oars and letting the river of life sweep me along. I’ll be feeling better, in time.

Things take the time they take. Don’t worry.

How many roads did St. Augustine follow before he became St. Augustine?

-Mary Oliver

Inspiration

REAL
Today.
Lose a few friends.
Offend a few people.
Say no if you mean no.
Say yes if you mean yes.
Nice little boys and girls
never win mommy’s love anyway.
They only become beggars.
Stop trying to do it right.
Do it real instead.
You don’t have to win love.
Only live it.
Weep. Wail. Laugh like you did when you were young and didn’t care what people thought about you.
Speak your truth without apology.
Let your heart break.
Let your certainties crumble.
Be a blubbering mess on the ground of love.
Life is too short to hold it all together.
You have longed to fall apart.
You will lose ‘safety’
but you will feel
so alive.
– Jeff Foster

If you haven’t heard of Jeff Foster, check him out. He is fantastic.

Slowing down

It’s been ages since our kids have been sick. Easily a year or two, aside from a minor sniffly nose here and there. But the two younger ones are still down for the count right now with some virus. Nothing too horrible, just a sore throat, runny nose and aching ears.  I had a moment of freak out (worry) in the middle of the night the first night H. was sick. But once I turned the light on and got out my Dr. Mendelsohn book, I calmed myself back into sanity. That book has saved me countless times from unnecessary worry, doctor visits and antibiotics. Truly a treasure.

But, wow, am I wiped out. Three nights of restless children. It has totally slowed down our pace these last few days, which is a good thing.

Thankfully H. only had one night of not being able to sleep. Since then, he’s feeling better and is now just tired and sleeping. He hasn’t napped for 5 years, but he’s taking hours long naps daily right now. P. wants to sleep a lot, too, but the difference is that she wants me with her, in bed, nursing. So, that means I’m stuck in bed most of the day with her. I’m getting plenty of reading done, and napping myself. And enjoying listening to the awesome rain storm outside. Pouring rain is my favorite!

But the kink in my neck? Ouch. Hours and hours of side-lying nursing. It feels reminiscent of having a newborn. I managed to get outside this evening to clean the chicken coop while she was sleeping, but half way through she woke up, screaming and inconsolable, only wanting me back in bed.

So I lay here, enjoying the silence.

 

 

Homeschool week 10

Monday was busy. Always is. We have a few short hours in the morning to do a slew of chores, breakfast and cleanup, and then get a short bit of homeschool work in for I. He heads off by 11:30 for the rest of the day to his Naturalist class at farm school and we don’t see him again until nearly 6pm. So, as usual, this week our Monday morning was busy. Except that I. woke in a cranky mood and was just upset about everything. So, he spent his morning upset and angry, and we just didn’t get homeschool work in. The struggle to push it didn’t seem worth it that morning.

Tuesday found us up in Portland for dentist appointments for H. and P.  P. had a filling done, and it was done without any anesthesia or gas or anything. She did amazing and just laid there. H. did great, as well. We had lunch out, then headed back home. The day felt spent by then, so I decided it would be a good day to go get hair cuts for the boys. A projected wait of 12 minutes turned into an hour and we were all ready to be home already!

Wednesday and Thursday we got to stay home, and it was glorious. I spent most of Wednesday catching up from being out of the house the day before. I. did lots of math, and practiced his flute, and finished up reading Little Men. I got our March circle time going for H. and P., and that was fun. I love learning the new songs together.

Today, I. is gone all day, from early morning until past dinner time, to farm school again, as he is every Friday. I had planned a quiet day at home, full of preschool and kindergarten activities (circle time, painting, baking) but H. was up almost the entire night, unable to sleep due to a little cold. He’s better today, though mostly just sleeping, since he hardly slept last night. It’s been a long time since I’ve had to stay up almost the entire night, and I am feeling a tad nostalgic about the nights of attending home births, and coming home and having to be on all day, in spite of the exhaustion.  I don’t drink coffee anymore, so I mostly just lean into the tiredness and let it be, and get done what needs to be done.  Feeding P. Making green juice and smoothie. Cleaning dishes. Chopping wood for our hungry wood stove. Sweeping the ever-dirty floor. Making lunch. Doing our daily two loads of laundry.  I can’t quite wrap my head around dinner yet, but it’ll get it figured out.

I was lucky enough to see Dr. Wayne Dyer when he came to Portland last year, just months before he passed away.  And, his voice, quoting the Tao Te Ching, echoes in my head almost daily whenever I feel overwhelmed: “I do nothing, and yet I leave nothing undone.” This is my mantra, and it gives me strength to move forward.

Living with Zen masters

“True spirituality doesn’t happen in a cave or at the top of a mountain. It’s down here, wiping a runny nose playing yet another round of Candyland, or rocking a colicky baby at two in the morning. The Buddha is crying in the next room. How you handle that is as evolved and as spiritual as it gets.”
– Susan Stiffelman, MFT

Susan Stiffelman is one of my favorite parenting resources (right up there with Dr. Laura Markham). This quote of hers has been in my head all day.

I like to joke that I’m lucky because I don’t need to go live with monks up on a mountain, because I have three of my very own zen masters under my own roof. They are masters at being in the moment and demanding the same of me. I get to practice this stuff in real life, not in a bubble. And if I mess it (often), don’t worry. Here’s another opportunity coming at me right…NOW. (Repeat all day long.)

Synchronicity brought this awesome article  into my feed today. Thank you. Just what I needed to read today.

Saying YES

What a whirlwind these last two days have been. And through it all, I am given constantly two choices. Accept the moment, whatever it is, and say yes. Or resist it, be angry it is happening, annoyed it is happening and see how that helps. Because, I know. I know too well. Resisting only makes me more at odds with what IS and thus more conflict arises from me (via my thoughts or words or actions).

I can be thankful for it all, and sometimes I can actually manage that. But you know, I’m human and need to remind myself later  when I’m reflecting back on my day, to be thankful for such abundant opportunities to chose love, to find peace amongst the chaos.

Self-compassion.

Saying yes.

Awareness of my body. (Which I do my literally placing my right hand on my chest. It can almost instantly bring me back to my body and to the moment.)

Forgiveness (usually, that means self-forgiveness).

These are the cornerstones of my spiritual practice as I do this mothering thing.

I don’t honestly know how I made it through mothering all these years before I knew about self-compassion. Wow. It has changed the ball game for me. To actually talk to myself in the way that I would talk to a dear friend who was struggling…that is powerful stuff. It sounds simple. And it is. But, it is powerful. Because sometimes literally *all* I can do is say to myself “This is so hard, I’m sorry you are struggling right now and I love you.”, whilst I have children screaming at each other, not even hearing me, while I hold one back from the other.

Saying yes. Yes, I actually sometimes say it out loud. Like, yes, even though I have a child who is in the middle of a temper tantrum about I’m-not-even-sure-what and he’s scaring the younger two, I also now need to go clean up a broken mason jar full of fresh veggie juice from my driveway. In case you are wondering how that looks, I took a picture. It wasn’t top priority, and didn’t get cleaned up for quite a while that morning. But, I just said yes.

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Self-forgiveness. Whoa. Yes. Because sometimes I don’t say yes. I start resisting and then words just spill our of my mouth at my kid that I totally didn’t mean to say but I’m swept up in the wave of annoyance or whatever. Then, before I can even get to a place to reconnect with him and apologize sincerely, without that apology laying more guilt into my own self image as a mother, I need to forgive ME. This has probably been the hardest thing to do. Forgiving myself doesn’t come naturally to me. I didn’t see it modeled as a child, and I don’t think it’s really something we even do in our culture. And it still doesn’t come easy for me. I must consciously remember I need to do it, and even that can take a day or two, while in the meantime I get swept along the River of Guilt.

I used to really, sincerely think that if I parented “right”, my kids would grow up without issues or poor self-worth, or baggage of any kind, really. Ha! Aren’t we all so naive before we have kids, or when our first child is under age 3? Now, I get it. There is no magic formula to raise children who don’t have some inner work to do. This is the work of life: to experience it, and to have those experiences give us some work to do! As a parent, I can only do one thing: the best that I can. And when (not if) I mess up, I forgive myself, apologize to my kid, and endeavor to learn and grow from it.

I’ve so much more to write, but sleep beckons. My gratitude that such a thing as sleep exists is endless.

Sunday musings

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My husband sent this to me the other day because he thought of me. It’s funny because I had seen it just the day before and thought, ‘Yep, that’ll be me!’

We’ve been using only wood to heat our home this past two weeks (due to some repairs we need to make under our home.)  I’ve never chopped wood before in my life, but it has become an almost daily ritual now. I love it. I mean, I really love it. It feels satisfying to physically use all my strength to split the wood, and gives me some empty space to clear my mind and relax. I especially love chopping in the rain.

There never seems to be enough hours in the day. Or days in a week. Weekends aren’t really days off for me at all. I’m convinced I work harder and have less down time than the weekdays. I always look forward to Mondays. It is a fresh start to a new week. A new beginning. This week we have to trek an hour to take two kids to the dentist. Not looking forward to that. Exhausting. But, it’ll be behind us in a few days and we’ll survive.

Spring is starting to really feel near. I love the rain so much, and I’m not looking forward to the hot, hot, hot summer. But, I’m excited to watch the seasons turn once again. Oh, and I’m so happy for the time to change in a few weeks.  Who else has been waiting, counting the months, for the clocks to spring forward? I have a three year old who never got the memo back in October (or whatever it was) that the time was turned back an hour. So, she wakes every morning at 6am, no matter what her bedtime. Seven am wake ups will be wonderous! I’m an early riser, in order to have some quiet alone time, and while I don’t mind waking at 4am, so I can get two hours to myself every morning, 5am will be much easier to accomplish.

And speaking of spring, our dear chickens can feel it coming too. We adopted our chickens back in August, and they were still babies. Three days ago was the first time ever that all four laid! I don’t even eat eggs, but it still made me excited. The first one to lay out of all of them was Rose, our speckled Sussex. But she was also the one who stopped laying for a few months this winter.  But, then I found this! So beautiful, aren’t they? The colors and shapes are all unique.

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For those who are love chickens and want to know, we have a Maran (Artemis), an Americauna (Ella), a buff Orpington (Peaches), and our Speckled Sussex (Rose). They are the best pets I’ve ever had. I love them dearly. They are easy to take care of, super low maintenance, so entertaining to watch, and they coop themselves up at night. They are most definitely pets, and they’ll live out their lives with us, even if they stop laying one day. P. loves to pick them up, it’s adorable. If I can figure out my feelings about posting pictures of my kids on the blog, I might share a picture of it.

Our chickens are super tame, they love coming into our house when we aren’t looking. Rose makes a B-line for the cat food, though. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to chase her away from that if someone has left the door open. It is hilarious because the other three sort of mill around, looking for crumbs here and ther, but Rose wastes no time and goes tight to the cat food. I always shout, ‘No, you are eating yourselves!’ This is the chicken that had a really hard time figuring out where to lay her first egg last year. She wandered into the play room (which has a door to outside) and nestled onto a heap of play silks. I showed her out. Later,  I was cooking in the kitchen and heard a scraping in the laundry room. Open the door and see the chicken IN our empty washer, trying to see if that’s a good place to lay. (As you can guess, my children often leave the doors open. In the summer, it is hard to keep the doors closed!)

My husband, I think, feels like we have a zoo of animals. Three cats, three Guinea pigs, and four chicken.  It doesn’t feel like too much, most of the time. Keeping the three bathrooms clean (or even sort of decent) is way more work than the animals. Go figure!

 

Homeschool – week 9

This week we started a 4 week math block. We do math daily the whole school year, but during out math blocks, we really focus on it and introduce more new stuff, or have fun with geometric drawing, etc.

Tuesday being my birthday, I. apparently felt it was a holiday and refused to do much of anything, but we got lots of math done on Wednesday and Thursday. He also discovered that he really likes percentages. In Waldorf, 6th grade includes business math, so there will much more percentages in the coming weeks. He’s getting closer to his model mosque being finished, it just needs painting.

P. And H. spent the week playing (their work). We are planning some outings in the morning tomorrow followed by watercoloring, including some color stories.

The week really just sped by, and so did each day. I am facing such a huge learning curve still on this homemaking thing, coupled with really grappling with how to best guide my oldest, day to day. It can feel so tough. I had a few mommy meltdowns this week, which I haven’t had in a while. Emotions have been really intense for me this week.

Tonight when meditating on our week, I had some sudden realizations about I. specifically. We need to get back to working on will-building activities. To being with, I’m going to start spending 30 minutes sitting with I. while he does a hand sewing project (and I’ll work on some other handwork). When we’ve done handwork like this in the past, I’ve noticed such a huge change in him, yet somehow it has fallen by the wayside in our busy days. Time to make it a priority. I will also get back to writing for I. a weekly/daily to-do list. He does so much better having it written out, rather than me telling him orally what needs to happen. This isn’t a chore list, but encompasses everything. Homeschool work, hygiene (shower, teeth), music practice, Guinea pig duties, etc. Since Christmas I haven’t really done this, and I think it’s time to get back to it.

I know how easy it is to read about other people’s lives and envision that they have it all together, or that their life seems to flow so easily, etc. Well, maybe not everyone does that, but I do.  Which is one reason I really limit my time on places like Pinterest, other blogs, and even social media. On the flip side, as someone writing a blog, I know how easy it is to portray my life through rose colored glasses. For one thing, it feel satisfying to recount the ‘good’ stuff, and additionally, it can be really hard to admit the ‘hard’ stuff, especially when it involves myself and my parenting mishaps. I also know how validating and supportive it feels to hear that other people struggle with x,y, z just like I do! Also, just like I tell my husband sometimes, I’m not looking for advice or to be reminded to appreciate these days of chaos. I’m just sharing to be heard. Because I’m home a whole lot with no other adults around. In fact, I can go days without speaking to anyone except my kids and husband. So, what I’m getting at here, I suppose, is simply that I am doing my best to share the uplifting stuff, but also the real stuff. I’m embracing it all.

On that note, how about a picture (or three)? This is what happens if we leave our back door open at all. Four chickens who want to be house pets.  You can’t see them well, but in the first picture, two of our (black) cats are sitting there, watching them. imageimageimage