Humbleness

One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned from being a parent is using my willpower to walk the path of humbleness.

Being humble doesn’t come easy to me. It hurts to have to look at yourself honestly and admit you’ve been making things worse. This self reflection doesn’t come from a place of judgement or being self-critical. It isn’t about feeling guilty, although that is a very easy place to get stuck for me. Maybe this doesn’t come easy to me because I don’t like feeling incapable or inept. I know I don’t like feeling like I’ve caused emotional damage. It’s much easier to not look in the mirror and just keep doing what you’ve been doing.

But easier isn’t always the right path. Sometimes we must use our will power to ignore our ego and turn the light on so we can properly look in the mirror.

I’ve been struggling so much with my older two children. There has been a lot of conflict between them and some between me and them as well. Self-reflection isn’t something I enjoy doing, but the fact is if I want to help us move past this, it is a necessity. No, I’m not responsible for their choices , words or actions. But, I’m responsible for my words and actions and I cannot deny that how I act affects not only the situation, but the whole family. In fact, the only person I can control is me.

So I’m doing what doesn’t come natural to me, and what hurts to do, and that is self-reflection and being humble and willing to learn and change my own approach.

I’ve had this book in my stack of to-read books for a while and just haven’t gotten to it. If I’m honest, I will admit that I’ve been putting off reading it because I knew it would make me have to face mistakes I’ve been making, and that’s uncomfortable. I’d rather avoid that. But the time has come to face that feeling and be humble and willing to be open to growing.

One practice that gets me through these uncomfortable growing pains is self-compassion. Being kind to myself and talking to myself the way I’d talk to a friend in my shoes. It is what helped to pull me out of some very dark times in parenting a number of years ago.

Parenting never is dull. There are always opportunities to know ourselves more and grow.

Bumpy roads

Yesterday we started out our day at home, like usual, but things didn’t go as planned. Against my better judgement, my teen had been out late three nights in a row, which meant he was exhausted. This led to an atypical morning and I accepted that he likely wouldn’t be getting any school work done before we had to run off to play practice at 11:30. When the time came to leave, I’d finished my first grader’s work but not yet main lesson for my fourth grader. I saw it was a gorgeous sunny day, so we packed up our things and took to the park.

We are in the middle of a Norse mythology block. Yesterday we discussed Loki’s story and painted from it.

This morning I managed to quietly get out of bed before the toddler and had the house to myself while I did a quick tabata. I took the trash out to the curb and got to see the full moon and the sunrise.

When I woke at 4 am this morning, I woke with a sudden word in my head: control. This is the problem for my teen. He feels like I’m trying to control him. We’ve been having huge struggles with him lately. I mean, to keep it in context, I know it isn’t that bad. He still wakes up every morning and comes to me for a hug; he’s not drinking or doing drugs; he’s not sneaking out at night, etc. But we’ve been having big struggles with finding balance between freedom and responsibility. He’s such a different person that I am, that I find it leads me to loose my patience with him and fall into old habits of exerting control, which in turn just make him buck more wildly.

So, back to this word that came to me. I realized suddenly that I need to stop trying to exert my force on him, because when he feels like he isn’t in control of his own life, it just makes things worse.

Parenting pushes and stretches me in ways I couldn’t have imagined. I know people think I have it all together but I mess up so often. I suppose that’s all we can do. Mess up, dust off, make amends and go forward.

A time of reflection

I haven’t blogged in nearly two months. It has been a time of adjustment and reflection. There have been some bumpy days (weeks?) and I’ve had to do lots of inner work and refining my own habits to find a sweet spot again. I’m getting there.

I’ve joked half seriously that I should start a blog called ‘Things My Kids Tell Me’. Not with the purpose of complaining or making jokes, but so that other moms out there don’t feel alone in their struggles. It can feel so isolating and depressing to think to yourself that the (unkind) things your child says couldn’t possibly be said by other kids, because no one you know has ever shared such things. I mean, we don’t really talk about it. Social media is full of the edited happy moments and lots of happy faces. But that’s not real life. And no matter how amazing you are as a mother, it is no insurance against your child saying hurtful things to you. Because what comes out of their mouth is a reflection about what is going on within them. I’ve found again and again how powerful it is to speak up and share with friends what happens within my house. It is sure scary to be vulnerable in that way, but I’ve found again and again that it not only is healing and helpful for me to share but that other mothers then feel less alone. Mothers then open up to me about the things that go on in their homes and how they’ve struggled. Our culture doesn’t do vulnerability very well. So, it takes intention and practice.

In our house, we’ve been in the thick of the 9 year change. I think we are starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel, but that light is still a far way off yet, truth be told. I’m remembering how absolutely vital the inner work piece is and how making time for mediation and mindfulness and fun are is not optional. It is necessity. I’m reminded again and again that the only thing I can be in control of is how I react. So, I’m in charge of me, and that’s my main job as a parent.

I have taken some photos here and there of our homeschooling and life. Things are moving along nicely and we are settling into a workable rhythm. Lots of grace is given, daily. Grace, flexibility and self-compassion. Those are my tools lately.

Michaelmas

Tomorrow is Michaelmas. This is our 5th year celebrating it, if I’m doing my math correctly.

We haven’t done nearly as much for it this year as in years past as we are focusing on the Jewish festivals this year. But, we can’t just skip Michalemas, as it has become a tradition!

Earlier this week, the kids made swords from a precut sword kit that I bought on Etsy. It’s our first time doing that, usually we just make our own. We’ve been hearing stories all week, as well, and this weekend we’ll make dragon bread! Always a favorite.

Today, our Waldorf Co-op met and we dyed silks with turmeric, for some very festive capes for Michaelmas! It was lovey! The children also enjoyed collecting piles and piles of chestnuts.

Our very simple nature table at the moment.

We haven’t had one for a few months since the baby was mobile, as it was low enough for him to destroy. I finally just figured out a place to have it that is out of his reach, but low enough for my 6 year old to see and reach.

What a summer

I always have this idea that summer will be a time to laze around and watch the flowers grow. And I know I’ve had summer like that in the recent past, but I think as my children get bigger, our summers get busier.

Don’t take me wrong. We have plenty of empty days with nothing planned, but for an introvert like me, the down days aren’t nearly enough lately in the summertime. I know that part of the busyness stems from chasing after a baby right now. He keeps our days very busy. But for the past month we’ve had so many happenings.

First, we went to the coast for a few nights to celebrate my second son turning nine. It was a lovely trip and really filled us up.

Four days after we got home from that trip, we left for 5 days at fiddle camp. This was our third year in a row attending and my kids loved every second of it. It was great. I was thoroughly exhausted when i got home and it took a good 3 days to feel back to normal. Camping with a mobile baby as a solo parent is no walk in the park! I’m so glad we went, though.

We had a full week to recover from fiddle camp before it was time to pack up and head out for the day for a fiddle contest about an hour away. Third year attending it as well. My second son competed and did great. My oldest only brought along his guitar to back up others, and then regretted not bringing his fiddle along and entering. Next year.

The following week brings us to the present. This is fair week. When you are in the 4H program, that makes 5 days of driving back and forth to the county fair, sometimes multiple times. Thank goodness for carpooling. The animals must be cared for and checked each morning before 8, so we head out by 7am. Today my oldest was at the fair for nearly 14 hours! It’s exhausting but fun. I’m sorely looking forward to the rest of August being a bit empty. But then again, I just received an invite from a fiddling family to attend a kids fiddle camp out at the end of the month. Three hours away. I think it’s a testament to my love of the music and watching my kids play that I’m seriously considering attending.

Our day in pictures

(This isn’t our cat but we saw him on our walk, and he is blind. I had to take a picture of him enjoying the sun.)

Of course, there was much much more to our day. Lots of meals and talking and fighting and crying and dishes and playing and laughing. Life is never dull.

Busy days

Usually Tuesdays are an at-home day for us, but we spent the morning at the park meeting other moms interested in joining our newly forming Waldorf homeschool co-op. And once we returned home, I decided it’d be a relaxed rest of the day.

Wednesday, today, we had lots of lesson time. My 2nd grader did some multiplication practice (using his multiplication clocks that he made), practiced his form drawing for the week, and then wrote his summary of the fable from yesterday.

The 8th grader spent the morning reading. He usually reads for 45 minutes a fiction book that I’ve chosen for him to read (he reads plenty of fiction of his own choosing during non-lesson time), and then 30-60 minutes of nonfiction reading relevant to whatever main lesson block we are working through. We are currently doing a 2 week geography block on Asia. Asia is a HUGE continent and 2 weeks is really not adequate to do an in-depth study of the area. But we are, at this point, just doing an overview of the geography, flora and fauna, climate, and many cultures that compromise Asia. This is the book he was finishing up today.

He labeled and colored a blank map of Asia today. We also decided to visit the local Asian market and explore there. We brought home lots of goodies. He will cook some Asian dishes this weekend as well.

Normally I do about an hour of math each day with him but this week we are skipping math to make time for a paper he is writing for a class he is taking. So, he spent about an hour researching and writing that today. We are ahead of schedule with his math work so taking a week off isn’t really a big deal. He normally knits each day as well (making socks), but we had to zip off to music lessons early today. He had a mandolin lesson and his brother, a fiddle lesson.

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I got some exciting mail today that I thought I’d share. I’m on a Waldorf curriculum and supplies Facebook buy-sell-trade group that I occasionally find amazing deals on. It is one of the reasons I stick around on Facebook. I got these two books, brand new, for half off retail. They are both ones I’ve been wanting for sometime so i was very excited to find them!

The song book above is another in a series of songbooks that I love. I have three others that I’ve acquired over the last few years. They are fantastic for learning new songs and bringing singing into our everyday.

I think the best deal, though, were the main lesson books. I bought 30 newmain lesson books for $40! I still can’t believe the price. Such a steal! They normally sell for $3-5 each.

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Here is a random picture of our sweet hens sunning today. It’s been very rainy and i think they were quite happy to soak up the sun today.

Homeschool weeks 21 & 22

It’s  beginning to feel like summer. The weather is changing, of course, and the days are growing so very long (it was daylight at 5:30am am this morning!). And we are winding down our school year, but still as busy as ever as we transition to spending our days outside more and more. Baths have becomes a necessity each day as children have layers of dirt on their feet and legs by the end of the day. We’ve been enjoying watermelon again. And we’ve had to start running the fans in the house on warm days. (It makes me ever so grateful for our cool evenings!)

We are still trekking along with our lessons, though they are feeling different. Our geology block is nearly done. I. is working on a research paper on rockhounding. It is a stretch for him, I’m gently nudging him to stretch out his wings and do some writing and research, which isn’t something I’ve pushed much yet. I’m teaching him how to take notes and think about how to organize his information. Next week, he’s going to work on the composition of his paper. Writing has always been a struggle for him, and I’ve gone through phases of backing off and pushing him more. I’ve gotten better as knowing when to back off and when to push, in terms of what serves him best and keeps our relationship intact. I’ve been working on really building his confidence in writing, as I know that is the biggest block for him. So, I’m pleased with how this assignment has gone so far.

This geology block has also caused him to discover a new hobby! Rrock hounding! We’ve spent a day each weekend out exploring a new local nature spot while looking for some good rocks. This weekend with triple digits forecasted, we plan to drive a bit to get into the mountains and look for some rocks there.

In addition to geology, we also did some math, lots of knitting, music, and Gaelic (via Duolingo).

Kindergarten is much of the same. Stories. Singing.  Cooking. Playing. Penny whistle lessons. Digging in the dirt. Making fairy houses. The usual.

Last night, we transitioned the babies to sleeping outside. They did just fine in the coop. I was only slightly nervous because two of our hens are broody and mean to them right now. But, all the chickens just slept through the night, so it was fine.