Saturday, November 14, 2009

I'm up in the middle of the night, on accounta spending the last few days in bed, recovering from a non-flu virus (it was interesting to discover that my doctors are still testing for the flu, even though most articles I've seen say doctors have mostly stopped testing and just started treating anything flu-like as if it is H1N1). I'm still a little under the weather, but much better than I was on Wednesday or Thursday -- and apparently I've slept my full, for the moment, because despite feeling like I'd been hit with a sandbag as of 11 last night, I'm bright eyed and bushy tailed at 2 this morning!

Sarah and I've had an extremely quiet week, for the most part. Tuesday at co-op we read about scroll books and made our own, played some Munchkin Booty, and then did alien-of-the-week club, in which we were each assigned a type of planet at random and charged with coming up with what types of aliens would live on that planet, what their homes and clothes would look like, what their culture and religions would be, etc. I got a gas giant, and had a lot of fun with it. Sarah also had a lot of fun with her lava planet.

Other than that, we've mostly done lots of math play, this week. Joe and Sarah's math adventures have continued -- Joe is now leading them through a dungeon crawl in which Sarah charges her magic wand by doing arithmetic. They're both loving that. Sarah and I've been playing with her calculator, talking about place value and a little multiplication, and doing lots of Sudoku together.

She's also making progress on our readathon month -- she's got three books up on our readathon line on the wall, and is working on her fourth. She's making better progress than I am -- I've barely been able to make my eyes focus, the last few days -- but I'm hoping to catch up over the weekend!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Sarah and I decided to do a month-long readathon, although our focus will still be our Great Big Giant Readathon Day on Friday. She already finished her first book -- Calvin and Hobbes It's A Magical World, and I finish mine today -- Ex Libris, again. :)

Today we started our co-op. We started out by deciding on a schedule for our Tuesdays:

* morning circle (show and tell and planning the day)
* Everything Coffee Play Club (arts and crafts)
* class 1
* No Free Lunch (anyone can sign up to talk about anything -- but it's usually me, talking about history or science or world cultures or current events)
* class 2
* class 3

The classes are what we decide during morning circle -- we agreed that I'll be prepared to provide science class, math class, spy class, writing class, and fairy scouts (as well as ECPC and NFL), and we've got a friend who's offered to teach Ireland class, but each week which classes we do will depend on what the girls are in the mood for and whether they want to offer any classes of their own. It seems like it'll be a happy medium between structure/commitment and spontaneity/whim.

Today we decorated our folders, did morning circle, did a more formal meeting, and did fairy scouts, planning our badge requirements and making some badges with Joe's button-making machine.

Holy hell I'm exhausted. I had a wonderful time, and it seems like the girls had a wonderful time, but those were some *packed* hours!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Another quiet week. We spent a lot of the week reading together -- fairy tales and folk tales, and Sarah's new magazine -- and playing many rounds of MadLibs and Sarah's new board game (Munchkin Booty). We put tgether Sarah's Master Tigress costume. The co-op was originally going to start this week but was postponed to next week, so we spent some more time poring over our books, planning projects and classes to suggest to our friends.

We talked about Samhain and the seasons, told some stories about Sarah's ancestors, spent a lot of time listening to music and dancing together. A good, quiet week.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Today we read Fox in Socks and the chapter in Story of the World about Egypt. We found Egypt in the Atlas, followed the Nile along its whole path, talked about deserts and scrublands and tundras, about nomads and the start of farming, and the concepts of fertile and cultivation and irrigation. We decorated folders for some of our activities and spent some time playing checkers.

This afternoon we pretended to be naturalists and then archeologists -- playing out in the backyard, examining things with magnifying glasses, admiring our new wildflowers, speculating about what ancient people might have used various plants and rocks and mostly-dissolved newspaper for. We collected some acorns, leaves, and flowers in one of our specimen jars to bring inside. We watched Animaniacs over lunch, and later recorded our observations from our outdoor adventure in Sarah's little moleskin notebook.

Tonight Joe and Sarah had more adventures with Stitches the pirate teddy bear, and read more of Harriet the Spy.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Notes to self -- suggestions by K of movies for lunch-and-a-movie

It's A Mad Mad Mad Mad World
The Great Race
Operation Petticoat
Back to the Future
Toy Story I & II
Fiddler on the Roof
The Court Jester
The Apple Dumpling Gang
That DArn Cat
The Shaggy Dog
Bednobs and Broomsticks
The Incredible Mr Limpet
The Cat From Outer Space

More Hafiz (translated by Daniel Ladinsky)

It Happens All the Time In Heaven ~

It happens all the time in heaven
And some day

It will begin to happen
Again on earth---

That men and women who are married,
And men and men who are

And women and women
Who give each other

Often will get down on their knees

And while so tenderly
Holding their lover's hand,

With tears in their eyes,
Will sincerely speak, saying,

"My dear,
How can I be more loving to you;

How can I be more
The place where you are right now
God circled on a map for you.
Wherever your eyes and arms and heart can move
against the earth and sky,
the Beloved has bowed there.
Our Beloved has bowed there knowing
you were coming.
I could tell you a priceless secret about
your real worth dear pilgrim.
But any unkindness to yourself,
any confusion about others,
will keep one
from accepting the grace, the love!
-- Hafiz


Come, come, whoever you are.
Wanderer, worshipper, lover of leaving — it doesn't matter,
Ours is not a caravan of despair.
Come, even if you have broken your vow a hundred times,
Come, come again, come.

-- Rumi
I mean to post more often, thinking it would only take 10 or 15 minutes a day... But those 15 minutes are so often and so easily taken up with bass playing, reading, crafting, cuddling...

Last week Joe and Sarah started a math adventure Joe created for them -- the adventures of Stitches, the pirate teddy bear -- that involves arithmetic and code-solving and clues... Sarah's having a great time with that. They've also been reading Harriet the Spy together.

Sarah and I worked on our family magazine, on learning to sew dresses together, on baking, on crossword puzzles, on sudoku... Read some Story of the World, some Dr. Seuss, some magazines. We watched Schoolhouse Rock and the second National Treasure movie, and played games (Munchkin, Life, Apples to Apples). We also met with friends who are interested in doing school with us, this year, and made some plans together.

The rules we're bringing forward from last year:
* the Stop rule (treat others with respect and compassion; listen when others ask us to stop something that's affecting them)
* treat others' property with respect
* do not unreasonably restrict anyone's movement or speech
* no feet on tables

We decided to stick with mediation first for conflict resolution, then interrogation (which will, apparently, involve straight-backed chairs and bare lightbulbs!), then JC (judicial committee) if mediation fails, and to use facilitated discussions for our decision-making process, instead of formal meetings.

We've got a huge list of classes and activities we're planning to do together, this year. I'm *really* looking forward to it.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

I asked Sarah, if we could do anything with our weeks, what would she want them to look like?

The American Museum of Natural History, Liberty Science Center, going to the park. Playdates with friends, field trips with friends. Making hot cocoa and brownies and cuddling up together on the futon. Dancing, definitely. Make music. Watch movies together. Lots of parties.

What does she want to learn?

Math, Science. Cooking, Sewing. More imaginary road trips.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

During playschool we read:
Amelia Bedelia and the Surprise Shower
Bread is for Eating (a simple story with gorgeous illustrations)
The Way To Start A Day (lovely and magical, like everything by Byrd Baylor)

We talked about how we can celebrate sunrise and printed out a calendar that lists times for sunrise, sunset, moonrise and moonset, as well as the phase of the moon. We decorated it and stuck it on the wall.

We made cards and wrote them out to send to friends and family.

We baked challah bread and brownies, and had sandwiches and dip and spaghetti for lunch, while we watched Schoolhouse Rock America as our "and a movie".

Sarah did some more writing for her homework (finishing up her card to K) and some math (from her Time and Money book). I did some physics problems for my homework.

Our daily rhythms -- a good place to start

A number of folks have been curious about our homeschooling activities and how we spend our days. Keeping track of these things here and then just giving out the URL seems to be the easiest way to do that. Figured I'd start at the very beginning, with a quick runthrough of what our days tend to look like.

Every once in a while, Sarah and I sit down and talk about what we want our days and weeks to look like, and about what activities we want to include and what sorts of things she wants to learn. Then we work out a daily rhythm that fits all these things in, put it up on the wall, and do our best to stick to it until the next time we reconsider our goals. (Or, as Sarah said when I asked her how to describe it, "until we do it all again!")

A lot of this will be changing once the co-op is really underway, I expect. But in the meantime, this is more or less what our days look like:

* Wake up and cuddle
* Solo time (Sarah usually watches TV, I usually putter on the laptop)
* Breakfast
* Sweeps (tidying up) and getting dressed/brushing teeth/etc.
* Play school (we sing a few songs, each pick a book or story to be read aloud, and do a project together)
* Snack
* Assign ourselves homework and fill in our daily plan
* Relaxed, expansive play (the phrase is from when we were doing Enki - basically I putter, do housework or gardening or practice the bass, and Sarah does her own thing nearby)
* Lunch and a movie
* Rest/Quiet Time
* Afternoon Adventure (baking or gardening or sewing, or getting out of the house)
* Practice work and a snack
* Expansive play
* Settling time (Sarah and I have some focused time together right before Joe gets home)

Then Joe and Sarah have some focused time while I finish making dinner.

Almost none of our days looks exactly like this. Every day has at least one exception or surprise. But this is the rhythm we return to, time and again, to guide our choices.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Huh. Blogger lost my entire reading list, apparently -- it tells me I'm not following any blogs.

We're home from 2 days at Lake George, a sort of classic summer vacation, for me -- wave pools, arcades, mini golf, ice cream shops... I'm rested, vacationed, and incredibly tan (for me, which mostly means a significant increase in the freckle population). I made progress on my crochet projects -- both of which have been making me very happy. It feels so good to have something to work on, to look forward to, to watch the progress of, without the stress of deadlines or other people's needs/expectations. Just me and my pretty blue filet crochet... :)

Monday, June 22, 2009

We were watching Ice Age with Sarah, earlier. It was pretty good -- reasonably entertaining, and except for a bit at the beginning where they kill off (surprise!) the human mother, not too distressing. But give me a break, would it have been so hard to make *one* of the main characters a girl? Were they afraid that being female is such a bizarre and otherworldly quality that it would have tainted or derailed the whole story? Because, I'll tell ya, in my experience you wake up, put your pants on, and go about your life for days at a time without having to sit down in the middle of the street, blinking and scratching your head at the weird and wonder-ful fact of being a Girl. I don't even collapse in hysterics much, these days -- "wait, I'm not a boy? How'm I supposed to leave the house?!" It's certainly nothing to get in the way of, say, taking a long walk in the snow to reunite some kid with his dad.

Now, I can absolutely enjoy movies that are intentionally about a group of guys -- Stand By Me, say, made perfect sense to be about a group of just boys -- because at that age girls really *are* bizarre and otherworldly creatures. Bringing one in would've changed the story. And I don't mind the tendency for individual lead characters to be men, not all that much -- I identify as much with Wolverine as with any female superhero -- the fact that he's a guy in no way makes me feel like I can't access my inner Logan (of course, I also had no trouble playing Prince Charming when we played fairy tales as kids). But in a movie like this, an ensemble movie in which there is *absolutely* no plot-based reason to make them all guys... I've gotta assume it was just because it never even *occurred* to them to make one of the animals a girl. Because girls only exist to interact with the main (male) characters, right? To be mother, girlfriend, temptress, prize... Heaven forbid she should just *exist*, just be living her own story, having her own adventure, not looking to be an accessory, not looking to be anything in relation to him at all...

One of the things I'm choosing to let go of, as we start the long, gentle waning of the year, is perfectionism and the need to control (control outcomes, control people's perceptions, control my own emotions). Of course, as soon as I put this intention out there, I was hit with several opportunities to face the overwhelming waves of embarrassment I feel when I express myself strongly or honestly (in that particular kind of honesty that makes me feel vulnerable or exposed).

I don't know how extroverts do it. How they just stand up and put themselves out there, living outloud where anyone can see, all the time.

Something new to breathe through...

On the other hand, though, I've got my two mothering necklaces (one a gift from Sarah and Joe for mother's day, a few years ago, and the other a reflection of the feminine Divine I chose for myself), reminding me to nurture and mother myself -- and I'm feeling warmed and nurtured just by knowing the reminders are there...

Monday, June 15, 2009

Today: Sleeping late, Sarah splashing joyfully in the pool, laughing with friends, making crowns with a gaggle of princesses, sharing an abundance of food and goodies, driving through the rain, snuggling up in front of The West Wing, and now a show on the Galapagos...

Tomorrow: Playing school, errands, doctor appointment, gardening, therapy appointment... As much as possible, a lazy summer day...

Sunday, June 14, 2009

We had Sarah's birthday party, today. I knew it was going to be fairly lowkey, but it turned out to be even moreso than I'd expected -- basically my parents, Joe's mom, and 2 friends of ours from college. In keeping with our new Simplicity theme :), we ordered pizza and made cupcakes-from-a-box (Sarah picked out red velvet cake, of all things -- now with more artificial food coloring!), and just did a lowkey spread of dippables to start with. We made fairies and crowns/tiaras and masks, and played a couple rounds of charades, and generally had a long, exhausting, satisfying day.

We didn't use up nearly as many of the art supplies as I'd expected, so Sarah may be planning *another* fairy tale party in a few weeks, just to do some crafts and have some cupcakes with her friends...

My parents got her some wonderful stuff, including a craft tote full of goodies and a sewing kit with loads of gorgeous fabric, and my MIL got her other wonderful stuff, including _and tango makes three_, which is just adorable. It makes me want to go to the Central Park Zoo. And two of the other books my MIL got her (Harriet the Spy and Secret Agents Four) make me want to curl up on my bed on a Saturday afternoon with a glass of iced tea and a plate of apple slices, and be about 10 years old again!

Joe has tomorrow off, so we're all gonna sleep in, then Sarah and I are going to head out to see friends for a few hours, and then the three of us are going to play with some of Sarah's new board games (she's setting up her Game of Life as I type!). Yesterday we went out the Island to a family baby shower with folks we don't see nearly often enough. We showered the mom-to-be with loads of Burt's Bees baby goodies (my favorite stuff to use on Sarah when she was a little one) and my very favorite Belly Balm from when I was pregnant. It's been a good weekend, but I'm so very glad to have it behind me -- I feel like, finally, I'm now done with the sense of running-in-place I've had since school ended, and can really sink more deeply and truly into relaxation...

Thursday, June 11, 2009

I'm finding that digging my way out of the end of the school year is a lot like digging one's way out of depression -- getting back to "normal" isn't the end of the work -- it's just the start of catching up on everything I fell behind on while I was down there... At least a couple times a week I get overwhelmed by how much I still need to do -- outstanding phone calls, email, errands, etc. -- or the memory of something else I flaked on while I was so busy. Everytime I think I can see the light at the end of the tunnel through my piles of ToDo lists, something else seems to happen to tip the piles back over into Overwhelmed! And then I have to pull back to a manageable "okay, just get three things done every day, and don't worry about the rest of it righ now" or I'll just hide under the blankets and do *nothing*.

This week, though, I finally feel like I really, sustainably, see the end of playing Catch Up. I can see that, even if other stuff comes up, I will still be able to keep slowly moving forward. It's really good to be able to see an end to the chronic waves of guilt over stuff I've forgotten or flaked on or just never finished. I can see from here what a relief it'll be to get out the other end of this weekend...

Monday, June 8, 2009


Caramelized onion soup. Mmm... *sigh* Other things I've tried, the last several weeks: cauliflower soup (reliable and much loved companion that it is), broccoli and garlic soup, moroccan chickpea soup, brownie soup (I thought I'd try it heated but wound up sticking with cold, so it's like a really thick chocolate milk -- very satisfying), roasted sweet potato soup, mashed potato soup, portabella mushroom soup, roasted pepper soup. All good, some more satisfying than others. Overall, though, I'm struggling to remain patient with this process. I'm actually pretty blue about it all, at the moment. I crave a crisp salad sandwich (lettuce, chickpeas, avocado, tomato, cucumbers, olives, drizzled with dressing and stuffed into a roll) or sloppy lentils (again on a roll) with a bright new pickle on the side...


We've transitioned pretty well into our summer routines, so today I started adding my contemplative practices -- slotting them into pre-existing spaces in our daily rhythms. I'm nowhere near perfect at sticking to my intended routine, but even the little bit I managed today made for much more clarity and peacefulness. It sprinkles my day with breathwork and chi kung exercises in the morning, contemplative prayer later on, lovingkindness meditation during our afternoon Quiet Time, chanting in the kitchen, mindfulness practice tucked in with the most repetitive housework...


Yesterday I made some snarky comment while we were watching a food network show. Some showbiz person was judging the Shrek cakes, and I found his criticisms insufferable -- snippy, irrelevant, whiny, and generally what I would expect from a self-involved primadonna. I commented that actors shouldn't be allowed to talk. Sarah asked why, and I made additional snarky comments about the guy's emotional maturity/sophistication (or lack thereof) and questioned his ability to think with any degree of nuance.

Today in the car on the way home from getting ice cream (there's a lovely place in Montclair that makes their own, a couple dozen unusual flavors, and we'd grabbed Joe as soon as he walked in the door to take him with us for a belated Afternoon Adventure), out of the blue Sarah said something to the effect of "Mommy, it bothered me when you said that actors shouldn't talk, yesterday, because I plan to be an actor when I grow up." I hope I responded as well as I should have at being called on my snarkiness, but I know I at least managed to say that I'd be more careful in the future, and that absolutely, actors are just as smart and thoughtful as anyone else, and just like anyone else I shouldn't judge them all based on the silly comments of one person. Mostly, though, I was having trouble thinking beyond, "Oh my God! Good for you, Sarah!" I'm... I'm feeling really pretty good that she felt comfortable saying something. Really very good. I said as much, later tonight -- told her that that was exactly the right thing to do if someone says something that makes you uncomfortable -- to speak up clearly and calmly, as soon as you've had a chance to figure out what you want to say (even if some time has passed since the original comment). I could never have done the same thing, at her age. I'm not sure I could do the same thing *now*, if I needed to say it to one of my parents. I'm really very proud of her.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

I am utterly wrecked. Second day in a row of moving/packing/cleaning at the school, and today just sucked every bit of energy out of me. I've got something like 25 bits of email I should really be responding to, and I can't even make myself *read* them all.

We played school first thing, this morning (not taking any time for our solo-time or my chi kung work) -- Sarah wanted more gnome stories, so I made a decent attempt at making one up -- and then dashed out the door to spend the day working. We got a good amount done -- moved a bunch of boxes, got loads of books out via freecycle, tossed piles and piles of detritus... Sarah and I finally got out around 5:00, dropping the mat off on our way home.

Now we're home doing a sort of combo -- solo-time with expansive play/puttering time -- so I'm mixing puttering with online time, and Sarah's playing while watching the Garfield movie in the background.

I'm getting a little panicky, realizing how much stuff has piled up, this week, while I was focusing on decluttering at home and packing at school (and getting into our new routines). Maybe I'll make a giant ToDo list just to get it all out of my head, pick the three most important things to do now, and then go take a nap...

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

I punted Sarah's dentist appointment, yesterday -- neither of us had the gumption for the long, emotionally exhausting, effort involved. Next week is soon enough.

So instead we played school, walked around our property a little talking about signs of Spring, and spent a good chunk of time hunkered down in the front yard, enjoying the jumble of clover in which we imagine fairies could happily live. We didn't find anything to add to our Nature table, but Sarah suggested recording some birdsong for that corner. In a happy coincidence, when we finally went back inside, I discovered that this website of rainforest sounds had just arrived in our daily Clickschooling email. We used them as background for the rest of the afternoon's puttering. I may put a similar soundtrack on the ipod so we can keep birdsong at our fingertips -- almost as good as keeping it in the nature corner...

Today we played school really quickly (we're currently doing lots of math stuff -- reading Penrose the Mathematical Cat and telling lots of gnome stories (inspired by the Oak Meadow math curriculum)), then went to school to help pack and move all the school stuff out of the church basement. It's both sad and satisfying to be leaving that space finally/already. It's also sad and satisfying and strange not to be the one in charge of keeping track of everything, anymore.

I'm trying to heed the advice I got yesterday: "Do as little as possible". And so now, after our lunch-and-a-movie (an episode of Animaniacs, today), I'm going to do my chi kung exercises and then lie down for a nap. Maybe tonight we'll go out and pick up a bookcase for the diningroom, to help corral all these books...

Saturday, May 9, 2009


I've been on my leave of absence for... I guess about 3 weeks, now. Originally the plan was for Sarah to stay home with me Mondays and Tuesdays, and to go in to school W-F (alone on W and F, with me on R). Instead she's chosen to stay home with me, so far. Which is fine with me. But for the last few weeks, while I've been letting myself coast completely, it's meant hot and cold running TV for her, 24/7. I'm happy to suspend our TV guidelines on true *sick* days, but this is not that sort of thing -- and we can only live like this so long before it becomes enervating and depressing, instead of a fun treat.

When we were homeschooling together full time, we drew a lot of our inspiration from Waldorf -- in terms of the rhythms of our day/week/year, in terms of a focus on story, song, and nature, and in terms of my (generally unspoken) focus on emotional/spiritual age-appropriateness (steering away from overly analytical explanations of things during that first, dreamy, stage of childhood, for example -- because I know I have a tendency towards the wordy, analytical answer every time). When we started at the school, most of that went by the wayside -- some intentionally, some not.

When I started thinking, 'okay, we're going to be home together most days for the next 4-5 months -- what do we want our lives to look like?' I found myself going back to Waldorf (and specifically the Enki and Oak Meadow materials I'd collected during our first years of homeschooling). I spent the early part of this week reading mostly my old Enki books (I'd passed along most of the Oak Meadow stuff to friends), talking with Sarah, and considering what a restorative, balanced rhythm would look like, for us.

Enki suggests looking at the way you're already doing things, and identifying just the one or two places in your day where you'll *most* benefit from transitioning to a more rhythmic approach. But, frankly, I'm just not up for leaving things mostly as-is while we make just 2 changes to our days (I think they're assuming a much more highly-functioning household as a starting point than what we've got right now). So Sarah and I talked about it, and we're going to try to gently transform our whole day at once -- with lots of compassion for ourselves, and lots of "hey, great, we stayed on track all morning -- let's take a break to mindlessly veg in front of the TV for an hour!"

We're unschoolish (I don't tend to call us "unschoolers" -- I find that once you adopt a label, it's too easy for people to say "that's not unschooling -- to be an unschooler (or vegan, quaker, pagan, attachment parent, etc.), you have to do such-and-so". I've got no patience for that and I'm unwilling to subject myself to it), so within the larger rhythm exactly what we do shifts from day to day or week to week. This week we've been going back to the comforting rhythms of our early homeschool days -- cuddling, then spending a little time on our own stuff, then coming back together to have breakfast and play school and plan out our afternoons. It feels really good to be back in that space...

Saturday, April 4, 2009

I hadn't realized just how long it had been since I'd last posted. School had pretty much eaten my brain and all my internal resources. I've been making changes so that's less true, including making sure that I'm making a point of finding sources of joy and pleasure every day, and taking responsibility for nurturing myself. I'm hoping that'll mean I'll have more going on that makes me motivated to start journaling again.

I love reading all the photo-heavy journals of the friends I'm reading through this account (it's very different from the journals of friends I read elsewhere -- I love those journals, too, but the images make everything so much more immediate for me) -- it's been inspiring me to get around to taking out my camera a little more often than my usual "uh oh, christmas is coming up, better take pictures for the scrapbook gifts!"

No photos today, though. This morning I'm listening to the Spring rain and wind rattle the windows and batter at the walls. The thought of going out to the car to find the camera I suspect I stashed there is not even a little tempting...

We're in the midst of Spring cleaning and reorganizing. I recently asked the family to change our TV viewing habits, so that we each get to choose just one show per day (we'd gotten very TV-heavy since starting at the free school -- in part because I was focused on work and email so much after getting home, in part because starting to work for the first time since Sarah was born made it easy to fall into pre-Sarah work habits (which tended to involve Joe and me spending hours on the futon, reading with the TV on in the background), and in part because I relaxed my concerns about TV viewing any time anyone in the house was sick, but having such consistency to our routines made it very hard to adjust ourselves back to healthy TV habits once everyone was well... Before starting at the school, I used to get us out of TV habits by shaking up our routines for a few days, being away from the house until quite late.). Sarah has been willing to work with this new plan -- she's been better about policing it than we have, some days -- but both of us have noticed that the recent chaos in the house makes it much harder to quickly come up with something else to do in the evenings.

I've also recently been dealing with some uncomfortable physical symptoms which my doctor agrees with me are likely stress-related, and the state of the house is *not* helping. Too much clutter, not enough cozy, nurturing spots.

This weekend we have nowhere else we need to be, for once. So we're digging in and transforming the house together.

I've been doing self-hypnosis from time to time for a few years, to help myself with different things (it works remarkably well at dealing with dental phobia, for example). I've found with this recent distress, though, it hasn't been working. So last night I finally wrote up a script (pulling bits and pieces from various online sources, and writing the middle bit specifically for my needs) and had Joe read it to me. It worked really well, in one sense -- I went much deeper, without the possibility of drifting off to sleep, than I've ever gone on my own. In another sense, though... One of the benefits of self-hypnosis is that I can pace it to what's going on during the trance. If it takes me a while to settle into a particular part of the script, I can just keep focusing on that bit until I'm ready to go on. Joe read the script exactly as I wrote it out, and paced it very well, but I didn't spend enough time on certain parts of the script, and could feel myself torn while I was under -- not wanting to move along yet, but wanting to keep up with the words I was hearing... I'm going to rewrite it today, and we'll probably try again tonight.

Monday, January 26, 2009

I'm having a productive day, after a weekend spent celebrating Joe's birthday. Friday we had a private celebration, just the three of us. On Saturday we had a long, wonderful day with many, many friends over for movies and pizza and board games. And Sunday was dinner with his mom, and cake, and a long, slow, companionable day.

I'm struggling, a little, to get back up to speed after the weekend. The trick, I find, is the lists. I make one giant one, with everything I can think of on it, and then take 5 items off it at a time, to make a mini ToDoNow list. I don't have to worry about forgetting anything, because it's all on the Giant List, but I'm not overwhelmed by having to look at more than a handful of items at a time. At least, that's usually the trick. Today I'm finding even the mini lists are hard to focus on. I keep wanting to crawl back under the blankets with a book and a cup of something warm and comforting.

I added three more items to my 101 list (things I want to get done, and will be getting done anyway, and want to be able to cross them off a list, damn it!): clearing out my email inboxes (a total of 41,550 messages when I started, I've gotten them down to just over 37,000), redo the Christmas music books for next year (lyrics for all the carols we sing at the Christmas gathering with my family -- I need to make some large print ones, add an index to the end, and reorganize the order of the songs), and do some journaling and photos every month, so that I have more to choose from when I do scrapbooks for the grandparents at the end of each year.

I'm making progress on lots of the items on the list, but can't yet cross any of them off. I think the one I'm happiest with, so far, is eating getting in the habit of eating together in the diningroom, and developing a repertoire of healthy, simple, tasty meals. We've been particularly enjoying tuscan white bean stew, black beans with rice and avocado, and red lentil dal over basmati rice, recently.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Giant Honkin' ToDo Lists!

A few friends of mine have been doing the 101/1001 thing -- make a list of 101 things you'd like to get done in the next 1001 days. I love new year's resolutions (and I also make and love birthday resolutions) -- although I don't really do *resolutions* so much as take the opportunity to examine the way I've been spending my time, attention, and energy, examine whether it's in line with my priorities, and plan out for myself ways to get myself more on track with those priorities.

This year, though, for whatever reason, the time seemed to be ripe for a more ambitious list. I started on January first, and the goal is to be done by September 29, 2011:

1. finish family heritage scrapbook (collecting the parents' and grandparents' stories)
2. finish personal scrapbooks (that is, finish archiving all the stuff I have saved from childhood, high school, college, pre-Sarah and baby-Sarah years)
3. learn bass (able to play 6 songs well, able to work with a new song fairly easily)
4. learn banjo (ditto)
5. make church a habit (on average once a month)
6. make family dinner in dining room, saying grace a habit (twice a week or more, on avg)
7. make evening retreat a habit (twice a week or more, on avg)
8. make dinner with friends on Saturdays a habit (once a month or more, on avg)
9. finish writing 8 stories and at least get them to a beta
10. finish writing 6 songs (that is, ready to be performed for an audience)
11. fit into my denim dress
12. progress on kafg project
13. finish turning the basement into a guest cottage
14. turn yard into a garden (front and back)
15. read 100 books
16. kayak 10 times
17. hike 10 times
18. be able to get all the way through the kickboxing routine comfortably
19. finish my pirate ship room
20. finish dollhouse with Sarah
21. find a way to sing or make music with other people on a regular basis
22. get the slow food potlucks going again
23. refresh my knowledge of engineering
24. refresh my knowledge of science (physics, chem, earth science)
25. read 150 articles (newspaper or magazine, paper or online)
26. refresh my knowledge of math
27. refresh my knowledge of US and irish history
28. renew my commitment to voluntary simplicity and conscious/fair trade shopping
29. refresh my knowledge of comparitive religion
30. keep lr, dr and bathroom tidy enough for company
31. finish rhetoric course
32. start taking classes again, in a sustainable way
33. refresh my knowledge of nutrition
34. begin and sustain a skincare regimen
35. see my ob/gyn 2-3X
36. see my GP 2-3X for annuals
37. see my dentist 3X for checkups
38. refresh my knowledge of alternative ed theory/history
39. visit 20 states and get a real sense of them
40. refresh my decorative painting techniques
41. finish the back porch
42. create a real workspace for myself in the diningroom
43. go out with friends 12 times (dancing, blues club, karaoke...)
44. get my own toolbox, fill it with tools, learn how to use them well enough to do small repairs
45. help create a more montessori-like prepared environment at the school (for now in the art room, eventually the majority of the school space)
46. build the school enrollment to 15 students
47. help build a school community -- regular potlucks, evening events, book club discussions, family outings. (6 a year of potlucks/outings and 6/year of evening events/discussions)
48. join that women's anti-war group (wilf? something like that)
49. see Grandma and Grandpa ~1X a month
50. paint murals in Sarah's room, downstairs, and upstairs hallway
51. get to mediawest 1X, tribal forces and EMC 2X each
52. learn Spanish (get to intermediate level)
53. refresh my knowledge of programming (html at least, maybe others as well)
54. refresh my knowledge of math (precalc, calc, etc.)
55. refresh my knowledge of NY history
56. refresh my knowledge of computer theory
57. take 3 NY walking tours
58. attend 6 live concerts/shows
59. go ice skating 2X
60. go roller skating 2X
61. go to AMNH 6X
62. write letters or send cards to friends/family 25X
63. decorate the laptop bag
64. repair my cloak
65. refresh my knowledge of slow food/fair trade issues
66. develop a repertoire of healthy, simple dinners (10-12 I use on a regular basis)
67. develop a repertoire of healthy, simple lunches (3-5 I use on a regular basis)
68. learn to surf
69. learn to hangglide
70. find one opportunity to wear my kickass black dress
71. bake on a regular basis (4X a month, on avg)
72. learn to make 3 cocktails really well
73. take a roadtrip with mom and sister
74. take a roadtrip with friends
75. have 2 retreat weekends for myself (or with friends) and a retreat day with Sarah
76. finish 6 pieces of jewelry
77. cut back on tv significantly (cut back by, say, 50%, to begin with, and go from there)
78. attend a kirtan
79. attend 6 drum circles
80. work out a daily routine that really works for me, and that I'll stick to at least 80%
81. attend an ecstatic dance event
82. get fuschia streaks in my hair
83. write thank you letters to 30 people who've touched my life
84. take a class at home depot (or similar place)
85. complete one chain mail project
86. do 20 No Free Lunch presentations
87. refresh my knowledge of nutritional anthropology
88. learn hand massage
89. perform 34 acts of activism (~1/month) (write a letter, make a phone call, make a donation, volunteer my time, etc.)
90. learn enough woodworking to finish one project (perhaps that picnic table?)
91. make family time a consistent part of the evening routine (3X a week, on avg)
92. get to damrosch park concerts at least 2X
93. complete a mala
94. get all the decorative stuff on the walls
95. go to canada (perhaps to J's, perhaps to Montreal)
96. give Sarah a magical childhood (family rituals, magical bedroom, storytelling, little details)
97. have a scrapbook day with my mom at least 2X
98. bring in one activity/project geared specifically for each student, each week, for a month
99. find some kind of class to take with Sarah (martial arts, dancing, music...)
100. have a family outing at least 1 weekend a month, on avg
101. get involved at church (UU or Quaker) -- take a RE class or join a discussion group or choir...
(I decided to add a few extra items to the list -- things that I know I'm going to want to get done whether they're on the list or not)
102. take a couple pictures and do a little journaling each month, for the yearend scrapbooks I do each year
103. redo the Christmas songbooks -- larger print, better index, page numbers, etc.
104. clean out email inboxes

(note to self -- these are goals, not commitments. They are meant to create inspiration, not guilt. The habits don't have to be perfect, just to be true habits by the end of the 1001 days -- the exact numbers are guidelines.)

Saturday, January 10, 2009

I'm watching a program on Pete Seeger. In the time it took me to log in, I've already lost the exact words of the quote I wanted to record, but it went something like: "Participation is what is going to save the human race." Get Involved.

It's a strange weekend. My friend's mom passed away, yesterday, and we're working on all the little details involved in figuring out how to get up there to be with her for the wake and funeral. I have a cozy birthday gathering to go to tomorrow, once the iciness has passed, and have some planning I need to do for that. And I have about 3 hours of work to do, to catch up from this week (I had a very productive Monday, but since then it's been all I can manage to get myself up, dressed, and fed, every day). I can't seem to figure out how to deal with all these different types of energy pulling me in all these different directions, when all I really want to do is curl up in a little nest of blankets with my family.

I've been enjoying the sense of coming into my own I've had, the last year or so. Hitting solid Mothering energy, and becoming much more *myself* -- much less worried about how I'm coming across to others or about doing what I'm "supposed to" do. This part of aging, though, I'm enjoying less -- the first time I'm the grownup making arrangements to attend a funeral, instead of just tagging along on my parents' arrangements. Everything, the last few days, has been under a pall of sadness and the awareness of mortality. I'm so sad for N, but also sad in advance for myself, looking ahead to the losses of the future, if that makes sense. Well, I'm sad even if it doesn't make sense, so there you go.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Tonight I hosted the monthly school community meeting. Afterwards, standing in my backyard with Liliana and Pat, I felt so very deeply connected to the earth. To the *Earth*, the whole planet, yes, but specifically to my little plot of land. I tend to avoid the yard once the trees have lost their leaves -- I feel as if I'm on stage, without the cover all that greenery provided. Apparently I'll have to get over that, or find a way around it, based on my visceral response to just 5 minutes out there, in the breezy, moonlit night...

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Hunter's in the newspaper, today. Sort of. The article's more about some test-prep "enrichment" program than about the school itself. Mary called to tell me about the article, and to laugh at the last line (and tease Joe about it -- Stuy is his alma mater). I wasn't aware of anyone who did that level of test-prep. I was still in school when the cram program they're talking about started, but wouldn't have known anyone young enough to be entering in 86 or 87. I don't know if I just spent time with more laidback people, if kids just didn't talk about it if they did cram programs like that in those days, or if it's that the surrounding culture has shifted that much over time, so that this sort of test-prep place is now popular enough to be getting this sort of attention. Or good enough at publicity, anyway.

I read about kids going to "testprep boot camp", or about modern homework expectations, or about bizarre good behavior incentives, and I find myself thinking I can't talk to normal people anymore. I just have to live in my little cave in the woods, the crazy freeschool hermit, with the locusts in my teeth.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

I typed this up the other day, but never posted it. Still seems appropriate:

I love Christmas vacation. So far today we made up cards for Sarah's different moods/personas so that she can display a new one each day, depending on who she feels like being that day (Goth chick, Fairie Princess, Adventurer, Acrobat, Fashion Designer, etc.), made a list of things we can do instead of watching TV, listened to a couple lessons on, found some recipes online to use with Sarah's new Easy Bake Oven, and now I'm making potatoes-onions-and-eggs and reading one of the issues of Parabola I've been meaning to finish for 100 years (required borrowed-stuff note -- while I would happily read my own stuff in the same room as I was working with food, I wouldn't do it with Other People's Stuff -- it's happening more in quick succession than simultaneously). This afternoon we're gonna tidy up the house, make room on the counter for the microwave (it's an inherited one that usually lives in the basement -- so people could use it when staying in the basement apartment, back when it was habitable and not, say, a swamp) -- the cupcake-making kit Sarah got is apparently only for use with microwaves -- make some of Sarah's baked goods, watch a couple episodes of West Wing, make a couple recipes from my new cookbook (combining them with the leftovers for dinner), and maybe play The Good, The Bad, and The Munchkin (another of Sarah's Xmas gifts from my grandparents).

I love Christmas vacation.