Friday, January 29, 2010

It's been a long, hard week. Sarah feels things so deeply and I struggle, sometimes, to help her deal with that. We've had a very out-in-the-world couple months, and I'm considering whether we need to draw inward for awhile, retreating into our little home a little more. This is not the week to make any decisions about that, but it's a good week for listening to my intuition, and to what I'm picking up from her.

We had a very social week, which was a lot of fun in many ways, but was a little more social than really seems to work for us. In our time at home we read more creation stories, some during fairy scouts and some on our own, and both Sarah and her friend A noted how few of the creation stories involved a Feminine Creator. Particularly noticeable and bizarre since creation would seem to be such an obvious topic for a childbirth metaphor. We read "The Woman Who Fell From the Sky", "Mawu-Lisa the Creators", "The Sun God and the Dragon" and bits of "Sedi and Melo the Creators". The girls drew some pictures inspired by the stories. They also designed outfits and made their own business cards on unlined index cards.

We finished our first Faerie's Tale RPG adventure, encountering a little boy named Jack who found himself a prisoner at the top of a giant beanstalk. :) That was a lot of fun, trying out our characters and figuring out how best to use our fairy powers to save the boy and outwit the giant. Sarah's also been playing with her Secret Agent book/kit, and as always Joe and Sarah are playing loads of their math card game. I'm particularly enjoying working on our common book - I copy in poems we like, and Sarah ilustrates them. With Brigid's day coming up next week, it seems like a good time to be playing with poetry.

We picked up a copy of The Young People's History of the United States, in honor of Mr. Zinn's passing, and have been reading bits of that aloud, along with a kids' version of The Omnivore's Dilemma.

Monday, January 25, 2010

We've had a good couple weeks, in terms of actually living by the routines by which we generally *intend* to live. Our daily rhythms seem so simple, but it's amazing how much we fit into our days and lives when we just stick to those basic routines.

Last week we read about Anansi the spider, read poetry, read bits of The Hobbit, read bits in Story of the World about Egyptian and Sumerian writing, and about the benefits of stone vs. clay vs. papyrus. We played story-writing games, wrote our own madlibs, played Life, played Sarahh's new Clue Spy game. We practiced our drawing, had a hot cocoa bar, and sang so many songs, both new and long-beloved.

We've finally really started getting into the fairie tale role playing game we got Sarah back in June (we'd dabbled in it before, but never really gotten a solid adventure going), and so we're eating, breathing, and sleeping fairies right now. Making dioramas of our fairy characters, drawing comic strip versions of their intros, planning out fairie dolls...

This week we're also reading Creation stories (the two Genesis Creation stories, so far, and talking a lot about what myths are, where they come from, what they mean), making books, singing and dancing to our new Putumayo CD and learning some Pete Seeger songs, making lemon-lime soda pop, and doing lots of Sudoku. This morning we read _and Tango makes three_ and talked more about marriage equality (and also looked at all the wonderful photos K took of Angela and her kids' experience of one of the GSE rallies.

Sarah's practice work (we each assign ourselves homework every afternoon) focuses, as ever, on math and drawing, and she's improving steadily at both.

I'm improving slowly at the bass, struggling to remember the chords I used to know on the banjo (inspired by a friend who just got a brand-new banjo for her birthday), and watching the Anthropology videos on youtube.

Tomorrow we have our friends L and A coming over for fairy scouts. Time to get a little sleep...

Sunday, January 17, 2010

I'm having the best day. Singing with friends, home made bread, a companionable meal, and now Sudoku and Tintin with Sarah on a gorgeously rainy afternoon.

I forget, inbetweentimes, how music recalibrates me, makes everything right again. We had friends over to share different traditions' sacred music together, then break bread and share a potluck lunch. I feel really, deeply good about how the afternoon went. I was nervous, some social anxiety hitting unexpectedly (it can be hard to walk the line between facilitating an event and being pushy, and sometimes I'll get suddenly self-conscious about being the one talking), and there are things I would do differently next time, but overwhelmingly I just feel good, nourished, sated.

I definitely want to think about to make the transition from singing to breaking bread go more smoothly, and the bread-breaking itself to have more of a sense of community ritual. But that feels okay, that there's room for improvement. I'm already looking forward to next time.

Monday, January 11, 2010

This week: Joe and Sarah are still spending lots of time play testing the math card game. Sarah and I have been playing sudoku, discussing the female reproductive system, drawing, visiting friends, spending the day at a political rally in Trenton (and visiting the little museum in the basement of the state house, discussing the political process in NJ).

I'm continuing to work on my first habit of the year -- getting back to our daily rhythms. I'm struggling a little with that, but making noticeable progress. It's a relief to know that I purposely gave myself 2 weeks to get this habit on track, so I've got a whole 'nother week to get it right before I start working on a new habit.

My contemplative moods aren't very cerebral or even verbal, these days. Instead I'm centered in my body -- my joy, my sense of satisfaction and purpose, my spiritual practice... All very physical. Doesn't lend itself to journaling. Singing, dancing, crafting, homemaking, baking... A good start to the year.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Now *this* feels like the New Year!
Good morning! I'm so excited to be getting started with all our plans for the New Year! I feel like such a dork, like the kid whose favorite time of year is the first week of school (and,yeah, I absolutely was that dork for many of my school years) A brand new notebook, starting on a bright, blank page with so much possibility...

I thought we might make the lobby day in Trenton, today, but it just didn't make sense. I'm making my phone calls, and may do another volunteer session on Wednesday, but I'm trying to listen to my body, these days, and my body gave me a very clear "You've gotta be kidding me!" when I considered getting up that early and getting the both of us all the way down to Trenton.

Speaking of listening to my body, I've been doing this visualization at night that is about clearing out stagnant energy, releasing energy blocks or emotional blocks, depending on how you look at it. So I do the visualization, fall asleep, have all these wacko dreams (some of which involve me being very, very angry), and wake up in the morning -- still very, very angry. I don't know what to do with the anger. How do people clear anger out without dumping it on other people? I've gotten two excellent bits of advice on that: 1) feel the anger going into raw eggs and then hurl the eggs against a tree and 2) screaming alone in the car. I haven't made any real use of either bit of advice, yet. Maybe this week... I wonder if my ecstatic dance DVD has any sections that feel appropriate for clearing anger?

We started late, today, but we're starting right anyway -- with our full morning routines. We'd made general lists of our interests and then yesterday went through some of our books and refined our plans. This "semester" we've decided to focus on science, drawing, sewing, cooking, world cultures/history. Oh, and spies. Always spies!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Sarah's growing so quickly, right now -- physically, yes, but also emotionally, intellectually... She is so kind and thoughtful, speaks so clearly about her thoughts and feelings... I feel as if I'm scrambling to catch up, to be ready to be the mom she needs for this next phase of her life...

She and Joe are doing lots of math adventures, and playtesting a new card game Joe's been designing for them. She and I are doing lots of reading and collaging, and the three of us are playing loads of board games, enjoying all her Christmas gifts together.

For this month, she's asked to do spy class with the co-op, to do more math and science together, and to do drawing, sewing, and clothes designing. I want to fix up our map wall -- take down the pinniped map which we don't use at all, and replace it with more useful local and world maps -- and make it to the library more often. We're also getting a new homeschooling journal/scrapbook to start keeping better records at home. All Sarah's recent growth makes me want to do a better job of reassuring myself that I'm offering her as much as I can -- I want to make sure she has the opportunity to enjoy all the stuff Joe and I loved about school without any of the stress or nonsense or coercion.

Friday, January 1, 2010

More on my New Year thoughts

My core competence curriculum is something I drew up for myself a few months ago -- what are my priorities, what does it feel important to me to be successful at?

I came up with a basic list:

* a warm, welcoming home
* 4 levels of health (physical, spiritual, mental, emotional)
* community -- reaching out to and connecting with the folks around me
* music
* homeschooling
* general competence (having basic life skills, getting through my ToDo list, keeping our lives running smoothly)
and I broke self-education down into 2 sub-sections:
* homeschooling college for myself
* research, increasing my level of general informedness

These are at the center of any vision I have of a good life. I'm not even halfway there, yet, but I'm content to move along in babysteps.

I also worked up a list of my core values:
* voluntary simplicity
* social justice (in a day-to-day way this covers mostly fair trade issues and voting with my dollars, but also more politically-active issues)
* environmental sustainability
* slow food
* hunger issues

And those are at the center of any socially responsible life, for me. I'm less than halfway there, on this list. I am trying not to make myself nuts with it, though -- doing something is better than nothing, and if I let myself get overwhelmed I'll just hibernate entirely.

Happy New Year!

(I typed this up last night, but didn't get around to posting it here)

It's been an amazing year. A really hard year. It's weird to remember that at the start of this year I was still hip-deep in the school, and expecting to remain so for years to come. To remember the weeks and months of hibernation and recovery. My awesome, exciting road trip. Settling back into homeschooling, reconnecting with and making even more local friends. Getting more politically active again. And, more recently, there have been a couple different changes in my life that I'm not ready to talk much about, yet, but that are definitely shaping my personal narrative.

Most of my New Year's thoughts are the usual:
* improve at sticking to my daily routines (portions of them are listed here(
* make progress/refocus on my 101/1001 list (listed here)
* make progress/refocus on my core competence list/program (I'll probably write more about this later today)
* refocus on my core values (which I'm doing by listing about 40 good habits I'd like to start or restart and focus on one habit or action a week) (and, again, I'll probably post more about this later today)
* balance and breathe -- I don't have to be productive every minute of every day, it's okay to just *be*.

I get a little better at all these things every year. I like making progress, seeing the progress I've made in the past, knowing it's not all-or-nothing. I like re-examining my life, my choices, a couple times a year.

This afternoon I'm making challah bread, stuffed mushrooms, sloppy lentils, potato salad, all our favorite comfort foods. We're watching the Burn Notice marathon, doing some pleasant housework, and settling in for the duration. Have a happy New Year, everybody!