Saturday, February 01, 2014

Four Days

Most of the time, we have no idea what our days will hold.
There are some things that are certain (and these things change periodically, of course).... skyping for Maddie (which means also playing Sims, Roblox, or any number of other pc games--it also could/will probably mean puppet shows, stuffed animal shows, fort building or pretend play whilst on skype), Pokemon Y on his 3ds for Trevelyn, whilst he listens to commentary or television shows, and reading and talking on his favorite gaming board--worldly affairs, science, and sometimes silliness.
Often our moments are steered by these two souls; I am the hired help [smile]. 
Since they have hired me (could be that I was the only one who applied, or was available) I figure I get to vote on how things go.  Me being me, I have two objectives in this time-of-wonder that is mamahood: to pay such close attention that 'twill be impossible for my babes to grow up whilst I'm not looking, and to fill our lives with so much Sparkly that the extraordinary becomes expected and ordinary.  "Ordinary" life magic.

In doing the filling, here is something I know for sure: Currency, by its essence, needs to flow.
Some currents are desirable, some are useful, and some are beautiful.
The currents in our home are no exception.  Creativity?  Ideas?  Excellent conversations?  Love?  Joy?
This idea is why you'll never find me stockpiling ideas (ie we'll save that Project for another day), I know -and trust- that tomorrow will bring its own brilliant ideas and moments.  We'll just love the hell outta this day, and let tomorrow take care of itself.
That being said, however, sometimes things -ideas, priorities- are abandoned for a bit, and I find myself left with a very

I don't necessarily think my own ineptitude is to blame... I think I just sort of cycled into it.
We had Autumn (Fall is very short around here), and then it's a month of holidays and busy-busy-busy as Life with its colored lights and a million flavors takes over... then we're recovering, and resting, and then it's, ...Uh.... we're still resting?

So that's where I found myself, recently.  Standing beside a trickle, but not hopeless; knowing that the revival of the flow can initially come from me, and with an open mind and heart, I'll have it a babbling, laughing brook in no time.
Just gotta give it a bit of love.

And so.  That's the way it goes, sometimes.  And that's why unschoolers will so often insist it's not "child-led" learning.  Because it regularly takes scrutiny, objectiveness, and loads of energy to keep the flow of magic flowing.

Early Tuesday morning, I had the ideas of Walk, marble run, microscope, and wax.  Those were just quickies... I figured our day would hold much more, including things the children chose.
What think you? I asked the babes.  Thumbs up on all of those.

We read a few chapters of How To Train Your Dragon.  Loving that.

We padded down the stairs to bring up A Few Interesting Things, "Hey, Mom... do we have some bugs we could look at under the microscope?" asked Trevy.
"Marble run!" says Madd.

My children have now pretty much figured out the marble run, after these many years.  : )  Granted, we only play with it a couple of times per year or so, but now they've put two and two together, and are able to see how you can support it with other's pieces, and how you don't necessarily need loooooong, tall stacks of tubes.  Fun!

Running and chasing outside with the pups.

New game : World of Zoo.  [Maddie]
Trading pokemon with a friend online.  [Trevy]

Microscope play.

moth wing
Species classification inquiries (research).

More microscope slides.

More marble madness.

Blue Planet.

More chapters of How To Train Your Dragon.

Wednesday morning found us beginning to sparklify the bedrooms... let's wash sheets and blankets, and get things prettied up, hmm?

And let's get some stories transferred... making Maddie's tablet ready for her listening, I'm going to fall asleep, now pleasure.

There was a long talk between mama and Trevy... about wintry blues (and an assurance by his Mama that many, many people get wintertime-blues), and what we can do to cheer ourselves up a bit when down in the doldrums.

ClueFinders.  For Trevy.
World of Zoo and Sims 3 for Madd.

Book One of How To Train Your Dragon -- finished it!  Can I read a chapter or two, now? (Trev) and Is it my turn to read, yet? (Maddie)... love that.

Light!  And color!  Oh, how we need Light and Color!

Using a beeswax candle was actually the safest and most efficient way to make our art (crayons and glass pieces)... using a hair dryer took so long that our fingers got too hot, a lamp wasn't efficient enough, the lightbox wasn't warm enough.... candles!

We used sheets of shrinky-dink plastic as our background.

Trev's, on the lightbox



While putting things away after our wax venture, Little Son found me, and clearly needed something.
We looked at maybe twenty various things under the microscope while I put things away-- carrot, hairbrush bristle, various leaves, prepared slides, cantaloupe skin...
Turns out, the something he needed was a two-hour long conversation whilst we laid on his bed.... talking about the meaning of life, love, and happiness.  ♥   I love him so.

Thursday morning saw Daddy off skiing for a few hours, and left Mama with sleeping babes and a few minutes to dive into these pages of Stories.
Soon enough, Maddie is up and on her computer (skyping and playing Roblox :) ), and Mama is thinking Pretzels!  and Walk!  Tea party!  Citiblocks!  Calculating on the abacus!  Math dice!  New book! ...Treasure Island?  Bambi? The Princess Bride?  Harry Potter?  Swiss Family Robinson?!  Petrie dishes!  More wax play!  Aah.  And so.  Here come the ideas.  The excitement of Let's do it all!  

Lunch... and cleaning for Mama.... and separate play....
"Hmmm...." I said, as I looked over Trevelyn's bookshelves, "What shall we read?  What are you interested in?  A story, or a biography?"
"Abe Linkcoln sounds good to me," he says.
"Ooh!  Here's Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nimh!  This is a fantastic book!" And, "Okay.. I'll go downstairs and find us a book on Lincoln, too...."

And so.
We have the first chapter of Abraham Lincoln,
and the first chapter of Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nimh.

Now let's go for a walk, shall we?  Down by the river.


...and home.
To supper,
talk and talk and talk,
and dry,
and Mrs. Frisby.

Friday morning found me strippin' beds and doing laundry and sparklifyin' my bedroom.

Trevelyn has been wanting to play math dice for a couple of days, and we finally sat down to play.  One of my favorites.  We have a small cup full of dice that includes 10,000's, fractions, money, large numbers, small numbers, addition and subtraction....
The children choose two numbered dice they'd like to toss, and either the +/- die, or the ÷/x one.
We also get out whatever they'd like to go long with it; this day was the abacus and the cuisenaire rods.
As we played slowly, and talked, and I watched these two stacking and playing with the cuisenaire rods, and I thought how glad I was that our life is what it is, and we can live slowly when we need to, that I can just watch my children, and we have no need for quizzing, or supposed proof of our learnings upon paper.


While we were playing and talking, I told Trev that I had a book that we should open up....
"Can we get the marble run out again?  I want to play with the marble run!?!" demanded Maddie.

 All by herself.

"Could, theoretically, the Universe be reborn if it ends?" He wants to know.
Because... you know.... he greatly frets about such things, right now.....
Oh, we've been talking.  Talking and talking and talking.
(With Trev's permission:) Taking about death.  Talking about the meaning of life.  Talking about his responsibilities as a possible (future) parent, and how he just doesn't (at twelve) feel up for it.  Talking about possible scenarios in afterlife.  Talking about negative thinking.  Talking about feelings of suspension, and being uninspired.  Talking of days gone by.  Talking about the possibility of the best parts of one's life being over.  Talking about Growing Up.
None of these are new topics in our home... we often talk about such things, but this has been different... this has been a twelve year old boy, taking the world upon his shoulders.

 Planting Seeds: Practicing Mindfulness with Children by Thich Nhat Hanh
One small snippet of Little Son's world. 
Going through something so extraordinarily BIG and so extraordinarily solemn, and so extraordinarily serious and deep....

But this way of life is a very generous one; its largess is undeniable.
There is time enough for Pebble Meditation, and unscheduled adventures out under the sky.  There are resources enough for options.  There is open-mindedness, and wisdom enough to know that there is a never-ending flow (however slow at times) of Inspiration.

And I sigh.
A cleansing
hopeful sigh.

This beauty is our life.
All will be well.


  1. I really feel your concerns coming through. I share them with my own deep, troubled 7 year old - carrying way more weight than he should...I ask myself...was it his early introduction world history with all of its tragedies? Or is it just who he is? I do hope you (and Trev) continue to share your process. I love the way you make majik happen in your home!! We've just started our homeschool journey and already, I feel the momentum slowing. My boy is a passive learner (which, sadly, he gets from me) and neither one of us are into games (but I do hope that will change - you certainly inspire me!). Finding our sparkly groove will - as I expected - take some time. I love January because it feels like such a quiet, gentle month for refueling after the holidays. We've taken it as such, but now the ease is becoming uncomfortably (depressingly?) slow. Looking forward to picking up the pace a bit and following your lead...more walks! more spontaneity! more sparkle! Wishing you all well in your journey.

  2. i am loving the slow...and the time for the long talks with both kids. those are some Big Thoughts. Our usually come at bedtime, but lately E's been asking me to read the YA books she's reading and oh the discussions about human character and choices and life and anger and i pinch myself that she seeks me out for those thoughts, i'm so grateful...i'm thinking you're enjoying the TNH books for the kids - do you think they like them? have been thinking of those for some time but haven't read through one that you are writing again;)

  3. Rainblissed - I meant to say hello after last time you popped in--hi there! It's nice to see you, still (again), after these years. :)

    Yeah... it's who they are.
    It's the most remarkable thing to witness our babes asking themselves these very deep, very serious questions, isn't it?
    Like Debbie said, I feel so honored that he comes to me with them, that he trusts me with the most tender, vulnerable, and confused parts of himself, and that he listens, and trusts my wisdom.
    The slow-- I've never much minded. I love the time to go within, and the Still that winter provides.
    It's only that this year I have a 12 year old boy who is most definitely making the physical shift from child to adult, and he is finding lots of things disconcerting.
    So we have to pause often--to discuss, to analyze, to share ideas and fears and experience.
    I'm used to these questions and introspections, I've been asking them of myself for thirty years... it's a new thing for Little Son, however.
    Carefully and slowly is all I can do... nudging when it's good for him (and he can take it), and holding him while he cries when he's not.
    Slow is definitely in order. :)

    Hi SlimD.
    As you said, I feel so honored! Privileged, that I am asked, and trusted. (And so blessed that I get to be the mama of such a tender, brilliant person.)
    I don't want to sound dismissive or shallow here, but Trev is a crab. :)
    I'm not huge on astrology, but I can say that to give a true example of his personality-- he prefers Home to all other places (and often has to be pried and prodded to leave), he's moody, and pessimistic, and a bit dramatic... he's extremely emotional (like both of his parents) and very, very sensitive (physically and not).
    This puberty (and winter blues) thing has turned his world upside down, and I am doing everything I can think of to help him.
    I remembered that I had that book, and got it out...I needed words different than my own, in order to help him see that running the same dark, unhelpful thoughts through his mind were not helping him.
    It's a very definite balance... I asked him yesterday as we were walking (in the sun!) at our botanical gardens if I was making him feel like this is his fault... was trying to nudge him away from adding to his distress (by recycling the same thoughts of "what if this never passes?", and "my life/thinking will not improve", and "what if I am never happy again?")... was asking if it seemed that I wasn't listening or was dismissing all of it as 'his own doing', and why didn't he just change his thoughts? and that there was something wrong with him, because he couldn't easily do that.
    He said No, thank God. I think I"m helping him make sense of it, and listening, while trying to sometimes convince him that 'dwelling' and 'recycling' isn't helping.

    Thay's words framed it with "Growing the seeds of Happiness and Unhappiness". That makes sense to my children.
    The last two days we've meant to put seeds in a jar, and to read more and meditate, but we haven't had the opportunity, yet. Today, hopefully.
    I'll let you know soon when we read more, and I talk to the babes, and we work through this. :)

    Thank you both for leaving such thoughtful comments! xxoo

  4. My older kiddo recently went through a MAJOR World of Zoo obsession! Funnily enough, she played it, definitely, but was really more interested in watching walk-throughs of it on YouTube. Now, whether or not it was necessarily the walk-throughs that she was interested in, or the fact that the dude doing them occasionally taught her a new word or two, ahem, but I said it was okay to keep watching, anyway, because the walk-throughs were so great and I knew she loved them... who knows?

  5. julie--
    :) mmhmm.
    What looks like slow can really be major movement.
    I've seen mucho evidence of that over the years!

  6. Thanks so much, Stephanie! I think my DS is a crab, too ;-) I think you are doing a beautiful job with your DS. And, as I read your words, I realized how I've failed my boy as I don't think he would answer "no" to the questions you've asked Trev. :-( But, today is a new day...and again, thank you for sharing. It helps so very, very much to know we're not alone...

  7. "Me being me, I have two objectives in this time-of-wonder that is mamahood: to pay such close attention that 'twill be impossible for my babes to grow up whilst I'm not looking, and to fill our lives with so much Sparkly that the extraordinary becomes expected and ordinary. "Ordinary" life magic."

    I love this so much! And I know at one time I kept this in focas in my heart, in my doings, but I feel like its slipped a bit, that somehow I let this all become work and a wee bit wearisome. I don't want that. I am glad I re-stumbled onto your words. Thanks so much!


Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts!