Thursday, December 13, 2012

New Moon Healing

It's time for our second New Moon Healing list.  Read on for instructions, and don't forget to share the page so others can get some energy sent their way!

Each new moon, we'll start a new list. If you want to be on it and receive distance healing from me, add your name, and a general location (Jessica, Texas). If you know someone else who needs it, put their name and general location. And if you want to join me in sending healing, please, please, please do. You don't have to be reiki attuned, you don't have to be a healer, you don't have to be anything but present. Just send pure love from your heart to the names on the list.

Here's how it works:

I post the New Moon Healing post at the beginning of a moon cycle.

You leave the names and places in the comment box.

Those names get written on real paper, with real love in my heart as I write it.

 
 
They go in a special box that a dear friend gave to me years and years ago. It is my "Reiki Box," the box I put special notes of concern in and then add healing to it.



And then every day of the waxing moon, I will say a quick prayer for healing and love, and do reiki over the box.
 
Do I expect miracles to happen? Will this result in profound healing? Let's just let it be what it will be and not limit it. Let's believe in the power of giving. And you can give with me, or you can receive what I have to give. I'll be honored either way.



Now it's your turn: add your name, or another's, and pass it on.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Quick Links for Free Information: Kindergarten

This first semester has been less than ideal for us as homeschoolers.  My flaws as a parent and teacher are shining bright, but in the middle of that I see that if we just keep biting off little bits of what we need, eventually we will have eaten the whole cookie and we'll be doing things the way that works and the way that we can achieve success.

With that in mind, I have a few more links to share if you are trying to muddle through kindergarten without a purchased curriculum or would simple like more information on how to bring things together.



My first link is a 38 week curriculum chart.  If you are like me and need a simplified version of what is going on, but still need the framework of where to go, this is really useful.  I printed this out and can check through what we have already covered, and what we still need to address.

Digging around looking for more Waldorf information, but trying not to spend the hundreds of dollars it would take for a full curriculum, I found this page, an overview on Waldorf education for the early years.  There are books we can buy that would supplement this information and surely round out our understanding of what we need to do for our younger students, but this is a great place to start so those roots can grow deeply, even if we do end up buying more printed information.

If you are leaning toward more Earth-based homeschooling (with Earth-based spirituality influences, rather than just nature-based) you'll find Pooka Pages a delight and wonderful addition to homeschooling, after-schooling, or just family fun.  These are free and invaluable, so don't miss the chance to get on the mailing list!

And finally, Starfall.com is a site with loads of resources for reading and for a very small fee you can expand what is available.  It is computer based, so we only spend time on it once or twice a week, but has proven to really help, especially when we have otherwise been floundering.

As a last suggestion, I find that I gather more information for myself when I search with phrases that don't include homeschool.  Much of the homeschool sites are strictly for profit, while public education institutes work to make information available to parents as a way of involving them and keeping their students' home life educational.  Instead of searching with the phrase "homeschool kindergarten curriculum", try "kindergarten curriculum."  I wanted a week by week plan, so I searched "kindergarten curriculum week by week" and that led to better results.

I hope your first semester of homeschooling is finishing up nicely and that the holiday season is bringing you lots of warm fires, sweet smells, yummy treats, and loads of time with family!

Friday, November 30, 2012

Would you do it again?

It seems like the girls and our full life is taking over all the time I have to get on here and write a post or two.  Every night we say our gratitude prayers.  Every morning we have our protein shakes made with homemade kefir.  And somehow, all the in between time gets filled up.  This last week we've been recovering from tummy upset with the girls.  Before that it was colds.  Somewhere in there we've done a little homeschooling, but not nearly as much as I think we should.

And so as we begin the last month of the semester, I'm asking daily, on a moment by moment basis, will we keep doing this?  Will we keep homeschooling?  Will we keep not using a more structured curriculum?  Will we stick with the playgroup where there are no girls Jetta's age?  And so on.

There are definitely limitations to our lifestyle, but when I think of all the reasons we chose to attempt homeschooling in the first place, they are still there, still filling up my heart with the need to keep them closer, keep them safe, and let them run a little wilder than they might otherwise.

So, yes, we'll still be homeschooling in January.  I can't say I feel like we're succeeding all that much with getting structured learning time into the day, but I also feel like we are at the tip of the iceberg in terms of what we are attempting to do and where we are attempting to go with this.  We've dangled our feet into the pool and not really even jumped in yet.

As the year end approaches, there are other things that I am revisiting, wondering if I'll make the choice to do that again.  Rather than have regrets, we can use those choices as lessons of having learned what we truly don't want, and truly do want.

What will you choose to do again, and what you choose to do differently?

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Quick Tips for Shopping This Holiday Season

It's shopping time for most people who give holiday gifts.  For me that means supplies for the things I'm making and very little time at big box stores.  I prefer earthy, heartfelt and handmade for the Solstice gifts we exchange, though we do indulge in store-bought items that enable creativity, are natural, and/or speak to the soul of the recipient.  We keep things simple with a minimum of gifts, probably much more modestly than the average American family, and we leave some of the dreamier, more popular toys for birthday celebrations.

As consumers, we have an opportunity to shape how we experience the holidays just by choosing where we shop.  We will be shaping the holidays for all those who exist in our immediate economic area, as well as those in our wider economy. 

If you can, buy handmade, make it yourself, or even consider buying second hand.  The world does not need more plastic, toxic, electronic stuff.

Buy local and support local businesses, even if the products you buy are not handmade and are mass produced.

Buy less material goods for your children.  This is supposed to be a holiday about giving, not receiving, and if your children are the recipients of what you give, you aren't really teaching them to give, are you?

Try to find some place to donate your time, if not your money, to teach your children (and remind yourself) that there are others who need what you have to offer, that there are others who have far less that you do, and that compassion and giving are the true spirits of the season.

Happy shopping, and Happy Holidays!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Let's Heal, Let's Give

In her recent post, Rachél Payne over at Creativity Tribe talked about giving.  And I have so much to be grateful for, so much to make me stop and turn around and look  with swelling heart just what overwhelming abundance I have in my life, that I have realized just how much I have to give.

Let's start here:  the new moon.  New Beginnings.  New Healing.  For you, for your loved ones, for your friends.

As a Reiki Master/Teacher, this tool has sat largely unused for some time.  Four big moves in four years, mothering, deployments, massage school.  Tons to keep it on the shelf.  It's time to take this tool out and dust it off.

Each new moon, we'll start a new list.  If you want to be on it and receive distance healing from me, add your name, and a general location (Jessica, Texas).  If you know someone else who needs it, put their name and general location.  And if you want to join me in sending healing, please, please, please do.  You don't have to be reiki attuned, you don't have to be a healer, you don't have to be anything but present.  Just send pure love from your heart to the names on the list.

Here's how it works:

I post the New Moon Healing post at the beginning of a moon cycle.

You leave the names and places in the comment box.

Those names get written on real paper, with real love in my heart as I write it.




They go in a special box that a dear friend gave to me years and years ago.  It is my "Reiki Box," the box I put special notes of concern in and then add healing to it.



And then every day of the waxing moon, I will say a quick prayer for healing and love, and do reiki over the box.


Do I expect miracles to happen?  Will this result in profound healing?  Let's just let it be what it will be and not limit it.  Let's believe in the power of giving.  And you can give with me, or you can receive what I have to give.  I'll be honored either way.



Now it's your turn:  add your name, or another's, and pass it on.

What Do You Have to Give?

My good friend Rae, over at Creativity Tribe, is talking about giving.  She's talking about giving back, and remembering when that giving was returned.  I know that story all too well, and I've been on the receiving end a lot.  So many times in my life, it seems, have I been a place of needing, and someone has given.  And what a gift it would be to be the one who had enough this time to share in the giving, to honor that which has been given to me in the past, in those down-trodden times, and give forward!

I'm recalling all those times that I felt destitute.  I'm remembering all those times when someone bailed us out of what felt like the bottom of the barrel.  Yet, here we are, living, learning, loving.  It feels like we don't have enough on so many days of the week, but we have so much that I can choose to be home with my children.  We have enough.  We have more than enough.  We have enough to thrive and live beautifully within our means, while choosing to have more time, more love, more joy, and less things.  More magic, more wildness, more pausing in the moment.

It is a wonderful trend on Facebook this time of year, to list the many things you are thankful for each day of the month in November.  We say gratitude prayers every night, and what I am thankful for is very personal, so I skip sharing on FB.  But I'm thinking of another trend that could be started-- a trend of giving every day.  Giving for the sake of giving.  Giving to remind ourselves that we have something to give and that we truly are the lucky ones.

This is powerful.  This is real.  And I can't wait to get started.


Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Wildschooling Wisdom #2

Let the ancestors guide you, or at least those who've gone before you.

There was a time when things were simpler.  No tv.  No ipads.  No microwaves.  No leaving your kids with total strangers and hoping it went well.

We, as a species, evolved to this point of extreme success because of everything that happened BEFORE the industrial revolution, mass media, and a daycare on every corner.  I know-- there are so many mothers and fathers who have no choice.  Some days I question whether we really have a choice too, but here we are, surviving near poverty for the sake of not leaving our kids with total strangers and giving them the space to evolve in a more organic manner.  Only the ancestors know how long this will last for us, so while we can manage we're grateful and will make the best of it. 

And until things are different, I look to those who have gone before for what is real and pertinent to my children's lives.  Nature.  Natural things.  Real connections based on human relationship, not based on the best toy or the coolest costume.  And the opportunity to grow and learn in the way that is innate and comfortable for them.

As the ancestors and spirits dance among us on this Halloween, remember what wisdom they have shared with you about living, growing, and learning.  And please feel free to share it or a link to your blog or website.

Happy Halloween!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Freedom Friday

I am remembering that this weekend I am (and you are) free to choose the following:

to be happy, no matter your circumstances
to smile, even if you weren't happy yesterday
to be grateful for all that you have, even if what you have to be grateful for is limited
to be brave, even when the world has scared you
to be strong, even when the world has beaten you down
to be free, even if you feel trapped by circumstances
to love, even if it is only to, and especially to, love yourself
to breathe, deeply, slowly, and with the knowing that you are new and reborn with every breath.

So take time in this moment, and I'll do the same, to breathe as deeply and as fully as you can.  Breathe in all that happiness, courage, strength, love and freedom.   Smile as you do it, and know that you are valued for who you are in this moment, exactly as you are, exactly as your finances are, exactly as your body looks and your hair looks.  You are valued and I value you.  And I value myself, as I breathe in all that goodness that is just waiting to be claimed.

Happy Friday.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Wildschooling Wisdom #1

Listen to your child.  I mean this in two ways.

First, I mean for you to stop and actually listen to what she is saying, give every question and statement full attention to the extent of your ability.  There will always be something that we can distract ourselves with, something that feels like it is more pressing, but if we make that choice then we are also making the choice to communicate to our child or children that there is always something more important than them!  If you have to, put whatever it is that you are doing away, the computer, the dishes, the laundry, and give them 100% in that moment.  Look them in the eyes, see their sweet, trusting face, and really, really hear them.

 
The other way that we need to listen to our children is through observation and taking in what their behavior and actions are telling us.  If they really struggle with something, let that have meaning to you.  Don't just chalk it up to "they always struggled at math, but we got through it."  If they are struggling it might be because you need to teach them differently.  If they are uncomfortable it might be that they need it read to them so they can hear it instead of reading it on their own.  Be a detective for  your child, your learner, and uncover what is causing the discomfort and experiment with how to sooth it.  This doesn't have to be with just learning.  It can be in relationships, play, food, playgroups or anything else our children do.  We don't have to create a pristine environment of non-stop joy for our children, but if there is consistent discomfort then listen to it and let it show you that something isn't quite right, or that there might just be a better way of doing things.

Happy Homeschooling!

So that's my Wildschooling Wisdom for Wednesday.  Share yours with us, and a link to your blog or site so others can find you!  Anything to do with nature-based parenting and homeschooling will work!!!  I can't wait to see what you have to say.

Monday, October 22, 2012

What's Really Wrong with Watching TV?

In part 2 of "What's Wrong with Plastic Toys?", which you can read here, I talked a lot about how turning off the tv (and avoiding advertisements or movies that have loads of merchandising) would help your children more easily do without all those plastic action figures and dolls.  If they don't ever watch Dora the Explorer, then they have no attachment to the character and can walk past her in a store without ever noticing the hundreds of products that are strategically placed for visibility.

This is intensely valuable for you as a parent because it means you can give them toys that have no connection to any video game, television series, movie made by Disney, and they might actually like it.  Even better, they might just play with it!  But going without tv is valuable for your child for a number of reasons.  Those reasons all fall under three categories:  time, your child's brain (or yours), creativity.  But I'll add a fourth:  intuition.  Read on for details.

1)  Time

Over at the Huffington Post, David Perlmutter wrote an article that talks about some of these issues, addressing time and what your child isn't doing while spending that time in front of the television.  The issue here is that there are only so many waking hours in the day and if they are all spent watching tv then they won't be spending that time doing more important things, like learning, moving, reading, or spending time with you.  That time is lost and wasted because much as we like to ignore the fact, we are here for a short number years, with our childhoods being a small portion of that, and that time ain't comin' back.

2)  Your Child's Brain

Seattle Children's Hospital shares a TEDx video by Dr. Dimitri Christakis, which I urge you to view, that addresses what tv is doing to kids' brains.  It's troublesome and disturbing, but the main points are,

-  for each hour of tv per day, chances of attention issues increase by 10%
-  for each hour of cognitive stimulation (such as reading or going to a museum) chances of attention issues are reduced by 10%
-  violent or entertainment purposed tv with rapid scene change and pace pose extreme risk for attention issues as well as an increase in a child's willingness to take risks!
-  slow paced educational programs like Mr. Rogers pose no attention risk

The faster the pace, the worse it is.  You child's brain will become adjusted to needing that much stimulation in order to feel normal and will not be able to process real life normally. 

3)  Creativity

Both the video and the article address the need for children to have real time play, less fast paced media, and engage in other activities that are creative.  Pushing your child's brain to explore and push past the boundaries of what is "known" is what makes them smarter.  Working with non-linear, non-predictable, imagination based play will not only make them smarter, but make them happier and better prepared for life.

There is another factor that is important to me for my children and if you've read anything else here, you won't be surprised by this. 

4)  Intuition and their Wild Spirit. 

If my children are in front of the tv or any electronic media, it moves the focus to something outside of them instead of to what they are experiencing for themselves.  They then seek to re-enact whatever they have seen in order to feel valid instead of having had an original experience that validates their own worth. 

If their attention is on what is bombarding them from outside, they will never turn inward and listen to the quiet voice of intuition that tells them to run when they need to run, to walk away when they need to walk away, to tell me something important when they need to tell me something, to warn a friend about another adult, to not step near that hole because there just might be a snake there, etc.  Their inner voice will be drowned out by the constant barrage of outer stimulation. 

They will be more vulnerable to victimization, less confident in their own life experiences, less capable of being responsible in important situations, and a whole lot less magical.  There will be no magic, in fact, because they will have sacrificed it when it got sucked up into the tv, into the electrical currents of the box at which they stare so intently.  And they won't ever know why they are so uncomfortable with themselves.  They won't realize just what they have given up.  They won't have rooted into their own existence and identity so they will not realize when they are working so hard at emulating everyone else. 

And the only person they'll know how to be is whatever character is in front of them, which is dictated by a group of writers sitting in a room, brainstorming about how to make a persona that is most marketable to a specific age group.  They will be drones with not a branch a wildness in them.  When they hear the music of the spirit, it won't be the beat they can dance to.

While I completely subscribe to the notion that a tv-free home is what is best, I am guilty of relying heavily on it.  We have no grandparents on either side, and have lived away from family for a few years.  It's been challenging to ever have a break, and tv has been the one thing that we can rely on to give us a breather.  But at what sacrifice? 

For the most part, our girls are well-adjusted, smart kids, and we do all the things we should be doing with them at this age.  But I want to know who they'll be without tv.  I want to know what comes out of their imagination without some other story in their heads.  I want to see what emerges from their souls when they are free from this hypnotic tool that has been over-indulged for a while now.

So we're going on a tv diet.  No tv Sunday through Thursday, and only two hours worth on Friday and Saturday.  I have no idea how I will survive as a parent, but I know it will mean putting work last and them first.  Time outside will likely double at least.  And we'll probably get out of the house to do more:  walk more, hike more, go to more playgroups. 

We're doing it from now until Thanksgiving, and I'll be giving you updates on how it goes.  So I ask, do you want to join us on a TV DIET?  Just post how you plan to reduce your and your children's tv watching, and what you think that will most affect in your day to day life.  Check back with me when you can and let me know how your family is doing.

Have a happy TV FREE day!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Mini Meditation for Mommies and Other Busy People

After having been quiet on the blog all week due to a tv diet with the girls, which means less work time for me, I'm finding myself more grounded and centered (less electronics will do that).  I'm also finding myself with opportunities to settle into myself and take two minutes, or four minutes, or even ten minutes when and if I have it to be proactive about my own mental health, my own connection to inuition, and my own wellness.  Here are some short and sweet suggestions for how to take advantage of 30 seconds to 5 minutes if you have it.  (And check back on Monday for my blog about why we should turn off the television!)

If you have a single moment, just one, before the house gets lit on fire, your five year old lets the dog out, your toddler climbs onto the refrigerator, or they both conspire to take the car keys and escape, do this:

Find something to settle your eyes on, something away from electronics, no tv, no computer, no ipad, no cell phone.  It has to be real.  Your child's eyes are perfect, or even your child doing whatever she is doing.  Looking our your window, looking down at your hands, finding anything natural to be in your line of sight will work.

Slowly, take in one deep inhale and as you do so, feel the diaphragm expand the belly, pulling the lungs down to capacity.  Hold that inhale for three beats, and then slowly exhale.  If you have more time, do it again.  If not, well, you know what happens next.



If you have one minute to ground and center and can take time to close your eyes without a disaster occurring, do this:

When you know you're safe to close your eyes, whether standing, sitting, laying or otherwise (hopefully you're not running down the hall after a kid), close your eyes and tune into your breath.  Inhale deeply and fully, hold that inhale for a couple beats, and release the exhale just as slowly or more slowly if you can manage that.  In your mind, complete the sentence "I am ___________" and fill it in with what you most want to be or need in that moment  . . .beautiful, whole, abundant, wealthy, at peace, energized.  Something positive here!  Repeat, another two times at least.





If you have five minutes and feel like you really need a recharge (are they asleep, or watching tv?), do this:

For the first minute, focus on breathing. Close your eyes.   Fully expand the belly and lungs as you breathe in.  Slowly, slowly, slowly exhale.  Consciously see tension and unneeded energy leaving you on the exhale and as you breathe in bring in the things you want for yourself.  If you take ten seconds for each breath cycles, this will be about five or six breaths.  This engages the air element.

For the second minute, focus on healing energy.  This is about the fire element.  Place your hands on each chakra for five to seven seconds.  You don't have to feel anything, but know that your intention of sending healing energy is enough.  The placement for the 7 chakras will be on the top of your head, your brow, your throat, your heart, your upper abdomen, your lower abdomen, and floating over the genital area.  Alternatively, you could focus on problem areas that might have pain or discomfort, or you can choose to put one hand on the heart and one hand on the solar plexus for the whole minute.

For the third minute, do a dry massage over the limbs and core.  This increases circulation, helps remove metabolic waste, and prepares the body for the next step.  It also engages the water element by moving the circulation.  You can do this rapidly, or slowly, but since you have only a minute, I'd go for it and get it done with.  Lightly rub your hands over your arms, up and down, like you are wiping sand off your skin, and cover as much area as you can.  When you move to the core, make sure to go under the armpits and around the breasts since that's the lymph area.  Include the neck and head, move to the legs, hips and groin (more lymph) and reach to the back as much as you can.

For the fourth minute, stretch and lengthen the muscles.  This will be our earth element, when we work with the dense cells of the body.  If you have yoga poses or stretching that you are comfortable with, do those.  Otherwise, focus on reaching your arms behind you, clasping your hands if you can, and open the heart.  We tend to do a lot of reaching in front of us either at the computer, driving, taking care of kids, or whatever-- that's the direction our arms reach, so that's what we do!  And it's important to keep those muscles through the shoulder girdle opened and lengthened, while giving the muscles in the back the opportunity to shorten.  If you do a lot of sitting, open the front of the hip with alternating lunges or by getting on the floor and doing a modified bridge pose.

For the fifth minute, be still and settle back into yourself.  Remember why you are doing what you are doing.  Remember why you are in this job, why you are a stay-at-home-mom, why you love yourself, your children, your husband, and so on.  Let your spirit remember that even in the chaos and tension, things are as they should be because you are choosing to be here in this time and place.



Wednesday, October 10, 2012

A Focus for Each Day of the Week

If you read my post here, you know we started off with a bang and then had to back off.  I was a little overzealous and created some unneeded pressure, and like so many I've read about, have had to kind of "unlearn" the schooling process.  This week we are starting back with a similar plan, catching up on our themes, but hoping to create more elbow room than before.

We did an online assessment and know where we stand.  This was important for me because it showed me that the little bit of work we've done over the last few years has gotten Jetta ahead and ready for first grade, when she's only beginning kindergarten curriculum.  The actual concentrated learning time at school is minimal.  There is a perpetual bombardment of activity and information in the hope of overwhelming the child's brain with repetition.  In some ways that is necessary, and in some ways it is just the nature of the group setting.  Transitions from one task to the other require much more time in group settings, and that tends to fill the hour.  At home, we can relax, do the work (or play, or do art, or walk around the block) and know that we are covering everything we need to cover.
 
I mentioned before that my rule for the days are to feed the body, emotions, mind, and spirit.  This comes in the form of the elements:  fire, water, earth and air.  Energy (action and awareness of the self), fluidity (intuition and relationships), structure (linear work and ritual), and creativity (broad expression and honoring the spirit).  This does not always look "shamanic" or wild, and in many ways looks like anyone else's experience.  What is different is our intention and where we go with it.

Since I am a global learner and like to see the big picture first (or get lost in the forest) I'm giving the days of our week a label.  With each label, we express a theme.  And when we do anything relating to that theme, I know we have succeeded even if we didn't officially do "schoolwork."

Sacred Sunday:  no electronic media, family time, community time, and finding our sacred roots.  This involves attending the local UU church, no tv or computer, being with my children and husband, and letting the day unfold.

Moonday Magic:  the beginning of our learning week, introduction of a theme, workbook time, and doing some kind of fun mystical work that relates to the unit we're studying, such as incense making or leaving things for the fairies.

Travel Tuesday:  Tuesdays are story time at the library in the morning and homeschool playgroup in the afternoon.  The kids are worn out when we get home, so not much else happens.

Wild Wednesday:  continuing our theme and learning week, this day includes crafts and art, workbook time, and something wild, like dancing to drum music with the lights off!

Thorough Thursday:  Thursdays are catch-up day where we finish up whatever part of the theme we didn't get to on Monday through Wednesday, and do some science along with all that. 

Field trip/Fun Friday:  if there is a field trip, we take it, and if not we head over to the local park/hiking trail and spend time out of the house and in nature.  This day also includes some time for Jetta being on the computer and playing around on www.starfall.com which has free reading resources and activities.

Soothing Saturday:  this is a day of relaxation, no worries, no planned activities, and probably more television than I care to admit.  Maybe some ice cream too.

I don't intend to spend more than an hour or so each day on structured linear work, but I have decided that for now, we'll let that be the hard stuff and leave the themes to the books and crafts (as opposed to trying to create linear work that matches our theme).  That makes me happier and more patient.  As I build my proficiency in putting a week together, I'm sure some of this will change.  But for now, we're hitting the easy button.

I would love to hear how you shape your week with your kiddos and activities.  Comments are always welcome!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

What Would Your Life's Resume Include?

I recently talked to someone from my past, as in grade school, jr. high, high school past.  Admittedly, I have spent some time not seeking out my peers from the old days because my level of success does not meet where I'd like to be, and life has not led me down a silver plated path.  After this conversation I found myself in that same place of self-judgment, that same place of shoulda, woulda, coulda because at the end of the day my resume doesn't live up to some undetermined level of "success."

Another friend reminded me of the many things I've accomplished that just don't happen to look the same as conventional success.  As I thought about that, as I thought about what level of proficiency I have reached at this point in my stay-at-home-mom career, I reached back through the decade, even longer, to see what I've been training for.

What would my real-life resume look like?  This goes deep into my heart, deep into my core, because there have been some real challenges that have added to the story.  When something happens to someone, when it pulls the rug out from underneath you, either through trauma, disease, death, or who knows what else, there is no going back.  I'm not sure I was ever headed for a conventional track of success, but after those events, there was no chance of it.  And it has taken me this long to really look that in the face, to look at myself in the mirror and honor that part of me that just won't ever be the same again.  What I care about and what I am passionate about has been shaped so fundamentally that the mundane world of paper shuffling and cubicle salary is as distant from me as those grade school peers.




What I care about today, and what life has taught me I'm good at, is giving a shit about other people.  I have a Super-Awesome-Masters-Degree in making it through the hard stuff, and an Unbelievably-Amazing-Ph.D in caring about where we're all going. 

I care so much about whether we all die from cancer, that many days it doesn't leave my mind.  I care so intensely about whether my children's self-esteem is better than mine and is strong enough to take a beating here and there that I can't bring myself to enroll them in public school.  I'm a much better parent than I was a teacher, and while I have to say that there are so many parts of being a stay-at-home-mom that suck, really, really suck, I will find a way to do this until my gut stops telling me it's necessary.   I care about whether the wildness is trained out of my children.  And I care about whether I find my own wildness again, amid the heap of broken down notions that have piled on top of it from a life of feeling inadequate.





But I also care about you.  I care whether you know what I know.  Whether you get sick or your kids get sick or your husband gets sick.  Because I can't watch a single movie about somebody who is sick or dying or dead or recovering or abandoned or abused or just feeling like crap without knowing and sensing and feeling the reality of just how hard that is.  I know how hard that is.  I have lived how hard that is.  And I don't want that for you.  And even if you have all that happen to you in one day, I want to be the one that holds your hand and helps you realize that your heart is still beating, your dark night of the soul is done, and there is someone here for you who cares and who knows, who can look you in the eyes and get it.

I care a lot about muscles and relaxation and energy and sacred space.  But I care more about whether those things are vehicles for getting me to you and helping you through whatever block in the road you are going through.  Blocks in the road can be "lessons" that we all need to make us stronger, to make us really see what is important, but they can also tear us to pieces and make it near impossible to bring those pieces back together.  And that's what I care about.  Keeping those pieces together so we can spend our short time here on this earth with love in our hearts and knowing just how powerful we are.

And that's my real-life resume.  It won't fit on a single page of parchment, but finally, I'm giving myself credit for all the things I'm really trained to do.  I think it's time you did the same.



Monday, October 8, 2012

Pumpkins!

This week we are starting our pumpkin theme.  If you haven't done pumpkins yet but want to, what we're doing is simple.

1.  Go to your local library and find as many pumpkin books as your heart desires, and even better if you can reserve them online like I did!  Make sure to get a variety of writing style and tone, and include nonfiction, as well as fiction.  I also included a couple pumpkin/Halloween dvds to use on Fun Friday (more on that on Wednesday, so check back!).

2.  Go to Pinterest and search "pumpkin crafts" or "homeschool pumpkin crafts" etc.  You get the idea.  Then find two or three things you think your child or children can handle.  Don't get stuck on the made-for-mom-crafts or you'll end up with bored kids!  Do find something for you to do when there is down time, because you need to feed your own creativity this week!

3.  If you haven't picked out pumpkins from a patch or the local grocery chain, choose a day and do it.  Carving the pumpkin can wait if you need to (the do rot pretty quickly in warmer climates), but involve the kids in picking them.

4.  Find a recipe to bake and incorporate something pumpkin:  pumpkin cookies, pumpkin bread, pumpkin pie, or just roast those pumpkin seeds.  Hearth crafts are not only important to your child's memory of growing up, your child's long term health and wellness, but are also important to our culture.  You're doing your child and our culture a favor by baking with them!

5.  There's no 5, just have fun!

Here's what we're interested in doing this week:

Monday:  start with pumpkin books and a basic pumpkin craft for kids, like this one from Martha Stewart.


Since Monday is Moonday Magic, I foresee a pumpkin seed activity involving mystery and spirit! 

You can buy pumpkin seeds at any health food store, or in your bulk bin area of you grocery store.  Occasionally, you can find them in the produce section in packaged dried goods (like trail mix).

Tuesdays are spent at the library and playgroup.

Wednesday:  After our trip to a local pumpkin patch, we'll resume our pumpkin readings and this time think about our own pumpkin stories.  We'll dream and dance the mystery of pumpkins, finding what stories might be inside us. (Think lights out, wild music, no inhibition, and letting the pumpkin stories rise up out of us-- who knows how frivolous, creative or profound they might be!)

And maybe we'll do this pumpkin craft:


Operationsanta.com
 
Thursday will be our busy day at home, more stories, workbook for linear work, and where we incorporate science into our lesson.  I've checked out a couple nonfiction books on pumpkins, so that will guide us, but if nothing inspiring comes along we'll just resort to google and stumble upon something.

And if there is time, we might try this:

Bloggingwithholly.blogspot.com
 
Okay, so that's one of those mom crafts I mentioned-- the girls can help, and this will give me a sense of having gotten my own selfish pleasure out of the week.

Fridays are Fun (or Field Trip) Fridays, so we'll gather ourselves up and head out to . . . somewhere.  No plans on that one yet, but if all else fails we'll take a walk at the local park.  We'll also be baking pumpkin something . . .

Next week we blend pumpkins and apples (because we need to do apple crafts but all the apple books are checked out at the library).  The following week we'll do WITCHES!  I can't wait!  And the last few days of October, which is the week of Halloween and the beginning of November, we'll do Halloween (or Day of the Dead, or Samhain, or All Hallows Eve) as a holiday for the ancestors.  That will include some talk about our own ancestors and an ancestor altar.

Check back to see what our Wild Week entails-- a focus for each day to keep me on track and relaxed.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

What's Wrong With Plastic Toys, Part 2


Plastic toys are shiny and bright, designed with the most psychologically attractive appearance research has discovered for both children and parents, and advertised with the most manipulative marketing you'll find in any industry.  Don't go down that aisle if you can't resist it.  And remember that if you can't say no to the latest big label doll or action hero, it's that much harder for your child if he sees it.  If he or she doesn't know it's there, then there is no sense of lack in his or her universe!

But there has to be more than avoidance to the solution, so read on for ideas on how to deal with plastic toys, or how to avoid them altogether.

And if you need a reminder of what we addressed (ie:  chemicals and carcinogens!) read the first article here.


Action Plan

What do we do about all this plastic mess? Is it as simple as not buying any plastic, ever?

It can be. If you are that family that can be strong enough, resourceful enough, and determined enough to not buy plastic at all, then do it. Go for it. You will be a pioneer (possibly an outcast, but I'm guessing you're okay with that) and you will pave the way for the rest of us.

But what about the rest of us?

How are your frontiersman skills?


There is no easy answer to this, but you can start with checking back at Washington Toxics Coalition for a safer products list in a variety of categories: http://watoxics.org/healthy-living/healthy-families/safe-start-for-kids-1/safe-start-for-kids/. You can also sign up on that page to receive updated information about what they are researching.

Research your heavy metal levels for specific toys at Healthy Kids.Org to get a sense of just how high those levels might be. Keep in mind that this site doesn't express a safety level, but shows which chemicals are present and how high those levels are. You have to objectively assess what that means and what kind of risk that creates for your family.

Reuse and recycle everything plastic and if you can't recycle it, consider not buying it. Keeping it out of the landfill is just as important as keeping it out of your 13 month old's mouth.  Recycling is not the same as reusing or donating.  If you donate it, at least some other child will then enjoy your donated item.



But that leads us back to the big issue doesn't? It's not just about your kids' safety. It's about all kids' safety. It's about all those kids in China who live near the plastic plant. And all those kids who live near petroleum plants. And all those babies who put PVC toys in their mouths, even if your kid plays with an organic cotton pacifier.

There may be a balance to all this, and I'd like to think so, but being an anti-plastic pioneer who spreads natural toy love and education does seem to be the only real way to make the world a better place.

For an insightful discussion on how to keep plastic out of your home, check out this article at Natural Family (Live Journal). While it's more about her story than yours, she lists a lot of ways to avoid plastic. Even if you aren't going pro on avoiding plastic, you can use these tips to lower your intake of plastic until futher notice.

Some basic points to remember are: 

Start with the big stuff, the stuff that is easy to replace with a natural version or not buy in the first place.  For my girls, this means anything we can make or buy in natural materials or fibers other than baby dolls.  So we are working around that, minimzing plastic in all areas (not just toys!), buy natural fiber clothes and bedding, and are saving the tough stuff for last. 

Every time you buy something new, you are creating a demand for another replica of that toy on the shelf, which perpetuates the harmful manufacture of that toy.

Buy it used, borrow it, trade for it, or use things handed down from family to avoid buying it new if you have to have plastic.

Turn off the tv, and if you are bold enough, get rid of it.  I'm not just talking about television programming-- I mean THE TV.  Take it to the garage for a trial run of what it's like to not have it, cancel netflix so you don't just watch stuff on your computer, and stock up on your role-playing costumes for the kids for after they figure out what to do with themselves without tv.  More importantly, figure out what to do with yourself as a parent (talking to myself here!) when there is no tv to babysit.

Less tv of any kind means less exposure to advertisements, including movie trailers that are ten years old on a dvd.  And less advertisements means less manipulation of your child's mind that cause a deep seated need for whatever movie, character or product they are selling.

Try natural toys.  Just try them.  If your child wants a castle for his action figures, find one that is at least partially made from wood.  Watch what they do with it and how they respond to it after they get used to the lack of plastic shine. 

If you're creative, make toys, and if not, check etsy for thousands of handmade toys that were made with love and care by an individual who will likely really benefit from the money you spend on their product.

Talking to and educating your child is just as important as saying no to things that are not good for them.  Make it a family concern, something that everyone gets to have an opinion about.

Finally, use your intuition before going to the local toy store.  If you know in your gut that buying something synthetic is not right, then listen to it.  Then trust that intuition and don't head straight to the toy section because you'll be overwhelmed with stimulating media that clouds the intuition, judgment and ability to walk away without it.  If you ignore that inner voice and end up there, it will be that much easier to buy it, take it home, and eat ice cream to avoid the guilt.

We are not immune to these issues in our household and we recently experienced the craziness of not listening to that intuition before entering the Halloween section of a local department store.  TWICE I left with plastic and polyester costumes (same thing, by the way) and twice we returned them because standing there on that aisle with all the shiny stuff became intoxicating.  It overwhelms the mind and senses and is purposefully impossible to resist, especially for sensitive people.  Thankfully, we now have costumes in the making at home, we're saving money and will have natural fiber princess dresses that will last much longer than the cheap stuff at the store.  We're not venturing into the costume section again this season because both mom and girls can't handle it.


For us, living close to nature is a part of our foundation, a part of spirituality, and a part of what I view to be healthiest for all of us.  It's no big leap of logic that plastic and synthetic products are not what is best for us or our children or the planet, but keeping them out of the house is challenging, to say the least.  I hope if you have found ways that are useful for helping your family with these issues you'll share them, and I hope if you haven't that this article has given you a few things to think about.  The holidays are around the corner, which means plenty of spending.  What kind of toys will you buy?

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

What's Wrong with Plastic Toys? Part 1

There is an ever-present discomfort at the homeschool playgroup when a child from my daughter's set of friends brings a plastic toy.  Jetta and Jade are desperate, like they are starved for a major food group, and it takes a lot of unsuccessful coaxing on my part to get them to not hover and obsess.  Eventually, the other child often opts to just put it away.

We have plastic toys.  And we have a lot of toys in general.  They are not deprived in anyway.  But there is an underlying craving that my girls have because they don't have plastic in mass quantities.  Well, this morning at 5:15am (why am I awake at this hour?) I want to start with the flip side of the coin.  What's wrong with natural toys?  That's the easy part.



What's wrong with natural toys?

1.  They aren't cheap.  No argument there.  They cost more to make, cost more to buy, cost more to ship because most of us aren't buying them at the local big box store.  And for most parents, it never gets past this point.  How many of us have money to use natural toys exclusively?

2.  They don't relate to the characters and themes that are in popular media.  The more tv your kids watch, the bigger a deal this will be.  And let me tell you, this can be a HUGE deal.  Huge!

3.  They don't garner the same peer acceptance that popular toys have.  This may seem superficial, but let's remember that we are innately social mammals and it is in our interest of survival to seek peer acceptance and community living.  Why else would I jump off a bridge if my friends did it? 

4.  They don't all look real.  And for most kids, this can be a hang up.  If you had a stick figure vs a Waldorf doll, the Waldorf doll would be preferred.  If you have a Waldorf doll and a plastic baby doll with eyes that open and shut, that laughs when you tickle it, that pees when you feed it, well, yeah, you get the picture.  Roll-playing is our kids' work, so they take it seriously.

Now that we've gotten that out of the way . . .

Let's talk about the other side of it.  We'll come back to those pesky flaws of natural toys in a bit.

What's wrong with plastic toys?  This is where I take a deep breath and sigh.  Do I want to just go with it, list the stuff I know to be true, or actually give you more to think about with links and references?  I know references are better, but honestly I'm worried about what I'll find.  I'm one of those parents that can't ignore another carcinogen being added to the list.  But let's see what we dig up anyway, and you may have to hold my hand through it.

Over at Green Gifts Guide they explain that most plastic toys contain PVC and that PVC contains harmful chemicals (for your child and for the environment).  This is the short list:

Phthalates - endocrine disruptor!  Concerns:  hormone imbalance, breast cancer, damage to liver and testes, obesity

Cadmium - known carcinogen!  Concerns:  abnormal brain growth, kidney damage, pneumonitis, pulmonary edema, death

Lead - effects the nervous system!  Concerns:  lowered IQ, ADHD, weakness in extremities, brain and kidney damage, miscarriage, infertility, death  (recent legislation limits lead quantities in toys, but toys that are older may still contain high quantities, and unethical violation of this limit surely happens at least occasionally)

To add to this list, Washington Toxics Coalition shares that dioxin (known carcinogen) is released through PVC processing (manufacturing, house fires, trash burning, recycling).  Every life form (that includes us!) is influenced by toxins in the environment.  The concerns for dioxin include:  death, cancer, reproductive problems, developmental problems, tooth development, sexual development.

But wait.  There's more.  Workers who work with PVC or around PVC are exposed to vinyl chloride, another lovely chemical that is a known carcinogen, and can cause death, cancer, liver damage, and liver injury in short-term exposure.  Washington Toxics Coalition also says that because of these and other heavy metals included in the production of PVC, "recycling is nearly impossible for most PVC products and interferes with the recycling of other plastics." 

Before you start feeling optimistic, remember that we didn't even talk about flame retardants.

Are you still holding my hand?  Got any tissues for me? 

I can hear somebody's mother saying "I played with plastic toys and I'm fine."  She might be the only one that is. 



The Back Story

This is getting long, so I'll keep this short.  I was widowed when I was 29.  My first husband was 32.  What did he die of?  Cancer. 

My aunt died of brain cancer.  My cousin died of bile duct cancer.  My dad died of liver failure and cancer.  My beloved mother died of bile duct cancer (yes, same rare cancer as my cousin, though no blood relation). 

I am not the mother who can tread these issues lightly. 

The Bottom Line

Keep in mind that the younger your child is, the greater a challenge and threat these chemicals are.  It's not just an issue of exposure (teething ring in mouth vs Barbie in hands), but an issue of your child's body being able to eliminate toxins successfully.  The healthier your child is, the stronger her liver will be and the more adept at removing toxins she'll be.

But that's little comfort in times like these.

As I stumble through the day knowing that at some point my child will either eat food that came out of plastic packaging, have a plastic arm from a plastic doll in her mouth, bathe in water that flowed through PVC pipes, or simply sit in a plastic car seat, I'm left to ask, "What can I control?"

Right now, what do you have control of?  What can  you choose for your family, and what can you not?  That's where we have to take action and implement whatever safety for our children that we can.  But it's also where we have to teach our children.  It's not enough to be paranoid.  They need to know what the low-down is on plastic too.  They need to have a voice in the matter, but we need to trust them to also BE a voice and take the role of stewardship of the Earth and their own health when they can.  Children are impressionable, but they are also receptive to truth.  And they believe whatever their parents tell them.  When your child is old enough for these conversations, and only you and your child know when that is, you have the opportunity to share what you know to be true and empower him with knowledge and choice.  The sooner they get it, the sooner the world changes.

What's the plastic scene like in your house?  What's your perspective about natural toys?  And how does your child feel about it?


Look for an action plan and ideas on how to deal with plastic toys in your home in Part 2 of this article.  Update:  go here to read Part 2 of this discussion on plastic toys!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Trusting My Intuition

I'd like to tell you a story about intuition.  My intuition.  But as you read it, think about your own intuition and the times you've listened to it.  Think about those times when you haven't listened to it as well.

Recently, I was planning to make it to a Harvest celebration.  It was our first time joining in with this community, so there was some nervous anticipation, but an eagerness making me willing to drag both girls out of the house on a Friday night while hubby was working.  The hostess assured me it was family friendly.  Since it was hosted at the local UU church that we've been attending, I was ready to venture out.

But the day was unfolding in a way that was frustrating.  It was one of those days where the energy was just off, when something is being forced and you know it.  Have you ever had one of those days like that?  It was a day when the cookies burned, the girls just wouldn't get along, our schedule got compromised in preparation of this event and some much needed groceries got put on the back burner.  Clothes got mussed and had to be changed before leaving.  And on and on.  I could feel it and even think it.  I was in conflict with myself, but my intuition was driving me to go, to attend, even when the energy of the situation wasn't right.  I knew and could see how this would end:  it wouldn't be quite as family friendly as was described, the girls wouldn't be able to sit through the ceremony, it would be too long, too late, we'd be too hungry waiting on that feast.  But there we were, patching ourselves together and arriving for this Harvest event.

When we got there, the girls were in a familiar place and set to playing in the nursery.  Within a couple minutes of being there I found out that this 7pm event wouldn't even start until 8pm!  Strike one!  When I finally had a chance to talk with the hostess about things, I found out the ceremony was supposed to take up to an hour and a half!  Strike two.  And that we wouldn't be eating the Harvest dinner until after that.  Strike three.  This was definitely not our night.  The girls were hungry.  I'd made them wait in anticipation of sharing in the harvest meal with others. 


As the rain poured down outside, I gathered up the kids and made my way out of the church, leaving all the grown-ups behind me.  I was soaked as I buckled each child into her carseat and more than a little frustrated that there wasn't better communication about the nature of the event.  We drove away hungry, and we didn't even have our burned cookies.  Remember, I'd put off grocery shopping so we could fit preparation of this community event into our day.  We headed to the nearest drive thru.

We sat in the parking lot of a burger joint, rain everywhere.  I wasn't sure if I wanted to stay frustrated, maybe even a little angry, at the way things had turned out, or if I wanted to sink into a bit of a pity party.  Stay-at-home-mom that I am, this was a big emotional risk for me.  Dragging kids along isn't always popular, but I'd done it anway because I really needed some community.  I really needed those connections.

Water covered our windshield, but my lights were on.  So when a lone figure ran past on the road, we saw him.  That sent a surge of awareness in me.  As a mom out with kids, odd things like that open my senses, even when it's nothing to worry about.  I watched.  He ran by and then, right there on the side of the road, rain drenching him, dropped into push-ups.  Relief relaxed me, but curiosity send my mind into a story about what brought this person out on a Friday night like this, weather what it was, to get a good workout.

I felt a little silly for being so upset over the event after that, but seeing this workout warrior was more than about perspective.  It had undertones of a message.  There was purpose to being where I was and I just wasn't seeing it.

We finished our evening with the usual:  jammies, bedtime stories galore, songs, and drifting off to sleep.  I lay between the girls, an arm around each of them, and let my mind wander over the day.

Then I remembered it.  The conversation I'd had with a church member who'd been leaving as we arrived.  It was brief, but meaningful.  She is the Religious Education leader and the conversation had revealed that she, too, was homeschooling.  She'd shared a ton of information about what would be going on at the church for the kids and I'd shared several homeschool connections that were open-minded and didn't require a faith-statement.

That was why we'd needed to be there.  I could feel the potential for where that conversation might lead us.  It might not lead us anywhere more than what had been said, but it had opened up a doorway and validated why I'd sought out the church community.  I was so focused on being disappointed about the harvest celebration that this conversation was off my radar.

And that guy running in the rain and the dark?  I think he was just out doing his thing, and I needed the reminder that there are harder things than buckling kids into their carseats in the rain.  I needed the reminder to look a little closer.

But the lesson I'm taking from this is to trust myself.  I knew we needed to be there even when I knew it wasn't for what we were planning.  I could see myself standing there in the rain, leaving before things got started, and still, I was compelled to go.  While I didn't understand it, I conceded and let myself be shoved out the door by the forces that be.

Listening to the inner voice isn't a new message.  We've been taught that by a ton of sources.  But actually implementing it, actually extending that trust even when it goes against reason, is another matter. 

Think about times when you have trusted your intuition, when you have been compelled to do something when it made no sense.  What was the end result of those moments? 

Find those times in your own past and let them prop you up, let them build your trust for your own intuition so that when the time comes again you can hear the message even more loudly.

If you have a time when something like this has happened, I'd love for you to share it!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

And this is how the energy clogs . . .

Right now my husband is rushing to the local hardware store for drain cleaner while in both bathrooms of our home there is standing water.  We noticed the water leaking from the base of the toilet before I showered, and when I got out of the shower . . . yep, EVERYWHERE!  Did I mention that the washing machine was on while I showered?  And there is now standing water in the bathtub.

Just a clog, just a leak?  No way!

For a few weeks now, every time I've entered the master bath, I've been conscious of my own stagnance.  This part of our home is in the children and creativity area on the Bagua Map.  It also borders our relationship area, and that's a whole other story!  But I've been stuck.  Really stuck.  Like, for years.  Each time I entered this space I thought "I need to really clean this bathroom, because if I don't, something is gonna happen relating to creativity."  The bathroom has been "clean" but not cleansed.  I could feel it.  I could feel my own blocks being influenced by the blocks of this area in my home, and I could feel my issues creating issues in the space. 

Yet, I did nothing.  I chose not to act on that intuition and here is where we ended up!

But there is a silver lining.

Yesterday was a huge day for me.  HUGE!  I got so much done, made some big decisions for myself and my business, and it all began to flow.  I was getting UNstuck.  The energy flowed, and flowed, just like the water that is saturating the 20 or so towels in both bathrooms.  It was such a huge outpouring, that it OVERflowed.

There are obviously still issues, and these issues created side effects, like me having to cancel a massage at the last minute (not good!), but I know now that once I clear out some of these clogs, in my home and in my energy, it will be smooth sailing and clean flushing.  Sorry for that imagery!

If you are feeling stuck, look to your environment.  What's stuck in your space?  What's not being honored and given room?  Do all doors open?  Are all spaces functional?  When was the last time you cleaned that bathtub?  It all affects you and your own flow, your own sacred accomplishment.  The more you get unstuck in your sacred space, the more it will support you and help you get unstuck in your own sacred vessel of energy and flesh.

The Rooted Path

I have been all over the place with intentions.  I have been here, there, up, down, drowning in indecision, overwhelmed with inadequacy.  But always, my heart would beg for following an intuitive path.  And always, my heart would find itself thriving on the holistic path.

They seemed separate to me.  Separate and far out of reach.  It has always felt like one or the other, or neither.  I can't tell you how many times I have faced my own failure, faced the lack of success that has come from my non-linear existence, looked at myself in the mirror and wondered how I would ever come back to that mirror and be willing to look again.

I have wanted to succeed.  I have tried to force myself into that square box and succeed in the way that others want me to succeed.

But it's just not who I am.  It's not who my soul is.  It's not what path I have been travelling and it sure as hell isn't the path ahead of me.  Like a shamanic call, my soul has been called to the creative, intuitive, holistic path, all wrapped into one.  Sometimes they mesh.  Sometimes they don't.  But it is what is real to me, what matters at the end of the day when I put my children to bed.  And no matter how hard I've tried to become better at something else, this part of me won't go away.

So I'm giving in.  I'm surrendering that other fight, so that maybe I can pick up another one, a fight to thrive, a fight to be the best me, and share the best things I have to share, and teach the best things that I have to teach.  How else can I go back to that mirror and turn on the light, and look myself square in the eyes?  How else can I lift my head in the morning and see that I am sharing the world I want my girls to live in?  How else can I look into the future and know that whatever comes next, this moment was ripe with rightness and that my truth might just have helped someone else find their own truth, their own path?

My rooted path is a path of healing and intuition, hands-on wellness, and hearts-on guidance.  Massage, herbs, the sacred hearth, the green Earth, and divine guidance.  In my world now, there is no separation between these things and I am honored to share what comes from the deepest, most authentic place inside me.




Sunday, September 9, 2012

Unlearning it . . .

The first two weeks of homeschool, admittedly, have not been very wild.  They have been exciting, nerve-wracking, and suspciously lacking in anything creative or artistic.  The trouble with all this, is that what is in my heart is not what is in my head.  And what is in my creative flow, is not what is in my public school past.

I have heard that many parents who choose to homeschool have to UNLEARN public school before they can move forward with an authentic learning experience for their kids.  Amen to that! 

 
 
The great thing is that based on the Texas Essential Skills and Knowledge for Kindergarten, Jetta is already ahead of the game.  That means we can sit back and relax, and find the way that we are going to best succeed at home.  We do need to keep up a certain level of accomplishment because of the possibility that she'll be enrolled in public school at some point, but we can also incorporate much more wildness, much more creativity than we've managed in the last two week.

I hope your homeschooling is going well, and that you'll share with me how your first few weeks have been!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Finding Focus (Phew, Cuz this Brain's Pretty Scattered!)


For quite some time now, I have been trying to articulate for myself, just what my "big plan" is with this blog.  In my non-linear brain and overly emotional system, finding focus for any length of time is challenging.  Oh, okay, having small children makes it that much harder, but there's a lot of ME in the scatter.  I am happy to say that soon, there will be more focus here on the blog, more clarity in what I'm doing here and in person!

Not too long from now there will be more big news, so stay tuned!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

It's 8 AM, do you know where your brain is?

A relaxed Wednesday morning at home . . . homeschool that is.  We'll energize and focus in a bit, but for now puzzles and Yoga Kids enliven our minds and hearts.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Moon-day Dreams

This week we start our "Big dreams" unit for our second week homeschooling.  As part of that, we'll being doing a moon diary, which will involve observing the moon, learning about the cycles, and learning some esoteric associations of lovely Luna.  We might even do a little wishing and dreaming about all those dreams, sending them up to Luna to help fulfill them for my sweet girls and the big dreams they surely have for themselves. 

This is an extension of the "All about me" unit we dabbled in last week and will include a little more on the senses, particularly, the sixth sense and tuning into it.  I believe that encouraging children to listen to their inner voice will make them that much stronger as individuals, and that much safer in certain situations.

And as a mom who has been on mommy-shift for several years now, with little to no break, I think it's time I checked in on my own big dreams.  I hope you'll check back to see what we share!

Friday, August 31, 2012

Blue Moon Flow . . .

My emotions are rising like the tide, and the moon in Pisces adds and extra swell to my Piscean existence.  Resistance is futile, and as I realize the strangeness and tension of the day has been because of that resistance, I vow to surrender to the flow, surrender to the water as it rushes forth, waves drowning out the unnecessary and gathering what it may to take with it on the way out.  The cup overflows with liquid sentience and my vessel is stretching to contain the emotion.  I must let go, move with the river, feel with the moon, and breathe.

If there is a body of water near by, find it and sink into it.  It will embrace you as
Blue Luna shines down upon us.



 

Monday, August 27, 2012

Stepping off the Cliff: Day 1, Homeschooling

We had our first day of homeschool today for my kindergartener.  The days leading up to this morning were ripe with indecision and fear, wide swings of the emotional pendulum, and a whole lot of neurotic worrying.  Do I believe that group education is what is right for Jetta?  Yes, I do.  Do I believe that being dropped into a classroom with 26 (yes, that's right, 26) other kids is the way to do it?  Absolutely not.  My ideas of the right kind of group education are far from that.

I can't, however, guarentee that we will not decide to enroll her in public education in the near or longterm future.  We're just not that family that has the luxury of not taking advantage of free babysitting so that I can work and possibly double our income.  Survival comes first, and there may be a time when our options are more limited.  For now, my focus will be to prepare Jetta for the possibility of enrolling her, building her independence and getting her ahead of the curve academically.  Were I confident that I would keep her at home indefinitely, Waldorf methods would suit us and delaying reading while working on more organic experiences with language would sustain us.  Instead, we will follow along with standard kindergarten curriculum where she needs it, and advanced work where she is ready. 

Our first day was simple, and my rule for homeschooling is but one:  do something every day for body, emotions, mind, and spirit.  Move the body.  Feed the emotions.  Stimulate the mind.  And exalt the spirit.  If we accomplish one task for each, then we'll have succeeded.  If we do more, then kudos for us.


My first few weeks are loosely planned:
This week is  "All about me".  I pulled books from our stash that had to do with "me" and could validate the process of exploring Jetta and who she is.  After having read three or four with both girls, we came to the table and printed out pictures of Jetta, Jetta and Jade, and both Rob and me.  We're putting the following in her main lesson book:

My name is _______.  (picture of Jetta)
I am homeschooled.
My teachers are my mom and my dad. (pictures of my husband and me)
My classmate is my sister. (picture of Jetta with sister)
My favorite color is _______.
I like to _________.
I am happy when _________.

Words for the week, (sight words)
I, me, my, am

 
 
Since Jetta is familiar with the alphabet and sounds, I am having her actually write the sentences out.  One of the things she is weak in is keeping letters between the lines, so this is practice for that, as well as for her learning what a sentence is, beginning punctuation, and working with the sight words.  We'll form new sentences, pointing out where the sight words are, look for them in books that we read, and do a couple worksheets on them.  I have a workbook for sight words that we'll use.

We finished with the first two sentences this morning (lots of interruptions from little sister) and called it quits for today.  She got to color the cover of her lesson book, which is just a thick sketch book from Hobby Lobby, and she drew a picture on the inside of it.  After lunch, we got out wooden beads and made a "first day of homeschool" necklace.  It spelled her name, we counted the beads and how many more she needed (this is math and addition) and sorted colors of beads.

Science didn't really get any attention today, other than noticing that it was sunny and hot (weather), but each day we'll go over the year, month, day, day of the week, season and weather.  I'm hoping to find a calendar that pleases me, but so far we don't have one.  We'll also address the senses as we move through this week and talk more about Jetta, what she likes, how she feels, and what her dreams are.

Next week will depend on how far we have gotten this week.  It may become the "Big Dreams" week, in which we stretch our minds into the future and explore different ideas that are in her mind and heart. 

After that, the themes in September are (for each week):
apples, fall and the Autumn Equinox, the Calendar (seasons, months, days, etc), and pumpkins. 

October will be witches, Samhain/ancestor alter, Halloween and magic, family tree and family history. 

Beginning in November, we'll do leaves, deciduous trees,, take a break for Thanksgiving, and finish November with evergreens.

December themes will be winter holidays around the world, snow stories and snowflakes, giving and gratitude, and then three weeks break.

It's not fancy or all that organized, but for our first day, I feel pretty good about it.

If you're a homeschooler, I'd love to hear about how your school year is starting!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Lunar Creativity

There are some exciting things going on over at Creativity Tribe.  A goddess of art and change, Rachel will be your lunar guide to some potentially incredible journeys inward and amazing leaps and bounds forward along your personal path. 

She is hosting Touch the Moonan e-course and art-ivity gathering about connecting with your creative, intuitive spirit. "Touch the Moon explores lunar rhythms, folklore, and mythology while encouraging you to slow down and go within."  And I am one of the Moon Guides that will be chipping in!  This course starts on August 27, so head on over to check it out and register if this feels like something for you.  It promises to be a really valuable time, and just in time for back to school (or homeschool!)-- what a great treat for all us moms (or dads) who need to remember how to reconnect with ourselves!