Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Bye-Bye For Summer

I'm going offline for the summer (well as much as possible anyway ~ I still have to download bank transactions and such).

I want to take a step backward and just hang out with my family, to give us all the gift of time, especially my time.  If I turn on the computer for anything more than a basic task I want it to be either to communicate with people I actually know, or to write.

Last night there were songs swirling around in my head.  Real songs, my songs, not just rearrangements of others' songs.  That hasn't happened in a long time.  The night before that snippets of poetry were popping up ~ my poetry.

I think I know why it is happening, and I'm excited.  But I have to capture the creativity, and not let it drift away while I read another message board post or make another blog entry.

I need this gift of time, but I think my children do to.  We need to be creative together.  Just the other morning J-Baby and I ate our breakfast on the front porch, and I realized it was something that he had never done before.  Out back, yes, but never out front.  Some of my best summer memories involve breakfast, sitting out front, cantaloupe, and chocolate ice cream.

I love summer.  It's hot yes, but the days are long.  We go to bed later and sleep in.  Playing games until midnight is delicious.  So is reading a book under a shady tree, making fruit ices and lemonade, painting on the carport, sitting under the stars listening to a concert, walking our evening farmer's market in bright daylight, singing songs while crickets chirp, and so much more.

And so I embark to give us all the present moment, and my presence in it.  Togetherness, laughter, love.

Because I like neat tidy goals, I've decided to pursue this (mostly) unplugged lifestyle from the summer solstice to the autumnal equinox.  This is the longest break I've ever taken, and it is both exciting and daunting.  But really, if you are going to dream, dream big.  Make grand gestures and set high goals.  I know I am.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Go Buy This Book!

Deschooling Gently

Okay, don't buy it just because I said so.  Take a look around Tammy's blog, Just Enough, and Nothing More.  Read her posts on Fearless Homeschooling and The Real Cons of Homeschooling.

Tammy and I met last year at the California Homeschool Network Family EXPO. It was a serendipitous meeting: Papa and I had gone to school with Tammy's husband, and he and Papa had been in the same program and had considered themselves friends.  The spotted each other, introductions were made, coincidences marveled at.  We played and chatted in the Keva plank room all weekend, and had the opportunity to have lunch together.

I found out that Tammy was a presenter at the EXPO.  I'll be honest ~ I might not have gone to one of Tammy's presentations (actually, I went to two) if we hadn't met in the Keva plank room. I had a narrow definition of what deschooling was, and didn't think it applied to my family as my children had never been to school.  I went to that first session partly (Deschooling Gently) out of curiosity and partly to be polite.

I sat there and realized that the it was Papa and I who needed deschooling, not my boys. Tammy also shared other insights; in particular I loved that she talked about how much she loved to plan things out, and how life didn't really seem to work that way, so she would make her plan and put it in her back pocket.  She felt safe winging it knowing that the plan was there, just in case.  I totally related to that.  Another gem Tammy shared was that spending a lot of money on a curriculum has the potential to create an emotional/financial attachment to the curriculum, whether or not it is working for your family.  That was the seed that eventually saw me move away from the Enki Education Homeschool Curriculum (a beautiful curriculum that worked for us for awhile, and whose philosophy informs our living to this day).

I went to Tammy's second presentation, Fearless Homeschooling, because Deschooling Gently had been so amazing.  Not because Tammy and I think or homeschool exactly alike ~ we don't. No, what I love about Tammy (whether she is writing or speaking) is that she shares her truth but she doesn't expect it to be your truth.  She is unfailingly open and respectful, and she is fearless (or at least she tries to be ~ she'd probably be the first to tell you that it is a practice).

So here I am, telling you to buy Tammy's book ~ and I haven't even read it yet!  I only learned today that it had been released.  I am itching to get my hands on a copy.  I am, however, confident that it is fantastic.  Check out her blog and decide for yourself.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Monday Is Our Reset Day

One of the things that has carried with me from our days using Enki Education is the idea that keen observation of natural rhythms can be helpful when creating plans.  Not just lesson plans, but life plans as well.

Weekends can be busy, so I like to slow down on Mondays and breathe deeply.  I realized a long time ago that Monday isn't the best day for us to have out-of-the-house plans. I like a day free of obligation; I sleep in and have a really gentle morning.  I usually do the laundry and tidy the house.  I write, answer email, and read.  I generally make a more involved dinner (slow food, not fancy food).

The boys, too, seek something different on Mondays.  Weekends are exciting for them, even if we haven't done much.  Just having Papa home is wonderful, and they naturally try to cram in as much as they can in terms of basketball, bike rides, and belly laughs.  Sundays are our family nature day, and we usually get out and walk, bike, or hike, preferably in a more natural setting that our little house in the suburbs provides.

Mondays the boys tend to seek out projects, such as building huge Lego train layouts or constructing forts in the backyard.  Having had Papa as a playmate all weekend, they reconnect with each other as best friends.  Their imaginations run wild and they often have a narrative running through the day, a story that builds sometimes phrase by phrase with them taking turns picking up the plot and moving it forward.  Later in the week they will seek more from me, but Monday is their freedom day.

Late Monday afternoon feels wonderful.  I'm rested and rejuvenated.  The scent of delicious food is usually wafting down the hall, and Papa gets a whiff out front before he ever sets foot inside (tonight it is chicken-vegetable soup, with a gluten free Irish soda bread).  Papa has been gone long enough (4 - 5 hours after lunch) that we are starting to miss him.  I patiently await the feel of his embrace and that first kiss of the evening.  For 30 seconds he will be mine, and then he'll be pulled away to see the layout, the fort, or to shoot hoops.

Some times I am heading out on Monday right after dinner, for a moms' night out, a book club, or a natural parenting group.  So we sit together and form our family circle once more as we eat dinner and share our days with one another.  Monday evening is as joyful as Friday; a week in front of us, full of potential and promise.