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Thursday, May 28, 2015

crafty June is still alive

Lest you think I have let my crafty side die, I give you these needle felted gnomes in a homemade birchbark canoe.

Do you feel better now? HAHAHA. 

So for spring we have just finished up these sweet little stories about our favorite fairy, Tiptoes Lightly. In one adventure the gnomes get in their birch bark canoe and go on a journey. So we thought, hey, it be so fun to make those guys, let's do it!

Okay fine, I thought that. But after much convincing and cajoling baby green and little miss came up to the craft room. We found the wool. We found the needles. We began to poke and shape, wrapping wool around little pipe cleaner body shapes. Baby green wandered away. "This is bo-wing." Little miss stuck with it, poking wool along side her mama. My crafty heart swelled. Look at us, CRAFTING TOGETHER. Just call me soul mama!! But then, it happened, she poked her finger. Hard. Tears and screaming and " that's why you shouldn't have let me do that!!!" And "why is it SO SHARP!?" 

And the moment was over. 

So I finished the little men, giving them big black boots and red felt hats. And the next day, I thought, let's make a boat for them! So I gathered my little ducks around me, come, my children, LET US CRAFT. 

We found some bark, prying it off an old log. Then, a ha, stapler! The bark split. I might have cursed. Little man chastised me, mom, things don't have to be perfect. 

Yes, yes, son, I know, be quiet. 

Mom, it's full of holes, it's not going to float.

Yes, yes, child, I know. Be quiet.

Finally, we stapled together a boat looking structure. I put the little men inside. 

There, children! Play with what I have created! Except, don't throw them, no don't chew them. Be careful the boat, will break. Never mind. Go outside and play. 

And the little men and their boat are now living up on my dresser. 

Don't touch. Those are MAMAS TOYS.

Ah, the joys of crafting as a family!

Thursday, May 21, 2015

easing in to summer

One of the best parts of homeschooling is the flexibility. Especially this time of year. Some cold days and frost even followed by a day like today. 

Deliciously warm. 


A few stray clouds but otherwise bright beautiful sunshine and a blue blue sky. 

The kids are drawn to the outdoors like it has a magnetic force over them. A month ago I would've cracked the whip. Finish your math and you can go outside!! 

Today. No. It's mid-May. We are officially into easing into summer mode. 

History stories to listen to. 

Making stop motion movies! with Lego guys! To enact famous battles! One of my more brilliant latest homeschooling moves. 

Art, indoors and out. Today we studied da Vinci. Reading about his life and coloring and drawing. 

Lots of nature studies and walks outside. Noticing all the green things pushing their way up out of the black earth, reaching up to the sun. 

A little math review, but no really new topics. 

Special projects like making birch bark canoes (today little man tells me as I get exasperated "mom, you know it doesn't have to turn out perfect for it to be fun. You tell me that!")

Lots and lots of reading. Little man is reading Swiss family Robinson right now. We get to the library quite a lot. I just finished the spring tales of Tiptoes Lightly (so sweet!) and next we'll do some fairy tales. 

Easing into an outside centered life. An easier rhythm. 

And then. On days like today. We go to the lake, where I am parked right now, toes in the sand, listening to waves and birds the kids splashing, now laying in the sun, sun basking as little man said. 

Hard moments are to be had, for sure, but this is why I love it. 

Sun basking. Reading. Digging. Painting. Running. Dreaming. 

Tests and scores and official official-ness can wait.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

why i am teaching my kids the fine art of imperfection



"MOOOOOOOOOOOOOOM The A looks terrible. I CAN'T DO IT."

All followed by weeping and gnashing of teeth, the occasional breaking of pencils, stormy looks and head in arms.They beg and plead, "Please mama, can you draw the fairy?" "Can't you hold my hand while I write the long words?"

And I sit there alternating between frustrated and sympathizing. Yes. I know, you can't draw perfectly. And yes, your little a was wobbly, and yes, you are taking an awfully long time figuring out that math problem.

But I want them to learn this, this one thing if I can, gift to them in their schooling, in life.

Love your imperfect self. Your crooked "A's". Your quirky speech. Your brain that can memorize poetry in two minutes flat, but takes more time to process numbers.

Love the imperfect. Strive for it, even.

Because if you are doing things imperfectly, lots of things, it means you are DOING, LOTS OF THINGS.

Because perfectionism is paralyzing. Because I lost a lot of time in life not doing things I could've been doing because I was afraid I wouldn't be perfect. Because doing, imperfectly, is better than huddling back, living in fear of not being perfect.

Because they are imperfect selves, entering into an imperfect world.

And perfect, well, its truly not worth the tears. Perfect is boring. Predictable. Crooked A's and quirky brains bring spice to a taupe world of standardized tests and orthodontists and measuring sticks and labels.

It is in the imperfect that the real beauty of life lies.

But, imperfection is a learned art. And I have to show them the way through the maze of longing for the perfect, which of course is challenging when you don't know how the hell to embrace your own imperfect.

I suppose it means this...Love your jiggles (do you have a baby in there mama?). Your quirky ways of thinking (um, neurotic). Your crooked bottom teeth (that dada insists are cute). Your inability to get a painting or a blog post JUST SO (um, this post).

The beauty is in doing, striving, being the you that is waiting there, under the layers, under the chains of the perfect expectations we wrap around ourselves as mothers, as humans.

Unwrap the chains. Peel back the layers. Lay in the sun, imperfect you.

And then, bring your babies along, grass under your bare feet, sketch alongside them, make a dandelion chain, watch ants, eat a picnic, watch ants eat your picnic. And then when they start fighting about the last slice of watermelon (why didnt you bring MORE) and then little girl stubs her toe and sobs uncontrollably and you yell when other kid hits his little sister and oldest child moans in the car on the ride home in the rain "AND WE WERE HAVING SUCH A NICE DAY AND NOW ITS RUINED!" you can say, in your practiced voice "Honey, that is just life. It's okay. We had such a nice picnic, what was your favorite part?"

And you try. And then wake up and try again.

Live! Perfectly, imperfect. You.*

*Note to self.


Tuesday, May 12, 2015

this happened

Sometimes instead of raging out at the world you just have to dab on some essential oils (valor! Joy!) and paint lilacs in a vase. 

Prettier than rage, less destructive too. Ha!

Still life, when I feel too still. 

Wednesday, May 6, 2015


I had this lovely inspiring motivational post planned in my head Monday, all composed, as I lay there in bed, thinking it all up.

And then I woke up, and Tuesday happened. Tuesday. A Tuesday so gruesome I came up with a new word for it.


Isn't that a GREAT WORD???

And it was my day.

Multiple day tension headache rearing up again. Crabby uncooperative children. Fights. Tears. Dear one I love in the hospital. And a tumbling sinking feeling in the pit of my gut that I have royally ruined my children's lives, forever, that I was unworthy of being their mother, that I truly ought to farm them out to schools and nannies and minimize contact or work abroad because I RUIN EVERYTHING. FOR EVERYONE. PERIOD.

Truly, utterly, SHITASTIC.

And here is what I did.

Drank some of my father's hidden bottle of whiskey for dinner. Went to bed. Woke up the next morning.

And survived.

I survived Shitastic Tuesday.

And all I got was this damn t-shirt.

Pretty much.

So. Balance. Not an inspiring balance post. A real one. A real one about mothers who fuck up and drink whiskey for dinner and go to bed and get up and live to tell another tale.

Because, although we appear to be the backbone of our families, our communities as we go to teacher's meetings and bake sales and dance recitals and Cub Scout Meetings and get up in the middle of the night to puke and coughs and fevers and fight the good fight day in and day out and make dinner and smile when everyone complains about fish sticks and smile when little ones ask us where the baby is in our "fat tummy" and hand over the pinteresting ipad for morning cartoons and eat cardboard pizza because the little man prefers cardboard pizza. All of these things. We do them.

And sometimes. It feels like no one sees. Or worse yet, like the only thing seen is the mistakes. When we snap instead of smile. When we yell instead of hug. When we stay at home for years to tend to little souls and are told "haven't you given up enough of your career to them?"

And then the balance we had maintained, for oh so long, feels like it could crumble, And then, one Shitastic Tuesday, it does. Crumbles everywhere.

Because in reality. We are scared. We are unsure. We plod on some days. We step timidly other days. We run backwards even. And then some days we joyfully skip forward. Conquering all.


Its a mental balance really. This idea that we ought to be only at home with our children if we are perfectly perfect at it all. The kind of mother that has color coordinated chore charts for her children and "busy boxes" for the homeschooled preschooler and regimented quiet times.

And then. In the balance of our minds, we falter. Because we have no busy boxes. Or color coded charts.

But, our flawed selves, in reality, are the best selves to raise the flawed selves of our children.

And that, is where the beauty is. We are flawed. They are flawed. And out of that realization flows a balance. Perfect scheduled lives balancing out spontaneity. Perfection vs. flaws. Clean vs. messy. Routine vs. adventure.

Freaking A. I am SUCH a dichotomous person. Seriously. Ridiculous. Like, I find myself ridiculous. All the time. I want adventure. Like, I want to drive to Mexico. RIGHT NOW. I want, also, a wee little house on a hill. NOW. No, seriously. RIGHT THIS SECOND. I want to follow a schedule, each day. I also want to embrace the spontaneous, "look mom, its a big black bird! Can we follow it?" Uh. Yes, sure! I want to be a full time artist. In a yurt. I also want to sit in on meetings with participants calling in from around the globe. In a suit.


This was my thought underlying the original post. Finding that balance, in people, ehhhh, divergent, like me, is so key to our sanity.

And motherhood too.

We fuck up. We drink whiskey.

We try again.





All of it.


And. No matter how out of balance we fall. We pick ourselves up and find it again. In my case, today, it took an entire Toblerone bar and five hours to myself writing (bless you dada)

But we find it. And we step forward. Confident. Walking the tightrope that is parenthood. And life.

And, making sure the stash of whiskey is always on hand.


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