thinking and homeschool curriculum

there is a change coming.  transitions and new routines loom.  for weeks before my mind starts to pull like a loose thread until i am a bundle.  it is something i can’t stop but also something i have a very hard time recognizing in the moment.  it’s frustrating.

i needed too much time to think.  and now i have to spend a week or two playing catch-up, tidying up after my many distracted moments and too much stillness.  but the looping joy at the end of this mess is that the change will come and i will be completely too prepared for it just in time.

(i wish i could more easily recall the type of clarity that comes to me after weeks of struggle instead of it getting lost in the human drive to avoid.  i wonder why our brains work like that?  perhaps our survival is too comfortable compared to the other creatures.  at times i get stuck in how to figure my way out of my mind’s trap while appearing calm and mature so my kids have a perfect female role model.  they need to see at all times the ideal mother in order to have a perfect childhood my doubt tells me.   eventually, i always return to my senses and remember leveling with them brings about the greatest harmony and sense of freedom in our interaction.  when i am myself, they are more like themselves and we get to have more laughing and peace in our home.  there is far less acting out from all of the ladies around here for attention and sympathy when i accept that perfection is not the goal.  we learn so much more from mistakes and learning to navigate through the muck that follows.  i guess i should make a banner to hang in my kitchen: “OUT WITH THE PRETENSE, IN WITH THE AUTHENTIC, SWEETIES!”  that would be quite funny.)

this phase of keeping my little assistants busy making awesome summer memories is almost done.  they have all nearly reached half-year birthday points and i am hanging on as they all make that transition emotionally.  it’s almost time to have more structured learning.  i get too excited about it and have to remember to keep cool and be a tad aloof so they can have their own experiences.  i have to remember to try and recall what i learned from this most recent loose thread moment in my mind.

by definition we are eclectic, charlotte mason homeschoolers.  curriculum for miss C:

Mathematics — Teaching Textbooks Grade 3 program

Science — brainpop jr. membership, Adventures with Atoms and Molecules Vol. 1  experiments, Handbook of Nature Study by Anna Comstock, nature journal activities via http://handbookofnaturestudy.blogspot.com

Music and Arts Appreciation — Harmony Fine Arts grade 3 program

History/Geography – bi-weekly homeschool co-op Geography class, Heritage History curriculum: Introduction to Western Civilization

Language Arts – Primary Language Lessons by Emma Serl, minimum one hour independent reading time daily, daily handwriting practice

lovely L will read with us each day, play a lot and attend a bi-weekly preschool class through our homeschool co-op.

sweet S will climb/cuddle/crawl/run/grab/laugh/play/listen to stories/scream/cry/wiggle everywhere be an 18-month-old.

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Presently

obsessing on: what is my purpose in this life? (take 3,451,817)

Analyzing the above question for three decades has led to one answer.  It is this: my answer was always meant to be multi-faceted.  i spent so many years earnestly trying to make my purpose fit into one word.  i kept believing that i could think myself into finding a singular objective.  i acknowledge this was partly an immaturity issue but it was a bad habit that has persisted until the present even though i know that there is no singular answer!

a cluttered and messed space makes my mind feel that way.  it begins a cycle of feeling like i am always too late to find my singular purpose and i’ll never get the chance to and worrying if i am not doing a great enough job helping my family develop their purpose(s) and that i am behind and that i should be more prayerful and more creative and finally sewing some pattern out of my books that i cut the material for a year ago or learning to paint with watercolors but i can’t because it’s 4pm and i still haven’t washed the dishes and i am letting myself down and i am trivial and that being a housewife is maddening and why can’t i even do a good job at it and being angry at myself for my mind/heart attention being stuck on house work or my loopy thinking rather than my raising lovely daughters work.

in truth, i would love to have a spotless home.  yet in my heart it doesn’t feel right at this point in my life because then i would have to spend all of my wonderful creative existence focused on that goal and teaching my girls that it should be their goal, as well. (you may disagree and i totally support that but this is my crazy brain and how it processes all of this.)  i don’t want that for me or for them.

tired of feeling overwhelmed again on the clean vs. create issue, one morning i decided to channel all of my objective thinking ability to figure it out.  after a bit of inspiration by imagining what my great-grandmothers would have suggested i do, a plan was born!  and i found my way to keep working away at the many purposes i have held special and felt compelled to do since my girlhood: being a storyteller, a writer, a model, a reader, a seamstress, a designer, a leader, a teacher and a compassionate listener.

my very loved “granny list”

(i know, she isn’t glamorous in any way.  in fact, she’s a bit funny since it took me five minutes to draw up.  i wanted something that looked as though it could have been found in a lovely elderly woman’s kitchen and had been stuck on their fridge for about twenty years.  at least it’s got some color and is recyclable, right?)

the granny list is gentle on me.  it keeps me on track just enough while allowing me to exercise my free spirit approach to existence. my granny list is a daily compass and once i get to my cleaning destination i can pick how little or much should be accomplished each day.  i have no need to feel pressured to take care of every mess elsewhere at once around the house until the proper day.  and if i screw up a week, it’s okay because i can just start over again on the next week.  i am so deeply grateful for my granny list.

i took my lovel…

i took my lovely L to the mall this morning.  i have not been to one for many months.  do you remember the thrill that accompanied a trip to the mall as you were coming of age?  among the peers in our small town, it was a source of high culture (we thought) as buying clothes there would reveal our identities to a cruel world (until the treasure hunt of thrift store shopping was discovered) and finally take us to new heights of cosmopolitan living revealed in glimpses of Vogue and Seventeen (not easily achieved in the few stores nearby).  did city kids have the same feelings on the mall experience?

upon reaching my later twenties, thoughts of the mall meant nostalgia and laughter at my own short-sighted and naive perspective.  in particular, recalling how in my girlhood i would cry the entire car ride home when i hadn’t gotten what i thought was enough or deserved!  (i am still guilty of these “it’s not fair moments!” now and then.)

today i sat on a bench with a few rare moments to watch passersby.  there were parents on dates with their children (like me) and women whose bodies showed the proof of years of caring for their families (also, like me) and awkward teenagers trying to fit in the adult world around them.  i saw two ladies with face lifts, one fellow with triumphant eighties rocker hair, and countless women that forget to put themselves in the rotation of care each day (i fight this undertow daily).  i wonder what a visit to the mall was providing each of them on this day.

for my lovely L it was a perfectly thrilling first ride on the escalator (which became six perfectly thrilling rides in all) just like Corduroy.  happily, we didn’t see him there since he had already found a perfectly happy home with the little girl named lisa.

this morning before we left i felt very much like Corduroy.  thankfully, i had my own little girl to bring me back to where my true home should be — a place of perfect, immaterial joy.  (i am graciously humbled.)

a pine needle blanket

when i was a little girl i loved to explore and hide in the woods surrounding our housing plan.  the journey to them began with making my way down the tar-bubbled roads until reaching freshly tilled fields.  these were a tricky exercise each time as they required trying to find a balancing rhythm atop the deep grooves with my sneaker-shod feet. there were narrow creeks to cross through leading to the bold sense of bravery swelling as the icy water ballooned through my shoe seams. and finally, the magical entrance into the tangle that was soothing and haunting.

after hitting empty logs with sticks to remove rotting bark. or standing as long as i could with my head fully tilted back to try to unlock the sensation of light splattering through giant trees.  it would be time to play my favorite part of this game i engaged in with my solitary self playmate.  i would find a spot to hover and be tucked in at the needle-blanketed base of a pine to imagine if i could stay forever. i would move through the points in my mind of how i could subsist and be sheltered.  as i grew a bit older, the narratives would come to include wondering if i would be missed and for how long.  i was quite intoxicated by the distilled sense of being isolated, a lulling sense produced by twigs cracking, birds calling and the breeze that made the leaves brush against themselves.

my girls are not me.  i am aware that they each have a girl inside them that will find a secluded spot in childhood they will return to that i’ll likely never know until they are grown. sometimes i think i catch them in the act of being lost with their lonely playmate selves.  it reminds me that my role to care and give means also protecting that those adventures can be made.  i can watch closely, i can intercede if it seems their woods are luring them too far away.

today i have come to visit some woods near my home.  this time i am sitting in a clearing and listening to count the bird calls.  i am watching the bugs working among some stonework around me. there are grasses and weeds struggling to take over the planned nature along this path.  my present  joy is to sit and admire that which is not a woman, that which has no drive to analyze intentions.  it simply does.  i don’t truly fit here and can’t stay, but it is soothing to pretend.

m.