"She refused to be bored, chiefly because she wasn't boring." Zelda Fitzgerald

Friday, March 31, 2017

The Pre-Teen Prep Zone

The other day Ru went off for a big boy day in the redwoods with friends, no mama oversight, not even any drop-off....just a handed him a packed lunch and waved as he hopped in the car with friends and took off. Its a wild new phase. I feel the tug of the crazy scheduling stuff yanking on us a little more as he gets older and we start to dip our toes into the world of the pre-teen, more independent zone. I am trying to help him get out on his own a little more and make sure I provide opportunities for stuff to do and space to build his own interests and world but keep the center of our life calm, teach boundaries and continue to help him nurture connection to home and those who love him. He has been texting with one of his grandmas this year, spending time having solo phone conversations a little with his other grandparents and writing private handwritten letters to one of his cousins.

There is also a lot of cozy family stuff still happening here at home to keep us grounded. We have folded Sabbath dinners into our life and moved them around from Saturday to Sunday and finally landed back on the traditional Friday night with our tea party tradition melded with the Sabbath meal. We have been hiking once a week together as a family which is a good practice in being outdoors and free together, learning about our California environment together and practicing understanding both parents and their differing styles of activity and direction. We have also been doing lots of read alouds. We are reading the Harry Potter series now (book 3) and also in the middle of Swallows And Amazons. We just finished The BFG which was really popular. We also try to take afternoon walk together through our neighborhood in the old time slot for quiet hour. As the boys get older I find that I am struggling to find more space for physical activity than for quiet. There seem to be so many times I tell the kids to just be quiet and to occupy themselves and to sit still and listen and to apply themselves and less opportunity to push them towards physical exertion. These are a few of the little home rituals that I am building in to try to keep life sane and warm, and build connection. Special Time with each boy, Family Meetings, outings to make sure that each kid feels celebrated occasionally and date night for Aaron and I are works in progress but are also part of simple routines for connection.

I have been watching Ru get more independent and thinking about all the ways I can support that leap to individual space and yet help him learn to respect advice, work towards closeness and feel understood and valued. I have the following on my reading list:
He has taken over cleaning up the table and the floor under it after our evening meal and I have given him Pom as an apprentice to teach about the job. He decides what needs to be done to clean up and simultaneously gives directions to Pom and works himself. Teaching someone smaller is a good way to learn. He's also learning more and more in school. He's reading pretty fluidly and pleasurably on his own and he has been reading chapter books in his own time and we also have one that he is reading aloud to me (for fun and for the sake of correcting inflection, rhythm and pronunciation on trickier words), A continues to tutor him along in math (I'm impressed....fractions at 10!) and he is writing papers and diagramming sentences this year for the first time in conjunction with our co-op. So much new stuff. This week we added a run around the block every day, and when I told him his new assignment he said "Once? I think three times is better." So three times it was. Here we go racing around this new block in our lives, trying to stay tender to all the learning and then newness and then beauty and let go of my fear, relinquish the worries and open my hands to the strange things I feel intimidated by. 


Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Italian Dreams At The Equinox

      Happy First Day of Spring, Friends!!!!
 This past week we had a night when it was truly warm out....the bikes and scooters got hauled out, the shorts got tried on and the shoes got kicked off at the door.  In no time at all, after a little shouting over the fence to each other the neighbor kids and my boys had made themselves into a little pack and were running through our house and yard and then back to the neighbors yard hatching plans for making things out of cardboard while I worked on making a pie for dessert. Yes, they shredded cardboard all over the living room, yes they hurt each other's feelings a couple of times and yes my oldest preferred to play video games instead of playing but it was amazing. They were unbelievably happy and it felt so right listening to their silly ideas and happy banter, watching them help and inspire the little ones in the group together and then hollering over the fence to their grandma and mom when I sent them home at dinner time. What fun! I pray all the time that my house becomes a place that other kids want to come to, a place where people get together and laugh a lot and breath deep, where they can be themselves and feel comfort and scheme up plans together. I hope there are many more days like this ahead of us.

It truly has started to warm up to what feels to me (Californian import alert!) like summer weather. We've had a couple of family dinners on our picnic table under the lemon tree again and I've put on shorts myself once. Yesterday the high was 83 degrees. Pretty amazing! I am sure it will dip back down into the 60's again and we'll have more rain before its truly time for warm weather, this is only a preview. Its pretty delicious to feel the sun again and to feel comfortable kicking off our shoes indoors and out and to even feel hot again. I'm ready. The roses have started to put out their flush of red-tinged new leaves, the winter chanterelles have petered out beneath the oak trees and the plum trees have finished their bloom and dropped their white petals all over the neighborhood. Its time to start scouting out last year's forest fire locations in the mountains to see if I can get in on the legendary spring morel hunts that happen as the hills warm up. And its time to start putting in the garden and figuring out what trellis to get to support jasmine vine on the corner of the garage.

We are going to be taking a trip to Italy this spring....a big, life-dream type drive down the coast of the Mediterranean after a good soaking visit with A's brother and family in the north part of the country. They are creative, homeschooling, free-wheeling, deep-living folks so I forsee late night discussions, amazing early morning coffee on the balcony and cousins running around planning highjinks every minute of the day. The boys talk daily about this part of the trip and are at least as excited as we are about the visiting family together. I think they will also love the chance to see so many ancient and beautiful sights but, they have no concept of that kind of a trip. I have tried to explain a couple of times what an amazing thing it would be to see Da Vinci's work in person or walk around the Colosseum but the boys seem  kind of meh about that whole aspect, but they have no scope and also no experience. It might hit them once we are there....or, (and I must be prepared for this) it might never strike them as particularly cool. This is our trip really, they are along and we hope to draw them into the wonder and joy whenever possible but they have their own adult life and travel futures ahead of them too. Its easy to make your kids the focus and forget that this is your one life and the best thing is sometimes to live your own life with intention and gusto and let them watch.


Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Calling My Sisters In The Eye Of The Storm

Last night I made my first ever trip to the Emergency Room with Pom. A glass floor lamp fell on him and cut open his lip in two spots and it took a little while to clot. He wouldn't hold still and let me examine it for glass and was really panicking so, older brothers and I rushed around the house collecting extra shoes and my purse and everyone's jackets and made a panicky little trip to our local ER. He was fine. No stitches, no glass in the cut.

This afternoon a close friend's little toddler had a serious finger laceration and a we had a mutual shaky stomach prayer session over jerky texts. It flooded me right back into that scary spot I was in last night. I was so taken back in by the undertow of the feeling that I stopped what I was doing and told the women who happened to be around me and we stood there with mama tears in our eyes and prayed out all our worries and then hugged each other and hugged each other some more.

Then this evening another close pal reported that she was just in a serious accident and although the car is smashed up and she is feeling very wobbly emotionally....they are all okay. Whew.

I am tempted to say that it is all too much. Enough with the emergencies and the accidents and feeling vulnerable as a mama. Sheesh! But, you know....I was talking to my new friends today at our homeschool co-op and we were discussing emergencies and I mentioned that I sometimes worry about who to call if I need a hand, if I can't reach my husband, if I have to troubleshoot a scenario that's scary...and we all laughed when I realized out loud that the right people to call are the other women, patiently listening to me and also dealing with this kind of thing. We mamas have to have each other's backs. Its great if you have a spouse who is willing to field questions from his desk at work or a mother-in-law who can drop everything and come over to drive you to the doctor but when in doubt, a person who is in that same boat and knows that mama panic personally is the right person to call. There's something very bonding and healing about going through emergencies together, about the feminine connective instinct to nurture which echoes and calms your own reflexes and about the community of collective feminine experience open to your needs in a moment of desperation. I certainly have no desire to wish more emergencies on my community but, I'd love to be equipped to help my sisters in the neighborhood and the other mamas in my co-op. I'd also love to build an instinct to call another woman or two when things are rough and plan to lean in to the safety net of others when I emergencies crop up.

Sitting here thinking about this way I want to live made me remember the time last summer when my next door neighbor lady had an emergency and I happened to see the rescue vehicles arrive. I peeked over the fence nervously and smiled and waved at her when she was scared and I ended up helping her call her daughter, bringing her a cup of calming tea and just sitting with her and giving her hugs until her daughter arrived. I forgot that I did that for her and how good it felt. If it felt good to me then I have remember that it will be just as powerful for others when I let them help me. Yes, I only have one car, I don't have medical training, I don't know the area super well but, I know people who can help with all those concerns....and I can provide Bandaids, mugs of soothing tea or lend my phone out to a mama who needs help. Lets have each other's backs, lets call when we are scared and lets quite trying to be self-sufficient and step into interdependence. This is womanhood.