Showing posts with label Blueberry. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Blueberry. Show all posts

Sunday, 8 June 2014

Iowa's Wild Rose

This was in the ditch at the farm, the state flower of Iowa, wild rose. Some days, finding beauty in the ditch is just the thing to lift my spirits and remind me good and lovely things are everywhere.

They are. Even when the flash flood wash out the roads just for the hours of my little girl's party. Just when everything is dark, wet, and gloomy. Holly? She doesn't care. She ate cake, wore a sparkly crown and a new yellow dress, and smiled through the day knowing that cancelling means she'll get one extra cake day. She inspires me not to let moments of disappointment ruin the day, because good things will come our way soon enough. Goodness. She rode her new bike in the rain and ate cake until she was silly.

Sunday, 1 June 2014

Tiny Dancer

Each year we let each kid choose an activity to do for the year. When I had more income and we lived in the city, they could do as many and as often as they each wanted. Now we have three kids and gas prices doubled and my income is a fifth of what it was, so now they each get one.

Holly's chosen art is ballet. She was a shy, timid girl until the day she stepped into Miss Anna's studio. She just lit up from the inside! She has continued to blossom at this studio. Two of the principles at this studio are modesty and respect. This extends to the music and body and developementaly appropriate dance moves. These are children who are growing and teaching them a physical sport like dance can be tricky if the instructor is not educated in physiology. Holly has joint issues and her shoulder and elbows dislocate really easily. Grace Ballet was the only studio that would have a conversation with me about my concerns regarding Holly's safety.

Holly worked hard this year. She practiced. She did meditations on concentration and focus, because she was worried about paying attention enough in class. She was worried about stage fright. She was worried about falling off the stage at the end bow.

She did great. She shined! She sparkled! That's my tiny dancer!

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Making Fun

Sometimes we have to get things done for the farm. This means hours and hours in the farm truck, hours of beautiful days that the kids long to use for adventures, exploring, and soaking in sunshine. It is unfair, but it is part of our life. This is how we homeschool, how we run our business, and keep home. They come with me, work along side us. I usually use the long car rides as an opportunity for a "captive" audience and tell them stories or play podcasts about science and history (because I love them!) and make up alternative lyrics to songs on the radio, or even talk about the body politics ever present in the popular songs. Let me tell you, explaining Blurred Lines was NOT fun and now they pay attention to lyrics and call out when they hear something that is disrespectful to either women or men. This week t here is a song with the lyrics, .....Don't go crying to your mama, sung by a women and Lily was outraged that this woman was telling someone that his mother shouldn't comfort him when things get tough. Humans need comfort! They need someone who loves them to support them when things are hard!

That's my girl.

This week was no different, except that it was Holly's birthday. The weight of the unfairness that she should spend her sixth birthday running errands on a gorgeous Spring day, bothered me for the days leading up. So how to make this work? Ah ha! Just add water.

I try to break up our car trips with short park breaks, something fun, or a food break. Luck for us, the first stop, an enormous load of firewood, was at a house that had BABY TURKEYS. And C. let the kids pet and hold them. Oh, that was fantastic!

Next to the nearby park with splash pad! Isaac had not been to one this year and last summer he was really too little to play in them. He wasn't even walking at the time, remember that! He laughed and played and even floated on his belly to try swimming in the 18 inch deep center part.

Then it was 2pm and she wanted crab rangoon. The two places of choice were CLOSED. Oh the injustice. We will attempt then, to get her special food later this week, maybe before recital rehearsal.

Today was a similar chore, taking us 3 hours from home. At the half way point, a friend invited us for a play date AND she has a kid pool! Oh the joy of being water babies. This one was too deep for Isaac, but she had baby goats, chickens, and a cool playground so he was fine. He also decided that riding a push car down a steep hill was a fine idea. I let him, he was so happy and proud of himself.

We made it through our work days, and they ended up looking a lot like our at home play days. It is all about perspective, choosing joy, and making our own fun as we go. Taking time to make dandelion crowns and enjoy the blue sky, the green canopy of trees, the laughter and dreams of our children.

That's the cool thing about life, it is full of choices and opportunities for friendship and joy. I am really glad I know the two women we visited this week. They are inspirations to me, doing interesting things, and embracing the dandelions in our fields.

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Happy Birthday Sunshine Blueberry Watering Can

Being a five year old was amazing and tough, eh Holly?

Her goal for year six is to learn to climb a tree with no branches.

Pretty simple. I think we can make that happen.

Oh sweet ballerina, mechanic, carpenter Holly.

Today she was so exited that her favourite song came on the radio, that we made food she liked (lamb chops), and that her sister got her a Frozen princess doll (Anna). I love how little details delight her. I love how emotional and sensitive she is, how gentle, how completely comfortable with herself. I look up to her every day. She is magical.

Happy birthday sweet dandelion. :)

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Holly's Ballet

This weekend was super jammed packed with all the things I wanted to do.....and Holly's ballet pictures. The reality was that I could not go to a writing workshop in Perry, DemiCon, the ballet pictures, Sample Sunday, book club, and Youth Sunday at church.

My friend Diana sent me a lovely letter a few months back, to sum up, it said......choose her. Choose your girl. Choose your child. They won't be a child long. It was longer and more lovely than that summary, but that is what came into my head while trying to make the logistics of the weekend work.

Holly's ONLY chosen activity is ballet. She trains all year, practises at home all week, it is her chosen identity. The pictures matter to her, a LOT. Last year I had her grandma take her while I did DemiCon. She had fun, but was squirrely which is Holly's outward sign that she is emotionally stressed.

So this year, I chose Holly.

No workshop. No DemiCon cosplay. No dinner out with friends. Just Holly. Grandma watched Lily and Isaac and I took just Holly so I could really focus on her.

Saturday night the girls said they were super sad I would miss church and I told them I planned on going and skipping Sample Sunday as a vendor, because they matter to me and I know they worked hard on the songs. They jumped into my arms and hugged me long and hard. Holly had tears in her eyes.

I chose them.

Sunday I stayed for the children's choir and bell performance at church, left late and just visited Sample Sunday, then on to Book Club, home by bedtime for tucking in and story reading.

I have no regrets about slowing down and just being with them. I choose them while they still want me to, while it is still an option. If I don't? That will affect our relationship exponentially as the years go on. What is the saying? Listen to them now, every little thing. Later they will come to you with the big stuff. Why? The little things now ARE big to THEM.

I choose them. I choose to stop and listen. I choose to be with them, mindfully, when I am with them. It may seem silly, it is just pictures, right? I could take them myself after all. That's not the point. Picture day is part of ballet culture and I chose wisely when I picked this studio for the principle of modesty and the training that allows them to actually and safely train children in ballet technique.

Holly was not squirrely this time. Maybe it was another year of maturity, maybe that I paid attention to sugar intake that morning, or maybe it had to do with her feeling emotionally grounded, secure, loved, and heard. Her big grin every time she looked for me and met my eyes, not seeing me staring at my phone, but seeing me see her....that's how I know in my heart that this made a difference.

I chose right.

Saturday, 14 December 2013

Nutcracker Sweetie

Today was Holly's traditional day out with Mama to see the ballet. She gets excited round about July and starts bugging me to order tickets and then I forgot until last Tuesday! Ugh!

So we headed out today for our Holly Mama day. It was lovely. She is a doll and absolutely adorable. This is what she said as we walked up the lawn:

Holly: Mama! A squirrel! I didn't know squirrels could climb stairs! Oh I bet the squirrel is excited to go to the Nutcracker too! Just like ME!

Monday, 1 July 2013

Making Time for Each Child

In a special needs family the child with extra medical needs gets a lot of the attention. It is already a difficult task to balance each child's needs and individual relationships but when a child that demands extra time and attention because of real medical needs the entire balance is thrown up into the air.

We have 3 children. They each have needs, even if they are not medical. It is all about relationship.

Now that we have lived our way through a transition, we can redirect and make sure each child gets their needs met. Homeschooling really helps with this dynamic. Special moments can be caught on the wind and held for a moment, sometimes it is while washing dishes or at bedtime, or while one is running full speed on the way to deliver swiped Popsicles to her siblings.

I love you. I love watching you play.

I love watching my children fall in love with the art of their choice. For Lily it is clay work. So much clay work. We are taking mother daughter classes together at a local art studio. I am terrible at pots but I a fiercely good at loving Lily. Lily told me that she dreams of having her own studio and decided not to rent one in the building. No, she wants the whole building and she'll rent to others. Ah, my little dreamer.

For Holly it is ballet. The first time she walked into the studio, her foot touched the hard wood floors, she lit up like I have never seen before. That enthusiasm has never once waned. She LOVES ballet. Everyday. Always. Loves.

At her recital she was a ham. At the end of her class's dance she walked out to the front of the stage for a special, only Holly, with flourish bow. Because of course, she was the star ballerina in her mind. That is what she saw the lead ballerina do at the Nutcracker.

I read to her and cuddle her every chance I get.

Isaac is still letting us know what he loves. Apples. Climbing. Playing his piano. Cuddling mama.

I know these things will change and evolve. I will be here for all of it. Right here. Loving every moment, every smile, the stolen glances, the goofiness and joy. I will tell them how much joy they bring me just being in my life. I will nourish their relationships with us and with each other.

I have witnessed such tenderness that my heart has burst into tears. These people have made my life better by just being in it. Why should I hold back telling them that every single day that I am able to?

It gets complicated. Complicated to work, take care of a home, take care of their physical needs and on top of that nurture them and their passions. I prioritize. Housework, beyond basics, come last. I actually pay for someone to help me get to that. My work is online and I make the schedule around the kids and their appointments. Prioritize.

On top of all of that I make time for them. Daddy daughter night, Mama takes one kid to tea, firefly walks with flashlights with just one kid. Ballet camp and class allows me to connect with the child not in class. We talk. They take turns helping me with dishes and I tell them our heritage stories so they know the magic that they have been born out of.  I make time.

I value the outputs of their passions too. Holly's dance pictures are framed. Lily's ceramics get used. All three children have their art framed and hung up in public view. 

I value the things they make and that matters. Some houses you walk into and you know they have children but there is no evidence of children. In our home, there is mess and chaos and you KNOW we have children the minute you pull up in our drive. Our house is filled with love and joy and the joyful noise that comes with a happy, vibrant childhood. Part of that is also that we have a full range of musical instruments, both real and toys, accessible to the children.

We live a different life. I understand that. Different does not mean bad though, it means magical. When they are honoured as individuals and humans in the world, it becomes less of a challenge to make time for them or for ourselves. We are always true to what we are. They see that.

Last month Lily had a friend over and we asked her if she planned on staying up all night and complaining about her parents. She looked at us confused. Later she asked about what I had said to her. Do kids really do that? I brought them a snack and heard her telling her friend about all the amazing adventures we have and then saw me and instead of clamming up, she asked me to join their conversation.

I know it won't always be like this. Maybe? I hope that nothing ever dulls the shine of joy and curiosity from their eyes. That is my priority: to feed their faith, their curiosity, their love for each other. When that is the goal and we put all we have into that, then time is made. Time is cherished. Time slips by way too fast. I also try and make time together special so they see me honour each of them, so it is not a competition.

I try and bring the children, all the children, to at least some of Isaac's appointments. We don't hide his needs from them. Sometimes it can be scary. The reason is that if something happens to us, the parents, even in their adulthood, they will still have each other. I want them to have the kind of relationship that this is a natural part of their lives, that they would welcome it. We don't know if Isaac will be able to be independent. Right now it looks like he will. Anything can happen to any of them between now and the unforeseen future. If we make time for them, will they make time for each other later?

It is all about relationship. 

Friday, 17 August 2012

Preface/Background to Our Chinese Unit Study, Unschool Style, plus an introduction to newbies to "strewing".....

We homeschool. We unschool as a philosophical approach. For those who are unfamiliar with that term, it is like Montessori without the large class management of other people's children aspect.

Our classroom is our home, our farm, our community- you get the idea. Our home is filled with books, seriously thousands of books. No less than three bookcases hold "kid" books, the rest are all over- history, science, literature, classics, antiques, newest editions, science fiction. We love books.

In our dining room, at kid level, I have art supplies. I do keep the higher quality paints and inks up high but only so Zap doesn't eat them and Holly doesn't take up Interior decorating- again. They can have them down when they ask, just not when I am in the shower or on the phone. You know? This.

I have a whole huge bookcase with kid history, math, and reading books. Whole curricula..

"Hold up, lady, you just said you unschool!" Yes I did. That doesn't mean we don't learn things or enjoy using books. We all do. Especially me.

That's where something called strewing comes into play. Strewing is where we make available items of interest and leave them in accessible places to be found and explored at will.

So I thought about how we will handle school this year, since I am going back to work away from home a couple days a week and fall is pretty busy with deliveries and craziness of farm stuff. My kids have been begging to learn more about China, love Chinese food, music, and art. We've also fielded some questions from them about why we don't buy Made in China products (we actually do though), especially packaged food and art supplies (which end up as food unintentionally toddler style). A really negative bias has crept up in our whole culture regarding products from China, mostly from teh massive lead poisoning issues that have happened. Plus we like to buy local, as local as possible in all things. But that doesn't mean we have to bash a whole culture, you know?

And I realized too that I know very little about China. I mean, I have seen Mulan a million times with the kids, and I know I like crab Rangoon, and I can point to China on the map....and that's about it really.

So what better way to organize our lives and learning than to have mama learn some more about China? And that's how we'll do this, I will learn and do projects and if they are interested then they can too. I plan on creating a syllabus, with books and supplies provided for each mini lesson, here on the blog, in case anyone wants to replicate what we are doing. Label will be China, Dragons, and Yummies.

A brief summary of items we will cover in the groupings:

Art: watercolor, calligraphy, kite making, origami, paper making
Culture: Tea ceremonies, religion, etiquette, medicine, agriculture, puppetry
History: Time lines
Geography and cooking are paired. We'll study regional cuisines and cook them every week, in reference to regions and types of ingredients. Food can really be a good way to teach other aspects of culture. Plus, YUMMY. Oh, and animals. Geography=animals to my kids. Maybe a zoo trip.
Science: inventions, building, medicine, agriculture, earthquakes
Math: fractions in cooking, calculating for science, abacus, money measuring, weighing
Reading: stories and books from China, about China, writing to a pen pal, writing messages in cards, creating fortune cookie messages, calligraphy
Dragons. My kids like dragons a lot.
Chinese New Year and holidays.
We plan on attending the Asian Festival here this year too.

Things I have purchased so far:
  • A calligraphy set, a real one with ink and stone and hair brushes and bone chine dishes. Not expensive and yes, made in China.
  • Toy dragons. Yes I did.
  • Paper dragons to hang from the ceiling.
  • Real stainless steel chopsticks and bone china spoons
  • Cast iron tea service
  • Tea
  • Books on calligraphy, craft and building projects, books on Chinese history for kids, Chinese mask book
  • Pandora, Traditional Chinese station
  • Netflix, Wild China and Studio Gibli movies. Dress up clothes with Chinese theme.

We'll start this October 1st ish. Expect lots of cute pictures of kids doing stuff and cooking. These items are on the shelves and ready to explore. We already listen to the music every day. At the end of the week, we'll have lunch at the local Chinese buffet (yay rural Iowa!). We'll cook from the recipe books twice a week, maybe more at lunch time.

Each time we do an activity, I will post book and supply list with links to isbns, mostly because that is where I shopped for the stuff.  I'll also post a reflection on what worked, ect.

I'd love additional ideas to work in too.....and that's about all of it. The ideas of it all will unfold as we live it. The girls want to trade out our dining room table for a lower standing coffee table so we have to sit on pillows to eat meals. Is that even how people eat in China? Where did they get that idea?

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Our week has been very wet and muddy and magical.....

So our week has been rainy. Lots of flash flooding, power flickers, and constant downpours with a side of mud. Grey, gloomy, wet and mucky. The rain rain rain came down down down.

One of the sunny hours I rushed out to do bee chores and Lily grabbed the back up camera to take a couple pictures of mama in the spacesuit. 

You will see that I do not wear a full suit. I still wear gloves and the veil and the white shirt though. I found that my normal clothes are too predator like in colour. Also that the bees get stuck in my hair. My hand are too busy for their liking as well. This is the get up that prevents me from getting stung. I also usually wear boots, but I forgot and wore rubber clogs and was totally fine. Also, I work the back of teh hives because my belly bumps the front and that tends to get them buzzing more.

I also had to add a box. The cranky hive (the ladies that gave me 10 stings) was finally full and needed more room.  The boxes are beautiful. I am so glad I am apprenticing with Sean at Blue Gate Farm. He really puts a lot of care into the construction of the hives and doesn't mind that I get chatty and ask a lot of questions.

Lily took this picture. She says its proof the grove is enchanted and full of faeries.  My Aunt Deedle will apreciate this, she's a big believer in cameras capturing the supernatural. I think it's poor lighting and a 1.2 MP with a dirty lens. Still, it does look magical in real life too. Minus the ghost bubbles. (Also, see the mud in the foreground? The whole farm is a marsh.)

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Blueberry Summer