Friday, December 3, 2010
Since we don't go to school, playdates are how we do most of our socializing. We get together with other homeschoolers and unschoolers, and also a few friends who are not full-time school, yet, and we really appreciate that they make time for us, too. Hopefully, even after school is in full swing, we can still have afternoons together here and there.
Playdates work well for Joran. He's always seemed to play best one-on-one. While living in Geneva, we tried a few classes with Gymboree and Little Gym, and Joran always complained about there being too many other kids around. Several times, he teamed up with just one other and they did their own thing during the class. Other times, he even managed to get the whole class to follow his creative direction over the instructor's. One time the instructor just looked at me, after deciding to go with Joran's Volcano Adventure, and said, "Well, he certainly is a leader." People are constantly commenting to me about his creativity. So, as his parent/life facilitator, I try to do more of what seems to work and not force anything that I think is a good idea when Joran clearly dislikes it.
Living this lifestyle only becomes tough when I don't get my own tank filled and end up feeling exhausted keeping up with my children (okay, mostly Joran). Can't say I'm sure what to do about that. It would help to find someone who can play well with my kids while I go off to have peaceful time on my own. I haven't gotten to that, yet. Kind of waiting for a magical manifestation, a Fairy Godmother of sorts. This is another reason why playdates work well. By this time, Joran is comfortable enough to stay at a playdate without me. Good idea.
I've noticed that Joran seems quiet and may play by himself when he first goes to a new house, but as he gets more comfortable, his more exuberant nature comes out. He may even start to test limits of me and others. At home, he tends to feel a little territorial. With boys, he must feel competitive, because I often get the impression that he is trying to show off. He seems more competitive with boys closer to his age and more willing to give in to boys a year or more older than him. Things can get very rowdy when his guy friends are over.
With girls, he's more sweet and gentle. He likes to show them his house, his toys, his books, but there's not the sense of competitiveness. It's the same with Jasmijn; sometimes he doesn't want her around, but he's mostly caring, playful and watchful of her. We go through phases.
As for Jasmijn, she loves playing with Joran, and sometimes gets into playing with others, but will mostly do her own thing or hang out with me. She's definitely "easier" in the sense that she doesn't demand my interaction as much as Joran did at her age or does now. They are so different!
Friday, November 26, 2010
Working hard on the first snowmen of the year.
I can hardly believe it, either, but Joran was pushing this snowball around on his own. It got even bigger and started to roll down the hill towards the house before he stopped it!
Of course, Joran wanted an alien-like snowman. He said the twisted willow branch was the snowman's pee-pee. He's 5 1/2 and fascinated with all types of potty talk.
Snowball at mommy!
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
Monday, November 15, 2010
So funny the way Jasmijn just doubles over in laughter!
In other news, I am also doing well, though gaining more weight than the other pregnancies and feeling some discomfort, but the exhaustion and nausea have lifted... mostly. I haven't felt motivated to garden as the weather has turned cold and my body disagrees with all the bending, squatting, pulling and loading. I've looked into hiring help there, but haven't given in, yet, preferring to do things myself in my garden. And in my home. We now have 2 homeschooling babysitters, so I'm getting more time to relax and have peaceful moments. Well, I don't always relax. For example, I've taken to cleaning my own home again, which I find very comforting. I get to all those cobwebs and the little pockets where dust and crumbs can hide for ages, and it feels like I'm clearing corners where energy has gotten stuck.
Friday, October 22, 2010
What a wonderful day it was (yesterday)!
We started out with Wilderness Awareness School, where Joran gets to romp through the woods with 13 other children and 5 instructors. He played memory games with native plants, created a medicine pouch, collected lichen, steeped lemon balm tea over the outdoor fire and found the flavor delicious, and came home with a small chunk of beeswax, which I can't get enough of -- delicious smell.
While Joran was in class for 4 hours, I was connecting with my new Wilderness Awareness community and walking slowly through the woods with Jasmijn. The smells of moss, woodland soil, and even centipedes were delightful. We marveled over the many different types of dirt under the trees and meditated on seats of log, root and stone.
After class, I was going to drop off one of Joran's classmates with her mama, but then her mama called and offered to meet us at a local park with food, so we settled in at the playground and enjoyed the entire warm afternoon until dusk!
We all came home so relaxed and John built a fire in our stove. Joran and Jasmijn each took bubble baths and our neighbor, Liam, came by for a little more playtime, but Joran was so relaxed that I hardly heard a peep from them as they focused on new Lego creations. Ahh, the sweet life!
To finish off my day, I found an e-mail from Joran's OT, who was expressing her understanding for my concerns and willingness to revamp our sessions. The better it gets, the better it gets!
Monday, October 18, 2010
Joran and I have our fair share of head-butting, but the other day, I got notice that I'm doing better than I thought.
We were in session with Joran's occupational therapist, who often tries to get him to do things he doesn't want to do. In an effort to get him to bend to her will, she said something along the lines of, "It would make your mommy and I so happy if you did this. You don't want me or your mommy to be frustrated, do you?" Joran's quick response was, "My mommy never gets frustrated!" (Jolly laughter bursts forth from my belly!)
And just for the record, we also think it's kind of "weird" (Joran's description) that the OT is trying to get Joran to follow her directions because "it will make us happy" (emotional manipulation?). I really try to respect my children's freedom, which I consider to be their birthright. I feel that by going to this clinic, I have gained a better understanding of Joran's behaviors and needs so that I can support him to a more joyful life, fully allowing who he is to shine. So, I'm frustrated with this new development of pressuring Joran to work on certain tasks that he is very resistant to. To me, the resistance is a sign that he's just not ready. I'm concerned that pushing him to do things he's not ready for will ultimately errode his self-confidence. So, we're in the process of reevaluating the need to continue this therapy.
Overall, we're chugging along at a nice clip over here. And wishing you all much happiness!
Sunday, October 10, 2010
I will never forget this mushroom! We were out with Nature Explorers, a class provided through our local homeschool support center, focusing on mushrooms that day. Joran was having a tough time navigating his emotions, social anxieties, etc.... This included lots of screaming, shouting and general grumpiness for a period of time. It was an interesting practice for me in staying centered while he worked it out. Sometimes Joran takes his energy out on me, pushing, pulling, shoving, angry words, etc..., but I was not willing to do that with him this day. He started taking his frustrations out on the forest instead. Much appreciation to the forest from Mommy for that!
After a bit, the group stopped and circled up to listen to the instructor's story of the day. We sat apart while Joran continued processing. It was pretty easy for me to just hang out on a fallen log while Joran did what he needed to do. Jasmijn wanted to explore, too. As I was just chilling and glancing around, Joran found the Polypore mushroom in the picture above, attached to the log I was sitting on.
My astounding discovery about this mushroom was that it can bear the impact of a raging 5-year-old boy! Joran was jumping on the mushroom like it was a springboard, with as much force as he could muster, certain that he would break it off. It never happened! Pretty soon, he realized that this was a pretty cool tough mushroom and started studying it. The energy exerted and then the focus the mushroom attracted from him was just enough to shift his attitude back to positive curiosity, and we got back to following the group, finishing up the 2-mile hike, and even enjoying another relaxed hour with a classmate and his mom, picking blackberries, hunting bugs, hiding under trees.... Thanks Polypore!
Parenting is a practice. We'll never get it done, it's constantly unfolding. We're constantly growing, understanding ourselves and our children in new ways.
In our culture, worrying about our children is part of being a "good parent." I'm learning that this is a flawed premise. We try so hard to help them that it just leads to overprotective, paranoid parenting. When we can't figure out how to help them, we feel powerless or angry that they are not cooperating or behaving the way we want them to behave. It's actually better for me, and therefore, better for my children when I remain centered, stable, happy, even when they are way off balance.
The day with Nature Explorers provided a perfect example. So many factors collided for Joran during those two hours. Joran wanted to play with a couple of the boys, but did not know how to join in or feel confident in following my suggestions. Once we started on the trail, Joran seemed aloof, wanting to do his own thing, not gather near the instructor with the other children. We found a cool bug, and while Joran was looking at it, another child grabbed it to show the instructor. Joran felt so angry about this and started talking about revenge. He doesn't normally take this out on other child, but instead turns to me with complaints and acting on his frustrations.
So, one thing piled up on him after another. Another student got a lot of attention for finding a frog. Everyone gathered around to hold the frog, but Joran tends to back off when there's a crowd. He wanted to see and hold the frog but didn't feel comfortable squeezing in or waiting until the commotion died down. He liked the idea of looking for another frog, but wasn't willing to initiate a search. He became obsessed with the idea of finding a frog, but more focused on the fact that he didn't have one, he was not willing to search on his own or stick close to me to catch one if I saw one. As the group continued through the forest, Joran escalated to screaming, shouting, starting to push and pull me, but I would not participate with this. He redirected to stomping, kicking and pulling on rocks, dirt, decaying wood and plants.
Through all of this, I focused on staying connected to well-being. I know Joran is also fun, curious, highly intelligent, loving and powerful. I held these beliefs in my mind as we kept moving along. I also reminded myself that I could choose happiness no matter what he was doing. Having fun in nature comes naturally, so I kept looking for frogs, enjoying the beautiful trees, feeling good about my own strength and agility, laughing about the adventure in it all. There I was, 7 months pregnant, toddler riding on my back, slipping in the muddy pools populated by frogs, and perfectly happy!
It feels good when I don't make my son responsible for my feeling of well-being. I'm also glad that my belief in myself as a good parent doesn't depend on his happiness. Most of the time, I have no idea what we look like to other people. So, another big part of my practice includes letting go of attachment to other people's opinions. In any case, I find that many times, what they think of us is yet another figment of my imagination.
Thursday, September 30, 2010
We took our wagon to pull the kids around, so Joran could sit sometimes, too. It was such a great idea over a stroller. Sometimes, with Jasmijn's help, we didn't get very far, very fast, though.
Recapping the day's explorations. Still much to discover.
So, what have I gotten out of all this, personally? Lots of time with other moms, a few new friends, and a more fun home.
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
Finally a close-up picture of one of the many bunnies in our garden. They're a bit of a garden hazard, but cuter than the slugs.
Bunny eating fallen rose petals.
A bouquet from our garden: lilacs, roses and sedum.
My mother was wondering why there were not more photos of Trudy (Oma) on the blog, so here are a couple. The reason I have so many photos of Gerard (Opa) is that he is always calling out for attention: "Look at this! Look at that! Take a photo of me!" Trudy is more reserved.
Trudy feeding the hens.
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
When most people think of "responsibility," they think of an obligation or burden they must fulfill. When acting "responsibly," they might do something they don't really want to do, but they do it because they believe it's "right." In my opinion, this can leave someone in a hole of bitterness, judgement and hierarchy where they are either feeling superior for doing the "right" thing or feeling guilty for not living up to their "responsibilities."
Scott calls this the old, dominator world view. A new-world-view definition of responsibility is using your ability to respond creatively to a situation, each person in partnership with the other. As parents, we often feel a sense of duty and obligation regarding our "responsibilities," but in this new view, everyone can win and have fun! In the new world view, everyone is 100% responsible and enjoying the creative process!
Just wanted to pass it on!
Saturday, June 12, 2010
Friday, June 11, 2010
I'm counting my blessings today! Apparently, according to Yahoo news, the sun will be storming in the near future, which may affect our technology systems. How amazing that we have created all of this! Then again, there is no reason to be amazed at all. If you believe that we are all one, as I do, then "we" are all God, or whatever you want to call it, and I can't imagine that God would be amazed at any of it. In my mind, God would be smiling, laughing, loving it all, loving us all and having fun, but not amazed.
Yesterday, in the latest Time magazine, I read the Dalai Lama's response to a question about how he remains faithful and optimistic when there is so much hate in the world. He said, "I always look at any event from a wider angle. There's always some problem, some killing, some murder or terrorist act or scandal everywhere, every day. But if you think the whole world is like that, you're wrong. Out of 6 billion humans, the trouble-makers are just a handful." I love that he calls them "trouble-makers" as if they are no more than a few kids acting badly in school. The statement also reminds me of an earlier post of mine in which I described seeing life as just a movie, another form of entertainment. And I always retain the choice to walk out of the theater, go see another movie or even produce my own. There are so many perspectives on life, and I am so happy to have the ability to see this life from many different angles. For me, it makes life more fun, more fulfilling, less serious.
We are here to enjoy life and make the most of it, according to our own desire -- I see no other purpose. Right now, I'm watching the wildlife in the yard, and none of them seem to worry about their "purpose" in life. I think the way humans do it actually takes away from our purpose in life. How can we actually be fulfilling any purpose in life if all we're doing is worrying about whether or not we're fulfilling our purpose? Good. I'm glad that doesn't make any sense to you either.
I have faith in the basic goodness of people. We all want to contribute. Those who commit acts that are hurtful to others must must be living in pain, filled with unmet needs. I have compassion for them in this sense, and I think that they would also choose a more humanitarian path if they were not hurting so much.
I have faith in the basic goodness of myself. When I hurt someone else, it is because I am hurting. I've gotten into the habit of asking myself what needs I can take care of for myself whenever I feel like lashing out at someone else. Sometimes a need can be satisfied by talking to the other person, sometimes it can be satisfied regardless of the other person's involvement. I love that flexibility and the intuition that helps me take the most productive path. And when I don't, I love that I always have new opportunities!
Finally, I truly appreciate the time to write all of this while my children are sleeping peacefully. I think I'll go take a shower while I have the chance.
Tuesday, June 1, 2010
As usual, Joran has his own projects in mind.
White-washing fence, creating gravel paths and new garden beds.
The dirt arrives.
Thursday, April 8, 2010
I call a "snow day." I woke up to someone doing cookies in the cul-de-sac. I'm a little worried about my seedlings and cringing at the wet cold, because I don't like to be outside in it. Give me warm, sunny days 360 days/year and I'll be fine.
The birds are so cute, poking around the woodland edge and in the lawn. Hey, there's a robin. And the chickens are huddling and scratching. Now that the sun is coming out, the bugs must be waking up. John and I have seen hummingbirds already, too. I just put up the feeder 2 weeks ago! There goes the boy chickadee, chasing the girl! Wow, what a beautiful home, what a beautiful life! This is just what I imagined when we were back in Geneva! And I get to sit here and write while watching it all!
Thursday, April 1, 2010
or do they believe they are the meadow?
And when the sky looks at the Earth, what does it believe about itself?
Can I look at you and believe that I am anything different?
I believe that the inner work of the parent, rather than the outer work on the child, lies at the core of successful parenting. Am I radical? What is life as we know it without: punishments, rewards, "good job," time out, "because I'm the Mom," naughty or nice behavior??? Gosh, if I let go of these beliefs, Santa Claus would vanish! Or maybe, like Santa Claus, they are all illusions. Illusions of control.
Letting go scares the bejesus out of my little me who scrapes and claws to grasp onto reason, and be right about it, too. Big Me laughs at little me and scoops her up in those All Knowing arms, whispering reassurance that letting go is the only way to joy. Letting go is the only way to fully connect to my children, my spouse, my neighbors, my family, all of the people I love... all of the people... and to remember that we were never separated at all!
Today I am letting go of ever feeling helpless victimhood, letting go of needing to be right, letting go of guilt, letting go of anyone elses idea of me, letting go of anyone elses journey. Today I promise to do all the things I ever dreamed of and to live for those dreams in every moment. Today I promise to let Joy be my guiding light, and to shine, shine, shine!
Blessings to all!
I am the light I believe myself to be!