Monday, November 29, 2010

i don't like Mondays.... repose

this about sums up our Monday.

too much of everything on the weekend and trying to do too much more of it this morning led to three very crabby people (B was off dealing with other sorts of crabby people so was thankfully immune) all came to a very grumpy head when we set off for our dog walk...something none of us really fancied doing in the first place.

now we're a tell-it-like-it-is-go-right-ahead-and-express-yourself sort of family. which gets rather interesting when we're all in a grouch.

deep breaths, cups of tea and peanut-butter and honey sandwiches can do wonders to soothe the savage soul.

and just resting.

 it's amazing how one's outlook changes after a couple of hours of not being very busy at all.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

soundtrack sunday....

the music that has accompanied my walking meditations as of late...the kind the draws the poetry from the depths of the Dreaming....

Lorenna McKennitt - The Old Ways  ~ for the licensing-challenged...;)

our days this last are filled to the delicious brim with -- art and poetry....mail art, ornaments for a Chrimbly* tree in Texas; a mama sifting through her dreams and the wide-eyed wonder of the untarnished as the first snow flies...

what they aren't filled with is photographs because the camera batteries died and i've yet to buy more....

later, perhaps.


*the most delectable term - Chrimbly - unashamedly thieved from the equally delectable Earthenwitch....

Friday, November 26, 2010

happiness is...

the Pony Club 'D' workbook...

doing a quiz...under the watchful eye of Prof. Malcolm

she has read and quizzed her way through the entire two days....

relentless in the pursuit of her bliss


(the actual testing isn't until March...i'm pretty sure she'll have it down by then)

Thursday, November 25, 2010

thankful thursday many things....

hot coffee on a cold morning
the wild wind
the taste of poetry
"Pony Club Power"
my hot weiner-bottle (aka Oscar, a small but delightfully toasty sausage)
giggles from the boy-child
mail art
the infinite imagination of a small girl
full hearts
full bellies
shelter from the storm
'i'll read to you and then you read to me" 
learning with joy

happy Thanksgiving to my American friends...may you find warmth, joy and laughter in the company of your beloved -- today and every day.

*playing along with the beautiful Leslie

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

tuesday was...


then cold.

walking meditation in the wild wind...searching for the words that darted just out of reach.

paper and scissors and glue

readying the envelopes for our Countdown to Chrimbly (details to follow)


Jump Start

reading aloud

thoughts of painting....and then painting...

big-ass paper waiting for my latest BIG masterpiece. Sebastian modelling for size perspective

eraser crumbs

toast crumbs

three cups of tea

tacos for dinner

playing with our food

dried-up carrots and motley apples...good for ponies...and food-art (the clementines and peppermints are just visiting)

it was a difficult day.

this side of the full moon leaves me feeling rather's a time when i want to retreat and not do much. i had a poem that wanted writing and a painting wanting paint but both were an effort and the feeling like i *ought* to be doing either was grating on my nerves.

i may have been a bit snippy.

grace and gratitude. such were the mantras of my day.

it always looks different in hindsight.

Monday, November 22, 2010

what happened on Sunday

you know how you just Know when something is a Good Thing?

it's that deep intuitive - YES! *insert fist pump into air* -- or maybe it's more of a calm and breathy moment of exhale-and-immerse in the Rightness of it all.

yesterday was our first foray into a Pony Club event....they have monthly education sessions during the fall and winter months.  the older, more experienced kids will teach the youngers or sometimes an *expert* is called's all very hands-on and full of enthusiastic lust-for-interest-led-learning. which, in and of itself, turns my crank.

but the best thing about light of our current challenges...was the way my sweet, sweet, oh-so-reserved girl was the first to volunteer to try to put on a shipping bandage, how she was all answering-of-questions and wielding-of-hoofpicks, how she was right in there and oh, so HAPPY. (cue misty-eyed mama).

what a different world. such warm, welcoming people -- a barn that looks like a barn -- no pretensions, long-maned, shaggy-coated ponies; farm kitchens, don't-worry-about-your-shoes and please-come-we'll-find-her-something-to-ride.

and so we've arranged with one of the older girls - the lovely Allie - to take Savannah on as a student - where there's a shaggy, spotted pony that is Just Her Size who will help her rebuild the confidence that has been so heartbreakingly shaken.

after much discussion and affirmation that it's okay-if-she-doesn't-want-to, we've established that Savannah is desperately keen to carry on....and we were looking for the best way to help her do just that.

this change feels so very Right.

our girl, it seems, has found her Tribe.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

soundtrack sunday

okay...not a song. but so very worth thinking about.....

learn more  here.

we have affirmed....will you?

Saturday, November 20, 2010

when good haircuts go bad

funny thing happened yesterday.

i suppose it's one of those childhood rites of passage know, those horror stories recounted with glee at family gatherings when the involved parties are decades older.

i suppose it was only a matter of time.

i should preface this by saying this is another one of those Truth in Advertising posts where i don't gloss over the gory details.

it was early evening and the kids and i had just returned from a visit with my mom and dad, B wasn't yet home from his day of running around various court-houses and law-firms doing assorted legally-paperworkish things....i was settling in with a cuppa for a bit of blog-reading and the kids were downstairs playing quietly.

that, Dear Reader, is when my maternal antennae should have been all a-quiver. "quietly". clearly, i was tired/couldn't be bothered/thankful for the peace.

Sebastian suddenly materialized beside me wearing assorted stickers on his face and wrapped up in twine. not unusual in itself, they have a rather strange dynamic at times, these two cherubim of mine.  but this latest escapade of attire could not disguise the fact that Savannah had evidently decided his hair needed a bit of a trim ("It was getting in his eyes!"). which he did. i just hadn't got around to it.

(photo taken this morning) 

here's where i'd like to say i handled it with the cool, calm and thoroughly Zen attitude of a more enlightened mother who of course realizes, It's just hair, She's expressing her independence, It's of little importance in the Grand Scheme of Things, Bashy doesn't mind, It doesn't look that bad....and other such  wisdoms. and there's also the monumental irony of her dreadlocks which some people would consider the epitome of Hair Crimes and view with downright revulsion...and not only have i supported her decision but also aided and abetted their creation. what kind of mother am i?

but this is my baby boy.

and his beautiful golden hair.

after i attempted to make it even, he looked less like a victim of a nuclear accident but it really, really, really bugged me. really.

and i told Savannah so.

and i forbid her to EVER do anything like that again.  (amongst other recriminations that i don't even remember in my moment of angst over the hairdo).  all of which i felt horrible about after having time to calm down.

so what's the deal?  who was that person who reared her authoritarian head and FREAKED OUT over a bad haircut?

alas, it seems i still have vestiges of the Curse Of Caring What Other People Think.

which really sucks because i thought i'd risen above that. i mean, i do rise above that -- on a daily basis, even. and to think i had a moment  (okay, several) over something as superficial as hair. ugh.

maybe it had something to do with my own baggage about bad haircuts. one too many during high school...

but mostly it's got me thinking.  i'll let you know what i come up with. if anything.

ps. Savannah is utterly cool with the whole thing, she regarded my freak-out with much bemusement. she is clearly more enlightened than i. and yes, i apologized for getting crabby and saying ridiculous things.

Friday, November 19, 2010

this moment

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

joining in with SouleMama

Thursday, November 18, 2010

thankful thursday

quiet mornings
green tea
the crunch of leaves underfoot
oil pastels
words on paper
blue eyes
down time
feather pillows
dinosaur pajamas...

and you?

borrowed from the lovely Leslie......

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


a really cool snippet from one of the most interesting voices in education reform that i've heard speak in quite some time. while he always seems to stop short of actual solutions....i find he's quietly affirming that we unschooly/life-learny types might actually be onto something...

go figure.

(sorry for any copyright issues with's the actual YouTube link..if it helps)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

chess for breakfast

i watched for a while but couldn't quite decipher what their rules were...if there were any.

but that's okay. they were thoroughly engrossed, not arguing and i got to drink my coffee in blessed peace.

life is good this Tuesday morning.

what does Love look like for you today?

Monday, November 15, 2010

"there are plenty of sticks in the sea"

unseasonably warm temperatures and the satisfying weight of my toasted egg sandwich and coffee in my tummy, led me to the magnanimous decision early this morning, that it should be a day of Going Out. what that entailed exactly wasn't entirely clear, but Savannah helpfully suggested a walk down to the stream.

first, of course, we had to walk the dogs -- not so much for the exercise as for the bribery factor ie. "please don't pee on the rug (emma) or chew up the crayons (tyler) or raid the halloween stash (oscar) in spite while we go somewhere without you."

i could tell by halfway through the dog walk that Sebastian was not in a good fettle. i kept my maternal Knowings to myself however, so that i wouldn't come off like the Harbinger of Doom to Savannah who by now was rather excited about our upcoming adventure.

after our lengthy doggy hike (we did the entire bike path for extra insurance against canine retaliation) we stopped at the house long enough to drop them off (with further bribes of peanut-butter-smeared dog biscuits) and for me to pack our backpack with a few essentials...our blanket for sitting on, drinks and snacks and my journal - both written and art - should it turn into a long-job. at this point, Sebastian was quite keen.

it was a lovely leafy walk down past the cemetery...there was much jumping and cavorting about the leaf piles and i happily thought i'd been premature in my assessment of Bashy's mood. (now would be a good time to draw your attention to the fabulous stick specimen that he had first picked up on our dog walk - it's a 'doubler' and just the right height for pointing while he walks).

so all was well...i wandered around snapping idle photos and the kids busied themselves throwing stones and poking around in the leaf piles.  if not for the hum of the highway across the hill, we could have imagined ourselves somewhere less.....highway-ish.

now, i could just end here....i could do the 'buffed and glossed' version of our day -- as i'm usually tempted to do. my new blogging policy, however, involves full disclosure. you see, i've found that the blogs i like to read the most, are the ones that don't necessarily buff and polish -- they have that refreshing breath of here's what else happened:

~ i stepped in dog poo
~ a daddy-long-legs was fatally wounded between the pages of my journal
~Savannah got her treasured sneakers covered in stream-slime
~ she also felt something prickling her, looked at her sweater only to discover she was covered in...(and i quote)  "earwig butts" -- cue histrionics.  they were actually burr-type things that really did resemble, in the quiet aftermath of their removal, the pincer-end of an ear-wig
~ Sebastian had had enough long before his sister did and an exasperating battle of wills took place before she eventually conceded that she was cold and her feet were slightly wet and she didn't want Sebastian to have to stay any longer (he had already agreed to two extensions).

and then...

we left without his stick.

but he didn't realize that until we were three-quarters of the way home.

at which point he came to a halt.  now anyone who truly knows Sebastian knows these silent protests for what they are -- he's genuinely troubled and doesn't really know how to proceed.  he's not having a tantrum and he's not being belligerent. he's just not sure.

most of the time, this centers around transitioning from one thing/place to another. when he was younger, it often included crying and a tantrum.

on this occasion however, i imagine he was torn between wanting his stick and wanting to go home.

and so we walked on.

and on.

we were hoping our disappearing into the distance would prompt him into moving. (he's not inclined to budge if you stand there waiting for him - a fact which proves problematic in crowded, public places --- he needs the time and that's that.)

but then his sister, his beloved sister - walked back down the path to try and convince him to join us....

she told him..."there are plenty of other sticks in the sea"

of course, this would be a delightfully dramatic and poignant way to end the story -- and i did briefly consider it. (see aforementioned policy). although i have  left out the silent and sometimes-not-so-silent stream of profanity i unloaded on myself for not remembering to pick up his stick before we left.

in the end we hid behind a tree until he wondered where we'd gone and ambushed him when he went past. at which point we each took an arm and escorted him home.

that, dear reader, is exactly what Going Out looked like around here today.

true story.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

soundtrack sunday....

not that this is going to be a regular thing...i mean, why set myself up for the pressure, right?...but my FEARLESS leader, Connie, hooked me up to this guy (don't tell Bono, but Mr.Franti is my new boyfriend)...

and it's a grey and dreary day who can't use a little sunshine? and eye candy...


happy sunday, my friends...

Saturday, November 13, 2010

so what's the point?

so many half-formed thoughts on things i'd like to write about.....this week has seen waves of synchronicity buffeting me about.

my blogging  history is somewhat dodgy at best...i went from daily diatribes to dwindling off to packing it in altogether. something about feeling *required* to post -- even though that was ludicrously self-imposed -- put me off. add to that, a general world-weariness with the 'mommy-blogger' set and i went off in a huff.

a view from my ride to work on Wednesday

and it didn't help that i'd divided myself into three parts - this unschooly-themed blog, my arty efforts blog and another, more navel-gazing one which no longer exists in the public realm. i suppose the effort (yes, enormous, it was) to keep them all going eroded my enthusiasm.

i have a love-hate thing with blogging. i've come dangerously close to hitting Ye Olde Delete button many a time - existential crisis mostly...or paranoia over who might be reading...or rebellion against all the Other Unschooling Mother's who appear to be doing a better job than i am.

which, of course, is bullshit.

so i've wended my way to something of a disgruntled delight in the act of blogging -- having completely reframed my perspective. it's disgruntled only because i was sure i was done with the whole thing and had just got comfortable with my righteous indignation. i'm sure the disgruntlement will wear off in time.

all set to go to The Royal Winter Fair 

so this will become more than 'just' our family unschooling blog.

i am more than the way i parent, and more than the devastating charm of my children -- although they are much to do with the space i occupy now. i'm not entirely sure how or in what ways, it will be more....but i know that i'm bored with posting pictures of what we do during a week....and occasionally frantic that the photographic lack will illustrate that we sometimes accomplish very little. (that can be documented by photos, of course)

i am content in the notion that the very few people who read regularly will perhaps become even fewer. but i am also quite content with the notion that whether or not anyone actually reads, i still have the odd interesting thing to say. that's a pretty huge revelation for me.

it's about fearlessness.

and being fearless has to start somewhere.

Monday, November 8, 2010

journey to dread...

not as dire as it might sound!

the lovely Rose has asked for some pictures* of the ongoing event that are Savannah's dreadlocks...

we're about two months in now....a work-in-progress (the mama's hands and arms ache and the child's sitting-still-ability factor dictates how long our maintenance sessions last). the weaving in of the loose and fly-away hairs seems to be the only maintenance she requires now....most of the 'locks having formed nicely. i chose to do numerous slender 'locks because she has fine hair and is a wee pixie of a child....

last session i wove some ribbon and embroidery floss into a select few -- partly as decorative inspiration, partly to assist the natural locking. there's also a few wooden beads in there somewhere.

i started them by back-combing but now use a combo of that and crocheting to tighten them up. live and learn. no products used, though.  she washes them once a week with Dr.Bronner's shampoo....which works well to help the tightening/tangling.

she is madly in love with her dreads (as am i) -- and is officially the coolest kid in our neighbourhood (my slightly biased opinion), although her Auntie A was also most admiring of them at the party yesterday....

roll on spring and it's my turn...

*she is a most elusive creature and so i must apologize for the quality of these photos as they were taken guerilla-style as she played at the park. she has promised to let me snap some better photos after our next maintenance session.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

happy 40th....

...Mom and Dad!!

photo cake -- they look so young....
we managed to pull off a surprise party yesterday....a combination 40th wedding anniversary (today) and my dad's 60th birthday (later this month)....

a surprise party is no small feat where my mother is concerned...but we did it! (high fives to me and my siblings)

'twas a grand event....and i'd post more pictures but my camera died after i'd taken the shots of the cake. :)

Friday, November 5, 2010

life with horses

B and i decided when the children were still only tiny, that we wouldn't push our horsey life on them. we wouldn't assume that they'd follow in our footsteps...and, in fact, moved away from that life altogether. granted, it took B's accident to prompt him to move away - there really wasn't a choice -- but the important thing was that if either one was to choose to have horses in their life, it was to be a choice freely made.

some time last autumn, Savannah decided she'd like to take riding lessons.  we asked her to wait until spring -- who wants to learn to ride in a Canadian winter? -- also to be sure it's what she really wanted..and not just a passing whim.

java -- naughty pony

fast forward to this autumn, and she's been taking weekly lessons since May.  it's all gone very well and she is,  genuinely and without bias (mostly), a natural talent.  her lesson time changed to Thursday evenings about two months ago, and since that's my evening to work, B has been taking her.  last night a shift cancellation meant i could take her and was very much looking forward to seeing how things have progressed.

but she's had a rough few weeks. she's been thrown twice in the last month - once it was unavoidable and she weathered it well, but the second time it was a ridiculous situation she was placed in where poor judgement on her instructor's part had the pony taking off at a smart gallop and although she almost stayed on, in the end, she fell off. that one, rattled her.  now, she tells me on Wednesday night, she's afraid to trot.


so what does a mother do?  there is a very real element in this horsey life that absolutely requires a measure of toughness. there's no pussy-footing around. she fell off and she will fall off again. ponies will bugger off; they'll buck; they'll do all manner of fiendish things. it's just a part of life with horses.  how to communicate that to her without making it sound like a 'suck it up' speech. when really, that's what it is.

looking very serious -- note the size difference between pony and (beginner) rider :(

so we drew some cards.

and the lessons to be learned there were simple but powerful.  i explained to her that the reason she was frightened was because she had forgotten. she had forgotten her own strength; she had forgotten that even though she was scared when she fell off the last time, she got back on. and i talked about how her pony would pick up on her feelings and that she needed to remember to keep her *heart balance* -- which is an over-simplified explanation of being calm and centered.

nevertheless, she was terrified. she was reluctant to trot and her pony picked up on that. so the poor assistant instructor had to run beside them to keep the little effer going (i'm not a fan of this pony -- he's naughty and he's a cheat....but i digress)...all the while, i hear Savannah whimpering and on the verge of tears.  oh, how i did not want to be one of Those Mothers -- you know the ones...the over-involved, bossy types that don't respect the boundaries of the teacher/instructor/coach-student relationship -- but when it got to the point where her coach was apparently intent on trying to push her through her fear rather than address it, i stepped in. i gave her a little pep talk and reminded her of needing to remember her *balance*....and the lesson ended much better than it started and she felt good about how things finished.

but we're also exploring other options. i went to a meeting afterwards of the local Pony Club chapter -- having just signed her's a whole different dynamic than the typical 'show stables' and will give her a better practical knowledge and skills of horsemanship rather than just the part where you're riding around.  it will also give us a network to find a place where there are ponies that aren't too big for the children riding them and....eventually, a pony of her own.

before all that though, she still needs to defeat the Java Monster.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


Sebastian was awake at 4am.  the new moon is just around the corner...i have no other explanation, really. B had insomnia and slept less than four hours. i got up at 5 am, after having dozed while listening to the boy singing along with a DVD.

i had an 11 am appointment at the bank -- discussions of consolidation, an effort to simplify debt.  evidently you're not to be helped if you don't own a home.  which is fine.  we'll carry on as we were...i refuse to believe the cornerstone of success lies in brick and mortar. it's in the banks' best interest, after all, to keep you owing.

and so, when the menfolk lay themselves down for an afternoon nap and Savannah was outside playing,  i went down to the art cave and i painted.

painted away the doubt...which wasn't hard...the doubt clings less these days. it's rather more a half-hearted attempt to bring us back under the umbrella of the Busy World. i have absolute faith that things will turn out just fine.

it isn't finished yet. i still have to do something with the hands. this week we're painting a memory....siphoning emotion onto the paper. and it reminded me that true success in life, as in painting, requires us to be fearless.

Monday, November 1, 2010

what if....

every day.....

you got to stay at the Art long as you wanted.

and you got to play computer long as you wanted....

and recess came whenever you felt too big for the house so you pull on your sneakers and run out without your coat. then you tear around the tree and jump in huge piles of leaves until your nose runs and your cheeks are red and you almost wish you'd remembered your coat...almost.


what if, when we were growing up, there wasn't someone telling us to move to the next station (even though our painting wasn't done yet and we didn't like the play-house)? how would our lives be different now?

what if, The Experts didn't scare us with the evils of computer games and how they're eroding the minds and souls of our children (even though when given free access and steady guidance, our children are capable of making balanced choices)? could we accept that computers and games have a place?

what if, children were free to run and explore and experience the wild world around them without being hovered over and organized and lectured? would we still think it's irresponsible to let our kids out of arm's reach?

can you imagine what they might learn?

like shape and form and colour; like the vast power of imagination and our innate gifts of creativity; how you can learn physics and architecture without even realizing it by figuring out where to put the dynamite to demolish the computer-generated model; like how you discover the first frost and why it's on some leaves and not others and you might hypothesize why this is so. and without being told, you're right.

they might even learn that a paintbrush has equal value to an algorithm and a poem is just math in a different format.

all that, and more, before 11 am.


there are times when i despair that *i* don't know enough or have enough knowledge in some area or other to be responsible for the education of these children. that maybe lesson plans aren't such a bad idea; that maybe there should be more of this or that.

and then i remember that these children are amazing, and that as long as it's fed, their natural curiosity will take them so much farther than any preconceived ideas we might have over what *stuff* we think they should know. that to suppose we can know what lies ahead in the wonder of their lives is a mild form of arrogance. they are, after all, only on loan to us...and not ours to create in our own, or anyone else's image.

such is the beauty and the miracle of this life we are leading.