Thursday, September 14, 2017

Matthew...Wood Turner Wanna Be

"Mom, I really don't want to grow up, but it's kinda strange that I just spent the evening drinking (and liking) black coffee and hanging out with a bunch of older men."

About six months ago, maybe more, Matthew began to express a serious interest in wood turning. This is not, I quickly discovered, something to be confused with wood working. Wood turning is the using of a lathe machine to shape wood...often into bowls, vases, and other assorted things. It might be fair to say that Matthew quickly became obsessed with the notion of wood turning - he began researching it, contemplating which lathe to purchase, watching endless (mind numbing) Youtube videos, and talking about it rather endlessly (did I mention mind numbing already?).

For a while, I viewed his obsession as merely the latest thing that he was interested in (we've gone through a lot of interests this past year alone)...but the months went by and his interest waned not the slightest. When, sometime in July when I was planning our homeschooling year, I asked him what he would like to learn about this winter, his first response was "wood turning." (Note: his second response was ice fishing...another real winner in my books...)

So...I scoured the internet, searching for places to start. Nowhere in the public schooling system could I find classes in wood turning, and the city had nothing to offer either. And then, eureka...I found it...the name of the provincial wood turners' association. Who knew??!!?? The website was a little out of date, but I contacted the person named on the site and was rather surprised to receive a response within 24 hours.  He directed me to someone whom he thought might still teach classes out of his home.

Enter Herm. A lovely, somewhat-older gentleman who has been passionately turning wood for decades. Even better, he is still happy to teaches youngsters and was happy to meet with Matthew for the purpose of deciding whether or not there might be a fit.

They fit.

Geoff took Matthew to Herm's house that first evening and Matthew came home a few hours later in raptures. If he could have shouted from the roof the passion he felt about wood turning in that moment, he would have. The long and short of it is that, beginning in October, Matthew is going to take regular wood turning classes from Herm.

(Ice fishing is another story altogether.)

And so tonight, as the newest member of the Wood Turners' Association, Matthew (with Geoff as his side-kick) was invited to the season's opening night, where there would be lathe demonstrations, presentations by individuals who had completed projects over the summer and, of course, the business portion of the evening.

Matthew was apparently the only person under 50, and he was greeted by the other members heartily and with excitement. Apparently, during the business portion of the meeting (I am completely dumbfounded that Matthew sat through an hour long business meeting of Wood Turners!), Matthew was given a front row seat and he was referenced several times throughout.  One gentleman later gave him a partially-turned wooden bowl and suggested that Matthew finish it before the next meeting.

In addition to that bowl, Matthew came home sporting a (worn, sawdust encrusted) leather wood-turning satchel, and some kind of tool that is now occupying part of the garage foot print, both of which were purchased from a fellow wood turner who'd brought his for-sale items from home. More importantly, Matthew came home sporting a large grin and great attitude.

I have no idea how long this passion will endure for my 13-year-old son, but we are homeschoolers, after all, and this is what we do: Help our children pursue their passions and gain life experience, with solid adult mentorship, sometimes in a way that is a little different than mainstream.

As I look into my future, I see kitchen cupboards full of bowls...lots and lots of wood turned bowls...


Saturday, August 19, 2017

Lighting the Candle at Both Ends...and No Summer Camp this Year.

As a homeschooling parent, it is genuinely rare that I have any time by myself...I'm usually 'on' 24/7...and yes, I do mean the '24' part because we almost always have a kid sleeping in our bedroom during the night. I find particularly challenging that two of my children are early morning risers, while one begins to come alive at about 9:00pm. I want to be available to all of them during their best hours, and frankly need to be available to them during their best hours (to hear what's going on in their hearts, to work with them academically at a time of day when it's easiest for them to learn, etc), but I struggle with the need to be present throughout such a long day. I'm often tired...emotionally as well as physically.

One solution that has been a huge help to me over the past four or five years, and something I've really looked forward to as meeting a personal need for rest, has been the week(s) that my kids have been in summer day camp(s). For the past two summers, I had two and three weeks to myself during the day because the kids were in various day camps. If you've been a blog reader here for a while, you'll know that my intention for those weeks has always been to be productive around the house - to work on projects, organizational tasks, whatever. The reality, however, is that I've spent a good number of those weeks doing nothing other than sit in our little home library - crying, and drinking tea or coffee. I've come to accept that my tears, which tend to go on for days during one or more weeks of summer camps, have been terribly cathartic...tears of futility, tears of grief, tears for lack of time by myself, tears of healing and restoration.

This year, as new cottage owners and brand new cottage lovers, I didn't sign my kids up for any weeks of summer camp. And sure enough, we're having a surprisingly great summer at the cottage; other than four days that I spent in Vancouver two weeks ago, and quick trips back to the city for groceries and clean laundry, the kids and I have lived at the cottage since the third or fourth week of June, in addition to weekends there from early May onwards. It's been great...and, without question, really good for the kids.


...I'm missing that summer camp time, when I could drop the kids off somewhere at 8:30 and not have to think about how to occupy or educate them for the next nine hours. I'm really, really missing it. And it's too late now. Just this morning, feeling a little desperate, I even checked the website of our fav summer camp, the one the kids have attended for the past five consecutive years, and next week is full up...and it's the last week. I admit that I hung my head a little, feeling just a little sorry for myself.

I need to be clear that, almost always, I love being with my children. I feel privileged to be able to be with them full time and love our life as homeschoolers. People regularly say to me that I must have the patience of a saint, and my response is always laughter - I have no more patience than anyone else. But we did make a choice about we want to live our lives, with our kids, and I wouldn't change that for the world. When one tries and waits for kids as long as I did, and when one finally experiences the riches of parenting for the first (then second and third) time, it seems a natural choice to want to maximize the blessing and to foster attachment and relationship as much as possible. For other people that manifest differently than for me, undoubtedly...for me it manifested in decisions to suspend a career that I loved and to homeschool my children. No regrets, ever, about that...for the rest of my life, this will be one of the best decisions I've made.

It's just that...

I live near the border between introversion and extraversion - just slightly on the extraversion side. I've done the tests many times, over the past few decades, and I always land around the same spot. How that works out in my daily life is that I draw energy both from being with people and from being alone...and I need both of those things in order to function healthily. It's obvious which source of energy is lacking these days. 😂

I know it was my choice - Geoff even encouraged me to sign them up for a week or two of camp - but I may have made a poor choice in deciding not to. Although I'm generally managing pretty well, there are some frayed edges around my tolerance levels that I'm noticing and not liking. We're soon to head into another very busy winter season and my personal margins are somewhat at a low ebb, despite a good and mostly relaxing summer.

So, I need to figure out a plan to give myself a little alone time. There is one other summer camp the kids have enjoyed in the past that may have a few openings during the next week or two. Other than that...suggestions?

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Picture Highlights of the Past Week or So...

The kids and I have had another great 10 days at the cottage.  Below are some highlights.

My sister, nephew, and niece came out for a few days, and it was a lovely, relaxing time for all.

My three, plus my niece and nephew, went fishing one morning...and they left the cottage before 7:00am!!

The kids, ranging in age from 10-17, had so much fun together...playing games, jousting each other on the hammocks, swimming, fishing, and watching movies in the evening.

(one of my fav boys on the right, my niece and nephew on the left)

Cousins fishing (Matthew on the right)

My sister

Cousins and best buddies...whispering their secrets. :)

As always, the dogs have a blast at the cottage...cute little munchkins! 


Matthew (wearing my Dad's old, ugly hat!) is quickly becoming an expert at gently de-hooking fish...his siblings don't really want this job, so he's getting quite a bit of experience!





And that's it, folks!  Not a single picture of me this week!!  How typical.  I must change this in the days upcoming.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

An Update in Pictures

We're still having fun at the cottage! Other than four days that I spent in Vancouver this past weekend, we've basically spent all but a few days since June 25 at the cottage...basically we've just been in the city to do laundry and get groceries. It's been good...although I can't believe we're already nine days into August! I am SO not ready to get back into fall activities yet...and I'm hoping I can defer the beginnings of everything until later in September.

Here are a few highlights from the past couple of weeks. I haven't included pictures of Vancouver, and I haven't included pictures of the lovely visitors we've sooooooo enjoyed at the cottage (you know you who are!!), but here are a few others: