These are some of the bits of trivia that go through my head when I sit down to write:
- I don't feel like writing Part 3 of my 3-part assessment on unschooling...leaving it unfinished has contributed to my not writing here. It feels like I should write it but I don't feel like it at this point. Part 3 is actually mostly written, but reads like drivel to me. Part 3 is to be a piece on where to from here and how we're making a few unschooly changes to our unschooling plans for this year. But all I really feel like saying for now is that we're soldiering on in the world of unschooling and that there'll be more to come as time goes by. So that's it; my part 3 in the series!
- I seriously don't know where the time goes. Down some big black hole? Does the calendar secretly skip a day here or there? How can it be November already?
- I have loved our fall season this year, an extended period of time without the snow. Just last weekend it felt suddenly like the deeper cold of winter struck. It feels cold now, even without the snow to support the fact that winter has arrived. I've been dreading winter...it's supposed to be a brutal one like last year, and I'm still not recovered from that one. San Diego...that's where I'd like to be during the winter months. I love San Diego. I crave that pretty, warm city with the spectacular coastline that winds its way north.
- Thanksgiving day, already a month ago, was great for me. The lead-up not so much - Geoff and I were in a snit all weekend prior and I didn't head in to the day feeling particularly thankful. But the day itself - well, it turned out great. We had seventeen people for dinner here - family, friends, an interesting mix - and we had a really great time together. And I felt thankful.
- It's been a busy fall...but a pretty good one overall. Our schedule isn't as packed as last year. It's a better balance. And yet I can't seem to get much done from day to day...it feels like I'm always busy, always on the treadmill, never getting anywhere. Whenever I spend an hour or two reading to the kids, something else major gets left undone...that's just the way it's going around here. My house looks like a tornado has hit it every day for the past seven consecutive days...it's not pretty. Oh well.
- The kids have settled into piano lessons - more or less. It was a good move for us to bring piano lessons into our house...Monday has become an at-home day for us and we all welcome and love it. Seth and Lizzie actually seem to enjoy both the lessons and the practicing during the week...Matthew hates the first practice of the week, and then the rest of the week is fine. And we love our teacher: Stephen is gentle and soft-spoken enough for Matthew; firm and straightforward enough to work with Seth's need for structure and rules; and relational enough to have Lizzie totally smitten with him.
- I feel really blessed to be part of our Learning Centre this year...it was worth the two years on the wait list. Such an interesting mix of people. Lots of different personalities; a wide variety of h/schooling and u/schooling types of approaches represented; a mixture of families with faith, families with none and, I suspect families that would lie somewhere in the middle...and in the midst of it, respect for all; a dynamic and engaging approach to working with kids; and a very, very kind and caring group of people. Somehow it all works because of how intentionally and genuinely the care and support and grace are offered. I know that the primary benefit of a Learning Centre is supposed to be afforded to my children, but sometimes it feels like it's all for me - I watch and observe and learn from this group of women and am conscious that they are bringing out something in me that has been there all along but has been largely tucked away out of fear and defendedness and reserve. Because of some past experiences, I've struggled for about seven or eight years off and on with feelings of incompetence, inadequacy, and a fear of really engaging; and I feel myself opening up a bit now and daring a little more to let parts of me shine, or at least be genuine. Somehow these women, by being so supportive and encouraging and accepting, are unknowingly helping me begin to draw something out that's been wanting to come out - a daring of sorts, a testing of the waters, a willingness to really and deeply engage despite fear. Amongst these women I am adding both mentors and friends to walk the journey with. What a gift.
- Seth is slowly starting to remember and write letters and remember their sounds. Awesome progress. Enough said.
- Matthew, who took a hiatus from reading for about 2.5-3 months in late summer/early fall, recently resumed reading. Just before his hiatus, he picked up the first Harry Potter book and painstakingly sounded out the first few pages...it was still too much for him but, to his credit he tried. Then he took his reading break. When he came back to reading, just recently, the first book he went for was the same Harry Potter book...only this time, he just picked it up and read the first ten pages. Similar to how I felt when he first (and so suddenly) started reading earlier this year, my responses was something like "huh?" Really, how does it happen that a child can not read something one moment and, two months of no reading later, pick up the same exact book and read it? Something happened in his brain during that reading vacation. The only, only, explanation for it is developmental readiness. It's the dang Neufeld thing again...just provide the right environment and the rest will happen when the child is ready. Dang it.
- Geoff and I are getting a weekly opportunity to spend time alone with Matthew; an hour and a half every Wednesday evening while his siblings are in a mid-week church program. It's been nice. We do nothing fancy (mini golf, a cup of hot chocolate somewhere, a read-out-loud time of a favourite book...that kind of thing) but it's been good all 'round.
- The boys are in an art class on Friday mornings so Lizzie and I have two hours alone together for seven consecutive Fridays. Last week was our favourite time so far. We went to a new coffee shop together - one of those newish places operated by a 20- or 30-something person who's all into a minimalist environment and the art of fine coffee making. We sat there for almost two hours, my girl and I - she with chai tea that she got to pour herself from a glass bottle, and me with a mocha with the swirled and twirled design etched into it with foam. And during that time, Lizzie and I pulled out a bunch of early readers and she just worked through words; she's getting better all the time, and someday soon it's just going to all click with her because she's getting ready for it.
- I'm getting old.
- Eight years ago, when we were still finding our legs in this city, I started up with a brand new, book-store-owned, monthly book club. There I met the loveliest women and we became friends...a few of us go out for dinner together every few months to this day...we are the four amigos and we truly are friends. Soon after Seth and Lizzie came home, I took a break from my book club that extended into a couple of years, and that coincided with my not reading much anymore...life was just toooooo crazy and head-space-exhausted for a couple of years. But this year I've started to get back into reading and resumed book club...this is our ninth season in existence. The group is a little smaller than it was when I left, because a couple of other women are now on a break, but otherwise it's the same women that started everything up all those years ago, and we have the same leader. I really love these evenings. Oh, and for the interested, our September book was an awesome (albeit sometimes difficult) read; it was Joseph Boyden's The Orenda. Fabulous read and got one of my very few 9-out-of-10 ratings. Last month's book was such a bust that I'd rather not mention it by name - just to say that it got one of my very few lowest-ever ratings (a 2 out of 10 and it only got a 2 because at least the author had the courage to publish that drivel after writing it); we've had almost no books, over the years, that have been poor reads, though, so we really can't complain. To the contrary, we've read a lot of amazing books over time, and often they've been books that I would likely not have picked up had it not been on our book list...one of the beautiful things about being in a book club...the exposure to books that one might otherwise not think to pick up. This month we're reading Graham Greene's Three Weeks with My Aunt; we'll see how that goes.
And there you have it. My brain dump of the moment. Not much eloquent thought to be had here at the moment, but maybe this will declutter my head enough to have me writing the stuff I really want to get to.