Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Art Exhibit

We took a trip to the local college to see the current art exhibit:  Llevar by Joanna Cervantes.  My mom had told me that it was extremely abstract, and that the girls would probably enjoy it.  They did.  My oldest had a great time pointing out what she saw, and what she thought the artist was trying to show.  It was a very neat experience.  We'll have to go again when they have a new exhibit.  I'm hoping to incorporate more free art into the girls' day, after I organize our arts and crafts supply.  It will be awesome to see what they create.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Watching Vultures

My mom's mother-in-law recently suffered a heart attack while on vacation, and thankfully she is okay.  Yesterday, the girls and I joined my mom in heading over to her house to spruce it up for her homecoming from the hospital today.  We simply washed the bedding, swept/cleaned the floors, dusted, that sort of thing. 

While we were waiting for the sheets to dry, (all the other cleaning was done,) I began to read a book to my oldest.  After one chapter, the four year old decided to get grumpy and quite ornery.  So, I took a break to rock her to sleep, and my oldest took the opportunity to play outside.  (The house is out in the country, and earlier, they had been enjoying exploring the area very much.)  After she fell asleep, I laid the four year old down on the sofa, and quietly stepped out to check on the other. 

I didn't see her in the front yard and called out to her.  "I'm over here!" she yelled from behind the house.  "Come look!"  She ran up and grabbed my hand to lead me to the backyard.  I looked up to see what she was amazed at and there were three or four vultures circling around up above. 

"Ah, yeah," I said,  "Vultures.  They're probably looking for food.  I don't smell anything out here though."  I personally was not impressed at that moment, and was interested in why she was, knowing that she knew what they were.  And well, they're not the most attractive birds out there.  I'm glad I kept my mouth shut, though, about how I felt about them, because she continued talking.  "I've been watching them.  I think they lean to one side when they want to turn.  And when they bring their wings like this (demonstrating) they swoop down!  And they've been coming really close, and I can see their feathers and hear their wings!"  Her genuine excitement made me smile.  She continued to pretend to fly.

I quieted my nagging thoughts about vultures and simply watched them with her.  Their flight pattern really was neat to watch.  Hypnotizing almost.  When one flew lower, right over head, we really could hear his wings beating, hitting against the wind.  It was amazingly quiet out there.  And that really was something.  I never would have stopped and watched for so long or listened so intently had it not been for my daughter. 

Saturday, November 17, 2012

An Awesome Necklace

The past month has been crazy.  The little was sick for about two weeks, and when she finally got over her cold, I caught one.  I'm starting to feel better tonight, thankfully.

All of those germs have kept us home for most of the time.  My oldest got cabin fever, as she usually does in times like that, but we managed.  She did get to go to her Girl Scout meeting, and she learned how to make a necklace!  I don't have any great pics as most of them have other girls in them, and therefore, I can't post them.  But here is a couple of her necklace:

We had rushed to the bead store minutes before the meeting was supposed to start.  To save gas, I had saved that trip for on the way, but didn't expect construction on the exit I was supposed to take.  Of course!  Anyhow, she picked out the stars and the black beads to make her necklace.  The purple and the blue were provided by the troop leaders.  She really loved making it, and she's interested in making more.  I'm hoping once we have some extra spending money we can make another trip up to the bead store.

I love how her necklace is so her.  It was so different from all the other girls' necklaces.  Her personality just shines through it, and that makes me so happy.  Knowing that she is so comfortable and accepting of who she is, and can freely express it... well, it's one of the best feelings I've experienced as her mom.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Computer Issues

I've been dealing with computer issues lately that have prevented me from posting.  Well, my birthday was recent, and I've been gifted a laptop by my grandparents!  I'm so excited!  and thankful! 

I'm looking forward to taking some new pictures and getting some posts written.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

A Trip to the Beach

Last week, we took a very welcomed trip to South Texas to visit family.  This past year, I've tried to focus on good things, on showing my children how to enjoy life even in the midst of change and hurt.  From little spontaneous things, like a treat from the store or a rented new movie, to the bigger planned out things, like camping and road trips, all of them bring enjoyment and rejuvenation to our daily life.  For me, the beach accomplishes that quickly.  It was our first to-do (after we visited family, of course) and we were all so happy to go.
The wind in our faces, the cool water on our skin, tasting the salt in the air, the sand under our toes, the birds' calls echoing in our ears, all at once it was overwhelming and amazingly refreshing.  The girls instantly ran into the water.  It felt wonderful.  Smiles abounded.  Laughter rang.  My heart was so full at their joy.

We made so many discoveries.  We observed crabs and hermit crabs, and watched the sea gulls and pelicans feast on small fish.

We found beauty in broken shells, collecting even the smallest fragment of a color or pattern we liked.

We played in the sand, together.  We joined the girls in being kids:  building castles, burying each other and making mermaid tails, allowing the rough sand to smooth out our nerves, letting the wind carry our worries away.  It was just what all of us needed and was the perfect way to start our mini-vacation. 

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Enjoying Life with the Ones We Love Most

When I consider what "The Best Thing" is in this wonderful unschooling life of ours, I would have to say it is the freedom to enjoy life with the ones we love.  I honestly cannot imagine only seeing my children for a few hours at the start and end of our day.  We are blessed with the opportunity to be with each other all day, every day, and that has done some amazing things in our lives.

First, and most importantly, unschooling and having the freedom of simply being together has allowed us to lean on each other during this emotionally hard past year.  My daughters and I had ample free time to cuddle, to talk, to question and discuss, to vent, to cry, to comfort, all with the most important and closest people to each of us:  each other.  All the while, we kept our healing our number one concern, not curriculum, not a set schedule, not the every day rat race.  I was able to continue being the constant in their life that they so desperately needed.  I fought hard to keep the ability to do this for them, and despite what anyone thinks, I don't regret it for one second. 

It's amazing how the relationships within our family have grown.  My kids have become the very best of friends, and it warms my heart.  I love that they aren't separated because they're different ages.  They get the opportunity to learn and explore together, and they think it's awesome.  My 7 year old teaches the 3 year old so much, and constantly!  At the same time, the 3 year old helps my 7 year old hang on to that childish imagination, creativity, and enthusiasm for even the simplest things in life.  Thankfully, they both do the same for me.

My children have also had so much opportunity to bond with my mom.  Because my kids aren't rushing to get ready in the mornings, they have that time every day to spend with their grandma, helping her start her days on a good note. If she happens to get off work early, we could meet up for sorbet at the local froyo place, or shaved ice, or an early dinner.  The evenings are nice, too, as my oldest and my mom have a mutual favorite show, and it's so neat to watch them enjoy it together.  I can't explain how much I love seeing the connection between my mom and my kids.  They have also bonded so much with extended family in the past year, too.  It's amazing what freedom with your time can produce in relationships.

Not only do we have free time to simply be with our loved ones, but we have the opportunity to get out and do things with them, whenever we feel like it!  I love that!  If someone calls me up and asks if we're available to do a favor, or to meet somewhere, or do something, I can usually say, "Yes!"  This is especially wonderful when someone in the family has work hours that are not the norm.  My boyfriend has limited time to spend with us, and it's so nice that our schedule can easily work around his.  It allows us to be able to hang out and do things when he can, and that makes us all happy.

I absolutely enjoy the hours upon hours I get to spend with my children every single day.  I love how much time we get to spend with family, and the irreplaceable bond it creates.  I cherish the fact that my daughters are very best friends.  Truly, "the best thing" for me, is the freedom we have to intentionally live life with our loved ones, and to enjoy every moment with them to the fullest.

*This post was included in the Unschooling Blog Carnival for October 2012.  Stop by and read the other great entries!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

And we're still going...

"How many seconds left?" my oldest asked as our shoes repeatedly hit the loose rocks on the road.  I glanced at my phone, and more than seconds were left.

"How are you feeling?" I asked her in return.  She didn't seem out of breath, so I wondered what was bothering her.

"Okay," she answered, "Just my side hurts a little."

"Make sure your posture is good.  Don't forget to breath," I told her.  We had 2 and a half minutes left of that particular interval of running.

We were on Week 4 Day 2 of the Couch to 5K running program, and it was only our second day of running 5 minutes straight.  I remember the first time I realized she was a natural at running.  We were at a homeschool p.e. group in Virginia, and the coach was running the kids for a warmup.  We had arrived late, and she asked me if she could go catch up with the other kids.  After I gave the okay, I watched her sprint to the back of the group and steadily catch up with a group of older kids.  She was pretty quick.

After moving to Texas, I had put her in another homeschool p.e. class, and she had a great time, but she told me she wanted to do something where she could earn a medal or trophy.  I couldn't (and still can't) afford monthly payments for competitive type activities, such as dance or martial arts, yet, and I racked my brain for ideas on what she could work on.  When I remembered her natural knack for running, I decided to see if she was interested in training together.  Her eyes lit up when I told her about the local 5K races, and how kids could enter, too.

At first, she was running at a faster pace than she could maintain, since she was so used to sprinting to simply catch up with someone.  "We're going for distance," I had explained to her, "not speed so much.  We want to be able to keep going for a longer time."

"Oh, so not like a cheetah?" she had asked. "They can run super fast, but not for a long time."

I laughed, "Exactly.  Not like a cheetah."

So, we had been working for 4 weeks on not being cheetahs.  At that point, as she was slowing down slightly, I could tell she wanted to quit, perhaps not out of pain, maybe out of boredom.  (We run just on our end of the street, as there is hardly ever traffic, so it is quite repetitive.)  "We have to teach our bodies what they can do,"  I said, "We can keep going."

She smiled, "Yeah."  A few more steps went by.

"See?" I asked her, "We're still going."  Her smile was infectious as I looked sideways at her.  A few seconds later, "And we're still going!  Every time we run, we're helping our bodies to be able to run longer.  We're getting stronger."

"And we'll be able to do the whole race?" she asked.

"Yes, we'll be able to do the whole race," I answered.  About a minute later I added, "And we're still going!"  She laughed at me for repeating myself again.  I laughed back at her, "You're doing great."

Finally, the C25K app dinged at us and told us to start walking.  I smiled at her, "See? You kept going!  Good job!"  I gave her a high-five.  Her expression was proud and excited.

By the end of the day's run we were both feeling awesome.  It's been wonderful to bond while we're running together and mutually working towards a goal.  The C25K program has been great.  It hasn't pushed us too hard to where we're sore and exhausted the next day, but we can definitely tell a difference in our ability to run.  It's gotten easier every week to keep going.  We both cannot wait for our first race!