back to, what?

Back to school is on my mind… with notebooks and corduroys on sale in every store I am realizing that the days are getting shorter and it’s time to start thinking about some routine again. It still feels strange to not be ‘going to school’ in the traditional way, I never (ever) envisioned us homeschooling, but year two, and here we go.

Being homeschoolers gives us a little bit of wiggle room with the dates on “back to school”. The district we live in starts this week (in august!) and I’m still clinging tight to all day beach days, my swim suit, and driving towards water whenever I get the chance. But, fall is coming and as much as right now is heat waves and water days, the rain and grey will be back in a blink, and we’re slowly readying our brains.

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Last year I went through all the hullaballoo of creating a homeschool space (with desks!), and then uncreating that space because it got zero use. Our schooling was in the car, on the go, at the kitchen table, around the computer, at the ocean, on vacation, and late at night when all of Noele’s brain was firing and sleep was… far.

This year, I’m letting Back To School creep in slowly. I’ve seen as the girls paw back out their workbooks, and begin to talk about their school friends and teachers (we attend a Parent Partnership Program through our public school that is AWESOME and provides free supplemental classes). I’m already seeing that this year will be very different.

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Ever is taking a far more active roll in school, we’re all sitting down and they’re excitedly doing math work while Charlie and I cook dinner.

This year I’m going to try and implement a *bit* more of a schedule to our learning, and hopefully that means a little more space for me to feel like I am getting a break and time to work on my own endeavors (like, this blog! Want to work together? email me!). I’ve never been a schedule follower, but my girls crave it and I can see how beneficial it would be. This year I feel ready to fill our planner up a bit, and get our educational ball rolling in new ways.

We have a science center membership (uh, did you know that you can get an annual membership to the Seattle Science Center for $19 if you qualify for ANY state assistance (even insurance!)?). And we’re gonna break it in. This is the year of math and science.

I’m still working on what kind of curriculum vs. unit learning we are going to be focusing on, but I plan to share more if there is interest. {let me know in the comments here or on FB} and about what worked for us and didn’t for last year’s Kindy experience.

(I have a post rattling in my head about being the most reluctant homeschooler… ever. But I can’t quite get it all pinned down, without feeling a bit like a jerk. )

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Needless to say, my heart is with the sun but my head is beginning to look for orange leaves and long sleeves.

Working out, with kids everywhere.

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I remember when I was 20, working out was just on my list. I’d go to classes at this building and that and then end my day watching ANTM or The Pickup Artist (anyone know these shows? My love of terrible TV has been around forever) on the treadmill at my University’s gorgeous rec center. It was another class to attend, box to check, and it wasn’t Herculean to get there.

Now, working out, with two kids always with me, is. . . not like that. It’s getting easier to squeeze in as they grow up, understand what I mean when I ask for “some space”, and have a long enough attention span to play and self entertain for a good block of time while I workout at home. But, it’s still hit or miss. It’s still easy to be frustrated with them. Their ability to hurt themselves, fall off something, or become desperately hungry RIGHT when my warm up has ended… uncanny.

Lately I’ve been working hard to shift my focus. Here are a few tips that have helped, infinitely.

  1. Let them join in, lower the expectation.

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I’ve changed my view from “okay, I’m going to do this 32 minute video!” to; alright… I am putting this on, and will finish it eventually. Often, that means 32minutes, but also fairly often, that means 65min with all the interruptions for books read, babies on my back during plank, snacks needed, back doors that are too sticky to open without help, a dog losing its mind, the cat puking, a spilled bag of sunflower seeds… you get it. I get done what I can get done, and don’t expect it to be as quick as the video promises. Instead of feeling like that is “less” of a workout, I reframe that it’s more. It’s just a new interval training; Mom/push-ups/Momming/dead lift/ mom/craft/potty/plank… I mean, this has to be doing positives for my heart rate!

2. Strike when the iron’s hot!

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When the kids are entertained and happy, playing or sleeping, or watching a TV show. . . GO! Ignore the mess around you, the dishes in the sink, and just get done whatever makes you feel best. For me, often that means that yoga gets prioritized. If the moment strikes again, then I’ll often lift weights or do HIIT, but yoga calms my brain. So if that 20min window seems to open up (or, thank you Octonauts, I create it) I take it. Guiltlessly, and without regard to the mess around me.

And, finally, 3.

Anything can be a workout with kids around. I’ve stopped feeling like it doesn’t “count” unless I’m in my sports bra, tracking my distance, or lifting a barbell. I’ve remembered that races with energetic six year old legs, monkey bars, hikes from the beach with ALL the stuff you need for  a day in the sun (You know what I mean; cooler, beach blanket, floaties, life vests, back pack of clothes and swim suits, and on and on and on…), walking with that preschooler on your back, and 85 trips to and from the car with the groceries… These ‘count’ too. These are what make my Lifestyle a healthy one, not how long I can hold a plank. This is the functional fitness that helps me to keep up with my wild ones at the spray park, and those muscles that can heft a 6 year old in and out of a grocery cart? THOSE count.

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My workouts have taken a shift over the past 7 years, they look a little weird now and different than what I see in Nike ad’s and all across my IG, but I’ll take it. It’s working for my body and, most importantly, my brain. It’s also for my little people, who are watching my every move.

There will be years for me to attend the classes I want, the yoga retreats I dream of, and the gym of my dreams. But, for me, this isn’t the year. So transitioning my brain to what my reality is, and allowing that to be not just enough, but GOOD, has been so helpful.

I was inspired to write this post after receiving the prompt #weirdworkout by Prana in conjunction with Sweat Pink. The idea of a weird workout stumped me initially, this is all very normal to me. But, stepping back I realized, my normal (and likely yours too), is a little weird. That doesn’t make it any less functional, life giving, and important. If you want to share your #weirdworkout and join in on the Giveaway for $300 to Prana and a two month supply of Organic Fuel  with Organic Vally and Prana you can check it out here. There are lots of ways to engage and up your chances!

 

 

 

The sun, the sand, the hauling.

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The end of this summer has been full of day trips, mountain adventures, and driving to new places. The girls’ familiarity with “quiet, Siri is telling me where to turn!” has grown exponentially the past few weeks. We had a slow start to summer as all the adventures felt overwhelming. Packing, food, life vests, hikes with small children, bed time worries, on and on… I let the anticipation of it going wrong eat me up and keep us home. But I tore the bandaid off and it’s been awesome. Now I’m sending out messages to friends with cabins, researching camp grounds, and wishing I’d packed this all into the earlier months, but don’t care much because Summer is rolling and the heat is here and we’re READY.

The magic of their ages is hitting me so hard. They are competent and strong hikers with legs to match their dreams. We can climb without carriers, they can pack their own little packs, and their zeal for sleeping outside is unmatched. They aren’t quite babies anymore, and that’s beginning to show up in our adventures in ways I couldn’t hardly let myself dream in the years before. If this summer, at 4 and 6, we are rife with day trips and few mile hikes met with smiles and conking out hard in the car… I can’t fathom what 7 and 5 will bring next year. I’m already starting to plan.

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School in our district starts in a couple weeks. But I have a feeling our school will look a lot like rock identifying, bird watching, and swimming ‘lessons’ in every body of water we can find until the weather turns. These girls have given me a gift in this life, in ways I can’t put accurately, they’re always allowing me to learn as I teach and teaching me with unending grace for my failings. I can’t hardly stand that I waited so long to just get OUT here, but now that we are, we are.

Each time we get where it’s wet enough or high enough, our family reconnects. The phones go away, the dishes aren’t present, the projects invisible, and all that is there is us. It’s hard to harp on a messy room when you can’t see it, impossible to stay angry at a husband who is pulling you up out of a river that took a hold of you. Hand holding over slippery rocks, wild adventures up strong streams, and rock collecting, on top of shell collecting, on top of agate hunting. I hear them clearer over the river, Charlie holds them closer near the cliffs and we all go quiet at the stars.

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Pacific Northwest Is Best isn’t just a slogan, it’s heart true. On our drives we are inundated with green and mountains, tree’s and rivers, and on our hikes up it’s wild flowers and berries, chipmunks and the tiniest grey mouse the girls had ever seen. It’s a dream to live here. I never want to leave.

I’ve always wondered why I don’t have Wanderlust… I think it’s because I’ve found my place. It’s all the high’s and valleys, beaches and rivers, trees and bright skies that are all within an hour from my cozy neighborhood. We have adventure and home all in one breath.

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30.

Waking up with a plan. A small routine. Knowing my legs can carry me far. Feeling my muscle tighten when I bend into a Sun Salutation. I trust the floor to hold me up and my shoulders to propel me forwards. I can kick up, and in, and hold, a headstand. I am confident in my curvy frame that shakes around as I tighten everything and focus hard in an effort to breath, and not fall.

Looking at them and feeling calm in their chaos. Love for them in the screaming. And deeper grace for their freak outs. I feel less frantic, more sure, and even surer still that the storms will end and the calm lapping water of them falling into me will resume as quickly at the tempests rage.

As parenting changes and gets harder and different and easier and new, I am trying to fall in deep and embrace it. Knowing that now, even more than before, I’m tending the hearts of eventual adults. And the deep arms of someone who will unconditionally listen, hear your subtext, and wait for between the lines to be spoken; even when it takes a long time. Those actions are life changers. Gifts my parents gave me and now I have the capacity to give to my girls, a cycle I want to continue and continue forever.

Not every day do I feel like an anchor. There are days I’m the trash bag that shouldn’t be in the ocean, being beaten by the waves and then flying away whenever the storm allows me to (often, to the bathroom to stand and cry and think “what can I do??? how can I do this??”). But the deeper their needs and hearts and desires grow it seems the more my days of feeling like a beacon and sure spot, grow too. It reminds me of the baby days, as they got rolling I felt so out of my depth and like the impossibility of meeting these immediate needs was crushing, and then days and months and years when by and I met the needs without thinking and filled cups and held them to my breast without thought, without ache or complaint, it became more and more my state. I feel that with this stage, not yet do I feel confident, but I’m nearly swimming.

I turned 30 a few weeks ago. I’ve never felt like I’m old. Rather, I’ve identified as a ‘young mom’ for about seven years. In the end of that title, I am finding a little pause… age. I am no longer a young Mom in the sense that I am young. And I am no longer a young mom in that my baby is not young. I am just, a Mom. The Mom, in my home. Mom.

I’m in a unique position of always having the framework surrounding me that I am *young*. My siblings are all around a decade+ older than me, so being the baby by a long shot has always aged me up. I felt comfortable (enough) in conversations with people much older than me, for as long as I can remember. When I finally had a friend group my age (college) that quickly shifted as I got pregnant young and made friends with other mamas, my peer number jumped up to about 30 while I was still 23, and ever since then I’ve always been the youngest of my friends too (nearly always).

Mama is slowly fading as it’s replaced by “Mom! Can you help with with this?”. Young Mom is gone. Peer group’s no longer care about age, I’m not even sure the ages of most of my friends, I know they range from around 23-44, but I doubt you could even guess whose on what end.

At 30 I feel more sure of my body than ever before. I feel surer still of what makes it tick and run and work it’s best, and more grace for the times I don’t choose that. I feel confident in knowing that I’m not someone who needs best friends, and treasure alone time and time with my family above basically all else. I feel calmer about time passing and more confident that I can absolutely have it all, just not all at once.

It isn’t all happening gracefully. I tantrum and cry about what I want right now, and cannot have. I wail about my need for more support, and more time with my love. I see the things coming that I crave and sob for the things ending that I love.

But, here at newly minted 30. I feel different. And glad. But not old. I feel more than ever that ages are fairly irrelevant. I’m a baby, so young, to so many. And ancient and “your 30?!” to so many others. But to me, I’m glad. To my girls, I’m Mom. And to Charlie, I’m his best friend.

30, thus far, is just fine.

 

Putting Together our Puzzle

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Often it can feel like all or nothing… parenting, working out, eating whole foods, all of it. I’m eating whole30 and meal prepping, or I’m making eggs and cobbling together snack plates full of chips and too much peanut butter for my kids. I’m reading, on the floor playing, making it to all the extracurriculars, and homeschooling like a boss…. or, it’s too much netflix, me lost in my book, or Facebook, and telling them “sure, in a minute!”. And more often than not I vacillate greatly between these. Working out five days a week, or days on top of days off in a row, lethargy, and a bad mood I can’t quit.

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I’ve found it harder and harder to find that balance of my needs, their needs, and my body’s needs. Summertime seems like it wouldn’t be that different for a homeschooling family, but it is. The schedule gone, the friends home from school, the pressure to soak up the sun on the days it’s here (PNW sun guilt is REAL), and the desire to be a really involved Mom who does fun stuff! often! I’ve been letting it eat me up a bit.

As I made it to several of the end of school year parties and activities, I found my neglect of my needs becoming acute, the workouts getting sparse, and the sugar abundant. I also found that as I fell out of balance there, I fell out everywhere, and so did my family. I was taking the girls places, but I wasn’t present. I was pushing them off, even at the beach in the sun. I was retreating from all of our needs.

Last week I attended a monthly Moon Tea (women circle) that I am lucky enough to be a part of, and in it I talked about  my fears with blogging, and IG, and really embracing how much I love it and want to work in social media and marketing (eek, putting that out there!). I got to let myself go inward a bit about how strange it feels to be so vulnerable in a public space, and how much I love it, even if it feels judged or strange, or that others can’t understand it. Since getting that all stirred up in my heart, and affirmed by lovely people, I’ve been in a new space about this balance.

Watching myself struggle and fall, and able to begin to pick up and put in line my priorities. What felt like needs in opposition is now starting to look like pieces to a puzzle of a Whole Family.

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Hiking and ice-cream, beach days and saying no to that activity in favor of a workout is okay. Whole30 foods, and missed workouts in favor of a longer snuggly bed time is okay. Telling my girls that I need this hour to do yoga and they can play or read is also okay. Asking them, directly, “what do you need?” is important. Following through is more important. Asking myself “What do I need? Now? Tomorrow? In a year?” and stepping towards each motion, is paramount.

Starting today, we are all holding our pieces and putting them into our family space, with equality and respect for each of these desires and needs we all have. Today that looks like hours spent coloring, hard conversations about life and current events (in age appropriate words), and me investing deeply in them and then in myself by quieting the noise with yoga.

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This post is rambly. And strange. And all about where my heart is at right now, and how I am finding peace and balance in the imperfect, and reflecting on how ridiculously and thankfully easy and light these needs are.

I want to fully acknowledge that I have an intense privilege to get to examine all of this. I live in a dream world where I am allowed and able to ask myself these questions, shift my perspective, and enjoy these years so fully. I know that many (most) others, don’t get this privilege, and I strive to be doing what I can to hear, see, love, and give to the communities who don’t have the same ease that I get.

Our family has so much to give, and we are giving it out everywhere we can, and brainstorming better ways to do and give and love more. But I’m starting here, at home. Raising kids so overfull of love that my hope is that they know and learn to listen to and pour that love out on everyone, anyone, those who need it most.

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4 forever.

It’s weird to feel loss over babies never conceived. It’s strange and selfish feeling. We decided, two years ago, to be done. We made that decision permanent.

Nearly every night we talk about it, and we squeeze hands with excitement about our growing family and passing phases, the girls newest endeavors and how what just passed has now passed forever. It feels so right.

I look into the back seat as Charlie drives, his hand on my thigh, Nolie’s eyes wide out the window looking at each mountain and hill as it blurs by and Ev’s still chubby hands thumbing a book, and I feel so full to the brim with our family.

They cuddle together to read, they cooperatively work to build their cities and hospitals and camping trips and doll houses, they are made to fit each other. Complimenting and contrasting in every perfect way, the light and shadow each flip flopping in their role as they play and love and chat seamlessly. A large piece of our decision was their total contentment in each others arms and hearts and lives. There was no lack, to need, nothing missing. Our puzzle of four fit perfectly.

But there are quiet nights. Where my brain wanders and finds that old secret PinBoard full of pictures I saved for the baby we tried for before we decided we were done. The bump pictures, the nursery, the old posts of my own recalling the magic of those months. The nights where I relive the excitement through a friends announcement or a commercial. And the ache, the forever ache of a mama, I think, is there.

Sometimes I just say it to Charlie, often at night, more often as we drive, always after a friend tells us about their impending baby. “I’ll never have another.”

It’s not said with sorrow exactly, but not with joy either. Peace, maybe. Calm, almost. Just with surety.

It’s strange to decide. It’s uncommon to make that choice before we hit 30. And it’s strange to some to do that after “only” having two.

I don’t doubt our decision, or regret it.

But, I’ll never have another baby. And that weight is so big tonight. 1093843_10100584074008060_2006042849_o-1

{back when my Nolie nursed, and Ev was a little babe.}

 

Mothers Day

I wanted to share a couple of things. One is my post from my Facebook page, that you’ve likely seen. And two is my post to my girls on Mothers Day from my personal page. I’m sharing it here because today marked a big and really awesome milestone. I’ve written posts to my girls in some form or another, on some platform or another, every Mothers Day. But today, I read them all aloud to them. And they were still, and listened, and smiled, and cooed over the photos of tiny them. They’re getting big, and grown, and starting to understand it. How deep our love is. And how special and different it is. I’m so honored to be theirs, and today felt so big to share with them.

However, I am aware of what a deeply hard day this can be for so many, and so first I wanted to share from my page these words. I dropped tear after tear thinking of the hurting women out there who are aching for babies of their own. My heart breaks for those who give and give as Mothers, who put out mothering love and energy and don’t receive this day as their own for one reason or another, mostly all based in labels and cultural constructs. This day is hard and loud, and I hold you close today.

 

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Happy Mothers Day to you! You out there who nurture, who give, who donate, who love on others. Those who mother birth babies, babies birthed by others, babies that come over from across the street for a cookie and an ear, those who mother the kids who come through their line of work, those who mother with their hearts but not always their bodies, Happy Mothers’ Day to you. You who ache, you who yearn, you whose heart hurts, I am thinking of you today. Happy Mothers’ Day to those who are that stable person for a child, a teen, another person whose mama isn’t. You are doing the work, and it’s work that matters, regardless of what story your body or Facebook tells. This day is for you too. Take it, whether that is in a gentle thought to your heart, or a card, or a hot bath, or just a passing thought as you work yet another day. You are a strong Mama. No matter through what avenue or for what amount of time. I am thankful for you.

 

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Noele, meeting you was the single hardest thing I have ever done. Getting you out of my body, and to my arms was incredibly difficult, long, and scary. But we did it, together. We beat what every one in the room thought would happen, and you and I worked together through it every moment. Your Papa was the first to hold you, and your bond is deep and unbreakable. When you came to my arms, I felt what I had alway been come to a new and deeper fruition, I knew Mama was my name. You calmed and clung and nursed and gave me every gift in knowing you. We have continued to work together, learn each other, but have that deep and unspoken understanding between our matching round eyes. You are fully your own, and have been my guinea pig in motherhood. I’ve learned how to put the ideas I had into action with you, I’ve felt regret and learned to apologize, you are the best teacher and most forgiving friend. Thank you for allowing me to watch you grow, witness you as a person coming into your own more each day, but fully yourself ever day. You are curiosity and wild delight, you are grace and calm, and you are nurturing personified. I love you dear heart, forever.
 
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Ever, you are my spit-fire. Your birth was all redemption and beauty and prayer in action. You arrived into my arms, and were welcomed with total surprise (you came so fast!). I wept with pride in myself, and for us together, and your life has continued with that. We work together endlessly, we talk and talk through each obstacle and you have the endless ability of reflection. You came out scowling and crying and only wanting me, persnickety to the bone, and it’s only been recently that your shell has been allowing others (Nolie, Papa, and I have always had access!) to peek open to your deep security and willingness to allow others into your Joy and grin filled world. You are well named my love Ever Harbor Joy, you are always a moment away from a tight hug, a huge grin, and a quick joke. You have continued to surprise me, and put my ideals to the test. I love being your Mama and seeing your world unfold. You made the new baby mantra true in every way for me, when you were born ‘Everything is new again’ and it hasn’t stopped yet. Ever, you are wild and sensitive, gentle and talkative, particular and genuine through and through. I am so thankful to be your Mama and am honored to get to know you, and that you choose me daily in your arms. I love you dear heart, forever.

weekend.

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He’s reading books in ridiculous voices and their smiles are quick and goofy. She has loose teeth and absentmindedly wiggles them at every chance. Her tiny fingers find Ever’s and they squeeze hands as his silly Ms.Frizzle voice grow’s louder and more emphatic. I can hear their anticipation as the story grow from across the room.

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We drive in bright dappled roads, lined with tall trees, the warmth is out and bringing the calm in a way that only sunshine in Washington can. My hand on his familiar thigh as new music that cuts to the heart plays loudly and the road winds and winds to the beach. Nolie is surefooted on the path and Ever is snug on my back, the questions and conversation quick and bright and unceasing as both have mastered language and illuminating their thoughts into words. It’s new. The years and years of “what does she want?!” have ended and there is rarely a moment that we don’t know what both want, need, and are asking for. Contrary to what you may have heard, it’s glorious. I’ll take my never ending talkers any day. I soak up their thoughts and ideas like a dry sponge as the trail descends and I feel Nolie’s hand tighten in mine and Ever’s body grow heavier and tired.

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There is space. We come home and dispersing into play is immediate. They spread like water into the corners of our home. Creating fairy homes, and Strawberry Shortcake adventures. Piles of books spread wide and fill every space as Nolie devours one after another after another. The window that sold me on this home has never let me down. It lets in the most beautiful and warm filtered sunlight onto my flaxen head babies as they are silent in their own space. Charlie eats and reads. I have time and I write. Their play and my typing are our afternoon symphony and it feels too right to be true.

Too beautiful to be my own.

A season I can’t fathom that illuminates with a  brightness that I turn my face to and soak up the vitamin D that this family puts off.

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And it’s only Saturday. 12419117_10101600455905590_6954619838839458809_o

Traditions.

When Nolie was really little I felt this huge need and pressure to create traditions. But I tried and tried and nothing stuck, felt right, or really worked. I can now see, looking back, that’s because we didn’t really know our family all that well yet. We were still figuring it all out (and still are, big time), we had lots of needs (need to nurse often, or snack all the time, need to sleep right.now., need to get a diaper changed, need to rear face, etc.) and those made traditions (that are often far away, car filled, late at night, long term, include waiting or lines, and often not super baby friendly…) hard. But as we are finding our groove with a, still so young, growing up family we are slowly finding that traditions are gaining, and so much fun!

But, we’ve had one (seriously, other than sweet potato cheesecake on Thanksgiving… I think this is it) long standing, forever tradition. And that’s the pumpkin patch! And over documenting! And donuts! And I love it.

This was year six. And goodness, look at how  much changes in six years.

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One not quite one year old, two exhausted parents wondering “are we doing this right???” and now … two big ol’ kiddos and two exhausted parents thinking “I think we might be doing this right!” And, whoa, that feels so good. Not that I don’t have days of intense doubt, but it’s pretty amazing to be coming into the time where we can see some of the results of our parenting (especially in Nolie!) and feel like “yes! This path, the one of endless talking and relating and loving and gentleness and not punishment… it’s working!” and I just want to go and hug those two parents from six years ago and say “hold her! nurse her! she’s great! you’re great!”

I obviously took a million pictures and I love them all. So here are a few… this is our family scrap book!

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This is the first year that both of the girls were fully into the family photos! Neither put up a fight, both giggled and smiled and picked apples and asked if they could get the donuts after this (of course!). We figured the donuts were a pretty good incentive to get through the sappy mom and dad moments 😉
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This was our first visit where Nolie was interested in taking some of the photos. She snapped a ton and has a pretty great eye! I love her pictures best because you can see that none of us are uncomfortable around her. All the kisses, grins, and loves are so authentic. So, thanks Nolie!
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Almost 6 suits Nolie. She’s just amazing. And made for a pretty perfect big kid baby holder for her sweet and tiny 10 week old buddy, Birdie.12087948_10101489502896310_1486973605987359779_o

She’s still all nut though. 12108722_10101489504458180_542569339146138902_n

Donut, that is. 12065479_10101489503839420_5553754914229578542_n

Ever Harbor Joy is 3.5 and a spunk. Wild, overflowing, huge emotions, slow growing empathy, and mindblowingly sweet. Her favorite things are to fly! and run! (she can run two miles! what?!) 12132537_10101489502716670_1168160652183001784_o

 

This was the last year this pumpkin patch will be open, but I know that our tradition will live on and next year we will be scoping out a new spot. But an apple orchard is required!

schoolie.

When Nolie was about 2.5 she started talking about “Porcupine School”. It was a fictional school where she learned about… everything! Adventurous field trips, explorations, and vacations to Seattle were all mentioned. Writing, reading, and story telling were heavily relied upon, and art was unending. It was all in her pretend world, but each of us slowly got pulled in.

She’d request an “art history day!” and then Porcupine School would come to life on my table top, with me… as a Teacher.

I am not a teacher.

I am a mother. A reader. A thinker. A life long learner. But… a teacher?

We sat at the table, hands on butcher block, turning page and pulling brush strokes. Reading aloud about Rembrandt and the Mona Lisa. Her giant eyes wide and absorbing. Her work slow and thoughtful. And her observations, nothing short of genius. I sat there. Teaching?

I feel strongly that play is learning. That the outdoors are our teachers. That birth to age five is that ripe sponge time for me to facilitate play and environments free of “educational TV” or screens, or junky food, or punky kids and instead keep her in museums, and play spaces, and outside in the fresh air, in collecting on nature walks, making worm homes, hugging freely and often, dancing to ballets and learning about the Four Seasons (Spring is her favorite Vivaldi). And, for the most part, I’ve done alright. She’s mind blowing, inquisitive, “advanced”, and just about the most wonderful little person I could ever fathom walking the earth (okay, maaaybe I’m a bit biased).

But now we are here. The end of her preschool career ticking away quickly. Her age and “readiness” for kindy meaning we are getting paperwork from public school arriving at our door, I’m scheduling tours with the two closest elementary schools, and she’s asking where her desk will be. . . and I am seeing the reality knocking, hard. 30 hours a week. That’s the kindergarten load. That is also a job. Basically a full time job… for a five year old? Nope.

I can’t get behind those hours. I cannot fathom she or I being ready to be apart from each other for 6+ hours a day, I cannot see her ready to leave us or her sister for that duration. When we talk about it she says “yeah, till nap time? then I’ll come home. What would you do during nap time without me?” and “but if I feel sad they’ll call? I’ll just come home. I might feel ready to come home.”  and then she usually ends with “maybe just a half day. Maybe just as long as preschool?” (that’s a whoppping 6 hours a week, btw). So despite the information in my inbox piling up from her local elementary school… I’m back to researching.

Homeschooling. It’s just such a huge world. A quick google and facebook search brings me endless groups/information/co-ops/everything. But what will be the right thing for us? For Nolie. For my girl?

Thankfully I have a few months. I have a lot of ideas (registering as a part-time public schooler and just pulling her out early to make the hours work for us?) and a lot of feelers out there for different ideas. Nolie is school hungry, and I don’t want to and never will deny her that experience in some capacity.

But now the hunt is on… to find her a(nother?) teacher. And to gain some new understanding and confidence in my own skills. And, probably time for me to get myself to some school of my own. . . Thank God for this girl who is just learning and exploding in her abilities each day. Seems porcupine school has been ongoing, whether I’ve been in attendance or not. 10456815_10101235612559580_4923051585297061023_n