Can’t call this Reading Goodies because it’s not all reading. I do want to share some of the fun we’ve been having lately:
- My oldest daughter has been having a blast with duct tape crafts. You can find a couple of her favorite projects here and here.
- And she is still sewing up a storm. If you’re looking for me, you’ll find me in line for more fabric. I love how each of my kids challenges me in new ways. This one not only likes to sew, she likes to sew without patterns. Kind of freaking me out. But I worked on this with her yesterday and it actually turned out pretty good. Meesha has many sewing tutorials on youtube and is one of my girl’s favorites to follow. So if you enjoy this project, there is a lot more where that came from!
- I have been making water kefir. I used to be a yogurt maker, but I can’t have dairy so it was kind of a bummer to do all that work and not get to enjoy the end result. The water kefir it not difficult to make, does not require special equipment, and it is tasty!
- If I were more tech savvy, I would make a recording of what my home sounds like these days. My son always has his beat box going. Always. I’ve taken to dancing every time I hear it. Then he tells me to stop dancing because it’s annoying. Ahem. Anyway. He shared this video with me, something he finds inspirational.
And now for some true Reading Goodies:
- You may notice health and body image are on my mind. I enjoyed this funny and true blog post about mama bodies.
- I am currently reading Health at Every Size, by Linda Bacon. Feeling like it could have saved me a lot of trouble if I had read it years ago.
- Just finished Little Britches. It was a first time for all of us. Easy to see why this is a classic. What a sweet story!
- Percy Jackson is making a comeback at our house. Around here, some books are like old friends, and this is one of those.
- Reading this collection of stories with my littles, which led to an interest in Helen Keller’s life story. We have been taking in everything we can about Helen Keller and her teacher, Anne Sullivan. This is a great little history for kids with some pictures to go along with the text. Helen Keller was one of my very favorite people to learn about when I was growing up too, so it was fun to revisit this topic. I even watched The Miracle Worker again the other day. I am now loving Anne Bancroft and may have to watch more of her movies.
Lately I am feeling very excited for myself because I am feeling GOOD! I am always looking for THE BEST way to do things, whether it’s homeschooling or diet and exercise. I am finally learning that while it is wonderful to get some good ideas from out there in the world, ultimately I need to just get to know my own dear self and figure out what works best for ME. It has been quite a journey for me, and I am still learning all the time. These are some of my more recent discoveries:
I am not particularly motivated by a goal of weight loss. If I start out on a mission to develop healthier habits telling myself I am trying to lose weight, I will not succeed. It is the surest way for me to fail. Maybe I’m not all that worried about getting back into a bikini, not particularly concerned about appearance, or maybe I have just gotten a little too good at living in the moment to be motivated by such a long-term goal. I don’t know! But what I notice is that I do far better if I pay attention to what is going on this very day. How do I feel today if I eat this food? How do I feel today if I get some exercise? How do these actions affect my body now? What can I do for myself today to feel my very best? Committing to doing my very best for a day sounds completely doable and I reap the rewards immediately.
If I find exercise I truly love to do, I will do it. And if I am told to do something that is good for me, but I do not love it, it isn’t going to happen. I am a quiet, peaceful girl. I don’t like noisy, crowded gyms. I definitely do not want to part with my money in order to exercise. Surely exercise can be free. I don’t want to own a whole lot of special equipment either. I don’t have room for it! So, with all of that in mind, I set out to find exercise that I can love. I have discovered that I love to hike. I love to be in nature with my family. I get excited about exploring new places in this way. I also love to take a morning walk in my neighborhood before the rest of my family is awake. I love to walk around and look at all the flowers, listen to the birds and be alone with my thoughts for a little while. And I love, love, love yoga and pilates. I’m not a big fan of exercise videos typically because I enjoy quiet while I exercise, but I found a book that is truly perfect for me. Yes, I had to spend $.37 to get this book used at Amazon, but I have decided it was worth every penny and then some. So exercise is now fun for me and something I look forward to. I am so excited about this! And I am just beginning to feel more fit and strong, which is exciting too.
Taking care of myself cannot be optional. I cannot put it off until everything else is done. It has to be a priority or it will not happen. Eating healthy and exercise are now my #1 priority. I do both everyday. Not after I have taken care of everyone else first. I can take better care of everyone else if I take care of myself and feel good. In fact, I consider this part of taking care of everyone else. The best way for my kids to understand that healthy habits are important is for me to show them that I consider them to be important by doing it. So, I’m doing it.
Finding balance will help me maintain my good habits. I know how to follow a plan perfectly and I know how to have fun. I would like to bring all that together and learn how to both take good care of myself and have some fun all at the same time. Not too much perfection, not too much fun. Then I will both enjoy the benefits of my good habits and also not get burned out and give up.
As so often happens for me, something has crept into my awareness due to repeated exposure over a short period of time. This something is poking at me and begging me to pay attention, to give it some time and thought.
Lately, over and over I hear the beloved and beautiful people in my life expressing dissatisfaction with their bodies. This dissatisfaction is nearly always about weight. I am most surprised that even women I consider to be quite thin wish they were thinner. The painful piece of this for me is learning that the people I love and KNOW to be beautiful are not feeling beautiful.
And then I found myself in those shoes, saying the very thing that had been driving me wild. I expressed frustration that despite my best efforts at developing good habits, my body is curvier than I would like it to be. My friend was surprised. She didn’t know I felt that way.
I think there is something really sweet there in all of that. I see all the people I love as beautiful. And the people who love me, see me as beautiful too. I suspect that very little of that has anything to do with appearance, and nothing to do with weight. It is really about who we are and how we treat people. It is really love that makes us beautiful.
I think if we can all feel as beautiful as our loved ones know we are, it will be life-changing.
In my life before the move, which I now refer to as “homeschooling in a vacuum”, I was the only one I knew that was homeschooling the way I homeschool. I felt lonely about being the odd one on many occasions. That was the BIG and only downside to that situation. Now I am seeing that there are some benefits to that situation too. I knew our journey was going to be different from everyone we knew, so there was no reason to compare our lives to others. Because I was not living among other Waldorf homeschoolers or other Unschoolers, I was not trying to follow any particular philosophy perfectly. I was just doing what felt right for my family.
Now that we have landed in a city just full of homeschoolers, a very diverse group (by accident, if you can believe it), I get some first-hand experience with other homeschooling families. When I first got here, I envisioned that this would be HEAVENLY. I am always happier when I keep my expectations much more reasonable than that. Heavenly was reaching a bit high. I have been experiencing overwhelm instead so I have been thinking a lot about that. WHAT is overwhelming about this?
I think comparison is a big piece of it. A new friend and I were sitting in my living room and she was asking me some questions about how I work with my kids and ultimately shared some worry that what she was doing wasn’t as good as what I was doing. And I had to laugh AT MYSELF because I knew that was just what I have been doing. When I look around I only see what other people are doing that I am NOT. I never see that I am doing so many cool things that all those other people are not doing because they are busy doing whatever cool things they are doing.
It is beautiful that we are all doing different cool things, hopefully the exact cool things that our very own precious children need. None of us can be doing ALL the cool things. Moving forward, I want to be inspired by the cool things I see other parents doing and add those ideas to my bag of tricks in case I should ever need those ideas in the future without feeling pressure to do all the cool things all the time. Again, I am always happier when I keep reasonable expectations.
In case you are someone who also has an occasional freak-out and wonders whether you should change everything about the way you homeschool, read Sheila’s article about homeschool doubts and perhaps bookmark it for future freak-outs.