Saturday, November 29, 2014

so much to be thankful for...

A couple more weeks of photos from our unschooling lives:

This painting started transforming from some really ugly wild layers when Ayla told me, "It looks great, Mama. It just needs lots and lots of coca-dots." Thanks, babe.
my favorite new creative outlet, acrylic on canvas, almost finished

(midway through, right after the coca-dots)

"Mama, can we touch it?"

wooden block pattern play

watching the snow fall

"Mama, I'm a princess elf pegasus. Do you wanna take a picture?"

sleepover make-up play

glow in the dark paper art, for an older sister and her sleepover friend

monster dance party

healthy late-night snack 

monsters transformed into flower faeries

flower faerie play dough sculpting

detail, another work in progress

helper, bringing in firewood

wrapped up for the weather

a ladybug cooking arroz con pollo and white chocolate mousse for the family
while listening to Cuban Radio on Pandora, just 'cause

"Mama, I'm a cat ballerina. Wanna take a picture?"

Sylvia-made salad with chickpeas

petting the magician's duck at the library

off on a sister adventure

An Argentina puzzle book led to listening to Argentine tango music, searching for more hidden pictures, decoding, cooking locro (an Argentinian stew), watching documentaries about gauchos and another about extreme mountain biking in Argentina. Unschooling in action!

My first finished painting! 
Emergence, acrylic on canvas, 24 x 24"

lots more snow

Ayla peeling potatoes, Sylvia writing to her penpal 

We went to the annual square dance and potluck with our homeschool co-op, with live music and caller. These pictures are from the one song that I sat out. We all had a lot of fun!

another painting, nearly finished

 Camille returning to her painting, after taking a couple of weeks off

Woohoo! Another one finished!
The Huntress, acrylic on canvas, 24 x 24"

Thanksgiving weekend is winding down and we celebrated simply at home. We roasted ducks that we raised ourselves, made way too many mashed potatoes, made a sour cherry sauce when we realized that we were out of cranberries from our friends' farm, danced, sang, painted, and enjoyed ourselves. I recovered from having two of my wisdom teeth removed. It's a good, simple, messy kind of life here that I am thankful for. 

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Bloom True ~ week 4

My last three posts have focused on my experience in the online art course, Bloom True, and how it has incorporated with and inspired learning in our unschooling lives. On week four, I didn't make a lot of time for painting, but found that the ideas presented in the course still made their way into my life. When taking a nature walk down hill from our property, I let Ayla and Sylvia take the lead and kept being drawn to interesting shapes and textures in the autumn woods. I love how creating art on a regular basis, inspires a different view of the ordinary beauty around us. I can already see some of these shapes sneaking into my painting.

"Not all those that wander are lost." J.R.R Tolkien

juniper moss

sandstone layers

being brave, with a big sister's help

guessing what each other were drawing in the sand with a stone

skunk cabbage shoot

decaying birch branch

back at the house, every day is dress-up day for Ayla

Camille continued to add layers to her canvases. They are so full of energy.

After last week, when one of my paintings started to come together (canvas three - the huntress) I found that I was too scared to paint on it anymore because I didn't want to mess it up. Until I could move forward without that sense of fear, I added a layer here and there to the canvases that I was less attached to.
canvas one

aaah, scary canvas three

mmmm, that's a little better

As I saw canvas three start to transform out of its ugly duckling stage, I started a new canvas. In part to use up extra paint that I had already mixed, and also to remind myself to paint loose and free without trying to make something 'pretty' out of each layer.

Otherwise, our lives continued on in all of their usual (and unusual) ways.
 "I don't really fit on this like I used to."

 dress-up playdate

 Ayla tracing letters while her sisters finish their last day of gymnastics for the season

 Camille and her friend at the easel during a weekend-long sleepover

What are you two doing in the bathroom?
Um, OK. Carry on. Lookin' good.

 playing Zooreka

 leading cooperative games at Girl Scouts

 The theme of the fourth week of the Bloom True course was Being Brave.

Within the course, it felt brave to share my work online with artists from all over the world, both what was working for me and what I was struggling with. I found that the more we all shared our experiences openly, the more we could relate to each other, and the more true encouragement and inspiration we could find in each others' work and comments.

Honestly, one of the bravest things that I did during the week was co-leading the Daisy and Brownie Girl Scouts. As a mostly introverted, more-comfortable-helping-behind-the-scenes-than-leading kind of person, this one is big for me. However, the more often I show up and do it, the less daunting (and more fun)  it gets. I know for many people it wouldn't be an issue of bravery at all, but for me, it is.

The older Camille gets, the more that I see social anxiety and sensory-overload processing becoming issues for her (in certain situations), and I don't doubt where she gets it from. What I also see is her being able to cope with those feelings in a more assertive and confident way. They don't pull her under as deeply as they used to, even as they seem to come up more often. I hope that in some part she is learning that from me (and me from her), as we lean into our fears and come out the other side stronger (and, um, avoid the triggers that aren't worth the effort).

I don't share a lot about my parenting challenges anymore because they are not just my story to tell, but also my children's, and I want to be mindful. I will say that it is so affirming to see that loving and supporting and radically-accepting my daughter right where she's at, without trying to push or change her, has not only not spoiled her, but it has increased her ability to relate to others with respect and generosity, as well as to feel comfortable in her own skin. I think that's what we all want for our children, and ourselves; kindness, confidence, and joy. In my experience, children treated with respect and kindness, even in the face of their own flailing moods, will learn to treat others accordingly.

Children who see us being afraid but stepping up anyway, even in small ways, will learn their own strengths in the face of fear and uncertainty.


That's where the idea of Being Brave is finding me. Speaking up and stepping up and showing up, even when it's not easy to do so.