Tuesday, July 4, 2017

July 3, 2017

It's quiet. The house is asleep and I am grasping these last bits of the night until my eyes can't win the battle anymore. Everyone always tells me that I should sleep in these moments, but with days loud and never ending, I am desperate for these quiet moments alone, more so than I am for sleep. I read, I knit, I ponder, I just sit without anyone talking to me, and without having to talk to anyone. Sometimes I feel guilty for having such thoughts, but we all need silence. We all need stillness.

I'm taking simplicity parenting coach training and in the meantime, we are beginning to take clients for parent coaching. I have this dream of eventually taking the business, along with the family, on the road. We're coming to your town, would you like to set up a class, coaching, etc. It's a dream, and as we all know, I dream deeply and numerously, yet still. I think it could happen.

The silence awakens my dreams and keeps me from seeking rest's solace. I had to tell my husband the other day not to give in to my pleas to spend hundreds of dollars in the middle of the night. When I'm up and the peace creeps in, I begin to be filled with ideas so grand, and I add costs, and I think we should do it, and I wake my husband to ask if I can spend hundreds on this thing that I "know" to be just what we need. He always tells me we'll talk in the morning. By afternoon I'm embarrassed of my midnight begging to spend money we don't have on things I don't want anyway. Side note. But important all the same.

The house is asleep and I'm grasping these last bits of the night until my eyes can't win the battle anymore. It's quiet.

Friday, June 9, 2017

June 9

I'm alone with my five littles for four days.  James, Layla, and Josiah went up to Oregon to Ian's college graduation.  It's so weird.  When I started this blog, Ian was only 12. Time goes by so fast. I'm really sad that I can't be with them. Layla posted a picture from her breakfast at a restaurant this morning and it made me cry. I felt incredibly goofy, sobbing over that picture, but it was just the thought of everything. The past 15 years. It was all leading up to this moment, Ian's graduation.  I mean, of course it was leading up to other stuff too, but this is a biggie. I became his mom when he was 6 and I taught him to read and I learned to be a mom and I homeschooled him and, just, he's all accomplished now.  It's really wonderful. But I'm here with the babies and not there. It's just a bit bittersweet.

I wrote this on facebook:

Ian Hughes I met your dad when you were 6 and I was 18. When I met you, you told me you had no mom, your middle name was "C," but you wished that it was Christopher, and asked if I was going to be your mom. And then I turned 19, became your mom, and was not the greatest mom because hey, I was only 19 and you were already 6. I had a brother your age. I'm sure I freaked my parents out, but they all always loved me and didn't act crazy, and they all always loved you too. It's kind of funny to think about now.
Your dad has literally been the hardest working person I know, he started working at age 15, when you were born. So he kept working, and I was suddenly your mom the year after I graduated high school, and we were just not your typical American family. But we were all pretty rad (still are, duh) and slowly we found our way.
Homeschooling you was super fun because you were a stubborn ass 😜 and debated a lot with the authors you read and had a special copy of The Iliad that you pulled off the shelf once a week to dust and pet, and you fell in love with Lorna Doone and read it every Christmas and were determined to name your first daughter Agnes after David Copperfield. When you homeschool a kid and they go to college, it's like this extra special thing, because you feel like you did an okay job and didn't suck. So when you went to college I patted myself on the back, job well done teacher mom.
But then you were gone and that left a hole. We all missed you and your sarcasm and negativity and off the wall opinions so much. But that's the circle of life (Nants ingonyama bagithi baba...) And now you're graduating from college. Like, you get to check the yes box on the "Do you have a bachelor's degree," question on job applications. That's pretty fantastic. You've done so great and I get to be so proud because I get to be your mom.
So happy graduation. I love you!!!!! 

It's all good. Truly. 
I'm here with the babies and we are enjoying ourselves. Watching movies, taking walks, cleaning together.  It's been a sweet and simple time, no outside classes, no having to drive teens to hang outs, just us at home, just being, the way it used to be. So it's all good. I'm enjoying this time.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

June 2

I woke with the sun, nursing the babe asleep on my arms, quiet sounds of my husband starting coffee. Lying in the peace of the moment, I slowly open eyes, staring at the beautiful sleeping face of the baby boy who has my heart. I don't want to forget this moment.

Life has too much excess, too much stress, too much of everything that just doesn't matter. It blinds us, smothers us, drowns out every peaceful moment, and as I lie there looking at him, smelling the healing aroma of coffee brewed by my love, I tell myself I'll stop this madness of life's distractions. 

I rise and drink coffee, exchanging whispers with my husband, so as not to wake the children. There are 7 of them. Days plans are shared, and I think to myself that I'm going to begin to Kon Mari all the things, (once again).

He starts working outside the house, the children wake and join my morning reverie.  Motivation flows through me; today we simplify (again), today we become the minimalists (again). And then, as always happens when motivation makes her refreshing appearance, children fight and yell and hatred leaves their mouths, and I shut my eyes tight, hoping it will stop, but the inevitable sound of a kick and then a cry, and pins pop and motivation slams the door and I am left, deflated. To accomplish means to have the ability, and lately I have no ability to do anything but wake, pray for peace, and then hold on to my faith as I'm carried over the tumultuous waves of the day's stormy ocean. 

I remember when I was strong and could weather these storms, walk the strong headed children through to peace, but now I sit, slowly having been chipped away at, grasping for direction. I remember two hours earlier when Kon Mari and I planned to spend the day together, but now she had been pulled out with the tide. I am simple little amy, but my life had become anything but simple. I espoused Thoreau, preaching to all, "Life is frittered away be detail. Simplify, simplify, simplify," and yet most days were all detail, no substance.

Deflated. Empty balloon on the ground, stepped on by 7 children. That was me. The problem with minimalism, with simplifying, with Kon Mari, is WHEN NINE PEOPLE LIVE IN A HOUSE, THERE IS A LOT OF CRAP. It doesn't matter how much you remove, when you need toys and clothes and dishes and books (and you homeschool), when you have kids who break stuff, kids who experiment, kids who are creative, kids who put holes in pants and shoes as often as I drink coffee (at least three times a day), the stuff is necessary and there's no minimizing that makes things actually seem minimal. I've taken us to the bare bones before, and the bare bones was still overflowing and overwhelming. 

My twins fight and I want to cry. But I remember, yet again, the words of a dear friend, "Instead of trying to order the child, order the environment." This, a mantra of sorts for me, I have revisited over and over for years. Order. Environment. Kon Mari. And so I pull an old favorite off my shelf, reading, preparing. I will begin to order my environment today. I will simplify. It may not look like a minimalist's home, but it will be a home of peace. Ordering the environment instead of ordering the child is essentially the message of Simplicity Parenting, and so this book is where I begin. Chapter 1: Soul Fever

I'm going to blog my way through this beautiful book and the simplification process in my family. Join me if you would like, I'd certainly love the company.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Monday, May 1

Monday May 1

I try to rise before the kids because I need that time to myself, to prepare for the beautiful chaos of a day homeschooling 7, but often my plan fails because Wilder stirs half the time when I wriggle him out from under my arm and get up. Today was successful though, I made it up with the little guy still asleep, checked the clock, 6:30, brewed the coffee, made the blueberry bagel, read the last day of She Reads Truth's Hosea study. Hosea has always been a special book to me, I even wrote about it years ago on this blog. There's such beauty and hope in a message that basically says, no matter what, I'm still here and I still love you. Who doesn't need to hear that? Oh Hosea, I remain enamored of your words.

My teens wake first, up to shower and begin schoolwork in the cool quiet of the early morning. I remember my goal of getting a handle on mornings and so, as the younger kids wake, I greet them with a smile and a hug and ask what I can help them with this morning. I make oatmeal, as the twins have sore throats from a spring cold, and warm oatmeal soothes. Five children at the table, eating oatmeal, sunlight streaming in through curtain cracks behind them, laughter and smiles adorn, and this is a good morning.

They dress quickly so that they can have some time to read and write before they begin school, and I find myself with some time to sip coffee and read, Wilder and Pearl playing nicely in the play room nearby. Yes, this is a good morning. Soon 9:00 rolls around and a twin begs for fifteen more minutes to write, and I say yes, because I have no good reason to say no. I throw an afghan down in the living room, spread coloring books, crayons, and blocks, have Moses, Pearl, and Wilder sit and color while I read chapter 3 of Charlotte's Web. It's never to early to begin the grand conversation, and so I pause mid-chapter and ask them about Wilbur's escape, if it was a good idea and what they thought of it. Pearl tells me that home is cozy and Moses tells me it's where love is, and they both agree that they'd rather have boundaries and cozy and love at home, than all the freedom in the world. And that makes a mama heart glad.

The twins and Layla appear, and we have a quick circle time, quick because we're starting 15 minutes late. We recite poetry, read a language lesson, recite Shakespeare, go over addition facts, pray, and we're done. The twins disappear to do a math lesson ( Math-U-See for Ruth and Teaching Textbooks for Hannah- they are two different people and each has a preference for math), Moses and Pearl head outside to blow bubbles, Josiah reads Tom Sawyer, Layla works on her school in her room, and Wilder takes a nap. Another cup of coffee for the mama.

As the twins finish math, they begin one of their natural history reads, Tommy Smith's Animals, a book I am quickly falling in love with. Josiah finishes his chapter of Tom Sawyer, does a passage of copy work, marks the parts of speech as a quick grammar refresher, and then we have lunch.  Some days lunch time is the switch and it gets flipped and there's no getting our school back on track; afternoons quick become an ocean, everything getting tossed about, but today we recover and head right back into the peace that led our morning. Written narrations, drawing, more readings, Mozart and DaVinci studies, reading lesson with Moses, reading about Davy Crockett with the young boy who has always loved a coon skin cap.

School ends, actually ends, as in we finish all we set out to do this day. The twins and Layla have Monday afternoon classes; choir and band, and while they're away I make dinner, burritos, while the littles watch Moana again. Night creeps in softly, we eat, then we take a walk in the dark, Wilder on my back and the four on scooters, air cooling down and helping us all breathe, the teens choose to stay home and clean up.

Books and prayers and bedtime songs, and I sit up a bit, bracing myself for night two of my husband out of town. I'll stay awake and eventually I'll sleep, hoping tomorrow is as peaceful as today was.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Sunday April 30

Sunday April 30, 2017

I wake to a kiss from 17 month old Wilder, open my eyes to huge grin, baby ready to greet the new day as he is everyday, with reckless abandon and dreams of the most exciting kind; what could this day hold, he wonders, and always the answer is nursing and grass and toys and chase and brothers and sisters and daddy, and what a marvelous thing to find such joy in the beautifully redundant every day.

I lie with him, hold him, he giggles, and soon I smell coffee brewing, fresh from my husband, and I rise, sun streaming in behind curtains, baby on my hip, kiss for the man who makes me coffee on Sunday mornings and works so hard, without complaint. Today he is leaving for a week, heading north for training, and we only have a few hours together this morning, which I try not to think of.  We sit and drink coffee in sunlight while Wilder roams and plays and the other kids sleep. 

Until they begin to wake, and always Wilder greets each one with a smile and arms up for a hug, which he promptly receives. There's breakfast and playing and dressing, this wild time of the day that crashes through and it's hard to remember it, and it's the one time I know that I need to get a hold of, to create a calm, a peaceful beginning to the days, and I tell myself this week I will get on top of it, this week morning will set the tone for the day and it will be one of peace. 

Soon I'm ironing shirts to get him ready to go and then he's driving away and my heart stops a moment because I hate this, this time apart. I wasn't made to be without him.  And yet I know the week will pass and he will be home and we will make it, so I breathe and head inside to the 7 who wait for the mama alone.

Wilder naps and twins read, Moses and Pearl ride scooters, Layla heads off to meet a friend for some ukulele playing, Josiah is in his room. I sip another cup of coffee and read a bit of Charlotte Mason's A Philosophy of Education, while Vineyard Roots worship music plays softly. Sometimes I find myself overly obsessed with Wilder's naps because they are the moments I have for myself, and it's when I'm too obsessed that they never last, like today, when I sit and breathe and don't want it to end, and then he wakes up too soon, and for a moment I want to cry but then he smiles at me.  His smile could end wars.

So we hold hands and walk outside to see Moses and Pearl, to sit in grass desperate to hold on to some green while being scorched from early heat, to breathe fresh air. I fill water balloons, and kids throw and scream and laugh, and I find myself hoping that these are the things they remember when they're grown, not the hard times, not the struggles, but these, the bowls of water balloons and the games and the popping over the head and the dumping bowls of water over one another, and the cries for more and the answer of yes. I hope these things fill their minds and their hearts and their souls and joy, love, is what they remember above all.

Some sort of transition is needed so I put on Moana and make them Silly Sea Life Mac n' Cheese, and they come in and sit and eat and it's calm. I sit outside on the green swinging bench that I always wanted and finally got, holding Wilder, feeling breeze as it finally began to cool down. I strapped him on my back in the Ergo, and we walk around the house watering plants, fighting back against the sudden heat, giving life to plants that don't know what to do momentarily. They will adapt. And I will water them to help. 

I'm counting moments until bedtime. I don't normally do that, but tonight with my husband gone, I find myself sad and contemplative, and I'm ready to check out. To read and drink tea and cry a little, to shut my eyes and wake up a day closer, to a school day, a day with focus and direction, where I can get everyone to read and drink tea with me. 

The kids are outside for an evening bike ride, and I am soon to join them.  We'll sit and feel it cool down and in just an hour or so, they'll come in for the night.  We'll read Fablehaven and picture books and soon after, they'll head to bed. And tomorrow begins May.