Monday, March 13, 2017

Fruit and a Squirrel

Two Words :
Fruit Art

Three Words :
Sweet Blue Eyes

Four Words :
Sun Bathing Squirrel Friend 

Five Words :
The Pictures Speak for Themselves

Have a lovely Monday friends - the clouds have parted and the sun is peeking out (my squirrel friend is taking full advantage of the rays.) Our day has included coffee with Gran Jan and now learning about the insect world, adding mixed numbers, punctuating direct quotations...and a quick break to laugh at our squirrel for about 15 minutes straight and snap photos of fruit art. 
Blessings to you.

“Reflect upon your present blessings -- of which every man has many -- not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some.” 
― Charles Dickens

Saturday, March 11, 2017

The Rat Race and Plants

A couple nights ago my little buck friend came a visitin'. 
 I called to him from my front porch with the babiest of babiest voices
"hello there you little love you, hellooooo."
I'm pretty sure he answered me back.

Such a little beauty he is...and ever so friendly. 
He's a favorite.

This last week has brought many good things into my universe -
some hard thought and some sorting through...a little recognition,
 but in the end...
very good. 
I took a bit of time considering again what it is that I want for my life, 
and where it is that I'm not practicing what speaks to me, what my soul wants. 

The world is "oh so busy" and I've been made aware that I've been filling my space with noise...
quiet noise that seeps slowly into me and fills my heart....
the noise of the ever impending "rat race."
You know the ones....the "you need this" and "if you accomplished this you would be happy."
Sometimes it disguises itself with good intention. 
In the end though - it's noise that keeps me away from my present.

So, a journal entry it was and new resolutions to continue walking down a road of gratitude,
to love others with all of me but not to invite drama into my life,
to surround myself with support and beauty...
and to give it where I can.

I reexamined where my dollars go, my time...and reinvested myself in wanting to buy less but to buy sustainable, used, and handmade. 
I reminded myself to soak in the sun when I have the opportunity instead of busying myself with the cycle of living but not living (the load of dishes that can wait...the tv show that doesn't actually have to be watched) and to listen, really really listen to music. 

It's always good to be intentional. 
I've been falling in love all over again with my babies, my playlist, my incense burner, my cup of hot tea in the evenings. My discontentment this week was short lived when I turned that frown upside down and remembered that I have everything i need to be soul.

“When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy. When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.” 
― Kahlil Gibran

Anyways, to end this teeny tiny post I just wanted to mention how deeply grateful I am to be part of a plant based community - even if it's online.
 I still haven't met my soul friend that delights in greens and mangoes the way I do (or spotty bananas!), but I feel so fortunate that in this BUSY techno world there is a space to create friendships with like minded people. The online world has been tricky for me to navigate in the past, but I've been enjoying the ability to encourage others and to delight in what delights them. 
Simply put...It's been awesome.

Living plant based is a lifestyle choice I made 5 years ago, and it has brought a lot of healing into my life. My eyes were opened to beauty and texture and color that I never appreciated before. I've been brought so much closer to my Creator through this journey and I think it's come from a place of compassion, a place of being kind, a place of delighting in what He has made perfect for the human body - plants! It's been a journey of learning to be brave and following my heart. 
It's been a journey of being okay that others don't understand me, 
but always having hope that someday they can respect my choice and see it as "good."

It's been a journey of not taking part in death but instead embracing life. 
It's been a journey of awareness and cherishing every little calf or chicken the same way I would puppy or a robin or hamster. God made all of them, with the same feelings and emotions...but for some reason society values some more then others. 
It's been a journey of health and healing my adrenal fatigue and thyroid with nutrients.
 It's been a journey of spreading light and love to all sentient beings...
the cashier with achy feet and a tired mind,
 the homeless man on the corner...longing for love and inclusion,
 the strong mother in Kenya making necklaces to sell fairtrade,
 or the beautiful calf being yanked away from his mother and kept in a little cage so his muscles can't develop so that man can gulp down veal. 

It's good to be intentional

Have a lovely weekend dear reader. 
You are more beautiful then you ever thought, 
You are valued more then you will ever know, 
You are a light in this world that can shine... and should. 
May your soul be nourished deeply by the One who knows you best. 

“Do you know I don't know how one can walk by a tree and not be happy at the sight of it? How can one talk to a man and not be happy in loving him! Oh, it's only that I'm not able to express it...And what beautiful things there are at every step, that even the most hopeless man must feel to be beautiful! Look at a child! Look at God's sunrise! Look at the grass, how it grows! Look at the eyes that gaze at you and love you!...” 
― Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Everything Helps

Sunday feels like the end of the week to me...
I guess it's the beginning. 

Interesting how that is -
some see new, some see old,
some see extraordinary, others ordinary. 
Endings , Beginnings, black, white
glittery, dull.

It's okay to view the world differently, 
but oh my, it's such a wonderful journey
when you search for the art, the beauty, the wonders
that are
"This Life."
The secret's all for something. 

There was a man on the corner the other day,
he was dark and had the most beautiful wrinkled face.
He wore a dark green coat with faux fur edging his face.
His worn hands held a cardboard sign that said :
To Honest to Lie
To Ugly to Prostitute

His humble sign gave me and Zac a laugh.
We rolled down our window and gave him whatever cash and coins we could find...
it was a pitiful amount.
"Sorry man," Zac said "this is all I got on me."
That beautiful face, glowing eyes in the cold, smiled and said
"Thank you so much, everything helps."

Everything Helps.

I know he helped me.

I thought of him for the rest of the day, his picture perfect self.
I wished I had had a camera - I would love someday to travel and take pictures of faces...
faces like his.
 Honest. Authentic. Humble. Kind.
Just thinking of his smile in his hardship, inspired me.
Everything Helps. 

Everyone has the freedom to choose how they respond to life.
Rice can be a feast,
traffic can be a blessing (extra time to listen to the radio?)
wind can be a song. 

"Life happens not in Brightness,
not in Darkness, 
but in the Medium Light of a Regular Day."
~ Emily Freeman

Sunday for me is wrapping up my week, 
slowly in the medium light.
I've been painting, enjoying simple things like changing blues,
sipping tea in a new mug,
the pink glow from my salt lamp. 
I remember the extraordinary parts of "normal" days this past week, 
 like the man and his inspiring sense of humor,
taking a picture of a cloudy sky when I was wishing for sun,
making deodorant for Trinity's dolls ( yes...)
and I tell my soul :

Everything Helps 


Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Home Educating - Why I've Chosen This Path

The thing is, I never thought I would be a homeschool mom. 
I knew I wanted to be a mother,
but I knew I could never be a "teacher."

I never wanted for my kids to see me as mother one moment and then teacher the next. 
One moment I'm making breakfast, the next I'm commanding children to sit at a table with a sharpened pencil and to to be quiet. Lesson plans mixed with recipes and chores and bedtimes.
No thanks.
Also the idea that little old me would even pretend to be smart enough to teach...seemed almost prideful. I don't think I put that idea in my head...but I heard it from multiple places. 

 Really though, I think I just didn't understand it. 
Until I was made to. 

My child needed me and deep down inside, in those dark places of the heart... I knew that only I could give him the security that he needed.
 What about an education though? Could I give him that? 
I did a lot research, weighing options...talking to homeschoolers that had had a positive experience.
I looked at the options,
in the end his security and comfort is what won. 
It was challenging in the beginning (often still is) but it's the best thing that has ever happend to me -
this "interrupting of plans." 
Isn't it always that way? 
There is an expectation, a force and a want where we feel we HAVE to do it this way, this one way.
 Then life happens and we make the choice to either stay on a comfotable path (sometimes uncomfortable) or try a different one. 
I was open - and the unbeaten path looked those most adventurous.

This post is not to say that homeschooling in ANY way is superior -
it's just to tell you of how it has effected my life for the positive. 
It's a written account, to testify, that one way really isn't best for all. 
The only way that's best for all is Love, 
anything outside of that realm is part of the great living experience and experiment. 
Choices, convictions, growing - it's all part of the very big plan of joy.

"Growth itself contains the germ of happiness."
- Robert Louis Stevenson

The first thing I did was investigate all the different methods in homeschooling.  Choosing the "elusive one" for our family has been rather tricky...
because I've found that I am drawn to parts of many types of educating - and as in every other area of my life....I've chosen a big mash up. 

Here is a portion of my  "I do not" list :

1. I do not like to be rigid...I don't follow a certain curriculum even though I have ones to help keep me on "target" (meaning the government's and their set of tests.)
2. I like a free flowing day with a little bit of structure - I like to have goals but not become a goal.
3. I do not practice home tardies and detentions and punishments in our learning space. 
4. I do not give out quizzes and tests even though my kids do take the CAT every other year (state requirement.) I would like to add here, not as a boasting but as general info, that Trinity scored in the 90th percentile in almost every subject on her test...and it was the first time she's ever been tested. 
5. My general philosophy is to teach my littles about their world through nurturing curiosity.
6. I do not use writing or reading or exercise to discipline my kids. I would like for those things to be a source of joy in their life so don't want to tie anything negative to them.

Sometimes, when I do get caught up in my own agenda I have to remind myself that a my little's only opportunity to have "home." 

Our home is not a school.
 If I want them to have a school education, then I would send them there.
 We've chosen hot tea and barefeet and free speech (if it's kind) is greatly enforced. :) 
Day's off for hormonal distress is also greatly encouraged - no one needs a basket case to be shoving diagramming down their throat.
Also, I am not the author of information and the last word on any subject...whether it be faith,nutrition, history, science, math, or English. I do not know best - so I encourage our kids to think for themselves. I guide them, show them options, but in the end give them the freedom to choose. I encourage them to be kind, to respect all people and creatures, and to find stability and security in Love and how He made them. 
In a very small nutshell ... that's my "philosophy" if you want to call it that.

Hopefully overtime, we will have clues as to where their natural "bents" are and we will do everything we can to support our kids accomplishing those goals - whether they want to study computer coding or be a great "store organizer " as Trini calls it.

“Knowledge which is acquired under compulsion has no hold on the mind. Therefore do not use compulsion, but let early education be a sort of amusement; you will then be better able to discover the child's natural bent.” 
― Plato

 My desire is for my kids to be able to take care of any way that brings them joy.
 I'm raising hard workers, truth tellers, and people lovers. 
I'm raising givers, creative souls, God worshipers. 
If I'm permitted to have a "want" of someone else,
that's what I want. 

"Happiness is in your ability to love others."
- Leo Tolstoy

I love homeschooling because it has taught me to love learning. The world has been opened to me -
one I never knew existed.
Tristan's fortune cookie the other day read
"to teach is to learn twice."
I thought how true that was...and for teach is to learn for the first time.

Today we finished workbooks, went on to investigating history...
ancient India.
  We became so involved in our learning that 3 hours later...
we were still talking about it. 
My littles were sitting on the couch, cups of Spearmint tea in their ever growing hands, 
and we connected and talked and shared...without limitations. 
My son that the world would say has "social issues" was completely connected to me and having a very social experience - an intimate one, a vulnerable one. His eyes were open and his mind was wandering and I saw the value in both - searching eyes, an energy filled body, and a questioning mind.

“The function of a child is to live his/her own life, not the life that his/her anxious parents think he/she should live, nor a life according to the purpose of the educators who thinks they knows best” 
― A.S. Neill

The kids did their math, and I could help them.
 While they practiced long division I went to work on all my little stuffed animal patients (many had suffered lacerations of the neck, ear and belly...) 

I sat in a chair and stitched, every now and them helping out with a word problem,
my kids nearby...working on math and feeling loved.
What a wonderful experience
... to see math, for the first time in my life, as not just logical but creative.

I'm thankful to have the opportunity to live simply, but to be able to keep my children close (not sheltered) and pour all of me into all of them. It's rewarding to see children that are 9 and 11 being able to bake applesauce muffins completely alone, find solutions, being  friendly and kind without the stress of peer pressure. 

“What is most important and valuable about the home as a base for children's growth into the world is not that it is a better school than the schools, but that it isn't a school at all.” 
― John Holt

What I've learned through this journey is that to homeschool...
I don't have to be a teacher. I'm not a teacher.
I'm a mom helping them discover the world.
I'm a mom that is encouraging them to love learning.
I'm a mom that will teach them to take a test ONLY because that is a skill they may need one day,
 not because a score defines them. 

“We can get too easily bogged down in the academic part of homeschooling, a relatively minor part of the whole, which is to raise competent, caring, literate, happy people.” 
― Diane Flynn Keith

"True happiness involves the pursuit of worthy goals.
Without dreams, without risk, only a trivial semblence of living
can be achieved."
- Dan Buettner

I have time to read more then a bedtime story to my kids.
I have time to craft with them, chore with them, walk with them... and have three hour long conversations with them whenever I want...because they are here with me. 
In this world of children, and especially in this world of children on the spectrum, I have enjoyed finding ways to keep them "out of the box." 
Educating at home is just one way I do this in my life - but it's been an effective way. 

“To confuse compulsory schooling with equal educational opportunity is like confusing organized religion with spirituality. One does not necessarily lead to the other. Schooling confuses teaching with learning, grade advancement with education, a diploma with competence, and fluency with the ability to say something new.” 
― Wendy Priesnitz

Unfortunately, I have been the brunt of a lot of passive aggressive comments.
I've been told things like :
"yah, well I wanted to do more with my life then just bake cookies."
I've been told by kids that their parents TOLD them that they should count themselves fortunate that they don't keep their children home all day sitting at a table doing workbooks. 
I've also been told them someday, hopefully I will think of what my children need and not my own wants. Yes. That one bit a little.
I've been told a lot. 

I wish I could say that I have a granite constitution and opinions just bounce off my soul. 
That would be a massive lie though - those words have made me question my own value and also my choices for my kids.They have made me feel unqualified at times to follow my heart.

A precious friend reminded me, during one of those days I was letting other opinions effect my happiness "But Alyssa...they are just deflecting on you - they are taking their own feelings about themselves and placing them on you."

What a sweet friend to wrap up reality for me, and hand back my sanity with a bow on top.
The nay saying was an excellent opportunity for me to learn to value other people's choices and also to be confident in my journey. 

At some point in time, I'm sure I will be able to look back at those experiences with gratitude.

“Homeschooling and public schooling are as opposite as two sides of a coin. In a homeschooling environment, the teacher need not be certified, but the child MUST learn. In a public school environment, the teacher MUST be certified, but the child need NOT learn.” 
― Gene Royer

I look around me, and see my daughter baking muffins and learning to double fractions in the recipe.
I see my sons chasing each other with underwear on their heads and capes around their necks and I see that they are CLEARLY not bored. 
I watch my oldest investigating and laughing and being shocked by what he is learning - and I know those facts will stay in his mind because he learned them through fun. 
I watch my daughter journaling and drawing pictures of her Paradise,
using apostrophes and colorful adjectives and learning what "anthropology" means. 
I found my little boy...the one doctors told me the world would underestimate because of his speech...sitting and drawing for hours and then cutting out his figures...with his little fingers that supposedly needed Occupational Therapy...and I know this choice to stay with them is more then baking cookies. 

They ask "wouldn't you like to do something for you...something fulfilling?"

In my soul, loving other people in practical ways is very fulfilling.
Learning is very fulfilling.
Watching kids run around with underwear hats and deep belly laughs is extremely fulfilling.

Being a witness to joy is the most authentic form of fulfillment I think one could every find.

Seeing kids write stories for fun is fulfilling.
Someday, maybe I will do something else...not something "more."
I try to live here and now...not in my future, and that is very fulfilling.
Constantly striving for the future instead of living today is missing out on life. 

Today, I am a mom that shows her kids that learning is an adventure, and is a life long process. 

 ~thanks for reading~

and just for kicks, because I DO love a good quote :

“There is no school equal to a decent home and no teacher equal to a virtuous parent.” 
― Mahatma Gandhi

“Real education must ultimately be limited to men who insist on knowing. The rest is mere sheep herding.” 
― Ezra Pound

“The home is the first and most effective place to learn the lessons of life: truth, honor, virtue, self control, the value of education, honest work, and the purpose and privilege of life. Nothing can take the place of home in rearing and teaching children, and no other success can compensate for failure in the home.” 
― David O. McKay

“We want our children to become who they are--- and a developed person is, above all, free. But freedom as we define it doesn't mean doing what you want. Freedom means the ability to make choices that are good for you. It is the power to choose to become what you are capable of becoming, to develop your unique potential by making choices that turn possibility into reality. It is the ability to make choices that actualize you. As often as not, maybe more often than not, this kind of freedom means doing what you do not want, doing what is uncomfortable or tiring or boring or annoying.” 
― Gregory J. MillmanHomeschooling: A Family's Journey

Friday, February 24, 2017

Gratitude on Friday

Raindrops on roses
And whiskers on kittens
Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens
Brown paper packages tied up with strings
These are a few of my favorite things
Cream-colored ponies and crisp apple strudels
Doorbells and sleigh bells
And schnitzel with noodles
Wild geese that fly with the moon on their wings
These are a few of my favorite things
Girls in white dresses with blue satin sashes
Snowflakes that stay on my nose and eyelashes
Silver-white winters that melt into springs
These are a few of my favorite things
When the dog bites
When the bee stings
When I'm feeling sad
I simply remember my favorite things
And then I don't feel so bad
- Julie Andrews ( Sound of Music)

Here are a few of my favorite things from this week...

~ Deep belly laughs
~ long messy hair
~ missing teeth in little mouths (not to be confused with missing teeth in large mouths)

~ my new rice cooker (I've used it everyday for two weeks - life changing)
~ morning oatmeal
~ Buddha bowls (rice, your choice of bean or tofu, tons of veggies topped with siracha)

~ romaine hearts
~ sweet cherry tomatoes
~ creamy avacado
Do I talk about food too much? 

~ a bowl as  big as my head...waiting to be filled
~ cobalt blue
~ yiruma radio on Pandora
~ spices and sauces and soups oh my

~ brown rice, pintos, garbanzo, navy...and black 
~ variety
~ nourishing flavors 
~ Egyptian licorice tea

~ salads,
 crisp and green and tender
~ color, texture, fresh
~ the last sunlight of the day
~ city lights twinkling in the distance

~ minerals
~ earth
~ feeling the sun on my back as my foot steps on the shovel, then lifting up the black soil and tossing it it air, letting it breathe
~ the smell of earth
~ feeling connected to my husband, my children, my universe, my God, myself
~ my view from the deck
~ tops of trees, and their middles, and their base

~ bringing the outside in
~ shadow boxes with rocks ( just used gorilla glue...needed to use a little less - I didn't realize the glue expanded haha)
~ baskets of pinecones
~ my collection of sticks (I'll never grow up...never never never)

~ stacks of quilts
~ pottery filled with pebbles
~ books from the early 1900's (how many people have held these before me....where did they live...what did they add to the world? A garden? A child? Love?)
~ photo albums filled with the gifts of my life 

~ thrift store finds
~ vintage little golden books circa 1950
~ illustrations
~ adding history to my home

~ tiny indoor gardens
~ putting together something simple but something lovely
(I found this little planter at Marshalls and just added some dirt, tiny pebbles and artificial succulents)
~ glass ... I love glass
~ the sound of the rain, soft falling snow
~ seeing my littles learn
~ seeing them play
~seeing them work
~ just seeing them

~ my yoga arms using their own strength to become stronger, deep breaths,
meditating not on myself but on my Creator and the many gratitude's of my heart
~ beads
~ knuckles...i just love knuckles

What are a few of your favorite things from this week?
Happy Friday Friends

“Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.” 
― Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Piglet noticed that even though he had a Very Small Heart, it could hold a rather large amount of Gratitude.” 
― A.A. MilneWinnie-the-Pooh

“If the only prayer you said was thank you, that would be enough.” 
― Meister Eckhart

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.
- Psalm 136:1

Saturday, February 18, 2017

The Present

I'm becoming addicted to the desert sun. 
I've told Zac for the last year that someday...I want to live on an island.
I want to walk barefoot,
skin dewy and hair windblown
along shores and feel the strength of the ocean.
I want to sift sand between my fingers,
the rush of wave sound crashing through my pores.
I want to plant bananas
eat coconut
live off mangoes. 
Mostly, I want to be close to the senses.

One can dream.

But then,
 what's so lovely about dreams is that we can have a portion of them in the present,
if we look and accept and become open,
we already can have our dreams.

I may not walk barefoot around the rockies,
but I can wear a sturdy sandal and still feel free.
The sun is just as bright here as it is on an island...
it's the same sun,

I already have what I want.

I may not grow bananas,
but I can grow up children,
beautiful little beauties full of golden goodness.
Maybe not from a tree, but my freezer is stocked with frozen fruit,
and at this moment, I have 6 bunches of spotted bananas on my counter.
My dreams are reality if I make them that.

When I crave a soft pink sunset,
I can clutch a bit of rose quartz,
stare into shimmery angles
and get lost in my mind and my memories.
I can remember the sunsets of yesterday...
so today I have them.

 I re potted my beloved snake plant this morning,
giving it a little scoop of earthworm castings and a nice long drink.
My hands were deep in dirt and microbes and botanical nutrients
and a little piece of my soul said
"You have what you want."

The air this morning was so still, the sky so blue that it felt like an early spring.
I was headed down to the garden when I found my two oldest boys in this position...
together, watching clouds...close to the earth, grounded.
My heart whispered
"You already have what you want."

In the garden, raised beds on either side of me, I worked.
I loosened soil and mixed in compost
preparing for the spring
helping the earth do what it does...
Did you know that under the ground is the beautiful connect microscopic world?
Have you seen pictures of the cells in earth? 

I wasn't able to be out there long...there wasn't much to do as it's still winter.
Closing the gate, knowing that it wasn't time to drop seeds into the soil,
walking away,
knowing there will be a time when the door is wide open
and I'll be surrounded by the miracle of plants.
I have a deep love for nature.
It's the connection, seeing how it all works together,
to create harmony.
I feel direct access to the One when I smell pine,
when I dig in the ground,
when I see a lady bug crawl or a bee hum,
I know He is there.
What's more is I know it's His art, His protection, His gift. 
When I smell the sun baking the earth, I smell Him. 
Maybe that's why I want to smell the salt air so badly...
because I want access to all parts of the Divine at all times. 
 I can wrap my arms around a tree and know without questions that it's powerful,
I feel Him.

I walked away from the garden 
knowing that I have exactly what I need.

It's been a perfect morning for me,
being deep in my thoughts, 
realizing that each moment of the day is mine.

Good things have come...
gifts of essential oils from a friend,
(am I the only one that feels like I own the earth when I'm holding a bottle of oil?)
bird song, and rolled oats topped with coconut and banana.

My children all played "castle" this morning while
I drank coffee and watched a beautiful documentary.
I love starting my day with inspiration.
 Sitting there for those 90 minutes,
my mind transported somewhere else yet my soul staying where I am
my heart having gratitude for who I am 
I realized that I'm the one who determines if the dream has come true.

It has.