There are times (see yesterday's post) that I get really caught up in the chaotic pace of our days and I lose site of the trees and only see the forest- a jumbled mass of twisted, intertwining branches and gnarled undergrowth beneath a canopy so thick that daylight hardly penetrates... Luckily, there are moments to reflect and remember the sweet things that blossomed from the chaos.
Today it was watching the clouds and trying to assess the weather and my chances of being able to mow (still in that "what's next mode") that reminded me of a part of yesterday that I was so glad to have had. On the hour long drive home from Kona Cyrus and I started talking about which movies were coming out that we would like to see. Our nearest theater is in Kona.
We started talking about the trailer for "Journey To The Center Of The Earth" and how it just seemed too far fetched to be enjoyable. That started a discussion about what makes for a good fantasy or sci fi movie and then the role of myth in cultures and how our willingness to entertain one theory over another is cultivated or influenced and how that shapes us as people and as societies. Naturally (?) this led to us talking about our favorite scenes from "The Office" and just what makes that show so d#*n funny! Then Cyrus reenacted about 75% of John Stuart's show from the night before that I had missed while I slept. Through all of this we kept our eyes on the sky - always on the lookout for good cloud formations. Our drive to Kona follows the coastline the entire way and the sky is vast and never, ever totally without clouds! And huge cumulus ones at that. In 16 years I have never seen a cloudless sky in Hawaii! (perhaps due to the fact that we are entirely surrounded by water? :) So it is rare that someone doesn't point out a cloud that looks like a cow wrestling a bearded lady, or Marge Simpson eating a dinasaur while riding a unicycle. Yesterday was no exception.
Our conversation faded and we focused only on cloud identification for a while until Cyrus told me that all cars have a rating based on a scale of 1-10. Cyrus likes ranking and competitions which is ones of the reasons he is so well suited to all things baseball.Cyrus has always had a competitive nature. When he was 3 I was folding laundry and asked my husband off-handedly how many blue shirts he had. Cyrus immediately ran to his dresser and came back to announce that he had 4! Billy had more than 4. Cyrus ran to his dresser again and came back asking how many red shirts did Billy have. Billy answered, "3". Cyrus frowned and turned back to his dresser with determination. A moment later he returned, "Dad, how many orange shirts do you have?" Billy had 1. Cyrus raised his arms in triumph, "YES!" The kid can and will find a way to turn just about anything into a competition. So this car rating system is a new one in a long line of ways that Cyrus looks at and compares and contrasts everyday objects and experiences. Several years ago I was fascinated to learn that we think about letters in a similar way. They each have a quality (thin, fat, fast, mean, dominant, shy, etc) that defines them, but that doesn't always have to do with their physical appearance. Anyway, back to cars, Cyrus demonstrated his system by telling me the rating of each car we passed. (My green 2001 Mazda MPV is a 4- by the way. Billy's 2007 4door Ford F150 is an 8). He told me most cars in our town are about a 2 with a smattering of 3-4's thrown in and an occasional 7-8. Just as we passed through Hawi town (don't blink!) We passed a small, dark Hummer. "OH YEAH! THAT'S WHAT I"M TALKIN' ABOUT!!" He yelled out as he pounded on the dashboard. I had to look around to make sure I hadn't suddenly been transported to a Nascar race or the room with the beer bong at a college frat party. "That is a 9+ !!" Why not a 10, you may ask? To be a 10 it would need to be full size, black, with tinted windows and way cooler rims. Any chrome would help too.
All this to say that I got to have a bit of one on one time with my very favorite 11 year olds and the cool part is that he thought it was great too! We enjoy each other's company. He is interesting and thoughtful and our conversations are never boring. He makes me laugh and blows me away and he even humors me when I sing...most of the time:). He has a keen awareness of himself and a compassionate understanding about the people around him. In the chaos of the past days there were lucky nuggets like this one. I'm just so glad I get to have them. I'm just so glad that I stopped spazzing out long enough to recognize how lucky I am!
These are my crazy days of summer. When do the Lazy ones begin?:)
Time is such a funny thing. It seems like days ago that I committed to daily blogging. Our days have been so full that it feels as if we are literally packing in many days worth of - well, you name it, into each one. Here's a slice...chew slowly: Yesterday was a little slower. We had swim lessons (Asha) at 9am. Home to clean for the first time in weeks and adress stuff we need for hurricane insurance on the new house and cook dinner. 1 pm swim lesson for Maya + post office - twice, credit union, library, market, drop Asha with a friend at craft hour at the library so she can catch a ride to aikido while I take Cyrus to the pediatrician - we suspected swimmer's ear which he's had before and we didn't want to let it go through the night because it is so painful. The Dr. is a 45 min drive each way. While in town for that we run errands to the health food store, wine store, and market. Because of the rush we have packed no food so the kids get some take out chinese. We also go to the pharmacy. Back to Kohala where we meet Asha at her friend's hula class. Instead of watching she is (surprise surprise) right in the middle of the class! So we head out to Makapala to drop Padma's wine order at her house. Back to get Asha and home to finish cleaning the downstairs (tomorrow Kristy will babysit and last time told me she swept and vacuumed because so much stuff was sticking to her feet! :O So True!! Today: wake at 4:50am. Decide to get up and make omelet for Billy - a rare treat I assure you! And when I say "rare" I mean like maybe 3 times total in 15 years of marriage! He leaves just before 6 and I make tons of french toast for Maya to have in the fridge and a gluten free batch for Asha. Then I prep dinner, clean out my fridge and make snacks for the kids to take to the pool later. I check my email and get kids fed. We head out for Asha's lessons at 9 am. Yeah me for knowing where her wet suit is because it is raining! We go home and I eat and pack up for the next pool outing (at 1 which Padma will drive them all to for me) and tennis lessons. Kristie shows up to babysit at the same time that Rachel's Dad drops her off for the day. Cyrus and I leave for our 12pm appt in Kona (1 hour drive each way!) at the chiropractor. We get stuck in totally needless traffic and head straight back only stopping at Costco to fill the gas tank (for $3.49/gal!!!!) I go straight to the park in Kohala -after dropping Cyrus at home to dress for baseball -to relieve Kristie and get kids changed for tennis. Tennis starts at 3 and I go get Cyrus for practice. Rachel's Dad picks her up at tennis. The girl's and I go home and start dinner then go back to pick up Cyrus at 6. Home to cook, dinner, showers, bed?? I think my husband showed up in time for dinner, but he was so tired he fell asleep on the couch and had to be roused to eat, which he did before stumbling into a shower and off to bed. Maya headed up to bed with Billy Bo. Asha went up to climb in with him about an hour later and I cleaned the kitchen and showered and am off to bed myself. It is raining and blowing gusty wind again. A good thing since we need it and it helps me sleep well, but I hope tomorrow it is clearer- and warmer for the 9am swim lesson! Cyrus is playing WOW and that's where I will leave him. Writing about our recent days events has been nearly as exhausting as living them!
I started out thinking about the passing of time and how it relates (at least in a linear fashion) to the kids and how they are changing. But then my brain went into hyper logistics management mode. I couldn't find the "off" switch and this is what came out. I think I will not make a habit of this here. Yes, it would now be appropriate for you to mutter "thank heavens already!!" And yes, the run on sentences strung together into unmanageable paragraphs is a little trick I purposefully employed to help convey the sense of " OMG this family is f%^**#G out of their mind and someone should tell them that they have far more scheduled activities than ANY child needs or wants!!!! (every child except for mine - which is actually what I will write about tomorrow:) Breathe in ...Breathe out..."clear the mechanism" (this is where the off switch comes in handy)....go to sleep.........
Yesterday I committed to writing at this blog everyday for the next 40 days so, naturally, I took some time last night to start another new blog:) I guess it was all of this thinking about what to write that go me thinking about how I spend my time online and about the communities I am a part of - even if only as a reader/lurker/blogstalker. I read blogs and yahoo groups dedicated to RU. But I also read blogs and yahoo groups dedicated to living gluten free (GF) as my youngest, Asha, has celiac disease. When she was first diagnosed I was desperate to find other folks who were living GF with kids and now that I am a bit more experienced at it I thought I'd like to have a place to share what I've learned and how we manage being GF in the world of parties and playdates and potlucks and soccer snacks.
Without stating it as such - so as not to scare anyone away - I also want to add an RU voice to living life with a child with celiac disease. the only treatment for managing the disease is to completely eliminate gluten from your diet (actually pretty cool when you consider that there are no drugs to take or doctors to rely on). So many parents online talk about the struggles they have with their kids and how their child "sneaks" gluten foods and how this lifestyle is such a struggle for them and the entire family. I want to write about another way. I want to write about how I am my daughter's partner and ally. I want to write about how I help my daughter feel empowered in her own quest to feel good and be healthy. I want to explore the joy that you can find in living gluten free! So last night I started GlutenFreeInHarmony. I intend for it to be a place for me to talk about what works for us and what hasn't. I will share resources and links to articles and websites that I find useful. I will share recipes I have successfully converted and write about my experiences with a GF kid in a non GF home and how we find the balance and help to keep her safe. I will write about this part of my journey as a mom. I'm excited to possibly offer hope to parents of newly diagnosed kids with CD and to show them a kinder, gentler GF life with their families that focuses on the abundance of a GF lifestyle rather than on denial and lack.
So it was only a couple of short years ago that I remarked to a friend, "Blogging seems so stupid! I mean who on earth would want to write their thoughts and put them out on the web for anyone in the world to read? And what kind of loser has nothing better to do with their time than read other people's thoughts on the web? Geesh!" (OK - I didn't really say it mean and nasty like that, but I really didn't get the whole blogging thing.)
As has happened more times than I can count since I really began this RU life in earnest (as opposed to just in theory - as I did for far too long ;) I am once again eating my words. I have become a full-on blogaholic. I begin my days reading the words of my favorite bloggers (the majority of whom have not a clue who I am or even that I exist) and I get anxious when they don't post for a day or two. Don't they know what an important part of my day they are? No? That may have something to do with the fact that they DON"T KNOW I EXIST! Is it possible that they are not writing purely for my benefit?
All of this blog reading has inspired me -countless times- to start my own blog. I have created blogs...countless times. OK -part of this has to do with the fact that I think up a good blog name that I just have to have. But I realized after reading all of these blogs I like for a while that there is a blogger community out there and I want to be a part of it. My problem has been committing to posting. So in an attempt to create a healthy and regular blogging habit I am setting a goal for myself to post once a day - no matter how short- for the next 40 days (that's how long my cello teacher told me that it takes to form a habit. I have since heard other estimates, but she must have told me forty times because - well - that's my habit :)
So blogging here I come. No excuses (believe me I have many I could choose from:) If I spend even a fraction of the time writing on my blog that I do reading at other's I will have no trouble at all.
P.S. The best part about eating your words is when you have digested them, extracted all of the nutrients you need from them and then pooped them out.
Today I had one of those conversations that made me realize just how much of an impact RU has had on my life. I was chatting with a friend who mentioned that she didn't know what she was going to do school wise next year with her 6 year old daughter. Her daughter has been attending our very small and very fledgling "Waldorf Inspired" school here in town since it began about 4 years ago. Next year the school will not be offering a program for the younger set as the teacher now has a dedicated group of older kids to join her own child. This friend of mine said she is really open to exploring options and that "other than reading and writing" she doesn't have any expectations or see any need for "educating" her child in any formal sense. I have learned to bite my tongue in conversations like this. Too often in the past I have used statements like these to launch right into extolling the virtues of an unschooled life. But I have finally realized that making a statement like the one she made is not necessarily an indication of a willingness or ability to join me on my trek into the back country of RU. I tend to alienate a lot fewer folks if I am willing to meet them where they are and offer glimpses of the trailhead that leads down my path with some honest descriptions of the terrain and highlights of the amazing features we enjoy out on the trail.
She asked me some questions about the legalities of unschooling and I offered to lend her some books and to direct her to some good websites. Then she said it: "I love the idea of it. I just need a break from her sometimes. I would love to have somewhere to send her for an hour or 2 so I could have some time to myself. I just really need that." That was when I had to smile to myself, not smugly or anything, just because I realized that I don't say that anymore! I don't even think that anymore! How cool is that? Part of it is that the kids are getting older and there isn't as much intensive physical caretaking needed from me, but it is so much more profound than that. Ibegan to think to think about when and how this shift happened. I have always loved being with my kids and never could imagine sending them away to school. The folks who say to me, "I just couldn't spend all that time with my kids!" always have left me with my mouth hanging agape. But a little time to myself, now that I could relate to.
Although I didn't have a name for it, RU was really the way I envisioned living with my children long before I ever had them. I'd read John Holt and others and had a subscription to GWS before I was even married. My own overwhelming feelings about being forced to do so many things I didn't want to do as a child - chief among them going to school and church- had made me really think about how we treat kids. I wanted nothing more as a kid myself than to be grown up so nobody could tell me what to do anymore! I wanted nothing more for my own kids than for them to feel like they had a real and important life WHILE STILL A KID! Then they arrived and I found myself drawn to the AP crowd because they didn't judge me for cosleeping or extended nursing or ec or talking about our choice to homeschool, but they sure judged everyone else who didn't subscribe to the AP way and after a while I recognized the ugliness of their self righteousness in myself. Yucky!
As the kids reached school ages very slowly but very surely we began to slide into the expectations mind set. We were still committed to homeschooling, but the shift from making decisions for a baby toddler about what was best for them and us as a family to having kids who were increasingly wanting to make their own decisions felt scary. I was filling up with fear. Fear that made me think of life in terms of good vs. bad about everything from movies to food to toys and interests. I found myself staring my control freak self in the mirror and ooohh she was U-G-L-Y (and she ain't got no alibi!!!!) Tension was high. We were by no means a "mainstream" family, but none of us was happy with the way things were going. All of these expectations (mine) and control issues (mine again:) were STRESSING US ALL OUT!!!!! And yes, I felt a need to have time alone. I never felt as though I got enough time alone. If I could just have an hour or 2 - oh hell, who was I kidding? I just wanted to go to the bathroom alone! The more I think about it the faster I am typing.... my shoulders are up by my earlobes... I am chewing my gum reallyreallyreallyfast!!!!!!!!!! AARRRGHG......B R E A T H E .....
I clearly remember the day I thought to google "unschooling". I found people I liked immediately. I joined yahoo groups and read for hours into the night. I wasn't the only person in the world who had ever envisioned a world where children were free! There was even a name for the way I'd always dreamed I'd live with my family and there were people who were actually doing it!!! RU kicked my control freak butt!! and it didn't even hurt.
Our journey into the RU wilderness began in earnest about 3.5 years ago and the deeper we trek into the wild, the more I find myself eager to spend as much time as possible with my kiddos while I still can. Letting go of all of those expectations made room for me to see what's already there. I get to spend my day with the coolest people doing the coolest stuff. Sometimes that "stuff" is just hanging around the house, but the vibe is so enjoyable that it feels cool anyway. It is the way we are together. It is not that there is never tension, but tension is not our usual m.o. and it is not caused by a mom who is fighting What Is. The more I let go of judgements the more I get to enjoy everything. (It is really hard to enjoy a TV show with your kids when you have already decided that said show is "crap" or "stupid" etc.) I still enjoy time all by myself, but I do not see it as a survival tool anymore. Letting go of the struggle made so much more space in my life. This is what I want to tell that mom friend of mine. We are living the secret of a happy and joyful life with kids.
A quick update on my new favorite cat (and believe me it is a VERY short list!) Gray Stripe aka Gracie turns out to be a boy and his name has changed to accompany the news. He will from here on out be known as "Charlie Gray Stripe" aka Charlie. Representing both a nod to the Warrior series that Cyrus and Maya have been reading and another name for the curve ball that was being discussed at the moment in time that Charlie called to us to come and find his teeny little self in the bushes because he needed a family like us.
It was a big day in our little town. The parade went right by the house. Elana's mom dropped her off here to watch with us and then went down to Aloha gas to watch with some friends. She called to say she was going to head our way to pick up the girls to take them to the festival, but I had to tell her to wait. The parade hadn't even reached us yet even though it was already over for her!! LOL
Waiting for the parade:
note the plastic bags in anticipation of candy throwing.
OH look!!! Here comes the parade!!!
Really - it is coming......
We use the term "float " loosely around here. This is the big-pink-semi-with-folks- riding-on-it float.
This is another example of a very Kohala style "float":
See - they have candy to throw.
And here are the ladies from our credit union. Funny when the ladies on your CU float say shout out "Hi Alyse".
The Pa'u riders are the big deal of the parade. We watched a special on the pa'u riders once and what an honor it is to be asked to ride and all the prep that goes into it and how they fashion the fabric and everything (it is held in place with a kukui nut!). I always liked the hair pieces. My friend Suzie always helps do the hair and these women start to get ready at about 4 am with decorating the horses and themselves on the day of the parade! Not to mention all the prep the day before in gathering materials and making all the lei!
There is always a competition to see who has the best pooper scooper set up:
My favorite was Pele:
At the end of the day it is really all about the candy! So Let the trading begin!
Directly after the parade is the ho'olau'lea - the festival. Traditionally this has always been held at Kamehameha Park gym, but the gym had extensive damage from the earthquake and won't be ready to use again for at least another year and a half. So it has been held since at the the old morman gym that is now the home of the North Kohala Hawaiian Civic Club in Hawi. What does all of this mean for us here in Hawi town you may ask? ........TRAFFIC!!!! We were impressed enough by this bizarre sight to capture it on film!
We didn't go to the lei draping ceremony this year, but here is the king all dressed up for his special day:
Living a sweet life with my 3 kiddos and favorite man on an island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Spending my days just the way I like them. Learning to let go a little more every single day. Feeling lucky that I get to do all of this with some of the coolest people I know!