Saturday, March 31, 2012

Play Time is still Learning Time


Play = Learning is a formula that most people I know are comfortable with for early childhood. Little ones, preschoolers, maybe Kindergarten ... these little kids should be playing and learning that way.

But actually, play equals learning for us all, even adults. Play relaxes us, builds relationships, improves our emotional IQ, and can give us a challenge to overcome and learn from.

I'm not very good at playing anymore. I don't know if I was better as a child, but by this point in my life I'm always too busy just being busy to sit down and immerse myself in a game without hopping up to do other things or trying to multi-task it. I wish I was better at playing, and I try.

As I was gardening last weekend, my son said "why don't you ever have fun?"

"I do!" I replied. "I'm having fun right now, gardening."

"No - why don't you have fun with me? Why don't you play catch or something?"

So I did. I left aside my garden work, and we got out the mitts and the ball and tossed it back and forth for awhile, laughing and talking. I played with him.

My daughter has been very happy with the way I cleaned up our games and puzzles shelf, and she's pulled out many games to play. "Come play with me". I try, and we've been playing a lot of Zeus on the Loose. I played with her.

I've decided the kids need a bit of American History, and to start I'm just reading Meet Felicity to them. Pause, Mom! We have to go get all the American Girl Doll stuff down from Hypatia's room and sit on the floor playing with the dolls while you read. Of course you do! Play and Learn. They played.

Carbon has been obsessed with dinosaurs again. Every documentary, every library book, everything he can get his hands on just gets consumed rapidly. After an afternoon of watching a whole lot of documentaries on the television, I suggested it would be healthy to go outside and play for awhile. He didn't want to, but then a light got in his eyes - "Can I have a shovel and dig for dinosaur bones?". Sure, go dig for dino bones. He played.

We are Middle Path homeschoolers, meaning that I want some structure, but not too much. As I personally lean more toward structure, it's always helpful to me to hold up and celebrate the value of their play and their unstructured time. Play equals learning. Play equals emotional processing. Play equals bonding and relationship building.

Go Play.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Steering by your own compass


When people find out that I was homeschooled, they usually ask one of two questions:

And .... did you like that?

What method did your mother use?

The folks who ask the first question just seem perplexed and unsure of what to say, how to figure me now.

The folks who ask the second question are homeschoolers themselves, usually.

My answer to the second question is this - my mother must have tried just about every method at some point. I had Oak Meadow for 1st grade, and I've been unschooled, done unit studies, done the Classical, Latin-Based model, and many years where we had a blend of them all. As we got older, we had more and more of a direct say in our own educations, and high school for me was basically a list of required subject matter and standards being handed to me and then being left on my own. When I had worked my way through it and decided I had mastered it all, I told my parents it was time for me to graduate.

And, it was different for each of my siblings. Because the real philosophy is what works this year may not work next year, and what works for one child may not work for another.

Now, I also have to explain what method I use to homeschool my own kids. I had been saying "eclectic", or "we don't really follow a method", but then I flounder a bit because that doesn't mean anything to folks. More and more, I'm saying "we do the Thomas Jefferson Education".

TJEd has these 7 Principles of Excellent Teaching:

  1. Classics, Not Textbooks
  2. Mentors, Not Professors
  3. Inspire, Not Require
  4. Structure Time, Not Content
  5. Simplicity, Not Complexity
  6. Quality, Not Conformity
  7. You, Not Them
It also has 4 phases of learning: Core Phase, roughly ages 0-8; Love of Learning Phase, roughly 8-12; Scholar Phase, roughly 12-16; and Depth Phase, roughly 16-22. Overall, I agree with the method and it is open and personalized enough to still follow my principle of tailoring everything to what seems to be working now for each child. We still steer by our own compass, but it doesn't hurt to have some charts to consult at times.

And with a "real" method to tell people, they just stop asking. Maybe they didn't really care in the first place. Maybe it was like the question "How are you?".

Well, I was stressed this morning because I encountered a difficulty, but then I was elated when I managed to meet the challenge. Now I have a small ache in my back, so I'm hoping not to have to stand too long here, and I really need to eat soon because my blood sugar gets low in the late afternoon.

They weren't really asking for that. "How are you?" or "What method do you use?"

The answer is "I'm fine".

Wednesday, March 28, 2012



I've been working with the story of Exodus with some of the kids at church, and I have to say that it was a surprise to me how much fun we've had with it. Religious Literacy is one of our goals for the RE program, and part of Religious Literacy is of course to have a basic knowledge of major Bible stories. But aren't Bible stories dull and boring, or worse - controversial and violent?

Yes, well, they are more violent than I would wish. But so are Greek Myths, most fairy tales .... really any story that's been around for more than the last few decades is violent. We have to find ways to process that violence, and see the truth and meaning that can be read from the story.

So, to the fun:

1. "Pass the Baby". With a doll baby, assign one child to play the part of Moses's mother and another to be Pharaoh's daughter, and all the rest lie down on the floor in a line. Everyone on the floor is part of the River Nile, and with their hands in the air they pass the baby doll from hand to hand. It's like crowd surfing, but for the baby to float down the Nile.

2. Playmobil re-enactment. The line of Egypt toys made by playmobil were perfect, but I also just have a jumble of random playmobil sets in a large bucket. I brought in the whole thing and, after reading the story from a Child's Bible Stories book, invited the kids to create their own version of the story with the playmobil toys. Even mature 5th graders had fun doing this.

3. Costume play-acting. The kids loved being Aaron and throwing their staff down and then changing it really quick for a rubber snake. That seemed to be their favorite part.

4. 10 Plagues Charades. Kids get to choose a plague and act it out, without words, and the rest try to guess. We had a lot of frogs, of course. But some darkness, as well, cleverly acted out with a black skirt from the dress-up box.

And, the kids haven't had it yet, but I've got this story basket set-up (pictured above) for our Spirit Play class, with a box of real sand (the desert box), and another class is going to make Peep Dioramas this Sunday.

We have also discussed what meaning we can get from the story, a bit of debate over probably historical accuracy (or not), and some comparisons to other freedom struggles from history.

Overall, I've really loved working with this story.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Sustainable Youth Ministry


My local cluster of UU religious educators read this book as a group and discussed it this month, and we were all singing its praises. If you are a religious educator or youth ministry professional, this is a must read. If you are a youth ministry volunteer, you should also read this. If you are a minister or in a leadership position in your congregation, you should read this. If you are on a search committee for a DRE or youth minister, READ THIS.

The author, Mark DeVries, has a consultant business and has worked with churches in various stages of transition with their youth and children ministries. The book outlines why youth ministry so often fails (and we all agreed it's just as applicable to children and family ministry) and what systems and organizational strategies can help it not fail.

Reading the book, I kept saying "yes", "yes" - "that's right!", and then we got to the strategies and things to do, and I immediately had to start taking notes. I created a plan as I read, my "plan for a plan", and I'm now using that to build new underlying structures and control documents for our RE program. Stuff that should be obvious (but might not be), like Job Descriptions and Annual Calendars and Directories, and stuff that is less obvious, like Emotionally Healthy Weekly Routines, "Balcony Time", and Climate Control.

A great read. :)

Monday, March 26, 2012

the newest member of our menagerie



A chinchilla is very soft and cuddly. Carbon has been wanting one for awhile, and we made him jump through all sorts of hoops - read books about chinchilla care, get the room cleaned up for it, and wait until he was a certain age.

Then we got a free chinchilla from a friend - which is wonderful because they are pretty spendy at the pet store. The kids are in love with her - a wonderful addition to our household.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

An actual Saturday

I didn't have to work today, and that was a treat. The whole family had the day off at the same time! For us, this is a rare thing. For it to also be a beautiful spring day was just the icing on the cake.





The Reading Life



Another week in our life with too many books! We once again maxed out our library cards and were counting how many books we returned so we would know how many we could check out. I don't know if the librarians love us or find us irritating ....

We read:

Over and Under the Snow which is a lovely depiction of a father and son cross country skiing across the snow, and meanwhile all the animals are living in their hidden world under the snow. The illustrations of over and under are very nice.

The Monster Returns, which didn't make any sense to us (we didn't read the first book, so picking up the sequel may be part of our confusion), but we still enjoyed the illustrations a great deal and they inspired a fit of drawing monsters around here.

The Loud Book was one Carbon chose to read out loud to us, and of course he did it at a full scream.

Auction! is about a young child at an auction, and their desire to get an old straw hat - but they only have one dollar. Can they outbid their crazy aunt and her main auction rival?

The Irish Cinderlad was another of the books we picked up for St. Patrick's Day. It's a strange retelling of the Cinderella story, but with many added elements like giants and dragons. I'm not sure I liked it, and I'm not sure the kids liked it either. Meh.

The Enormous Crocodile by Roald Dahl is great fun. An enormous crocodile wants to eat a child, so he pretends to be things children would want to climb on - a tree, a teeter totter, a bench ...

Mr. Prickles: A Quill-Fated Love Story is a love story about two porcupines. How do porcupines hug? Very carefully, and very often.

Circus Day in Japan has charming retro-style illustrations and text in both English and Japanese. Of course we couldn't read a lick of the Japanese, but it was cool to see it.

The Junkyard Wonders is based on the author's real life experiences in a special ed classroom with the teacher who inspired and believed in them all. It's a sad book, but inspiring also.

Miss Rumphius does three things with her life: see far away things, get a little house by the shore, and make the world more beautiful. This is a beautiful book.

There have also been lots of dinosaur books consumed this week. Here, I'm so glad that Carbon can finally do more independent reading, so I don't have to read Dino Wars to him.

And I was disappointed that I couldn't interest him in reading The Invention of Hugo Cabret. Because he saw the movie first, he was convinced he wouldn't like the book. Darn movies!

Friday, March 23, 2012

so happy


We are so happy here. I love our house, the land, the garden, watching the birds, and having the space. Now that we're in our first spring, it's really hitting me how lucky we are, and how much I love it here.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

a healthy routine


I am finding myself in a better and better routine to balance work/kids/me/random life. And I like routines, and predictable schedules. I think that's part of what is hard about the "flex" schedule - you can be flexible but you need a plan as well.

With the way things are settling out, I'm trying to not leave home two days a week, to just stay on the property and do what I can here. I'm finding that very restful when I can manage it.

I've got my errands lumped on two days a week, when I'll be driving past stores/library/bank anyway. I'm resisting making any special trips for an errand, and instead just waiting for one of my normal errand days.

At work, besides the obvious need to be flexible for evening and weekend meetings, I have set my office hours up as Loose Ends and Admin Day, Prep for Sunday Day, and Big Picture/Long Term Project Work Day. By doing it in that order, I stay on top of things and then even get ahead.

We focus on the homeschooling lessons three days a week, and then only do a little bit on the other two weekdays, when we have PE class at the gym instead. The kids get their PE and I sometimes get a workout in at the same time.

My weekends are crazy, of course.

But the best thing I'm finding is that right now I have a designated Study Time one morning a week. I drop the kids off with a friend, and take my studying down to a coffee shop. Three or four hours of steady focused time on learning and studying a week, in an environment with no distractions, is just lovely. I want to keep doing that even after I'm done with this UU History course I'm taking. All DRE's should get a few hours a week to study and read and write.

Everyone will need a different routine. Every life is just a little bit different. But I think it is so worth it to find a healthy routine that balances enough time for the Emergent To Do List and the long term thinking and planning. Time for you, for your family, and for your work.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Bird Watching



Yesterday was an exciting day for bird watching here. For some reason (I heard there was a storm that blew them of course, but I can't confirm that) there were a bunch of birds in our yard that we didn't recognize. Our regular Monday school work was interrupted over and over again by "what kind of bird is that?" or "Oh, look at that one!".

It was marvelous.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Soul Fever


I just read this article in the Huffington Post, and I love the idea that we as parents know how to treat bodily fevers, but somehow forget that wisdom when it comes to what the author calls "soul or emotional fever".

If a child is ill, we simplify. We keep them cozy, we stay home, we limit their exposure to more stress or chills. And we take time to just be there close and available to them.

If a child is emotionally distressed, we don't know what to do. We seek to medicate, or take them to a therapist, but what if we just tucked them in some blankets, made them soup, and sat with them?

My daughter is challenging. No labels, because we won't be seeking any, but she wears me out. When we do classes, I get her back at the end of them and see that look in the teacher's eyes - the "I'm so glad that is over" look that says they were exhausted by dealing with her.

She's sweet, and bright, and funny, and loving. But she won't do what she's asked to do, and if she does do it, she does it in her own time, and she doesn't really care what others want or think. She also has a very short attention span right now. So it can be a challenge, and it stresses us all out.

I've just decided to not enroll her in any more extra-curriculars. When the current classes run their course, she's done for a long while. In fact, for some of the classes (chess club), she's just done now. What she seems to really need more than any external stimulus and enrichment is simplicity. She needs me to play card games with her, read her picture books, and cuddle. And she needs to have plenty of time to play with her tiny dolls and elaborate worlds that she creates. She needs me to sing songs with her, and maybe take the time to teach her piano or recorder playing. She needs to listen to music, color, and have tea parties. She needs to go outside, ride her bike, plant flowers in the garden, and watch for birds and butterflies.

She does not need to do structured academic work right now. She does not need to attend science workshops or chess club or scouting or anything particularly structured. The only structured things I will insist she finishes are theater class and swimming lessons.

We have an emotional fever here. It's time for some chicken soup (or tea) for the soul.

All By Himself



Carbon has decided to add "make breakfast" to his chore chart twice a week. I like this - and his pancakes are pretty darn tasty!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Happy St. Patrick's


Happy St. Patrick's Day to you all! This year I hosted my third annual St. Patrick's Day party, and we had lots of fun decorating, cooking, and dancing to Pandora's Irish Pub station and then sharing it all with family and friends.

My in-law's host an annual White Elephant Christmas Party, and they've had some folks attend every year for 15 years now. A few years ago I thought - I want something like that. I want an annual tradition, a party that I'm known for.

So I picked St. Patrick's Day. I'm part Irish American, and it's always been my family's tradition to cook up a big corn beef and cabbage dinner, and I love this holiday. So I've made this my party. And it's pretty awesome to have an annual tradition, I think!

Next year will be the 4th Annual. :)

Friday, March 16, 2012

StoryBook Art



Last week's art study was of the book Carousel by Donald Crews. The book shows a carousel stopped, then going around, faster and faster and faster, then slowing back down, then stopping. We experimented with painting to show motion, but streaking the paint in one direction while it was still wet.

This lesson is one from the book StoryBook Art that we are using this year. I simply LOVE this book and this concept, and I'm delighted at the new way the kids are looking at picture book illustrations. This art is so much more accessible to them at this age than "great art" would be, but when they are older the same author has another book Discovering Great Artists that I am very much looking forward to using in a few years with the kids.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

The Reading Life



We've been struggling to manage our library accounts. We can only have 20 holds at a time, and 50 books checked out at a time each. Those limits have been, well, limiting. We've hit our limit and had to go put stacks of books back several times in the last few weeks.

Our favorites:

A New Coat for Anna is a charming story of bartering and resourcefulness in order to get a new coat after a war has destroyed the economy. This is one of Hypatia's Five in a Row books.

Tikki Tikki Tembo is a funny story of a boy with a very long name, and how hard it was for his little brother to explain what had happened to him when he had to say that whole long name. This is a classic book.

Diary of a Wombat was one of Carbon's independent reading books, and it started off boring him and frustrating him with its odd handwritten font (he struggles to read different fonts still), but ended with him laughing and loving it.

Hey Willy, See the Pyramids is random and odd, but still fun.

Stuck is a silly and funny story of a kite that gets stuck in a tree, so the boy throws his shoe, then his other shoe, then ... well it gets really silly by the end after he's thrown all sorts of crazy stuff to get stuck in the tree.

Silverwing is an adventure story of a young runt bat, and the beginning of a series. The kids loved it, but I was pretty sure it had inaccurate information in it about bats. So we had to follow it up with a pile of non-fiction books about bats! But they loved it, and want to follow it up with the sequels.

The Mouse and the Motorcycle is delightful, and Hypatia loved it.

And for a more realistic mouse story, we also had Poppy, which is another delightful story of a brave little mouse.

The Mysterious Edge of the Heroic World is another tale of odd boys with big dreams and strong friendships, and Carbon loved it.

And Hypatia enjoyed More Perfect Than the Moon and was inspired to want to be a writer and keep a journal after listening to it.

For St. Patrick's Day, we've enjoyed the treasury of Irish stories, poems, and songs A Pot o' Gold.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Happy Pi Day




Celebrating random and nerdy special days makes life more fun! Happy Pi Day!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Chore Wheels


I was recently inspired to make a chore wheel. The main point is the outside of the wheel, which lists all the chores I think I need to do around the house, roughly in some sort of order that makes sense. If I did a chore a day, I'd end up cleaning the fridge and the kids' rooms once a month, but doing the bathrooms once a week, for instance.

The inside of the wheel has a few basic chores the family can help with (Trash, Dishes, Laundry), and as I rotate my wheel, they get new chores as well.

My wheel is lopsided, because I freehanded it on my lap while I was sitting outside Hypatia's theater class. But it doesn't matter. The point is not to have a perfect wheel, but to get my house clean without going crazy!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

The UU Identity

I recently did a very good "webinar" with Katie Covey, author of multiple UU Religious Education curricula and the book Full Circle (a wonderful book, btw, which my Family Ministry Team at church used as a year long study book for the committee), in which Katie presents her take on our unique and core UU Identity and Beliefs.

There have been other efforts in history to describe what is commonly believed among UU's, rather than to emphasize our differences and theological diversity, and I applaud those efforts. Although we are a religious body that welcomes many different viewpoints, I don't find it helpful to say "UU's can believe whatever they want".

We actually do have some core beliefs. Katie Covey's version of them is:

The 4 implicit beliefs that need to be made explicit:

1) We believe that by being together in community we learn best and love best.

2) We believe that there is the potential for good in each person.

3) We believe that we can trust the inner voice of our hearts and make decisions using reason and compassion.

4) We believe that choosing is the essential religious act.

The 20th century Unitarian theologian James Luther Adams called it the "Five Smooth Stones of Religious Liberalism":

  • "Religious liberalism depends on the principle that 'revelation' is continuous." Our religious tradition is a living tradition because we are always learning new truths.
  • "All relations between persons ought ideally to rest on mutual, free consent and not on coercion." We freely choose to enter into relationship with one another.
  • "Religious liberalism affirms the moral obligation to direct one's effort toward the establishment of a just and loving community. It is this which makes the role of the prophet central and indispensable in liberalism." Justice.
  • "... [W]e deny the immaculate conception of virtue and affirm the necessity of social incarnation." Agency: Good things don't just happen, people make them happen.
  • "[L]iberalism holds that the resources (divine and human) that are available for the achievement of meaningful change justify an attitude of ultimate optimism." Hope.

And then there is this recent video put out by The Radical Spirit

"Each of Us is Elected"

"All of Us are Loved Beyond Belief"

"No One is Left Behind"

So what do UU's believe? Who are we? We are the people who uphold the worth of all, believing that all are born with the possibility of good. We are the people who believe that if we come together in community and covenant, we can create a better world, in this life, on this beloved planet. We believe that everyone should be free to choose.

I find these beliefs very powerful. We may be of differing opinions about what will happen after death, but we know what to do in this life.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Project simplify and spring blooms

The assignment this week for Project Simplify was to tackle the kids stuff. That is a serious issue around here, for sure, but it's such a big area of our life that I really didn't have time to do it justice. I narrowed my focus down to just our Games and Puzzles shelf in our schoolroom.



And then after the removal of two boxes for donation to the Goodwill or to church:


It's also been a week of garden work, and the pleasure of seeing the first spring blooms appear in our yard:



Thursday, March 8, 2012

The Family Rhythm


I am facilitating a series of Parent Book Group Discussions right now with the book Tending the Flame: The art of Unitarian Universalist Parenting, and one of the points in the book is about crafting family rituals. Author Michelle Richards points to another book - The Book of New Family Traditions - to say that families should have a daily ritual of connection, a weekly ritual, and a strong tradition of honoring milestones and special holidays.

This got me to thinking about my family's traditions and rituals. We have a strong bedtime ritual, of reading a bedtime story, supervising the teeth brushing, etc., and then carrying the kids up and tucking them in. But Richards proposes that mornings are another time families should foster strong rituals of connection.

Mornings, huh? Morning tend to be stressful times of scrambling to get out the door on time, yelling at each other to hurry, and general rushing about.

Well, I can't recommend something to other families at church that I can't make work in my own family, so I had to look at my family's morning rhythm. How can I make it smoother?

I've been intentionally working on this for two weeks now. I am setting my alarm clock for a half hour earlier than before - a smooth morning is a long morning. Then I am taking a short time for myself (stretching/yoga, making coffee, tidying up whatever needs tidying), before I go and gently wake up the children. I go up and give them a "morning kiss", then let them sleep in another five minutes (mommy snooze button), then set out the breakfast on the table and get the kids down for that.

I have to get up earlier to get this done. I have to put a smile on my face and make breakfast and put energy into making the rest of the family's morning smoother. But - the payoff is that the rest of the family has been much calmer and happier. An upfront energy investment in establishing a healthy rhythm for the family is paying off with fewer snit-fits from the kids, a husband who comes home from work happier and more ready to help at home, and calmer days.

Rhythm matters. And we Can control it.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

A Wrinkle in Time turns 50

You might have heard the story on NPR (I didn't - I had to read it on the website later), interviewing L'Engle's granddaughter about A Wrinkle in Time.

I loved finding out that several publishers turned the book down because they thought it too odd, too difficult for children, and too genre bending. It is odd, it is difficult, it does bend genres - and that's part of why I love it.

I didn't know the 50th anniversary was coming up, but we coincidentally just listened to Wrinkle as our in-the-car family audiobook. When we are listening to audiobooks, the kids will ask me to pause it if they have questions about what is going on or what a word means. Wrinkle did lead to many pausings - but what rich conversations we had. What is a tesseract? What is two-dimensional? What is evil?

It's a challenging book, perfect to expand young minds. It's also a fun and engaging adventure, and all about love and family and self-acceptance, not just math and time travel and good versus evil theology.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012



Last Sunday, our High School youth group made chalices out of oven-bake clay. We ended up with 12 unique works of art, all functional little chalices, that will be donated to the church's annual auction.

I love how conversation goes when people are working with clay. They have something to do with their hands, but they can still talk and think about other things. Give kids or youth a bunch of clay, and start a deep conversation.

Hands busy.

Heads and Hearts open.

Monday, March 5, 2012

some of his art


A drawing Carbon submitted to the Interfaith Works Earth Day event, themed around trees and the sacred.


Our project from Storybook Art to make art in the style of Eric Carle. It was very fun to make the textured paintings, and then cut them up for collage.

I like being a "home" body

In the four years that I've been working as a Director of Religious Education for my church, I have gone from being an introverted homebody who literally didn't leave the house all week long and frequently just slumped about in sweat suits while juggling six children in the house, to a person who is increasingly comfortable with public speaking and chit-chat in a room full of people I don't know. I've traded in those sweat suits for a wardrobe of nicer clothing and the need to look "put together". Instead of juggling six children in my home, I'm juggling 75 kids and 200 adults in the church each Sunday.

I enjoy most of those changes. As I have settled into my thirties and my career I feel more comfortable with myself, more sure of who I am, and more connected to the community around me.

But I'm finding I also miss that homebody time. I'm still an introvert, even if I spend all my time shmoozing with people now. So I am going to try, really really hard, to stay home two days a week as much as I can. Working weekends means I don't have that time at home. So I have to take some other days, and make them my home days. I'm clearing some kid activities off our schedule, staying home instead, and focusing on home and garden and homeschooling and study and reading - still lots to do, but it's At Home.

I hope to find time to do the assignment from Simple Mom's Project Simplify this week.

I planted a row of spinach seed today and dug out a huge nasty black berry from where I want a row of my garden.

I had a friend over for a casual tea and lunch and supportive chat.

And the kids and I have done all our homeschool/grad school work for the day in a pretty chill way without rushing or watching the clock.

This balance is what I want. Five days a week are enough for Go Go Go, don't you think? Two at home shouldn't be too much to make happen.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

A Pause for your sabbath


This Lent, I am taking some time each day to reflect on Simplicity, Essentials, Truth, and Life. The library has given me a lovely stack of books to read, and two stand out: Spring, A Spiritual Biography of the Season and The Power of Pause: Becoming More by Doing Less.

In Pause, the author (a Christian minister) gives the reader short reflections on life and what is really important in it, and each little reflection is paired with instructions for a "powerful pause" you could take this week. It's a set of instructions for taking sabbath in your life, for pausing and taking time to Be and not just to Do.

From the book:

"God rested, not because he was tired. God rested to celebrate, to savor, to delight in, to play, to revel in the creation, to say "it is good". God rested and declared it holy. In that rest, God is affirming there is nothing to prove. We are invited to enter that rest. Sabbath is the invitation to rest from the tyranny of pursuit. From that rest we can live, work, and relate out of acceptance rather than do those things for the sake of acceptance. This is enough."

--Terry Hershey

We can live, work, and relate out of acceptance rather than do those things for the sake of acceptance.

Out of acceptance.

Not for the sake of acceptance.

That is huge. That hits me right where I am. I don't do anything out of acceptance, and I do everything for it. How can I be trying to get acceptance all the time, but I'm unable or unwilling to give it? I'll never feel accepted if I cannot accept.

In the days ahead, I want to accept. I want to rest, not because I am tired, but in order to revel in the joy of creation. It is enough. I am enough.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss!

"I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living, it's a way of looking at life through the wrong end of a telescope. Which is what I do, and that enables you to laugh at life's realities."
Dr. Seuss

Dr. Seuss is one of my personal Saints of Early Childhood. If I was like Luke Skywalker at the end of Return of the Jedi, and my mentors were to appear as spirits and smile down at me, I'd hope for Dr. Seuss, Mr. Rogers, and Winnie the Pooh.

At church this year we repeated a set of lessons I'd written called "The 7 Principles and Dr. Seuss", which is always fun and engaging. In case you're wondering, Dr. Seuss did in fact write a book for each of our UU Principles!

Respect Everyone (Inherent Worth and Dignity) is The Sneetches

Offer Fair and Kind Treatment is Horton Hatches an Egg

Yearn to Learn/Accept Each Other is How the Grinch Stole Christmas

Grow by seeking truth and meaning is Horton Hears a Who

Believe in your ideas and listen to others (right of conscience and democracy) is Yertle the Turtle

Insist on Peace and Justice in the World is The Butter Battle

Value the Web of Life is The Lorax

"Preachers in pulpits talked about what a great message is in the book. No matter what you do, somebody always imputes meaning into your books."
Dr. Seuss

“Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple.”
Dr. Seuss

Thursday, March 1, 2012

I want to put the "home" back in homeschool

I'm feeling pulled in too many directions, to go to too many events, too many groups, too many classes. Really - the world is this amazing buffet of fabulous opportunities to do tons of awesome stuff. How lucky are we, to live in a community with so much going on. And this is a problem of the privileged, I know. I can sign my kids up for anything they want to do, and I can drive them long distances to do it.

But when are we ever home? When is it just time to Be, instead of Do? How much do we really need to socialize and be with others, and how much time do we need to be ourselves? I'm currently juggling (not counting work and church):

Homeschool PE at the YMCA twice a week
Martial Arts twice a week
Chess Club
Science Class
Play Group
Theater Class

I had been thinking about adding in Spanish class and Children's Choir.

And then there are all the one-time events, workshops, parties, play dates, field trips, etc.

Sure, it's cool to go do this:


But I think we also need plenty of time to do this:



We need to simplify. I really want to have more Home time, for them, and for me.