About Me

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Michigan, United States
a registered yoga teacher, and a Thai/Yoga Bodywork practitioner.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Easter Ante

Of all the things I did not expect to do on Easter, we learned how to play poker. I thought it was sacrilegious, but on second thought, it's perfect. We weigh the odds and hedge our bets in spring. I planted my cold weather crops in early April and have yet to see a pea  or loose leaf lettuce spout. Maybe I should have waited, holding those seeds a little longer. No matter; I also subscribed to a food co-op, so there's a good chance I'll have local greens anyway. We put away snow blowers only to have snow last week (The last snow? Care to bet on it?). At church, we had a roomful of people, some of whom I have never seen before. Why show up only on Easter-- to make sure the message is still the same? I'll bet.

How did we go from coloring eggs to the dealing cards?

For the token system we are using to motivate the kids, we needed a currency. Poker chips seemed the best idea. Meijer doesn't sell just chips, so we bought a whole poker kit. Since our Sundays are "screen free" (no computer, gaming systems or TV), I suggested Rob teach the kids how to play. He hesitated at first, but given the choice between yard work and "card work," he chose the game.

My husband and kids sat at the table for a solid hour, dealing and laying down cards (five card draw, I think). The kids loved it: triumphing over each other--and their Dad-- with a mere handful of laminated paper. They didn't bet at all; it was just about which hand beats which, and the strategy of when to hold cards and when to go to the deck for a chance at a better hand.

They got to practice again yesterday. The kids love to go to my Thursday job because the client plays with them like no other adult. She gives them her full attention, listening to them like the most patient friend or teacher. Usually they play Monopoly or Bananagrams, but this time Nate suggested they play poker. The three of them sat around the table with chips, and she taught them how to "ante up" and "call."

Rob was working with me, so he witnessed this tutelage. He smiled and shook his head as he overheard our little card sharks celebrating their wins with whoops and yelps.

"At least they're building a skill," I said.

They have found something new to do that doesn't require electricity, it's an illustration of probability (math lesson!), and they can play with anyone able to hold a hand of cards. It's a sure thing.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Some days are rough, especially with all four of us together for most hours of the day. Having Rob at home means trying to blend both our expectations for the kids. I think taking until 3 p.m. to finish math is fine; he does not. So we are trying a token system, rewarding the kids for timely work, neatly done. It sounds like school, which I don't like. However, when I am hastily handed a scribbled representation of the human eye with misspelled words (and the diagram and words were PROVIDED), that's a sure sign of getting used for my permissive personality.

Nate is thriving on this system. He loves knowing exactly what's expected.

Madelyn, with her aptitude for interpreting what it means to "finish" a job, is stumbling some. She is apt to dramatize and try to slink by with inferior work so she can do what she wants. She likes to wander away from our lesson and start talking to the dog, for instance.  How interesting that the easier child has become the harder one, in this instance.

Our history segment is wrapping up. We have come to the end of the history CD ROM (Intellego Unit Studies), and I will continue with this company come fall. We insert the disk, do some reading, watch short videos or do a  worksheet or game, and the lesson's done. The kids can find the Tigres and Euphrates on a map; they know the Game of Ur; they know the Code of Hammurabi was considerably more strict than laws are now, and they have tried Mesopotamian cookies but declined more than a bite. (They were dried and pureed figs, dates, and raisins + flour + butter, fried lightly. I found them delicious and reminiscent of Fig Newtons.)

I found picture books about the Epic of Gilgamesh, which is obviously the origin of Noah's Ark, the serpent in the garden of Eden, and every super hero since. Gilgamesh was 2/3 "god" and 1/3 "man," was unstoppable, and he STILL wanted to live forever: the first overachiever.

We will continue to work on math through the summer since we started back one grade (to cover any holes left over from public school). We'll read, of course, and take a round of swimming lessons (Pool School), but that's about it.

We have an offer from a friend to volunteer at a local store, learning about how to make change, keep the shop, wait on the public. We have to see where Rob's next job lands, but if we take her offer, it's a chance to work that most people don't get until they are sixteen.

I know the kids don't meet all Rob's expectations.  I don't know anyone--including myself--who meets all of mine. Overall, I am enjoying our homeschool experiment, sloppy work aside.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Free to just *be*

Although there's nothing revolutionary in the kids' homeschool life, I'm reading some things that are peeling back assumptions and teaching me a few lessons.

One book is The Freedom Manifesto (click for an excerpt). The author pines for pre-Puritanical, pre-capitalist days when living in community and being average would qualify one for eternal life in the hereafter. Nowadays, he says many of us subconsciously buy the line of  continuous improvement, not slacking for a moment for fear of falling behind--and so we are never satisfied, never safe. It's great for advertisers but disastrous for our mental and physical health.

He advocates giving up a lot, namely--your fear. We pander to our fears and discomfort and fail to build community and self sufficiency. The author says: simplify, and don't be modest about it. He aligns the nobility of the monastery with that of the hobo, life outside the norm, a life of freedom. I can't do his tone justice, and I detest abridged books, so I'll stop here and move to...

Free Range Kids. This woman became famous for letting her nine year old ride the New York subway, alone. She compiles a lot of statistics about how safe life really is and wraps them in a tasty layer of humor and anecdotes. I had to stop reading repeatedly just to laugh.

Parents are so over-informed (24 hour news, the web) and prepared for the worst (CSI and other horrible crime dramas) that we put our kids into paralysis.
No walking or biking anywhere because "What if...?"
No trick or treating after dark (or trick/treating PERIOD).
No letting the kids run amok through the neighborhood, monitoring themselves.
No discomfort or failure for your delicate offspring. 

I didn't realize, until the author points it out, how deeply the Adam Walsh story of 1983 and the subsequent milk carton kids had made assume the worst about...most everyone. Perpetual mental discomfort has become normal parenting. However, she points out how we take our kids into cars (accidents), let them play inside all day (house fires), and visit relatives (molestation), all of which are much more likely to result in "something bad" than if we let them play with their friends outside, unsupervised, or go to the movies with friends. Planning for the worst doesn't make the bad stop happening; it brings another kind of abduction--the abduction and squashing of a kid's chance for independence and confidence.

Reading these books concurrently has been a double loaded barrel, blasting apart fears and attachments--stuff I didn't realize I had; it's been the equivalent of a deep tissue massage for the mind, bringing flexibility where I didn't know I was tight.

Some examples of how I have faced fear, giving up (in a good way):

made bread, ate my fill, and enjoyed it ( fear of being fat),

drank wine and enjoyed it (fear of...more fat, I guess. I like wine so much I figure I'm guilty of something),

turned off all screens (DSI, computer, TV) for a whole Sunday (fear of solitude, discomfort not having pre-packaged entertainment or being in-the-know),

told the kids to go outside and not list all the things to watch out for (fear of losing control),

let my kitchen be dirty and letting the jerk of discomfort subside (fear of not being a decent housewife/human and breaking the Cleanliness Is Akin to Godliness "rule");

allowed my normal workload of life--teaching yoga, walking the dog, yard work-- account for my workout (fear of...yep, being fat, again);

let my kids occupy themselves without insisting they do something edifying (fear of raising wards-of-the-state);

forgave myself for letting the kids quit music lessons last year (fear of not enriching their lives)

took a break from judo while the kids are doing soccer and ballet (again--fear of not enriching their lives enough)

Practicing yoga is supposed to be about awareness. Reading these books has been like my first handstand: freeing and terrifying.What are you afraid of? How is it binding you?