Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Grabbing the Bull

Have you ever been in one of those places in life where you aren't sure if you're in the middle of a phase, a transition...or a really sticky spot where you need to grab the bull by the horns and twist him around until he's headed in a different direction?

Yup, I'm there.

Life seems so very scattered and random and directionless lately. In between the screaming and the fits and the drama, there's the attitude and the kicking-the-crap-out-of-each-other and major anxiety and I-can't-sleep-take-me-to-the-doctor.

Life with children is beautiful, they say. And it is. There are just certain parts that never make it into the painting. Like when the Mom is really frustrated and can't focus long enough to string two thoughts together. And the kids overtake the day like this insane cosmic force that plows through the house and destroys everything in its path. And Mom just wants it quiet in her head so she can figure things out, but its never quiet.

Some people come to homeschooling because they don't like the rigidity of public school. They don't like the boundaries. They don't like being told what to teach their kids when. And so on and so forth.

And other people come to homeschooling and realize that somehow the complete and total freedom is somehow suffocating in its own way and that when the boundaries are taken away, you can get mixed up in anything from overkill to absolutely nothing, neither of which are any good at all.

Hubster reminded me last night that the entire point of homeschooling is that a family can make it work for their own situation. If something isn't working, the freedom is that you can change that "something" until it does work. Don't worry about what the label is for what you're doing educationally. Just do what works. Whatever it is.

And so today, for me, is about grabbing the bull. Figuring out where we lost it...whatever it is...and finding out where to pick it up again so we can move forward. Schoolishness, emotionalness, behavioral junkiness...whatever it means for us.

Because, after all, that's what homeschooling was supposed to be about.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Animal Rescue

In between harvesting, canning, schooling, co-oping, building, baking, exploring, and just generally living life...we always end up involved in saving a few animals.

(And yes, we share a house with 5 dogs and 11 cats...and a clawed frog...and a bunny...but this post isn't about those animals. Or any other such domesticated four legged counterparts that may end up on our doorstep.)

We save a lot of birds. This little guy hit the window and we held him until he flew away.

This little guy was pounced upon by one of the aforementioned cats, and we saved him, too.

He won himself a spot in our Boot Hut, a birdhouse made by and bought from an Amish woman (at her roadside stand).

But it seems that lately, our most requested animal rescue story is from something that happened a couple weeks ago. Enjoy!

Imagine this: you're driving down the road, returning home from the dairy (weekly raw milk pick up) when you spy something on the road. A small something. A slithery something.

A salamander.

Now normal sane people would have passed it by. But not MamaTea! Not the homeschoolin' mama who just put up a poster on the wall about how to tell the difference between a Spotted salamander and a Tiger salamander! She spins the car around and picks the little darlin' up, so as to save him from the inevitable squish beneath a set of careless tires.

Aw, he's so cute!
Where do I put him?

I'm about a half mile from home, and the little guy is stunned so I figure I can just hold him.

Really, I was just a half mile from home.

Of course, this didn't work out so well. Because as soon as he hit the warmth of the car, he "woke up". I didn't figure driving with a slithery something or other climbing all over you (even for a half mile) was going to work. So I chose to do something that ultimately presented me with quite an issue.

I set him down in the passenger seat.

Really, it was only a half mile home. What could happen?

I'll tell you what can happen. In the length of a half mile, you can flat out lose the salamander. Because he's fast. And he hops off the passenger seat onto the floor, behind the mat on the floor, and up into...wherever it was he went. Who knew there were holes back there?

Great. I've lost him. In the heating system. The van is going to reek of fried fermented salamander.

I pull into the driveway, hoping that for once my husband isn't waiting at the door to help me unload the dairy delivery. I park and start tearing apart the inside of the van. Come on, little slithery friend. Come out, come out wherever you are...

Cripes. I don't know where he is. And the fact I'm clawing at the inside panels of the van certainly looks suspcicious.

A couple hours goes by and the slitherly darling still hasn't appeared. I end up confessing to Hubster that there is a salamander lost. Somewhere. In the van. You know, one of those Honey? So...I was wondering. What would happen, if say, I kind of set a live slithering animal on the seat of the van...and he kinda sorta...kinda...got away from me?

He sighs. Heavily.
(I love him.)

I start praying that perhaps the salamander crept out without me noticing and has happily slithered away to some wet patch of leaves in the woods. Because, as Hubster points out, the smell of fried fermented salamander just doesn't go away.


Later that day, we are packing to house-sit for my sister in law for a few days. We open the back door of the van to plop everything inside...and there he is! Crawling around on the floor of the back of the van!

Like he was politely knocking to get out.
I think he even smiled and waved.

Is this your salamander? asks Husbter.

Why yes, it most certainly is.

Life could be so normal...
thank God it isn't.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

we make it work

Question: What happens on October 3rd, 2009 in Minnesota?
Answer. Well, many things I'm sure. But for the sake of this blog post, October 3rd is the opening of duck hunting. And also, oddly enough, the day MamaTea's family decided to attend the Minnesota Renaissance Festival.

Well, some of us.

Hubster was definitely hunting. Besides the fact that hunting is his thing...the Ren Fest is definitely NOT his thing. He's just not much for being heckled by strangers. Perhaps it has something to do with being a cop.

Oh well, we make it work.

My mother, fully costumed in purple, attended with me. My father, like, my husband, was sticking with hunting.

But that's ok. They made it work.

My two sweet darlings, Iggy and Ooky were also costumed and ready to go, our costumes compliments of RuralMama and her billion totes of Ren Fest garb...but somehow, Iggy ended up that morning in something not very renaissancy...

Gosh...it almost looked like he was going...(gasp)...hunting???

We made it work.

We made it work, it all worked out. Iggy had a fantastic time with the big guys and their duck hunting day. Ooky had an equally fatabulous time protecting his mom and grandma with his cardboard sword.

MamaTea even got to mess around with a real sword.

It was neat to see Ooky do his own thing. He had a great time being heckled. He lives for drama, and playing the part of a Ren Fest boy was right up his alley. He talked about the great time he had into the wee hours of the night.

It was also cool to hear about Iggy doing his own thing. The day of hunting was totally him, and he got some important time with his dad and grandpa. There were many entertaining tidbits that were shared with me by Hubster and my Dad long after the two kids were in bed. Somehow, Iggy just seemed a wee bit older after that hunting trip.

The day went really nothing like planned.
But it was perfect, nonetheless.
Funny how that happens, ain't it?