Monday, September 27, 2010

look closely

This morning after I brushed my teeth, I went to take a sip of water from the cup near the sink. I looked inside the cup and saw that Eva had drawn a smiley face inside on the bottom. This made me smile. Even better was when I realized she had used permanent marker and that most likely there would *always* be a smiley face at the bottom of this cup.

And here are some of the scenes I saw in the shower, leftover from Eva's bath the night before. I particularly like the little squirrel perched on that little shower-pull-up thingy.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

My dad is visiting this week and the kids and I have several things planned. Whether or not we will get to all of those things remains to be seen. I am using the plans more as suggestions than mandates on how to spend time. Hints or ideas to be reminded of if need be. So far they have played Wii Monopoly and the Harry Potter game we bought at the Lego Store last month? Or the month before. We had dinner last night to celebrate his visit and they watched the first of what will most probably be many Harry Potter movies. I think they started with #2. Possibly #3. Eva is set on getting the first one and we checked to see if the library had it today. Next stop will surely be Blockbuster as the kids and I are due to finish up The Half Blood Prince in a few days, if not tonight, and we will need to watch that movie lickety split. We can rent The Sorcerer's Stone at the same time. As my dad has never seen any of the movies or read any of the books, the place to start would seem to be at the beginning. As it turns out, however, starting in the middle is fine too.

Tonight we went out to dinner at Pizza Fino where my sister Ellen and her partner Evan work. It has turned into a sort of tradition for us to eat there when he visits. Eva insisted on it this time and was very excited about her dessert brownie. She talked about it all day and I am happy to say the brownie once again lived up to both her imagination and memory.

And now everyone else is either still playing Wii Monopoly or getting ready to finish the Harry Potter movie from last night or- wait- they are in fact watching Coraline, one of Eva's favorites. One thing I love about my dad visiting is how the kids like to gather up all of their favorite things- movies, books, games, stuffed animals, foods, walks, ideas- and share them with him. I enjoy reflecting on the ways the kids have changed from the last time he visited and the ways they have stayed the same. It is a great snap shot for him of the people they are becoming- the people they are in this moment of time- and a nice reminder for me of all of the ways that we spend our time each day.

Today at the park...

Saturday, September 11, 2010

autumn dreaming

I woke up from a dream this morning. Well, more to the point- I woke up this morning from a dream when my cat Agnes came into the room meowing at me to wake up. In the dream it was autumn{already} and I was writing about it being autumn. There were red and orange leaves on the trees in the front and back yards and I took a few photos and compared them here, on this blog. One before, as in the transition to autumn, the Japanese Maple tree in my front yard with a few red leaves here and there. Can you believe there are red maple leaves in my front yard {even now}?

The other was a glorious photo of red and orange leaves in the backyard, which won't really happen, not now or later, because the Silver Maple in the back always has golden yellow leaves. Her leaves change much later than the Japanese Maple's (who I usually think of as a male, in case you wondered. The Pin Oak out front is also male.) And I love how in the dream I could be both then and now, looking at leaves that are changing now (in waking life) and seeing that as then (in my dream) and how I took both of the photos- both then and now- at the same time, moving only from the front yard to the back yard.

In the dream I posted the photos and then began writing a post with something like "Autumn is here!" The tone was one of finality and interest and enthusiasm, of course, all wrapped up into one. And I notice as I write this now, this writing is eclipsing the writing in the dream {that seemed so clear before}. And that is the way of it. The dream has done it's job of {waking me up}- inspiring me to wake up and write. Wake up and notice. See what is then and what is now. Think of that, all of it all at once and knowing what will come, but not quite, and making it up as we go along. And the sheer beauty of it. The dream got that right on as well. I felt as though I had never seen such beauty as in those red and orange leaves.

Friday, September 3, 2010

notes on risk

On the way out to the upick the other evening, I was thinking about a photo I had just seen of a friend's son on his new dirt bike, getting ready to go on a ride with his dad, who also has a dirt bike. I know nothing of dirt bike riding, motorcycle riding, snow mobile riding (although a bit more here than dirt bike riding, having grown up in Wisconsin and all) and the like, but assume, depending on who you are and what your opinions are, that learning how to use any of these devices involves at least some amount of risk and varies from person to person, depending on skill level and desire. The first type of risk that comes to my mind when thinking about learning how to ride a dirt bike- or any bike, for that matter- is physical risk. The more I thought about it, however, the more I saw that there are other types of risk involved as well.

And this got me thinking about risk in general and how there is risk in anything that we choose to undertake, physical or otherwise. Anything worthwhile, it seems. (Or at least most things worthwhile. Risks abound.) I started thinking about these other types of risks- emotional risks, fear of failing, risks dealing with self-esteem and acceptance. Feeling overloaded. Unqualified. Fears of success- that we may have to continue if we succeed even if we don't enjoy something. And on and on. So many types of risk, so many fears. And the alternative to not taking risks? Living a life of dissatisfaction and mind-numbing sameness.

And yet, even as I thought this, I realized there is risk there as well. So many quotes clog our minds and hearts about not wasting our chances. Not squandering life. Not grabbing the bull by the horns. Not letting life pass us by lest we regret our choices and fall into a pit of despair over what could-have-been. Each prompt based on a fear (someone else's fear, I might add). Someone else's experence with risk.

We risk not only what we are comfortable with but what we have learned to be comfortable with, often basing our choices on what others have told us is acceptable to risk. Missed opportunities, otherwise known as enjoyment, often come from following the advice of well-meaning *others* intent on teaching us what their comfort level is with a particular risk, taking us outside of our own bodies, away from our own hearts to follow another road often leading to confusion and dissatisfaction.

Unfortunately, risk is often too narrowly defined in our culture. There are activities that are commonly held to be risky. Indivduals who are labeled as risk takers. Someone who doesn’t take enough risks, however, is seen as overly cautious. A stick-in-the-mud. What these labels fail to convey is that risk taking is not objective. What constitutes a risk is highly personal and varies among individuals.

So how do I know what risks I am willing to take? It takes two things- awareness and courage. Awareness of my own limits. Where I draw my line and where I reach out. And then? Then it is a matter of courage. Courage to pay attention to what I am aware of. And then to act on it. And because I was raised the way I was and am the person who I am, all of this can take time. Time to sort through all of the competing “other” voices to get to the heart of what exactly I am willing to do. What risks I am willing to take.

One of the reasons I have chosen to unschool my kids is to {hopefully} allow them to sidestep at least some of the process of weeding through external influences and how they shape who we are and what we are willing to do with our lives. It is my hope my kids will be able to develop in their own time a knowledge about themselves (who they are) and about what sorts of risks they are willing to take. With themselves. With their lives. And I realize there are risks in that. Risks that things won't turn out. Risks that things will go wrong. When I think about it, though, these risks are no bigger than if I were to make other decisions. The difference lies in the fact that these are risks I am willing to take. Risks I have chosen to take. And *that* makes all the difference.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

robot den

What Samuel's been up to, at least in part. He has several different games going on right now, is heavily into Harry Potter (along with Eva and I), as well as The Last Airbender, which the kids are re-watching after we went to see the movie (which we liked) earlier this week.

This game is an assortment of Star Wars guys, the new Lego Hero guys (they have bit parts, it seems...), as well as various robots who I think come from Iron Man. I think. Don't quiz me on that, though.

View of most of the scene.

Upstairs. There are robots, bounty hunters, maps, and lots and lots of guns.

Also upstairs. You can see more guns taped to the top. This is one protected fortress.

Downstairs living quarters. Prison. Luke and the other guy are trapped in Silly Putty.

Ponytail Falls

The kids and I went on a hike with some friends to another waterfall today. This time we hiked up to Ponytail Waterfall near the Oneonta Gorge. There were a few other waterfalls nearby, both before the main attraction and after. I thoroughly enjoyed the walk, although I have to say that at 2.75 miles it may have been pushing the limit of what the kids will happily do {so far}. Still, these videos capture the happiness everyone felt when we reached Ponytail Falls.