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The new Pokemon games are out today so Matthias worked ahead yesterday and we went to buy it first thing this morning. I came home from a lunchtime run with my husband to find this the scene on the couch.

Siblings. When they’re not getting at each other, they really get each other.

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Your life – this journey, this adventure – starts off a blank canvas. It’s living that turns it into art. So often people lose sight of that. Just as paint-by-number kits don’t teach a kid to be an artist yet produce a product that is a facsimile of art, life can be lived by the numbers.

You ask what other people are doing when it’s time to make a decision. You let other people’s preferences guide you. You don’t make decisions but flow from moment to moment doing what seems easiest. You do what’s normal. You do what’s average. You chase the Jones. You make the Top Ten lists your into guidebook: vacations, outfits, books, wines…

But life is a canvas. Paint. Make it beautiful to you. You’ve got great taste, I promise. And the best news is that it’s not a watercolour – it’s a thick, gloppy oil painting that you can overpaint if you want to. If at 23 or 11 or 46 you decide your art isn’t making you happy, you can change it. Get a palette knife instead of a set of brushes. Make it into a multi-media art piece. Trade it in for sculpture tools.

I’ve just had a conversation with a mom who’s thinking of pulling her boy from school. It’s one of my favourite conversations to have. I get to tell a parent that she can do whatever she thinks will make that child a happy, functioning adult. That the sky is the limit, or maybe the furthest reaches of the galaxy. That she doesn’t have to paint by the numbers, no matter what the system says, no matter what the worrying reports about the state of education say, no matter what anything says but her wisdom as a parent.

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My kids don’t look like they’re supposed to, when you peel them back and parse them down to educational data points. It’s hard to say if they’re succeeding or failing to help Canada in the international education rankings. It doesn’t make one iota of difference to me. I don’t care what’s average. Have you looked around at the state of things? Average isn’t a goal I’m going to set. I’m not raising someone I’m hoping can slot into a list of ‘Top Ten Jobs for the Future’ or ‘Top Vacations for the Gap Year’ or even ‘Top Ten Paper Airplanes to Try’.

My kids are emotionally whole. They’re not wearing labels. They’re artists painting their own canvases, learning skills, messing up, repainting, and standing back to get a good look. They’re messy and they’re tidy.

It’s art. It’s unpredictable. That’s life.

Breathe deeply.

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While so much seems difficult or obligatory just now, Sandra and I have decided to explore yoga more seriously this winter. It’s exciting to have a goal in a new field, rather than just retreading something we’ve already pursued.

Part of it, I’ll admit, is related to the completely inspiring photos of yoga that pop up in my visual day now that I’ve joined Instagram. I really want to be able to do handstands and arm balances like some of those women!

So we are having fun with our yoga. Trying and failing at things. Pushing and progressing.

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It’s hard to know how to talk about this, but I’ve got a bad case of burnout. It’s a feeling I know from homeschooling all these years, a March kind of feeling that brings a sense of heaviness, greyness, weariness. But it’s not March. It’s not the end of a long Manitoba winter. And I’ve been living with it for a few months now. I had burnout before we even started homeschooling.

The thing is, this is coming at a time when my kids need me most. Miss a few weeks in grade 3 or grade 7 and you’ve got years to smooth it out. But it’s grade 12 and 10 around here and they need me. They need me to be motivated and motivating. To be witty. To be wise.

I feel like everything, even happiness, is in greyscale.

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Sandra is doing fine with it. Not loving it, struggling a bit with her own sense of grey, but moving forward with her tasks and getting things done. Matthias, on the other hand, is not a self-propelled student and lacks confidence. I really feel like I’m failing him, and this shovels a heavy layer of guilt and panic over the greyness.

It’s time for the Mystery Hat knit along! Every November this clever cap designer issues a hat design clue by clue. First the yarn requirements and gauge, then the brim instructions, then the body of the hat, and lastly the crown shaping. It’s great fun. And a way to knit a hat that, even if it doesn’t suit you, is a perfect gift just in time for the Gifting Season!

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After much dissatisfied thinking and nearly going to the yarn shop (“To heck with it, let’s just go buy grey!”), I have found a stash solution. These two yarns are so close, fraternal twins perhaps? I’ll blend them together and all will be marvellous.

Are you knitting a Mystery Hat?

Actual words from this homeschooling mama:

“There is good news and bad news. The bad news is that we’re doing science now. The good news is that it comes with perogies.”

A little bribery and sensory distraction never hurt.

Destiny Disrupted: a History of the World Through Islamic Eyes

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It’s a great book. The author reads it, and while he doesn’t have the best voice I’ve heard narrate an audiobook, he does it well and it’s particularly nice to hear the names and words pronounced by someone who knows how. I do miss access to a map, but the audiobook format means I’m actually “reading” it rather than intending to, as I have for two years.

I think it’s a book that everyone in the West would benefit from. It’s clear that our world is fractured into several narratives/mind sets. Understanding -and possibly solutions to some modern problems – will start with knowing more about how others see the flow of history and the themes they identify.

Sandra is doing it as part of a current events/Muslim studies unit.

I’m knitting Hana Hou and I’m running out of yarn. All that’s left to knit are the sleeves and I have two partial balls left. I need advice.

I’m definitely doing long sleeves. I found some natural coloured Sportweight yarn to add in. As I see it I have two options. Both involve keeping the textured cuffs in the grey. But should the rest of the grey go on the bottom or the top?

Quandaries

I’ve measured the swatch as a rough stand in for the cuff, and one of my partial balls is exactly the same as that amount doubled, so that seems clear.

As you can see in the picture, I’ve sketched out a rough plan of the two options. In both options, I knit both sleeves at the same time, using different ends of the ball. I’m not sure, however, how much length I’m going to get from 35g.

Be aware that I’m planning on doing some geometric embroidery in white to bring the colour into the main part of the sweater and look more integrated.

So

1) white at the top, all the grey at the bottom?

2) grey cuff, white middle, grey sleeve caps?

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While I cleaned my parents’ house my dad mentored Matthias in sports psychology.

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