Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Creative Tidy

For many years now I have clung to the idea my house needed to be really clean. Secretly, I think I thought if my house was not super clean I was somehow a failure. Probably to my detriment, I was able to keep up this delusion after the birth of my daughter. She was a pretty easy kid and has always self entertained. Therefore I was able to quietly have the smug mommy knowledge I could keep up with it all.

Now you all know life is just hilarious and there is a twisted sense of humor ever present in this universe.

So then I had my son. Now I will wait a moment of those of you who know me to stop laughing. Go ahead, wipe away the tears. I will wait. Needless to say, the birth of my son turned my world upside down and made me realize that the state of my home had a lot less to do with my acumen as a mother and homemaker and far more to do with a child who could happily self entertain.

In the past few years we have fallen into a new normal. The house was still clean but it took a lot more to keep up. I did lower my standards but I still spent a lot of time on keeping everything tidy.

However recently, I am reconsidering this mindset. We are now fully into homeschooling and our brand of homeschooling is very hands on and exploratory Or we can call it what it really is, messy. Add to that chaos my new found love of art and creativity and the result is more chaos and disorder than I am used to having in my home. But here is the thing, I think I am okay with it. That is a little crazy to me.

We are already a rather counter-culture family in many ways What if I take it a step further and just not worry so much about what our home looks like? What if I put a higher value on creativity and learning? What if I spend my already limited time focused more on what is really important to our family rather than on mopping? How revolutionary would that be?

Now for many of you, it wouldn't be. You are already there. I think I am pretty much there myself. The funny thing is I have had to let myself be okay with being okay with it? Isn't that crazy? Seriously? I have to allow myself to be okay with this intentional decision? Well, yes I do. I have moved far on my journey and I have dropped many societal expectations and baggage of my past but like an onion, I am still peeling back layers.

I am sure we will maintain a foundation of clean. I doubt we get to the point where the neighbors are having a secret meeting over calling the health department. Perhaps the biggest change is my mindset. I want to be okay with leaving the intricate castle system the children built together in the living room for a few days. I don't want to stress that my current mixed media art project is spread out some place for many days as I work on it. This is good stuff. Learning is happening here. Creation is being achieved right here, right now. Is getting everything cleaned up right away really that important? No, I don't think so either.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

To Begin With

Last week I took my children to an amazing place, the City Museum in St Louis, MO. It was once a huge, rambling shoe factory. Today it is a mecca of fairly dangerous child play in a society of everything is padded and rounded so no one can possible get hurt. It is a surreal urban fantasy of upcyled old materials and architectural features lending themselves to be climbing, slid upon, and jumped off of with wild abandon. There are lots of opportunities for bruises and scrapes. My children ADORE this place.

I was going to being this blog with an introduction of me and my family. I would tell you how I pulled out of corporate America and found I actually have a heart for simple, domestic life. Perhaps I would describe how we came to homeschool. I don't know. It would have been neat and tidy and got the message across. But really, it doesn't matter to much. You will probably piece the story together and if not, well it isn't that important. Because you see it was on that visit to the not so safe museum I had a moment that encapsulated why I do what I do.

We were all sitting together watching a Circus Harmony. Circus Harmony  or the Everyday Circus is a fantastic group operating in the City Museum. Here is their mission statement.

OUR MISSIONCircus Harmony teaches the art of life through circus education. We work to build character and expand community for youth of all ages, cultures, abilities and backgrounds. Through teaching and performance of circus arts, we help people defy gravity, soar with confidence, and leap over social barriers, all at the same time.

Isn't that cool? They bring kids and people from all different walks of life together to perform. They are using this amazing tool to bring peace and harmony. I love it. 

But anyway, there we sat and I was marveling my children were watching this performance rather than sitting in a classroom somewhere. My daughter's face was lit up with joy. She laughed so easily and openly. My son is much more reserved and watched quietly but with great intensity. His lack of animation belied that fact he was soaking it all up, every last drop. He astounded me that day. My shy little guy actually went on stage in front of the crowd at a clown's invitation. I realized he is really growing up. 

They both are, growing up, and I don't want to miss it. I love going on adventures with them. I love seeing their expressions as a box of glitter accidentally explodes in the dining room and we are all covered, laughing with a sparkly mess. I adore they can become completely enmeshed in exploring a creek and I don't have to tell them it is time to do homework. 

The experience at the City Museum demonstrated so many of the reasons we homeschool and I don't work outside the home. We have the opportunity to follow their interests and learn however they best learn. That day they played so hard they staggered out later that afternoon barely under their own steam. We did art for hours with professional artists. They played and worked together with kids completely different then them and thought nothing of it. 

Now I know, you can get these experiences while using tradintional school programs but I don't see how that is possible and still maintain a simple and slow paced life At least, it wouldn't be for us. Living a slow, simple life is extremely important to us. In this age of hurry up everywhere and the worship of busyness, we just want something different. We want slow. We want to tell our kids, go ahead and look at the dandelion, we have time. We'll be over here watching the sunset.

So this is our life. We are together a lot. It is not always perfect. We fight. We disagree. But more often we love so deeply and truly enjoy each other's company. I love being with my family. Let me tell you, I am a huge introvert, so that is saying something. I am so excited to discover the adventure that is our life. I would like to invite you to enjoy our escapades with us through this blog.