Why the Tree of Life?


Time Apart

Kirven took a big step this last week by going by himself to stay with his grandparents for a week. He was with Evan's parents the first half of the week and with my parents the second half of the week. This is something he wouldn't have been ready for a couple months ago. We've seen a real shift in his consciousness. I've conincidentally been re-reading the Enki Early Childhood Guide this week in preparation for this coming fall, and I found this very fitting section:

"As she steps into the separateness and independence of a 'mind stage' [around age 5 1/2] she also feels the loneliness that is inseparable from being independent. No matter how well bonded she has been in her first years, this shift towards independence and its sense of alone goes with the turf. She simultaneously has the need to test out her metal and the need for reassurance that she is an inseparable and safe part of the whole."

What makes this so very interesting is that Kirven, in the last couple weeks, has been a bit more clingy at times, claiming he is 'lonely,' to the point that he has been my shadow throughout the day and refusing to go play. I just chalked it up to the insecurity that must come from having a newborn in the house, but perhaps it has more to do with the developmental stage he is at? Evan and I have both been sensing that he has been needing something--- something challenging, and we thought that maybe he was ready for a trip to the grandparents on his own. I had some misgivings given how clingy he had been, but when we proposed the idea to him, he was very excited. And by all accounts, he didn't miss us at all, so I think it was perfect timing. I'm curious to see how next week will be. Will he feel a little more balanced?

The other interesting thing has been how Dunagan has really mellowed while Kirven has been gone. He's been calmer, and I think it's because he hasn't had someone egging him on. He's also had my undivided attention to hear all his stories, and he has been able to play in whatever way he would like to play without interruption. At times, he has been sad that Kirven is gone because, after all, they are buddies, and he has projected that feeling onto Ayla as well, telling her not to worry because 'Dunagan is still here." But I have been glad for this experience not just for Kirven, but for Dunagan and me as well.


Screech Owl

In our tree...


Super Tunnel

Kirven built this whole thing completely by himself. They wanted me to go in, too, but my... ahem, postpartum enhanced body wouldn't fit. I suggested they connect the tunnel to the houseboat. "That would be a bad idea, Mom." I couldn't get him to elaborate, but seems that it would have had serious consequences (to what, I don't know). He had thought this through, though, whereas I had not. So, they remained safely unconnected.


Here is our houseboat. You can't see them, but our playstands are laying end to end to form the body of the boat complete with bows, and the boys took a couple chairs and their bedspreads to make a cabin. A lot of time was spent provisioning the boat. Very little time was actually spent 'playing' in it. The building and the provisioning seemed to be the most important parts.

This day of building heralded a burst of shelter building by Kirven (more pictures to come later). Every day last week involved arranging pillows, cushions and chairs and covering them with blankets and silks. We've had forts, we've had caves, we've had 'Rabbit's house', we've had hide-y holes... but it all began with a boat.


This is one of those pictures that was perfect the moment I saw it. Unfortunately, I had to step away to get the camera, so it didn't come out quite right, and I didn't get it quite in focus. If only our eyeballs came equipped with cameras, and all we had to do was say, click. Nonetheless, a good picture of all three.


Second Blog

For awhile now, there have been lots of posts I have wanted to write that just wouldn't fit on our family blog. I am really fascinated with educational theory, child psychology and Quaker faith and practice, and how all of that relates to my real life. Where do all those things overlap and complement each other? Where are they different or even contradictory? What parts will I try to live out in our family? How can I connect everything? These are some of the questions I have rattling around in my brain. I would like a place where I can think out loud and explore my thoughts. Tree of Life Homeschool will remain our family scrapbook, but my new blog, Tree of Life Musings, will be where I hope to connect with other Quaker families and Enki homeschoolers and explore the theoretical realm.


I'm Piglet and You're Owl

The gateway to Dunagan is his imagination. You can get him to comply with nearly any request as long as you stay in character. This is a realization that I had today--- the staying in character part. Kirven has always had an active imagination, too, but his has manifested itself in an imaginary acquaintance named Baybuh. I say 'acquaintance' because Kirven and Baybuh never hang out together. Kirven just regales us with Baybuh's adventures as if he were just an interested by-stander.

Dunagan on the other hand is things. He also assigns us roles on a daily basis. Usually, we are the same thing all day, though he is sometimes open to suggestion if you grow tired of being, say, Owl. As long as you go along with it all, Dunagan is more than happy to throw his granola bar wrapper away or wipe up his spill, but the moment you slip and assume a more Mommy-like role, the brakes come on.

Most of the time, Kirven obliges Dunagan, but usually he just wants to be Kirven. He tends to look at Dunagan like he's crazy, especially when Dunagan starts pointing to people, animals and things that aren't there and playing with them. Kirven will snicker and look at me with bug eyes. Sometimes he will whisper incredulously, "He thinks he's Piglet," or "Why is he...?"

Currently, Daddy is 'Dumptruck', and when Dunagan is with Daddy, Dunagan is 'Sand'. Sand needs to usually be carried everywhere because, as everyone knows, sand can't move.

For a long time, I was Mama Bear with my Cub Ayla. Ayla is still my cub, but I am currently Owl from Winnie the Pooh, and Dunagan is Piglet. Being Owl involves Finding Lost Piglet, and Finding Lost Piglet involves flying around the room and pretending not to see Piglet far below me in the Hundred Acre Wood until he calls out to me. Then the fun part begins where I must carry Piglet on my back to my house, which by the way, has been blown over due to a Very Blusterous Day. Owl, as in me, tried to explain to Piglet about not having the Necessary Dorsal Muscles for carrying him back to my house, and though the piglet in the book seemed to understand this logic, my Piglet prefers to ignore it.


Last Visit

I had my last midwife appointment this morning. It was bittersweet knowing that, unless God has other plans, I am done with all things pregnancy and birthing. When we walked in, there was another mom there who was overdue and discussing midwife-style induction. Michele commented to her that she would get a baby like Ayla when she was through... though---she also pointed out--- much smaller than Ayla. Michele later weighed Ayla in at over 13 pounds. I've been mentally calling her 'chub chub' for the last week as I have watched her outgrow her diapers and clothes. (Note to any gDiaper-users who might read this: don't buy two cases of smalls, just buy one). She has on a 6 month outfit today.

Ayla also showed off her pottying skills while we were there, and I had another moment of being thankful I was with a midwife because she has seen EC before, was glad I was doing it, even recognized when Ayla was asking to go potty and didn't bat an eye when I had to interrupt the exam to tend to her.

On our way out, Michele gave each of the boys a confetti egg as she has done nearly every time we have had a check-up, and today Kirven picked out a blue one and Dunagan picked out a yellow one. They both held onto them and waited until we were in our own driveway to throw them as high as they could and watch them crash with a satisfying crack. Their hands will be dyed blue and yellow for the next two days.


Snow Fort

Evan made the boys a snow fort Saturday in order to weather the huge blizzard that came into our house. They were bears for most of the time, and they even invited me and my cub (Ayla) in for a nap.


Growing Into Goodness

We attend a very small Friends Meeting that is currently unaffiliated, but has strong conservative-branch leanings. Our choice to homeschool has always been welcomed, and there is even another family in our worship group who is planning on homeschooling. I visited the larger liberal-branch Meeting in town a couple of times several years ago, and while I felt that I had finally found my spiritual home with Friends, it was very clear to me that my home was not necessarily with that Meeting. As nice as everyone was, and even though I have since become aware of a family of homeschoolers who do attend that Meeting, I got a very real sense that homeschooling was a bit suspect and not too welcome by some of the members. I don't know if I would have had the experience that the homeschooling family at The Feather and the Harp has had, but I think I would have felt a little defensive at times with certain members and not particularly supported by the Meeting in our endeavors.

And yet, even though we are really happy with our own Meeting and have come to love each member of our small group, we are lacking in elders and some of the benefits of guidance that come from a larger, more established worshiping body. Also, I am so new to Friends that I am struggling intellectually about how to make our faith real in our home. I'm feeling like I'm reinventing the wheel a little bit. Not having grown up Quaker, I am finding that there is much that would perhaps be second nature to a birthright Friend. I am wanting to be open to God's leadings in our family life and parenting, but I am also wanting that to be evident to our children. I don't want our daily life to be divorced from our spiritual life, and happily, one of the benefits of homeschooling is that our family can have a spiritual life every day of the week and not just on First Days.

But what could that spiritual life look like for our children? Since Enki is a holistic method and its worldview has much in common with a Quaker worldview (from my perspective), it is a nice complement to our faith, but how exactly do I blend the truly Quaker bits of our faith into our learning?

I'm wondering how other homeschooling Friends have approached this? I've searched online for fellow Quaker homeschoolers, for Friends who want to be Spirit-led in their parenting, but I've really only found one. I'd love to connect with others, or even inspire others to start blogging.

I did find one book: Paul Lacey's Growing Into Goodness. It's a collection of essays considering a Quaker philosophy of education. It should be interesting and perhaps a starting place for me. In addition to our normal posts and pics about our family and Enki homeschooling (whenever we're back on our homeschooling feet), I'm thinking of posting my thoughts on each essay as I read it. Perhaps some dialogue with other homeschooling Friends might result?

I'm hopeful... I know they're out there somewhere...