Tuesday, November 8, 2011

finding my rhythm

I wish I could say the absence of any sustained writing appearing on this blog was due to my pounding away at other projects.

Alas, I am here to confess: first grade is whipping my butt.

I know, it is meant to be challenging The Girl and it is - but in order to keep her moving along this mama is having to run alongside her much like a third base coach yelling his runner into home base.

First there are the weekly spelling tests. Because my child is "gifted" and honest, she tests out of the A-list (the "easier" list as she knows it) and is thus burdened by the onerous B-list. (She is honest - or naive - as she doesn't fail the pretest on purpose as a friend's son has figured out to do.)

So B-list it is. And I am wondering about the relevancy of that list. This past week she had (and misspelled) the word splint. Do doctor's still use splints? And even so, how many 7-year olds come across the word splint in their reading? So far, no splints in Frog and Toad or Little Bear.

But each week we blunder on. blunder ... that would be a good B-list word.

Then there are the craft projects which you would think this crafty mama would enjoy. Well, no. First of all, the project slips come home with usually only a week's lead time. As we live far from the craft store, a visit for supplies requires some planning and no small amount of mental/emotional preparation on my part. Perhaps we will reach a state of stasis whereby we will have all the pipe cleaners, popsicle sticks and raffia required?

We have made scarecrows, pet portraits, and animal habitats among other things. I actually assigned the last project - the creation of a shoebox habitat for a robin - to The Husband. (Not that I wasn't involved; knowing he would put it off until the final day, I was prompting Cowgirl through the week to tackle elements of the project like drawing a robin and gathering sticks.)

They are both pretty proud of it:

It was a two fingers-injured (The Husband's) affair. Advice-that-one-apparently-does-have-to-state-to-Husband: do not let a 7-year old handle a hot glue gun.

Have I mentioned the social events of a first grader? Bounce gym, bowling alley, dress-up shop parties just to name the most recent few.

This what I remember of first grade: Mary, Mike and Jane books; worksheets matching rabbits with the correct number of carrots; wearing pants under my skirts as one never knew when petticoat day might be happening (that's when boys pull up your skirt to see your underwear - a phobia I am just now realizing has affected me quite profoundly); parties at home with peanut butter and jelly sandwiches; and a mock election to teach us about the upcoming Presidential election: Nixon versus Humphrey. (For the non-American reader: let's just say the Beatles were still a band that year.)

All of this mama-business aside, I have been able to poke my head above the clutter of elmer's glue, tissue paper and bottle caps and make some useful observations about myself and my life. The biggest revelation is an understanding of the cycles and rhythms that I move through as well as an awareness of how the larger cycles of the seasons and life move through and affect me. Ironically, I am coming to understand all of this as my own body shifts out of what had been a very regular rhythm and lurches into the erratic.

Initially, I was disturbed by the unpredictability of my cycles. But what I have learned is to be more sensitive and alert to feelings and sensations of my body and my emotions. The dialogue with my body has deepened and I am learning to be more attentive to its needs. Equally important is understanding my emotional/creative cycles. This piece of wisdom came as a gift from a very plump little caterpillar.

#44 in my series 49 by 49

I was walking the dog when I noticed a jolly green caterpillar making his way across the sidewalk. Caterpillars always put me back into the mindset of a child. I paused and watched as he methodically made his way across the concrete and into the grass. I started thinking about a book Cowgirl has called "The Very Hungry Caterpillar." It then struck me that I have been in a caterpillar phase: gobbling up everything I can to feed me in preparation for the time in the cocoon. While I had been thinking I was directionless - dabbling in too many mediums, gobbling up ecourses and dining in multiple social sites like ning groups or secret Facebook clusters - what I have been doing is fattening myself up creatively in order to move into a period of gestation and transformation.

So as we move deeper into the stillness of Autumn that threatens to merge prematurely into Winter, I am feeling the pull to cocoon myself and I'm okay with it. Perhaps there will be some new growth, but within a safe space.

Meanwhile, we girls continue to play. Or are we feeding ourselves?

Munch, munch ...

Cowgirl's trademark "Blue Thunder" monster truck;
that's "Hey man" at the bottom (well, Hay man!)

considering a sunflower series

Happy cocoon building!


  1. i love your observations. and your ability to make them. despite the 1st grader schedule. brava! well done! lol!
    riding that ride right along with you.

  2. holy effers...that homework gig is the pits. I thought we were having it rough with a spelling worksheet each week....not that it isn't a hair-pulling-out event...but we sure as heckers haven't seen a diorama yet. then again, i'm vehemently opposed to the very notion of homework.....

    an interesting perspective you might enjoy...


    cocooning...yes...i love this. i think i'm all hunkered in already....off on my own with some oil pastels and a vat of tea....


  3. love the caterpillar. i also hope i am gathering the necessary provisions before i wrap myself into a cocoon and evolve. :-) i teach first graders and i am here to tell you that being in their presence is not for the weak at heart - they are amazing and capable of more than we can imagine.

    i received your postcard the other day and it was such a joy - real mail! thank you.

  4. I know that you are exhausted & I do not have a child, but this post brought a smile and joy to my night!THANK YOU!!The diorama is fabulous & inspiring :)
    I feel like I have been in the cocoon stage for a YEAR!I think I've surpassed butterfly and will be emerging as one of those gigantic moths that look like a hummingbird!
    Looking forward to giving you a real live HUG :)

  5. I like the cocoon analogy... I'm definitely getting fatter, thanks to the chocolate truffles from Hubby for our anniversary. I'm not sure they are feeding my creative juices though. :)

  6. Woohoo! I love the inspiration and knowledge from the caterpillar! And I love the Robin habitat, first is so much fun. Good luck! :) xo

  7. Love this insight - thank you!
    And that robin habitat is AMAZING!!:)