Thursday, May 22, 2014

A simple picture

My husband picks up the boys from their jiu jitsu class on Thursdays so I can take Ella to gymnastics. It works out nicely because not only does it mean slightly less running around for me, but Daddy gets to watch them practice.

Typically, their jiu jitsu class ends with 10-15 minutes of grappling matches. The coach matches the kids up based on both size and skill and they get the chance to practice what they've been learning. The kids who aren't grappling sit on the side and watch.

Today, during a grappling match while our boys were sitting on the side watching, my husband snapped this picture:

They had no idea he took it. I don't think they've seen it yet. They weren't posing, they weren't asked to sit near each other, to put their arms around each other. They were sitting like that, together, watching their classmates.

Because that's how they roll.

My husband and I value family closeness a lot. Things like eating together and playing games and spending time as a family come naturally to us because this little group of crazies, this is where it's at for us. Things aren't always sunshine and unicorns, because we're all human; but fostering a family environment that values closeness and cohesiveness is important to us. It isn't even something we necessarily consciously strive for; it just is.

But even with our commitment to creating a close family, I don't know how we got so lucky.

That picture says in ways that I can't articulate in words what our family is about. I wish I could take credit for it, but that would be highly presumptuous of me. I suppose we've done some things right (and surely some things wrong). The fact that my kids are so close to one another makes my heart soar.

My children are normal little people. They get on each other's nerves and argue sometimes. And they also genuinely like each other. As homeschooled kids, they spend most of their day together, and amazingly enough, it is awesome. They miss each other when they're apart. They are the first ones they run to when something good (or bad) happens. They hug each other, they comfort each other, they have fun together. They all sleep huddled together in one room because they like being together.

I couldn't ask for anything more. When I think about what I want for them, what I wish for them in their lives, this one ranks pretty high on that list. I want them to be close. I want this family to be their safe place, their roots, their rock, their foundation. The core of that is my husband and I, but each of them have an important part to play. To see their relationships with each other blossoming is an amazing, and very humbling, experience.

I suppose this post is turning into a mommy-gush-fest. It isn't like I can write "how to have siblings who love each other in 10 easy steps." I don't have those answers, and I think in many ways it is by the grace of God that we're this lucky. But if I had to distill it down, it is simply this: it is all about love. John Lennon was on to something there. We love on them a heck of a lot, and we don't accept anything less than them loving each other. Part love and part luck, and I get a moment like this, captured in a picture.

Sometimes they simply take my breath away.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Fun With Poetry

We've spent some time focusing on poetry over the last several weeks. We enjoy reading poetry pretty regularly; Shel Silverstein and Jack Prelutsky are favorites around here. Recently we've done some fun writing exercises, creating our own poems, and even some acting, creating some silly dramatizations of poems as well.

Today I drew ideas from Rose, How Did You Get That Red, by Kenneth Koch, a book about teaching children to write poetry, using classic poems as inspiration. Shout out to my Aunt Linda for the book - she was kind enough to get me a copy. It is fantastic.

We read The Tyger, by William Blake

Tyger Tyger, burning bright,
In the forests of the night;
What immortal hand or eye,
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

The whole poem is a lot of fun to read, but it does have language that children don't usually understand immediately. We spent some time talking about many of the stanzas, thinking about what the words meant and what the author was trying to say.

Then they set about writing their own poems. As suggested by Koch in "Rose, How Did You Get That Red," I suggested we imagine we were talking to a creature or thing, and had the chance to ask it questions. The subject could answer back, or not, it was their choice.

I love what they came up with this morning; I just had to share.

Ice and Water, by Grayson (age almost-7)

Ice, ice, why are you so hard?
Why aren't you soft, like water?
Water, water, why are you soft?
Why can't you be hard like ice?
Water, water, why can't you hold a hammer?
And make ice sculptures.
Why are you liquid?

The Sun, by David (age 9)

Sun, sun, why so bright?
Sun, sun come out at night.
Shine your rays upon the night.
Do you fall asleep at night?
Like a flower, gleam and glow,
In the spring, melt the snow.
Why so yellow and so bright?
You are light.

Aren't those just lovely? Ok, I am biased (just a little), but I thought they were both really sweet. I'm proud of their hard work today!