Dealing with strong peer orientation over much of the Spring and all of Summer has resulted in a fair amount of disintegration around here. I used to be nearly prideful of the ways my children could play and create together, never thinking that would change. It did, though, and Roan's inner trials have spread to our whole family. We've all been tested and we've all struggled. After consulting with more experienced mothers and friends and my own intuition, I think we've reached a turning point and healing is happening. I know all this sound a little funny, but it is something that needs a bit of privacy. If you think your child is dealing with something similar, feel free to contact me and we can talk about it. I don't have all the answers, but I do understand the experience and I do have hope (and I can see progress!). Parenting takes a development of the self and will that it just astounding, at times. And it's something most of us do!
So, that aside, the whole why-we-need-the-healing-thing, The Basket. I looked around for some ideas of contents here and here. Many of the items listed are things that are around the house, anyway. I didn't really have to purchase anything but some more calendula oil (the drought was hard on our plants) and some arnica oil. Those are two things in the basket. Besides that, there's Carrie's Herbal Salve, Weleda Weather Protection Cream, bandaids, and Angry Spray. Willow named the water and lavender oil that, bless her heart. There's also the heart rice bag I made for Roan's birthday and a pink silk, to warm and calm. Lastly, we made a new batch of calendula salve with lanolin and just a touch of lavender oil. It's good for nearly anything.
The basket has already seen a good amount of use and the real magic of it will come with disciplined use over time. That's really the key to many things, of course. It is the continued good habit that brings about a positive change. Each year of mothering drives home how much my own self-discipline really, really matters. It is tiring to be the one to hold everything together when there are no spare moments in the day, but I know I am building my legacy in these years. I feel like I need my own healing basket and someone to soothe me. That comes in the kind listening and prayers of dear friends and I have surely been blessed with that lately. I think our sensory integration work, along with the new school routine and our more deliberate choices will make things right again. Our second day of school was very nice, indeed!
Out of winter shall come spring
From the seed shall come the scarlet rose
Out of striving shall come peace.
~Enki Festival Songs
Here's a lovely record that is perfect for today.
Mike and I bought it our first Solstice after we were married.
Wishing you a wonderful Return of the Light!
Crossing the stream, we found the most delicate mouse or squirrel tracks on every single bridge.
There was no snow at home, so it was good to see some and be really cold.
Because that's how it always is at Raccoon Branch in the Winter.
It's a sad thing to see the heyday of the Forest Service and public lands as long gone.
The government has bigger things to spend money on, like war machines, plain and simple.
If I weren't reminded of it every time I visit the forest and if I hadn't lived it when I worked
as a volunteer and for a concessionaire, I wouldn't have such strong opinions.
Maybe I would.
Nonetheless, nature needs very little infrastructure to inspire wonder.
I think this is where Roan swore he saw Smokey tracks and Willow countered that they were Woodsy's.
Dear little tree growing on the bridge.
The sun was strong yesterday and quickly pushed out the chill and melted the dusting of snow.
For awhile, the children lay on the pillars at the end of the bridge watching the sun on the creek.
Heaven, right there, on a stack of rocks.
Here's a chuckle for you. I look like I'm about to explode with laughter. Two hats! And every bit handmade. Check the mittens, blakdove. We left packed to the roof with wood.
*Nature is the Ultimate Sensory Experience :: Yes, it most certainly is.
*The role of purposeful work in a Waldorf kindergarten :: Lots of good information here that can easily be used at home. I have taken to weeding when the children are outside. That surely is a never-ending job that keeps me just on the periphery of their play.
*River Cottage videos :: I haven't had the time to watch these, but I always here good things about them.
*Modern Medicine May Not Be Doing Your Microbiome Any Favors :: I was interested especially in the difference in the way babies are born and how their bodies are populated with bacteria.
*Children First, From The Start
*Chewie :: A pattern for a knitted Chewbacca. Too cute.
*A Book of Seasons :: I want this book, sigh.
*Public Schools for Sale
*The disappearance of childhood and what we can do to get it back
*Bake Bread Like A Pioneer In Appalachia ... With No Yeast
*My Life in the New American Minimum Wage Economy
*The Prudent Homemaker Blog :: Lots of good frugal ideas here, very motivating.
*Nomadic Play :: Build a tiny yurt!
*The Vimala Alphabet :: Intriguing. Anyone heard of this?
*Mothers and Fathers :: Thoughts about the gender divide in parenting.
*Nettle's Tale :: Handmade swimwear for normal women.
*Saying Goodbye To A Friend That's Ready To Go Home
*You Can't Bounce Off The Walls If There Are No Walls :: On outdoor kindergartens.
*Debate: Are Kids' Consumer Trends Worth Fighting?
*Mother's Day Is For Peace
*Easy Peasy Santa :: A cute Christmas craft. Might make a nice gift.
*Yuletide Panettone :: Storing this away for later, too, maybe Christmas in July.
*Guys and Dolls: Veteran Toy Designer Wrestles With The Industry's Gender Divide :: The part about children outgrowing toys sooner was thought-provoking.
I've started working on St. Seraphim and the Bear for beanovich.
Still in the early phases, of course. There's lots of fur, details and shaping to add to the two figures.
And Willow's already put in an order for her own.
Meanwhile, she's been working on her own wool projects--an apple orchard with a pumpkin patch.
Before that, these were Halloween candy.
And now it seems it's become a family with lots of children.
The February Girl Sweater is done, pretty much, though I'd like to block it.
I've not had much luck with blocking acrylic yarn in the past,
so if someone has a suggestion, I'd love to hear it.
(Found how here!)
She and Virginia do match pretty well. Next in line, a hat for each girl.
Well, maybe after some baby knitting. Seems about time.
Mike would like to share his WIP, too.
He's replacing the wheel bearings on my car all by himself.
Perseverance is definitely his strong suit.
And here's my biggest, on-going project at 30 weeks, 5 days (give or take).
For more crafting, visit Frontier Dreams!
*Needlefelted Ladybug :: Willow would just love this. I am always so bad at Christmas stockings and we've never done gifts for St. Nicholas day, so I'm collecting ideas now.
*Say Yes to Outdoor Play in Winter :: Enough said.
*A Rural Struggle to Keep the Family Fed :: An NPR story about our local food bank, which is celebrating 11 or 12 years in operation. The story is still much the same today.
*Mapping children's chances
*Alex's Chicken and Mushroom Marsala :: On a lighter note. Maybe I'll make this some time.
*One Hundred Dollars a Month :: A frugal food and gardening blog.
*Bee Sting Cake :: Goodness, this looks good.
*Spruced-Up Vanilla Cake :: Making this for our Christmas in July tomorrow. I even have the pan!
*Why I didn't quit sugar :: I don't think I could ever quit sugar. Interesting post and articles.
*Blueberry Dumplings :: Made these and they were wonderfully easy. Not too sweet at all.
*Take Along Mouse House :: So very sweet and inspiring.
*Waldorf Inspired Unschooling :: Maybe this is us. I don't do a lot of direct teaching, but I do have a fair amount of environmental controls in place.
*Family Budget Calculator :: Find out how much The Man thinks you should be spending on food. Our estimate was about twice what I think we really spend.
*Sheet Pan Pizza :: Wonderful crust and sauce. This is what Pizza Hut ought to taste like without all that grease, light and airy, slightly crunchy. It may have redeemed thick crust pizza for me.
*Butternut and Sweet Potato Soup :: Hoping to make this if Carrie has a surplus of squash this Fall.
*Simplicity Monday: Too Much :: Good reminders about keeping it simple as our children near adulthood.
*Black Bean Bisque :: Always looking for more things to do with beans. Interesting blog, too, about feeding babies French foods.
*Soft Boiling an Egg :: Instructions found within this post. I've never had one.
*Fighting Fire with Fire: Why Some Burns are Good for Nature :: When I was working for Smokey, he'd just started to turn his thoughts from avoiding all fires and using controlled burns. Bless his heart, that dear bear is costing us now.
*On Minimizing :: Always nice to have reassurance. I take toys downstairs every single week, always thinning and trading.
*My Take on Cronuts :: I'd not heard of these things, but it seems they are a Big Deal. Huh.
*The Times They Are A-Changin' :: I know Bob didn't want to be a topical songwriter. Still, I like this speech and photo compilation.
*Salisbury Steak :: My mother made this recipe and it's really good, though I halved it and that was plenty for several meals. I think the simple gravy is the best part. Willow even ate it.
*Inflation Calculator :: Helpful for when you're watching old television and want to know how much something would cost now.
*Pointer Hickory Stripe Overalls :: I'd love to have a pair of these for Roan.
*Toddlers: To Tame or to Trust :: I really like this. It can be hard to keep the trust going when we are inconvenienced or have unrealistic expectations for our children.
*Clary Sage Essential Oil :: Wondering about using this for labor. I need to ask Christie. (Turns out, she thinks it's awesome!)
*Why is homeschool good? :: A very intellectual approach.
*Coming Home: The Woody Guthrie Center Opens in Tulsa :: I'd love to visit this.
*Retro Renovation :: Lots of great photos and ideas for those with mid-century homes. Which is not us, but hey. Still neat.
*to ramble about culture and christian status :: Encouraging to me as I stand on the fringes of my faith.
*An Update on Our Homeschooling :: A look at one family's way of learning naturally at home.
*Seeking a Slow and Special Summer :: About finding balance with the plethora of activities available to fill Summer days and allowing children to just be.
*Summer Solstice Traditions :: It's coming. Like day after tomorrow! Sure wish I had some daisies to make crowns for the children.
*Starting Your Starter :: Yup, still can't get sourdough pancakes out of my head.
*8 Safe Sunscreens for Summer Fun :: For now, we try to avoid strong sun and eat foods that strengthen our natural defenses. I do need to get something for that mythic day at the lake that Willow is dreaming of.
*Why Finnish Babies Sleep in Cardboard Boxes :: I need one of these. And now that I have family in Europe. . .
*Rainbow Doll Clothes :: These are just too sweet. Of course, we do pretty well with our dyed silk hankies. One note, Sarah's silks are not the weight I would prefer, just a little too light for long-term durability.
*Summer Stories and Summer Nature Table :: Sweet ideas for various ages.
*25 Ideas for Merrymaking Your Summer :: A great list. We saw someone making giant bubbles in our neighborhood just last night.
*(What Is) A Successful Day :: Even with all this accomplishing I've been doing lately, I am working to enjoy the lazy hours, too. Like this afternoon, a rest between the grassy flurry of mowing and going out to the Old Davis Homeplace to pick berries and get the mail.
*Natural and Logical Consequences in Non-Punitive Parenting :: I was once asked what we did when things went awry. Well. This is it.
*Highlander Resource and Education Center :: I bet this would be a really powerful place to visit.
*On Staying Calm and Centered with Children Under 7 :: How our home operates when things are at their best. A good reminder on a day when I am feeling worn. I think the respite of naptime is doing well to recharge me.
*Garden Hobbit House :: Too cute. This is why I store links away. I want to remember this when the children are older.
*Cooking Guide for Dried Beans :: Came across this while looking to see if I could substitute cranberry beans with red kidneys. Put some on to to soak and then I came across the red kidneys. Guess I'll have plenty for the freezer.
*Epic Hot Chocolate :: It is pretty epic, must say. Makes a good dip for Taco Bell churros. I avoided Taco Bell for five years until I heard about the churros. The defining moment of my high school trip to Disneyworld was when I ate my first one.
*The Swell Season: Tiny Desk Concert :: Loving this.
Oops. One more.
*The Craft of Midwifery
Now, I send her my best.
My dad loves to give extravagantly--to give freely and generously without expectation. He is my model.
This year, each of my friends with little girls (and one little boy!) have gotten Waldorf dolls.
I think my life changed when I first saw a one of these dolls.
Each one is an expression of my admiration.
Each one has entered a different life with different terms.
My skills have improved, for sure, but the love in each doll is the same.
They symbolize dreams and aspirations, learning to hold onto joy when the world pulls against us.
These dolls embody what is good in our lives, pure and soft with eyes and arms open.
In them, I place my dreams for the children.
A soft place to land, a loving family and eyes toward the future.
For more crafting, visit Frontier Dreams!
Sometimes, I remember my Old Self.
I figure out that it's not gone like I thought it was.
New things come along, new people.
But, I'm still there.
That sense of optimism I had in college.
It's still there.
I look to my aging friends and see the future.
It is not as bleak as some would lead us to believe.
Sometimes, I remember my Protesting Self.
I wonder how I made it there, the forces that guided me.
The chance meetings.
The singing in circles.
I speculate if That Self is the one that got me fired.
The Man wasn't man enough to handle me.
That Self is still there.
More years, more knowledge.
Sometimes, I dip down.
I bottom out and ride the valley.
I see that what They say is wrong.
Time won't get me down.
The world is bigger than my fiefdom.
Challenges improve my optimism.
It's still there.
Seeing it grow in this first third--
I can't imagine the next two.
Sometimes, I get glimpses of my Future Self.
The one that looks back on golden mornings playing with piles of pillows.
The one that loses the memory of my babies.
They are foreign to me, this early in.
They're fleeting these days.
The crawl and they run.
I listened to the children and their sleepy breathing while men drove by on their way over the mountain. Not a woman among them. It seems many women don't like seclusion or back roads the way I do. That's okay; I've often found myself the only woman in a man's world. Of course, this mothering thing is different--most of us are women.
Some days, I make peace with things. Like the yarn I got large quantities of for Christmas: all blue. But these days--these days I am not so choosy. If I have enough of it or it is on sale, that's what I use. And so I worked on a Sweet Baby Cap for my girl who is less and less a baby each day. As I sat there working, I would look out over the mountains on rows that didn't require counting and it came to me. The blue yarn is like my blue mountains. And so I made peace.
Night has come and Roan has gone off to sleep. Willow and I are in her bed getting ready for her to go to sleep. Now that she is older, we have graduated from Goodnight, Moon to our own stories. I've read about stories being helpful for calming and easing through transitions and now I am starting to see it. Sometimes the time before bed is such an explosion of energy that Willow is upset before she is ready to go to sleep. Telling her a quiet story always helps to bring her back and help her feel ready for rest.
"Jim Bob and Carrie" is about two friends of ours and their extensive garden and the fun things that Willow gets to do when she visits with them. She walks among the garden rows, hides in the sunflower house and goes under the grapevine. Jim brings her raspberries to eat from the berry patch and she pours herself apple juice from her very own teapot. Willow rides the homemade zip line and blows giant bubbles on the porch. She finds the cat on the bed and pets her. This story is, for Willow, all of the wonderful things a little girl enjoys.
Storytelling in this form is supposed to have a moral, a purpose. While I read the stories others create and see such purpose, I often feel as though mine are not so well-developed. But, it is early in this journey and I see that my stories do have a purpose--a calming one. This past week I spent ten minutes on the phone with Willow, telling her stories. She was upset that I had left her at home while I went to help my grandmother wrap presents (some of hers!). The simple stories I told, all about people and things we know, helped her to calm down.
The chaos of big emotions in a tiny body is almost too much sometimes. So much that we grown people take on those emotions as our own and run with them. We say things we don't mean or add more fuel to the fire in our misguided efforts to get some quiet. What I have learned over the past year or so is that it is important, when you can, to focus all that energy into something more pleasant. Make a mindful activity, like drawing or sculpting, or tell a story to bring everyone back to a better place.
Sometimes, Willow tells the stories back to me or repeats them in a whisper as I tell them. Goodness, I am very much looking forward to the path our stories take over these coming years.
Here's a helpful link for storytelling with some fun rhymes.
For more posts on rhythm, visit Frontier Dreams!
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.
Be a PeaceBuilder.
We were followed by storms most of the time after our arrival and one finally caught up to us at the Moses Cone Manor. We stayed inside for awhile, with Willow in the Ergo, and then loaded into the car once the rain had paused. Naptime seemed as though it would never happen yesterday, despite Willow looking sleepy all the way to Boone. Blessedly, she did fall asleep as we drove up the Parkway a bit and we took a break to tidy up the car and have a transcendental moment.
The clouds broke at just the right moment and the sun shone on the hillsides. Mike and I took turns walking around and taking pictures. We could hear the engine and the whistle of the train at Tweetsie Railroad and I suddenly realized how small and connected everything was. It was really nice.
Back at the car, Mike took his turn to walk and I cleaned up while Willow rested. We'd gotten some prayer flags at Dancing Moon, something I'd wanted for years, and I hung them inside the car in hopes of a more peaceful trip home. After a bit, we made our way back to Blowing Rock and had pizza at the Mellow Mushroom, healed a little bit and ready for the drive back. I'm recalling that little break today to help myself learn to duplicate it in my mind at home, to hold onto that small bit of peace we found and realize that it is always there. Sometimes in the chaos of cooking and cleaning it is all too easily lost.
Peace is not just the absence of war, nor can it be reduced to succumbing to the opinions of others. It is, instead, having the sense to understand that our world is full of different kinds of people and learning to respect and love them as is. Rather like Jesus, the original pacifist.
There is nowhere else I'd rather be than young in the mountains--it is a complexly beautiful and sad place, full of color. I spent my teen years trying to eradicate myself of any Appalachian accent, but really, I've always gotten the "You ain't from around here, are ye?" Well, I am and this is the best place on Earth. Its seemingly isolated life teaches me lessons about the diverse needs of our world and the unity of the human experience. I wouldn't trade any other place for where I'm from.
Life is an amazing balance and it has long been my calling to inspire those around me to make simple, deliberate choices to be better stewards of God's world. Earthen living is about remembering the land that feeds us and working to find our own ways of loving it. Some days it means hanging laundry outside or shopping at the farmers' market and other days it means standing up at a meeting and saying what's on your heart.
When I was a child, I'd drool over the backpacks in the Camp Trails catalog. I'd find secret places in the snow at the Old Davis Homestead and pretend I was miles from home. For me, hiking works as a metaphor for almost any journey in life--optimistic starts, boulders to climb along the way, well-earned rest at day's end. Hiking taught me that the trail must be taken as a moving whole, instead of a destination.
I was born to be a wife and mother. It's broadened my view and helped me to be secure in my beliefs. It is daily yoga for the heart. Motherhood is, perhaps, one of God's greatest inventions and the most important work I'll ever do.
Awhile back, I was out sweeping the porch when our particularly watchful neighbor remarked about the peace banner on our door. "It's a nice idea," he said, and went on in the same grain, talking about how it wasn't a realistic ideal. Makes no difference to me. This is, after all, the Impossible Way. My dad said this about pacifisim:
you. There are many reasons for war and none of them are valid. Jesus
clearly says that there will be wars until the time of his Kingdom on
Earth. But his message was one of peace. Your politics are fine by me.
I am glad that you have a passion for what you know is right.
While were examining plants with the Virginia Native Plant Society on Tuesday, one of the ladies asked me if I was surpried at all I had to do as a parent. She seemed to ask the most thoughtful questions. I answered that I had a pretty good idea of what I was in for, but there were still challenging days. I had accepted that things would be very different for a few years, but that I would have time later to do the things I used to enjoy. This is life for now, and it is good. Before we left the group on Whitetop, she told Willow to keep us on our toes and not to let us grow complacent. Sure enough, when we got home Willow was quite the handful. ;-)
I think of that conversation and all of the things that I have learned in the past six and a half months. Mike and I feel with increasing certainty that there will be a next time around, a Willow 2.0, if you will. There are so many things that I will not obsess over and things that I will do sooner. I will not worry about when our baby will sort out night and day. I will take the baby to bed with me if I am tired and most likely we will both fall asleep. I will wear my baby more--it could have saved me so much worry and frustration. We will try again for a home birth with just us and the midwives and I will not care in the least what anyone else thinks about it.
Yesterday, I took the crib out of Willow's room. It's her room in the sense that all of her clothes are stored there and her diapers are changed in that room, but she still very much sleeps in our room. I didn't see that changing any time soon and I couldn't stand the clutter, so I got out my leatherman and took the crib apart. The mattress is now in the living room as a soft place to practice sitting and the floor in her room is now open for playing. My sewing cabinet is out of the dining room and back in its former spot. Tonight, we played on the floor in her room while I gave her some diaper-free time to deal with a little pinkness down below.
It is calm when it is just the two of us, but Willow surely misses Mike when he has been home for awhile and goes to work. Willow is used to a quiet house when nursing and does not often tolerate talking while she has her nunnies. I have learned, though, how to focus her on the task at hand. I put my littlest finger in her mouth and use her desire to suck to tempt her back to me. It's worked really well and saved lots of frustration on my end. Of course, whatever she misses during the day is surely gotten at night, so it all works out. I am not at all concerned with her sleeping through the night. Babies that sleep near their mothers nurse more at night, anyway, and I don't think there's a thing wrong with more nursing. :-)
It is funny how we as parents do so much fretting about things. Of course, you know, my big thing has been when to start solids. I've been awfully tempted, but am holding strong for that first tooth. This is driving my mother nuts, but she was rather nutty to begin with. Maybe the biggest lesson about parenting is that babies come with all the tools they need--rooting reflex, crying, smiling, instincts that help them on their way. It is my job to teach Willow about the world, but really, she's doing pretty well navigating it in her own way. I gave her time and she sorted out day and night, her own bedtime, how much she likes to be held and so on. We go from dawn to dusk, sharing a dance of cues and responses, peacefully finding our way to sleep.