impossibleway: (Winter Fields)

By the time it came to the edge of the Forest the stream had grown up, so that it was almost a river, and, being grown-up, it did not run and jump and sparkle along as it used to do when it was younger, but moved more slowly. For it knew now where it was going, and it said to itself, "There is no hurry. We shall get there some day."

~The House at Pooh Corner :: A.A. Milne

Those who do things by the Pooh Way find this sort of thing happening to them all the time. It’s hard to explain, except by example, but it works. Things just happen in the right way, at the right time. At least they do when you let them, when you work with the circumstances instead of saying “this isn’t supposed to be happening this way”, and trying hard to make it happen some other way. If you’re in tune with The Way Things Work, then they work the way they need to, no matter what you may think about it at the time. Later on, you can look back and say “Oh, now I understand. That had to happen so that those could happen, and those had to happen in order for this to happen..” then you realize that even if you’d tried to make it all turn out perfectly, you couldn’t have done better, and if you’d really tried, you could have made a mess of the whole thing.

~The Tao of Pooh :: Benjamin Hoff
impossibleway: (Children of the Forest)

There are so many paradoxes in parenting
that it is difficult to find balance.
Some don't even try.
They just plunge ahead
ignoring the subtle whispers of wisdom.
Others try half-heartedly,
but resort to old methods
when they get confused.
But some hear wisdom's quiet voice
and make it their own.

They find strength in softness,
power in flexibility,
perfection in mistakes,
success in failure,
clarity in confusion,
and love in letting go.

~The Parent's Tao Te Ching
impossibleway: (Picking Blueberries)
I've had a books post in mind for a long time.  I even took pictures last year to do it.  Even now, it feels intimidating to do it.  Let's jump in!

I bought a simple folding bookshelf this past year, which makes me think of Fraggle Rock and Doc's inventions. It was frugal, so it suited me. Most of the books here are ones that are in use weekly. I try to be mindful about having too many books or keeping books that I don't use. I'm a real re-reader, though, so most of my books get referred to or read again on a seasonal or annual basis.


The top shelf is mainly Waldorf books with a few others.  Some are titles I've had a long time and others are ones that I've bought this year from Thrift Books or on Amazon.  I've had great success with penny books on Amazon--several of them have been like new!  I've been able to find books that are no longer in print or are not available in the U.S. brand new, mainly Floris Books.  Here are some of the titles that I have enjoyed especially:

  • American Folk Songs for Children :: I bought a newer used copy of this book as the other one was falling apart.

  • All Year Round :: Through the year of Christian festivals with their history and meaning.  Many crafts and things to span all the years of childhood.

  • The Children's Year :: Wonderful book for learning how to make many, many seasonal crafts and even clothing.  Paper cutting, woodworking, knitting, sewing, felting.  Making this items in this book would yield a very well-rounded crafter!

  • Festivals Family and Food :: Another book that is quite thorough on seasonal celebrations.  Lots of recipes, many including Victoria Sponge.

  • Heaven On Earth :: A lovely book for the at-home parent and child(ren).

  • You Are Your Child's First Teacher :: A classic.

  • A Guide to Child Health :: This is a book from a different perspective.  If you want to know how to make a mustard plaster, this is the book for you. ;)  Also has delightful photos of early childhood.

  • Grimm's Fairy Tales :: Great to have on hand in any home.  Just make sure you find a list of age appropriate stories first.

  • Healing Stories for Challenging Behaviour :: A wonderful book that tackles stories for many common situations--tidying up, separation anxiety, boredom, loudness, death, wild behavior.  The stories are mostly short, so they're easy to read in one sitting.  Also includes writing your own stories.

  • Toymaking with Children :: I have said many times over that you could make the items in this book and be done with toys.  Succinct and informative.

  • Parenting a Path Through Childhood :: I mentioned this one recently.  Really a thoughtful book about the meaningful taks of parenting.

  • The Parent's Tao Te Ching :: I've had this book a long time and it always brings me comfort and inspiration.  You can find exerpts under this tag.

  • Steiner Education :: If you're looking for a comprehensive summary of Waldorf education, including the why's behind it, this is the book.

  • Lifeways :: What a nice book this is, a collection of essays from a group of parents in England in the seventies.  A few are a little heady, but most are comforting and community building.

  • Betty Crocker's Picture Cookbook :: My go-to book for nearly all cooking.  As ficitional as she is, Betty knows how to cook.  Some recipes are dated, but all the rest stand the test of time beautifully and get lots of praise, especially the rhubarb pie.


The middle shelf includes some of my nature books. A fair number sit over on the hutch--field guides, more delicate books. There are a few other books thrown into the mix, too, that might serve our homeschooling years. Numerous titles are library discards or ones from friends who have been clearing out.

  • The Elsa Beskow Baby Book :: Okay, not a nature book, but Laurel's baby book. Very, very sweet.

  • A Kid's Herb Book :: Wonderful ideas and stories for teaching children about common herbs. We used techniques in this book to dye silks last year.

  • The New Games Book :: I've been waiting all my life to use this book. The pictures in it are classic, lots of hippies.

  • Eastern Forests :: A simple Audubon guide that covers plants, animals, insects, and fungi in our part of the US.

  • Appalachian Autumn :: A daily reflection on the coming of Autumn and Winter in a woods in Pennsylvania. This was annual reading for a number of years. I hope to get back to it.

  • We Took to the Woods :: An account of a family living in the backwoods of Maine in the early 20th century. Really, really makes me want to go to Maine. I read this nearly every Summer.

  • Elizabeth Zimmerman's Knitter's Almanac and The Opinionated Knitter :: Two great books for many simple-ish projects. blakdove has loaned me the Opinionated Knitter.

  • 1001 Questions Answered about Trees :: Good trivia and lore.

  • Weaving with Reeds and Fibers and The Indian How Book :: Homeschool aspirations.

  • The Appalachian Trail :: A wonderful photographic account of The Trail from National Geographic.

  • The Appalachian Trail Reader :: Reflections across the decades of folks hiking from Georgia to Maine. When I see thru-hikers walking looking down at space phones now, I feel a lot of the magic has been lost.

  • One Man's Wilderness :: A beloved favorite of mine. I've written about it before, along with some of these other titles. You can find them under the "Reading" tag.

  • The Foxfire Book :: The first in the series. Each of these is full of wonderful information and the whole collection is a treasure.

  • Blue Ridge Parkway Guides :: Written by a park interpreter. Includes back stories for the unique names along the road.

  • Feasts for All Seasons :: This book is full of very fancy recipes. They are sorted seasonally, but this book certainly doesn't match the modern definition of eating in season. My budget does not permit very many dishes, but Vermont Blueberry Grunt is one that I have managed and it was interestingly good!

  • Lichen :: Because, why not?

  • A Walk Across America :: I haven't read this one yet, but Carrie says it is very good.

  • Voices from the Hills :: Writings from and about Appalachia.


And lastly, the Enki shelf.  These are most of the materials for Kindergarten and Grade One.  Enki really is the most complete curriculum.  I am starting preparations for first grade and it looks both exciting and overwhelming.  A couple other titles here: Singing Family of the Cumberlands by Jean Ritchie and Raising Waldorf, which is about building a Waldorf school in CO.

I have a fairly extensive collection of childbirth and breastfeeding books that come out when I have doula clients, but those are few and far between these days.  I also have my leather-bound Little House books that we are reading through right now.  I have joked with Mike that I need the bookshelf that stacks on this one for my birthday, but it's definitely not in the budget.  Willow wants to do that, sweet girl, and give me a few more books.  I'll be happy with a day all together and a trip through the countryside.

And that's it, or all I can stand to do.  My German pancake is ready and I have this morning's raspberries to go with it.
impossibleway: (Northbound)

If you want to become a wise parents
you must be prepared to appear foolish.
You must be willing to say,
"Why should I chase this way and that,
always grasping,
always running?
Unless you stop following the crowd,
how can your children be free?

To teach your children strength
you must be willing to appear weak.
You must renounce ambition and struggle
and embrace serenity and peace.
You must confess your faults
and embrace your failures.
You must face yourself with honesty
and find the truth of your nature.


~The Parent's Tao Te Ching

Soul Fever

Feb. 21st, 2014 04:39 pm
impossibleway: (Barefeet)
On the tail end of writing about keeping a simpler home and taking a different path for parenting, I find myself with some hard-won quiet time to reflect some more.  I've spent the past hour or so refashioning play spaces at high-speed.  Or, just the speed of a person without anyone else around.  Every gust of wind and every bit of sunlight that flashes on a passing car make me look anxiously out the window for the return of my family.  Things became too much today.  Too much.

Coming apart

It's been a long Winter, I say.  Every Winter is long.  The change of seasons has begun, even though we sat under a foot of snow a week ago.  We've been inside too much, there's been too much television, not enough meaningful movement.  Roan's got a birthday coming in April.  My children always come a little unhinged when a birthday is on the way.  His version of unhinged, though, is very mild.  Willow seems to have a soul fever lately, something brewing within her that means she's often "bored" or overwhelmed.  Enki says that boredom is really just a feeling of disconnection, that the bored child needs less in order to see more.  Yes, time to change again, to hone in on what is really needed for us all to flourish in these last days of Winter.

Practical life

I put away the play kitchen and the chalk boards.  I took apart the playstands and put one in the dining room as a bookshelf, one with lots of empty space.  The other playstand serves as a bit of a wall for a cozy spot to sit or hide.  I put away my beloved mushroom house and set up a practical life corner with the ironing board, mop, and a few other simple tools.  Many things simply went away.  It's time to lessen the fighting and hoarding.  I suppose that's a big part of why homeschooling or alternative education is important to me.  I see in my oldest child a tendency toward materialism that seems tailor-made for the branding focus groups out there.  If there is something too treasured available, it dominates her entire being.  Only when I remove it can she see clearly once more.

Cozy spot

What I have been searching for and am finding in my homeschool studies is a way of learning and teaching that is sensitive to the subtleties in personality that are sometimes not so subtle.  I feel such intense traits would be seen as a hindrance or fault instead of an opportunity.  Somewhere, in all of this, these things will be blessings someday.  I have to say that I bet God chuckles a little for having given this minimalist such a child.  I am calling these words to mind once more, as Mike and I steal time to talk it over and make plans for improvements.

Your children do not need more.
Each day adds more facts,
more gadgets,
more activities,
more desires,
and more confusion
to their lives.

Your task is to subtract.
Every day seek to remove,
to clarify,
to simplify.
Society's wisdom adds,
and confusion grows.
The wisdom of the Tao subtracts,
and serenity flourishes.

~The Parent's Tao Te Ching
impossibleway: (Ferny Mei Tai)
Foundation GuidesI began reading the Enki foundation guide last night as I sat by Laurel, watching her little eyes close to sleep.  Just the presence of the materials in my home seems to have affected me in a positive way.  Watching the introduction DVD with evening-wild children whirring in the background, I already felt my spirit calm and lighten.  When I am struggling with motivation or focus, reading is often the thing that brings me to the center of my purpose again.  I suppose it is to me now in these days of simplicity and limited mobility what hiking used to be.  This is taken from the section on the origins of its name:

". . . Enki, god of the waters, flows into every corner and crevice, changing his shape to explore each detail and provide whatever is needed.  By his very nature, he reflects whatever he meets - lighting up the natural wisdom and vitality of all he comes upon. . . Like Enki, the teacher - whether home or in the classroom - is challenged to continually perceive nurture, and celebrate the brilliance and possibility in all the children.  His challenge is to meet everything fully, whatever it may be"

Just a few pages in, I am already feeling that this is a good fit for the way I see things and aspire to be.  It calls other words to my mind and the pieces seems to fit together and come full circle in a way that I have felt only a few times before.

To be a wise parent you must become like the water.
It is content to nourish all it touches
without discrimination.
While people struggle to move up,
water flows joyfully down,
filling the low places. . .
impossibleway: (Picking Blueberries)

If parents are always intruding
into the world of their children,
the children will lose their independent spirit.

If parents impose rule after rule
on the behavior of their children,
the children will lose their self-confidence.

Keep your children safe,
but do not be afraid
to leave them alone.

~The Parent's Tao Te Ching
impossibleway: (Barefeet)
Our bodies produce
the bodies of our children.
Our noisy minds produce
the fears of our children.
But the Tao produces
the spirit of our children.

Still the body.
Quiet the mind.
Discover the spirit.

The Woolly Baby

~The Parent's Tao Te Ching
impossibleway: (Barefeet)
To experience joy as a parent
you must free yourself of ambition,
for yourself
and for your children.

Got in the stinging nettle, bless his heart

Ambition stiffens the muscles
and makes the spirit brittle.
You cannot move with ease
in the winds of change.


But if you can release ambition
you can use all of life,
good and bad,
as fuel for the fires of joy.

Looking for gnomes

Because you demand nothing
you have everything,
as do your children.

~The Parent's Tao Te Ching
impossibleway: (Snow Flame)
These early years are intense, aren't they?  Everything, nearly, seems to require immediate attention.  You're always on your toes, anticipating the next need or potential mess.  Some days, I go along very calmly, taking each thing as it comes and handling it all serenely.  Other days, I'm a frazzled mess, my mind failing to focus.  I'm trying to have the serene outnumber the frazzled.  The people I'm working for don't yet have the moral compasses to be consistently considerate or concerned when I struggle.

One thing that is helping is that the children are getting older.  Willow has become a very willing helper.  She cleans up messes and does various chores happily.  She'll go pick chives for me or get the mail.  It's never been something I really pressed; I just figured it would come with time.  Roan will even run little errands for me, which is extra sweet to watch.  Of course, this is all variable.  It doesn't always work out, but it is working out with increasing frequency.

I suppose many things that trouble our hearts, apart from the obviously very serious, all work out in time.  It's just a matter of your own sense of urgency and ability to be patient.  People are who they are and become who they become.  For all the worrying my mother did over me, the well-behaved child, I don't worry that much.  These people are little and are with me or Mike all the time.  Our world is small for now and trust comes easily.

The Project

If you want your children to be generous,
you must first allow them to be selfish.
If you want them to be disciplined,
you must first allow them to be spontaneous.
If you want them to be hard-working,
you must first allow them to be lazy.
This is a subtle distinction,
and hard to explain to those who criticize you.

A quality cannot be fully learned
without understanding its opposite.

~The Parent's Tao Te Ching
impossibleway: (Barefeet)
Sunset Apple

You can control your children
through threats and punishments
and they will learn to fear.
You can control their behavior
by praise and reward
and they will learn to look outside themselves
for approval and for worth.
You can watch over their every movement,
every action, every decision,
making sure they do it "right,"
and the will learn to always
doubt themselves.
Or you can love and guide
without controlling or interfering
and they will learn to trust themselves.

~The Parent's Tao Te Ching
impossibleway: (Mike Panorama)

Reading the menuDo not ask your children
to strive for extraordinary lives.
Such striving may seem admirable,
but it is a way of foolishness.
Help them instead to find the wonder
and marvel of an ordinary life.
Show them the joy of tasting
tomatoes, apples and pears.
Show them how to cry
when pets and people die.
Show them the infinite pleasure
in the touch of a hand.
And make the ordinary come alive for them.
The extraordinary will take care of itself.

~The Parent's Tao Te Ching
impossibleway: (Autumn Fern)
2007fall (41)

Some behavior in your children will seem "good" to you.
Other behavior will seem unequivocally "bad."
Notice both in your children
without being overly impressed by one
nor overly dismayed by the other.
In doing so you will be imitating the Tao
which sees our behavior as a mask
and sees immediately beneath it
to the good within our heart.

Above all, do not attack your child's behavior
and attempt to change it
by endless talking and scolding.
Stay at your center and look beneath the behavior.
to the heart of the child.
There you will find only good.
When you see the heart
you will know what to do.

~The Parent's Tao Te Ching
impossibleway: (Ranger Brandy)
The martial master understands
how to yield and triumph.
When his opponent's blow arrives,
he is not there.
He moves,
yet maintains his position,
but stays balanced.

As a parent you must do the same.
When your children oppose you,
do not meet their opposition with force.
Bend and they will topple.
You will win your point
without harming them.
Thus in yielding,
you will truly triumph.

Willow and Virginia in the woods

~The Parent's Tao Te Ching
impossibleway: (Barefeet)
Willow dances at the clothesline

Natural parents do not give mixed messages.
When they are angry, their children see their anger
and learn that it is not to be feared.
When they are sad, their children see their sadness
and learn it can be borne.
When the difficult feelings pass there is no residue.
Their relationship with their children remains
pure and uncomplicated.

~The Parent's Tao Te Ching
impossibleway: (Berries)

If you want your children to succeed,
show them how to fail.
If you want them to be happy,
show them how to be sad.
If you want them to be healthy,
show them how to be sick.
If you want them to have much,
show them how to enjoy little.
Parents who hide failure, deny loss,
and berate themselves for weakness,
have nothing to teach their children.
But parents who reveal themselves,
in all of their humanness,
become heroes.
For children look to these parents
and learn to love themselves.

~The Parent's Tao Te Ching


May. 14th, 2012 07:13 am
impossibleway: (Peace can do better)

Yesterday was a delightfully quiet day here, not without its work (like dishes that took three hours for me to wash), but quiet.  Mother's Day is always challenging for me, ever since I have a real remembrance of it from seventh grade.  This post sums up what ought to be a happy day, but often isn't.  I must admit to feeling off and weird during the part of the church service where mothers were recognized and now, as an adult, I can see why.  When it goes well, it is wonderful, but when it doesn't meet societal norms, it's hard.

I spent the evening with my parents wherein my dad told me they were "bad grandparents" because their "standards were too high."  One of the things that I have learned crossing over from child to parent is that your parents are still your parents.  They don't become magical just because they're grandparents.  We do have some friends who handle the grandparent task amazingly (and I had amazing grandparents), but mine are struggling. 

My children are free-range, living in a home where I work hard to ensure they are safe while having the ability to move around as they please.  Everything is child-friendly here.  That doesn't mean we're up to our ears in toys, but the breakables are stowed away for the long-term until our children are able to handle that responsibility.  Ironically, just three months ago I put the art supplies in drawer where Willow could access them and now Roan can access them.  Time to shift again.

I am seeing now, as the days of diapers and "cute" begin to fade a little, that the real work is beginning.  Roan is not a lap baby; he is a baby on the move.  Here, that's fine, but elsewhere, may as well just strap him on to avoid the flinching onlookers.  The use of Montessori-style methods with Willow are fine at home (and at Carrie's) but the independence she has gained is not viewed in a positive light elsewhere.

I told my dad he was going to miss out on a lot of fun.  I've had conversations like that with him before, though usually not about him.  Seeking to be "the boss" for its own sake really only results in displeasure on the part of "the boss," as far as I can tell.  I think he and I are in a bit of a rough patch, suffering from a double standard that rears its head when we visit each other.  All I can offer is that I have watched lots of parenting over the years, silently observing how others did their job, and I learned what was important for me.

The teachings of the parent's Tao
are simple and natural.
Yet when you try to practice them
you will meet with great resistance.
Children have been raised
contrary to the Tao
for countless thousands of years.
No one will support you.

But look around at the effects
of these countless thousands of years.
Then look inside your heart.

~The Parent's Tao Te Ching

impossibleway: (Mike Panorama)

The lessons we most want to teach our children
are the ones we have not yet learned ourselves.
So we continually try to teach
what we do not know.

This is futile.
Try instead to refrain from talking.
Look carefully at the situation.
Listen attentively.
Let your mind be open to new understandings.
You will learn what you need to know.
And you will teach your children
how to learn their own lessons.

~ The Parent's Tao Te Ching
impossibleway: (Mama with Willow)
The children woke up much too early this morning.  Quickly, we were a mess of loud voices and grumpy faces.  It slowly faded in the hours after Mike went to work and at long last, Roan settled in for a nap.  So often, we look at our children as burdens--distractions from the Real Work we need to do, heavy lumps on our backs as we try to reach under the furniture for a missing toy. 

And so it is that a careful balance must be sought.  Surely, it is all good and right, the way things are.  God made it and it is so.  When they are little and need so much holding, their bodies are light and easy to hold.  As they grow and need us a little less, they become heavy to us and strain toward the floor.  I find my lap and arms are too small to contain them and yet they need me deeply still. 

A year ago, Roan and I were as close as we would ever be.  I was so desperate to meet him, to see his face.  Carrying him in my body was terribly difficult for me and for all my aching and inner turmoil, he is the happiest boy.  And now, he melts into my arms as I carry him to the hammock.  These are special days, intensely special.

You do not have to make your children
into wonderful people.
You only have to remind them
that they are wonderful people.
If you do this consistently
from the day they are born
they will believe it easily.

You cannot force your will
upon other human beings.
You cannot hurry children
along the road to maturity.
And the only step necessary
on their long journey of life,
is the next small one.

~ The Parent's Tao Te Ching
impossibleway: (A Winter's Solstice)

A wheel spins in a circle.
The still point at the center
gives it direction.
Be still.
And your children will see
the way ahead.

A pot has beautiful sides.
The emptiness inside
makes it useful.
Empty yourself of agenda
and you will be available
for your children.

A good house has strong walls.
The space within the walls
makes it a home.
Create space within your heart
and your children
will always rest secure.

~The Parent's Tao Te Ching


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