April Now

Apr. 2nd, 2017 11:14 am
impossibleway: (Large-Flowered Trillium)
It's quiet this morning, with everyone still asleep.  I'm not sure if it frosted last night, but it was close.  The blueberries are tucked under sheets, but I wonder how the big cherry tree at my grandmother's will fare.  This is an uncertain time of year, isn't it?  I guess all seasons have their uncertainties, but Spring seems to have the bulk of them.  The natural world wants to burst forth with new life and Winter wants to keep hold of things just a bit longer.  I think I feel that way, too.

April Nature TableThings have felt a little scattered lately, honestly, and I have been hoping for the chance to get back on track.  I guess a to-do list is in order to help me prioritize, along with closer adherence to our usual rhythms.  It is easy to let things slip this time of year.  So much seems pressing, and everything feels full of possibility.  We've spent the weekend helping with an attic project over at the Roland Estate, trying to beat the heat in the months to come.  All the same, there has been plenty to do here at home, so I'm struggling a little with balance.

I'm trying to keep hold of the little things that tie the days together, like our bedtime routine and our school work, along with ample quiet time.  I always dreaded "nap time" as a child.  It meant three or so hours of silence alone, being an only child.  For us, it is a time to listen to audio stories in our respective posts in the living room.  After that, we work on focused activities while Laurel sleeps.  It is a time we look forward to each day.  Willow isn't herself without it, which is a wonderful confirmation of the value of peace and rest in a busy home with young children.

*** By now, several hours have passed and there was breakfast and dishes and sewing up the sweetest little knitted duck.  I've sent everyone off for a picnic at an old fire tower.  It sounded fun, to be out in the bright sunshine enjoying the national forest, but I need some of my own quiet time.  I think it will help to ease my scatter-brained feeling lately.  Really, it might just be biting off more than I can chew.  Happy Sunday!
impossibleway: (The Flower Picker)
Spring BouquetYesterday was Work Day, so we spent part of the morning moving branches, cutting back raspberries, pruning, and taking down some trees.  This was all over at the Roland Estate, where there are numerous tangles and piles that are in need of some removal.  This is a good time to do things like that, since the plants are still mostly dormant.  It's a big job that will take several weeks of work to complete, with the end goal being able to mow the places that were once neglected brush piles.  I don't do the mowing, of course, but I do hope to make the job a little easier.

The children love that kind of work, honestly.  We keep it reasonably short, an hour or two, and then follow with some refreshments that help to buoy them along.  It felt like Summer while we were working--we soon shed the sweaters and hats we had come with.  Convinced it was terribly warm at sixty degrees, the children were soon cold from their icy drinks.  The sky clouded over and the wind picked up.  Oh, March.  The rain didn't come until supper time, but everyone was in a good mood the rest of the day.  It makes a person of any size feel good to do work that yields instant, visible results.

All across our area, daffodils and crocuses are in bloom.  We find them in the yards of abandoned houses (and I bring a few home).  The ones in my yard are quickly whisked inside by my flower pickers, and we've made plans to buy a lot more bulbs when Autumn comes again.  We were taking a walk around the neigborhood to admire all the flowers, and I was thinking of Martinmas and the mood that comes with it. The whole year brings many reflective opportunities and I am looking forward to it.  If you look closely, you can see a single snowdrop and a spring beauty that the children picked.  I guess that means Spring is really here.
impossibleway: (Sunset)
Here's my little snow lantern from earlier in the week.  It was tricky to make, but this snow was so hard form into snowballs.  I had taken to analyzing which parts of the yard would provide me with suitable snow.  Call me a snow-ologist.  Anyway, it just goes to show that we really, really got the mileage out of the snow.  Apart from little bits on the sides of roads and the big piles in parking lots, the snow is gone now.  I hope it will return, of course, since snow play is my very favorite kind.  It makes a big difference when the children can mostly dress themselves.  Willow went out five times the day it was fifteen degrees.  Never mind that it will be sixty today.

Snow LanternThis past Advent season taught me even more about the importance for routine to help children feel right about things.  Many things were turned upside down with Mike traveling less and all the excitement of the season.  It was really hard on Willow and a little difficult for Roan.  She was plagued by nightmares and fear and he was struggling with too much energy.  The main thing that seemed to help in those few days we took off from school was movement.  Simple things like taking walks and riding bikes and just getting out of the house were so big and healing.  There are times in parenting that issues seem especially baffling (like hives!) and then the fix is so simple.

Last week was a little bumpy as we settled back into our school routine, though I know that we are all glad to be back to normal tasks.  I did some experimentation with a separate movement time for grade two, but decided to keep it all together.  That gave too much temptation for mediocre participation.  I can't explain sensory integration activities to children--it just wouldn't work.  Sometimes, I do say that the movements help us to feel good and do our work.  Really, it works best when we stick mainly with Enki materials or I find something in the Wynstones book that really captures the imagination.  We had a sleigh-riding circle last year that the children just adored.  I might have to revive it for February.

With a child in the grades now, we get to do bean bags and copper rods, along with poetry and songs from the culture we are studying.  That adds enough variety to keep the routine fun and a little challenging.  Laurel gets upset that she doesn't have her own copper rod, but there are some things that I just have to be really strict about--they bend easily and they hurt if you drop them on your toe!  She seems to be doing a lot better lately, too, and more agreeable to participate in things with all of us.  I really hope I can keep up my stamina to keep that going.

I've gotten us back on a good routine with some chores, too.  While setting the table is something where the tasks are always divided and done, dish-washing has been a little harder.  Now, as in the past, each person has a meal where they help me with the dishes.  Laurel does breakfast, Roan does lunch, and Willow does supper.  Roan is the most willing helper.  I'm trying to get this all set in our daily rhythms now so that I can avoid trouble later.  I hope.  I can hope, right?

It seems people are waking up now.  I wish I could have everyone sleep a little later, but I suppose that will come with the lengthening days.  I can hardly keep my eyes open after 7:30 each night!  Well, time to make some Swedish Cardamom Coffee Bread into French toast!
impossibleway: (Tulip Tree in the Hemlock)
Golden


I've got a little time to myself this evening, so I spent it preparing Willow's birthday ring and moving furniture.  Those are some of my favorite things to do, along with all the others stuff.  So many things are pleasant tasks, really.  I can be very adept at complaining, but I do try to perform the many tasks of homekeeping with a good mood.  Things these days, when it comes to chores and working together, are going really well.  The weekly work day has the children wanting to do more, which is wonderful.  Sure, there are times where they end up playing in the leaves while I haul them over to our yard, but I feel that's a good part of their sensory integration.  I feel like these are the formative years for teaching children about the daily work of life, about doing what needs to be done.  So far, so good.

We are doing some big housecleaning this week.  I've been going through drawers and closets, taking out warm weather things and other items that need to go.  The children have been doing similar things.  It's easy for this place to feel like it is closing in on you.  I often dream about a bigger house (really!), but I was thinking today that it would just mean more furniture and more stuff.  I'd rather stay here, with a few modifications over time, and keep my materialism in check.  Might help the others, too.  I often wonder how things will turn out for my children.  I suppose every parent does.

Seems everyone is home now.  Time to get ready for some Edwardian Farm!

Fireside

Oct. 5th, 2016 02:49 pm
impossibleway: (Ranger Brandy)
In the place where the storyteller was, the coming of night was marked as it was not in towns nor in modern houses.  It was so marked that it created in the mind a different rhythm. . . He was a storyteller because he was attuned to this rhythm  and had in his memory the often repeated incidents that would fit it. . . A rhythm that was compulsive, fitted to daily tasks, waned, and a rhythm that was acquiescent, fitted to wishes took its place. . .

~Introduction to The Complete Grimm's Fairy Tales :: Padraic Colum

Michaelmas FireThe weather has shifted in the past week and now our warmest days are in the mid-seventies.  It feels so nice, really, and we've been having some nice little fires on the hearth.  The children so enjoy evenings and mornings by the fire and have been happily bringing up armloads and wagon loads of wood.  With numerous piles in different states of seasoning, the only disappointment to me is that I don't know how to split wood.  We collect a lot of free wood and get most of it when someone nearby cuts down a tree.  I once asked a man who was going to take off the logs he was cutting up.  He responded with, "You are!"  Yes, indeed!

We don't need to have a fire, of course.  It's not really that chilly at night, and leaving the windows closed would be enough.  But, there is something about a fire, something that is beyond words, and I want to give that to my family.  In a push-button, convenience-based world, all this can be lost or seem very silly.  That's fine, I'll take silly.  I've said before that I want to be an archetype for my children, to provide them with strong, everlasting images of human life (and the life of a human who falls down and gets right back up).  Giving them good work to do and trying to maintain a regular, rhythmic homelife is very important to their education.  I can feel myself feeling very strong lately, which is so nourishing to my spirit.  Our days are patterned well right now.

Those words above, they have been in mind lately as I was mulling them over with a friend. Electricity and all its conveniences (the steady march of time) killed the fairy tale. The world they came from has fallen away and is replaced by what we know now--a world with wonderful advancements where some of the most helpful and intangible skills are elusive. We can't go back, of course, and most of us would not desire that.  I love my furnace and stove and lights and, yes, this desktop computer with internet.  However, there is something so special and whole about taking a long look at where we came from and the little things that unite us with the people who were.  The future will always be easy to take up; it is the past that is hard to hold onto.
impossibleway: (Children of the Forest)
Plans for the second grade year and kindergarten are firming up.  There are times, especially this week, that I would really like to just start now, but I know it will do well for us to wait.  We have some last minute things to attend to and other things that are taking our energy, and we really want to give it our all.  Some things have become more clear to me this week, so that has helped me to feel these last days are not a waste.

Our daily rhythm has needed shaping up for awhile.  Roan may be napping today, but that is no longer the norm for him.  He and I have colds--it's been a hard day, all around.  Quiet time is hard for him to settle into and there are times that Laurel has a little trouble.  Willow acts like she was born for it and she has important practice work to do each afternoon.  With that in mind, I've decided to shift it an hour later and add a walk after lunch to get out any last bits of rowdiness.  My goal is to have outside time and finish up any yard work by 3:00.  We used to run errands in the mornings, but that will shift to the time after lunch, as well.

Second Grade PlansOur weekly rhythm gets a little change, too.  With a baby and young toddler around, it's been easy to say "no" to some activities like painting and modeling.  Now, things have changed and it seems reasonable to include everyone, if possible.  Laurel's had a couple tries at painting and she seems to do okay.  Modeling may be more of a challenge, but I think her own play dough could be the answer.  So, painting on Mondays, breadmaking on Wednesdays, and modeling or crafts on Fridays.  That will give time each week to things that we think are important.

Tuesdays and Thursdays are days that Roan has no kindergarten story time.  We'll still have our movement circle and Willow will have her artistic digestion and work with manipulatives on those days.  For kindergarten time, we'll have Tuesdays be Work Days.  I mentioned this in another post, the idea of long-term meaningful work, and we'll give an hour to yard work at the Roland Estate until we run out of jobs.  I don't expect that to happen any time soon.  We had our first work day yesterday and made a small dent in the berry patch.  Thursdays will continue as Nature School days.  While this was great for the Summer, I think it will be especially nice in the cooler months.  We make a great effort to keep clothes for all occasions, and we need some purposeful effort to be out in them.

I mentioned walks above and I will say that they have changed in nature since the days when we took them every day.  We really got out of the habit of taking them every day after last Fall.  It was too cold and dark, of course, and I gained a lot of confidence with the circle movements.  They didn't seem necessary, though the habit really was quite important.  Roan has since developed a strong dog phobia, so we've had to shift our route and it took a long time for us to work one out.  We walk through part of our regular neighborhood and then along Main Street for a bit.  This certainly is different from our quiet residential walks, but I think we'll be able to move beyond it in time.  I'd really like to make our Martinmas walk a different route, but it may be quite interesting to take our lanterns past speeding hurried cars.

These are all simple logistical things that sound great on paper and I am hoping they are just as good in application.  I've certainly spent a lot more time considering all this than I have for previous years.  There is a lot to fit in with a holistic education method, though I have learned what to leave out.  I've made some shifts to the Enki materials, like making the story pace a little slower and swapping out sage stories with more traditional Waldorf saint stories.  I've added some things, like a morning verse for each student, but I think that will add a mood of reverence to our school time and help each student feel met.  I've got plans for a healing basket, as well, in order to help us learn kinder ways.  More on that later!
impossibleway: (Sunset)
There's a bathtub in the living room right now, a clear indicator of the unrest of this past week.  Our plans for a new bathroom (mostly) are creeping forward.  In a couple weeks, our old painted tub should come out and this new one will take its place.  What to do with it in between will be the challenge. . . Between the bathroom and painting half the rooms (and that new roof), this house is getting a Spring cleanout.  I've got a heap of things on the front porch waiting for the glory of trash day, today!  And there's a load for the thrift store and yesterday's trip to the dumpster.  I went from having one broken ironign board to topping out at five at one point (some still broken)!  I think it made me feel better just to get things out.

Last Light 1

All that aside, the evening light was so nice the other day.
Willow learned to braid and did my hair and I just sat.

Last Light 2

There was so much to do and time was slipping away,
but it was wonderful to take notice of the late-day light on newly painted walls.

Last Light 3

The paint is more purple-y than the last,
at times more pink or more blue.
I love it, either way.

Last Light 4

The light hit this mushroom painting just right, at one point.

Last Light 5

My anxiety is at a peak lately.  I clear out one worry and trade it for another.  My neck is still scrunched up, seeming to do so at night when I am not moving and prone to thinking too much.  As the day goes on, it improves and it hardly hurt at all yesterday afternoon.  I spent that time getting the basement ready for men crawling up under the house.  There was some pretty ruthless decluttering, and I was thankful for some large boxes that I could put things in without being questioned.

The candlelight and our school time are the anchors that keep us focused these days.  They help me to feel right and good, even when plans change and everything seems scattered.  I am looking forward to some boring and I hope it does come.  The weather for the next while is sunny, warm and clear.  If I don't make it to the woods to see some Spring flowers, I'll be disappointed in myself.   That always makes me feel so much better.
impossibleway: (Lazure Mama)
Blowing out the candleThe past week has left me feeling battered and tossed, almost directionless.  Those March winds have carried over into April and it seems I hardly know where to turn to get out of them.  I don't say all that to be dramatic, but I guess it feels dramatic inside my head and heart.  Maybe, I have had a bit of a pause to catch a little breath and see where I've been before going on.  I'm just struggling and learning and trying to find balance, all while moving forward.

Trying to steer the ship for little folks in the midst of inner turmoil is an added challenge.  The frenzy of new life and energy that is Spring is just too much, over and over.  There is a yard to mow, plants to start or protect from frost, meals to make, messes to tidy.  Maybe these are the hardest years of parenting, physically.  All the years bring new challenges, of course, but these ones with little folks who need so much help.  Oh, my aching feet.

I feel our rhythm has definitely been off-kilter all the past month.  Circle times have been so-so.  Set periods for being outside have turned into entire afternoons.  I often find myself following the children outside and putting chores on hold, yet again.  Babies won't keep, it's true, but houses don't either.  I have to find balance between the two.  Let it be said, I did drop my work and pick violets with Willow for jelly.

Candlelight has been a constant, as if in all this wind and change we have needed something to gather around.  I have to light nearly twice daily fires for the gnomes to huddle around for warmth.  We've had a fire on the hearth the past two days, even though it was warmish out.  Just that flickering flame, that crackling heat has been so nice, even with all the tree bark.  I am hoping we'll have another fire tonight, as the weather has turned chilly again.

Night times are a balm to my spirit.  No matter the difficulties of the day, the children and I all make peace for bedtime.  The wild children and the harried mother find solace in a simple poem, a prayer and a sweet breath that sends the day off.  We all lay down together, as we always have, just after Laurel blows out the candle.  It signifies an end, a turning point, a real shift from waking to sleeping.  Bedtime is never trouble, oddly.

You are mother's little child,
safe in your bed a-lying.
Above your head the stars now send
their golden rays a-flying.

In your eyes the sweet sandman,
with quiet hand drops sleepy sand,
so you may climb your starlit dream
 to the sparkling starry land . . .

~Goodnight :: Marjan Van Zeyl
impossibleway: (Mike Panorama)
When it's possible, our weekend starts on Friday after lunch, not that we are out living it up.  We are in doing that, of course.  This weekend, Mike brough home the long-awaited Colossus pizza.  They say it's 28" in diameter, but that is way off.  I would say that it is probably 34" wide.  Thank goodness, our tiny house has an extra-wide front door (so wide we had to order a custom storm door!).

Colossus Pizza

Mike forgot something and had to go back out, but we started on the pizza without him.  Without him, I couldn't get it through the kitchen doorway.  I had to store it on the couch.  We are still eating the leftovers, after three meals.

Pizza Eaters

Willow and Roan have been using the chalkboards again.  I am thinking this might be a good part of our weekly rhythm, maybe Fridays.  It would be helpful for form drawing, which I have sadly fallen behind on.

Chalboard Work

Sunday is back as Baking Day.
Laurel really enjoyed kneading a tiny piece of dough, over and over.

Kneading

Roan and Willow took ove the bulk of the kneading.
We are getting a hand-cranked grain mill, at Mike's suggestion.
I have wanted one for years and I think it will be great for the children.

Willow Kneads

And now, everyone is awake and it is time to get started on another week.  Happy Monday!
impossibleway: (Advent Apple)
As adults, we have the wisdom of knowing that, often, the waiting for Christmas is really the best part.  We get to contemplate, time and again, what the Light of the World really means for us and how that image evolves with each passing year.  We also know that Christmas can be followed by a big let-down after all the hoopla.  I started celebrating the Twelve Days of Christmas for the simple, shallow reason that I did not like that abrupt end.  That viewpoint has evolved, as well.

Four Lights

I love the beauty of watching the lights grow each week, I really do.
It starts so dimly and culminates with a great flourish.

The Light of Humankind

With three children in tow, I cannot help but try to grasp their viewpoint, as well.
They are, admittedly, waiting on presents.  Let's just be honest.

Cookie Calendar

Even with all the conversations about the "true meaning of Christmas,"
those mysterious gifts are still out there, looming and taunting.

Bernadette Watts Calendar

Like many things, my thoughts on the True Meaning are evolving, too.
Where did we get Christmas and how much did we steal from other festivals?
What made those festivals something to toss away or rebrand?

Advent Jar

It's not as much a question to answer, as it is one to ponder across the decades.
It's something I consider for the rest of the year, too.
How much of Easter is older than the Easter Story?
What about the ever-controversial Halloween?
What is the bigger picture of humanity?

2015 Spiral

These are the things that I am turning over this time of year.  The whole thing is, as much as I enjoy it, overwhelming to me.  Isn't it just a little funny to spend a month building up to a single day?  What does it do to my children to live with such fixation?  The Enki materials actually recommend celebrating just two festivals in the year, generally centered on a solstice or equinox.  A big part of it, I think, is avoiding overwhelm and materialism for the children.  Another consideration is sensory integration and learning to find joy in the everyday.  I really love that.  Life is full of everyday.

Enki suggests homemade gifts and a focus on the natural world, the lights in the darkness, and being comfortable with darkness and inward feelings.  That suits me well.  I think that is why I love the Advent or Winter spiral so much.  It begins with such a small, almost laughable, single light and grows.  And there are irreverent moments as people struggle to light their candles and try to figure how to get out of the spiral.  At the end, we all agree that it is beautiful.  The light is beautiful and that is the part we can commit to memory.

The term "Advent" was unheard of by me until I was in college.  I didn't see an Advent wreath or a calendar or anything.  I used to think that doing more was really my thing, that I would celebrate more than we did when I was at my parents' home.  It was my life and I would take all the jubilation I could get.  I can see how complicated celebration is, in general, now.  It becomes complicated when you let it happen.  I guess it is my own (quite simple) overcompensation that has me so baffled.  I think what I need to do is spend the year considering Advent and how we'll approach it next time.

I love festivals that mark the turns in the year.  We live in a place where agricultural rhythms are very visible.  We see haybales and corn and pumpkins and dairies and home vegetable gardens.  I feel blessed my children get to see those things, even with the challenges of Appalachian living.  The classic Waldorf festivals compliment things very nicely.  May Day is a wonderful way to really welcome the warm weather and Lammas is perfect for starting the harvest season.  August really is that full for us.  Martinmas suits us well, too, with its humble lanterns in a darkening world.

I suppose much of life is learning to navigate dark spirals and rejoicing in the light.  Yes, celebrating those journeys time and again seems very right.
impossibleway: (Advent Apple)
There is something about weekends here. I suppose it is the over-the-top get-it-done-now feeling of everyone being together after the weekdays apart from Mike.  We work on the honey-do list and extra baking and time alone for me to work on things (and there are so many things to work on this time of year!).  The children respond to another adult at home by ramping up their energy and needs.  I truly believe that children take energy from adults and increase this in scale with the number present.  Child development experts have said the same, more eloquently.  All that said, evenings have found me worn to a frazzle.

The Second Light

Let's look at pretty candles, shall we?  Somewhere in this harried world, there are attitudes of reverence and peace.  This is the time of year when they are most praised and most difficult to attain.  So, then we have St. Nicholas on the roof of the stable.  I'm not sure how it will work to get this place super clean and get the paint touched up and the pencil marks off and still keep that reflective mood.  Weekdays are quieter, though, and I have hopes for it working out.

Light of Plants

We start vowels this week, finally filling in the last of the alphabet and really starting to form word sounds. I look forward to it, as it will be a change from the usual hidden letter pictures. We'll be doing water colors for them! Oh, and the eurythmy-inspired gestures. I better get on some studying before everyone wakes up!
impossibleway: (Movingthe Soul with Color)
Push and pull, the sawyers
Sawing down the trees.
Back and forth, the toothy blades
Cut the branches free.

~Enki Movement


Sawyers

Like our woodcutters finding their rhythm with the cross-cut saw, I am starting to find my way through first grade.  A little over a month in, and we're settling into the new work and starting to weave a tapestry of arts-based learning.  To call it a tapestry might sound romanticized, but it fits what we are do remarkably well.  Enki believes, like Waldorf, in a sleep cycle for learning.  In the first block, we introduced letters in the main lessons and used our practice time to play with math a little.  Now, we are working explicitly with numbers and using our practice time to reinforce the letters we did in the first block.  Back and forth it goes, with letter gestures becoming a part of our poety memorization, with hidden forms in watercolor work, and with the addition of the recorder.

Recorder Warm-Up

Oh, The grand old Duke of York,
He had ten thousand men;
He marched them up to the top of the hill,
And he marched them down again.

And when they were up, they were up,
And when they were down, they were down,
And when they were only half-way up,
They were neither up nor down.

~Recorder warm-up, Traditional


Afternoon is our recorder time, with Laurel asleep and Roan at work on some focused quiet play.  He's our recorder caretaker, as well, until it is his turn to have one.  He helps to dry and oil them.  I have come to treat the recorder and pentatonic flute very carefully.  If they're blown with too much gusto, the wood swells and they won't play the low notes for some time.  I guarded Willow's recorder until just the moment when it felt right to introduce it and we store them away up high when we're done with our work.  It might have seemed strict, but children model the respect that we show them.  The tools of first grade are definitely different from those of kindergarten, where there were very few.

Learning at home, of course, can be incredibly freeing.  Not only can we choose to spend a day in the woods or on practical life work, but we can also find those pockets of time best suited to certain tasks.   We worked on letter sounds (practice work!) while I folded the laundry in the dining room, thinking of as many words as we could that go with the letters we've done that are posted on the wall.  The new school year is taking shape, though there are still threads that need more focus from me to work out.  The laundry letter work was a big help for me on the gestures--I've been having a hard time internalizing them.

It really is a different thing to work explicitly on academics, since that's not been a part of early childhood at our house.  Willow is doing really well it and I can see the fruits of seeds planted in kindergarten.  She is being pushed enough to make progress without shutting down.  This week, she learned to make a five-point star, which was a form that gave her some difficulty at first.  She learned other things, too, but I really appreciated that one, in particular.  I think my star improved, too.  This education style is as healing and helpful to me as it is to the children, perhaps more. And, really, that's what it's about--learning and growing to be our own people, no matter what our age.

"It may sound paradoxical, but the greatest teacher in the Waldorf School is the child himself."
~ Rudolf Steiner :: Education as an Art, as taken from the Christopherus Homeschool Planner
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.

DSC_1537.JPG

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.


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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.

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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: (Lazure Mama)
The time of heightened body awareness is marked by the experience of wholeness, of being at one with our world. Whatever is received is received as a whole; whatever is received, is received by the whole person. The child is inseparable from his world. It moves through him like a formative force.

It is generally agreed that the young child learns through imitation. But this is not simply a process of the child copying you. He does not copy the movement of your finger; its movement imprints on him literally as a foot imprints the wet sand. We find there are no buffers, no internal protection. Modern neuroscience is revealing aspects of the brain - mirror neurons - that are set up specifically for this skill.  The young child is fully pierced or imprinted
by all he meets.

~Enki Homeschool Teaching Guides : Book II

I often say that Laurel Mae is the most integrated of our children.  What I mean by that is a little fuzzy, but it's just the word that comes to mind when I think of her.  Let's see if I can make it more clear.

Some people talk about the baby of the family getting away with more because the parents are tired.  Here, we are still tired, but I have a better handle on things now.  I understand the power of boundaries and how children need them.  It's not a world filled with "no," but a home with rhythm, movement, and a mother who has confidence in what she is doing (most of the time).  Laurel knows the patterns to our days well and she is starting to know the boundaries we have here.

no title

Sadly, one of those is that she cannot run free on hikes, bless her heart.  She is our child with no fear and gets worn, quite often, for her own safety.  She understands "hot" and "sharp" and "yuck," but staying with a responsible adult is the last thing on her mind.  She is not at all timid.  I always hated those baby leashes, but our girl needs something--wrap, jump rope, something.  We have to attach her to the little slide while planting seeds and things.  She's getting used to the new boundary, thankfully.

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She is our only child who is unconcerned about cold water.  Water, in general, is fascinating to her.  She gets upset when it is not her turn for a bath.  The children have a little stuffed fish.  If you get close to water of any kind when Laurel is holding it, she'll throw it right in.  Every time.  Even in the swamp.

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She's also our child who has taught me the power of imitation.  Imitation and experience are the main teachers of early childhood and I am learning to look at them with reverence.  Hats for little people to keep sunburns at bay?  Mama wears one, too!  Laurel knows all our songs and can sing them at the appropriate times.  I don't ask her to, but she just does.  Songs for dressing, for sad babies, for going on walks, for circle times--she's got them.

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Laurel is our child who lives most fully in her body, integrated.  Even in the womb, she would twist and turn and stick her behind by my belly button.  Ooooh, it hurt!  She's still twisting and turning, sticking her behind in the air when she nurses, unless she is very tired or snuggly.  She runs and walks and slides and moves with great confidence.  Her trial at painting, above, was sweet until she wanted to taste the paint.  Oh, well.  My efforts at keeping her busy while the others painted didn't work out so well.

I must admit that I am both excited and a little nervous at the years ahead with her.  She does have the benefit of an experienced (sort of) mother and older siblings.  Roan and Willow were the warm-up for this sweet, funny, wild girl.

Four

Apr. 28th, 2015 07:16 am
impossibleway: (Snow Flame)
I put a three year old boy to bed for the last time night before last.  Oh, it was a sentimental moment, for sure.  I have felt time moving too quickly lately.  Sure enough, at 6:26 yesterday morning, our dear boy was four.

Waiting

Willow woke up early and was just too excited for him to wake up.

Hot Chocolate

We made the hot chocolate, just like in Children of Noisy Village.

So Hard to Wait

We set everything up.  And waited.

A Boat!

Oh, he was happy to be awake and happy to have a boat!

It's My Birthday!

After lunch at our local hospital cafeteria and quiet time with Sparkle Stories,
we made the long-awaited cherry cake.
We used canned Queen Anne cherries, not maraschinos.

Chopping cherries

Willow chopped the cherries and we recited lines from It's My Birthday.
[livejournal.com profile] elizabethhas7 sent us that book for Willow's birthday and it made us all want a white cherry cake.

Ice Cream!

The white cake and boiled frosting left us with six egg yolks to use up.
Ice cream, of course!  I made the custard in secret.

At the day's end

There may have been a good deal of dispute about who would crank the ice cream maker.  I tried using our "old" freezer bowl for the mixer a couple of weeks ago.  It lacked soul compared with our "new" ice cream maker.  The children loved the old fashioned cake and the ice cream.  Us parents were worn out--it's hard work having a birthday and guarding family rhythms!  I was up early washing ice cream salt from the floor in the kitchen and putting away the mountain of dishes I washed yesterday, but it was a sweet day.
impossibleway: (Picking Blueberries)
Everyone's sleeping in this morning, it seems.  It's going to be a rainy day, so I'm hopeful for time to get caught up, all around.  Here are the rest of the links (and I think I heard a baby noise).

*A Day in the Life of a Maya Waldorf Kindergarten :: Lovely photos and descriptions.
*Chillin' with my Gnomies :: Alan Dart gnomes from Knitting Iris, the first blog I really enjoyed.
*The Daily Blessing of the Older Child in the Kindergarten :: Good ideas for the 6-7 year old in a kindergarten setting.
*Flower SoupThe Role of Handwork: Developing Skills and Meeting the Needs of the Older Child in the Kindergarten :: Handwork is suggested by the Enki folks for children who are especially interested in reading and writing, but are not yet ready for first grade.  Willow has really taken off on finger crochet, but we'll both have to learn to finger knit.
*Fairy Castle :: Adorable handmade bendable fairies from Our Ash Grove.  Such talent her oldest daughter has!
*Making Gnome and Fairy Dishes from Seed Pods :: Willow has been very excited about fairy houses lately.  These little dishes are very sweet!
*The Ten Kinds of Play :: All easy and nearly free to do.  I have to admit that I cringe at the use of the term "sensory play" since that seldom means nature play in today's world.
*Tips on Storing Woolens in the Warm Season :: No more moth holes for me!  I hope.
*Freedom from Fundamentalism :: From Mother Arts.
*Practical Activities with the Young Child :: "If the adults are engaged in calm, purposeful activity, the children are likely to imitate it in their play, or even want to participate in the activity. Mending, sewing, washing, sweeping, and repairing toys, are among the activities for the teacher to be involved in while the children explore the room, play, draw, and so on."
*Inadequacy as a Doorway to Learning

And now I'm caught up!  Time to get to work around here.
impossibleway: (Lazure Mama)
Since reading Hold Onto Your Kids again, I've been working diligently on connecting with my children.  It's something I've struggled with over the past year or so.  Last year was so difficult, survival was the only goal I felt like I could meet, most days.  We had many happy times, of course, but I felt like I wanted to crawl under a rock a lot of the time.  I would get through one hard thing, maybe catch my breath, and brace myself for the next hard thing, over and over.

BedtimeReading Heaven On Earth also helped to make things finally click for me.  I am finally really, really getting predictability into our rhythm.  I copied the bedtime routine from the book and it just worked, really worked.  And now it's something wonderful that we all look forward to each night.  Television is seldom in the picture at all anymore. We fall asleep to the light of the angel candle, having read in the Little House books and said a simple prayer. These are the things that will carry us through the years and I admit that I am now feeling like time is slipping away from me.

I remember Faith emphasizing connection in the Joyful Toddlers! class, but my main interest was working through the logistics of numerous young children.  Recreating a Lifeways-type environment in my home was my focus.  I wanted to include the children more in my work again and increase predictability in our days.  Both things are a never-ending task that always has room for improvement (isn't that all of life), but I have made significant strides since the class. And yes, my home, on most days, runs like a kindergarten and it suits me just perfectly.

I guess the idea of connection had to sit inside me for awhile before it could really start to make sense to me, like I had to get a handle on surface issues first.  We have rid ourselves of a lot of negative energy in the past couple months.  The burdens keep feeling lighter and the future seems less daunting, especially knowing what we have come through.  Human relationships feel more intuitive again and I find myself actually thinking before acting most of the time.  I'm not on auto-pilot.  I'm spacious, I have time, my energy is more protected.  My responses are self-assured and gentle.  I feel more patient and more able.  I'm still working hard and still tired, but I'm happier.
impossibleway: (Lazure Mama)
Over the earth is a blanket of green,
Over the green is the dew,
Over the dew are the waving trees,
Over the trees is the blue.
Across the blue are the racing clouds,
Over the clouds is the sun,
Over it all is the love of God,
Blessing us every one.

~A Star to Guide Me: Illustrated Prayers for Children

We were all in bed and mostly asleep by eight o'clock last night.  It had been a difficult weekend.  The night before, Mike blew a tire on the way home and the car slid along the jersey barrier on the interstate, making it undrivable for the time being.  Hours later, the towing company (which just happened to be in our town) brought him home, safe and sound.  He and I have been shaken up by the whole thing, as you might imagine.  The children have been mostly unaffected by this, of course, and know mainly that the car is at the Car Hospital and will be for awhile.  We are their filters and buffers to the world and its troubles.  To them, it is a good place and that is how it should be.  We  are glad he was alone and most glad that he is okay.  The car will take time to fix, but he's started the insurance claim.  We're without a car for awhile, but Mike often walks to work.  I can get a ride to the grocery store for our big monthly shopping trip this week.

CandlemasMy march through books continues and I'm reading Heaven On Earth this week.  In the best possible timing, I read over the suggested bedtime routine.  Our children have never been ones to go to be super early, but never super late.  It's never een hard to get them to sleep by 8:30 or so.  But, they've been waking up earlier lately and when I read the routine, something just clicked.  So, last night, I made warm milk with cinnamon and honey and small slices of toast with butter and honey.  They enjoyed that--Willow was in love with the idea of it being the same every single night.  We brushed teeth and laid out clothes and read part of the first chapter of Little House in the Big Woods, said the above verse and lit the angel candle.  Mike laid down with them and they all went to sleep.  I nursed Laurel to sleep and put her in the hammock.  I read over the Enki materials for this upcoming week and went to bed myself.

It's so funny to me that it worked so well.  My children really went to bed at 7:30.  I don't know if that will be the new time or not.  It will depend on when they wake up this morning.  Roan still very much needs a nap, as well.  It will be experimental, but the routine and the snack we will keep.  I used to openly decry Heaven on Earth, but I hadn't read the whole thing.  Silly me.  It really does have a lot of good ideas, more practical ideas for living with children and encouraging creative play.  They make more sense to me now that I have several children.  It's wordy in some parts on trying to sell limited media or tell how the brain works as children grow (Enki spends considerable time on this), but nothing really offensive in the two-thirds I've read.  It's a more mainstream Waldorf book, I think.

So, here we are, on the other side of yet another challenge.  I'm trying to let it go by and know that it will be right again soon.  We know the drill with insurance claims, mostly, from an accident I had a few years ago.  Our routine has become strong enough that our children are able to feel safe and held through the variables of a traveling job and the unexpected.  They make me feel safer, too, and more content.  I'm really not all that upset about being homebound and traveling on foot for a few weeks.  I don't think I'll ever forget Willow's joy over toast and warm milk.
impossibleway: (Lazure Mama)
Willow made up with the snow today and persistent prodding drove her outside. Within seconds, she was squealing with delight at the white world around here. The snow is still deep, but the warm sun has changed the powder to the perfect kind of snow for sledding. We played outside for a long time, with Willow really putting her whole body into the work of play. We're inside now, with sleeping little ones, awaiting more snow tonight.

Sleeping

Here are some scenes from quiet time last week.  This book is an interesting read.  It's translated from German, so the title is a little awkward when compared with the contents.  It's a communication book, about how people listen and how we talk to each other, how we can be empathetic and equal in in our interactions.  Good stuff, but a tough read that will probably require multiple efforts.

Building

From last week to this, we've traded Lincoln Logs for Muffy Vanderbear.  Roan's wearing my pink overalls from when I was little, and his love of them is great.  He's sleeping with a pair of safety goggles.

Making the beds

Chores are traded for rest today, though I'll repeat the sheets routine tomorrow.  Time to cuddle up with another book and enjoy the quiet afternoon before the rowdiness that comes when Mike gets home from work.
impossibleway: (Winter Fields)
January 2015 nature tableI'm spending a lot more time with the computer turned off these days.  I don't feel like I'm drowning quite as often, either.  So, not too many links, and that's okay.  I did have a nature table picture to share, since I am so accustomed to doing that each month.  It really has become the children's space.

  • The Bear :: A sweet, seasonal verse.  We're doing a bear story this week and I think it is one of the favorites.  The children wanted it again right after I read it the first time.

  • Nature Table Collection :: Send your photos to this site and have them shared with others from around the world.  Here's one of mine from Advent.  This month's photo will appear there, as well.

  • The River :: Lovely illustrations.  I would like to see this book in person.

  • 11 Untranslatable Words from Other Cultures :: Fun list, numerous things that are joys in my life.

  • Great Gear to Keep Kids Warm :: Lots of good ideas here if you are looking to stay out all day with your children.  We have done well this year with our frugal versions.  I'll have to do a little write-up on it.

  • Felted Wool Boots :: I love felt shoes, love them.  These handmade ones look very nice!  When I was looking at Winter boots, I briefly considered them.  Maybe a refund expenditure. . .

  • Making a Giant Ojo de Dios :: This looks really neat and would be a nice way to use up little bits of yarn.  So, would EZ's Tam O Shanter, I read.

  • The Six-Year-Old Waldorf Kindergarten Year at Home :: This sums up nearly exactly what we are doing here with Enki.  I am loving kindergarten.

  • Seneca on the Shortness of Life :: Many good words here, a lot of what I am trying to work on this year, especially.

And now, time to turn off once more and preheat the oven for a German pancake. 

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