A Lot of Walks

Posted in Family, homeschooling, mothering/mother's circle on November 9th, 2014 by adrie — 4 Comments

mountains

levee

secretgarden

oakthrone

 

Still here, though quiet these days.  Mostly, I’m busy in the days with homeschooling Ella (2nd grade), my own herbal studies, and general mothering/homekeeping.  By night I’m so tired that I go to sleep with the kids, or possibly read a little.  But I do miss this space, so ehre I am.  My big camera has been mia, so the only photos I take these days are when I’m out on walks, using the camera phone.  I am taking a lot of hikes, which I’m very grateful for.

I’ve been thinking a lot about this old post on striving and perfection – perhaps I’m starting to really understand it myself, and loosen the tight grip on myself.  I am trying to learn how to relax.

In school, our favorite book so far has been the Secret Garden (Ella’s drawing above is Mary and Dickon on the moor).  What a wonderful story, full of light.  It captured Ella immensely (and me, too!).  We planted some bulbs in the new forest garden, and I started a rock spiral in the middle, where herbs will be planted next spring.  We’re working on reading, and math, and our best learning (and most enjoyable) seems to come through games.  I’ve used Games for Math and Games for Reading a lot, and made up my own using their ideas.  This fall Ella has started to really be able to balance on a two-wheel bike, and even to pedal, and at the same time seems really ready for math and reading – so interesting to see that come true, just as many in the Waldorf community say it will.

We were both ready for a break, though, so last week we were on “school vacation”.  Ella cheered when I told her.  I’ve added an Adventure Day to our week, also, and on Thursdays we go out to adventure.  Last week we went to visit the greenhouses at Smith College, which have plants from all over the world and all different ecosystems.  It was beautiful, and the kids loved it.

After realizing that I was knitting too small a size for her, and ripping out the entire yoke of Ella’s sweater, I have at last picked it up again, hoping to be done by Solstice.  This week is Martinmas, and I feel it is just the right time – to make lanterns for the darker evenings, to walk out under the stars, to gather donations for our brothers and sisters in need, and to tell stories of courage and bravery.  In a few weeks we start our heroines block, and I am getting excited about it.

Blessings on your week, friends.

 

What blazes the way

Posted in Herbal, poetry on October 10th, 2014 by adrie — 2 Comments

herbaloil

Just a little hello. In addition to homeschooling, and regular life, I’ve started taking an herbal course, which means that all my extra moments are spent on materia medica and stirring up potions. When I was a girl, I wanted to be a witch, and it turns out I was right. Wanted to share this with you, which I read for the first time the other day . . .

Skunk Cabbage
by Mary Oliver

And now as the iron rinds over
the ponds start dissolving,
you come, dreaming of ferns and flowers
and new leaves unfolding,
upon the brash
turnip-hearted skunk cabbage
slinging its bunches leaves up
through the chilling mud.
You kneel beside it. The smell
is lurid and flows out in the most
unabashed way, attracting
into itself a continual spattering
of protein. Appalling its rough
green caves, and the thought
of the thick root nested below, stubborn
and powerful as instinct!
But these are the woods you love,
where the secret name
of every death is life again – a miracle
wrought surely not of mere turning
but of dense and scalding reenactment. Not
tenderness, not longing, but daring and brawn
pull down the frozen waterfall, the past.
Ferns, leaves, flowers, the last subtle
refinements, elegant and easeful, wait
to rise and flourish.
What blazes the trail is not necessarily pretty.

September

Posted in poetry on September 30th, 2014 by adrie — 12 Comments

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Autumn – most beloved – I confess

I hardly noticed you

this year, until I took myself out

of the library

and into your forests.

You had begun glowing

without me,

and I knew at once this was one

of your gifts today -

knowing that each of us shines

though no one seems to be watching,

though it seems to be dark.

(c) Adrie Lester 2014

A Few Good Things

Posted in Family, Gratitude Friday, homekeeping, mothering/mother's circle on September 9th, 2014 by adrie — 3 Comments

dressupcorner

hopsdrying

squirrelsweater

tomatoes

Sometimes, when I am feel grumpy, I remember to pick up the camera and look around through new eyes to find something good.  It works really well – there is almost always something, once I open my eyes anew.  Here are a few good things from this week: hops drying, tomato harvests, homemade taco dinner, an almost-finished squirrel sweater, and a new dress-up corner.  Blessings on your week.  And if you didn’t see it yet, we share our absolute favorite pancake recipes (one is gluten free) over at localgrain.org

The First Week, & Things Get A Little Less Quiet

Posted in Family, Farming, homeschooling on September 2nd, 2014 by adrie — 3 Comments

sumac

This is our first week of second grade here at home.  I like to ease into the year a bit, and we’re starting with Native American creation stories, form drawing, and gardening.  On Mondays, we do baking & French.  The week started a bit ominously, with the toddler waking up for several hours (wide awake!) in the middle of the night on Sunday, and being quite a crabby pants on Monday.  I had a minor health scare (turned out to be nothing, thankfully), and had a few hours with an ugly nagging wondering, What if I have 6 months to live?  A young mother died in our neighborhood two years ago, and that definitely haunts me sometimes, really knowing that any one of us could suddenly be gone.  Despite the odd day Monday, we’ve had a lot of fun with school, which is just what I’d hoped.

The farm has been quiet(er) this year.  We sold our two ewes over a year ago to another small farm, and without sheep, pigs, chickens, or horse, life has been a lot quieter (and calmer).  Mostly, it was a quiet we really needed.  We’ve talked about getting ducks for years, and about possibly raising pigs or chickens again for meat.  This week, while going over our budgets, it was very clear to us that if we wanted to keep eating a moderate amount of meat, we had better start raising it ourselves again (eggs, too).  So, voila, suddenly it wasn’t a question of whether we wanted ducks right now or not, it was time.  Ducklings will be here in October, and baby chicks will be here by next week!  The chickens will be processed before the really cold weather gets here, and I think we’re going to build a little pen for the ducks in the basement until the harshest winter months pass, then we’ll move them out to the old chicken coop.

I feel rather excited, and invigorated, to have farm animals on the way.  The kids will be thrilled, of course, and I must say I sometimes miss my daily farm chores of hauling hay or grain, and checking water.  It is refreshing, sometimes, to be forced to go outside no matter what the weather is – vegetables can be ignored, but live animals cannot.

Blessings on your week, friends.

Knitting, Reading, & Such

Posted in Family, homeschooling, Knitting on August 27th, 2014 by adrie — 2 Comments

salsa

septemberplanning

knittingreading

(Joining Ginny for Yarn Along).

We start homeschooling next week, with the start of September.  After a stretch of very cool days, and the wonderful earlier nightfalls, I’m really feeling it.  The urge to organize, to clean the nooks & crannies, to get started on the next phase.

I’m nearly done with Gabriel’s adorable squirrel sweater, and this is the start of Ella’s bright pink Honey cardigan.  A good time of year for knitting, to be sure.

We’re starting our second grade year with Native American creation stories & animal stories, including ones from On the Trail Made of Dawn, and Native American Games & Stories.  It’s also a great month for many beautiful children’s books, including Rough-Face Girl, All the Colors of the Earth, and My Granny Went to Market: A Round the World Counting Rhyme.

I’m also really excited about, and going to be using a lot from, the two books Games for Reading and Games for Math.  how did I not know about these gems before?  I don’t know, but I’m happy to have them now.

In other news, our tomatoes have been a little slow to get cranking, but I put up the first batch of salsa today.  Very satisfying.  I also pruned the raspberries this week – the first time EVER that I’ve actually done it in the fall, when you’re supposed to.

The Quilt

Posted in Sewing on August 22nd, 2014 by adrie — 8 Comments

 

 

quilt

quiltcloseLast week, in a brief respite from toddler mania, I finished this quilt.  It took me a year and a half (most of that time spent folded up sitting idly on a shelf), but I did it.  I used up a lot of scraps – to keep it simple, I cut them in long strips using the width of my ruler as my template.  When I started piecing those strips together, and joining them into panels, I realized that an entire quilt of all small long strips would be very, very busy, so I added the larger panels (fat quarters sewn together – again, keeping it simple).  I also thought I would tie this quilt at first, but after doing two squares I realized it was a ton of work and not what I wanted visually, so I ripped them out and machine quilted it.  This was a scary, new project for me, and I am quite pleased to have finished it.  Not to mention that the nights are getting cooler and our old quilt was completely falling apart, so it’s a good thing it’s done.

Grieving & Planning

Posted in Family, homeschooling, mothering/mother's circle, poetry on August 15th, 2014 by adrie — 4 Comments

sunflowerchildren

tomatosoup

Like many, we’ve been grieving this week for Robin Williams.  Personally, I’m heartbroken not just by his death, but by how much suffering he must have felt during his life, amidst all that joy and laughter he was bringing.  I think for any of us who are touched by depression and mental illness – either ourselves, or someone we love – it’s a shocking reminder of the abyss, of how powerful illness can be, how little we can know about another’s life.  To me, it’s also a powerful call to remember to find something good in the day, to love something right here and now.  To keep stepping into the light, and sharing it whenever possible.

We got a lot of rain earlier this week, and cool weather followed.  We had our first bowls of tomato soup, which was a treat.

 

At home, I’m deep in the thick of planning lessons for homeschool this year.  I suppose it’s time I fessed up that while we started with the Christopherus 1st grade curriculum (and mostly loved the first half of it), we stopped doing “lessons” in January.  Or rather, lessons (we were on math at the time) started feeling really forced and gross.  At first, I tried changing up my approach (changed from the squirrel math story in Christopherus to math gnomes), which was a little better, but it still just felt like me forcing material on her.  We were also in the midst of deciding to close our cafe at the same time, so I’m sure that was part of it.

But in the end, we finished the year in a completely open unschooled style.  I have a lot of respect for unschoolers, and agree with them in a lot of ways  – I think learning happens naturally (hello, walking, talking, etc), and that given a rich environment most children will thrive.  But I also love the way Waldorf presents a lot of the materials, and think they offer a depth that wouldn’t happen by accident.

So this year, I am planning my own Waldorf curriculum for second grade.  I’m using the fabulous outlines given by Mrs. M of the yahoo waldorfhomeeducators group (available free!), and also using a lot of ideas pulled from Pinterest, plus some of my own.  Usually second grade is centered around using animal fables and also stories of saints – personally, I feel our culture is already inundated with enough Christian stories (which is helpful if you’re Christian), so the main difference in our second grade is that I’ll be using secular heroes.

That’s what’s happening here.  Blessings on your week.  I’ll leave you with this poem, which keeps tugging at my sleeve, and even more so this week.

Once More

Shekinah, grant me
this grace: let these hands
shape dough once more,
let me be the one to light
the morning fire, to stir the pot of soup
with the big silver ladle.
Let me seek the blessings
you have hidden all around us
in plain sight.
Let me bend down once more
to lift the snowy cover
and grasp the crisp lettuce
heads, let me feel that cold
shock, saying You
are alive – now kneel down
and give thanks.

(c) Adrie Lester 2011

Being Here

Posted in Family, mothering/mother's circle on August 11th, 2014 by adrie — 3 Comments

fruittrees

swimmers

swimmers2

 

We all find ourselves, sometimes, longing for somewhere other than here. A different stage in our life, a different place, different people, different job, different culture surrounding us. After feeling pulled away, it is a relief to feel the pull back to here. To move from trying to figure out how to get there, to instead figuring out how to make right here a little more beautiful, or peaceful, or joyful. Today, I really enjoyed being here. I hope you find the same.

High Summer, or, The Toddler Fog

Posted in Family, Farming, mothering/mother's circle on August 1st, 2014 by adrie — 4 Comments

kaleharvest

blackrasp

rapunzelg

marsh

benoysters

High Summer.  The toddler is as crazy as the sun is hot, and if he wasn’t so gosh darn cute, I would have left him on someone else’s doorstep by now.  We had an amazing harvest of black raspberries, more kale than we know what to do with, and a trip to the ocean with family.

Basically we are lucky, lucky, lucky.  I know it, really I do, but the little one has been so nutty that I am plain worn out, and mostly my brain feels like a pile of mush.  I am walking through fog, faithful that somewhere under my feet is solid earth to walk on.  It will pass – I remember this well from my daughter, this was the age where I stopped working at the cafe entirely (For 6 months?  A year?) because I simply could not do it.

So, I’m setting down any expectations I have had about what I might accomplish in these next months.  Finishing the book?  Someday.  Finishing the so-close-quilt?  Someday, maybe soon, maybe not.  Finishing our painting projects?  Someday.  When I have spare moments, I do yoga, I knit a few stitches, I read light books.  I get a little peek through the fog, and then back in I go.

Blessings on your summer days, friends.