I have a guest post today at the lovely blog Gypsy Forest, talking about rhythm and time in summer. So hop on over
If you’ve never tasted it, let me be the first to tell you – elderflower champagne tastes like the nectar of the gods. It’s very mildly alcoholic and very fragrantly floral. Elderflowers are blooming right now here in western MA, so go pick a few (but remember to leave plenty to mature into fruits!) and make some for yourself. (I used this recipe as my guide.)
Here’s how it is at our house right now: I took a break from CSA work to make this nectar. Ben was outside at the pond, Ella was in the bathroom mixing up “fairy dust”, and Gabriel threw a nutty and then lay down on the hallway floor and fell dead asleep. Which is a pretty good view of our days.
Blessings on yours.
In our house, attitude correction tool #1 is doing chores.
I don’t know why I seem to need to learn many life lessons over and over (and over . . .) again before I really start to get the lesson. In this case, I have realized the magical powers of children’s chores, but slowly the realization slipped out of my mind. This time, I’m writing it down, in an effort to remember (and to share).
So here’s the heart of the matter: doing chores is awesome on so many levels. It’s good for me, as the main keeper of the home, because it helps ease me feeling overloaded. It’s good for all of us, because we get to live in a tidier space. It’s good for the kids long-term, because when they grow up they’ll be able to clean up after themselves. And perhaps most important to me right now, and the ones I keep foregetting: it’s good for all of us right now because doing a good amount of daily chores (about 30 minutes for my 7 year old) is a healing, positive, balancing act for the soul of the child.
Getting your children to do chores every day takes a fair amount of willpower and a lot of follow-through energy on the part of the parent, which is why I think it’s so easy (and frequent) to let things slip. Oh, they’re playing so nicely, I’ll just do it myself. Or, They’ll just complain and whine, I’ll just do it. Etc, etc.
What I find in our home, is that when my children aren’t actively participating in keeping our home clean, I hear a lot more whining, complaining, backtalk, and general bad attitudes. Yes, they complain, dawdle, get distracted, and generally try to disappear when I make them do chores. But. After just one or two days of enforced chore time, the bad attitudes get significantly reduced. Mercifully, beautifully reduced. It’s like the act of caring for the home takes them out of a hyper-ego state, and plants them a little more firmly here in this family, where we are connected together.
As far as enforcing goes, I keep it calm but extremely firm. Short, and to the point. Go get the broom. Now sweep the kitchen. No, we’re not petting the cat right now, finish sweeping. Good work. Now go get the dust pan. (And so on.) While they are cleaning, I am beside them doing chores that they can’t do yet, like cleaning sharp knives or high cabinets. After directing them in a chore or two, I will often give them a choice – you can wash dishes, or you can hang up the wet clothes. Like I said, there’s often grumbling at first, but it quickly dies down. I try to remember to sing, or at least hum while we’re working. (I don’t usually play music on the stereo, because it’s too distracting and loud – I forget to check in on them closely enough and then we’re lost!) Tonight, while washing dishes, my formerly grumpy daughter announced, “I love cleaning.” And I do, too.
Blessings on your weekend, friends, and happy Summer Solstice!
It’s nearly the summer solstice, and as usual I’m grumpy and underslept. It’s just the way it usually is for me this time of year . . . yes, the flowers are beautiful, the peas fresh from the garden are delicious, and our pond is nearly finished. It’s amazing, but this is usually a hard time of year for me. I don’t seem to be built for any sort of heat, and my brain doesn’t work terribly well above 70 degrees. I forget things – words, appointments, bills. Which is really annoying. And with all the bright light, the children seem to think bedtime is a joke, except it’s no joke to the grown ups who need time to ourselves that doesn’t start at midnight. (Yes, I have dark blinds in their bedroom which helps a bit.)
(Oh yes, I finished Ella’s Rapunzel hat – a lovely knit, and she’s completely uninterested, just like the sweater I made her. I’m about to give up entirely on knitting for her. Grrr.)
Well, that’s my grumpy post of the summer. And a big thanks to my Jojo, who reminds me to keep it real.
We (mostly) finished the pond in time for Ella’s birthday party last weekend – hooray! She wanted to start her day with birthday waffles, which is frankly a great idea. A lot of friends and family joined us to celebrate, and we had lovely weather. It was awesome, and exhausting. I think it’s been too long since we’ve thrown a party – we’re totally out of the habit.
We still have finishing touches to add to the pond – plants, the pump and skimmer, the water-heating setup for the hot tub (yeah!). But the major, back-breaking work is done, and we’ve gone swimming almost every day. Feeling very very lucky.
I’m starting to wake up to the fact that we’re in the aftershock stage of closing down our cafe. At the very start, once we’d made that difficult decision, we were pretty euphoric. At last, we thought, we’ll be able to do all the things we’ve been putting off! And some of them we got to right away, including working fiendishly on new projects, renovating the house, etc.
But I guess one of those things that I should’ve put on my “to-do list” was resting. Recovering. Recuperating.
After our trip to Charleston, the children spent a week or two with some serious aftershocks from the travelling – Ella had terrible fears of fire suddenly (no, there weren’t any fire-related incidents on our trip), especially at night. She was so scared she was physically ill, it was really intense, and so we all had a week or two of less sleep and no grown-up time. Thankfully, she seems to have recovered and settled back in to our house (phew!).
Ben has almost finished our natural swimming pool/pond. It’s amazing. I’ve been told that I can’t post any photos of it yet, because he wants it to be a surprise for some guests at Ella’s birthday party this weekend (she’ll be 7!). I think this has been his main recovery tool – doing something just because he wants to, something he’s created with his hands for the sheer pleasure and joy it will bring to our whole family for years to come.
For myself, I’ve been steadily plugging away tying up loose ends for the cafe, and working on the grain CSA, like putting in new milling stations around the Pioneer Valley. But I’ve been going at a much slower pace than usual. I’ve been reading a lot of books, not keeping an especially tidy house, letting Ben cook dinner, and generally being a lot lazier than usual. I’m still excited to work on all our new big plans (and so is Ben, I know) . . . just not yet. Right now, I think we’re all taking a big deep breath in, and enjoying the beauty of these first summery days. Sometimes the Valley is so beautiful it hurts.
Blessings on your week, friends.
Didn’t I do a post once about allowing ourselves to love what we love, to accept the ups and downs of our own energy and passions? I should really listen to myself more often.
I feel like I’m entering another level of this idea these days. It’s funny how sometimes we are so good at tricking ourselves, into thinking we don’t like something (or we do). It’s funny how every time I don’t have the energy/inspiration for housework, or cooking, or whatever, I start to immediately panic and try to buckle down, like Oh no, I’ll never want to do laundry again so I’d better just force myself to slog through it. And then a few days later, I’m happily loading the washer, humming.
If only I had let myself take a few days off from what I “had to do”, and saved a lot of struggle and frustration. As usual, I’m finding myself most out of sorts these days when I’m asking myself to do more than I can in a given situation, and then really overwhelmed by how much I’m asking myself to do. Perhaps I can start to ease up on myself.
by William Stafford
Next time what I’d do is look at
the earth before saying anything. I’d stop
just before going into a house
and be an emperor for a minute
and listen better to the wind
or to the air being still.
When anyone talked to me, whether
blame or praise or just passing time,
I’d watch the face, how the mouth
has to work, and see any strain, any
sign of what lifted the voice.
And for all, I’d know more — the earth
bracing itself and soaring, the air
finding every leaf and feather over
forest and water, and for every person
the body glowing inside the clothes
like a light.
It’s been a good week, and a hard week. Looking back over photos and reflecting, I think there’s been a lot of growing happening, and growth can hurt. Just ask our almost-7 child, who has lots of growing pains, tooth pains, fears and anxiety, etc. On the farm, we planted strawberries into our cardboard mulch in front of the hoophouse. We finished putting up the trellising for Ben’s hops plants (we screwed a board waaaay up high on the house, with hooks on it and ran twine up and back down). We picked a lot of rocks, which is probably the most frequent springtime farm chore around here. We started shooting a video about making wholegrain sourdough bread (exciting!). And we settled back into home after being away. I’m still on my yoga mat every day (I practice while the kids are eating their breakfast, and then I eat mine). Tomorrow is the farmer’s market, and a little carnival is set up on the town commons – the kids are beside themselves with excitement. I’ve always avoided it, but it looks like this is the year we’ll go, and you know what? I’m kinda excited to try the bungee-trampoline jumping gizmo. I think some jumps and flips would do me good. After all, the children aren’t the only ones growing.
Blessings on your weekend.
P.S. The kids keep stealing my camera to take photos – one of them caught this rainbow in front of our blossoming cherry tree!
I had two different home comings this month.
First, we went to Charleston, SC to visit my mother in the house where I spent the latter half of my childhood. We got very lucky in Charleston, and were able to spend almost every day on Folly Beach. (Our one rainy day was spent at the Aquarium, which was amazing.). The children had so much fun playing in the sand, and Ella turned out to be a natural at body surfing. I ate shrimp at almost every meal. A lot had changed, and so many things were the same – the smell of the pluff mud in the marsh, the same feeling of sand and staying out in the sun too long.
Over the winter, I hurt my sacrum (jogging – note to self: jogging is not for you), so for many months I couldn’t do much yoga at all. Many of the poses that are staples in my practice, even “easy” poses like Downward Dog or Child’s Pose, aggravated my injury so I had to avoid them. I did this back healing sequence dozens of times, but that was about it.
But in the last few weeks, I have finally healed and started to slowly, cautiously, try out poses that I have done for months. As part of a desire to feel better overall, I’ve renewed my daily practice (yes, I even took my yoga mat on our trip). I felt very creaky and stiff at first, but after about 10 days of solid daily practice I am starting to feel the beautiful flow of it again. I’m excited to try some poses I’ve never done before, including learning headstand at last, so I can play like this.
Blessings on your week, friends. (By the way, if you’re a mother, or you might be someday, please take a few moments to see this – real photos of real mothers. So beautiful and inspiring!)
(Joining Ginny for Yarn Along, sharing knitting and reading.) I’ve almost finished this Rapunzel hat for Ella – a great pattern. Super simple, looks way harder than it actually is, and knits up crazy fast because the yarn is so thick. Ben and I have been reading Amsterdam: A History of the World’s Most Liberal City together, and it’s totally fascinating. No, it’s not just about marijuana and prostitution. Amsterdam, it turns out, has been at the center of pretty much everything that shapes the modern world, from the fall of the Catholic/Roman empire, the East India Trading Company, the world’s first stock market, and more. Really well done and a serious amount of history, from an angle I’ve never considered before.
I thought I’d share a little list of some of the books Ella and I have most enjoyed reading together this year (we’re doing first grade at home). We’re not strictly Waldorf, but I do find the Waldorf Student Reading List to be a great guide for age-appropriateness. Here are the ones we read & loved the most & please feel free to share your recommendations, too!
The Milly-Molly-Mandy Storybook
More Milly-Molly-Mandy (Storybook classics)
The Book of Fairy Princes
The Tales of Tiptoes Lightly
The Festival of Stones: Autumn and Winter Tales of Tiptoes Lightly
A Donsy of Gnomes, 7 Gentle Gnome Stories
Grandmothers’ Stories: Wise Woman Tales from Many Cultures