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The Apprentice (A World More Beautiful)

"The child has come to us as an apprentice.  She looks to us to teach her about the art and science of living in this world.  Sadly, the apprenticeship way of learning is slowly disappearing from our life-style.  The loss is great because is provided for many important lessons in living.  It made it all right not to know how to do something.  It acknowledged that skills had to be learned from a crafstman and then practiced.  It taught caring for, not just using things.  It showed that being good at something did matter and that it took time and practice. . ."

Rose PetalsMiss Rumphius is a story where its namesake implores her niece to do three things--see faraway places, live by the sea, and make the world more beautiful.  The little girl doesn't know yet how she will accomplish the last task.  I suppose many of us would not know how to answer that question.  It is a tricky one, and certainly quite subjective.  After all, Miss Rumphius plants quite a lot of flowers seeds--that's not for everyone to undertake.  I can hardly read that book without feeling emotional at its end and thinking about my own answer to that question.

I've just finished reading Parenting a Path Through Childhood.  It's a small, rather unknown book that was first published the year before I was born.  Its words echo thoughts I have had and have read many times--children need time to grow, they learn from us how to be in the world, the world has a lot of materialism, and it is up to us to discern what is true and beautiful and teach it to our children.  It, too, suggests that we make the world more beautiful and that the simplest (but not easiest!) way to do this is by parenting.  I could not agree more.

It was suggested to Mike that I get a job so that we could have more disposable income, to do things like travel more frequently.  I had a chuckle at it, I'll admit.  The suggestion was offered by someone who has a fairly opposite lifestyle to our own.  We value our time here more than our money.  It gets what we need and sometimes what we want.  We do often have to squeeze as much out of it as we can, but we've got skills that help with that.  The book mentions the idea of children being apprenticed to their parents.  Oh, it's a good one.  I can say that I had that kind of childhood.  I moved on to my own life knowing how to cook, sew, bake, can, knit, crochet, and garden.

The cost of childcare alone would negate the purpose of working for that extra income.  I would rather work to send my children to a private school, which is not an option here.  Really, I am absolutely doing what I want to be doing with my life right now.  I'm not Ranger Brandy, but that ship has sailed.  Maybe it will come back, looking a little differently.  I do look at others, from time to time, and feel a little left out.  All that melts away when I consider that I get to be with my children all the time, something that most people consider a luxury (or drudgery).  We make it work, financially and logistically, living on a prayer.

I still maintain the belief that Willow needs to be home and that the public school environment is not for her.  I think she would have a certain amount of fun with it, but I think being here, being among people of all ages and abilities, is far more nourishing for her.  My children get to see people doing real work quite often and they get to see life in all its stages.  Birth and death have been shown to them as natural processes.  I've never said that I want my children to be the smartest or best or for them to have an "edge."  Really, I want them to be whole, balanced, creative people that are capable of taking on the twists and turns of life adeptly.

I'm not trying to brag or claim perfection--our lives are far from that.  We argue, we cry, we worry, but we also bloom where we are planted and make that rose syrup lemonade.  This life is right for us, partly because it is ours and we are living it and partly because we choose to take and make joy.

"What is in the child's environment will be internalized by him.  The formed and consistent environement will become and inner structure.  The caring she has been given will become an inner caring.  As she becomes an adult, what she has internalized from her environment, she will be able to put back into the world in a heightened way.  If she had the opportunity to experience the attitude of devotion, a reverence for nature, mutual respect and morality, she will have the opportunity to develop her own capacities for love and wisdom."
~Parenting a Path through Childhood

Here

Whitsun Nature TableAnother week, another trip away from home.  This time it was two nights in suburban Atlanta with Mike's family.  We travel so rarely and to do it twice in a month is quite a lot for us.  We had a lovely visit with blakdove while we were there and her family was so kind to us.  The six children had a wonderful time playing together and the grownups were wonderful at hospitality--they gave us unlimited bacon and sent me home with the grease (and bay leaves)!  It is a special thing to visit like that on our trips down South, a treat for me during a time when city life overwhelms me.

Coming home today was hard: inadequate rest for everyone, getting off our routines, being in a car for a long time (with lots of breaks to run around).  There is almost always the crash and burn after spending time away.  It does strengthen my resolve, though.  Housework felt easy in someone else's kitchen, so I need to maintain that attitude here.  Working to include all the parts of our weekly and daily rhythms feels more possible, too.  I must admit that I have let artistic work slip a bit, but Roan is napping less and I think we can devote part of quiet time to painting and modeling.

I guess I feel like I have to collect everyone again and refocus our energies on the work and play that nurtures us most.  I've been reading various books about parenting and children and one thing that has stood out is discipline.  The idea of self-discipline, which I've mentioned before, and that a solid rhythm and disciplined adult really negates conventional authoritarian methods.  I can definitely agree to that.  Children who feel good [and safe and nurtured and are able to move  and feel useful] do good.  Susan, those words will carry me for years to come.

Views from Here :: Oops!

Carrie and I had been planning to make rose petal jelly for some time.
She said she had a good-smelling rose bush on her street that would go well with my vibrantly colored one.
We waited all Spring for them to begin blooming.
The children and I picked lots and lots of petals from both bushes.

Rose Syrup

The resulting juice was very nicely perfumed and colored and I set to work turning it into jelly.
When the last of the jars were sealed and cooling, Roan asked about the little paper package on the counter.
The SureJell and it never went into the jelly.  Rose petal syrup, it is!

Rose Syrup

blakdove suggested adding it to club soda and so we did that.
It made a lovely soda for us flower enthusiasts, so not all is lost.
I might try to make some highly civilzed sweet tea with it, too.

Crafting On :: The Children's Year

I purchased a used copy of The Children's Year recently, and what a wonderful source of inspiration it is! I've already made several things from it and Mike made something really special.  We'll start with his weekend project.

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The Camp, or play frames.
These are fairly hard to find in the US, so this project was very welcome!

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This was a thrifty project, around $20.
I sewed the curtains and crocheted the string hinges.

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It's light, portable and easy to use.
It takes the place of chair houses, which have been terribly frustating for Willow.
Really, it can be anything at all--a fence, walls to a tent, the sides of a ship, you name it.
The more time passes, the more we love toys that aren't any one thing in particular.

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I made this sweet little popover apron for Laurel from the book.
It was hard to get her holding still in it.

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Here it is, holding still.
It was very easy to make and hem.
I am oddly enjoying curved hems lately.
I am certain I will make others, in addition to the sleeved smock pattern offered in the book.

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And one last thing-- a mob cap for Willow to match this dress I made just befor our trip.
Both turned out very well and I think I will make more for Autumn.

For more crafting, visit Frontier Dreams!

Lumberjacks

Chop, chop, woodcutters
Chopping, down the trees
Swinging, swinging, axes
With blades so bright and keen.

Push and pull, the sawyers
Sawing down the trees
Back and forth the toothy blades
Cut the branches free.

Hoist and haul, the lumberjacks
Marching through the trees
Stomping through the tall grass,
Up above their knees.

Drag the logs to river bank
And push them one by one
Now riding on the rivers back
To build a brand new home.


~Enki Kindergarten Movement

Woodpile

This would be how I gave myself tennis elbow week before last.  Roan and I said our Enki verse over and over as we moved the wood--he loves the lumberjacks and hoisting and hauling.  Mike and I always have our eyes open for free wood and this pile was in sight of our home.  We each moved half and now we have plenty.  I think he'll have a good handle on splitting wood by the time he get to the end of it.  It will be good for emergencies and the backyard bonfire.  Some was made into a few tree cookies for the children, one of which will become a gnome home as part of our kindergarten woodworking.

Home Again

Hamner HomeplaceWe got home Friday, just before supper time.  It was nice to have a change of scenery, though home is really the place to be with young children (and I missed my own bed, too).  We thought it would be warmer in the Other Virginia, but it was just as cool, topping out around 65° in downtown Charlottesville.  It made me glad I packed sweaters for the children and a hat for Laurel.

The Walton's Mountain Museum was waaay out in the country, near the actual Hamner homeplace.  It was a clearly a labor of love, with lots of memorabilia and local flavor.  We didn't go in actual house, since that was yet another fee, but it was enough to see the outside.  It reminded me a little of our trip to the Whistle Stop Cafe with Ginger.  The Waldorf school was very nice, very idyllic.  The ladies there were very friendly and one even knew our town and some people here.  The children enjoyed playing outside there and seeing all the rubber boots lined up by the classrooms.  Willow said, "It's just like in the video!"  We spent the rest of Friday morning in downtown Charlottesville and had lunch before heading home.  On the way, we stopped in Buchanan for a blueberry buckle break.  Mike and the children also walked on a suspension footbridge across the James River.  I walked on it only a little, as there was a limit to the number of pedestrians that could be on it.  It swayed a little, but the children weren't scared at all.

Roan had a marvellous time the whole trip and Willow just wanted to be home.  Routine is really important for her and is the main thing that keeps her in good sorts. Oh, we had our anniversary meal at Waffle House and it was really good.  The children had their first Waffle House waffles and gobbled them up.  I had a BLT and hashbrowns.  Makes me hungry thinking about it.  Better pre-heat the oven for breakfast.  Oh, and we're having Family Building Day today.  I'm so excited!

Ten







I remembered, recently, that Mike and I were married on the Appalachian Trail.  I forgot, truly, in all these years since that day.  Boy, I feel silly.  It's clear that I don't live in the past much, except when I think about my waist size on that day.  Even more clear is that I'm not keeping the right things in perspective. ;-)  But really, I'm so future-minded, bless my heart, that I often forget the special times in my life.  It makes me all the more thankful for this little space that I've been writing in for nearly nice years.  Nine!

So, ten years.  Goodness, that's a long time when you're thirty-one.  Over a third of my life with Mike and it is hard to believe.  Things were so fresh and new and Springy that day.  It had been cold the week before and I wondered if I would wear long underwear under my dress.  I woke and went to get a hair cut and a massage by myself that day.  The women at the spa commented how calm I was.  I look nearly depressed in some of the pictures of the ceremony, but really, I was just at peace with the new place we were going.  As anxious of a person as I am (and boy, has this week been hard), I didn't feel that on my wedding day.  I think that is what was the big difference with Mike that had been present in other relationships--the anxiety.  I was excited to see him, always, but never nervous.

I am trying reach back to that time lately, to remember those early days.  They were special, for sure, when our lives were so simple.  We picked berries and collected nuts and took long walks.  All we owned was in the loft of my parents' garage.  I sewed my cloth napkins there at the top of the stairs.  Those are the ones that wipe little hands and faces now.  The green that the room was is now the color of our bedroom in the home we have shared for nine years now.  We were "rangers" then, working in the woods and wondering about the future, but still so glad to be in the moment.

This past year has been hard, I won't lie.  I haven't really said much about most of it, but I will say now that I think the dark times are lifting.  We are finding our own way out of the fog.  Years and years of poverty, seven years of bearing and nursing and raising children.  Ups and downs of employment.  It's been a lot, even with a heart toward voluntary simplicity.  It's still a lot, but we are getting better at treading water (which I cannot do in real water).  We're going on our first vacation in five years today.  I know that's naughty to say on the internet, but we'll be back tomorrow.  Don't steal my books.  All five of us will load up and go to the Walton's Mountain Museum and the Charlottesville Waldorf School.  We are beyond excited.  I'm looking forward, as I am so good at doing, to the years ahead.

Here's the blessing offered at our wedding:

May the silence of the hills,
The joy of the winds,
The peace of the fields,
The music of the birds,
The fire of the sun,
The strength of the trees,
And the faith of you--
In all of which is God--
Be in your hearts.

~The Appalachian Trail :: Ronald Fisher, NGS 1972



And now, well, I think I'll make a blueberry buckle for breakfast and the road, which I apparently did on this day in 2013. See how glad I am to have it recorded here?

Views from Here :: Tiny Toes

Roan"s Toes in the Rainbow Wrap

There are times that I can hardly remember the babies that have grown into young children.  Really, as silly as it sounds.  It wasn't that long ago, but it has still escaped me.  If I didn't take pictures and fill in baby books and record it here, I wonder how much I would recall.  I was here for every moment.  There is little that I missed and still, I wish I had taken in more.  Last week, I saw Roan's feet climbing a tree and remembered this picture from when he was so very new and fresh from Heaven.

Roan Toes

The Fish Trap

The Fish Trap

"Now you see, Laura," said Pa.  "The fish will come over the falls into the trap, and the little ones will go out through the cracks, but the big ones can't.  They can't climb back up the falls.  So they'll have to stay swimming in the the box till I come and take them out."

At that very minute a big fish came slithering over the falls.  Laura squealed and shouted, "Look, Pa, look!"

Pa's hands in the water grabbed the fish and lifted him out, flopping.  Laura almost fell into the waterfall.  They looked at that silvery fat fish and then Pa dropped him into the water again.

~ "The Fish Trap" :: On the Banks of Plum Creek :: Laura Ingalls Wilder

In the Garden

Leaf to leaf, root to root, seed to seed.
May all that we have be all that we need.

~The Return of the Light
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You have to love all the fledgling garden pictures this time of year.  Sure enough, here are mine.  I've had three separate gardening injuries (add mild tennis elbow to the list now), so it seems fitting that I should write a little about our efforts this year.  We've certainly ramped it up for the first time in many years, though our garden is still small.

Mike and I both worked hard at clearing off "Triangle Field," a terrible spot where the weeds have always, always taken over so badly.  We are not good weeders, but that has changed.  This is where I hurt my back and made my legs so sore.  I moved the rhubarb out of the raised bed and mulched heavily with grass clippings.  This helped them survive the heatwave.  I also planted the pumpkins, cucumbers, watermelon and squash here.  I've even been adventurous enough to plant a sunflower by the cucumbers to give them something to climb!

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I made the admission that my strawberry patch was really pathetic and covered it all over in weed fabric and more grass clippings.  We'll start fresh there next year, along with rebuilding another raised bed that is, well, sad.  It grows some nice asparagus, though.  Mike's little cherry tree bit the dust, thanks to the deer, so we will have to order two more, since that was the plan all along.  In happier news, I planted basil, lettuce, onions, carrots, marigolds, calendula, and radishes.  A nice little salad garden in the good raised bed.  The raspberries are blooming and the grapes look pretty good, having no frost damage.  The blueberries have set their fruit, along with the currant bush.  Tomatoes are growing in the sun by the chimney, hoping to avoid blight.

Somewhere along the way last year, I learned that having young children is not the best excuse for leaving things in a state of disorder.  Since children have no filters and mirror the world around them, I find it best to work busily and cheerfully.  And I have willing helpers!  So, I've got a rotating schedule of house and garden work for each month, which keeps things from getting out of hand.  Which is what was going on in the raspberry patch.  I spent two days, in small parts, clearing out tall grass and dead canes.  Oh, it looks so much better now.  And I found a nymph tick on me, so that was delightful.  Made me clear that tall grass even faster!

Our yard is surrounded by the fishing line fence now, you may recall.  It has been a success!  No deer are getting in to eat our edibles.  It has been easy to maintain, as long as I don't catch it with the lawn mower.  Then, it's easy to repair, and very cheap!  We did nearly all of our yard for about $100, including very sturdy metal fence posts.  And with that, I think I'm going to sneak out and do a little watering before everyone wakes up.  Sure wish it would rain.

Screen-Free Home Views

Last week was largely about improving my focus here.  I feel pulled in so many directions all the time, that I needed to take one of those variables out so I could see more clearly.  I still felt overwhelmed a lot of days, I won't lie.  There's no way around it when you are the only adult most of the week, day and night, but I am getting better at that.  I think this week has been the best yet, knock on wood.

Let's see what last week was made of.

Sewing

There was the slow, diligent sewing of Willow's new vest and skirt.
I made an effort to work on it only when I could give it most of my attention.
I think it turned out really well!

May Nature Table

The May nature table.
Our home flower garden is keeping the children busy with picking.
I sprinkled in a lot of annual seeds and crossed my fingers.
We'll see what happens.  Some rain would be nice.

Morning Sun

The morning sun in the children's room.
I really don't mind to make bunkbeds.
It helps that one side of the top bunk is open, the side to the wall.

Diapers Again!

Diapers and I reunited week before last, on the day my back went out.
The tie nappies are the ones we have now--the old kissaluvs went out in the trash.
After six years and three children, their synthetic fiber content was holding onto odors terribly.
They'd smell fresh after washing and not after wearing. Enough of that!
I didn't even want to inflict them on someone else by giving them away.

The Tiny Airplane

Roan's ever-present tiny airplane.
I think he made this back last summer.
How we've kept up with it is a mystery to me.

Washing Woolens

Washing woolens to store (and use).
I sealed them up in ziploc bags like I should this time.
Laurel's shirts that I sewed for Roan have a fair amount of holes.
Willow's shirts are two different colors, oddly,
and the one on the left had a small hole and some peculiar stains.
Makes me wonder if she wrestled a bear in it.
I love Sonett gall soap for getting out stains.

Pound Cake

I made my first pound cake using some really nice eggs.
I've become a home-raised egg connoisseur.
These had yolks so dark they were almost red!

Strawberries

The strawberries came in, so we made our annual trip to get them.
These were some of the best yet, only three bad berries in the whole lot.
Most went into the freezer for smoothies, but we ate our fair share on that pound cake.

Doughnuts

I made doughnuts from the Little House Cookbook.
Boy, were these tasty and easy! Some even did self-turn like the ones Almonzo's mother made.
I'll perfect my technique on future endeavors. What I loved most was that it was a quick dough--no rising!

On the Littlest Girl

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.

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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.

Crafting On

Boy, it's been a long time, hasn't it? It seems I can work dawn till dusk many days and have very little time to sit down.  I sit when I eat or nurse Laurel Mae.  I made some progress last week, though, out of pure determination.  Screen-free week taught me how little I need to be using a computer.  Life with three little ones is tremendously full, no matter how you look at it.  It won't always be this way, of course, and I will long for these days someday, so I am trying to hold onto them while they are here.  All that said, on with the crafting.  For the little ones, of course!

Tomten Jacket

The Tomten Jacket is coming along nicely, several months in.
All I need to do is finish the sleeve, seam them up, and put in a zipper.
Let's see if I can finish it by Memorial Day.  Haha.

Skirt and Vest

Here's a sweet outfit for Willow using an old See & Sew pattern I got eight years ago.
I got the fabric at a yard sale and it worked out nicely.
I got to exercise all my skills--gathers, tracing paper, basting, sewing a lining, invisible hems, mattress stitches.
Pardon the wrinkles.  Willow has been wearing in a lot and I dried it on the line.

Night Pants

Here are some recycled pants I made for Roan.
Old men's pajama pants, of course.
Now he can dress for bed, just like daddy.
Willow's got a women's nightgown waiting to be altered, along with another old pattern.

For more crafting, visit Frontier Dreams.

Lady's Slipper Views

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Sickness filled the land with sorrow
She could not wait until tomorrow


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So she traveled, hour on hour
And in each step bloomed a moccasin flower.

~Enki Kindergarten


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The people of the village gave the little girl her name, “Wah-Oh-Nay,” or “Little Flower,”
because although she was as strong as a bear, fast as a rabbit, and smart as a fox,
she was also as lovely and rare as the wild moccasin flower.


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We read the Legend of the Lady Slipper last week and what perfect timing it was! I don't think I will forget the timing of the blooms from here on out. As I mentioned yesterday, we took about five hikes to visit the one pink flower and watch it grow (and figure out what it was!). The yellow lady's slippers are part of a colony we have visited before, just off a roadside. They have survived significant construction in that area and I am in wonder of their continued presence. The children had a wonderful time exploring and searching for them, bending close to give them a good sniff. They love to smell flowers this year and it has been a wonderful chance to slow down. Lady's Slippers do smell lovely.

Screen-Free Hikes

All our hikes are screen-free, of course, but these are some from the past week.  I guess you could call this a test at forest kindergarten.

I feel like slowly easing back into my computer use.  It was so nice to be away and life was so full in the past week.  It had a way of making certain that I understood that I don't really have much time to spend sitting in front of any kind of screen, anyway.  I did miss recording it in this journal, though, and I think I will try to put more effort into this space and less into others.

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Here's the lake last Sunday.  Spring comes slowly in the wild-ish places.

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Willow is very excited about bonnets and lacy dresses lately.
The Little House books influence here a lot these days.
It is so nice to see that happen, instead of what things were like when we watched more frequent television.

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Fiddleheads along the lake trail.
In fact, all of these are along the lake trail.
We hiked it over and over, just a small piece, to check on a lady's slipper.

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Anemones.

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Some of the last trilliums.

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A pink lady's slipper waking up.

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The local flock of vultures.
We found them lined up along fence posts on our way to the trailhead.
While you just see one here, there were more than a dozen.
Here's the show-off of the group.
This one seems to be missing some tail feathers and I bet they are at my house.

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Over the bridge again, dolls in tow.

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Picking flowers.
A lovely bouquet that it is, we did have to have a talk about picking flowers in parks.

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Our sweet girl.

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Moss in the sun.

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Our final hike, probably the fourth trip, with daddy.
He wanted to see the lady's slipper, too.
I'll share photos tomorrow--we've found many!
I might make one more trip back today.

The View from Here :: Early Harvest

The First Rhubarb

First rhubarb yesterday, just as I used up last year's in two pies.  I've got plans for rhubarb jelly this year, a good way to use up those enormous stalks.  Of course, we don't care too much around here--we use it all (well, excepting the poisonous leaves and roots).  And with that, I'm taking a break for Screen-Free Week.  I'll see you all next Sunday!

Let Colored Ribbons Fly

May Baskets

Tra-la-la, tra-la-la, tra-la-la, tra-la-la,
Tra-la-la, tra-la-la, tra-la-la –la.
Hi-diddle dee, hi-diddle dee,
come join me, come join me,
Hi-diddle dee, hi-diddle dee,
come join me please.


On our door

We’re dancing, we’re dancing around the Maypole high,
In colors of the rainbow our ribbons do fly,
Dear children take a ribbon please,


Next door

Today May flowers all are we,
Around, around, around,
A garland do we weave.


All done

Now we go round the Maypole high, maypole high, maypole high.
Now we go round the maypole high, let colored ribbons fly, let colored ribbons fly.


Dancing

See girls and boys go skipping by, skipping by, skipping by.
See girls and boys go skipping by, let colored ribbons fly, let colored ribbons fly.


~Enki Festival Songs

All done

It was cool for our first May Day.  My back is feeling mostly better, so we did a few things to celebrate.  We used our huge stack of watercolor papers to make simple baskets and filled them with flowers from the yard.  We didn't deliver them under the cloak of night.  We personally gave one to Enid and she was most happy to receive it. I honestly don't know how much longer she will be with us, so we are trying to visit as much as we can.

I wasn't up for a full-on Maypole, so we did a little one with the gnome family.  I figure we have many years ahead to sort out celebrations, which ones we want to do and the scale at which we will observe them. I chuckle to see the little gnomes all having beards, since they now sell ones that don't have them. It's more fun with them, though.  I loved the blurry picture of the gnomes with their pole, since it looked almost as if they were moving!

Happy start of Summer, whether it's warm or cool where you are!

Work and Play (and Rest) in Early Childhood

Girls runningI sat in the sun in the yard today.  Tailor sitting on the warm grass suited my lower back well.  Laurel brought me dandelion stems that had shed their seeds.  I knitted while Roan and Willow ran foot races in the yard.  They picked dandelions whose seeds had not yet opened and "painted" things with them.  It was a golden few minutes when things all worked out.  Then Laurel started to wander outside the yard again and climb some stairs at a neighbor's house.  My back and lunch preparations called me back inside.

My back went out yesterday, along with my left hip.  I don't know what I did, but I guess it was a combination of too much everything.  Too much nursing in the night, too much pulling heavy things in the garden, just too much.  Yesterday was not very productive, to be certain, and some very kind people brought us meals.  That was so nice.  I took a hot bath, sat with a water bottle, and dug out the heating pad.  As the day went on, it got easier, but I still felt disappointed about having to take the day off.  Today I am still sore, but things are better.  I can stand up straight now and walking around the store to get milk and things made me feel the most normal, oddly.

Lately, I've been reading Work and Play in Early Childhood. It's a short read, but I have short moments to read sometimes. I've enjoyed it, no less, and I love the way some concepts are described in the book that are decidedly missing from other impressions of kindergarten. One is the idea of a mantle (the protective kind, like a cloak) and the multiple ways an adult fills this role. Sure enough, the children like to be near me when I work, doing their own thing. When I was stuck on the sofa, Willow took care of me and opened her "Comfy Store" with lots of blankets and pillows, all for free. So, while I felt bad about being less able than usual, I could see that we still had the strength to bend and meet the temporary challenge.

For now, it seems I must have a chair house built around me while the little ones sleep.  Let's see if I can orient myself toward the side of the couch and my heating pad!

Four

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.
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.

Again to the Woods

A certain little boy just turned four a few minutes ago and Willow is having the hardest time just letting him sleep.  She wants to make his hot chocolate right now and get going on the day.  If there's anything I've learned over the past few years, it is that birthdays need more rest than other days.  They are just entirely too exciting.  Here are some photos of our most recent hike to help us wait.

On the trail

Mike's parents came to visit this past weekend and I went with his mother to see the trilliums along Big Tumbling Creek again.  I let Laurel walk this time and the children all wore their matching rain boots (sense the foreshadowing here).  Laurel happily toddled all the way to the end of the trail.  I don't think that I've ever actually had her walk until she was done and this was no exception.

Jack in the Pulpit

Different flowers were blooming now, two weeks later, and I saw numerous Jack in the Pulpits.  Or Jacks in the Pulpit?

Rain Boots

Laurel checked out her boots and felt angry that I sat her on this rock so near the edge of everything so very interesting.  The rushing waters and giant rocks meant she had to go on my back once we reached the creek.

Large Flowered Trillium

Gratuitous trillium picture.  Word is, they turn pink when they've been pollinated.

At the water"s edge

Oh, it was nice.  The weather could have been easily rainy and cold, but it wasn't.

Tomten Hat

Up at the lake, it was even nice.  Here's a tomten hat I made for Roan.  I guess I need to make one for Willow, too.

Partridge Berries

The rains have been good to the partridge berries and such fat ones we have never seen!  Willow found the mother lode and the children gobbled up so many and fed them to Mike's mom.  This is where we were parted with one of Laurel's rain boots, unbeknownst to us.

Arriving back home with just one, we all drove up there again after Mike's parents left yesterday. It was cold and wet and windy then and a storm in the night had changed the stream into something quiet different, even stronger than normal. Sure enough, there was the little boot laying in the moss by the very spot Willow found all those berries. We scurried back to the warmth of our car and headed home.

Now, to get ready for Roan to wake up and find his birthday gifts!

And just for fun, I'll link up with Frontier Dreams and Crafting On.  It's been awhile!

A Blessed Wilderness

It was just like being in heaven, being in there. In those days there was no road. The park was all a blessed wilderness. I have often thought what a wonderful people we would have been if we had wanted to keep it that way.

~Adolph Murie, biologist, on Denali


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