I don't know why it has taken me so very long to set up this space (I'm speaking of the window ledge...) in my house. Well, I do know that this window needs to be opened during much of the year (hello, old house with no ventilation system!) and this ledge is so tiny. But I'm putting my foot down. This need for mama-soothing is bigger than the need to easily throw open a window. I need this space to hold on to when my boat is sinking, when I'm being pulled under by the lashing current of mama-bear anger. Too often in the day, I'm finding myself faced with the demons that motherhood has exposed. I get angry. I get mean. I hold off from displaying this to my boys for too long and then I bust. And so, now this space, to help me remember. Shocking how we need such screaming reminders to tell ourselves to BREATHE.
When I'm feeling my top spin, or even when I don't notice in the slightest the simmering and brewing that is occurring, I step over to the sink to wash one more spoon and I see this reminder. I could come up with 200 such reminders, cliches, quotes but this one is working for me for now.
Perhaps a garland of beeswax-ed autumn leaves will grace this space tomorrow. Or perhaps that seasonal craft will slide one more day as I hum along, washing dishes, keeping calm and carrying on.
Little Sparrow, looking up at the stars last night, said "Touch.The.Stars." and reached up with his hands. His newest speech pattern is incredibly delightful. He says each word with such intention and persistence and between each and every word is this grunt, an exclamation, a pause to request additional attention to each.and.every.word.
We were at a bonfire party last night, a fundraiser for the outdoor waldorf school (that we no longer attend) and a live band played. It was in a backyard in our neighborhood and we all settled into blankets on the grass to eat soup and bread and pizza under the autumn sky, listening to our friends play sweet music, and later watch the sweetest bonfire light up our faces. A few marshmallows to sweeten the deal and then we popped back home for bed. It was cold, and we got to snuggle into our warm weather clothes.
My heart yearns for more connections and community gatherings like this. I mourn that it is so hard to find these moments, when I know they should be easy and many.
"We have gleaned our strength from the largesse and warmth of summer. Now as the year wanes, our souls expand. We are becoming the warmth of the summer for the autumn of Earth." Patsy Scala
This year I am following Rudolf Steiner's Calendar of the Soul. I've selected Patsy Scala's edition, with translations from Christopher Bamford. She has followed each weekly verse with a reflection and intention, and I can't say enough about how much much depth her words bring to each week's verse. I also like this edition for it's artwork, but the Scala's reflections are incredible and add so much to the experience.
I'm not an anthroposophist, although I read and take inspiration from it as we follow Waldorf education for our family. Most often I consider myself a "mystic atheist" and yet I am finding such incredible strength and inspiration from Steiner's weekly verses. Rudolf Steiner wrote these verses as a meditative tool to follow and find connections in the changing seasons of the year. It is guiding my days at home with the children, not exactly homeschooling (yet), but more an intentional "heart-warming" effort. Here is a taste;
"Penetrating to the depths of my being,
A yearning filled with prescience
Incites me, beholding myself, to find myself
As the gift of the summer Sun that,
Like a seed, heating up in this autumn mood,
Lives as my soul's powerful impulse."
The autumn winds have been blowing and blustering about as I find myself super charged to organize and redesign our living space, declutter and purge. Our upstairs that goes empty most of the days has been restructured as the new craft and homeschool space. It's still not a space that is infused with life, but I think it's a bit more inviting and certainly more pleasing to one obsessed with organizing craft and sewing supplies and yarn, too much yarn.
(The pictures above are of the unfinished school/play space, just outside on stair landing is a craft cabinet and tall chest of drawers filled with supplies. We lazured the walls with stockmar paint and glazing material. It's beautiful in the sunlight...)
This week we are finishing up by purging through the worn and torn summer clothes and bringing out our cold weather gear and all the woolens. You would not believe how excited the boys are to pull out the woolens.
We celebrate the beginning of autumn with Michaelmas in our house. Many songs and stories, and this year we sanded and beeswaxed the knight swords, dyed silk capes with calendula petals (and secretly a bit of stockmar paint to deepen the color!) and we honored the day by baking a harvest bread which included a story about St. Michael and the dragon and harvest. This might be my favorite season, welcoming fall, preparing for the season. Turning inwards, stashing away bits of sunlight and warmth and searching for the light within as the world around us grows darker.
Last week I left my little birds in a waldorf kindergarten room and gathered with the other mamas upstairs for the Shining Star Waldorf Homeschooling Conference. It was a full week of presentations and discussions, with many hands on activities to support homeschooling, specifically inspired by waldorf education. We worked in main lesson books, took notes on temperaments, block planning, festivals, storytelling and more. We sang, played games, used bean bags and balance beams, clapping games and circles. We worked directly on weaving, wet on wet watercolor, form drawing and coloring, playing the pentatonic flute. We connected on parenting issues, homeschooling journeys, tasks and rhythms. So much was packed into the daylight hours. It was a delightfully full week and the warmth generated between the mothers and teachers has left much inspiration in my heart.
My children of course were both excited and overstimulated by the full days down in the kindergarten room, with so many children and so much noise. There was the silliest bit of conflict with the children held together in such a large group away from home, while we soaked in as much as we could, as quick as we could upstairs, before gathering up our baskets to head home. Home. And it looks as if home is where we will be staying.
I've always planned to homeschool at some point I was just never sure when. I'm fairly passionate about homeschooling in many forms (including unschooling.) And yet, I really love love loved the waldorf farmschool that Jbird attended last year. We were considering going back for kindergarten, but for now all arrows are pointing towards staying home. After realizing how much sweeter our days were without being framed by the drop off and pick up at school, it feels like the right decision to keep Jbird at home. Waldorf Kindergarten doesn't require any specific curriculum or planning, but there are structures and rhythms I'm hoping to build into place to support the future grades. For now, it feels like the right direction and I feel lucky that I have so many options nearby if we change steps.
As I expected, things have come together. Rooster is back at work full time and all the pieces are falling into place. The weather is already feeling a bit "fall-ish" and I can sense a season of strength and courage coming towards us.
These days. They keep sliding past, sifting through my hands, and I am barely able to notice them as they fall away. It's been so hard to keep up with the present moment. With both of us tag-teaming at home, it's been hard to even know what day it is. Often I go half the day thinking it's another day then it actually is. Maybe it doesn't matter. Washing Day, Sweeping Day, Window Day. The random shuffle button has been pushed and it's on repeat.
Mostly it's rosy. Sunny. Sweet white strawberries from the garden that taste of pineapple. But I can also see old man depression hiding behind every leaf, behind the trees in the back, blowing through the wind. I occasionally feel that twinge of fear creeping into my throat. Thank goodness for the distraction of the little birdies. Sparrow and Jbird can keep me dancing for hours, just long enough to miss the shadows lurking about.
Our Jbird turned five. Here is a manic way too early morning photo - where jbird digs into his candy cake before the sun has even settled into the sky. Yes, I decided five was an acceptable age to introduce a birthday cake covered in candy. for breakfast. why not?
And here is baby Sparrow. Jbird dresses him up all the time to play knight, pirate, dragon, elves, etc. Sparrow now enjoys digging into the dress up basket on his own. When it's quiet, I will sneak into the children's room and find this going on:
I'm so forever behind. It's been so hot hot hot. My words have just melted away. Perhaps next month I'll get around to sweeping up the melty mess. I see structure and rhythm and normal days gathering ahead like a storm.