Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Thanks, Wendell

The Peace of Wild Things

When despair grows in me
and I wake in the middle of the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting for their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

Wendell Berry
Poems to Live by in Uncertain Times

Monday, August 15, 2011

I took time out from today's bustling to walk around at Talullah Gorge since the weather was actually quite nice.



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I'm always amazed at how wood (and other forms) twist, turn, scrape and morph with time and weather.



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Sunday, August 14, 2011

Heaven on Earth

It's hard to follow "Simplicity Parenting," but I did with Heaven on Earth by Sharifa Oppenheimer. It is broken into chapters helpfully, and the margins are really big with her notes and for ours. I liked some of the recipes and suggestions for family festivals. She also has awesome resources for any area you'd like to explore and find for yourself. There are a few sweet stories that are good examples of what to tell a child at a certain age--we'll have try those!

I did find the book somewhat tedious/dogmatic at times in terms of making a child's environment perfect. I don't suggest that we shouldn't try to, but so many of the lengths are, well, lengthy. :) I go pretty far in our home life to accomplish this sanctuary of hearth/home, but she advocates for much more.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Simplicity Parenting

What an amazing book, truly. I'm not saying that we didn't already consider many of these ideas crucial and have them in place (in a less developed form often), but I learned a lot. There were so many suggestions to possibly work on that there's no way I could post them all here. I made notes for myself along the way.

Some key ideas have to do with how much stuff we have in our kids' home environment and how it's organized. What I found most helpful was the types of toys he mentioned, and it gave me some ideas for Christmas presents this year (many of which I've already gotten as I read). I plan to make them some too.

We appropriated videos to visiting family and the school/daycare exposure they're already getting plenty of (sadly). That was a big adjustment for us to consider since video time has been part of our routine at home. But they're both very young, and it's far easier to do things like that now than it would be later once the effects were more greatly detrimental and the addiction stronger.

We already see the negative impact on Zoë--she cries when we turn it off, she doesn't focus on people or things that aren't super animated like her favorite shows, her head is mostly filled with the shallow stories (not always shallow, for what it's worth--there's a range of quality in those videos). So we figured it was time to take this big step give her room to make her own stories, her own identity and to revel in a peaceful family life.

It's already really fun to include Zoë in home tasks which she loves, so we'll beef that up a bit. One nice thing that cooler weather will bring is greater/easier opportunities to be outside and experience nature as much as we'd truly like to. School days are busy, but there are weekends and small things we can do during the week.

There's a good chance I'll need to reread this book as the girls enter different stages because there's such a range of ages he discusses.

So, if you're inclined, check out this beautiful, helpful book (by Kim John Payne).

Friday, August 5, 2011

Home Rhythms

It seems funny to think about our daily rhythms a lot as we are about to have far less daily time to enjoy the spaciousness rhythms offer (alongside great security). But here I am. :)

Maybe it's that Eleni, my baby, is growing into a toddler. I read a verse (whose author I don't know) that struck and misted me a bit:

Cooking and cleaning can wait till tomorrow,
For babies grow up, we've learned to our sorrow.
So settle down cobwebs, dust go to sleep,
I'm nursing my baby and babies don't keep

Rocking Eleni before sleep has been so sweet lately. She flops around on me a bit, but she wriggles so much less because she too knows the holding is less if she does. In the twilight, she looks into my eyes and smiles. With her I generally have to lift my glasses off of my face and onto my head because she is a face to face baby (quite literally).

Some families actually have days given to specific rhythms of their homes. Things like baking day, craft day, drawing day, handiwork day, painting day, outdoor/gardening day etc. Ours is hardly that organized or "advanced" in terms of what the girls and I can do, but the place anything like those activities holds is rhythmic--there are opportune times for actitivities that are more or less constructive in both the early and the later parts of our days. It's such a gentle hum around here in the summer (even with irritated babies) that we have a hard time waking back up to dark mornings and busy schedules August 15th.

I'm working on a simplification project of sorts before we jump back into school. I want to be conscious of our pace and life at home, sanctuary that it is and should be. We've weeded toys and are looking next at clothes (as we do at every transition in the year). I'm reading a great book that seems meant for just this process called Simplicity Parenting. It's spot on with our values and dreams for our family with lots of helpful tips and frames.

We're considering menus and ideas for ways to still eat together and at a decent time. With Eric's schedule, it's a "shifts" thing. We still light our meal candle and say a little blessing these days to keep the feeling right. It'd be nice to put a stronger emphasis on a truly decent and decorated meal on the weekend.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

All Year Round

I can't really say I've truly read this yet since I focussed on Autumn and Winter as they approach. I'll read the Spring and Summer sections as they get closer, so to speak. This book has information about festivals--many we've likely never heard of, recipes, patterns for making things, ideas for decorations and even stories that fit events to tell. I chose a few things to incorporate into or in addition to our normal seasonal festivities. Turnip lanterns, Mary's walk with stars etc. We haven't done an advent wreath since the girls came along so maybe we'll try that.

The book is called All Year Round