Sunday, February 28, 2016

Momma Zen: Walking the Crooked Path of Motherhood

It's seems silly, given some of the teaching here, to spend too many words/thoughts expounding on all I learned from this book.  I made tons of notes, but it reminds me of the way our TM retreats or teachings are--don't think too much or make notes.  Let stuff sink in in the layers and waves that will actually sink in for now.  This book is a beautiful exploration of many motherhood themes you'll find in popular parenting books and then principle themes of Zen.  (Karen Maezen Miller is a Zen teacher, after all.)

Monday, February 15, 2016

a bit of reading

I mainly skimmed The Dirt Cure since a lot of the info was repeat for me.  I'd like to still suggest it, though, as a good reference for health concerns, feeding kids, helping them not fall into the health pitfalls so many of us are in etc.  I like the end too because there are snack suggestions and some recipes.

I'm strongly impacted by Loving What Is.  There's a lot of depths to be plumbed with her four questions, and in most respects I can find immense wisdom.  I would disagree with perhaps the extent to which it could apply especially when I consider victims of child abuse etc.  I can't go all the way there with the inquiry as far as that might regard a person.  I do see the benefit of therapy and not remaining a victim, for sure!  But some of the turnaround aspects don't ring true when I consider a child's development and mental capacities (even for an adult looking back).  Challenging book!

What's neat also is that has ways to do this process without investing in books.  There are many youtube examples of her walking through the work with other people.  I find examples just as helpful as the concepts on their own.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Picture Books/Authors that Stand the Test of Time (for us)

The following books are with us and have been for a while.  They're special for various reasons, and we wanted to share them because they continue to be so.  (These aren't our Christmas list, of course, but there could be some cross over with some of these authors.  The Christmas books would have to be another list.)

Crafty Chloe--two books in the series so far.  You might know Heather Ross (illustrator) for her beautiful fabric designs. :)

Sonya's Chickens--Phoebe Wahl is an amazing artist--we have her prints all over the house and her calendars.  The story is precious and deals with nature's seasonal realities of life and death.

Heidi Huebner's two books: Peter and the Owl and Lily and the Fox. :)

You Choose--generally out of print, really interesting conversations to be had as your child thinks about all their dreams/ideas and their futures.  Our girls have even made a pretend game out of it that involves dismantling almost everything they own and then begrudgingly cleaning up afterwards.

Woolbur--the gift of emergence!  Such a precious tale of letting kids grow up and develop as nature intends.

Too Many Toys--ever want your kids to relate to the idea of decluttering or managing our things in a thoughtful way?  This book is nonjudgmental and fun, and it really does help to get a handle on the fact that most of us have WAY too much stuff.

Brambly Hedge--all these little books/tales are delightful and very seasonal.

Enid Blyton--great author and we really like her four bedtime-oriented books.

Flicka Ricka and Dicka--simple but word-rich stories about simple themes with independent children driven by natural feelings and good values.  The author has a boy series too with triplet boys.

Jan Brett--amazing author/illustrator.  We just get captivated by the whimsy and beautiful art there.

7 Year Old Wonder Book--very imaginative stories!

Elsa Beskow--we especially love the small versions of the books.  The stories are old fashioned and have a little risk/danger sometimes.  But there's a kind of innocence to them.

Daniela Drescher--such beautifully illustrated books with fun details--simple stories too that emphasize the seasonal

Patricial Polacco--such heartfelt stories.  I end up crying half the time!

The "Good" Toy Successes and Failures

You all know we strive to bring in toys that aren't so plastic-centric and that are open-ended.  The importance of play is HUGE.  You can even get a PhD in that area since it's so crucial to kids' development.  We tend towards the Waldorf sensibility given their successes in the aforementioned areas.  Some things we we have brought home have been well-received and often used while others just "look nice."  Here's a quick run down. (Also, some of these things are rather expensive, and I'd like to reflect here what was worth the money.)

Play silks: mixed review.  Glad we have them sometimes (and they don't take up much space): we use them for make believe sometimes, with our dress up sometimes, we wrap gifts in them.  Still, they don't use them as much as we hoped (and still hope?).
Wooden cradle and stroller: good purchases!  They aren't used daily, but they are used often.  They girls have soft Waldorf dolls, stuffed animals and some clothes to put on them too.

Wooden Curvy Board: amazing reception--used daily.  For something so simple, it has been very physical and has inspired very interesting games.  We like to use it to just to work our legs/hips.  Worth the money!
Wooden Play Stands: absolutely beautiful, but they take up a lot of room.  If we had a larger space, they'd probably still be okay.  As it is, the shelves are taken out of the shed only to house seedlings come Spring.  They create a warm play space, but the girls didn't maximize their possibilities at all when they were out and were crowding our space.  Sometimes we set them up in the yard with a large silk on a pretty Spring day.  (Still, we're more likely to hang up the hammock though and lay on it as a family under our grandfather oak tree.)
Yoga Hammock: daily use!  Yay!  I'd like them to do more things than they currently do in it, but it rarely comes down.  Worth the expense!  I can't say enough about hammocks in general (especially those that hug the body--great for calming down after a day of sensory overload, great for more than just sensitive children).  We have a hammock chair on the front porch that also gets a lot of use.  If you're considering a hammock chair/pod that hangs like this in bedrooms, I'd go for it.
Fake Cash Register: a bust. Glad it wasn't expensive--they hardly gave it a go.
Musical Instruments (Variety of real things).  At times, these were fun.  When they were younger, we had jam sessions etc., but they mainly collected dust.  The exception is the lovely little cassio keyboard that fits under our end table.

Wooden Kitchen Set.  We finally parted with it so some other family could enjoy it.  They just didn't get into the whole playing house/food thing.  I'm not sure why.  As kids we played all that a lot.  But they also have ignored their lightbright which Eric and I used endlessly as children.
Legos: still rockin'!  We get a little put out that they seem to just want "sets" with instructions to build just certain things.  But, E in particular likes to build her own ideas.  Z is starting to admire that more also.
Magnetiles: huge success!  To get a decent amount, it's an investment, but we find it to be worth it.  These aren't in daily use, but they can spend a lot of time digging into them either alone, with each other or with us.
PicassoTiles 100-Piece Set Magnet Building Tiles
Dress Up stuff and Art Supplies: always in demand and used!  We have to go through both regularly to make sure we're not just holding onto parts that aren't in use, but we share or donate those if so.  I think they'll be in rotation a long time.  We also finally moved the dress up stuff into the bench that closes to simplify our space.  (This wonderful spinning rack my parents got goes into one of the girls' closets and houses all sorts of helpful things--as it was, it took up space, and we got tired of looking at it.)

Doll House and Castle: used some.  I can't get a sense of this one 100%.  The castle is a Melissa and Doug piece, and they use our peg doll princesses from etsy and other figures (mostly wooden, some plastic like My Little Ponies) there and in the Melissa and Doug dollhouse.  I would rather (and E also says she'd prefer) a more empty/open dollhouse that you have to define each time you play.  Here's an example of an improvement if we ever replaced it (alongside the one we actually have).  Related here are wooden figures like Ostheimer toys--those are loved, held, smelled, cherished etc. when playing.

Puzzles and Games: heavy rotation!  One discovery as a parent is cooperative games like Wildcraft, Yoga Garden and Orchard.  We LOVE those.  Any games are used here though--even competitive ones.  Z does advanced puzzles--the girls and Eric are really into those.  Family games are very important time to us and very sought after.  Family games don't have to be traditional either.  We play art passing/doodle games and make up obstacle courses inside even with music.  Those things seem to mean soooo much to our kids.

Saturday, February 6, 2016


I fought the almost three hour prospect of watching Interstellar, but I'm so very glad I did.  There was very happy nerdiness there--lots of good Relativity gems etc.  I love to imagine other dimensions so it was such a treat.

But the philosophy and connections were enough to watch the film and love it.  Brand talks about nature once: that it can be harrowing, swift, etc. but never evil (even after losing a colleague to it).  And she blows us away with a scientific openness to what love might be:
The idea of a "they" or "ghosts" in the film turns out to be very rewarding.

But if you want to just enjoy the science fiction aspects, here is a little video with Neil DeGrasse Tyson explaining key things (SPOILERS):
**We also LOVED The Martian and have great hopes for Gravity.  Love these science-connected movies!

Let Your Life Speak

A few of my buddies and I are forming a small book club, and they let me choose the first book.  We'll meet in a couple of weeks to discuss Let Your Life Speak (which is a book I've been wanting to read for quite a while).

It's a fairly short work but very full.  Here are some takeaways:

Vocation comes from listening to my own life: its strengths, gifts, limits and liabilities all churned up together.  Our inclinations, bodily states, actions, intuitions etc. all speak authentically, and we have to read our responses to experiences to understand who we really are.

Lofty ideals yield distortion of my true self.  We must live from the inside out rather than the reverse.

Vocation is often what we CAN'T NOT do (otherwise we conspire in our own diminishing, Palmer says).

Much of our culture is completely counter to really identifying who we are since it serves to fit us into certain places instead.  Also, what doesn't work is as instructive (or more) than what does work for us.

Instead of asking "what do I want to do with my life?" maybe I could ask "what is my true nature?  who am I?"

In the West, we often base our strongest metaphors on industry.  We MAKE everything: our way, babies, love, it through etc.  In the East, it's more like an agricultural take: things grow.  It's a functional atheism thinking we have to be the ones to make the good things happen.  What if our lives could be part of an ecosystem where we honor the growth needs?

If I'm somewhere unfaithfully, I cause damage and take from others.  Dreams actually turn into nightmares.

He says a lot about depression--wonderful explanations of healing there.  He gets back to being so lofty and looking to the ground of his being (God, hitting rock bottom etc.).