Wednesday, 13 June 2018

Notes to a tired Mama

  • However perfect someones life looks there will be struggle, there will be conflict, there will also be moments of transcendent joy and these will be the most photographed and shared on Instagram but they are only part of the story.
  • Life is full of seasons, "This too shall pass."
  • Rest. Do what you need to do to restore your soul.
  • Ask for help, take it. Allow someone the joy of giving. One day you can pay it forward to another tired Mama.
  • Don't make ideals your idols. You won't always live up to your ideals or realise the goals you set for yourself. This is what makes you beautiful and human. Being imperfect is a blessing that stops you turning into a know it all and who wants to be that?
  • Cut down on extra curricula activities, simplify, get rid of stuff you don't or won't ever use, books, clothes. Minimize. Clarify.
  • Every family, situation and child is different. Do what works best for yours not someone elses.
  • Give yourself the same grace that you would want your own child to give themselves.
  • Do what you need to do to be strong and healthy in mind, body and soul.
  • You are beautiful. You are enough. 

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Monday, 22 January 2018

Under the Dragon Star - a book review

Bujana just finished reading a really wonderful book. It is a magical YA fantasy novel that we both really fell in love with. If you or your kids love beautifully written prose and tales that take you somewhere far away in your imagination you will love Under the Dragon Star. Here is her review.



Book review – Under the Dragon Star

Title of book: Under the Dragon star
Author: Kira Lily Nash

Summary: Analai is a young girl who was born and brought up in the magical land of Mairbell. She lives in the castle with her Father, King Johin and Elder brother who had mysteriously disappeared after being sent to the City. Her Mother had disappeared mysteriously when Analai was nine, leaving no trace but an enigmatic pendent. After many years of living within the boundaries of Mairbell, Analai discovers that war will soon be upon them. Fearful of the future she desperately struggles to learn everything she can about her magical gifts and how to use them to defend her homeland and her family. To have any hope of saving her home, Analai must travel the kingdom to find help to tame the hidden magic that lies within her and use it to defeat the darkness.
With the help and trust of her loyal friends, she knows she has the power to  free her world. First though, she needs to be able to see them.

Who are your Favourite characters and why: My favourite characters are Analai, Renpa and Raila. I love all these characters because I can relate to them in different ways. I love Raila because she shares a sweet and special bond with Analai's magic dragon Renpa.
I love Renpa because of his innocence and clumsiness. Renpa is a small, old and slow little dragon who loves to eat cake and wear hats. He shares a special bond with Analai and will defend her whenever she is in danger. He is a big softy and will love anyone who is willing enough to give him a good belly rub. But whenever his friends are in need of his help, he will always be there for them to rely on.
Analai is brave and her soul has a deep longing for adventure, but she loves her family, and would move mountains for the ones she cares about. The journey that takes her far beyond her borders is not just a journey to save her homeland and find help, but a journey to find what is hidden deep inside of her and finally understand who she is and who she is meant to be.


 What words would you use to best describe this book? The book was very adventurous and full of vivid descriptive imagery. I could  picture everything that was happening and became easily engrossed in the story. I was captivated by the characters and loved curling up in my favourite chair and letting my mind sink into the world of Analai. 

Did you care about the characters and why? The wonderful thing about this book is that the characters in it are so varied and diverse that practically anyone can relate a part of themselves to at least one of the characters. Seeing something that reflects a part of you inside of someone else is a great ways to get people to care about the characters feelings. I found that I could really relate Analai, because I am still young, I am also in the search for who I am and who I want to be.

What is your favourite part of the book and why? My favourite part of the book is when Rasod, Renpa and Analai and all her friends get to Rasod’s house. In the house Analai practices her magic by baking a cake and uses her powers to lift the ingredients into the cake mix and bake it with her magic. I like this part of the book because, after journeying far through the kingdom and desperately struggling for everything she knows, Analai can finally feel the comforts of a warm bed and warm food and at last get to enjoy doing things in her spare time such as baking a cake. This part of the story makes me feel happy and relaxed like I am home that is why I like this scene the best.

What would you rate this book out of ten and why?
I would rate this Novel a Nine out of ten because it was  an exciting, adventurous and magical book. It was a very inspiring tale and I finished it with a great longing to read more. I also loved the atmosphere that wove its way through the book. I felt as if I'd really spent some time in a completely different world. I  recommend this book for ten to sixteen year olds but I think that adults would enjoy it too!


For more info click here.

Thursday, 11 January 2018

A New Venture: Lilies and Pearls



I have started a new website: Lilies and Pearls

The concept of the site is to create a virtual retreat/journal space/ where I will share quiet (hopefully) weekly journal prompts as well as quotations, scripture and meditations.

Depending on how well it goes I might take it to its own domain.
I may still post here from time to time too but most of our homeschooling/crafty adventures will be shared over at our youtube channel "This Soulful Life"

I do also post regular moments from our days over at my Instagram page:

Lilies and Pearls

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Minimalism and Waldorf - the energy of stuff and the materialistic spirit.


 

I was looking through this beautiful book today, trying to think of some ideas for advent and Christmas and was struck by how simple things can be and yet how very complicated we tend to make them. So many of the things in this book can be made from plain, everyday materials yet more and more, there is this growing culture of material perfectionism which gives the impression that we need to have all the bells and whistles to follow Waldorf or even homeschool in any meaningful way.

When my children were very small, we didn't have a lot of money. The waldorf philosophy really appealed to me back then because it meant that I could make or create, either with my children or on my own simple, beautiful handmade toys, games and decorations for our home.

Yet, it seems that industry can build up around any philosophy, even one that is as inherently non materialistic such as Waldorf.
I began my Waldorf shop after making toys and decorations for my own small children. Over the years I have been advised to scale up my production many times by well meaning friends. This would undoubtedly mean patenting designs, building a brand and working with factory outlets. I've never considered this option because it undermines the reason I created the shop in the first place.

The root of the root (the reason why) is the most important part of anything we do because it will become integral to whatever grows from it. The catechism states that the end can never justify the means. Value never really lies in product, only process.
We all have a tree of life (our soul) and we have to feed those roots with mindful choices and careful footfalls. The intention behind what I do is what matters most to me because it feeds the most important thing of all.

Last week, Matilda hand spun some yarn which she is now knitting into a hat. The yarn is slightly uneven and their are a couple of holes in her stockinette, yet this is what gives the fabric it's beauty.
I notice the magic of the different shades of green as they intermingle in the strands of yarn. I notice them especially because this hat is not next to another half dozen hats in her closet or carefully contrived upon a shop shelf. There is no contrast or comparison, no judgement in my mind when I look at it, no questions asking noisily, which one is better? Which one is most fashionable?

We have so many lens's to look through when viewing something. First our own eyes, then the eyes of others through a myriad of different channels; the world wide web,  the fashion industry, other people's opinions, other people's standards of beauty and style, the list is endless. Sometimes its easy to lose the own unique vision rooted in our own soul, even though this is our one real gift.
Sometimes I just need to get away into the quietude  and refresh my inner page.

I often  imagine how things would have been in centuries past when pigments were rare and embellishment in handiwork considered a luxury. How the symbolism of each pattern would have struck the vision and how bright the colours would have seemed. Now we have a thousand different options of colour, design and pattern. Everything is embellished, our curtains, draperies, duvets and cushion covers. We don't see the individual stitches or imagine the vision of the hand that made them because they are mass produced by poor factory workers and designed with the market in mind rather than the deliberate, invested, inspired vision of an artist.

Everything we own has an energy interwoven into it.
I am careful when I create. Creation, after all,  is a holy space. What we create will infuse its energy into the lives of those that receive our creation into their homes.
I often spend much time in thought, meditation and process before beginning a project.
Each project, even a piece of writing is like a birth; it requires gestation before the labour can begin.

One of the questions I consider is whether I am creating simply to sell, approaching my work from the perspective of the market or whether I am creating something from the deep well spring within me; the part of me that wants to add value and beauty to the world not just more stuff in exchange for money. I do realize that in doing this I'm in a place of great privilege. The need to earn a wage is real and pressing and for many this over rules any other consideration. I don't condemn that at all and I also don't have the answer for it except that perhaps, as consumers, we can be mindful of where we shop, why we shop and what the wider implications of our privilege and choice has on both those who produce our goods and the natural environment.

Materialism has a spiritual energy to it and we can channel that energy and make it stronger or we can redirect it into creativity, gratitude and contentment in the abundance of what we already have, even if that's nothing more complicated than the warming smell of fresh baked bread in the oven.
Our children are watching what we attribute value to and they will attribute value to the same things.


This blog post was very much inspired by this vlog by the you tube channel living tree. I encourage you to visit her channel. Her reflections touch on some important subjects.

Thursday, 26 October 2017

How our homeschool has been inspired by Waldorf Main Lesson Books



One thing I love about Waldorf/ Steiner schools is their beautiful main lesson books. Although we don't follow a Steiner curriculum to the letter, our home school is inspired by many of his ideas. Matilda's curriculum for this year covers the main subjects. For many of these she uses an ordinary lined notebook for questions/answers, revision and notes. But for some subjects she is using some A4 sized sketch pads. In Waldorf schools the students write their own textbooks, these main lesson books become a beautifully illustrated record of the things they've learned during their main lessons of the year.
Matilda has one for Botany, Geometry, History, Geography and Poetry. I'm hoping these books will be something she will be able to keep and that the very process of creating them will give her a deeper understanding of the subjects we learned.

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

An Autumn Story

An annual re-posting of this Autumn story and play that I wrote with Boo's help many moons ago.
It can be printed out and read or used as a script for a play or peg doll puppet show.
The girls loved it when they were little. Enjoy :)



 

The Elfin Tree


Characters
  
Narrator
Elf
Squirrel
Fawn
Rose Hip Fairy
Primula Fairy


Script

Narrator:  Once upon a grassy meadow, Little Elf noticed a small sapling growing in the glade by the big woods. 

It looked just like the other trees only smaller. She was intrigued! 

She thought she might plant it in her own garden to see how big it would grow.   

Maybe it would it grow as big and tall as the trees that grew in the woodland beyond.
After she had planted it, she felt very proud of herself indeed. 
Every week through the hot summer, Little Elf watered the tree so it wouldn’t get thirsty.
One day after a good many weeks had passed, Little Elf came to water the tree again but when she looked at it she dropped her watering can and the water spilled all over the grass.

Elf:  What has happened?

Narrator: The tree’s leaves were red, gold, orange and brown. Not fresh and green as they had always been!

Elf: “My poor little tree, maybe I am not feeding you well, maybe you are sick”

Narrator: Little Little Elf started to cry. She went to Primula the Spring Fairy and said...

Elf: "Primula Fairy, please help me. Something awful has happened to my tree. The leaves were green but now they are red, yellow and brown.
Am I not feeding it well?"

Primula Fairy:  "See how my yellow petals have turned to seed. All things change with the Autumn breeze! Come now Elf don’t you cry. Go and ask Squirrel she’ll know better than I."

Narrator: So Little Elf went to Squirrel's tree house to ask her. But she was busy collecting nuts, and not in the mood for answering questions. So Little Elf  decided to ask Fawn.

Elf: "Fawn, please help me. Something awful has happened to my tree. The leaves were green but now they are red, yellow and brown.
Am I not feeding it well?"

Fawn: "My spots are fading fast you see, all things change with the Autumn breeze. Come now Elf don’t you cry. Go and ask Rose Hip the Autumn Fairy, she’ll know better than I."

Narrator:  So Little Elf ran back passed Fawn, then passed Squirrel, then passed Primula Fairy until finally she found Rose Hip the Autumn Fairy.

Elf:  "Rose Hip Fawn, please help me. Something awful has happened to my tree. The leaves were green but now they are red, yellow and brown.
Am I not feeding it well?"

Narrator: Rose Hip turned to Little Elf with a gentle smile and said...

Rose Hip: "Of course you are feeding it well. 
The season is changing that is all. 
Time flows like the trickling stream that runs through the Big Woods. 

When it was Spring the leaves were green, but now it is Autumn. 
The leaves change colour and eventually fall to the ground. 

It will soon be winter and your tree will be bare but don’t cry because Mother Nature knows what she is doing. Your tree isn't sick, it's just sleeping.

After Winter it will be spring once again.
For Spring always follows Winter.

In Spring you'll see new baby leaves and blossom budding on the tips of its branches.

 Narrator: Little Elf was very grateful and was also very happy. In fact she was so happy she had a party and invited all of her friends to come!
They danced and sang until tea time.
Every animal brought something from the autumn harvest: sunflower seeds, barley bread, sweet corn, ripe plums, apples, hazelnuts and elderberry tea!
They all had a lovely time, eating, drinking and dancing around the golden, shimmering tree.

Elf: I love my tree

Narrator:  Little Elf, snuggled up in a cosy nest of moss at it's roots.

The End.

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

We made a YouTube channel!











 




Photos from our village's annual picnic on the green and bake off


I'm not good at keeping up with blogging, emails,  texting, or Instagram etc...
The rhythm of social media seems so frantic, so demanding, so consuming at times. I naturally work at a slower pace. I need to take time away. I often wonder how some blogger/vloggers manage to deliver so much content.
I care very much about the connections I have made through the internet and feel bad for not keeping up, but real life seems to expand its boundaries as your children grow.
When the kids were little, in a tight little clutch everything was done together, as a family, as one, now they are branching out into their own diverting schedules which need a different kind of time and resources.
There are lots of balls in the air. Personal space and boundaries, are the hot topics of the moment. As bodies and minds grow and interests and hobbies become more involved and involving so does the need for space, a time and money and, well you get the picture.

Matilda loves all things craft. A dear friend recently gifted us a beautiful old fashioned spinning wheel which she has fixed and learned to use. It has somehow been squeezed into the girls room along with all the wool roving. It is hard to do minimalism with lots of kids with lots of hobbies. I have become good at paring down our resources to what can adequately fit in a large chest of drawers though. It keeps things manageable.
Sometimes I find myself gazing at photographs of when they were tiny and missing the simplicity of it all. Those times, when I could keep all their toys in one toy box and their crafts in a basket. There is  much joy and beauty in the changes though. These days, we can have lingering philosophical conversations and debates over morning tea and it is great to see their opinions evolve. It also amazes me how little help they need anymore. Cooking, baking, sewing, knitting, organizing their schedules and toddler wrangling! I know it is good that they are becoming independent and they do still like my involvement from time to time. Matilda recently made a felted, Waldorf birthday crown which I will be listing in my shop once she has uploaded the pictures. She has also recently helped me create a peg doll tutorial for my shop blog.

We have been busy this new homeschooling year. Matilda at home now too and Boo is studying towards two GCSE's and a Performing Arts award. Our old flexible, unschooling, child-led routine was a beautiful foundation but we are now moving on to a much tighter schedule with more extra curricular activities. It seems, despite my frequent anxiousness, that a flexible, schedule (including delayed academics) well prepares a child for the rigor of exam prep when the time comes.

Rudolph Steiner believed that a child must become fully aware of their physical presence and use their will effectively through modeling, immersion in nature,  play and movement before they can advance to their  heart centre where they  learn through creativity and reading myths, legends and folktales that will inspire them. He taught that only after the foundations of hands and hearts (will and creativity) were built, could a child be able and ready to move to their intellectual centre and begin academics. I can only speak for our own experience but this line of thought seems to have proven true. I have seen that each stage forms a foundation for the next and the next stage will only work as well as the previous one has been mastered.

The internet is a constant source of reflection for me. I go back and forth on it all the time.
I am fascinated about how it can make you focus so keenly on how you might be perceived.
In real life I tend to be too busy and probably too old to pay attention to what others might be thinking of me, well most of the time anyway. But online I scrutinize myself. Should I share something? Is it right to share pictures, videos or info about the kids? Should I share my heart with people who might misunderstand, judge or scorn me? I wonder at these things.

I find myself both inspired to be part of a wider community and share the beautiful, the good and the struggles while being afraid about who might be watching and reading and what their intentions or judgements might be.
Over the years it has been for me to read and hear other people's life experiences. The internet has opened up the world to me. I can you tube and google the answers to a myriad of problems, from the trivial to the philosophical and even the mundanely practical such as how to fix a blockage in the radiators (true story). When feeling isolated I can also instantly feel a sense of kinship with other Mums, writers and artists. My online shop and book sales have provided me a small source of income which has helped pay for the children's books and activities. These are all good and wonderful things and I don't dismiss them.
 Yet more and more I find that blogs and you tube channels are becoming platforms for "personalities" or "personas." There is a detached slickness, a facade, a cynicism in many broadcasts and posts. More and more I find myself more drawn to the real, the raw, the true however imperfect the photography, video production or blog format.

The internet can also be a great number of emotions as much as an often welcome distraction and learning tool. Studies have shown that internet use has shortened our concentration span and I feel this in myself to be true. The online world can fill the empty spaces, the ones we may, in the past, have filled with prayer, day dreaming, emotion processing, feeling and connecting deeply with ourselves.

I am mindful of all of these things as I embark on a new project. One that will, no doubt be intermittent as anything else I do outside of my first priority, the day to day happenings and doings of my family and home. Yet it is something that the children are excited about and have been asking to do for some time. So here it is. A youtube channel focused on soulful living, homeschooling and everyday happenings. It has taken me nearly two weeks work editing our first 3 minute video. I am getting better at it with practice but don't get too excited, I don't think we'll be a daily vlogging, blogging family any time soon. But I thought it might be nice to share some of the things we've been up too this past term and if time allows, I may record some more snippets of our days in the year ahead.