Sunday, 19 October 2014

A New Chapter and a New Blog!

Just popping in briefly to let those who may be interested, that I have been writing a new blog.
I feel like I wanted a place that reflected my heart and somewhere I could write just for me in this new chapter of life.
I want to be as authentic as I can be to who I am and where I am.  I have "met" some truly lovely people through "a soulful life" and I'm truly grateful for that. And I may be popping back here for a potter about from time to time :)

 Having a community of people who understand the homeschooling life has been so important for me.
It has been especially important on the lonely days or the days when I've second guessed myself and my ability to do this.
On the days when the voices of the world scared me and made me question the deep knowing of our hearts.
Or on the the days when I was just plain tired.
And the days when following your heart and soul, and putting relationships, creativity, nature and free learning first seemed like madness when held up against the modern world's standards.

My online friends have been truly friends to me and I have always appreciated your gentle words here on the blog.

So with that I announce my new blog: Minstrel.
Feel free to pop over, put your feet up and have a cup of tea and a slice of cake :)

Friday, 11 April 2014

Impromptu end of week stream of conciousness

  • Staying in bed, reading while listening to little girls play in their bedroom as glorious butter yellow sunlight slides lazily under the blinds...
  • Two big girl's opened up the sofa bed last night and slept with the dog between them, I hear them scuffling about downstairs, probably in search of breakfast.
  • Emmy's got a new part time job helping to look after a lovely little girl in the mornings, Matilda has been keeping her company which has been really nice. The little girl has special needs and Emmy takes her for walks and outside garden play as she loves being outside. Emmy is really enjoying the experience and seems to be growing more independent by the day with a schedule, coursework, friends and activities all of her own. Scary! No it is all good. Really. I get the odd moment of tearfulness as I realise my big baby isn't really a baby anymore but I know she's just where she's meant to be. I trust in her. I know she will find her way, she knows how to listen to her soul. She has decided she wants to save up for a narrow boat and live on a canal. A perfect life for her I think, so long as she doesn't wander off too far, for too long of course.
  • Emmy's herbs - re - planted after Sylvie ate the last ones!
  • These past few weeks have included lot's of saying yes, and letting the girls explore and organise their own time freely. Now that they are getting older, more independent and their requests can converge and co-exist more seamlessly and easily it is much easier to "unschool."  Little ones, toddlers and babies in one house together with one caretaker need more structure and routine (at least in our home) in order for everyone's needs to be met and appreciated. It was far more of a skillful balancing act a couple of years ago and the more gentle rhythms of the waldorf early years mixed in with plenty of free play offered constancy for all. As they grow, the more free flowing ways of unschooling are fitting us well. I feel more and more in my heart that this way really works wonders. It creates a much more peaceful atmosphere, our relationships work naturally and I seem to have more clarity. I question more and more the subtle pressures that drive feelings of guilt. The ideology behind why certain knowledge is valued and other knowledge is not. Wondering about what makes a whole person? A happy person? A fulfilled person? I think many of the answers can be found in our hearts, we know them already, we've just learnt not to trust ourselves.
  • I've had to get less precious about the house again, which was hard because it is my nest, one I've prayed for, longed for, ached for my entire life. This house has given me a centre for my heart to put down roots and send out shoots. I feel a sense of belonging here that has previously eluded me in other places that I've lived.  So it is a home, a working, living, breathing space. I'm there now :) Even though I've compassion for the fact that I'm a homebody who likes all my crayons set up in rainbow order before I even begin to draw :) I know that the joy of this space is the presence of children in it with all their wonderful messes and even their not so wonderful ones! We've found a rhythm which, for me, is just a synonym for balance; balance between all our needs. As the children get older I find that I can ask this of them more and more. As they've always been around the different jobs that I do such as cooking, cleaning and laundry, they have naturally joined in with the work according to their abilities and age. I find that I am spending more and more time in thought and less in the "to - do" list. I am tentatively finding my deep thought tracks again, though many Autumns have obscured them beneath layers of hummus and leaf, they are still there. My brain is not the complete mush I half suspected it might be :) Tani and friends that know me irl may disagree.
  • I've found that in our family morning's have to be relaxed, full of creativity, Sylvie walks and whatever you feel like - that way it's all out of our system and we can get on with more structured or necessary things in the afternoon. I used to try to plough through the mornings and then feel too tired for the inevitable (unwound spring - crazy) in the afternoons. If one sentence has helped me more in my homeschooling journey than anything else it is this: One - Thing - At  - A - Time. And sometimes just one thing per day! It has been like a mantra. One story, explored fully. One baked cake, measurements, discussed and experimented with, a tea party arranged, a room cleaned. A movie watched, re-enacted, drawn. A poem read, discussed, inspiring homegrown poems to spring up like shoots from warm earth. A trip to the playground and park. A photograph taken, photo shopped, printed.
  • But then again everyday is different. Some days are chaos from start to finish and I feel like I'm just mopping up spills and winding up unravelling threads.
  • I'm getting better at relaxing over squabbling. The girls hardly squabble at all when needs are met and they have adequate freedom. And when they do it is okay, it passes. Sometimes it comes in drifts and a succession of days will involve bickering. But I've learnt all things pass and they need to find their own voices, and learn what words create what consequences. They all have their foibles, as we all do, but they are really good friends most of the time. Boo is a thinker, Matilda is sensitive, Fina is exuberant and boisterous, Nola is busy and Emmy is a teen who often needs her space but they have found ways to navigate their differences and appreciate them. Boo often tells me that Fina makes her feel brave. Emmy says she loves how the having little ones around has allowed her to remain a child for longer than she would have. And of course Nola loves the attention that comes with being the baby. They love one another deeply and truly and they play far more than ever they argue and I feel lucky for that. I know they will always have one another and not feel the isolation that I have in my mothering journey. If one of them gets upset the others flock around like a gaggle of goslings looking to do whatever they can to make all things well. The other day Tilly was sick and the others made her get well soon cards, cups of chamomile tea and gave her foot massages. Nola even scrambled upstairs with her nurse hat on back to front and her special doctor bag full of plasters scattered like breadcrumbs behind her.
  • Sometimes I'll suggest something that I think they'll like. Last week the three middle girls loved exploring circles and triangles making three dimensional drawings using this book.
  • We also picked some daffodils and a hyacinth and painted them together.
  • We've read a chapter a month from this book, looking up all the wildlife and plant life it mentions on the i-pad  and then tried to identify them when out on walks.
  • Of course the root children is featuring regularly again. It is a Spring fixture in this house, and the  girl's always explore every tree root and hollow log to see if they can spy a root baby hiding there.
  • And then there is the chapter of Anne of Green Gables before bed. That we all look forward to at the moment.
  • I've also found that clip boards are great for out of doors drawing and wondered why we haven't thought to use them so much before.
  • It's lovely that the three oldest girls can take Sylvie for walks around the village, getting to know people, saying hello to other dog walkers and stopping to feed the horses a handful of grass.
Fina the friendly dragon

  • Sylvie is growing big and scruffy and bouncy!
  • Right, it's taken me all day (in bits and pieces) to write this, now it's about time to get the tea on :)
  • Wishing all a happy Weekend!

Monday, 24 March 2014


Not much really :)
Bit sad and emotional that Grandma and Grandpa had to leave us and return to the states.
Felt like I just wanted to curl up in bed with a book which I did for as long as one wee little miss would allow :)
Pottered about a bit. We all slept a lot as three girls were not feeling well and poor Fina was up during the night with sickness and a temperature. Lots of sheets and a pair of PJs to wash. Lunch was crumpets with jam and cups of tea...Dinner, leftovers and bits and pieces scavenged from the fridge :) We read one chapter of Anne of Green Gables and I worked a little bit on some commissions. Tilly made some lovely porridge at one point and we filled a bag for the charity shop with outgrown winter clothes.
Emmy had an hour appointment with her physiotherapist and then spent some time in town with a friend.
The house and garden really need a bit of tlc as they have been neglected of late to make space for more important things :) Today was not the day for such endeavours and I savoured that knowledge, allowing myself to simply let go of what I can't do with peace and trust.

All the while thinking of this nice quote:

"So I asked Fr. Langford: What did Mother Teresa do when it seemed that there was more work than she could possibly handle?
His response was simple and wise, and it marked a turning point in my life. In his reply to my email, he wrote:
The [work she could not get to] she did not think twice about, nor should you or I, since God is not asking you to do what He does not give you the time (or health, or resources) to do. So be at peace."
 H/T Conversion Diary

And then there's Sylvie Puppy who makes me smile. She has the most lovely presence. Often she'll just come up to me during the day and rest her little chin on me just when I need it.
Well, I feel grateful and peaceful.
That's all.

Saturday, 22 March 2014

Mmmm Something to think about...

 These banned TED talks have done the rounds through the 'net, but they've kept me good company while busy sewing commissions this morning :)

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

What learning looked like today

Making elastic band bracelets

Designing doll worlds

Displaying yesterday's collages

Reading new post from the RSPB

Making art with salt and glitter

Creating a board game for her paper animals

Reading articles from here, playing games here and solving problems here.

Experiments on a whim inspired by this

chatting about stuff

seeking still and silent places when and where they arise.

Tilly and Boo taking pictures of the fading flowers which I can't bring myself to bin because there is beauty here too.


Sunlight after a rainstorm

More random and unplanned science

A puppy bandana (pattern found here

Modeled by Sylvie.

+ Unphotographed, bickering, making up. Messes and clean-ups. General toddler randomness, silliness, sweetness and sticky kisses. And the way children force you to simply, enjoy, have fun and take in the simple moments with full presence. Not fighting against this teaches me so much. Life is meant to be embraced fully and deeply. Being with my children teaches me this lessson and for it I'm grateful!

Saturday, 22 February 2014

As the light changes

 "Who is this coming up from the wilderness leaning on her beloved?"

Every day I am in wonder and awe that we are here. As I write this, I sit with the window open a jar and I can hear the birds. Many different birds. Pigeons cooing, blue tits twittering, robins bobbing from branch to branch. The sky is blue and the trees sigh and rustle gently.
Across the green a stone cottage and a village pub, soak up the first of the sunlight. The daffodils are peeping out of their winter slumber. The grass is emerald. There are faint glimmers of Spring everywhere.

And one thing we have taken so much joy in since being here? Our labradoodle Sylvie. It is such a joy to walk our favourite walks with her and introduce her to special places that we have grown to love.




For the Lord comforts Zion;
    he comforts all her waste places
and makes her wilderness like Eden,
    her desert like the garden of the Lord;
joy and gladness will be found in her,
    thanksgiving and the voice of song.
Isaiah 51