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

Rose Hip Fairy
Primula Fairy


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.

Friday, 15 September 2017

So finally, a post, that has been a long time coming

So I'm finally sitting down to write a post that has been a long time due.
I am finally feeling strong enough to come back to this online space and share some of the huge changes we've been through in the last two years. Sometimes you need a bit of perspective to process everything and see how the bigger picture looks.

Being a young (ish) Grandmother is much like being a young mother. It has it's challenges but they are far outweighed by the rewards. As the children grow things become easier in some ways and harder in others. The children are developing their own friendships, interests and schedules and it's both scary and wonderful to watch them emerge from the cocoon of childhood into adolescence. Nola is still little but she loves to hang out with the big kids and be part of their world.

Sometimes there are Eleven people in our home including Emmy's boyfriend Alex and a dear family friend who has been staying with us since early Spring. Eleven sounds like a lot doesn't it. It is. And it would feel like a lot if everyone didn't pull their weight but generally, usually, most of the time they do.

Sometimes it's hard for Tani and I to find space as a couple as we transition from the intensity of parenting and homeschooling the little years to being the parents of mainly (almost) teenagers. We have to be intentional about creating boundaries for ourselves in the sacred, quiet of evening and make time to go on mini tea dates while errand running on weekends. Tani and I are entering a new stage as a couple. It feels like we are rediscovering each other on a different level. Now that the children are a little more independent we are able to make more time for just being with one another. One of the benefits of a full house is  there is usually  someone on hand to watch the younger ones for an hour or so.

The kids love the busyness. It's tribe like and feels very natural to live in a big group. The children always have someone to play with or talk to. There is always something interesting going on. People having in depth conversations about something they've read, idea's, philosophy, making creating, crafting, working, cleaning, cooking... Always. Something. Going. On. And most of the time it's good.

Although it can also be tricky if you are a INFP, introverted, hobbity type. Strangely, though I've come to realize that it is actually good for me to have a lot of people around me. Although I'm naturally inclined to spend a lot of time on my own it can make me to inward looking, too self critical and even melancholic.

I grew up as an only child. My parents two were only children as were my Father's parents, my grandparents on my mother's side had siblings which had died, or lived in (what was then communist East Germany.) I grew up feeling isolated. I guess I grew to get used to the quiet, perhaps even thrive on it.

It's really strange though because I actually remember being really extroverted and sociable as a little kid. I was always ready to out and about, meet people, do things. Over time I retreated further and further inside my own shell until it became normal for me to identify myself as an introvert.

I was looking at this Ted talk about personality types recently and realized that yes, although I am in the green quadrant (caring, encouraging, passive, listening) a part of me is also in the opposite quadrant (resilient, task orientated, social, expressive) It felt like a big revelation. Perhaps that is why I always feel as if I can always understand both sides of an argument. I've always been a bit of a between categories kind of person. I'm a catholic but I find so much richness in other spiritual traditions, my homeschooling is an eclectic mix of Waldorf/Charlotte Mason/Un-schooling and Classical, I am a hippy, health conscious type but my kids watch television and eat frozen pizza from time to time.

It seems that mid-life includes a whole lot of reconciling opposites and contradictions. Life becomes less black and white and far more nuanced. Things that I would have been quite orthodox about in the past seem more complex. I have less judgement of myself and others. Having ideals isn't a bad thing but when taken to extreme, as things can be in the online world, they become distorted. If trying to live up to a set of "ideals" makes you guilt ridden, stressed, judgmental of those who fall beneath them then what are they really worth even if you attain them. I will be writing a lot more about the subject of idealism and mid -life. They seems to be pretty hot topics for me at the moment.

Extremism in any form is unhealthy whether that's extreme eating ( even extreme healthy eating such as juice cleanses, fasts, raw food diets etc), beauty ideals, or setting unrealistic expectations in your home or with your children.
I'm not saying standards are wrong but taken to the extreme, anything is.

Sometimes I have to take a walk in the woods, or sit with a candle by the window, listen to some gentle music, or birdsong, or silence, pray and realign myself with my deepest core, my spirit, my God. In this place everything becomes clear and peaceful. There is no striving.

These quiet times have become more and more important over the last couple of years. My body let me know that it was time for some changes to take place by not functioning as well as it should. I totally changed my lifestyle and diet and my thyroid disorder began to go into remission. (More on that another time)

My beautiful Emmy girl finally completed her A-Levels this June ( through an unexpected pregnancy, Liver function issues, Pre-eclampsia, C, Section delivery, relationship breakdown, moving house and contracting C-dif after going into hospital with a tooth infection which she needed intravenous antibiotics for, she earned herself three A levels in Psychology, English Language and Business. Writing it all down really puts it into perspective. I am proud of her. She has come through a lot, stayed strong.

She now has a job as a marketing assistant. She also passed her driving test and has just become the youngest scout troupe leader in the county. The other day she came home from work, dressed in her smart suit and I thought to myself, wow, that is my daughter, all grown up. 

It is both wonderful and strange when the mother/child dynamics change and you communicate with your child as a peer, as an adult in their own right. It's been challenging at times. It's hard to let go and trust that your child has grown into a capable adult who can easily drive herself about, take care of her baby, find herself a job and a good man that will love her for who she is and even perhaps trek up mount Snowdon and go on adventures with her one year old in an ergo on her back. (as the pictures illustrate.)

I have much more to say and I will, no doubt, write it all out in due time.
I have two highschoolers homeschooling at the moment and hope to share more about what they are doing too!

As usual, I'm always pleased to be back in this quiet spot. In a busy home, it is nice to have a space which is just your own, even if it is virtual.