Little Sparrow, looking up at the stars last night, said "Touch.The.Stars." and reached up with his hands. His newest speech pattern is incredibly delightful. He says each word with such intention and persistence and between each and every word is this grunt, an exclamation, a pause to request additional attention to each.and.every.word.
We were at a bonfire party last night, a fundraiser for the outdoor waldorf school (that we no longer attend) and a live band played. It was in a backyard in our neighborhood and we all settled into blankets on the grass to eat soup and bread and pizza under the autumn sky, listening to our friends play sweet music, and later watch the sweetest bonfire light up our faces. A few marshmallows to sweeten the deal and then we popped back home for bed. It was cold, and we got to snuggle into our warm weather clothes.
My heart yearns for more connections and community gatherings like this. I mourn that it is so hard to find these moments, when I know they should be easy and many.
The autumn winds have been blowing and blustering about as I find myself super charged to organize and redesign our living space, declutter and purge. Our upstairs that goes empty most of the days has been restructured as the new craft and homeschool space. It's still not a space that is infused with life, but I think it's a bit more inviting and certainly more pleasing to one obsessed with organizing craft and sewing supplies and yarn, too much yarn.
(The pictures above are of the unfinished school/play space, just outside on stair landing is a craft cabinet and tall chest of drawers filled with supplies. We lazured the walls with stockmar paint and glazing material. It's beautiful in the sunlight...)
This week we are finishing up by purging through the worn and torn summer clothes and bringing out our cold weather gear and all the woolens. You would not believe how excited the boys are to pull out the woolens.
We celebrate the beginning of autumn with Michaelmas in our house. Many songs and stories, and this year we sanded and beeswaxed the knight swords, dyed silk capes with calendula petals (and secretly a bit of stockmar paint to deepen the color!) and we honored the day by baking a harvest bread which included a story about St. Michael and the dragon and harvest. This might be my favorite season, welcoming fall, preparing for the season. Turning inwards, stashing away bits of sunlight and warmth and searching for the light within as the world around us grows darker.
Last week I left my little birds in a waldorf kindergarten room and gathered with the other mamas upstairs for the Shining Star Waldorf Homeschooling Conference. It was a full week of presentations and discussions, with many hands on activities to support homeschooling, specifically inspired by waldorf education. We worked in main lesson books, took notes on temperaments, block planning, festivals, storytelling and more. We sang, played games, used bean bags and balance beams, clapping games and circles. We worked directly on weaving, wet on wet watercolor, form drawing and coloring, playing the pentatonic flute. We connected on parenting issues, homeschooling journeys, tasks and rhythms. So much was packed into the daylight hours. It was a delightfully full week and the warmth generated between the mothers and teachers has left much inspiration in my heart.
My children of course were both excited and overstimulated by the full days down in the kindergarten room, with so many children and so much noise. There was the silliest bit of conflict with the children held together in such a large group away from home, while we soaked in as much as we could, as quick as we could upstairs, before gathering up our baskets to head home. Home. And it looks as if home is where we will be staying.
I've always planned to homeschool at some point I was just never sure when. I'm fairly passionate about homeschooling in many forms (including unschooling.) And yet, I really love love loved the waldorf farmschool that Jbird attended last year. We were considering going back for kindergarten, but for now all arrows are pointing towards staying home. After realizing how much sweeter our days were without being framed by the drop off and pick up at school, it feels like the right decision to keep Jbird at home. Waldorf Kindergarten doesn't require any specific curriculum or planning, but there are structures and rhythms I'm hoping to build into place to support the future grades. For now, it feels like the right direction and I feel lucky that I have so many options nearby if we change steps.
As I expected, things have come together. Rooster is back at work full time and all the pieces are falling into place. The weather is already feeling a bit "fall-ish" and I can sense a season of strength and courage coming towards us.
These days. They keep sliding past, sifting through my hands, and I am barely able to notice them as they fall away. It's been so hard to keep up with the present moment. With both of us tag-teaming at home, it's been hard to even know what day it is. Often I go half the day thinking it's another day then it actually is. Maybe it doesn't matter. Washing Day, Sweeping Day, Window Day. The random shuffle button has been pushed and it's on repeat.
Mostly it's rosy. Sunny. Sweet white strawberries from the garden that taste of pineapple. But I can also see old man depression hiding behind every leaf, behind the trees in the back, blowing through the wind. I occasionally feel that twinge of fear creeping into my throat. Thank goodness for the distraction of the little birdies. Sparrow and Jbird can keep me dancing for hours, just long enough to miss the shadows lurking about.
Our Jbird turned five. Here is a manic way too early morning photo - where jbird digs into his candy cake before the sun has even settled into the sky. Yes, I decided five was an acceptable age to introduce a birthday cake covered in candy. for breakfast. why not?
And here is baby Sparrow. Jbird dresses him up all the time to play knight, pirate, dragon, elves, etc. Sparrow now enjoys digging into the dress up basket on his own. When it's quiet, I will sneak into the children's room and find this going on:
I'm so forever behind. It's been so hot hot hot. My words have just melted away. Perhaps next month I'll get around to sweeping up the melty mess. I see structure and rhythm and normal days gathering ahead like a storm.
Time slows and and then speeds up. Rarely do I catch my breath before we go round and round again. Two birds can keep you on your toes, and they certainly keep you from attending to any blog updates you may have in mind...
We've been shifting gears and trying to rebuild our rhythm at home. Newest addition to our twist of daily fates is that our Jbird has decided he no longer wants to go to school. Yes, that school. The chance of a lifetime, outdoor waldorf, perfect in so many ways school. I am still mourning. I'm missing those 3 mornings of brief freedom, of easy naps for Sparrow, of the community I found in the drop offs and pick ups with other parents, and so many things. I'm shocked at how quickly the change altered my own personal social web.
He was battling drop offs for weeks. He kept saying he wanted to stay with me (and Sparrow.) It was so hard to work through, as he never wanted to leave the school when I picked him up, and he seemed quite happy and content when there. But it never got better. The more we tried to entice him to go, the more he resisted (isn't it always the case.) In the end, I decided to listen to my heart - and his fairly clear statements - and we are now home. I have been fairly content and excited with the idea of homeschooling and now I see it may very well be the road we take. I'm still holding hope for trying again next year in the outdoor kindergarten program.
In the end, I think there are many things that were going on. Jbird was never able to clearly communicate any specific issue. But beyond attachment issues, I think that the rhythm just fell apart when our lives changed over the holidays. There was an excruciating winter break, and then Rooster was home full time, and any small sense of rhythm we had seemed to crumble. And now I'm trying to rebuild it. We've always been very good with the basics of mealtimes and bedtimes - but daily activities have been sporadic and unstable. Rooster and I took to tag-teaming when he was home, and well, that hasn't always been a recipe for success in our home.
From a waldorf perspective, I could sing the praises of rhythm all day long - and yet, I realized that in action, we weren't really taking it seriously. So now, I'm building it up, defining the days. Oatmeal Day, Soup Day, Market Day, Wash the Sheets Day, etc. etc. It's just that some days (most?) I'm just trying to breathe. I'm just trying to keep the peace. I'm just shooting for "Let's Not Yell All Day" Day. But I aspire to more. And it's what I'm focusing on for now.
The other bird? Sparrow? well, besides having a serious hair chop, he's just adorable. Grunting and pointing and emoting all day long. Doing every single thing his older brother does when able. Oh, and losing his own blankie by stuffing it in a saucepan and not "telling" us. We spent two days looking until we went to use this pan.
There is such a sweetness to a nonverbal baby when he becomes so profoundly expressive. Beyond crying and squealing and grunting, it's such a delight to move towards gestures and clear movements that express his desires and needs. When sparrow takes me by the hand and walks me to the bed for sleep. Or lifting the shirt to ask for nursies. Or hugs and kisses for big brother every single morning. Or signing for "more" or "eat" when hungry. Pointing. Pointing hard and with urgent fingers. Stomping his little adorable feet. The lack of words makes it all the more surprising just how clear and easy communication can be.
And then there is the almost 5 year old boy. Who has many words. And uses them occasionally. (When he feels like it, I guess, I say dejectedly) And yet is a total mystery. Everything is evasive and hidden and it's pure work to decipher what he really needs. My soul is torn daily as I try to detect what it is that he needs from me, and how to meet those needs, and I'm digging and clawing to try to find them buried underneath his turbulent energy field. A part of his power struggle is not wanting to have to give voice to his needs.
But I'm listening with my heart. My mama ears are open. I'm watching the tides and feeling the wind shifts. I hear you and I'm trying to be the answer.
Ah. Uhm... Did we just sleep through February? Did time just melt away into the soggy, wet earth?
We've been on our toes, waiting. And waiting. Waiting for call backs from job interviews. Waiting for jobs to open up. And more waiting. But hallelujah, we might not be waiting too much longer based on a call Rooster got today. Until we have a contract or paycheck, I'm just going to keep on waiting though. She'll be coming round the mountain when she comes...
Meanwhile we had valentine's day, and my birthday and so many other days in between my last visit here to Birdnest. I had 10 inches of hair lopped off. The spring breezes are hitting my neck. Jbird and I talk of Spring as if it's already been sprung. We chatter like young squirrels. The flowers and leaf buds are coming in. The sun is coming back around. The birds are out. My little birds are growing like weeds. Our garden needs mulch and weeding and new seeds. I need to get going on new projects. New knitting. New quilting. And a new banner for goodness sakes.
There were dark days. My father had a stroke a few weeks back. For a bit I thought I had lost him, or at least lost the chance to ever talk to him again (he couldn't talk or write at first.) But he's on the mend, and re-learning and remembering and seems mostly back to himself. Just another countless blessing to add to the heaping pile we have uncovered as of late. My heart goes out to people who have experienced this loss. It was such a relief to talk to him on the phone again.
So, we are sweeping out the cobwebs. Cracking open the earth. Watching for green sprouts of joy and newness to come forth.
I just happened upon this poem. It's beautiful, and also perfectly suited to the last post commenting on these little birds emptying our house of furniture (by deeming them unsafe for smallest of souls and bodies). If only I could remember to meet them at the door laughing more often.
This being human is a guest house
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.
Oh that banner photo up above is so old. Has it really been that long since I've updated, that long since I've posted on the blog? How did I fall so far behind? That littlest bird placing his head in the oven has outgrown that shirt, has hair dropping to his shoulders, now walks more than he crawls...and still, my feet are dragging. It is January and I'll try not to apologize much beyond that. (the photo also makes me seriously miss our chairs, which were stashed in the basement when mr. sparrow decided he could not resist climbing on them and I still can't trust his balance. ah, babyproofing by furniture removal - soon we will have none and our tiny house will be bare but the running birds flapping about.)
Rooster is back from interviews, and to be honest, yet again I feel that we are so incredibly blessed and lucky. I don't see this turning out bad at all. In fact, seems this might just be a short paid vacation and all will be back in place soon. And yet, I also feel that even if not, even if we were to remain topsy-turvy, all would also be as it should be and "okay". Maybe I'm just running overly optimistic and hopeful from the recent inauguration, or the sun that has been shining these past few days, or the coffee.
At Jbird's outdoor waldorf school, the large roof that covered the outdoor kitchen came tumbling down during the holiday snowpocalypse that hit Portland. It was and still looks pretty devastating, to see the shingles and posts in piles next to the cob ovens. The parents were concerned about the loss of protection, the shield from the elements. And yet the children came back gleeful and trusting and immediately took to the change. And now they huddle in a new space, in the trees, on a hill, with snack table exposed and nestled in the forest. They are fine. They come home a bit muddier, a bit wetter, but still blushing with joy. This is as it should be. We should all be so trusting and open to change.