Falling into love

I’ve taken to reading some pages of mystics’ poetry  just before drifting off to sleep. What a wonderful way to end my days! I come across many, many, many that I want to share. But, this one by Rumi last night was just perfection. (Translation by Coleman Banks).


Love has taken away my practices
and filled me with poetry.
I tried to keep quietly repeating
No strength but yours, but I couldn’t.
I had to clap and sing.
I used to be respectable, chaste and stable,
but who can stand in this strong wind
and remember those things?
A mountain keeps an echo deep inside itself.
That is how I hold your voice.
I am scrap wood thrown in your fire,
quickly reduced to smoke and ash.
I saw you and became that empty.
This emptiness, more beautiful than existence,
it obliterates existence, and yet when it comes,
existence thrives and creates more existence.
The sky is blue.
The world is a blind man sitting beside the road.
But whoever sees your emptiness
sees beyond the blue and the blind man.
A great soul hides, like Muhammad or Jesus,
moving through a crowd in a city where no one knows him.
To praise is to praise
how one surrenders to the emptiness.
To praise the sun is to praise your own eyes.
Praise, the ocean. What we say, a little ship.
So the journey goes on,
and no one knows where.
Just to be held by the ocean
is the best luck we could have.
It is a total waking up.
Why should we grieve that we have been sleeping?
It does not matter how long we have been unconscious.
We are groggy, but let the guilt go.
Feel the motions of tenderness around you.
the buoyancy.

Homeschool week 16

I don’t have much to say about this week. Things went smoothly. Lots of outside playing and working. It’s been way too hot for April here, and we’ve already had to get out the fans for our child who hates the heat.

The usual went down this week. Monday, we clean house and this week, I spent 2.5 hours driving I. back and forth to farm school. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, we had our usual homeschooling days. Circle time for the younger two, stories and books. Math, and knitting, and music for I. along with making progress in our Medieval block. He especially is fascinated by learning about the clothes they wore.

Fiddling. So much fiddling in our house! About 6 months ago, he told me he was done with his fiddle and that I should sell it. I didn’t. He has found a renewed interest in it a few weeks ago, and plays is all the time now. As in, sometimes that’s how I know he’s finally out of bed: I hear him playing.

Coughing. I’ve had this nasty lingering cough for weeks. I kept thinking it’d just go away. On week 3, I decided I needed to do something. Thank goodness for herbs! I found this awesome tincture called Serious Cough Soother by Wishgarden Herbs (one of my favorite companies). I also took Osha tincture. Within days, my cough was 75% better, and it almost all gone now. I’m just glad to be done with peeing in my pants all day long from my coughing attacks!

Nails. P. has been asking for nail polish for a while. I finally bought some Piggy Paints and, wow, she has just loved it! H. and P. picked out some colors.


I. took his Guinea pigs outside for the first time this week. It is adorable to watch them nibbling the grass. They love it.


I have to share one more picture. Rose, our broody hen, watching our cat taking a dust.



Homeschool weeks 14 &15

Not a lot of blogging time lately.  I do most of my blogging after the kids are in bed, before I go to sleep. I’ve been either sucked into politics lately or my iPad is not charged enough to blog from bed, so sleep wins.

Last week, I. was sick.  He hasn’t been sick-in-bed sick in forever!  Monday and Tuesday and most of Wednesday were spent with him resting.  By Thursday, it felt like our week was over!  We did start dipping our feet in his Medieval block that day.  I have a HUGE stack of books for the block from the library, nonfiction and fiction.

This week, I thought we’d have a ‘normal’ week (whatever that means).  But, I. then spent 2 days flipping out.  At me.  At his siblings.  It was bad.  And sad.  Sometimes when it gets like this, I feel like I’ve hit the bottom and can only come back up.  And, in some ways, that is probably true.  I feel like we’ve turned a new corner with him.  We had some heavy talks on Wednesday.  And the air seems to have cleared.  I bought him a flower essence which fits him exactly, and it seems to be helping, too.  Thursday was good.  He didn’t scream and fight or throw things.  And he did his chores and school work, and still had time for fiddling (which is what he does with most of his free time lately).

Amid all of the above, our hens got their first bug infestation. Chicken lice. Two of our four girls are broody and they had it worst. I was very freaked out and ran to the farm store for treatment. But once I got home and really started reading the bottle, I had second thoughts. The list of warnings and precautions was long and scary. And I was about to go sprinkle it on my chickens? Yikes. I then found a study that said the chemical reside was still found in the eggs 3 weeks after treatment. Um, no. That wasn’t something I wanted to use. Determined to find a better option, I turned to the online world. I found this article and ended up following it. Two days before, I also tried garlic juice diluted with water with come clove oil. I’m sure it works, too, but it seemed to make their skin very red. So, the wood ash it was. Thankfully I hadn’t emptied out our wood stove yet!

Two things I’d never done  in my life until this week:

  1. give a chicken a manual dust bath and rub ointment all over their bum.
  2. phone bank for a political candidate. I talked to New Yorkers for about an hour today!

The picture doesn’t capture the full effect of their appearance, but for fun: broody hens. I kicked them out of the nesting boxes, where they sit upon their imaginary eggs, and they didn’t get up from the grass for about 15 minutes.

Giving myself a hug

A dear friend brought the teachings of self-compassion to me last year. She introduced me to the work of Dr. Kristin Neff. If you haven’t heard of her before, check out her TED talk. She also has a book, but it was a bit too scholarly for me. Instead, the book on the topic that really spoke to me was by Dr. Christopher Germer. So good.

Self-compassion is what I turn to when I have a child screaming in my face. It is what wraps its arms around me when I lay myself to sleep at 8:45 because I just need the day to be over and am thoroughly exhausted with interacting with a child who has held onto his seething anger at me for over 5 hours.

Sometimes I first fall into self pity, but that is a pit that only makes me feel worse and leads to seeing myself as a martyr. Not a path that leads to much peace and love.

So, I’m so grateful that I’ve learned self-compassion. It is so simple and seems so obvious but it is so far removed from our modern culture.

What does self-compassion look like for me? Talking to myself the way I’d talk to a good friend in my shoes. Sometimes literally giving myself a hug. Having empathy and compassion for myself when I’m in really stressful and challenging situations.

This morning, I’m also thinking about self-appreciation. Kristin Neff has this great article on her website on the topic. Gosh, I needed to read this. Today. This morning at 6am as I am preparing for my day. Focusing on my faults go hand in hand with feeling like a martyr. When my child acts in a way that I can’t understand, shows zero gratitude, and is lashing out at all of us, my mind’s default is to start highlighting all the mistakes I’ve made and all the ways I am not doing a good job as a parent.  Crazy, isn’t it? When I stop reacting to what is happening around me, I can acknowledge that I know that my child is a child. He’s still emotionally immature. His behavior is not a reflection of me. His lack of gratitude for all I do for him isn’t personal and it doesn’t have to be a blow to me. His behavior and attitude is a reflection of his immaturity and the fact that he’s a child!

So, this morning, I’m reflecting on appreciating myself. I don’t need to wait for others to appreciate me, including my child or my husband. As Neff writes in the article,

William James, one of the founding fathers of Western psychology, once wrote that “the deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated.” Luckily, we can meet this essential need without depending on other people to approve of us. When we treat ourselves with the same kindness with which we treat our good friends, we’ll have the support and care required to help us thrive.

I close with this quote from Dr. Robert Holden. I must remind myself of this daily. How often do we believe it is external circumstances that dictate our happiness? I do, all too often. But happiness is a choice. And it is a choice I want to make.


Homeschool week 13

Last weekend, one of our chicks died. I had been worried about her since from the day we brought her home, she wasn’t very active and when you held her, she had almost no muscle tone. Very lethargic. She died exactly one week after coming home. I’m not sure why. She had been eating and drinking, and didn’t have any signs of disease. She was my 6 year old’s chick, and we were making breakfast when he came in the room and just said “My chick died.” His brother thought it was a joke. He then went to go dig a hole for the baby in our back yard and we had a little funeral. Our backyard has a cat buried in it, a fish, and multiple birds (thanks to our feline friends). It is now also the resting place of a little week old Welsummer.

H. wanted to go to the store to get another chick, and we decided that was a good idea. We ended up coming home with three more last weekend, so we now have 5. They seem to be much happier as a bigger flock. I was worried about disease, since we had one die, so I totally cleaned their brooder before introducing the new ones. It’s been a week now and they are all doing really well. Growing, getting feathers in, very active, a few are practicing using their wings. We have one of the following:  polish (I forget which color body and crest, white or black), Amber white, Australorp, Langshan, gold laced Wyandotte.


I snapped this picture of them all sleeping.

I realize most of my pictures on this blog are chicken pictures. It is just the way it is. I don’t tend to take many photos, and I feel so conflicted with posting photos of my kids. Still on the fence about that. And the chickens are so photo-worthy. They are my little pets. Having chickens has really been positive for my own little brood.

In other non-chicken related news. Ahem. We had a full week. Made great progress in math. Business math is good stuff for I. because he can really see the relevance to real life and he enjoys that. We had a fun morning doing geometry drawings together, too.

A speech therapist came over this week. (Yes, they do only home visits! Love that!) I. asked to see one, as he has struggled always with pronouncing his L and I’ve always left it up to him to seek outside help or not. A few months ago, in tears, he said he wanted to see a speech therapist. I knew it was becoming something he felt self-conscious about, even though it wasn’t that severe. Anyhow, it was uneventful. Turns out she has chickens too and they talked chickens and played some games. She then said she doesn’t hear any problem and thinks it’s just fine. Fact is, this past month, it has been sounding better and I know he’s been really practicing on his own. For a moment, I figured that I’d wasted money paying for a visit. But, as soon as she left, I. says to me that that was what he needed, affirmation for a professional that he talks just fine. So, money well spent.

We headed out to the forest today for a hike. Last week while reading a most excellent little book to the two younger ones, H. tells me that he’s never been in a forest wilderness. I know this isn’t technically true. But if this is his perception then, whoa. I need to make some changes! So, I planned for today to be a forest day. We went and hiked in some old growth forest with two waterfalls and it was fantastic. So peaceful. We were the only ones there.  I didn’t have a camera, so no photos. A few miles away from the trailhead, the road goes through clear-cutting. That was heartbreaking and felt very heavy to drive through. Usually, I just see the clear-cutting from a distance. This was on a long winding road through a ton of clear-cutting everywhere we looked. It felt like a crime scene, very heavy and hurt. Sigh.

I have more blog posts brewing on non-school related topics. Though chickens may appear. But for now, I’ll just leave you with this photo of our hens sunning themselves.