Art and needle felting

We painted today. When we paint for lessons, we use just the three primary colors and enjoy learning how variations of mixing them create many other colors.

Below is my 2nd grader’s painting and above is my example painting. I also paint it a second time at the same time as him during the lesson.

My kindergartener painted as well.

My 8th grader did a chalk drawing on black construction paper for his artwork this week. I attempted to make it smudge-proof by spritzing some hair spray on it, but it left some wet spots. I guess that only works with aerosol hair spray?

Last night, I got my box of roving out to make a little doll for our kindergarten homeschool stories.

I followed the directions in the back of this lovely book.

I’m still not pleased with his face, and am going to fiddle with it a bit. But, he’s already well-loved. His name is Super Sam, the main character in the kindergarten stories I tell each week.

Baking day

Thursdays are my baking day. I’m down one child and we have a more relaxed day, generally. Today I made 5 loaves of bread, 3 sourdough and 2 yeasted. All but one will go into the freezer to be eaten over the next 1-2 weeks.

This is no-knead sourdough that I started last night. I bake it in a ducth oven.

Mixing up the dough for today’s baking. The bowl on the left become two sandwich loaves and the other smaller bowl, a sourdough boule each.

The loaf on the left has already been tucked into. And my sandwich loaves are a tad brown as my new oven runs hotter than I am used to.

I love the magic of sourdough. My sourdough is around 3 years old now. I started it myself and it took about a month to really start rising the bread. But my family prefers yeasted sandwich bread so I still bake some of that, as well.

Stumble and trip

I’ve decided to share some of my personal struggles in the hopes of helping some other mothers out there. We all have our own journeys ahead and behind us and they are all unique. But I have come to know of the power of sharing those journeys with one another.

A few years back, when my third child was a baby (she’ll be 6 this summer), i was struggling in a very real way as a parent. I felt unhappy and resentful and STUCK along with a big dose of martyrdom.

I had recently become a full time stay at home mom and underestimated how difficult that could be. My sense of worth was gone, having been raised in this culture that tells us that we are our occupations and paychecks; I was with my kids pretty much 24/7; I felt my lack of social network strongly now that I no longer saw people through my work; and my ‘job’ of homemaking seemed endless (it is) and unappreciated (it isn’t).

My oldest son was 9, and in the thick of the 9 year change, and were we struggling! I didn’t know how I’d make it through it with him.

I was yelling daily. I was hiding in my room to cry in despair, regularly.

And I felt like the worst mother.

For me, this was a downward spiral. I felt like a horrible parent, and then that feeling would translate into me being even more mean as I felt so horrible about myself. I’d have a day here and there where the weight lifted, but then I was thrown right back into it. I’d often cry in bed at night from the guilt of the things I’d said to my children (mostly, to my oldest), and from the knowledge that I wasn’t being the mother I wanted for my children.

I felt so isolated because who could I talk to about this and not feel fear of being judged? My poor husband couldn’t help me much. He would just tell me that I good mother and to not be so hard on myself. I was certain that none of my mama friends ever felt the way I was feeling. (By the way, this isn’t true!) And I didn’t even know anymore who friends were. Most of my contact with them was through social media and just left me feeling more alone.

Looking back, it’s hard to pinpoint exactly what it was that turned things around for me. Likely because it was a combination of many changes that helped.

Here is my best recollection of what helped me.

  • Finding Waldorf

This will be a whole blog post of its own, so I won’t tell the whole story of how I found Waldorf education and philosophy here. But this was the first step. This helped lay the foundation of me learning how to run a busy household (which i had no idea how to do even though I’d been a parent for 9 years at that point) and enjoy it, how to enjoy homeschooling again, how to begin getting back in touch with my spirituality, how to enjoy parenting again. Waldorf (specifically Waldorf Essentials/Melisa Nielsen) was a game changer and felt like coming home.

  • Leaving social media

This was a hard one for me. And I was scared to do it because I thought my time on Facebook was my “social” time, since I was a stay at home mom. But after finding the 99 Days of Freedom challenge, I was inspired to just do it. It was life changing. After I got over the hump of the hard work of breaking my addiction, I felt like I had time to breath again. I ended up staying off Facebook for over a year. It was fantastic and life affirming. I read books again, did a ton of crafting and in general, I found so much free time that I didn’t know I had! I did eventually go back because of the usefulness of the groups, but my long break changed the way I view and use Facebook. I see it now as an anti-social time. It is a tool that can be quite handy but i essentially unfollowed all my ‘friends’ and 90% of my time is in groups that are beneficial to my life (local homeschool groups, babywearing groups, Waldorf homeschool support group). Leaving Facebook made me a better mother, for sure. I no longer spent time reading about what other people were doing, feeling inadequate in my own head, a feeling that would often linger long after logging out . Instead, i was fully present with my children and began to remember what it felt like to just BE.

  • Meditation/Mindfulness

Specifically, i found the Mommy Meltdown Cure created by the amazing Sigrid Kjeldsen aka The Joyful Mother. I was lucky enough to be in a small mindfulness coaching group that she led for a year or more, and it was incredible. Life changing! Words don’t suffice to share what it brought to me. Peace. Love. All of that good stuff. She’s now gone on to greater projects, creating a community called Motherhood Rising. She is amazing and I highly recommend her.

~~~

I’ve come a long way in 5 years. But I still trip and stumble. I still fall flat on my face, even. Like a few days ago. But I know how it get myself up when that happens and forgive myself and have self-compassion, apologize to my kids, and remember all we have is NOW.

One of my favorite poems, by Mary Oliver, it brings me right back to the present and grounds me when I read it.

You do not have to be good.

You do not have to walk on your knees

For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.

You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves.

Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.

Meanwhile the world goes on.

Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain are moving across the landscapes, over the prairies and the deep trees,  the mountain and the rivers.

Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air, are heading home again.

Whoever you are, no matter how lonely, the world offers itself to your imagination, calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting—

over and over announcing your place in the family of things.

Homeschool photos

Monday morning we clean our school/playroom. Here is before and after.

Some 2nd grade work from the last two days.

Some 8th grade work. We started a short block on Russia geography and culture (brief history as well).

It wasn’t our baking day, but we were out of bread, so bread baking happened. It got a bit dark on top but still wonderful.

I managed to get a strength training workout in and couldn’t help snapping a picture of our bunny when i finished.

I plan on doing a whole post on this, but I’m working my way though my Planning for Peace journal. I’m charting my actual rhythm this week. (Something I’ve done multiple times over the years and I highly recommend!)

Busy days

Usually Tuesdays are an at-home day for us, but we spent the morning at the park meeting other moms interested in joining our newly forming Waldorf homeschool co-op. And once we returned home, I decided it’d be a relaxed rest of the day.

Wednesday, today, we had lots of lesson time. My 2nd grader did some multiplication practice (using his multiplication clocks that he made), practiced his form drawing for the week, and then wrote his summary of the fable from yesterday.

The 8th grader spent the morning reading. He usually reads for 45 minutes a fiction book that I’ve chosen for him to read (he reads plenty of fiction of his own choosing during non-lesson time), and then 30-60 minutes of nonfiction reading relevant to whatever main lesson block we are working through. We are currently doing a 2 week geography block on Asia. Asia is a HUGE continent and 2 weeks is really not adequate to do an in-depth study of the area. But we are, at this point, just doing an overview of the geography, flora and fauna, climate, and many cultures that compromise Asia. This is the book he was finishing up today.

He labeled and colored a blank map of Asia today. We also decided to visit the local Asian market and explore there. We brought home lots of goodies. He will cook some Asian dishes this weekend as well.

Normally I do about an hour of math each day with him but this week we are skipping math to make time for a paper he is writing for a class he is taking. So, he spent about an hour researching and writing that today. We are ahead of schedule with his math work so taking a week off isn’t really a big deal. He normally knits each day as well (making socks), but we had to zip off to music lessons early today. He had a mandolin lesson and his brother, a fiddle lesson.

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I got some exciting mail today that I thought I’d share. I’m on a Waldorf curriculum and supplies Facebook buy-sell-trade group that I occasionally find amazing deals on. It is one of the reasons I stick around on Facebook. I got these two books, brand new, for half off retail. They are both ones I’ve been wanting for sometime so i was very excited to find them!

The song book above is another in a series of songbooks that I love. I have three others that I’ve acquired over the last few years. They are fantastic for learning new songs and bringing singing into our everyday.

I think the best deal, though, were the main lesson books. I bought 30 newmain lesson books for $40! I still can’t believe the price. Such a steal! They normally sell for $3-5 each.

~~~

Here is a random picture of our sweet hens sunning today. It’s been very rainy and i think they were quite happy to soak up the sun today.

A little painting

On Mondays, i just have my younger three children at home. So, after breakfast, chores and a short walk, we got busy with our day. It’s usually 8:30-9am at this point.

We always start a school day with circle time. This involves my 8 year old, 5 year old and baby. We sing songs and say verses, and sometimes read a story. We’ve been learning Spanish songs as well, and are working on our third one at the moment. I also use circle time to practice skip counting with my 2nd grader. Because little sister can feel left out of that activity, I’ve been teaching her some jump rope rhymes while we do hand clapping together. She thinks this is brilliant and loves it! I’ll likely do a whole blog post on circle time, as i could say much about it.

After circle , i set my 2nd grader up with a book for reading to himself (a fiction book of his choice at the moment. He’s reading a Ramona book) while i focused on the kindergartner. I tell her her story and we play a little bit. This probably last 15-30 minutes. By then, she’s content and wants to go play on her own usually. I might stop and make snack at this point, depending upon the time.

It is then time for my 2nd grader’s main lesson. We are currently doing a fable block. So I told him a story a crocodile and a monkey. He loved it. Then we had a watercolor lesson, painting a picture to go with the story. Little sister painted her own paintings along with us. The baby was thankfully asleep on my back.

After this we sat and did handwork. The 8 year old started a knitting project and the 5 year old finished up a sewing project while I mended some clothing.

Fiddle practice came next for the 8 year old and then he practiced his form drawing a bit on he chalkboard (no pictures, I’ll get some later this week.)

The afternoon was free and the kids played outside for most of it, in spite of the rain. We have a second wave of chores that happen at 4pm, and that’s when they usually head in for the day.

More to come tomorrow.