30 November 2010

Looking Festive

I am like a child, excited and filled with wonder, from the first carols and decorating the tree, to baking mince pies and planning activities!
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We do, um, a lot during advent. Waldorf-y things and Church-y things, Jesse Tree, Season Table, Nativity and wreath. We have felt advent calendars with pockets that are being filled with non-food treats this year. We have so many fun things planned for the next month. *eeeeek* :)
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Our Season Table is celebrating the Christ Mass with every element of nature joining together in song. This week, the festival of minerals.
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And this year will be our first year celebrating Hannukah (link is Messianic btw, for those who are interested).
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So much to rejoice in!

29 November 2010

Anger

I have to share a little snippet of thought, trailing through my head like a comet. I believed I was a patient person before I had children. Most than that. I have always secretly deep down believed that it is wrong to be otherwise. I have battled, and sometimes swallowed down, feelings of frustration and fury - I have called my feelings WRONG and tried to change them. I have believed that to be a good parent, I cannot be angry.

Now I am leaning to the idea that my anger is just anger - it is a feeling - it doesn't define me - and I can feel it, accept it, act on it or let it go, without it owning me. Anger is a feeling. It isn't a FACT, about me, about you.

If I could just - stop - being angry, not feel frustrated (or hell, even just "not feel frustrated over silly things") I would not be a better parent. Parenting by example means I want to live my reality alongside them, and the main way I teach them to have self-control is to have more self-control myself (kind of contrary to the idea that society has that children learn self-control by being controlled by others). I don't need to Never Feel Angry. I need to have the self control to live with anger.

So mostly, when I am wishing away my feelings, I'm wishing away an opportunity to demonstrate to them some of the many ways of dealing with and acting on our emotions in a healthy productive way.

And part of that is apologising and making things right when our reactions are unhealthy and destructive.

So, some health-enhancing advice for living with anger.

- Train yourself to react slooowly, practicing the art of either being very general or very specific (say what you see without blame).

- Take responsibility for your actions. Nobody made me lose my temper, and even when I feel like I'm not able to have self-control, I am choosing.

- Breathe slowly and name your feelings as they arise, over and over until you can sit quietly with them.

- Drink a LARGE glass of cold water. I kid you not, being well hydrated = more self-control. ;)

- Flower remedy: Impatiens. Rescue Remedy will do the job, also.

- Channel the big feelings into doing something. "Sorry children, I feel frustrated so I'm going to be over here doing some angry pictures until I am OK again." Hit a pillow if it helps.

- Take a brisk solitary walk if someone else is available to be with children (taking them can turn it into more frustration - but it might still be worth it if getting you all out of the house is a possibility).

- Chamomile tea, drunk in the kitchen, with the door closed.

- Clean something, vigorously (surprising how well this works for me when I can only force myself to get started).

- Lavender oil in a burner somewhere. In fact, any nice smell plus the feeling that you are doing *something* to bring yourself back down.

- Take a do-something-different break - put music on, or get out the noisy toys, or turn everything electronic off, or read stories - anything to vaguely structure the next half hour, changing things up to get you out of the rut.

- Stretching type excercises, so yoga is ideal.

- Write a list of things that you are grateful for.

- Phone someone who will make you laugh, help you feel normal, and help you do better. If you have someone like this, you are so blessed! Go find them and thank them RIGHT NOW.

- Run a bath and put everyone in. Water is a great cure for disequilibrium in all ages. ;)

- Forgive yourself! You can handle it differently next time, but this time is already in the past. Make up. Move on. And give yourself a hug from me - it's not easy!

27 November 2010

Definitely Winter

"Mummy, Daddy, Mummy, Daddy, GUESS WHAT??!!" We were woken up fairly early this morning by those words. Of course we all have to go and pile coats and gloves and hats on to go outside RIGHT away.
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Jenna knocks on some doors and her friends come out for a snow ball fight and some snowman making.
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And even my very VERY messy garden looks... stunningly beautiful.
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26 November 2010

Turn the Day Around

Nope, not a post about how I overcome One Of Those Days - I'm still in the middle of it here - but hey if I can be honest about that I'm telling myself that I *can* sort it out... Let's start at the beginning.

My day started at 2am. Now that might have been a normal expectation a few months ago, but damn it all if my expectations keep getting messed with. Rowan slept a really decent full night for a couple of months. I felt GREAT! Then she went onto an interesting variation - one week on, one week off. Then she got ill and did over two weeks in a row of Not Sleeping At All. So, today, my day started at 2am.

By 7am everyone was awake, and loud. Then Morgan deliberately stood on Jenna's bed to pee (I mean WHYYY?!) and pulled the lamp shade so that it broke. I lost my temper, stormed back to my bed to sulk, sat down, and the frame broke. It trapped my ankle, which is now swollen and black-blue.

I lay there sobbing and cursing, blaming them, blaming myself, feeling so EMPTY. We made it downstairs, I hugged them all and we made up. That lasted about another hour.

Since then, the baby has pretty much cried and not been able to feed because her nose is stuffy. Morgan has been upstairs and run enough water to flood the sink and it's still dripping into the kitchen now. Jenna has moved my phone charger so I can't find out what time we're meant to be going out later. And I tore my favorite skirt.

It can't very well get *worse*. I think I'm off to rescue remedy us all at the very least. Sometimes parenting is the hardest thing in the world, and there is no reward in the here and now, and all I want is to be able to lie to myself convincingly enough to forget that it's not just about me. But I can't.

I can't forget that they are also people, and that they are having a pretty crappy day today too. I can't yell - or lock myself in the bathroom - for long. Somehow, we have to get on with it, when we least want to, when we least *feel* loving, when we most want to run away and forget it all. So, here I go. Wish me luck.

25 November 2010

I Can't

These words came from the top of Jenna's favorite tree. The Very Top. Her goal for many months.
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She has about one full minute of joy, before suddenly I hear, "I can't get down! I'm stuck!" Am I a gentle nice lovely mama? The following may make you rethink your opinions, folks. ;)

"You FEEL stuck. You THINK you can't get down. It's OK to be scared. You can say it again - I'm scared, I feel stuck. You feel stuck.

But you are NOT stuck. You CAN get down. You are brave and strong and smart, and I know you can do it. You know you can do it. You got to the top of that tree - you can do ANYTHING!"

She was *really* scared. I knew she was scared, but I kept telling her she could do it. Even when *I* was scared, I told her that she could do it.

And she did.

I kept on talking her down - reach for that branch, feel for it, you CAN, you're doing great, you are safe, I'm right here - but I didn't go up for her, and I kept my own fears right out of my voice and my words. She needed me to believe in her, to be her cheering squad, to tell her that even though she was scared she could still do something AMAZING.

At least twice, I nearly had to close my eyes. At least once, I nearly sent Martin up after her (no way some of those branches were going to hold me!). I stood really close beneath her (just in case) and as soon as she got within reach I offered her my arms and she jumped to me and hugged tightly for the longest time.

When she let go, she was flushed and proud and her eyes flashed when she told me, "I ALWAYS KNEW I could do it."

Would it have been more kind to let her learn that her fear could rule her - cripple her from doing what she wanted to? Would it have been more trusting to tell her that if she thought she couldn't, then she *really* couldn't? It would have been maybe a lot more nice.

I saw her strength and her ability, and I thought, that sometimes the right thing to do is to let them be little, and sometimes the right thing to do is to let them be big - and go beyond what they thought they could. Sometimes I misjudge it. But, with the world squeezed tight into that twenty minutes, unable to see anything but the tree and my baby, we did something great together. I helped her to believe that she could, and she did.

24 November 2010

Gifts

As I get older, I get fewer birthday presents. But this year I had some things that were just so very special.

The sweet bright sharp winter sun through flaming autumn-toned leaves.
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My baby said, "I love you!" for the first time, to me, on my birthday.
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My husband cleaned my kitchen. ;)

My big girls surprised me with cards they had made themselves and carefully hidden.
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Oh, and there was cake.
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I leave you with more pictures of my birthday walk. Such a special day, such a special place to my family. And my favorite people in the whole world.
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22 November 2010

Random Post Generator

Haha yes another one of "those" everday posts. :) The big girls have spent hours and hours making endless domino runs since the Green Parent meet. They keep trying to use my phone to video them, which is hilarious and often results in them recording two minute clips of Jenna's voice telling Morgan off for wrecking one!
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We have spent a couple of days mostly at Emma's house, lots of playing and companionable cooking and reading and chatting. A friendship where silences and stillness are comfortable and natural. We share the busiest, slowest, most joyful, heartbreaking, and most challenging times.

These are the gnomes I knitted while we were over there last week.
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Chris said, "is that the little blue thing you started earlier?!" These are QUICK knits!
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And today we spent the day with just Connor again. The four little ones made a mess, but it was a calm companionable day. So nice to have a whole day where my relationship with the children *was* co-operative, peaceful, kind, loving, and respectful. Sometimes I feel like there is always something that stops me quite living up to my own ideals... Anyhow, there I go dwelling on the negative again. Mess and fun. Yes.
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Rowan fell over and Connor rushed over to stroke her back and check if she was OK. When he was sure that she was fine, he tried to help her up!
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Morgan made herself a bed and took an afternoon nap.
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I did some more reading (love this book).
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All in all, a good few days, and so much to look forward to this week too. Tomorrow is my 26th Birthday, so Martin has the day off work and we have mayhem planned. :)

19 November 2010

Message from Jenna

helo i feel new i am so shy to be riting
evreyone that is lisning i hope that you are having fun and having a gud day today.
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i love my new diary and i have winter boots and i love my family and i am a bit crazy.
i mis bailey and jazy and oz and leni and emly.
lots of love from jenna

18 November 2010

Living, Working, Dreaming...

Photo upload issues have kept me quiet this week, so this will be a mamoth all-over-the-place update post today!

This week has been really slow, sleepy, and dreamy. We have fallen a little out of our usual rhythm, mostly because I have been ill and also because the children have been rediscovering play in some ways and have just not wanted to be drawn out of those focused moments. They play, with and without toys, every day. Huge long stretches of time. But somehow I think winter gives that new pleasure to playing indoors and creating whole worlds in our heads.

While they get on with all that, I borrow worlds of others' creation. I finished the Earthsea cycle, and am in love with it all over again. This passage always strikes me, but I read it afresh this time and frankly I couldn't better sum up how much I long to escape the Doing To mentality of parenting.

"An act is not, as young men think, like a rock that one picks up and throws, and it hits or misses, and that's the end of it. When that rock is lifted the earth is lighter, the hand that bears it heavier. When it is thrown the circuits of the stars respond, and where it strikes or falls the universe is changed. On every act the balance of the whole depends. ... we in so far as we have power over the world and over one another, we must learn to do what the leaf and the whale and the wind do of their own nature. We must learn to keep the balance. Having intelligence, we must not act in ignorance. Having choice, we must not act without responsibility. ... do nothing because it is righteous, or praiseworthy, or noble, to do so; do nothing because it seems good to do so; do only that which you must do, and which you cannot do in any other way."

Martinmass came and went without me taking pictures, and I still don't have pictures of some of the things we have made, but ah well. This, I have to share. I knitted this little fellow: Little Lantern Child. I love it. I have since made, um, several. Including a mummy, daddy and baby gnome for Connor. :)
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And the girls made lanterns of several kinds - these are the only ones I have a picture of.
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I have been knitting away most days and am nearly done with Christmas present making.
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It is less than a week until my birthday, and then we'll be decorating the house in preparation for advent and Hannukah (which start on the same day this year). Paper chains and greenery and the much-loved nativity set! I love this time of year, and all of the work lovingly done, gifted to my family, the experience of creating festivals year on year and learning and growing through them myself. If truth be told, I don't find anything about Christmas stressful these days. Simplicity is the key - that and seeking the things that bring us all true JOY, even where it means rejecting something that is the wrong fit for us now.

Speaking of which, I've been reading a book called So You Don't Want to Go to Church Anymore. Interesting and inspiring, and I'll have to share more another time! If you're reading this and freaking out purely based on the title, I'd love to lend it to you. It doesn't say at all what you think it does, I guarantee that! ;)

We have taken a lot of cold walks. I am loving my mei tai for getting Rowan quickly secured on my back when I just want to be outside NOW. We have made up for the cold by drinking a lot of hot chocolate, also. Oh, and honey lemon and ginger tea for poorly stuffy headachey mama.
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Oh, the children found a new area of Poisson Rouge and it's brilliant! Sciencey stuff. Very cool. I love unschooling.
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And for good measure, some lovely gratuitous baby pictures. A sleeping baby. She might have had another week of not doing the whole sleep thing at *night*, but she is still 100% yummy when she naps. Now if I could persuade her that it was good to do this at 2am... ;)
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12 November 2010

More Productive

Jobs done.
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Interrupted by baby getting herself onto the top bunk and sitting chuckling at us and refusing to come down from the top of the wardrobe (oops).
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Lots of play, of course. Stories and play around Martinmass (yes, a day late lol) - crafting too, but all unfinished for yet another day. :)
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And shortbread made along with meals and the usual Challah.
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A very productive day!
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(Though you'll notice we have taken liberties with candle lighting time tonight, definitely past sundown, unorthodox but there you have it. I think we will continue to be very liberal about this, though, since Sabbath is intended as a blessing and a time of worship - not of stress and chaos all of Friday in oder to meet a percieved goal. Perfection eludes me as ever. And today, I think I'm really just fine with Good Enough.)