Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Learning all life long

Learning is not something that begins and ends in school, quite the contrary. Here is a little list of my favorite lessons from the past year or so.

It will always be more tempting to go back to sleep than to get up at five am. On the other hand, I will never regret getting up, once I am out of bed. (One foot at a time, one eye at a time.)

Life is enriched and made more beautiful by starting the day with a simple "thank you."

Babies, planned or not, will always be a source of love, joy, lovely smells, cuddles, sweet nights and days of giggles, spills and sticky kisses. There's nothing like a baby in your life to warm it up and reveal the beauty of life again. And there is nothing like a child to reveal all of the wonder you may have forgotten is in the world, or to ask you probing questions that awaken your curiosity again.

This does not mean that everyone should go out and have their own baby today. You may want to just go sniff someone else's for a minute. One must be reasonable and know when to say enough babies. (And that, I'm afraid, is a lesson I will never learn!)

Meditation, taking time to be, to remember that we are human beings and not human doings, has also made an intense difference in my quality of life. This time of quiet, not of reflection, but of inner stillness, requires more discipline from me than an intense housecleaning session or a run in the heat (probably my two least favorites.) Meditation, for us utilitarians, does not give one a sense of having accomplished anything measurable by society's standards; no work was done, no calories burned, no stitches knit in that time. The worth is there nonetheless, patient, biding its time as a bulb in the winter, growing stronger with tending and watering.

Friday, June 20, 2008

A Tribute to Tasha Tudor, who passed away June 18, 2008 at the age of 92.

No one asks anymore, but if they did, I would say that when I grow up I want to be Tasha Tudor. This great lady passed away yesterday, but leaves in her stead such a legacy that she will be remembered for moons upon moons to come.

Each one who loved Tasha Tudor will have their own memories of her. It may be that what you remember about Tasha are her fabulous, magical gardens, beautiful beyond compare. It could be her lovely books, with their flowered and ribboned borders and irresistible characters are your favorite. It might be the way she lived and dressed, farming as though it were still the 1830's; knitting by firelight, spinning, weaving and stitching her own period clothing. Or yet again the wondrous toys she created and played with; her puppets, animals and doll houses.

Her elegance of spirit and simplicity of life are an inspiration to many. Her unwavering belief in her vision allowed her to live passionately and fully. Her disregard for what the world said or did meant her focus stayed true. Her farmhouse, carefully reconstructed and allowed to age gracefully, was a reflection of the path of her life.

She accomplished more in a year than some of us do in a lifetime. This, I think, is what leaves us the most perplexed; how did she do all of the things she did? As a mother of small children, I marvel at how she simultaneously farmed, wrote and illustrated books, tended her beautiful garden, raised her four children and created elaborate doll worlds and many celebrations for them.

Her secret, I believe, comes back to her passion for all she did. She loved what she did and worked in joy and love. Allowing yourself to work on the things you love, along with diligence and patience, will yield better results than any forceful running about to fulfill someone else's "to do" list.

I light a candle to the memory of Tasha today and pledge to live this day to my fullest. Today I will remain true to my love of peace and beauty, of creating a good home for my family. I will pursue my passions, nurture those of my children and enjoy each sip of my tea.

Monday, June 2, 2008


Cockatiels are the second most popular pet birds in the world. They are very beautiful too. They can often be taught to talk and whistle tunes. When you buy a cockatiel, make sure its eyes are clear and bright, its feathers are smooth, shiny, dry, clean, and lay flat on its body. Its beak should be smooth and well shaped, its nostrils clear and clean. Twenty inches by twenty inches is the bare minimum for a cage. Seeds, pellets, and fresh fruits and vegetables are a good diet. Hard boiled eggs can be fed sometimes. Cockatiels are less noisy than other birds and are good with small children. Bird names that I have thought of were: Jasper, Harry Potter, Ron Weasly, Ginny, Luna Lovegood, Madeye, and Voldemort. Poisons for birds: bleach, ammonia, oven cleaner, glue, nail polish remover, paint, perfume, heavy metal, lead, and zinc. Sugar, salt, fatty foods, and chocolate is very bad for birds. Electric cords, ceiling fans, windows, doors, and mirrors are also deadly to birds.

Caitlin, Tuesday, March 25th.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

The first moment

"That sounds very waldorfy honey..." - I wondered if she was serious, then I realized the tone of her voice. I think the kids will enjoy posting about their homeschool journey, about history, history of China, Greece; about their pet rats maybe, or about math.

Hmph, talk about being coerced into a writing project! I guess it's my turn. I am Mama, of these five marvelous beings, wife to the funny guy making statements I need to refute lest I be labeled "anti-family project" and blogging is not quite my thing. Computers are not my thing, technology is not my thing. My dream would be to be Tasha Tudor, living her life, pretending it was still 1830. A farm somewhere, wonderfully isolated, milking my own goats and cows, growing flowers and vegetables, canning my own produce. Knitting by the fireside, baking and cooking, reading for days on end, writing to "keep the wolf from the door", that would be the life.

However, in the name of family unity, I am willing to attempt blogging; even though the very sound of the word is offensive!

Our family journey is largely of the learning and living together type. We speak both French and English, having our roots both in France and in Iowa. We already live, in great part, our ideal lives. We read a lot, especially in front of the fire in unpleasant weather. We take frequent walks in nature, sail the Mississippi (don't laugh, it's quite large where we live!) We're building a canoe in the garage, and we enjoy gardening, cooking and baking together. In the past year we have come to include a new level of structure to our day, this in order to accommodate life with a new family member. Our darling baby number five arrived in May of '07, and I felt that something needed to change or chaos would take over the household.

In our great voyage into the unknown waters of more structured learning, we found that the world of Waldorf met ours halfway. It has opened doors to a harmonious way to begin the day on a positive note. We come together to light a candle, share our joys, sorrows and a poem or two. Waldorf has validated my love of knitting and baking, making them suddenly bona fide avenues of learning. It has introduced many festivals throughout the year, and more festivals mean more fun, as well as more reasons to read up on other cultures and civilizations. It has also meant the discovery of fascinating math projects that we have incorporated with joy, instead of the dread that used to accompany "math time" at home. My meditation and yoga practices come under the category of "inner work". I tend to make more time for them, since their immediate impact on my family and our learning together are clearer.

Thierry, Angela