Friday, January 31, 2014

{ this moment }

{this moment}
A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.
If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.
Inspired by Soule Mama

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Over Protective Mama

I am an over protective mom. 

Not in the way that I forbid my kids to play outside without me or they can't take risks or get dirty. 

I love to send them outside to play while I work inside and drinking coffee in silence (I keep an eye on them, but I don't let them know I'm peeking out every few minutes).  They know where they are allowed to play when they are on their own and even at such young ages, they do a remarkable job of respecting those boundaries.  I let them splash in the creek when it rains and I let them use gardening tools to dig in the muddy garden when it's not frozen.  They wander around the tree line, bringing back "special treasures" of animal skulls, feathers, and funky shaped sticks.   I am probably the most anti-antibacterial hand sanitizer person you will ever meet.  (Seriously, loathe that junk.)  My four year old is allowed to use a real knife in the kitchen when he's helping make dinner.  My three year old is allowed to peel veggies and grate cheese.  They both help around the stove, stirring pots, scrambling eggs, flipping pancakes.  They each have their own pair of scissors and are free to use them whenever they want to create something.  They have these freedoms and they are remarkably capable children, especially when allowed to constantly push up against the boundary of what I sometimes feel are age appropriate chores, jobs, and skills.

Where I get very over protective is with their tender little spirits. 

These precious little souls, entrusted to us for only a short time, are so tender.  They need freedom to play and boundaries to know they are safe.  They need stories to spark their wonder, but protection from an onslaught of media.  They need to be stimulated through imaginative play, but guarded from the over stimulation of mainstream American culture.  They need basic, real, manipulative toys to play with for hours on end, instilling a deep belief of quality over quantity.  They need protection from the over scheduling of activities that can happen so easily these days.  My three year old needs basic, well made clothing to play in, not the latest fashion intended to dress her like a mini-teenager or adult, furthering the early sexualization running rampant in our culture.

I spent some time thinking about how I protect them tonight after seeing how difficult it was for Mannchen to wind down after going to an evening swim class.  It's from 5:30-6:00.  He usually hits the wall around 6:00 - for him "hitting the wall" means losing his ability to regulate his actions and emotions.  Tonight he made it through swim class and then crashed in the middle of dinner.  It was very difficult for him to wind down and settle for bedtime.   I realized that we signed up for this class because it's twice a week and we would like the kids to learn to swim before summer, but at what cost?  Maybe he'll adjust and do just fine after a few more lessons.  Or maybe my instinct to avoid evening activities was a needed one to protect his tender little spirit.  It really put into perspective where his threshold is for stimulation and how important simple is to a young child.  And how vital I think it is for parents to slow down and listen to these messages their children are sending them.  Every child is different - my own children are almost as different as night and day.  If I continually ignore what they are communicating to us through times like this, I am robbing them of their need for slow, simple days.

And it's not that I want to shelter them forever, but right now I wish there was more widespread respect for the fact that they are not little adults.  They are tender hearted, innocent little souls of only three and four years old.  They aren't babies anymore, but they are still very young children.  They need a slow, simple life.  And I want to protect and give them this and a true childhood.  Hopefully they will be blessed with many long years of adulthood, but childhood is being cut shorter and shorter for so many children.  I want to bless them with ample time to play and explore while there is still wonder in their souls for several more years to come.

My hope is this will instill in them a curiosity to learn, a respect for the natural world, a love for all of mankind, and a value for the things that truly matter in life. 


This is a tough issue.  We are far from perfect and I am always trying to

find new ideas to help foster independence, but maintain innocence for the
time being.  One of the main things I need to work on is leading by setting a
 better example in my speech and actions.
What are some of the ways you help protect/foster your children's childhood? 

Have you found it to be a struggle or easy to do in your community?

Friday, January 24, 2014

{ this moment }

{this moment}
A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.
If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.

**Breaking the rules here.  This one needs a little explanation - it appears these two have figured out a new way to share.  The things you have to do when there is only one toilet in the house **
Inspired by Soule Mama

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

In Passing

In passing, someone mentioned to me this morning that the part of yesterday's blog post that stuck with them the most was my mentioning that our life is full of abundance.  It really struck them that we are able to look at our current life as having "abundance that seems to flow out of every facet of our life".  And that passing comment, really got me thinking.

The income isn't abundant right now.  The square footage in our apartment isn't abundant.  The amount of stuff we own isn't overly abundant either - in fact it's the least we've had since beginning our life together.  So why is it that now is when we feel "abundance that seems to flow out of every facet of our life"?

I think the answer began several years ago.  If you had a good look into my heart and mind a little over two years ago, you would see a person that was stuck in materialism.  Sure, there are always people out there that are "worse", but I was seriously stuck in a rut of lusting after that which I didn't have.  I thought we always needed to dress to a particular level of perfection.  I was constantly feeling that our house wasn't big enough, updated enough, accessorized enough.  I wanted a new kitchen and a new bathroom, despite the fact that the ones we had worked perfectly well.  I was borderline embarrassed to drive a ten year old mini-van.  I thought I had to get my kids into a certain preschool or they might get behind.

And I don't really remember how it started, but each of those things started to fade away.  I think it began when I first read Simplicity Parenting.  From that book, I stumbled upon Waldorf Education through my dear friend Nicole...and one step just kept leading to the next.  Waldorf Education websites/book/blogs spilled into Simple Living websites/books/blogs.  I started to realize I needed to slow life down for my children.  Having the latest toys didn't matter to their overall well-being and it really didn't matter which preschool they went to.

Slowing life down for my kids, helped me to slow life down for myself.  We started spending more quality time together at home.  I turned off the television a lot more.  We played outside more.  We made more crafts.  I quit grad school because I realized life wasn't about getting through school so we could have a higher income.  Life was about what was going on under our own roof right at that very moment - it was about the precious little people we were raising and the man I chose to spend the rest of my life with.

We cleaned up our diet.  We parted with a lot of stuff.  And throughout this whole external process, I started to realize in my heart that none of the material things I used to find value in really held any value for myself.  I became entirely satisfied and joyful with the home we had.  Our house didn't look like a picture out of a magazine, but we aren't really magazine people -we're real people, with messy kids.  I realized I had more than enough clothes, as did the kids.  Our van is paid for and it drives excellently.  And some of these realizations happened all a once and others went in more of a "two steps forward, one step back" type fashion.  And at other times I think I talked the talk, determined to convince myself that I could and should feel this way.

Then in August we moved.  We left the house that I had come to love so, so, so, SO much.  We took a cut in income.  We trashed and donated so many of our belongings and stored a fair amount of other belongings.  And here we are - living what I've deemed to be the "simple" life.  And I've never felt more satisfied with life. 

So, getting back to the comment made in passing - having "abundance that seems to flow out of every facet of our life".  Reaching this point was all about perspective.  I could have continued to live life focusing on what we didn't have, but instead I shifted my focus to all that we do have.  And we DO have SO much. 

We do have a clean, comfortable roof over our heads.  We do have full, happy, healthy bellies.  We do have dependable cars.  We do have more than enough toys, clothes, etc, etc, etc. 

But most importantly, I've been able to shift the focus of life away from the stuff and more towards the love and people in my life.  I am so incredibly, humbly blessed to be married to the man I am.  We are so incredibly, humbly blessed to have the two perfect children that we do.  I am blessed beyond belief to have friends that I call family and family that I call friends. 

Thus, to my sweet friend, the abundance in our life can't be measured in stuff, income, or square footage.  It's measured in love, hugs, kisses, long conversations over good food (or cheap wine), and the smiles this sweet life brings to our hearts.  And it is oh so abundant, oh so cherished, and oh so beautiful.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Long awaited weather

Finally.  Finally, snow came to Virginia.  Sure, it wasn't much, but to these two little ones, it was enough.

When we woke up at 7:00, nothing was falling from the sky...but after about 30 minutes of snuggling and finishing up The Snow Queen, it started to fall.  Now I know this is nothing to any northerners following along with us, but please keep in mind that up until this past August, my children have lived their entire lives in Hampton Roads, Virginia.  Snow doesn't really happen there.  They have never made a snowman.  They have never been sledding.  Once, we got a dusting and we shoveled the entire deck in an attempt to gather enough snow to make one teenie-tiny snowman...and even that didn't really work.

So, flakes falling from the sky, during their waking hours is EXCITING to these two.  Once they saw it, forget breakfast, forget brushing teeth, forget getting dressed or making beds.  These two threw on their boots and ran out the door.  It was a miracle that I was even able to get a jacket on Töchterchen. 

And they ran around catching snowflakes on their tounges until they finially got too cold and hungry and came in for the usual morning routine around here.

Even Froggie and Abraham (the bear who happens to be wearing a diaper) had to get out in the snowy goodness.

Finally, my children have helped build a real snowman.  We had such a blast.

And we went sledding down our hill. 

Being the silly mama that I am, I made sure my kids were equiped with ample hand-me-downs of snowpants, snowboots, good hats and mittens, and coats...but I forgot all about myself!  Luckily, it wasn't windy and the temps hovered right around freezing, so it really wasn't cold today - just wet.  It wasn't until we went back out for over an hour this afternoon, in still damp clothes, that I really felt a chill.  We spend a lot of time outside and so far the cold hasn't really gotten to us this year.  I've been amazed at how quickly we have adjusted to cooler temps. 
The overall feeling around here lately is these are the moments and the days we will cherish forever.  We feel that many, many years from now we will look back on these days as some of our best.  Life is so simple, so beautiful, and so full of love right now.  I could not be more thankful for the joy in my children's faces, the hard work my husband puts in at school, and the abundance that seems to flow out of every facet of our life.
How is everyone else spending their snow days this winter?  We certainly hope this is the first of many (several?) this year!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

That Man of Mine

So much of what I post is about the kids, life, and myself.  It's rare that I post much about that wonderful man of mine. And lately he has been nothing shy of every way.

Not only did he work extremely hard during the fall, but he earned excellent grades for his first semester of grad school.  Grades that were good enough take him from a provisional status as a non-degree seeking student to a fully accepted graduate student.  And then, today we found he has been granted a funded assistantship for the spring semester!  (Meaning his semester is paid for and he will get paid to work as a TA...i.e. instead of school costing us money, he now gets paid to do it!)  I am so incredibly proud of him.

To add to all of that, while he has been home the past several weeks on semester break, he has pitched in and helped me in so many ways.  I love seeing how he plays and interacts with our kids.  He is such a hands-on dad.  He helps cook - the man is a genius on the grill.  He even helps clean.  And best of all, he keeps putting up with me, even on my crankiest of days.

So many times we are quick to complain about our spouse.  Or to point out their shortcomings.  But today I wanted to make sure I took the time to acclaim pure gratitude for my loving, considerate, hard-working husband.  Plus, it doesn't hurt that he's so gosh-darn handsome.

Friday, January 10, 2014

{ this moment }

{this moment}
A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.
If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.
Inspired by Soule Mama

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Balancing enough

I spend a great deal of time thinking about how much is really necessary in life.  Obviously we need some things, but how much do we really need and where do we draw the line between wants and needs?  I think I spend so much of my time reflecting on this because we are still in the throws of adjusting to a "less is more" life.  It's a beautiful life, it really is - one that is so full of love, and peace, and beauty, that I feel with the deepest fibers of my being I will look back on these years as some of the greatest years of our life and marriage.  And 99% of the time I don't miss any of the things we've "left behind" or done without.

But then, it will hit me how much I miss a certain part of our old house (ahem, the playroom and backyard in particular).  Or over the holidays I saw all the things we are storing in hubby's grandparents' basement - our dining room furniture, our china, and Töchterchen's eventual bedroom furniture - and for the first time since storing them there 6+ months ago, I missed them.  I had started to assume at the end of these grad school years we would realize we haven't missed any of those items at all, and we would pass them onto others.  But the truth is, not a single item in that basement cost us a penny, they are all family treasures, and I do have a desire to have a house large enough to house those beautiful treasures.  So, just when I start to think we are becoming less materialistic, I find myself loving all our stuff that much more.  And I suppose there's nothing inherently wrong with that, it's just that I wasn't expecting it.

Yes, as time passes our dream home has become smaller and more realistic.  Maybe our dream piece of land hasn't - that keeps growing - but the house has gone from being a large five bedroom farmhouse to something much more basic.  I was once in a mental state of finding myself embarrassed and dissatisfied by our previous house.  Now I spend most of my days feeling extremely fortunate to live in a small, affordable apartment half that size with outdoor space, awesome neighbors, an ideal location, and natural climate control (Yay! for basement dwellings!).  But I'm human and certain things will strike me at the wrong moments and I find myself dreaming of the day we will be able to move out of here and into that dream farmhouse, filled with natural light and fireplaces, complete with drafty windows and constant needs for repair. 

And so I keep coming back to thinking about how much is really necessary and how much is just wanting above our needs?  And how much dreaming is good and how much is coveting that which does not (yet?) exist.  And ultimately how much do we really need?  Our needs are rather basic and universal, it's our wants that are must more extensive and varied.  Maybe this is a struggle we all feel - feeling content (or trying to find contentment) with what we have and also dreaming for something more.  And maybe the struggle isn't wrong.  It's how we handle it that can be so wrong - do we spend our energy focusing on the good and plentiful of what we do have or do we spend it desiring for more and the future. 

For myself, I at least know I don't want to spend so much time longing for the next step of our life that I fail to pause and admire the peaceful joy filling our current days.

So, for now, I am doing my best to focus my energy on appreciating the blessings of life - taking time each day to pause and savor this brief moment in life long enough to realize all our needs are being met, and so much more.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

This Year

Oh boy, this is the year.  The year I thought was so far in the future.  The one I thought would never come. 

This is the year I turn the big 30.  It got here so quickly.  Many days I almost forget that I'm a adult.  Believe it or not, the husband and two kids sometimes just aren't enough to remind me that somewhere along the way I grew up.  I mean, I know I'm an adult now...but I don't always feel like it.  Maybe that's a good thing.  Maybe it's denial.

I'll never forget my twenty-eighth birthday.  I spent a good two hours bawling my eyes out on hubby's shoulder.  Twenty-eight was getting way too close to thirty.  I could no longer deny that I was in my upper twenties.  I did not want to turn thirty.  Maybe it was just getting older or maybe it was because that was also the same week I found out my best friend was moving.  And we weren't.  And that was the night that we decided to try to move to move for hubby to go to grad school.  So, maybe it wasn't really the birthday, but at the time it felt like it was the birthday.

I wasn't sure what to expect emotionally on my twenty-ninth birthday.  I thought I might cry again.  But I didn't.  I felt peace.  I felt my age for the most part.  I felt like I could finally embrace my age and stop walking around telling everyone I was still 25 - which was the age I had decided I would like to stay for as long as possible (I'm silly like that sometimes). 

Over the past several months I've wondered why I feel so much more ready to embrace my age now.  And the only conclusion I've come up with is that not only am I ready to embrace my age, but I am ready to embrace the real me.  I no longer feel like I need to apologetic for certain aspects of "me", "we", and how we live our life.  I feel ready to finally embrace the quote "It is better to be hated for what you are than to be loved for what you are not". 

So bring it on 2014 and thirty.  This simple life living, Waldorf homeschooling, with a touch of Unschooling, small apartment dwelling, made from scratch cooking, sewing, knitting, mama and wife is ready to really start living life, graciously, gracefully and unapologetically.

Friday, January 3, 2014

{ this moment }

{this moment}
A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.
If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.
Inspired by Soule Mama

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Happy Holidays

This has been our best holiday season yet.  The kids are old enough to understand what is going on and to share in the joys of family, celebration, feasting, and togetherness that this time of year brings.  Despite a late night of finishing up all the homemade gifts on Christmas Eve, this season has been a wonderful drawn out time of celebration and togetherness.  I love that we can carry this feeling through until Three Kings Day next Monday. 

There are so many wonderful moments I would love to share, but until then here are a few favorite shots of our season.  Now, it's back to family, quality time, and, relaxation....along with a little organizing and re-arranging.