Please meet the sweet and lovely Pippi!
She is very much adored -- a little too much so by small-but-surprisingly-strong-hands, but she's handling that persistent loving quite well.
Now, to actually spend a few days at home with the pup...
Happy weekending friends,
I've spent the past couple of days going back and forth between feeling like I have a solid plan and then picking apart that solid plan until it's just a bunch of loose threads... Many, many deep breaths later, and I've decided that this will just be a semester of taking one day at a time, meeting my students where they are, with whatever I can offer them.
The "plan," for now, is to keep a good record of all I do this term, so that I'll be a little more prepared the next time around.
Also: I suppose it shouldn't have been such a surprise, with all this school business afoot, but it's the Autumn Equinox this Sunday! Our's will be a pretty full weekend already, with my classes beginning on Monday and another very big (or, small?) something happening on Sunday, but I'm sure we'll find a way to celebrate...
There's a plum tree down by the river just begging for picking.
Do you have plans for welcoming in the Fall?
PS: You might notice things look a little different around here. I realized that it had been over three years since I last updated the look of the blog, and as we've moved into a new home and daily patterning, I thought it was time for a change, something fresh and open. I think I like it.
I've just been offered a teaching position for not one, but two composition classes, which is excellent, but class begins next week and I'm really scrambling to prepare.
It's been quite a while since I've taken this type of course,and I think that much of it will be a learn-as-I-go experience. However, I do need to have a clear course planned out for my students when we meet next week, so they can know what to expect. It's a tricky balance -- I feel that I won't truly have a clear sense of their particular needs until I get to know them a bit better. But there are books to be ordered! Assignments to be written!
Maybe I'll ask, if you can think back to your composition class days (we've all had them, right?), were there any materials you found particularly helpful? All I remember of my english textbooks (not the novels / literature collections, but the actual "writing manuals") is that they were expensive and I never referred to them -- I can't even really remember using them in class. I'd like to avoid asking my students to buy books that we probably won't use, and that they won't want to keep on their shelves after class.
my favorite pen
some writerly things:
Of the two of us, Sebastian is truly the "active" parent. He has an amazing energy, and is happy getting out-of-doors and moving with the boys -- rides in the bicycle trailer, jaunts down the block to the river, fix-it and building projects around the house.
And I find I am most comfortable with the more grounding side of parenting -- care of the body, reading, indoor play.
This, I think, is what strengthens our relationship as parents and parnters, what gives us our yin and our yang. But, over the weekend, while Sebastian is working long shifts at the restaurant, I need to find ways to get the boys outside and moving. Usually, this is not a difficult thing to do. But, sometimes, they need a little nudge.
So, I made a small "scavenger hunt." Quinn was happy with just one task -- check on River (the little dog next door). But Pan was up for something a little more challenging. Together we made a list of things for him to find outside. As he doesn't read yet, I drew pictures of an apple (with no bites taken from it), an oval shaped stone (to be found in just that shape and size), a leaf the color of his rain jacket, a flower. He took his basket, and a pen to check off the items as he found them.
This all came together in a matter of minutes -- no planning ahead or preparation required. Just the seed of an idea I'd seen on pinterest, and adapted to fit my little ones. The best kind of play, really.
Pan didn't find all the items on the list, but it was a step out the door. In hunting around the yard for these specific (but findable) objects, they soon found their own game to dig into. And I could keep canning my peaches.
PS: In searching for an unbitten apple, Pan climbed all the way to the top of our tiny apple tree! Here's his first attempt, with help from Quinny:
I thought, because we had so many from the orchard, that I'd make a few different things. But it was just jam, jam, jam for our peaches. Pan helped make the "stickers" to go on top.
6-8 good sized peaches (peeled, pitted, chopped)
1/2 c. honey
Pour honey over chopped peaches and let it soak in while you peel the lemon with a vegetable peeler and sliver the rind into thin strips. Juice the lemon. Add lemon rind and juice to peaches.
Pour into a large, deep skillet and bring to a bubble over medium-high heet. Mash with a potato masher as it bubbles, for a smoother texture. Keep it bubbling -- stirring frequently -- until it feels jammy (when you stir, the juices don't immediately fill the stirred space). Pour into prepared containers.
If you are canning your jam, boil the sanized jars for about ten minutes to seal. This doesn't yield much, only about 1.5 pints, so double / triple for large batches!
PS: As I wrote this, I could hear Pan downstairs trying to teach Quinn to say "Quick as a wink." It's harder to say than it sounds!
The boys and I had a long weekend to ourselves, as Sebastian settled into his new job -- and we started it off with some very lucky finds at a 30-family yard sale. I found not one, but TWO ruskovilla wool suits, in each of the boys' exact sizes. I could hardly believe it when I pulled the first one from a heap of children's clothing, and then to find another one... Of course, my hand would find its way directly to the wool item in the pile. The boys were, understandably, more excited about the child-sized snow shovels.
Pan spent a good deal of time making new picture covers for his wooden puzzle boxes. He's been coming up with all sorts of "good ideas" lately -- also funny ones. Like the other night, as we were settling him into bed and talking about our day, he broke out laughing, saying that he'd just thought of something really funny, that he'd thought about a train track being built out of his bedside candle. That boy.
I find that I am re-learning how much work it is to take care of a true household again. I hardly sit all day long, and yet, at the end of the day, there isn't much to be seen of all the work I've done. I had to make a list of it in my head, so I could remember that I'd swept and mopped the kitchen, sorted through our winter things and put away some summer things, did several loads of laundry, cleaned out the car, dehydrated several pounds of pears, the sinksful of dishes... all those little things that, when night comes, seem to be sucked up into the day and forgotten about. I felt the need to tell Sebastian all the things I'd done, because they weren't obvious, but they took so much effort and time. Maybe it will all just become like breathing and the need for recognition will fade. I can't quite remember how it was before.
PS: Pan is in need of rain pants. We had a pair from lands end before, and they were totally fine -- but I'm wondering if you have any other recommendations?
And it felt... totally normal. Like, yes of course this is the next thing for us to do. He is attending a two-year, part-time kindergarten program at our local waldorf school and he took to it like a second home.
The hardest part has been enticing Quinny out of the play yard after morning drop-off -- he wants to go to "Pan's school" too. They've done just about everything in their lives together, and this is a big change for him. I think he would be ready for a preschool program, himself, but sadly the classes are all full for this year. As Sebastian is working at the school as a preschool teacher's assistant, Quinn and I are finding ways to fill the morning, just the two of us. (One truly can be more difficult than two!)
Just in the past week, the change in Pan has been remarkable. His communication has become much more clear and calm. He leads play with Quinn in a much more collaborative manner. He listens carefully and follows instructions more quickly.
We are so happy that we've moved so seamlessly into the Waldorf community here in Spokane. I've been interested in Steiner's philosophy on early childhood development and education since Pan was a wee baby, and many of the parenting decision we've made have been influenced by this. Seeing him enter so confidently into the school environment for the first time feels like a tiny parenting victory -- and those are absolutely necessary every now and then!
I know this was the first week of school for many families -- I hope it felt like the beginning of something very, very good for all of you.
PS: If you are curious about Waldorf education, a good place to start, I think, is You Are Your Child's First Teacher by Rahima Baldwin Dancy. Another really practical book (especially for older children) is Sharifa Oppenheimer's Heaven on Earth. The web is a tireless resource as well -- let me know if you need a trail head to start off on!