Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Midsummer Mirth

I am a little late posting this as Midsummer was last week, I wrote it at the time then life got in the way and here we are ...

Dear Zander & Gaia

Well my darlings, what mirth we did make yesterday in our own chaotic special way.  Midsummer!  The day of the year I look forward to most, though the duality is ironic as from this point onwards the days will shorten once more, the wheel turns.

If we shadows have offended,
Think but this, and all is mended,
That you have but slumber'd here
While these visions did appear.
And this weak and idle theme,
No more yielding but a dream,
Gentles, do not reprehend:
if you pardon, we will mend:
And, as I am an honest Puck,
If we have unearned luck
Now to 'scape the serpent's tongue,
We will make amends ere long;
Else the Puck a liar call;
So, good night unto you all.
Give me your hands, if we be friends,
And Robin shall restore amends. (Act v. Scene i.)

Pucks Monologue from the very end of A Mid-summer Nights Dream, I know it word for word, still. My favourite character from my very favourite play. I first studied it when I was a girl, 14 and I can still see the vibrant images I conjured up in my head of the faery folk making mischief and merry on midsummers eve. Little did I know then, though I may have had the slightest of inklings, how important Midsummer would become to me. Perhaps, that is why I was so taken with the play in the first place. Remind me to read the whole play to you when you are older and I am certain that a production is put on every year in the gardens of one of the colleges here in Cambridge, we must go!

Annoyingly only the patch of mud is focus here
but this is the moment it was leading to, you wouldn't put this little guy down, he wasn't too happy about it

For the first year since you were both born we have all been together for this day. I long for us to belong to a community where we can celebrate and while away the long mid summer hours with other kids running round us, other grown ups taken by the spirit of the day, feeling deeply connected to the Earth, but right now we are solitary in our celebrations. Perhaps in time this dream will manifest but I know this day will always be special for us wherever we are. And next year, oh what a treat we have in store for you. Yes, for the first time you will see the Midsummer sunrise at Stonehenge. Daddy and I started going there to celebrate Solstice before you were born and on a day set to be balmy it is an experience like no other!
It is a shame I found the camera battery end down in a cup of cold tea on Soltice Eve, consequently I have very few photo's of the day. Another day that fate had it in mind I should savour as a secret but for you I'll paint the picture in your minds here as well.
We had the paddling pool out the day before and I'm glad we did as it was hotter!

... but intrigued by my impromptu relocation of the kitchen to the patio outside, you jumped in and out helping me bake saffron and lavender biscuits, who'd have thought those two flavours would go together so well.

And I made the perfect spanish Tortilla for tea (Daddy's favourite) with rosemary and feta rye bread.  And for pudding the apple and almond tart of my childhood. A little more rustic looking than my Ma's but twas delicious anyway!
And you darlings ... you helped me clean and wash the playroom floor! Ordinarily I'd either have left it till after dinner then screwed about how much I had to do and woken up with a grump on the next day ,or I would have relegated you to the purple room with a DVD. But I could feel you needed me closer and I needed you but I needed a clean floor too. With that I set up towels for us to sit on and we scrubbed, rinsed and slid our way across the playroom. Truly, I don't think the floor has ever been cleaned so attentively!

We've done midsummer crafts a plenty - Zander you practiced your cutting (very impressive!) and made midsummer spirals with me. I love that they are luminous - we couldn't find shiny gold card so I thought what the heck, day glo will do just fine, I like them better I think! We made rainbow bees from pinecones and coloured wool and you drew me a picture of me in a flower, dreadlocks and all, you darling boy. And we tie dyed some old clothes, gave them new purple life!


We acknowledged our connection with nature and took some of our fresh home-grown organic carrots to Flora the horse who lives in the meadow by the river. Then beetled slowly along the meandering waterway past the house boats, through the grazing daft looking cows to the park where hide and seek was perfect for playing in amongst the child sized bollarded willows that are growing there. I could never understand why they cut them back at such an odd stumpy height, watching my two imps weave in and out I suddenly realised!
To great excitement Daddy and I cut down a couple of tree's in the front garden ... a conflict of interests I hear you say ... we'd rather not be cutting down tree's and on midsummer's day i hear you say! But when they're steeling your sunshine and providing maternity wards to thousands of sticky greenflies you have to dodge every morning then I think it's allowed. And in any case, the wood is not going to waste, oh no ...


You know what?  It only took me an hour and a half, two hours including fine tuning time. 

The branches are sunk about six inches into the ground - I made holes with a stake and mallet first then twisted the branches in one full turn so they sat secure in the bottom of the hole.  And I popped a rugged stone down each side of the branch to hold it firm at the top of the hole.  I had six bigger heavier main poles and bound these together at the top.  Then I crossed two ever so slightly shorter ones over each main pole to make a lattice of sorts.  From there I just wove random branches in between and have left branch structures in tact which looks beautifully natural.  I am extremely pleased with the sturdiness of it. 

Tree Blocks! I have been waiting for this opportunity since you were born Zander. We can have all the tree blocks you could ever want, free, with love form Mother Earth! Smooth sycamore wood and gnarly budleigha for added interest. And of course I saved some slender branches for us to make into trelis and stakes in the garden - the cucumber will be happy.
We set a solstice fire burning after dinner, watching flames lick and lash as we snuggled close for favourite stories and hot chocolates warming our toes and each others hearts by the fire. Laughter, cuddles, sunset sunlight. My children, my creations, my masterpieces.

Maybe you think I'm crazy but I felt very close to the energy of the mother earth, the green goddess yesterday, she was closer.  They say those with faery blood feel it when the veils between the worlds lift. I feel something.  I like having one foot in faery land and the other loosely wobbling for a grip in the (un)real world. Once you were in bed I sat by the fire as the embers glowed I meditated on things I'll leave behind as another phase begins, things I'd like to bring into our lives and I'm thankful for all I have.

And the night draws to a close.
Brightest blessings & sweetest Midsummer nights dreams
All my love
Mummy X

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Let The Children Lead

I stare at the children sleeping by night and dwell on the imperanence of life.  How short this part of my life will seem to me even though I well remember how long childhood lasts whilst you're there yourself.  I've got to make the most of it I tell myself and resolve for a good day the next.

 Yesterday I remembered this as I awoke.  I wanted a day untouched by the outside world. I wanted to step out of time into non-time in my own surroundings. I wanted the day to last longer than it really would.  I wanted for time to stand still or elongate a little, for these are precious days where I have the children all to myself.

The children bought their morning snacks in to my room after Cliff left for work, what left to do but hunker down and while away many many moments together reading cuddling laughing.
And as we eventually got up the change came ... I glanced at my phone sitting on my bedside table, ordinarily would have picked it up, even gone back for it had I forgotten it 

Today I'm buying myself some more time with my kids
                                                                                                                      I thought. 
I turned it off, left it where it was. 

Like I might blend pastels together on paper so the activities of our day started to blend, seemlessly flowed, naturally rhythmic from one to the next.  

So from breakfast to garden snacks.  If you've never tasted fresh homegrown peas, you've not lived!

We trundle down to the veg beds to hang out and feast on natures bounty, unzipping pea packets and de-hatting the strawberries.  Just chillin’.  Unwashed and still in bumming about clothes but we were all content.  By force of habit I wanted to announce we should all go inside ande get ready to start the day, wash, dress, tidy a little … but no, the day had started many many moments earlier, perfectly.  I love that outside there's no clock to check or chores to spy out of the corner of my eye, so I thought

I'll let the children lead.

Zander lets his imagination lead.  Another story living in our garden.  See the rainbow mouse eating the peas he thoughtfully placed inside the nest.

Even heavy showers of summer rain could not interupt our flow. 

A midday bath is a refreshing joyus change to our usual rhythm.  They love baths and water is so calming and sensory, especially when Zanders pickin’ herbs to infuse, today Sage.  Yesterday it was chamomile and butterfly lavendar ...

Usually baths are rushed atfer dinner and not much fun for anyone but they can stretch out for as long as the children want during the day, it works so well.
The day did stretch out, my time with the children was more full, I had the chance to look inward towards the centre of my life and happily put the outside world on the back burner. 
I hope for more of the same tomorrow.  Usually we would go to Woodmice, the forest group we attend.  But something’s not right with Zander - he doesn’t really seem to dig it at this present moment.

We stopped going over the winter - way too cold for the half hour cycle ride each way.  And  spring was cold too.  When we returned, though we felt like old hands, we knew very few there. The group is much bigger too now. I’ve persevered quite a while since we returned, each bar one (when the group was much smaller) he’s been unsettled whiny rude and aggressive to me.  It’s stressful for me to try and deal with this behaviour in public even if I do remain calm on the outside, inside I'm trying myself in knots.
It’s my last connection to the Steiner School since he grew out of the Parent & child group in the autumn and since I accepted I cannot afford a place there for him once he reaches school age. It’s nice for me to hang out with like minded parents, I really need that.  They are the most like minded people I know probably in terms of what we want for our children.

But my kid’s not happy.  His week is very busy when I think about it.  One day at nursery, two with the childminder and her children and then weekends are normally hectic with shopping and other boring must do tasks.  So I've been pondering, maybe he's pining for some time when it's just me him and Gaia exploring the world together.  With this in mind we are going to the botanic gardens tomorrow instead, just the three of us.  Perhaps also he's not too different from his Mama - I have an incling his spontaneous side is getting antsy.  I've said it before - rhythm is a funny old thing, not enough and we feel lost but too much and life begins to feel restrictive.

I'm reading Heaven On Earth and it's made me realise how  similar my ideals are to Steiner as there's an incredible amount that I do already that follows this approach to parenting.  I want to weave ever more into our lives and then perhaps loosing our connections doesn't matter so much.  We can dip back in as we wish I guess and before I know it he'll be in school and if Gaia would like we may return for some quality mama and daughter time.  But for now I'll follow my boys lead and my instincts.
We have had some lovely times there though ...

The children found a dead shrew.  I loved that this little girls Mama didn't mind her picking it up.  My initial reaction was look but don't touch, as I said it it seemed bizarre given that we were staring into another little ones hands.  They dug a hole and burried it, each child picking a flower and throwing it in.

The Elm tree has died, dutch elm disease.  The bark has come away over the last year, we bought a piece we found back last year and now these amazing patterns made by beetles burrowing under the bark have been exposed.  I would love somehow to lift these patterns and make a block print of them, I may go armed with plasticine next time.

She's a chinchilla, she finds a dust hole and settles in!

The Cow Horse - highly confusing for little people!

Rest of the week randomness ...
Loving this one taken by Cliff.

This is Mr Bloom's Nursery, apparantly. I think it's a T.V programme Zander watches with the childminder.  He spent a lot of time making the veg and flower beds then filling them with crops and scarecrows, gates and paths.
I don't write poetry very often anymore, I don't have the space and time in my head normally but they appear as if from nowhere once in a while, so here's how I was feeling last week.  I've not tinkered too much so it's quite raw

Lament of the working mother

My little ones head is hot this morning
He whines in a poorly way
I’ve a meeting at 2
But I know what to do
Stay home and make sure he’s ok.

We healed with hugs
And we healed through art
But still he’s flushed and warm
In an ideal world I’d stay home once more
Until we completely show illness the door.

He needs tenderness and hugs
Hot chocolate in his monkey mug
His cheeks are flushed, he has a sad little cough
But I packed him off with a spoon of pink
That will have to be enough, today, I think

It’s not just the illness that’s doing my head in
It’s the hours I toil
The money I earn
Then I pay for someone else
With my children to play

It’s the four years I could have had him all to myself
Yet I’ve gone out and worked
To provide dinner and beds

It’s the education I want for them and cannot afford
The surroundings I don’t earn enough to provide
It’s the damn tax credit office and their innumerably requests
For proof of that and proof of this.

It’s the housework that gets left un done each night
As my children peak my priority list
It’s the books stacking up that I've no time to read,
Hell sometimes I feel I don’t have time to sneeze

The friends I have no time to see
The person I haven’t the time to find and be
It’s the enthusiasm for cooking I’ve lost
And the garden that’s waiting and wilting so much
It’s the making ends meet with too short pieces of string

And so,                                    I’m hopelessly                                 daydreaming ….

I'm blessed X

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Mummy Days

... you know what I mean, when the little ones are poorly so you keep them at home, yet once this decission is taken they seem to improve somewhat and you end up wondering if you've done the right thing?

Zander has been ill with a virus over the last 24 hours.  You know unmistakeably when your child is even a fraction hotter than usual.  Subtle but deffinite, does that make sense?  He hasn't eaten properly in a couple of days so I'm certain my instincts this time are correct.  I've done the right thing by taking the day off to care for him. 

Gentle healing time with this beautiful creature of mine

Healing through expression, healing with vitamin D...

 A subtle change in rhythm with a post lunch bath chilled him out even more.  He even fancied emptying the dishwasher and helping me hang washing out.  Think we needed this day just him and I.

My kids are so much more important than keeping up appearances at work but due to many things I've not been there much this month. I'm feeling a little conspicuous by my absence.

Benefit of the doubt.  My Mama most deffinitly subscribed to that.  I remember feeling off colour and out of sorts one school morning, nothing in particular.  She took me seriously, validated my feelings but gave it a little longer as we continued going through the motions of getting ready in case it turned out to be early morning blues.  She called it a little before going out time.  I stayed home with her that day.

Like all children at some stage, perhaps not physically sickening in any major way, I had a genuine inner need for reconnecting to her, with Mother energy and the security of home.  I think some healing on a deeper level needed to take place, my body-mind needed the time and it manifested physically in order for me and those around me to take notice and fascilitate.

And I distinctly remember getting up the next day feeling pretty chipper and ready to face the world again.

I want to always be able to fascilitate this healing time and space for my children as they grow up and go through school.  Not so easy when juggling an office job as well, but I will find a way.

We had festival fun at the weekend, Strawberry Fair was on Midsummer Common.  Ah yes, another chance to slip into that non-time I love so much!

We laughed and pulled funny faces as we danced and foolled about, playfully parenting.  Seeing old friends from distant times, loving the opportunity to show our little family off.

Craft time in the kids tent, which though an improvement on past years still has a little way to go.  Since we first did a festival with Zander at 14 months old I've fancied stepping up and running something for children and parents myself.  I sometimes fantasise over what the perfect family area would be like, imagine if I could provide that?!  How happy I'd be as a punter!  Maybe when my two are a little older...

Sunshine was kind, it was a glorious day.  We met up with dear friends under a big old Oak tree just outside the fair to escape the madness for a while and watched whilst the kids made each other laugh with toilet humour and of all things poking cow pats with sticks.  Life goes full circle as it reminded me of similar escapades in the countryside when we were children!

So a little warm up for our main event at the end of July ... The Secret Garden Party festival.  We can't wait as this will be some serious hanging out in non-time, five days to forget the real world exists.

Check out my boys imagination here!  He's made a story.  Something inspired by the forest kindergarten group we go to.  They collect natural bits and pieces to create a stage to set the story, these rainbow felt mice we made were so lucky to be sleeping on beds of fresh chamomile, fennel and cherries!

Then he tells a story using the props and previous stories as inspiration, I'm so glad he's playing these out at home too. A nod that his imagination is firing on all cylinders.  If there's no natural props to hand - if it's raining and we're inside, he creates story stages out of toys and whatever he can find inside.

Gaia kneads bread dough, my forever snotty angel!

    Cherries we foraged, love this season for all the free fruit.
    And Look!  Our first clutch of carrots...

Calm continued

Hope it does tomorrow also

Blessings counted! X