Friday, 23 December 2011

Ring Out Solstice Bells ...

... Another Jethro Tull favourite of mine!  And yes it  was blaring out as loud as I thought I could get away with three times in a row Solstice morning.  It reminds me of my childhood and my Dad enthusiastically singing along in a comic spaced out droney kind of way, gooning about then regaling me in tales of Ian Anderson's hedonistic ways.  The song resonated with me at the time, I loved the rhythm and the instrumentation, though I didn't know particularly why.  Little did I know then that 20 years later I would be celebrating the Solstice myself.

Midwinter then.  The light shyly begins to return as the nights reluctantly recede.  In my garden spring already dares to dream - bulbs have timidly sent shoots up above ground reminding me it's not always going to be cold and bleak.  I'm not sure my bears are tuned into the significance of this day yet, it's still very much about Christmas and presents for them.  But they needed no encouragement to enjoy another fire at the tee pee in the garden today, sip sip sipping at warm apple juice. 

The older they get the more involved and understanding they can become but in the meantime I can carry the torch.  They will remember the day was special by the fact we had friends round for a feast, Daddy was home, mummy played weird 70's music over and over, which strangely she plays every year about the same time, and there was an eat all you want policy!

Balance eternally reigns supreme, more seasonal yin and yang I'm afraid.  I envisaged an idyll of good cheer, good company and vintage spirit but that wasn't the reality.  There certainly was the good ... solstice eve I saw it in with one dear friend who brought exciting news and a chance for me to get all evangelical on my ass over holistic pregnancy and birth.  And dear friends were here today; her children and mine making magic reindeer food and decorating gingerbread together.  The girls playing 'girlies' together, the boys being ... well, boys.  My first attempt at a yule log wasn't too shabby ... if a bit small. 

There was the bad, the challenging behaviour from Zander throughout.  Over excitement compounded by over tiredness I suspect.  He's pushed it before but not like this.  I've felt all manor of emotions since - disappointment, shame, anger, embarrassment, sadness, failure - mostly self directed.  No better time to be pushed to an edge though than one where light and dark change guard and we are given yet another chance to asses where we are, where those extensions of our hearts - our children, are and nurture more hope in plans for change and growth.  That's what I like about the Celtic wheel of the year; not just New Year for resolutions and good intentions you get eight, yes eight, festival days on which to reassess and cultivate hope and change and that dances well with motherhood - it's a constant state of flux; what worked last week or yesterday may not work today or tomorrow but throughout, core values have to be rooted deep and strong as continuity here is what children need.

I feel a strong call of my place in the triple spiral ... mother.  MOTHER.  It's calling loud.  And although yes - I am here - I had my babies, I carried them and now am raising them, I wonder if there might be some resistance loitering inside my being.  It does seem to be what I'm destined to do - care for others in a motherly way - I've been doing it in various capacities for the last ten years and though I willingly wanted it all so much I sigh a little like 'what about me'.  Ah so there is the resistance, hidden in that sigh.  A paradox springs to mind; on one hand I don't think I'm completely giving myself to the role, not embraced it fully, there's still some more I could give.  On the other hand if my sigh says what about me something is unbalanced.  There is midwinter food for thought and in quieter moments I'll let my mind feast on that.

So there, I have my things to work on.  But I'm giving much time to think of those whose darkness is so black and consuming.  My friend who I know stands in the fire each and every day.  My deepest wish is that light creeps back into her world again this year like a warm summer dawn.  I wish that the ember of strength I know is deep in her heart begins to spark a little, sparks eventually licking out lighting some kindling in her soul.

Next stop: Christmas Eve - extended family warm up round at my house, more food more merriment.  Then onwards into Christmas day: my sisters hosts at her cottage in the country and she's the best host ever!  It will be the first year the kids have shared Christmas day with their cousins, I can't wait for their excitement to reach fever pitch, I think.

Oh and I'm learning new party tricks, balloon animals ...
I can only manage a butterfly and a sausage dog at the moment.

Midwinter Blessings.


Friday, 9 December 2011

Calling it in

Excitement is building, there's a crescendo round the corner! Called the tree in and every morning the children find a decoration in a pocket of the advent calendar to hang from it's green boughs. 

Bunting success: I'd like to make more I doubt I'll get around to it as there are so many other things I want to/need to make

And crafting got so much more exciting when I discovered a new Hobby Craft megastore in town yesterday! 

Called the holly in, the children made a den complete with campfire under this fir tree whilst I gathered it.

And isn't it bliss when every day is a bake off?! 

I can feel the seasonal glutony starting already, but not sure I care, I'm dreaming of feasts, wines and cheese ... mmmm cheese.

Sentimentally I'm loving that my children sit spellbound at the echoes of my own childhood - classics - The Snowman and Father Christmas short movies by Raymond Briggs are in constant rotation now.  As my sister says - just to make sure they don't forget it's gonna be Christmas soon.  That song sends shivers down my spine and I hark back to the festive butterflies I used to have flitting about inside as a little girl.  I watch the smile creeping over Zanders face as Walking In The Air begins to play, he assured me he likes 'that one' best.  I see that classical music calls to him, it appeals to something deep inside - he's shown interest in the score, rather than the soundtrack, from the star wars films he loves as well.  So I dug out my CD of ballet suites as an experiment and you know what? calm settled upon a nearly chaotic household.

There is always Yin to the Yang in life though and indeed the season is no exception.  Alas, I have two poorly poppets at home on the couch snuggled in blankets, clutching hot water bottles with hacking coughs and temperatures - watching endless movies, which I'm cool with under the circumstances.  I'm smiling inwardly at the luxury of no longer working daytime's, knowing they can stay home as long as is needed without me having that niggle in the back of my mind that people in the office would rather I was at work or the fact they'll be taking it all out of my annual leave.  This was one major reason for giving a night job a go and already it's paying off in this respect. 

Illness, though undesirable, always makes a mama feel so needed especially as the children grow and start to exist more independent on a daily basis.  I like that feeling of really being needed by them.  That sense that only endless cuddles from mama can make some things better and with all these extra cuddles and snuggles we reconnect and bond some more, the oxytocin gets pumping round my bloodstream again.  It gives me a chance to flex my self healing muscles too so I knocked up a batch of cranberry cough linctus first thing to sooth those scratchy throats ...

Cranberry & Honey cough syrup

250g Cranberrys
150g Honey
1 Orange sliced
Good handful of fresh thyme
5 dessert spoons of demerera sugar
Echinacea if you have any to hand.

Put cranberries, honey, orange and thyme into a saucepan and just cover with water.  Simmer for half an hour then strain into a measuring jug through a muslin cloth then add the sugar and 4ml echinacea tincture.  Stir until the sugar has melted, leave to cool then pour into a sterilised bottle.  It will keep for several days in the fridge.  I let them drink a little warm from a glass, it's nicer than having it cold off a spoon.

And about half an hour ago they requested a bowl of frozen peas to snack on, which isn't unheard of but I made a note to self that neither of them has coughed since.  They are obviously well in tune with their own bodies and instincts.  What clever little poppets using frozen peas to numb their hurty throats.

I had to give myself brownie points too when I came home bearing two comics full of Christmas crafts and activities in the afternoon.  Seriously, mama did good - they were content and enthusiastic for hours despite their illness and Zanders comic gave me the chance to home school some.  We  counted, spelt, practised writing, matched shapes and  recognised numbers.  And it turns out he can actually really read already - not simply recognise letters - he see's words printed on a page and says 'Mummy - that says big' clever little poppet!

I love it when my table looks like this.

More winter heart warmers ....

Eating mince pie's the way the Somerset branch of our family eat them ... take the tops off and add as much clotted cream as you possibly can, replace top and scoff.  Calorific but the only way to eat them if you ask me ... literally the only way Cliff will eat them!

Paper chains...

 Watching Zander peel all the potatoes for our roast this weekend, persevering with the awkward  technique of a peeler in small hands...

Making winter wands out of Ash collected at Samhain.

Overspending in the continental deli and subsequently over scoffing Panettone and Panforte mostly all by myself, yum!

This cheeky little poppet scoffing popcorn as I strung it with cranberries...

Working with crystals.

The sumptuous full moon of last weekend coming up on the horizon; she looked so near, her light such a soft ivory that I wanted to reach out and pluck her from the sky.

These winter colours in the country park...

And mostly I am excited planning gatherings for the next couple of weeks.

I'm a bit disappointed in myself because in the chaos of adjusting to working nights and inevitable festive preparations my daily meditation practise has totally slipped.  I play the CD with good intentions most nights but fall asleep just minutes in.  I want to get back on top of it, I miss it and I feel I owe it to myself, my family and those that taught me.  I know being disappointed in myself is a judgement and I was taught that judgements are not helpful, they are the second dart. 

With many things on that never ending to do list that I've ignored so far this evening, I say sweet dreams as I try and move them on to my ta-da list! x x x