Saturday, September 29, 2012

Magic Beans

Lately the girls have been building little fairy houses around the huge tree in our yard.  Occasionally fairies move in, and leave treasures for the little hands that built them.  Last week the girls were gifted with little squirrels and a bag of magic beans.  We had been reading the story of "Jack and the Beanstalk" and Anastasia wondered if the fairies knew that, and that is why they left us magic beans.  I am sure fairies know a great deal more about us, than we do about them.
The girls ate most of the magic beans, but I convinced them to save a few, just in case they are really magical.  We took our magic beans and placed them in the ground in a sunny spot, then watered them. The girls spent the day wondering what the beans might grow into. Perhaps a beanstalk that will take us to a magical land?

When they woke the next morning, the girls looked out the window but there was not a beanstalk growing to the heavens.  At first they were disappointed, but then when they ran outside they found a little lollipop bush sprinkled with fairy dust and lollipops poking between the lovely flowers.  To say they were excited would be an understatement!  They really were magic beans! And they grew into magical lollipops!
 I have found many people don't like to encourage the ideas of fairies and magic to small children, for fear that they may question their faith later if all other things prove false (Santa Claus, Tooth Fairy, etc).  I on the other hand, find that we are really opening up our children's mind and hearts to miracles and wonder, that they may be able to believe more strongly in that which we cannot see and touch.  I also think it helps children to think outside the box of our reality which is what the world needs most to fix the problems at hand.  A strong imagination is essential to childhood and builds a more thoughtful and dynamic person who isn't bound to the realities of this life, and who can love the world and the magic that nature and its Creator has to offer. 
May your week be filled with wonder and awe.  

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

C is for Cat... and chalk board painted walls!

 The past week and a half has been a total whirlwind of emotions.  Some very sad things have happened to friends we love very much, and it has been hard to digest the reality of what has happened.  None the less, life goes on.  On the lighter side, we added a new cat to our family. His name is Dmitri and he wears princess dresses without shame. So therefore, he is perfect. Only, he is terribly lazy. We picked him out of 8 different cats we had narrowed down to, and he was a perfect blend of sweet and playful. Well. He is beyond sweet but the playfulness has been trumped with constant napping.
 I have been on a bit of a painting spree. I painted a dresser, a clock and I turned a wall into a chalk board.  It was a little bit ominous painting this wall pitch black, but my only regret is that we didn't do this ages ago! 
 This chalkboard wall has added so much life to our living room. I have loved the idea of chalkboard paint for a while, but I was so afraid of black.  Then, as we began homeschooling this year, I felt like I desperately needed a chalkboard. Only, we have no real room for a nice sized one. And so I finally went and bought the paint, outlined a large rectangle space with painters tape, and painted my wall pitch black.  After the 24-hour wait period, not a moment was wasted and everyone joined in the drawing fun! Even Daddy added a castle which inspired our letter "C" mural.  Our living room has not been used as much as it should, but we are slowly turning it into a rather lovely school room, especially with our new canvas.
We have been well and the girls love school thus far. Even Kieran asks every morning to do "cool".   And Kieran likes to nap anyplace but his own bed.  Apparently hard plastic bins are more comfortable than toddler beds. Anastasia wants to be an artist and a mom when she grows up.  Isabel doesn't want to grow up. She wants to stay with me forever. I am beyond blessed. :)

Friday, September 7, 2012

Finding Simplicity in a Complicated World

We just finished up reading Little House On the Prairie last night. Funny, I have never fully read the story, or at least I don't remember it. Through reading this story I am struck with how little the Ingalls family had, how hard they worked for every little thing they had, and how happy they were.  I am mostly moved by how the girls had very little toys or things of their own and then when they were given a gift, an entire chapter went on about how enthralled Laura was with that very special gift. Especially at Christmas, when they each received a simple tin cup, and they were beyond delighted by that very utilitarian gift, given especially to each of them. There are sentences written about how they licked their candy canes so slowly, savoring each taste. Pa put his blood sweat and tears into that house, and then they up and left it. No big deal. A beautiful cabin left alone on the prairie.  How quick they kissed such precious material possessions goodbye. And then there is now.
Now, 150 years later we are inundated with stuff. Material things drive our economy, our households, our lives. Every time you turn around someone is handing out a lollipop and some plastic, made-in-China toy that gets played with 2 seconds and tossed on the floor to be stepped on, swept up, and thrown back in to the vicious materialistic cycle. Not to mention the pace, the anxiety, the new dangers we have created ourselves! Pa didn't have to worry about pesticides on the prairie and toxic waste in the creek!  Our lives today are too complicated. Too fast. We could barely write an entire chapter of a book about our year.... let alone a single day.  And so in this, our crazy, unsettled world, this valley of tears, I am reclaiming simplicity... one day at a time. One Barbie, one unused cup, one dress that doesn't get worn, one moment at a time I am bagging up the excess, skimming down the needs, and moving on.  I don't think my children will only receive a single tin cup this Christmas, but they will get less, so that less will be more.   
I recently picked up the most wonderful book, Simplicity Parenting. The concept isn't new to me, but the book is hard hitting. It really looks at the toxicity of our society on childhood. For me personally, simplifying our life is really about taking control of it.  Not being a slave to my children's toy collection or ballet schedule, or even to their endless parade of desires.  This month I have donated over 10 trash bags of toys, books, clothes, shoes, etc. to Salvation Army. If you have seen our tiny home, you must know what a huge deal that is! I hope to donate another 10 more before Christmas.  While the 3 generations (mine, my mom's and the girls) of Barbies will probably stay tucked away in the closet for rainy days, there is more excess than actual played-with-toys floating around. I am only one chapter into the book, and I feel like I am ready to reclaim a simple and organic childhood in a very Ma Ingalls fashion.    
And so I share with you, our nature table, beeswax fairies (tutorial from here) and our homemade fairy house.  All part of our August "school" focused on fairy tales, nature and handiwork. Simple. Beautiful. Imaginative.  Sugar City Journal has a very moving post that I read a couple weeks ago, that leaves me with a question in each situation, "what would Ma Ingalls do?"  Its easy to forget how far we have come in our progressive world, and how much we have really left behind. Peace to you all.