Not Crafting

Yarn choices

craft

crafting

making

knitting

I’m never sure if a lack of crafting is a symptom of depression or the cause of it. I do know these things go hand in hand. Crafter’s block? I’m surrounded by things to make and have neither the wherewithal or desire to do anything about it.

I do have an itch to start a quilt – but I would need to fix my sewing machine first. That would involve moving things away from the sewing table to find the machine to then fix. Who has the energy for that. Pinterest is annoying me with its perfection. Bloggers are annoying me with their shiny lives. Knitting is pissing me off with that bloody string that gets tangled. Painting… well I can’t be bothered to clean up afterward.

I know, I know. All I do is moan. Any tips for digging myself out of this hole? Or is it time someone took the shovel off me?

Food in Fall

fire cider

fire cider

My brewing shelf is stacked high with all manner of things – soaking seeds and nuts, brewing kefir and kraut, and this week another batch of fire cider – which my family have already declared they will not be eating.

Fools. They have already been through a jar without realising… how else can a mama give their immune system a boost unless she sneaks some good stuff into meals without their knowledge…

This will be a while before it is ready and we’re all out of the last batch, I think I’ll have to up doses of bone broth in the meantime. They don’t mind that – which is good – because that allows me to get green things into them without their knowledge, especially leeks – who doesn’t like leeks?!

Mama – part lion-tamer, part magician. They’ll thank me one day, right?

Falling

autumn

light sensitivity

autumn blues

Pukka Night Time

Help with insomnia

Daylight; leaves; my delicate mental state: all falling.

The equinox marks a line in a diary but none so deep as the line written into my DNA; I’m scrambling to keep up, make amends, find solutions, all before too many plates come crashing around me again.

So far I have upped my B12, started a course of iron (for the fatigue), invested in D3, and increased my daily doses of milk kefir. I need to make more bone broth too. For the insomnia I am using Pukka Night Time capsules, which are AMAZING. They let you drift off to sleep like a normal person and you wake up actually refreshed and not sledgehammer tired whimpering for a time out.

For the anxiety I have moved from Dr Stuart Tranquility herbal tea to Pukka Night Time Tea… what can I say, it tastes so much better and left me feeling calm after one cup. So calm and relaxed and mellow. Stoned, even. I’m wondering if they do an intravenous package or plaster patches for continuous release of the good stuff straight into the jugular.

Oh, autumn, be gentle.

The Itch to Stitch

Qalballah The Knitting Bug

Knitting

Skein winder

vintage wool winder

I have to admit, the usual indicator of autumn – my urge to knit – hasn’t really taken hold yet. I’m a bit worried as usually I’ve ear-marked quite a few things on Ravelry by now.

To try to force the itch I decided it was time for cowl and hat making. I thought I might have better luck ‘getting into it’ if the yarn was some of mine. So I dug out this skein and set to work.

But nope. Even though a cowl I did make (more on this in another post, would like some in situ shots and not just plonked on the floor), I haven’t had the usual ten-projects-on-the-go thing starting. I’m hoping once these manic few weeks of Organising All The Things have settled down, I’ll find a few minutes here and there that would be perfect for knitting …

Come on, inspire me! What’s on your sticks – any patterns that are doing it for you?

Dog Days

dog days autumn on the way Elsa Beskow

dog days autumn on the way

dog days autumn on the way

dog days autumn on the way

dog days autumn on the way

dog days autumn on the way

dog days autumn on the way Qalballah

dog days autumn on the way

dog days autumn on the way

dog days autumn on the way

dog days autumn on the way

dog days autumn on the way

dog days autumn on the way Qalballah

The rhythm of our days is changing; we are noticing the tumbling sunset times as the children have to say ‘goodbye’ to their friends at the gate sooner and sooner each night. The sun has made a comeback, and how, this week, but we’ve noticed the cooler air at night. Nature is readying herself – the signs are there – for the Harvest Moon that is now upon us and the equinox which is a whisker away. Damn, those Maples sure are keen.

And other things make a return too: old winter favourites – stews, broth, roasts. I know come spring I will be ready for fresh food again, but the thought of comfort food in the form of rice pudding and dumplings is a real sweetener…

And candles at the dinner table. They make a return.

Ah, autumn, you are most welcome.

It’s Never Too Late

Back to school after 20 years

adult education

adult education

art school

art school

charcoal and chalk still life

This week, after lining up some major ducks in terms of finance and child care, I went back to school. Not full time and nothing fancy, but after twenty-plus years of not getting back to my art, and after regretting the decision not to take an art A-level forever, I took a tiny step at rectifying that. I’m on a beginner art course, which is wild.

I nearly talked myself out of it a thousand times – we need the money for other things, it’s just easier to stay at home with the kids and watch YouTube videos, who needs art anyway – you know the mama-self-talk. But I just plodded along and then turned up on day 1 to see what it was all about. And I LOVE IT.

Yes, it’s nice getting back to the art, but more than that, it’s nice getting back to me. It’s nice meeting new people, nice having a coffee in the refectory without having to wash the mug up afterwards, nice to have space to stare out of the window without some niggling demand encroaching on my head space – no laundry in the field of vision – the list goes on! It is no exaggeration to say that it was like a long, quiet :: e x h a l e :: ….. and I needed that more than I knew.

And now, well, I have wind in my sails for the rest of the week, small, quiet (big) plans for the future, a reason to wear nice clothes at least once in a while, and homework.

I’ll take it.

Then and Now

THEN :: Years and years ago, when my babes were babes – small and easily entertained.

geometric colour

stackers

Qalballah waldorf homeschool

Qalballah waldorf homeschool

Jaws the Lion

Dressing up mess

Qalballah waldorf homeschool

Eating the delicacies

Papa and Mutt

little people

Qalballah waldorf homeschool

Qalballah waldorf homeschool

Qalballah waldorf homeschool

Qalballah waldorf homeschool

Qalballah waldorf homeschool

Qalballah waldorf homeschool

Qalballah waldorf homeschool

Qalballah waldorf homeschool

Qalballah waldorf homeschool

{A Year of Mornings} 24/365

{AYear of Mornings} 6/365

Qalballah waldorf homeschool

Qalballah waldorf homeschool

Qalballah waldorf homeschool

Qalballah waldorf homeschool

I know I have forgotten the sleep deprivation, the endless bitching these two undertook, the amount of patience it took to get them dressed and out of the house, the endless toilet training, bathing, feeding and changing. I have forgotten their fussy eating, and the fact that most days were spent entirely in PJs. Goodness, I know for a fact I have forgotten the amount of NOISE that can leave the faces of two littlies – talking every thought they had, making crazed dinosaur/train/lion noises, jumping and running and bouncing and breaking…. I have forgotten it all. All I remember is their littleness, their ability to sit on my lap and be read to, their utter contentment at having me sat on the floor playing with them. It was intense, yes, but I miss it so much.

I knew before I had kids that I would homeschool. It was one of those things that was never up for negotiation, and even though I sometimes have meltdowns and think school is the ‘answer’, something deep inside of me utterly revolts at the thought. Homeschool is not something I have ever regretted.

Socialised, as we are, into thinking ‘school’ is the way to educate, I began our homeschool life thinking of curriculum and subject matter. Phonics. Maths. Literacy hours. Posters on walls. Snap cubes and all manner of things NEEDED to TEACH … Then somewhere along the way, other mamas who were on the homeschool path alongside me started offering me alternatives – Montessori, Waldorf, Steiner… and after a little research I found a path that made sense to me – but that journey had to begin by de-schooling myself and trusting in the innate wisdom of ‘windows of opportunity’ and the rhythms of growth. There is Islamic hadith that clearly states that you ‘play with a child till he is seven, educate or instruct till fourteen, thereafter become their friend and advise until 21, then let them go’. Landing on the gentle approach of Waldorf we stopped any attempt to ‘teach’ the children and we implemented a natural play-lead path, full of nature walks, reading books together, garden play with mud, water, sand, and a huge junk box full of things to make, as well as an ever increasing library full of books on every subject under the sun (thank goodness for thrift stores!), as well as all the usual craft and art supplies you can think of.

It turns out children are sponges and blot everything you provide them up. They no more needed me to ‘teach’ them to ‘learn’ than they needed me to learn to walk and talk. Provide the resources and the learning just happens.

In the blink of an eye things change; they grow; their needs are different. As they get older thoughts turn to exam years, which are looming, and fledging for life outside the family. Those thoughts saw us take a different path in the last couple years – we dropped the endless learning through play and got ‘serious’ about school. For a couple years we were lucky enough to find them a Montessori maths tutor, and after that a science tutor too. Last year we took the plunge and enrolled the Eldest in an internet school – thus relieving me of the burden of having to plan All The Things and teach my children Everything There Is To Know. I felt a rock being lifted from my shoulders and the Eldest loved it. Finally I felt like I wasn’t failing him constantly. Because even though I wasn’t, the mama guilt will say otherwise, no matter what we do.

But we lost something. I put it down to my kids growing up and thought no more about it, but something was definitely lacking.

At the end of the academic year it was clear that there were issues that would need addressing before exam years could be tackled. These weren’t new to us, but we thought a formal approach in a schooling environment with ‘experts’ would have helped iron them out and give him a better chance of over-coming them. Their opinion was that he needed one-on-one and this couldn’t be provided by the school. So, we faced a choice: put him in mainstream schooling and hope for the best, or do it ourselves and tackle things head on. We chose the latter.

And I felt the familiar stress of having to teach All The Things resurface, and the inadequacy I felt, and the guilt of failing them re-emerged, and I found myself floundering at the prospect of Doing It All once again.

But somewhere a quiet, calm voice said, ‘return to centre – cut out the outside noise and listen to what your family needs and do that’. What DID my family need? Well, as mamas that is a constant juggling act, isn’t it? Families are forever in flux, being that they are alive and not dead pieces of wood you can shape into convenient round pegs. I am always readjusting things here, tweaking things there, realising when some things have to go and other things need to be found. It seems my eldest needs new skills and help with old issues. We need to work again as a family around one table. But mostly? Mostly, for me, we need to ditch the curriculum, stop learning by worksheets and get back to the gentle approach of learning hands on, full of creative, imaginative play and story telling – model making – art – real life, and genuine interest-led learning opportunities. It is true there will be some serious and consistent maths and grammar going on and no amount of interest-led issues will circumvent the fact that that will include so. many. worksheets, but hopefully there will be more than just that. Education, as the saying goes, is not the filling of a bucket, but the lighting of a fire. And as much as we need to prepare them for wage slavery outside the home, I am not content to reduce their prospects to simply eating, sleeping and earning money. There are subtler things that need to be nourished too.

And, yes, the boys are older, things have changed. We will revisit old things and will bring to them a new angle. They have outgrown some things, and grown into others. There will be old tools used new ways, and a lot of room for more new things too. I’m mixing it up and doing what works for US. I’m not stressing about grades and levels and years and tick sheets. I am not getting uptight about getting my children to fit a curriculum-shaped hole – and I’m not going to care what others think – if they think I’m wrong, then fine; if they think my kids should be doing astrophysics, then fine; if they think everything I do and everything we accomplish doesn’t amount to a hill of beans, I’m OK with that. Because my focus is my children and doing what is right by THEM. And if your way of National Curriculum and worksheets and grades and testing works for you, then congratulations, I’m happy for you. It just doesn’t work for us.

And it occurred to me, as I have been busy relocating resources around the house, finding homes for new and old things, working up a new scheme of work and finding just the right things for it, tweaking our living arrangement for this new/old work ahead, that I think I have found what we lost last year: it was us.

NOW::

Qalballah waldorf homeschool

Qalballah waldorf homeschool

Qalballah waldorf homeschool

Qalballah waldorf homeschool

Qalballah waldorf homeschool

Qalballah waldorf homeschool

Qalballah waldorf homeschool

Qalballah waldorf homeschool

Qalballah waldorf homeschool

Qalballah waldorf homeschool

Qalballah waldorf homeschool

Qalballah waldorf homeschool

Qalballah waldorf homeschool

Qalballah waldorf homeschool

Qalballah waldorf homeschool

Qalballah waldorf homeschool

Qalballah waldorf homeschool

Qalballah waldorf homeschool

Qalballah waldorf homeschool

Qalballah waldorf homeschool

Qalballah waldorf homeschool

Qalballah waldorf homeschool

Qalballah waldorf homeschool

Qalballah waldorf homeschool

Qalballah waldorf homeschool

London Called

Qalballah London Art Galleries

Qalballah London Art Galleries

Qalballah London Art Galleries

Qalballah London Art Galleries

Qalballah London Art Galleries

Qalballah London Art Galleries

Qalballah London Art Galleries

Qalballah London Art Galleries

Qalballah London Art Galleries

Qalballah London Art Galleries

Qalballah London Art Galleries

Qalballah London Art Galleries

Qalballah London Art Galleries

Qalballah London Art Galleries

Qalballah London Art Galleries

Qalballah London Art Galleries

Qalballah London Art Galleries

Qalballah London Art Galleries

Qalballah London Art Galleries

Qalballah London Art Galleries

Qalballah London Art Galleries

Qalballah London Art Galleries

Qalballah London Art Galleries

Qalballah London Art Galleries

Qalballah London Art Galleries

Qalballah London Art Galleries

Qalballah London Art Galleries

Qalballah London Art Galleries

Qalballah London Art Galleries

“Why, Sir, you find no man, at all intellectual, who is willing to leave London. No, Sir, when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.”
— Samuel Johnson

I’ve not found this quotation to be lacking, for even the most die-hard country-lover falls instantly in love with this city. It’s certainly true for this little family who feel blessed indeed to be so close to such a place unequalled throughout the world – a gem abounding in beauty for the heart and soul.

It was a good day.

Goodbye, Summer

weekending

weekending

Here we are, then, on really the last day of summer for most of us. Tomorrow as the calendar turns there will be a shift, ever increasing daily, indoors. A new school year awaits and after a year of shaking it up and seeing where things fell, this year I am doing my level best to claw back the path I feel comfortable with, implement those things that have always worked for us and take a gentler (but consistent) approach to a few issues that need addressing.

Maybe I’ll blog more about this as we get further into the term; for now we have a train trip and a city and its galleries to explore, an archery tournament, and another Eid to negotiate before I can leave summer fully behind and get into gear for the school year.

As usual, you’re going too fast, year!

w e e k e n d i n g

weekending

Untitled

Untitled

weekending

DSC_0055

DSC_0071

DSC_0079

DSC_0108

weekending

It started with scorching heat and ended with a monsoon; a shift in season is definitely underway. Sunset times are tumbling and we’re noticing the chill in the shade now.

Still, we managed a mellow weekend full of family and play, outdoors and in, stretching and contracting, with no particular plans for this long bank holiday.

How was your weekend?

P.S. I used the TEND (oh I miss that magazine!) recipe for the snap peas fridge pickle, but you can use this and swap the spring onions for the peas if you want to make some too!