Winter Update

Today is a slow, warmth seeking Winter day.

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making cookies during Ramadan

Ramadan and Eid came and went. Bit by bit we are getting closer to an understanding of what might be the cause of our littlest man’s health problems.  Alhamdulilah for this amazing public healthcare system that is providing us with wonderful care for free! I’m just so grateful for his daily health, grateful for every day we spend together.

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I’ve been reading one of my favourite poems.

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.

Be grateful for whatever comes.
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

 

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Mother’s Day Delights

Homeschooling wise we are becoming more and more eclectic and unstructured.
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And Art. I need to find a way to make time for it. Art is the thing that makes me happiest.

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the beginning of some wall decoration using wet on wet watercolours

Wet on wet watercolours

It is 42 degree’s Celsius today so we are all bunkered down in the house with blinds down and curtains closed. I forgot to water the tomato plants this morning and I am praying that they survive the day.

It seemed a good time to have a go at making wet on wet watercolours. Whilst we started off with the subtle and blended Waldorf technique we ended up just playing with the materials however we wanted. Lili in particular loved it and spent at least two hours swirling paint around.

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A Creative Life, God and Womanhood

 

For the first time in a long time I am now throwing myself into rediscovering my creative self. I don’t want to have to compartmentalise things into mothering or artistness, these things can exist together although it is sometimes hard. I am pregnant and I have plunged into an intense creative space which is at once wonderful and terrifying, pregnancy is such a time of extremes.

At the moment I am finding the most influential things I am reading that really speak to my gut involve a writing about the Feminine, the loss of this knowledge in our culture, what this means for women. It explains a wrongness I have felt all my life, a wrongness that I tried to fix through my exploration of Islamic Orthodoxy and it’s gendered spaces, something that I did find answers to in Yemen in ways that are too hard to articulate and ways that always encourage protestation from people who refuse to imagine that such a path could honour the Feminine. And I am too weary now of needing to spin my life in protestation and defence, I just can’t be bothered. Nevertheless that journey was a beginning and it opened me to a new way of knowing things. It can’t be transplanted into an unfamiliar and unrelated context and nor should it be.

 

I haven’t been sleeping very well and despite my struggles now with my practise as a Muslim, in the middle of the night it is much easier to connect, to sit and look into the dark and to contemplate. At such times I feel God like an electricity in my veins, the night is alive and I am alive with it. I love the sensation of the house sleeping. In Islam we say that in the last third of the night God descends to the lowest heavens and this is something that feels so palpable.

I don’t have a designated workspace in this house. In our old house for a short period of time I set up a studio, it was a wonderful space and I would love to make something like that here but there really isn’t room so I just look at the pictures and remember it.

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I feel a fierceness now that is willing to protect the aspects of life that I find essential and nothing can stand in the way. I will not live in dullness anymore. I know that most of the shadows we face in life are from our own selves, I don’t blame anyone for what I have or haven’t done with my life, every choice has been my own.
What matters to me now is God, family, art and womanhood…
And all of these things I am exploring are like wonderful lights in an otherwise un signposted wilderness.
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I wrote this sentence today and so much of the life I feel buzzing within me is part of this realisation, I will not pander to patriarchy anymore, no matter the consequences, no matter the potential loss. Various people will make such a sentence far more reductive than it is. I am not talking solely about Islamic patriarchy but so much more broadly. And it is not contemporary Feminism where I find the answers.

These buzzwords are loaded, they cramn us into niches and often convey a limited vision. I have an insatiable need to write about these things but sometimes I think I need to find a new language.

I am happy, there is potential swelling all around me.
Alhamdulillah ya Raheem!

Leaf Prints and more

When we homeschooled previously we attended a homeschooling group with a private tutor three days a week for around four hours at a time. It was like a homeschooling co op with lots of parental involvement. It mean’t that I wasn’t shouldering the total responsibility for the children’s education. We covered all the curriculum area’s on the group days so the time we spent at home together was entirely unschooled.

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So whilst we have homeschooled before it was not the same as it is now. I am learning how to facilitate their learning as I go along. I am new to Waldorf despite having been interested in it for years. I find that working with a Waldorf curriculum stirs up all my perfectionist tendencies and it often feels like it will never be manageable. On the days my boys just don’t want to write and our workbooks look nothing like the gorgeous images we look at online, I have to really hold off from being goal orientated and working towards a finished product, the process is what is important. I have to learn some of the skills such as form drawing and using crayons and watercolours before I teach the children. Waldorf is so precise with it’s use of materials at different developmental stages which probably works in a school setting but is less easy to achieve when at home with children of multiple ages. If my six year old wants to use coloured pencils then I let her do so! We are very slowly developing the beginning of a rhythm. Because I have three children in different grades I am trying to spend time working with each one of them rather than all sitting together as a group.

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Some things we have done over the last few days –

leaf painting for the beginning of Spring, we gathered leaves from our lemon tree and printed with them using watercolours.

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Stories from Hay for my Ox, Lily and the Princess, Little House in the Big Woods, First Aid for Fairies (Fabled Beast Chronicles)

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projects from the Oak Meadow and Earthschooling curriculums (Ancient Hebrews (Tower of Babel) and Ancient India (Indus Valley)

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Tom and Lili love circle time even if we just recite a verse without lighting a candle and I make the movements up as we go along. Lili generally does not want to follow the lesson plans I present to her. Today she practised all her alphabet instead of focusing on a single letter and when I caught her making an enormous scribble in the first page of her brand new lesson book and asked her not to do it she looked dismayed and explained to me that it wasn’t a scribble at all but a house being blown away by a stormy cloud! She then narrated a story to me about her house as she drew the pictures. It is this kind of creativity that attracts me to the Waldorf philosophy in the first place and I think we need to find a balance between improvising and following a more disciplined/rigid approach.

 

Waldorf blogs always look so perfect, this is not our reality. We have days that are filled with both productivity and some moments of great learning and also squabbling and noise and mess. But it’s a beginning.