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I bought the October Guide from Little Acorn Learning. With all the wonderful festivals and holidays approaching I wanted a little help with ideas, and some help organizing myself. Nothing beats having it all in the palm of your hand. Our theme for the week is birds, and another great thing is Little Acorn includes a sort of weekly virtue in the theme. They even provide a caregiver meditation to remind you to take time for yourself. I love that! The virtue for this week is showing kindness. Not only are we to help create awareness of the need for kindness in our children, but we are challenged to become aware ourselves.
Mondays are “cooking days”. This is where the girls help me with a cooking project. Today’s project from Little Acorn was creating a homemade pet treat. Our pet is a dalmatian whom I’ve written about a few times here. His name is Lars. John and I bought him as a two month old puppy the month before we were married. He is ten years old. Lars was our first baby. He shared our bed. We took him on special trips and bought him special treats. Lars destroyed our couch and my collection of pewter figurines (yes, the dog demolished a soft metal with his teeth!) and we still allowed him to remain in the house. We were over it in less than a week and carrying on as normal. Unconditional love.
Then, came along Deladis. Despite the fact that I had balked at the thought that becoming a mother would change my relationship with Lars, it did. There was little time to snuggle with him on the couch. He was so rowdy it was impossible for me to walk him while Deladis was with us. His little shenanigans became more of an aggravation than something clean up and look over. Keeping Deladis from eating out of his food bowl was a challenge.
Ivy came along. We found out that Deladis was allergic to dogs, and we moved back to our mountains. We could finally keep Lars safely outside, and we chose to do that, for Deladis’ sake and for the fact that dalmatians shed 24/7 all year around. Their hair is not only white, it is fine. I know (even with him outside) I will be sweeping his hair up long after he is gone.
With Lars outside, it has become even easier to not interact with him. I shoo him out of the compost where he likes to visit and eat egg shells. I peek out the door when he barks. I make sure his food bowl is full. Every now and then, I will pat his back. But, mostly, he’s just there and I’m just here.
Lately, I’ve been doing more thinking about this because I know it won’t be long until he won’t be there anymore. Though he gets around much like an adolescent dog, he has started falling through the cracks between the porch steps and gets stuck. I have to pull him out. I know he has lost hearing in one ear that stays infected most of the time despite our efforts to help him. I’m pretty sure he has cataracts because he has started barking at us when we approach the house until we are right up on him. When I see his legs shake beneath him, I know he has arthritis.
He doesn’t complain. He isn’t sad. He loves my children, and still follows me on walks and around the yard ready to protect me. He lets Ivy mount him like a pony. He cuddles with Roy (our rooster) on the front porch. He is nothing but sweet, gentle, and kind, in spite of my not giving him the attention I once did, and being displaced by our “real” children.
When we gave Lars the treats we made, he wagged his tail like he did when he was a pup and we gave him the gourmet treats from the Three Dog Bakery. Deladis gave him the first one, then, Ivy. I gave him one as well. Then, as I was putting the remainder away, he was standing in the door, and I couldn’t resist letting him have a fourth treat. I’ll be sorry when he is gone from my doorway, drooling over my cooking. I don’t think I’ll ever love another dog as I have him.
A part of showing kindness is recognizing the finite state of our bodies. Realizing that we are all here only as long as the miracle of life continues to allow us to take another breath. The time for kindness is now. The time to release our fear and stubbornness is now. There is no other time.
…patience which is the first condition of real Love. In Love you give without attention to all the mistakes of another as the sun gives light and warmth to all people…
– Yogi Bhajan (on the Shabad Kriya)
I’m finding it harder and harder to even come from that anxiety driven place anymore. It is becoming easier to stop myself from riding the waves of stressful emotion. When you truly let go of expectations, extensive future planning (within reason), and begin to focus on the now, and your blessings, it becomes more difficult to be selfish enough to be impatient. And yet, we are all human.
Kindness is a huge thing. I think in the modern way of life it is too easy to avoid even the simplest acts of kindness.
Autumn is our season for hiking. It is something the four of us can’t get enough of this time of year. Today, was the first cool day of the season with no humidity. We decided to celebrate with a hike to Bad Branch Falls. The falls is a nature preserve in Letcher County, Kentucky and rests on the state’s second highest mountain – Pine Mountain. The hike is short, but of moderate difficulty. However, we were able to make it with the girls just fine. I’ve been making this hike regularly since childhood.
I think I’ll let our pictures do most of the narrating. Despite the fact that I was battling bad batteries and trying to take pictures quickly, the beauty speaks for itself.
Much of the trail is tunneled in mountain laurel – my favorite flowering plant.
Ivy stops to watch the rushing water coming off the mountain after two days of hard rain.
The water is unbelievably clear and safe to play in, but I’ve always wondered if it is safe to drink. It’s tempting.
There is magic in these hills. Without man’s intervention, nature provided the perfect seat for a rest.
The reward! There was more water than I have ever seen coming off that mountain. The sky rained every last bit of humidity left from summer over the last two days.
There are hidden spots all over these mountains like this. The kind that make you stop and be in the moment. Place yourself within the bigger picture. Meditate.
Join me on Wednesday for Wordless Wednesday and my best shot of the falls . 🙂
You remember that campaign of commercialism about 10 years ago of the brand “No Fear”? It was all over clothes and emboldened teen and young adult drivers when they posted it on the back windsheild of their vehicles. Well, here in the mountains, we like to personalize things. You know, make it our own. So, we turned “No Fear” into “Ain’t Skeered”.
Deladis was the embodiment of that term last night at the fall festival’s carnival. She was exactly tall enough to ride all the big rides and that’s precisely what she wanted to do. With the exception of the Gravitron and the Haunted House, we let her.
She started with the “baby” swings, and while it was obvious they were really fun, my child was looking for a thrill. It wasn’t long before I was gritting my teeth and holding to John’s arm, while she rode the “big kid” swings that, to my mothering eyes, seemed to engulf her in risk. I trusted her daddy’s judgment and watched her huge smile as it took her around and out into the night air. Next, she rode in the front cart on the rollercoaster called The Screamer.
As if accepting the fact that my daughter is growing up faster than I had realized and she has enough of her mother in her to love to be daring weren’t enough, John had to bully past me to ride with Deladis the two rides where we felt an adult presence was necessary. 😉 Mommy didn’t get to ride a single ride. 😦 He played it off as daddy’s protection, but I know daddy just wanted to ride. They are on the WindJammer in this picture.
We really enjoyed our time with our firstborn. She shined last night. Ivy stayed with my mother, and I’m sure she had a better time there. I could just picture her running off into the crowd, or trying to stand up on the moving kiddie rides. It won’t be long until we see the her flaunting her daring on rides. I can’t believe they grow so fast.
The still, humid, hot days of this week are the “dog days” of summer, or if not exactly that, very reminiscent of them. The air has been muggy, and to be out in it makes your skin damp. When walking around the cabin and up the holler we’ve had to be extra careful. Snakes are usually blind during these last days of summer, and will strike at anything that moves. Fortunately, I haven’t seen any more copperheads – just a few harmless garter snakes.
The girls and I are still pushing for autumn, and preparing to celebrate everything it brings. Tomorrow, John and I will be taking them to the fall festival I loved as a kid. Today, we worked at preserving the first falling leaves to be a part of our first nature table (or basket, I haven’t decided yet.)
We gathered the most beautiful leaves we could find on our morning nature walk. Then, I spread the girls’ outdoor picnic table with newspaper, gave them a cup of olive oil and my pastry brushes, and let them grease down the leaves. Deladis noticed right away how the oil brings out the colors and the intricate veins that run through the leaves. She said, “They can be our friends now.”
The next step was laying them on a fresh piece of newspaper to cover them.
Finally, we laid the news wrapped leaves on a table and placed some heavy books on top. In three days or so, they should be ready. They will be flat, obviously, and not as easy to tear and crumble. They’ll make a beautiful addition to our table/basket. (Not familiar with nature tables? Check out some examples at Hip Mountain Mama and at Homemade Serenity. While you are at Hip Mountain Mama, check out her natural art supplies give-away! I couldn’t think of a better one myself – thus why I have only had two or so give-aways. ;))
To add to the fun of our leafy thoughts, we read Leaf Man by Lois Ehlert.
With illustrations made from actual fall leaves and die-cut pages on every spread that reveal gorgeous landscape vistas, here is a playful, whimsical, and evocative book that celebrates the natural world and the rich imaginative life of children.
Deladis has fallen in love with this book. She will laugh and has to point out every animal, tree, or man made with the leaves. Ivy has even started sitting through the reading of some books, and this is one of them. I’m amazed more everyday at the foundations for her own comprehension of reading that Deladis absorbs from my reading and telling her stories. She has even started telling me stories.
One of the highlights of the day was an indoor, personalized, winter, weather prediction that road in on the engine of our wooden toy train.
This is a wooly worm and they are notorious predictors of winter weather. This one is the first the girls’ have noticed. Seen most often in early fall, you can read their colors to give yourself an idea of what to expect in the coming winter season. It looks like we’ll start with a long period of heavy, cold weather, probably some large snowfalls (the larger black patch at the head). Mid-winter will be mild (brown mid-section), and we’ll end with another shorter patch of rough weather (the last black patch). This makes me hope for our approach to the bridge even more, so we won’t have to be breaking ice with the front bumper of the truck this winter in order to leave the creek.
I can’t say enough about the fall festival held annually in my hometown. I anticipated it every year as a kid and continue to do so. The cool nights. The slurry of conversation. Faces of all sorts, eyes connecting with yours and some not. The carnival and the multi-colored lights on the rides. The carnival operators with their strange American dialects and accents. The aroma of traditional foods in both senses of the word – old-timey recipes and usual southern American fare. The craft booths with work from mountain artisans. Gliding through them because you can’t move quickly through the crowd, listening to the Mountain Idol contest on the main stage. It’s plain fun. I am taking the girls this weekend coming. We’ll ride rides, hear the music, and taste the air. 🙂
I can’t say enough about the two costumes hanging in the hallway waiting for the girls and Halloween. I’m looking forward to it so much. They are going to have a great time. Next month is also my birthday month, and I always am grateful to have been born in October. It couldn’t have been more perfect to have come to life in that month, and I continue to come to life in this season every year.
I can’t say enough about what I have learned in this last week and my little 40 days commitment. The rules are reforming, adapting, and falling away, but the goals remain the same. Commitment is seeing something through to the end. It doesn’t mean perfection, or bullying your way to the end result. It means knowing where a road lets out and being confident enough to see that there are different paces with which to travel and seeing that their are different means through which you are guided to the end.
I can’t say enough about modification. To realize that committing to too much is a bad thing when you know you can’t be successful, but understanding the commitments you have already made are wonderful and redefining the new ones to work with the old. I know as a mother to two little ones I can’t expect myself to practice yoga every day, every week. I have already committed to five days a week and that is a huge accomplishment – it really is – I will admit that to myself. What I can do is a 40 day consecutive meditation. I can do that anywhere I am. In the place I am now, it might be exactly what I need.
I can’t say enough about what simple awareness can do. To actually be able to catch myself becoming reactive to stressors. To see triggers. To anticipate the needs of my girls, and attempt to be prepared. To have a plan for the “next time.” It allows me not to have solutions now, but to still see that I have made a huge step. I’m not walking through the day blindfolded feeling helplessly tied to chaos, and not understanding where it comes from. I can actually see why!! I’m getting better at it as the days go on too. It’s not the kind of stopping awareness that I anticipated. It is an awareness that says in the moment, this is what is happening and it can stop now, or this would be a great time to…