Friday, April 29, 2016

Rhythm in Our Home :: A Time for Oats

Friday ~ Oat Porridge for Breakfast

The rhythm of life pulses around us in all of nature.

We experience it it when we look up at the sky and see the constellations of stars return to the same place they were in last year at this time, and the year before and the year before too. We're in the season of the constellation of Taurus the bull right now.

As children, we're reminded of the celestial world with this nursery rhyme:

Twinkle, twinkle, little star
How I wonder what you are.
Up above the world so high
Like a diamond in the sky.
Twinkle, twinkle little star
How I wonder what you are.

When the blazing sun is gone
When he nothing shines upon.
Then you show your little light
Twinkle, twinkle, all the night.
Twinkle, twinkle, little star
How I wonder what you are.

As humans, we are distinct from plants and animals in that we're able to reflect on rhythm and the patterns of nature and from that bring form to our lives, with rhythmic patterns of living.

With the establishment of healthy home rhythms, we bring meaningful and healthy form to our lives, on a daily, weekly, seasonal and yearly basis. We return to the rhythm of day and night, morning and evening, the rhythm of seven days, four seasons and one year.

The book of Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, from the time of Solomon, that's around 970-930 BC, reflects on rhythm. That's from three thousand years ago. Folk singer Pete Seger made it popular this with this song from 1954, it still gives me the shivers. As a sing along here with five special extra verses he wrote for his children.
To everything, turn, turn, turn

There is a season, turn, turn, turn
And a time for every purpose under heaven

A time for work a time for play
A time for night a time for day
A time to sleep a time to wake
A time for candles on the cake

A time to dress a time to eat
A time to sit and rest your feet
A time to teach a time to learn
A time for all to take their turn

A time to cry and make a fuss
A time to leave and catch the bus
A time for quiet a time for talk
A time to run a time to walk

A time to get a time to give
A time to remember a time to forgive
A time to hug a time to kiss
A time to close your eyes and wish

A time for dirt a time for soap
A time for tears a time for hope
A time for fall a time for spring
A time to hear the robins sing

To Everything turn, turn, turn
There is a season turn, turn, turn
And a time to every purpose, under Heaven

A time to be born, a time to die
A time to plant, a time to reap
A time to kill, a time to heal
A time to laugh, a time to weep

To Everything turn, turn, turn
There is a season turn, turn, turn
And a time for every purpose, under Heaven

A time to build up, a time to break down
A time to dance, a time to mourn
A time to cast away stones, a time to gather stones together

To Everything turn, turn, turn
There is a season turn, turn, turn
And a time to every purpose, under Heaven

A time of love, a time of hate
A time of war, a time of peace
A time you may embrace, a time to refrain from embracing

To Everything turn, turn, turn
There is a season turn, turn, turn
And a time for every purpose, under Heaven

A time to gain, a time to lose
A time to rend, a time to sew
A time of love, a time of hate
A time for peace, I swear it's not too late

To Everything turn, turn, turn
There is a season turn, turn, turn
And a time for every purpose, under Heaven

To Everything turn, turn, turn
There is a season turn, turn, turn
And a time for every purpose, under Heaven

When my children were little, I began incorporating these rhythmic turns with seasonal food and with seven - the seven days of the week, with meals, activities and tasks of caring for the home. We have a breakfast rhythm in which the same foods appear on the breakfast table on the same day of the week, each week. A weekly rhythm. Before that I ate oats here and there, with no regularity.

"Women have to eat oats or they'll dry up."

I read those words somewhere in a childbirth book during my midwifery days, and it has stayed with me. It's easy to like oats, and I'm glad to know they are full of health benefits.

Friday is the day for oat porridge at breakfast in my home. I serve the oats with cinnamon, maple syrup and fruit. Often with nuts on the side.

This oat day is a big day for me, as I've been avoiding grains for six months now, since I became aware of my sensitivity to gluten. This week I took the plunge after finding organic certified gluten free oats. It's like visiting an old friend.

Celebrating the goodness of oat porridge today: the chewiness, the warmth, the good feeling in the tummy, the long lasting energy, all the benefits they provide! 

Snow in April

{this week}
A Friday ritual. A snapshot that reflects the mood of the week.  
A simple reflection. 

If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your reflection in the comments below 
so we can find you.

Happy Friday!

Monday, April 4, 2016

Meal Plan Monday

April 4 - 10
 time for new themes

In my ideal world, I sketch out my meal plan on Wednesday when I give the fridge a quick clear out and wipe down. That gives me time to look in the pantry, go to the farmer’s market and have a sense of what I might like to cook for the following week.

The reality is that it’s now Monday morning, the start of a new week, and the first week of a new month. It’s not a big deal because I have a pretty strong rhythm of meal themes, a basic foundation food for each night of the week. Do we always eat those foods week after week? We don’t. Yet I have the basic ingredients, and  I know I can lean back into them if I need to, and at the same time, I have the freedom to cook something completely different if I want to.

I sit down and sketch out my meal plan for this week. Over here I talk about the Anchors of Our Day, with meals as a point in the day we can lean back into, everyday, an anchor that tethers us to a healthy home rhythm.

The changes in our diets have had me simmering over some new general theme for each days of the week. We have several different nutritional and dietary needs: gluten free, vegan and gluten and dairy free. We all began as whole food omnivores with an emphasis on S.O.L.E. food.

As this new path unfolds, it sometimes feels simple and easy to manage, other times it can feel overwhelming with planning and preparation. It does feel great from a health perspective, energizing and nourishing. To try and get a handle on our different and divergent dietary needs, I made a chart of our dietary needs to try and find more common threads, in which each of us feels nourished with one meal.

These past months have been a time of reflection for me with my meal themes. Monday’s Mexican with beans and rice as a base remains a favorite, cheese, sour cream and meat can be options to add or ignore. Tuesday Thai works well. Wednesday’s pasta is out, I’m not keen on using gluten substitutes, they are not so sound nutritionally, and then there’s the concern about rice with arsenic.

My meal themes need a change. This is what I’ve come up with:

:: Monday is Mexican
:: Tuesday is Thai or Stir fry
:: Wednesday is Slow Cooker or Children cook
:: Thursday is Indian or lentils or chickpeas
:: Friday is Salade Composé
:: Saturday is grill or baked beans in winter and or leftovers
:: Sunday is grill/roast/casserole

How do you do with meal planning?

We can inspire each other if you join me by linking below in the comments to a post with your meal plan. 

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Thanks for Being Born

Today is Rudolf Steiner's birthday, February 25th, 1861 was the year.

His words:

“Our highest endeavor must be to develop free human beings who are able of themselves to impart purpose and direction to their lives. The need for imagination, a sense of truth, and a feeling of responsibility—these three forces are the very nerve of education. You will not be good teachers if you focus only on what you do and not upon who you are.

So glad you were born Rudolf Steiner!


Saturday, February 13, 2016

Carving Out a Healthy Family Rhythm

 notes on rhythm + an eCourse
Rhythm can seem so strange and mysterious, yet be so simple when it is put into practice and experienced in daily life. 

Next to de-cluttering, rhythm is, perhaps, for many of us, the single most helpful practice for parenting, homemaking and homeschooling.

I call it a practice because it is. It’s an inner practice, a form of self discipline. Of becoming more aware. More sensitive. More conscious. Finding and maintaining a healthy home rhythm helps us to be present within our selves. We notice our breathing. We become more aware of our feelings. We can be in the moment. We can respond from the heart rather than react. It can be hard work, yet its rewards are large.

Benefits of a Healthy Home Rhythm

A healthy home rhythm helps us to respond from the heart rather than react to stressful and chaotic moments.

A healthy home rhythm is the secret to discipline. When we discipline ourselves to carve out and maintain a healthy home rhythm, our work gets done, our children know what to expect and they feel secure and calm. Life becomes predictable. The unknown is eliminated. Anxiety is reduced or eliminated. Our days run more smoothly.

A healthy home rhythm supports us by carrying us along on a challenging day. It makes grocery shopping and meal preparation easier. A good rhythm can make bedtime pleasant for all. It supports our children by carrying them along through transitions to what they are anticipating.

Rhythm is distinct from routine, in that it's all about flow, the ebb and the flow. To implement a healthy home rhythm, we consider the needs of the members of our family for quiet time and active time, for coming together and moving apart, for outside play and inside play, for rough housing and a quiet story. A dance of sorts.

Rhythm is about finding the point of balance in your days. The sweet spot between chaos and rigidity.

An Exercise for You
Begin to notice how your days feel. Are they rushed and hurried? Do you find yourself out of breath, or holding your breath. 

Begin by noticing and becoming aware of how you feel in the moment. Let that awareness guide you in carving out the flow of your day.

More for You
Would you like some help with rhythm?
If you'd like some enthusiastic daily support through the month of February to carve out and maintain your family rhythm, join me in my online class, Rhythm in the Home. You can work at your own pace, return anytime, and will have access forever. Templates for sketching out your daily, weekly and seasonal rhythms are included with the course.


Saturday, January 9, 2016

You Know the Feeling of Not Being a Good Enough Mother?

I sure do.

This month I am teaching an eCourse on Child’s Play :: the Wellspring of Life, as the monthly focus topic in my Program Celebrate the Rhythm of Life for homeschoolers, homemakers and anyone seeking to create a soulful life with children. 

As I was working through some thoughts and writings for this class, a picture, one that  helped me to better understand and “see" the young child, kept coming to mind from my own childrens' toddler days, as I was trying to find words to explain an aspect of movement and play during ages and stages to the class. 

I knew the illustration was in one of these little books from the Gesell Institute of Child Development. 

What I could remember is that the illustration shows clearly how children move from activity to activity at various ages and stages of development, and then slow down into more focused and extended play. I went to visit that book shelf of mine, where I keep my collection of these little books. It’s a place that does not have so many visits from me anymore.

I began to thumb through them, settling in and chuckling as I read bits of text. So many fond and funny memories came up that reminded me of the good feelings I had whenever I went to these little books with a question or concern. They were like a wise trusted friend to me with their common sense and guidance. I always heaved a big sigh of relief in realizing that I was not alone with my concerns and in learning that my child’s behavior and my feelings about were completely normal and to be expected. These little guides helped me know that others grope with these situations too.

These little guides brought me back to feeling grounded as a mother and helped me remember that “Yes, I am a good enough Mom,” and “My children are healthy, normal children. They are going to turn out just fine."

Here’s an example of what I’m talking about, from Your Four Year Old, by Louise Bates Ames and Frances Ilg:

“And we have the (supposedly true) story of a little Boston girl whose mother, discouraged by her profanity, told her that if she swore once more, she (the mother) would pack the girl’s suitcase and ask her to leave home. The girl did swear once more. The mother did pack the suitcase and put her and it outside the door. After a few minutes, feeling guilty, the mother went to look for her daughter. The child was still sitting on the steps.

'I thought I told you to leave home,' said the mother. 'I would have if I could have thought of where the Hell to go,' was her daughter’s reply.” 

In the back section of the book, there are Questions from parents. 

Here are a few examples:

Mother Can’t Stand Her Four Year-Old

Four Year Olds Don’t Always Tell the Truth

There’s Nothin Wrong with Having an Imaginary Companion

Wonderful gems these are, full of assurance and holding a broad spectrum of normal behavior in children, something that is a rare gift and can be hard to find these days.

Do you have people, books or situations in your life that reassure you that you are just fine, your children are normal and all will be well?

Please share in the comments below. We all need to uplift each other and remind ourselves that mothering and children encompass a broad spectrum of feelings and behaviors and its all good.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Hello Winter!

After months of unseasonably warm weather, winter has come blasting in with cold and snow. The temperature dropped into the single digits today and snow has been gusting, bringing swirling snow and brightness to this gray day.

My response, a blazing fire in the wood stove, a pot of beef stew and Downton Abbey.  Does it get any better than that? 

My beef stew is one that I make by doing, it doesn’t come from a recipe. I just sort of feel it out, letting smells and tastes guide me. I begin with carrots, onions and celery, also known as mirepoix, something we talk about in my Warmth in the Kitchen eCourse. 

I sauté the mirepoix in a little warmed olive oil. Before that I heat the pan. I add garlic and thyme too. Thyme is my everything herb. I put it in nearly everything I make. I add sea salt and pepper, as well as whole peppercorns and bay leaves. 

After the vegetables and spices sauté for a bit, I add a few good dollops of tomato paste. I stir it in and let the ingredients meld and warm. 

Once that mixture begins to meld, I add a good splash, or two or three, of red wine. I usually have something full bodied around and use that.

Once those flavors have had a chance to meld, I add beef broth and then the beef, usually a chuck roast from a local farm with pasture raised animals.

Then I bring it to a very gentle simmer, cover it and let it very gently simmer. Then I add carrots and potatoes and when they have cooked through, it’s ready.

One of the secrets to good meat cooking that I learned from the local butcher is that it is best to cook roasts at the lowest temperature possible, slow cooking for a long time if needed. He reminded me that a rare roast is only cooked to 125 degrees. I have found this to work well. 

It’s a little trickier with a pot roast and much trickier when that pot roast is on the wood stove. 

I’ll look for a recipe template to format for you in case you’d like one to download. 

There’s something so satisfying in cooking on the wood stove, in knowing it is providing for warmth of body and soul. 

As a leftover dish, I add mushrooms and make mash potatoes to serve it on. The potatoes drink in all the tasty broth. Need I say more?

How do you stay warm when the weather turns cold?

Saturday, December 19, 2015

A New Path Unfolds

You know how life is...  suddenly, there's a new path, one you had not anticipated, and there it is before you?

Mamas know how it is with mothering, as well as with with the process of becoming a mother. Changes. Surprises. Unanticipated life lessons. 

So many new sensations, perceptions and feelings come with pregnancy, labor, giving birth, and meeting this new being, as well as with becoming responsible for another human being. One who is completely dependent.

There's learning how to cope with fever, hurt feelings, bumps, bruises, broken bones, changing developmental needs, stains, unruly children and learning how to let go.

It can be a new experience each and every day.

We resurect ourselves to meet the challenge.

And then there's confronting the picture of myself reflected in my children, the pretty and the ugly alike, remembering who I am, who I was before motherhood, and always working on relationship, with others, and with balancing life and work, motherhood and friends, motherhood and self. The world of the home and hearth and the outer world. Always seeking balance.

The latest unanticipated path to open before me is not about mothering at all. Unless we count mothering the self. It's one that involves nutrition, the nourishing of my self. It’s a new path for me of gluten free, dairy free eating.

Until I heard the doctor explain the test results, I thought my diet was uncomplicated. I’d been an omnivore, with a preference for whole, sustainable, organic, local and ethical foods or SOLE food. And a penchant for whole milk lattes, milk chocolate and sweet butter. And maple cremees in the summer. 

I think I knew somewhere deep inside that foods made from cow’s milk and wheat were not agreeing with me. It began with mild stomach uneasiness after eating hard cheeses. Then I began to feel bloated. And gassy. I felt exhausted after eating toast. I’d want a nap after a sandwich. It was kind of funny. But it was not. I was starting to feel perpetually bloated, exhausted and foggy brained. Not typical for me. Moe, my furry boy was ailing too, and I thought to myself, "Here we are, growing old together." And then I thought again, "Hey, wait a minute. I'm not that old."

It has crept upon me, slowly and progressively, going on for years, even decades. During the 90s, it was joint pain. It was transient at first, coming and going with no ostensible rhyme or reason. I thought it might be the season. I had seasons of energy and seasons of dragging along. One doctor said rheumatism. Another said I likely had some sort of mild auto immune issue, "But don’t worry about it, he said." He didn’t suggest anything. Finally I found a doctor with a great reputation for routing out allergies and auto immune conditions. He ordered lots of tests. I had blood drawn. And then the results came and changed everything.

The good news is that I am feeling so much better. My energy has returned. I quit drinking coffee. Without milk, espresso is - well, blah - for me. I never liked drip coffee - no loss there. 
I began drinking ginger tea with lemon in the morning. Mmmm.

The hard part is the reckoning with all the foods I am no longer able to eat if I want to feel healthy, and the giving up of butter. Oh how I love sweet butter. My friend Heather, with whom I worked at Café Liliane used to call me Mademoiselle Buerre for I ate so much butter. The bread was a mere carrier for butter.

Garlic butter sauce - yes. Butter to bathe my omelet - yes. Toast to carry chunks of butter - yes. I love butter. Butter cakes. Butter cookies. Butter in pie crusts. Butter on the roasting chicken - yes. 

My love for butter is so great. My dad used to tease me and ask if I’d like a little something with my butter. "No thanks, I’m happy with the butter." And cheeses. Oh my, I love cheese. Triple cream. Aged cheddar. Real stinky muenster. Soft cheese. Feta cheese. All cheeses.

The new resolve is to eat butter and cheese and cream no more. I'm appreciating broths, soups and stews, and root salads in a new way. I'm working on healing my gut with simple foods. Maybe the GAPS diet.

I thought I'd share the news with you, as I journey along this new unanticipated path and make all sort of new discoveries. I am feeling so much more compassion for my food sensitive friends.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Simple, Slow and Meaningful

We’re in slow motion this year, still lingering in the mood of sweet slowness that follows Thanksgiving. We’re stuffed with roast turkey, stuffing, gravy, mashed potatoes, spicy chickpeas, cranberries and all the goodness of the Thanksgiving table.
 It’s warm inside and wet, cold and gray out of doors. I'm waiting for the snow.

We’ve unplugged from the busyness of the world, partly by choice, partly by force. My son was in an accident just before Thanksgiving and got quite bashed up. He is now on the mend, thanks to what must have been divine intervention, as well a very skilled surgeon, and a wonderfully kind hospital crew, for whom I feel enormously grateful.

With surgery and broken bones, there's lots of down time for convalescing. We canceled our travel plans and stayed put. It has been sweet.

As we move along in the season of Advent, I ask myself what matters most to me? The people I care about. My family and friends. My work. Cultivating community. Ample time. Being fully present in the moment.

How do I live these values as we approach the busy holiday time of year, with so many events and activities  beckoning us to join?

I begin with a checking in on our family home rhythms. The pulse of our daily life can tell us a good deal about what’s going on.

Next I look around and begin right where I am. In the days of slow and simple. Right here. Right now. And I savor it.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

A World with Octobers

I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.

Inspiring words from Anne of Green Gables, a beloved character around here, created by author L.M. Montgomery.

I am so glad for apple cider doughnuts, mornings spent out of doors and the blaze of color envelopes us with golden light.
The flower is a “Snow Banks," a delight to experience in October when other blossoms are dying away.

What are you glad for in October?

:: Are you wanting to celebrate more delights of October? ::
October’s Celebrate the Rhythm of Life Curriculum Material includes the eCourse, circles and stories, activities and much more

Monday, September 28, 2015

Hello Autumn!

Oh, it is that time of year again, the air is crisp and cool, the nights have become so pleasant for sleeping, and for being out of doors with no mosquitoes. 

Last night’s moon was spectacular - a blood moon, what a name. It was too magical to try and capture with a photograph. I just enjoyed it, by the fire under the stars.

This is what is happening here...

the trees are beginning to put on their dresses of red and gold...
the lanterns are glowing...
the wild flowers are in full splendor...
 the sumac is pulling its forces inward...
the grapes are ripe and sweet...
the mice are seeking shelter...
 the calendulas and marigolds are in full bloom...
and the human has not given up her bare feet, yet is cloaked in wool.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

The Sense of Warmth and Warmth in the Kitchen

Registration for enrollment in October’s eCourse is open!

The Sense of Warmth with Warmth in the Kitchen is a 31 day odyssey into the sense of warmth, on the physical, emotional, developmental and spiritual realm.
Rudolf Steiner described the sense of warmth as one that mediates between the inner and the outer worlds of the human being. We’ll explore this sense and its role in growth and development.

We’ll spend four weeks learning to cook simple meals, mostly one pot, with Stocks, Soups, Stews, and Curries with ingredients that are seasonal and warming. 
It’s like two courses in one, yet interwoven with the practical and the more esoteric.
Recipes can be easily adapted for vegetarian diets and I include vegetarian stocks as well as chicken and beef.

The fee is $35 to keep it accessible to everyone.

If you’s like to enroll, sign up here.

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