Sunday, October 20, 2013

What We've Been Up To

I'm still here. Still in one piece. We've made it across the country. Sold our lovely home. Have had some long, long nights and lots of long days too. But it's getting better. And soon we'll be moving into what we hope will be our new home for a long, long time. More on that later.

The boys have started nursery at the same Waldorf school where I'm currently teaching. Their teacher mentioned at our parent-teacher conference that instead of doing sensory stuff for sensory's sake (while I'm doing something else, for example), we should be inviting the kids to participate more often in the life of the home. So I've been trying to break some habits I've held for a while—coping mechanisms, really. Giving the guys something to do while I cook, or cooking only when they're asleep or out of the house is just easier. But it doesn't teach them where food comes from, or how to make their own lunches.

Cutting grapes for that day's school lunch.

I still like giving the guys "non-productive" sensory activities during free play time at home because I know that all play is work for them. But I'm starting to build in some practical play in the hope of letting our life flow more evenly with the life they live at school.

So this is how we Waldorfed today:

I couldn't get a photo of them mixing the batter with their hands, but here is the mess we made. I measured the flour and baking powder and salt into two bowls, which they combined with buttermilk and lard in a big bowl. 

Then we took the dough and kneaded it and broke it into smaller pieces.

The final product: I helped make them a bit more uniform in size, but the fellas did most of this work themselves. While the biscuits baked, I cleaned the kitchen and the boys helped their dad do laundry. 

Snack: hard-boiled eggs, some leftover broth, and biscuits!

Then we went outside to rake pine straw in the yard. We raked and put the straw into compost bins for about an hour before the guys moved on to another activity (bubbles for a few minutes, then riding their balance bikes). All that time, I was active, too, enjoying the crisp fall air, the gentle exercise, the feeling of accomplishment. As much as I love going to a park and hanging out with a friend, the truth is that park outings are pretty sedentary for adults with older toddlers. I can sit back or walk slowly with them. This way of being with my kids makes me participate more fully in life, too. No checking out with my iPhone. Just feeling the air, being in the sun, doing good work.

It's a big yard.

Taking a break.

After a bit of a break, we came back to the raking and finished what we'd started. The yard is lovely now. It is much, much harder to work with toddlers helping. Their internal pace is different. Their breaks involved wrestling and getting out other toys and digging in the dirt.

I don't think that I would have let them into the kitchen before now—maybe one kid, but not twins. But now they can hold a knife, can follow complex directions, can mostly listen when I ask them not to dump the flour on the floor. They're learning what all the phases of a project in the home are: starting out, cleaning up, enjoying the fruits of their labors. After we finished our work and play in the yard, we came in and they made themselves sandwiches (ok, I helped, but they held the butter knives with me and spread all the nut butter and jelly). On days like today, I see how confident they are when they do things (mostly) themselves, and how pleased they are to take full part in all the chores we're doing. This is good practice for me, too: I can watch how they engage with the tasks we're undertaking—one left a lot more flour on the floor than the other; one needed to change focus more often. I get to work on my patience and let go of perfectionism. 

It's a pretty good life.