The Living Arts: Domestic

Finding the Light by Jennifer Sullivan

Jennifer writes: As our side of the Earth falls into a slumber, it may seem our time to do so as well.  We pull on our mittens and wrap ourselves in heavy sweaters and jackets to brave the new brisk air.  Our children are warmly wrapped from head to toe so they may enjoy this changing of the seasons as well.  The days grow shorter and the sun rests much longer than it used to.  As this happens, my home can become darker and more confining, and so can my mood. 

It is our task during these times of gray, to find the light.  I am reminded of my LifeWays training during which Cynthia Aldinger spoke to us about HomeMaking.  First, it is exactly as it sounds.  A home does not just exist, you must put forth effort every moment to make it one.  Similarly, when darkness appears, it is our responsibility to uncover and release the light. 

The Art of Apples in the Fall

Because young children love stories, and magic, and anticipation, it can be especially enriching for children if we add those three aspects to any project that we do with them. Let's take the idea of making Apple Crisp: it can be done in half a morning.  Simply chop up some apples, stir in some cinnamon and raisins, put in a buttered dish with granola on top, and bake for an hour at 350.  Voila.  But how can you expand that project, and make it into something that your child will remember for weeks or months or even years to come?  Do it by weaving in stories, and magic, and anticipation.  

Rhythm Gone Awry, by Mara Spiropoulos

Some days in my life with my young children, nothing works as I expect it to. If I have learned anything in my almost four years as a mother, it is that everything changes. Occasionally, I forget this lesson and need to relearn it. What worked yesterday to help a baby fall asleep or to encourage a toddler to clean up doesn’t work today. What made a child so happy this morning can cause anger later in the day. The toy that the child threw aside in the morning now has become his  most prized possession after nap. It can be very frustrating, sometimes even maddening! It doesn’t have to be. If you start to think like a child does and internalize that all you have is this present moment and accept that it too can change, the moments that seemed so impossible can start to look doable, dare I say even enjoyable.

Settling into Our Rhythm, by Mara Spiropoulos

Last Saturday, I completed my LifeWays training and was left with bittersweet feelings. It was a wonderful, emotional year full of challenges and growth (I am pictured with some of my classmates to the left in the black dress surrounded by my loving kids). After emotional goodbyes to the lovely, strong, and passionate women I met over the course of last year, I left the LifeWays Milwaukee center feeling a bit unbalanced. Though proud of graduating and feeling honored to be chosen as the blog coordinator, I was not sure what my next step in life was supposed to be.

How Does Your Garden Grow?

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I didn’t mean to be a gardener. Somehow it just happened -or did it? My earliest memories of gardening were the ones of an annoyed teen being forced to help dig and build beds for a large succulent garden that would one day become the front yard for a LifeWays center in San Diego set in an organic garden environment. The seeds of working with the soil, plants, and seasons were subtly planted in my soul by the very act of helping my parents to tend their (our) garden.

Letting Children Say YES!

After experimenting with a natural, authentic home rhythm and routine to suit our values, needs, and interests over the yeras, it was a joy to see that healthy habits and a sense of responsibility have taken root.  I've been sick for over a week with a flu and fever.  Last Monday, on my third day of fever and flu, I dragged myself to the kitchen and saw my daughter Seikai busily washing dishes in the counter after her snack.  "I was trying to surprise you!" She exclaimed when she turned around and saw me.  She then shooed me away and asked for me to come back when she was done.

Weaning the TV, by Mara Spiropoulos

 

Mara Spiropoulos, LifeWays student and mother of three children ages 3 and under, shares her family's experience in deciding to go television-free.

Our Invisible Helpers, by Cynthia Aldinger

 

When I was in my LifeWays training, Cynthia Aldinger talked about why we feel so good when we clean mindfully, or make a meal from scratch.  We did an exercise where we cleaned mindfully, and I could tell that many of us went into it skeptically.  But when we came back together at the end, the atmosphere in the room was totally different!  I have often thought of that as I do daily tasks with the children, and it makes a real difference in my life.

               -Warmly, Faith Collins

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