Why the Tree of Life?



Just a great picture of D.


Daisies Don't Work

Last week's science experiment was putting carnations in food-colored water and watching the petals slowly take on the color. Unfortunately, we couldn't find carnations. Can you believe it? Isn't that the grocery stores' best seller? Not ours, apparently. Well, we thought, daisies are white; they'll probably work just as well. Nope. Nope. Nope. We even had eight different colors, including *neon*! But they all stayed white, white, white. So... next time, carnations.

Amazing Grace

Believe it or not, the boys are giving a didgeridoo-version of 'Amazing Grace', something E has always hummed deeply to them to get them to go to sleep. Their rendition wasn't so much deep as it was LOUD.

My Birthday

I had a great 31st birthday this past Monday. My family was in town, and we went to my favorite Italian restaurant for dinner and back to our house for cake and ice cream. E found some 'Nada Moo' soy ice cream for K and the cake was vegan. D accompanied everyone on the harmonica singing me 'Happy Birthday'.

K Swinging D


Enki Co-op

A friend (who is also doing Enki) and I have decided to form an Enki co-op starting this May. We've been meeting once a month to plan what we are going to do, and I am really excited about how things are coming together. We're going to meet every Thursday at 9:30am, alternating each other's homes. Each child will bring a vegetable to put in our soup that we will have for lunch, and they will get to chop it up themselves first thing when they arrive and put it in the broth to cook while we play. We're also going to have fresh bread (blessings from a bread machine!). After they chop up their vegetables, they'll play outside for awhile. When it is time for circle, I'm going to play a song to call them on the recorder, and then we'll sing and do fingerplays and tell a nature story. We're going to tell the same nature story for three weeks in a row. Then we will close the circle time and have lunch!

Every fourth Thursday of the month, we are going to go on a nature walk. We plan on visiting three different trails in a season, and then returning to them in the following seasons in order to see how they change.

Right now, it is just the two of us, but we're hoping to find a least a couple of other Enki families in our area and age group to join us.


Planning Session

I just finished a big planning session. I have 13 weeks of plans! If I have activities actually planned out in advance, we do them. If I try to wing it, we don't do anything, and the boys start going stir crazy by 4:30pm. So, this is what our week looks like:

Monday morning- Monday Friends
Tuesday morning-Storytime at the Waldorf store or Library
afternoon- Craft
Wednesday morning- Grocery day
afternoon- Baking
Thursday morning- Free noonday classical concert downtown or library
afternoon- Science/nature activity
Friday morning- Eurythmy class (maybe)
afternoon- Music & Movement (including French and Spanish songs)

We're trying to make it out for a walk every morning, though for some reason, we just haven't been making it very often the last couple of weeks. I think it is because we still haven't gotten used to daylight savings (scourge to all parents of young children). The boys still have lots of free time to play, but I am feeling a little too busy. I wonder what should go?

But I have a nice little set of plans for spring, and we can at least have something to choose from for the next couple of months or so.


Old Picture

D has a little bit of pneumonia this week, so we missed Monday Friends today. He's napping right now, but K is awake, and we still wanted to blog today, since Monday is our official blogging day. We had fun looking through old pictures, and we found one that we had never posted before. This picture is from December at the Waldorf Winter Fair. K and I are decorating a beeswax candle. He is warming the little squares of wax between his hands, and then we are decorating the candle with them. Then K rolled it in glitter. We burned our little candle everyday until it was gone. Beeswax smells really nice!

P.S. Further info on D: He also has an ear infection, so we are starting a short round of antibiotics today. We caught the pneumonia early, so that is good. We know what it is like to not catch it early.


Zilker Train

We went to Zilker Park today with Monday Friends and rode the Zilker Zephyr. D, K, I. and G. all squeezed into one train seat. D wanted nothing to do with my seat, much less my lap. I did end up moving D to the inside, and K kept his arm around him the whole time, and he stayed seated the whole time (didn't want to risk not being included with the big kids, I guess).

After the train ride, we headed down to the creek to feed the ducks, but found big, eager geese instead. The kids had no problem leaving once all the birdseed was gone. It was a little intimidating. We went back up to the playscape to play a little and have a picnic. We stayed until 1pm; pretty late for us to be out, and D fell asleep on the way home.

Explore UT

We went to Explore UT this past Saturday. It is a campus-wide open house for the community. There were thousands of people there, and all sorts of things to do and see in each of the departments. We spent all day there, and the boys were exhausted at the end of it.

(I can never get my captions to line up with my pictures... Lexi, how do you do yours?)

We saw dancers at the Children's International Festival, a trebuchet throwing waterballoons at the Engineering building, lots of things being frozen with liquid nitrogen, A T-Rex ground shaker machine, built towers with lots of big wood blocks at the Architecture building, and made Anansi spiders (from African storytelling) back at the Children's Festival.... and lots, lots more. All in all, a good day. We finished it off with ice cream.


Tree of Life

If you're reading this, you've made it over to our new blog address. :) Welcome!

Why the change? Well, first and foremost, there is an unschooling group here in town called Learning Without Limits, and I shamelessly stole their name because it is such a great name, and I was completely lacking in creativity when I started our blog (and I was too excited to wait until I found our own name). So, it has weighed heavily on my conscience ever since, and I have known for a long time that I wanted and needed to change the name, but nothing good has been coming to me. (And, if I'm honest, we do have 'limits'). :)

But finally tonight, as I was trying to go to sleep, I suddenly realized that the right name has been staring me in the face for months.

Why the Tree of Life, then? Because this image seems to encapsulate everything I have come to understand about God and Life and our place in it all; the very essence of why we are homeschooling.

Several months ago, during a local homeschooling support group meeting, one of the other moms mentioned hearing a story/meditation about the Garden of Eden that really spoke to her as a mother, particularly as a homeschooling mother. She has a more literal interpretation of the Bible, so I took away what really spoke to me from her story and left the rest.

The meditation runs like this: The Garden of Eden is everything that our life can be: Simple Abundance. And in this garden; in our life every day, there are two trees: the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil and the Tree of Life.

Every day, we make a choice between the two. God urges us to eat freely from the Tree of Life. The Tree of Life is God, is Love, is Joy, Beauty, Truth, Compassion, Understanding... all that is of God. It is there for the asking. It is there for the taking. This tree is about Relationship; our relationship with God and meeting God in others and in all of creation.

The second tree is the strict dichotomy of Good and Evil; in other words, Legalism. Everyday, we can choose to hold fast to the Tree of Life, or we can choose the death and expulsion from the 'Garden' that comes from the letter of the law (Pharisee-ism, Puritanism, Fundamentalism) rather than the Life that comes from the Spirit. Legalism kills communities, and it kills individual spirits, and it produces hate; self-hatred and hatred of others. People lose their humanity and become blind to everything that is of real importance.

To take the metaphor further, Christ's message is the Tree of Life. His message frees us from spiritual death, from the results of choosing from the Tree of Knowledge. Christ's message restores our relationship with God. When we hold fast to the Tree of Life, we are holding fast to Joy and Contentment and Love, to our direct relationship with God. And every day, every moment, we have this choice: which tree will I hold fast to today?

I find it interesting as well that the Tree of Life seems to be pervasive as a spiritual/mythological symbol in many cultures and faiths. Of course, they do not all mean the same thing, but as an image, the Tree of Life is something that really speaks to the human spirit. You may have noticed that I added the Shaker version of the Tree of Life to our blog a while ago. There were so many 'Trees of Life' images to choose from: Hindu, Judaic, Medieval, Islamic, contemporary... But the Shaker version spoke to me the most perhaps because of the Shaker movement's distant roots in the Society of Friends.

So, what does this all have to do with homeschooling? It's about keeping my relationships in the forefront of my mind. These relationships (my children and my husband, primarily, but others as well) are what matter. These relationships are what is Eternal. Our hopes for our children are the hopes that all parents have for their children. I want to raise whole and good human beings in every sense, and the best way I know that I can go about this is to hold fast to our relationships, to look to Life and to allow that Life to work through me by daily asking God for my small portion of grace. This is the only way I will be able to see my children for who they actually are, and not simply how I think or 'Know' them to be. It will keep me from merely marking off some arbitrary checklist of tasks and instead enable me to present learning in a way that lives and breathes and is something to which my children can really connect. This is how I can meet their Real needs, respond to them with empathy and answer 'that of God within them'. It is what will help me to join Heaven with Earth, the Ideal with the Real.

So, that is the meaning behind the new name; something I find very powerful.


We will now return to our regularly scheduled program of pictures for the grandparents (and friends)... (and Enki stuff for the other Enki homeschoolers who read our blog). :)