Wednesday, November 21, 2012

It's Birthday Time!


Birthdays were never all that special in our house, growing up. By that I don't mean to say that we didn't celebrate them; we did. We got to pick our birthday dinner most years, we had a cake and a couple of presents on the Sunday following our birthday, with any family that happened to be around. I can remember one actual birthday party with balloons and cake and decorations. It was my sixteenth birthday, and it was a surprise; mostly because it came two months after my actual birthday.  Mostly though, birthdays were only somewhat different than any other day. This was fine, we certainly didn't suffer because of it, and we always felt loved. 

I've always felt, though, that I wanted the birthdays of my children to be a bigger deal than that. I want their birthdays to really be a celebration. A time when the whole family makes an effort to show the birthday boy/girl how truly glad we are that they were born.


And so I have been waiting (perhaps not very patiently) until N was old enough to start really celebrating his birthday. The first few years he was just too little and really wouldn't have even known what was going on, so we just had cake and a few presents for him.

First Birthday, with a gift from one of his sets of Grandparents (those are Mommy-made jammies, by the way :) )
This year, however, he will be four, and is now old enough to really understand what's going on, and care about things like birthdays. Tomorrow (his day falls on Thanksgiving this year) will be his special day. We're driving about two hours away to spend the day at my parents' home, which is a pretty special thing in and of itself, as N adores his Grandma and Grandpa and Aunts and Uncles. Because of the trip, we'll be getting up fairly early. I plan on waking him up to the sounds of a few of his favorite songs (softly played, of course; I don't want it to be jarring by any means). Right now he's really enamored with Elizabeth Mitchell's songs. We have two of her CDs (Sunny Day and You Are My Little Bird), so I'll pop one of those in. When he wakes up he'll see the Birthday Crown, that I've been working on for the past few days, sitting on his pillow.


He'll also see a few balloons next to his bed. If you knew N, you'd know how cool he'll think this is :)

After our morning routine (see here for a breakdown of how our mornings generally go), breakfast will be his choice (the only provision being that it must include protein and fat; we don't want any sugar crashes later on). We'll then be on our way to Grandma's house. I've got a few surprises for him for the drive (a mini-coloring book and a new pack of Stockmar crayons, some of his favorite Annie's Bunny Fruit Snacks, etc.).

When we get there, he'll have lots of time to play outside on my parents' large property; lots of time for swinging on the swing (which hangs from a large old deciduous tree with a face; something like this one), playing with the cat, exploring in the orchard, visiting all the puppies at the home of the neighbor who breeds them, and generally having a ton of fun (he never wants to leave to come back to our apartment; can you tell why?). 

Before we all dig into our Thanksgiving feast, we always go around the table and tell each other what we're most thankful for. This year, I'm asking that we make a second go around the table, where each person tells N something they love about him (it could be a personality trait, a memory, his curly hair, whatever). This is a tradition that I want to start for each family member's birthday dinner. I love the idea of that person hearing all of those wonderful things about themselves straight from the mouths of those who love them most. I almost want to record them, and then give them the recording after several years so they can play back all these wonderful loving little things and memories and lovely words whenever they need a little pick me up. Hmmm. That's something to think about!

After dinner is done, and before the pie is served, we'll sing Happy Birthday and let him blow out the candles on his cake (he has requested a puppy and kitty cake, and I'm not quite sure how I'm going to do that yet, but I better figure it out soon, considering I need to have it done before we leave in the morning!), and open his presents (I've requested that people keep it simple; I don't want this to become all about the presents if I can at all help it). My Mom is crocheting him a pair of elf/gnome slippers that I know he's going to totally get a kick out of. D and I found the entire series of David the Gnome (a show that I just adore; if he's going to watch tv, I want it to be sweet shows like that) on DVD, so we got him that, which was a complete coincidence. Now he'll be able to wear his little gnome slippers and watch David the Gnome.

We'll have to leave for home relatively early in the evening because D has to work early the next morning, which I know will not be greeted with happiness; from him or anyone else. Usually we spend the weekend and the adults stay up late playing games and talking and laughing. I will miss that this year, and look forward to doing it at Christmastime. 

I have a brand new pair of cute little pajamas for him to change into when we get home. We'll read a new book that will be waiting for him on the bed with the new jammies, and end the day with our regular bedtime routine, punctuated with another round of the birthday song instead of our normal bedtime song.

My hope is that these birthday traditions will really be something he (and our other future children) remembers and cherishes, and perhaps even passes on to his own children.

How do you do birthdays in your home?

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

A Celebration of STUFF.


Can you believe that we're half way through November already? I can't. We moved to Southern Nevada at the beginning of summer, and it seems like just a few weeks ago when, in reality, several months have passed. We've had new apartments, new friends, old friends, family visits, new beds, new rhythms to get used to, new weather to adjust to, a few birthdays (with one more coming up in about ten days for N; he's so excited he can hardly contain it), and more. 

And here we are in the middle of November. Have I mentioned that we left most all of our things in storage in Colorado when we moved? The move was so sudden, we just didn't have enough time to gather the money needed to bring it all with us, so in Colorado it stayed. And has stayed. We will finally be able to bring it all out here at the end of this month. D has a plane ticket purchased, the moving truck reserved, and a hotel room waiting for him half way back. We hope that his drive back through Vail will be uneventful (we had a rather not-very-fun experience driving through Vail in the winter back when we were first married, we're just hoping it's better than that at the very least), and that he will not encounter anything that will hold him up.

And then... oh, then we will have the most joyful celebration of STUFF we've ever had. 

We are not material people in the least. We try to keep our things simplified, and regularly purge and sell or donate things that are not being used. But, after six months of living with nothing more than the bare basics in the kitchen, a few camping chairs, and the king size bed that we bought when we got here, I am ready to have my things back. I am ready to see smiling faces look out at me from photo frames on the wall. I am ready to see my beautiful vintage French provincial style dresser that we use in place of an entertainment center. I am ready to have my dishes and baking pans and nice silverware in my kitchen again. I am ready for N to have his bed again (I could write a whole other post specifically about this if I wanted to; we love co-sleeping with him, but to not even have the option of him sleeping elsewhere has been a little rough). I am ready to have my bed in the bedroom (it is currently housed in our living room, since it is literally the only thing we have to sit on at the moment) and my nice, super comfy (covered in a slipcover that I dyed myself) sofa in the living room where it belongs. I am ready to have a place to hang my purse and our various hoodies and sweaters. I am ready to eat at a table and not on our bed.

I will not miss the camping chairs (that my parents loaned to us so we had some place for guests to sit) one bit. 


In other news, the weather has finally cooled down enough that we are outside regularly, which has been a welcome change. 

We went to a pumpkin patch near the end of October that had a small petting zoo; N was not sure what to think about the goats; I was a little relieved that I didn't have to find out whether his pet allergy extends to goats.
 It always seems that life goes better... smoother... when there is plenty of time spent outdoors. Have you found the same to be true for your family?

We love beanie weather:)

This fall has also found me spending a lot more time with my paints. It's becoming more and more an important part of me, which is a bit surprising to me, as I had never really even thought of painting before a few months ago. I picked it up simply so that I could teach N how, using the traditional wet-on-wet water color method. As I continued, though, I found myself really being drawn to it, and I really love it now.

Here are a few of the pieces I've been working on lately, in between my day job (mother, wife, teacher) and my side job (freelance graphic design). Nothing big, as I've just been kind of playing around, finding my style, learning different techniques, etc. 

Robot and Bird; I want to do a series of pieces using these two little friends

You'll have to excuse the lighting; all I have to photograph with right now is my cell phone and it, as you can tell , is less than ideal.

I used salt on this one; pretty neat effect, I think!

This little girl still needs to be painted, but I think she's going to be super cute

This was our dragon for Michaelmas that Sir George befriended (since N is still so young, he overcomes him by befriending him, rather than slaying him)



This is one reason I love the Waldorf way so so much. It has brought many wonderful things into our home and family, and my new love of painting is one of those things. It's been interesting, too, to see how N has suddenly wanted to start trying new artistic things as well. I think it's a wonderful thing for children to watch the adults in their life do things that they love.

I'm thinking I want to create a piece to hang in our living room before D brings all of our things back to us. It will be kind of like ceremonially joining our new life here in Nevada with all of our things from our old life in Colorado. It's a lovely thought.

Much Love,

K

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Happy Autumn Equinox!


Are you doing something to celebrate the arrival of Autumn, today? Fall is my favorite season; it always has been. There's just something magical about this time of year. You've heard the term Magic Hour, referring to the first and last hours of sunlight, where it almost seems as though the air is laced with silver? That's how I feel about Autumn. I think it is the year's Magic Hour. The air just has a certain magical quality about it. It's almost palpable. 

It also brings with it some more of my favorite things: sweaters, beautifully colored falling leaves, hot cocoa and fresh pressed apple cider (not to mention the Fall drinks at Starbucks!), and a shift from the outer light of Spring and Summer to the inner light of Fall and Winter. It's a time of reflecting, a time of deep thoughts. A time of finding light within ourselves. A time for allowing that light to shine for others, a theme that repeats itself often throughout the two seasons. Think of all those who volunteer at homeless shelters and women's shelters during Thanksgiving and Christmas. The Salvation Army Santas on the street corner ringing their bells. The numerous Angel Trees you see at Christmastime. How many of you have ever adopted a family in need for the holidays and left anonymous gifts for them on their doorstep? Autumn and Winter are very much the seasons of giving, and I believe it's because we instinctively start to look inward during these seasons.

N will be four in November so, while he's still quite young, I think he's old enough to begin to understand some of this. We're starting today by celebrating the Autumn Equinox, using the lovely Ayla's guide, found HERE. She has broken down the story of Sir George (I like this better than referring to him as St. George, for various reasons that are too much to explain here) slaying the dragon (a story of looking inward for courage and strength in order to face our own dragons) into bite sized pieces for each day of the week between now (Autumn Equinox) and next weekend, culminating in the telling of the whole story all together for Michaelmas. She also has suggested activities to go with each portion of the story. Tonight I'll tell him about how the people of the land (I haven't quite decided where the story will be located) are busy harvesting  the crops that they've toiled over all spring and summer, and to celebrate the harvest, they have a big feast. To go along with it, after the story, N will help me make a stew full of fresh local veggies (we've been sick, so we weren't able to get to the farmer's market this week, but I'm going to make a run to Whole Foods, where they have a pretty large selection of local produce), and grass fed beef (plus a little pot with just veggies for me, the crazy vegetarian). While we're making the stew, we'll talk about where the vegetables and beef came from, how they're raised, how they're harvested, how they make it from seed and calf to our big pot simmering on the stove.

Tonight, after our bedtime routine, we'll read Giving Thanks, by Jonathan London. I had planned on reading a different book for this day, but the sickness that's going around our house prevented me from getting to the library and I think this one will work just fine (it's all about being thankful for animals and nature). We may read Apple Cider Making Days as well, simply because it's one of N's favorites right now and it shows how apples are harvested and made into cider, so it's pretty fitting as well.

So, what are you doing to celebrate Fall?

Much Love and Kindness,

K


*I had planned on doing an original water color painting to go along with each portion of the story, but again this debilitating monster of a cold has prevented that from happening (yet). Perhaps I'll find the energy to do it tomorrow. If I do, I'll update with the artwork.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Autumn Circle Time (Leaves and Halloween)

I think I've finally put together our Circle Time for Autumn or, more specifically, late September and October. It will remain mostly the same until December when we switch to Winter (which I've got to start on soon, if the amount of time it took me to come up with this one is any indication!), but I will trade out any Halloween related items for Thanksgiving items in November, and add a few celebration-specific items around Michaelmas, Martinmas, and any other holidays that I'm forgetting right at this moment. I'll post those changes when I make them.

I used several sources for putting the Circle together. Kristy, from the yahoo group Waldorf Home Educators, was a big help by sharing her own Circle, which I used for the framework. The rest was gleaned from various sources all over the internet. I wish I had noted where I found everything, but I didn't. Next time I will, not only because I want to give credit where credit is due, but because I want to be able to go back to those sources for more.

So here it is. Feel free to use it as is, or as a base for creating your own. If you post it anywhere (and please, do!), just be sure to link back to here.




Morning Circle:

Song:

(standing, join hands and walk in a cirlce)
Autumn is here and the world goes round
Autumn is here and the world goes round
Autumn is here and the world goes round
The world goes round and round and round.

(Hands are leaves fluttering to the ground)
Autumn is here and the leaves fall down
Autumn is here and the leaves fall down
Autumn is here and the leaves fall down
The leaves fall down upon the ground.
(repeat first verse)


Centering Verse:
(standing)
The Earth is firm beneath my feet
(bend down to touch the ground)
The Sun shines bright above
(hands reach up to the sky)
And here I stand so straight and strong
(step each foot into the ground)
All things to know and love.
(cross arms at chest)

Verse:
I can reach so high, I can touch the shy
I can reach so low, I can touch my toes
I can turn myself around and around
And sit down quietly on the ground

Short Story/Poem
(use red and yellow silks)
The North Wind came along one day,
So strong and full of fun.
He called the leaves down from the tree
And said, "Run children, run!"
They came in red or yellow dress,
In shaded green and brown,
And all the short October day
He chased them round the town.
They ran in crowds, they ran alone,
They hid behind the trees.
The North Wind laughed and found them there
And called, "No stopping, please!"
But when he saw them tired out
And huddled in a heap,
He softly sang, "Goodnight, my dears,
Now let's go to sleep."

Seasonal Fingerplay
Five little leaves so bright and gay (hold out hand, flutter outstretched fingers or use pressed leaves)
Were dancing about the tree one day (sway hand in rhythm overhead)
The wind came blowing through the town OOOO (put other hand to mouth and blow)
One little leaf came tumbling down (sway hand from side to side while folding appropriate finger towards palm, repeat entire verse 5-4-3-2-1-0)

Seasonal Fingerplay
Autumn leaves are floating down, (float hands and arms up and down)
They make a carpet on the ground. (move arms back and forth towards the ground)
Then swish! The wind comes whistling by (quickly "swish" hands back and forth in front of body)
And sends them dancing to the sky! ("dance" hands upward)
All the leaves are falling down, (flutter hands downward)
Orange, green, red, and brown. (continue moving hands downward)
If you listen, you will hear them say, (cup hands around ears)
"Wintertime is on its way." (whisper)

Seasonal Movement Silly Verse/Large Motor
I traveled far across the sea, I met a gnome and old was he
I said to him, "where do you live", And this is what the gnome told me
Come with me to jumping land, jumping land, jumping land
If you wish to live with me, follow me to jumping land
...running land
...stomping land
...skipping land
...tiptoe land
...running land
...hopping land
...crawling land
...sleeping land

Reflection Verse
Let us greet this day with kind words, calm voices, gentle hands and an open heart.

Stories for Late September/October:



Evening Circle: 

Fingerplay:
(seated)
Little light up in the sky
(holding up two fingers to the sky)
Twinkling to and fro
(flicker fingertips)
Sending me your little light
(flicker fingertips down to the top of the head)
In the day and in the night
(day-hands open with fingers wide/night- hands under head like sleeping)
Until I rise once more.
(Stand on word-rise)

Song (written by Katie Yeh, hand motions by yours truly)
(to the tune of I'm a Little Tea Pot)
I’m a little pumpkin, short and fat (put your arms out to your sides, curved around like you're a pumpkin)
I’m going to be a jack o lantern, how about that? (put your hands on your hips)
Just carve me out a mouth and nose and eyes (run your finger along your mouth, the point to your nose and eyes)
And light me up on Halloween night! (place your hands, tips of fingers touching the tips of your thumbs, near your cheekbones, then open up your hands and move them away from your face, as though you're illustrating light coming out of the jack o lantern)

Verse (to transition us to listening to the story)
An owl sat alone
(Sit down, and hold up one finger)
On the branch of a tree.
He was as quiet
(Hold finger to lips)
As quiet could be.
It was night
And his eyes were round like this.
(Make circles over eyes with thumbs and index fingers)
And when he looked around
Not a thing did he miss.
(Look from side to side)

Story
(Right now we're reading Little House in the Big Woods. I usually read one chapter each day, so I'm just moving that to evening time, here.)

Quiet Verse (to transition gently to our bedtime routine which starts with bath, so we'll do this as we walk to the bathroom)
Softly on his tip-tip-toes
(Your child's name) through the forest goes. Sh! Sh! Sh! (repeat)

And here are the books we have in our Autumn book basket right now, in case you need some ideas/inspiration:



Saturday, September 15, 2012

Autumn 2012 Plans

I've been busy lately. Busy because I have two littles to take care of. Busy because we've had quite a few guests as of late. Busy because money has been tight (thankfully a temporary thing), so I've been making more meals from absolute scratch.

Busy because we are starting our first year of Waldorf Preschool this month. I'm still working on creating our Circle Time for this month (two weeks in; ha!), so I think I'm just going to make it into the October Circle. I recently joined the Waldorf Home Educators yahoo group, and it has proven already to be an invaluable source of information, as has Pinterest. Oh, Pinterest. I really have to watch how much time I spend there, and when. I think, if I allowed myself, I could spend an entire day just perusing all of the Waldorf-y pins, which would kind of defeat the purpose of living a Waldorf style life. I try to limit myself to an hour or so during naptime or after N has fallen asleep at night.

Here are some of the things we've done to get ready for Autumn, so far.


We made our Seasonal Tree. This will stay here from now on (though I may make a new one when I can get a hold of some brown poster board as the closest I've found so far was find was a piece with gold on one side and silver on the other), changing with the seasons. Right now it has colorful leaves, acorns, and apples on it. There are a few pumpkins at the bottom, along with two cute little foxes, all dressed up for Fall. N's pince cone collection has taken up residence there, as well. The little table they sit on is going to be our Nature Table, but most of the items I want to put on it are still in storage in Colorado, so as of now it's just the pine cones.


I made a Season Calendar. I actually messed it up by painting the season ring, and then turning the paper without realizing it, so when I painted the tree, it was not lined up with the correct seasons. Oops. I fixed it (kind of) by painting the month sections in seasonally appropriate colors. So really, the red should have been Autumn, the blue should have been Winter, the green should have been Spring, and the yellow should have been summer. Oh well. I still like how it came out. On an unrelated note, I really need a better camera.


I changed our Rhythm Chart to one with seasonal colors, but I don't know if I'm going to keep it that way, as I really really like the rainbow chart. We'll see.



Now I just have to complete the Circle for October, and plan a few seasonal activities. I'll post the Circle when I have it finished (I'm hoping that will be tomorrow). I have started a Waldorf playgroup in our new area, after realizing that there was absolutely nothing like there here already, and I have around a dozen families interested right now. We'll be meeting up for the first time at the end of the month, and I'm hoping we'll be able to plan some really awesome activities for Autumn for the kids. I'm thinking a lovely Lantern Walk in November, and Advent Spiral in December, and things like that. I'm so excited about it!

The last thing I'm working on right now is putting together our play room (which is actually N's room, but it's a good size, and we only have two bedrooms, so it has to double as the playroom).  At this point, due to finances, it's all just planning and dreaming, but in a month or so I'll be able to start putting it together. I know it's going to be the perfect place for N and E, and any other littles that happen by to play. Just thinking about it makes me happy. 

Happy almost Autumn!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

What Our Day Looks Like

When I first started changing our lives and routines over to a more Waldorf-style life, I scoured the internet for examples of how a day in the life of a Waldorf family went. What was this rhythm that I kept hearing and reading about? How is it implemented? I couldn't find much. There were some really awesome examples, don't get me wrong, just not many. So I thought I'd add mine to the bunch. I hope it helps anyone who is looking and happens across this post.

We start the day early because I take care of another little one who comes around 7:30 AM Monday through Friday. So I get up around 6:00, and let N sleep a while longer while I shower and get myself ready. When I am dressed and ready to go, I softly wake N, and we sit in bed and snuggle for a few minutes, letting him transition from asleep to awake gently.


We then start our morning rhythm by getting him dressed (we lay out his clothing for the next day during our bedtime routine, so it's an easy process in the morning), washing his face and brushing his teeth. After that is done, we head into the dining room, which is our makeshift playroom/preschool room at the moment, and we light our special morning-time candle and recite his morning verse (see below).

"The golden sun is shining
Up in the sky so blue.
Good morning, happy morning!
Good morning sun to you!"

He then eats his breakfast (often scrambled fresh local eggs, or a bowl of homemade gluten-free granola with lots of fresh berries and/or fruit) by candlelight, which he thinks is really special, and kind of anchors him in the moment. He's present in the moment, rather than distracted by an overly hyper-active cartoon on television (admittedly, how he spent more than one breakfast before the change).

After breakfast, if there is still time before our little friend shows up, we sometimes read a book, or water our plants, or (very occasionally) I let him play a game on our Kindle Fire. Our friend comes at 7:30 and, after his Mommy leaves, we take him on a walk around the neighborhood. If we don't do it right away it becomes too hot outside (such is life in the desert during Summer) and we don't get to take the walk at all, so we try to get out the door right after he arrives. On our walk, N loves to stop and look at plants, flowers, bushes, trees, bugs, and basically anything else that strikes his fancy. Soon I'm going to order a few Fandex guides for flower, tree, bug, and other identifications so we can learn while we are on our walks.

When we get home, we get big drinks of water, and get ready for Circle Time. This is something I'm still working on, as we are just now starting a preschool of sorts in our home and before there wasn't any structured time spent in this way. We sang songs, told stories, moved, but not at any particular time, just whenever it fit. Now that we are starting preschool, I wanted to incorporate Circle Time. It's kind of tricky with only one child (our friend is not yet a year, so he pretty much just watches us and laughs at some of the funnier movements), but so far we both like it. We start with an opening verse, the same one each time. We then do a seasonal verse that stays the same for about a month. This is followed by a few fun verses that have movements that go with them (lots of standing up, turning around, touching our toes, and so forth), and a story which I act out on our felt board or with little toys (like his little wooden peg people and gnomes and fairies). Sometimes I add in a song or two. Whatever we do, though, it stays the same for about a month, giving him plenty of time to learn the verses and songs. We close with our closing verse (always the same, all year long), and we move on to snack time, and then some free play.

Free play consists of N playing with his toys (blocks are a favorite, as are his puzzles, play kitchen, play silks, and "guys", which are his wooden peg people and accessories), and our little friend E spending some time on the floor (he isn't crawling yet, but it's coming soon!) with a few simple toys. Usually he gets a bottle around this time, as well, which gets him ready for his first nap, which is coming up.

While I lay E down for his first nap, N plays quietly or looks at books. After E is asleep, we read together. Right now we are working our way through Little House in the Big Woods. I wasn't sure that he was going to be old enough for it yet, but I really wanted to try (I am impatient to share things I love with him, I think), and he adores it! He especially loves hearing the stories that Pa tells Laura and her sisters, and anything having to do with animals (which is quite a bit when you live in the woods). After reading for a bit (usually a chapter or two), we do our Main Lesson.

In Waldorf preschool, the Main Lesson is all about real life. This is what we do on each day.

Mondays: Baking

Because of his eczema, we have to eat gluten free (and, we have found that the Primal/Paleo diet works best for us anyway, so there are no grains of any kind in our meals, save the occasional rice or quinoa), so we bake with almond and other nut flours, coconut flour, and a few other primal-friendly flours. Sometimes we bake cookies, sometimes we bake bread, sometimes we do something really special and make a cake or a pie. N helps measure ingredients, he stirs with a large wooden spoon, he helps me read the directions (yes, my nearly-four-year-old can read, which is not the Waldorf way in the least, but believe me when I tell you that I couldn't have prevented him from learning to read if I'd tried; he just wanted it and he figured it out with very little help from us, and can now read quite well), and helps to clean up when we're done. He loves it all.

Tuesdays: Laundry

N helps to sort the clothes into lights, darks, and linens. He helps to put a load into the washing machine, and he helps to pour the soap. He helps transfer the load into the dryer, with me pulling out an N-sized armful and handing it to him to put in the dryer. He then helps me fold and hang. He's not the best at folding, but fold he does, and he gets better at it every time. It still amazes me that he enjoys these things, but he does (and this is true of most children his age).

Wednesdays: Seasonal Craft or Activity

It might be leaf prints in the fall, or paper flowers in the spring. Maybe handprint paintings, or cotton ball snowmen in winter. Something that has to do with the season in which we are currently living. We talk about the season, sometimes having the same conversation each Wednesday for a few weeks because at this age, repetition is important to him. He likes repeating things he's learned, and hearing about those things all over again.

Thursdays: Water Coloring

I have yet to order some of the really good Stockmar paints (the price is what's holding me back, but they really are the best, so I'm sure I'll bite the bullet sometime here), but I have some decent quality paints from the craft store, and we use those for now. I trim the corners of our water color papers so that they are rounded (this keeps the child in their natural dreamy state, rather than the harsh corners which are very much awakening; it also draws their eyes inward, into what they are creating), and get them wet. I don't have any water color boards yet (they are on my list of must-buys), so we lay the papers down on some paper towels on top of a vinyl table cloth. We use one color at a time right now, so that he can really get a feel for each color, and what it is. Most recently we used blue. As we painted, I told him a story about a little blue boat that wanted to cross a wide blue river, but the river was moving too swiftly (at this point we painted from one side of the page to the other, with large swift strokes, just like the river). He didn't know what to do, so he slowly tried to inch his way across. The river swept him up though, and he got caught in a whirlpool a little ways down. He was stuck in the whirlpool now, and couldn't get out (now we use our brushes to make circles and swirls and spirals on the page, just like the whirlpool). A little Blue Jay saw him from above and wanted to help him, so he went to get some of his larger bird friends and they all pulled the little blue boat up out of the whirlpool (now we painted in strong upward strokes, like the birds pulling the boat out of the water). They set the boat down on the other side of the river (now painting with downward strokes), and he thanked them for helping him out. They were friends from that day forward. You'd be amazed at how much N enjoys such a simple story. He loves our water color days. Soon, we'll start mixing colors, and learn about those secondary colors that are created.


Friday: Laundry

Saturdays: Seasonal Craft or Activity

If we did a craft earlier in the week, I try to make Saturday an activity day. We don't have E on the weekends, so we are more able to do things that having a baby around doesn't allow.

Sundays: Family Time with Daddy

We might go up to the nearby mountains and have a picnic and a hike, or we might stay home and snuggle up on the couch together and watch a movie. As long as we are all together.

After our Main Lesson (E has usually awoken at some point in the middle of it), it's lunch time. We eat lunch, clean up, and then have another couple of hours of free play for both of them, while I work on something like cleaning, teaching myself to knit, or reading a book (right now I'm about half way through Last Child in the Woods, by Richard Louv, which I highly recommend; it's a book every parent should read).

After free play, they both lay down for a nap (the second one for E). While they are sleeping, I get around to checking my email, facebook, etc., and anything else I want/need to do without little ones around.

When they awake, we read a couple of books (E likes to sit in my lap while I read to N, and try to grab things off the page, which makes N laugh). We have about two hours or so before E goes home, and we fill it with more free play (are you noticing just how much of this occurs during the day? Playing is so so so important for little ones for many many reasons).

Now it is just about time for E to go home. N has a snack before we head out for our evening walk. If it's summer time like it is now, the walk isn't far because it's still pretty hot at that time (usually around 5:00pm), but when the weather is more enjoyable, we will walk as long as N feels like it, so long as we are home in time to start dinner. We spend more time looking at flowers and bugs, and then we head home.

Dinner is usually ready just about when Daddy is getting home from work, and we all eat together, talking about our day. N likes to tell Daddy about all the funny things E did during the day, and what we read about in Little House in the Big Woods, or something he saw on our walk.

After dinner, it's time for our evening Circle, which consists of a few movement verses to help him get the last of his wiggles out, and a night time song (right now we like Moon Moon Moon, by the Laurie Berkner Band, which is super easy to learn, and has a fun part at the end about the moon looking like a pizza pie, which we change at random to silly things like rootbeer pie or flip flop pie, which always makes N laugh).

"Now the sun has gone to bed
The stars are shining overhead
In their nests, the birds all sleep
Into their homes, the snails will creep.
Children now no more will roam,
It's rest time now, and we're safe at home.
Mommy and Daddy, and I, in our house,
All settling down, quiet as a mouse."

Now we start our bedtime routine. A nice warm bath is followed by jammies and laying out clothes for the next day. We then light our bedtime candle, say our bedtime verse (see above), and have our bedtime tea (I like Serendipitea Strictly Strawberry; it's organic, caffeine free, and nice and fruity so N loves it) with a little raw local honey and a splash of milk. I first read about a family having evening tea a few months ago, and thought 'what a nice calming thing to do at the end of the day!', and wanted to add it to our routine, as well. I love it. We sit in the light of our bedtime candle, sipping our tea, and just enjoying each other's company. We don't say much, but talking is not forbidden. It's just such a calming experience that we are usually just content to be quiet and drink our tea. This sets the quiet, calm mood for getting into bed really nicely. We go into N's room, sing one more song (usually the same song that we sing in our evening circle, but sometimes he requests something else, like Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, or Baa Baa Black Sheep) and read one book (usually the same one for a week, which allows him to really take the book in, and also allows him to relax more and more as the week goes on, because he knows the story so well by the end of the week). Sometimes he drifts off while I'm reading, sometimes he stays up another half an hour or so after I'm done. I stay in his room with him until he's out. I know some parents who think this is coddling, but to me it is just what works for us. He feels content, and loved, and falls asleep easily. There is no fight, no struggle, no threatening (and believe me, we've had our fill of nights like those, from before we changed our lifestyle). Bedtime is peaceful. I usually bring the bedtime candle into his room with us, and read by it. I take it out when he falls asleep, and turn on his night light.

And then it's grown up time. Sometimes we talk, sometimes we read, sometimes we turn on the television (actually Daddy turns it on nightly to watch the news, but a lot of times it goes back off when it's over). It's so nice to have grown up time without having to deal with a toddler who doesn't want to go to sleep. It's amazing how much different our nights are now. Our entire lives have changed for the better since implementing a Waldorf-style of living, and I wouldn't change a thing. I think back to those long stressful, struggle filled nights of not too very long ago, and I wish I could whisper in my own past-self ear that this was the change we needed to alleviate the stress and bring peace into our family. It took some work at first, to make changes, but I can't even tell you how worth it it was.

The corner of our dining room with all our rhythm chart, our morning and evening verses, and some art projects
I hope this glimpse into our day will help someone else who is looking to make similar changes in their family, too.

Much love and kindness,

K

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Summer

I'm still getting the hang of the adapting the Waldorf way of celebrating the seasons for life in the desert. When it's 111° outside, it's not easy to spend a lot of time outdoors. I really am not cut out for desert life, but we moved here not for the climate, but for the family and friends that are near by. So here we will stay. For a while. We really are nomads, I think. Never content to stay in one place for very long. We like new places, new faces, new experiences. We always end up missing our people though, so I think this place will always be a home base of sorts. A place to which we can come back and get our fill of family and dear friends. And while we're here, we must live with the climate. Which brings me back to our summer so far.

Here are some of the things with which we've been occupying our time:

We colored some rice, and then played with it


We used some of our Rainbow Rice to make pictures, using a glue stick

We made beautiful window stars

We drove up to Grandma and Grandpa's house and spent quite a bit of time at a nearby community water park

We spent a little time at a playground near our house (when the weather gave us a rare non-face-melting day)

We collected pinecones at the park and brought them home

We made our pinecones into little pinecone gnomes

We finger painted

We made a hand kite with our hand dyed rainbow silk and a wooden ring finished with our homemade organic beeswax and coconut oil wood polish 

We made one for little E (my BFF's little one), with a shorter hand dyed silk, to teeth on

We added noses to our list of things with which we can paint

It's been a fun summer, in spite of the heat, but oh, how I long for fall!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Why Waldorf?

There are plenty of other blogs and websites devoted to the scientific reasons that the Waldorf way of living and educating work. This is about why it works for my family, specifically.

I am both new to the Waldorf way of life, and also quite experienced in it. I grew up in a home that espoused a lot of Waldorf ideals, and ways of living. I also grew up in a world that is not always Waldorf-friendly, and when I was a child, teenager, young woman, I strayed from those ideals. I was sucked into the material world, and not in a way that has benefited me in any way. 

Since giving birth to our son, however, or maybe even while I was still carrying him inside me, I've felt myself pulled more and more back to the peaceful feelings and calm that comes with living a more natural lifestyle. I longed to have the kind of relationship with my son that my mother shared with me as a child. I wanted to give him a childhood full of imagination and magic, which is so hard to get in our current media/plastic/electronics saturated society. It seems that we are more connected to our things than we are to each other in many cases, and that is just not what I wanted for my family. 

Snuggles from N

I wanted to feel connections with my children and my husband. I want the kids to grow up with experiences that they remember warmly, and wish to pass on to their own children. I want camp-outs in the backyard, I want nature hikes with guide books to tell us what that bug sitting on that rock is called, I want to make Christmas ornaments together, I want to tell them stories with no pictures so that the images are all in their beautiful little minds, I want to lay with them on the grass and look at the stars at night, I want to make soup and cookies with them, I want long days on the beach, splashing in the water, and collecting the most perfect shells and sand dollars we can find. I want them to believe in fairies and trolls and gnomes and Jack Frost. I want the first snow of the season to be absolutely magic, and not just another day. I want the first day that the trees start blossoming in the Spring and the day the leaves start falling in the Fall to be magic, too. I want picnics on the grass with no shoes. I want gardening together, growing food that we will then harvest and prepare together. I want bed time to be calm, with a nice warm bath, a story, dim lights, some snuggles, and then sweet sleep that lets them rest from the activities of our day. I've had enough of the bed time struggles. This way works so much better for us.

The TV stays off. The laptop stays closed for the most part. The blinds are open to let the sunshine in (though it's summer in the desert, so the windows must stay closed tight until it starts to cool down). We sing songs. We read fairy tales. We do the dishes together. We fold laundry (something that I used to dread, but is now a beloved part of every Monday and Thursday). We paint. We take walks. We visit friends and family. We make things. We lay quietly together. We make up silly stories. We laugh. We ignore Facebook. We ignore email. We ignore Pinterest. Those things are still there when N is asleep in bed, dreaming little nearly-four-year-old dreams, and they don't seem to mind that I have ignored them all day. N, on the other hand, would very much mind.

Things are peaceful in our home. Things are happy. They haven't always been, when things and other people were more important. When we allowed television and the internet to control our schedules and take our attention away from each other and the beautiful world around us. When we felt like everything was forced, and everything was a struggle.

This way is so much better for us.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Hello!

I have been contemplating the starting of this blog for quite some time, never quite making the decision one way or the other, until a few days ago. You see, I had a modestly successful blog in the not so distant past, which I gave up, let lapse, and otherwise abandoned when I realized that it was taking up too much of a few very important things: time, attention, and energy. Add to that the fact that I was writing about subject matter that was slowly starting to not matter to me a much as it once did, and you have a recipe for bad. And it left a similar taste in my mouth (bad, I mean). It started with so much good; intentions, energy, results, new friendships, free stuff (oh, but the free stuff isn't really free... it comes with strings, and requires quite a bit of those important things I mentioned above in order to receive it), and it slowly just became quite the exact opposite of what I wanted it to be. It became about money. It became about gaining "followers". It became about everything that does not matter to me.

So, I gave it up.

And because of that experience, although I have wanted to start this blog for quite some time, I have had reservations. Second Thoughts. And, alright, if we're being honest... fears.

Then a few days ago, I came across a blog that I absolutely fell in love with. It was almost exactly what I wanted my blog to be. And I thought... I can do this. This I can do.

... and here I am.

I want this to be a place where I can share the life of my little family. I want to share the books that we're reading, the fairy gardens that we're making, the art that we create, the traditions that we keep (and new ones that we start). I want to share why we are raising our family in the Waldorf style, naturally, full to the brim with  books and art and blocks and sunshine and walks and fairies and gnomes and very little electronic stimulation (until after bedtime, anyway, because you know I absolutely must find out what happens with Sookie, Annie, and Melissa and Joey; I'm human, don't judge!).

N, dying a play silk in a beautiful yellow tone. We love play silks!

I want to share all of the magic that comes with raising a little boy. The kisses, the dancing (and oh, boy, does he love to dance!), the made up games and stories, the questions for which I have no answers that spur days and weeks of learning about something that I knew nothing about before he asked. 

What I don't want to share on this blog: the mundane, day-to-day things that everyone deals with. I do not want to write a post about the new Swiffer Sweeper, as awesome as it may be. I do not want to tell you about the latest blog hop, or massive giveaway, or shopping deal. There are plenty of blogs (fantastic ones, too!) that do that already. I don't feel the need to throw my hat back into that ring. If I ever do get back into reviews and giveaways, they will be for things that I honestly feel would enrich someone's life, and which fit completely and seamlessly into the setting of whatever this blog becomes.

At any rate, those are my hopes. At first, I think I will be writing to my self, as no one even knows that I have started this little journal of sorts. I'm not even sure I'm set on the name of the blog, and I still need to design the aesthetics. I hope, however, if you've found your way here, that you will hang around, and enjoy the moments of our life that I share.

Much love and kindness,

K