Thursday, May 16, 2019

Riding with Intention

I went for a long bike ride today to clear my mind. It was the first ride I've taken in my beautiful new town since we moved here last summer. God I feel so free on that bike. It is one of my absolute favorite things ever to do. Feeling the wind and smelling the fresh air.. and the beautiful things that I saw. So many beautiful things that I tried to capture with my lens but cannot even begin to describe in photos and words. 
I had intended to maybe just go around my block but I kept going.. and going.. and going. For miles. I do this a lot. I start driving or riding and just go with no idea of where I am going. I wander, often.. to wild places. I didn't know the roads or the area much. I just rode. And I stopped when I saw something beautiful or needed to breathe. About 5 miles in I ended up at the bottom of such a steep hill and had no idea where I was. I began to worry that I wouldn't be able to make it back home. 

But I did make it. And I almost made it halfway up that steep hill. Almost. 

I rode about 12 miles I think. I guess I needed it. I'm feeling a lot of things this week so I rode my bike. And it was so good. 

Things I learned and remembered during today's ride:

- Sometimes where you think you are going ends up very different than what you imagined.
- Nobody will understand your journey the way you do. This is your ride and people will judge you no matter which way you go. Just go.. be a good human being with good intentions and do your best, then go forth and let it go. Anyone who is still having issue with you, is really struggling with themselves. 
- Switching gears is necessary to be able to navigate the roads in your life. Never be afraid to switch gears when you need to or you may spin out. 
- Being alone with yourself is good. You are born alone and will die alone. Being comfortable with that is so very important and puts so much in perspective.
- There will always be more "important" things that need to be done. This life is now. Slow down. Enjoy the moment and don't feel guilty for doing so. You have one life to live. That's it.
- Perception is so important. The hill is only unmanageable when you look too far ahead or listen to others who say it is a certain way. Look down at the road in front of you to form your own opinions, and you will get pulled along.
- If you keep trying and trying and it still isn't working. It is ok to hop off the ride. It's ok to stop and sit down and let go. It is ok to turn around and go a different way. Nothing can be forced. You can only do the best you can.

- Sometimes the only person who can appreciate where you are, where you've been or where you are going - is you. This is ok. 
- One of the best feelings in the world should be coming home. Home is not always a place you go to. It is the people who love you. It is safe and steady. I always wanted my children to feel that way. If you don't feel that way, ask yourself why. I'm so lucky to have a wonderful partner who is my home, my safe place and my best friend. You deserve that too.

I'm not sure if I left my ride solving anything much. I read somewhere yesterday that if after you have tried, and tried again looking for a way to solve a problem, you still have not found the answer... then it may simply be not so much a problem you have to solve but a fact you need to accept. I think those are wise words as hard as they may be.

Sunday, May 12, 2019

30 Free Spring Ideas and Activities for Caregivers of Children

Photo by Robin LaRoy, A Little Acorn Learning Mama

1. Take out old make-up or face paints and paint each other's faces.
2. Play a game of tic-tac-toe together.
3. Color a picture of a butterfly.
4. Have a dance party in your living room.
5. Make a homemade drum out of empty containers.
6. Go on a wildflower hunt outside.
7. Have a picnic with your children in your backyard.
8. Take a dog for a walk.
9. Take your children outside before dinner and play catch.
10. Look for shapes in the clouds today.
11. Be more mindful of how much water you use today.
12. Empty out one drawer that needs decluttering together.
13. Stack and balance rocks you find outside.
14. Paint plain flowerpots and turn them into something beautiful.
15. Play a game of marbles together.
16. Make a flower out of beeswax modeling material.
17. Try meditating for 15 minutes today.
18. Let the children go outside and roll down hills!
19. Watch the sunset together.
20. Pick flowers outside and press them in a big book.
21. Create a better recycling system or inspire someone else.
22. Go to a local park for the day.
23. Go outside and sketch a part of nature in full detail.
24. Let the sun hit your face today. Pause and let it warm you.
25. Have the children set the table for meals today.
26. Lay with your child at bedtime for 15 minutes and let them do the talking.
27. Wash your floors together.
28. Organize a game of kick the can with neighborhood kids.
29. Set up a special date with each one of your children alone.
30. Review any negative feelings you've had this past month. Why?

Friday, May 10, 2019

Granny Square Making and 4 Free Crochet Patterns

As many of you know, I just love to crochet. One of the most simple and beautiful things to make, in my opinion, are Granny Squares (or as my teen just called them Granny 'Patches' lol).  There are so many types of squares you can make from the very simple basic square to the more involved designs that 'patched' together can make the most beautiful blankets and projects. 

My friends over at A Child's Dream were so sweet and generous and sent me my very own care package of goodies after I worked on their Handwork Basket Giveaway (be sure to enter!). These products really are so beautiful. I prefer natural fibers and the vibrant colors of this 100% wool yarn they offer are so hard to find. It is so soft and does not feel like wool at all. I also just love their Brittney birch hooks. For those of you who are used to the metal crochet hooks typically found in craft stores, you have to give these a try. Use coupon code ACORN10 for any of your purchases through the end of the month to receive a 10% discount created just for us. 


Many of the students in our Beginning Crochet Course have really mastered the craft. It would be a natural step for them to start experimenting with Granny Squares next and I hope to share these patterns below with them as well. If you have always wanted to learn how to crochet, please join us. It is an ongoing five week ecourse that you can do at your own pace including emails, written and video tutorials. One of the most valuable parts of the course is our private support group where we all share and help one another. You can stay in that group as long as you wish even long after you complete the course.



I've been making these squares a little each day. I love idea of making a nice pillow or even a bag out of them. I may cut some pretty flowers out of the wool felt they send along and see if I can add them to the center of my squares or make some pretty hair clips like I used to offer in our Etsy shop. 



For those of you who already know how to crochet, below are some really wonderful squares to try out for free. 

Daisy Granny Square

    

Primavera Flower Granny Square


Owl Granny Square


Retts Granny Square


I would love to see what you make! 

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Reclaiming the Village

"It takes a village to raise a child."

But what happens if there is no village?
Photographer - Amy Figley
When is the last time you were able to borrow eggs or milk from your neighbor when you ran out?

Speaking of neighbors, do you know yours? Do you know their names? Their children? Their lives?

Do they know you?

Photographer - Janie Mote
Are you alone in "the village"? Most of us are.

I want you to imagine....

Imagine a place to live where you know everybody's name (sound like Cheers minus the beer, doesn't it?). Imagine a place where your children are watched over not only by you but by others who care about them and know who they are. What could that do to the choices some children make? Could it create change?

Imagine a place where you and your family know you have plenty of people to call in case of an emergency, a place where you look out for one another and call upon each other (rather than Google) when you need help.

Imagine sharing skills and friendship with others right outside your front door, a place where you know people's struggles and you help ease their burden. Imagine a place where you get the same in return.

Imagine a place filled with neighborhood friends of all ages on porches, back decks, apartment terraces and playgrounds. Imagine your children cared for by others that you know and trust when you are not home.

Imagine not being alone anymore.


Imagine this place and then look outside your home.

It's there.  It only needs you to rebuild it.

I am asking for your support in helping us Reclaim, Rebuild and Renew our villages, one family at a time.

The first family is you.

This will require you to get out of your comfort zone. All change begins with us first being uncomfortable.

Here's how:
  • Get to know people on your road, in your apartment building or extended community. Stop to say hello or ask a question. Be prepared at first for some people to think you are odd or annoying. Sadly, it is not commonplace to start small talk at the mailbox anymore. Do not be discouraged. Remember that is what we are trying to change. Keep on.
  • Create a neighborhood watch program. Gather a group of adults to walk the streets together, taking back what is rightfully yours and your children's. Coordinate keeping outdoor lights on at the same times each night to create a safer environment. Take turns keeping an eye on things in groups outside.
  • Build a community garden. It can be in your own yard... but ask neighborhood children and adults to help and take home vegetables. Leave a 'Free for Neighbors' box of veggies outside your home whenever you have extra.
  • Coordinate a parent group in your neighborhood and organize safe outings for children so they can get to know one another.
  • Organize a garbage clean up to make your area a cleaner place to live. 
  • Focus on the elderly in your community.  Visit them, bring them meals, mow their lawn, take them to appointments and learn from their experiences.  
Photographer - Sarah Teo
  • Barter. Tutor a child in return for landscaping help. Teach computer skills in return for car rides. What can you give?  What could you use in return? Money is not always necessary when people are willing to work together to lift each other up.  
  • Offer to teach a skill at your home or on your porch - knitting, cooking, language.
  • Start a book club with neighborhood people.
  • If you live in an area where there is a large population that could benefit from English as a second language classes, offer them. Create a group of people that can help one another learn to write, read and speak in a new language. Then, in return, ask to learn their first language so you can expand your knowledge as well.
  • Schedule weekly nature walks around your home. Invite neighbors to come along. Get to know your outdoor landscape and space together. Invite special visitors to speak or share insight.  
  • Start a walking club. 
  • Help new parents find relief. Offer advice, supplies, breast feeding support and friendship. Offer to sit in the living room and hold the baby when a new mom needs a nap.  
  • Host a small backyard music concert! You can find others in your neighborhood who play instruments and invite them to perform or just play recorded music together.
  • Think about the seasons and holidays. Organize an Easter Egg Hunt, a Summer Party, a Bike Parade or a Trunk or Treat event in your driveways.  
  • Start a monthly mom and dads night out for neighborhood parents to get to know one another.  
  • Host movie nights indoors or on a screen outside.  
  • Consider opening up fences, creating paths to one another's homes and taking down some mental walls while still maintaining your privacy.  
  • Beautify your neighborhood together. Plant flowers, clean up trash and debris and restore old spaces.
  • Make a neighborhood playground or take turns having children rotate backyards each day of the week after school where one parent supervises.  
  • Make a community newsletter.  Ask for contributors - writers, classifieds, events.  
  • If you own a pool, consider hosting swimming once in awhile to those who do not have the same. 
  • Put benches, picnic tables and chairs in your front yard and encourage others to do the same. Talk to people when they walk by. Say hello (again, at first you will be the neighborhood crazy man or lady but that's OK!) Move your fire pit to the front yard and invite anyone who walks by to join you! 
  • If you live in a more isolated environment, expand this community by doing the same with people from church, school or work.
  • Start an annual neighborhood block party. Take back your streets and play games, eat together and bond. 
  • Create emergency plans together. Write it down. Make sure everyone knows where they can go for help and who has what to offer. Talk about fires, natural disasters (and sadly, yes, shootings) and other occurrences that you can help each other with. Consider a phone chain for emergencies. Remember people who need extra assistance. Be the ones they can count on.  
  • Post your neighbors phone numbers and emails on your wall and in your phones and have them do the same. When trust has been built, consider sharing house keys in case you are away or there is an emergency. 
  • Take care of your neighbors pets, plants and yard when they go away.  Be a presence in an otherwise empty home.
  • Have a community tag sale. 

Create an amazing world right where you live.

This article was originally published in 2014. Please feel free to share it at your will as long as the following biography is included:

Eileen is a former Waldorf Early Childhood teacher, work at home mother and the owner and publisher of Little Acorn Learning. The Little Acorn Learning guides have captured the hearts of caregivers and children all over the world. Based on seasonal themes and festivals, Little Acorn Learning inspires a love of nature and the home arts while supporting the caregiver's soul. Be sure to join the mailing list to receive special offers, FREE lessons, verses, songs, recipes and much more each month right in your inbox. And please follow Little Acorn Learning on Facebook and Instagram to continue to be inspired in your work with children. 

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

A Handcraft Giveaway from A Child's Dream and 10% OFF`

We are so grateful for the opportunity to work with yet another amazing sponsor who works with the same intention of helping caregivers create magical childhoods while also nurturing their own creativity. 

A Child's Dream is such a magical place.. a dreamy source for all natural materials to support all of your crafting needs. It has been a place I have gone to over and over again while my children were growing up, for supplies for my little school and still now for my own handwork projects.

This generous giveaway basket (a $70 value), will be gifted to one lucky winner. Additionally, A Child's Dream has created a special coupon code for all Little Acorn Learners who would like to get 10% off their purchase for the next two weeks! Just use coupon code ACORN10 upon checkout. 

Giveaway

What's included? 

Nature Spun Wool Yarn (3 skeins worsted)
DMC Pearl Cotton (3 skeins)
Embroidery needles

Holy Dream Come True is Right!  What will you make? 

How to Enter:

1. Simply comment below or on our Instagram Post telling us what your favorite type of handwork is and what you are working on or hope to work on soon.

2. Share this blog post link on Facebook inviting friends to check it out or Tag 3 friends on our Instagram Giveaway Post who are also crafty!

3. Head over to A Child's Dream and look around! If you see something you like, use the special coupon code just for Little Acorn Learning customers and followers: ACORN10 (this coupon is valid for 2 weeks after today)

Best of luck to you!  

Our Giveaway will end on May 11th and a winner will be randomly selected and announced from the comments here and on Instagram. Come back to see who won!


Thursday, May 2, 2019

A Warm Welcome to Our May Sponsor, Oak Meadow!


Oak Meadow has been such a wonderful company to work with over the years. We have always promoted one another's work, advertised together and I once even drove up to visit the team and their beautiful Vermont location.

I am so happy to once again offer their homeschooling resources to my viewers and customers. While we do much of the same work in the younger years, Oak Meadow offers a full homeschooling curriculum through high school which makes them a perfect bridge from your Little Acorn Learning.

This month, Oak Meadow is offer 20% off for a Mother's Day to Memorial Day Sale (May 12-27th).  The weekly lessons they offer are rich in experiential learning, actively engaging the student's mind, body and imagination. Your children will experience a multisensory education as they explore letters, numbers, color, song rhythm, and verse while learning about themselves and the world around them.




Reattaching Honeycomb to a Frame

As a new beekeeper, I was bound to make a mistake. As some of you may have been following the videos over on our Facebook Page and here on our blog, one of our colonies rejected their Queen and decided to merge into another hive. We tried to redirect it by swapping hive positions, but the bees were not fooled.. and they all went BACK to their preferred Queen and sadly, the other Queen died. I decided to cut my losses and enjoy working with my three colonies, one which is in mass-production considering it is double the amount of bees now. I think they truly know best and there was something about the other Queen that they sensed making them reject her. The amazing part was that even when we swapped the hive positions, they didn't redirect to Hive 1 or Hive 2.. they found the Hive they first merged with again.

Well, as we were working and with everything being so crazy, I made the novice mistake of leaving one frame out and a big space inside. The bees in crazy hive then took it upon themselves to fill that void with honeycomb that was attached to the lid. Not only would this make a huge mess eventually but everything would just be totally out of control inside so I consulted with a few people and I was told to cut the comb off the top and carefully attach it to an empty frame with rubber bands.


I was so super nervous about this. There are approximately 20,000 bees in that hive and most were inside this day because of the rain. Luckily, my partner was much more chill about it and we walked each other through it step by step and did it successfully without a sting! Watch the entire video of us doing this together over on Facebook.

I've left the hives alone for a few days and went down today. The activity levels are out of control!  Especially the merged hive. It made me a little worried that they were swarming or something was wrong but I was told all looks fine from my friend and I believe they are just working double time since it is the first beautiful day after a long stretch of rain. 

This experience has been truly so amazing. I love it. If anyone is considering beekeeping but feels intimidated, please reconsider. It's such a gift to our planet and it is really something you CAN do. Don't doubt yourself. While I am learning as I go, I am happy to chat with you about our experience and send you in the right direction for more guidance.

xoxo