Saturday, January 30, 2010

Handmade Valentines

Today we spent time making Valentines. The girls have parties this upcoming week at school to celebrate the holiday.

They started off with a specific plan and then quickly threw it out the window and just did whatever felt good :)
I resisted any urge to try to fix their artwork or make it 'better'. It was theirs and I needed to let them do it the way they wanted to. I was there to help if asked... otherwise, I bit my lip and enjoyed their buzz.

They truly amaze me with their creativity. I decided I should step back more often :)

Who do you love? How do you show them your love? Do you?... often enough?
I know many times I let the stress of my day consume me and spoil my ability to show the people around me how much I love them. Afterward, I often catch myself and go back and show a sign of affection - but with feelings of regret for allowing daily life to take me away from my center and the love inside of me.

So I try again the next day. And usually I do better... usually but not always ;)

Children have the ability to move in and out of their moments, accepting them as they are. When they hurt, they scream. When they are mad, they yell. When they are sad, they cry. Happy, laugh. Tired, sleep.

They find joy in the simple things... they love us unconditionally... they live fully...and rarely, do they look back...and not often too far ahead - just right where they are, now.

We have so much to re-learn from them...
I hope one day we will.

I know, I will keep trying.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Waldorf Afterschooling

As many of you know, we are not currently a homeschooling family. Homeschooling is not even something I would have ever likely considered until I came up with the idea to write my monthly seasonal guides and offer them to the public.

I originally thought they would be an excellent tool for natural childcare providers.. but all of a sudden an entirely different group of amazing, inspiring and committed parents were purchasing my program and coming into my world. Now, three years later, I would say that the majority of my customers are homeschoolers along with some home childcare providers and even quite a few little 'schools'.
As I would visit some of these homeschooler's blogs and websites, I was blown away by the fact that there was this entire community of like-minded parents out there - providing an excellent education for their children, often using my guides as a supplement, at home! I started to wonder why on earth I wasn't homeschooling.
But... with a full daycare and trying to find time to squeeze in writing - the idea of homeschooling, while extremely appealing, scared me. How would I ever find the time? Would the girls be able to get out of the house and participate in all of the amazing homeschooling co-ops and activities in my area? Could I focus on two business AND putting together a program for my own children to learn at home?

I went back and forth in my mind about the pros and the cons. I thought of so many different scenarios and possibilities. But something, deep inside me, held me back. Maybe it was fear... Would they find enough playmates? Would I get burnt out? Or maybe, it was just my inner knowledge... that homeschooling, right now at this time in our lives, may not work well for us. I would likely have to give up writing the guides - reconsider offering daycare.... how many lives would those decisions affect? Would I miss my own 'work'?

As a result, we did not move forward with homeschooling. Then I started to have feelings of guilt... Who was I to offer parents ideas and suggestions in their homeschool when I, myself, wasn't a homeschooler? This bothered me deeply. Would people feel that I was a hypocrite? Was I just letting fear stand in my way of homeschooling? Maybe I shouldn't be writing the guides anyway... See the pattern? Don't we all do this to ourselves? The 'I'm not good enough' thing. WHY do we do this to ourselves?
But then somewhere I came across this quote "Never apologize for the things you do well.".

Wow. I was receiving so many emails and so much feedback from moms who just couldn't seem to keep it all together until they found my guides - my writing was helping others and in turn, helping their children. Did it really matter whether or not I was homeschooling myself? Didn't we all want the same thing for our children?

Then I thought of all the other moms and dads out there who, for one reason or another, are not homeschooling like myself. Maybe both parents must work full-time, maybe they do not feel its a good option for their children, maybe they tried it and it didn't work out. I'm sure I am not alone.

And, what about the parents out there who were drawn to the beauty and truth of Waldorf Education but could not, for one reason or another, send their child to a waldorf school or homeschool them with the method? I wondered if they also felt this "not good enough", "not waldorf enough" voice in the back of their heads. I'm sure.

And, how unfair that those of us who want the beauty of Waldorf in our lives but can't offer it to our children in the form of their day to day education - can't have it. I hardly think this is what Rudolf Steiner wanted.... I think he would have wanted it to touch everyone's lives, in many different ways.... in ANY way possible until maybe one day, it IS the way most schools function.

What I am doing is supplementing my girls education at home with the things that I feel they are missing in their traditional school environment. In the afternoons and weekends, we spend hours outside gardening or on nature walks, we learn the proper way to watercolor paint, how to use beeswax crayons, make nature notebooks, learn how to sew, to knit, to crochet, we do nature crafts and learn about animals and cooking. We fill our home with quality wooden toys - many made ourselves - we read quality literature and fairy tales - we avoid commercialized media and pop-culture's songs of the week - we try our best to find the balance of living in a technological world without compromising our girl's right to a natural childhood. Maybe it isn't perfect but it is, at the very least, "good enough".

Do I still think about homeschooling? Daily. There are so many things that could be better in my girl's current school. I'm even currently thinking up a plan of how to do it next year :) ... But, the world is not a perfect place. And I'm not going to try to be perfect... I don't want my children to do that to themselves when they are adults either. All we can do as parents is our part to provide our children with the best experience possible, at that given moment. It's all about living in the moment, people.
So, where does that leave us? Where is OUR place within the Waldorf community? Well, for this very moment, I've decided to coin us 'Waldorf Afterschoolers' :) ... this is subject to change one day in the future... or maybe not - and I'm at peace with whatever it is meant to be right now.

I know there are more of you out there... speak up and make yourself known. Be proud of who you are and what you are doing and never apologize.


Friday, January 8, 2010

Finger Knitting Tutorial

Today's guest blogger is our very own third grader and she enjoys knitting, finger knitting, all sorts of crafting, reading, sewing, organizing and playing with her friends. :)

This week in our monthly guide's lessons we are learning about Sheep's Wool and Warmth. One of the activities is to learn how to finger knit. Keira has been finger knitting up a storm lately and she wanted to show others how to do it. This video was taken early in the morning before we got dressed for our day - so please excuse the jammies and robe ;). Keira is SUPER excited about the idea of teaching through her mommy's blog (she's thinking of owning her own daycare when she grows up or becoming a teacher)

Even preschool aged children can learn how to finger knit with enough practice and patience. Have Fun!

Here are the written instructions from our January Winter Childcare Guide

Finger Knitting

Supplies Needed:
Super bulky single ply 100% wool yarn is best but its fine to use whatever you have on hand
Cute little fingers

Finger Knitting is a wonderful way to introduce young children to the joy of handwork. Boys and Girls alike will benefit from this activity. Children as young as five years old can master finger knitting.

To make a simple chain:

Make a slip knot with your yarn, leaving a tail approximately 8” long. Open the slip knot wide enough to insert your index finger and thumb through it. Pinch the yarn between your index finger and thumb and pull a new loop through the hole. Pull until the first loop is tight around the new loop. Continue to pull a new loop through and tighten until you have a chain the length that you want. Cut the yarn and pull the tail through the last loop.

These chains can be used for belts, leashes, garland and other imaginative play ideas.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Bringing in the New Year

Today was our first day back from our long Winter break and we had so much fun!
While the children were away, Santa left these 'play-camps' for them... they made forts, rooms, houses and used them to separate their sleeping areas at nap time.

We sang some new songs about Lambs and Sheep - did a little watercolor painting...

Then bundled up and went outside to play in the snow :)
No matter how hard I tried, I couldn't stop them from eating the snow :)

My little Brianna isn't so little any more... :) When did my fourth baby turn into such a cute and busy three year old?
Little Lilah...

Kyla :)

Ryder who was so lucky to be surrounded by all these pretty girls today...

Ms. Eileen helped us so we could go sledding :) It was FUN!!!!!

We made snow angels -
Can you see the angel?

Meeko came outside to play with us and climbed up soooooo high on the playset -
Here she is looking pretty fierce (she's all talk)
Daydreaming in Winter :) Enjoy the New Year!