Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Year's Affirmations

This year instead of spending the beginning of the New Year making a list of all of the things you want to change or improve about yourself, why not make a list of positive affirmations about the person you already are. This list can grow weekly or even daily and can be a beautiful reminder to you that you are already good enough and any future positive changes are just going to enhance an already wonderful you.

Happy New Year from Little Acorn Learning!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

My Family of Heroes

Last week my youngest brother Kevin graduated from the NYPD Academy. Following closely behind my brother Billy who is currently a New York City Police Officer and my father who is a retired NYPD Deputy Inspector after 27 years on the force and my grandfather who was a NYPD cop... you get the idea :)
There is a sense of pride you feel when you are a girl growing up in a family of heroes like these men. Ever since I was a little girl, I have been so extremely proud to be the daughter of my father and I have always loved to talk about the work that he did in his life.

Now to see my brothers following his footsteps fills me with the same feeling of pride and, of course, concern... On my way to Madison Square Garden for Kevin's ceremony, I passed by many of the fire stations and police departments who were the first responders on 9/11 - some who never came back. These men and women put their life on the line daily and watching 1600 new recruits sign up for the job that day really just blew me away - and this was only ONE graduation of the year...

In addition to my immediate family, my Uncle was a NYPD officer as well as my cousin's husband...
Better not mess with this girl!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Annual Ornament Decorating Party

The children are getting older but they still LOVE our annual party of making ornaments together. Each year that we decorate our tree and take out our handmade ornaments, we are flooded with memories of parties past that we created, loved and lived together. And this year we were lucky that Santa even made a special appearance.

Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

A Letter to Santa from Keira

A letter to Santa I found on Keira's desk:

Dear Santa,

How are you? I hope you aren't too stressed out trying to deliver all the presents. I don't want to ask for too much this year so if you don't get them its ok.

I got your phone call. I knew it was you because you said my name. Just so you know, you say it like this: Key-ra. Did you call because people on my bus didnt believe in you and then *I* wasn't sure if I believed in you after that? If so, thank you because now I'm positive I believe in you.

Is it true that you said my house is first on the list for Connecticut? If that's true we must have been really REALLY good this year! I'll try to go to bed early.

Have a Merry Christmas!
Keira Straiton, Age 10, Brookfield, CT

Winter Solstice and Yule

Tomorrow we celebrate the Winter Solstice and Yule. Yule represents the rebirth of light. You can celebrate the returning Sun by making Sun Bread with the children.

Supplies Needed:

2 1/2 Cups Unbleached Flour
1 Package Dry Yeast
1 1/2 Cups Milk
1/2 Cup Water
3 Tbsp. Honey*
3 Tbsp. Margarine or Butter
3 Tbsp. Brown Sugar
1 1/2 Tsp. Salt
2 1/2 Cups Whole Wheat Flour
*added to give this bread a sweeter flavor

In a large bowl, mix flour and yeast. Heat milk, water, margarine, brown sugar and salt on low. Add to flour mixture. Stir several minutes (remember to let children hep during this entire process, have them take turns and be patient. The goal is not to have bread, it is to enjoy the process of making the bread.) Add whole wheat flour until dough forms. Knead on floured table until smooth and elastic (children love this part!). Place in greased bowl. Cover and let rise until it doubles in bulk.

Have children clean up what they can (you will return later to finish), wash hands and go play!

After the dough has risen, you will need to punch down the dough. The best way to do this is to let children pound the dough with their fists. After you have done this, shape your dough into a flat circle. Make slits all the way around the circle spaced apart.

Now to make the Sun's Rays. Twist each 'Ray' once or twice and pinch together with the one next to it to make a triangle. IF you have extra dough, make a face on your Sun Bread or use cookie cutters to add shapes to decorate.

Cover and let rise to double.

After let the children watch you place the bread into the oven in a pan and set at 400 degrees for 30 minutes.

Enjoy this special Winter Solstice treat!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Tree Climbing Fingerplay

Climbing up the apple tree, (climb in place)

Swinging on a limb (pretend to swing with arms above head)

If I hear a robin, I may (cup hand over ear)

Sing along with him! (whistle)

'And Robin, if you fly away, (wave)

Here's what I think I'll do (Point with one finger)

I'll wish a pair of sparrow wings (flap arms)

And fly away with you (pretend to fly)

Sunday, December 11, 2011

When Santa Claus Comes...

A good time is coming, I wish it were here,
The very best time in the whole of the year;
    I'm counting each day on my fingers and thumbs-
    The weeks that must pass before Santa Claus comes.
Then when the first snowflakes begin to come down,
And the wind whistles sharp and the branches are brown,
I'll not mind the cold, though my fingers it numbs,
For it brings the time nearer when Santa Claus comes!

All State Academic Scholar Award

I'm so very proud of Dee as always! She made the All State Academic Scholar Award for Field Hockey. The nominated students must be in the top 10% of their high school academically and be a strong varsity player. Dee worked so hard this year on the field and was amazing! The award is very deserved.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

So You Can't Afford a Waldorf School...

But what can you do?

~ You can create a healthy rhythm to each day your children live within your home.

~ You can keep the television and radio off while you are living, loving and creating together.

~ You can choose a select few open-ended toys, a special doll and playthings made from natural materials... keeping electronic, battery operated toys and video games to a minimum - if at all.

~ You can sing and make up stories together.

~ You can do your schoolwork outside on the deck and incorporate artistic methods for practicing and learning.

~ You can focus on all you CAN provide and remember how very lucky you and your children already are.

~ You can remember that the study of Anthroposophy was never meant to be only for the rich... that anyone who longs and strives to know more about the layers of the Self and the Universe around them is welcome to seek and find their own truth REGARDLESS of the educational model they choose for their children. It is not a club. It is for all to enter...Welcome.

~ You can cherish your role as caregiver, homemaker and Your Child's Very First Teacher as a spiritual task and sacred work to be done and set a beautiful example for your children as you do so.

~ You can choose to live within this world on YOUR terms, protecting what you hold to be sacred and true for your family. It is OK to say NO to what seems the rest of the world is doing but feels wrong for you... in doing so, you set the stage for others to follow - and will soon see that there are many more parents like you than you originally thought and you will find your clan wherever you are.

~ You can take care of your own health, interests, desires and creative energies first and be whole and complete to be the amazing parent you long to be for your children.

~ You can accept the fact that we cannot create a perfect world or scenario for ourselves or our children as much as we try. This world is imperfect and so are we. BUT we can work with what we have to create a BEAUTIFUL and FULL existence while we are here. There is beauty in diversity, embrace the world for what it is.

~ You can celebrate the Festivals and Holidays with song, crafting, recipes and community... creating memories and traditions that your children will carry with them forever.

~ You can choose natural fibers when dressing your children and always remember the importance of warmth.

~ You can be an advocate for all children in your community, your school and home and speak up to help create the change you hope to see in our world.

~ You can honor your spouse and work hard on your relationship with one another to show your children how family deserves 100% of our time, commitment and attention.

~ You can slow down... pass on a few after school classes, keep your weekends open and pull out a bunch of board games or go on a hike instead.

~ You can teach your children to appreciate creativity... to use their hands even when not using them may be easier... to knit.. to sew... to cook from scratch.

~ You can keep a seasonal table in your home and encourage your children to add to it with the changing seasons and festivals.

~ You can approach learning, homework or study more holistically - practicing multiplication by using rhythm sticks or sharing fairy tales that incorporate spelling words.

~ You can encourage and inspire your children's teachers and board of education with articles, suggestions, example and ideas.

~ You can volunteer to teach your children's class how to knit.

~ You can host advent spirals, lantern walks and other celebrations for your community or school.

~ You can light a candle and say a sweet blessing at mealtimes.

~ You can have special afternoon for beeswax play, another for watercolor painting, another for baking and so on...

~ You can spend a good amount of your time outdoors with your children.

~ You can remember that the World is ultimately GOOD and seek to find the goodness in all you do and wherever you are. Look for the beauty. It is there.

Good luck on your journey - whatever it may be.

I'd love to add to this list - please feel free to do so in the comments section below...

With love.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Saint Nicholas Has Arrived

Upon his snow white steed
With wind and lightning speed
St. Nicholas leaves the sky
And comes a-riding by...
Happy Saint Nicholas Eve from Little Acorn Learning

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Santa's Lap

I like to visit Santa Claus
When Christmastime is near
It's fun to sit up on his lap
And whisper in his ear...

My girls are so shy - only Keira 'whispered in his ear' this time!

Here's a cute little photo of our dog Caicos at home who is hoping for an interview to be one of Santa's Reindeer this year...

Friday, December 2, 2011

Then Comes Santa Claus

O Children, Little Children
You Must Be Good Because...
A Few Short Days Brings Christmas Eve
And Then Comes Santa Claus!
And Somebody Will Tell Him
All You've Said And Done...
For Many A Week
And If He's Pleased...
Heigh Ho! Look Out For Fun!!!
(this sweet little note was on Maia's desk when I tucked her into bed last night - the spirit of Christmas is truly alive in our house right now)

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

How the Leaves Came Down

I’ll tell you how the leaves came down:

The great Tree to his children said,

"You're getting sleepy, Yellow and Brown,

Yes, very sleepy, little Red.”

"Ah!" begged each silly, pouting leaf,

"Let us a little longer stay;

Dear Father Tree, behold our grief!

We do not want to go away."

So, just for one more merry day

To the great Tree the leaflets clung,

Frolicked and danced and had their way

Upon the autumn breezes swung.

"Perhaps the great Tree will forget

And let us stay until the spring,

If we all beg and coax and fret."

But the great Tree did no such thing.

He smiled to hear their whispering.

"Come, children all, to bed with care.”

He shook his head, and far and wide,

Down sped the leaflets through the air.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

First Sunday of Advent

In Waldorf Homes many people follow Rudolf Steiner’s teaching on celebrating the four kingdoms separately each week:

Week One begins with honoring the mineral kingdom by placing stones, shells, bone fossils, crystals, etc. on the wreath. Invite your family to choose their favorites from their collections or found in nature and place on wreath.

“The first light of Advent, it is the light of stone.
Stones we find in seashells, crystals, and even our bones.”
~ Rudolf Steiner (adapted)

Today my family and I will spend our time decorating our home, our tree and lighting the first candle on our Advent wreath at dinner time.

How will you spend your day?

Monday, November 21, 2011

Giving Thanks

Giving Thanks

For the hay and the corn and the wheat that is reaped,
For the labor well done, and the barns that are heaped,
For the sun and the dew and the sweet honeycomb,
For the rose and the song and the harvest brought home.

My sweet Junior Girl Scout troop making special turkeys and cards for people who receive Meals on Wheels in our community. My oldest daughter volunteers her time and delivers meals in our town to homes and will bring these along the day before Thanksgiving.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Martinmas Celebration

This Martinmas we were blessed to have one of our little daycare children come visit for the evening. Her mommy and daddy were celebrating a special anniversary so she came to enjoy crafting, dinner and a lantern walk with our family.
The children all made their own special lanterns to later fill with light on this dark and windy night.
Simple glass jars with tissue paper modge-podged on :)
We made the holders for our lanterns out of hangers. Here they are drying while we eat our dinner.
We put a little candle in our lantern and outside we went. The children were SO excited to sing our lantern songs and go for a walk with their lights.

I go outside with my lantern,
my lantern goes with me
Above the stars are shining bright,
down here on Earth shine we.
The cock does crow, the cat meows,
la bimmel, la bammel, la boom.
‘Neath heaven’s dome till we go home,
la bimmel, la bammel, la boom.

I go outside with my lantern,
my lantern goes with me
Above the stars are shining bright,
down here on Earth shine we.
So shine your light through the still dark night,
la bimmel, la bammel, la boom
‘Neath heaven’s dome till we go home,
la bimmel la bammel, la boom.
Merry Martinmas from Little Acorn Learning.