Tuesday, April 30, 2013

May Day Sale! 50% Off the Late Spring Festivals E-Book!

May Day Sale!
50% Off the Late Spring Festivals E-Book 
from Little Acorn Learning!

50% Off our Late Spring Festivals E-Book which includes amazing ideas for May Day and Mother's Day as well as other late spring festival celebrations. 

Offer ends 5/2/13! 
Price only $12.49 (was $24.99)!  
Discount will calculate upon check-out.

Get this huge e-book just in time for these beautiful May festivals. It will last you a lifetime!

Activities include:

May Day Verses and Fingerplays
May Dance Song
Watercolor May Crown
Ribbon Wristlets for May Day Dancing
The May Queen and Other May Day Poems
May Day Flower Cones
Crochet Hair Flowers
May Pole Floral Centerpiece
Dandelion Crowns
Dandelion Tea
Homemade Fruit Roll-Ups
Mother's Day Tea Party
Mother's Day Verses and Fingerplays
Homemade Granola Bars
The Nest Circle Game
The White Pebble
Pressed Flower Bookmarks
Pressed Flower Candles
Flower Prints for Mother's Day
Ideas for Simple Mother's Day Gifts
Spring Tissue Pouches
Mother and Child Aprons
Caregiver Meditation: Nurturing

And much more! 

Monday, April 29, 2013

Spring Nature Club - The Great Outdoors

This past Saturday was the first class of my Spring Nature Club.  Each Saturday morning for four weeks we will meet at a local park and spend our time fully immersed in the great outdoors together.  I love how the group is always mixed ages.  The children have so much to learn from one another.  The little ones look up to and imitate the older ones and the big children practice their caregiving skills by helping the small ones with the activities.

We were lucky to have a beautiful spring day to enjoy together.  We started out by exploring the trails together.
Nature's spirals...
A camouflage tree that matched one little boy's camouflage pants and top.  We named the tree after him.  From what I can tell, however, this is actually a Sycamore tree.

When we reached the field, we took a break on a really cool double bench we found.  They all had some water and talked about their discoveries.  I gave each child a Nature Notebook with a Scavenger Hunt List of things to search for on our hike.  They enjoyed comparing notes and figuring out which items still needed to be found.  

I love this work so much.  The children loved it too.  It feels good to be outdoors learning together.  I look foward to next weekend.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

May 2013 Photo Contest - 'Mothering'

Our May Photo Contest has officially begun!

This month's theme is 'Mothering'
~just in time for Mother's Day!

Pull out your old photos and send us no more three of your best that fit within this theme. Be creative! The photos with the most 'likes' will win a FREE guide of their choice from Little Acorn Learning!

Please email photos with your name and permission for Little Acorn Learning to use in marketing and e-books to info@littleacornlearning.com - our winners will be chosen after 8 p.m. EST on May 5th.

Good luck!

Friday, April 26, 2013

Simple Butterfly Mobile

Today the children and I made a pretty spring Butterfly Mobile utilizing some leftover wool roving I had.  These little butterflies are so simple to  make and even little ones can help wrap the wool around.  

Supplies Needed:

Wool roving in various colors
Light colored thread
Two branches (ours were cut from our blooming forsythia in our yard)


To begin, lay colored roving out in strips. 

To make one butterfly, tie the two ends of a strip together into a knot, being sure to leave the ends long enough to be your "antennas".
Squeeze the loop together as you see here:
now take a smaller strip of white (or alternate) color wool roving and wrap around and around the center of your butterfly until you cannot wrap it anymore.  This will keep your butterfly together.
To make a mobile out of these little butterflies, simple crisscross the two branches together and adhere tightly with thread making a loop on top for hanging.  Next tie your butterflies onto long pieces of thread in various lengths and weights.  The tricky part now is finding your balance.  Hang your branches up first and very carefully experiment with placement of your butterfly threads until the mobile balances just right.  Tie knots to keep in place.

This beautiful mobile can be hung inside or out.  If you use real wool and natural thread the materials are safe for the environment.  Just maybe a few little birdies will come along and use your wool for their spring nests?    
If you make these little butterflies, please link back here so we can see!  For more fun and natural spring ideas for your children, visit our Celebrate Spring page over at Little Acorn Learning.  

Thursday, April 25, 2013

At the end of my life...

I want to be able to look back and smile and say out loud "what a beautiful life that was".

I want to be able to rest well knowing that I showed my love unconditionally to those I adore.

I want to know that I worked hard at trying to help create a better world for my children and grandchildren.

I want to slip into bliss easily assured that I left my loved ones behind a little bit of wealth and a lot of knowledge.

I want to remember adventures I had traveling the world.

I want to breathe softer knowing I left behind a legacy of books, art and memoirs documenting my journey.

I want to have faith in my knowing that the end of my life is not the end of my spirit.

I want to feel safe that the world I am leaving is a good place to leave my children and grandchildren behind in.

I want to be confident that those I care most about will be ok and strong without me and live a beautiful life filled with happiness.

I want to be at peace and in comfort.

I want to have forgiven those who have ever hurt me.

I want to have given my daughters the tools they need to be strong, independent and loving women.

I want to have met my grandchildren and gotten to know them deeply.

I want to know my daughters have a better understanding of my life, my story, my pain, my joys and my difficult decisions and how my love for them was always my leading force.

I want to fill my mind of memories of my home filled with family, friends and celebrations.

I want to have friends who have known me completely.

I want to be holding the hand of someone who loves me.

How about you?

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Secret

The big tree whispered a secret sweet
To the warm grass growing at his feet;
And what do you think I heard him say?
"Katelyn is two years old today."

The soft grass stirred as the wind went by
And each little blade took up the cry
And told the secret, I grieve to say,
"Katelyn is two years old today."

The clover listened and told the bee
Who told the bird in the maple tree,
And the robin sang, in a shameless way —
"Katelyn is two years old today."

And this is the way it came to me
Through bee and blossom and bird and tree;
So, why should I keep the secret, pray?


Yarn Along

Yarning along, I've begun yet a new crochet project the Roselette Top.  I was searching for something that I could work on for the summer months and fell in love with this sweet pattern when I came across it on Raverly.  It seems easy enough and will allow me to use up a bunch of Vintage Berroco yarn that I have in various colors.  It was also only one of the few crochet patterns I came across that had sizes 8+ for my growing daughters (I sure miss those baby pattern days).

I'm reading the book One Amazing Thing by Chitra Divakaruni.  I've only just begun so have not much yet to say about it but the description grabbed me.  An earthquake traps nine people together who come from very different backgrounds.  Trying to survive, they get their minds off of their condition by each sharing one amazing thing from their lives that they had never told anyone before.

I thought about what I would share if that was me.  I've had many amazing things happen to me but none that stand out right now as especially story-worthy that I can think of that nobody knows about.  If it wasn't for that last stipulation I suppose I would talk about something I survived through during my troubled teenage years.

I look forward to reading the rest and trying to finish this sweet top before the warm weather hits Connecticut.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Living Without Fear in a Frightening World

"Fear is an emotion induced by a perceived threat which causes entities to quickly pull far away from it and usually hide. It is a basic survival mechanism occurring in response to a specific stimulus, such as pain or the threat of danger...It is worth noting that fear almost always relates to future events, such as worsening of a situation, or continuation of a situation that is unacceptable." - Wikipedia
Fear comes into our lives in many forms.  After horrific events such as Sandy Hook and the Boston Marathon, we can understandably become very worried and afraid of the world we live in and the safety of our families.  We also have many other worries and concerns that plague our minds such as the economy, finances, health and relationships.

We know the importance of not living in fear but it is not always that easy.  Our minds wander and the "what ifs" kick in.  I am not immune.  I have found myself living in fear too, especially after horrific events.

After 9/11, I was so afraid to fly or go into public places that I would lose sleep anticipating events that I had to come in contact with.  I wouldn't admit this to my husband at the time but I even postponed planning far away trips because of concerns of terrorism on planes.

For the first few weeks after Sandy Hook, living only one town over, I couldn't sleep at night and found myself constantly replaying the horror in my mind and imagining a similar event happening to my own children.  I would catch my breath in the middle of the day and the reality of what happened would take over me and I'd almost collapse.

After Boston happened, I was worried about flying home from vacation with my family in case there were other attacks.  When getting on the plane with my family, I found myself looking around me checking all of the individuals and their faces to see if they could potentially be someone who could hurt us. I even thought of the possibility of the bomber getting to JFK to escape or hurt others as we got off our plane.

While being afraid is a normal emotion it can wreck havoc on your health and quality of life.  It is important to acknowledge our fears and work through them to ensure that they do not control us.  As stated in the quote above, much of the time our fears are about something we worry may happen in the future.  Unless under direct attack or in the midst of imminent and obvious danger, we are usually not living in the present moment when we are afraid but in some future story we are playing out in our minds of what might happen.

The truth is that what usually ends up happening is not what we had predicted in the first place.  Yet, all of those moments spent worrying were lost and unnecessarily wasted.  I don't know about you, but I do not want to waste anymore precious moments of my time here on earth and I do not want to allow the actions of others to steal them away from me.  So, how do we let go of fear and live in the present moment with joy and hope?

I am no expert.  I do not have the answers but I think it begins with practicing directing all of our energy to the present moment.  I think it begins with letting go of attachments and expectations of outcomes.  We do not have to control the future.  The only moment we truly know is the one that we are in.  When we relieve ourselves of the burden of having to control life and having to have things work out a certain way, we free ourselves from the chains of fear.

This is not to say that we will not be afraid or worry.  This is only to say that we need to focus on filling our minds with thoughts of the present moment so there is less and less space for fear.  Because in the end, even if something bad was to happen, wouldn't you want to have been living all of the moments you had in joy and peace?

For me, I couldn't be in the present moment while I was constantly watching the news and scouring the Internet filling my mind with images of danger and sorrow.  I needed to focus on the present moment of my life, my family and my home.  We were safe and beautiful moments were happening all around me that I was missing while drenched in worry and fear.  I lost those moments but I will not lose more.

The truth is that we never know what life holds for us.  We could get in a car accident but we must still drive our cars to work each day.  What kind of life would it be if each morning that we woke up we were filled with dread and panic about going to work because we could be in a car accident?  What if we couldn't laugh with our children or enjoy life's simple moments because we were consumed with that fear?

The truth is that the chances of me getting in a car accident are much higher than most of the things I am spending time being afraid of.  And I do not hesitate to get into my car.  We must reclaim our lives and face our fears even after such horrific events.  And it won't be easy.

Some ideas:

Don't let anyone manipulate you with fear.  This goes for the media, your local politicians, your parents -anyone.  Fear is often used as a tactic, a way to keep you watching, make you vote a certain way or act like someone you are not.  Remember that and refuse.

Remember that love wins, even in the horrific throws of Sandy Hook and Boston.  Did you see the outpouring of love?  Did you see all of the beautiful people running to care, help and heal?  There is so much more good than bad in this world.  Focus on that and look for the good.

When my youngest daughter Brianna was dealing with extreme anxiety going to school I would talk to her about how strong and brave she was.  We somehow came up with this little mantra that she was "brave like a lion" and to this day, any time I see her dealing with anxiety I say those words to her, "You are "brave like a lion", Brianna.  You are strong."  After hearing and repeating those words, I will see her shoulders straighten out, her face change and her chest strong.  She is acting the part to face her fears.  This is what we must do too.  We must act fearless and face that of which we are afraid. Because you, too, are brave and strong.

"I will not die an unlived life.  I will not live in fear of falling or catching fire.  I choose to inhabit my days, to allow my living to open me, to make me less afraid, more accessible, to loosen my heart until it becomes a wing, a torch, a promise."  - Dawna Markova

If you are a spiritual or religious person, lean on your faith and spiritual beliefs when you are afraid.  I believe in the law of karma.  I often remind myself that as long as I put out goodness, it will one day return to me.  I also believe in the waves of life.  This is some silly analogy I have made up in my own mind about how life is like surfing; there are waves that go up and that go down.  When I am up, I never lose sight of the fact that there will be downs so I am never taken too much by surprise.  This is my way of letting go of expectations of only having positive experiences.  When I am down, I keep my faith in the fact that the world is in constant motion and if nothing else is promised, things always change and do not stay stagnant.  I will not be down forever and all I have to do is ride out this wave as long as it may last.

Look to others who have survived difficult times and try not to over-personalize big events.  It is easy to feel like the world is closing in on you when bad things happen.  For me, Sandy Hook is only one town over.  This was as real as it could feel.  It was my community.  Yet it wasn't me.  It wasn't my children and although  my heart was broken, I had to remind myself that I can move forward.  Then something amazing happened, I watched as the grief-ridden parents of Sandy Hook slowly came out of their homes, spoke to reporters, sent their other children back to school and joined together to try to make change.  I thought if THEY can move forward in some way, if THEY can send their other children back to school and try to move forth in this world with bravery, I surely can too.  And so can you.

So what are you afraid of?

Feel free to share this article to help others just please keep the bio below in-tact:

Eileen Straiton is a work-at-home mother to four daughters. She writes and publishes Waldorf inspired ebooks and facilitates ecourses for parents, teachers and caregivers at Little Acorn Learning. Eileen applies her love of nature-based learning in her work as owner and lead teacher at Little Acorn Playgarden in Brookfield, Connecticut. Visit her blog, Eileen's Place, or her Facebook page, for more great ideas and activities.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Making Magic

We are home from vacation and are back into the groove of daily life.  Laundry, pets, schoolwork, writing and childcare.  Going away feels good but coming home always feels the best, doesn't it?  There is nothing like your own bed and pillow, the wet kisses from pets who think you are the most important person in the world and familiar nooks and crannies that welcome you home.

It was the girls' first experience on an airplane and they did great.  Dee was unable to come on this trip as her spring break was last month and it really wasn't the same without her.  Having an adult daughter is a new experience for me.  It brings with it both joy as well as a bit of grief.  It is a reminder of why I work so hard to put all of my energy into raising my daughters now, so they can go into the world and make a difference and thrive... yet, it is also a reminder that they all will, in fact, leave and go into the world without me.  So I'm savoring the moments we have together while I can.

Brianna has grown so much from an anxious little girl to our dare devil.  She loved the idea of the airplane and EVEN went on her very first roller coaster.  She absolutely LOVED it and couldn't get enough. It makes me so happy to see her blossoming in her own time and I'm so glad I trusted my instincts instead of what society might believe about pushing her ahead academically.  We gave her the gift of time and it was the best decision we could have made for her because now she is ready to focus on academics after first learning to trust the world around her.

Keira, as always, was excited about everything she saw.  She has such a love for life and has a naturally positive energy.  As she enters her teenage years I know there will be rough parts, so right now is an especially special time for me to enjoy the child left within her as much as I can.  She still loves to play and discover as a young child, yet I see the maturity in her growing strong and catch a glimpse daily of the young woman she is soon to become.  

And my oh-so-silly but quiet Maia... the things she thinks of and the quick humor she has stops us all in our tracks so often and brings out such laughter.  She has a knowing about her that I cannot describe.  I guess it is exactly what people refer to when they say someone is an "old soul".  She asks deep spiritual questions and has her own philosophies including her own belief of life-after-death which simply translates into reincarnation.  We have never told Maia what that is... she just told us that she believes when we die we come back as a new baby until we have learned all of our lessons and can go to heaven. Mind baffling really that a child can think of this without prior knowledge of what it is.  It truly makes you consider.  Maia always wants to know how things work.. the mechanics of everything and asks so many questions to fully understand things in her world.

The girls also really cherished their time uninterrupted with their father.  He works all week and with the new business he often has to go in on weekends and it feels like he is never home anymore so it was really nice for them to have a full seven days together without an agenda besides having fun.

And while we are not a Disney family and try to keep the girls away from too much media, we were presented with an opportunity to visit the parks that we couldn't turn down and I must admit - they truly are magical.

I was able to meet an online friend who used to also run a natural childcare that I've known for eight years but have never met in person.  It was a wonderful experience.

And, we were able to create some wonderful family memories that will definitely last a lifetime.  

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Earth Day Giveaway Winner!

Congratulations to Sue Peterson for winning a free copy of our newest publication celebrating the Late Spring Festivals!  Thank you all for participating and have a wonderful Earth Day celebration tomorrow.

Earth Day Moss Garden Terrarium

Here is a beautiful Earth Day activity created by my brilliant festival series co-writer Sara Wilson of Love in the Suburbs.  This wonderful project is featured in both the Little Acorn Learning April Enrichment Guide and our new Late Spring Festivals E-Book.

And don't forget to enter to win a free e-book in our Earth Day Giveaway!  Today is the last day!
Finished Moss Terrarium

Here is a simple way to celebrate the earth, and bring a little of it inside your home. This moss garden terrarium is easy and inexpensive to make. Children of any age can help with this project and may especially enjoy finding such treasures of the earth. Noticing the small things in nature can be so rewarding, and it feels good to sink our hands in the soil.
Materials for Moss Terrarium
  • a wide-mouthed glass container (goldfish bowl, candle holder, or jar; you may find something appropriate a thrift store)
  • gathered moss (gently lift from soil or rock, bringing the soil on which it grows with you)
  • about ½ to 1 cup small gravel or pebbles (look for pretty pebbles in your yard)
  • about 1 cup loamy garden soil (or more if your glass container is large)
  • interesting rocks, bark, twigs, or gemstones
  • spray bottle with water
Optional Materials
  • a small plant that requires little water (perhaps a jade plant or other succulent)
  • beeswax for modeling or a small figurine
  • crystals, glass gems, small twigs
Gathered Moss

Begin by gathering your materials. You may be able to gather most of the materials you’ll need from your yard or nature walk. (Be sure not to remove items from protected nature areas.) Take a soup spoon or small shovel and a gathering basket along on your walk. Look along creeks and in shady, moist areas.

When you find mosses, stop and consider them a moment. Moss is a delightful, soft plant. It gets it’s nutrients from the air, rather than the soil, and requires shade and only a little water. It makes a perfect plant for a terrarium that gets only indirect sunlight in your home.

Feathery soft, your green so bright,
preferring deep shade to the light,
quietly sitting, waiting, spreading,
it’s hard to tell which way you’re heading.
I will touch your velvet softness.
Moss, I love your gentle mossness.

You make a lovely velvet bed
for a Fairy Queen to rest her head,
who sleeps in afternoons for rest
and dreams of forests nightly blessed.
We creatures great and creatures small
find you the tenderest plant of all.

Thank the earth for growing such lovely mosses and gently dig up some patches. Don’t take more than you need to fill your terrarium container, and you’ll likely need to take only an inch of soil or less.
Garden Stones in the Bowl
Now place your gravel or pebbles into your glass terrarium. These are at the bottom for drainage of water away from the soil. Add your garden soil to the container. It will probably cover your pebbles completely. You may wish to grade your soil so that some areas are higher than others. This will add interest to your finished terrarium.
Side View
Arrange your mosses (in patches) in your terrarium. Try to keep your clumps of moss mostly intact to make a contiguous, soft carpet. Alternatively, you could place moss in only part of your terrarium, and decorate the other areas with a plant, pretty pebbles, or glass gems.
Mosses In
Add your decorative rocks, bark, or crystals. I happened to find a small chuck of old concrete that had more moss growing on it, so I added it to my terrarium. What will you add? Crystals? Twigs? Polished stones? A ceramic figurine of a deer or a rabbit? A butterfly? A gnome or a Fairy Queen in repose? Perhaps you’ll change your terrarium decorations with the holidays.
Spray to Keep Moist
Spray your moss garden with some water. Your mosses may need spraying once or twice a day to stay green and living. Avoid exposing them to direct sunlight.
Beeswax Gnome
I turned to our modeling beeswax to fashion a tiny gnome. I think he’ll make an excellent caregiver for my moss garden terrarium. Gnomes are kind custodians of the earth.
Finished Moss Terrarium
Be a good caregiver of your moss garden terrarium, spray it gently every day, and be careful not to saturate it with too much water. (Once again, the direct sunlight you see in this photo is too hot and bright for your moss. Be sure not to keep your terrarium in such a sunny location.)

Now add your terrarium to your nature table, your dinner table for an Earth Day celebration, or anywhere in your home that needs a small reminder of the earth’s beauty.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Earth Day Giveaway!

Ten Fat Peas
Ten fat peas in a pea pod pressed,
(make fists with both hands)
One grew, two grew, 
(hold up one finger, then two fingers)
And so did all the rest.
(open hands)
They grew and grew and did not stop, 
(raise hands over head)
Until one day the pod went pop! 
(clap hands overhead)

Here is a sweet little fingerplay to share for Earth Day which is right around the corner on April 22nd!   Have you thought about how to celebrate with your children?  

We thought it would be fun to giveaway a copy of our latest e-book celebrating the Late Spring Festivals including Earth Day, Mother's Day and May Day!  It is full with so many ideas just for you.

How to enter:

1.   Make sure you are a fan on Facebook of both Little Acorn Learning and Love in the Suburbs.
2.  Share this awesome spring giveaway with others on your Facebook page by linking to this blog post.
3.  Leave a comment below letting us know you did and be sure to check back here Sunday night, April 21st just in time for Earth Day to see if you won!  

Friday, April 12, 2013

Fleeting Moments

Oh these moments, they are so fleeting - aren't they?  I haven't been in this space for a long time and find it harder and harder to keep up with my blog.  Yet, I have a deep desire to once again keep this place active and updated and I hope to find a way to achieve that soon.  As I type this I am actually sitting in the airport waiting for a flight with my girls as we embark upon a fun family vacation together.  It will be their first time on a plane and they are both excited and nervous.  

As the days have passed by since I've been here last, I have been quite busy.  The most important event that occurred was that my sweet Keira turned 12 years old.  The years, just like the moments, seem to fly past me at times and I find myself blinking my eyes a few extra times to see if it is true that my girls are growing so fast or if it is just my mind playing tricks on me. 
We celebrated Keira's birthday in conjunction with Easter this year.  Family and friends filled our home with love and laughter and she enjoyed her special family celebration.  
She also had a party with some of her closest friends.  She had a glow-in-the-dark mini golf party which was a ton of fun.  The girls all were glowing in the dark and we found out quickly that 12 year olds giggle a real lot. 

 In between all of the celebrations and regular daily life, I've been enjoying my sweet daycare babies as always...
Oh and Sara Wilson and I have just completed another e-book celebrating the Late Spring Festivals.  It sure isn't easy finding time to write with such a busy life but I truly love the work that I do and I'm so grateful to be working with Sara on this festival series as we really support one another well and her work is phenomenal.  

This e-book came out so nice and is 130+ pages full with Waldorf crafts, stories, recipes, songs, circles and so much more - just in time for Earth Day, Mother's Day and May Day.  
We hope you enjoy it!