Monday, September 29, 2014

Battling Dragons

Today is Michaelmas.  If you are unsure what this festival is all about, click here.  When I became interested in Waldorf Education, one of the things I loved most was the emphasis placed on seasonal festivals and celebrations.  Being raised Catholic, I was taught to pray to many Saints and St. Michael the Archangel has always been one of my favorites.  St. Michael is the Patron Saint of Police Officers and being the daughter of a NYPD Inspector and a family of NYPD officers, this angel represented protection for our family.

Waldorf festivals are so beautiful.  They are not just celebrated externally but internally.  For Michaelmas, we are asked to search deep within to discover our innermost dragons and demons and pull from ourselves the courage we need to win our hardest battles.  These deep thoughts are not brought to young children in the Waldorf classroom but messages of bravery and triumph over evil are.  It's all a very beautiful spiritual process that I have always been drawn to.

If I am honest, however, although I have written a large selection of Curriculum and Festival Books - I struggle myself with remembering to celebrate and work on these things in my own life.

Waldorf families all over may be making their dragon bread (a fun tradition) this week or participating in their Waldorf schools Michaelmas Festivals.

Dragon Bready by Vanessa Mitchell Kohlhaas
I was lucky to squeeze out this little activity with my girls from our Autumn Equinox and Michaelmas Festival E-Book, Nature's Dragons... but that's about it so far.




We haven't baked in forever, my house is a mess and I've got a list a mile long of things that I'm not sure I will ever get to!  As I was sitting here trying to write an inspirational post for my Waldorf followers on how to celebrate the day, I realized that I needed to be honest that my own family has no celebration planned at all.  :) 

But the day did bring me to think about battling those dragons.  Lately, I have many I'm trying to conquer and sometimes I feel as if so much progress has been unraveled as I see myself struggling with  many of the same issues over and over again that I thought I had somewhat figured out. 

If this year we do not get around to baking our dragon bread, I at least want to take some time to look within.  

“It is the renewal of the whole human 
disposition of heart and soul that 
should be celebrated at Michaelmas—
not as an outward or conventional 
ceremony, but as a festival which 
renews us wholly and inwardly.” 

~Rudolf Steiner, extract from a lecture 
given in Stuttgart on 5 October, 1923

Hmmmm I could use some renewal.  In my work life, personal life and home.  I find this time of year I'm always feeling like I'm on a hamster wheel and not getting to where I need to be.  

From our Autumn Equinox and Michaelmas E-Book Caregiver Meditation:  

"At this time of year, the turning seasons remind us to slow down, come home, warm up, and 
consider. We are happier to look inward in the autumn and winter than we were during the 
summer months when we were busy living and doing. When we turn our attention inward, we 
can see our own inner dragons waiting for us there. They deserve our attention again because 
they've been patient—even faithful—waiting for us to remember them. Our dragons are our 
fears, insecurities, failings, worries, and procrastinations. And they have much to teach us. In a 
way, our dragons keep us honest."

For those of you who could use a little help celebrating this week or digging deeper into yourself like me, I am offering a 6 hour 50% off sale of our Autumn Equinox and Michaelmas Festival E-Book at Little Acorn Learning.  From 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. EST today only - the e-book is only $12.49.

xoxox

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Michael's Sword Napkin Holders for Michaelmas

Do you know what Michaelmas is?  If you are not familiar with Waldorf Education, this mysterious Fall Festival may not be something you are familiar with.  

From our Autumn Equinox and Michaelmas Festival E-Book:

"The significance of the Michaelmas festival in Waldorf schools is seen in the story of a simple boy, who acts out of bravery and righteousness on behalf of others, can overcome fear and darkness. Light must be honored and respected, and can be the greatest weapon we possess in the face of frightening challenges. The older children are taught that we all have within us a dark side, and that we must acknowledge it, learn to control it, and not act out of our destructive emotions. Our dark sides can be a source of strength, inspiration, power, creativity, and mystery—but they must be balanced and harnessed by the light for us to live healthy, happy lives and do good in the world."

From Wikipedia:

"Michaelmas, the feast of Saint Michael the Archangel (also the Feast of Saints Michael, Gabriel, Uriel and Raphael, the Feast of the Archangels, or the Feast of Saint Michael and All Angels) is a day in the Western Christian calendar which occurs on 29 September. Because it falls near the equinox, it is associated in the northern hemisphere with the beginning of autumn and the shortening of days. In medieval England, Michaelmas marked the ending and beginning of the husbandman's year, George C. Homans observes: "at that time harvest was over, and the bailiff orreeve of the manor would be making out the accounts for the year."

The Archangel Michael is the greatest of all the Archangels and is honored for defeating Lucifer in the war in heaven. He is one of the principal angelic warriors, seen as a protector against the dark of night, and the administrator of cosmic intelligence. Michaelmas has also delineated time and seasons for secular purposes as well, particularly in the United Kingdom and Ireland as one of the quarter days."

Here is a really sweet way to celebrate this fun festival in your home or school.  Head on over to Love in the Suburbs to get a free tutorial on how to make Michael's Sword Napkin Holders from our Autumn Equinox and Michaelmas Festival e-book!  

This e-book is 133 PAGES of verses, fingerplays, poems, song, crafts, meditations, book recommendations, circle times, recipes, and much more to guide you in celebrating the beautiful Fall Festivals of Autumn Equinox and Michaelmas in your home or school!


Enjoy!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Autumn Equinox Coloring Page and Planning Sheet

Here is a special little freebie to help you celebrate the Autumn Equinox with your children!  Thank you to Ancient Amber, author of many sweet little books that you can Check Out Here for this special gift to our Little Acorn Families.  Enjoy these by right clicking the images and saving 'as' to your computer.  We would LOVE to see your child's finished coloring pages.  Be sure to email us photos at info (at) littleacornlearning.com so we can share it with our audience. xoxo



Friday, September 12, 2014

Changing with the Season

My favorite season is approaching and the weather in Connecticut has shifted to cool temperatures this past week and I love it.  The girls are back to school and I am working hard to create some sort of a rhythm in my work and home life.  I always find that this time of year is a time of preparation and organization.

I have made a commitment to get my home more organized and work on my writing career full time.  So for the past week, I've been sorting through files and books, creating an office space and allocating a certain amount of time each day to work.  It's difficult working from home as it demands a lot of discipline and I get easily distracted.

With autumn on it's way, I find a new love for the work I do with Little Acorn Learning.  I love photographing and writing about how children and families can celebrate the beautiful seasons together.  Living in New England is such a gift as we get four distinct seasons to enjoy.

In addition to the cool temperatures this week, my pumpkins have been ripening in the garden.  This is always really exciting and we are hoping to get one just a bit bigger for our carving pumpkin.  There are two or three more on the vines that I'm hoping get pretty big before Halloween.  We will see how they do.

Our garden has done pretty well this summer.  Considering that the girls and I traveled a lot, it was good.  I still hope to do better next year and get more yield.  But it's fun and I think it is really important to teach the girls where their food comes from.  When you grow it yourself, you don't waste because you realize how much time and effort went into it. 


As autumn approaches, I thought I would share some of our favorite children's books this time of year.  In both the 5 day and Enrichment guides at Little Acorn Learning, we offer tons of book recommendations for each and every week of the month.  Here are just a few that we love:








Telling stories and sharing poems of the season is a simple way to encourage literacy skills in the home for all ages.  I still read to my 10 year old!  

Here are a few sweet poems you can share in the upcoming weeks as taken from our September Enrichment Guide:

~~~~~

Squirrel, Squirrel running around,
Bury your nut away in the ground.
Bury it deep, bury it round.
Bury it nicely into the ground.  

~~~~~

Little leaves fall gently down
Red and yellow, orange and brown (flutter hands as leaves falling)
Whirling Whirling around and around (turn around)
Quietly without a sound (put finger to lips)
Falling softly to the ground (begin to fall slowly)
Down and down and down and down (lie on floor)

~~~~~

The Rice Fields

Warmed by the sun,
Wet with the rain,
Ripe grows the rice,
Life-giving grain.
Week follows week;
Now comes the day,
Gather the rice,
Store it away.

Lastly, we have a really fun Facebook Photo Contest going on for the month of September on the Little Acorn Learning Facebook Page... 

Our theme this month is *Children in the Kitchen* and our winners will get a FREE ebook of their choice for each photo that wins!  

Photo by Dawn Umemoto
If you have photos of your little ones helping you in the kitchen, here's how to enter:

- Send no more than 3 photos per family or school correlating to our theme to info@littleacornlearning.com

- Include your name and written permission for Little Acorn Learning to use your photo in future publications and/or marketing initiatives.  

- Once your photo is posted on our Facebook Page, ask family and friend to LIKE it by sharing the link.

- The photos with the most LIKES win a FREE ebook of their choice from Little Acorn Learning - we will end our contest on September 19th, 2014  

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Blank Canvas

My creative flows come in waves.  For months, I will delve myself into painting and then just nothing at all.  For years even, things will sit.  I may sew quilts and dresses and other things for everyone and their mother.  Then a lull.  A huge one.  I'll spend a full year writing over 12 100+ page books and then struggle to even update my blog on a weekly basis.

Besides the fact that I am sure I have some form of ADHD, I'm not really sure why this happens.  I guess there are just so many things I love to do and there is no way to do them all at once. And, to be honest, just daily life is so overwhelming for me at times.  I could spend hours each day cleaning our house.  It's consuming.  And boring and not fulfilling.

And lately, as I've been going through the motions of life and many things internally, I realize that so much of what I enjoy doing has been put on the side for way too long.  My passions, my dreams and my creative time is almost always pushed aside to make room for other things or other people.  They are very important other things and many very important people (many not!)... but I'm losing who I am in the process and in order to feel whole again, I need to get it back.

So, I'm trying - slowly - to get back into the things I love to do.  Much like writer's block, starting again with any creative activity isn't easy for me.  I look at my sewing machine or my paints and feel panic, not knowing where to begin.  And it would be so easy to just turn around and walk out of the room and do some mindless laundry instead (and my husband would be thrilled), but I am determined.  :)

Brianna and Maia have been asking for me to sew them something.  We decided that I would make them each a dress (in the same pattern and size to keep me sane).  So, last week we went and picked out the pattern and the fabric they wanted.

They were so excited helping me look and pick out everything.  I know from experience that these years with them go so fast and soon they will care less about having their mom make them something.  There is a small window of time I have with them in this way and I don't want to lose it because I have too much laundry to do.

But even with such good intentions, the materials sat and sat in my sewing room.  They were getting pulled into the creative abyss that seems to be lingering around me these last few years, but last night (partially out of guilt), I pulled it out and began cutting the pattern.

And I realized how much I really like sewing and how much I miss it.  It's just a matter of finding the will and the time to begin again.


Then there is my artwork, I miss spending hours on a piece and pouring my feelings and colors into a blank canvas.  I bought five canvases a year or so ago and they have been sitting in my art area just collecting dust.  The same art area that I envisioned being this booming art studio in my house.  There was a time that I even sold a few paintings - it was exciting and something I wanted to pursue.  Oh but life, it seems to get in the way.

So after my sewing epiphany last night, I decided that even though it felt hard to begin again, I would.  I sketched out some strange people who will soon get filled up with my feelings, emotions and some colors and God, it felt awesome.


So, I'm excited to navigate my way once again through being a mother and a wife but also a writer, an artist and the creative person that I am.

There just may be no clean clothes or dishes in my house for awhile.