Thursday, December 7, 2017

7 Simple Snowflake Patterns For Every Kind of Crafter

Winter is a perfect time to start a fire, make a hot cup of tea and pull out your crafting supplies. And with some snow approaching this weekend in Connecticut, it was a perfect night to make some pretty crocheted snowflakes. 

I complied a list of 7 Simple Snowflake Patterns that are fun, easy, free and will appeal to every type of DIY crafter. Knitting, crochet, felting, embroidery, paper, beads and fabric are all included here.  Dig out your stash and see what you can make!

Many of these snowflakes would make perfect gift toppers, ornaments and decorations.  If you decide to try one out, be sure to pop back over and leave a link in the comments. 

Enjoy the Snow - Real or Homemade! 

















Wednesday, December 6, 2017

The Day Saint Nicholas Came




In Holland, children set their shoes
This night outside the door;
These wooden shoes Knecht Clobes sees
And fills them from his store.

But here some hang their stockings up
On handy hook or nail;
And Santa Claus, when all is still, 
Will fill them without fail. 

Speak out, you please, speak out
And let us hear your views;
Between a stocking and a shoe,
What do you see to choose?

One of the most lovely traditions I began with my daughters when I found Waldorf Education was to celebrate St. Nicholas Day. The evening before, the girls leave out their shoes and he comes and fills them with a few small treats, fruit or candy. This year... hot cocoa and chocolate coins. It is a long rooted tradition in many other countries but we enjoy this annual sweet precursor to Christmas and also still put our stockings out for Santa to fill on Christmas Eve.  

If you did not remember to leave your shoes out last night, do not feel like it is too late. St. Nicholas will come to you too. You can put them out whenever you wish.  I have a beautiful Advent and St. Nicholas Day festival ebook I created with my friend Sara Wilson of Love in the Suburbs to help you celebrate this month with the children leading up to Christmas Day if you are interested.


I've been working hard to continue the traditions I created with my children this year. It's a year of change for us and I often had to dig deep within to keep the consistency that I know my girls desperately need right now.  However, I feel that something has shifted in me recently and I am once again fully feeling, living and breathing these things I once cherished so much with them instead of just "acting as if". Maybe it is a sign of healing. 

I think when we are in pain and struggling through something, it is important to allow ourselves rest and freedom without guilt to let things go and just care for ourselves... but it is also a good practice to continue to strive, to try, to act "as if" in order to push forward toward the light of a new, happier tomorrow. I'm glad I did.  And I can see that my girls are glad I did too. Even teenagers who may act as if these things are silly and non-important need them desperately to remember that life goes on, happiness can always be found, and while many things change many things can also stay the same.


These beautiful candles were made by myself and my girls during the Candlemas Celebration my Lifeways group made during the last training I helped organize in Newtown, CT. I thought it was a perfect way to pull the year together by using something we created in the beginning of the year now at the end as we welcome in 2018.  It is both symbolic and meaningful to burn these candles away toward a new start.

Each year at Advent time, I put out this very simple nativity set. I love how pure and unassuming it is.  It reminds us not to be distracted this time of year by the colors, the lights and the bling.. but to remember what the true meaning of this time is and focus on the unseen truths all around us.  Each day we will move Mary and Joseph closer to the manger and on Christmas Day the baby will appear along with the wise men and the other animals.  


I've been preparing for the winter and decorating indoors and outdoors. We also chose and chopped down a live tree this year.  I'm grateful to be able to start new traditions while also keeping some old ones. 

It is empowering to do things that I relied on others to do for me for many years. I will never regret putting my career on hold and raising my girls but one thing I do regret is giving up my independence by becoming so consumed by caregiving for others. It is possible to raise a family without losing yourself or your knowledge of important aspects of your life. And it is not healthy to always feel responsible for others who should be able to be responsible for themselves as well. We also best serve those we love by helping them to be able to do for themselves. As a woman, I will make sure it is the one lesson learned I do my best to share with my girls. Never put your future or your life into other people's hands, even those who have your best interest in mind.  Do not lose your independence or your sense of self for anyone, even those you love with all your heart.


I am grateful to once again be able to model independence and strength to my daughters even during difficult times.  Our children are with us only for a short while... our dreams and goals matter too. Care for yourself and do not be sorry to do things that will provide you with happiness, independence and a future you can enjoy when your children are all grown up. If you are in a partnership, make sure it is just that. Be a part of it, not on the sidelines. You never know what life holds.
  
These girls have the biggest most loving hearts and came out to help me when they saw me working outside. I'm so lucky to be their mom. 
This year I thought how fun it would be to start a simple tradition of making gingerbread houses.  

Simple it is NOT!

We had so many laughs as we struggled together to keep our walls from falling, our icing from dripping and a huge mess on our hands.  Our houses were something hysterical to be seen... but we did make some pretty great memories. Better memories than if they turned out well, I think! 

 I would love to hear what type of traditions you and your family share during this time of year.  

Wishing all of you peace, love and happiness.

xoxo

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Living and Learning with Little Acorn

We have just reached 8,000 Likes on Facebook and we are celebrating by offering one of our members $100 in FREE ebooks from Little Acorn Learning. www.littleacornlearning.com


Our business began humbly, created by a mother, teacher and writer who wanted to share her love of Waldorf Education and nature-based learning with others (that's ME).

We now offer over 55 seasonal ebooks, menus, ecourses and products on the Little Acorn Learning website and have become one of the most loved resources of teachers and parents looking to weave a healthy rhythm, crafts, song, cooking, nature and seasonal celebrations into their days with children. Our program is as much for the caregiver as it is for the children.

We want to celebrate the support of our Little Acorn Community and will be giving away $100 in FREE ebooks, menus and products. See below rules to enter to win:

To Enter Our Giveaway Photo Contest:

1. Take or find a photo up to 3 photos of you or your children enjoying living and learning in the spirit of the Little Acorn Learning philosophy. This could include baking, crafting, nature explorations, circle time or domestic activities.

2. Email no more than 3 photos to info (at) littleacornlearning.com with subject line 'Little Acorn Learning Giveaway'. Inside the email please give your name, location and a sentence or two about what you love about learning with your children or using Little Acorn Learning in your home or school. Please also give permission that Little Acorn Learning may use your photos in future marketing and publications (We always give credit to your name as the photographer!)

3. Keep checking our Facebook Page and look for the photo album titled 'Living and Learning with Little Acorn'. When you see your photos, be sure to LIKE them and share them with family & friends. Remember the photo with the most LIKES win!

4. We will close our contest on 10/27 and announce the winner on Facebook
(and also email the winner directly).

Good luck and thank you so much for your continued support helping us to make the world a little brighter, one child at a time! 

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Reclaiming the Village

I wrote the original version of the following article back in 2014. It has been circling in my mind since the horrific events of Las Vegas.

We have become numb to the mass murder of our humanity: OUR mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters and children. We are detached and desensitized. We function often in isolation, removed from our villages and our own people.

We no longer belong to one another.

I do not claim to know exactly what to do next but I do believe that the answer isn't ONLY found in changing laws (although that is no longer optional in my opinion); the answer is also about reclaiming our villages.

We must take the reins here and create change in our homes and in our communities. We must have real conversations, make real connections and own up to real responsibility.

No more standing at the sidelines watching it all fall apart on our IPhones.

Only WE can be held responsible for what is happening in our world... and only WE can be responsible for the change we want to see in our towns, in our cities, in our homes and in our country.

So I challenge you:

I challenge you to stop sending prayers and thoughts on Facebook. Faith is a beautiful and powerful thing but I challenge you to instead get to know your religious community, attend services, speak at events, rally for causes and pray together in real time.

I challenge you to stop forwarding petitions and links. If your passion is changing the laws, I challenge you to instead join your local political party, school board or town positions. I challenge you stand up and ask questions in person, advocate out loud and and educate yourself on your local laws and representatives of your community and what they are or ARE NOT doing.

I challenge you to stop saying what a sick and hopeless world we live in. We are not hopeless; we are idle and lacking empathy. I challenge you to get to know your neighbors, create real community, make real connections and re-sensitize our world and our people.

I challenge you to put down your phone and talk to your children. Help them become good people who make a better place. I challenge you to help your neighbors. Show them what love and kindness is; many haven't felt it in a long time.

I hope you take my challenge. I hope you pass it along and stand up for our world. Because we are not hopeless. We just have lost one another.

~~~~~~~~

"It takes a village to raise a child."

But what happens if there is no village?
Photographer - Amy Figley
We walk by one another completely tuned out. There are actually many accidents of people walking and bumping into walls and poles in the street because they are so distracted. I would be lying if I said this hasn't almost happened to me a few times.

Our ears are covered with ear buds, our eyes are fixed on IPhones and our minds are occupied with I Wants.

Then throw in a heavy dose of fear to keep children locked up inside houses playing video games instead of exploring and you have us all living togetherin isolation.

When is the last time you were able to borrow eggs 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 am not posting this to make any of us feel guilty.  I want your attention:

Times are different now, yes... but times are different because we have allowed it to become that way.  There is nobody to blame for the fall and crumble of our villages but ourselves and I am here asking you to help rebuild them.

I'm not trying to pretend that we can create little utopias across the planet free of crime and filled with beautiful people holding hands singing in complete peace and harmony (although I am hopeful). I know, firsthand, the challenges of people living in inner-cities and other places that are far from the Sesame Street we grew up watching on TV.

However, I am trying to tell you that any attempt at joining forces to make your neighborhood a better place will do just that.... make it a better place. I'm not saying it will fix it... or make it perfect... just better.  And we could all use a little better. It's better than nothing.

I also know there will be neighbors who are not the types of individuals that you want to be neighborly with or want your families around. Some may even be a true concern. But, isn't this even MORE of a reason to create a network of other like-minded people who live in close proximity to you? Isn't there safety in numbers? Isolation does nothing to solve these issues. Let's join forces to take back our streets.

I am asking you do to something for me. But, first, I want you to imagine....

Imagine a place to live where you know everybody's name (sound like Cheers? That's OK, I've found a new appreciation for good beer.). 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. Image a place where you look out for one another and call upon each other (rather than a number in the yellow pages or on Google) when you need help.

Imagine sharing skills and friendship with others right outside your front door. Imagine 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 me 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 but I promise you it will play a huge part in helping to change our world.

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. 
I would love to add to this list and maybe eventually offer a Free EBook on this topic.  If you would like to submit an idea, please leave it in the comments section or email it to info (at) littleacornlearning.com

Love breeds peace.  Create an amazing world right where you live.

xoxo

Friday, September 29, 2017

Today is 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 the Little Acorn Learning
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."


"During this time of year when the world is growing dark and we travel inward to find our own inner light to offer to the world around us... (we are much like Michael)..This is the time when we gather up our strength and wield our swords of courage and upright living to slay our inner dragons of depression, egoism, untruth that try to arise. " ~ written by my dear friend, mentor Marianne Frost 

We obviously do not bring these heavy concepts to the little people in our lives. For them, the idea of bravery and truth need not be communicated, it should be emulated naturally. Simple celebrations of the season are appropriate instead and do not have to be done just today – bring them through the next month or two to enjoy each day of through autumn.
  • -        Go Apple Picking
  • -        Make an Autumn Nature Table
  • -        Read Fall Books
  • -        Make Homemade Applesauce
  • -        Bake Dragon Bread
  • -        Hold a Family Autumn Feast
  • -        Go for an Autumn Nature Walk
  • -        Share Songs and Fingerplays of the Season
  • -        Weave Yarn around a Pinecone
Michaelmas Fingerplay
*repeat verse for each finger
(taken from our September Afterschooling Guide)

Five brave knights
With swords held high,
Rode their white stallions
Across the sky.

The dragon roared fire
From the mountain top
One horse ran away
But four did not stop!

Four brave knights... (continue verse as above)
Three brave knights...
Two brave knights...
One brave knight

With sword held high
Rode his white stallion
Across the sky.

The dragon roared fire
From the mountain top
The knight looked back
But would not stop!

The swords raised high
The stallions full speed
Five brave nights
One good deed.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

On Starting Over

It's been a long time since I've written in this space. My little acorn world has gone through many changes and my children and I have had to start over and try to create a new normal after divorce. These last few years, and especially this past year, have truly been the most heart-wrenching and difficult of my life. Seasons change and I find myself at the beginning of a brand new one.


Even when the slate needs to be wiped clean for a fresh start, it is so difficult to move forward. There is a stagnation and a true grieving following any loss or major life change. It has been a slow healing for me, and I still struggle to understand those who do not allow time to heal and grieve before moving on. I am surprised at the waves of sadness or loss that come after I had just felt free and on top of the world the week before. As it has been close to a year now, these waves are fewer and farther apart and for that I'm grateful. Finally the fog is lifting and I see the sun in the horizon and it does look beautiful.

Ever since I was a little girl, all I ever wanted was to be a mother - a really good one. I had many other dreams and aspirations for myself but this, above all else, was my truest dream and heart's desire. I was lucky enough to have four beautiful daughters and I delved my entire self into mothering. I made a career out of it, quite literally. I raised my daughters with intent, wrote parenting guides, ran a preschool, held after school programs, became a girl scout leader and served on local community education boards, taught in a Waldorf Kindergarten, held ecourses and read every piece of literature and took every course you could imagine to be the best mother, educator and writer I could be. It is my passion, this mothering thing, and I love being able to bring my talents to something so meaningful that may help others who are caring for children.

As you can imagine, my desire to protect my children is fierce. As a result, I cannot begin to describe to you the pain I feel knowing that any choice in my life will hurt them. That alone kept me clinging to untruths, for years. I love them wildly, with an intensity and beauty that I know many of you have felt and do feel for your children.


I didn't want divorce for my family and it was the last thing I had wanted for myself. As any parent, I would have done anything in the world to spare them one ounce of heartache. But, there comes a time, when we realize that the only way we can be our best as caregivers is to reach deep inside ourselves and be true to ourselves. No matter how hard we grasp or try, love can never be sustained without honesty, faithfulness, kindness, the keeping of promises and a genuine desire to grow and change together when necessary. Nothing changes if nothing changes.

I have slowly come to understand that all the love in this world cannot protect my girls from the world itself. And it is not a gift to my children to not live an authentic life and to not love myself enough to live my truth. They must become resilient enough to ride the waves, like I have and like you have, and find the beauty that is always present, even when it is sometimes hard to see.

A blog is only a glimpse into someone's real life and  I hope I have always kept it real while still creating a space for you of beauty and inspiration. I continue to try to surround my children and myself with beautiful and true things as we heal together.

Divorce is like a tornado that rips through your home and when it has passed, you are left on the floor in an *almost* empty space naked and clinging onto the threads of the truths that are left revealed. My truths have been my children, my family and a handful of soulmate friends who have gathered around me as I got back onto my feet again.

My truth is my desire to do good in this world and give back something to make it a better place. My truth is my love for words, marketing, art, creativity and nature. Everything else that was swept away, was not meant to remain.  And, I will no longer fight trying to bolt these things to my floors. My new home will be a place of freedom and truth. It will be safe and it will sustain.


So I am here now, a mother of four beautiful girls, standing looking at this clean slate and trying to make a new life for us. I have battle-fatigue and giving up time with my children feels worse than a painful death would feel each time they must go.. but I am here in my tattered home still standing, bare and brave before you.

There are many wonderful people to meet and I am open to meeting someone special if it comes but up until recently I just couldn't. I wasn't ready. I've started dating some but I am not the same person I was. This person knows what she needs and wants and will accept no less - because I am quite enough with or without a partner. And maybe, in the end, that was what needed to be revealed to me.

I hope my daughters will become women who also feel like they are enough, no matter what they have to go through to get there. It took me a lot.

If you have followed my journey over the last 12+ years, I hope you will continue to follow me into this new chapter of mine. I hope you will support my work and my business as I struggle to raise these girls as a single mom.  But, most of all, I hope what I put into this world will somehow help you as a striving human to know your worth and to remember that we all struggle... we are all flawed...but we can get through the storms and begin again.

Be brave.
xoxo