Sunday, September 3, 2017

Get Your Rhythm On!

Registration is now open for...

Your Way to Rhythm
30 day eCourse for September
$25


As September rolls in, so does the need or maybe urge to bring form to our lives. The crisp dry air lifts the murky humid fog of summer and helps bring clarity to our minds, enthusiasm in our hearts and energy to our limbs.

This, my friends, is the time to sink into a home rhythm that works for you.

Each month I teach an eCourse to help you feel more confident as a parent. September's eCourse  Your Way to Rhythm is devoted to helping you establish and maintain a harmonious home rhythm that suits the particular needs of your family.

This popular online course, developed in 2012 by me will guide, nourish and support you each step of the way to develop rhythm from the inside out - for you to become confident within in establishing and maintaining a rhythm that supports your family.


You'll be supported every single day through the month of September in Your Way to Rhythm.

With Daily Support in the course through notes, recordings, videos and exercises to help you get your rhythm on.

With Weekly Group Mentoring Calls for support, inspiration and answers to your questions.

Ongoing. At the end of the course, you'll be invited to join a Facebook Community for class members that focuses exclusively on healthy home rhythms where you can check in anytime for support with your home rhythm and remain connected to others on the same path.


I've been supporting parents, teachers and child caregivers in establishing and maintaining strong and healthy rhythms for decades. This course is full of new material and the best of material from past courses. I hope you'll join me for the month of September. 

What Past Participants Have to Say About the Course:

Lisa’s eCourse on Rhythm helped me see how simple rhythm can be. Her support through the month helped me make positive changes and stick with them. Our family life is calmer and I feel more confident, present (and patient) with my children. This is a super helpful course, thank you Lisa!
~*~
There’s so much I want to do with my children now when they are young. Lisa’s Rhythm class helped me clarify what matters most and let go of the rest. The group experience over the course of a month helped me make changes. Our days are not all harmony and rainbows, but they are filled with more reverence and activities that I've been wanting in our days. 
~*~
I took this course (Rhythm) as a last ditch effort thinking it wouldn’t really help. Surprise ~ surprise, I found myself making small changes through the month. The momentum of the class with a community helped me lots. Lisa's guidance is gentle and full of wisdom.


Join now to receive the support you need to feel confident in establishing and maintaining a strong rhythm in your home. It's Rhythm from the Inside Out!



$25

no fee for Year Round Members of Celebrate the Rhythm of Life ~ living curriculum program
included with Membership in September's Celebrate the Rhythm of Life

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Lammastide

Hello August!


Today is the first day of August heralding in the season of Lammastide.

As the wheel of the year  begins its turn away from the summer  solstice and moves towards autumn, there's a noticeable change in the air and in the plants. Are you experiencing it too?

It's precisely that moment in summer when the light of the sun and the heat of summer have coalesced and reached their peak, where they rest for a moment together before they begin to withdraw. With this dance of light and warmth comes the Grain Mother clad in her golden cloak spreading an abundance of grain for the people and animals of the earth. This is Lammastide, the bountiful harvest of the grain. Also know as the Feast of Bread  or Lughnasadh in Ireland, Scotland and the Isle of Man.

This is a celebration of bounty, of gratitude for all that is, and particularly of the grain. The Grain Mother in her golden cloak has brought wheat, oats, barley, corn and rye, grains that will be put up to sustain people through the cold and dark days of winter. Sunflowers and nettles are ripe with seeds for the birds to eat over the winter.

In olden times and in parts of northern Europe today, this season of year is known as Lammastide, the time of the harvest of the grains, a time of abundance and gratitude.

A few simple ways for you to celebrate during Lammastide:

  • Notice the plants that grow wild by the roadside.
  • Notice the feeling in the air.
  • Notice what is coming to fruition in your life.
  • Look for the golden in nature, in yourself and in others.

A few simple ways to celebrate Lammastide with children:
  • Bake a Lammas loaf of bread by adding a handful of mixed grains to your favorite bread recipe. Or top it with seeds.
  • Incorporate wheat, spelt and rye berries, whole barley and oats into your diet. Try eating them in simple ways. Try making polenta topped with a stew of fresh tomatoes and summer squashes.
  • Make corn dollies with corn husks.
  • Pick mint leaves as soon as the dew dries in the morning and dry it for winter tea.
  • Harvest catmint and dry it for your favorite kitties.
  • Watch for the light of fireflies in the dark of night.


May your harvest be abundant and may the sun shine warm upon your face!


::

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Waldorf in the Home :: an eCourse



I've had a few requests for the link to join the August eCourse, Waldorf in the Home, and I want to make sure you can find it if you want to join. If you'd like to join the Waldorf in the Home eCourse the sign up page is here.

If you'd like to join for the whole kit and caboodle, the August Living Curriculum Program + the eCourse Waldorf in the Home, the link is here.

I'm excited about the enthusiasm for this course and look forward to seeing you over there. I think it'll make a great foundation for the new homeschooling, homemaking, school year.

See you over there!

~*~


Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Colors and Days of the Week in the Waldorf Home


:~ Myth Busting ~:

Then
The world of Waldorf education first came online in the late 1990's with a chat group that included parents, teachers and administrators of Waldorf schools. A few of us had an inclination towards homeschooling, which was controversial within the world of Waldorf schools at the time, and out of that group was born another group dedicated to Waldorf homeschooling which gave birth to more groups.

Now
Today, in 2017, we have many websites as well as social media platforms like Facebook,Twitter, Instagram and even online programs and courses devoted to Waldorf homeschooling and homemaking, including my own program and eCourses. The point being that the world of Waldorf education has opened its doors to the world.

With this expansion of Waldorf into the world, some notions about Waldorf education seem to have taken on a life of their own, outside of the pedagogical grounding Waldorf education ideally experiences in a school environment. I've noticed some online versions of things attributed to Waldorf education that I'd like to explore with you, within the context of myth busting.

Myth Busting
Steve Sagarin and Sarah Baldwin have delved into some of these myths with an exploration of the pedagogy associated with the use of gnomes to introduce the four processes in first grade and the notion that the teaching of literacy is delayed in Waldorf schools.

(The nourishment of a deep love of literacy and language begins at birth in the Waldorf realm. This is a topic I feel passionate about yet will save for another post.)

What I'd like to talk about is the use of colors and the names of the days of the week with children in the realm of Waldorf homemaking and homeschooling. It seems that once the cat came out of the bag, with the sharing of the meditative practice for the adult to reflect on the qualities of the days of the week, a whole new world unfolded online to share this with children by naming the days of the week by a color in order to create a rhythm of the week.

This practice of reflecting on the qualities of the days of the week with a particular meditation, is for adults. It is something a teacher might do.

I'm not sure how it hit the online world of Waldorf homemaking and homeschooling, but it did.

Why We Do What We Do
I've had some wonderfully wise and helpful Waldorf mentors in my life. One in particular inspires me to constantly ask myself why I we do what I do, to inform the action with an understanding of what it means for the child.

We can ask ourselves why would we tell children about a color of the day? Why would we make a chart with the colors, how would it serve the child? What is the child's experience of this?

Out of this emerges for me, a deeper question, how can we help bring children into healthy rhythms?

What's Happening Developmentally?
The young child, from birth to age 7 or so, even age 9 for some aspects, lives in the realm of the will, that is in the realm of activity.

In this stage of development, children are developing the WILL forces, the forces for doing, for being active. They are in the realm of DOING and can relate to what they will DO week after week by their physical experience of it, by DOING it, not by talking about it. 

What does this mean for sharing about colors of the day and creating charts for the activities of the week? 
Talking to children about colors of the day and showing them charts are all abstractions to a young child. To talk to them this way brings the child into the intellectual realm, while taking them out of the dreamy, wonder and awe filled realm of childhood. 

To keep track of time in such an abstract way belongs to the realm of the adult. Slowly the grade school child is brought into the realm of a schedule, initially through a strong weekly rhythm based on doing, on activities, with the same activities repeated on the same day of the week, consistently, week after week.

Doing
In a Waldorf early childhood program, the days of the week are named for the ACTIVITY that is done on that day, such as "painting day," bread making day," "soup making day." These activities are done consistently week after week, as part of the weekly rhythm for children.

At home, a few examples of weekly rhythm we might have and use as names for the week:

Soup Day (we make soup)
Bread Day (we make bread)
Painting Day (we paint)
Crayoning Day (we color with crayons)
Woods Walk Day (we walk in the woods)
Playgroup Day (we meet with our playgroup and play)

So please, let's ditch the conversation about colors and keep the charts for ourselves. For the child under nine, just do it -  do the activity for the day consistently that is! 

Children thrive on having a predictable and consistent life, with days such as soup making day, a baking day, a painting day. These activities deeply nourish the four foundational senses of childhood while the strong weekly rhythm provides deep nourishment to the child, and to the whole family.


Monday, June 26, 2017

Summertime :: Let Go



Summer has arrived in all its glory. The lake is warming. The birds are back and making themselves known by their song in the wee hours of the morning. Blossoms abound. Meals are simpler.  The fresh vegetables of early summer are ready for eating: baby greens, scallions, radishes, chard, kale, fresh herbs too, and plenty of eggs from the hens. The nighttime temperature is no longer dropping into the freezing zone. The warmth is here to stay.


The energy feels expansive, an upward movement, with plants reaching upwards towards the cosmos, a grand upward and outward gesture, with berries and peas coming to fruition. The energy of summer is like the finger play Five Little Peas, whose energy is pushing outward from within.

Five little peas,
In a pod pressed.
One grew, two grew
So did all the rest.
They grew and they grew
And they did not stop.
Until one day,
The pod went POP!

Unlike the rising energy of spring, the energy of summer demands a fertile outlet.


The topic of summer rhythm came up in nearly all of my coaching calls this week, so I thought I'd share with you how I approach summer, in the hopes that it might help you craft your summer rhythm.


A little bit about my bias and where I'm coming from. I spent my childhood on the coast of Maine, in the days of, "Go out and play!" Boy did we ever play. We went out in the morning and spent the day roaming the meadows and woods and playing at the pond. We rode our bikes. At lunchtime we went home to eat. Sometimes we went to the beach. In the evenings we'd drive to the orchard and watch the deer come out.

Summer was a languid time for children. That was the norm. City children played with the hose and found plenty of company. As I got older summer became a time of reading novels, afternoon naps out of doors, and time on the beach. When I turned 16, summer meant a summer job.


I didn't imagine that there would be any other way to experience summer for my children. With my first child we went to live on remote islands in the Pacific Ocean. Life was slow year round, referred to as "island time." Always plenty of children and plenty of time.

With child number two we were back in the United States. We were fortunate to live around other families who shared the "Go out and play!" view of childhood. We were part of a Waldorf community and it seemed that everyone went out to play. It was only later that I learned how scripted and organized childhood had become.


I've been committed to protecting the wonder of childhood for my children, for the children in my care in the kindergarten and nursery and in supporting parents who want to protect the wonder of childhood. 

I came up with a simple formula. If you know me, you've heard it before. It's this:

Eat Sleep Play Love ~ in the fresh air

My formula for summer is to let go. Let go of the stress. Let go of trying to "get it right." Let go of feeling like it's supposed to be a certain way. 

Just be.

Be you. Feel the warmth of sun on your face. Read good books. Make popsicles. 

Let the focus be on the basics: a somewhat regular bedtime, wholesome meals, time to play, being together and spending lots of time in the fresh air.

Have lazy hammock time. Drag the table out of doors for meals. Build an evening campfire pit by placing stones in a circle. Sing songs together. Watch the stars come out. Drink lemonade. Eat ice cream. (there's some really good coconut milk ice creams for the dairy free!) Bring out an old bedspread and have a picnic. Find water and dip your toes in. Pick berries if you have a local source.

Just be.


What's your favorite thing about summer?


Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Waldorf Grades 1-4 :: Community + Coaching Co-ops

I want to let you know that membership in the Community + Coaching Co-ops for Waldorf homeschoolers for Grades 1-4  is now open to all. 

When I began the Celebrate the Rhythm of Life ~ living curriculum program seven years ago, the moms who joined as year round members were in the Nursery and Kindergarten years with their children and grandchildren. Some of them have been so inspired with working out of Waldorf in the home that they have chosen to homeschool their children in the grades. For them I created a group of homeschoolers where they could find support and each other.

This year I wanted to do more for the grade school homeschooling community and decided to open the Communities + Coaching Co-ops for Waldorf homeschoolers for Grades 1-4 .

I also decided that I too would like to have community and company in this work, in facilitating, guiding and coaching the grade schoolers - since there are so many ways to do it, and especially because a sort of magic that happens when people come together.

Longtime Waldorf homeschooler and blogger who inspires so many with Waldorf homeschooling and parenting, Carrie Dendtler of The Parenting Passageway will join me in leading the Community + Coaching Co-op.
I've also invited seasoned Waldorf folk to join us in conversation and in the monthly calls. Marsha Johnson of Waldorf Home Educators Yahoo Group, Shining Star Waldorf School, who also offers the wonderful annual Magic of Waldorf Summer Conference in Portland, Oregon, with Waldorf camp like childcare, will be dropping in to join us for discussion and will lead the monthly calls every 3-4 months.

About the Community + Coaching Co-ops
If you are a Waldorf homeschooler teaching grades 1-4 and would love to be part of a community of like minded and same grade Waldorf homeschooling parents, and receive coaching from experienced Waldorf homeschoolers and longtime Waldorf teachers through the year, watch the blog for the notice that registration is open. It will include two eCourses (Get Organized :: Sketch it Out for Grades 1-4 in July and Planning Circle Work for Grades 1-4 in August) as well as a live call each month and ongoing conversation in a private forum through the year.

 Each grade will have its own site with resources particular to the grade, yet the co-op will come together for group calls. I am envisioning a warm, fun family like atmosphere as we support each other through the year. This is the first year in the past 18 years that I will not be planning to homeschool my own children, or for the playgroup, or for the classroom or nursery. All my energies will be for you!

Community + Coaching Co-ops
Grades 1-4
July 2017 through June 2018
Registration is $99 per grade 
~ it's free for year round members ~

Get Organized :: Sketch it Out Grades for 1-4 
~ July ~
$49 
(included with Co-op registration, free for year round members)


Planning Circle Work  for Grades 1-4
~ August ~
$49 
(included with Co-op registration, free for year round members)

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Why Routines?

Rhythm and Routine
~ a series of articles to support rhythm in the home
#2
Routines can be good for everyone. Good routines are beneficial to physical, psychological, and emotional health. Let's look at some of the benefits of routine:

For the Children
Routines provide great comfort and security to children of all ages and help ease anxiety because they provide the comfort of the familiar and of knowing what is coming next. Children know what to anticipate with routines as the sequence of events remains the same. This ability to know what comes next alleviates the anxiety of the unknown for many children. Routines help children form good habits and become competent and capable of caring for themselves, their clothing and their environment - your home! You get a helper! All this through small steps in forming good habits with routines.

For the Adults
Life with little children (and big children too) can throw our plans off kilter, very easily. Very small children live in a sort of time out of time, and our task is to slowly and gently bring them into the rhythm of day and night, of mealtime and playtime, of sleeping time and of experiencing warm, joyful loving relationships. These are the anchors in our days - eating and sleeping, playing and experiencing warm, loving, joyful and secure relationships. Routines help us do this, they give form to time. Routines help our days run more smoothly.

Routines give us more freedom and actually free up time. With the form of a routine comes freedom within the form. 

Routines make procrastination less likely. When activities have a specific time in the day to be done, they tend to get done. I know that when I have no boundaries around my time, it's easy to drift this way and that and easily become distracted from what I set out to do. Having a routine for the important activities in my day helps me stay on task. When I make it a habit to mentally organize dinner first thing in the morning, it is likely to get on the table on time and without rushing. When I faithfully start my day with a load of laundry, the wash pile doesn't build.

Routines help us be more clear in our intentions and control how the day will unfold. Now that may sound a little outrageous for people with small children because who knows how the day will go with little ones?! Yet routines help bring us back to center and bring form to day

One example might be a strong after lunch routine of a nap that helps everyone come back to center and re-energize for the rest of the day. A healthy bite to eat after the nap helps tide everyone over through dinner preparation until dinnertime. These little habits to have lunch followed by a story and the routine that comes with that, then a nap, then a bite to eat, these ways that were so natural to my mother and grandmother, have become conscious deeds that are carried with intention for my generation. We no longer have the group to carry us, we must figure it out for ourselves. It comes out of our free choice.

Routines help form good habits. Maybe you've always wanted to leave shoes by the door when you enter the house, and wish that everyone would hang up their coat. A coming into the house routine might be created with designating a place to put the shoes, and a place to hang coats and jackets. For the littles you might like to set a wooden peg hanger that is at just the right height for your child to reach. This way new habits are formed that can make your life easier, save the time you'd spend picking up shoes and jackets, make you happy, empower the children and make leaving the house flow more smoothly as well since everything will be in its place and easy to find.

These are some of the benefits of routines, other benefits may include better sleep, healthier meals, a more relaxed mood in the home, more time to get out in the fresh air, more time to snuggle in with a story, time for tea, and a more effective use of time. Good routines help home life flow more smoothly. 

Here's a list of the benefits of routine, they:

Provide comfort and security
Ease anxiety
Give form to the day
Bring children into the rhythm of life
Build competence
Bring clarity to intentions
Help us to be present in the moment
Give us control over the flow of the day
Help the day flow more smoothly
Help us come back to center (feel grounded)
Re-energize us
Make time to get things done
Help us form good habits


Are you convinced that routines are a good thing?

Read Article #1 Routine in the Waldorf Home::What is it?  here


Monday, June 12, 2017

A Story for Summer :: The Wild Rose

With temperature's in the 90's it looks like summer is really "a -coming and winter has gone away-o!" At least for this week. We're in the season of the Flower Queen, and she has remained undaunted by the cold as her flower children blossom.

The wild roses are just beginning to bloom, the white in full bloom and the rose not quite yet to open.

Here's a sweet story to tell for summer. It's appropriate for children of all ages, including the wee littles. It's about Mother Nature and a wild rose. It's easy to imagine the larks and humming-birds coming to visit. For the young child, the world is alive and the notion that Mother Nature might talk to her flower children is quite natural, that's what mothers do!

The Moss Rose
~ by Leonore E. Mulets
(with a few adaptations by me)

Once upon a time a little pink wild rose bloomed by the wayside. To all who passed her way she threw out a delicate perfume and nodded in kindly welcome.

The larks and the humming-birds all loved the pink wild rose. The baby grasses and the violets snuggled up at her feet in safety. To all she was kind and sweet and helpful.

One day Mother Nature passed that way. She saw the gentle wild rose sending out her helpful cheer to all. Mother Nature was pleased.

She stopped a moment on her way to speak to the simple flower. She praised the wild rose for her sweetness and her beauty and her kindness. At last she promised her her choice of all the beautiful things that were in the store of Nature.

The pink wild rose blushed quite scarlet at the praise. For a moment she stopped to think.

"I should like," said the wild rose, blushing more and more, "I should like to have a cloak from the most beautiful thing you can think of."

Mother Nature looked down at her feet. She stooped. She arose and threw about the blushing pink rose a mantle of the softest, greenest, most beautiful moss.

Mother Nature passed on her way.

The sweet rose by the roadside drew her mantle of moss closely about her and allowed it to trail down the stem. She was very happy. She was never again to be called the simple wild rose, but in her heart she knew that her beautiful mossy mantle would only help her in spreading sweetness and kindness and beauty and the perfume of happiness through Mother Nature's world.

With a snip, snap, snout, my tale's told out!

::

June's eCourse is Love ~ the Heart of Discipline. Learn more about it and sign up here.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Routine in the Waldorf Home ~ What is it?

A comment on the Celebrate the Rhythm of Life Facebook page inspired me to write about routines today. I wrote a long piece on routines that felt like too much. I decided to break it into smaller more digestible pieces to post over several days, hence a series called Rhythm and Routine is born. 


#1

Here's today's entry...

What is a Routine?
A routine is "a sequence of actions regularly followed; a fixed program." as in:
"I settled down into a routine of work and sleep." 

The word routine comes from the French "route" meaning road. With a routine, we take the same road, over and over again, day after day. We pass the same trees, go around the same curves and see the same landmarks in the same sequence on this road called routine.


Routines in our daily life are those series of events that can be counted upon to happen everyday, in the same order, in the same sequence, just as the sun rises and the sun sets, so shall there be the familiar and comforting routines to the day.

Routines Are Like Old Familiar Friends
Routines are like old familiar friends. Routines form the basis of a healthy home rhythm. They help bring form to the day. They help us, the adults, know what to do now, and what to do next.

Parents come to me and ask:

I don't know what to do with my child

What do I do with my baby all day long?

What do I do with my toddler all day long?

What do I do with my kindergarten aged child all day long?

What I always encourage is to begin with rhythm (that is a conscious awareness of the energetic quality of the flow of activities as the child relates to them) and routine. Establish predictable routines first.

When a routine no longer serves us, or no longer feels vibrant and meaningful, then it is time to make a change, to tweak it or let it go. But I am getting ahead of myself, for that has more to do with ritual and reverence, and for now I am focusing on routine.

::

Do you remember familiar and comforting routines from your childhood? Please share them with us in the comment section below.

Read Article #2 Why Routines? here



June's eCourse is Love ~ the Heart of Discipline. Learn more about it and sign up here.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Discipline in the Waldorf Home

Do you love your child to bits and yet struggle with discipline and wish it could be easier? It can be. June's eCourse will delve right into love and attachment as the heart of discipline.



 Join me in June
for
  Love ~ the Heart of Discipline
June 5th - June 30th
30 days
$39

Are you?

  • Tired of repeating yourself, nagging and yelling?
  • Struggling with setting and keeping boundaries?
  • Feeling exasperated when your child does not respond to your words?
  • Having parenting moments in which you just don't know what to do?
  • Looking for better ways to respond?
  • Do you sometimes feel lost when it comes to discipline?
  • Would you like to laugh more?
  • Do you spend time reading about discipline and parenting styles and wonder why they don't seem to work?

Kind and Loving, Warm and Gentle 

Would you like to be kind and loving and firm all at the same time? A new paradigm for parenting has emerged over that shifts the focus from fixing the behavior to understanding child development, and understanding the role of the parent.  

If you are striving towards parenting from the heart, from a place that is kind and loving, warm and gentle, this is the class for you. We'll delve into the roots of attachment and your relationship with your child as the heart of parenting. 

We'll explore ways to deepen attachment, and work with the relationship as the foundation for parenting. We'll also explore practical ways of responding to challenging situations, as well as ways of eliminating many of the common parenting challenges by making simple changes in the home.

Imagine:

  • Bringing your child along without resistance.
  • Parenting as being yourself.
  • Lightening up and feeling more creative.
  • Knowing what to do in challenging situations, being present in the moment.
  • A more harmonious flow to your day.
  • Letting go of stress and guild.
  • Helping your child grow peacefully and respectfully as a human being.
  • Being clear and confident in your parenting.

Join me as we explore a gentle path to parenting based on the developmental needs of your child.

Love ~ the Heart of Discipline

June 5th  to June 30th
Give yourself the gift of confidence in parenting and harmony in the home.

$39 

Free to Year Round members of Celebrate the Rhythm of Life
Included with Celebrate the Rhythm of Life in June  $59 here



Monday, March 6, 2017

Four Steps to Meal Planning

One of the wonderfully comforting aspects of Waldorf in the home is the rhythm and repetition of the activities of the days, weeks, seasons and year. There's a predictable flow to life.

The children know what to anticipate.

When children know what is coming, they feel secure. Children are able to relax and lean into the security and comfort of having a predictable flow to their lives. Going outside to play each morning after breakfast while mom hangs the clothes on the line, or climbing into bed at the end of the day to hear a story before lights go out, are two examples of a predictable sequence of events, also known as routine, that occur at the start of the day and the end of the day. 

These routines form a rhythm when they are done with a conscious awareness of how they flow energetically. The active play out of doors in the morning is just what a young child needs, and is deeply nourishing to the child, while the quieting down in the evening with a story before bed helps a child let go of the day.

This is one way Waldorf education or a Waldorf home life provides resilience to children in a rapidly changing and sometimes unsettling world - with the predictability of daily, weekly, seasonal, even yearly rhythms, that provide security to the children, in knowing that their world is reliable and consistent. They can depend on it and look forward to familiar events.

Children thrive on rhythm and repetition, on knowing what is to come and then doing it over and over again, whether it is singing a song, chanting a rhyme, repeating a refrain from a story,  acting out the same scenario again and again in play, or  hearing the same story over and over again. 

In the Waldorf kindergarten, this rhythm and repetition manifests in having the same predictable foods, the grains, on the same days of the week, week after week, over and over again. Young children thrive on a regular and predictable life. They need the repetition in their lives. It gives them a sense of security and well being.

Let's begin with the why. Why plan meals? 
Meal plans are a helpful way to anticipate what is coming in the week ahead. They help you plan meals ahead of time. Planning ahead gives you time to gather the ingredients you'll need and know what you're going to have for dinner each night of the week. There's no need to think about it

Of course you can always change your mind and your plan, and serve whatever you like any night of the week. It's yours! The purpose of the meal plan is to help you make your week more predictable, and make less work on a daily basis to put dinner on the table.

1. Begin with what you like to eat. 
Check in with the members of your family. Ask them each to name their favorite dinner. Ask each person to note for three or four favorite dishes that you prepare for dinner. Include your own preferences. Jot them down in a list.

2. Check your inventory. 
Look at what you have on hand: in the fridge, pantry and freezer. Look at the list of your family's favorite meals. What can you make with what you have? What do you want to make? Do you have the ingredients to make the meals on the list? What's easy to pick up without making a special trip? What's in season?

3. Take out your writing utensils and look at the week ahead. 
Are you all home for dinner every night? Do you have a regular night out? A pizza night or Chinese food night? Note them. Keep it simple. Sketch out a plan for the week. Don't get hung up on making it beautiful or permanent because your weeks will change, your tastes will change, what you feel like cooking will change and the seasonal foods will change. Just plan for this week. Baby steps. I use an envelope or piece of paper from the recycling bin, like this:
If you're serious about meal planning, you might like to keep a diary of your meal plans. That can come later. If you're new to meal planning, just start.

4. Note and shop for any ingredients you may need for all your meals for the week. 

Stick to one stop if that's possible. I note the ingredients I need to pick up in a different color, in this case red. It makes it easy to see when I go to the store. Because the meal plan is on the back of a used envelope, I don’t worry about preserving it, I just tuck it in my handbag or jacket pocket.


Now you're ready. Each morning, upon rising review your dinner plan in your mind. What needs prepping? At what time do you need to begin to have the meal on the table by a time that works for you and can be consistent?

Next step will be to consider a repetitive weekly thread to your meals, such as Friday Pizza night, Beans and Rice night, Curry night, Stir Fry night, whatever you like to prepare and eat night. But that's the next step. For this week work on a plan with what you have, what your family likes and what's easy to gather and use.

Best wishes to you if you're new to meal planning!

If you have a tried and true meal plan you'd like to share please leave it, along with any other comments below!

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

On Festival Fatigue

One of the conversations I'm having with mamas this week that is coming up over and over again is what to do about celebration or "festival fatigue." 

Christmas came and went. Okay for some it goes on until February 2nd, while the activities have  for the most part come and gone. What is left for some is fatigue. I call it "festival fatigue." Trying to do it all.

My advice comes out of my own life experience when I tell you that less is more. Children need a mom who is present and cheerful far more than they need another event to celebrate, for daily life is truly the celebration.

That the sun rises and sets and shines each day is something to celebrate. The wonder of clouds floating by is something to celebrate. Snowflakes falling. Snow on the ground. A cup of warm tea on a cold day. A candle with dinner. Holding hands with family before dinner to sing a song of gratitude.

We are surrounded by beauty and have so much to celebrate each day, in the simplest way.

Some words I wrote nearly to the day on January 12, 2011:

"If you have time to do the laundry, prepare the meals, do the dishes, clean up after, sleep adequately and go outside everyday and still have time leftover, then take up the celebrations. Otherwise, just light a candle with meals and celebrate being together, being sane and having quiet moments." 
If you'd like to read more, it'here.

Mamas, we all strive and struggle and want to create conditions for our children to have the very best childhood. I want to remind you today, to remind yourself everyday, they do. They have you. And each day is a new day with something simple to celebrate. It's already there. Ease up on yourself. (I include myself here) It is not about the decorations or crafts. It is about what lives in your heart. 

Take your child in your arms or on your lap, have a good snuggle or rocking time. Just be present. Be there with yourself, and your child. Play a lap game or a finger play. Tell a story from your childhood, something simple that you remember.

This really is the foundation of rhythm. Of being present in the moment. Of simplifying the activities in the day so that we (me included) can just be here in the moment.

Warmly,
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