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."  more 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.


Monday, January 9, 2017

Learn to Tell Stories with Table Puppets ~a new eCourse!

Storytelling with Table Puppets

Join Anytime
4 Weeks 
“We must do everything in our power to help the children to develop fantasy.” ~ Rudolf Steiner


Imagine yourself deepening your relationship to storytelling...
Imagine yourself enveloped by a warm and supportive community...
Imagine yourself crafting your own table puppets...
Imagine yourself receiving guidance and support each step of the way...
Imagine yourself telling stories with confidence using puppets made with your own hands...

This is Storytelling with Table Puppets!

Connie Manson, of Starlite Puppets and I have teamed up to bring you Storytelling with Table Puppets, a guided online course, as part of the Celebrate the Rhythm of Life ~ living curriculum program.
For four weeks, we'll take you by the hand and guide you through sourcing simple materials to crafting the table puppets that you can use again and again, with gentle guidance,  step by step instructions, and daily conversations. We'll show you how to use things you already have around the house, and we'll support you to tell stories with table puppets, music and confidence. We'll help you discern which stories are best to tell at each age and stage. 
We invite you to join us for 4 weeks of Storytelling with Table Puppets, this is what we'll do:
:: We'll explore different types of puppets and how to use puppets with different ages and stages
:: We'll teach you how to craft a table puppet and create a character by showing you steps with hands on tutorials
:: We'll show you how to use table puppets to tell a story
:: We'll show you delightful ways of telling a story using simple props you have at home
:: We'll delve deeper into the use of language and music with table puppet storytelling
:: We'll explore considerations in choosing a story
:: We'll explore character archetypes 
:: We'll help you find stories that are well suited to table puppets
:: We'll have fun together!!
Storytelling with Table Puppets is open for registration. Work at your own pace through the lessons. Connie and I will be present in the class everyday, responding to questions, adding material and encouraging conversation and sharing of your work.
You may return anytime, contribute to the conversation and enjoy "forever access" to the site and class materials.
This course offers great content and support as well as the convenience of doing a workshop at home, on your time. No driving needed. No need for a place to stay overnight. No fees for meals. It comes right to you, at home.
When you go to a training, and trainings are quite lovely,  you have the experience over a few days or a week, the course ends and you go home.  
With this online course, you have the benefit of time to try things out,  come back to the course, check in, ask questions, and communicate with teachers and classmates - it's ongoing support for puppet storytelling.
Registration Fee is $149

No Registration Fee for Year Round Members of
Consider joining! You receive the songs, stories, movement games, activities, childcare tips and recipes for each month as well as the eCourses I offer, all for one fee, with monthly payment options.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Janus :: Looking Back and Looking Forward

It's January first today, New Year's Day.

Happy New Year!

Here we are at the turning point in the year, at the threshold or gateway to a new beginning, leaving the old year and moving into the new one.

We are standing on the threshold between the old year and the new year.

The month of January is named for the Roman god Janus, god of passageways, gates, doors and transitions, of beginnings and of endings.

Janus' head is looking both forward to the future and back into the past.

Rudolf Steiner speaks of New Year's Eve:

“On New Year’s Eve it is always fitting to remember how past and future are linked together in life and in the existence of the world, how past and future are linked in the whole life of the Cosmos of which man is a part, how past and future are linked in every fraction of that life with which our own individual existence is connected, is interwoven through all that we were able to do and to think during the past year, and through all that we are able to plan for the coming year…”

~ Rudolf Steiner The Cosmic New Year, lecture 4, 31st December, 1919

An Exercise for the Turning Point in the Year
This is a reflective exercise for you to do at this threshold time of the year. This is one that can be done by you alone, by you and a partner, or as a family exercise, with children who are  8 or so and older.

Create a mood for this exercise by dedicating 20 or 30 minutes, make a pot of tea or cups of hot cocoa, with whipped cream if you like it that way, take out a journal or pencil and paper. Light a candle. Take a few calming deep breaths. This is an opportunity to rejoice in different aspects of your year.

Reflect on the significant events of the past twelve months.

What comes up?
Sometimes it feels like a big blank, and it helps to go through the months in your mind.
I like to leave a spaciousness for reflections to emerge freely rather than condense things too much. 
Sometimes they do emerge, and sometimes a little prompting can be just the thing to get thoughts flowing.

Here are some questions to ask to get the juices flowing ~
  • What new skill did you learn?
  • What did you learn about people?
  • What did you learn about yourself?
  • When did you laugh the hardest? 
  • When did you cry the hardest?
  • What are you letting go of, saying goodbye to?
  • What was an unexpected joy?
  • What was an unexpected obstacle?
  • What did you learn about the obstacle? About obstacles in general?
  • What do you feel you should have been acknowledged for but weren’t?

Now look forward and share what each of you are looking forward to in the year ahead.

Looking back and looking forward, a reconciliation of the past with the future.

Looking Forward
  • What are you tackling? 
  • What qualities are you working on?
  • Choose one word that reflects a quality you want to cultivate in the coming year. 

If you'd like this Exercise for the Turning Point in the Year in PDF, click through here

If you'd love weekly inspirations and reflections for Tending the Hearth {He(art)}h = Hearth + Heart + Art within a warm and wise community, come on over and join Set a Pretty Table! here

Wishing you days filled with Love and Warmth in 2017!


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