Saturday, December 19, 2015

A New Path Unfolds

You know how life is...  suddenly, there's a new path, one you had not anticipated, and there it is before you?

Mamas know how it is with mothering, as well as with with the process of becoming a mother. Changes. Surprises. Unanticipated life lessons. 

So many new sensations, perceptions and feelings come with pregnancy, labor, giving birth, and meeting this new being, as well as with becoming responsible for another human being. One who is completely dependent.

There's learning how to cope with fever, hurt feelings, bumps, bruises, broken bones, changing developmental needs, stains, unruly children and learning how to let go.

It can be a new experience each and every day.

We resurect ourselves to meet the challenge.

And then there's confronting the picture of myself reflected in my children, the pretty and the ugly alike, remembering who I am, who I was before motherhood, and always working on relationship, with others, and with balancing life and work, motherhood and friends, motherhood and self. The world of the home and hearth and the outer world. Always seeking balance.

The latest unanticipated path to open before me is not about mothering at all. Unless we count mothering the self. It's one that involves nutrition, the nourishing of my self. It’s a new path for me of gluten free, dairy free eating.

Until I heard the doctor explain the test results, I thought my diet was uncomplicated. I’d been an omnivore, with a preference for whole, sustainable, organic, local and ethical foods or SOLE food. And a penchant for whole milk lattes, milk chocolate and sweet butter. And maple cremees in the summer. 

I think I knew somewhere deep inside that foods made from cow’s milk and wheat were not agreeing with me. It began with mild stomach uneasiness after eating hard cheeses. Then I began to feel bloated. And gassy. I felt exhausted after eating toast. I’d want a nap after a sandwich. It was kind of funny. But it was not. I was starting to feel perpetually bloated, exhausted and foggy brained. Not typical for me. Moe, my furry boy was ailing too, and I thought to myself, "Here we are, growing old together." And then I thought again, "Hey, wait a minute. I'm not that old."

It has crept upon me, slowly and progressively, going on for years, even decades. During the 90s, it was joint pain. It was transient at first, coming and going with no ostensible rhyme or reason. I thought it might be the season. I had seasons of energy and seasons of dragging along. One doctor said rheumatism. Another said I likely had some sort of mild auto immune issue, "But don’t worry about it, he said." He didn’t suggest anything. Finally I found a doctor with a great reputation for routing out allergies and auto immune conditions. He ordered lots of tests. I had blood drawn. And then the results came and changed everything.

The good news is that I am feeling so much better. My energy has returned. I quit drinking coffee. Without milk, espresso is - well, blah - for me. I never liked drip coffee - no loss there. 
I began drinking ginger tea with lemon in the morning. Mmmm.

The hard part is the reckoning with all the foods I am no longer able to eat if I want to feel healthy, and the giving up of butter. Oh how I love sweet butter. My friend Heather, with whom I worked at Café Liliane used to call me Mademoiselle Buerre for I ate so much butter. The bread was a mere carrier for butter.

Garlic butter sauce - yes. Butter to bathe my omelet - yes. Toast to carry chunks of butter - yes. I love butter. Butter cakes. Butter cookies. Butter in pie crusts. Butter on the roasting chicken - yes. 

My love for butter is so great. My dad used to tease me and ask if I’d like a little something with my butter. "No thanks, I’m happy with the butter." And cheeses. Oh my, I love cheese. Triple cream. Aged cheddar. Real stinky muenster. Soft cheese. Feta cheese. All cheeses.

The new resolve is to eat butter and cheese and cream no more. I'm appreciating broths, soups and stews, and root salads in a new way. I'm working on healing my gut with simple foods. Maybe the GAPS diet.

I thought I'd share the news with you, as I journey along this new unanticipated path and make all sort of new discoveries. I am feeling so much more compassion for my food sensitive friends.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Simple, Slow and Meaningful

We’re in slow motion this year, still lingering in the mood of sweet slowness that follows Thanksgiving. We’re stuffed with roast turkey, stuffing, gravy, mashed potatoes, spicy chickpeas, cranberries and all the goodness of the Thanksgiving table.
 It’s warm inside and wet, cold and gray out of doors. I'm waiting for the snow.

We’ve unplugged from the busyness of the world, partly by choice, partly by force. My son was in an accident just before Thanksgiving and got quite bashed up. He is now on the mend, thanks to what must have been divine intervention, as well a very skilled surgeon, and a wonderfully kind hospital crew, for whom I feel enormously grateful.

With surgery and broken bones, there's lots of down time for convalescing. We canceled our travel plans and stayed put. It has been sweet.

As we move along in the season of Advent, I ask myself what matters most to me? The people I care about. My family and friends. My work. Cultivating community. Ample time. Being fully present in the moment.

How do I live these values as we approach the busy holiday time of year, with so many events and activities  beckoning us to join?

I begin with a checking in on our family home rhythms. The pulse of our daily life can tell us a good deal about what’s going on.

Next I look around and begin right where I am. In the days of slow and simple. Right here. Right now. And I savor it.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

A World with Octobers

I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.

Inspiring words from Anne of Green Gables, a beloved character around here, created by author L.M. Montgomery.

I am so glad for apple cider doughnuts, mornings spent out of doors and the blaze of color envelopes us with golden light.
The flower is a “Snow Banks," a delight to experience in October when other blossoms are dying away.

What are you glad for in October?

:: Are you wanting to celebrate more delights of October? ::
October’s Celebrate the Rhythm of Life Curriculum Material includes the eCourse, circles and stories, activities and much more

Monday, September 28, 2015

Hello Autumn!

Oh, it is that time of year again, the air is crisp and cool, the nights have become so pleasant for sleeping, and for being out of doors with no mosquitoes. 

Last night’s moon was spectacular - a blood moon, what a name. It was too magical to try and capture with a photograph. I just enjoyed it, by the fire under the stars.

This is what is happening here...

the trees are beginning to put on their dresses of red and gold...
the lanterns are glowing...
the wild flowers are in full splendor...
 the sumac is pulling its forces inward...
the grapes are ripe and sweet...
the mice are seeking shelter...
 the calendulas and marigolds are in full bloom...
and the human has not given up her bare feet, yet is cloaked in wool.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

The Sense of Warmth and Warmth in the Kitchen

Registration for enrollment in October’s eCourse is open!

The Sense of Warmth with Warmth in the Kitchen is a 31 day odyssey into the sense of warmth, on the physical, emotional, developmental and spiritual realm.
Rudolf Steiner described the sense of warmth as one that mediates between the inner and the outer worlds of the human being. We’ll explore this sense and its role in growth and development.

We’ll spend four weeks learning to cook simple meals, mostly one pot, with Stocks, Soups, Stews, and Curries with ingredients that are seasonal and warming. 
It’s like two courses in one, yet interwoven with the practical and the more esoteric.
Recipes can be easily adapted for vegetarian diets and I include vegetarian stocks as well as chicken and beef.

The fee is $35 to keep it accessible to everyone.

If you’s like to enroll, sign up here.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

More on Handwork in the Early Years

Oh my goodness, I had no idea that the article I put up yesterday, called Handwork in the Early Years, would spark so much interest, curiosity and personal response. This is a topic of our times.

Notes have come in from all over, some are simple, “Great article, thanks!” “Yes, I totally agree,” and others are more detailed with questions about small motor development, hand-eye coordination, following directions, and how dare I criticize the macaroni necklace and “What’s wrong with Mr. Potato Head,?" as well as questions about the role of beeswax in Waldorf education and, “Are you totally anti-crafting in early childhood?"

I’ll try to answer all of your questions and since there are so many, it’s likely to take a few days.

When I sat down to write yesterday’s piece on handwork in the early years, my intent was to convey three messages regarding children under seven:

1. to advocate for self initiated play and movement over planned pre-determined sit down activities
2. to reassure parents that their child need does not need to be doing all the crafts seen on social media platforms
3. to validate that healthy development that takes place in the course of an ordinary day in the home and situate handwork within the “ordinary” everyday activities of home life

I guess I really missed the mark with my post, and I apologize for that. I suspect I may have generated confusion. Lots of it. So I’ll take the next few days to attempt to clarify what I sat down to convey in the first place.

A warm thank you to each person who wrote to me. I appreciate your comments and willingness to discuss this topic and share different perspectives.

I’ll begin with the question, “Are you totally anti-crafting for the child in the early years? ”

I am wholeheartedly for making things with our hands. I love to cook with my hands, garden with my hands, draw and paint, write, knit, sew, give back rubs and massages, hang laundry on the line and fold clothes. I love making toys and puppets. I love to dye fibers. I love the handmade and seek it out over the alternatives. I am all for handwork. It is more of a question of what and when and why and how.

I’m very much for “everything in its own good time.”

The first seven years of life are a time of enormous development for the human being, of faster and greater development than at any other time of life. In the first seven years, the child is developing a physical body, growing organs. The child learns by doing, through activity. The limbs, the arms and legs are nearly always in motion, from the newborn’s turning of the head toward voices and the breast, to the seven year old delighting in tag. The body is in motion. One of our tasks as parent/teachers is to help support the development of the limbs, all the way down to the tip of toes and the fingers, to help the child develop into the body.

Movement is essential. Free self initiated movement. 

When we look at the four foundational senses of the human being, we see movement as one of the four senses that are so important in the first seven years of life. They are:
  • Touch
  • Life
  • Movement
  • Balance
Children are spending less and less time in free play and movement and more and more time indoors, in front of screens and on the move, doing errands and going places. Fewer children are around during the day and able to go out and join in play with other children. The ability to play, with free self initiated movement and exploration is getting lost, while anxiety, sensory issues and learning challenges are on the rise.

How many children have enough time each day for free, self-initiated free play, everyday?

Here’s an article by pediatric occupational therapist, Angela Hanscom, via Valerie Strauss of The Washington Post on the importance of play and its decline, The Decline of Play in Pre-schoolers and the Rise in Sensory Issues.

Let the children play!

Keep the rhythm flowing!

If there’s a choice between crafting, and free self initiated play, I’m for play.

If the choice is between crafting and doing something that supports the daily rhythm, like chopping vegetables or kneading bread, I’m for chopping and kneading.

We’re talking about the first seven years of life, for the child.

I am not against crafting at all. I am concerned about what is being displaced by crafting.

(I’ll be back with more on this topic.)

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Handwork for Children in the Early Years

today's post is a response to a question on handwork for children under seven, it was originally posted, by me, on March 27, 2011, in my Yahoo group, Waldorf Early Childhood ~ Bringing it Home. It is adapted and edited for clarity of meaning.

Knowing why we do what we do and doing it with intention....not arbitrarily following a theme for the week or the month, but discovering within what resonates, and knowing why, how it serves the developmental picture of the child, is a lesson from one of my mentors, that deeply touched me then and has remained with me through the years.

The Waldorf kindergarten curriculum is based on the seasonal and festival life of the year, the inner and outer gestures of the turn of the year. This is the foundation. 

When it comes to handwork in the nursery and kindergarten years, there are always questions about what to do with the children. We live in a broader culture that values gluing food on paper and making items that have no beauty and no practical use, to show that the children were given something to do, to keep them busy. We see so many images online of crafts.

And we wonder... 

What Handwork to do with the Young Child?
So much with Steiner -Waldorf education is a question of timing, the approach to handwork is based on the developmental picture of the child. You can read more about that bigger picture here.

When we turn to the early years, we can look outside our windows for inspiration, and look within for the inner gesture of the season. What are we experiencing? Expansion? Contraction? Warmth? Cold? Movement? Stillness?

Mother Nature brings a rhythm of her own that the child can experience first hand. There are apples to pick and eat and make things with in autumn, snow in winter, maple syrup in spring and food and flowers galore in summer. Mother Earth provides for her children. There are squirrels to watch, busy gathering nuts, geese flying south, snow falling, snowmen and snow forts to build, birdies building their nests. Nature provides.  Abundance.  Bounty.  Beauty. Inspiration. Movement. Action. Doing.

Crafting is not necessary in early childhood. Crafting is great for parents who want to make toys for the children, decorate for the season or holidays, make gifts, clothing or beautiful things for the home. The work of the adult provides an example of doing, of engaging the will, of process, of completion, for the child to experience inwardly. Don’t sacrifice movement, time in nature and the gift of participating in daily life, daily care of the home, in the name of craft making for the child to do. They’ll be time for that later. Plenty.

On beeswax in the early years. I have come to see how it has become misconstrued and misunderstood. Poor beeswax. The emphasis on beeswax as a staple of the Waldorf curriculum and the forming of particular objects with  putting tops and spots on things, and adding eyes and arms, as if it were a Mr. Potato Head, oh the poor misunderstood gesture, please let that wait. The form is meant to arise from within the whole. And later in the grades, with conscious leading out, of fine art. Read Michael Howard’s, Educating the Will, a wonderful book for a deeper understanding of sculpture and modeling in Waldorf education, as a process of leading out. My personal plea for the beeswax is to let beeswax be the foundation for the fine art of modeling rather than a Mr. Potato Head type craft.

What to do to model and sculpt? Knead dough, make homemade dough. Do fingerplays. Tie shoelaces. Wrap presents. Make bows. Let daily life and practical needs define the activities. Let’s give the beeswax its proper place as a fine art and treat it with respect and care and understanding of its place and important role.

The handwork of under sevens is the homemaking work:
  • washing food
  • chopping food
  • stirring food
  • whipping cream by hand
  • making yoghurt
  • making bread ~ measuring, kneading, resting, forming
  • dusting
  • washing the table
  • washing dishes
  • hanging the laundry
  • polishing furniture
  • mending broken things
  • sweeping
  • raking
  • shoveling
  • digging
  • watering
  • harvesting
this is the handwork of early childhood. 

Add moments for scissors and tape, and homemade play dough and making bundles and tying laces and building from cardboard boxes, what a magical world exists for the young child in there! 

The young child does not have a developmental need to create an end product that is physical, that is the work of the adult. Tying shoe laces, wrapping gifts…the child’s natural inclinations tell us a good deal about the child’s developmental needs.

The child's end product is completing the task, seeing it through, the doing. Buttoning the sweater. Pulling up the zipper. Making good habits that involve the use of the hands. Doing tasks that we do over and over and over again. Every day. This may feel monotonous to us, but to the growing child, it is rich with opportunity to practice and learn through daily life.

It might be putting the boots on the mat, clearing the dishes after a meal, imitating the adult in sweeping the floor after a meal, this is the child living into life with movement and connection to life and to humans, the first connection to other humans.  

If you knit or sew, do woodworking, or other types of work with your hands, your child may want to join you. By all means, gently guide him or her in with simple projects. It may be sewing simple stitches on burlap or fabric from the rag bag. Or hammering nails into a stump. 

If you want to make a gift for someone, this is something the young child may join in or do on his or her own quite spontaneously, and by all means support that.

Just don’t feel you need to set him or her up will all sorts of busy work and craft projects. Let life be the curriculum with the daily work of caring for the self and the home: sweeping, washing, folding, raking, shoveling, harvesting, stirring and chopping, let this meaningful and productive work be the handwork of the young child.

The specific craft projects will come in first grade and a very rich curriculum unfolds in Waldorf education for the child. 

On the other hand, the older kindergarten child, at age 6 and older, maybe ready to join you with craft projects. Rather than set it up for the child to do, let the child come alongside you and initiate joining in. If it involves an apron, have one ready for the child. If the child needs a step to reach the sink, have it available. Have sturdy child size tools, a rake, a shovel for dirt, a snow shovel, have one for each child. No need to tell the child anything, just have the tools out and the child will find them.

What the child mostly needs is the adult to provide time and space to be outdoors with plenty of opportunity for self initiated movement and for daydreaming and boredom for it is in the boredom that the imagination is kindled.

Monday, September 7, 2015

The First Day of First Grade

The first day of first grade is a very special day, it's a threshold day, a crossing from one stage of life to another. It’s a very special day for the child, as well as for the homeschooling parent- teacher.

For Waldorf homeschoolers, the first day of first grade is important as it marks the beginning of a new relationship between parent and child, as well as the start of actual main lessons in which the parent, as teacher, introduces the child to lines and curves, writing and reading, and ultimately to the beauty and wonders of the world. You might like to begin with a verse for the teacher.

I encourage you to take time and create a picture of how you want the day to feel and what you want the day to look like.

Imagine it.

Be with this picture you have created in your mind, the mood you want to bring, and give special attention on how you will convey this on the first day of school. Let it unfold in your mind.

Give yourself time to practice how you will introduce yourself as “teacher," and the process of home education that will unfold, so that you are fully ready and comfortable in your role as authority and teacher.

Perhaps you’ll have a picture on the chalkboard as well as a list of what you’ll be doing that day, or maybe images in the list too.

Perhaps you’ll make your child’s favorite food for breakfast, or put a special flower on the table.

Perhaps you’ll take a picture of your child in front of the house door.

Decide if you want to wear special first day of school clothing, something to mark the day, a little celebration.

Maybe you’ll have your child draw a picture of him or herself. You might do that too, a picture of yourself. Then put it away. Keep these and make the pictures of your child into a booklet for your child at the end of eighth grade, or twelfth grade, if you can pull it off in the high school years too. You can see your growth as well, in your self portraits, as well as your child's growth and development through the years.

After your special breakfast or special table, you might light your candle and “open” the day together with this verse from Rudolf Steiner for Grades 1-4, used in Waldorf schools around the world and as you do, you can remind yourself that Waldorf education was begun to educate the child and for bring about social reform. You are not alone with your endeavors as a Waldorf homeschooler, you are part of an worldwide movement, not only to educate children but make the world a better place for all, out of human freedom. Keep that in mind.

The Sun with loving light
Makes bright for me each day.
The soul with spirit power
Gives strength unto my limbs.

In sunlight shining clear,
I reverence, O God
The strength of humankind
Which Thou so graciously,
Hath planted in my soul.

That I will all my might
May love to work and learn.
From thee comes light and strength,
To thee rise love and thanks.

You might follow it with a talk, the first grade talk, suggested by Rudolf Steiner, about learning all different sorts of things, from others, how to write and read, to count and calculate with numbers, maybe a little sweet tidbit about your own experience of first going to school. 

"It is very important that you should speak to the children somewhat in this vein: “You have come to school, and now I am going to tell you why you have come to school.” This act of coming to school should immediately be drawn to their attention. “You have come to school in order to learn something. You have as yet no idea of all the things you will be learning in school, but there will be all sorts of subjects that you will have to learn. Why will you have to learn all sorts of different things in school? You no doubt know some adults, some grown-up people, and you must have noticed that they can do things that you cannot do. You are here so that one day you will also be able to do what grown-ups can do. One day you will be able to do things that you cannot do yet.” It is most important to work through this network of thoughts with the children.” ~Rudolf Steiner

Of course as homeschoolers, we are more likely to say, “We are beginning our lessons,” or “We are beginning our home study, or our home schooling. ” Whatever words resonate with you to describe the process of learning at home.

Give your child just one new item. Save the flute and the knitting needles, yarn and such for later. Begin with what you need to use on the first day only, and then over the days and weeks and months, you’ll have time to create a story to introduce the flute, and the knitting and the other supplies you are going to present to your child. You might even hold off on the beanbags and introduce them on the second day to have something new on day or even week two. 

When we hold back and introduce materials one at a time, we have the opportunity to make each one special and create joy and interest in the new material as well as in using it. It helps us to appreciate what we have, and feel grateful. This builds the foundation for gratitude and reverence. More about the gift of anticipation here.

If you have already begun and introduced them, no worries, you can re-introduce them in time and create a very special story context for presenting to your child, to make the materials you are working with special and appreciate. You might talk about the bees and the wax they make that is in the crayons.

Show your child where the school materials belong. Be sure to take good care of your own supplies and put them away with care each day, and lead your child to do the same, by your example.

Now are you ready with your circle and first Main Lesson for the first day of first grade?

Blessings on your school year!

Friday, August 28, 2015

Something New for Back to School

Oh I am so excited for these gems...
 Look at what came in the mail!
My first beeswax crayons were the block versions of these and oh how I loved them and love the bits that remain of them.

 I can’t tell you how thrilled I am to have come across the stick version of these crayons. I suspect they are back on the scene after an absence.

They are such sturdy crayons with beautiful pigments. They are exquisite for blending colors.

Go easy on me. Before you tell me, they are not made of huge quantities of beeswax, I know. No one is claiming they are. I love them as they are.

I am leery of soy in crayons, as it is one of the most GMO contaminated crops, and has a host of other issues.

My rationale is that the paraffin wax in these Lyra, as well as Stockmar crayons for that matter, is not being created for the crayons, it is a product that already exists as a by product and it being used in the crayons as an afterthought.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Back to Homeschool Preparations

The winds of autumn are blowing and bringing respite from the heat of summer, bringing fresh thoughts and fresh energy for a new year of home learning.

Working on the details of homeschooling preparation...
 Aren’t they beautiful?
 I just love the colors and they aren’t even on paper - yet.
Are you back to school or moving in that direction?

how to clean beeswax crayons here 

Celebrate the Rhythm of Life 
Harmonious Rhythms ::   Soulful Parenting with the 3C's :: Waldorf Homeschooling

September’s eCourse is Love Your Days :: Establish Healthy Home Rhythms
join here

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

On Love

seen in the village…


Who could resist.

Cooking with home grown and locally grown food feels even more infused with love.

We’re talking about the kitchen over on Creating a Family Home and it’s still possible to jump in.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Hello Summer!

Summer came with great momentum this year and now we are fully in it, days thick with warmth and humidity while the table is sweet with the fruits of summer.

Thunderstorms and sun showers have become regular visitors.

The warmth of spring was so slow to arrive, awaiting we were, in March and April, with crocuses and daffodils eventually pushing through and blossoming, weeks later than usual this. Once they blossomed, it was as if the flood gates were opened and the water poured out and keeps on pouring.

The forsythia followed, then the lilacs followed by the day lilies. The irises followed. Then the chives blossomed, providing pink bids for vinegar. More intense flavor with garlic scapes and radishes followed by baby carrots and lettuces. Then came the strawberries, which we “shared” with the rabbits.

The bee balm is uncharacteristically late in its blossoming. The little plants were eaten up by “our" fat furry woodchuck who loves to eat the black eyed susies. This is the first year he, or she, whatever it is, with no babies to be seen this year, it may be a "he"… This is the first time a woodchuck has eaten the bee balm.

This morning the fat woodchuck devoured a cabbage before our eyes, bold little fellow. He has been trying to get at the hens or their food. Any suggestions for ridding ourselves of this fat furry creature that does not involve bodily harm to it?

We see fireflies flitting around at night. The rain opens up in big ways too. The lower vegetable garden has flooded twice this summer, that is except for the potatoes. It hasn’t flooded like this since Hurricane Irene swept through these parts.
The herbs have been very happy this year. The nettles came and they are taller than ever. The valerian is going to seed. I worried about the oregano succumbing to the cold of winter, as it had a slow awakening. Now we have a full bed of baby oregano. The lemon balm and catnip are everywhere and happy. Saint John’s Wort has made its appearance in a few spots. There’s mugwort and motherwort too.

How’s your summer been?

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Children and Household Work

how do we bring them in?
A few points to keep in mind when you are seeking to involve children in the work of the household are: it may take longer than you’d like, it may get messy, much messier than when you do it on your own (and let the extra clean up be done joyfully too!) and it will make a difference in their lives, as well as in the life of the household.

Meaning, Purpose, Belonging
The contribution by children to the work of the household gives them a sense of meaning and purpose as well as a feeling of belonging. They learn that we all care for our home. With young children we do the work and make it inviting. We encourage them to come to it without demanding it by doing it joyfully, by making it delicious and inviting. Children imitate what is around them. Through repetition, daily work becomes part of their life, it becomes a healthy habit.

The young child, from birth to around the age of nine, learns primarily through imitation of the world around him or her. Whatever is happening in the child’s presence will be deeply absorbed by the child.

Have you seen the movie, Like Water for Chocolate? The opening scene with the onion? And then the results with the food, how deeply it touches everyone? The mood we are in when we do our work imbues whatever we are working on, as well as the environment, and becomes the feeling absorbed by those who experience it.

Sometimes and usually at some point, for some amount of time, not necessarily the entire task, children do join in for they are creatures of imitation and long to be close to us, to be  like us and do as we do, particularly strongly around the ages of three to five. Sometimes the child does not join in. That’s okay. Either way, the child  is experiencing the work habit deep within, by being in the presence of an adult who is doing productive work in a joyful mood repetitively. A child who does not imitate you at all may need some help to do so.

Simple Tools
In the olden days, someone was always doing work by hand: mending, hammering, sewing, digging, chopping something. Today we must consciously incorporate working with our hands in daily life if we want to do this type of work with the children. Provide child size tools that are solid and work: a broom, a small rake, a small snow shovel, a good small garden shovel. You can unscrew and remove the upper handle of a carper sweeper to make it child size if you have carpets to sweep. Let them do real work with real tools.

Whip cream by hand, make butter in a jar, make your own your own yoghurt, develop your own sourdough culture and knead your bread. Try making butter in a jar by shaking fresh cream. These are a few ways we can bring hand work to the kitchen.

Don’t feel like it is only in the kitchen and with the household chores that this kind of work can take place. I mention them because it is where many of us spend a good deal of time, cooking, cleaning and caring for the home.

Whatever is your passion, if you are an outdoors type and love to build with wood: fences, benches, house repair, whenever a child is around, do what you can by hand, sand by hand, drill by hand, pound nails with a hammer. The work you do with your hands creates an atmosphere that deeply nourishes your child.

Finish the Job
Remember to finish one task before going on to something else. It is better to do one task by hand, one simple task and complete it than begin many and let them linger, with no completion in sight. The completion of a task helps develop the will. Children can develop good habits overt time through imitation, which will pay off when they have the skills to do the work and contribute, in the family and later way down the road in their own lives. When we do less outside of the home, we have more time to be present in the tasks of homemaking with children. 

It is our WILL forces that we use to engage ourselves and our children. Children are all arms and legs, "show me what to do” and they will do it by our ACTION, our mood, our gesture.

Make it Easy 
I've used gates to keep the children in the kitchen and play area so the children are where I can see them.  I wear aprons for cooking, baking, cleaning and gardening. I encourage them to participate with their own aprons, a place to step up to the sink, these have varied over the years, a chair, an inverted wooden box, a crate, a step stool and jobs of their own, tasks of their own: drying, washing the table, setting the table...

In cultivating the will and the habit life the most important piece is to do the same chores in the same sequence each day and each week. After we eat, we clear the table, we wash the dishes, we sweep the floor….Repetition.

Songs, Verse and Nursery Rhymes
Songs, verse and nursery rhymes that are specific (for you) to your daily and weekly tasks can help ease a child into joining, make it familiar and inviting. I’ve written about nursery rhymes here.

"This is the way we sweep the floor, sweep the floor, sweep the floor so early in the morning…"

The next time you sweep the floor, wipe the table, or do another repetitive task, bring conscious awareness to your gesture, of what is the mood conveyed by your movements as you sweep or wipe. Ask yourself, “Am I sweeping rhythmically and with love for my work?" Or is it “let’s get this off the floor and be done with it?” To be honest, we all do both, depending on the circumstances and we all have the freedom to decide which one we want for our child to experience.

Mother Goose
Mother Goose nursery rhymes are a great resource for the early years from birth, even good up into the grades, but especially good in the early years, from birth to age seven or so. Here are few nursery rhymes, rhythmic verses you may already know to accompany the work you do.

For Chopping
Chop, chop
Choppity chop

Cut off the bottom
And cut off the top

What we have left,
We'll put in the pot

Chop, chop
Choppity, chop

At Tea Time
~ a nursery rhyme
Polly put the kettle on, Polly put the kettle on,
Polly put the kettle on, we'll all have tea.
Sukey take it off again, Sukey take it off again,
Sukey take it off again, they've all gone away

For Pancake Making
~ a nursery rhyme
Mix a pancake,
Stir a pancake,
Pop it in the pan;
Fry the pancake;
Toss the pancake,
Catch it if you can

In Short 
:: Keep the same sequence of chores, in the day, in the week
:: Imbue it with love and care
:: See it through
:: Sing as transition to the task, sing through the task
:: Remember the saying, "if they can walk, they can work"

This post is an adaptation of a response I wrote for the Yahoo Group I moderate, Waldorf Early Childhood ~ Bringing it Home. The group has gone rather quiet over the years.  I closed the archives when I became aware that my words were being paraphrased on another site offering a “new” early childhood curriculum, with no mention of where it came from. At first I was upset that my material had been used with no credit to me, and now after some time has passed, I take it as a compliment that my work is valued, is going out into the world, and is touching the lives of children and the future. 

Every now and then, I’ll share one of my posts from the Yahoo group archives with you here. While that group has seemingly gone to sleep, I still guide parents, homemakers, homeschoolers, and even unschoolers in establishing rhythm and other aspects of parenting and homeschooling through my eCourses, my Living Curriculum Program and Phone Consultations.

If you’d like to work with me and focus more on your daily, weekly and seasonal rhythms in a warm, wonderful and and wise community, consider joining my 8 week eCourse in June and July, Get Organized :: Sketch it Out! or if you’d like to focus intensively on your daily home rhythms, how to practically put into place harmonious rhythm and routine for living day to day, join my eCourse 30 Days to RhythmWhen Less is More :: Rhythm Boot Camp for the month of September. Between those two courses, in August my eCourse offering focuses on Creating a Family Home in reflection on the mood and practicality of our living spaces in preparation for the homemaking, homeschooling year.

All three of of these eCourses are designed to support you to establish your home rhythms, the first in planning out the homemaking, homeschooling year the second in organizing the physical space in your home and the third for 30 days of hands on doing, actual practice, step by step support in establishing home rhythm and routines through the month of September.

©Celebrate the Rhythm of Life 2009-2019

All content is copyright protected. Unauthorized use and/or duplication without express and written consent is strictly prohibited.  Links are welcomed and encouraged, provided that clear credit is given to Celebrate the Rhythm of Life and a direct link is provided.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Parenting - Is Compliance or Connection the Way to Go?

Q & A with Lisa

Dear Lisa,
I heard somewhere in the Waldorf world that teaching children compliance is important. 

It makes me wonder because there are so many stories among friends of children who are unable to stay in classrooms and sometimes even in a school because they don’t listen to the teacher and won’t do what is asked of them. 

Is that what we need to focus on in the early years? I try to make my son behave, he is 3 years old, but he is so strong willed and has such a mind of his own that it is impossible most of the time, he just won’t listen to me. What am I missing?

Muddled Mama

Dear Muddled Mama,

Thank you for bringing forth this very important question.

Your question helps us to reflect and shine light on a very important aspect of parenting, our expectations of the child and what those expectations are based on.

We all want to get along and have the "harmony rainbow” experience of childhood: beautiful toys, time outdoors, lovely songs and time together.

Yet if we are honest with ourselves, this is not always the case. We may have our moments of bliss or even days of bliss and then it happens, whammo! the behavior that takes us by surprise and leaves us speechless.

Young children give us the opportunity to grow and learn more about ourselves and the world if we can just take a deep breath, that deep breath of parenting, all the way to our toes and re-focus. (it’s like free psychotherapy, always available to every parent throughout childhood)

Is this particular behavior, in this particular moment, the issue? Is that where we need to go, where we need to focus, to help our child grow into a healthy human being? Or might it be a signal to look at the big picture?

I’m going to take what may be the less popular stance and say, it’s not about fixing the behavior in the now, but about gaining a  deeper understanding of the behavior, about what is beneath the behavior. It is likely that what is being called for through the behavior may need regular attention over time.

(the feeling it triggers in us in the moment, that is a real feeling and alive in the now, yet often triggered by something in our own past, a good topic for another day)

A child’s behavior, and our response or reaction to it, offers us a clue to something more, something else going on within the child, within us or within the child’s environment. When a child exhibits behavior that concerns us it is an invitation to:

Look look a little deeper

What about compliance? I always think of it as a sort of forced behavior, being made to comply. With echoes of the “Do as I say, not as I do,” approach.

Let’s look at the word compliance.

Compliance is defined by the Oxford English dictionary a:
"The state or fact of according with or meeting rules or standards"

Compliance defined as being in a state of according with, meaning being in agreement with rules and standards.

Hmmnnn… rules and standards are ways of being that are imposed from the outside in. Sometimes rules and standards are very abstract. The child’s relationship to rules and standards is that they are imposed from without.

So where do we go from here?

Let’s look at the unfolding child, the developmental picture of the child...

The first seven years of life are a time of creating an environment and a relationship with the child that supports actions on the child’s part from the inside out. We work on rhythms to make life feel secure and predictable, from the inside out.

We work on the environment and of creating a feeling that the world is good by doing something for the child that the child cannot yet do for him or herself, we filter out the concerns of the adult world, the media and stress that constantly bombards us.

We work on the relationship with our child, to be in the position of parent, of authority based on a hierarchy of parent knows best.

Out of this relationship, we have the ability to parent our children. 

How do we help a child act from the inside out?

Begin by trusting yourself and going back to your relationship with your child.

The most important factor is our relationship with the child, that it is an hierarchical relationship. When we are as Gordon Neufeld describes in “right relationship” with the child, a relationship of being your child’s "best bet" that occurs when we step into our big shoes as the parent, children want to come along, to be good, out of an inner drive of belonging, out of relationship, out of “we” do this now.

When the child’s behavior is out of sorts, the first step is to look at our relationship with our child rather than at the behavior, what is going on with our child, is our child in right relationship with us? For this relationship, this natural attachment of child to parent, this relationship provides the context for parenting. Without it, there is constant struggle.

What supports this relationship, these natural attachment instincts? 

What do children need to fall into attachment with their parents?

Time to develop at a child’s pace.

Family Meals
A ritual of coming together to share food each day as a family, as a group of people who belong together.

Home Life
Slow and simple daily life that allows for the healthy, traditional unfolding of children. 

Plenty of time to initiate free play, indoors and out.

Family Time
Rituals and routines of home life, daily shared meals, special shared activities like big breakfast on the weekends, shared stories, cooking together, playing games together, singing, prayers, blessings.

You are not missing anything at all dear mama.

Celebrate the Rhythm of Life 
Harmonious Rhythms ::   Soulful Parenting with the 3C's :: Waldorf Homeschooling

All content is protected under copyright. Unauthorized use and/or duplication without express and written consent is strictly prohibited.  Links are welcomed and encouraged, provided that clear credit is given to Celebrate the Rhythm of Life and a direct link is provided.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Get Organized :: Sketch it Out! is Back for 2015

I am pleased to announce that registration is now open for…

 Get Organized :: Sketch it Out!
~ 8 Weeks of Planning through the Rhythm of the Year 
Begins June 1, 2015
~ 8 Weeks ~

Planning the Homeschooling and Homemaking Year
2015 ~ 2016
Here we are, coming into spring, 
soon it will be summer, 
and then once again a new school year will begin
  • Are you starting to think about homeschooling or homemaking plans for September and the next year?
  • Do you feel overwhelmed with information coming at you?
  • Are you at a loss for where to begin?
  • Is the notion of rhythm feel like a big mystery?
  • Would you like some gentle and wise guidance coupled with enthusiasm, experience and a deep trust for your practical wisdom to support you to Get Organized and Sketch it Out, and create your own binder to organize your year.
What’s Included?
  • 8 Weeks of Lessons, Reflection and Encouragement
  • 4 Roundtable Discussions with homeschooling mamas
  • Interviews with folks in the world of Waldorf education and Anthroposophy
  • Discussion of the different types of curriculum material available
  • Discussion on finding the balance between homemaking and homeschooling
  • A Walk through the Rhythm of the Year
  • Guidance and support to help you define What is Essential for You and Your Family
  • Support for you and all the hats you wear as mother, teacher, care provider and even wage earner
  • Private Discussion Forum
  • Sample Daily, Weekly, Monthly Rhythms
Each year, I tweak this course to make it better for you, in how I offer  support and guidance to get organized with simplicity and a slow savored approach to life as a homemaker, homeschooler that is connected, creative and conscious, the 3C’s of parenting that are at the foundation of all my work.

I’ll focus more this year on the artistic role and elements of the curriculum, both kindergarten and grades, as a foundation and encourage you to develop your skills to remain one step ahead of your child.

This year, I’ll guide you to create a 3 ring binder that includes your homeschooling and homemaking materials. One place for everything. Your creation. 

Join me and a warm wise group of other homeschooling, homemaking moms, as we each create our binder and sketch out the year. I'll guide you through a process of clarifying your needs and wants to organize material and sketch out a plan that weaves them into your year.

Get Organized :: Sketch it Out! remains open to members of the class throughout the year. You can always stop in for a refresher or to find the name of that something we talked about in the course. Templates, reflections, assignments, recordings and handouts will be available and easily accessible on the site, 'round the year, for you to return to and use.

Join now for the early bird discount registration fee of $39, good until the end of day next Sunday April 5th, that’s a week and a day from today, when the registration fee will become $59. It’s a deal at $59 and a steal at $39. I’ve poured my heart and soul into planning homemaking and homeschooling years, both the kindergarten and grades, over the past 17 years and come to you with plenty of experience, full of success and failure, and to share as well as the wisdom of time and reflection.
Benefits of Registering Now 
  • Plenty of relaxed time to organize the materials for your planning binder
  • Exploration of the role of art in the Waldorf curriculum, both kindergarten and grades
  • Explore different artistic materials
  • Time to be creative in setting up your binder
  • Hear from curriculum providers
  • Discuss benefits of different types of curriculum material
  • Discuss the benefits of doing it yourself
  • Explore the point of balance between pre-made and homemade
  • Explore How to Get Started with homeschooling the grades or the kindergarten and nursery years
  • Focus on what is essential for Waldorf homeschoolers, what makes it Waldorf?

no fee for Year Round Members of Celebrate the Rhythm of Life


Celebrate the Rhythm of Life 
Harmonious Rhythms ::   Soulful Parenting with the 3C's :: Waldorf Homeschooling

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Spring is in the Air and a Give Away

The birds are singing, the buds on the tree branches are swelling, and the sunlight is grower stronger and warmer with each passing day. Here at Celebrate the Rhythm of Life, I am delighting in the experience the stirrings of spring and embrace the changes inherent to this season.

I am so excited for the new formatting of my program Celebrate the Rhythm of Life :: Living Curriculum Program. The material is easy to access and the forum is warm and intimate for conversation. Each month it gets a little tighter.

Each month in the Living Curriculum Program, I include nature projects, stories, articles, recipes, circles, finger plays, movement games and crafts to enjoy during this season of , and I hope that those of you who are members will make yourselves a cup of tea and pull up a cosy chair to settle in and savor the materials and conversation.

Some Changes
I am polishing up the Primer :: A Guide to Waldorf Kindergarten in the Home, that will be included with the curriculum instead of repeating the tutorials each month, it will provide for members a singular place to go that covers all the essential elements of early childhood.

In response to your requests, I am organizing the curriculum to make it available in PDF packets in a format of 12 Weeks of each season, Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter, with recordings of all the circle work, finger plays and movement games for each week available for you to learn and download with ease as well as videos to help you find you way. 

How it Started
I was inspired to begin this program five years ago, after many requests form within the Waldorf online community. So many questions came up over and over again in discussion groups. What is Waldorf really about? How come I can’t figure out this rhythm thing? Which stories to tell? When to tell them. What if I have more than one child? How do I have a harmonious family meal? How do I get dinner on the table after a long hard day? How do I settle my child for bed at night without exhausting myself? How do I do wet on wet watercolor painting? Do I need to do circle at home? Is Waldorf homeschooling the same as being in a school? How is different?

It was clear to me that I wanted to provide more than a package of materials to download for each month. I wanted this to be an active program to explore together and support the journey of parents and the path of parenting in community and to remind each of us of our own deep wisdom and to encourage  a letting go of the fear of not getting it right, or messing up. Or worse the fear of messing up our children.

I wanted it to be a place, a space online to gather and celebrate the joy of life, as well as find comfort and solace in knowing that parenting can be a struggle, and out of that struggle comes so much growth for us, as parents.

This little program has grown over the years and I am so grateful for all who make it successful, the members who show up and contribute, the guest speakers, the quiet ones who send me an occasional note, and the stories of family life and children that help us all to see, we are “normal” we are perfectly imperfect, our children will be fine and we will come through these years with more laughter than tears.

To help make it an active and engaging living program, each month I offer an eCourse on one aspect of life as a homemaking or homeschooling parent. These include Rhythm Boot Camp, Storytelling, Warmth, Cooking, Meal Planning, Discipline, Painting and Coloring, Sketching it Out, Gratitude and more. I am always open to requests and suggestions for these eCourses.

This spring I am offering a series of eCourses to help deepen our connection to the season, to the place where we live, to ourselves and to our children, through noticing the sacred, stepping into our big shoes as parents, and creating magic from what is already there in front of us, and gaining confidence to tell simple puppet stories mades with bits from our own hands.

My Offerings for Spring
February: When Less is More :: Create Sacred Space
We plunge into our own inner sacred space as well as the sacred spaces of our home, with an early spring cleaning, a de-cluttering and opening up of space in which to invite the sacred in. We’ll explore the manifestation of the sacred in everyday life. This eCourse goes until March 27 as we move through our homes, de-cluttering and creating sacred space.

March: Limits and Boundaries :: Gentle Aspects of Rhythm
We’ll look more deeply into rhythm and go to the roots of limits and boundaries, of our own relationship to them and how to bring healthy limits and boundaries gently, with love and warmth, in a way that nurtures everyone and sidesteps the power struggles of parenting.

April: From Sheep to Story :: A Tale of Wonder
In April, we’ll work with fleece right off the sheep and learn how to weave tales of wonder from this magical fairy wool.

May: Imaginative Play in Childhood
This month we’ll explore play, what it is an what it is not. We’ll focus on ways to encourage imagination and create the space for free and imaginative play for our children, both indoors and out.

The Give Away
In honor of all parents who struggle with discipline, I am hosting a giveaway this weekend for one place in the eCourse, Limits and Boundaries :: Gentle Aspects of Rhythm here and one place in the Living Curriculum Program for March, the monthly program includes curriculum + eCourse.

To enter, please like and share the post on Celebrate the Rhythm of Life’s FaceBook page. If you have friends who may be interested in the course of give away, tag them in the comments. If you blog and would like to share news of this giveaway and a link to this page, that counts as two entries.

Return here to the comments below and make a comment for each blogpost, like, share and tag you make. The more you like, share and tag, the more entries you have.

The winner will be announced Monday before noon.

 Check back here to see if you are the winner.

Good Luck!


The winners are:

eCourse Limits and Boundaries :: Gentle Aspects of Rhythm: 
Mama Ruck
"Liked and shared, thank you"

For the March Curriculum + eCourse:  
Becky Peak-Marquez
"Liked and shared; what a lovely giveaway!

Mama Ruch and Becky, please send me your email address at: lisaboisvert(at)yahoo(dot)com and I’ll invite you into the course

Thanks to all who participated!
Check back at the end of March for another give away!

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