Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Set a Pretty Table

:: Clarity ~ Intention ~ Care ::

What is it?
Set a Pretty Table is 52 Weeks of Enthusiasm and Nourishment and Thoughtful Intention for Tending the Hearth you call Home

Within the very word Hearth, we find Heart and Art ~ (heart)h and he(art)h


Set A Pretty Table will inspire you through 52 weeks of tending the hearth, (heart)h, (he(art) with a simple, enthusiastic reflection, tip or suggestion for each week to support you to create an atmosphere in the home that reflects your values...

  • Each Sunday you'll receive an inspiration, suggestion, tip or reflection for the week.
  • We have a private meeting place to connect and share over the topic each week 

The messages encourage and inspire you to take simple steps to bring beauty and rhythm to your life in very simple ways. They will inspire you to look within, as well as to stretch yourself outward to try new things: to paint, draw, color, sing, model or become more aware of the natural rhythms surrounding you.

“The ordinary arts we practice every day at home are of more importance to the soul than their simplicity might suggest.” 
~ Thomas Moore

Call it "Where the rubber meets the road," the way to put into practice what you hold dear. Simple. Slow. Satisfyingly. Finding beauty, truth and goodness in the art of the everyday.

Each week brings its own unique and distinct inspiration.

I invite you to join this community for the next 52 weeks.

I was inspired to create this community, by the notion that it is attention to the little things in life that count. That the little things matter the most. The Ordinary Arts.

That's why I am calling it Set a Pretty Table.

A table is a place where we come together to nourish ourselves.
To set a pretty table is to make an effort to bring rhythm, beauty and our love, manifest as attention, to the moment.

Each person's perspective of beauty is unique. It is limitless, full of possibility.

Beauty shows up in the small, simple touches, as well as the grandiose and passionate statements.

Beauty, and love, are everywhere.

This course is meant as an inspiration to bring it to the table.

Both literally and figuratively.

As individuals. As parents. As teachers. As caregivers. As grandparents. As hearth tenders. As heart tenders. As artists. As soulful beings. As human beings.

We focus on the ordinary arts.

When we approach our days with this in mind, we are creating mindfulness. It helps us to become more present in the moment.

If you've taken my eCourses before and found the reflections and questions for you helpful, and loved being part of a community, you'll love this course.

It's simple and slow paced yet packed full of depth and meaning.

It's a Simple, Slow and Savory approach to the whole year.

Join a community of hearth tenders and home makers to journey around the year together with 52 weeks of Set a Pretty Table.

Bring a Friend 
Because this is a brand new program, and a brand new year, and it can be fun to try new things with a friend, I am inviting new members to sign up with a friend, with a two for one enrollment opportunity. 

One person enrolls for $99 and sends me the name of the second person who is sharing the membership. This offer is on the table until January 15th.


:: Sign Up Here ::

Included with Membership for Year Round Members of Celebrate the Rhythm of Life 



Welcome my friends to the first ever Celebrate the Rhythm of Life through the Year in Caring for Children Newsletter! That is the official name of my blog and my program.

Each month I leave bits and pieces of myself and my work all over social media, then I see it show up hither and thither. I’ve decided to pull at least some of it together for you, in one place, at the start of each month.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Overwhelmed by the Holidays?

Simple, Slow and Soothing
For the month of December, I have been delighting in the community of my eCourse Simple, Slow and Savory, a course with a wonderful group of mamas, grandmamas, teachers and childcare providers, exploring ways of slowing down and pursuing the simple life through the holidays.

I received a few please help me! emails this morning, from mamas who are not in the eCourse, asking for suggestions of what to do for the child who is overstimulated and overwhelmed from too much of Christmas, too many lights and sounds or too much of the unfamiliar. Holiday overwhelm can make anyone cranky.

Here Goes
How to soothe the soul of a child who is suffering from too much stuff, being away from home, too little rhythm, an onslaught of lights and sounds?

1. Go simple. Simple, simple with my mantra - see below.

2. Stir in some warmth.

3. Protect from more stimulation.

The Mantra
My mantra for childhood is  Eat, Sleep, Play, Love ~ in the Fresh Air.

Lean into my mantra of Eat, Sleep, Play, Love ~ in the Fresh Air.  It works for adults too.
Eat wholesome food. Eat whole food as much as possible. Nutrients matter. The sweets that seem to creep in at the holidays need the wholesome food for balance. Drink plenty of water. (You too!) Keep your mealtimes, keep your mealtime routines, keep it all as consistent as you are able. Eat at the same time each day. Sit down and eat at the table together. If you have particular foods for particular days of the week, such as beans and rice Monday, oats on Tuesday, pizza on Friday, stick with that.  If you light a candle, do that. If you say a blessing, do that. Be consistent. Hold up the child's world as familiar and consistent.

Keep your child's bedtime and bedtime routines. It's easy to slip out of them at the holidays, especially when traveling. In addition to the value of good sleep and enough sleep, the comfort of the familiar is soothing. Keep your bedtime rituals. If your bedtime routine is bath, jammies, bed, story, prayer, keep the sequence in order. Keep it as consistent as possible.

Be sure to carve out time for free, self initiated play. Clear out the stuff and keep the play area simple. Honor your child's need for quiet self initiated play, with no narrative, no interruptions.

This is for moments of connection through out the day. It's easy to be distracted over the holidays when our home rhythm goes out of whack, or when we travel and are away from home. Take special care to spend time with your child each day. It may be snuggling up in a quiet spot for a story after lunch, or going outside for a walk together, or just taking your child's hand for a squeeze. As Gordon Neufeld reminds us, connect with the eyes, the smiles and the nods of the head.

Remember to make the connection first, with the loving eyes, the warm smile and the nod that says, "I'm with you." Then use the gentle re-direction with the royal we, "We do it like this," or with gentle guidance, "It's time for ____ come along." Let connection be the foundation.

~ in the fresh air
Nature soothes and heals. Spend some time out of doors everyday, filling the bird feeder, taking a walk in the woods, shoveling, checking on a neighbor, running in circles around the house, and looking up at the stars in the night sky.

Stir In
Stir in some warmth in the form of bubble baths, hot tea, hot cocoa, snuggle time, warm soup and fire: with a candle, out of doors, by the fireplace or wood stove, the element of fire is both warming and soothing.

For Next Year
Hindsight is everything. ;-) Consider creating a rhythm for the entire Christmas season, from Thanksgiving to Epiphany, that creates a spaciousness of time, and takes the expectation off the single day.

A Question for the Comments
What soothes your child (or you) when there's just too much going on?


Celebrate the Rhythm of Life through the Year :: 
Tending the Hearth
Harmonious Rhythms :: Conscious, Creative and Connected Parenting  :: Waldorf Homeschooling and Homemaking

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Feeling Bad You Didn't Celebrate Santa Lucia?

If you didn't celebrate Santa Lucia today by rousing your family with a crown of flaming candles on your head,  singing songs and carrying a tray of warm coffee and Lucy buns to each family member still in bed, no worries.

It's okay.

You're okay.

You are good enough.

Plenty good enough.

It is a beautiful festival, and for those who celebrate it, wonderful!

For those who do not, it's okay.

In Waldorf schools, the festival of Santa Lucia is typically a celebration that is carried by the Second Grade Class, the grade when Waldorf students spend a good part of the year studying saints and sinners. (Saints and Sinners is a phrase I picked up from Eugene Schwartz of Essential Waldorf. Isn't it a perfect description of what the child is wrestling with at this age?)

The Second Grade Class, sometimes with the help of the class parents with the baking and the clothing adjustments, prepares the goods, learns the songs, appoints a student to serve as Santa Lucia and wear the crown of flaming candles, (for the intrepid, the more cautious use battery lit candles) and then, in the morning, the class sings and serves its way around the school. It's beautiful.

It's a festival that lends itself well to groups.

The kindergarten is sometimes visited, but not always.

It's a festival that meets the particular developmental age of the child.

It's a festival that is celebrated in specific parts of the world.

If you didn't celebrate it, don't worry.

You are good enough.

Plenty good enough.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Just Getting Started with Advent?

                                                   photo by Mark Boisvert
There's No Time Like the Present
My dad likes to say, "There's no time like the present." My dad is 89 years old and just spent the weekend cutting firewood. He still works. He's an amazing guy, my dad and I am so grateful for his practical life wisdom, and so much more. I'm grateful to my mom too. She's 87 years old. I've noticed that people seem to go through phases about telling their age. We like to talk about the children's ages, then there is silence with the middle ages, and then all of a sudden wow, 87 and 89 years old, nearly nine decades. It's a badge of honor. My mom and Dad were born into the Depression and have lots of great stories to tell of their experiences of growing up in hard times.

It's Advent Time
If you're reading or hearing about Advent celebrations and saying to yourself, "I want something meaningful, but don't know how to start, maybe it's too late, I can't figure it out..." No worries. You can start now, because, as my dad likes to say, "There's no time like the present."

Begin with a Wreath
Make a wreath of evergreen boughs. Consider the Waldorf tradition of celebrating the light in each of the four kingdoms of nature over the four weeks of Advent. We're in the second week of Advent, it began on Sunday November 27th. 

If you can't make a wreath, have no trees around, consider purchasing a simple un-decorated wreath.

This week, the second week of Advent began yesterday with the celebration of the light of plants.

Take a few minutes this week to think about the role of plants in your life. Pomegranates, broccoli, berries, walnuts, pecans, clementines, cocoa for chocolate, garlic, onion, ginger, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, carrots, potatoes ~ it's all from the kingdom of plants, along with the evergreens! Send some prayers or vibes of thanks to the light in this nourishing food and to the people and forces that make it possible to eat such goodness from the play kingdom.

Make the Wreath
Look around outside where you live to find evergreen boughs. Consider fir, pine, juniper, cedar, arborvitae. Clip some boughs and fasten them onto a ring. If you don't have a ring, make one from coat hangers or heavy wire, whatever you have handy. Green floral wire hides itself well within the green boughs.

Add four candles. Use simple candleholders. They're inexpensive and usually found at thrift shops. Nestle them within the boughs. If you only have two candles, use them and add two later. I you have only one, use that one until you can add more.

You are going to light one candle for each week. Last week's candle celebrates the light in the mineral kingdom.

Decide when you will light the candles. What time of day will you light the candles? Who will light them? Keeping the same rhythm and ritual with this tradition is powerful over time.

I like to light the candles after dark. Some years we do it just before dinner, and some years we do it after dinner when the house is quiet. This can make a soothing before bed ritual.

Be sure to turn out the lights in the room before lighting the candles, so the glow comes from the wreath. If you light the candles before dinner, you might like to keep the candles burning during dinner.

In some families the youngest child lights the candle for the first week, the eldest child lights the candle for the second week, one parent lights the candle for the third week, the other parent lights the candle for the fourth week. When I was the solo parent with two young children, I lit all the candles every week, until my children got old enough to participate.

Begin with the first light of Advent
Light the candle.

The first light of Advent is the light of stones, 
Lights that live in seashells, in crystals and in bones.

Add some elements of the mineral kingdom to your wreath ~ seashells, crystals, gem stones, bones.
Light the second candle.

The second light of Advent is the light of plants,
Plants that reach up into the sun, and in the breezes dance.

During the second week of Advent add elements from the plant kingdom to your wreath ~ I tend to lean towards pinecones, berries, things I can find in the yard.

We have a tradition of singing a Christmas song for each week after we light the candles. Over time one build's up a little repertoire of songs that you sing together as a family. If children scatter first, that's even better, so they're last experience is of the candles lit. (as with the Advent spiral) 

Be sure to take care and gently snuff out the candles when you are done. This helps to maintain a mood of reverence for the celebration.

A few of my favorites for singing with the lighting of the candles on the Advent wreath include:

People Look East ~ music and words composed by Eleanor Farjeon, words here, you can see the four kingdoms in the lyrics. Her wonderful book Ten Saints is a treasure for teaching Second grade. 
Deck the Halls ~ since that's what we're doing,

A Wonderful Resource
My all time favorite resource for the holidays is Mary Thienes Schunemann's booklet, The Christmas Star that comes with a CD recording of her beautiful voice singing all the songs you could wish for at Advent and Christmas and Epiphany, along with tips for celebrating the season. She's a wonderful teacher and inspiration to all of us who seek to bring more song into our homes or classrooms. I feel like she is reaching out from the heavenly realm and continuing her teaching from the other side. More on Mary's life here.

A Gift for You
Last but not least, if you'd like more details on this tradition and support for keeping the holidays Simple, Slow and Savory, come on over and join my December eCourse I am offering for free, as a gift to you. It's here.  There's no time like the present!

Saturday, December 3, 2016

The Period of Watchful Waiting

Thanksgiving came and went.

My thoughts have been with the water protectors in Standing Rock, standing strong to protect their sacred ground, their ancestors' burial sites, the water for their children, their land, their treaty rights, the water for everyone, the very well being of the earth. Watching the Native American people stand clear and strong. Standing for all of us. A time for healing and change. Urging the people and the leaders of the United States to find our identity as a nation, to clarify what this country stands for, and who it is about and act.

It's an unsettling time, and yet a time ripe with hope and potential. A little bit like transition when a woman is giving birth.

The first light of Advent is the light of stones, lights that live in seashells, in crystals and in bones.

Advent is a season in itself, a season of anticipation. The very word "Advent" has in its roots "ad" meaning towards + "venir" to come. Coming towards. Advent is a season of "coming towards." Of anticipation. Of quiet waiting.

It reminds me of my midwifery work in which the first trimester of pregnancy is known as The Period of Adjustment, the second trimester as The Period of Radiant Health and the third trimester as The Period of Watchful Waiting. These come from Helen Varney of Varney's Midwifery.

Advent is like the third trimester, we are in The Period of Watchful Waiting. A time of quiet anticipation. Waiting for what is to come. As the world is waiting, and praying, for  what will come at Oceti Sakowin. Women and healing work at Otceti Sakowin here, scroll down.

Watchful Waiting.

Monday, November 7, 2016

For Our Times

Working with a Verse
~ a type of inner work

Inner work is a wonderfully helpful, sometimes challenging "bonus" that comes with parenting, teaching and homeschooling.  We get to know ourselves by noticing who we are in challenging situations: how we respond or react, how we show up or disappear, how we reach out or retract, how we feel energized or drained, how we care for ourself in daily life.

Sometimes the awareness comes out of a situation, other times it comes out of focused attention and presence.

Inner wok can be defined as the work that we do on ourselves, of getting to know the self, our self. There are many types of inner work.

Lynn Jericho speaks of inner work in this Interview we did together, over on The Wonder of Childhood, in which she said, "Put some of your energy into knowing yourself and do this with intentional rhythm – make it a priority to have a weekly walk for self-reflection or a long soaking bath when you recollect on the moments of the week that were sweet. Self-knowledge is the beginning of inner freedom and the basis of inner love."

Inner work is an integral part of Waldorf parenting, homeschooling and teaching, and can take many different forms.

One type of inner work that is done in the Waldorf realm is to work with a verse. 

How to Work with a Verse?
Choose a verse or short text to use. Each day, set aside a few minutes in the morning, in the same place to contemplate your verse for a few minutes. You may want to read the verse aloud initially, and then come to know the verse by heart. I like to write out or print the verse on a slip of paper I can keep in a drawer or tape inside the kitchen cabinet.

Rudolf Steiner gave us many verses to work with including The Calendar of the Soul, a series of verses, one for each week of the year.

There has been a mood of excitement, hope and frustration throughout the year of primary campaigns, speeches and debates for the election of the president of the United States. Now there is so  much tension, anxiety, fear and uncertainty with the upcoming election day tomorrow. 

I try to remind myself to trust, that we are made for these times, yet it is still challenging. This verse  from Rudolf Steiner is one I turn to, that you might find strength in as well. His words feel as timely as ever...
For the Michael Age

If you'd like to print this, it's here.


Sunday, July 3, 2016

Revolution, Independence and a Finger Play

The presidential primaries have sparked many a conversation around our dinner table over the past year, especially so, with our own Senator Bernie Sanders running as a candidate, rousing people and stirring up enthusiasm for the political process.

We've been watching the debates, following the caucuses and primaries, talking about what is working and what does not seem to be working with the government and in the world, what is important for the country, as well as who is best able to lead the country, and what is our responsibility in these times of uncertainty and change. 

There's the question of what is a patriot today. 

And there's Brexit, the United Kingdom's vote to leave the European Union. 

You know, basic dinner table conversation. 

Do you think that people in times past had such an acute awareness of change in the world? It feels like we are in a time of great intensity and rapid change on a grand scale, on so many levels.

Revolution, change and what one is willing to do to make the world a better place seems a very fitting topic for this Fourth of July weekend. 

We're not quite at the topic of the Age of Revolution on our homeschooling journey, although we're close to it, and that is evident in the conversations around here with a teenager and a twenty something.

For the little ones, I thought you might like this little finger play called Ten Little Firecrackers.  I recorded it for you.

~ begin by holding up ten fingers and placing one down with each count down, making gestures with the fingers to go along with the verse as in standing in a line, walking very straight...
Ten little fire crackers
Standing in a line,
One thought he’d light a match
There were nine.
Nine little fire crackers
Walking very straight,
One caught an engine spark
There were eight.
Eight little fire crackers
Trying to spell “LEAVEN,”
One went too near the gas,
There were seven.
Seven little fire crackers
Cutting up tricks,
One played with lighted punk
There were six.
 6                                                                                       6
Six little fire crackers
Glad they were alive,
One went to have a smoke
There were five.
Five little fire crackers
Wishing there were more,
One went to find a friend
There were four.
Four little fire crackers
Merry as could be,
One played upon the hearth
There were three.
Three little fire crackers
Puzzled what to do,
One started the kitchen fire
There were two.
Two little fire crackers
Looking for some fun,
One met a little boy
There was one.
One little fire cracker
Sat down to cry,
’Tis such a risky thing
To live
In July."

How are things going around your dinner table this July?

Friday, July 1, 2016

Hello July!

The July moon is known as the Full Buck Moon, for "July is normally the month when the new antlers of buck deer push out of their foreheads in coatings of velvety fur. It was also often called the Full Thunder Moon, for the reason that thunderstorms are most frequent during this time. Another name for this month’s Moon was the Full Hay Moon," according to the The Farmer's Almanac.

I've seen many deer this year, although I haven't been close enough to notice if the antlers are now pushing out. The name Full Thunder Moon makes sense, as this is the time of regular evening thunder storms. The Full Hay Moon is quite apt as well, with haying going on all around us.

July brings the celebration of Independence from England on the 4th, as well as the celebration of the independence of the American spirit with parades, picnics and fireworks.

Along with thunder, July brings dragonflies, fireflies, butterflies, berries and blossoms. Strawberries are ripe and the blueberries are soon to be ripe for picking. Bees and bugs are out in full force.

We like to go out in the evening after the sun has gone down to look up at the stars, and down at the fireflies flickering about. Twinkling above and below.

One of my favorite stories to tell is a traditional Japanese tale that accounts for the origin of fireflies It's called the The Moon Maiden and you'll find it here.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Rhythm in Our Home :: A Time for Oats

Friday ~ Oat Porridge for Breakfast

The rhythm of life pulses around us in all of nature.

We experience it it when we look up at the sky and see the constellations of stars return to the same place they were in last year at this time, and the year before and the year before too. We're in the season of the constellation of Taurus the bull right now.

As children, we're reminded of the celestial world with this nursery rhyme:

Twinkle, twinkle, little star
How I wonder what you are.
Up above the world so high
Like a diamond in the sky.
Twinkle, twinkle little star
How I wonder what you are.

When the blazing sun is gone
When he nothing shines upon.
Then you show your little light
Twinkle, twinkle, all the night.
Twinkle, twinkle, little star
How I wonder what you are.

As humans, we are distinct from plants and animals in that we're able to reflect on rhythm and the patterns of nature and from that bring form to our lives, with rhythmic patterns of living.

With the establishment of healthy home rhythms, we bring meaningful and healthy form to our lives, on a daily, weekly, seasonal and yearly basis. We return to the rhythm of day and night, morning and evening, the rhythm of seven days, four seasons and one year.

The book of Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, from the time of Solomon, that's around 970-930 BC, reflects on rhythm. That's from three thousand years ago. Folk singer Pete Seger made it popular this with this song from 1954, it still gives me the shivers. As a sing along here with five special extra verses he wrote for his children.
To everything, turn, turn, turn

There is a season, turn, turn, turn
And a time for every purpose under heaven

A time for work a time for play
A time for night a time for day
A time to sleep a time to wake
A time for candles on the cake

A time to dress a time to eat
A time to sit and rest your feet
A time to teach a time to learn
A time for all to take their turn

A time to cry and make a fuss
A time to leave and catch the bus
A time for quiet a time for talk
A time to run a time to walk

A time to get a time to give
A time to remember a time to forgive
A time to hug a time to kiss
A time to close your eyes and wish

A time for dirt a time for soap
A time for tears a time for hope
A time for fall a time for spring
A time to hear the robins sing

To Everything turn, turn, turn
There is a season turn, turn, turn
And a time to every purpose, under Heaven

A time to be born, a time to die
A time to plant, a time to reap
A time to kill, a time to heal
A time to laugh, a time to weep

To Everything turn, turn, turn
There is a season turn, turn, turn
And a time for every purpose, under Heaven

A time to build up, a time to break down
A time to dance, a time to mourn
A time to cast away stones, a time to gather stones together

To Everything turn, turn, turn
There is a season turn, turn, turn
And a time to every purpose, under Heaven

A time of love, a time of hate
A time of war, a time of peace
A time you may embrace, a time to refrain from embracing

To Everything turn, turn, turn
There is a season turn, turn, turn
And a time for every purpose, under Heaven

A time to gain, a time to lose
A time to rend, a time to sew
A time of love, a time of hate
A time for peace, I swear it's not too late

To Everything turn, turn, turn
There is a season turn, turn, turn
And a time for every purpose, under Heaven

To Everything turn, turn, turn
There is a season turn, turn, turn
And a time for every purpose, under Heaven

When my children were little, I began incorporating these rhythmic turns with seasonal food and with seven - the seven days of the week, with meals, activities and tasks of caring for the home. We have a breakfast rhythm in which the same foods appear on the breakfast table on the same day of the week, each week. A weekly rhythm. Before that I ate oats here and there, with no regularity.

"Women have to eat oats or they'll dry up."

I read those words somewhere in a childbirth book during my midwifery days, and it has stayed with me. It's easy to like oats, and I'm glad to know they are full of health benefits.

Friday is the day for oat porridge at breakfast in my home. I serve the oats with cinnamon, maple syrup and fruit. Often with nuts on the side.

This oat day is a big day for me, as I've been avoiding grains for six months now, since I became aware of my sensitivity to gluten. This week I took the plunge after finding organic certified gluten free oats. It's like visiting an old friend.

Celebrating the goodness of oat porridge today: the chewiness, the warmth, the good feeling in the tummy, the long lasting energy, all the benefits they provide! 

Snow in April

{this week}
A Friday ritual. A snapshot that reflects the mood of the week.  
A simple reflection. 

If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your reflection in the comments below 
so we can find you.

Happy Friday!

Monday, April 4, 2016

Meal Plan Monday

April 4 - 10
 time for new themes

In my ideal world, I sketch out my meal plan on Wednesday when I give the fridge a quick clear out and wipe down. That gives me time to look in the pantry, go to the farmer’s market and have a sense of what I might like to cook for the following week.

The reality is that it’s now Monday morning, the start of a new week, and the first week of a new month. It’s not a big deal because I have a pretty strong rhythm of meal themes, a basic foundation food for each night of the week. Do we always eat those foods week after week? We don’t. Yet I have the basic ingredients, and  I know I can lean back into them if I need to, and at the same time, I have the freedom to cook something completely different if I want to.

I sit down and sketch out my meal plan for this week. Over here I talk about the Anchors of Our Day, with meals as a point in the day we can lean back into, everyday, an anchor that tethers us to a healthy home rhythm.

The changes in our diets have had me simmering over some new general theme for each days of the week. We have several different nutritional and dietary needs: gluten free, vegan and gluten and dairy free. We all began as whole food omnivores with an emphasis on S.O.L.E. food.

As this new path unfolds, it sometimes feels simple and easy to manage, other times it can feel overwhelming with planning and preparation. It does feel great from a health perspective, energizing and nourishing. To try and get a handle on our different and divergent dietary needs, I made a chart of our dietary needs to try and find more common threads, in which each of us feels nourished with one meal.

These past months have been a time of reflection for me with my meal themes. Monday’s Mexican with beans and rice as a base remains a favorite, cheese, sour cream and meat can be options to add or ignore. Tuesday Thai works well. Wednesday’s pasta is out, I’m not keen on using gluten substitutes, they are not so sound nutritionally, and then there’s the concern about rice with arsenic.

My meal themes need a change. This is what I’ve come up with:

:: Monday is Mexican
:: Tuesday is Thai or Stir fry
:: Wednesday is Slow Cooker or Children cook
:: Thursday is Indian or lentils or chickpeas
:: Friday is Salade Composé
:: Saturday is grill or baked beans in winter and or leftovers
:: Sunday is grill/roast/casserole

How do you do with meal planning?

We can inspire each other if you join me by linking below in the comments to a post with your meal plan. 

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Thanks for Being Born

Today is Rudolf Steiner's birthday, February 25th, 1861 was the year.

His words:

“Our highest endeavor must be to develop free human beings who are able of themselves to impart purpose and direction to their lives. The need for imagination, a sense of truth, and a feeling of responsibility—these three forces are the very nerve of education. You will not be good teachers if you focus only on what you do and not upon who you are.

So glad you were born Rudolf Steiner!


Saturday, February 13, 2016

Carving Out a Healthy Family Rhythm

 notes on rhythm 
Rhythm can seem so strange and mysterious, yet be so simple when it is put into practice and experienced in daily life. 

Next to de-cluttering, rhythm is, perhaps, for many of us, the single most helpful practice for parenting, homemaking and homeschooling.

I call it a practice because it is. It’s an inner practice, a form of self discipline. Of becoming more aware. More sensitive. More conscious. Finding and maintaining a healthy home rhythm helps us to be present within our selves. We notice our breathing. We become more aware of our feelings. We can be in the moment. We can respond from the heart rather than react. It can be hard work, yet its rewards are large.

Benefits of a Healthy Home Rhythm

A healthy home rhythm helps us to respond from the heart rather than react to stressful and chaotic moments.

A healthy home rhythm is the secret to discipline. When we discipline ourselves to carve out and maintain a healthy home rhythm, our work gets done, our children know what to expect and they feel secure and calm. Life becomes predictable. The unknown is eliminated. Anxiety is reduced or eliminated. Our days run more smoothly.

A healthy home rhythm supports us by carrying us along on a challenging day. It makes grocery shopping and meal preparation easier. A good rhythm can make bedtime pleasant for all. It supports our children by carrying them along through transitions to what they are anticipating.

Rhythm is distinct from routine, in that it's all about flow, the ebb and the flow. To implement a healthy home rhythm, we consider the needs of the members of our family for quiet time and active time, for coming together and moving apart, for outside play and inside play, for rough housing and a quiet story. A dance of sorts.

Rhythm is about finding the point of balance in your days. The sweet spot between chaos and rigidity.

An Exercise for You
Begin to notice how your days feel. Are they rushed and hurried? Do you find yourself out of breath, or holding your breath. 

Begin by noticing and becoming aware of how you feel in the moment. Let that awareness guide you in carving out the flow of your day.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

You Know the Feeling of Not Being a Good Enough Mother?

I sure do.

This month I am teaching an eCourse on Child’s Play :: the Wellspring of Life, as the monthly focus topic in my Program Celebrate the Rhythm of Life for homeschoolers, homemakers and anyone seeking to create a soulful life with children. 

As I was working through some thoughts and writings for this class, a picture, one that  helped me to better understand and “see" the young child, kept coming to mind from my own childrens' toddler days, as I was trying to find words to explain an aspect of movement and play during ages and stages to the class. 

I knew the illustration was in one of these little books from the Gesell Institute of Child Development. 

What I could remember is that the illustration shows clearly how children move from activity to activity at various ages and stages of development, and then slow down into more focused and extended play. I went to visit that book shelf of mine, where I keep my collection of these little books. It’s a place that does not have so many visits from me anymore.

I began to thumb through them, settling in and chuckling as I read bits of text. So many fond and funny memories came up that reminded me of the good feelings I had whenever I went to these little books with a question or concern. They were like a wise trusted friend to me with their common sense and guidance. I always heaved a big sigh of relief in realizing that I was not alone with my concerns and in learning that my child’s behavior and my feelings about were completely normal and to be expected. These little guides helped me know that others grope with these situations too.

These little guides brought me back to feeling grounded as a mother and helped me remember that “Yes, I am a good enough Mom,” and “My children are healthy, normal children. They are going to turn out just fine."

Here’s an example of what I’m talking about, from Your Four Year Old, by Louise Bates Ames and Frances Ilg:

“And we have the (supposedly true) story of a little Boston girl whose mother, discouraged by her profanity, told her that if she swore once more, she (the mother) would pack the girl’s suitcase and ask her to leave home. The girl did swear once more. The mother did pack the suitcase and put her and it outside the door. After a few minutes, feeling guilty, the mother went to look for her daughter. The child was still sitting on the steps.

'I thought I told you to leave home,' said the mother. 'I would have if I could have thought of where the Hell to go,' was her daughter’s reply.” 

In the back section of the book, there are Questions from parents. 

Here are a few examples:

Mother Can’t Stand Her Four Year-Old

Four Year Olds Don’t Always Tell the Truth

There’s Nothin Wrong with Having an Imaginary Companion

Wonderful gems these are, full of assurance and holding a broad spectrum of normal behavior in children, something that is a rare gift and can be hard to find these days.

Do you have people, books or situations in your life that reassure you that you are just fine, your children are normal and all will be well?

Please share in the comments below. We all need to uplift each other and remind ourselves that mothering and children encompass a broad spectrum of feelings and behaviors and its all good.

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