Friday, February 2, 2024

Why I Don't Celebrate Candlemas

My reasons are pretty simple.

Breathing time.

I love the Christmas season. 

Our Christmas celebrations begin with Advent, continue through the 12 days of Christmas, on to the Epiphany. I keep Christmas until Candlemas, when the last of Christmas is packed up and put away. 

I like having a breather between Christmas and Easter. It feels like a good outbreath, to relax and sink back into the daily rhythm of life. I find comfort, solace and renewal in the quiet time. That's why I don't celebrate Candlemas. I need the outbreath. 

I do embrace Groundhog day.

It's fun. It speaks to young children. 

Young children anticipate the coming of this special day. We wait and wonder. Will the groundhog come out of his home in the earth? Will it be sunny? If it is, will he see his shadow and scurry back inside? 

We wait to hear the news, to learn whether or not the groundhog has seen his shadow, almost more fun than learning how much winter is left. 

With the littles we go outside and stomp on the earth, telling Mother Earth," it's time to wake up!" 

I like to think of this time of year as the stirring of the year, a stirring that comes from deep in the belly of the earth. Depending on where we live in the northern hemisphere, the earth is beginning to soften, the hens are beginning to lay and the cows are giving more milk. 

We've had celebrations of light since last fall. The light culminated in the birth of the Child of Light. Now, I like to let it be dark and quiet, a sort of post partum period.

As a Catholic, I appreciate the religious aspect of the Churching of Mary, the Churching of women as an ancient postpartum blessing.

As a homeschooler, I like to include Saint Brigid of Ireland in 2nd grade, and revisit her as Celtic goddess Brigit around 7th and 8th grades.

As a midwife, I love everything about Brigid and Brigit. 

Yet I'm not going to make candles indoors in the winter. I don't really get the making of candles indoors in winters. It's too dangerous. If you don't know me in real life, you should know that I'm pretty comfortable with risk taking. However I am not comfortable with the risk of burning down my house dipping candles in the winter. Beeswax, if heated too much, ignites easily. Ask me how I know.

I prefer to dip candles outdoors in summer or autumn. It's much safer that way.

In the reflection that comes with writing this, it's not Candlemas per se that I won't be contemplating. It's making candles central to the day that I'll pass up. It's also the focus on light. We've kindled our inner lights, carried them through the dark to the birth of the Child of Light. The light has become embodied. It's within us. It's time to look within and see what's stirring there. I like the quiet time, to enjoy the dark, and be open to the stirrings within. 

As an old timer Waldorf homeschooler, I have observed new trends arise and take off. Candlemas is one of them. It must be appealing to something within the human psyche. I'm not sure what the deeper meaning is in the grand scheme of the year. There's a lot in there, as the midpoint in the rhythm of the year, right at the midpoint between the winter solstice and the spring equinox, a cross quarter holiday.

There's a long and rich history of celebration of this day with Imbolc, the goddess Brigit, the Churching of Mary, the act of the churching of Mary and what it means for all birthing women, and the Irish Saint Brigid, with her origins in the Celtic goddess Brigit. I can see it as religious, or pagan, or even just a time to dip candles. I haven't quite made sense of how the many different rich aspects of this day weave together and what is the deeper meaning imbued in them. I'll keep pondering it. 

For now I'll  observe and continue to dip candles outdoors in the summer or fall, and think of Candlemas as a day of blessing the postpartum woman and shining the light on the power and glory of childbirth. 

How about you? 

How do you make meaning of Candlemas? 

Thursday, February 1, 2024

It's All About Free Play

"Let us look at children’s play from this perspective, particularly the kind of play that occurs in the youngest children from birth until the change of teeth. Of course, the play of such children is in one respect based upon their desire to imitate. Children do what they see adults doing, only they do it differently. They play in such a way that their activities lie far from the goals and utility that adults connect with certain activities. Children’s play only imitates the form of adult activities, not the material content. The usefulness in and connection to everyday life are left out:. ~ Rudolf Steiner

In the Waldorf early childhood years, the focus is supporting children's free play and their unselfconscious activities.

That's why there are no lessons.

No main lessons in the nursery or kindergarten.

No instruction.

No this is how it's done.

No predetermined end product to take home and wow the parents.

It's all about developing the child's inner creative capacity through child initiated free play.

This is why Waldorf schools discourage organized sports, yoga, dance lessons and the like, because they all involve an adult directing the action. This takes children out of the dreamy unselfconscious world of early childhood.

The child between birth and the change of teeth lives in the dreamy inner world of the imagination. This is the world of fairy tales, where anything is possible, transformation happens all the time, and good always conquers evil, in the stories children hear. 

The Waldorf kindergarten is a magical, dreamy place where the teacher works sideways to create a space that invites play. She is not the central figure, but more of a warm, consistent presence, guiding the rhythm of the day. 

It's all about child initiated free play.

If you've ever seen children at play in a Waldorf kindergarten, you've heard the buzz of children at play, seen children engaged in socio-dramatic play, creating scenarios with their imagination and playing them out. Children at play in a Waldorf space transform the objects in the room with their play. This socio-dramatic play is at the heart of the Waldorf kindergarten years. 

When we impose adult ideas for creating a specific product, we are imposing the adult world on children. This is not their world. Their world is one of developing the inner imaginative world and playing out what is in their own inner world. It's a time for curiosity, exploration and playing out their own inner world. This is how children learn. When we impose adult projects, we get in the way of their process. 

You may wonder, what about the watercolor painting and cooking and baking?

What about the crafts? I have written about crafts here.

With cooking and baking, painting, coloring and modeling, the teacher leads by doing. She does not instruct. She guides the children with her doing, and if needed with "pictorial language." There is no expectation of a particular end product.

There is no instruction. The children join the adult in her work, and contribute to the process in a way that allows them to step back into play. At home our children can join us in our work, yet it can be helpful to remember that their work is child initiated and child drive imaginative free play. So they may step up beside us, join in and then return to their play.

In a culture that is so material and end product oriented, we sometimes lose touch with the importance of process. For children, the process is in the play.

As homeschoolers we can create an environment that supports our children in their own free play, and we can craft a rhythm that flows through the day, I know because I was living miles from nowhere during my first child's early childhood and I was determined to provide a Waldorf early childhood experience for him.

After my second child was born, I became a single parent, I wanted to be home with him, and I wanted a Waldorf experience for him, so I began a Waldorf Morning Garden program in my home, a way to earn a living and create a space for other children to join us for a Waldorf experience of early childhood.

You can do it too!

If you'd like to learn more about how to create the "space" to support child initiated free play, and use pictorial language, and craft a rhythm that flows through the day, keep an eye on my curriculum program. I offer affordable eCourses to support parents and homeschoolers on topics such as these, and I am in the process of reformatting my affordable curriculum program to make it more user friendly.

In the Waldorf early childhood years, the focus is supporting children's free play and child initiated unselfconscious activities.

We live in a very material world. It's easy to get caught up in the Waldorf stuff, especially with all the beautiful things that can be bought. 

Yet Rudolf Steiner told us then, "They play in such a way that their activities lie far from the goals and utility that adults connect with certain activities. Children’s play only imitates the form of adult activities, not the material content.  Now it is more relevant that ever. 

They don't need all the stuff, they need time to play, they need the protection and freedom to live in the dreamy world of wonder, of early childhood. 

The children will imitate what we do and how we do it. It is our warmth, our kindness, our finding joy in the everyday, and the quality of stories we tell that spark healthy development of the children. 


Wednesday, January 31, 2024

What to do when my child resists homeschool activities?

Notice that the question is "when" my child resists and not "if" my child resists?"

Children will resist our plans even when they are made with the best intentions at heart. Know dear mama, or dear papa, that you are not alone, and that it is normal. So normal. It happens to all of us.

Deep breath out.

This post is focused primarily on the early childhood years, from birth to age 7, on those moments when children don't want to do what we have planned for them.

You may have sketched out a plan and organized materials and put a good deal of energy into how you want your day to unfold as a homeschooler and then, your child resists and flat out refuses to join you.

It's frustrating, I know. Super frustrating even.

We've all been there, many times. Take a deep breath. Shift gears. Go outside. Fall into your what-to-do-when-it-all-goes-sideways backup homeschooling plan.

Take time and reflect on what is leading up to the resistance. Step back and look at the big picture. What does your child need?

Their resistance is an opportunity to look at ourselves and consider how we do what we do.

What is the mood we are bringing to the activities we want them to join us in? Are we feeling hurried and rushed with an attitude of I-need-to-get-this-done-in-order-to-get-to-the-next-task? They feel it.

Children feel everything and absorb it deeply. They are like sponges with our moods, they often feel them before we are aware of what we are expressing. 

Children learn through imitation of what we do ~ so what we do and how we do it is of all importance. 

Consider resistance an opportunity to reflect on what kind of energy we are putting out around what we want to do, and how we are inviting our children to join us in. 

Am I feeling joyful? 

Do I create a warm invitation to be at my side, to put on an apron, to participate with me? 

Waldorf early childhood education is different from more mainstream ways in that we don't have a checklist of tasks the child must complete to be homeschooled. We have life as the curriculum and as the parent teacher, our job is to find joy in those tasks and make them inviting. 

We can observe our skills of observation to try to understand what our child's behavior is telling us. Often it has nothing to do with what's happen in the moment, and more to do with a bigger need, like needing to run around, needing to play, needing to get out of the cart or grocery cart or needing a cup of tea and a story told to them. This is where tweaking our rhythm can make all the difference. 

With Waldorf kindergarten at home, the focus is on making activities like cooking, cleaning, coloring, painting inviting and joyful so that the children want to join us and to ground them in an experience of life is good. I focus on this in my monthly program.

Some children don't want to join us, that's okay.

We go on to the next task whether the children participate or not.

It's more about the adult taking the lead and being consistent and predictable in the way our day unfolds and doing it with real joy that comes from within.

The benefit to the child is observing an adult engaged with their hands in meaningful work/activities. Our tasks work on the child's will forces.

Children need us to be charge of the day, the plan for the day and our own work. In a world that can feel so crazy and chaotic, our children need us to be solid and reliable for them, to lean into us. They also need plenty of time and space to play around us while we work, and join in out of their own freedom.

Our task is to make the "work" so delightful they will want to join in. This includes balancing activities like opportunity for free play and being out of doors with more quiet experiences like hearing a story.



Saturday, October 7, 2023

The Little Red House

by Caroline Sherwin Bailey

Once upon a time, there was a little boy who was tired of all his toys, and tired of all his play.

"What shall I do?" he asked his mother. And his mother, who always knew beautiful things for little boys to do, said: "You shall go on a journey and find a little red house with no doors and no windows and a star inside."

This really made the little boy wonder. Usually his mother had good ideas, but he thought that this one was very strange. "Which way shall I go?" he asked his mother. "I don't know where to find a little red house with no doors and no windows."

"Go down the lane past the farmer's house and over the hill," said his mother, "and then hurry back as soon as you can and tell me all about your journey."

So the little boy put on his cap and his jacket and started out. He had not gone very far down the lane when he came to a merry little girl dancing along in the sunshine. Her cheeks were like pink blossom petals and she was singing like a robin.

"Do you know where I shall find a little red house with no doors and no windows and a star inside?" asked the little boy.

The little girl laughed. "Ask my father, the farmer," she said. "Perhaps he knows."

So the little boy went on until he came to the great brown barn where the farmer kept barrels of fat potatoes and baskets of yellow squashes and golden pumpkins. The farmer himself stood in the doorway looking out over the green pastures and yellow grain fields.

"Do you know where I shall find a little red house with no doors and no windows and a star inside?" asked the little boy of the farmer.

The farmer laughed too. "I've lived a great many years and I never saw one," he chuckled, "but ask Granny who lives at the foot of the hill...She knows how to make molasses, taffy and popcorn balls...and red mittens! Perhaps she can direct you."

So the little boy went on farther still, until he came to the Granny sitting in her pretty garden of herbs and marigolds. She was as wrinkled as a walnut and as smiling as the sunshine. Please dear Granny, said the little boy, "Where shall I find a little red house with no doors and no windows and a star inside?"

The granny was knitting a red mitten and when she heard the little boy's question, she laughed so cheerily that the wool ball rolled out of her lap and down to the little pebbly path.

"I should like to find that little house myself," she chuckled. It would be warm when the frosty night comes and the starlight would be much prettier than a candle. But ask the wind who blows about so much and listens at all the chimneys. Perhaps the wind can direct you."

So the little boy took off his cap politely to Granny and went on up the hill rather sorrowfully. He wondered if his mother, who usually knew almost everything, had perhaps made a mistake.

The wind was coming down the hill as the little boy climbed up. As they met, the wind turned about and went along, singing beside the little boy. It whistled in his ear, and pushed him and dropped a pretty leaf into his hands.

"I wonder," thought the little boy, after they had gone along together for a while, "if the wind could help me find a little red house with no doors, and no windows and a star inside."

The wind cannot speak in our words, but it went singing ahead of the little boy until it came to an orchard. There it climbed up in the apple tree and shook the branches. When the little boy caught up, there, at his feet, lay a great rosy apple.

The little boy picked up the apple. It was as much as his two hands could hold. It was as red as the sun had been able to paint it, and the thick brown stem stood up as straight as a chimney, and it had no doors and no windows. Was there a star inside?

The little boy called to the wind, "Thank you," and the wind whistled back, "You're welcome."

Then the little boy gave the apple to his mother. His mother took a knife and cut the apple through the center. Oh, how wonderful! There inside the apple, lay a star holding brown seeds.

"It is too wonderful to eat without looking at the star, isn't it?" the little boy said to his mother.

"Yes, indeed," answered his mother.


Monday, October 2, 2023

The Big Red Apple

Once upon a time there was a little boy who lived in a cottage by a wood with his grandpa. All summer long the boy and his grandpa worked in their garden, milked the cow, fed and gathered eggs from the hens. 

One crisp autumn day Bobby's grandpa sat by the fire while Bobby lay on the hearth rug, looking at a picture-book. 

"Ho, ho!" yawned grandpa, "I wish I had a big red apple! I could show you how to roast it, Bobby."

Bobby jumped up as quick as a flash. "I'll get you one," he said; and he picked up his hat and ran out of the house as fast as he could go. 

He remembered an apple tree down the road —a tree all bright with big red apples. 

Bobby ran on by the side of the road, through the drifts of fallen leaves, all red and yellow and brown. The leaves crunched under his feet. At last he came to the big apple tree, but though Bobby looked and looked there was not an apple to be seen—not an apple on the tree, nor an apple on the ground! 

"Oh," cried Bobby, "where have they all gone?" Then he heard a rustling through the dry leaves on the branches of the tree: 

"I haven't an apple left, my dear.
You'll have to wait till another year."

 Bobby was surprised. 

"But where have they all gone?" he asked again. The apple tree only sighed. So the little boy turned away and started home across the fields. 

Pretty soon he met a pussy-cat. "Oh, pussy," he cried; "do you know what they have done with the big red apples?" 

Pussy looked up at him, and then began rubbing against his legs, saying: 

"Mew, mew, me-ew!
I haven't a big red apple for you."

So Bobby went on, and at last he met a friendly dog. The dog stopped and wagged his tail, so the little boy said to him: "Oh, Wagtail, can you tell me what they have done with the big red apples?" The dog kept on wagging his tail, and barked: 

"Bow, wow, wow!
If I knew, I'd surely tell you now." 

So the little boy went on until he came to a kind old cow who stood looking over the fence. "Oh, mooly cow," said Bobby, "will you tell me what has become of the big red apples?"

 Mooly cow rubbed her nose against him, and said: 

"Moo! Moo-o-o!
 I'd like a big red apple, too." 

The little boy laughed, and he walked on till he came to the edge of the wood, and there was a big, gray squirrel. "Hullo, gray squirrel," said Bobby, "can you tell me what has become of the big red apples?" 

The squirrel whisked about and looked at Bobby. 

"The farmer has hidden them all away,
To eat on a pleasant winter's day," he chattered. 

Then the squirrel ran to the foot of a chestnut tree and began to fill his little pockets with shiny nuts to carry to his own storehouse; but Bobby said: "Oh, thank you," and ran up the hill to the farmer's house as fast as he could go. The farmer was standing by the door, and he smiled when he saw Bobby. 

"Good morning, good morning, my dear boy," he said; "and what can I do for you to-day?" "Please," said Bobby, "I'm seeking a big red apple." The farmer laughed. "Come with me," he said, "and you shall pick one out for yourself." 

So Bobby and the farmer walked out to the great barn, and there Bobby saw many barrels standing in a row, and every barrel was full of big red apples! "Oh, what a lot!" said Bobby. 

"Why did you pick them all?"

 "We didn't want to leave them for Jack Frost, did we?" said the farmer. "Does Jack Frost like apples?" asked Bobby. 

"He likes to pinch them," said the farmer, "but we like to eat them; so we gather them in for the winter." 

Bobby began to look about the barn. Near the barrels of red apples was another row of barrels all filled with green apples, and further on was a great pile of golden pumpkins; and near that was a heap of green and yellow squashes, and another of turnips, and then piles of yellow corn.

 "Are you keeping all those things for winter?" asked Bobby. "Yes," said the farmer, "we've been gathering in the harvest —all the good things that the summer has given us."

 "And do the squirrels gather in a harvest, too?" asked Bobby.

 "I reckon they do," said the farmer. 

"Then that was how he knew," thought Bobby. 

Soon the little boy's eyes began to shine. 

"Won't you have lots of good things for Thanksgiving!" he said. "Pumpkin pie, and apple pie—and everything!"

 Bobby walked up to the barrel and picked out the biggest red apple he could find. 

"Thank you, Mr. Farmer," he said; and then he ran home to give the apple to his grandpa. "My, my," said grandpa, "wherever did you find it?" 

"Oh," said Bobby, "I went to the apple tree, but it didn't have any. Then I asked the cat where the big red apples were, but she didn't know. I asked the dog, and he didn't know, and then I asked the cow and she didn't know; but then I met the squirrel, and he knew, because he gathers in a harvest himself. So he told me to go to the farmer. And I went to the farmer and asked him for a red apple, and he gave me this great big one!"

 "Well, well," said grandpa, when Bobby stopped, out of breath. "Now find me a bit of string."

 Bobby found the string, and grandpa tied one end of it to the stem of the apple. He fastened the other end of the string to the mantel shelf; and there the apple hung over the fire.

 It turned and twisted, and twisted and turned, while grandpa and Bobby watched it; and the juice sizzled out, and the apple grew softer and softer, and, by and by, it was all roasted. Then Bobby fetched a plate and two spoons, and he and grandpa sat before the fire and ate the big red apple.

This story from the turn of the 19th century by Kate Whiting Patch, with a few adaptations of my own. 


Photo by me.

Hope you liked the story. It's one that would make a nice prelude to building a fire and roasting apples together. Or it could be told with figures for Bobby and his Grandpa and the animals he meets on his journey to find the apple. 





Wednesday, September 27, 2023

What is Waldorf in the Home?


Waldorf in the home may refer to:
  • Waldorf homemaking
  • Waldorf parenting
  • Waldorf homeschooling
                         or
  • Waldorf Nursery Care Program
  • Waldorf Morning Garden Program 

Waldorf in the home refers to bringing aspects of Waldorf education into home life. 

An Approach

Waldorf education is an educational approach, not a philosophy or method, but an approach based on spiritual science, also known as anthroposophy. It was developed by Rudolf Steiner in the early 20th century and is based on a particular picture of the human being, with stages of development that the child goes through. (Adults have our own stages of development, that’s for another post.) Bringing aspects of Waldorf education into the home can be nourishing to all, and provide a strong foundation for healthy family life.


Timing

Waldorf education emphasizes the right thing at the right time. The Waldorf approach isn’t against things like movies and yoga and dance lessons for young children, it’s for them - at the right time developmentally. 

Intentional

The subjects of the grades school curriculum are not arbitrary, and the layout of the kindergarten is done with clear intent, from the colors to the materials in the room, to the particular stories that are told, it’s that way for a reason.

Holistic

Waldorf education emphasizes the development of the whole child, with an emphasis on imagination, free play and exploration, learning through the arts (rather than learning about the arts) in an environment that is warm, beautiful and connected to the broader community.

When people talk about Waldorf in the home, they often mean incorporating Waldorf ways into their family life and parenting practices.

Aspects of Waldorf in the home:

 Rhythm, Repetition and Reverence

 Imaginative Play

 Natural Materials

Artistic Experiences

Nourishing Meals

Time in Nature

Good Sleep and Time for Rest

Purposeful Work to Imitate

Minimal Screen Time

Respect for Child Development

Atmosphere of Gratitude, Reverence, Awe and Wonder

Joy, Humor and Happiness

Atmosphere of Warmth and Love

Adults Working on their Inner Development

Note that not all families who bring Waldorf ways into their home life strictly adhere to every aspect of this approach. Each family finds it own way into what speaks to them, adapting these ways to suit their individual values and circumstances.

I originally began this piece with a small blurb on each of the elements. Then it started to feel unwieldly in its length. So instead I'll take them up separately, maybe here on the blog or on my Instagram account over here


Thanks for reading!

Warmly,








Friday, July 28, 2023

My Mantra

Eat :: Sleep :: Play :: Love
in the fresh air


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

It works for adults too. When I feel tired, or stressed or wonder what to do, I revert to my mantra of what's most important in daily life. 

What Does that Look Like?

Eat
Eat wholesome food. Eat whole food as much as possible. Nutrients matter. The sweets that seem to creep in need the wholesome food for balance. Drink plenty of water. (You too!) Keep your meal times, 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.

Sleep
Keep your child's bedtime and bedtime routines. It's easy to slip out of them in the summertime, 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.

Play
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.

Love
This is for moments of connection through out the day. It's easy to be distracted during summer 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, swimming, 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 lullabies, snuggles, stories, singing together, laughter, bubble baths, warmth of heart as well as fire: with a candle at meals, a campfire outdoors, sand between your toes, sun on your face, the element of fire is both warming and soothing.

For Now
Hindsight is everything. ;-) Consider creating a rhythm for the rest of your summer and for the upcoming school year that creates a spaciousness of time. 

Warmly,









Tuesday, May 16, 2023

A Parenting Exercise for Spring

Spring has sprung! 

Here, in the Northeast, we are midway through the season of spring. 

It began with Mud Season, the transition from winter into early spring, when the ice melts, the streams being to flow, and the earth thaws to become soft and workable. The buds on the trees are swelling with new life. The roads in early spring are full of deep ruts and frost heaves. It's brutal on cars. We were nearly swallowed up on a dirt road where the mud was so deep.

 Next came the very first upward shoots of spring, and with them, the birds with the early morning singing. Fist come the he crocuses and the daffodils. They seem to use great force pushing upwards out of the cold earth. 
Now we are in mid-spring, when the trees and great bushes are in full blossom. This is the spring of paintings and postcards...
It's so wonderful to be in the moment of the day and the season. Yet sometimes by being so in the moment, we don't see what's coming. And that's okay too. That's where our rhythm carries us. 

Here's a little checklist of some of the delights of spring I am experiencing. Whether you or I check each one doesn't matter. Your spring checklist may look very different than mine. It's here as a reminder to help notice what is happening around us. 

:: The Earth Softening
:: The Birds Singing
:: Nest Building and Baby Birds
:: The Most Freshness of the Air
:: The Ease of Going Outside with Fewer Layers
:: Having Windows Open in the House
:: The Sweet Smells of Blossoms
:: The Greening Everywhere ~ the grass, the leaves, the shoots
:: Worms in the Dirt
:: The Dandelions
:: The Bursting of Color 
:: Everything Flowering
:: Pausing to take it in.

EXERCISE
One of the biggest challenges of parenting is to be present in the moment and calm, so that we can respond to our children rather than react. One way of becoming more mindful is by paying attention to our senses.  We are blessed with senses to experience the world. Take a moment and pay attention. Close your eyes. What do you hear around you? What do you smell? What do you feel against your skin? Open your eyes, what do you see? Notice your breathing. Perhaps you have become more present in the moment. 

What are you noticing this spring? 

I hope this exercise helps you feel more grounded and centered in your days! 

Warmly,




Sunday, April 9, 2023

Announcing an eCourse of Discipline

                                    Love :: The Heart of Discipline

~ a conscious, creative, connected parenting eCourse
May 15 ~ June 11
4 weeks
registration now open

My hunch is that if we allow ourselves to give who we really are to the children in our care, we will in some way inspire cartwheels in their hearts.” ~ Fred Rogers

Join me for four weeks of exploration into parenting from the heart that allows you to give who you really are in your parenting. We'll explore conscious, creative and connected parenting through practical examples and real scenarios of living with children.

Are you?
  • Tired of repeating yourself? nagging? yelling?
  • Feeling exasperated when your child does not respond to your words?
  • Having parenting moments in which you just don't know what to do?
  • Do you wish you had other ways to respond?
  • Would you like to laugh more?
  • Do you sometimes feel lost when it comes to discipline?
  • Does being with children exhaust you?
  • Is the idea of discipline overwhelming to you? 
  • Do you spend a lot of time reading about discipline and parenting styles and wonder why they don't seem to work?
  • Seeking ways to bring your child along without resistance?
  • Wondering how you can make the day flow more peacefully?
  • Are you looking for gentle ways to help your child grow peacefully as a human being?
  • Would you like to lighten up and be more creative with discipline?
Join me in this 4 week eCourse for practical examples and practice.

Me
When my first child was born, I was certain that if he had a gentle birth, was breastfed, co-slept in the family bed and I spent time with him and practiced attachment parenting that our life together would be smooth and harmonious. Are you laughing yet?
I wasn't.
The first year was very sweet with a happy baby whose needs were met. Then at one year he began walking and exploring and getting in to everything. He needed boundaries and loads of focused attention. I needed to make dinner and do laundry, attend to clients at prenatal visits, teach childbirth classes and go to labors and births.

I really struggled with "what to do." Especially in the toddler years. I knew clearly in my heart what I was not willing to do, yet I was at a loss for what "to do."
So I plugged along and found my way. I read books to no avail. Talked to friends. Made changes in myself and in our home life. Over the years it began to emerge, a picture of the child, the development of the child and the inner development of the adult. Playful parenting and the authoritative parent. Attachment and boundaries. Responding rather than reacting. Seeing the child for who he is. It all coalesced for me.

Did that make me the perfect parent? No, not at all. I have gained some clarity around the parent-child relationship and I have learned when to let go and when to forge ahead. I've learned to talk less and do more. I've learned to recognize when my child needs more connection with me and I have learned so much about boundaries. I don't get exasperated anymore. This baby who taught me so much is now 18 years old and continues to teach me.

Since those first tender days of new motherhood, I have had the great gift of teaching and caring for other people's children. This makes learning so much easier. Our own children come to us with such intensity and we are so often in the heat of the moment, that it can be hard to see the whole picture. Child number two came along eleven years ago and brought new opportunities for learning how he needs to be parented.

I have thought about offering this course for years. And waited. And waited. Now it feels like the time is ripe.

I am offering this eCourse to help you develop a clearer picture of the child, to find humor and creativity in the hard moments and to have plenty of hands on practice over the course of the month.

We'll focus on real life challenges over the course of the month: tantrums, resistance, "not hearing," name calling, sibling bashing, biting, hair pulling and what happens when parents have two distinct styles of discipline, and more, with practical examples to help you be who you really are!
I hope you'll join me for a month of practical examples and practice to make your parenting more conscious, creative and connected.

Engaging lessons, an easy to use online platform and a warm community offer parents, childcare providers, or teachers the opportunity to explore this topic together in community. 

Registration is closed.


Warmly,






Thursday, April 6, 2023

Set a Pretty Table

We gather 'round this table, where bodies are renewed.
Where hearts appease their hunger, for we feast on more than food.
~ author unknown

To set a pretty table is to bring rhythm, beauty, warmth and our love to the moment.

When we slow down, simplify and connect our thinking with the feelings in our heart, it's easier for our actions to reflect our intent. To set a pretty table is to connect our intention of deeply nourishing our family with warmth and love with our attention to how we set the table. 


Each day we have the opportunity to set a pretty table, and do it with love. When we do, our family experiences the gesture and the feeling behind it, and finds nourishment of the body and soul at the table

It doesn't take much to set a pretty table. A cloth or placemats provides a base. The one you see has served as a beach picnic cloth, a table cloth and a ceiling decoration. Pretty, simple dishes can be found at a thrift store. The white plates in the photo above are Syracuse china, made for restaurants, solid and durable, yet simple and lovely. They are oval shaped so there's plenty of room for the child who doesn't want their foods to touch, or for the adult who likes their salad to mix in with the juices of the main dish. 

Cloth napkins are inexpensive and will last for years to come. I have many from the early childhood years, a little faded yet still good to use. Something from nature, like a crystal, a pretty stone or some flowers brings warmth and beauty. The sea shells on the table in the picture we found at the beach. The flowers are from my garden. The children love to be the ones to go outside and select flowers for the table. 

The little glasses are small canning jars. They're solid and hefty enough that they don't tip easily and children can really hold on to them. I used them with my children and with the children in my Morning Garden program. They're durable, just the right size and easy to stack and manage. 

Of course, there's a beeswax candle with its heavenly life giving smell and reminder that we're all in this together. That might be considered the splurge, one well worth splurging. 

The next time you feel rushed and in a hurry, take a deep breath and remember what my friend and former boss Haim at CafĂ© Liliane used to remind us, the staff, as we prepared food. "We eat with our eyes," he'd say. We are nourished by all our senses, what we see, smell, taste and feel on the table. We are also nourished by the sensation of warmth and love we experience when someone sets a pretty table for us. 

Wishing you and your loved ones pretty tables set with warmth and love!

~ if you are the author of the mealtime verse, or know who is, please let me know so I can give proper credit.  

Warmly,











Thursday, January 5, 2023

Keepers of Tradition


As mothers, we are keepers of the hearth, we set the mood and the tone for our household, so as it is within us, so without.

If we are confused and feeling turmoil within, it will spill into our day and our child's behavior, directly or indirectly.

When we are clear and feel confident, it comes across.

In doing our inner work, our striving, we can awaken to inner rhythm and bring some form and habits to our home lives.

It begins within. Within each one of us. And it is there. And it takes strengthening the will.

And that is the paradox of mothering, for we are supporting the development of our child(ren)'s will and in doing so we work on our own will forces to be able to do that. 

Celebrations and holidays give us the chance to create rituals and traditions that come around once a year. They needn’t be big or elaborate to be meaningful.

As we approach the end of the Christmas season, this feels like a ripe time to reflect on the past six weeks. 

Take some time this week to think about when it comes to the holidays and celebrations,  what is it that really matters, for you, what is it that you want the holidays to mean for your child(ren)?

What went well, what do you want to do again next year? Is there something you want to build on? Are there things you want to let go of? Jot down what comes to mind. 

In the Waldorf kindergarten teachers build up festivals over the years - many years! Within those years they have the opportunity to observe other teachers' ways. As homemakers we are finding our way one step at a time. Let's give ourselves a great big hug for all that we did accomplish this year to make the holidays merry and good, and let us carry into the future acceptance of our striving as good enough, and recognition that life is a process that is ongoing for us as well as our children. 


Warmly,




Saturday, December 3, 2022

The Gift of Light


Festivals are celebrated with song, food, stories and a "picture" of the event being celebrated. One way to celebrate Advent is with verses to say upon lighting a candle. This is one of my favorites. It could be said while passing a candle from one to another. I don't know the origin of this verse. I think it is from a language other than English. The version below I have adapted in a way that resonates for me. 
 ::
::
The gift of light we thankfully take.
Yet it shall not be alone for our sake.
The more we give light,
The one to the other,
The more it shines and spreads even farther.
Until every spark set aflame,
Touches hearts with joy to proclaim.
In the depths of our souls a shining sun glows.
Not long shall continue the darkness of the year,
As light draws near. 




This months eCourse is Simple, Slow and Sacred
Registration is closed.



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