Thursday, January 9, 2020

Rhythm and Routine: We Can't Have One without the Other

Rhythm and Routine
a series of articles to support rhythm in the home

A few thoughts on rhythm and routine, and how each one needs the other...

Rhythm is simply routine with recurring movement based on conscious awareness of energy. Does an activity bring us inward to a quiet place or does it have an expansive quality?

Routine is doing something over and over again in the same way - repetition.

To create a good rhythm means to bring conscious awareness to the energetic qualities of the child's activities of daily, weekly and seasonal life, and to create repetitive experiences that unfold in the same familiar way every day.

Ways Rhythm + Routine Work Together...

With daily life, this means having a series of predictable activities everyday, doing the same things in the same order everyday. Getting up, getting dressed, eating breakfast, doing chores, going out to play is an example of one series of activities (routine) that balances the quiet of awakening and starting the day (rhythm) with eating, doing chores and going outside for free play.

What seems incredibly dull and boring to an adult brings security and comfort to a child through it's predictability and reliability. A child can know what's coming next with anticipation for the predictable and find emotional security in knowing the world is reliably consistent. This is very important to children, especially those who experience anxiety and stress. Familiarity means security. That the child experiences a feeling of, "I can count on this to be the same, it's trustworthy, life is trustworthy, life is good," is so important in the early years. At a time when the world's challenges seem to permeate everything around us, the consistency of daily routines can be very comforting to a child as well as to family life.

"Good Night House"
Another example is an evening routine of saying goodnight to the house and Dolly and animal friends, followed by brushing teeth, bath, pajamas and bed with a quiet story. This predictable series of activities (routine) helps a child anticipate and look forward to meeting what's coming next in the evening. A predictable routine provides comfort and security and eliminates frustration and the need for discipline or bribery to elicit co-operation. It just happens (with our guidance) because the routine has become the natural order of things. These comforting routines make up a healthy daily rhythm. 

Balance Energies
To have a good rhythm means to have found a good balance between the energies of activities such as rousing-calming, inner-outer, challenging-soothing, quiet-loud and the needs of the child. In order to wind down at the end of the day, a child needs to have had an opportunity to have "wound up" or experienced physical activity and healthy sensory stimulation earlier in the day.

Bedtime Burst of Energy
My boys reached a stage at bedtime when they were no longer able to move into the upstairs, bath, pajamas, bed part of the day without some pretty vigorous roughhousing on the bed. At first I tried to stop it to maintain the quiet mood we were so used to enjoying. Eventually I realized they needed more intense physical activity in their day before they would be able to switch gears toward bedtime, even when the house was quiet, the lights were dimmed and all attention was on winding down. 

Inner Focused or Outer Focused?
Some activities can be categorized as inner focused such as quiet self initiated indoor free play, watercolor painting, drawing or listening to a story while other activities are more outer focused such as self initiated outdoor free play with other children, running, sledding and ice skating.

It's impossible to categorize every activity as either inner or outer focused as each child has his or her own experience of an activity. For some children free play is an inner focused activity, while for others it is very social and outer focused. The child's experience of an activity may differ depending on the context. A child who experiences meals and eating as an inner directed activity at home may become more outer focused in the social realm when sitting at a table with friends. 

Seasonal Rhythm
To have a seasonal rhythm is to embrace and bring energetic qualities of the season to daily and weekly activities. In autumn that might look like apple picking at the apple orchard and incorporating warming seasonal foods like apples, pears, root vegetables and squashes made with warming spices like cinnamon and allspice into our daily and weekly meals. It may mean going to bed earlier in the dark of winter and staying up later during the summer when the days are long and there's time to sleep late in the morning. 

Weekly Rhythm
With weekly rhythm, it might look like starting the week with water color painting because that's a good way to soothe a child who has had a very active weekend and help draw a child into a focused quiet activity.  It might look like meeting playgroup on Friday mornings because that's when children are rested and ready for a good romp and the social realm, after having mornings at home earlier in the week. 

Daily Rhythm
With daily rhythm, the energetic quality of activities shapes the whole day. Getting outside for a few hours of rigorous play each morning stimulates hunger for a good lunch and a rosy cheeked child who is ready for a nice quiet transition into an afternoon nap. Without the rigorous self initiated play, a child may not be hungry, may not be able to settle down for a quiet story and a nap.  

Transitional Magic
The "magic" lies in the small gestures and rituals used at transition, the little song sung each time the coat comes off, the gnome clip to hold the boots together on the mat, the hand washing song, the candle at meal time, the blessing sung before meals. These small gestures help ease a child from one type of activity to the next one. 

Conscious Attention
Now we return to where we started, that rhythm is all about the conscious attention given to balancing the energetic quality of activities (rousing-calming, inner-outer, challenging-soothing, quiet-loud) and transition moments that infuses routines with rhythm.

This may sound so simple, and it is.

Read Article #1 Routine in the Waldorf Home::What is it?  here
Read Article #2 Why Routines? here

Peace on Earth begins at Home. 

Friday, December 27, 2019

When Our Mothering is Questioned

Mary Cassatt ~ Young Mother Sewing

One of the great challenges of mothering and perhaps fathering too, forgive me dads - as I don't know about the experience of being a dad as my experience is as a mom - is that family members may question, criticize or even attempt to "correct" the choices we carefully and consciously make on how we want to parent our children. 

For families who are drawn to a Waldorf lifestyle, there may be concern that we're not doing enough "academic" work or instructed "teaching" in the early years, that we're not teaching the ABCs and giving scientific explanations of why the sky is blue, that we're not teaching reading and we're not emphasizing the printed word. 

We may be criticized for making the commitment to stay home and care for our child  rather than send him or her to "school" at age three, which unfortunately, outside of Waldorf environments, tends to be an intellectual cram down of what the child is most ready for at a ripe age six or seven, but not at age three. Not to mention the lack of time during "school" for all important physical movement and exploration and child initiated free play, which is the foundation of healthy intellectual development that will come later. 

Even in Waldorf environments, being awoken early, dressed and rushed out the door may not necessarily be in the best interest of the child or family life. Then there's the question of peer orientation, the huge, often unspoken problem we face today when children become socially oriented to peers, who are by their nature immature, rather than remain healthily oriented to their parents and family values. 

It saddens me to see the cultural shift that has taken place in my lifetime, in which moms, home and family life have been devalued in the name of convenience for employers who value employee attendance over the importance of family and a healthy home life as the foundation of a healthy society. It's tough as a new mom, a mom of littles to follow one's heart and inner knowing and trust ourselves in the face of these challenges from outside. It's even harder when close family members question what we do.  

I found myself in a similar place with family members when my children were young. The focus seemed to be all about what I did NOT do instead of what we did do. I didn't read to my children when they were very young. I didn't go into scientific explanations of things. My mom was surprised because we are a family of avid readers. I shared some information with my mom and my husband. (Husband was a lawyer and that just gave him more ammo to argue about it.) What really made a difference for us, and it took me a long time to figure it out was to focus on what we DID do. I shifted the focus to what we did do everyday.

As women, we tend to underestimate ALL that we do during the course of a day, and all the ways we are teaching through our doing, how we nurture literacy through speech and movement games and through the way we speak to our children. I incorporated nursery rhymes from birth with our daily activities like diaper changes and getting dressed. We set a pretty table together and sang a blessing. (We still do.) I told little stories about daily household events. I made simple finger puppets. I made simple felt animals and people figures. I cleared out the space alongside the kitchen where they could play close to me while I worked. We baked bread together, we made soup together, we did laundry together. My children were with me or playing close by in the kitchen for what seemed like all day. We spent lots of time outside, usually with me doing chores and the children playing or joining in the work (letting the chickens out, feeding them, hanging laundry. raking leaves, shoveling.) We painted together. We made gifts together. 

As my children got older and family members saw how family oriented they were, how well they played, how they made beautiful cards and simple gifts and crafts, how they loved being outdoors and in nature, building snowmen, sledding, tobogganing, ice skating, having a sense of reverence, I think it brought to mind fond memories of aspects of their own childhoods.  I quit talking about Waldorf ed to them (it was hard) - that made a huge difference. If I didn't talk about it as "Waldorf," and didn't give it a name, but just emphasized that I wanted my children to experience the wonder of childhood and be able to really play and spend time outside and later play jump rope and knit and whittle, they seemed to be less concerned about it. Now my youngest is in his teens, and all of that questioning has been forgotten as they are indeed kind, literate, hardworking, creative and capable people. So dear mamas, my suggestion is to bring the conversation back to you, to all that you do in a day, all those things that seem most ordinary, that deeply nurturing the healthy development of your child.  

                                                   Peace on Earth begins at Home. 

Monday, July 29, 2019

Inner Work

Our days can be quite full of tasks. 

They're filled with caring for children, pets and the home, planning, preparing and serving wholesome meals, cleaning up afterwards, maintaining healthy rhythms and routines, ensuring time and space for free play and getting outside in the fresh air and being the chief cook, bottle washer, organizer and overseer of family life.

In addition, some of us work from home or have jobs outside of the home, and garden or farm.

Some of us are homeschoolers too. As homeschoolers we add to the daily tasks of preparing and presenting lessons. This is an even bigger task for a single parent, or a family in crisis. It’s big my friends, and full of opportunities for transformation and growth.

Each of us is our child's first teacher. We teach our child what it means to be human in this world through our own life, our words and gestures and deeds.

What does this have to do with inner work?
Our most important task as parents and educators is described in a quote I share in the description of my program, Celebrate the Rhythm of Life eGuides and eCourse ~ living curriculum. It’s from Rudolf Steiner and it is so meaningful in the context of inner work that I’ll share it here:

“Essentially, there is no education other than self- education, whatever the level may be. This is recognized in its full depth within Anthroposophy, which has conscious knowledge through spiritual investigation of repeated Earth lives. Every education is self-education, and as teachers we can only provide the environment for children’s self-education. We have to provide the most favorable conditions where, through our agency, children can educate themselves according to their own destinies. This is the attitude that teachers should have toward children, and such an attitude can be developed only through an ever- growing awareness of this fact.”

This “self-education” that Rudolf Steiner describes is not a memorization of dates or facts. He is talking about working on our self, on getting to who we are and what makes us tick.

Inner work is about getting to know ourselves, and through that process we are better able to see and get to know our children.

When we observe our children through our own pain and wounds, without knowing they are there, we tend to project our needs on to them. In getting to know ourselves, we can better recognize what’s our “stuff” from the past and who our child is, as separate from us, as the other. Inner work helps us come to a place of being present, so we are able to respond rather than react to our children, and whatever life throws at us.

Through this process of inner work, and with it comes inner growth, we are better able to meet our children and guide them along.

You may have thought that Waldorf education was about the material in the curriculum, yet it is about so much more. So many parents come to Waldorf education for the beauty and simplicity, and find themselves growing and stretching, getting to know themselves better, and feeling more clear, confident and connected to what they value most. Sometimes it comes as a surprise. I often hear, "I didn't expect it to change my life." Yet is does, if we are open to it.
It is through inner work, the ongoing and sometimes subtle and not so subtle work of getting to know ourselves and embracing the muck in our lives that transformation occurs. In becoming more clear about who we are, and what we are doing in this wild and precious life of ours, we become more present and more able to easily make decisions that resonate with our deepest and most heartfelt values. We open to creativity and often find answers coming to us, seemingly from out of blue, but really from our deep longing for getting to know ourself and our truth.

It’s exciting, no? To be spurred on with our own growth as human beings. Who would have thought that parenting brings so many hidden gifts.

Celebrate the Rhythm of Life 
Harmonious Rhythms ::   Soulful Parenting with the 3C's : Consciousness, Connection, Creativity
Waldorf Homeschooling + Homemaking

         Peace on Earth begins at Home. 

Saturday, July 27, 2019

True Reading Readiness

These guidelines by Dr. Susan Johnson are intended to help parents, caregivers and early childhood educators notice movement integration and development in the young child.

True reading readiness (as opposed to forced reading “readiness”) is a biological phenomenon* and requires that a child has passed a number of benchmarks of sensor-motor integration – which is an aspect of healthy brain development.  Many of these benchmarks have been passed when a child is able to do the following:

  • Pay attention and sit still in a chair for at least 20 minutes
  • Balance on one foot, without her knees touching, and in stillness, with both arms out to her sides – and count backwards without losing her balance
  • Stand on one foot, with arms out in front of him, palms facing up, with both eyes closed for 10 seconds without falling over
  • Reproduce various geometric shapes, numbers, or letters onto a piece of paper with a pencil while someone else traces these shapes, letters or numbers on her back
  • Walk on a balance beam
  • Jump rope by self
  • Skip

If children can’t do these tasks easily, their vestibular and proprioceptive (sensory-motor) neural systems are not yet well-integrated, and chances are they will have difficulty sitting still, listening, focusing their eyes, focusing their attention, and remembering letters and numbers in the classroom.

Support for sensory-motor integration comes not from flash cards or video games…but from the following activities:

Physical movements such as

• Skipping                                          • Running
• Hopping                                          • Walking and hiking
• Rolling down hills                         • Clapping games
• Playing catch with a ball              • Circle games
• Jumping rope                                 • Climbing in nature

…as well as fine motor activities to strengthen important motor pathways, such as

• Cutting with scissors                     • Beading
• Digging in the garden                    • Drawing
• Kneading dough                             • String games
• Pulling weeds                                  • Sewing
• Painting                                            • Finger knitting

By contrast, watching television or playing video or computer games are extremely poor sources of stimulation for sensory-motor development and actually interfere with the healthy integration of the young nervous system by keeping the child’s nervous system in a state of stress.  The “flight or fight” system is activated and maintained.

Children who have difficulties reading and writing often also have

• a poorly developed sense of balance
• difficulty making eye contact
• difficulty tracking or following with their eyes
• trouble distinguishing the right side of their body from the left
• difficulty sitting still in a chair
• difficulty locating their body in space
• poor muscle tone exemplified by a slumped posture
• a tense or fisted pencil grip
• “flat feet” (collapsed arches)
• oversensitivity to touch
• overactive sympathetic nervous system (“flight or fight”), thus have extra sensitivity to the stimulant effects of sugar, chocolate, lack of sleep, changes in routines, watching television, playing computer or video games.

Sometimes these children have difficulties in their peer relationships because they are using their mind and eyes to help their bodies navigate in space, and miss the non-verbal social cues from their playmates.

Dr. Johnson has seen children diagnosed with AD/HD or learning disabilities “miraculously” improve when they are taken out of an “academic” kindergarten or given an extra year in a developmental kindergarten that emphasizes movement, play, and the integration of their sensory-motor systems.

*On reading readiness as a biologically-based development: we would never label a child with a “disability” if they were slow to lose their first tooth, or begin menstruation…and reading is similarly linked to a child’s unfolding biology.  Relax!

Copyright Susan Johnson, M. D.  All rights reserved.  Reprinted with permission.  For more about Susan R. Johnson, MD, FAAP, and her practice in Colfax, California, go to You and Your Child’s Health.

         Peace on Earth begins at Home. 

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

My Mom

My Mom ~ Veronica Ruby Vassar Boisvert

I want to let you know that I've been quiet here and on social media for a few weeks because I lost my mom two weeks ago today.

On Monday morning of June 17th, she went in to see her regular doctor for a check up. Her doctor sent her straight to the ER for testing, she was kept for observation and admitted a few days later. The plan was for her to go to rehab for two weeks and then return home. A few days before she died the conversation shifted from rehab to hospice care. She spent two and a half weeks in the hospital.

I stayed with her around the clock during her last days, and had time alone with her. She passed over peacefully surround by us: her immediate family, which consists of me, my brother and my dad as well as extended family members.

Even though my mom was 89 years old, I wasn't anticipating the end of her life. Her mind was sharp and her cheeks were rosy with vitality until the very end.

I miss her madly. She's the one I'd go to in a time like this.

Squeeze your loved ones a little tighter today.



                                                        Peace on Earth begins at Home. 

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Old Fashioned Ways with New Fashioned Consciousness

Waldorf education is known for its festival celebrations that take place throughout the year and  return again the following year to be revisited and celebrated once more. The very foundation of the kindergarten and nursery is the festival life that is born out of the rhythm of the year.

Throughout history, human beings have created rituals and celebrations around light and dark, sowing and reaping, birth and death. This is an ancient way of finding meaning in the world and connecting with others.

Mother Nature along with the seasonal cycle of the year provide the foundation for festival life with the turning wheel of the year, from light to darkness, from sowing to reaping to composting back into the earth, birth and death takes place over and over again. The wheel turns, the light returns. A good deal to celebrate.

Festival life provides the cadence for the school year. Some festivals, as well as certain aspects of festivals, are celebrated in specific grades grades or classes, some by the entire school body, some include parents, and some are open to the broader community. It depends on the teacher, the school, the circumstances and the community. 

For many of us, especially those of us who find ourselves with leanings towards Waldorf education, either as parents or as homeschoolers, or perhaps both, a school festival can be the first experience of Waldorf education in practice.

Yet many of us wonder about these mysterious festivals.

Rudolf Steiner, the founder of Waldorf education, biodynamic agriculture, anthroposophical medicine,  a new style of architecture, social reformer and much, much more, wrote and lectured on the rhythm of the year and the cycle of festivals through the year. His focus was on the four major events of the year, each of which takes place at or near the turning points of the year, that is Michaelmas, Christmas, Easter and Midsummer.

Before the advent of electricity and machines, people lived in harmony with the changes in the year, out of necessity. With the coming of autumn came preparations for the cold days to come. Food was preserved and stored. Wood stacked. Fires were lit to bring warmth and light to the night as dark came sooner during the harvest days of September. Neighbors and villagers came together to help one one bring in the hay, harvest the apples and the nuts, preserve the vegetables and fruits. These activities were not based on choice or lifestyle, they were necessities for survival. They were social events out of necessity.

Today many of the old ways are returning and to them we are bringing a new found conscious awareness to the celebration of festivals. No longer are most of us forced to bring in the hay or harvest the vegetables before the first frost in order to save the crops. We are free to work the land or not. We are free to help our neighbor or not. We are free to buy our groceries grown and produced miles away or to buy from our neighbor farmer or regional farmers who tend the land and animals in a manner that resonates with our world view and values.

Some old fashioned ways imbued with new fashioned consciousness.

Actions taken as a free choice.

This poster was produced and distributed by the US Food Administration at the turn of the  century during war time. Many of these "old fashioned" ways encouraged during war time have become conscious choices today.

Instead of doing it "because it has always been done this way," we are bringing new awareness to our actions, a deeper understanding of why our connection to the natural world and simple living matters.

Festivals offer us an opportunity to find inner meaning on the changes taking place in the outer world. The celebration of festivals gives us a chance to pause and take stock of our lives, in the moment and with reflection of years passed, they give us perspective on what it means to be human and to be alive. In a conscious and living way.

                                                     Peace on Earth begins at Home. 

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

The Waldorf Curriculum

If you're familiar with Waldorf education, you know that it has distinct characteristics. One of them is the curriculum, one that is taught at Waldorf schools around the world.

The Waldorf curriculum unfolds through the grades with a particular series of subjects that are taught in Main Lesson Blocks. These subjects that are studied in Main Lesson Blocks are not studied for information and facts, the way more mainstream education does, with a sort of filling up the child with information on a topic, or an era in history.  The subjects taught in Waldorf education are chosen and used because they reflect a changing aspect of human development, of the history of humankind, that is reflected in the child, at that particular age/stage/grade. These topics are taught artistically with stories that create inner pictures of how people lived, with stories, myths, legends they lived by. The stories that are told are rich in pictures of what it means to be human and meet us at a deep level, a soul level.

These topics reflect the change that humanity, that human consciousness was experiencing during that epoch. These changes are reflected in how people lived, and the stories we have from their times. 

The only way for Waldorf homeschoolers to be exposed to this without doing teacher training,  is to look at how Waldorf school teachers teach particular subjects. 

Charles Kovacs, twenty year teacher at the Edinburgh Steiner School left a legacy with his lectures in book form on topics that span Grade 5 though 8, and may also be applicable in 9th and 10th grade.

Eugene Schwartz in his lectures speaks to this. He is at Millennial Child

Others leave little bits, sort of like a trail of crumbs that become familiar once you begin to recognize them. 

Monday, February 11, 2019

Hello February!

During the month of February there is plenty to rouse us from our hibernation to celebrate:

February 1st ~ Groundhog Day
February 1st ~ Imbolc
February 1st ~ St. Brigid's Day
February 2nd ~ Candlemas
February 5th - February 19th ~ Chinese New Year
February 12th ~ Lincoln's Birthday in 1809
February 14th ~ Valentine's Day
February 22nd ~ Washington's Birthday in 1732

February is a very special month, distinct from all the others in that it has just 28 days for three years in a row, and then has 29 days making it a Leap Year. Next year 202 is a leap year. Hence the verse:

Thirty days hath September
April, June and November
All the rest have thirty one
Excepting February alone,
And that has twenty-eight days clear
And twenty-nine in each leap year.

On February 1st, we find ourselves smack in the middle, between the winter solstice and the spring equinox. We're six weeks away from each. It can feel like a tipping point in the year, when we know that despite the cold and snow and ice, the days are indeed growing longer, the buds on the trees are swelling, the hens will lay eggs again, and the blue skies are still there. It feels like an intense energy point in the year. 

I do feel a little overwhelmed with these different days to celebrate coming all at once, so I simplify, here's how:

Groundhog Day is so simple and child friendly that I include it each year. We go outside and stomp on the earth and remind Mother Earth to wake up. She's usually wrapped up in her thick comforter of snow, but we like to let her know that we're waiting.

Saint Brigid's Day or Brigid's Day is one that intrigues me, so I learn a little something about her life each year. When my children are in second grade I share a story with them about her life. Some reflections here.

Imbolc inspires me to reflect on the mood of the season, on what is happening in my inner mood, and what is happening in nature.

Candlemas is another one of those days that intrigues me. It is, as a religious holiday, the day of the Feast of the Presentation of Our Lord Jesus and the Feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary, is a Christian Holy Day commemorating the presentation of Jesus at the Temple. It is based upon the account of the presentation of Jesus in Luke 2:22–40. (That's from Wikipedia here, I couldn't make that up.) What intrigues me is that return of Mary to the Church 40 days after giving birth. And the notion of purification after giving birth makes me a little uneasy. As if the process of carrying a baby and giving birth makes one impure. The candle light is to honor Jesus as "Light of the World."

Another face of Candlemas that I've watch grow and transform is one of candle dipping and celebrating the bees that, if I have it right, seems to have originated from Marsha Johnson of the Yahoo Waldorf Home Educators Group, Shining Star School and the Magic of Waldorf. It's become a community celebration. I don't know anyone else who has had such enthusiasm for this celebration. More here.

Some years ago, I made a very conscious decision to no longer dip beeswax candles indoors after we set the stove top on fire in the process of dipping tapers. It was quite an adventure and I am now quite happy to do it out of doors when the weather is warmer with a dedicated hot plate and pot and pan. One pot dedicated for holding the beeswax and the pan for water.

Chinese New Year is one of my favorite celebrations in February because it is so uplifting and fun! The good food, dragon parades, the color red, prayers to the ancestors and gods for a good planting and harvest season, lucky money in red envelopes, revisiting the Chinese zodiac, it's a lovely awakening from hibernation.

Then there's Valentine's Day which I love. Maybe it's the chocolate, or the flowers or the frilly hearts, or the even the cupcakes. I've shared a bit from our celebrations here.

For the birthdays of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, I like to read or tell a little story about the lives and the times of the presidents Lincoln and Washington. Who can pass up Cherry Pie or Cherry preserves? As my children grow older it becomes a good opportunity to talk about what the times were like then, what is still with us and what have we (humanity) learned.

How does February speak to you?
Please leave a note in the comments below.

Friday, February 8, 2019

Toot Toot!

I'll confess to you that I am challenged with tooting my own horn. I am striving to learn how to do it better and promote my work. It does not come naturally to me. I am however, quite good at supporting others on their journey. Sound familiar?

For twenty years I have been freely and generously giving support to the Waldorf homemaking, homeschooling and parenting community. It comes easy for me to share in person, face to face, in workshops, in Yahoo Groups, Facebook Groups, private conversations and gatherings. Yet when it comes time for me to toot my own horn, wave my own banner, and say hey! come on over and sign up for this course, and pay me for it, I have a hard time.

I know my work is reaching and inspiring moms, teachers and caregivers because you tell me. I see bits of my work trickle out here and trickle out there, in some cases inspiring moms to start businesses of their own.  I imagine how many children are being touched in the sharing of this work as it ripples out and changes lives. I feel grateful to be a part of that movement in the world.

Gratitude alone, as important as it is, does not keep the lights on. It doesn't buy a new pair of winter boots for my child, or buy groceries. So I am learning to become better at promoting my work. Because I love it, and I give so much of myself to it.

For today I've decided to take a deep breath, wave my flag, and share with you the work I do, because it has been my guiding star, fills me with passion and joy, and has been my life for over twenty years. I love working with parents and children and watching parents find their voice, and uncover their power and step confidently into their role as parents.

My business is called Celebrate the Rhythm of Life, just like this blog.

Okay, I said it, my "business."

I'm working on making the shift from passion and joy, to passion and joy that's a business. With business smarts.

What Do I Offer?  Each month I offer an online gathering/class with a focus topic on an aspect of Waldorf homemaking, homeschooling or parenting. Each month the Celebrate Community delves deeply into that one specific topic on a private site where we chat freely. We have a community of wise and wonderful women, and a very rare - but occasional dad. You are all welcome dads! Some months we have a guest speaker. We've had many excellent guest speakers over the years including Howard Schrager, Lynn Jericho, Connie Manson and Cynthia Aldinger. 

The Celebrate Community focus topics include planning the year, and sinking into your family rhythms with Get Organized :: Sketch it Out!, work on daily rhythm with Rhythm in the Home, exploring warm, loving guidance with Love :: the Heart of Discipline, Storytelling, fostering imaginative Play, Starting a Playgroup, The Speech We Bring, Cultivating Your Family Values, Storytelling with Table Puppets, Simple Celebrations, The Sense of Warmth, Warmth in the Kitchen and more.

This month's Celebrate Community focus topic is Love :: the Heart of Discipline. We'll focus on warm, firm, loving guidance, with information, exercises, tips and strategies to help you better understand yourself, and your child, and feel more clear and confident in your parenting. It's included as part of the living curriculum program or you can join just the class with the focus topic for $25 . I keep the registration fee low to make it accessible for all. I hope you'll join us each month in the Celebrate Community focus topics where you'll find wisdom, warmth and community.

Each month of the year I offer season based online Monthly Guides in the form of a living curriculum program. This living curriculum program focuses on the inner and outer mood of the month as well as seasonal changes and celebrations. I include all the materials you need for both the nursery and the kindergarten years, including materials and suggestions for festival celebrations. Each month I include a Tip from the Morning Garden for childcare providers, from my own home based program. The living curriculum includes movement and circle games and for different ages, stories for different ages, songs, verses, fingerplays, crafts, nature activities and support for the weekly rhythm activities of painting, wet on wet water color painting, soup making and bread baking. Members of the living curriculum program also join the Celebrate Community topic.

When I began offering the monthly guides based on the season, and they do have a northern hemisphere perspective, I felt that it was not right to throw materials out there without providing more support and a foundation for home life and parenting. To include everything about every single possible topic each month felt like way too much information. For that reason I offer the focus topic each month. 

After a few years of only offering the living curriculum with the ecourse focus topic, I began allowing folks to join just the focus topic/ecourse each month. I've kept the monthly guides, called the living curriculum program coupled to the monthly focus topic because it complements them so well. They complement each other.

Each month, as part of the living curriculum program,  I include materials for festival celebrations as well, as I cannot find a way to hinge them from the living curriculum program.  September includes Michaelmas, October includes Martinmas and Lantern Walk ideas as well as Halloween celebration ideas. It flows this way through the way, with festivals and celebrations integrated into the stories, songs, activities, verses and songs. 

I know this is a challenge for my friends in the southern hemisphere, and I just don't know how to create this community based on the seasons, and hold the space for everyone to feel that their experience is fully reflected, when in February I am offering stories about snow and in March about sugaring. One possibility is year round membership to have access to year round materials, receive the daily notes from me, and be included in the Celebrate Community topic each month, which is not so directly related to the season. 

So there's a little bit about me - I mean my business. I hope you'll become part of this wonderful and wise community. Some of the moms who began with babies are now homeschooling in the grades. Which leads me to, oh yes, toot toot! I have created a support place for each of the grades, for Celebrate the Rhythm of Life Year Round Members, which is a lifetime membership, by the way. See what I mean!?

Toot Toot!

Friday, January 25, 2019

Rose and Thorns

As I work on re-formatting the Celebrate the Rhythm of Life Living Curriculum Program, I'll be sharing with you some of the material from the program. That way, when you hear about the new format and special offer, I am hoping you'll say, "Yes please!" and join the Celebrate the Rhythm of Life community. 

My children were young when their dad and I separated sixteen years ago. One was seven years old and the other was a newborn. It's hard to go through separation and divorce with young children. With divorce come new relationships, some are long lasting and some are not. The sense of who is family and who is not can be fleeting.  For several years after the divorce, my children were fortunate to have a "bonus mom" who served as a consistent, warm and loving person to guide them and care for them when they spent time with their dad. Among the many ways she warmed their hearts and inspired them was one that migrated over to my house and has stayed with us, to be shared with guests at our table. That is the gift of rose and thorns.

Rose and Thorns: We can't have one without the other.

At dinner, after the food is served, the candle is lit and the blessing has been said, we settle in a bit, taste the food, and then I announce that it is time for Rose and Thorns. If we have guests at our table I explain to them what it is, that we take turns sharing a little something from our day that was beautiful, sweet or beloved like a rose, and we also share something that was prickly, hard or challenging. Each person shares both a rose and thorn.

If there is a singular event that we're all wanting to claim as our Rose, we might place that aside, and dig a little deeper into the less obvious. Same with the Thorn.

Some days a person may not have a Thorn to share, that's just fine. Sometimes a person doesn't want to share, there's no pressure to join in.

What I do notice as my children have grown older is that Rose and Thorns can spark conversation into topics that might not have come up. They help us see each other a little better, and they help us to feel compassionate towards each other, as we are reminded with the Thorns that each of us has challenging moments in our days.

We began sharing our Rose and Thorns when my oldest was seven, school age, and that felt right age wise developmentally.

We recently had a friend over for dinner, who upon coming over the next time for dinner asked if we were going to play that game again, about the Rose and Thorns. And so we did.

My warmest thanks to the "bonus mom," for opening her heart and home to us, and for all the sweet rose goodness she has shared, as well as for providing a model of grace in meeting the prickly bits of life. The dinnertime Rose and Thorn tradition has nourished us and gone on to inspire many others.

Monday, October 1, 2018

A Quick Seasonal Meal

You know what it's like to have nothing prepared for dinner? One of those days when the day was fuller than you expected, your budget tighter than you'd like and you didn't make it to the store because that felt like one expense and one trip too many?

I do.

At this time of year with so many fresh garden vegetables and herbs, I assume that something will come to mind. 

And then it doesn't.

Here's one meal I made last week, that was really tasty and a big hit, with little planning, from seasonal food I had on hand.

It involved:
  • Fresh tomatoes
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Rosemary
  • Thyme
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Pasta
I cut the vegetables into wedges, sprinkled herbs on top, drizzled olive oil over all and roasted it at 400 degrees until the tomatoes and onions looked soft and smelled good. 

et voila, dinner is served!

Clean up was easy too. One pot, One pan.

Thank you summer for all the tasty goodness!

Thank you Lorrie for bringing over some of your tomato trove!

Read more about meal planning here.

What vegetables would you roast like this? Share your ideas for quick meals or roasted vegetables in the comments below.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Summer Sundays

Sunday has, for the most part, been a day of rest and renewal for me. I was a child during the years when shops were closed on Sundays. We went to church on Sundays. We had a big early dinner and for the most part took it easy. It's a pleasant habit that stuck with me and carried over into my family life.

Lately, we've been falling into a new habit on Sundays. The family meeting. We share our rose and thorns from last week, and look to the week ahead, to have a sense of who is doing what and when, and organize our meal plans accordingly.

This time of year is such a great time for fresh locally grown food. Our backyard garden and the farmer's market are bursting with summer goodness: ripe tomatoes, fresh herbs, summer squash, corn, green beans, yellow wax beans, a purple string bean, scallions, lettuces, onions, sweet peppers, hot peppers, cucumbers, even the first of the sugar pumpkins. The smells and tastes are exquisite. It's as if the senses have become wide open and everything is better, the color, the textures, the smells and the taste. During the cold, dark days of winter, it's easy to fall into the lull of eating food that has traveled or somehow miraculously been stored to make it through the winter and then forget how good fresh locally grown food can taste.

I want to savor it. It's a bit like those moments with children when you are certain you will never forget the exact moment, or words. And then you do. I do too. We all do.

So, with that in mind, this week we'll be eating lots of tomatoes, basil, corn, string beans, cucumbers, peppers and fresh herbs. They are so good fresh, I just can't commit to cooking them. Not today.

What fresh and local or homegrown foods are you savoring this week?

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