Thursday, March 26, 2009

Spring Needle Felting and Planting

We have fallen in love with Thornton Burgess' nature tales such as those from his "Old Mother West Wind" series. Mr. Burgess firmly believed that imagination was "the birthright of every child" and this series of simple stories of the animals which inhabit his woodlands, and the mischief they create returns us to a magical realm which very much existed once upon a no-so distant past. If your child enjoys animals, I'd highly recommend this book. It was originally published in 1910 and a few of the stories from this edition (with illustrator Michael Hague - an ideal match) can be sampled free online here:

I should note that in the sequel, "Mother West Wind's Neighbors", there is a story that ends well, but concerns Farmer Brown's boy who tries to shoo Blacky the Crow from the cornfields using some violence, so you might want to preview before jumping into that book, but overall, the stories from Mr. Burgess are relatively sweet and gentle, though they do deal with a bit of mischief woven into them.

Now, back to our journey: We've been working on our spring nature table the past few weeks, adding to it as we go. The bunnies arrived earlier in the week (see blog posting below) and yesterday, we added a blue bird and a nest with her three colored eggs, along with moss on our trees.

The girls were so excited when the grass finally began to sprout on our naturescape and are enjoying hiding the three little bunnies in the grass. Can you spot them all? Cottontail is white, Flopsy is gray and Mopsy is brown (yes, the girls love the Peter Rabbit stories, for those of you who recognized the names)...Mopsy is a bit hard to find against the brown soil...

On this day, the girls tried needle felting for the first time. "E", who tends to be my clumsy, but tough one, did poke herself a few times, but kept right on felting. Here she is displaying her wool...

And here is "C" beginning to felt her wool into the desired shape. I admit, she's not so tough and did poke herself and drew blood, tears and declared she was finished for the day, but she did get fairly far into the project and will try again another day...

We bought these lovely single needle wooden handles made in Germany through Nova Natural.

"E" adds color to her shape. Can you guess what we're making for spring? Here's a hint: it's red/black and keeps aphids from eating our leaves...

If you guessed ladybugs, you're right! "E" made the long one. That was her vision and it turned out so cute! "C" made most of the one on the right, which turned out looking most like a ladybug.

Here they are on our nature table...a bit big, so we'll make some tiny ones to put on the naturescape itself :)

The rest of the day, we spent on planting and playing. We prepared a small indoor herb garden for the girls to help with "cooking duties" :)

It's just a simple self contained greenhouse where the girls measured teaspoons of water and then pushed in the seeds. We set it in a sunny spot and await our shoots. The girls will gather the basics here for the salads they will prepare this spring.

Since we had seeds left over, "C" and I decided to plant them outside in a planter while "E" decided to stay inside for a while and build with her blocks.

We planted our sunflowers in two spots.

"C" reminded me so much of my mother yesterday with her small flowered print shirt and hair tied back. Gramy loves to garden and learned from her Polish grandmother when she was just a little girl. We are eagerly awaiting Gramy's annual visit this summer. She flies 2,000 miles and always brings her green thumb!

Today, we will sow some organic vegetables indoors. Even though it is relatively warm here, it still gets cool at night.

Before signing off, I'd like to leave you with this adorable illustration...

This is our favorite one from the "Old Mother West Wind" book, a picture of Grandfather Frog and some of the Merry Little Breezes. It is from Chapter 3, "Why Grandfather Frog Has No Tail".

Anyone want to go on a search for frogs this weekend???

The Leprechaun Invasion/Spring Equinox

Near a misty stream in Ireland in the hollow of a tree

Live mystical, magical leprechauns who are clever as can be

With their pointed ears, and turned up toes and little coats of green

The leprechauns busily make their shoes and try hard not to be seen.

Only those who really believe have seen these little elves

And if we are all believers we can surely see for ourselves.

- Unknown

The morning of St. Patrick's Day, the girls awoke to find that a *leprechaun* had left them little barrettes on their nature table under some green wool felt, as a thank you for the beautiful naturescape *he* is enjoying.

They were very excited and we had to learn all about the legend of the leprechaun. They couldn't stop talking about the little fellas all day.

After, we read the story of St. Patrick by Tomie dePaola and then sat down to do some wet on wet painting. We decided in honor of St. Patrick's Day and our little green friends, to make rainbows.

This was our first exposure to wet on wet painting and what a marvelous experience. We worked from the three basic colors (red, yellow and blue)and marveled as the colors just came alive and flowed into each other, creating our orange, green and purple. The girls each designed their own rainbows. And then we set them outside to dry.

Look at how vibrant those colors are!

Now, I am actually going to combine two posts because they are tied into each other. In honor of spring, I made some snowdrop flower fairies with guidance from "All Year Round" by Ann Druitt, Christine Fynes-Clinton and Marije Rowling. They are very easy to make, but took me a bit longer because it was my first time :)

I used wool, cotton batting and fleece.

Funny how an odd little shape can turn from something like this...

to this...

I decided to add the silk flowers since I don't have any real snowdrops and I wanted to get them on the nature table. The girls thought they were darling.

On the night of the Spring Equinox, we selected a poem about spring and my husband read it while the girls and I lit a candle on the nature table.

And set our flower fairies near it.

The girls were enchanted and listened intently as they watched the dancing flame.

They blew out the candle and went to bed. To their surprise, the next morning, they woke to find three more snowdrop flower fairies on the nature table and insisted that the leprechaun came back in the night and made them for us...

All I could do was smile that weee little smile ;)

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Well Check Time

I couldn't believe my babies turned 6 last month...I admit, it had been so overwhelming as a first time Mom when I had two infants to nurse and nurture, one had colic and was a high needs baby and would not tandem nurse, no matter how many different positions we seemed like someone was always crying and not answering those cries just wasn't an option. How did it go from getting up 9-11 times a night, wondering how I would survive those early years, without any family nearby, to the ease of now...having a built-in playmate - a benefit of having a twin or sibling, giving Mom that much needed break...

When did my babies get so big???? OK, I admit, we still don't always sleep through the night, but after going through *all that*, I think I can handle this :)

I have had incredible support from a guy whom I believe is one of the world's *best* pediatricians, Dr. Jay Gordon.

Dr. Jay was the first male doctor to be certified as a lactation consultant, sat on the board for years, his vaccine policy (selective vaccination, depending on individual risk assessment of each family - and certainly staggering vaccines for those families who feel the need to vaccinate), extended breastfeeding, excellent pediatric nutrition recommendations, attachment parenting advice and support and natural remedies over Big Pharma has allowed me to blossom as a parent and follow the leads of my children. I just love Dr. Jay.

The girls have been very healthy under his care, so we haven't seen him for anything other than a well check visit in years. Now at age 6, we anticipated our visit to his office in Santa Monica. We brought him some homemade carrot raisin muffins we baked that morning and drove to his office.

Here are the girls just down the street from his office on Montana.

Dr. Jay always has lots of wooden toys for the kids to play with, which the girls just love.

Nurse Jennifer checks their eyes, ears, height and weight. We discuss our diet, activities and lifestyle.

Then we wait for him...

Our hour long appointment with Dr. Jay goes well. He reminds the girls to hold the hand of an adult in the parking lot, to always wear safety helmets, to eat their veggies, fruits, legumes, and grains & gives us a clean bill of health...

I'm amazed to think that we went from


in such a short time...

Dr. Jay has written several wonderful books that are worth tracking down for those interested in APing. (some are now out of print) favorite one for the infant stage is "Listening to Your Baby".

Some others include: "Good Nights" (a book for family bed sharing), "Good Food Today Great Kids Tomorrow", and "The ADD and ADHD Cure: The Natural Way to Treat Hyperactivity and Refocus Your Child".

He has a website up and a weekly chat with wonderful articles, including a great library section for recommended reading:

When I look at my babies, I see how much goes into each precious child out there. I see how important it is to have great support and guidance from family, friends and doctors during such a critical time in life. I see the smiles & the ease about my girls & I know I have many people to thank for helping protect their childhood. I am continually inspired by so many great parents out there who share their experiences and give advice (you know who you are).

This journey is hard at times, but fantastic most of the time! And I can't imagine my life without my two *growing* Carriers of the Light :)

"If you are what you should be, you will set your whole world on fire." ~ St. Catherine of Siena

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The bunnies are a'comin'!

Bunnies in the spring are one of my favorite sights. They just couldn't be any cuter and I can never bring myself to shoo them away, even when they're eating my greens. This week, I have been working on needle felting animals for our nature table. This was my first bunny, which is very tiny - perfectly sized for our naturescape! The girls have named her "Cottontail".

Of course, she had to nibble on my grass outside before we brought her in...

Cottontail must have been thirsty, because she made herself quite at home, taking a drink from one of our seashell ponds...

Before finally settling down to rest in the rock garden...

I am very new to needle felting, but have absolutely fallen in love with it. I find it so meditative and calming. I love the feel of the wool, the crunching sound of the needle moving into the foam board and the freedom to create with no right or wrong - it is fairly easy to fix mistakes so far. There is so much I am hoping to make. If only there could be more time in each day :)

Speaking of bunnies, one of the cutest books I've read about them recently is entitled, "The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes" by Du Bose Heyward. It is an Easter story about a female country bunny who dreams of becoming one of the Five Easter Bunnies, is laughed at by the other bunnies, yet never loses sight of her dream, even after becoming a very busy momma bunny to 21 youngsters! It definitely has a feminist twist to it, despite it being written in 1939 & brought a few tears to my eyes. She does put her bunnies to work at a young age, is rather strict with them, but they have a nice rhythm going & it served the story well. My girls enjoyed it, as well & I loved the magic of the little gold was recommended to me by another Waldorf momma out there :)

Friday, March 20, 2009

Spring Nature Table

Celebrating the Spring Equinox

"And as the season come and go, here's something you might like to know ... there are fairies everywhere under bushes, in the air, playing games just like you play, singing through their busy day. So listen, touch, and look around -- in the air and on the ground. And if you watch all nature's things, you might just see a fairy's wing."
- Author Unknown

I love that fairy poem and this picture just took my breath away. To think there is such unparalleled beauty in Nature...

Today is the Spring Equinox and we will be making flower fairies to celebrate today. I hope to post them soon.

On Monday, we made a feature for our spring nature table with inspiration from one of my favorite books, "Earthways" by Carol Petrash...

Here is our current nature table space - an unused end table in our family room.

We headed outside to begin...

The girls each chose a shell placed upside down, to be filled with water and act as a little pond.

Then, we each chose a small branch from our blooming plum tree.

beautiful pink hues

We mounted them in our tray and placed pebbles around them to help secure them before adding grass seeds.

"C" decided it would look lovely if we added a little stone path, so she did and this is how it turned out!

We brought it inside to display and the girls misted it well.

And voila! Now every day, we are awaiting the buds. We decided to place a purple netting around it for the Lenten season. And, of course, being animal lovers, the girls have asked every day if we could add animals to it. Monday, we will add them and are busy making them this week.

Until then, we continue to marvel at the new life springing up around us and are enjoying the bunnies jumping through our yard and the birdies singing to us each and every day...