Thursday, November 18, 2010

Babci's Aprons & Snickerdoodles

The girls wearing two of Babci's aprons my momma sent to me.

It is almost the one year anniversary since my Granny passed away just about a month short of her 92nd birthday. Because my mom is called Gramy by her grandchildren, my twins would call their great Granny "Babci" which is Polish for "Grandmother". With a little adjustment to the necks, the girls chose a beloved apron that still smells like Babci's house to wear as we begin to make our dozen batches of Christmas cookies for a dog rescue fundraiser in December. The first batch are Snickerdoodles...

We are in the middle of our 2nd math block and have been practicing our four processes when baking by doubling the recipe and then halving so they each can do equal amounts...

After the dough chilled, the girls rolled and dipped the cookies into the sugar mixture to bake.

And a tidbit: my blog was named after this hearth that is still under construction in our kitchen (DH is putting the stones on it)...our kitchen has been under construction for over 2 years now...will have to do a before and after shot when it's finally done!

I'm not quite sure if my mom really knows how very special the aprons she gave me from Granny are. She gave us aprons and handkerchiefs that my great grandmother crocheted the edges on. I will post pictures soon.

Grandma's Apron
~ by C J Heck

Gramma's gone, but not forgotten,
that's her apron hanging there.
It still hangs in Grampa's kitchen.
Sometimes he looks at it and stares.
When Gramma wore her apron
it was magical to see.
The pockets held such treasures
for the grandkids just like me.
Saw it shine up Grampa's fender once
just as pretty as you please,
and it wiped my brother's cheek off
one time when he sneezed.
It took cookies from the oven,
it rushed to wipe a tear,
got a grain of sand out of your eye,
made a lap for the stories we'd hear.
It wiped spills up from the counter top
when she was baking pies,
a symbol of her love and care
and it showed, too, in her eyes.
Sometimes I'm sad to look at it
when I see my Grampa stare.
Gramma's gone, but not forgotten.
That's her apron hanging there.

And now her aprons hang upon the necks of her great grandtwins :)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Chumash Field Trip

Well, I'm hoping to come out of a long blogging hiatus to get caught up on our schooling adventures. This post is mainly pictures and happened in Sept to tie in our review of form drawing and math using Chumash stories as the vehicle.

I organized a field trip for our local homeschooling group and we went to an amazing museum in Thousand Oaks called the Chumash Indian Museum.

Nestled among the mountain ranges on the largest oak grove park (432 acres) in the area, we were lucky enough to have a special tour arranged where we would hike through the groves to view a 10,000 year old birthing cave to see the remaining pictographs! It was awesome!

We were met by our guide, Graywolf, and the tour began.

We got to view recreations of Aps (Chumash housing).

We got to hear Chumash legends and lore. We walked among the towering oaks and saw an incredible beehive in this giant oak.

We learned about vegetation and what the plants were used for, like "coyboy cologne" which is a sage that we rubbed on our faces and necks to keep the biting flies away! And here, Graywolf showed us where the women would come to grind acorns, the staple of the Chumash diet.

Then we continued on our 1.5 mile hike to the birthing cave.

Graywolf pointed out an outcropping with a pictograph. Can you spot it in the picture below, just above & to the left of his head (our left, his right)?

The birthing cave is closed to the general public because they don't want any damage to it, but we were very fortunate to have the opportunity to visit this cave that has been used for birthing for 10,000 years!

While a wooden stair case has been built, can you imagine hiking 1.5 miles while in labor and then ascending this climb without the stair case to reach the cave? These women were absolutely amazing!

Inside the cave, we got to see the remaining pictographs. Not many left, but they are ancient. It was worth every step to get here!

And a shot of Charley just before we left the cave. We lingered so I could get a good shot. The cave was open on three sides and surrounded by lush trees and the sounds of wildlife. It was so very serene and powerful. We were told they laid out skins and furs for comfort.

On our way back to the museum grounds, I had to take this shot where the trees join to make an arch.

At the museum, Graywolf gave us a lovely presentation of tools and uses of herbs and weapons. This is a model of a chumah woman. They wore very little clothing due to the temperate weather on the coast.

Graywolf has worked on and been in several movies and tv productions. One of the films he worked on (costume dept) was "Pirates of the Caribbean" with Johnny Depp. In his hands, he is holding the hair piece that he made for Captain Jack Sparrow to wear. It is actually a Chumash hair pin and you are supposed to wear two of them criss crossed at the top of the head. Johnny Depp didn't know what to do with it, so he put it on the side of his head! Graywolf loved it and that became a trademark of Captain Jack!

He took time to pose with the twins.

And here you can see how the hair pins are actually supposed to be used!

The Chumash people were very different from the other Native American tribes - in how they looked, dressed, and developed. Life on the coast was easy. They found everything they needed from nature and did not have to migrate to find food sources. They were incredibly peaceful - in fact there is no word in their language for "war". They loved to play games and had time to develop many ingenius tools and activities. They were the first tribe to develop interchangeable arrows, so they could use the same shaft, but different points when hunting - a large arrow for a large deer or a tiny arrow to hunt a bird or rabbit. They used whale bones as the doorway arches for their homes and even invented the sweathouse (steam room) with a large fire and smoke and then would rush out and cool off in the ocean. Their beds were built off the floor and they were master weavers. The word Chumash means shell money, for they specialized in making shell money and beautiful soap stone pots. They built the first tomol (canoe) so that they could sail from the mainland to the Channel Islands.

Here are some pictures of the exhibits in this small, but high quality museum.

Real Walnut Shell Dice (like what we made, but beautiful with the abalone shells as decorations).

We spent a whole day on this field trip and filled up with admiration and love for this amazing tribe of Native American Indians. The girls were thrilled when they spotted this design, which is one they painted on their fake canvas' earlier in the month!

The people who run the museum (Alfred, esp) are wonderful and I would highly recommend a trip to visit, if you are local. There is a nature hike on the weekends. Call for details, which can be found here. And there is a wonderful book put out by the Santa Barbara Natural History Museum called, The Chumash People. It is a great hands on resource for unit study.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

"Fairy Tales" by Christine Natale is Available at Lulu for 25% off!

Just heard from Christine that her childrens book entitled"Fairy Tales" is currently on sale for 25% off the cover price at There are many wonderful stories tied into the four seasons, to be enjoyed by families for years to come. The summary reads:

"A collection of 15 seasonal fairy tales created for Christine Natale's Waldorf Kindergartens through the years."

The link to the book can be found here and you can take a peek at the chapters. I'm getting out my copy of it after this post :D

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Need Your Help! Vote for "The Star Flower" story written by Waldorf educator, Christine Natale!

Well, this is the longest hiatus I've had since I began my blog in 2009. My mama is in town and it's been a year since we had seen each other last, along with the almost one year anniversary of my little Granny's passing :( so I've been taking much needed time for family.

However, I wanted to share something near and dear to my heart - and that is the writing of an amazing author and waldorf educator, Christine Natale. Many of you might be familiar with some of her work or heard her name through The Waldorf Connection.

Christine has entered a writing competition and submitted her lovely bed time story entitled "The Star Flower". You may vote once a day and voting ends November 22nd. There is monetary cash prize that would really help Christine continue to write and publish her amazing stories. Can you please help her win first prize by voting every day for her story?

The link can be found here: Star Flower Story

For those not familiar with Christine, she is the author of several wonderful children's stories and we are anticipating the publication of her book very soon (TBA).

If you'd like to check out some of her work, she is the author of the fabulous St. Nicholas stories which can be found here.

She also allowed me to reprint her St. Patty's Day story called, "The Little Dancer", along with a beautiful story called, "The Return of the Sun King".

She was so kind to share many of her stories for free so I'd love to see her get the thanks and support she so deserves by us rallying behind her...So please head over to vote for her Star Flower Story and support an amazing artist, wonderful person, and waldorf educator!

And I will be back soon with a lot of catch up posts...we've been busy, busy bees...