Monday, July 27, 2009

Finger Knitting

I am posting a ton of blogs today. Tomorrow, my mil comes (yeah) and then we are off to a mining field trip on Wed and Thurs, we leave for the CHN (California Homeschool Network) Family Expo until Sunday! It's amazing and I will be sure to post all about it upon return!

But here is the last of the blogs this week:

Today, we resumed our finger knitting after at least 6 months off. This time, the girls caught on much easier and while Elena could do it before, she needed constant supervision and help. This time, she was able to remember to go in the right direction and worked independently for nearly 45 minutes until her necklace for Grandma Kacky was ready!

Charley, who is a lefty, had to sit in my lap while I worked with her on her finger knitting. She decided to make Grandma Kacky a bracelet. Elena was cruising and making very tight loops, to Charley's very loose loops.

Elena is my tactile learner. She has always loved to work with her hands and has amazing patience and focus when working in this way. You can see the satisfaction she gets and the peaceful meditation that comes over her when she works with her hands.

I have to work more with Charley, who isn't as interested in the process, though she will do it if I am able to sit with her and help her when she gets stuck.

What fun!

If you're not sure how to finger knit, I highly recommend viewing Kristie Burns' wonderful sheep jumping over the gate story. Here is a link to Kristie's finger knitting video on youtube. It's marvelous!

For those who don't know, Kristie runs the "Earthschooling" Waldorf Yahoo Group and is an amazing source of inspiration and knowledge!
Have fun finger knitting!

Books in the Barn

~ Debbie Louise Fleet

I am honoured by your majesty,
Yet humbled by your grace,
Yours is a world of service,
Masked by a gentle face.

Your strength is undisputed,
You have the power to kill,
but never would you knowingly harm,
Naturally it is not your will.

You carry us to dizzying heights,
With the willingness of a child,
And the innocence of an angel,
Hard to imagine you came from the wild.

You show the purest love,
Even when life for you is hard,
As humans we often spoil the pure,
Our priorities generally marred.

You can be whipped, kicked and hounded,
Yet one can never see a tear,
But we can see it in your spirit,
And your eyes they show your fear.

I can never take for granted,
The gifts you give so free,
So simple yet so intricate,
You ask nothing from the world you see.

To get you to serve your fullest,
We must never hurt or force,
The creature who has won our hearts,
That my friend is you the horse.

On Sunday, we went to "Ride On", which is a therapeutic riding ranch that hosts an event called, "Books In the Barn". The first year we went, it was a small homeschooling group and the kids sat on hay bales and had a horse story read to them, then headed to the crafting room and designed a stick horse out of a mop and a sock (which the girls still play with years later and love). Finally, they went to the barn, met all the horses, gave them carrots and got to groom them a bit. On our way out, we stopped at a Usbourne station and bought way too many books.

We decided to go again this year, but the event has grown so much that it lost a lot of what made it so magical. There were authors, Santa in the summer, raffle tickets and food and the crafts involved stringing plastic beads and chochkey type crafts that seemed to be lacking in heart and the simplicity that we had enjoyed so much the first time.

We still had a good time, though and ended up watching a therapeutic session instead that was in progress for three special needs children. It was awe-inspiring to see the kids with the horses, working with them, loving them, and seeing the horses work their healing magic - you could just see the light in the children growing as they let themselves become *one* with the horses. The smiles and joy evident in these three children was priceless :)

We bought two wonderful books for our ancient history studies this year and headed back to my dad's to visit with the girls great grandmother and grandfather...

Here are a few shots of our day...

Horses are gentle giants that have given so much to so many people. So on Saturday, we gave thanks for our fantastic friends, the happy horses!

The Three Day Rhythm: The Butterfly That Went Calling - Days 1 and 2

The Three Day Rhythm is often talked about in Waldorf Education. It centers around the principal of telling a story to the children on the first day, then telling it with them on the second day and then having them tell it to you on the third day. And in between, artistry flows through expression of the images from the story. There is so much possibility with drawing, painting, modeling, felting, playing, etc.

Many Waldorf children (probably like Charlotte Mason) develop fantastic memories and attention to details through the years of reciting within the Three Day Rhythm.

We are having such fun with the Clara Dillingham Pierson books, as part of our science studies. We are working our way slowly through "Among the Meadow People".

One of the stories we covered was "The Butterfly that Went Calling". So on Day 1, I read the story and told it to the girls. We discussed the messages of the story and the characters. I have to admit that we tried to secure caterpillars to raise and turn loose as butterflies, but the company folded so I need to locate another farm. We don't see a ton of caterpillars where we are, so I can't just bring them in from outside. I did find a wonderful you tube video that showed a monarch hatching and we watched that together.

On Day 2, the girls and I retold the story together, with my lead. After we were done, they chose colors and we needle-felted butterflies and tied them to dowel rods so they could act out the story inside our house. The girls had shot some video footage, so we'll see if Tony & I can put it together. Until then, here are some shots of day 2.

Our butterflies...and play...

Friday, July 24, 2009

Three Day Rhythm: The Butterflies That Went Calling...Day 3

Day 3 of The Butterfly That Went Calling involved the girls dressing up as butterflies and acting out the story. I have included some shots from our fun play and also a video of the show :) Tony had to downgrade the quality quite a bit as our first video was over 500 megabites - yikes! So the quality isn't that clear, but you can still catch the cuteness of the play and the fun the girls had. I loved watching them twirl as they ran from flower to flower.

Also, I had to talk them through the play a lot more than I will have to in the future. They tend to be more shy, like a lot of kids, and clammed up a bit on camera...but you can still get the general idea of the storytelling section...I also fumbled a bit, but hope to hone my own memory skills as we continue to learn through excuse the lack of fluidity of the narrator :)

Taa Daaaahhhh! Another Lovely Revelation or Two!

This is a picture of Charley doing a one handed cartwheel a few months ago. Taaaa Daaaahhhhh!

She was always more mature and grounded - perhaps more on the choleric side, with a heavier gate and her mind made up. She's a born leader and often speaks to us on a more profound level than we expect from a 6 year old.

The other day, she told me that she much prefers stories being told to her, rather than me reading a book to her with pictures. When I asked her why, she replied:

"Because I can create my own pictures in my head and then they look how I imagine them to look..."

Wow...our children come to earth with such powerful minds and images. How often do we fall into the trap of thinking we have to provide *everything* for them to blossom. Charley's comment reminds me to give our children more credit and freedom to allow their imaginations to grow by providing the framework of a story, but giving them our trust and the independence to use their own brilliant little minds to create their own images and even to take over and embellish the story. Weave that into our storytelling tales and quickly our little creative beings will take over and run wild with their precious imaginations!

Revelation Two:

This morning, my husband caught Charley in the bathroom with toothbrush in hand, searching for another toothpaste tube - though there was one in front of her that was full. Tony asked her what she was doing and she replied,

"I'm looking for the one that's almost all gone so we can finish it before we open the new one..."

I haven't made it a practice to talk to them about things like using up old toothpaste tubes or cereal boxes before opening new ones - so much of what they learn is through imitation and silent observation. Our children are always watching and always listening.

This was another sweet moment that makes parenting so gratifying & confirms how important it is that we model good behavior. We can learn so much from each other...and it goes both ways :)

Now, maybe I should take a lesson from the girls and get on that gymnastics mat and do some cartwheels and exclaim, "Taaaa Daaaaaahhhh"! Not only is it fun and healthy, but it will help keep me in the heart of my own inner child...

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Crunchy Carmel Apple Pie....Mmmmmmm...

Delicious, sweet or sour, crunchy apples - red, yellow, green, or matter how they come, they are a staple.

My 91 year old Grandmother has an apple tree in her backyard and I have sweet memories of my mother harvesting them from the tree and slicing them for us all to eat. My children have even enjoyed Granny's apples - all the more special.

Years ago, my mom sent me a link to the MOST delicious carmel apple pie recipe. I used to make it all the time, then had children and put away much of my baking skills until the last year or so. I see so much more the importance of baking with our children and enriching their senses with the sights, sounds, and smells - not to mention taste of our scrumptious creations.

Just before I got married, my mom generously hosted a Pampered Chef party and we had so many guests purchase things that Tony & I had our kitchen all set! One of the funnest things we got from the party was the "Apple, Corer, Peeler, Slicer". I had such fantasies of making apple pies with my children, but alas, it sat in its box for nearly 10 years!

Tony recently set it up and the girls had such fun cranking it and Tony marveled over and over how it was one of the greatest inventions he had ever seen - LOL!

Now, I can easily return - with no excuses - to make more of these most delicious Crunchy Carmel Apple Pies. I don't have a picture of one of mine, but the recipe can be found here. It won the Best Pie contest in 2001 and was showcased on ABC News (Good Morning America). I highly recommend trying it - add ice cream on a warm pie and you'll be in Heaven!

I did recently make the Chicken Club Brunch Ring from Pampered Chef. This one is a fun one and delicious - though it's definitely not the healthiest meal in the world (mayo, cheese and those delicious Pillsbury crescent rolls)...still - makes for a great presentation if you're hosting a party. Recipe can be found here.

Finally, I had made a cherry dessert using the crumb topping from the Crunchy Apple Pie and baked it under canned cherries with our sliced apples. It was good, but not nearly as good as the Apple Pie. Still, fun to experiment :)

I'm happy to see so much math in baking. It not only keeps the mind sharp, but it soothes the soul, especially with all the TLC that goes into it :) At the online Earthschooling chat today, Kristie brought this up - how beneficial game playing and cooking can be to math skills. Plus, you gotta love the perks - eating your yummy creation after a mental workout!

In Memory of my Great Uncle Frankie :(

We just found out yesterday morning that my great Uncle Frankie (youngest brother of my beloved Grandfather - and identical twin of my great Uncle Bruno) passed away on Tuesday night.

Here is a picture of my great Aunt Helene and the twins (Frankie & Bruno - though I don't know which is which) about 80 years ago...

As a mom of twins, you often get asked whether or not your twins are "natural". One of my friends who has multiples always responds with a resounding, "No, they're aliens and as unnatural as they come!" LOL Nonetheless, there seems to be an obsession over twins. The passing of my uncle Frankie hit my husband and me in a more intense way, though, because of our twin girls. It made me think about them and their incredible bond. I can't imagine them without each other. They literally are two "peas in a pod". My heart breaks for my Uncle Bruno :(

My great grandmother gave birth to 7 children and the last two were identical twin boys. Bruno lives in Chicago and Frankie lived in Southern California. Frankie even married an identical twin, himself! And I think her twin sister married an identical, as well and has identical twin granddaughters. So much for the theory that only fraternals are hereditary!

Frankie is a miracle because he lived for 17 years with someone else's heart. At the time, he was 63 years old and received a heart from a young man who died in an accident. He always bragged that he was UCLA heart transplant # ___ (can't remember the number). But they didn't give transplants to anyone over 60 and he was their first exception. He is blood type B+ and his son recently told me that they did not have good success in B+ transplant patients. Most heart transplant patients develop cancer within 10 years since the immune system is so suppressed. Not Frankie. Through it all, he went through his surgeries and visits making jokes and keeping his faith.

After 17 years, he finally developed cancer in his lungs and spine and he was functioning on only one kidney. They told the family he wouldn't make it past the day, removed him from support and into a private room while they waited for him to let go - yet he held on for over a week afterward. Frankie was stubborn and he wasn't leaving on anyone else's terms and there was something he had to do first.

Frankie had to say goodbye to his "other half".

Bruno made it out and they spent a whole week together. Bruno said his goodbye to his terminally ill brother, boarded a plane and within 24 hours, Frankie finally let go.

Yesterday, we began our day by lighting a candle and saying a special prayer for Uncle Frankie and his family...

A little time on earth he spent
Till God for Him, His angel sent.

Say hi to my Gramps up there, Uncle Frank - we'll never forget your Donald Duck impressions...xoxo

More sandplay

Well, I haven't been blogging much lately and it's mainly because I've been buried in books and websites, trying to absorb everything I possibly can before we "officially" embark on our homeschooling journey. This year is the first year we will have to file with the state, and although the girls have never set foot in a school and we've been homeschooling for what feels like forever, there is a huge change upon us and that is...FIRST GRADE!

I'm really excited and they are, too. I spent all morning on the phone and then an online chat with a handful of other Waldorfy mommas, discussing how to structure form drawing lessons, how to teach foreign language, how to teach math...thank goodness for Kristie Burns, who gently took our hands and guided us along the way.

As the last few weeks/days/hours of our kindy year come to a close, I will be posting some general pictures and adventures, many of which have nothing to do with formal schooling, but lots to do with character and soul development - at least in my eyes ...

This week, we played with our sandscapes again and will be bringing them out again for form drawing. Will post pictures of that once we really start...

OK so I'm breaking a former rule and am now listing my children's names. I feel better about blogging and am becoming friends with many mommas out there so...

Charley (on the left upper picture) made a circle with her "Touch Game" animals. I love how children are naturally drawn to circles. Would love to hear if there is a Steiner lecture out there that addresses circles and spirals with children.

And Elena and Charley pose with our remaining pup, Farley. His brother passed away about 4.5 years ago of lymphoma. They were littermates and our first set of twins :)

And I had to include this shot below of my sink after spending all morning online. Nothing seems to get done unless I'm working hard at doing it. But it made me happy to see that I am engaged in life and learning with and for the girls and myself and it's "OK" to let things slide sometimes to get done what we need to. I'll spare you shots of the rest of the house, though - LOL!

Have a blessed day!