Saturday, December 1, 2012

December 1st...The Journey Begins...

The Holy Family
I have several favorite Christmas traditions that we started years ago when we first began our Waldorf inspired journey.  One of them is our Descending Angel Calendar that is very easy to make.  I can't even remember where I first saw it, but it is very easy to make, stores easily, and is fun for children. 

Here is how: I used felt and cut four long strips and sewed them together (the dark blue).  Then I cut out 26 gold stars - one of them you can see at the top, which is larger and represents the guiding star and then 25 smaller ones which go all the way to about 2 inches from the bottom strip.  The little angel can be made out of tissue paper with wool rolled up in the shape of a ball to form the head.  You can either use a pin or tape to move her down each star for each passing day.  Eventually, ours will stand upright on the stars as the remaining section of the strip is on the table itself.  Here is our angel on the first star for December 1st!

One of my other favorite traditions which begins on December 1st is to prepare the way for the Holy Family and their journey to the stable.  I absolutely cherish my beautiful manger, which has also served as a set for many of our schooling stories, as well as a structure for the girls freeplay.  It was handmade by Rick Tan of Syrendell as a custom order.  Jennifer and Rick are two of my favorite people in the waldorf circle and have so many talents.  I have always been thrilled with their creations!

Pinecones that you can collect with your children are always fun to represent nature and trees in storytelling.  Rocks are also beautiful and add to a nature table.

In the past, I have used pieces of evergreen branches for our spiral, but this year, I wanted to try using our dried moss.  The evergreen branches sometimes slide on the silks (also hand dyed by Syrendell), but the moss tends to grab at fibers more, so I think if we bump into the table, our spiral won't slide out of place this year...we'll see :)  I also love the look of it.

Interesting note of Ancient Hearth history - the Joseph doll was my very first needle felting creation.  I had no training, but used to oogle the beautiful dolls I would see, so I gave it a whirl and voila!  I will always cherish these primitive figures.  There is something special about the simplicity of them.

Below is the base of my Descending Angel Calendar.  Once she reaches the last star on the morning of the 25th, we light our beeswax candle and take a moment to reflect on the many blessings we share and the beautiful soul born 'this day' so long ago...

So the journey for 2012 begins today and we begin to try to quiet our innerselves to prepare for all that this month brings!  Tomorrow, we light our first candle of Advent as it 'officially' begins. 

P.S. Don't forget to start your St. Nicholas stories today, if you are celebrating the Festival of St. Nick!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Holiday Preparations: Wooden Ornaments

Alas, it has been months since I've penned this blog last and for that, and for my overbooked schedule, I apologize.  Life is keeping us very busy and I don't have much time for elaborate, well planned posts.  But, what I love about December is that as part of our homeschooling year, I block out much of the month to focus on all of the wonderful festivals, baking, and traditions; and it's a time when we slow down, stray from more formal lessons, and focus more on creating memories by living in the moment.  So, I am hoping to write many posts over the month of December and would love to start by sharing some warm fuzzies that we treasure in our home. 

Like many of you, I prefer anything handmade.  It is hard to find natural, handmade in the local shops, so I often head over to etsy or track down obscure shops online where I can find those heartfelt goodies that make us feel cozy inside.  I was thrilled to find these handmade wooden ornaments from Germany at a local shop near our home last year.  There were so many cute ones that we had to narrow it down over and over again and I hope that we can snag a few more this year - adding to our little collection through the years.

The girls begged me to get out the old Christmas bins from the garage (no basements where I live) so they could begin decorating the tree and these were some of the first ornaments to go up...

Flying Santa

The Baker

Santa with his Walking Stick

Our Russian Soldier

Of course, the girls found the mini village my father had surprised us with the year I got married and the twins got sidetracked, but hey - any creative play is great by me!  December is a time to slow down, turn inward, and recharge the soul.  Kids definitely recharge through freeplay while we adults often recharge by ignoring the phone, dishes, and laundry and enjoy watching those little ones around us in all of their innocent, joyful splendor.  Childhood is a wonder to behold!

We are preparing our special holiday table, our Advent spiral, Advent wreath, and of course - we are excited about our first festival in Dec - Bishop Nicholas' Day!  This special tradition was made even more fun thanks to the amazingly beautiful and talented Christine Natale and her St. Nick stories - read one a day, beginning Dec 1st and get your kiddos into the spirit of giving and sharing... I have referenced Christine many times in my blog and there is a big reason why - she truly encompasses the Waldorf heart through her love of children and her foundational training and understanding.  I wanted to post the link to her stories now for anyone who plans to begin them December 1st!

You can read more about St. Nicholas here.  And I will be back with more photos as we prepare for this most wonderful time of year! 

Also, I have several comments that I've not answered yet - I hope to eventually get to them.  And I just saw that I have reached a wonderful milestone of 300 followers :) So in honor of that, guessed it...I am planning a special giveaway - so stay tuned!  Hugs to all of you!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

'Television' by Roald Dahl

My sister sent this to me this morning from one of the Waldorf schools in her area and I just had to share it I should also be honest and admit that my girls do watch videos on occassion.  I have turned that ugly black box on now and again to get a rest, but do I see a difference when they watch too much?  You bettcha!  So this is kind of a gentle reminder to me to power through and always limit it.  And as a Roald Dahl fan, I appreciate his talents that much more :)

The most important thing we've learned, So far as children are concerned,
Is never, NEVER, NEVER let
Them near your television set --

Or better still, just don't install
The idiotic thing at all.
In almost every house we've been,
We've watched them gaping at the screen.
They loll and slop and lounge about,
And stare until their eyes pop out.
(Last week in someone's place we saw
A dozen eyeballs on the floor.)
They sit and stare and stare and sit
Until they're hypnotised by it,
Until they're absolutely drunk
With all that shocking ghastly junk.
Oh yes, we know it keeps them still,
They don't climb out the window sill,
They never fight or kick or punch,
They leave you free to cook the lunch
And wash the dishes in the sink --
But did you ever stop to think,
To wonder just exactly what
This does to your beloved tot?

-Roald Dahl
My reader, Laney, who is often found buried in a book...

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Christine Natale's "Fairy Tales" is available on PDF now!

People who have read my blog know that I'm a huge fan of Christine Natale.  She wrote, IMHO, the BEST Waldorf stories for celebrating the St. Nicholas festival and was kind enough to share them, along with much of her other work for free.  Not very many people do something like that and it shows that for Christine, it's all about the children and helping moms and dads, grandmas, grandpas, teachers, and caregivers to have access to the tools to nourish these little ones who are so lacking stories to enahance their beings.  So I wanted to put this out there and give a shout out to Christine.   She has some wonderful original stories that she wrote for her Waldorf classes.  We have used them in our homeschool and my twins loved them (as did I). 

To contact Christine to see about other offers or specials she has, her email is:

Friday, April 13, 2012

Free Stories & Thoughts on Grade 3

A reader had written to me asking what Grade 3 stories we were doing and so I am attempting to find some free stories that pertain to this year which have been helpful for us.  I am not someone who does well reading online, so I usually purchase the books (used if possible - borrowed from the library is best), but I have found that many of the fables or snippets from folktales or fairytales have been perfect from these free online sites.  The best one pertaining to stories used in Waldorf homes is from

So far, what we've found is that Grade 3 centers so much on the 9 year change (and I am beginning to experience it now with one of my twins, just as they turned 9 a month or so ago).  So the Bible stories from the Old Testament are key and most of the time, can be woven in nicely into the other subjects.  So much else of Grade 3 - with measurements of every sort seems to put us outside the 'traditional' classroom: experimenting with grains, farming, gardening, constructing basic dwellings, weaving together, baking, etc.  It's just a really fun year!

As usual, we are going through and reading lots of books together.  I will link a few of the ones we've like the best below:

Hurlbut's Story of the Bible 

The Red Indian Fairy Book (a nice tie-in to Native dwellings)

The Wind in the Willows (found Toad to be a great 9 year change character for children to relate to - he means well, but has bouts of selfishness where he is concerned with his own ego and takes to fibbing when it serves him well.  He is left feeling very much alone, though his friends continue to flock to his aid.)

The Secret Garden (this is a WONDERFUL book about a little girl who begins alone, hardened and cast out of her home due to circumstances.  She comes to live with her uncle in England and blossoms through the promise of the Secret Garden.  It is leading us into our gardening block now.)

The Jungle Book (works well for basic dwelling and survival skills.)

here is the Grade 3 list from
here is a link to Project Gutenberg who offers free quality books online

In Grade 3, you can also tackle cursive, turn your handwork into weaving projects that are practical and useful in everyday life (pot holders, place mats, purses or sacks for boys to carry things in, maybe even a book bag for those library trips), money, telling time, and we started spelling this year, too!

Some of the books we have read or are set to read (aside from Wind in the Willows and Secret Garden) are the following:

The Cat Who Went to Heaven
Mr. Popper's Penguins
Farmer Boy and the Little House Series
The Adventures of Pippi Longstocking
The Dragon of Two Hearts (from the Dragon Boy series)
Patter~Paws the Fox and Other Stories
Trumpets of Happiness and Other Stories

There is a wonderful post (one of many) on Carrie's blog The Parenting Passageway and she posted an extensive reading list here.  Her blog is a wealth of knowledge that transcends across the board - not just to the waldorf circle!

This isn't nearly as much as I would like to share, but I hope it helps stir your thoughts just a bit as you plan out your 3rd Grade year.  I always find myself getting antsy to start that planning in the spring for the next grade, forgetting that we still have lots of time left until the year's end!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Making an Easter Tree

Today, the girls and I wanted to make an Easter Tree to celebrate the upcoming holiday. We wanted to create something natural for our table, that would represent life, and also be somewhat shaped like a cross. I thumbed through my Easter Craft Book and found just what we were hoping for, though we wanted something a little more organic looking, so we headed outside to find some branches or vines and thought that our Apple Blossoms would be perfect...

Cut some off and headed inside...

What you will need:
1. branches or vines and scissors to cut them
2. dowel rods and/or bamboo skewers or sticks even - one long one (dowel rod) and then three skewers long, medium, and short on the top
3. twisties, pipecleaners, or florist tape to secure the vines to the rod and skewers
4. a pot and some dirt or sand (rocks to help secure your tree)
5. decorations (felted eggs, real eggs, flowers, or whatever you want to decorate with)

We started with wire, but had to abandon it for something easier to manipulate.  The wire cut right through our vine.  So we used what we had on hand - green twisties and green pipecleaners. 

We laid the dowel rod in the center and then attached the longest skewer and worked our way up the rod, placing the medium one in the center and the shortest one near the top.  We cut the vines to fit and then attached them to the rod and skewers, going up the dowel rod first.

We then headed outside, held it in the pot and placed small rocks inside to help hold it upright before we filled it with potting soil.

Once it was all filled (we had placed ours in a small round pot and then in a large rectangular 'pot'), we brought it inside and filled in the ground level with the remaining apple blossoms.  Because this is a succulent, we should be able to keep it going with spritzes of water and hopefully it will rejenerate, as well!

 Finally, the girls added some hanging eggs that their Gramy had sent to them last year, though you can wetfelt eggs to add with strings, or decorate in any way you want!  And voila!  You have an Easter Tree :)

 I have some other posts on preparing for the Easter season if you click on the "Easter" link.  Enjoy and I'd love to see your Easter Tree if you have or will make one!  If anyone emails a photo and/or link to your blog, I'd love to put up your photos to share!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Giveaway: And the Playscape Winner Is...


Elizabeth of Heartfelt Homemaking has 3 lovely daughters and is a dedicated homeschooler, mother, and homemaker!

Congratulations, Elizabeth! My daughter, Laney, pulled your name from the bin and I'll be emailing you to get your address so we can send you the playscape! Hope your daughters enjoy it as much as my girls love theirs :)

Thank you to all who entered! I wish I could give one away to everyone!!!!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Giveaway: A Needle-Felted Playscape!

The votes are in! The playscapes win :)

I love playscapes and they have helped me immensely with my Waldorf inspired homeschool. I can't tell you how many times we have used one of the playscapes in the context of a story for teaching or how many times I have heard little voices playing and peek in to find great adventures happening on the playscape with their little wooden toys.

This playscape features a meadow with a raised mound (where a simple little turtle sits), a stream that deposits into a lake, a cave lined with gold and diamonds where a simple red gnome fulfills his life's work, and a magic tale-telling tree that will come with both deep green 'leaves', and 'autumn foilage so that the playscape can be changed for the seasons, as well (simply remove the 'leaves' for a winter scape). Additional treasures abound in the details (like the purple heather and some little 'apples' that can be placed on the tree during the harvest)!

To be entered to win this beautiful playscape, please leave me a comment with the ages of your child(ren) and their favorite book (or books) and I will post those in a subsequent post.

For an additional entry into the contest, become a follower of my blog (if you are already, LMK that and I'll add your name a second time).

For a third entry, please list your favorite blog (and the category it falls under - general, homeschooling, waldorf, crafting, etc) and I'll post those as a group in a subsequent post!

Good luck to everyone!

The winner will be announced next week on Monday, April 2nd!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

OK...Giveaway Suggestions????

I'd like to host my first giveaway in celebration of the reopening of my etsy shop, but I can't decide what to make :)

Which of the three would you like to see:

1) a playscape
2) a wall hanging (wool painting)
3) a spring doll

Suggestions welcome if you have certain colors or creative ideas! I will decide soon and get the giveaway going next week. I appreciate everyone's patience and hope to answer some questions that were recently submitted! My whole blog needs an overhaul :)

Sunday, January 29, 2012

January Calendar & Saving Eloise

"January brings the snow,
Makes our feet and fingers glow."

One of the elements in Grade 3 is learning about time, which includes the passage of...hence the calendar. We are making our own calendar and each month, have learned a little rhyme about that month, and create a drawing that represents it. The girls are contributing more to the creative pallet, as they get older and we decided to draw a figure by a warming hearth.

This gives us the opportunity to introduce measuring, as well. So the girls are becoming more familiar with how to use a ruler and how the metric system works! Any sheet of paper will do, but I didn't want a tear away calendar, so I opted to use our larger drawing paper. We kept the top half for our drawing and in the bottom half, we measured out our ample squares.

This also allows for the writing of the 7 days of the week. Each day, a square is crossed off and the girls tell me what day it is. They take great delight in crossing off another day!

We hung ours in our school room so they are within reach. Over the summer, my husband and I attemped to lazure paint the school room, which was a spare bedroom upstairs that we weren't really using. I am honestly torn between using our kitchen table and having our own room. I have done both and like both for different reasons. But I had found that we had so many crafts and projects out that the kitchen table was never clean, so from that aspect, I like having a room designated to school where we can leave projects out while finishing them. I hope to do another post on our room, how we did it, and how it turned out.

We also made our own blackboard, which I will share, as well. I had a lot of great advice from Jenn of Our Little Nature Nest. Her blog was a great inspiration and I was saddened to hear that she had to close it down. In any case, here are our calendars for January.

And now for Eloise...

This is her impound photo...

While this blog is primarily about our Waldorf-inspired homeschooling adventures, a big part of that is learning about compassion and respect for all creatures, great and small. Yesterday, we were blessed with an extra special rescue that I wanted to share.

Almost two years ago, we rescued a dog who had been attacked and had his eye removed. He sat for 6 long weeks at a shelter and no one wanted him. When we went to see him, someone who was walking by even told us that he wasn't a good dog. We should adopt his kennelmate instead! That sealed the deal for me...With his time running out, we knew in our hearts that he was meant for us! Our Jackie has been the most loving and expressive furbaby. He has been a blessing in our lives. I will always credit him to leading us on this journey, for his save brought us to a wonderful small dog rescue organization who welcomed us with open arms. We not only jumped in with both feet, but we also jumped in with our entire hearts! I couldn't have planned a more important learning experience and life experience for my twins if I tried.

Eloise is one of thousands of dogs that goes through the local shelters where we live. She, like our Jack, had been attacked and Animal Control found her and took her off the streets. Her eye was too far gone to save, so it was removed and she was brought back to the shelter and given a standard 5 day hold to see if her owners would come for her.

They never showed.

On day 6, she had to get out or she was slated to walk the Green Mile and would be killed the next morning. Yup - they give most of the dogs at this particular shelter only one day to get out. Not only was her eye an issue, but Eloise was deemed, 'rescue only'. That meant that her only hope of getting out was through an approved rescue organization. Luckily for Eloise, she had several Guardian Angels.

In the usual scramble that is the rescue world, the director of our rescue said she had an open spot for her, after another dog got adopted to a wonderful family. One rescuer drove over an hour to get her out. The clock was ticking and her time was running out. By 2pm Sat, she was safe in Tammy's car and the girls and I were on our way to meet her. Tammy drove two hours to get her to a meeting point and we drove two hours to get her from that point to our Saturday adoption event. From there, she would go home with the Director and begin her rehabilitation process.

The girls named her Eloise...and held her the whole way to adoptions. She gave them kisses of thanks and ate treats from their hands. Once at adoptions, it was Charley's turn to hold her and she refused to put her down. The looks on my girls faces as they hold these forgotten and unwanted babies, I shall never forget. It is the 'juice' that keeps me going, when I am tired and overworked. 'Just one more life,' I tell myself...yet one more always turns into yet another.

But you know, I really wouldn't have it any other way...look at how relaxed Eloise is, compared to her impound photo. The worst is behind her. She will not die in the morning. Her new life is just beginning. She has been given a second chance at life. She may never know how many people it took to save her, how many animal lovers prayed for her when her photo was circulating, the individual people that gave pledges for the vet care required to heal her injury, or that she has helped form my girls into the next generation of rescuers, who will save more lives when they are grown because of dogs like her...

But the one thing she will know, is that she is...


If anyone has the interest or passion to help rescue shelter animals, good people are always needed. Even if you can't foster, transporters are always needed and appreciated. Many dogs don't make it out alive because the rescues don't have a way to get them the distance they need to go, so if you want to make a different in the life of a dog, cat, rabbit, horse, goat, chicken, pigeon, rat, hamster, guinea pig, you name it - even turtles and iguana's turn up at the shelters, research a good rescue (sadly, not all are good) - and see if you can help transport :) I promise you, the feeling you get on the way from the shelter is one you will never forget, and the lessons you teach your children through example are priceless...