Monday, June 30, 2014

Lately...week three

this week I've been...

remembering summers from my childhood
trying to plan and have a homeschool theme session at the same time
cooking bone broth
drinking green smoothies
reading The Complete Tales of Ketzia Gold by Kate Bernheimer
wanting coconut butter treats
creating ...plans?
playing "Polar Express" with Chobie
deciding if I want to get a curriculum for kindergarten
wishing for more time in the day
planning our summer homeschool
wondering when Bee will have the anticipated verbal explosion 
loving to see Chobie's play involving so much tying things together with yarn
listening to Swan Lake
needing a blender than makes smoother smoothies
wearing pony tails and top knots
noticing how prevalent feelings of guilt are for mamas
exploring how that can change
thinking about consolidating
getting rid of things I don't use anymore 
feeling like laying in the sun and splashing in the pool with the littles

gratitude for...
the beautiful people and the food I had the honor of sharing on our recent trip
a space to grow our own food
my sister moving home after YEARS
new opportunities
Camilla Sinensis
love in a mist
little hands
what I've learned about nursing from watching mama animals
my other sister's financial expertise
acres of grass spotted white and purple with oxeye daisy and self-heal

links to enjoy...
fun songs and fingerplays in this pdf from a distant public library system
gorgeous fibers
the fantastic Frida Khalo rendered in embroidery thread

How was your week?

Follow on Bloglovin

If you enjoyed this post, PLEASE click here to vote for me on top mommy blogs. I appreciate your support!

Just Click To Send A Vote For Us @ Top Mommy Blogs

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Summer Play Time and Rainy Day Reflections

These last few days have been raining, but warm. Here in the land of year-round rain, this is my favorite type of rain, except maybe when camping when even the so-called water proof tents don't actually stand up to our rains. Incidentally, that's exactly what we've been doing for the last couple of days. Before that we visited Grandma and Grandpa, and went swimming at a lake (another one down on our Summer Fun Times list.)

Today we're back home with a couple of tired out kids enjoying some peaceful indoor summer fun, namely cozy book time and play with pattern blocks.

Over the last couple of weeks, I've been reflecting on our first year of homeschool and wondering if I should continue on with lesson plans through the summer or take a break, or try something less structured. I pondered and weighed pros and cons until I realized that I had an easy out, I just asked Chobie. He requested that we keep doing homeschool through the summer, even though I did explain that most kids don't have school in the summer time, he maintained that he does want to keep going. I love my nerdy little kid!

So even though we are continuing on into the summer with our lessons, I feel like we've successfully completed a year of home learning. Hooray!

Our curriculum this year was based loosely on the free Waldorf-inspired preschool curriculum put together by one of the moms on this Yahoo group. You do have to join the group, which is full of people with great ideas and lots of used waldorf items for sale all the time at great prices by the way, to access the curriculum for yourself if you're interested. I thought it was full of good ideas and found tons of inspiration in it. But I wanted to customize, partly because that's how I am with everything, so I don't think any curriculum will do straight out of the box for me.

I did find the amount of hands on art projects for each day to be a bit too much for us. As a mom of two young kids, working half-time at home while maintaining my own busy life of crafting and book-nerdishness, doing that many crafts is a handful, but the main thing is that it would take up the majority of each day to do all of the projects, not leaving enough time for free play. So I think that I will tone down the projects a little bit next year, or at least think of them as ideas more so than plans.

I've also been struggling through how to make a holistic cirriculum that involved a lot of child-led learning (I think I introduce too much material for my kids to be considered properly "unschool" even though I draw a lot of inspiration from the unschooling movement). Chobie started showing signs of reading readiness and picks up math quickly too right about the time when I decided that I wanted to start formally homeschooling. I never imagined that my four-year-old would want to start reading so soon. My visions of explorations in water color, walks in the woods, and make believe games about elves for the year quickly became infiltrated with alphabet activities and number games. By April, Chobie was reading! In the process, I felt like I lost sight of some of the holistic principles that I wanted to guide our homeschool process. Instead of walking in the woods and doing art, we were suddenly busy with counting bears and button sorting. Not that there's anything wrong with that, it just feels easier to find those activities and do them and feel like my kid is learning than it is to appreciate the learning process that unfolds when we spend a day on the prairie.

So in addition to the "normal" learning areas like language, math and science, I've listed out the learning areas that will maintain the holistic aspect of our curriculum.

  • developing a strong sense of place
  • connecting with the world, past and present, through story
  • practical life skills
  • wholeness and interconnection within systems (as in being able to see the big picture as a balancing force to reductionist thinking)
  • tools for emotional wellness and self-care
  • social and ecological responsibility 
  • critical thinking
  • spiritual awareness

I'm looking forward to fleshing out these ideas a bit and adding them as pillar posts to this blog. I know that I appreciate that sort of thing when I first find a homeschool blog, if I get a sense of what the philosophy is, then I know how our family compares and how compatible it will be for us from the beginning.

Considered how things have gone, I'm going to start him with a kindergarten curriculum in the fall, even though he's technically not supposed to start until next year with the dating system our public school system uses.  I'm a little uneasy with this decision because of how much I had read about how the standard education in this country forces kids to do things too fast. I would rather go by my kids' signs of readiness, it just turns out things are going more quickly for Chobie than I had imagined. I can accept that.

So I'm looking forward to a summer of gathering kindergarten resources and developing our cirriculum. I'll be sharing my thoughts and reviewing the resources I come across along the way, as well as keeping you updated on our summer learning. Hope you'll be following along!

How did your homeschool year go? How's your summer?

Follow on Bloglovin

If you enjoyed this post, PLEASE click here to vote for me on top mommy blogs. I appreciate your support!

Just Click To Send A Vote For Us @ Top Mommy Blogs

Friday, June 27, 2014

DIY Flavored Water

Even in my somewhat sheltered world, where I enjoy doing the bulk of my shopping at food co-ops, don't have a TV in the house and otherwise do as much as I can to shelter myself from the sensory overload of over-advertising culture, I've seen the hubbub about the various drops of flavor/color you can add to water to instantly turn it into a tasty treat.

Right away I knew that these products were excellent candidates for a DIY, healthier, nourishing version. I later learned, of course, that I was not the only one with this idea and I've since seen different supplement water ideas floating around in the cyber world. So here's my take on it.

Lemon, cranberry, sea-salt water.

Take half a lemon, 1/4 to 1/3 cup unsweetened cranberry juice, and a pinch of seasalt.

 Mix with a quart of water.


This is very sour, which is something I find enjoyable, but if you prefer you can add raw honey to taste. I still find that raw honey spikes my blood sugar too much, so I leave it out.

Follow on Bloglovin

If you enjoyed this post, PLEASE click here to vote for me on top mommy blogs. I appreciate your support!

Just Click To Send A Vote For Us @ Top Mommy Blogs

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Another Toddler Mess

Bee continues the be the champion of creating his own sensory play experiences, or in other words: messes.

The other day while I was taking care of some chores in the living room, he pulled the bag of paprika from the spice drawer and onto the floor I had just mopped.

Do you ever have days like that? Where you try to get the chores done, only to find a new mess every time you turn around?

Well, at least he's learning.

Follow on Bloglovin

If you enjoyed this post, PLEASE click here to vote for me on top mommy blogs. I appreciate your support!

Just Click To Send A Vote For Us @ Top Mommy Blogs

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Our Summer Solstice

So I know that the solstice was a few days ago, but I wanted to share a little bit of our summer solstice festivities.

First, we went for a nature walk along a neighborhood trail. We talked about how the solstice is the longest day of the year, when the sun is in the sky the longest, and how the sun's light feeds everything on earth, making life possible.

Chobie decided that he wanted to make a banner to be festive, so we put this together. Can you guess who did what part?

We made some summer solstice sun crowns to wear. Chobie felt strongly about putting rhinestones on his, which didn't quite go along with my solar inspired vision of gold and yellow, but sunlight does contain the whole spectrum of colors, right?

We also made a special summer solstice nature table. (Putting the candles in the little fish bowls keeps them from blowing out in the wind.)

The main part of the festivities for us is always the feasting. Summer solstice is such a good time for celebrating with sweets: strawberries are ripe and hot weather makes us crave refreshing fruits. But, as I've mentioned before, my kids don't eat cane sugar (except in small amounts found in things like crackers and whatnot when we are in need of convenience foods, which I do try to avoid to begin with, and on very few special occasions). So we made these fruit juice gelatin solstice suns.

They aren't beautiful, and my non-skills as a food photographer aren't really helping them out either, but I know how hard it is to figure out treats for sugar-free kids, so I wanted to share these anyway.

Then we also enjoyed this (prettier) strawberry cheesecake, sweetened with only 1/2 cup maple syrup in the whole thing.

We also played with bubbles, ran around, and enjoyed seeing a few friends.

What did you do on the longest day of the year?

Follow on Bloglovin

If you enjoyed this post, PLEASE click here to vote for me on top mommy blogs. I appreciate your support!

Just Click To Send A Vote For Us @ Top Mommy Blogs

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Lately Week Two

this week I've been...

remembering what it was like to have summer break as a kid
trying to garden despite my allergies
cooking burgers, burgers, and more burgers
drinking rooibos, rose hip and rose bud blend
reading nothing. Can't settle into a book after The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender
wanting more time for crafts
creating piles of projects I'm putting on hold
playing with bubble wands
deciding when to set the launch date for my shop
wishing for a little bit of summer rain
planning our summer adventures
wondering how homeschooling will go next year for kindergarten
loving my incredible partner who does so much for our family
listening to the shook twins
needing a cat
wearing new silver spiral earrings
noticing how bee is so expressive even without using words
exploring Roald Dahl's short stories 
thinking that our family really should go away for vacation this summer after all
getting through some hard feelings
feeling new energy

gratitude for...
the longest day of the year
how much bee loves to play this little piggy with his toes
that chobie notices when i'm sad and comes to hug me
the friends i haven't seen for a while
walks in the woods
foot massages
opportunities to doze on the couch
help from family members when i've really needed it
all the early berries this year

this week's enjoyable links...

We all know there's way too much "good" parenting advice out there, but this I really did find helpful.

I found this article that validated my old fashioned notions of learning, and to some extent being in the world.

Also in this weeks finds: adorable snail doll pattern.

One of my favorite blogs turned three months old this week.

I'll be participating in this month's carnival of natural parenting too.

How was your week? links to posts welcome.

Follow on Bloglovin

If you enjoyed this post, PLEASE click here to vote for me on top mommy blogs. I appreciate your support!

Just Click To Send A Vote For Us @ Top Mommy Blogs

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Pinned it. Did it. Summer Solistice Wands

Happy Summer Solstice everyone! In honor of the longest day of the year and the shift into the waning half the the year, we made some summer solstice wands.

As another edition of my feature: Pinned it. Did it, these were inspired by this pin...

I went for something a little more rustic and simple since I was making these with/for my young children who are destined to flail them into smithereens.

I did do a step by step tutorial for these ones since the original site for this pin was an Etsy listing that is no longer available from this shop that doesn't have anything listed currently but seems pretty sweet from the description. I will be checking back in in the future in hopes of finding more sweet Waldorf-inspired wares. With these wands though, I did things my own way and learned from each wand as I went. But the steps are pretty simple:


step one:
Cut stick(s) to desired length.

step two:
Cut out sun shapes from felt. I made a pattern first by tracing the ring of a small mason jar onto paper then drawing the rays onto that, so that they would come out in a more even circle than if I had just free handed it.

step three:

Cut yarn (or ribbon or whatever) to the desired length. I made nine pieces for each wand, three of each of the three colors.

step four:
Glue the stick to the center of one piece of sun-shaped felt. Glue the ribbons into the center too.

step five: 
Add a bit of stuffing and then sew a circle around the middle.


(unless your a semi-disorganized blogger like me, then you have to scramble around your house and find the appropriate photo backdrop and put the things into a mason jar and beg your kids not to come grab them while you fiddle with the camera settings. Snap the photo. Now you're finished).


time: 1 1/2 hours for all three made here.

cost: $, maybe even half a dollar sign since these are easily made from scrap fabric and sticks are free outside...

skill level: mediumish. Getting the yarn to adhere to the hot glue in the middle without falling out or sticking both sides of the sun together and messing up the stuffing was a little tricky. So was sewing around the stick and the awkward nature of the design during the stuffing process. It's not the usual sew, turn right side out, stuff, seal process for making softies.
This was one of the things on our summer fun times lists too, so CHECK!

What are you doing on the summer solstice this year?

Follow on Bloglovin

If you enjoyed this post, PLEASE click here to vote for me on top mommy blogs. I appreciate your support!

Just Click To Send A Vote For Us @ Top Mommy Blogs

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Frog Prince Free Printable
We're in our last week of our life cycles theme for homeschool, so I wanted to share this felt board printable of The Frog Prince.

It's just black and white so the coloring is all DIY. Like all the fairy tales, this one has lots of tellings. I made this printable specifically to go with this version of the story.

And here's the short version with pictures and a few of my comments.

One day a princess was playing with her favorite golden ball by a pond...

when it fell in. (There is a slit in the pond that allows for this). A frog sitting nearby on a lily pad offered to get it, but for a price. She had to pledge her love, that they would share their meals and that he could sleep on her pillow. She agreed, but didn't really think she would have to put up with a frog.

The princess went home happily and forgot about the frog, until that evening just before dinner when there was a knock at the door.

The frog entered the dining hall with the king and the princess. The princess had to explain her deal. She begged the king to make the frog go away, but he reminded her how important it was to keep her word. 

So they dined together.

The frog slept on her pillow. 

In the morning the princess was amazed to find that a prince was on the pillow next to her, not the frog! He explained how an evil fairy had put a spell on him and how she had broken it by keeping her word.

And they all lived happily ever after.

Follow on Bloglovin

If you enjoyed this post, PLEASE click here to vote for me on top mommy blogs. I appreciate your support!

Just Click To Send A Vote For Us @ Top Mommy Blogs