Monday, August 31, 2009
Oh that sheep....I fell in love with a sheep. He loved me too...he leaped for joy right there in his pen when he saw me....probably some sort of cosmic recognition. Who could resist that face?
We also learned how fierce people can get about watching a pig show.
good times at the fair! Look at those quilts!
Saturday, August 29, 2009
Friday, August 28, 2009
I have a story for you. I thought it was too long to post so I placed a link over there---->
It is most certainly a story of the will, and it is a story I bring every year to the first graders, although I think even a 4-year-old might appreciate it, if they are ready to hear the longer stories, and you can always adapt. I think you will like it and I hope it helps you stop inviting fairies into your house :) (I first read it in Shake-Em-Up Tales and adapted it, borrowing heavily) If you have never memorized a story and told it to your child, try that and tell the story once a night for every night. Stories from your childhood are wonderful. Embellish. The best stories come from daily life. Try a round robin story at dinner time with your husband. What a great way that can be to create memories.
(by the way, "Healing Stories for Challenging Behavior" is wonderful.)
On stories, while walking with my husband tonight, he reminded me of a show we had heard on NPR. The speaker was saying that more than tutoring, more than any method of reading, what helped literacy was the family dinner. She theorized this was because of the stories heard with the family gathered around the table. Family dinners are increasingly difficult to fit into our busy schedules, and as your kids get older, watch out....you will have to catch the time before it flies past. We have to plan out the week and make the times that everyone can be together a real priority. When the members of our family constellation move into alignment for dinner at least a couple of nights a week, we learn so much about each other. We still bicker and complain like a real family, but we also laugh and come away with a sense of togetherness, a picture in time, a circle held and let go.
And that is just good fertile soil for stories.
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Before I blog proper, please, someone come over here and put my blog out of its misery and show me how to take pictures!
Or just wait. I'll learn eventually. Like by 2014.
Ok, here is a little third grade beginning crochet project (I introduce crochet in the third grade).
After I give a story about how to hold the hook and yarn, they then proceed to crochet 3 chains that are the length of measuring around their neck 3 times. Then they learn to braid them (if they don't know how already). Inspired by the last issue of Living Crafts' article on yarn painting with food colors, I am going to have them make their braids into necklaces or belts, and paint them in rainbow order. I am not sure if I will have them use food colors or just watercolors. I used organic cotton yarn I found at Jo-ann's.
Yes, I am way into painting on stuff these days!
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Nothing that I've written or anything like that. We are recording songs about making...spinning...etc. I'm trying to have a nice balance of songs in the CD....it will hopefully have a bluegrass-meets-waulking-song sort of feel. Definitely from Kentucky, but knowing where Kentucky's roots are. And that is in Ireland. I'm giving myself a year to complete it. So, every Monday night is singing time for me.
Do you make dates for your creativity?
Monday, August 24, 2009
Ok, here goes:
Seven things I love right now:
1.Having a baby in my life at the ripe old age of 41. I have the perspective of years of parenting and the youth to maintain beginner's mind in the midst of it. Really, I love ALL my children and enjoy being a mom.
2. Waldorf education and its influence on our lives. Every year I think how lucky and blessed I am to be on this path. Only parenting has had the capacity to grow me as a person in a similarly deep way.
3. Making, making, making....lately it is painting that has found its way to me again and I am looking forward to sharing some things I've painted and ideas for creating art for your walls as a family on this blog.
4. Wool. I have serious wool lust. I am already planning my fall trips to the wool festivals
5. Having a spiritual journey. I must say, although I don't have all the answers, I have HAD to adopt an attitude of faith and belief to help me through my episodes of depression. Otherwise, I would not be here. I know that sounds dark, but anyone who has been through those trials will understand. Depression is the absence of what is spiritual, so I have to keep on my journey of seeking and connecting to the divine.
6. Apple picking. Our favorite time is early misty mornings when chill is creeping into the new, tender fall mornings. It is then that the apple orchard is truly a magical place. There is nowhere we feel more abundant and peaceful than when we are among those gnarled apple-tree friends, surrounded by fog.
7. Facebook. No, just kidding. I had to try and make a joke here at the end of my list. I would have to say, squash pie. We eat TONS of butternut squash pie all winter long. I make it every week, sometimes even every day. I love it.
So there is my list. I didn't write Pawley's Island, or any music I love, or my family, or my dear husband, or mountains.
Speaking of mountains, I was born near Grundy, Virginia, and my family lived in Big Rock. I am no stranger to Appalachia and yet I am. My mom moved us to Ohio when I was 10, and I only spent summers in Big Rock. I just found this site and had no idea of the depth of the plight of the area. I think I am going to sign up for this. I just made a quilt top from some designer scraps someone gave me, and was not sure where it should go. Now I know.
check it out here.
Brightest of days to you!
Thursday, August 20, 2009
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
This past weekend, I became slave to an idea. That admittedly bright idea was to make nametags for the students' handwork that did not involve merely writing their name on watercolor paper and punching a hole in it. Oh no, I could not do that again. The nametags would fall apart before September and I'd have to do it again.
So, I painted on muslin and used the fabric to sew nametags. Of course, in setting up painting, here comes 5-year-old Serena, "I want to paint, too." What fun! Her painting was made into a wallhanging.
The painting we did was just like wet-on-wet watercolor painting, only we used wet muslin instead. We did use really good fabric paints (Setacolor by Pebeo) but you could use regular watercolors.
By the way, I don't want to make a long post here, but my favorite book for children's painting (and creativity in general) is Kid's Play by Michele Cassou. If you do any art for children, get this book. And buy Life, Paint, Passion for yourself (same author).
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Monday, August 17, 2009
I was stumped. I knew her first word was "ball" and we made over her saying that first word like we had just discovered the future genius of the WORLD who was going to be so smart she could solve everything!
But her second word? Seconds are inferior, right? We have second rate, second class, sloppy seconds, second wives, and no one really pays attention when you come in second (unless you were Alydar). Factory seconds are sold at deep discounts. With a fourth baby in the house, we are knee-deep on the discovery of firsts. First teeth! First laughs! First sounds! First trip to the zoo! Look what he just did for the first time!
Children rush out on the playground and want to be the first to swing, the first to win the game.
And who can forget first kiss or a first love?
Somehow, we tend to discount the idea of seconds, thinking they are somehow "less than" the delightful discovery of firsts.
Yet....there are also second chances, the second time around, the blessing of having had the experience of the first and now you know so much better. The second can be even more delightful when you can relax in the knowledge of what comes next. And the third, and the fourth, and so on and so on.....
All that joy to be had from learning from the first time, so you can celebrate each and every subsequent moment.
Oh, and don't forget second helpings!
Friday, August 14, 2009
Second thing is I have been thinking about personal style. I think this could be divided into two blog posts. One would be about archetypes. I believe, and was exposed to this idea via Waldorf, that what we wear presents a certain archetype. Hence, the skirts and aprons in Waldorf early childhood classrooms- the teacher presents an archetype of nurturing, mothering, protection and warmth.
The other would be just about personal style. What I choose to wear right now is based on whether I can nurse in it. I have sacrificed 4 dresses to the skirt Goddess so I could just throw a shirt on top and nurse away. I have at least 2 more years of this. The other style factor right now has to do with those stubborn 15 postpartum pounds. what can you wear when nothing you wore fits? The last factors that will define my style is that my clothes are handmade by me, creative, well-fitting, and sustainably assembled. Meaning, I have either thrifted or repurposed my fabric, and that I source as much fabric as I might need after that in North America. But that is tricky if not impossible. Most of our natural fibers get shipped to and from China at some point during the process, whether it is grown here or not.
Alright, enough of this long winded post. I am sure I will update you as I keep remaking myself. Right now my style is just plain frump city. I'd love to be the renegade Waldorf teacher who can be nurturing and stunning at the same time. But beauty is from within, right? (another blog post...focus focus....)
Thursday, August 13, 2009
(disclaimer: I am not, nor have I ever professed to be, a photographer. Any and all hints are welcome. Also, I have no clue how to get Blogger to stop making my text underlined and in blue. Sorry.)
You will need:
A knee high. It can have lots of runners in it and would otherwise be discarded.
A piece of foam. This can be something you have scavenged. I have received foam from my mom who got it in shipping packaging, the side of the road where couches abound (you can cut it with an electric bread knife) and, if you are really desperate, from JoAnn's. But buy the smallest. And really, you could stuff the knee high with an old, polyester sock rolled up. No need to buy anything.
A safety pin
approximately 2 oz (I didn't weigh) of roving that will felt
Some soap (I used Ecover)
Take your foam and cut an oval shape.
Cover this with the knee high. Make a felting batt and wrap this around your foam.It now looks like this:
Take the little tail that is left an pull and smooth it back up toward the top of the bag.Then, twist the top like so and double the pantyhose back over the wool, making a little "sausage"Safety pin the end like so.Now for the fun part. Wet the little felt baby thoroughly and give it a rub with 4 drops of soap. Alternatively, you could throw it in the bathtub with your 4 year old and let him do it. Or in the baby pool. Or do as I did and find the nearest textured kitchen utensil. (see picture)
Keep rubbing until it starts to get fuzzy. Rinse it and carefully peel the hose off. Rinse again. After all that you have this:To finish, finger crochet a strap of about 10 chains, bring together into a loop, stitch it to one side in the middle, and add a button in front for the strap to go around.
Or, like this one, put a long strap in holes on each side, tie off, and collect treasures.
Be sustainable-try to source from local sheep. Try Local Harvest. Locally, try here and here. Have fun!
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
1/2 c. honey
1/2 c. spelt flour
1 t. good quality sea salt
1 t. vanilla (optional)
Pulverize sunflower seeds in a blender or food processor until they just about make sunflower butter. Drizzle in honey while machine is running. Add honey as needed until it forms a large ball. Take this ball out and knead in flour with your hands.
From here you can roll out the cookies and cut them into shapes, or flatten with your hands and decorate with raisins.
Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes or just take them out before they burn. They'll be fine.
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
One of the areas of real life she enjoys hearing the most are stories of our pets. I had pets and livestock growing up and have just about exhausted their histories. I thought, why not tell the stories of the pets we have now?
Take Moonlight, for instance. Moonlight's story begins with his brothers, who were ready for adoption on September 11, 2001, my oldest daughter's 10th birthday. She had heard the events of the day at school, yet I am not sure how much she or her 7-year-old sister understood. I went into protective mother mode and wanted to keep my daughter's 10th birthday as normal and memorable as possible. We drove out to the country and she and her sister picked out two little black kittens. The rest of the evening was spent making their beds, litterboxes, feeding, etc. while the rest of the world was numb with mourning.
The little black kitties turned out to be quite mischievous. I lived in an apartment at the time, and before those kittens were a year old my landlord had called me to tell me he had received complaints about my black kitties. In fact, they had "attacked" a dog. Not too long afterward, Black kitty#1 went disappearing.
So, we had to replace him, lest one of the girls be left kitten-less. We traveled out to the same country house, same kitty mama, and this time picked up 2 tabbies: one for us, one for my "friend" Chance, who really was just a friend at the time. We brought little Moonlight home and proceeded to watch his brother (we are pretty sure they were half-brothers, but we declined the paternity test) hiss and spit and otherwise treat him like an outcast.
But exactly four days later, a magical things happened. I looked on my bed and saw two kitties. One larger black kitty was curled with his chin upside down, and Moonlight was "nursing". Yes, his brother allowed this.
He continued to allow it for some time. We moved, when Chance became more than a friend and we rented a house together. Those kitties were very close, although I think Moonlight needed his brother more than vice-versa. One sad day, our black kitty came up missing as well. I was heartsick for days, because I intuited he wouldn't come back and he didn't. He was a good cat.
Moonlight is a good cat too. He has endured so much in the name of love. He has allowed my toddler to lay on him and roll her belly across his body, with only one little twitch of his tail. He has been carried around like a rag doll and has endured the indignities of being dressed up and collared and walked like a dog. All he asks in return is a night out, a warm patch of sunlight, and food in the morning. If you don't feed him soon enough, he nibbles your toes.
Raccoon cat is another story....
So, pet stories....I could see this being a good book making project for an older child, and a good book making project for a parent of a younger child (to give to the child, of course). It could inspire lots of conversations and drawings.
Cadi and Jen, you win for commenting! I will send your goodies out this week. I need addresses again though.
When I first started working at the Waldorf school, I had no clue about plant dyeing. I just ordered my Brown Sheep colors as close to Goethe's color theory as I could and went merrily along my way. Somewhere in my training, a change occurred. There is always a longing within me for connection. In my handwork training, we drew the dye plants, we observed them deeply in silence. We then dyed with them. This was perfect for me....I love the kind of process where there is a surprise at the end, and the results are ever-beautiful, ever-changing, never duplicated, and the process yields a sense of connection to the Earth. So close to Nature Herself. So like sanguine me....tripping along, changeable, free. Recipes, yes, but no guarantees. And plant-dyeing 100 skeins of yarn at a time was just the kind of extremism I go for.
But, what really got me, heart and soul, were the colors. I figured if the colors had this kind of intangible effect on me, surely they would be healing for the children. And it is something I can give to the school...the time, effort, and learning that goes into natural dyeing is worth it to me.
I still feel very much an apprentice in the natural dyeing realm. I am making my plans for this week and these are the dyepots that are featured:
For red: cochineal . I got a good red last year using only cochineal, distilled water, and cream of tartar. Alum mordant. I also bought a lac/madder combo I am going to try with distilled water also, since lac is expensive and sensitive to pH.
For orange: yellow cosmos from my back yard and a little copperas in the dyebath
For yellow: more cosmos and marigolds, and a dear friend brought me some tesu flower (I think that is what it is) from LaLana Wools in Taos. These should give me nice yellows and golds.
For green: cosmos overdyed with indigo, onion skins overdyed with indigo, and I am going to try to get a green using blue vitriol mordant. (blue vitriol...what a great name, eh? That pretty much sums up some days around here.)
For blue: Is there anything else? I have no woad, so indigo it is.
For purple: logwood
For pink: second pass in the cochineal dyepot
for brown: cutch (I love love love the colors cutch gives)
If I get time, I am going to swipe some goldenrod from a roadside or friend's farm and dye with that. I would also like to experiment with other local plants: sycamore, nettles, vines in my front yard, any other weeds I can find to dye with
My favorite books for dyeing are:
The Natural Dye Instruction booklet by Michelle Wipplinger
A Dyer's Garden by Rita Buchanan
Vegetable Dyeing by Alma Lesch (who was hugely involved in U of L's fiber arts program)
You can get these books on Amazon (Vegetable Dyeing is out of print so you will have to) or at earthsongfibers.com, or earthguild.com
By the way, Earth Guild has free instruction sheets for natural dyeing. I do use their indigo recipe. I can't wiggle too much with the indigo dyeing. I've ruined too much yarn through my wiggling around good, solid instructions.
Sunday, August 9, 2009
This is a list of what is in it:
Pencils, pens, including a Chinese brush pen (because you never know when you will need one)
Way too many body care items (but you always need lip balm!)
no less than 3 knitting gauges and a tape measure left over from midwife-apprenticing days
nail clippers (I can never find them when I need them but I always know they are in my basket)
16" circular needle
small ball of handspun yarn
Tin of sewing needles and spool of sewing thread, as well as a vintage replica needle book
unopened package of double points
small knitting project (currently a pair of toe-up socks from Cat Bordhi's sock book)
And that's just my literal baggage. We won't talk family baggage just yet. All that is missing is the chocolate bar. My current favorite chocolate is this.
What is in your bag?
Thursday, August 6, 2009
It got me thinking about the creative process AGAIN. I am always thinking about the creative process and observing myself in it. This year, my theme has been death in creativity, which is really my way of saying, "There's room for bad poetry!" "Frog that knitting project!" "Scribble all over that drawing!!!" "Write 'it's' every time you are supposed to write 'its'"!!
And there is room for it all! How do we grow without taking risks?
Now, here is where I take issue with society at large. Society seems so focused on its own ideals of beauty and mothering and perfection and who wants to read about your bad days and mistakes you made and all that anyway?
Well, I do, for one. I love reading people's journeys through their blogs, and there are some really beautifully honest women putting it all out there. Wonderful!
Now, go scribble like a 6-year-old.
A finger kiss goes something like this
On your nose, on your toes, on your freckles
And while fingertips are short on lips,
They're long on love and tickles (A. Mobley)
It's a kick-leaves day
Rustle, rustle hush
It's a kick-leaves day
Crunch-a, crunch-a crush (kick the leaves as we walk clockwise)
Falling leaves make way for cold
Windy windy woo
Time for hats and boots to go
Put-'em-on, put-'em-on, put-'em on you!
Squirrels dig for nuts and seeds
I jump high into piled leaves
Jumpity jumpity jump!
One little leaf, hanging in a tree (hold child high or have them reach)
The tree said, "fall!" the leaf said, "Wheee!" (on 'fall', child falls or you scoop them down, on 'wheee', swing child or have them turn around joyfully)
(model movements for child, or touch babies accordingly….at home, you can change the body parts as much as you like and have fun rhyming)
Wind in my eyes, wind in my hair
Wind in my toes, wind everywhere
Wind in my fingers, on my belly too
Wind in my ears, whispering "woooooooo!!"
I'm riding in a haywagon, on an autumn day
Back to the sideboard, feet on the hay
Wiggily the wagon wheels, wobbly the crooked path
My horsie might speed up a bit if kindly I ask
Faster now my horsie, no time to be slow!
Bumpier, bumpier, wheels hit a hole!
Slow down now my horsie, it's to head on home
Wiggily, crookedy, bumpety, Whoah!
Jack Frost took his wand in hand
And flitted to and fro
Covering every leaf and stem
With a glittering, silvery glow (Parent plays Jack Frost)
He whispers to the flowers
"It's time to go to sleep
You must now spend your hours
Under blankets of fallen leaves" (cover child with a silk)
Now brittle sparkles cover the grass (lightly tap child with fingertips)
Wherever Jack did go
And when his job is done, at last (lift silk on "at last")
We know soon there will be snow
Tuesday, August 4, 2009
Bless that man Chance, who basically took over the work of the garden this year. We are harvesting green peppers, banana peppers of all different colors, onions, and sometimes tomatoes. The squirrels have been eating our tomatoes as soon as they hint at being ripe.
So, I took our bounty and made chili for this rainy day. I used some of the tomato juice I had canned last year. I'm not canning again this year. It's a baby year and not canning is among many forgivable sins of omission.
I also made a sea vegetable salad that is so easy I thought I'd share it with you. Buy some arame, soak it until it is soft, mix equal parts tamari and brown rice syrup, and serve warm or cold. Add other vegetables, and a dash of brown rice vinegar as you like. I think even children might try it. I think.
Monday, August 3, 2009
Now, an excerpt from a poem by May Sarton:
It is time for the invocation:
Kali, be with us.
Violence, destruction, receive our homage.
Help us to bring darkness into the light,
To lift out the pain, the anger,
Where it can be seen for what it is—
The balance-wheel for our vulnerable, aching love.
Put the wild hunger where it belongs,
Within the act of creation,
Crude power that forges a balance
Between hate and love.
Help us to be the always hopeful
Gardeners of the spirit
Who know that without darkness
Nothing comes to birth
As without light
Bear the roots in mind,
You, the dark one, Kali,
Saturday, August 1, 2009
But classroom application of the temperament theory is not what I've been obsessing about. I've been obsessing about the adults in my life and my own temperament. If you are new to temperaments, a good place to start is this.
Now, what got me thinking about how useful the temperaments are is the area of impulses. In working with small children and their parents, I've noticed that parenting the ages of birth-adulthood and beyond has everything to do with how you respond to an impulse. For a toddler that wants to hug everyone VERY tightly....what is the impulse behind those actions? He is wanting pressure on his body, he wants to put his arms around something, he needs touch. How do we meet the needs behind the impulse without shaming him for his impulses? By the way, I believe that we all seek healing and to make sense of the world around us. Children especially have an innate capacity for healing themselves. They often do it in ways that may be socially and behaviorally unacceptable. We can use their behavior to help them navigate their challenges in a way that is pleasurable for everyone involved. Tricky, yes!
At any rate, I have been using this with my husband. He is choleric and loves to argue and will often argue just to argue. Unfortunately, I often feel that my issues are what we argue about, and I get defensive. I asked him if we could find things we BOTH like to argue about and I'm really excited about trying to do that. I envision a good debate that will draw us closer rather than a random argument that drives a wedge.
With Serena, I have been trying to redirect her loud voice while the baby is sleeping to singing and that seems to be working. These are simple things and there are more complicated questions we have to work out...like her desire to argue and drive a wedge between herself and her friends. I know part of that is the path of the 6-year-old (she will turn 6 in October) and again, I need to help her navigate the impulse to say hurtful things, and also let her learn from her actions and words.
This, to me, is part of the analogy of the swing. When we help "give in" to the impulses of people and children, view them with compassionate curiosity, manage our own impulses and needs, and help each other have all that in healthy, pleasurable ways, we can enjoy our relationships so much more.