Sunday, 25 November 2012

November catch-up

PLEASE NOTE: If you happen to look for older posts and they've gone missing here is what happened.  I got a message that I had used up all my photo storage space.  I could purchase more space but I decided to delete some old posts that didn't have too many views.  Unfortunately it didn't make any difference so I just lost some good posts.

I have been given several suggestions on what to do, but I think it would require me reformatting all the old photos and re-posting old posts.  With over 200 posts I'm not loving that idea.  So I can't share what we have been doing all month with you.

We have had a great November.  We have been playing dress up, eating new healthier foods, and finding new activities to do outside.  November is hard for me because it isn't quite winter/Christmasy but in Canada we are done with Thanksgiving/fall.  We made lanterns for Martinmas, and focused a lot on Jack Frost.  We also enjoyed our first snow fall.

Next week I'll be gearing up for December and creating our advent calendar.

I hope to be back up and blogging soon.

Many blessings to you all.

Monday, 29 October 2012

Fall Harvest Party

This past weekend we had a Fall Harvest Party.  In our wonderful stories (see resources below) Super Sam and his friends had a fall harvest party so we decided to have one too.  All month long the children followed along with Super Sam's adventures and also created their own invitations, snacks, decorations and games. On Saturday morning cousin E and one of our daycare girls came to celebrate in the fun.  Unfortunately not everyone was able to attend, but we still had a great time.

Welcome to the party

Fall Nature Table

Yummy treats

Bowling Squash

Pumpkin bean bag toss

Decorating coffee filters as jack-o-lanterns

Circle Time

Fall decorations
Dressing Up

Fall sensory bins

We are using Waldorf Essentials kindergarten curriculum that comes with their Thinking Feeling Willing program.  I can't say enough about how amazing Melissa is.  The children lessons are adorable and all the kids love Super Sam.  The mom lessons have taught me so much about Waldorf I feel much more prepared to homeschool now.  Of course the support from Melissa is invaluable and always so helpful. I do encourage anyone new to Waldorf or needing some help to check out this program.

I am really excited about the rest of the fall and into the winter.  We will continue to use the Waldorf Essentials and also have included some wonderful themes from Seasons of Joy Winter.

Check out the giveaway at Seasons of Joy this week and join their link-up!!

I'll be linking up throughout the week:

Waldorf Wednesday at Seasons of Joy
Happy Family Times
Natural Suburbia
It's Play Time

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Fall Fun

Well I lost the camera somewhere on our way home from our Thanksgiving weekend (or it is still in a bag somewhere waiting to be discovered).  So I have finally downloaded all the photos I've been taking off my camera.

Over the past two weeks it has been all about fall around here.  Leaves, pumpkins, harvesting gardens, and more leaves!
Leaves, toadstools, pinting with leaves
After Thanksgiving (here in Canada) the boys played in leaves a lot.  We have been using our sandbox trucks to push them around, raking, filling tarps to take to the compost pile, jumping, rolling, throwing, using snow shovels... We also made little toadstools to look like Super Sam's house from our stories.  I had found some paper-mache mushrooms on clearance at the end of the summer.  We used red and white tissue paper to decorate them for the nature table. The next day the boys used leaves to make prints.  They experimented with a few different painting techniques and even painted with some pine needles.

We have visited many farms over the last month.  Early in the month we went to Robinson's Farm (one of the daycare boy's grandparents own the farm).  Over the summer and early fall we also went to Frootogo for apple picking.  Recently we have been to Parkside Farms and Simpler Thyme organic farm. Of course we also harvested our whole garden plot and cleaned it up for the winter.  We ended up with a tone of green tomatoes.
Ducks at Simpler Thyme Farms, Chickens at Parkside Farms, playing with toy phones, Another visit to Parkside Farms
It was such a delight for me to visit Simpler Thyme farms as the lady who runs it is so kind and lovely to talk to.  We also met up with another family from our area who is doing Waldorf Homeschooling.  TJ played soccer with their boys for over an hour in the cold wind and can't wait to do it again!

We have made are more contact paper and leaf collages to hang in the window. On a particularly busy day for the daycare we made collages of fall coloured material and yarn.  Lots of baking has been going on.  I used up all the green tomatoes to make 2 apple-tomato pies, 1 bunt cake, 2 loaves, 4 dozen muffins, and froze the ones that ripened.  I'm now working on the apples next.

One day we went to Parkside Farms with our cousins E and baby J.  The children all picked out some larger pumpkins to decorate.  When we got home we made fun faces on the pumpkins with playdough. It was neat to be able to take it off and start again.  Then we pulled out some paint, glue and glitter for the kids to go wild!  TJ and MJ are so proud of their creations.  Cousin E made a great start on her large pumpkin, and even baby J liked playing with his.

decorating and playing with pumpkins
 In our stories (we are using the kindergarten lessons from Thinking Feeling Willing at Waldorf Essentials), Super Sam takes a little boat to deliver invitations to his Harvest Party.  We made little boats out of apple sauce containers and origami paper.  Once they tipped over TJ realize we could just use leaves from outside as the sail.  As a daycare we are hosting our own harvest party next weekend.  The children are excitedly planing and baking to get ready.
material collage, boats for Sam, clearing leaves with snow shovels
The weather has been on and off, but we are outside every day.  TJ has been working to move the log pile around and our rope swing is getting a lot of use.  We have had some on and off days too.  Now that everyone is getting used to each other we are learning to respect people's space and to use our manners.  Communication for preschoolers and kindergarteners is difficult but we are working on talking to each other (politely).  Behaviour around here is slipping and mommy is getting very weary, but I'm making steps to turn things around.  I'm hopeful to have a shift in the mood around here next week.

I'll be linking up to some great sites during the week.  I encourage you to check them out for more wonderfully inspiring ideas!

Monday, 8 October 2012

Week 5: The acorn family

I realized that I hadn’t written about our week.  Here are some highlights.

New veggie we found at the garden plot
 Woody, Pip, and Hazel
On Monday we visited the garden plot and found a new veggie to explore.  We also spent a nice day around the house.  In our stories we were introduced to the Acorn family and friends. 
Pumpkin rocks to give at Thanksgiving
On Tuesday we went to the early years center to meet some friends.  We hadn’t been in quite a while and had a nice time.  In the afternoon we had to go downtown to get our police checks done.  Not a very exciting afternoon but the kids all did well.  Later in the evening my friend came to visit and the boys decorated some rocks they had painted orange for their pumpkin rocks.

On Wednesday the kids helped me to wash all our pie pumpkins.  After I cut them up to bake I thought the children would enjoy scooping out the insides but they all thought it was too slimy.  Because I was busy with all the pumpkins it was a bit chaotic.  But we did end up with 14cups of puree and everyone learned to play by themselves a little more.  During quiet time I we also opened a new box of window crayons which was fun.
Yummy pumpkin pancakes

All our friends out on a walk
 On Thursday we started our day with some delicious pumpkin pancakes.  We had plans to meet a new friend, but our plans changed.  Since the weather was so beautiful we decided to take a picnic lunch down the hill to Kern Cliff Park.  We saw several people painting and hope to do the same some time.  It was great for the boys to climb and run about. Thursday afternoon my sister came for a great visit.
The boys climbing rocks

Sam and Mr. Squirrel out on our walk

Beauty of fall!
On Friday we had a full house and loads of fun.  It was painting day and the children worked on invitations for the fall harvest party they are hosting at the end of the month.  We painted their hand to make a tree print and then they used their fingertips to make little leaves.  It turned out very well.  Our new songs for circle time are also being learned quickly.

Finger painting fall trees
MJ making leaves
This week I did a lot of baking and packing for the weekend.  We first went to Meaford on Saturday to visit one set of grandparents.  It rained on and off all day but didn’t let that stop us from looking at all the scarecrows around town and visiting a local market for apples.  The boys loved playing at their house. 

The next day after a late start we visited my husbands' aunt and then headed off just past Orillia to visit another set of grandparents.  At the cottage our boys went fishing, played outside all afternoon, made a big fire and enjoyed visiting cousins and relatives.  Although they didn’t eat much of the dinner they were sure to be ready for a yummy dessert (we brought pumpkin cake with Nutella icing).  It was nice to not have to run off and head home again, as we decided to stay the night.
Thanksgiving Place Mats
Monday we got going late from the cottage and then got stuck in traffic for several hours.  We went straight to my parents for another lovely dinner.  The kids made fun place mats using clear contact paper and leaves.  They were rather restless by the end of the weekend.  The food was delicious and it was wonderful to see my family.

I realized that although we did a lot of fall activities this week I forgot to focus on Thanksgiving with the boys.  We do talk about being thankful daily, but I know I could have made more effort with that.  We did talk more about it on the weekend though.

Upon reflection of the week, I’m noticing that TJ and I are becoming increasingly frustrated with each other.  I’m reminding myself not to get into an argument with a 4 year old.  I’ve got to work on actually liking the kids next week and catching them being nice. UPDATE: just read the most amazing articles on 4 year olds over at The Parenting Passageway that really helped put things into perspective.

Linking up this week:
Hip Homeschool Moms
Happy Family Times
Seasons of Joy Waldorf Wednesdays
It's Play Time

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Gift Giving (never too early to start planning)

As many of you already know we are trying to move towards a simpler more natural lifestyle (Okay I am and everyone else is along for the ride).  That being said our gift giving and wish lists are changing too... a little.
Mini stockings for our advent calendar
I do hope this post doesn't offend or bother anyone (I hate conflict), I am not trying to push our wish list on family members (although Christmas is coming!!), but  wanted to share some fun ideas with everyone.

To start with, I want to recommend  It has been a great way to keep track of items we want throughout the year.  There is also a little app button you can put on your internet bar so when you see something you like from any page you can ad it to your wish list.  I currently have three lists

My boys



Used craft time to make a Father's Day Gift
I know there are so many blogs, lists and Pintrest ideas out there.   Below is a list of inexpensive homemade ideas for kids. Some have links.  You don't need to be super crafty, a simple glue-gun could do most of these.  Also check out the crafts, activities and project on my side bar for more.

Play dough kit - homemade play dough and some accessorize
Fort kit - bed sheet, ropes, big laundry clips
Baskets of natural items - rocks, pinecones, sticks, shells
Dress-up clothes - no need for a full costume just some accessories or head band with ears will work
Play silks- you can go fancy or just put a hem on flowy pieces of material
Nature bag - a simple draw string bag is perfect to collect nature items with
Puppets - again you can buy some or make simple sock puppets (fun to make with the kids), you could give a child a kit of supplies to make their own.
Tree blocks - get a thick branch and cut into various lengths.  Most of ours are about 1-2 inches tall
Wooden blocks - we took the end pieces from our last reno and cut into different lengths, they have been outside all summer and fall.
Felt board - simply cover a piece of cardboard in felt, then cut your own fun shapes out.  We printed a paper doll set and cut it out of felt for dress up, you could also make different face parts...
Mail - unfold a paper envelope and trace onto felt, cut it out and glue up the sides.  We used cut up old cards and some stiff felt to make the mail inside.  You can glue on velcro dots and make different names and stamps too.
Roads - simply cut lengths of denim from old jeans.  You can sew up the sides or just leave them.  I painted a line down the middle and made a parking lot piece.
Bean Bags - think simple like an old pair of socks stuffed with an elastic on the end, or make a rectangle from material and glue up the sides. I made a set out of an old winder coat, you could knit some nice ones too.
Sensory Bins - how about a shallow box with bean, pasta, rice, accessories for a gift.  Water beads are also popular this year. You could even make up themed ones to swap with friends.
Re-gift - each year my boys pass a long a few books to their cousin as their gift to her.  We choose ones in good condition.  You could also pass along other toys to a friend, relative or donate them too.
Thrift Store - kids don't notice if a toy is new or not.  Last year we bought several different used sets of tracks and put them together in a fabric bag.  We also got a really nice metal digger for the sand box in good condition.  Besides then you don't have to spend all morning trying to get the toys out of the boxes.  Be creative with how you present them.
Sock monsters (MeAgainCreations still has a few left)
This year we will most likely be giving homemade gifts too. Here are some ideas for adults. 

Notecards - This one is also for adults!!! Use blank note cards or card stock and decorate.  Simple stamps an some trim are very effective.  I used old holiday cards too.  Last year I made a large set for different family member including different holidays and occasions.
Baking - need I say more?!
Frozen dinners - double what ever you are making and save some as a gift.
Time - I can tell you how much I'd love time to go out or have some time.  Consider babysitting even just once for someone.
Kids crafts - if you are at home crafting with your kids, use it as a time to make gifts for others, there are plenty of cute ideas out there.
Wrapping paper - use your children's artwork as wrapping paper! I also made a set of reusable gift bags to cut back on paper waste.

I'll try to update this with more ideas as we go along.  Please do share your ideas in the comment box.

Sunday, 30 September 2012

What I'm learning along the way

What did I learn this week?

A whole lot!  Last week I discovered our need to slow down and I have been working on that (okay this week was a bit busier than expected).  The children are now clearing their places at the table and helping unload the dish washer.  We are more often tidying away toys before we move on.  I have also been reading lots of articles over at The Parenting Passageway.  I am trying to keep my own emotions and reactions in check, along with having more realistic expectations from my boys.  I am using a quieter voice when I can remember and I'm trying to help the children problem solve instead of reacting to the behaviour (like pushing).  So far it is going okay but no one ever warns you just how exhausting it is to be on top of things and in the moment all day long!  I am giving myself some grace and relying on God's strength each day.

In our home we strive to use gentle/positive parenting.  I am reading and learning more about it as we go along so I need patience with all of use as we often slip back to our old ways of shouting, threats, time-outs, punishments, etc.  It may not resonate with everyone but for us we see the benefits.  We want to model for our children how they should behave and how we want them to be as they grow.  Besides we've tried everything with our boys and when we push harder they push back and it all blows up worse.  Coaching and guiding (at least with TJ) seems to get a much better reaction.

Just yesterday as I was hanging our cloth diapers TJ came over to me and said: "Mommy my body told me that if I see someone doing work all by their self I should help them," and then he worked happily beside me.  Later in the day MJ had made a mess of the play kitchen.  On his own TJ started to put everything away with his toy loader.  I suggested that it was MJ's mess but TJ said he wanted to clean it. I need to treasure these moments (especially since he bite MJ really hard on the arm later that same day)

I have noticed that TJ is awakening to the idea that perhaps our bodies sometimes tell us to do the wrong thing and we need to think about our actions.  He is just beginning to get it, but has told me before that his body told him to do it (hit, bite...) and then we talk about how we should listen to God's voice instead.  I never imagined these conversation when I thought of having kids.  What a privilege to be part of their most intimate thoughts.

I am so thankful with where our journey is taking us.  In discovering Waldorf education I am really working on my own inner work.  The lessons and activities for the kids are not the end but just a means to provide some structure to our day and a platform to work on their development (sharing, movement, imaginations).  I do still need to figure out how to balance the daycare, company work, my own crafts, personal time, house work,  and everything in between.  I am just keeping my head above water most days and the business side of things is being sorely neglected.  Jon is also crazy busy with work.  We do look forward to things settling down a little.

This is the perfect time for me to be working on inner work, family and rhythms before we get into academics.  I am so glad to have this year to really enjoy our young boys and work on things now.

Hope things are going well with al of you.  I'd love to hear what you are learning!

Week 4: Fighting Dragons

This week has been so much fun!  My knights learned to protect and help others, along with fighting monsters and dragons!

On Monday my niece joined us along with our daycare children.  We had a great time during circle time as TJ thought we should all dress up.  As my fairies danced about and sang we learned of a dragon in Super Sam's forrest. We then decided to be knights with capes and go fight the dragon in the playroom.  We put out his fires with play silks, which then turned into a river.  Some animals and toys needed rescuing so the children built bridges to help them cross.  Next we used the blocks to build castles for the dragon and some fairies.  I gave them some prompts to get their imaginations going and we had a lot of fun.  Sorry no photos as many of the daycare children in in the shots.  In the afternoon hockey was the name of the game.  MJ and E (my niece) were so cute playing together.
Hockey with cousin E, Our September nature table
Tuesday we went to Frootogo a local apple orchard.  We went there to meet friends and cousin E again. Playing on all the toys is always fun, along with feeding the animals.  All the kids were a big help with picking the apples.  We've already eaten most of our (no apple sauce this week).  In the afternoon we made swords.  MJ was scared of some monsters while pretending to have a nap, so fearless TJ came to the rescue and we fought imaginary monsters in every room of the house. (So cute and so much fun!)
Frootogo and fighting monsters
On Wednesday we baked gingerbread cookies.  Our dragon helped use his fire for good and baked the cookies for us.  TJ actually got our little plastic dragon and had him blow on each batch of cookies before I put them in the oven.  I wasn't too sure how to keep the little ones busy while we baked today so I got out some red kidney beans that we are never going to get around to eating.  Oh my the mess and fun.  It kept them all busy and happy.  I have come a long way with accepting and handling mess!  We used some healthier decorating toppings as it's all I had on hand.  I love that we made some Super Sam's, dragons, a turtle and fall cookies along with some other fun shapes.
Playing with beans and making gingerbread cookies
Wednesday afternoon the children made shields to go with their swords.  We played knights outside this time and had a great day. The kids were interacting more with each other.
Decorating cookies and making shields
On Thursday we went to run an errand near the park by my mom's house. TJ went off to explore the forrest while I played in the playground with the others.  It was chilly that day.  MJ also rode on his little motorized toy for the first time.  He is usually terrified of these things but when daddy put in a very small slow battery, he finally decided to get on.
Exploring the forrest, riding toys and blow kisses!
Thusday afternoon is our sensory day.  I tried putting different coloured paint in plastic bags for the kids to mush and mix.  I think I put in too much and the bags weren't very good quality.  We also experimented with cookie cutters and our hands.
No-mess paint in bags (make sure the bags don't rip)
Friday was another busy day.  Early in the morning I started taking the papers of old cheep crayons.  Both boys woke early too.  TJ was an amazing help and chopped most of the crayons up.  He is getting good with a knife.
Chopping crayons and visiting farm
Once all our friends joined us we went to visit a farm belonging to one of our daycare children's grand parents.  Of course he had a wonderful time with grandma.  We loved looking at the pumpkins and visiting the animals.  Inside the store we had a treat and Auntie Bonnie and I bought lots of veggies.  We'll be going back there soon.
Visiting animals at the farm
Later Friday afternoon each child got to make their own crayons but filling up a mini muffin try with different colours of crayon bits.  We put them in the oven at 350 for about 15min or until they just melt (I left ours in a bit long each time). When they were cool to touch I put them in the freezer for a while.  The crayons worked okay.  The top half is just wax and the colour is only at the bottom.  The kids had fun trying them out.
Using the new crayon we made
Next week is a new month. Wow 4 weeks of 'school' already! I am trying out an idea of new circle songs this month. We are also going to be getting ready for a harvest party at the end of the month.  Hope you'll join us for more updates.

I'll be linking up during the week:

Happy Family Times 
Waldorf Wednesdays
MOB Society

Saturday, 22 September 2012

First day of fall

Wishing everyone the most blessed fall season!

We got off to a slow start today.  I slept in because I could (no daycare today)! So the boys watched too much TV while I checked emails etc.

We decided just to hear some poems and a story for our circle time.  I was very excited to share some poems from A Child's Seasonal Treasury about the secret inside an apple.  Then Laura from Come Together Kids had just posted the story of the apple tree which I was saving for today.
MJ had wandered off but TJ was listening intently to the story.  When it was finished I asked if he wanted to see if our apples had the secret star inside.  He was so astonished (I loved his reaction).  We also discovered later in the day that pears also have a star inside too.

While Jon and TJ went to the garage and auto parts store, MJ and I went to visit Aunty Brooke and Uncle Steve.  They generously gave us some (a van load) of shade plants.  On our way home MJ and I went to a local farm to buy the last of the summer corn and a few gourds.  We then spent the afternoon planting.  The boys loved riding on the tractor, digging dirt and hauling rocks. The side garden is really shaping up.

Today is also another day of firsts.  I did canning for the first time and I do believe it worked out!  My mother-in-law kindly gave me some canning supplies when we were at the cottage last weekend.  We also picked some apples at the cottage and the local farm.  My sister gave us a large basket of pears too.  It took a very long time with the food mill, but I managed to make 8 jars and some extra bowls of pear apple sauce.

I'd love to hear how you spent your first day of fall...

This post is linked to Waldorf Wednesdays at Seasons of Joy

Week 3: fall is in the air

This week you could tell by the weather that fall was coming.  The temperature dropped and the leaves have started to fall. We did some fun fall activities!

The boys were getting along well with our daycare children.  They have now started to interact more on their own and started to play together.  I was am also learning a lot too.  My biggest realization was a need to slow down.  In helping TJ realize that he needed to slow down a couple of times this week, I realized I was rushing through activities too!  We also all noticed that the tone in the house was angry.  Words, hands and feet have been flying and hurtful.  We will be concentrating on turning things around next week.

Monday was nature day.  We went for a wonderful walk lead by our fearless leader TJ.  We also talked about about how the animals are getting ready for the winter too. We donated much of our fall decorations to begin enjoying the splendour from nature around us.
Tuesday is handicraft day so we made leaf crowns just like the Gnome King in our story. It rained a lot so the boys and I made an obstacle course to keep them buys while I made lunch.  We also had a play/real picnic for snack time. Later in the day they went outside to take advantage of the puddles and mud!

Wednesday is our baking day and I took on a lot today.  I decided to make real bread (without the bread machine) and chocolate zucchini bread too. The kids had a lot of fun helping in the kitchen.  I do believe I put in way to much yeast (the bowl of dough overflowed everywhere as it was rising).  After adding all the flour I could find we did end up with some yummy buns. In the afternoon I brought out our file folder games for the kids to play with during quiet time.
Thursday is sensory day.  We made a big pot of spaghetti to play with.  Several of the younger kids just ate it which was also fun.  TJ had been asking for a while to make a snack for the birds.  We set out a bowl of treats and strung them on some string.  One of our decorations was eaten quickly by a squirrel and the other has been slowly worked on by some ants.
Friday is usually crayon day this month.  Today my sister and her children came to join us.  After playing and circle time we made coffee filter leaves.  This is such a simple activity.  Colour with washable markers on a coffee filter.  Spray with water and let it dry.  We cut out shapes first to make it easier.  Once dry we hung them on a large paper tree we attached to the playroom windows. In the afternoon we took a trip to the garden plot and playground!

Next week we meet a dragon and become knights! (I have some prep work to get to)

I will be linking this post mid week:

We are linked up to Waldorf Wednesdays over at Seasons of Joy
We are also linked to Happy Family Times over at Happy Whimsical Hearts

Friday, 14 September 2012

Week 2 Kindergarten updates

This week we have been getting into a better rhythm.  The boys are settling in better with having the daycare at our house.  Having new children in the home is an adjustment but I'm proud of my boys, they are learning to share, very welcoming and helpful.

Monday our focus was nature.  We went for a walk to the nature park down the street, on a beautiful sunny day.  We saw lots of turtles and snails.  After looking around the boardwalk we followed the city lawn mower around!

 Tuesday our focus was handiworks.  We made kites to go along with our story.  TJ made several kites so he could have back-ups.  The boys spent a wonderful afternoon running around (TJ even attached one to his bike!)

 Wednesday we took everyone from our daycare to a local apple farm.  The kids played with their toys,  visited the animals and then picked lots of apples.  Super Sam joined up for the fun! Wednesday is usually our baking day.  Today we made bell pepper / spinach muffins.  Everyone but TJ liked them.

Cool apple candle to celebrate an apple picking day
Thursday is our sensory day. Since we had a smaller group we decided to make mud in the boys garden.  They had a fun time with our littlest daycare friend making mud soup.  Later TJ also decided to dig his own garden plots at the house. That evening while visiting out real garden plot we harvested a whole basket of tomatoes! MJ got really into picking things and brought me our pumpkin.  we were hoping to keep it growing until next month.  TJ already has a long list of things we can make with it.

Friday morning TJ found a toad.  He asked me to keep it or get him a real pet.  We made Toady a little home and let him go by lunch (especially because it was raining for the afternoon).  During colouring we pretended that our crayons were following the path of a leaf on the paper.  Then we made paper planes and helicopters.
Toady in top right corner

marching band fun!
 We are using the same songs and poems each day for circle time.  I love that the boys are learning the songs and sing while playing.  Both boys love Super Sam and TJ is helping out a lot with the story.

Looking forward to more fun next week!

Linked up to Seasons of Joy Waldorf Wednesday