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

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Our First week of school

I already posted about our first day of school.  Now since our boys are young and we have chosen a Waldorf path for education, we aren't really doing 'school' stuff.  But since all TJ's friends have gone off to school and many more people keep asking if he is in school, we decided to start too in our own way.

I won't be posting every week but here are a few highlights of our first week.  I am so excited about this year.  We will be focusing on seasons and festivals.  Enjoying making a lot of homemade food and other things to use around the house.  We are also trying to focus on expressing ourselves in more appropriate ways, and showing love to others (especially our brother).
TJ washed all the fruit and veggies

We all met Super Sam

Super Sam joined us for a few walks

We went to the garden plot several times

TJ and I made two lovely nature mobiles

We enjoyed all God's creatures

Super Sam and his pet turtle found some beautiful rocks to start our rock collection

The boys dressed as leaves for Circle Time

Our toys all helped tell our story this week

We made peach apple sauce
We made more pasta sauce using all the veggies TJ had washed
How was your week?
How are you celebrating the seasons?

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

First Day of School

Yesterday was a very first day of school! Okay so it may have been a 'holiday' but there was not stopping my excitement.
TJ's first day of 'school'
MJ's first day of 'school'
First off the teacher in me wanted to wake up to a fresh, clean, organized house with all our activities falling into place according to my plan... but instead I was met to a pile of cloth diapers to fold, dishes, sick kids, and a tone of veggies to deal with before they went bad.

I quickly got to work on what was facing me as the boys didn't seem to mind.  As I was working away Jon reminded me that since we are homeschooling I don't need to worry about sticking to the plan, just go with the flow of the day.  Besides it is a holiday!

Deep breath and start again...

We had ice cream for breakfast (after our healthy stuff) I had offered pancakes but this was way better.  Then TJ gave every fruit and vegetable in the house a bath while I cut up a mountain of tomatoes and got them boiling for the pasta sauce.  Next we went to go pick up a dresser for the boys. By the time we got home it was already lunch.
 In my original plan we were going to do circle time in the morning but today was a bit backwards.  We had lunch and set out on a walk.
MJ and Sam ready for our walk
I introduced the boys to "Super Sam" our gnome.  TJ was so excited he wanted to show Sam our garden plot.  As we walked I told them the story about Sam and his friends.
Super Sam our gnome
We showed Sam all our veggies and took him to the playground.  On the way home we did all our circle time songs and had a wonderful talk about harvest and why all the fruits and veggies are ready at different times.
When we arrived home we all worked together to finish the pasta sauce, (froze some and ate some with dinner).  MJ fell asleep for a while and TJ helped Daddy with fixing the van.  I took some quiet time for myself and was so very thankful for this amazing first day.  We had a wonderful family time and the boys are loving Sam. 
MJ hugging Sam all the way home
I am reminded again as to why we are homeschooling because the boys are so young and it is an amazing time to enjoy the magic of childhood. This precious time and the rhythm we have is also working well with our home daycare.

I found some amazing knitting patterns on Ravelry website.  
I first did a search for Gnomes and then looked for free ones to find this one that I used for Super Sam.  I have also made a few animals from this pattern
And found some really cute pumpkin, acorn and tree knitting patterns for free on Ravelry too.

We are using the Thinking Feeling Willing program from Waldorf Essentials for myself and the boys/daycare.  I have also taken a lot of our songs and a few activities from Seasons of Joy Autumn.

Monday, 3 September 2012

Getting Laundy done!

Around our house the laundry does get done, but recently the folding part has been taking longer than it should.  At times my husband is looking through the dryer for his work clothes instead of in his drawers.  At any given time I have between 3-6 loads to fold.  I am thinking we need to pare down our wardrobe, but also there are certain points during the year when the boys are messier ad muddier than others.
 I am no longer hiding it all away and leaving it only for me to do in the evenings.  We are now sorting and folding laundry together.  We dumped all the clean clothes in the middle of the family room and with the help of the boys and their loaders, we sorted it all into piles (each person got a pile for their clothes, one for towels too).
TJ was very proud to learn how to start folding his own clothes.  He worked on his pile while I did he others.  Then his loader helped deliver the clothes to the right room.  MJ had fun being 'strong' and carrying things for me too.