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Having tried unsucessfully to get Blogger.com to work for me, I suddenly realized that I can easily create journalling pages linked to my site without extra help. This is a very informal page with my personal notes as to how homeschooling is going for my family. Please feel free to email me with comments. Learn more about my preschool curriculum by visiting the links on my homepage.

Other Waldorf-inspired homeschool blogs you may want to check out include:

January 2006

January 31 - cookie-baking day. we got three jar mixes from Natalie's cousins for Christmas and today was our day to make them. I don't know when they would have expired but these things have a limited shelf life. there's some good information in Jazzy Jars which I always include when we make mixes; she gives tips on how to calculate the expiration date. it's good for the gift recipient to know these things. anyway, there's no way we would have three tins of cookies going at the same time so I froze two of the cookie doughs according to the Cookie Tips I found on freezing unbaked cookie dough. you can freeze freshly baked cookies, too, which we'll have to try some day. I know that lots of homemaking magazines always recommend that for the Christmas cookie rush -- to do all your baking early in the month and then just freeze the cookies to have some on hand for holiday parties, gift giving, cookie swaps, etc. Kate used a holiday gift tag template set that my mom gave her a few years ago to do the gift tags on the jars -- a neat idea, but I was looking at them and thinking, you could just use cookie cutters. this is the time of year to find all the Christmas stuff on clearance (actually it may be gone now for V. Day) but I think cookie cutters in a variety of shapes are a good thing to have on hand year round. you can use them to trace gift tags, appliques for sweaters or other clothing, even felt stars to decorate a birthday crown! and with V. Day coming up, I think I'll take this opportunity to stock up on a variety of hearts, all shapes and sizes, for tracing to make Valentine's Day card decorations. all you need is a bunch of decorative papers and some card stock. using cookie cutters as templates for paper or fabric really helps justify storing them, even if you're not a cookie baker (which I'm not). and, again, you can put them on loops of yarn to organize all the ones for a holiday together. but, seriously, I'll have to see if any Christmas shapes remain in a clearance bin somewhere. because I want to get a head start on my Christmas present making this year and spread it out, a little at a time. which means that I need to have Christmas craft supplies on hand year round. I guess I'm going to have to start my brainstorm gift-giving list here soon... Here were the mixes Kate gave us: Oatmeal Raisin Spice Cookies, Sand Art Brownies, and M & M Cookies. the M & M cookies looked very Christmas-y with the red and green and white. but the easiest for Natalie to make herself was the Sand Art Brownies because it didn't involve cutting in any butter, vegetable oil is used. and she could spread it into the 9 x 9 pan with a spoon easily. the other two were our choices for freezing, so we'll see if they thaw and bake up successfully in the future!

January 30 - only one more day to go before school starts again! today I got some beautiful hand-dyed play silks from Natural Earth Family Farm. she sent me a small yellow one, to be our sun (in our little seed rhyme, see January 17th entry) and a large silver and a large rose. they are just gorgeous, the prettiest things I've ever seen! I never bought play silks for my kids before because they are so expensive and I always thought what's so special about silk? but these are really magical and the children responded to it, took such good care of them and are sleeping with them now at naps -- wouldn't let go of them all day. so I'm convinced. my Magic Cabin felt order arrived to, and I was about to send it back and get my four colors from Nova Natural and save the money, but I've decided on a large handwork project using wool felt, a rug for our new playroom. right now we do circle time on the floor and there's no place to sit. I really want the new playroom to be warm and cozy. so I have been lusting after this rug from the Wisteria catalogue which, as it turns out, is actually on sale (am I the only one who liked it?) but that's no matter because it will be better to make it ourselves. I actually think I'll put this project in Texture but I'll start it now so that I can supply people with good directions and advice. I've never made a rug before. how hard can it be? (ha ha). someone sent me a good suggestion which is to stock up on wool sweaters at thrift stores now -- this is the time they're all on sale -- so we can make our own felt. that will be neat, different patterns and thicknesses. I just need to get a large piece of cloth for the bottom layer. I wonder what kind of fabric will be best? perhaps I'll go out to a fabric store tonight and see what's on clearance. the other large handwork project I'm all keen on is knitting Natalie a mermaid costume. this will be a wonderful use for all those lovely mysterious blues and greens. hand-dyed yarns are really so charismatic. but I'll have to spring for the book first, since all the copies in our entire local library sytem are checked out: New Knits on the Block. my mom recommended to me several people in our community who know how to knit, so I'm ready to be a fabulous knitter! When can we start? Let me go call one of them now...

January 29 - I added The Greatest Treasure by Demi to the Waldorf Curriculum Community Bulletin Board page for 1st grade. it's a wonderful story to introduce the flute. I hope these pages really begin to catch on. What can I do to make people more comfortable sharing their ideas? It's not a rhetorical question, by the way; feel free to email me with suggestions. on a more personal note, I want to try something new for the last few days in January. I've been thinking about this ever since I wrote that having tons of food in the house which doesn't get eaten from week to week makes me crazy. I think it's because I go to the store with a list but I tend to do lots of impulse shopping. I get very very stressed out when I think my family doesn't have enough to eat. I look at what's in my cart and I think this has to feed my family for a week. I don't think, I have 5 days worth of food at home so I only need 2. I try... but I always end up with the mentality that if I don't buy more, my family will go hungry!!! maybe that has to do with supermarket advertising, I don't know. so anyway, I was thinking, especially for these few days when there's a lot left over from earlier in the month, ingredients for recipes which never ended up being made and so on that I would try to shop day by day. that way, I can have a clear idea in my mind from looking around the pantry and fridge what I do need and I'm only shopping for one meal (dinner) so I can easily identify and reject an impulse buy. I tried this yesterday and spent less than 10 dollars. I knew we were having pasta so I got a vegetable to have on the side and some biscotti for dessert. that was it. felt really good, too. so now I'm wondering... is this better for my pocket book but worse for the environment? I know that fridges in Europe are very tiny and people only shop for a day or two at a time. but walking to the market is completely different than packing three kids up in a minivan. and, I was thinking, is it even good for them to be dragged out to the store every day? very rushed and busy, not to mention overstimulating for the baby and the germs... however, I decided that as long as we went only to the farmer's market each day it would probably be OK. it's indoors, a converted old grocery store, so it's warm. we wouldn't have a cart but we would only be buying for that day so we can bring a tote bag for our things (no more plastic). the children could get to know the vendors and see them as people. I try to introduce our checker to them each time we go to a store and have them say thank you and good-bye, so there's a human element, but it's not the same as really getting to know someone. the farmer's market also sells handcrafted items. and they have more than just produce, there's a meat counter and a bakery. so we'll try it... and I'll let everyone know if it backfires :-) but I am cheerfully optimistic that this will save me money. I know perfectly well that I have enough to last for the week if I do it a day at a time and keep my purchases to scale. just as I know perfectly well that if I walked into a supermarket not only would all the money be gone when I left, but I would think of something that I needed as soon as I got home! and really, I hate wasting money. Reading The Greatest Treasure at naptime today was good for me, I think. it was all about how having money weighs you down. first you have to count it, then you have to store it somewhere where it won't be stolen, then you have to decide what to spend it on, then you count it again... and so on. I definitely do that! every week I get my alloted amount of cash and I spend the entire week worrying about how to make it stretch and constantly second-guess myself as to whether I'm wasting it, whether it would be better spent on something else. the problem with ordering Waldorf things online is that sometimes you get more than you really need right away because either 1) it's there and you think, oooh, or 2) you want to make it worth the shipping (that's me). and it upsets me so much to see something sitting on a shelf which I purchased and never used, knowing that that money could have been put to better use. with having a fiber arts store right near me, that will definitely allow me to purchase more of my handwork supplies on an immediate-need basis. and not get so much for the future. anyway, after lunch we'll go out to the farmer's maket and hopefully have a lot of fun! And the Greatest Treasure? It is having happiness in your heart.

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oh, thankfully I remembered this before I got in the car: the farmer's market is closed on Sunday and Monday. so I guess we'll be driving to the natural foods store for our cranberry sauce. it actually is a nice little store, although it's bigger and more tempting (and more expensive) than the farmer's market, but another local business so still good to support. they have really nifty carts; the large part of the cart is on the bottom and then there's a tiny upper basket for fragile things, so Natalie can reach in to the bottom part and unload the cart. she's always very excited that she can reach things and put them up on the conveyor belt. but perhaps since tomorrow is dance class, and we'll all be tired, we should try shopping for two days???? NO. I know that will backfire! like right now I see a partial loaf of bread in the cupboard. and if I were making a regular grocery list, I'd put bread on it. but sometimes my husband goes out to eat everyday at work and maybe the loaf of bread won't be used up at all, that's what I mean. take it a day at a time. don't waste money. so we will only go buy for dinner today. keep your chin up, girl, you can do it!

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turkey dinner, think turkey dinner

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Natalie and I both really miss school. she asks me every morning if there are cards in the Advent Calendar. I really want to bake some cookies, and I have some sheets to mend, so we'll do that today. not doing school doesn't mean I don't spend any time with the kids, of course, but you can definitely feel that the rhythm has been interrupted. I'll be really happy when we start up again.

January 28 - I wonder, do I sound pretentious saying that it's kind of a mission of mine to knock down any barriers that might prevent people from trying Waldorf? I guess it doesn't really matter, does it? because people rarely tell you to your face that you're annoying :-) but I really do feel strongly about it -- especially since for the little ones it's so important! some new group members with wonderful websites. one is A.F.E.W. Natural Changes - the A, F, E, and W stand for the four elements. they have a really neat nature table silk for winter time with hand-stamped blue snowflakes on it. I'm thinking Stampin' Up! but I can't tell. they have an angel policy, very generous about it too, I think. SU! was my WAHM business originally. but I just am not the kind of person who can pressure people into buying things. as my husband says, some people just aren't good at retail. I'd like to set my business up as a nonprofit when I have the money (it takes about $200). then I never have to worry if I make any money or not! not that I do now... I just like to meet new people. let's see, what's new... I discovered a fiber arts store in our farmer's market today. I have heard people talking about this place for several years and somehow never discovered it (and not for want of looking either). honestly, I have been to that farmer's market probably 20 times and never noticed it... today I turned a corner and I'm looking right into it! hard to miss, too. it's a big shop with spinning wheels, yarns, knitting books, tons of roving... I was going to get my roving for practicing with my drop spindle (part of the upcoming Texture unit) from A Child's Dream Come True but I think I'll work on supporting local businesses instead. tough decision. but it's better for me to be able to buy just what I need for a week, helps stretch the HS money, instead of buying a six-month supply of roving just so I feel like I'm not wasting my money on shipping. Ch'Naca Farm & Fiberworks. I'll see if she can help me locate a knitting class nearby. there's a guild of spinners and weavers in my area but I wasn't going to join, being about to move. however, I do need to learn how to knit! and soon. I'm antsy about using some of my yarn. I don't like handwork supplies that just sit there, I want to make something with them. I dislike storing unused things. maybe it's from moving 4 times last year. I don't like groceries which sit on my pantry shelf for weeks on end without being eaten. I'm thinking, I could have bought something with that money that we'd actually eat! anyway, one of the new ladies in the group sells raw wool (hasn't been washed, carded, etc.) and I'm enthusiastic about trying that. I need to get some wool carders first. A Child's Dream Come True does have children's hand carders which are pricy but I think would be worth the investment. something came up on the group about can you use a dog brush for it? I haven't heard a response yet. let's google quickly and see what we find out... well, here's how to card your dog hair; we have a dachshund so that's not really an issue... here's some interesting information on dyeing, carding, spinning, and washing wool and so on -- if anyone wants to try washing fleece using a washing machine here's how to do it... not finding anything which really answers my question though. we'll see what comes up on the group. since I would like us to take carding very seriously, and hopefully do it often, I think I will go ahead and spend the $47.50. it says on the site that the repetitive motion is very soothing to children and I believe it. this texture unit is going to be fun!

January 27 - oh, the shame... I drove around for hours last night and never did find my Waldorf class. stuck in the middle of downtown DC, in wholly unfamiliar territory, in a strange car (my husband wanted me to take his car, not the minivan, in case it got totalled), in the dark... at 9 pm I gave up and came home. so sad to have missed it! yesterday, with the kids being sick and sleeping like crazy, I got a lot of work done on my site. I discovered in doing so that Nova Natural sells pure wool felt and it's easier to buy it by the sheet there than at Magic Cabin. I wish I had known that before blowing $40.00 just to make several finger puppets. they have a GREAT shopping cart too, no nasty surprises on shipping at the end, and little pictures of every color swatch you picked so you can scan the screen and see if it's a good variety or if you have gone a little overboard (who, me?). it makes me wish I was just starting out again. now that I know what I know, I could really save some money :-) anyway, I will definitely use NN for my felt from now on. I also am looking for some pieces of silk. making puppets (marionettes) came up on the Group and I realized that we never did that either (from the Color unit). oh yes, folks, I am behind. so I need to look at Toymaking with Children and find out exactly what size pieces they recommend and then I can scout around for the best prices. you can get silk by the yard at dharmatrading.com so perhaps that's the way to go. although I don't know about dyeing it myself. Toymaking with Children has such beautiful, inspirational pictures. but I can't do everything at one time!!!!!!!!!!!! sloooow down, she says to herself. my handwork list for February is already pretty full. what with learning to knit and so on plus all the listed projects here. let's jump ahead and put it on the schedule for April. then I have plenty of time to get material and get organized. Fairy Cove has quite a lot on sale right now. perhaps I can look through their listings at some point. if I can keep from drooling on the keyboard.

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ok, here we have it. Silk marionettes (for special occasions) Materials List:
  • flesh colored silk piece for the head - 9 inches square (22 cm)
  • smaller flesh colored silk pieces for the hands
  • silk piece for the garment - 18 inches square (47 cm)
  • very fine silk piece for veil or cloak (female figures) - 12 x 17 inches (30 x 42 cm)
  • silk piece for the cloak or cape (male figures) - 9 x 12 1/2 inches (23 x 32 cm)
  • silk piece for the stole - 2 3/4 x 18 inches (7 x 47 cm)

You also need unspun wool for stuffing the figures and for hair, and strings, but this is the silk list. the pictures shown in the book show many colors of silk layered together to make up the scene, makes me feel like I'd need a whole bundle. it's hard to swallow spending $120.00 on silks and then cutting them up -- I can't even handle $120.00 on silks for play cloths! of course, the silk puppets are for special occasions. ones for the children to play with every day, and make up their own stories with, are made with light pieces of cotton in the same sizes as above. so that's not quite so expensive. they are still quite beautiful. (you'll need to get Toymaking with Children for the patterns, but it's worth every penny).

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Since I missed my class I now have some homeschool money to put back into the kitty. I think it will be spent on: the homemade valentines kit from Victorian Trading Company, the Wee Folk Dwelling patterns from The Silver Penny, and a wool roving assortment from A Child's Dream Come True who is having a January sale (prices expire February 2rd). so our February handwork will be Valentine's Day, Mrs. Thaw, Felt Wee Folk, and Wee Folk Dwellings. also making eurythmy robes for the Sound unit. oh, and learning to knit.
next week I'll get the green linen fabric for the robes and the books I have on my wishlist.

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ooh... never mind. looks like I'll be getting some wee folk and dwellings by barter. how exciting! that means I can swap out the linen fabric for the fairy house patterns and get the tunics made sooner :-) and next week can be all books. double smilies. ideas are coming together, looks like it's about time to plan the first week of school for February. Candlemas is Feb. 2nd but I'm not ready to celebrate that, have to learn more about it first. hold on... let me see. okay, here's Festivals Family and Food and All Year Round. it's funny, when I first started with Waldorf, just looking at books on Amazon and reading the reviews, I couldn't tell the difference between these three books (these two and The Children's Year). now I use all three of them constantly, and all three are different, but I'm still not sure I could tell someone the difference between them! but they are three very useful books to own. according to Festivals Family and Food there are no real celebrations to Candlemas, you just make your new batch of candles for the year. All Year Round talks about using the day beforehand (February 1st) to make changes to the Nature table, get things ready for spring. this time of year is definitely a transition. they also give descriptions of all types of candlemaking, many which I've never seen any other place, and some patterns for flower fairies like snowdrops. are the snowdrops really coming up already? we can probably make those easily. I wish Mrs. Thaw was here... perhaps I can sit down and start working on her tonight. It really seems that this is her time, especially with it being so warm here lately. the sasanqua (fall-blooming camellia) here is all covered in flowers. we had some on the table for Rebecca's birthday. there are also patterns for crocus and primrose. we're actually doing a field trip February 4th which was pretty much going to determine the theme for the newsletter (it's ICHTHYOMUSICOLOGY but I really couldn't get into the spirit of a lot of fish projects :-) for this time of year so perhaps it will be "Candles Burning Bright" instead. this was an old idea for a newsletter topic which got scrapped. we do have lots of beeswax (rolled candle-making kits were on clearance at Jo-Ann Fabrics when I was there getting Christmas stuff so I cleaned out their stock) so we would be able to... okay, let me get some thoughts together and then I'll start writing.

January 26 - okay, I just have to put on my must-own list, the patterns from The Silver Penny. The patterns are very reasonably priced, although it worries me a little bit that she says a zig zag sewing machine is required. I don't have a sewing machine and never plan to own one! but I'm sure as long as I have the template I can assemble the pieces properly. I love the Fairy Hut and the Gnome Home! they really look adorable when you have a whole village assembled, in different fabrics. someday I hope to make some Felt Wee Fok (yes, it's from the Families unit but we haven't done it yet...) and these look like they'd be the perfect little homes! Magic Cabin sells some Miniature Baskets which would be just the right size. I really want Natalie to engage in some more imaginative play. I think she needs some toys that are just for her, more delicate and creative things; the younger kids all have such large non-choking-hazard clunky toys. anyway, I'm sure I can spare the money for these patterns and I have plenty of scrap fabrics on hand. and little buttons and things for decoration. maybe we can put making these kits and some little people to go with them in the handwork list for February.

January 25 - yesterday I took all three girls to the doctor who told me that they will have diarrhea for another 5-7 days. so I went to the grocery store (they're now restricted to applesauce, bananas, plain boiled rice, Jell-O, nonfat yogurt and Gatorade) and the library to get a pile of new books & we're hunkered down to weather the storm. I always like to list my books here so that I can go back and find the title of something that I vaguely remember later on, so here is what I picked

I found out today that I had some money in my checking account so I ordered the rose essential oil from greentaramama. $25.00 for a 1 mL bottle of oil. hopefully that should last us quite a while! but it was less than other places I found, and I'm always happy to support small family-owned businesses. I had some trouble with my website this morning. turns out I ran out of disk space. my husband says websites never take up any space (html) but I have so many files on here that it has gotten quite big. so they've moved me up to the next package. whee! this business is a year old (I think January 28th is actually the anniversary of my first sale) and growing all the time! it makes me happy to think that I'm filling a need. Waldorf education is growing all the time. I'm just happy to have my little niche :-) you meet nice people doing this, too. overall I have to say it's been a swell ride. the next preschool unit coming up is for the Spring. it'll be called Texture. I'm thinking modelling for the art focus (Arthur Auer wrote a great book which I'd like to get, maybe also the will developed child), and using a drop spindle, weaving and making clothing for the handwork focus and looking at the Impressionist painters. I have here a study of soil for Nature, animal tracks and what is a naturalist? these are draft notes from a long time ago when I first roughed out the program. I can hardly believe I'm almost done with the second year and we'll be doing Around the World soon! when I first made those notes I was thinking some of these units were so far away. how time flies.

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A new Yahoo Group just started called Waldorf Handmade Exchange which I think is a great concept. it's for people who make Waldorf things out of their home to swap products with one another. this way we can all benefit from one another's talents. I don't personally make anything but I am always happy to be part of a pool of enthusiastic creative people. and, who knows, maybe I can swap some custom unit design work or something for someone.

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When is Easter this year? Ah, here it is: April 16th. that's pretty late. I was born on Easter, April 18th. it hasn't fallen on that date again so far. anyway, I'm reading Magic Cagin's catalog and making my wish list for Easter baskets. luckily that's pretty far away. and I always try to look at items in catalogues with a critical eye and think, can I make that? like their felt bunnies. I can certainly make those! anyway, I think I will spring for the set of three Easter pails, that's one for each girl and they should last and last. they also carry paper Easter grass which falls under the category of good idea but I can make it at home.
I can make a gift for each girl and put it in their pails for them to find when they wake up, then we can have breakfast and do our Easter egg hunt. anyway... Easter is a long way away so I'll just put the catalog down now and go do some dishes. see what I mean when I say I'd rather plan than do? I'm sitting here looking at the Mohair Critters Kit, knowing that would be so silly since I already have needles, patterns (in my MANY Waldorf books) and wool for stuffing. I even have yarn! so I'm just being plain silly; there's no reason why I have to buy the kit. besides, the pails cost $14.95 which is their lowest level of shipping ($4.99 for orders $14.99 and under) so that's a total of $19.94 divided by three is $6.64 per child which is just about right for Easter. Steve likes to spend $10 per child at a holiday. so the remaining $10.00 will be eggs and egg decorating supplies. there, that's a neat tidy budget. my budgets always look fine in the beginning, then they start to unravel and by the time the event has come and gone my budget is lying on the floor with the life pummeled out of it and looking like an awful mess. sometimes I've a mind to get it a nice raw piece of beefsteak, the poor little thing.

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It looks like there are going to be so many great new vendors on this Handmade Exchange. I'm really enjoying visiting all these new sites. I'll put them here so I can keep track of them
  • Elemental Handcrafts
    "elemental" categories include wood, stone, wool, paper, water (gift certificates), glass, cotton and love
    beautiful, and unusual, Waldorf dolls including pregnant and breastfeeding dolls and mermaids and a pregnancy fairy
  • Mothers Moon
    nice handmade soaps, including a soap-of-the-month club, a gift idea to remember for a friend (or for myself)
    also beautiful sea glass pendants
  • Brendy's Art
    pastel artist (a little expensive for me but gorgeous nonetheless)

I always worry about my memory... and it's so important to me to support WAHM's and small family businesses. I don't really feel like the list of vendors would necessarily go on the Parent Resources part of the site, since it's basically a varied group of handmade items, not always one particular thing, but I don't want to forget anybody the next time I have money in hand to go shopping. and I did put a link to the new group under Waldorf Play, since so many people look especially for handmade toys, in case anyone reading this blog would like to join the group: Parent Resources - Waldorf Play. it looks like this new group will really be hoppin' :-) go, Kelly! thanks for setting it up! I keep seeing things about felt food (and Zen and the Art of Knitting has a whole chapter on knit/crochet food) and I'm thinking to myself, surely I can do that. right now the children have mostly wooden food in their play kitchen which I don't like because Leah chews on it, even though she's two and should know better. they have some food containers which I gave them, including a really nifty box of candy with 18 little boxes which fit inside it, but we have so much felt and yarn I'm sure I can come up with some fabric things. looking at all these sites has got my handwork juices flowing! I was also thinking earlier that I should make some Valentine's Day fairies using heart shaped paper doilies as their wings... I'll have to think some more about this. If I come up with a pattern and instructions I'll post it on the site.

January 24 - the Sound unit is done and I was just sitting peacefully reading the February issue of FamilyFun when I found the cutest thing! now, mind you, I'm not normally of the "that's so cuuuuute" (uttered at a high-pitched squeal) persuasion but this recipe is really adorable. It fits perfectly with Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear?, one of the books from the unit and I think we definitely will make them after coming back from the zoo. And the recipe is... Polar Bear Cubcakes.

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Here's something else for the February to-buy list. The Home Made Valentines kit from Victorian Trading Company. School for today was cancelled because all three of my children are sick (whee!) so that's the end of our homeschooling for January. we never did make the Spiced Carrot Cake. oh well, carrots and sour cream can be used in other recipes. we'll spend the next few days resting and then I can start planning for February. that will include a trip to the zoo, a trip to the aquarium, making valentines, our pinata party... maybe I should go ahead and start on it now while I'm thinking of it! we're skipping storytime tomorrow both because of being sick and because the topic is "Wild Wild West" which I don't think is very appropriate for this age group. plus it's not a school day. but we will go to dance class on Monday because N wouldn't miss that for the world. today when Leah went down for her nap we practiced some of the things the teacher showed her and N was just tickled pink to have something new to learn. and hopefully I can help her learn to get her feet into first position before Monday!

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Eurythmy shoes, fabric for robes, the books on my wishlist, Valentine's Day materials, the rose essential oil... and I have to pay for my website development ($40). hmmm. my first week of homeschool money for February is already spent on my class with Jack Petrash. (Sorry to talk so much about money here, but a big part of homeschooling is the budget!) If I don't write things down I forget and when I get short on money I take it out of the grocery budget... I'm trying to stop that practice by being more prepared. I am also kind-of an impulse spender so having a list of things I want to buy ready in advance helps keep me from wasting money. but I do think that the afore-mentioned list plus admission to the three field trips will equal my $240.00. oh, and handwork supplies. I have three weeks here without any handwork projects written in yet -- I'd better keep them cheap! Luckily with Waldorf you can blow a lot of money (if you want to) or you can be pretty frugal, depending on your personality and your circumstances. and I have LOTS of supplies that I bought in the past and never used for anything so I can just resurrect those projects and add them into the plan. like the hazelnut children from Feltcraft.

January 23 - the apron turned out to be so cute! someday, when I can figure out how to get pictures off my camera, I'll post a picture of it. today was the first day of ballet/tap. Natalie had no idea what was going on in ballet class, and couldn't get her feet into first position for the life of her. there was one point when the teacher was giving direction and she started it with "make sure your feet are in first position" and Natalie missed everything because she was bent over trying to pick her feet up and move them into position and everytime she moved one the other one would go all wrong. it was really cute and then suddenly I thought she was about to cry. she wanted so hard to please the teacher. but the teacher came over and helped her; then the next time she told them to get into first Natalie asked right out loud for help, which I think was the right thing to do. she had a hard time waiting for her turn, too. I think the teacher wasn't very clear when she gave some of the directions that the children were supposed to do it one at a time. but she was never mean to Natalie (it helps that Mom is there watching, too) and when it came time for the tap shoes Natalie -- who had been lumbering around something like a confused elephant -- suddenly came into her own and could follow all the directions easily, tapped in tune and with enthusiasm and had a grand time. she didn't want to leave when class was over. it was great for me to see her find something she was really good at. and I hope she'll make some new little friends there, since we never got any play dates out of going to the library. we keep moving around so much she hasn't met anyone. but one of the other moms I knew growing up and so maybe she and I will get to talking. she recognized me, I didn't know her. I had a hard time juggling the other two. I didn't want to ignore them -- we all sat on the stage and waited -- but I didn't want Natalie to look up to see if I was watching her and to see me playing with one of her sisters and not paying attention... so that was difficult. and I really struggled watching her look so miserable, always out of turn and not following the directions during ballet. but it all suddenly got better when it came to tap! so then I felt a lot happier with my decision. I wouldn't have pulled her from the class, since she would have been more upset at not having a chance to learn how to do it well, but I would have been sad taking her to something she didn't enjoy. then on the way home she asked if she could ride a horse. so I guess Mom's pockets must be lined with gold! :-) actually, horseback riding is part of our Bridge curriculum, so I simply told her she could do it when she's older.

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Tonight we will start reading The Tales of Tiptoes Lightly, which was given to us as a gift by a Waldorf Curriculum member (thank you!). this book is perfect for extended read-alouds with small children. each chapter is a page or two long and each one has an illustration (very important to the little people looking over your shoulder). I'm so excited to have this book and can't wait to get started! I also want to institute a night-time prayer. we have a morning verse and a blessing before meals but night time hasn't had a verse and I think we need one. Eurythmy for the Young Child has a nice selection of verses for ending a lesson, many of which would be good for bedtime as well. I think the one I will choose for me to say is
    When the children go to sleep
    Stars in heaven softly peep
    And the winged angels white
    Watch o'er us with shining light
And then I will teach Natalie to say
    Safe I am, safe I'll be
    Protected by my angel.

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I am so happy with Tiptoes; I read in the back of the book that Reg Down was a eurythmy teacher and these chapters arose out of the stories he told to his students during their eurythmy lessons. They are great for movement. Natalie loved yawning, stretching, wiggling her toes, brushing her fur, combing her whiskers and so on as Jeremy Mouse woke up. I think these stories will be a big hit! it seems like everything around me is coming up eurythmy! also, I was thinking I should make a cross-stitch of our new bedtime verse to hang on the wall and I found this wonderful website that will create a chart for you of any phrase you put in. it's free and the alphabet is lovely -- Celtic-inspired. Simply enter your phrase and hit "create new pattern". I will have to make a chart for each one of the four lines of the verse, then lay them one below the other to create the entire design. I think something simple, just the words, I'll have to choose some colors, and then maybe a border around it once the verse is done. I'm excited about this project! Put that on the list for February. so for the remainder of January (tomorrow is the last day of school), I have to knit some more rainbow gnomes, make the felt finger puppets for "The Little Red Hen", and mend King Winter. for February (so far), I have to cross-stitch the bedtime verse, make hooded bath towels, and start on Mrs. Thaw... I just love handwork :-) I think it's because unlike the laundry, dishes, and changing diapers, when it's done it's done.

January 21 - today we are making Natalie's apron. we just picked out a fabric from my stash. I think I may try to find a different template, since the quilt block apron works better if you have lots of small pieces of fabric. it's a cute pattern, but the piece I have is already nice and large (it's actually an old sundress) and has an orange/white check so it would look too busy if we chopped it up into little pieces. I have Leah's apron from Ikea I can use as a template and then maybe I'll add a pocket and some applique animals or shapes, I'll have to see how it goes. it's really warm outside today so we took a walk on the beach. after lunch we can read On My Beach There Are Many Pebbles by Leo Lionni and Houses from the Sea by Alice E. Goudey, both good beach books. It's a shame we couldn't stay down there longer, N doesn't have to worry about getting wet with her new rain boots so she can happily tramp around in sand and wade through streams. I'll see if Steve can watch the other two for a while tomorrow or this evening so we can go down again.

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aha! here's an apron plus more free sewing pattern links. having our thread strung by color made it easy to find the lone spool of orange, but it took a while to get it off the loop and to restring the other ones... still, it is a better organizational system than throwing everything in a basket.

January 20 - here we are on the 20th. it seems like this month is progressing very quickly! I cancelled school yesterday so today is bread baking which makes tomorrow handwork and Sunday the field trip combined with housekeeping day to get us back on track. I guess that's what the end of the month is for, to catch up on projects. I like the 7 days a week thing for the continuity for the children, but I really need some time off! I can use the last week to complete the sewing and knitting projects that have piled up and to get organized for the Sound unit which we are about to begin. I am very excited about this unit! my watercolor pencil book came yesterday and it's gorgeous. I can't wait to look through it. Cathy Johnson does such a nice job on her books. there's been a nice discussion on the group about eurythmy and about using complimentary colors with your child. we go to settlement on our new house March 1st so I have to sit down and start picking a paint palette. actually, I did find a nifty field trip opportunity on the 28th; even though it's not a school day, Port Discovery, a children's museum in Baltimore MD is having a Chinese New Year celebration. I just clipped it out of the paper but I'll put the information here so I don't lose it:

    Port Discovery, 35 Market Place, will host its 3rd annual Chinese New Year Celebration on Jan. 28 at 1 pm. Attendees can see a performance by Chinese lion dancers, learn to make dumplings, and more. Fee. Information: 410-864-2678.

We did study Chinese culture briefly in Sun, Moon, and Shadow so it will be nice to go to a celebration. Natalie's dance supplies from Danskin arrived yesterday. I haven't gotten them out for her. I can't wait to see how much fun she has trying on the ballet and tap shoes! I think we'll do that Sunday. Then Monday morning we can go to the first class.

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In trying to research the Waldorf theory of complimentary colors online I kept running into the Waldorf Critics Archive. it seems there are quite a lot of people who liked Waldorf on the surface but, when faced with the backround spirituality ie. anthroposophy, became very upset that they had been "tricked" into putting their children into some kind of wacky school and pulled them out. according to the posts, Steiner said that anthroposophy should not be taught directly to the children until Steiner himself was presented with other 19th century philosophers in high school, but that the teachers were somewhat obligated to enter into their own soul journey in order to work and develop their spiritual connetions with the world, thereby allowing them to see the children in a spiritual way and be able to teach them in the way that was best for them. I think anthroposophy has been a very interesting subject of study and I look forward to working with Jack Petrash in the seminar to learn more. but I wonder if I'll come to a point where I go, this is too weird for me?

* * * * *
The bread turned out well. We made the Cardamom Wreath from Taste of Home Annual Recipes 2003. Natalie grated the orange zest, Leah used the morter & pestle to crush the cardamom seeds and they both helped with the kneading and punching down the dough. Tonight I'm supposed to be churning out the Sound unit but I'm too tired; Rebecca is sick and I always feel all out of sorts when I have a sick baby. not to mention that we're all out of infant Tylenol so I just hope her fever doesn't go any higher. Steve is gone tonight and tomorrow so she picked a perfect time to get sick... poor little thing. I feel bad for her. maybe after she falls asleep I'll feel better and get to writing again. it's an easy way for me to stay awake and then I can check her temperature later before I go to bed. tomorrow is handwork day so I am making Natalie the quilt block apron so I can also take some time tonight to lay out the supplies for that. sewing always helps me calm down. and she'll be so excited tomorrow to find out she's getting an apron like Mommy and Leah to cook in. she really enjoys making the bread; she thanked me over and over again today for letting her help. maybe it was more special to her since we were making it as a gift. or maybe we've just done it often enough that she is starting to feel comfortable and enjoy it. i always got the feeling before that when I told her it was going in the oven to rise (in order to avoid drafts, we follow the suggestion I read of turning the oven on to its lowest setting then putting in your dough and turning the oven off to let it sit and rise) she thought I was taking it away from her as a punishment. now she's more aware of the process and she knows what to expect so I think that increases her enjoyment. and she was telling Leah all about it, now we put it in the oven to rise and then we can punch, punch, punch it down :-)

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by the way, I need to remember the next time I get homeschool money that I want to buy Sarah Baldwin's book Nurturing Children and Families ($20.95) and Let's Dance and Sing ($11.00), Hanky-Panky ($5.50), Plays for Puppets and Marionettes ($9.95), and The Waldorf Kindergarten Snack Book ($12.95) from Bob & Nancy's Bookshop. I always make so many wish lists and then when I get money I forget what I wanted to do with it, so I fritter it away. I hope anyone reading this blog doesn't mind me constantly writing down these little reminders. That's a total of $60.35 (not counting shipping). I work so hard, and I never feel like it's REAL Waldorf... it's always just out of reach... sometimes I wonder if by the time I have it all figured out, my kids will be long gone. up and grown and out of the house and I'll still be here, hunched over my Waldorf books. and in trying to make the right connection with my children, will I try so hard that I never make any connection at all? can't see the forest for the trees... Am I doing something wrong or am I just tired? or too hard on myself. I looked at some of the Waldorf blogs someone suggested to me and it seems like everyone else is so centered, grounded, confident and I am constantly writing in my blog that I'm behind, in a bad mood, and just generally your average everyday homeschooling mom who is doing her best but still has a lot to learn. sometimes people leave my Yahoo group and I wonder if it's because they're looking for someone who's more of an authority. I know a lot about education, don't get me wrong, but I'm no Waldorf Jedi knight. I really want this website and my group to make people feel confident that they can try Waldorf, it's not something that only other people can do, and that we are all constantly learning along the journey (of Waldorf, of parenting, of life).
I hope anyone who is here for a resource is here because they want that kind of "I'm a real person and this is how I do it" perspective. I love the time I spend with my kids and I'm always striving to improve the quality of my parenting (since quality parenting is the foundation of the preschool years, more than any type of academic instruction). I guess what I'm trying to say is that at times I feel so intimidated. my wish list for Bob & Nancy's is long, my to-read list, my to-buy list, my to-do list is long. and sometimes I just get discouraged. there's so much to learn! and so much to do. and you can get really overwhelmed. like now I'm wondering about color choices for our new house, knowing that my children are too young for me to be able to determine their temperament, knowing that a Waldorf kindergarten is almost always painted a peachy-pink and that I can always change it later if I need to, it's only paint. so why am I getting so worried about it? It's my over-achiever personality that gets me all tied in knots. I completely do it to myself. but I want to do it all right, I want my children to have the best, I want to read every Waldorf book out there, I want to take seminars and classes and attend lectures, I want to know it all. aargh. it's like Lucy pulling the football out from Charlie Brown. I always think I'm almost there and then... :-) anyway, perhaps it is time for me to go to bed!!

January 19 - I went to begin the finger puppets today and realized that I don't have any of the felt colors I need, so I took my extra $40 I had leftover from the book sale and bought the Earth Tones felt packet from Magic Cabin. they have such wonderful quality felt and it's 100% wool too, which is hard to find. so when it comes we can make our hen, dog, cat, and duck. the rest of the day was basically a wash -- the kids all woke up incredibly tired, who knows why so we took the day off from school and we'll bake bread tomorrow and take our extra loaf (the Cardamom Wreath recipe makes two) to Grammy and Papa when we go to visit them in the afternoon. that works better, anyway, since that way the bread will be fresh. aha!!! turns out tomorrow is Grammy's birthday... so we'll be baking the bread and making her a card. I can't wait :-) it's already so nice for them to see the kids more often. I hope we really make her day bringing her a homemade gift.

January 18 - finally, the book sale at the library! I have been waiting for this since the fall. Mom took the kids to storytime today so that I could hunt for the bargains. and I found them! I carried away a huge heavy box of books. they only wanted to charge me $18 but I insisted on giving them $40 so I got a library membership and made a donation to make up the difference. here's the lot:

Picture Books, Stories & Poetry:

Science Books for Children:

Teaching Resources:

Today after lunch we read The Happy Owls ("Owls" was the theme for storytime today). And this afternoon we will set out more treats for the birds and the squirrels and read The Tale of Squirrel Nutkin by Beatrix Potter which is perfect for being about squirrels and owls. The book we got also has some little stickers in it which I think Natalie would like, and it comes at a good time because I am trying to work more on positive reinforcement. We are having some discipline issues here. I'll have to look into the range of CDs and videos at Waldorf in the Home since I won't be able to attend the conference in March. I was hoping to, but we're going to settlement on our new house March 1st so it wouldn't be good timing financially. and it wouldn't be good for Natalie to be dragged all the way across the country to California March 4-5 then have a birthday party on the 10th -- then be plopped down into a new house days later... not the best transition in the world.

* * * * *
I've just thought of a great housekeeping project N can help me with this afternoon. I have tons of spools of thread -- I'm a big fan of vintage sewing notions and people are always giving me boxes of things. I wanted one of those wooden spool holders that hangs on the wall but I can only find cheap ones at Walmart which look really tacky. plus, I like to be able to see all of my thread at one time and I don't want to have to pull colors off to see what's stuck behind it. so I was walking up the steps and thought to myself, I wish I could just thread them on long pieces of yarn and hang them from the ceiling. and then I thought, why can't I? then if I get more colors I can just make a new string to hold them. and it's easy enough for N to help me. we can set all the spools out, sort them by color and then I can put tape on the end of a piece of yarn, just like I did with her sewing cards, and she can thread them onto the string. and I can have a separate string to sort out special ones like my pure silk colors that I got from Aunty. this will be easy and fun! and I can take the strings down, put them in a box, and hang them up at the new house easy as pie. I can ask Steve to put a series of nails all along an empty wall for me to hang the yarn on. then, if I change my mind I can always use the nails for something else. wouldn't that look pretty, a rainbow of colors all along a wall? and it wouldn't take up more than about an inch or so of space. you could even use them to decorate your laundry room if you have a blank wall there, and it's where you keep your mending pile.

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Update: the idea worked fine except that N got bored since I was doing the threading. it was actually a little tricky since you needed a pair of tweezers to pull the yarn through to the other side. having it strung on something thick helped the string from twisting all around and getting tangled though. but perhaps 100% wool isn't the best choice because it was getting pretty frayed from going through the rough wooden insides of the spool... anyway, it's done now and we can try to live with it for a while and see how it goes. there are 6 strings. greens -- blues and purples -- reds and pinks -- browns, yellows, and oranges -- greys and off-whites -- pure black and pure white -- and the silk threads. I tied them into loops and put them all in a bin until I can convince Steve to help me hang them up, which isn't a very good way to store them since rubbing against one another always causes the thread to begin to come off the spools and get tangled... still, it's a start and a lot better than have three baskets which I was constantly digging through. it's funny, actually, because when I got it all spread out on the coffee table I thought, I'll never have to buy thread again. then come to find out I have barely any pinks and no yellow at all. so there you have it. always good to get an honest look at what you own. the next holiday coming up is Valentine's Day and I'd like to make each of the children a hooded bath towel, each with a different heart applique. the ones they have now are personalized and so when a child outgrows one, it doesn't seem right to pass it down to someone with a different name. here are some directions I found:
    Hooded bath towels for children, toddlers and infants:
    For large children, use a bath sheet and half of hand towel. For toddlers and infants use a regular towel, not too thick, and a washcloth. Note: Thick towels get very difficult to sew. Pleat the middle of one side of the towel. I usually do a center box pleat with a pleat on each side. Stitch over pleats to hold them. Fold washcloth or half of hand towel in half. Stitch across one end (the cut end of the hand towel. Stitch the edges of the seam down using a zigzag stitch. Center washcloth or half hand towel over the pleats and stitch across. Turn towel and stitch back on the inside of the towel, catching the top of the pleats. I usually stitch twice over the washcloth or half hand towel both on the outside and inside. These can have an applique stitched on one corner. The ends of the towels and the face edge of the hood can be trimmed with lace or a wide bias binding.

by the way, I also just found that Waldorf in the Home is starting Lifeways training on the East Coast. finally! it's in Maine which is a ways to travel, but still closer than either California or Colorado! I'll have to remember to read more about this. The other thing to read more about is lazure painting, which just came up on my Yahoo Group... my to-do list for January is getting full!!!

January 17 - cold and raining off and on today. perfect day for feeding the birds! we're also behind on several of our recipes -- the fridge is so full from the party that I've been trying to use up leftovers, not cook more food. but now I have to tackle the produce before it goes bad. so, all things considered, we'll be spending the whole day in the kitchen. which isn't a bad way to spend a cold dreary day! this morning I finished up a box of shredded wheat so I put the leftovers from the bottom of the bag into two small bowls and the children used it to feed the birds. they really enjoyed reading the chapter about the Bird Woman in Mary Poppins. I always loved that chapter myself when I was little, especially where all the birds snuggle up with her to sleep at night. this afternoon after naps we'll make the pinecones with peanut butter and I have some millet leftover from the vegetable soup recipe last week which we can roll them in. I was going to make the sunflower seed cookies but I don't want to get too behind on the dishes so I think we'll save that for another day.

* * * * *
Our first seed sprouted! I'm so excited. these little pots (I think Kate got them at Ikea) don't have any drainage holes in the bottom so I was afraid they'd all die of too much tender loving care by their little mama (that is, generous amounts of water daily) but at least one seems to be struggling valiantly to survive. I hope it lives to come into bloom. Natalie would be so excited. she asked to do our little seed rhyme again, so we did (about six times):
    Here's a little seed in the dark, dark ground. (have child crouch down)
    Out comes the warm sun, yellow and round. (wave a yellow silk scarf over him)
    Down comes the rain, wet and slow. (gently pitter pat his head with your fingers)
    Up comes the little seed, grow, grow, grow! (the child grows up tall and strong)
She and I actually got a little rhythm worked out where I would crouch down with her and do the sun over her head, then rain pitter pat from her head down to her fingers, then take her hands in mine and we would stand up tall together. She really liked that. You wouldn't be able to do it that way with a group of children though.

* * * * *
afternoon... time for bird seed pinecones. I got the natural peanut butter so they'd have to stir it up first. I did two with Leah while Natalie was napping, when Natalie wakes up I can help her with hers. hopefully I'll remember to get a picture of our dogwood tree all decorated with them. it looks really nice. Leah seems so little to be doing "school", she's barely 2 years old but she's so excited when she can help stir or pour so I let her do activities if they are really simple. if it involves a lot of directions then we just do it when Leah's in bed. then I get the one on one time with each of them. Leah is such a little "me too". it'll be hard to hold her back when Natalie starts first grade and Leah's doing preschool with Rebecca. although maybe since there will be two of them it will be easier. Jack Petrash just wrote to me to say that the Nova Institute is holding a five session Introduction to Waldorf Education series starting this January 26th. It meets at the Washington Waldorf School in Bethesda. so I borrowed some money from Steve to pay for it and there goes my homeschool money for the next two weeks! but that's fine. I'm sure it will be an excellent use of funds. I had to change the art focus of the Sound unit because I didn't have enough money to buy all the books I wanted for watercolor painting. so we're doing watercolor pencils instead which is fine. I bought a book from Amazon, my one purchase, and had it sent two day mail so it should be here soon. I really need to work on writing that next week because I am behind on my lesson planning. I'm not behind, per se, because I can always fill up the time, but I like to sit down and think it all through globally. I always love writing curriculum even if we don't use all the ideas. and I have three who will be going through preschool so by the time they're all done, I will have done every activity! I always like to over-plan so that I am never searching for ideas at the last minute. the downside to that is that sometimes I feel that I'm not getting "all of it" done which is silly because you know that the focus of a Waldorf preschool education is by no means to check things off your list. it's to slow down and, most of all, to stay in touch with your child and focus on what works for them. so we do the pace that seems right and I try not to worry about the rest of it. but I have so many ideas for the Sound unit, I'm just dying to write it and I can't wait for this book to get here! Anyone who is reading this and has used my preschool materials, keep in mind that donations are always welcome!!! I think there's such a difference in the quality of materials when I actually have a budget to buy books and take the time to find the ones that will be the very best. and although Amazon.com gives me a line of credit, Bob & Nancy's does not and they are the ones with all the books I really need to see. I've been trying not to go into debt too much, and I've gotten a lot better about using the library, but I still get frustrated when it seems like there are so many books that are just out of reach. I've tried to encourage people in the Yahoo Group to do a book swap but I guess people don't really feel that they know each other well enough.

* * * * *
I think I'm doing a good job using up the leftover food from that party. I had one whole baguette and one partial; I chopped the whole one up and froze it for croutons or stuffing later on. In fact, I put it next to a large turkey; they just might meet again in a later life. and I found a Chocolate Chip Bread Pudding recipe to use up the partial baguette. I made a roasted tomato sauce with the cherry tomatoes and baby carrots leftover from the veggie platter. that can be frozen too but I actually used it right away for Steve's dinner. so the only things I have left, besides drinks, sandwich fixings, and condiments which aren't as hard to use up, is a package of salad greens, some broccoli and sugar snap peas, and a piece of Brie. I guess I'll have to look around for a recipe for that Brie. the salad and veggies can go alongside any meal. It was a fun party, though. Looking back, Natalie's 1st birthday didn't really have a theme, we just went with purchased invitations and matching balloons -- for her second birthday we did an Easter party -- for her third birthday the theme was ladybugs. Leah's first birthday was Autumn leaves (that was really pretty, I cut out leaf shapes using cookie cutters and autumn colored cardstock and wrote all her milestones from her birthday calendar on them, then taped them to the walls. who knew I had written down so many milestones? and I saved the leaves in a little box so she can look at them when she's older) -- her second birthday party she shared with her cousin Joe so it was a firetruck theme. and then Rebecca with her French party. she wore a little tutu, it was so cute, and the invitations were all in French. and I got to hunt through the stores for imported food. now we have lots of delicious jams that I can't wait to try. anyway, off to make my Chocolate Bread Pudding. and then I think I'll collapse, having been on my feet all day in the kitchen!

January 16 - it's been a long time since I've sat down to write. Rebecca's first birthday party was Sunday so I spent the whole weekend preparing for that and Steve had the kids. we did do some of the activities we planned for HS but I'm behind in some ways. we did the Mix 'n' Match Sandwich Faces from Cooking Art which was a huge success and a really fun family activity! Saturday we went to Clearwater Nature Center for the family bonfire which didn't really work out since it had just stopped raining and the fire only smoked, so we ate our hot dogs cold in the car. Then when we got home the wind storm had knocked out our power (a tree blew over and took the line with it, plus blocked the road) so we had cold hot dogs and chips again for dinner! it was really lucky we even had anything to eat cold for dinner because hot dogs are not a usual food in our house. we had only bought them for the campfire. when the power came back on it was late at night so I had to go out grocery shopping for the party Sunday morning. again, that meant we couldn't do any school. I did a French theme for the birthday party so we're having leftover croissants for breakfast with our Pineapple-Banana Smoothie. the smoothie recipe turned out really well (from Everyday Food January/February 2006). Natalie put in the pineapple, Leah put in the banana, Natalie put in the yogurt, Leah put in the ice cubes. I always love recipes where they can each feel like they helped to make it and that the list of ingredients is divisible by 2 so that it's my turn, your turn, okay we're done! and no one is left without a turn. with me being busy preparing for this party school (Steve had them in the morning but doesn't do their school activities with them) got left behind so we'll make today housekeeping day and do some catch up with the laundry and the mending pile. I'm looking forward to making sewing cards with N (from the newsletter topic "Tuppence a Bag"). now, I wonder where I put my hole punch?

* * * * *
The sewing cards today turned out to be really beautiful. It's nice to take the time to stop and look at the image, instead of just flipping the card open immediately to see who it's from. Natalie really enjoyed looking at the pictures. We also did our watercolor painting today. For dinner we'll be making the Minestrone Soup with Pesto and we have some leftover baguette from the party. I have to mend King Winter after his terrible fall and I have a large mending pile of clothing and toys... for some reason I just never sat down and focused on my sewing today. Probably because I was busy doing the lesson planning for the next week of school. Steve has to balance the books tonight and asked me to have a sewing project to do (so that I don't bother him) so I have lots! I never did the other little knitted gnome although I took my knitting bag with me when we went to the little cabin when the heat was out here -- but I spent my time reading the books I had brought about knitting and never picked up the project! Sometimes I think I'd rather read than do. so with the gnomes, the finger puppets, and the mending I'll be able to occupy myself while he gets the bank statements balanced from October through now. at least me being backlogged is helpful to somebody :-)

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I was trying to find a babysitter so I could take Natalie to an art class in April and Steve suggested my mother in law, who has a ton of leave banked at her work and could use a little time off for TLC besides... then I suddenly realized that it would be great for both her and N if they did the class together -- it's an adult-child clay class called Big Hands, Little Hands. I have to remember to suggest this to her. she works in Annapolis so I could just drive Natalie up to meet her and then take the other two children to do something (the class is for ages 4-8). I think they would both have so much fun together! She really gets a kick out of her grandkids. and when other activities come up in Annapolis I'll have to keep her in mind so that she can have a chance to do something one on one with each of them. the other thing I had clipped out of the paper to remember was an infant massage class but I missed the deadline for that one.

January 13 - Friday the 13th! today we're making finger puppets for "The Little Red Hen", going to the grocery store to buy sweet potatoes, olive oil, and chili powder for the Chili-Roasted Sweet Potatoes we're making for snack, and visiting Grammy & Papa. It's also time for a book exchange; I just cleaned off our shelves and put out

I think it's important for the kids not to have too many books at one time. More than six is probably too many but I like to have a variety out there so I can pick bedtime stories easily based on the age of the child, what we did today, and so on -- I like to have lots of options. Tonight for bedtime I think I'll read "In the Fog" by Lilian Moore in Talking Like the Rain. It's been so unseasonably warm here and very foggy every morning! Odd. I guess that's global warming for you; I know it doesn't always mean warmer weather but just weird weather. Talking Like the Rain, by the way, is an excellent book -- we bought it for our Weather unit but use it often, it's a wonderful collection of poems and Jane Dyer as an illustrator can't be beat. I tend to change out our books pretty regularly and the ones I select are based on how I'm feeling at the time, so hopefully the girls get a good assortment of whimsical as well as philosophical.

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While trying to decide how much homeschool money I need to save up for ballet and tap shoes, a leotard, and several pairs of tights (looks like about $75.00) I am struck once again with the question of whether a dance class is developmentally appropriate for Natalie (almost 4). I guess it all depends on the instructor which is to say, you have to wait and see. Seems like a big up-front investment though. And if she has her heart set on dancing but I pull her from the class because I don't like it, then she'll be heart-broken. Diamond Dance Center, in Hartford County MD, has this to say about dance in early childhood:

Philosophy and Goals For Dance In Early Childhood

"Dance, for the young child should be a joyful experience. Children need to enjoy the process of learning dance. In short, dance classes should be fun. In this way, children will develop a love and appreciation for the art.

Dance class should provide a positive environment in which children can learn and grow. It should offer a variety of experiences that promote physical, social, emotional and cognitive growth in the child. The physical benefits of dance class are widely accepted, but the social, emotional, and even academic learning promoted by a good dance program are less popularly understood. A well-balanced class addresses the “whole child.”

Dance class for young children should be child-centered. Children develop at individual rates, thus abilities and talents in early childhood are extremely varied. The curriculum should provide a sequential program that is appropriate to the age and developmental needs of the child. This will build the child’s self-confidence, an understanding and appreciation for his or her body and a love for movement and dance.

While developmental movement skills are important to acquire, dance for the young child should focus on creative movement. Not yet inhibited by socially accepted expectations, their imaginations are at a peak. A variety of sensory experiences to stimulate the imagination are important. Young children possess the imagination of the skilled artiest. They learn readily and deeply by applying acquired knowledge to solve problems in new and different ways.

In order to achieve a balance, technique should be intertwined, respective to the maturity of the child. While it is important that young children be provided with class structure that will promote learning, it is also important to provide nurturing for the individual development of the child.

Dance for the young child requires an experienced and adept teacher who understands the individual developmental needs of children and balance this with organized classroom management. Dance for all ages is a joyous learning experience, but formal dance class for children under three years of age is inappropriate. Under this age a different class structure is advised, preferably one with parent participation.

Dance in early childhood is important work that provides lifelong values."

    Goals for Dance in Early Childhood

    1. Love of moving and dancing.

    2. Appreciate and understand the art of dance.

    3. Create a positive experience from which to learn and grow.

    4. Develop physical skills that are age appropriate.

    5. Develop social skills:
    a) to participate and share within a group
    b) to lead and follow
    c) to appreciate the work of other children
    d) to develop an awareness of personal space and to respect the personal space of others

    6. Develop Body Wellness:
    a) to understand and respect one’s own body
    b) to learn how to move safely

    7. Educate the parent and greater community about the importance of appropriate dance for young children.

Reading that made me feel better.

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So homeschool money for next week is spent - $75.95 at www.danskin.com. The money for this week is going to pay for the class ($60.00) and the book sale at the library on Wednesday. So that's it until the 27th! I'm not sure how I'm going to be able to afford the new books I want for the Sound unit. I guess I'll have to wait and see how much I get from Amazon this month. As I recall my 4th quarter 2005 earnings were something like $13. still, every little bit helps! I always have plenty of art and craft supplies on hand so that's no problem. it's books where I always spend my money. perhaps I'll find some good books at cheap prices at the book sale.

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Jack Petrash assigned me Chapters 1 & 2 of How to Know Higher Worlds. I'm pretty nervous about reading this -- I didn't have much trouble with The Education of the Child but this will be my first foray into really learning more about anthroposophy. however, I keep saying that I need to take some time for healing, self-learning, and meditation -- which is why I'm putting creating a sanctuary garden as the nature focus in the next unit -- so this is the beginning of the work towards that end. I was telling Steve last night that I really want to reach "parenting nirvana" which for me is sitting back and watching my children happily splashing in a mud puddle without pushing myself onto them. Susan Striker's book Please Touch has been really inspirational to me in that regard. I know what kind of mom I want to be. So I'm inspired but stuck knowing that I'm about 20 steps away from that and not knowing what the 20 steps are or how to overcome them. Steve says I should just pretend to be hands off and relaxed and then I will be it. that's the kind of advice they give to depressed people. apparently, acting happy goes a long way towards being happy, whether you feel like it or not. I have learned so much since starting with Waldorf, the number one thing being that adults TALK a lot and ask hundreds of questions of children each day. it makes my head hurt thinking of what it must be like to be a small child faced with those type of adults. I have learned to back off quite a bit. but I still know that I am far too controlling and that my need to have everything perfect influences my children. when I first had Leah I asked Natalie to constantly help me, get me things, tell me if the baby put something in her mouth and so on. Now Natalie doesn't know how to be off-duty. like many moms. she's absorbed from me a sense of responsibility for her sister which is way out of line for her age. and now I'm sending her mixed signals by always telling her to mind her own business and only worry about herself -- but if Leah does something and N comes to tell me about it I thank her. so I know that I have to learn better how to be the adult and let my children just by children. anyway, this book by Steiner is supposed to take you step by step through a spiritual journey and I hope it really helps me a lot. the Amazon reviews of this book say that it is even better to listen to a recording; perhaps I can find one. I do think a different level of information is absorbed by hearing rather than seeing.

January 12 - today is catch-up day for school. we made the vegetable soup instead of bread and butter, and we planted our seeds and did the little rhyme. Leah helped with the seed planting, putting soil in the pot, adding the seeds, and watering. then I put her to bed and N and I did the soup. we're waiting for it to cook so she got out the modelling beeswax and then I remembered that our new pentatonic xylophone I bought from Sarah Baldwin came so we got that out. it's marvelous! made of old railroad nails cut to different lengths to create the pentatonic scale. You lay them across the wooden stand and hit them with the mallet. it's nice because you can break it down and store all the pieces in a canvas bag -- I'll have to make one -- and N loves to take it apart and reassemble it. has a nice tone, too. the dog started to sing when she began to play and I think he was happy, not complaining, because his tail was wagging full throttle. the cats seem to like it too. Jazz went to sit by her and began to purr like mad. it's made by Spike & Company Musical Instrument Design in New York (914-338-0749).

January 11 - Happy Birthday, Rebecca! today for school we went to storytime and then stopped at the grocery store to get baby food (N and L having dumped out Becca's last can of powdered formula all over their carpet so hey, today she gets milk like a big girl!). after naps we will clean the living room because Grandma is coming over for the birthday dinner, make the birthday dinner and dessert, get out the birthday crown and the ring, pick flowers for the vases on the birthday ring and make her candle. Before we do the cake tonight I am going to read Everywhere Babies, one of the cutest stories of all time (and one which always gets me choked up at the end) because it finishes with baby's first birthday party, having gone through all the things babies learn to do in their first year and how they grow and change and I think N and L would like that. and this will be my last baby so I'm going to be crying my eyes out. this will be the only time I've ever done a first birthday party for a child and not already been pregnant with the next. I know it's not the end of the world but I sure feel that way. maybe that's the real reason I've been bummed out lately and it has nothing to do with Christmas being over or losing our heat for a few days. somehow I don't feel like a real mom without a baby on my hip. but I guess that's my own issue that I have to deal with. You can't keep having babies forever! My great-aunt Nancy had 10 children. I know that's not practical in this day and age or very responsible considering the number of children out there who need loving homes... but I just love to cuddle them. and they're so innocent. Steve says I should volunteer at a hospital cuddling preemies but I don't think that's really the same thing as having your own baby to whom you are the whole world. it's sad when a baby who loves you so absolutely starts to push you away because they want to walk, they want to go and you let them go, of course, because you love them and that's your job. but it hurts.

January 10 - homeschooling over the past two days has been put on a bit of a hiatus. I packed finger puppets, modelling beeswax, books, toys, and sidewalk chalk to the cabin but we're having a breakdown in the nap schedule because all 3 children share a room. I'm back here for dinner -- Steve is walking around with his headset on talking to people on the other end and fiddling with the furnace. we put $600 worth of oil in it today but it still won't come on. one thing about having routines is that when they're off, you are off. I mean, there's really no reason why we couldn't have stuck to our schedule better, even with the kids being overtired, except that I feel all odd and disoriented. King Winter is having a great time, I'm sure, in our arctic abode. perhaps if I make the Mrs Thaw doll it will get warmer here :-) oh well. I have been getting some reading done, if nothing else. I have a whole new pile of Waldorf books I can dedicate myself to. the problem is, going back and forth from one house to the other every few hours, that I'm not doing any housework at either place. no dishes, laundry, etc for two days. so I guess, worst case scenario, N and I can do another housecleaning day tomorrow for school. it's supposed to be the first day of storytime at the library, catch-up day for school (planting our seeds, that's the main thing) and Rebecca's birthday so we have to make her birthday dinner and dessert, as well as the vegetable soup recipe so the veggies in the fridge don't spoil... I'm not sure how much of that we'll get done. It's a bit of a shame. I had just gotten really into the rhythm of this house and our school and was ready to tackle adding Leah to the mix for some of our school activities -- now I feel like I've never had a good idea in my whole life. this thing is really throwing me. not to mention just the physical discomfort of being cold. the children are shivering and I swear L is coming down with a cold, not that that's supposed to be related to the temperature. I don't know... I guess tomorrow is another day! I'll just focus on having it be all about Rebecca's birthday, the ring and the candle and the crown and the cake. it's not fair to her to lose her special day just because we're going back and forth. and, if it turns out that it's the travelling between the two houses constantly that is really what's throwing us, I'll just settle down in the warm house, nap schedule be damned, and make a little home there so the children can feel some peace. everything else will just have to wait. It'll get done when it gets done! bedtime story for tonight: my favorite version of Beauty and the Beast, illustrated by Mercer Mayer.

January 9 - what a totally balmy day! I couldn't believe it this morning when I went to walk the dog. I think we'll do our painting outside today. Somewhere I must have a board.

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Ha! Tra-la-la, she says. Turns out the reason it was so warm outside this morning is that our furnace is broken. This makes outside warmer than the inside of our house. So we'll be leaving shortly to go stay at the little cabin next to my parents while things get sorted out. That means school for today is cancelled. Gee, just like a real school. When the heat doesn't work, they send everyone home. Except in our case we're leaving home to go stay somewhere else. Of course, there's no reason why I can't pack painting supplies to take with us, and N can still help with dinner. But it has thrown a wrench in the works somewhat.

January 8 - yesterday was Steve's turn to take care of the kids while I did errands. he and N made the turkey burgers for dinner instead of cookies -- I thought she'd be upset but she just said, "we can make cookies another day." so I guess she is learning to just go with the flow. today is housekeeping day and we have a lot to do. I switched the children's bedrooms yesterday so there are a ton of things to move and unpack. right now there's a lot just out in the living room and obviously it can't stay that way, with Rebecca cruising. which I think she will in just a day or two. she just started pulling up to a stand a few days ago but she's getting very strong and her balance is good. I also found our Zote soap so we can make laundry powder when N gets tired of moving boxes around. I have read that you just need 1 tablespoon of the powder... I wonder if that's true? I know some people add washing soda and borax to their laundry powder, but the book I'm using for the directions says you can just grate a bar of soap and dry the shavings in the oven. add borax if you want more sudsing action. and we can certainly do that! with potty-training L I'm a doing a load of laundry every evening so I have plenty of time to try formulations and see what works. I was first going to grate Fels Naptha but it says on the packaging not to touch it with your bare hands. The Zote is very gentle and completely safe. And it's nice and pink. Says on the packaging you can use it for dishes too but I don't know if I'll try that. would be handy to take on camping trips, though. here's a Homemade Laundry Powder recipe -- I'm using a book called The Wholesome Home Book of Recipes and Household Formulas by Yvonne Tarr for my directions. It's a great little book, very handy in case someday I want to raise chickens (she covers everything about budget living!)

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Well tonight we got to wash our laundry with the powder N made, which she thought was really cool. The Crispy Apricot Pork Chops turned out great but N wouldn't eat them. oddly enough she's less likely to eat something that she has cooked. usually it's the other way round. cooking with your child is supposed to reform a picky eater. anyway, today was very successful and I'm off to read her the first chapter of Mary Poppins, our new read-aloud. Good night!

January 6 - took down the tree today, dismanteled the button garlands and sorted them into tins (Natalie helped with that), took the tree apart and put it back in its box (Leah helped with that). I'm working on my King Winter doll (from the pattern in The Nature Corner). Steve made me the stand yesterday. we're making turkey burgers for dinner tonight and salad. I'm actually really looking forward to tomorrow more, since it's our field trip... we're going to BCNES. they actually had room in their Nature Tykes program, which has always been full-up before, every time I tried to call. so we are going to learn about how animals keep warm during the winter. I was planning on taking her there tomorrow anyway, it's just a bonus that they have a program going on. then the storytime topic for Wednesday is Winter so that all goes together well. depending on what they talk about tomorrow I may make little animal figures for our Nature table, sleeping under a pile of snow or in a cave or so on. I'm really looking forward to it. taking down our Christmas things is pretty depressing. N is upset too, that it's over, but that's mostly because she liked the presents. I was going to get The Last Straw to read to her to help explain it but the library's copy was out. I guess that's a book to put on the to-buy list. Bas Bleu has it and a really cute little stuffed camel to go along with the story. Maybe that can be on the list of presents for next year. see why I need a website? how can I keep track of all these lists?? I guess it's time to start the gift-giving 2006 spreadsheet already. and it's only January 6th!

January 5 - today is the last day of Christmas! I gave the children the large nesting rainbow by Spiel & Holz (got it at a good price from Organic Toys). today is bread baking day so I'm very apprehensive... I'm very new at making yeasted breads. this will only be our second one. but no matter how it turns out, we are pros at making butter and worse case scenario we can just enjoy the butter on some crackers :-)

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well, now I'm downstairs getting my copy of The Gnome Craft Book. the little knitted gnome I made for Leah to go with her tree blocks didn't "take", apparently this gnome is now happy sliding down the arches of rainbows. that's OK, actually now I have to make several since N and L can't share just one. I was a little worried when I made him because he's coral and white (the yarn I had on hand but not very tree and earth gnome-like) but it works out since he matches the bright rainbow colors better. I have some blue and I guess that's what I'll be working up during my time this afternoon. I'm sure that technically a gnome doesn't live on a rainbow, there are rainbow fairies but gnomes are of the earth, however, it's just plain silly for me to get all bent out of shape over it since it's imaginative play after all... the gnome can go to the rainbow to visit the fairies. sometimes I wonder how I came to be so rigid. I guess that's why I want Waldorf so much for my kids. I want them to nurture the imagination and creativity that I have to work so hard to get back now as an adult. I also am getting out Baa Baa Black Sheep since N is more interested in knitting now (it is so expensive to buy all the books for a unit -- this one is from Color -- but I do love having them on hand so we can revisit things) and Like a Fish in Water. Tonya Lemos of Blazing Star Herbal School recommends starting each day with the sun salutation pose. Like a Fish in Water is one of those books that doesn't look like much, I was disappointed when I first got it, but it is one I have returned to time and again (this also is from a past unit, Weather). N loves the way it is illustrated and reads through it often. she also likes to pick out what pose we will do next. I have such a hard time getting going in the mornings, it nearly kills me to get up at 7 o'clock, and I am willing to try anything I can as far as a more graceful transition into the day. the morning verses work great but I think a little yoga before we start the day would be good too. Leah is old enough to go along (they share a room) so I just need to get another child's yoga mat for her. Magic Cabin has a little yoga mat on sale now for $12.99. another thing on my to-do list for January!!! I always spend my homeschool money before I get it, I have to be careful this month with so many expenses. dance class (and the apparel to go with it) to pay for this week and the book sale at our local library (I got a babysitter so I can be there Wednesday morning right when it opens) next week... plus buying books and supplies to write the new unit: Sound. that will probably be all for the month. I can't find my copy of The Wiggler to read but that's OK because I know that book like the back of my hand. so I can easily do it for storytelling. I don't know if it's better to read the book, then make butter, or make the butter and then read the book. You get the "aha!" moment either way. N just loves making butter. I love it too, come to think of it. Waldorf has really been wonderful for all of us. it's amazing to think of all the things that we take for granted in our modern age, never thinking or caring where they come from. I feel more grounded (at least more than I was before, although I have a long way to go) -- definitely more connected to the earth. everyone I've talked to loves the idea of a Nature table, even if they don't go for any other aspect of it. for me, I started with Waldorf because I liked it as an educational philosophy, but my husband was behind it all the way because he thought it would be good for me as a person and as a mother. Jack Petrash says that teacher training with Waldorf is really a spiritual quest and I believe it. if anyone is in the DC area and is interested in his site, it's called the Nova Institute, the only Waldorf teacher training available in our area.

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ha. today will win no awards for Greatest Homeschooling Day of the Year. our bread tasted like dirt -- literally -- maybe because I substituted honey for the maple syrup? I wouldn't think it would make that much difference -- and we smashed our jar of cream on the floor while trying to make butter. maybe that's why I had such a gloomy outlook this morning. I could sense impending doom. Jenn left her quart jar from her Gingerbread Cookie in a Jar Mix here and we used that -- I don't know if the glass is thinner along the bottom of a bigger jar? we usually use a pint jar. or if it's because the large jar was too hard for N and L to hold so I did most of the shaking and was more vigorous? or if it's because I used a large glass "gem" that has been our lucky rock instead of the smooth river pebble and glass doesn't go with glass... whatever the reason our living room now smells delicious, like whipped cream (what a surprise) and the floors are nice and clean. N was so upset when it broke, she thought it was her fault even though I was holding the jar at the time. I could feel it was about to seize so I was really shaking it when wham. cream everywhere. they say that it matters more how you do things than what you do, so let's hope my cheerful attitude about the things which went wrong today were the real lesson for the day. anyway, I'm going to take a break. I have gnomes to knit! knitting is supposed to be so calming and meditative (no doubt, this refers to people who can purl without grinding their teeth and sitting hunched over squinting in concentration). I got Zen and the Art of Knitting from the bookstore a few days ago and look forward to reading it. I looked at the first few chapters while I was in the store and gathered that it's a really long difficult project which really takes you into the zone, so I want to look around for some really nice yarn and start on a sweater. I also got a fabulous book called Vintage Knits which I can't wait to start on. little projects like gnomes and the cat I made for Rebecca are cute, but I guess they don't really count. anyway, I am eagerly looking forward to the mystical effect of knitting. I know that I crave handwork everyday but I tend to go more for papercrafting, hand sewing, and cross-stitch. I have two goals for 2006. one is to keep better record of my children as they grow (the new camera/videocamera is one part of that, this blog is the other part) and the second is to make a quilt. I wonder if you get the same trance-like effect from quilting? it takes a loooooong time, though, to sew a quilt by hand so perhaps that will be my 2006-2008 goal :-) I can't abide sewing machines. prefer to do it the long way -- the quiet way -- it's like a vacuum cleaner vs. a broom. it takes longer but you don't have a headache at the end.

January 4 - today seemed like a super-short school day. making the vegetable soup didn't take very long and wasn't very satisfying -- just dump and stir. perhaps I'll add a trip to the farmer's market to choose the vegetables, then come home and make our soup. I used to get really frustrated when the reality of teaching didn't meet up with the neat and tidy process of planning, but now I'm just trying to relax and realize that I learn every day what works and what doesn't. I also want to change Saturday to be any type of field trip, such as museum, art gallery, concert, etc. this gives her more opportunity to experience different things with Steve. I've signed up for storytime on Wednesdays at 10:15, and I'm putting N in a dance class (ballet/tap) starting Monday the 23rd. it's going to be so weird for me because every music & movement thing we've done until now has been Mommy and me but this one I can drop and run. I don't really want to... but I won't need a babysitter for the other two if I can sit in the lobby with them or do some short errand. and it's one on one with the other two (I guess two on one, still better). I'd like to do a class for each one of them, infant massage for Rebecca, and a Kindermusik class for Leah, but I don't know if I have the money or the babysitting... it's important to me though that not all the money gets spent on Natalie just because she's older. I wasn't even sure about a dance class but she loves Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire, Rosemary Clooney, just loves them! and I just think it's sweet that she wants to be a dancer. so it may not be the most Waldorf thing in the world but I think it will be good for her, especially to have a little independence. and to learn to listed to other adults. I read somewhere but can't find it again that RS said kids shouldn't be homeschooled because they need to form attachments to people other than mom after the age of 7. I know she just adores her librarians so even though we don't have the best storytime program in the world, I think it's good for her to go. it did break my heart though last time, on the second day, when she stopped just dancing and moving around freely to watch the other kids and try to learn the movements to the song Peanut Butter and Jelly. I loved her so much when she was free and easy. but she gets a lot of pride out of being able to do what the other kids do... I don't know. I'm conflicted on this one. but I have found myself being really nasty in my mind when she's around people that I don't think are "good enough" and I don't like that quality in myself. I don't like thinking "well, they can't hurt her too much, it's only for a little while" and I think that's just mean. I believe that it's worse for her to be picking up that kind of subtle negativity from me. so I'm trying to relax. Dance and Storytime here we come!

January 3 - we had a blast on our bear hunt, when I looked in the downstairs closet it was like the bear was really there and N got scared running up the steps to get away from it, so we had to back off and chill out, and then finish acting out the story. but it was a lot of fun! especially when we dove under the covers and she looked at the book's illustrations and they were under the covers just like we were, she really got it. today was library day, we also made the cookies which turned out fine although they weren't very good (I thought). the library books I picked were

January 2 - watercolor painting day! I love this new schedule (from the newsletter topic "Squeaky Clean"). we did wet on wet with a sponge, since I can't find our brushes (bought another preschool paint kit from OM) with green and yellow. it's the first time she's filled up the entire page with color. actually looks like we really do Waldorf here :-) so that's hanging up to dry. read Small Pig which she loved -- I'd read it to Leah before but not to her. there are 12 books on our bookcase right now (I think there are too many but lots of them are new for Christmas so I don't want to put them away yet)

Dinner today was Rice Pilaf with Tomatoes from Everyday Food Jan/Feb 2006. yesterday N didn't want to help with dinner -- I had told her that this would be a new school thing -- but today she and Leah both were in on it. Natalie added the diced tomatoes and the thyme (the first time she actually go to do the measuring, not just the pouring, and it was a small spoon!) and Leah added the water and salt. it came out really well. tomorrow for Circle Time I think I'm going to have us act out We're Going on a Bear Hunt. we can go around the living room -- for the grass we can walk moving our hands back and forth at our sides like a soldier "swishy swashy", for the river we can stomp "splash splosh", for the mud we can raise our feet high with our knees all the way up to our stomachs "squelch squerch", for the forest we can stumble around with one step being normal and the other with your knee bending way down to the ground "stumble trip", for the snowstorm we can bend our heads down and walk against the wind making whooshing noises "hoooo woooo" then tiptoe down the steps to the basement, find the bear and dash all around the downstairs repeating our steps, up the stairs into the house again, back down to shut the door behind us, then run into her bedroom and dive under the covers! sounds like a fun idea, we'll see if it works out.

January 1 - housecleaning today went well. I got the swiffers back out for N and L which they were very happy about. N got to dust the stairs, which she thought was a lot of fun; I got to clean up some little things which had been nagging me around the house which was nice. cleaned off the Christmas table and made it the homeschool table which cleared up room on the dining room table and I got some New Year's cards mailed at last! took some video of the kids playing with their presents of the morning -- Rebecca got the Trix by Haba, I was so happy to actually be able to buy that for someone, I've been looking at it for years. I am so grateful to Steve for buying me a camera for Christmas. now I don't have to feel like I will forget what my kids were like when they were little. started our King Winter doll -- I've never made a Waldorf doll head so that was challenging. I used a juniper berry for the nose because I didn't have a small bead so I hope that doesn't backfire by rotting as time goes on. It's a dried berry so hopefully it will be OK. we did the Walnut Boats in the evening, N and Steve and I. that was a lot of fun. N wanted to keep playing with the boats afterward so I set them aside (out of the water) and we can get them out tomorrow. I don't think she's ever seen a boat with a sail. we tried some new school things, with the new schedule this year, I took N out to play outside and she got the little watering can and plant pots that she got from Aunt Kate. wasn't interested in digging to fill the pots with soil, though, just wanted to pass the water back and forth from one thing to the next so we moved it inside to a tray on the little table and she was perfectly happy. the other new thing was to take a Nature walk everyday at 4:30 with N and L. it went fine but overtired Leah out so much she couldn't get to sleep at night. so maybe she's still too little for that. We read Harry the Dirty Dog. I never have the courage to do any real storytelling so I have to get Storytelling with Children back out and spend some time with it. Aunt Jenn gave N a small puppet theater and some finger puppets and it would be so easy to make more and act out lots of different stories. put that on my to-do list for January.