Monday, August 25, 2014

and so we begin again ~ 4th and 1st

And so we begin again, this time, 4th grade and 1st grade. Where did the year go? Really, I went forward, learning, loving, adventuring, growing, day by day, but somehow, those days added up so quickly and an entire year rolled over. The new school year is opening its arms to us now and we are ready.


This year, I have a 4th grader, still youthful, yet changed slightly, as she has crossed through the rough waters of the 9 year change. It was bumpy, yet amazing. I held her hand when she needed it, yet there were moments she swam strongly on her own. I didn't understand at the time, but now I do. This passage didn't mean the teen years were steps away. My girl is the same again, just with a view of the world expanding beyond me. We are on the banks again together now, nearing 10. It is so hard to believe. I hope to bring her the wonder and joy of 4th grade, freely, but I think this might be the age when it becomes so hard for parents to balance the idea that we are raising these little people to leave us one day soon. Soon comes closer everyday, doesn't it?

This year, I have a 1st grader. My baby is crossing the rainbow bridge from his early years into elementary school. In the Waldorf world, this little being is welcomed into "real" school by an older student, after crossing over or under a rainbow (silk or similar) and often offered a token, such as a flower. (See here.) In preparation, I told Finnian this story about a leaf, leaving the tree. At the surface, it was just a story, but Mike patted my shoulder and smiled, knowing my intention and meaning. My little guy is ready. In the past few months, he has lost his first 2 teeth, he has begun to show an interest in reading, he's tying his own shoes, he's grown inches, and he's so capable and eager to do things himself. 

As we begin the school year, I have already changed my plans since my last post (my first post on these grades). While the bulk of my post remains the same, I have decided that I will not be using Oak Meadow at all this year and I will be using very little of the Waldorf Essentials curricula. I will continue to use the Waldorf Essentials Thinking Feeling Willing program, which has been such a support to me. For teaching materials, I will be using Christopherus (beyond the resources I mentioned in my last post, I now also have materials for 4th and 1st grades) as well as the previously mentioned guides from Marsha Johnson of Waldorf Home Educators (Yahoo! group) and also the guides from Waldorf Inspirations, depending on the blocks I am teaching. I am struck by how much fabulous information is available at no or low cost, particularly if one wants to take the approach of making it "their own," which is ideal for each child and family when homeschooling.

A rainbow for Finnian, a California Quail for Lala. We had some, um, troubles with the chalkboard this morning, so Lala, once ready, came and helped re-do my drawings. The column is actually our first form drawing, the lines at the top and bottom representing the sky and earth, to teach Finnian where to start and end his vertical lines.

As the parent-teacher, I am excited this year (and nervous, too) at the idea of co-leading a project for the kids' homeschool 4-H club. In addition to this project, the kids will participate in several others, supporting their science and social studies needs, as well as getting them outside and physical. We are also going to be doing a small co-op with new, like minded friends. Kindred spirits. Lala is continuing piano lessons and as we did last year, the kids will be in classes through their charter. It sounds like a lot, but as we begin the year, I have mornings blocked off for home learning and one full weekday a week at home, with no obligations.

And so we began...

The start of the day was a bit bumpy, with a girl feeling left out of the rising grade welcome and sadness at her own move up a grade (growth and change are hard, just like for her mamma), but with love and empathy and a realization that we can go at our own pace, we moved on to a beautiful, smooth, wonderful day.

I asked the kids to paint what their image of the summer had been; something tangible, a feeling, a color representation, whatever. The top painting above is Finnian's. It is a green canoe in the water, with sun and rain. This was our time at the lake. The bottom picture above is mine. It is hands coming together, as we spent a lot of time with friends, family, and each other, making connections. Below are Lala's paintings. The top one is a yellow canoe, also from our time at the lake. After this, she wanted to paint again, so I asked her to paint something that represents what she wants to gain from the school year. She painted a butterfly, because she wants to learn about them during our animal block.
 4-H begins for the year and a proud girl turns in a complete record book from last year.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

treasure - lake style

 Math puzzles! I am not sure how it happened, but Nonno and Lala got engaged and by the time the week was done, Lala had done a number of them and encouraged Nonno through several "nightmares."

 Lots of art! Drawing, painting, mixed media. Beautiful experimentation.

 Knitting and crochet! Mike knit a hat for himself and began crochet on a hat for Finnian. My mom knit half a hat for charity.

 My little builder and big builder got to work. They build a sled. :) And they built a fire bow set.

 Lala, re-reading the read-aloud we finished; the second in The Penderwicks series by Jeanne Birdsall
 They caught one!

 My parents bought those CamelBacks when Finnian was 2. Worth every penny and every mile.

Beautiful. Wonderful. Strange. Different.


As I have blogged about each and every summer, we returned from the lake this week. Homecoming is so bittersweet. We all long for a shower, our own beds, and even "home," but leaving such a beautiful place, one that makes my soul sing and my heart both laugh and cry...well, that's hard. I feel melancholy trying to settle itself in my body right now and I am having trouble jollying it away.

This year's visit meant the pleasure of having Mike with us all week. It meant missing my brother, Stian. It meant a resting mom/grandma (recovering from back/hip pain). It brought thunder, rain, and hail, which was thrilling (for some) and anxiety producing (for others), and wind. Always wind. Art, building, handwork, books, water play, and math puzzles. And two children, who were both more capable, independent, and helpful than in years past. This year, the wildflowers were done, the thimble berries were beginning to ripen, the shooting stars should have been outstanding (but weren't), and there were almost no mosquitoes.

This year, my word has been treasure. I haven't been actively meditating on that word recently, but this time away has me reflecting on it. As we are all growing older, what is it that I most treasure? These people. This time.

Monday, July 28, 2014

just peachy

Every year we have a tradition of peach cream pie for my dad's birthday. There was the birthday where there were pies enough for 40 people and we've been known to cart a package of peaches (or nectarines...I use either) up to the lake if his birthday falls during the week we are there.

This year was simple. Today is his birthday (happy 29 again, dad!) and so when we celebrated this weekend, we had to have pie!

While this is not the first time I have posted this recipe,  I shared the recipe on Rhythm of the Home online magazine. ROTH has now closed shop and while their website was still running, currently, none of my links are working, so I feel compelled to share the recipe again here! (And I was asked to, but whatever...)

Peach or Nectarine Cream Pie:

  • 1 cup white sugar (you can use less and you can probably replace this with another sweetener, although to be honest, I have never tried)
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 1/3 cup all purpose flour (or gluten free flour mix)
  • 1 egg
  • 1.5 Tablespoons vanilla
  • 8 large peaches or nectarines, pitted, skinned, and slices. (A carrot peeler works wonderfully.) This is about 4 cups of fruit.
  • 1/4 teaspoon  cinnamon
  • 1 pint whipping cream, divided
  • 1 pie crust (I use the gluten free pie crust recipe from Gluten Free Baking Classics from Annalise Roberts)
Beat the egg in a dish, brush some on the unbaked pie crust to prevent sogginess when baking, and set the remainder aside.

Place the peaches in the unbaked pie shell.

Cream the butter and sugar together, add the remainder of the egg, flour, vanilla, and you can also add 1/4 cup of whipping cream if you like. This will make a richer, although wetter, filling. I add it. Mix completely until you have a soft paste. Spread this over the peaches.

Sprinkle the cinnamon on top.

Bake at  400 F for 10 minutes, the reduce to 350 F and bake an additional 45 minutes.

Serve as is, or cool completely, whip the remaining cream, and spread over the top before serving (cold). We serve it this way. Delicious!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

a little pottery

I am sharing a little pottery with you today. A little of the lots (and lots) the kids dreamed up and made all on their own (with a little support from the fabulous staff at the kids' pottery studio).

Below, a bowl (Lala), lion fountain (Finn Luca), bowl (Lala), random assortment (both kids), marble run (seriously! Finn Luca), whistle (it really works! Finn Luca), cat (Lala).  Not pictured is another stack of bowls, some useful and some unique plates, a fairy fountain, an elf bath, a hand plane (yup), a saw, and a massive collection of ceramic food, and a number of other items.

Can you imagine your first introduction to clay being unlimited? Dreamy (and prolific)!

Monday, July 14, 2014

a new purse for mamma

That is a big statement...a new bag for mamma. Two reasons; 1) I have happily been using my Tom Bihn on and off for maybe 20 years. It's timeless, really. I am sure it will be on again some time in the future, but for now I needed a little something feminine and fresh. 2) I sewed it myself, which meant I got sewing time. Time to sew. Time completely unrelated to the kids. (Thank you, Mike!) The (free) pattern for the bag is the April Bag.

I love it. It is just the right size. It feels nice with its solid straps and lining, and I love the fabric I used. I purchased the bird fabric new, over a year ago, with a bag in mind, but never got around to sewing anything. I believe it is Oh Deer! fabric by Moda.  The lining is leftovers from these pants I made Lala (which are already too short. She and I just chose some new fabric to make longer, replacement ruffle cuffs for them!)


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