Monday, December 22, 2014

Happy Solstice!




I have read about the beautiful spirals done in Waldorf schools in December, but had never attempted our own! And it was every bit as magical and beautiful as I had hoped.


e and I raked up pine needles into the spiral and laid pine boughs rescued from a tree lot over the pine needles. We set bricks for the candles, warmed the cider, filled a bucket of water, and invited our neighbors and of course S and s. We sang Rise Up O Flame, read a winter poem, and then walked the spiral. The kids played on the swingset, swinging high above the spiral in the dark. It was a beautiful night.


This morning e and I went to see if any animals had found the apple snacks (from the candle-holders) we had left out in the spiral for them. Indeed, one was missing and three had been partially eaten. We even found a very happy slug eating its apple breakfast.


Wednesday, December 10, 2014

A Love of Learning

e has a pretty good grasp of regrouping, thanks to all that acorn counting!
Saints and Heroes:
e also wove a paper mat (like Rabia's mat!) for her stuffed animals to sleep on.
This one made her does simply being confidant and speaking directly help to solve problems? I could see this question bumping around in her head. She didn't voice it and I didn't ask it, but I know she's given it good thought.

e's form drawings:

E's final two animals for his zoology block. I didn't require any writing beyond the mapping, which is actually in more of my handwriting than his...mostly because he was incredibly passionate about these two animals that he read the books by himself and was so eager to tell me about them that it might have ruined the enthusiasm to turn it into a writing assignment. Above all else, I want my children to be excited about learning. If we lose the excitement, we lose everything.

E had his second pre-season meet. Just like before, he took three golds, two silvers, and a fourth place. I love watching him perform. This is what he lives and breathes, not for the competition, but for betterment of his own skill. I know his coaches are being careful to push him for personal best rather than higher scores, and I am thankful. He is thriving.
Flexibility bonus
Back lever

While we were cheering E on at his meet, e was braving her first sleepover with her best friend s. Children's Museum, Muppets Most Wanted, a mom who gets the importance of rhythm and reassurance...she had a GREAT time and can't wait for E's next meet!

Friday, December 5, 2014

St. Nicholas Day

We have celebrated St. Nicholas for a handful of years now, and every year has been magical in its own way. Always every year the kids put out a dish of hay and carrots, and every year the white horse leaves a crazy mess in his haste to gobble the goodies! They find oranges, nuts, and dried fruit in their boots, as well as a scroll of the year's accomplishments.


Last year, e was beginning to understand about Santa, so I tried something different. I asked a friend to have her children set out their shoes, and I prepared scrolls and treats for them, as well. My kids didn't see the prep, but after dark I explained what we were going to 'be St. Nicholas'. They were excited, but the best part was when we arrived home and e wondered aloud who had filled her shoes! She ran to check and I reminded her that St. Nick wouldn't be arriving here until after she was in bed. Even though she knew...she didn't know. :)


So this year, s gets to be St. Nicholas to my kids, and e and E get to be her St. Nicholas. They planned the whole thing, including making her scroll and painting walnuts gold. We threw in some finger puppets, golden dollars, mama and baby oranges, cashews and pistachios, and gold stars. e keeps checking the clock, and the boots and hay are already outside. This is undoubtedly more magical than simply receiving!

The first light of Advent is the light of stones, light that shines in seashells, in crystals, and in bones.

Wishing you a magical season of Advent!


Sunday, November 30, 2014


Our chalkboards are made of foam board and chalkboard paint. They work well but I miss our big boards in Alaska! I plan to paint the walls with chalkboard paint after I remove the wallpaper. Today I changed our boards from their November verses to December. Winter is here!





Saturday, November 29, 2014

Random Bits of Happiness

Rolling candles for Advent with friends...E whipped out this little one to see how fast it would burn. After a few candles were rolled and decorated, e and s rolled sweet honey-smelling wands and ran off to pretend they were Malificent.
Origami birds! This official pigeon was quickly joined by a flock of white pigeons...doves, perhaps?
e knit not only a cupcake hat, but later a cherry to go on top! Start to finish, knitting in the round, kfb, frosting drips, I-cord... So proud of my determined junior knitter!
Acrylic paint and leaves with friends. Same directions, four different girls, beautiful and unique results.
I found this picture online recently of e's chorus singing at a retirement home a few months ago. It took me a bit to find e, even though I knew where she had been standing. She's looking older by the day....
This is how G likes to watch family movies: from the salad bowl.

With all the fairy tale craze created by daddy reading aloud The Sisters Grimm, Magicalamity, and The Wizz Pop Chocolate Shop, we decided to watch Once Upon a Time on Netflix during our Saturday night family movie time, one or two episodes at a time. It leads to a lot of discussion about why one story says this while another says that about the same character. E has a hard time understanding "because the author/screenwriter decided it should be that way." Why? What were their motives? What do they know that I don't? This is helping him to see that fiction is in the hands of the storyteller. The story can be anything the author wants it to be.
Anna helped me make the pie crust for Thanksgiving. G supervised closely.

My family decided to alter our traditions a bit. Instead of eating turkey, we ate pizza and watched Free Birds. (In the movie, turkeys go back in time and serve pizza at the first Thanksgiving.) After all, we eat turkey almost every week. I rarely make pizza. Which one symbolizes a festive occasion for my children? ;) Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Write from the Beginning

Years and years ago I taught students with learning disabilities at a year-round public school in California. The majority of the students (administrators and staff, also) were Armenian, and those who were not Armenian were Latino. Very, very few were Caucasian or spoke English as their first language. The school's language arts program for all students was an English-as-a-second-language curriculum. Most of my students were first generation Americans or had newly arrived from their years-long escape from Iran or Iraq. They were the hardest working students I have ever had.


The district's main focus that year was writing. We were all trained in a series of inservice days to use a program called Write from the Beginning. Each grade level was given specific skills to address, specific types of writing to learn, and by Christmas even the youngest students had the rubrics memorized. Writing became the focus in all subject areas. Even kindergarteners were creating brainstorm maps, spider maps, and flow maps, and then writing three-sentence narratives. By fourth grade five-paragraph essays were written weekly in all subjects. Sixth graders were writing full-on researched reports. I knew it was a good curric and that I would want to use it again someday, so I kept my notes.


I've been staring at this curriculum binder on my bookshelf for years now. When should I begin with E? With e? Now? Later? What age would be best? In the end I decided E's zoology block would lend itself well to this kInd of lesson, and he seemed finally ready. You've seen the spider maps I've had him do:

This time I took it beyond a paragraph. I showed him how to write a flow map from the spider map, including topic sentences, transitions, and conclusions. From that flow map, we got this:

Boom. He is on his way to a five paragraph essay. Wait long enough, and they almost teach themselves. :)


Thursday, November 13, 2014

St. Martin



A Light in the Darkness

Festivals have taken on special meaning this year with e's second grade focus on Saints and Heroes. She is beginning to sort the fact from fantastical, but still loves the magic of story. Martinmas was no exception! It was a beautiful night.


Plans for a lantern walk in the woods fell through, so e and s took to the sidewalk after their final staging rehearsal for chorus. The air was warm and misty, and the girls walked for over an hour, singing, talking, swinging (ahem) their lanterns.


I go outside with my lantern, my lantern goes with me.

Above the stars are shining bright, down here on earth shine we.

The cock does crow, the cat meows, la bimmel la bammel la boom.

Neath heaven's dome, til we go home, la bimmel la bammel la boom.

Glimmer, lantern, glimmer

Little stars a-shimmer.

Over meadows, moor, and dale

Flitter, flutter, elf-in-veil

Pee-wit, pee-wit, tick-a-tick-a-tick

Roo coo, roo coo.

Low light means long many lanterns do two little girls carry?


Here are e's Saints and Heroes pages so far:



St. Martin's page is being finished as I write, and Genevieve of Paris is up next. Genevieve's story is puzzling to e; how could being calm and confident possibly save a city from invasion? I'm looking forward to hearing her thoughts as she works through this.


Monday, November 10, 2014

A Happy Ending

Did you wonder how Where the Mountain Meets the Moon ends? Here is the rest of that main lesson book:












There you have it!


Halloween Fun

Halloween was a day of memories. While E tumbled his heart out at gym, e and s had a blast here at home. They water colored, played outside, carved a pumpkin, hung on the bar, sang....then dressed up, put on real makeup (a huge deal for e, as I don't even own makeup!), did a recording session with C of Let it Go, trick-or-treated around the block, and handed out candy.
I used my ninja improv sewing skills to create e's costume the day before Halloween. I see so many mistakes, but she adores it. Whew!

Life is full of opportunities to play, is it not? Above was made by Elsa and Anna with flashlights, and below is my e a few days after Halloween, playing with candy. We can't eat it, so we mash it up and treat it like play dough. Fun stuff.

Next comes Martinmas....have you made your lanterns yet? That's what our watercolors were for...