Friday, December 28, 2007
We run a wellness-focused chiropractic clinic that is very well established in our area. My dh is a GOOD chiropractor, and his patients think he is the best thing since sliced bread. Even now that I don't work in the office, I am okay with this trend because, hey, I agree with those patients.
The only problem presents itself at Christmas time....
You seeeeee, during one week in December, all those lovely ladies (most of whom are over 50) bring my husband fancy confectioneries and baked goods. Alas, he then brings said treats home...to me...And I eat them.
Just days after Christmas (which translates into "Holiday for Fat White Folks" in Swahili....oooh, I just went politically incorrect) I look pregnant, my poor belly is so big!
I think I may have to pay my assistants extra next year just to take those durned brownies home with them!!!
I must now adjourn to the kitchen, as there are some truffles calling my name....
Happy New Year!
Thursday, December 27, 2007
She knows that if she asks me the same question enough times, she’ll finally get the real answer – not that I am a liar, mind you, but because we live so far from one another and speak so infrequently, I tend to give the happy, happy answer to most questions. Today, the question was, “So how’s homeschooling going?” My response, “It’s wonderful.” “It’s great.” “We’re really happy.” “Well, honestly, my friendships are really taking a beating.” Eeeeerrrrt.
I don’t know what direction our lives would have gone had we stayed in America, but since leaving the States, my wonderful husband and I have become weirder and weirder, compared to the Middle America. (This is one of my favorite topics, much illustrated in earlier passages, so I’ll refrain from re-iterating all the hows and whys.) Homeschooling just happens to be a more apparent example of our weirdness and therefore one that comes up frequently in discussion. But in reality, I know that it is our lifestyle that distinguishes us and, on my side if not theirs, has a gross impact on my friendships. Now, if only I can figure out how to explain it…
To sum it up, we live mindfully. I know that we tend to think things through far more than the average person, and I don’t expect everyone to overthink as we do. Moreover, we are in the alternative health care profession (we run a chiropractic wellness clinic and we actually live the way that we preach to our patients), so we end up seeing an awful lot of research that the normal world just doesn’t encounter, so I try not to expect people to make decisions based on those lesser-publicised “discoveries.”
However, being the judgemental cow that I really am (deep down inside) I do expect people to THINK about their choices and not be herded like cattle. And the long and short of my friendship problem is that I am having a harder time maintaining friendships with people who live like veal (my sister will laugh at the tolerance displayed by that rant!!). As my dear, equally magnanimous Mom would say, “God gave you that brain for a reason….”
And now, having exhausted my supply of livestock analogies, and before I offend anyone by my display of Libra-bitchiness, I shall end this entry and go meditate on the virtues of tolerance and love.
Saturday, December 22, 2007
But I found a quote I have to share:
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
But now I feel like I can return to my virtual world and, seeing as how this is my homeschooling blog, I tho't I would comment on how homeschooling is actually goin'. I finished our first Main Lesson Block just over a week ago, and it was the alphabet; this was totally remedial for Biggie, who has taught herself to read by now, but I felt some dogmatic need to do this block to ensure correct form, etc. Basically, she was bored to tears and bitched daily. We took a week off, to do Christmas stuff, and I resumed yesterday with Math. At this point, I would like to thank Elizabeth, whose Gnomes and Gnumbers tale was far more enchanting than other various math stories I have encountered. I have changed some names to reflect our cultural needs (for instance, her Dismas is our Tane Mahuta), but otherwise, I'm stickin' to her words. Biggie LOVED it! For the first time, she asked for me to continue the lesson past one day's work.
I think this story works for us because it does not have to be slow or stilted. As a Libra who eats books, I have invested in four different curricula to find the right one for us. I use Donna Simmons' books, predominantly; however, I find that her system doesn't speed up very well. And for a child like Biggie, who will simply teach herself if I'm not going fast enough, I am forever riding the fine line between giving too much academic work and allowing her to teach herself with incorrect methods (does that make sense??? It's late!)
Anyway, Elizabeth Foss has provided this lovely tale which can move along at the pace of the child; she incorporates the learning of numbers (we know those: thanks Montessori preschool!) with the tale and it ISN'T remedial. As we create our main lesson books, not only do we learn the processes, but the Quality of Numbers is an "art" lesson in the eyes of my girlies. To that end, I am adding in some memorization -- in this case, number poems found in Path of Discovery, by Eric Fairman. For instance, in creating our Number One page, we will write and learn the following poem:
I know that I am still trying to find the right combination for Biggie, and I am hoping that by making each lesson more well-rounded, she find the stimulus she needs without the multi-lesson format that many of my fellow HSers use.
As always, it is my inner work that plagues me. I want to be one of those peaceful, mindful Buddhist parents (you know, the ones you read about but never actually meet). I want to invoke a ho-hum attitude when the kids annoy the crap out of me. I want to see the world through their eyes and not think that Mom is a major killjoy. But I can't. I know that it is also my job to teach them to eat with their mouths closed, and keep their knees together in skirt season, and put their dirty clothes in the laundry pile. And I don't have a song for each of these tasks (but why does, "I'm just a girl who can't say no" come to mind when I think about those skirts???). Biggie asked me today if I just wanted to be comfortable and not pretty (knife in the heart) and all I could do was turn around and comment, "You girls won't even let me go to the loo by myself. When would I have time to put on makeup?" And G-d love Melisa for her advice on waking at 4-5am, but I just can't go there right now. If you succeed, please let me know how!
Last but not least, I hate the mall. I have to say this because it's Christmastime and we aren't major shoppers, but the Post Office resides in the mall, and we have been FOUR times in the past week. Aaargh. I think I really just dislike NZ malls, because there is no place better than South Coast Plaza (think, valet parking, ohhhh yeah) two weeks before Christmas. Errr, plus there is this whole matter that I would be Jewish if only my daughters didn't have to be Jewish too (long story, suffice to say that I refuse to make my children's religious decision for them). I did make the effort of going to the nursery and buying a living tree of the same specimen that my Mom had when I was growing up (we're not Pine people)...the only problem is, it can only live inside for ONE WEEK, which, coupled with the fact that the Piano now lives in the corner formerly assigned to the Hannukah bush, allows for very little Christmas spirit. BUT, my Nature Table Rocks! Living poinsetta, Mother Earth is holding a mini-present (how very secular, but cute) and my tree has been converted into a wee Pine, decorated by beaded strand made by the girls. Now if only, I could find a place for the real tree......hmmmm.
Before I close, I would like to say farewell to Melody, whose blog had been beautiful and soul-lifting. I shall look forward to the day that she recommences. I can only hope that the sealant does a fine job in their new home.
Sunday, December 2, 2007
Then I decided that I wanted to give Biggie a sewing case....
Oh, and since Littlie is receiving Pico the Gnome, why not sew a little Pico to go with it? But Biggie loves Tiptoes, and surely she would like a set with Tiptoes, Pine Cone, Pepper Pot, and Jeremy Mouse (Thanks, patience! You're mouse was the inspiration for this one!).
On the one hand, I love being able to create the things myself. One the other hand, I wonder, unresentfully, if my kids will ever understand the amount of quality, work, money, time,.....that has gone into their possessions. Biggie's sewing case, for instance, is made of hand-dyed, 100% wool felt, and some crazy-expensive wool flannel for the needles, plus a real set of embroidery scissors, not just junky kid versions. All of this stuff was slightly problematic to source, cost way more than the common versions of same, and then sewn by me, for her. In truth, I don't begrudge the time spent, nor the money, but since my children are growing up with quality materials, will they ever actually see the easy/cheap versions of things and one day appreciate the efforts made by us, their parents. I know that this question is very much my ego speaking, and that I really should want no recognition, but it is nice to think that the time will come when my girls understand that we chose to provide fewer gifts, and make those gifts something that will last.
This transitions into an oft-discussed topic in our home: what kind of parents will our children be? Will they rebel, or will they be hippie like us? When Littlie is 23, will she call me and say that she is moving 6000km away, and will I be okay with it? I only hope she takes her sewing case with her.....
Thursday, November 29, 2007
Monday = Moon, Rice, Jasmine and Purple
Tuesday = Mars, Barley, Cloves and Red
Wednesday = Mercury, Millet, Copal and Yellow
Thursday = Jupiter, Rye, Cedar and Orange
Friday = Venus, Oats, Rose and Green
Saturday = Saturn, Corn, Myrrh and Indigo
Sunday = Sun, Wheat, Frankincense and White
Melisa Neilsen, of A Little Flower Garden, has a Day Planner to go with her Curricula and she has added some spirituality to this list by bringing in Deepak's Seven Spiritual Laws, one for each day.
Interesting sidebar, there are slight differences in the Kabbalistic correspondences:
"Sunday corresponds to the Sun, Leo, yellow and gold.
Monday corresponds to the Moon, Cancer, purple and silver.
Tuesday corresponds to Mars, Aries and Scorpio, red (more cranberry red than the common fire-engine red), and iron and steel.
Wednesday corresponds with Mercury, Gemini and Virgo, orange and mercury (quicksilver).
Thursday corresponds to Jupiter, Sagittarius and Pisces, blue and tin.
Friday corresponds to Venus, Taurus and Libra, green (or pink) and copper.
Saturday corresponds to Saturn, Aquarius and Capricorn, black, and lead."
Hmmmm, Correspondences -- more things to perfect, err, I mean, more ways to train the will :-).
Sunday, November 25, 2007
So while I will never be an unschooler, our best day last week was an Unschool Day. Every Thursday in our home is Nature Day, when we make ourselves do something in, well, Nature. This week, we decided that we would go to the Parnell Rose Gardens, home to not only many lovely rose varietals, but one truly breathtaking "Grandpa Tree."
(There should be a photo here, but Blogger is having issues.)
As we were walking out the door Thursday morning, Biggie grabbed her yet unmarked drawing pad and decided that she was going to write down the name of every rose she saw. And that's exactly what she did. With dedication to her mission, she wrote down the names of dozens of different roses. I, having had a peaceful night's sleep, had the forethought to grab the camera and thus, our first book is formed. (Well, actually, it's only half finished because I need a photo printer, but that's another story.) More than anything, I am just so proud of her, because I know that she learned more that day, in her self-initiated work, than in a whole day of "lessons."
On to Saturday: Thanksgiving! Maybe not for you guys, who get to eat cheap turkey (way expensive in NZ), real gravy, and cranberries. But a bunch of Americans got together on Saturday, ate excessively and watched videotaped football (USC!!! I was sooo thrilled by that stroke of luck). For me, there were two big moments in the day. The lesser of the two was the presentation of a peanut butter pie. Now, if you've never had it, you've gotta try it; and if you have enjoyedPB Pie, you probably know that it requires CoolWhip...which we DON'T HAVE IN NZ! I haven't had PB Pie in ten years, so when this was busted out, me and the Texan went at it.
The second, and by far more memorable, event of the day was when Littlie stabbed herself in the eye with a green plastic fork. I cringe just thinking about it. She is okay, but her eye is bright red. What was really disturbing is that she was sitting right beside me, sticking her fork into the crack where two pieces of wood came together to form the patio table, and then pulling really hard to get it out....pulling right toward her face. I asked her twice to stop, but she didn’t and that third time was the doozie. I am just so grateful that she wasn’t hurt, and now I just keep hearing, “It’s all fun and games, until.....” She must be able to see, tho', because today she created her Meez, just there to the right! Dear G-d, is that portentious?
As for Thanksgiving-proper, isn’t it a wonderful holiday? I think that it is the one holiday that every nation should figure out a reason to celebrate. It’s the only holiday when family comes together just to be grateful for our many blessings. I feel the loss of Thanksgiving far more than I feel the weirdness of summer Christmas. It was funny tho’ to be in a house of ex-pats who brought everything with them and had the Turkey apron, the decorations, even the matching Thanksgiving towels in the bathroom. While my practical self would never want all that STUFF, I can’t help but think back on our departure from the States, which included two suitcases, our cd’s, as many bottles of wine as we were permitted, and two cats. Selling everything we owned, in retrospect, may not have been the wisest action ever, but it has made us minimalists. No matter how much I may love those Williams-Sonoma Thanksgiving plates, I will never buy them because I look at material possessions now and think, “Would I move that across the world?”
But my ex-pat experiences are for another time. I must now plan my lesson for the week.
Happy week to all. May we each endeavour to remain full of gratitude and love every day of the year....not just when USC kicks ASU’s butt!
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
Really, what am I doing wrong? I have worked on routine, set up happy-happy task songs, asked, pleaded, and today, screamed my head off because I was shocked at the condition of Biggie's room (mess created ensemble) after my genuine need to rest.
What's worse for me is that we have always been without a support system (no family for, oh, about 11000miles) and I have raised the girls to see that we are a team. We gotta work together and be caring and kind to one another because we have no aunties to come over and give us a break. DH and I have had ONE NIGHT away from our children in six years of parenting. I need us to work together, and I just don't know what I am doing wrong.
Anyone, anyone? Bueller, Bueller?
Friday, November 16, 2007
However, I had a wonderful day! We made felt! Three times, in an effort to figure out the best method. In the end, I think merino, piled thick, felted in a ziploc bag, is the way to go. I am attempting this because I really want to make a playscape. I also worked on some Christmas gifts, which involved needlefelting and crocheting. I then made bread (I'll get to that in a minute). I did laugh that the day was in my hands, and not my head, which probably suited sicky-ness.
I must also post a picture of Biggie's first needle felting. She begged to be allowed to do this and, as I was worried about safety (that's a big needle!), it took some time for her to wear me down. The design is entirely her own, and blood-free to boot:
Aaah, yes, they shall be just as weird as us.
I have discovered that the secret is the yeast. No, not the age of the yeast, but the taste: each yeast tastes different and the packaged yeast here in NZ is yuucky. I sourced some wonderfully-flavoured dry yeast from a local baker, but the best by far is the frozen live yeast sourced from the local German bakery. I know there is something wrong with me that I can swoon over yeast, but this yeast proofed beautifully, the bread felt right, and the loaves tasted perfect -- mildly sweet, roundish on top, but not so high as too make the crumb fall apart in the middle of the loaf. Aaah, heaven.
And since this sight is dedicated to my megalomania (hehe), I have learned that most of the things in a bread recipe are rubbish. I use flour, sugar (or honey, agave syrup, whatever), water and yeast. I also learned one really smart thing about making bread with oil/melted butter, and it was such a well-hidden secret that I want to share it: if you are making a batch of bread which includes oil/butter, add the oil after you have kneaded in about half of your flour. Otherwise, the oil prevents the water and flour from properly coming together.
Golly, all this thinking about it makes me want to go have another piece (waistline, we don't need no stinkin' waistline!)
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
I have been reading Steiner's Six Exercises and I am working so hard this week on differentiating the Essential from the Nonessential, for this is where I think I tend to fall down. I tend to see everything as essential! Ve haff vays off making youuu verk on yourselff. That's my Steiner impersonation of inner work ...hehe.
I have also been trying not to be such a bitch. Why is it that I am so lucky to be able to stay home and teach my children, I have a wonderful, supportive husband, a good business, organic food on the table, and yet I can still be miserable and find fault with my kids all day. I have such good kids, too, that's the clincher! So I am trying not to always say no and embrace flowww. (Just a question: would you let your little kids skip aimlessly thru the grocery store? I just couldn't do it this morning.)
Anyway, a bit of ramble about what's going on in my head this week.
Wool, lots of it, including slippers and a hat. First, I am allergic to wool. Love to knit with it, but won't be wearing it! Second, I am from Southern California and my kids grow up in NZ. Not quite the same climate as Dusseldorf. They don't need a wool singlet in the middle of summer. And I think that kids need barefeet -- not in the snow, admittedly -- but when it's suitable.
Grimm's. Great stories, I use them, I read them, I teach them. But they are German, and I am not; therefore I also use Native American stories, and Japanese stories, and Southern stories, and lots of other stories. I think Grimm's Fairy Tales is a good example of a great idea, totally appropriate at the time and place, that has become such dogma that no one remembers why Steiner originally chose these stories.
Knitting. I enjoy knitting, sort of. I learned to knit to support Biggie, who learned at ther Steiner school. She was taught when she was five! Her hands are just too small to easily manage even her home-made needles. I remember reading why knitting is taught first: that both hands work for knitting, the whole to parts, and so on BUT, as far as I can determine, the left hand really only holds the "full" needle, while the right hand does the work. Moreover, I have read that left-handers (that's Littlie) are supposed to knit exactly the same as right-handers. That just makes no sense. HOWEVER, I love crocheting, and as far as the rationale goes, I see just as much work with the left hand in crocheting as I do in knitting. All of this is my excuse for allowing Biggie to learn to crochet. She is consumed by her need to crochet and I just can't see letting dogma intrude.
Undoubtedly, this is all part of my homeschool journey -- understanding the goals and then figuring out what to keep, what to amend, and what to gurg'late (that's our word for the disposal!)
Sunday, November 11, 2007
Thursday, November 8, 2007
Wednesday, November 7, 2007
For me -- and Biggie -- I know that it is a constant struggle to achieve balance between her head and her heart. She is extremely gifted with language (any language, in fact) and, I believe, she would read and write to the detriment of all else. She gets everything -- even her Waldorf teacher said that we need not ever worry about her academics because she was always the first in her class to absorb the lessons. This in itself would not be a problem were it not for two things: my personality, and our educational choices to date.
First, I am one of those gifted kids who grew up and learned that academics weren't everything. I am a bookworm, and extremely competitive. It is in an effort to overcome these less attractive aspects of my nature that I have consciously chosen Waldorf for my kids.
Second, Biggie went to Montessori preschool and spent one year (age 4-5) at a very "exclusive", heavily academic private school. It took those experiences for us to see our path. We spent six months at a Waldorf-inspired school, where Biggie was put (incorrectly, I think) into Class One, at the early age of 5 1/2. blah, blah, blah, story goes on, suffice to say that she has had ALOT of opportunity to work with her head, but by the time we left school, she needed to work with her hands and her heart. And that's why I am so concerned right now with keeping her out of her head.
My four year old, alternately, has not had those same educational experiences. She's left-handed, totally imaginative, and VERY good with math. I am far more free with her work, and I'm happy to learn as she expresses interest. Once Biggie has reached a better balance, I will probably just go with the flow. But, for now, we knit, and paint, and play.
**Just as an aside: last week, I accepted Biggie's need for words and we are doing one short acadmic portion of the day. I can't say she loves it, because I do actually make her do her work properly (forms correct, good listening, and the like). I had to do this because, in teaching herself, she was developing some poor habits and I felt like I would rather introduce proper methods now than have difficulting overcoming poor habits later.
Finally, a note on Waldorf and giftedness: I have yet to see how Waldorf positively approaches gifts. Honestly, I look back on my "gifted education" and see how many other children's gifts were overlooked because they weren't academic in nature. My nephew, for instance, is a natural athlete and has amazing coordination. That is a gift. I know kids who can build with their hands. That is a gift. But those gifts aren't recognised by traditional schools. Conversely, I see academically-gifted children who are hindered by Waldorf dogma.
In the end, it is because I see the pros and cons of my children's gifts that I have chosen to homeschool them. I am the only teacher I have ever met who will work her ass off to teach these beautiful girls what they need at the time. And I am grateful everyday to have this opportunity, even when we do nothing!
Tuesday, November 6, 2007
The fair has jousting, food-colouring free cooking painting, wheat-free/dairy-free/egg-free/nut-free/free-free bake sale items, and (drum roll, please) and organic sausage sizzle. It has face painting and pony rides, of course, and it also has a Fairy Cafe, a kids bazaar (at which Biggie enjoyed her first ever shopping experience), an archery field and a coconut toss. It hosts some of the most remarkable vendors I have ever seen (one year, there was a man selling perfect miniature bricks, only about one inch big), and it's one of the few places where I am happy giving my kids money and letting them spend it wherever they wish. It even has a Waldorfy book sale (frankly, given my book addiction, I don't know if that feature is good or bad). It's guilt-free shopping at its finest. Honestly, this is better than Disneyland for me. I am so excited.
(Dear heavens, I am tempted to delete this entire post for fear that Murphy's Law will now strike and I won't be able to go.....)
Background: NZ has just celebrated Guy Fawkes Day. I won't go into the details because, in almost ten years in NZ, I don't see any reason for it except as an excuse for drunken pyrotechnics. (At least in the States, most of us really appreciate the reason for Fourth of July. Talk to my friends who immigrated to the US: they are the most patriotic people I know. But I digress.) Back to Guy Fawkes...
So we have this holiday. The Warehouse (read: NZ's Walmart) sells cheap fireworks to every kid in town, the NZ Fire Dept has its busiest day of the year, and injuries abound. The most recent story (and that which sparked this tirade) is of a one-year-old girl whose parents misfired and the firework landed in her pram causing serious injury.
Maybe I am a killjoy, but for weeks surrounding this day, my animals freak out, my kids think I'm mean (because they've yet to know someone who was hurt by fireworks), my Kiwi friends think there is something wrong with me because I won't bowl up for booze and explosions, and I glance at the headlines and once again wonder why the New Zealand government doesn't see the forest for the trees.
Why, why, why?
Sunday, November 4, 2007
All this would be fine if I lived in Berkeley. But nooooo, I had to make my home in Auckland, where Waldorf homeschoolers represent the tiniest subculture in town. aargh. where are my comfortable shoes?
I decided a while back that we would celebrate Beltaine this year, as I have latched on to Pagan (Seasonal) festivals to replace the Christian festivals common in Waldorf. GREAT! Girls and I began planning, creating, etc., only to remember that Halloween is the DAY BEFORE BELTAINE. And we always have a specific family over for Halloween, but this year, that turned into said family, plus one of their friends, plus another family....all at the last minute! That was Wednesday, Thursday, and then Friday, some very close friends of ours decided to have a last-minute Halloween party.....and then this weekend, thanks to the British need to have their own Fourth of July (just kiddin') we have Guy Fawkes fireworks going off around the friggin' clock.
My kids are hyped, grumpy, and overtired. We've lost all rhythm. Have they learned anything...G-d only knows, but I know that I need to be a better planner. Ugh.
Anyway, Scarlett, tomorrow is another day, in fact, it is another Monday, which means that we can get schooling back to normal.
As for schooling, I have had a critical look at Biggies' behaviour and I have seen that she is bored. She really wants to read and write, and I want her to read and write well. So I have decided that I am going to do the alphabet properly according to Waldorf tradition. My concession to her age (she turned 6 in Sept) is that I am not going to force her to sit for long lessons. I am very proud of myself (since this sight is dedicated to my megalomania!!) because I bit the proverbial bullet and I have written our own overarching story for the Alphabet. Woohoo.
On the topic of writing, I have spent hours today working on our Homeschool Exemption Application. I had to outline how I would teach one topic....whew, that's a toughy! Do you pick something "soft" like Roman Numerals, or do you jump straight into the academics and hope they don't call you a quack? I went for the latter risk and wrote about Addition via Math Gnomes. If you haven't had a look, Elisabeth Foss has the most wonderful Math Gnomes segment going on right now at http://ebeth.typepad.com/serendipity/2007/10/gnomes-and-gnum.html
Now for my disturbing news of the week: the tiny little semi-Waldorf school that we left because of its poor management is closing. There are families who have no place to send their children to school because of this, families who have committed to Waldorf who now must face the public school system, all because this school, which was privately-owned, was poorly managed. Oh, and because the owners can sell the land for more money than they can make by running a school. I am really controlling my comments because blogs remain a public forum.
Selfishly, we are unscathed: I learned some months back that there were problems at the school, bad decisions, etc., and I was lucky enough to be in a position to take my kids out before everything went sour. In truth, I look at this as the necessary thing to push me into homeschooling, an option I had considered since my first pregnancy. But what about the families who do not have that option? I have agreed to help them in any way I can, and I believe that things do happen for a reason, but I am sad for our friends.
I am also sad for my self-centeredness. I know that I could undertake the task of a Waldorf initiative, but I don't believe I can do that and do a good job teaching my children. I am sad to know that I have to place my family first instead of helping a larger community. It's like a loss of innocence: we would like to believe that we would always act for the greater good, but sometimes, we simply cannot.
Sunday, October 21, 2007
I admit it: I cried. The girls had a look at the remains and we told a story of the behemoth rampaging through storyville, hunting down ME and Storyteller and devouring them. Maybe a bit much, but it made me laugh.
I have since made a new Mother Earth. Funnily enough, she is more anatomically perfect - taller, head's the right size, etc - but I don't like her as much because I really identified with the short, chubby Mother Earth. Also, I couldn't give up the red hair, but I refused to give her the same beautiful bun, so new ME has a thick, long braid.
Can't bear to remake Storyteller just yet. Instead, I have started a mermaid. hmmm.
On to better things.... The past two weeks have been the beginning of our lesson pattern, or rather, what will develop into our lesson pattern. In the first week, my only goal was to get the girls to happily sit for the Story. This week, we've incorporated an opening verse, one song in English and one song in French, followed by the Story. For the upcoming week, I hope to expand to include a fingerplay and a closing verse.
Also, I think we have discovered a schedule that works: we have now designated Mondays as Getting-Ready-for-the-Week Day, to include house cleaning, errand running, and visiting the office, if necessary. Then we have lessons from Tuesday thru Friday. For some reason, Monday to Thursday just wasn't workin' for us.
I have now confirmed that I am a curriculum junkie, but I am sure it's because I've only just started and, Libra that I am, I want to make sure that my choices are fully researched. So far, I have purchased Christopherus (that's our main curric), Seasons of Joy (as a seasonal supplement because it was only $15), A Little Flower Garden (same thing, ebook = $30, might as well check it out) and today, I ordered Path of Discovery Grade One (Donna of Christopherus highly recommends this, so I tho't I'd check it out).
Ultimately, I believe this is all part of my addiction to books. Which is a problem in a country that taxes books.... I miss Barnes and Noble. In the past seven days, my family and I have purchased 16 books, including two HS resources. I'm sure we are the only people who go to New Zealand's largest mall and leave with only books. What kind of country makes plastic toys cheap and books expensive...yeah, let's not let those folks get ed'cated! (I'll stop now before I take that leap onto my soap box, but wouldn't you think that it is better for a population --especially one with extremely high rates of teen pregnancy and suicide-- that the government make books affordable. AAAARGH.)
Now I say goodbye, so that I may have a look at my favourite blogs.
Sunday, October 14, 2007
The flood of American liberals sneaking across the border into Canada has intensified in the past week, sparking calls for increased patrols to stop the illegal immigration. The actions of President Bush are prompting the exodus among left-leaning citizens who fear they'll soon be required to hunt, pray, and agree with Bill O'Reilly.
Canadian border farmers say it's not uncommon to see dozens of sociology professors, animal-rights activists and Unitarians crossing their fields at night.
"I went out to milk the cows the other day, and there was a Hollywood producer huddled in the barn," said Manitoba farmer Red Greenfield, whose acreage borders North Dakota. The producer was cold, exhausted and hungry. He asked me if I could spare a latte and some free-range chicken. When I said I didn't have any, he left. Didn't even get a chance to show him my screenplay, eh?"
In an effort to stop the illegal aliens, Greenfield erected higher fences, but the liberals scaled them. So he tried installing speakers that blare Rush Limbaugh across the fields. "Not real effective," he said. "The liberals still got through, and Rush annoyed the cows so much they wouldn't give any milk."
Officials are particularly concerned about smugglers who meet liberals near the Canadian border, pack them into Volvo station wagons, drive them across the border and leave them to fend for themselves."
A lot of these people are not prepared for rugged conditions," an Ontario border patrolman said. "I found one carload without a drop of drinking water. They did have a nice little Napa Valley cabernet, though."
When liberals are caught, they're sent back across the border, often wailing loudly that they fear retribution from conservatives. Rumors have been circulating about the Bush administration establishing re-education camps in which liberals will be forced to drink domestic beer and watch NASCAR races.
In recent days, liberals have turned to sometimes-ingenious ways of crossing the border. Some have taken to posing as senior citizens on bus trips to buy cheap Canadian prescription drugs. After catching a half-dozen young vegans disguised in powdered wigs, Canadian immigration authorities began stopping buses and quizzing the supposed senior-citizen passengers on Perry Como and Rosemary Clooney hits to prove they were alive in the '50s.
"If they can't identify the accordion player on The Lawrence Welk Show, we get suspicious about their age," an official said.
Canadian citizens have complained that the illegal immigrants are creating an organic-broccoli shortage and renting all the good Susan Sarandon movies.
"I feel sorry for American liberals, but the Canadian economy just can't support them," an Ottawa resident said. "How many art-history majors does one country need?"
Sunday, October 7, 2007
Friday, October 5, 2007
This is our StoryTeller (see the book on her back). For all of you super crafty types, this is only my second needle felted person, so the very fact that it is embellished is noteworthy in my house. She is a response to my former post, about story time. I have first decided that I will embrace books, as both girls will sit forever if I am reading from a book; HOWEVER, I have created my own book, in which I have handwritten our story for the week ( I tho't this a reasonable compromise). Second line of defense is dear StoryTeller, who needs quiet so that she can understand as we read in English, for she speaks gnomish.
Dear Mother Earth, needle-felting #1. I saw the loveliest idea online of changing her scarf to match the seasons...yellow as we enter Spring. (At this point, I would also like to comment on the beautiful playsilks I purchased from A Toy Garden, at only $4.90 per silk for a set of 20 silks. So luxurious I want to keep 'em for myself! Thanks, Mom. You bought those!)
Finally, Littlie: she is primarily known as the Mud Queen, but on this particular day, she decided to be a Dirt Angel.
And to appease the Libra in me, let me exhibit Biggie, as well. Yep, she's been a stunner from birth.
Sunday, September 30, 2007
Which leads to another prob: Biggie doesn't like the story repetition. I get, "Oh, no, not this one again." After only a day or two! How do I overcome this? Like today, I tried to just get on with the story, because I know Littlie is okay with it, until Biggie's actions started influencing Littlie! Very frustrating.
Megalomaniacally, since last post, I have accomplished a major goal: I have needle felted a Mother Earth doll for our Nature Table. While I could have sourced one (somewhere on this god-forsaken island, for triple the price), I really wanted to make ours. She's about 4-5 inches tall and I will post a photo one day. My views on nature table creations have changed tho', having read a wonderful article about materialism and the nature table. It's premise was, why buy a needle felted pumpkin (beautiful tho' they may be) when you could just put a real pumpkin on your table and actually have NATURE present!
Finally, Beltaine! Southern Hemisphere, so it's not in May. Instead, it falls on Halloween. I am hoping to braid hair, make some flower crowns and rise to wash our faces in the morning dew (omg, my mom just read that and cringed. hehe.) Still figuring out how to have a May Pole in a shared community.....hmm. But that leads to an even longer discussion of being weird solo, without fellow weirdos to enhance the experience....
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
You see, Biggie is wonderfully cerebral, and I am probably one of the only moms in this world who worries because her daughter is gifted. She can hear something once and know it by heart; downside to this is that she needs work with her hands (and body). In fact, her Waldorf teacher, before we left school, said that we need not be concerned about her learning academics, because she just gets everything sooo fast.
For me, this means that I am not even beginning to push academics any farther than they have already gone (oh, and she just turned 6, so waldo'fficially she shouldn't even know most of what's already in that li'l head of hers!). Today, she perfected her blanket stitch, felted some wool, read some books and went swimming. We made guacamole, devilled eggs, a cake and started a new set of mealtime verses. A decent day's work, really.
Yet, what I fear most is that my children will reach majority age and not know arithmetic! Or anything else academic! I feel like I am never quite getting started with HomeSchooling, because the "lesson time/circle time/story time" isn't consistent. I keep saying that they are still decompressing from school, or that (as is the case now) it's public school holidays and therefore it's more important that they get to play with their friends, or that their playtime was too important to interrupt. I read and research homeschooling incessantly and yet I don't feel like I am actually doing anything. Does this ever change? How long before we all settle into lessons?
At least the cake was from our Waldorf "Spring" resource. mmmm.
Friday, September 21, 2007
Anyway, yesterday I hit my limit: I cancelled cable (my TV only gets used maybe an hour each week), put the TV in a closet, and reconfigured the furniture. Included in the latter was a wonderfully therapeutic experience of demolishing a desk which I have always hated. Earlier in the week, I cleared out Biggie's room (I left her with only creative stuff..nothing to write with or on), but just can't quite get a handle on Littlie's room, because she is so creative that she uses everything imaginatively (she made a leather belt into a racetrack for her matchbox car). Now I have room in my living room for playstands, yeah!!! I think I may have to make these myself, however, because here in NZ, the only ones I can find are $350 per pair with NO CANOPY. Whoa! Since I left all my tools in America, I wonder if I can make these with just the basics?
AND, this morning, the various parts of that desk became carpentry work for the kids as they helped take the sides apart, take the legs off, etc. The little round legs are being sanded as apples, or fairy bushes, or little trees; and the bottoms of the sides I waxed to try out as painting boards. Biggie embraced the notion of Recycling.
I have also been feeling mentally encumbered, mostly in that I can't seem to get into a routine (or rhythm). In truth, I think I am putting too much pressure on (see that post about Perfectionism, mom); I have spent so much time reading everything I can get my hands on about Waldorf homeschooling that my brain can't actually sift through it fast enough. Obviously the key is hyper organisation. But this is a definite wall for me. Thus the reason I have cleared out the house, in hopes of allowing more freedom and clarity for my wittle brain, as well. We'll keep our fingers crossed.
Now I have to go plan my menu for the next week, so that I can be an effective grocery-shopper. (Indulging my ego-centricity: how is it possible that the same person who once could write dissertations in multiple languages and has successfully started a business from scratch, can't seem to keep her refrigerator stocked? This is why my kids are Waldorf.)
Saturday, September 15, 2007
So now I wonder, are we so weird that our munchkins will never be able to find like-minded husbands (omg, I sound like Mrs Bennett!)? Will they turn around one day and as us, "Why couldn't you just be normal?" Is it possible that we, in our effort to live mindfully, are dooming our wee ones to life on the fringes? A bit dramatic, I know.
Furthermore, if I accept that I am still pretty young, and that my beliefs are growing more and more holistic everyday, I must also accept that I will continue to make my kids more and more unorthodox. So I return to my original question: how weird is too weird?
Friday, September 14, 2007
But, man, did that experience throw off our blossoming rhythm. And everyone, even the dog, has been tired.
That having been said, I made a needle felted root baby, have finally sorted out Story time, found a wonderful selection of Spring stories at the Baldwin Project: http://www.mainlesson.com/, we made caterpillars from wool roving, and went on a good beach trip. Not too shabby.
Thursday, September 6, 2007
@ bedtime, R (age4!) asked when she was allowed to get a tattoo.
This morning's bike ride consisted of two little St Michael's chasing one big Mom-Dragon! hehe.
And because I have been debating having the girls share a room, but didn't want to buy new furniture without knowing if they could actually do it, I shoe-horned both double beds into S's room. Yeah, they're now chatting away right now, as they as supposed to be sleeping....
I feel happier with my kids then I have in ages. No time stress, no food stress, no errand stress. Aaah.
Monday, September 3, 2007
The Three Sisters Gift Registry: https://www.threesisterstoys.com/giftregistrysearch.aspx
then search by our email address. The site does a funny thing where they actually dump you into our account, so please don't change any of the settings. Thanks!
Sunday, September 2, 2007
You know you have been to a Waldorf School When...
You know pencil shavings make everything prettier.
When your trousers get ripped, instead of throwing them away you whip out a needle and thread and fix them.
Fairies and gnomes were your childhood friends.
There's no need to research the dating history of your BF or GF, you know everyone they've gone out with.
Knitting is not just a new trend; you've done it since class 1.
You've made socks, hats, potholders, recorder cases, dolls and stuffed animals and sewn your own clothes.
It doesn't seem weird to have the same teacher for eight years.
Tie dye was part of your dress code as a child.
A least one of your women teachers didn't shave.
You've dyed your hair an unnatural colour at least once.
You've held hands and skipped around a may-pole, and no one thought it was odd.
You have lived in a house without a TV at some point.
You can spell out words with your arms – no need for the fingers.
You have eurythmy shoes lying around your house.
You've worn a eurythmy dress and a veil!
Everyone in school knows if you skip class, break a rule or start going out with someone.
You know not to breathe near the light blue paint!
You can play a recorder.
You can never forget your embarrassing childhood – they chose a picture of you to go in the school brochure.
You didn't have Barbies and Legos as a child – you had wooden animals, hand sewn dolls and wooden Lorries!Y
ou know most of the bible stories even though you may never have set foot in a church.
You wonder if Steiner has an agreement with Volvo to only drive their cars.
You've been asked 'isn't that a cult?' when you say you went/go to a Waldorf school.
The thought of main lesson books haunt your dreams in your years after you graduate.
You've been in at least one Shakespeare play.
You couldn't wait to get out, but once you did you kind of wanted to go back (because of no homework).
You don't know the Pledge of Allegiance, or the national anthem, but 'I do behold the world' is permanently imprinted in your brain.
You remember having lots of breaks – one after morning snack, and one after lunch!
You've known how to make stained glass windows, carve stone and wood, dip your own candles and make candle sticks since class 1.
You know that however hard you try to escape…You will always be a Steiner Child!
Saturday, September 1, 2007
Friday, August 31, 2007
That having been said, I am not jumping into schooling just yet because Biggie and I are butting heads. I am calling this her Detox period, during which time she gets out all the angst of schooling. My motto, "this, too, shall pass." We are reading, ALOT. Today's big accomplishment: found a wonderful bush walk (Americans, read "nature trek") at the top of our development. I loved it, girls were moderately enthused. If only I could carve wood, I am sure I could save myself $11 by hand sawing the fallen lumber into pieces, and carving the Nativity by hand...overnight.
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
Today, the curriculum landed. Christopherus Waldorf homeschooling books x6. And in my totally overexpectant way, I tho't I would receive the curriculum and start immediately. HAHAHAHA. To top it off, today with the kids was nightmarish and NOT their fault....We let them stay up to watch the moon last night and their little schedules woke far too early. Biggie was grumpy all day long and I ended the day by telling her that it's days like this that we must remember how very much we love each other.
Anyway, 5 1/2 more books to get through, so I shall return to the printed word.