valancystirling: (Default)
Got some weeding done in the front flower bed while Topie slept in the car with the windows down. Philip roamed around the yard, and every five seconds or so got too close to the street, I had to stop, get him back over, repeat repeat repeat. Loads of fun. But at least I got a bit of work done. I'm going to dump a ton of mulch on top of it all right before the open house on Sunday and it will look decent enough. I'm hoping my lupines and some roses will be blooming by then. Some are getting close... Also I'll be going to the Ithaca Farmers Market on Saturday (I hope) so I should be bringing home some pretty flowers then anyway. The way I'm hoping it will go is this: Up early on Saturday, farmers market, clean up all clutter, clean bathrooms and kitchen, vacuum upstairs, and then go to Ithaca. Get plants and lots of fresh produce. Herb plants! Relax in Ithaca, go for a hike or something, enjoy the day. Come home, rest up for Sunday. The Open House is at noon, so I'll get up early and do a final once-over, vacuum, mop, wipe down counters, get all dishes put away and dish rack put away. No point in doing any of this now because I'd just have to do it all over again anyway.

So. With a plan, I feel calm enough. I feel at this point several things. First, I like my house. I actually like living in it now. It figures. Second, I honestly don't want to deal with moving any time soon and don't even hope for it anymore. We'd be going to an apartment someplace, indefinitely, and paying to store stuff we'll probably miss for who knows how long. Then Jake will continue looking for greener pastures, which so far have not presented themselves, and we wait. Possibly for years, in an apartment, who knows. So yes, it's going to suck. I'm all for stalling. Since we haven't had a showing in what, two weeks or more, it hasn't been all that stressful, except for still having to go dig for things that are already packed. There are some convenience issues, like all my kitchen towels now live in the basement, and it's a pain in the ass because I use 234203958 million a day and always run out at the worst time and have to go get more. Minor inconveniences. Topie's Learning Tower has been down there for a while. But really, not THAT bad. Just annoying sometimes. So right now we're coasting. I'm enjoying the house more since it's less cluttered, more open, and more comfortable in some ways. So life is not entirely terrible, even though I expected it would be at this point. I don't know what to expect, so that uncertainty and anxiety are still there, but it's not really that bad. I'm trying to mellow out and remember I have zero control over things for now, and need to relax while it's calm.

I've been reading the blogs Ashley showed me, and I'm feeling like such a loser mother/person. All these things I could be doing, but I'm so disorganized lately that I haven't done proper activities with the kids in a while. Topie still does art projects, mostly of her own doing because she has total access to her art cabinet and forages at will. But mostly, I feel like I'm looking in ten different directions and by the time I think I know what I want to do, the day is over and I forget and then start all over the next day. But I've been spinning a lot, and last night I finished my first pound of wool, from the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival. So that was a bit of a triumphant moment, thinking I'm well on my way. I'm honestly shocked at how much I'm loving spinning. I really never saw that coming. I assumed I'd get bored, or the kids wouldn't even let me do it at all. But I've been stealing time, and it's worked out okay enough. I do feel guilty about spending a lot of time doing something and leaving the kids to play by themselves, but for the most part they've been happy to play by themselves, so I think that is great. Independent play is important, and I'm always close by to sort out skirmishes and supervise. So I suppose when I look at it that way I shouldn't feel guilty at all. In fact, all the Waldorfy books I read talk about the teacher sitting there doing handwork while the kids play, and just being available, and a calm presence. So yeah, that's me, kind of getting something right according to a waldorf book. What's also been great about spinning is that so far it hasn't gone to my head. As in, I've kept it a very sensory process, without thinking much about it at all. I don't care about the yarn that results from my time, I just enjoy the whole experience. I have a stack of books about spinning, which make my head...spin...but so far they don't interest me much. Eventually, I'm sure, but for now it's nice to have something that isn't about quality or finished product or any kind of pressure at all. My mind can wander.

I feel like I keep missing the boat on things. Like this past weekend. Jake is so totally not into holidays, and would be fine to let them all go with no observation whatsoever. Things like Memorial Day go completely unnoticed except as a free and usually unexpected day off from work. We used to always go to Montreal that weekend, but haven't in years. Anyway. So it crept on us, and we had no plans, and I didn't really care, until ON Monday I remembered the carousels all open that day, and I wanted to take the kids. So we did that, and at the park there were all these families having these big barbecues and picnics, and I felt totally stupid like I am never part of anything and since I am the mom of the family I'm supposed to be the one to make those things come together. So I felt like a failure. We went to the grocery store--this was fairly late in the day--and I got a bunch of stuff, and we went to Jake's mom's house and had a very late barbecue. I made homemade ice cream and Jake made hamburgers, and it was pretty low-key but nice to be outside. The kids ran around and we enjoyed the beautiful weather. So we just made it, and I felt like maybe I hadn't totally screwed up, but it reminded me that there are all kinds of minor events that could easily justify celebration or at least some sort of something, and that I should plan better. There are lots of ways to make life more interesting, and make days stand out from the everyday, but I rarely take those opportunities. And I want to. I want the kids to be able to look forward to family traditions. Life is too monotonous not to seize those special days, no matter who originally decided they should be special.

So I am going to look at the calendar and see what's coming up. First day of summer is worth notice. And then there's the food aspect of it all. Every week there's something new at the farmers market, and I want to be prepared and know what to do with it all. It's fun to bring home something weird and go through all my cookbooks looking for interesting recipes. But I already missed the asparagus and fiddlehead ferns, and only bought a small bunch of rhubarb that I still haven't used. I need to get with the program. Seasonal awareness is something I feel strongly about, and encouraging the kids and us to pay more attention to what's going on around us, but I get so wrapped up in my head that I often lose track of time and then wonder where the time went. Time to slow down and pay more attention!

Now to find a good recipe for dumplings--chicken and dumplings tonight, no idea why.

Also, spam me with your ideas and stuff you've been eating or doing with the kids very recently. Help me liven up life for me and the kids!!
valancystirling: (Default)
From here:

Our literacy-rich, play-based early childhood program provides children the opportunity to play and work and explore their world in an unhurried environment. The main emphasis is placed on developing imagination and creative thinking skills, rather than early exposure to academic content.

Daily circle time includes movement, poetry and singing.
Teachers tell nature stories and folk and fairy tales from around the world.
Children experience artistic activities such as watercolor painting, drawing, beeswax modeling, music and movement.
Other activities may include gardening, woodworking, food preparation and sewing.
Through the example of the teacher, the students develop social skills and reverence for the world around them.

Well, yeah, that's essentially what I aim for at home. I'm not sure the kids will learn any USEFUL social skills from me, but whatever.

I should really be more structured with certain activities, though. We kind of live by whims around here--Topie will have the urge to paint, so I set up paints, etc. I'm the same with my own whims.

I do worry that the kids are so limited in exposure to other human beings, kids and adults. I'm certainly not the ideal person, and I really, really do not want my kids or anyone creating their standards based on me. I'm going to look into low-key weekly activities for her. It is difficult because of Philip, though. Possibilities are ballet/dance classes, gymnastics/tumbling, music of some kind. I would love to be able to learn things with her, as in art classes where we could both benefit. Or music lessons together when she's older, or language lessons. Martial arts!

Also, starting to think about Easter crafts. Our nature table fizzled out in the past couple of months, with all the craziness of packing/decluttering. I feel like it's time to rebuild. I have a little snowdrop felting kit I could work on, and maybe we'll make some paper flowers soon. And knitted eggs!

Neat idea here:

An easy project with little ones is creating caterpillars with a pipe cleaner and wool.

I like to use green pipe cleaners – bend them in half and turn the sharp ends under. Curl the ends to make antennae, and to hold the wool on! Wrap small tufts of colored wool snugly around the length of the pipecleaner. Good wool will stay put when wrapped snugly. Keep the tufts tiny, or you will have big globs of wool trying to be wrapped around and it will not stay on. I just set out small wisps of colors for the children to choose from…they can put many layers on, but small ones. That is it! Easy and lovely.

Butterflies are equally simple. Cut a pipe cleaner in half – I also use a green pipe cleaner for this – fold it in half again and as before, bend in the sharp ends, and curl them a bit for antennae. Have fluffs of colored wool out around 4” long or so. Let the children gather some wisps of colors, insert them in between the folded pipe cleaner and wrap the pipe cleaner around the wool…ending up with the antennae ends at the top, and the colorful wooly wings spread open wide. Some children like to use the same colors for their caterpillar and butterfly…

Now use these caterpillar and butterfly puppets with the children to tell a spring story poem.

A Caterpillar crawled to the top of a tree.
‘I think I’ll take a nap’, said he.
So under a leaf he began to creep
To spin his cocoon and he fell asleep.

All winter long he slept in his bed,
Til spring came along one day and said,
‘Wake up, wake up little sleepyhead,
Wake up, it’s time to get out of bed’.

So he opened his eyes that sunshiny day.
Oh! He was a butterfly and flew away!

Dyeing Easter eggs with tissue paper

Spring Movement Verses:


Drip, Drop, Drip, Drop,
The rain falls on my head. (place hands on head)

Drip, Drop, Drip, Drop,
The rain falls on my knees. (place hands on knees)
Drip, Drop, Drip, Drop,
The rain falls on my toes. (touch toes)

Fall, fall, fall,
Fall all day. (fall down like drops)
The puddles are calling me (pretend to put boots on)
And I can't wait to play!! ("jump" into a puddle!)


The First Tulip
Open dear flower
Please, open.

I will sit and watch and wait (sit on floor with head in hands, looking at floor)

Will you open, dear tulip?
Please, open. (Begin to stand as if unfolding)

I see a bud!
I see a leaf!
I see a bloom (reach your hands to the sky in a V)!

Thank you, dear flower.
Thank you.

Great ideas for creating nice play spaces:

I feel like I have a lot to learn, and I find it exciting to be able to learn along with my kids.
valancystirling: (Default)
I think the most important thing is that you model whatever food and lifestyle choices you want your child to follow. Then it won't be an issue at all. That's been my approach.

I feel like if they have a strong foundation of good food and healthy habits/balance at home they'll police themselves, so to speak, when they're older/out in the world at school. At least, this is how I was raised and how I am raising my kids. It's easy to have these good intentions, but I'll be the first to tell you that over time you simply have to make choices on how to handle those situations when your kid might be the freak of the group. I wanted desperately to live with my kids in a bubble, controlling every detail of their lives, and it's just not possible. My kid is 3 and has never heard of a happy meal, and the only junk food she eats is what I make from scratch with all organic ingredients. This is not to say that it's all healthy--it's organic and free of additives and artificial anything, but I use butter and sugar and there you go.

The key is to have a set of standards. Truly believe in them, live them yourself, make them a nonissue, and teach your child WHY you make the choices you do. Then in the end, even if they don't make the same choices, they'll understand and respect yours and have a grasp on the thought process required to MAKE choices, which I think is far more important than any of the rest of this.

So, decide what elements are really important to you, make that your foundation, and then don't worry so much when they go off to a birthday party and eat crap, because you know it's a blip and they'll come home and pick right up where they left off with the good stuff.

This hasn't come up for us yet, but I like the idea--instead of forbidding things, let the child indulge in something when they specifically request it. Like twinkies. I would never in a million years buy twinkies, but if we're at someone's house and they want one, I might consider doing something like letting them have it, but explaining to them that they might feel yucky afterward and it's not something we choose to buy for our healthy house. Then stand back and see how they feel--let them learn for themselves. But my real feeling is that the stuff I bake at home is so freaking awesome that a twinkie really is crap in comparison. My kid is enough of a foodie to figure that out for herself even at three.


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December 2010

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