Wednesday, December 2, 2009

December Goals and Rhythm

If you have not followed this blog before these monthly planning pages lay out a general structure for the month, including a theme and seasonal table, a way to wake, a table candle blessing, a couple of projects and a verse for going to sleep. These are goals the follow up varies from great to imperfect but having the plan helps it to happen and helps bring rhythm to our days!

December! Our favorite month of the year! I am going to try to keep the month peaceful even if its busy.. time for home, time for family, time to prepare our hearts and rest our souls. Possibly say "no" to some invites. Maybe more guests here for cozy dinners and hot tubs?

Festival or Theme is Advent / Christmas
The children spend time decorating the house and setting up our (several) nativities. We have a lovely fabric wall calender for advent and they usually get one of the beautiful European paper calenders too. As a family, over the years we have made pieces for a wooden nativity (very simple) and we set that up daily through Advent too.

Seasonal Table
Our favorite wooden Nativity made by Jalu of the Sunshine Coast - lovely! Children set up and reorganize as they wish all month.

Breakfast Verse (all December while lighting advent wreath candles)
Advent, advent, a child is born; Advent, Advent a child is born
First one, then two, then three, then four and then the child is at the door
Advent, Advent a child is born! Blessing on our meal today.

Waking Song
We wish you a Merry Christmas, We wish you a Merry Christmas,
We wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy new year! (Children's choice)

Bedtime Verse
Silent night, Holy night, all is calm, all is bright etc.
My children love to use carols, these are simple, traditional, everybody knows them. They reflect rhythm, routine, security.

December Project 1 Advent Wreath
If you haven't made one yet here is a simple method.

1. Use a floral wire ring from any florist. Either stuff it with moss or cut strips of floral foam.
2. The moss version is already very green so great for children, simply add garden greenery - clipped holly, evergreen, cones or even small Christmas balls or cinnamon stick bunches or nuts. Attach by wrapping the whole thing with thin floral wire. If using floral foam you will have to add lots of greenery. The easiest is clipped cedar. For either poke on four plastic candle holders and in the case of the moss, wire in. Ass candles (3 purple, 1 pink is traditional Christian, however 4 white or 4 red are also lovely). Light one additional candle each week of Advent at breakfast and dinner (week 1 light 1, week 2 light 2 etc).

Finish November Fundraiser
This year the children raised an amazing three hundred and something dollars for education in both Ethiopia and West Vancouver! Many thanks to all who gave so generously! The children have announced winners and delivered the prizes ( a book by my son, a candle by my daughter) and donations to respective charities! Outstanding! At ages 9 and 12 the children handled most of this themselves this year!

December Project 2 Rosca de Reyes
As in past years we baked Three Kings Bread for Epiphany (Jan 6 so I suppose it is a Jan project :-), a "rosca" ring to symbolize a crown. We do the Mexican version but their are all kinds of recipes from Latin countries and from Europe. Traditionally beans were hidden in the rosca, symbolizing baby Jesus. We use the more modern metal babies (found at a Catholic book store)wrapped in foil. Other years we have used clay babies (from an African import store) use your imagination. My children love to hide many babies not just one so this year we hid 6 babies and then delivered slices to many friends. In Mexico those who find babies make the tamales or host a party on Candlemas, however we just make our rosca with much love and no obligation!

Traditions / Ritual and Routine

Christmas Advent reading most nights.

The "humbug" game all season (once my father gave a stern Victorian woman's face Christmas decoration as a Christmas gift - she looked very grouchy so she was named the humbug - we sneak he on to each others trees all Christmas - the idea being you do not want to end up with the humbug at seasons end!)

Christmas Eve new pajama s from Nana and Granddad

A Very Merry Christmas to you all!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Advent Reading List

Some photos of the children's Christmas tags attached to bags of cookies they made for their teachers, and, for those who asked a Christmas reading list..

Advent Reading List

Christmas Stories Together by Estelle Bryer and Janni Nicol *I Love This!

The Christmas Story Book Collected by Ineke Verschuren

The Light in the Lantern by Georg Dreibig (can by accompanying Advent Calender)

The Emperor's Vision and other Christ Legends by Selma Lagerlof

Christmas Roses Legends for Advent Collected by Mimmi Zoitterman

Seasonal and Traditional Short Stories for Christmas Family Reading

The Way to the Stable A Christmas Story by Max Bolliger Illustrated by Arcadio Lobato *I Love This!

The Mitten by Jan Brett - A Ukranian Folktale

The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry

The Wild Christmas Reindeer by Jan Brett

The Night Before Christmas by Clement C. Moore illustrated by Ruth Sanderson - A Classic

Come and See by Monica Mayper Illustrated by Stacey Schuett *I Love This!

Little One, We Knew You'd Come by Sally Lloyd-Jones illustrated by Jackie Morris *I Love This!

The Christmas Rose illustrated by Heather Jarman

The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg

A Child's Christmas in Wales by Dylan Thomas illustrated by Schart Hyman

The Nutcracker adapted by Daniel Walden from the story by E.T.A. Hoffman illustrated by Don Daily - A Classic

Chapter Books - Read Alouds for Christmas
of course these books can be read silently by children and at any time of year but these are perfect at Christmas and make great family reads!

Bella at Midnight by Diane Stanley -*I Love this!

Any of the Narnia series by CS Lewis - particularily The Magician's Nephew and Lion Witch and the Wardrobe

Monday, November 23, 2009

Fall Short Story List

I am always getting requests for reading lists of great stories!

Something I really cherish is reading to my children. Even as they get older we still make time for that. We have two simple story spaces - the fireplace in my bedroom and our cozy living room, both equip with rockers, quilts and pillows. The children's quilts are from when they were just wee so they love that, and we leave them out to use any time the notion takes us, usually evening, but not always. I usually sit in a rocker to read (seasonal stories that have become tradition in our family, or chapter books or tell stories I just make up on the spot) and I usually start with the same words (my personal preamble is about a lady rocking by the sea in the Mediterranean because that has personal meaning for me and feels old and timeless) but you can create your own lines to set the tone, or chime a little bell or sing or speak a one liner. Here's a simple one I like, "Once upon a time, but not so long ago..".

Read Aloud list for Fall - Short Seasonal Stories

Scarecrow by Cynthia Rylant Illustrated by Lauren Stringer *Love this!

The Oak Inside the Acorn by Max Lucado Illustrated by George Angelini *Love this !

Pelle's New Suit by Elsa Beskow

Pumpkin Pumpkin by Jeanne Tihington

Hegedt Peg by Audrey Wood Illustrated by Don Wood

Mrs. McMurphy's Pumpkin by Rick Walton Illustrated by Delana Bettoli *One of my Childrens' favorites since very young!

Cold Feet by Cynthia DeFelice by Illustrated by Robert Andrew Parker ( traditional British ghost story - preview first for developmental appropriateness for your child)

Halloween Circus by Charise Neugebauer Illustrated by Robert Ingpen

A Poppy is to Remember by Heather Patterson and Ron Lightburn

In Flanders Fields by John McCrae

Feathers and Fools by Mem Fox Illustrated by Nicholas Wilton *Love this!

Something From Nothing by Phoebe Gilman

For Story Telling resources I recommend and Story Telling Society or Festival or How Too books by the fabulous Nancy Mellon!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Christmas Fundraiser: November Project 2

I am so proud of myself! The kitchen is a mess - it will need to be cleaned before breakfast tomorrow morning - but i have squashed my control freak requirement to clean it NOW and taken the moment to join the children and my husband by the fire reading for half an hour before bed. Sometimes my organizing impulse is so strong - but I am glad I left it - these calm family moments are wonderful. They slow us (me) down, feed our souls. We will all probably live longer for them - if not longer, certainly better! After this quiet family moment I am refreshed and get more done, or I fall could asleep on the couch - which means go to bed - unlikely. didn't I say the kitchen's a disaster!

Our children are getting their Annual Christmas Fund Raiser (November Project 2) together! This year the prizes are the book "Screech",written by my son and published using and a Christmas candle made by my daughter. Prizes in past have been books they have written, and framed water colours they have painted, but prizes can be whatever inspires your children or family. Once you have done the fundraiser the first time, save all the work (we do up an e-mail and tickets on word) and the next year just change the dates, the prizes and the charity and it quickly comes together! My children sell tickets nominally at $1 so their friends can buy them. Advertising is to friends via e-mail with pictures of the prizes and a description of the charity they have chosen (see below). I think they really learn from the process and friends LOVE it! Here's a sample from this year's precious project.

T and C's Annual Christmas Fundraiser 2009
Thank you For Your Generosity - Draw Tickets only $1

"This year we are splitting the money raised between two charity groups. We wanted to raise money for building some children a school. The first charity is called "Imagine One Day" and builds schools in Ethiopia. But then we found out that the churches still have some money to pay for our own elementary school, St. Anthony's. So we are going to give half of the money we raise to Imagine One Day and half to St. Anthony's Parish for their School Building Fund.

Imagine One Day's website states that "education is a basic human right that leads to achieving other human rights and that an educated population forms the backbone of every society". It is a cool website, check it out!

As in past years , tickets are only $1 an there are two great prizes!

Prize: "Screech" Children's Adventure Story by T. Hard cover, autographed copy.
Prize: "Archangel Gabriel Candle and Glass" Original Art Work by C, autographed."

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Fibre Arts!

Oh my what a great weekend! Our Saturday felting workshop went fabulously well! 8 great women, 8 fabulous projects! We had so much fun kitting and dying wool for the fairies, meeting the talent and then watching their projects evolve! Can you believe we forgot to hand out the beading needles! - what were you guys using to embellish? Anyone out there from the class who needs one, be sure to hit me up! Watch for postings of completed work from "Christmas Fairies / Felted Milagros"!

Friday, November 6, 2009

November Goals and Rhythm

November, the month of reprieve (?) between Halloween and Christmas, though look around you, Christmas is here - too early! I can't bear the malls yet! I try in the first half of the month to stick to fall. Remembrance Day, peace!

If you have not followed this blog before these monthly planning pages lay out a general structure for the month, including a theme and seasonal table, a way to wake, a table candle blessing, a couple of projects and a verse for going to sleep. These are goals the follow up varies from great to imperfect but having the plan helps it to happen and helps bring rhythm to our days!

So here is our November layout

Festival or Theme is Remembrance Day / Peace
A focus on peace, honour, courage, remembering those who have passed on. We are using a red cloth on our theme table, photos of relatives who went to war, a red candle, red or pink roses I usually receive as a birthday gift (being a Remembrance Day baby), lapel poppies collected over the year and Grandad's medal of honour from the war and his pocket watch.

Waking Song (for November)
chosen by my daughter from our collection

"Come little leaves said the wind one day, come over the meadows with me and play
Put on your dresses of red and gold, summer is gone and the days grow cold!"
~by George Cooper~

Breakfast Verse (first half of November)
(sung while lighting a candle at the breakfast table)

"Light a candle for peace, whisper the word,
Please let it come soon, whisper a prayer for the world,
Blessings on our meal today."

Breakfast Verse (second half of November)
chosen by my son from our collection

"Earth we thank you for this food, for rest and home and all things good,
For wind and rain and sun above, but most of all for those we love.
Blessings on our meal today."

Bedtime Song
From camp

"From out of the battered elm tree the owl cries out - I'm here
And from the distant forest the cuckoo answers clear
cuckoo, cuckoo, cuckoo da roo da roo, cuckoo, cuckoo, cuckoo da roo da roo.
Mr. moon, Mr. moon you're out to soon, the sun is still in the sky
Go back to your bed and cover up your head and wait 'till the day goes by
cuckoo, cuckoo, cuckoo da roo da roo, cuckoo, cuckoo, cuckoo da roo da roo.

November Project 1 Clay Nativity
We have bought some air dry clay from Staples. Every year we have talked of making a Nativity for Christmas, but we have always left it too late. This year we will each make small figures every few days when we are able or choose to - all through the month of November. We will start with the important ones, Mary, Joseph, the Baby and see how many we end up with by the end of the month. Whatever we have is what we will go with. No pressure, no stress, just a relaxing, ongoing project. This clay air dries and then can be painted.

November Project 2 Children's Charity Raffle
Each year my children make a "prize" for their charity raffle. 2 children, 2 prizes. This years prizes are a book by T and a candle by C (past years have been small paintings or drawings mostly). Tickets are $1 monies go to the charity of their choice.

Autumn Stories
Family tradition. Short stories (fall theme) read occasionally by the fire. One day I will post a list of good seasonal stories - there are many wonderful books - check your library, bookstore!

Bread, Soup and Scones
OK the bread making and soup making fell apart mid October, but today is friday and I baked bread. My son's friend was over and he loved it, he had never had home baked bread. Makes it all worth while! Actually the realistic bread making goal was once a month so I am ahead of target there. At any rate the rhythm falls apart, we just pick it up as we can! Every day is a new day! Monday I make scones or muffins for lunches through the week (or until they run out - which is usually pretty quickly!)

One more week until our Felting Workshop (see previous post Oct 22) - I am excited! If you are interested we have 3 spaces left - for details and registration contact

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Shrine to the Dead - October Project 2

Halloween is almost here and we are as ready as we will be other than a quick clean of the house!

Above is our Shrine to the Dead. In Mexico they have beautiful family shrines, ofrenda de la familia, for Los Dias de los Muertos, Nov 1st and 2nd. I fist saw this here a few years back in a local graveyard. Then I saw another rendition at a Halloween production done by the local Firemen. There have been many sources of inspiration and this can be done anyway you like, but it adds some reverence to Halloween and a connection of life and death which we don't find often in our culture! A celebration of many lives and of death as a part of life! Its beautiful and its fun.

Candles, flowers, pictures and mementos make up the table. Each year we and friends add to the memorial board - our bulletin board with some construction paper decor - flowers and an invitation - "You are Invited to Remember your Friends and Family Who Have Died.." We leave out a basket of coloured pens and we have made our own slips of paper "in Memory of __" for people to fill in, colour and pin to our memorial. I keep all the parts of the shrine stored with our Halloween things for next year so it does not take much work to set up after the first time! This is a big part of our October Project 2, the other is the graveyard (see previous post) in the front and of course the fireworks all pulled together for a neighbourhood party on Halloween night!

I have had a few requests for fall reading lists. I will aim to do that this next month!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Halloween Graveyard - October Project 2

Graveyard Fireworks Party - October Project 2:

OK so we have 20 or 30 leftover cascarones from last year that we will use for our Halloween party. Cascarones, as pictured above, are like mini pinatas made of eggs. When you are making breakfast, simply use a thumb tack to pierce the egg, then chip out a penny sized hole and dump your egg in a bowl to cook. Wash the remaining egg shell. Dry. Decorate by dyeing, painting, stickers, glitter glue, whatever you fancy and fill with confetti. Cut a square of tissue to cover the hole or try my new decorative idea and roll a flower out of crepe paper streamer, matching colour, twist it to hold and glue with glue gun or white glue over hole. You may have come upon Cascarones in Mexico or Europe. Make a wish and crush them in your hand sprinkling the contents over someones head (for safety do not crack on someone's head - organic egg shells are hard and sharp). Children and adults love Cascarones!

Garden Graveyard (October Project 2)
Now for the front yard graveyard set-up! Several years ago we made simple gravestones by cutting styrofoam rectangles and spray painting them gray. We painted poems and epitaphs (Google search "famous epitaphs" or make up your own) in black paint. Coat hanger wire is stuck in the bottom on both sides and we push the grave stones into the ground using the wire. Grave stones are stored and reused yearly.

We have a huge maple tree so we rake the leaves in piles to represent the grave itself. In the very last few days before Halloween we go to a big store with lots of pumpkins left and haggle for a good price on 10 to 20 pumpkins. We have a crew; kids, me, Aunty, Nana, and carve like crazy (simple faces are fastest)!

Add these pumpkins with candles to the ends of the graves and between graves. We will pile 5 or 6 at different levels (using the garden wall and a chair) for a focal point as well. Then we scatter plastic bones and skeletons and spiders etc (Walmart) on the grave mounds and hang one skeleton from the tree (we have built our props collection over the years a few pieces per year). We put a witch on our door (with a baby monitor in the mailbox so she can speak to trick-or-treaters) and buy a box of fireworks. We are set for outside! More on our Shrine to Honour Our Dead (inside), next post!

6 more Days to Halloween!

Felted Fairies

Christmas Fairies / Felted Milagros
Seasonal Workshops with Lise-Lotte and Lenora
November 14, 10:30 - 3:30 / $85

A little segway from the rhythmic routine of home life, but for me its all mixed together, a balance. In November I will be teaching a workshop with the wonderful Lise-Lotte! Very exciting and always a lot of fun! This wee fairy is felted and embellished and absolutely enchanting! If you want to join us let me know!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Lucky 13!

My daughter created this seasonal fibre art piece to add to our October Theme Table - I love it! Because my children love to sew and I am a fibre artist, we often cut up old clothes and keep the fabric in a bin to reuse. Not only is this 'green' it saves a lot of money in fabric purchase! The pumpkin is made from a piece of my husband's old silk shirt and stuffed with wool! It is lying on some newly Kool-aid dyed roving.

The children have been busy working on a few paper invitations for our annual Halloween fireworks (October Project 2) as they are both home from school today. They have chosen a photo from last year's party which we will put in an e-mail invite (we saved last years invite, so change the dates, change the photo and voila!) Everyone will get the e-mail. A few special friends will get the paper invites - the children are talking of having a draw to see who gets those!

As we are at mid-October we have started a new verse at breakfast.

Breakfast Verse for 2nd 1/2 of October
While lighting a candle
"The sun it shines so warm and bright, it strengthens all I do,
Now let me take this bit of light, so I shine brightly too. Blessings on our meal today".

This is our 13th post - so far so good!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Maple Leaf Fairies Build a House

My children love to see their work in print - published. (Don't we all!) This is a story from my daughter's book of short fiction "Fairy Folk Tales" that she asked that I post. We used to publish her book. Blurb is manageable for the children to use with a little guidance- but it is what we call a 'many day project'!

The Maple Leaf Fairies Build a House

Rusalka, Bruci and Nissa lived in a Maple Tree. They loved riding on the squirrels backs. Rusalka has blond hair which humans think is the rays of the sun. Brucie has brown hair which humans think is bark. Nissa has red hair which humans think is autumn leaves.
The story I am going to tell you about is when Rusalka, Brucie and Nissa first moved into our Maple tree. First of all they made a door high up in the trunk Then they made two windows of a special fairy glass so no humans can see though them. The last thing Rusalka, Brucie and Nissa did was build a chimney. This was very hard for them because they had to bring tiny pebbles up the tree one at a time, day after day. When their chimney was finally finished they lit a fire and lay on the couch eating tiny fairy marshmallows.

The End

copyright C.Moore 2008

Friday, October 9, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

I am so happy to be baking bread again! And I am thrilled with the timing, Thanksgiving and all! Celebration of harvest and all we have to be thankful for! My eyes watered at our school Thanksgiving Celebration this morning. The wonder of the children. The discussion of gratitude. The well thought our prayers of thanks. I really think the children get it!

16,000 teenagers show up to hear the Dalai Lama speak about social change - there is hope for the world!

I have to admit i am a little behind, what with school going back a week later this year. Will I be one step behind for the rest of time? Also cleaning graveyards before Thanksgiving Monday has almost made me forget that Thanksgiving is so early. But I'm on it now!

I am making bread as I speak! I bought new yeast and it is literally bubbling over - is it supposed to do that?. I don't remember it doing that in Greece when we made loaves weekly in a multipurpose, oversize, plastic basin, bread bowl, laundry, family bathtub.. And what is this new quick yeast? Hmmm I thought, no - I think I will stick with the traditional yeasty babies for now. The house will smell of baking bread on Friday after school! I love that!

We will harvest our (teeny, weeny) brussel sprouts from our garden - so exciting we've never grown these before! The cucumbers are still producing, so, a salad! And yes another home grown watermelon for desert! We will go around the table lighting a candle as we express who and what we are Thankful for and we will be reminded that someone, somewhere is thankful for us!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Cleaning The Gravestones October Project 1

We spent a lovely afternoon in the graveyard cleaning the family graves; actually one. The children chose my great aunt who died when she was only 14. This of course fascinates them as she died of an ear infection before the advent of antibiotics. Her father was away at war and did not know he had lost her until he returned many weeks after. I cannot even imagine.

This is our first October project of 2 planned (see previous post - Oct Prep Page). My children love to clean the graves, to hear the stories, to add flowers, that we may remember, celebrate a loved one, in this case a girl we never knew. It is good to celebrate the circle of life. My daughter made a lovey candle with a guardian angel she drew and wrote Angel Dear, the verse we are saying in the morning, on the back.

The children cleaned other graves in the area, my son took to lifting grass from small grave walls and my daughter as always wanted to scrub the stone lamb on a nearby unattended grave of a 3 year old girl - brushing and polishing until its white granite shone again.

Most years we try to do all our graves, in all three graveyards, in the fall around Halloween. This year I decided to do one grave well. To enjoy the process instead of rushing to get them all done. I was inspired by the way the families in Greece tend their family graves, then inspired again by the celebration of The Days of the Dead in Mexico.I wanted to make more of our Halloween, to recognize that death too is part of life.

Grand dad came with us as he has in past. He thinks his mother would like this tradition.

The sun shone instead of biting winds or rain. We are out a couple weeks earlier this year. An early start on Halloween, Dia de los Angelitos and Dia de Todas las Almas. October project 1!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

October Goals and Rhythm

If you have not followed this blog before these monthly planning pages lay out a general structure for the month, including a theme and seasonal table, a way to wake, a table candle blessing, a couple of projects and a verse for going to sleep. These are goals the follow up varies from great to imperfect but having the plan helps it to happen and helps bring rhythm to our days!

Festival or Theme
Halloween / Day of the Dead (Dia de los Muertos) with Harvest / Thanksgiving mixed in.
A celebration of the lives of friends and family who have passed on.

New Seasonal Table
Check fall resource box - use gourds, pumpkins, Mexican kitsch

Breakfast Verse (for first 2 weeks of October)
(From school this week, Love the Latin! - we will also light our Guardian Angel candle)
"Angele Dei, qui custos es mei, me tibi commissum pietate superna,
illumina, custodi, rege et guberna.
Angel of God, my guardian dear, to whom God's love commits me here,
ever this day be at my side, to light and guard, to rule and guide,
Blessings on our meal today."

Waking Song (for October)
"Way up n the sky, the little birds fly, While down in their nests, the little birds rest.
With a wing ton the left and a wing to the right, the sweet little birdies sleep all through the night..
Shhh! They're sleeping! The bright sun comes up, the birdie's awake,
Good morning, good morning the little birds say!"

Bedtime Verse (for October)
Continue with "Train Whistle Blowing" I haven't sung bedtime that much yet.
See September post titled Preparation Page

2 Projects (for October)
mid October - choose one family grave and go clean it, fresh flowers etc.
last week October - Prepare for Halloween Party / Fireworks at our house
(carve 20 pumpkins and set up graveyard and pumpkin field in front yard. Set up Memorial to the Dead on the kitchen bulletin board and invite additions.)
Note: we have 30 Halloween cascarones made last year - lets use them this month!\\Note: I really want to make Katrina Dolls with the children for our Shrine for the Dead!
Note: I really want to make mini Niches too (ok ok - keep it simple! Graves and pumpkins as above!)

Theme Stories
Mid October read Stone Soup
Traditional Harvest and Halloween Stories sporadically all month!

Continue weekly soup making and add monthly bread making!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Dragon Bread - September Project 2

I want to start bread making once a month! We have baked bread in past but we go through fazes: months of bread machine bread, weeks or sometimes only days of hand kneaded bread (lets be honest it takes time, organization, upper body strength not to mention clean-up, flour moves everywhere and quickly!) – and then months again of no bread from the house! My husband is the king of the bread maker, but he too is inconsistent! I have lots of recipes. I would love, love, love an outdoor (or indoor if I ever build a larger home) European bread oven. I mean the bee hive, farm kind, great for bread, pizzas and deep brown beans – another mental note – I want to make my own beans from scratch, maybe in November when we need the comfort food!

Today was Dragon bread day (tradition we picked up at Waldorf,) so that can be our first in a new routine of baking bread each month! Dragon bread, as you remember was the 2nd of our 2 projects for September. Michaelmas, the feast of St. Michael, is today September 29th! There are so many lesser known holidays to explore. We chose this because they have included St. Michael in both schools we’ve attended, Waldorf and Catholic. My children love to shape their dragons, the scales, the pointy teeth. Each year they want photos of their dragon! Then they love to eat them, light overcoming darkness! Any simple bread recipe, single rise for ease, double rise for those more used to bread making! Bread making is actually quite easy, just don’t over heat the water and kill the yeast! The water is luke warm, baby bottle temperature!

Preheat over to 400 degrees

1 c water (warm to wrist temp)

1 Tbsp sugar or honey

1 Tbsp yeast (or 1 envelope)

2 Tbsp olive oil

1 1/2 c whole wheat flour

1 ½ c all purpose flour

decent pinch salt

more flour ½ to ¾ c usually

Warm water and dissolve in sugar or honey.
Stir. Add yeast and let it “puff up”

Put measured flours and salt in a bread size bowl (large)

Make a well or draw a picture in the middle

Pour in water / yeast and oil and fold until well combined.

Knead (push and fold / push and fold) for 5 mins or 30 to 50 times.

Cover bowl with a cloth and let rise in a warm area.

Shape bread as dragon (or dragons), bake 20 mins at 400

Butter and enjoy!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Soup's Up

I am not getting to the bedtime song much so far this fall. Even when the children ask I seem to be singing a line then getting lost doing something else. So much for being present! The other day a friend mentioned that I only had five years left with my son as he is twelve (plus 5 is seventeen and well on his way to independence and adulthood – frightening!) I will have to keep this in mind and sing as we get near to bedtime, more often. What a lovely memory to have and a calm way to get to bed!

With the harvest season I am making soup once a week and collecting some great and easy recipes. OK, so this is my second week of this, sounds like I’ve been doing it for months. But the intent is there! I make a batch then freeze 2 to 3 tubs so I have it on hand. I will also have soup on hand as a gift. I find people have always loved my homemade gifts but my new thing is homemade gifts that do not sit and take space- rather the love they are made with can be immediately consumed. A bottle of wine is always an easy one, but soup, bread, veggies and herbs grown in our garden are great!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Where Has The Time Gone?

We are half way plus through the month and I cannot believe it. The morning routine has really helped to set our rhythm and all is going quite smoothly. This morning the children quite spontaneously sang “For the golden corn” as our blessing at breakfast – so I guess its time to change the morning verse as I had planned to mid month anyway. As we are half way to our focal festival Michaelmas or St. Michael’s Name Day we will also repeat one of my son’s favorite St. Michael verses at breakfast:

Morning Verse for second half of September


“In autumn Saint Michael with sword and with shield

passes over meadow and orchard and field.

He's on the path to battle 'gainst darkness and strife.

He is the heavenly warrior protector of life.”

Followed by (sung)

“For the golden corn and the apple on the tree

For the golden and the honey from the bee.

For fruits and nuts and berries we gather on our way

We thank our loving mother earth we thank her every day”

I will have to find the authors of these.

This weekend we coloured in the children’s St. Michael line drawings (1st of our September projects completed). They are fabulous! I have some lovely white frames from Pottery Barn that have a sleeve that allow you to change the picture so I put the children’s art in these and have leaned them against the wall on the corner theme or seasonal table. I have changed the table last night slightly, changed the flowers to new cut from the garden and replacing the fall fairy with a harvest cart and ox from the children’s wood toys. Plus the wonderful addition of the framed art (if I did not have these frames, which I have had for 8 years and never used until now! I would have simply masking taped them to the wall). We have replaced the “golden cloak” line with the Saint Michael verse as above. My son wrote this out for us 3 years ago so it is fun to use see his young handwriting as I keep it in our fall basket for the table. The children love seeing things they have made in past. I will instruct the children to look at their art and say the verse for a meditative experience. I will suggest once a week.

I will look for the brightly coloured dragon fruit in stores as it is usually available this time of year. It looks great on our theme table with its bright pink scales. Later in the month we will try eating it though in past it has been mostly left on our plates, even mine. It’s very bland!

Last week in the car on the way to school we began by testing each other on spelling words as these are coming home from school weekly now, and then we did a new meditation lead by me and focusing on greeting friends and teachers at school with words of kindness while connecting with their eyes. I am hoping to instill looking at people when speaking with them and the virtue of courtesy. We also picture the goodness from the world around us as a colour and breath it deeply into our cells and our being! On the way home we do one math times table as we need some work there, we keep it short and fun!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Back to School - September Project 1

First day of school, again! I keep it basically the same year after year. I think this provides some security on day when one is faced with the unknown - new responsibilities, a new teacher, a new grade. The children have their clothes laid out, clean, ironed, at the end of their bed. They wake to their regular morning routine, me trying to remain calm and unhurried singing in full or in bits, our morning song. “Good morning to you, good morning to you”. Luckily this year we switched off the light at a reasonable hour so I am somewhat refreshed. The children, as they have done now for years make beds, get dressed and start on piano while I make breakfast – outside today (always if possible). We have added a covered area out back of our house and I highly recommend it! We all wear our night robes over our clothes if it is nippy or we have a heater too but in the morning I never seem to get that on.

Breakfast served with the morning verse we’ve said and sung all week – no w a rhythm we are used to. I sit for breakfast. I take a first day of school photo at the table and one later in front of flowers just as we leave. It took me many years to get to that – I wish I had always done so. My folks always did I think. Teeth, more piano and out the door. Bags were packed last night and lunches were made then also so the morning could be more relaxed. Nothing I hate more than a crazy morning flying out the door. A few years back we just started getting up earlier so we could accommodate a slower a.m. That has worked rather well. We started drive to school visualizations today right off the bat. I will explain that at a later date, but it is a wonderful way to start the day!

Noon pick-up and the children are calm and happy. Today I go on the internet and print some photos of Michael and the Dragon. Samples on the table the children draw lovely line drawings as this is the only early dismissal this month. These are line drawings. We will pencil crayon them later this month and put them up for contemplation mid-month. This is a new idea this year and I like it. Children are older. September Project 1.

Now like last night I aim for 5pm dinner, reading by 7, 7:30pm and lights out by 8. This will allow everyone to be fresh by 7 tomorrow morning and get us into a routine I hope!

Monday, September 7, 2009

We Grew a Watermelon!

We have been looking after our neighbours fish, house and vegetable garden while they are in France (ok I am jealous)! It is a great exercise for the children, caring for someone else’s things, especially an animal and a garden. The harvesting of a garden is calming and connects them to the earth in this oh so suburban mecca we live in. We have our own veggie patch too and this year, though small and somewhat scraggly, it has produced a bounty of tomatoes, cucumber, lettuces, peas, beans, blueberries, zucchini, one watermelon which is very exciting. Even if we only got two tomatoes it would be worth it though – veggies we grew on our table teaches more than hours of explanation from mother or teacher.

Day before the first day of school! 5 pm dinner. Reading 7pmish. 8pm lights out. Lots of outdoor time today to insure a good sleep and it worked! Lots of trampoline! Bags packed (by children),school clothes out on end of bed (children responsible for this), lunches packed (by me tonight, will work toward children’s involvement more this year I say – I say that every year but I’d better get on it , they are after all grades 4 and 6)!

Often at bed my son starts a wild and wonderful series of ideas, anecdotes and philosophical questions. He is wide open at this time – great way to learn what is going on for him, but not tonight! I actually think I should start him to bed ½ hour earlier to make better use of this great time for communication but so far have not been able to accomplish this. My daughter goes right to sleep most nights. My son’s mind starts going! Luckily not tonight – he is physically tired and nods off quickly without the ongoing discussion first. I read and get to bed at a reasonable hour too for a change!

Friday, September 4, 2009

September, New Beginnings

I managed to implement our September rhythm. Once chosen it is simple and repeated daily. I can only do this so quickly because I have been doing it for years and I have all my verses, decorations etc organized in folders, drawers and colorful flowered boxes. As I mentioned I have the cardboard suitcases for Autumn, Winter, Spring & Summer. They are filled with things I have made, or friends have made, or the children have made at home or school & that suit the season. Also decorative items that have been collected, winter fairies, bells, just stuff. It doesn’t take much, a seashell, an especially curly beach stick, a pine cone, a birds next. Go with your own style, your own ideas.

I keep a presentation book for each season for verses, poems, stories, drawings. I keep another with waking, bedtime and birthday verses. And I add anything written that speaks to me as I go. I try to include poems the children like or have written themselves at school. My sources are everywhere and though I initially hunted for things, once I had a beginning I just added literature (?) as it showed itself to me in my life. I was thrilled to find a stack of cue cards with poems and verses my mother had written for her days as primary school teacher, so I added those that I liked. I typed up singe verses from poems I have always loved from the classics. I also have a presentation book of projects but as said those for me seem vividly filed in my head. I have added verses from Remembrance day services at school or the newsletters teachers send home. From magazines that come to my door or quotes from books I am reading that I note are suitable! And in time I have built a collection, a resource and the key is that it is organized for quick reference because mom’s (or dad’s) do not start off with time to spend two weeks arranging for next months family rituals.

So on the first day of September as I have said, I put together a simple seasonal table on our corner cabinet and it was there in time fro breakfast. The children noted the display with enthusiasm and will add to it and change it themselves over the month. When we sat together for our breakfast of pancakes and fruit on the deck, I made a point of moving the wee bottle of flowers from the seasonal table to the breakfast table and I brought the words to the verse and song. We spoke and sang those together and then ate. It doesn’t matter that we don’t know the words by heart and it is nice just to participate in this together. I made a point of sitting to eat breakfast with the children which I love but find hard to do when there are so many other things calling me to do them round the house and what an opportunity to get things done when the children are involved and eating – but I try to ignore these nagging things because it is settling and nurturing for me to eat with my children and to enjoy that time. Something I have had to force myself to sit whether I have food for myself or not. These are the moments we will miss when our children are gone and these are the moments they will remember when they are grown and I will remember when it comes time for me to leave. I often have to remind myself that this is why I am an at home mom, that this stuff is more important than all those tasks that need doing, that life is too short, and still I don’t always sit, but the more I choose too, the more I do so. I believe that this is one of the gifts of motherhood and that this is a valuable use of my time, but at times I have had to force myself to believe that as the chores build up and no pay cheque comes in. I know now in hindsight that part of our children’s flourishing stems from these simple times. It is also a fabulous way to have a moment to talk freely and nurture the lines for communication.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Monthly Goals and Planning Pages; Rhythm

This is long but necessary to get organized - So no photo!

September for some of us moms is like a second New Year’s – a second chance to start, yet again, and get our rhythm and routine in order. To make things right. Thank goodness for the human quality of hope and optimism. I am very excited! I have a general layout for my year ahead. At present the details are quite lofty, vivid in my mind, though a week from now they may be gone if I don’t write them down. But it is easy to spend too much time in the planning though for me the planning indeed needs to be done. So, I am going, once again with my keep it simple motto, use what I’ve got (this also being a more green and less money and time consuming method). I am also employing some coping strategies learned in counseling years back – aiming to get through time in small packages (not day by day in this instance but perhaps month by month, having each month broken into two week sections).

As taught in Waldorf Schooling and various religions, I use the rhythm of the season and the accompanying festivals, around which to develop my daily curriculum. Seasonal festivals abound in every country and every religion on earth, but they are all very similar within each season and serve the same purpose. Latin cultures are a fabulous resource for festivals, Mexican, Italian, Catholic as are middle eastern countries and religions. Asia too has fabulous ritual. And of course probably first, for success and ideas that work with your own, it is best to look within your own culture and spiritual practice. Our own backyard, as usual, holds an abundance of ideas easily accessed within the community.

Here’s my general skeletal structure. One festival per month (Christmas having many semi festivals that I just can’t avoid, being a lover of the Christmas Season). Two weeks, general seasonal celebration to get into the swing of a new month. Two weeks prep time to work up to a particular festival , final celebration and then close it up and move on. In reality, however, I can get so into a particular festival that I find it hard to let it go, especially birthday, Halloween and Christmas. Some overlap which I find is fine sometimes, but in general my hanging on can be unhealthy. This year I will work on that specifically. I believe in the repetition, the joy of a season, but as always I need to work on my finish, my clean up!

That said, here’s my plan for September (and I realize it should have been done last night at the latest so I was all prepped for today) but I am quick with lots of experience and organized resources so I can now pull it all together pretty quick!

A Festival or Theme (could just be in general – harvest or a specific holiday or from any ethnic origin)

Set the Seasonal Table

A Verse for the next two weeks (month if children are young)

2 Projects one for each two week section (or more)

Theme Stories (traditional stories I read sporadically through the season)

For September I use the, (lesser known in America unless you are Catholic) celebration of Michaelmas. I love the focus on personal strength, courage and power as well as the facing of personal demons. Michael overpowering the dragon. Light vs dark. Good over evil! Personal strength is something our children, we all, need. Strong self image being one of the keys to a successful and happy life.

Festival or Theme for September

Michaelmas, September 29th (personal strength, courage)

Quickly, while the children are making beds, dressing and doing piano I rush together a theme table (we use a corner cabinet in the kitchen for this ever changing visual). I have a mid size cardboard suitcase (from Home Sense) for each season, filled with things we have made or collected over time for seasonal tables. Today I use a square of yellow fabric, a beautiful felted fairy in fall colours, a glass bottle my daughter painted filled with a few yellow flowers I quickly pick from our garden, some fall coloured, knotted, string bracelets my son bought in Mexico where he went this summer with a family and his dad, and three copper coins flattened in a machine when we were in California last week – the kids paid fifty cents to press their pennies with an imprint of the town we were in – the colour works and they are reminders of fun had this summer. I choose a yellow candle holder from my candle drawer and put in a tea light. I may add store bought sunflowers because I love them – later, we’ll see. I find a piece of rainbow coloured paper from the mess called our art room and asked my son to write the following line that I love, found years ago in a preschool handbook,: “I give you a cape of golden light, to give you courage, strength and might” but I change it to I HAVE a cape of golden light, to GIVE ME courage, strength and might, so we can say it and embolden ourselves subconsciously. My university psychology and years use affirmations with nutrition clients, paying off yet again.

For each month, I choose two morning verses, songs, poems or prayers of thanks fort the breakfast table – one for the first two weeks one for the second half of the month. Two weeks seems long enough to learn and to begin to have the verse penetrate our soul yet short enough that we don’t get bored. When the children were younger I carried on one verse for the whole month. Today I will use the “golden cape” line above (author and source unknown, though sounds like something from a Waldorf classroom) add a short poem I found a couple of years ago (also sounds like a Waldorf source) and then sing one of te children’s many favorite blessing songs which they learned in Kindergarten and we have used for years at home.

Breakfast Verse for first half of September


“I have a cape of golden light, to give me courage, strength and might.

My deeds I will do with my feet on the ground, My head will direct them that they may be sound"

Followed by (sung)

“Blessings on the blossom, Blessings on the fruit, Blessings on the leaf and stem,

Blessings on the root, Blessings on our meal today"

I also choose a project or two or three related to the theme. I have a file of project ideas I have collected over the year. Sources include my memories from childhood, years of baby sitting and Sunday school teaching in my teens, jobs as camp counselor in my very late teens, books, magazines, experience as an artist, workshops taken and lead, my children’s early schooling and my own conglomeration of experience. I have always been crafty, as they say. I have organized everything into files by month and this is key, however, artist that I am I don’t usually look too much up any more but pick or make something up on the spot. It is lovely to repeat projects year to year, creating rhythm, routine and ritual, the security of childhood and the things of which memories are made. For example most years we incorporate dragon bread – my children love it!

Projects for September

Drawing or painting Michael or the dragon or both, to place on the wall (and this year to actively contemplate) (first two weeks).

Dragon bread sometime closer to the festival (September 29th) 2nd two weeks.

I think I will add a harvest soup as after September we are into the very full All Hallows Eve! Hmmm, I’ll think on that the harvest soup and lanterns of Martinmas are a joy to me – I will work them either into this month or next.

I will also organizing my waking and bedtime songs which I have never done and choose one or each for this month or season (or more likely, I will sing this through ‘till Christmas based on past experience). For now I will simply choose one I remember as today is September! This morning I sang the first waking song that came to mind, so that will be the one I continue. Work with what I’ve got!

Waking Song

"Good morning to you, good morning to you, We're all in our places, with sunshining faces,

Oh this is the way, we start our new day, new day, new dilly, dilly daaaaay, hey!"

Bedtime Song

“Train whistle blowing, makes a sleepy noise

underneath the covers go all the girls and boys,

rocking, rolling, riding, out along the bay

all bound for morning town many miles away.

Tyler’s at the engine, Carissa rings the bell,

Daddy swing the lantern to show that all is well

rocking, rolling, riding, out along the bay

all bound for morning town many miles away.

Somewhere it is morning, somewhere it is day,

Somewhere there is morning town, many miles away.”

This is probably one of my children’s very favorites and I have sung it often for years. I do not even know if I have the words right but it doesn’t matter. Any song from your childhood, or a nursery rhyme book, children’s tv show, nap time at school, lullaby collection or whatever song speaks to you – or you happen to now, is suitable – don’t be shy!
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