Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Welcome, Autumn!

Autumn has officially arrived and I couldn't be happier!  It is my most favorite season and I eagerly await its arrival every year.  Last week, I switched out our seasonal mantle, putting away our summer things and replacing them with fall items.  Now, pumpkins and squirrels, acorns and gourds, star lanterns and a harvest maiden adorn the mantle.

 Peter gladly made three of these squirrels for our mantle display
my first needlefelted standing doll-a harvest maiden complete with her basket of apples
 one of the paper star lanterns I made using the boys watercolor painting

On Saturday, we hosted a potluck with our homeschooling group, celebrating the autumn equinox.  Mother Nature had her own plans as we had been going on day 7 of heavy rain and just minutes before everyone's arrival, my yard had been turned into a rushing creek!  The kids didn't seem to mind though and headed outdoors later after the rain had stopped.
This was the first year that we included a few games into our gathering.  I wasn't sure how the kids would feel about bobbing for apples, but they all participated eagerly and it was one of the highlights of the evening!

 Peter and the boys drew this scarecrow for pin-the-hat on the scarecrow.  It has to be one of the cutest scarecrows I have ever seen!  We decided we should keep it up to enjoy for the rest of the season.
 I could say that for the majority of my life, I went through the season's without paying much mind to what was happening around me.  Even in my early years of motherhood, I never really took the time to notice the shifting of the season's, the small changes occuring not only in nature, but inwardly.  Once I came across waldorf education 4 years ago, that all changed.  I am amazed at how in tune I have become.  I notice the change in the light that dances across my table in the evenings, how the tree in the front yard now has several leaves the color of crimson where last week, there was only one, how I feel the need to cozy up inside and knit and knit and knit, how my body is now craving soups and roasts as opposed to salads and fruits.  It is an awareness that I no longer take advantage of.  And I hope I am passing along this mindful way of life to my children as well!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Moments from the past week

Here are a few pictures from this past week. Lessons are still going wonderfully and I think we have found our groove..yay! I am pleased to say that Blake is LOVING his local geography block. He always likes to know what is coming next so when I told him we were going to talk about how the land in our area was formed, he asked me if that meant we were done with local geography (i.e. map making). When I said no, he said "oh good!". Maps are one of his favorite things to draw so this block is suiting him well. Last week, he took the time to draw up a detailed map of our house and property. He spent a lot of time working on it and it came out great. Then later that evening I turned it into a treasure map! The next morning, he had to use his maps to find the clues that led to where the treasure was hidden. Jacob helped to hide the clues and he did a good job. Blake was very excited to find the treasure and even more excited when I told him it was his to keep (it was a half dollar and a penny from 1944...before they changed the back to what it is now).

We have also been following "kindergarten days" this year. Each day, there is a specific activity planned in the afternoon geared for Parker. Tuesday is our modelling day and we made these cute beeswax acorns to go on our seasonal shelf/mantle. MaKenna's is the yellow one <3

Our kindergarten story for last week was Brother Acorn from A Donsy of Gnomes. My boys love any story involving gnomes so this was a big hit all week. I had plans to retell the story using table puppets, but they had a different idea in mind. On the second day, they wanted to act the story out and so that is what we did! All three boys got to play the role of Brother Acorn while the rest of us were squirrels. Brother Acorn would come to us and ask for nuts so he can plant them as that is his job. It was fun to do and I loved seeing how much the boys got into their roles!

After we tell/act out our kindergarten story, then we all "seperate" a bit and go into main lesson time. Thankfully, Parker and MaKenna still play really well together and he has been great about creating games that keep her occupied long enough for me to devote some undivided attention to Jacob and Blake. I love that we have these moments together. This year especially, I think about how much bonding my boys would miss out on being in school all day long! I am so grateful to be able to homeschool them!

Thursdays are our painting days. We have our annual Fall Equinox potluck coming up and as we are hosting this year, I thought it would be nice to add a few decorations to the house in addition to what we usually put out. The boys used red and yellow watercolor paint and painted as I told a color story. I love how all three are so unique! Peter and I will turn these paintings into star lanterns to help light up the evening. I will be sure to post a picture of those when they are done.

Parker's painting

Jacob's painting

Blake's painting

We are really looking forward to the start of the autumn season. It happens to be my favorite time of year! Today I spent the morning in the kitchen baking fresh bread and simmering chicken stock for soup and it felt so nice. We pulled out some woolies to wear as the temps barely reached 60 the past two days and the mornings were chilly. Hot tea has once again entered into our daily rhythm. And we have much more to look forward to!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

This girl of mine

Ah, this little girl of mine. We are in a very tiresome transition period and it has been taking its toll on the entire family *sigh*. It appears that she is in the midst of dropping naps (what?) as well as teething (her 2 year molars). While I was expecting some bumps in the road from teething, I was NOT expecting her to give up naps all together. The boys were still taking daily naps until they were about 3.5 years old and I just assumed she would do the same. I should have known better as she has always had her own way, keeping me guessing the whole time. So why would this be any different?

The sleep troubles all started a month or so ago when she learned how to climb out of her crib. Seamingly over night, she went from taking naps and going to bed at night willingly and happily (and fairly easily!). Suddenly, she was protesting naps and getting her to sleep at night was taking hours and she was also waking at night. She no longer wanted to be in her room so we tried sticking her in with the brothers. That didn't work as she just kept them up and then I was dealing with three cranky children the next day. Finally, we just moved her mattress into our room and for a while, she once again happily went to sleep and slept the whole night through.

But we are now back to struggling to get her to sleep and night waking. And she is tired. The days haven't always been so fun as she has more accidents when she is tired and is grumpy and throws tantrums over just about everything.

I know it is just a phase and that we will get through this and it will soon be on to the next phase. It is just hard for me to be in this place where I really don't know how to help her. How can I get her to be okay with drifting to sleep? How can I make her feel safe and secure so that she doesn't struggle with bedtime?

Short of sleep issues right now, she is growing in to such a cute little girl. She is definitely my shadow, always helping me out with whatever it is I am doing. Cooking is one of her favorite activites and I try to allow her to do as much as she can, including cracking the eggs. She also loves to read books, sing, and play in the dirt!

I know this picture is blurry, but it is so cute I had to include it. This is her new smile she gives when I am taking pictures. She can be such a ham sometimes. Much like her brother Jacob, she loves to entertain us and it doesn't take much!

She adores her brothers and wants to do everything with them. This is a tricky age though. Sometime inclusive play is peaceful and other times, not so much! They try to include her when they can, but toddlers don't always follow the rules very well and that leads to some unhappy siblings. But she is so lucky to have three older brothers who adore her and look out for her and shower her with love all day long.

This girl of mine is growing up way to fast. Every now and then, I get small glimpses of a little girl and most of the time I smile. But I would be lying if I didn't say that a part of me is sad. Sad for these days that will never once come again. Sad for my "baby" growing up and getting all big on me.

Friday, September 16, 2011

From the studio

Well, that is if I actually had a crafting studio ;-) Here are a few projects that I worked on last week at the start of school. I already shared the crayon rolls, but in addition to those, I made handwork bags for each of the boys (Blake's is not pictured). These were super simple to whip up and are the perfect size for a skein of yarn and a set of needles. Now the boys have their projects in one spot and they are easier to transport.

I also made several bean bags. Before we started our year, we took a trip to the craft store and the boys picked out some fabric. Jacob's is on top...he picked cardinals because they are one of his favorite birds (he didn't care that it was holiday fabric). Parker chose ladybug (not pictured) and Blake's are the green ones. We use bean bags for math practice as well as for games during our circle. Yesterday, MaKenna was walking around the house with a beanbag on her head singing "bean bag head, bean bag head". Too cute!

I also managed to work on a pair of wool pants for MaKenna. Although she is out of diapers, I still wanted her to have wool pants to wear throughout the cold months. This yarn is sooo soft and it was from a discontinued line so I got it for half price!

I was hoping to make them long enough so that they would fit next year as well, but after I bound off and tried them on Kenna, it appears that they just fit. Ha...I should have known as my kids rarely can wear something for more than two seasons! I laughed when I saw these finished. She measured in the waist for a size medium, but the length was even longer than the standard toddler size in the pattern!

She looks so tall and skinny here! Whatever happened to my little baby? Thankfully, she loves the pants (she is sooo picky about clothes!) and this weekend we are experiencing our first taste of fall weather. These were finished just in time! I am hoping to knit up another pair or maybe two (as well as four sweaters, some mittens and hats and maybe some socks...hmm, seems I will be busy).

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Back to Home Learning!

This past week marked the start of our home learning year! Despite the boys' groaning (mostly Blake) leading up to the start up of lessons, we had a wonderful first day! There was only one little hiccup in which after Jacob's eager participation in circle he said "school sucks" when I announced it was time to move on to main lessons. I attribute his attitude to a late bedtime the night before (it was only an hour, but every minute counts with this guy!). After some time away from the family, he was ready to rejoin us with a much better attitude and the rest of the day went great!

As in previous years, we start our morning, after chores, with a walk around the neighborhood. I find that we all do better when we start our day with some fresh air and an opportunity to get some wiggles out. This also allows us to notice the changes in our neighborhood that come along with the shifting of one season into the next. I think we were all suprised to find several beautiful fall leaves! We collected them and then added them to our centerpiece (which already had several acorns gathered from the last time we were in the woods). Fall is my favorite season and I love being able to bring autumn's beauty indoors!

After a quick drink we move on to a short circle. This is when we say some verses and poems, do some action rhymes and a circle games for MaKenna. The boys tend to get a little silly and rambuncious, but as long as MaKenna can keep up, I don't mind. It is a great way to come together and start our day with some fun! The boys still do NOT want to sing any songs, however, so I am just going to work those into our day for my sing songy girl. After circle, we move on to main lesson (for Jacob) and independent work (Blake). After our snack, then we shift and I work with Blake until lunch time.

I was so happy to see Blake pick up his knitting again. He did this completely on his own! I think the fact that I sewed up some new handwork bags for the boys gave him some inspiration to create himself. Here he is working on a potholder for MaKenna's pots <3 I plan on working in some scheduled handwork time into our weekly rhythm. This will allow me to help Parker with his finger knitting as well.

I planned the beginning of the year to be fairly "light" in anticipation of easing back into our rhythm. What I didn't know was that the boys were going to fall back into it so quickly. It was almost as if we didn't have a summer break at all! Jacob is doing a short 2 week form drawing block and Blake is doing a month long local geography block. I don't think I mentioned it here on this blog, but I decided to continue on with first grade material with Jacob this year as opposed to moving on to 2nd grade. I had some reservations last year as to whether or not we should begin and decided to move forward anyways. While I don't regret that decision, I also don't think he is ready for 2nd grade. So with some tweaking (I essentially divided one year into two!), I have created a year where we can go further into the material than we were able to last year. Despite these weeks being a review, Jacob hasn't complained so I think I made the right decision!

We ended our first day celebration with some homemade cupcakes. I ran out of butter for frosting (I never seem to keep enough butter in the house!) so powdered sugar had to do. I don't think the boys cared as they gobbled them up. We did manage to make them last all week!

With the start of a new year come some new materials as well! In addition to the handwork bags I already mentioned, I also sewed up two new crayon rolls for Blake and Jacob's block and stick beeswax crayons. They use these crayons not only for lessons but for free drawing as well. I wasn't sure if they were going to like them as my friend Chrissy had already made one for Blake that he never uses (sorry Chrissy!), but it turns out that they love them!

It's a good thing too as I had to create my own pattern which wasn't so easy for this beginner sewer! I was pretty happy with how they turned out and am so glad the boys are too! I think I need to make two more and set them aside for Parker and MaKenna before I forget how I did them!

It was a wonderful first week back and I am now even more excited for all the learning that is to come! We have some great field trips planned in the coming weeks for Blake's geography block as well as for some fall fun!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

A little of what we have been up to

Just a taste of what has been happening around here~

We spent the last unofficial days of summer much the same way we had spent our whole summer- laid back and low key! The summer seemed to go by in a blink of an eye and before we knew it, the leaves are changing, there is a coolness in the air that wasn't there the day before, and we are back to our school year rhythm. But no one is complaining as we love fall around here! We officially started on Tuesday (first day post to come) and next Friday, we will once again join up with our homeschooling friends for our weekly time in the woods.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

A Visit with Grandma!

I am a bit behind on my blogging *ahem* but am trying to do a bit of a catch up before our days are soon filled with lessons and such.

Two weekends ago, my mom came in town to have a short visit with us. I feel blessed that my children have very hands on grandparents. They aren't afraid to get down and play, play, play with their grandchildren and therefore, the kids always look forward to their visits. With my mom in particular, one of the first things they like to do is to play board games. So when she arrived with Yahtzee in hand, they immediately headed outside to play on the back deck while Peter and I prepared dinner! They game continued after we all ate and they played until bedtime. While MaKenna was too little to join in on her own, she did help grandma roll the dice and that was all she needed to do to feel included.

There was also lots of indoor play as well. Grandma was involved in quite the elaborate game of house. Babies were fed, floors were swept and meals were prepared! Since her visit, MaKenna has been playing more and more with her kitchen cooking up a storm.

Another activity the kids enjoy is when Grandma reads them their bedtime story. Even MaKenna sat through the entire book when she normally will listen for a few minutes and then toddle off until it is her turn with a more age appropriate book.

On Sunday morning, the kids and I took Grandma to the greenway for a nice walk before lunch. The greenway runs along side a creek and there is a nice little spot where you can get to it fairly easily. We usually stop there for a quick look around, but this time the boys really wanted to walk down a ways and investigate a bit more. MaKenna really wanted to join in with her brothers but she took one step into the creek and said "Eeek, slimy!" and that was the end of that, ha ha! She then looked on and wondered where they went when they were out of view. I tried to engage her by looking at different mushrooms along a little trail as well as showing her some raccoon tracks in the mud, but in the end, she really wanted her brothers to come back.

It was a wonderful visit and much fun was had as usual. For about a week after, MaKenna would ask "Grandma at Papa's house?". Visits with the grandparents are always filled with great memories!