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If I had 6 hours to cut down a tree, I’d spend the first hour sharpening my ax.”
– Abraham Lincoln

We have made it to the weekend, Saturday morning. I have been working from 6 a.m. till 10 p.m. most days. When I do my planning the flow and momentum hold us up, even when we have an event, or disruption, we are still able to mostly maintain a rhythm.  Yesterday, I asked a friend over who paints and actually makes a little money at it in the Waldorf world. After chatting a bunch and getting stuff off our hearts and minds, we settled down to paint a seasonal scene. I paint slow and really do not feel a need to finish quickly, so I got as far as my first subject in the scene, which was a fox. He still needs one more layer to be finished, then I can move on to his surroundings. I have been working to build my painting skills for several years now, by painting with the boys on Monday’s. At first we began drawing in our nature journal, but two years ago we switched to watercolor painting. There were some little hints that I was missing a dimension in my painting, which I knew. After beginning I realized it had to do with my layering. I am not talking about wet on wet painting, which I definitely need more practice at doing. I am talking about painting gentle nature scenes. I don’t necessarily want a lot of hard lines either. I am glad I took Friday to refresh and evolve my skills, and I appreciate my friend coming over.

This weekend I have quite a few loose ends to tie up, so we can begin. I need to do a chalk drawing for our pre k theme. Squirrels and Nuts. I’ve created a Pinterest board for September, and will continue to do so for each month, saving chalk and watercolor themes to draw from. I need to finish writing down the exact things we will be doing next week and many weeks after, so it is out of my head and on paper. I do not physically write out many weeks at a time for my older kids, because a day may not go as planned, then we have to continue our work the next day. I find that once a week I sit down and write it out and that works best for us. Even though I do not write out a physical page of each week, till the week arrives, I do have a notebook on each child and what we must cover along with the resources. That is how I am able to maintain writing out the schedule on a weekly basis. Now, I take a majority of my time pouring over the materials, and digesting them. Aside from that, tons of administrative work must be done. Printing, laminating, organizing, cleaning out of the old and making space for the new. I had to dig out my fall flag banners, re organize the toy area, meditate on the children and make space to develop better habits, or new habits that will benefit us.

While I am So busy doing all my teacher preparation work, I decided to make a list for the boys to pull activities from that would be more on the quiet scale, well, sort of. Music practice with ukulele and violin. Reading. Audio books. Card and board games, of which I joined in, when it was tea/coffee time. And a little bit of hand work. We are going to be starting a kids Cooking Class next week as well, so I wanted the big boys to familiarize themselves with a new list posted, table chores and a night time check list. Once a day, during our break, I had them read the lists and digest it all. We have always had the boys help with chores that we try to call Home Blessings, so it is not a new concept. But, I always try to find a way for it to go smoother. Conscious Kitchen is a new keynote phrase around here, especially with my decision to go vegetarian for heart health reasons. Heart disease runs in my family and after a considerable amount of time listening to my body to ditch meat, I have finally acted. I have been meat free for a month. A couple time this week I did taste some of the meat I cooked for kids, but that is it.

Well, it’s time to be off and engage  my will in doing. Front loading my day works best for me. I promise to stop, stretch, breathe and draw myself into peace as much as possible. Tomorrow when I wake, I will be 39.

 

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Snow day!  A day we have been given permission by nature to S_L_O_W down and do things peacefully.  We were inspired to make a chicken avocado soup, with this bread for dinner! Full bellies will sleep warm and cozy tonight.  Prayers for two sick boys.

Photo by Little Eagle.

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Mousekin’s Golden House

In the woods there are many small trees, and many tall trees that reach to grow tall in the deep shade. There are low growing bushes with berries and seeds that pop and roll about the forest floor. Beneath them all are tiny paths that only mice can see. One moonlit night, Mousekin followed one of those paths to one of his homes in a hollow log. Right in the middle of that very small path, Mousekin saw something that Someone had thrown away when Halloween was over. He hid behind a log, perhaps it was dangerous! Mousekin had never see a jack o’ lantern in all his mouse days. He wriggled his nose furiously at the strange smell. He was so excited that he drummed his tiny paw on the hollow log. Mousekin was so excited about the pumpkin that he did not watch for danger with his bright shoe-button eyes. Nor did he turn his shoe button ears to the wind to listen for birds, for owls and hawks and other creatures who wait to catch a white foot mouse. Suddenly as Mousekin took a second turn around the smiling face, a hungry owl swooped toward him. But before the bird could even blink his eyes, Mousekin jumped straight into the jack o’ lanterns mouth. Once inside he looked about. He was in a beautiful golden room! Just the right size for a little mouse. From one of the top windows in his room, Mousekin could see the owl sulking in an evergreen tree. The first rays Of the morning sun shone in behind the owl. Night was over and it was time for Mousekin to go to sleep. Mousekin felt safe inside the Sturdy walls of his golden house. He did not even waken until evening when the katydids began to argue. “Katydid, Katydid!” After he stretched and Cleaned his white undercoat, he began to explore his new home, scurrying in one window and out another. Now Mousekin was alert to all the Sounds of the woods when evening came. He heard a rustle in the bayberry bush, and a soft step on the dry leaves. He knew it was… the cat. Just as the cat was about to spring, Mousekin dove into the pumpkin and began to houseclean. Out of all the windows he threw bits of candle and pumpkin seeds. The cat jumped! But not for Mousekin! He jumped straight up and then he ran as fast as he could to get away from the big, round face with the terrible teeth. The cat would never take that path through the woods again! The days grew shorter and the nights longer. Mousekin worked each night to fill his house with things to keep him warm and comfortable in his new home. He split grasses with his razor sharp teeth, and wove the long slender threads around and around. He made many trips through the woods to find soft things to line his nest. Little feathers dropped by a bird in flight, thistle down and milkweed that grew in the clearing. While Mousekin was busy gnawing and nibbling, and doing all the things that mice do, he still found time to watch the animals that passed by his golden house. One very chilly evening, a box turtle plodded by. He never looked up or down, but moved like a toy being pulled to a pond at the edge of the wood to some tangled tree root beneath the ground where he would sleep away the winter months. But when the Turtle reached the jack o’ lantern, he stopped in his tracks, and he streeeetched his neck to see if what he saw was true. Just then, Mousekin popped his head out of one of his windows. And then… The box turtle lost no time in turning around and heading once again for the tangled root beneath the ground near the pond at edge of the wood. Most of the birds had gone to warmer lands, only the feeble bird was left in the thistle. The wind blew hard now, and scooping up piles of hundreds of leaves and scattering them about like brightly winged birds. One day, the freebie called to Mousekin, “come south with me, come right away! Your house will never do. The wind will blow, the snow will snow, and chill you through and through!” The little mouse whistled a high and soft “goodbye!” He would not leave his golden house. A chipmunk hurried by, his mouth so full of nuts he Could hardly speak! “Come with me, beneath the ground, that house will never do. The wind will blow, the snow will snow and chill you through and through!” Mousekin scrambled up his golden house and slipped through a tiny opening at the top. He slid down the feathery stairway to the warm, soft lining below. Mousekin curled up, tucked his tiny feet behind him, wrapped his loooong tail around some milkweed down and pulled it closely around him, and fell fast asleep. Little by little, and bit by bit, something began to happen to the jack o’lantern. It began to close its eyes in the frosty air. It shut its mouth against the cold wind. The next day, the gray sky opened, and great white flakes fell upon the sleeping pumpkin. Inside, Mousekin was curled up into a tiny fur ball. He was safe, and warm, and fast asleep in his golden house.

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Song:
Mousekin the little mouse, lived in a golden house
Mousekin found a jack o’lantern by a tree.
He thought, “this could be a house for me.”
It kept him safe from an owl and a cat.
And he lived very happily after that.
Mousekin the little mouse, lived in a golden house
Winter was coming, the leaves were falling down
The turtle made a winter home under the ground
The bird told Mousekin his house would never do
And chipmunk said the wind would chill him through and through
Mousekin the little mouse, lived in a golden house
Mousekin crawled inside his golden house
Jack o’lantern closed his eyes and closed his mouth
Then winter came and the snow was deep.
And Mousekin was safe and sound asleep.
Mousekin the little mouse, lived a golden house.

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A friend of mine translated this story for me from the you tube video.  If you are going to watch the Mousekin story, then skip to minute 2:12.  All the children had a blast.  The party schedule was Play + Eat, Story + Painting a pumpkin, and Cake + Gratitude.  It was a big party for a little 2 year old, but most of the people who came were from our homeschool group, and then grandparents.  I didn’t give him a special party for his first birthday, or really a Blessingway, so I put extra energy into this sweet party.  All kids went home with a homemade paper bag, decorated with pumpkins and gourds, a tiny bottle of bubbles, a mouse finger puppet, a pumpkin made out of tissue paper and floral tape (filled with birdseed for a bird blessing), and their painted pumpkin (small gourds technically).  We had a lot of food set out and it all just made me So happy to serve and feel the Abundance of the fall season.  We have worked so hard over the past 3 years.  It felt important to have a Harvest party, centered around honoring Cedar.  We were extra grateful for gorgeous fall weather.  Pictured below are chalkboard drawings by Raysun Frost.

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Here’s a lovely picture at the end of the day.  My sweet boy taking a ride in his wagon, with a friend.

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Hi friends and family!  We made it to the Maple Syrup Festival.  The first day was a bit icy, slushy and a little muddy, but all in all fun.  We always break out long johns and mud or snow boots and go with it.  February is known for its cabin fever frenzy in the homschool world, so we embrace this little festival as a means for breaking free from the fever.  Aside from a couple big jugs of Maple Syrup (grade A and B), as gifts from The Gramps, we took home this lovely log slice, with a maple leaf branded on the side.  It makes a beautiful addition to our seasonal nature table.

Woodburned Maple LeafUpon arriving at the festival our boys were all excited about perusing the tents and buildings, so they could wonder over any knives that fit their budget.  They left with a few treasures in their pockets, spent with saved money.  After we shopped for a bit we headed to the main syrup processing building, where we ate lunch. Thankfully, there was a large table open for all of us, four adults, and three children. Any child under 5 eats pancakes or waffles free, so Little Bear gobbled up his fair share.  Here is the view from our table below.

IMG_6030It was so nice seeing familiar faces. Parents, Grandparents and little ones.  We cross cut sawed the log above. There were hatchets to throw.  Maybe we missed it before, but they had a fantastic old-fashioned merry go round, made of one large log, upright in the middle, seats and ropes.  Two young men pushed the children sitting in the seats, as the rope twisted around and round the middle upright log. Then, as they were let go, the seats whirled gracefully around.  Amish people gave rides on their lovely wagons and beautiful horses. Homemade wine samples. Woven rugs for sale.  Hand thrown pottery.  Teas and coffees.  And a little music with fiddles, banjos and guitars.  Plenty to do!

color books and activity booksJust before we left I noticed books were 75% off, so for $1 a piece I bought each of my big boys a coloring book and activity book.  Little Fox loves doing mazes, and brain gym games, as well as coloring, so this was perfect.  Little Eagle, the oldest said he wasn’t interested in them, so I will just save them for Little Bear in a few years.  The website www.lmsugarbush.com has curriculum for homeschoolers, so check out the link. Here is a link to free coloring pages.

We plan to use our syrup wisely this year, so that we don’t run out months in advance.  Do you think we will use up a gallon?  It is definitely possible if we cook with it And eat it on pancakes and waffles.  Thanks for joining me here on my blog. I want to leave you with a picture of my husband and I.  It is special for me to get a picture with him, as we both work so hard and take care of the kids, so getting in a picture together is rare.  Mwah Papa Bear!

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Today is Ash Wednesday, and it has been snowing!  There are already piles of snow outside of my door and I have been homebound since Sunday.  It was slick this morning and my husband got the 4×4 stuck long enough to miss a couple hours of work.  We usually go to Wednesday Evening Fellowship for Children’s Choir, dinner and a service, but everything is cancelled.  I am sad about missing today’s service, because it is Ash Wednesday and I felt the need to have a more reverent experience with our community.  However, it gave us opportunity to bring that reverence into our experience at home.

When we gathered for the morning at the table I smudged the children’s foreheads with white sage ash, because that is all we had on hand.  Early on I began weaving a little bracelet of purple hemp cotton to remind us of what we wish to achieve.

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In the weeks leading up to Lent Creator began to whisper to me what things our family needed to grow.  On my homeschool path there are exercises for each day of the week to help guide us to walk in a good way.  They are called Steiner exercises, by Rudolph Steiner.  Here is the exercise I chose to acknowledge and have us work through as a family, specifically for Lent.

 

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(usually for Monday)

Only serious, meaningful speech must leave the lips of those who strive for higher development.

All talk for the sake of talking – to pass time, for example – is harmful.

Avoid the usual sort of conversation that involves jumbled, simultaneous cross-talk.

This does not mean you should cut yourself off from interacting with others.

Especially in such interactions with others, your speech should gradually become increasingly meaningful.

 

We aren’t giving something up this lent so much as hoping to gain higher development.  To help us there are several exercises we will utilize, because we humans need a lot of help, without shame.  We have a special candle that was gifted to us made of beeswax.  The exercise is called Silent Candle.  When we light this particular candle, we become Silent, several times each day.  The exercise is intuitive, and important to practice because during the time of preparation I hope to quiet myself.  It is hard to ((hear)) Creator speak when we are noisy inside and out.

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To signify our movement toward a quieter 40 days I had my oldest boy write ALLELUJAH in cursive on a piece of purple construction paper and decorate it, then tie it with twine in a scroll.  We placed it on our Seasonal table to sit till Easter when we can unroll it and proclaim ALLELUJAH, HE HAS RISEN!

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We added a purple silk to signify the liturgical season, along with our Icon post card of Jesus and Mother Mary, and our recent Saint Brigid cross and doll.  We have a few rocks and stones, as well as a robin’s egg and two real quail eggs gifted to me. I cooked the yolks, but emptied them by making a pin hole and blowing them out. The egg being a symbol for Easter and what is to come.

This season is important to me as a year-round home schooling mama, because it is a time to prepare for our new beginnings.  Just as we Remember Jesus and the 12 stations of the cross, we also walk our own path.  We prepare to be reborn, and begin a new year.  In my time of quieting down I am deep into reading my curriculum and meditating on my children and what they need for this upcoming year of learning. Winter is a time for Planning and Dreaming.  It just seems right, so it is lovely to coincide with my school planning.

We are always in a fluctuating state of giving and receiving around here.  We take time to rest and receive and we take time to give to others.  During this time we will be doing little things to uplift each other.  Our homeschool consultant calls chores “home blessings,” which I like because when we do for our family, it is good for the whole.  A blessing indeed.  We will take time to choose from a small bowl of laminted blessing cards a couple times a day to bless our family and practice giving.  Lent is not so much about being “religious” to me as it is a time to practice developing ourselves and seeking to walk this earth in a good way.  There is no better way than giving, which is an outward of expression of the fullness we feel inside, because G-d has filled our cup.

Here’s my Pinterest Lent board if you need inspiration.  If you would like all the Steiner exercises of the week, then see my Pinterest board, Planning, Cleaning and Organizing.

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Recently, a lovely lady I know shared a recipe for Amaranth Crackers on Facebook. I thought it would be a fun venture to bake them. First I had to seek out the seed, which evidentally is easy to grow in Kentucky, but I purchased ours in the bulk section at Whole Foods.  I paid under $2 for a ball jars worth, probably around a pound.

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First, I followed the directions to the recipe.  One part Amaranth to two parts water. Cook it up for at least 20 minutes on medium heat.  I actually cooked it a little longer.  Then, let it cool.  Little Bear and I took a nap to pass the time and rest from our big day.  When I woke, Little Bear was still asleep so I sneaked out to the kitchen and patted out the crackers.  Unfortunatley, I added a little too much salt. Otherwise they baked up nicely 20 minutes or so later. We will try this again another day.  I am glad we tried.  Here they are!

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