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Posts Tagged ‘early childhood’

The path of simplicity is truly what you make of it.  To me and my family it is a road of beauty.  It is a road that is not convenient always, but who says it should be?  Simplicity is the paring down of your life to purify the energy around you and find out what truly matters.  What does matter to you?  Most people say family.

I am piggy-backing on my last post about slow living, slow eating and slow educating.  To do these things you have to take a look at your family culture. Have you written down what is important to you?  Do you have goals? Expectations?  Boundaries?  How has society influenced you?  What are you really wanting to leave your children when it is all said and done.  Lots of money and “stuff,” or memories shared?  I am sure they would appreciate money, perhaps even skills that you have taught them, but most of all values, at least to us, values are important for posterity.

There have been several occasions where our children have lived in a very cluttered home.  There was a time when I was so overwhelmed with stuff that I thought I would go mad.  Eventually I cleared out anything and everything under their beds, on the shelves and streamlined their rooms. My living room and kitchen area is simple.  Not a lot of extra decor taking up space waiting for me to dust it off.  If I don’t use it, it doesn’t belong. I have been a practical person most of my life, so this was not terribly hard for me to figure out, although it was a side effect of having children.

We teach keeping the lights off when not in use.  We teach wearing appropriate clothes to keep warm and keeping the heat turned down to a reasonable temperature.  We like to air out the house on nice days and not overuse our cooling system.  We like to be proactive and eat well instead of getting sick, but it doesn’t seem like that mattered this year with all the sickness going around, it caught us too.  But we have learned from it and worked harder to investigate gut health, eating foods that are fermented and utilizing mother nature and her bounty of healing foods and herbs.

We own a small farmhouse with almost four acres.  The simplicity of play and living has far outweighed the desire to own more.  That is not to say we have not struggled and won’t ever struggle.  We own a business, Coydog Studios, and it has not been easy.  Thankfully, because of our life before we made the transition, it wasn’t as hard a transition as it could have been.  We did have family help at times and for that I am grateful.  I support my husbands creativity, and we are proud he has recently earned a place in the Kentucky Art’s Council Directory as Architectural Artist.  In reading his bio you will see how simplicity leads over into his work and creative life as well.  In our world Spirit and the Physical realm are not separate.  It’s simple, and interwoven throughout every moment.  Ryan speaks about “sacred space” in his work and I too think of our home as Sacred Space.  Sanctuary.  I have to work harder and longer if our sacred space is cluttered and dysfunctional.

As you know we home educate.  To fullfill my duty and sacred contract I have made with Creator I cannot have an environment that has not been simplified. There are times before and after having a baby that the house may seem fuller, but to everything there is a season and I always come back around to clearing and cleaning.  Simplifying is a constant.  Simplicity takes work.  Especially in this day and age when one can buy anything.  Where there are box stores on every corner and Amazon Prime can deliver you anything within two days.

To make it possible to shop at places like Whole Foods I had to do the work and preparation.  I had to go online, make lists, mark recipes, and read tips on how to shop.  I spoke with the folks working in the grocery isles.  They were more than willing to speak to a smiling, learning face.  I have learned in the isles where we shop, on the shelving, there are stickers for all the products.  On these stickers which read the prices are other numbers and information.  On the left hand side, top, there is a number that represents price per ounce or pound.  When you are shopping and trying to decide which product you get better bang for your dollar, read those numbers.  For example, I wanted to buy crackers for Cedar to munch on.  He is 15 months old. I had the choice of buying the baby brand cracker, or the crackers that were the generic Whole Foods brand.  I got more product for less if I bought the product not geared towards babies.  It’s all about the marketing, no matter where you go, and I realize this aspect.  Also, if you have the desire to buy something by the case, you get an automatic 10% off.  This is a rare need for us.

Also, we do not buy sodas, or loads of junk food.  Most of the food we eat is whole.  I do enjoy sweets upon occasion, but we have been sick this season more than any season in years, so we are eating less sugar that compromises the immune system.  If we do eat sweets I make them at home and alter the recipe with other substitutes that won’t hurt us, as much.  And as I said before I do not do a lot of purchasing in the middle section of the grocery, because I have learned to make many things.  In doing so, and in learning to cook good foods I have enabled us to shop at places like Whole Foods, where labeling is transparent. Where a family can shop and purchase non-GMO products.  And when possible we shop at Farmer’s Market, in season.

We have also learned to eat less meat.  You can still have a good meal without meat.  Your health is not determined on whether you don’t have meat on your plate, nor does every meal without meat have to be pasta.  Just take a look at my Pinterest food board and see many alternatives.

Below is another good link that I have also pinned on my food board with others sharing ways to shop at these other stores without compromising your budget, yet eating better.

http://foodformyfamily.com/menu-planning/whole-foods-menu-challenge-100-gift-card-giveaway

Fish was by far the most expensive it seemed.  Chicken and beef were doable if one prepared them in a good way and used the other parts to make things like bone broth, or leftovers for lunch the next day.  You can buy products like cous cous in the box or bulk.  If you buy cous cous in the box it is the same price as other grocery stores, and there is more variety.  Cous cous in bulk is even cheaper and there is less packaging waste for the landfill or to compost.

Something I have also noticed is the shopping carts are smaller at places like Whole Foods.  The isles are shorter, and there are less marketing ads flying around.  There is only one small isle of condiments, not a longggg isle, or two. Sometimes too many choices are just too many, and overwhelming.  We find the shopping experience at marketplaces like Whole Foods higher vibrating, and that is about worth the difference right there.  Trader Joe’s is definitely cheaper in some aspects and we have the choice to go next door and get some of the alternatives, however my friend’s husband works at Whole Foods and he says WF is competeing with some of TJ’s pricing. So, stay tuned and keep your eyes open. I still like to stop in Trader Joe’s as well though for certain things.

If you have patience or are blessed with even a bit of lawn or land you can grow a few plants to compensate the grocery bill.  I tend to grow medicinal and culinary foods most.  Community gardens are on the rise as well.  Another way we save, while having children is to breast feed 1 to 2 years and to use cloth diapers and cloth wipes.  I did make baby food for our second child, but we utilize the concept of baby led weaning now, so while we use some non-GMO brands like Beechnut, our little bear eats from our plate a lot.

Now, it may take some time to arrive at this destination.  There is more to it. Rhythm is tied to success I believe.  To keep us successful I shop the same day every week if we can help it.  We shop in the mornings, with three children who come to learn and be the next generation to make good choices.  It is also our payday, and I do errands for our business to make the short drive to a neighboring town worth it.

Feel free to comment with your own tips, or leave links to blogs or articles that may have helped you and your family budget better and still be able to purchase whole non-GMO foods.

Blessings!!

 

 

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A post has been building in me for some time.  I awoke in the middle of the night as I do sometimes inspired.  For most of my life I have lived very slowly. Growing up we had 100 blessed acres, and three families working together to nurture each other, grow food and live slower.  As I grew folks passed on and families moved away from each other, making it harder to rely and lean on each other for assistance.  Since leaving home after high school I have grown.  I have traveled.  I have opened my heart to healing and staying teachable.  For me I am not fixed in time and space.  I am changeable.  I leave myself room to change my mind as I learn new things.  But something that has not changed much is my desire to live slowly. Intentionally.  Honestly.  And I desire this for my family. Nature shows me this teaching in her seasons.  We do live in a part of the country where there are four seasons, although this winter seems mild so far.  I believe Creator placed us side by side with nature to learn cycles and the process and journey of living.  To everything there is a season the bible says.  And many other cultures feel the same way.  We have had the fortunate blessings to learn from Elders who have also told us stories to help us to understand these ways as well.  It is my intention to give you a glimpse of our family culture that works for us, but that has a lasting impact on posterity.  We care about our children’s future.  We care about our grandchildren. When my stories are told and I have passed into the earth I would like my legacy to be a lasting one.

Slow educating.

We homeschool and are known to ourselves as Eagle Tree Homeschool.  I am a firm, loving, boundary keeping, sensory protecting mother of three boys.  In my heart, the eagle holds the vision, and the eagle is also a symbol of the heroes journey, a symbol of youth.  The eagle also flies close to the heavens to bring prayers and messages from The People to Creator, and back again.  We also hold the name Eagle Tree Scouts for all of our Scouting adventures, although my middle son recently joined Cub Scouts to be a part of a group with some of his friends at church. Homeschooling is not easy, I never thought it would be, but Creator led me to it.

We are Waldorf-inspired, where academics do not fully begin until around 7 years of age, when the milk teeth fall out.  During the first seven years of the child’s life we spend working with them in balancing the brain and the body.  Gross and fine motor.  Sensory issues.  And in general play-based learning.  From a neurological standpoint this works for us. Here’s a list of articles supporting our view.

http://www.whywaldorfworks.org/07_community/articles.asp

To me homeschooling is a great privelege and honor our country and state allows, and I have great counsel with Melisa Neilsen of Waldorf Essentials and many other women. Our inner work is the vital Center of success with the children.  Please go to this website to learn about how you can find more help in that way, with parenting, inner work, marriage and home educating.

I am not here to convince you of anything, but if you want more information on Waldorf, then please watch this video to help you understand further.  Home educating and Waldorf is not for everyone.

In early childhood we as parents work with the children in observing the seasons, seasonal festivals, spirituality, as well as normal daily life and skills. Slow living. Rhythm.  To us it is about the whole child.  The whole family.  The whole woman. The whole man.  The whole marriage.  All of this takes work, compromise, and we make plenty of mistakes or “learnings” as indigenous folks call it.  Not to be forgiven, but understood that this is a Part of the life process. Our children ((appear)) behind other mainstream children at first in things like reading, but quickly these practices take root and they are growing into strong sturdy trees reaching towards the sun.  It is difficult to explain and I don’t care to unless someone is genuine about listening to our chosen path.  Here is another article supporting the views of lifelong relevance.

http://www.waldorftoday.com/2011/11/daily-rhythm-at-home-and-its-lifelong-relevance-by-helle-heckmann/

To speak to our way of educating is to relate why we also eat slowly, or slowly dine.  While teaching Third Grade this year we have spent time learning the Old Testament and Jewish Festivals.  In this time I have learned about Shabbat.  A time to rest.  We do have Sabbath in Christian tradition as well, but this article really hit home and I have posted it on my Facebook page several times.

https://groundedmag.com/article/finding-rest/

Life is not easy, and we don’t always have what we think we need.  Life is uncomfortable at times, but suffering has made me stronger and I have also learned the things I think I wanted, were not even necessary for healthy, whole living.  There is so much luxury today for all of us, even compared to my childhood and my parents and grand-parents childhood.  So much has changed since the turn of the last century, 115 years before.  Cars, grocery stores, the internet, public schooling.  The opportunities are vast.  The economy relies on folks to work and stimulate consuming.  I however prefer to live simply and honestly, even if I must suffer at times.  I do not need an overly large house.  I do not need all that is trendy.  I am not entitled to have these things.  Only if I work for them and desire them should I have them.  And I hope to teach our children this as well.  We have suffered recently at the end of 2014 to make a change to our family for the greater good of us as a whole.  My husband is a man who works with his hands, who loves to build and create things and we support him.  Not only do we support him so he can support us, but it is vital for him to create as soul expression, even if it is a commission for someone else.  In the end, it is vital I stay home, as we have decided to provide slow living for our family.  It has made me stronger and more humble in the ways of the world.  I am a teacher and healer, true at heart and I enjoy what I do day to day, the spiritual mundane.  I walk in prayer and lean on Creator to help me.  I am not alone, and never have been even through my suffering days.  Our family has been a great support as well in trying times.  As hard as it was to accept help from them, I know their parents helped them tremendously and I intend on doing the same for our children.  I do help them and I will help them.  And so in the meantime it is important for us to keep or hold Space.  I hold the Center energy for the family or space.  In doing so I have to meditate on the foods we provide, among other essential for healthy intentional living.  Long term it is important to win out over obesity, disease and destruction of the environment.

Slow eating.

For some time we have shopped locally, whether at Farmer’s Market or our local grocery.  Even though I have shopped at Whole Foods before I never took the amount of time to really delve deep enough to see if I could shop there on a budget the same as our local store.  However two friends of mine swore to me it could be done.  The point was to avoid Genetically Modified Foods or GMO’s, which tear up the gut, as well as foods sprayed with Round Up.  You have other choices as well like Trader Joe’s, Earth Fare and locally there are cooperatives.  So, I set off to do my research on Pinterest (not a total time suck when you engage your will power).  I have pinned several blogs and articles on how to shop Whole Foods, grocery lists, receipes and coupons, which can be found on Whole Foods website. Here is a link to my Pinterest board where I have almost 20,000 pins and almost 2,000 followers, not that I tried.  Go ahead and take a keek, it’s up to you to do the work for your own family, tailoring style, taste, and menus.

Slowing down is not new.  Slowing down is old and our ancestors understood this concept.  Over time however we as a society have somehow found value in being busy.  Being busy means production is taking place, and that is necessary to some degree, I won’t argue that.  But, I will argue for balance.  Long term and with the long vision that I hold for our family Slowing Down is important, because babies do not keep, and neither will Mother Earth if we do not do our part. Here is an article supporting dinner time as a family.  We are not perfect and our house is quite loud at times.  Our boys do burp and fart in front of us and their immediate grandparents at times, but it is because they feel loved and comfortable and well they are boys/kids.  It’s funny and contrary and they show us that life is really not all that serious as we adults intend to make it 24/7.  Now, in front of their peers and others they tend to curb themselves and have better manners.  In fact, quite often I get compliments at the grocery, at church and elsewhere.  Still, we are not perfect and do not claim to be.  But I do claim to love them and I do claim to love Mother Earth and Creator.

http://parentandthepro.com/slowing-dinner/

Let’s reconnect here again.  Feel free to subscribe to my blog if you wish, or just check back upon occasion.  I don’t promise to write regularly, but I do promise to be honest, truthful and transparent.

Have a blessed day, the sun is shining outside and in our hearts.

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2014!  With plenty of preparation work for two years, life has been like a spool of neat thread unwinding itself and revealing what is being made. Cedar blessed us with his arrival last October 2013, and we settled deeply into dreaming and planning, as we do in winter.  Slow.  Winter.  Good.  We had enough inner light to burn our way through the darkness of the cold season until Spring.  For most homeschooling families February is a transition month.  Cabin fever.  Spring wants so badly to arrive, but Jack Frost sometimes lingers and the roots are reluctant to send the energy upward.  The Light is yearning to unite fires within us again encouraging springs in our step, curls at our mouth and early spring morns on the porch with breakfast.

Preparing for Third and First Grade has been a lot of fun.  I have enjoyed deeper spiritual learning with our main lesson of the Old Testament and Grimm’s Fairy Tales, with the archetypes.  I keep in mind specific goals set for each child.  Movement is always at the top of the list, rhythm and anchor times equally important.  I feel blessed to observe, pray and listen for each child.  Listening to Creator brought me insight to adding more music this year assisting the nine year change and seven year change as well as transitioning our little nursling with us through the day.

For our Native American block the boys have deep roots and some live education with Elders from the Hopi and Choctaw people.  As their parents we have spent time doing our inner work with the encouragement of these Elders, their ceremonies and wisdom.  All of that has carried over into our daily work. We have some unique teachings to bring to them.  We also provide Buddhist, Sufi and Christian teachings.  I think it is important to recognize the Ascended and Holy Peoples and to make available a universal language.  It’s all about communication and connection, whether you prefer psychic or prose.

Music.  Our circle time music has been our own songs that inspire us, and the Summer Songs from Music Together, which is Cedar’s baby music class playlist.  My big boys are helpers in the music class and I see them getting so much out of the experience.  For one week we spent time at the lovely First Christian Church Music Camp, in my hometown.  I adored the music teacher and the kids.  They worked hard with a tight schedule to really learn alot.  I am impressed at the growth and stretching they had to endure.  I felt I could See the transformation of their hearts and throat chakras.  Flowing.  Singing is magical for many reasons.  The breath of Creator is at work.

Movement.  I have been spending time with the boys this year learning about stretching the body and becoming more aware of their spiritual vehicles.  Everything is sensory.  Stress can be useful but also dangerous, so we have spoke some about how important drinking water, taking salt baths, regular bedtimes, clean foods, and movement can help assist our sensory experiences. Creator wants to come through us and touch all the materially dense richness.  The earth.  The wind.  The warmth of a hug.  The cool water that flows down our throats.  Thankfully we have added new elements to our movement apparatus, like a slackline and trampoline.  Existing equipment includes a zip line, 4 acres to run and bike.  Trees to climb.  Porches to swing upon, especially when it rains.  Wood to chop.  Fires to jump.  Critters to feed. Free play.  My boys do not lack for play time and joint compression.  They are very creative and I have always nurtured and assisted that play with props, dolls, action figures, furniture, lighting, wall paint color, board games and card games.  Natural materials are preferred but we possess some vintage classic toys.  I do see the difference in feeling the materials personally.  Plastic is cold.

Handwork.  Handwork is many things.  A nine month old baby is handwork as a nursling.  My handwork.  Handwork to the boys is taking care of their room, arranging a shelf or an altar.  Brushing their teeth.  Learning to knit a row. Taking blocks out and putting blocks away.  Chopping wood.  Whittling a stick. Modeling with mud, clay or dough.  Sanding or polishing.  Sewing.  Picking up baby brother and helping him explore.

Watercolors and Wet-on-wet.  I’m trying.  A couple years ago I presented the color wheel teachings to the boys.  I am revisiting watercolors again, the brushes, the feel.  I have Painting With Children by Brunhild Muller, and the Waldorf Painting Education binder.  IT’S HUGE, and I haven’t made it all the way through.  I struggle with building scenes and I always add too much water!  I am a work in progress.

Drawing.  Chalk drawings and practice drawing have become staples in our process.  We ingest the stories of each grade that are developmentally appropriate, draw and retell the stories.  Some we love and some we take in and think maybe work is being done on us in the night by the angels who know better than we do.

Angels.  Archangels.  Archai.  This is truly a personal relationship.  We each have one for ourselves, as a group, the community, the earth and so on.  Many times I go to the angels when I am struggling.  But I do see them in the everyday, like when Cedar discovers his own voice.  Or when River smiles at me shyly, and how he always nurtures me.  Wolfsion, he champions as a helper to me and the land.  He’s a steward.  A trailblazer.

Waldorf Essentails curriculum, Melisa Neilsen homeschool teacher trainer and consultant, the Thinking, Feeling, Willing group of women on Facebook and my own spiritual path have been critical.  Aside from doing a lot of listening to my Maker I try to keep my influence minimal or I can easily get distracted.  I find that continual purification of the mental, emotional, physical and spiritual intelligences are absolute for the path. Each of us have a process.  Recently, I disconnected from the grid for a couple of months and the time away really energized me, renewed me and helped me ground into my present life.  We discover this as our intuition, the angels, our children and our own paths merge.  It is also when we decide to manifest and come in tune with our soul that our Path becomes clear.

Rhythm.  I need structure, but love the permission to unfold freely within that structure.  Like the earth and the water flowing through and around.  I allow space for the kids to unschool themselves with my guidance also.  There are some days where that is absolutely called for.  At some point I may share a photo of our schedule, it comforts me and transforms through the year, as we school (a)round the wheel.  In and out breaths as the masters speak of in early childhood with anchor times, sleep, play, handwork and meaningful work are so very important.  They are important to me as the teacher and as a human in grounding to this earthly experience.  Life is intensive, but it all depends on how committed one is to the process and the path chosen.  I am working on my Calling and Mission and that changes as the faces and places change, but the sanctuary and the familiarity of home remains.

Farm and home.  For us this block blends nicely with our geographic location of Kentucky.  Bodies of water with as much shoreline as Alaska.  Rolling hills and knobs.  Bluegrass.  Large and small scale agriculture.  Farmer Boy, by Laura Ingalls Wilder is a good Wednesday read, coupled with our nature-farm jounral.  The boys draw pictures, write summaries and include math measurements or calculations to describe their work.  We raise a few chickens, a turkey and a rabbit with a cat and two dogs, along with a children’s garden.  That proves to be plenty of work for us.

Cursive has been pleasant and enjoyable.  I liken it to form drawing, so we do it two times a week.  After bringing forth the letters, we are now practicing cursive words and seasonal verses.

Early childhood is surfacing again with Cedar on the scene.  I am having things click for me that we did not have time for before.  The stories are becoming a part of me.  I have more of my planning together and props available.  I am slower, more mature.  Patient.  I imagine this comes with any teacher or parent.  The settling in.  It is comfortable and exciting.  The journey.  The Great Mystery ahead.  As time goes on I really note that honoring myself and honoring my family and friends is also loving myself.  And there is nothing wrong with that.  Most importantly my lessons have come from making mistakes or as the Elder’s say “learning.”  I realize when I am having a hard time it is due to the level of love I have for myself.  [HUGE!]

Admist the birth of our baby and a new school year we have also birthed our own family business that has grown over the last 12 years of hard work, and we will be celebrating our one year anniversary as Cedar turns one in October.  I am so proud of my husband for his work ethic, his talent and his ability to (at least) appear like he has left his work stress at the door.  When he enters the house, he gives us himself, which is a gift.  Check out http://www.coydogstudios.com or visit us on Facebook at Coydog Studios.  We are also on Instagram Coydog_Studios and Twitter.

Thank you for reading.  There will be more to come, as I find time.  Development, the grades and the spiritual nature of our process is important and it is yearning to find it’s way out of me and into words.  In the meantime visit me over at Pinterest as Nurturing Spirit and on Instagram as Healingoneself

 

xoxo

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