Waldorf In The Home

Sunday, August 31, 2014

A Circle of Friends

I hosted a Morning Tea  for homeschool families this past Friday. Passionate Mamas and their children came to celebrate homeschool and community. It was a busy morning with lots of energy and good ideas swirling around.  I didn't get to take many photos, except for the start of the tea when my talented friend Darcy played her beautiful harp for us and at the end where my friends Sarah and Mandy performed a Rose Ceremony for mostly first graders but also a few others who wanted to join in,  like our hen Gloria.  

 I can't think of a better way to start our lessons this Fall than by surrounding myself with women who enjoy being Mamas and love homeschooling their children.  It is empowering, inspiring and I feel a great sense of community. I am grateful for those who attended. Thank you. 

I am not alone in my love for educating my children at home. 

We are not alone. 

If you are just starting on the path of homeschooling, or feel alone in your pursuit, know that there is a tribe for you, and if you can't find one start one. 

I feel very confident in going in the direction of my dreams and I am sending out blessings to you so that you will feel the same in whatever education path you choose to travel. 

If you are interested in waldorf-inpsired homeschooling and live in or around Philadelphia, check out this FB page

Love & Light, Nicole

Saturday, August 30, 2014

52 Weeks of Nature - King Frog

    Philadelphia in August  34/52  ~ King Frog

 Participating in 52 Weeks of Nature has been the perfect exercise for me and this train of thought.  I am finding truth, beauty and goodness in the everyday.
I am reading this book.   I picked it up for 25 cents at the thrift store. The first few chapters were a bit difficult but well worth the time as I started having ah-hah moments.  

I've also been reading Donna's Simmons third grade curriculum, and I am so excited to start lessons with Ella.  I have decided to no longer follow the Vimela Handwriting & Soul Development book, I think sticking to what I know is pretty good advice from Donna. I listened to her third grade audio this week and found it invaluable. Plus, I have pretty neat handwriting and so does Ella, it is just not Vimela.  Sometimes, I make things more difficult than they have to be. This time I am going to keep handwriting enjoyable and use what I know for the both of us. 

The weather has been cool and crisp for the last days of August. I feel very grateful for the cool nights and the beauty that I may have never found before 52 Weeks of Nature.  

Namaste, Nicole  

Saturday, August 23, 2014

52 Weeks of Nature: Up Early

              Philadelphia in August:  33/52      : Up early 

Geir and I were up early this morning. He drinks coffee and I have tea. It feels like August except a bit on the cool side. There are lots of woven spider webs capturing droplets of rain, it is muggy, and the cicadas are playing their song. 

Later today, we will be making homemade falafels for the first time. My mouth is watering just thinking about the dressing. 

What is your favorite August dish to make? I don't have one, but I figured falafels go great with cucumber and tomato salad, so maybe this will be it. 


Thursday, August 21, 2014

Goddess Wednesday: Barbara Dewey

Last weekend, I attended an inspiring workshop led by the pioneer of Waldorf Homeschooling, Barbara Dewey. She drove all the way from her Taproot Farm in Ohio to be with us here in Pennsylvania. For years, I've wanted to attend her weekend retreat, but the drive and my homebody-self could never make the commitment. Thanks to my friend, Megan, who invited Barbara to spend the weekend with us. It was a true blessing. 

I learned many things from Barbara 's workshop, and here I list just a few:

*Stop over-intellectualizing the curriculum. It really is that simple. 

*Let them play. 

*Form drawing is fun and therapeutic. Let it happen. Stop over-thinking it. 

*Bean bag games are fun, and tricky even for us adults.  

*Child-led learning is PLAY. No need to over-think it or put a label to it. 

*Encourage your children's passion, don't dictate it. 

*Let them play more. 

*Writing affirmations about your children and meditating on these affirmations will improve any difficulties that we are experiencing with  them.  Here is a sample of my affirmation:

Vivian is a child from our dear Mother Earth. 

I imagine Vivian not over stepping boundaries 
or consumed in thoughts of getting treats. 

I am in awe and very thankful for Vivian's loving spirit to all living things. 

*Inner work is vital. It paves the way for Mamas and Papas to create a calm, healthy home environment for ourselves and our family. Take the time to do it everyday. No one else can do this for us.  The calm energy comes from within. 

*Carschoolers - a new term for homeschoolers who drive around all day attending classes. They can easily turn any calm, Waldorfy class into chaos.  I love this new term as I have experienced it first hand and of course Barbra's subtle sense of humor is well, funny. 

*Keep a rhythm. Maintain a nice calm, inner and outer breath throughout the day. 

*Let them play outside. 

*Practicing yoga with children is ok even if Rudolf Steiner never did it.

*There is no such thing as Waldorf police.  If you are doing something non-Waldorf and it works for you keep doing it. 

*Social comparison is a waste of time. Just be authentic and well-meaning.  

Homeschooling in the Waldorf tradition isn't about following a curriculums as much as it is about living an intentional lifestyle that inspires learning. As adults we tend to over-intellectualize this concept. We worry about our children and if they are getting enough. Am I doing enough?  I think the best advice is to decide which path you are going to follow or start and then trust that path. Do your inner work, keep your house tidy and welcoming,  make art, create a soft place to land at night, eat healthy food, tell stories, involve all family members in house chores, get enough sleep, keep mainstream thoughts in mainstream, and create a rhythm that works for YOU and your family and ENJOY being together.  There are no rules to living this lifestyle. It is more about reverence, and connecting to what is really important to you. For us, that is our family life and our connection with nature. 

I admit, I was really nervous about not teaching my oldest to read until half way into second grade. I trusted the process,  listened intently and followed what the seasoned Waldorf educators promised and it worked. I never "taught" Ella to read, she just started reading one day.  Poof. I didn't sway or supplement. I didn't let mainstream ideas deter us, but I easily could have. Inner work has always brought me back to my first intentions: to preserve childhood and family life through home education. 

It was very inspiring to be surrounded by twenty other Mamas and some Papas who share the same passion for Waldorf education in the home as much as I do. Barbra Dewey is a wise, kind spirit. She is confident and self-assured. She is a Waldorf Goddess.   I enjoyed her workshop very much. 

If you are not familiar with Barbara Dewey you can find out more about her at her website Waldorf Without Walls.  

Thank you Barbara for coming to Pennsylvania and sharing your passion with us. 

Much love and gratitude, 

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

52 Weeks of Nature: Lettuce

Our new blueberry bushes by Geir.
              Philadelphia in August 32/52 : Lettuce 

I took these shots before the rain started today. I was looking forward to this inwardly day. I did loads of laundry, cooked two meals, washed sink loads of dishes, played a math game with the girls, baked strawberry breakfast muffins, cleaned out the their bedrooms, freshened up some seasonal decorations, read some new fairy tales and went to the grocery store. I am done. Tuckered out. 

The rain is falling gently outside my window, and soon we will make bagel pizzas and salad for dinner. Easy.

Reading is on tonight's agenda. I am knee deep in books. I'm reading about medicinal herbs, nine year olds, and water. 

I should have exercised today, but I did not. I will try again tomorrow. I bet the girls will enjoy feeling what it is like to have shoes on their feet once again and go for a long walk. I hope the rain lets up in the afternoon tomorrow. 

The photos that I shot before this set, I lost.  I didn't have my camera card in the camera. Photo #31 Gone. It hurt. I guess Viv feeding the chicken will have to do. It was probably meant to be. 

Vivian exclaimed to me earlier today: "I am four feet tall, that is almost five feet." She is very excited by this news and I am almost as excited as she is. 

This is the first summer that I never want to end. It is that good. 

Love, Nicole

Friday, August 8, 2014

{this moment} - Best Friends

{this moment} 
inspired by Amanda Blake Soule

A Friday ritual. Photos - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Namaste, Nicole 

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Backyard Nature Camp #3 ~ Peppermint & Art

Ahhh, Mint. So refreshing. Now I know why Rosemary Gladstar calls it "a blast of pure green energy". Yes indeed it is. As soon as I told the Campers that peppermint oil helps soothe sore teeth and gums, they each had a wonderful, traumatic story that they couldn't wait to share. We heard stories about teeth hanging from a thin, gummy string ready to fall out, to swallowing the tooth,  to biting a gum ball machine toy container and having a tooth fall out.  Losing teeth is a real life changer and apparently quite rememberable. Sharing these stories made us all friends. 

The serious chatter lasted for a good twenty minutes, with everyone having a chance to share how many teeth they lost so far and what the tooth fairy brought them, and there was one Camper who hadn't lost any yet! I couldn't get a word in edge wise, and I suppose that was good for them. 

Passing around the mint leaves to taste, I could just feel the energy rise in the room. Or maybe it because they found out that the zip line was back up and even higher than before that they just couldn't wait to get back on it? 

Hmmm. Hard to tell. But next time I might make Chamomile and Mint tea instead of lemon-mint.  Balance the energy out a bit. 

They all loved chopping up the mint and brewing Lemon Mint tea. They just about all enjoyed a cup. One Camper suggested  I serve cake with it next time. I agree with her. 

After grazing on the mint, sketching the mint, examining the little tiny purple flowers and talking all about medicines, candy, toothpastes, and soaps that mint is an ingredient in, we recorded our new knowledge on our journal papers. 

The medicinal properties of mint seem endless. Click here to learn more.

I then took small groups, while the other Campers found something to do in our yard,  and we sat together hammering away mint leaf prints on square clothes to make pretty homemade decorations. They smell nice too. I was fascinated that all the Campers wanted to pound hard on the leaves, they liked that hammer, I kept whispering gentle, gentle.   

I am so happy to have this chance to share my love of nature and a connection to Mother Earth's gifts with children. 

Love & Light, Nicole