On any given day you are most likely to find us communing with the gnomes and the fairies Under The Old Oak Tree

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Still around...

It's been too long since I've posted on here yet again.  We've been BUSY!  Apple picking, fall festivals at our previous Waldorf school and our new school, making apple butter, trips to go visit friends, a trip to Williamsburg, trying to establish our autumn rhythm and in my case having one of the worst colds I can remember.  Of course, I've not managed to document most of this because my camera battery is dead and I haven't been able to locate my charger since our vacation out west ( I need to write more about that too, but not tonight).

Today was the fall festival at our new school.  It was a magical day for W and I.  It felt so good to be at the school, surrounded by such a beautiful, caring community, and engaged in lovely activities.  W got to make a bird feeder and a little sachet that he's keeping under his pillow.  He also dug for buried treasure, and played with a beautiful marble run.  We  watched a wonderful puppet play performed by his teacher.  He was also very excited because he was able to sit by her lovely assistant teacher during the performance.  His two favorite things though were a delightful children's musician who let W play the bongos while he sang (my boy LOVES drums) and shucking corn.  Seriously, my thumbs hurt because he wanted me to constantly be shucking the corn too.  We did this for hours at a time!  I wish I had my camera today.  He was just so happy and engaged in his work all day.  I'm thinking I need to be getting some of this corn so he can do this at home too.  His corn bin is getting sparse again and he clearly thinks this is a fantastic activity.

I'm also starting to think about Christmas.  I'd like to do all handmade again this year but I feel like I'm running terribly behind and I'm not totally sure what to do for everyone yet.  Most of my ideas seem to be for W and I'm working to balance them out between for his birthday and Christmas.  I did get one gift completed this week while I tried to rest and recover from this cold.  My mom the other day found a needle-felted nativity on Etsy and loved the idea so much she just could not stop talking about it.  Hint.  Hint.  So I set about starting one for her.  I have made the principal figures of Mary, Joseph and Jesus.  I'm fairly pleased with how these have come out.  I plan on working on additional pieces to add to it in the coming years.  I had initially planned to make the large set all this year, but I would like to have time to make gifts for other people too.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Happy Michaelmas!

Our family finally celebrated Michaelmas this evening.  Things have seemed a little unorganized and chaotic this year since we've had a couple of different illnesses floating around here the past few weeks.  I think our celebration was still quite lovely even if I never did find our wooden dragon for the nature table and  we ended up with blackberry crumble instead of pie due to time constraints.

It has been really fun celebrating with W this year though.  W and I have been singing Michaelmas songs and verses all week and at school W's teacher told us the most lovely Michaelmas story about a boy named George who picks apples and puts one on the family table for Michaelmas.  She has been doing a little puppet story of this for a few weeks now and W has loved it!  After his first class, we went to a thrift store and he found a basket "to pick apples like George".  We actually ended up with two such baskets and used them when we went apple picking as a family (more on that another time).  For our table setting this evening W chose one of the apples that we picked and polished it and put it on the table under our dragon candle.

W also decided that his St. George doll would be a good addition to our table decor, so George joined us for Michaelmas dinner  this year.  I thought it was quite fitting.  We also picked some wild asters today to put on the table.  We were hoping to find some actual Michaelmas daisies in our neighborhood, but had to settle for some small white and purple flowers instead.  They were still a lovely addition to the table.  Of course W and I also really enjoyed working together to roll and decorate our dragon candle for this year and make our annual dragon bread.  

One other Michaelmas preparation was to dye some golden playsilks with turmeric.  We did a trial run this week and will be making some more next week with friends, continuing our Michaelmas celebration for a little while.  Just before dinner, I presented W with one of the silks as a cape.  The other we place on our dining room table under the centerpiece.

You might have guessed that someone was getting a little tired and hungry at this point.

In the past I've written about our traditional Michaelmas meal of Cornish hens, carrots and onion stuffing.  As I mentioned before we also had dragon bread and blackberry crisp with the meal.  The blackberry crisp actually worked out pretty well since W is not partial to pie in general.

I've been trying to focus on some inner work as well this week...choosing my personal dragons to conquer and subdue this year.  One of the big ones is to work on my will and spend more time keeping my home up and less time on the computer.  I've been trying to work on it this week, limiting computer time during W's waking hours to quickly pulling up a recipe or project directions and trying to save the majority of my computer usage to in the morning before he wakes up, during nap time and after bedtime.  

Another of my personal dragons is being in the moment and working on maintaining my clam throughout the day; being a gentle, but authoritative (not authoritarian) presence as we go about our daily tasks and rhythm.  It's not always the easiest thing for me, but I when I am mindful about it, as I have tried to be this week, it is very successful.  I will say that W's teacher and her assistant set beautiful example of this and I have been paying very close attention to their interactions with him at school.  Watching them this week, something has clicked in my brain and I get it in a way I did not previously.  As long as I am mindful, and gently redirect (often physically turning him to something else) and use not just a more gentle tone, but fewer words as well, I am successful.  One day this week in particular, I attempted to not talk as much and especially not when W was getting into things that were not okay, physically redirecting first.  Sometimes it took a couple of times redirecting him to a toy or activity on the other side of the room, but we ended up having so many fewer power struggles and no yelling from either of us.  What a difference...but it requires being mindful and in the moment!  I guess you could say that my dragons this year are  really one dragon of being distracted by outside stuff that keeps me from being mindful and in the moment.  I think this is a big dragon for me to tackle this year, but oh, so needed.

Wishing you all light, courage and strength in this glorious autumn season.


Thursday, September 29, 2011

W goes West...Part I

I can't believe that September is practically gone and Michaelmas is here.  I'm a bit under the weather so we are delaying our family celebration for a day or two and next week we will dye golden playsilks with friends.  September has flown by for our family. This is largely because we spent one week of this past month preparing for travel, two on the road to Oklahoma and back and the past week trying to recover and battling post vacation illnesses.

Our trip was wonderful.  We traveled through 12 states taking a northern route on the way there and a southern route on the way home and were able to stop in most states to do a little sight seeing along the way.  My parents came from Oklahoma to meet us in Missouri before we all went on to their house.

My mom and I also planned a trip to Kansas while we were at my parents house to visit the Little House on the Prairie museum.  All along our road trip we prepared Will to go visit "Laura's House".  We've been reading the My First Little House books for a few months now so he was very excited by this!  As we started out in the car he got a stuffed animal Bull-dog which he promptly and aptly named Jack. He also got a large brimmed straw "farmer hat" as he calls it and he was set to go. I had one or two "Little House" surprises for him each day along the way including a farmer and farmer's wife dollhouse dolls which he decided were Laura and Almonzo, a laminated sticker book of pioneer farm life, his own copies of some of the My First Little House books (we'd been borrowing them from the library) including Prairie Day and A Little Prairie House  , since we were headed towards the prairie, and a tin cup. I also gave W one of these little wagons at some point during the trip. During the ride we played Little House in the Big Woods, Farmer Boy and Little House on the Prairie audio books which DH and I really enjoyed.   Little did I realize that wagons would become a theme for much of the trip

Okay, before I tell you of our adventures I should probably mention that DH is a Park Ranger for the National Park Service, so our vacations tend to include lots and lots of national park sites.

.  Our first stop was at the Cumberland visitors center of the C&O canal.  DH worked on the Canal down in Georgetown before W was born so he wanted to see the 184.5 mile marker up at Cumberland.  Cumberland is a sweet little town in the hills of Western Maryland.  It holds additional significance to me as that is where my grandfather purchased the wedding rings for my grandmother.  When DH and I got married on my grandparents wedding anniversary, my grandmothers rings were the ones he gave me.

Our next stop was at Fort Necessity National Battlefield in Pennsylvania.  The site deals with the start of the French and Indian War as well as the National Road.  In general we felt the history of Ft. Necessity was probably a bit much for a toddler, but we were delighted that the park had this covered wagon playground.  DH and I took turns going through the visitor center exhibits while the other played with W outside.

Then we took a family walk out to the fort.  

 We thought this patch of mushrooms was especially fun!

 The next day we went to Dayton Ohio.  I grew up just outside of Dayton, so this was a really special day for me.  We started out visiting the Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historic Park which was established a year after my family moved away from the area.  Many of the sites within the park are places I grew up visiting as a child.  I remembered many visits to Carillon Park with my mom as a child.  It is set up as a little village of buildings important to the history of the Dayton area and includes part of the National Park site with the Wright Flyer III in one of it's buildings.  Will especially enjoyed the school house....

...and the Wright Flyer III...

 ...and riding on this amazing carousel of Dayton Innovation with Daddy.

We also visited The Wright Brothers' Memorial which is another Dayton Aviation site.   As we drove up the hill I remembered my mom and I taking picnic lunches there and making little teacups and saucers from the acorns  under the trees there.  Such beautiful childhood memories came back to me in that spot.

We also visited the visitors center museum and Wright  Brothers Bicycle shop downtown which was a new experience for me.

 We had hoped to visit the Paul Lawrence Dunbar house as well, but that will have to wait for a future visit.

We then went to the neighborhood where I grew up.  Somehow we didn't take any pictures there.  As we were driving down the street where I grew up, I saw one of our former neighbors working outside in his driveway.  I shouted for DH to stop the car and jumped out.  He had gone back in the house by the time I got there, but we were able to have a delightful, visit with them and they were able to meet W.  There's something very powerful in going back to where you grew up and seeing old neighbors again for the first time after twenty-odd years.  That neighborhood and those neighbors had a profound effect on me growing up and a large impact on the person I am today.  Such a dear place and such dear folks.  They contributed significantly to my interest in the natural world around me, and taught me to be interested in the wider world and other cultures, and were just significant loving parts of my "village" as I grew up.

The next day took us to St. Louis.  DH also worked at the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial otherwise known as the Arch.  DH did one of his early  seasons with the Park Service there so he was able to catch up with some old friends and colleagues there.  He and W went up to the top of the arch.  I preferred to stay down in the museum and find things that I specifically wanted to point out to W (I'm not big on heights or enclosed spaces).  W LOVED the arch.  He claims that he now works there sometimes like  his daddy.

This covered wagon was W's favorite part of the museum, though he also really enjoyed seeing the iron spider skillet like Ma cooks in, in Prairie Day.

That's probably enough of our trip for now.  I'll do one or two more posts in the coming days about the rest of it.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Weathering the Storm

Irene didn't hit us nearly as hard as I expected and for that I am grateful.  I had us prepared to be without electricity/water for 1-2 weeks.  We lost power for about two seconds at the worst part of the storm, so we were very very lucky.  Many of my friends down in Richmond are still without power and I know it is not easy for them.  I think it is especially difficult for those with young children.  I have heard of/seen pictures of several homes there that have trees that have fallen on them and it is heartbreaking.  I pray that those families are all safe.

W and I went down there yesterday to visit with some friends and it was painful to see the damage that was done by this storm, but I am grateful for the things that were not damaged.  Our old neighborhood, was without power, but, none of the trees in the neighborhood sustained damage.  I am grateful for that.  I was so worried that the trees we played under almost every day when we lived there would have fallen over, and so happy to see them.  The beautiful old oak trees in the parking lot of our old church did not fair so well.  All three had fallen down.  So sad.  Leaving yesterday, W told me that he was sad about the trees and about leaving his friends.  For all of his wild boyish enthusiasm, he is also such a sweet sensitive child.

Somehow, during the daylight hours of the storm, Irene ended up being a largely outdoor event for us.  After sorting some things out on the phone with W's lovely, wonderful teacher from the Waldorf school Saturday morning, we took her advice and got him outside before the wind and rain got too rough.  We walked through the neighborhood, splashed in puddles and then played on the neighborhood tennis court which was one big puddle at that time.  We had such a wonderful time.  W did not want to come back inside, but I decided we needed to since the wind was picking up a bit and it was becoming more and more difficult to keep our hoods up on our heads.  Of course W's rain boots were lost in our move so we had to make do with his water shoes, but it wasn't that cold out so it worked okay.  (Must find or get new rain boots asap)!

During the rest of the day on Saturday, our balcony seemed to be the place to be.  Luckily we live on the side of our building that is a bit more sheltered from these types of storms.  W spent a very long time standing on a chair reaching over the balcony trying to soak in some of the wind and rain.  He loved it!  We stayed out there till it was time to come in for his bedtime.  After that the storm did get a good bit stronger, but I was grateful that it wasn't that bad during daylight hours and that we had a protected place to get some fresh air.

On Sunday after the rain stopped we hung out on our balcony shelling and eating peanuts (which I had planned to have as something that would be fun and a good way to get some protein if we lost power.)  W thought this was a real treat.

We also took a nature walk around the neighborhood and checked out the damage.  The worst of it was the tree that fell on the slide at the playground where we usually play.

W loved rebuilding his stick collection which had been picked up by the lawn service last week.

  We also were able to find lots of leaves, acorns and other items that had blown off the trees.  I had both pockets full of acorns by the time we got home.  And so the yearly case of acornitis begins!

This could have been so, so much worse than it was.  As it was we didn't even really end up being cooped up by the storm.  We are very blessed and lucky that we had so little damage in our area and that we were able to keep electricity.  I have heard from so many friends up and down the eastern seaboard who fared much much worse than we did.  Many are without power or face flooding conditions or trees down on their property.  They continue to be in my thoughts and prayers as folks work to clean up from Irene.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Yarn Along and updates

It's been a couple weeks again since I've managed to participate in the Yarn Along with Ginny of Small Things. Come to think of it, it's been a few weeks since I've managed to even update the blog.  What can I say, things have suddenly gotten very busy around here.

I have finally made some like-minded mama friends around here which is just wonderful!  Together with them I have been very busy starting a local Waldorf Homeschool Coop we are calling Rosebud Circle.  We aren't planning on homeschooling unless we were to move somewhere without a school, but we also don't live particularly close to the nearest Waldorf school here so it's nice to have a local community closer to home.

W and I are also hoping that we will be starting the parent-child class at the nearest Waldorf School next month.  The teacher welcomed us into the class in May and I just realized last week that we hadn't heard anything since then and school starts very soon.  I'm in the process of playing phone/email tag with the school now and hope we get it all resolved soon so we can start week after next.  Our homeschool community is wonderful, but I also really feel a need to be connected to a Waldorf School as well.

I am going to be starting Waldorf Foundation Year Studies through the Sophia Institute late next month as well which is hopefully the start of an exciting new chapter in my life as well.   For some time now I have been wanting to start Waldorf teacher training but I guess it's something I haven't mentioned here previously. My intention had been to start earlier this year, but then our move came up and I had to postpone my intentions for a while.  I'm glad that we are finally settled enough for me to start down this path. I'm really looking forward to this and I think it is going to offer me great opportunities for my own personal growth and really make me stretch  in new ways.  I'm still undecided as to whether I want to pursue early childhood education or elementary education.  I had always thought I would go into elementary education, but there continues to be this little voice in my mind telling me that early childhood might be where I need to be.  I really enjoy both age groups and the curriculum is so beautiful from early childhood up through the grades.  Sometimes I think both are calling to me with equal intensity at this point.  My hope is that as I go through the foundation studies I will be better able to decide in which direction I am being called.  I am sure that by the time I need to make the decision, I will have a clearer picture of what that calling is going to be.

Okay, now to the yarn along!  I finished the first sweater I've ever completed.  It's a blue wool hoodie for W (Rav notes here).  He loves it but I have to apologize for the bad picture.  He didn't feel like being a very cooperative model.  I enjoyed knitting this one so much that when I went back to the store to get a skein of yarn to finish it, I decided I also wanted to make him a striped one which is my knitting project for this week.  I decided to knit this one in the round and work the arms from the top down (Rav notes here).  As I write this, though I'm realizing I'm going to have to go back and take a quite a few rows and start the decreases on the first sleeve.  Still, I don't think it will take me too much longer to complete it.  I'm amazed my how much more quickly it has gone knitting this sweater in the round than it did knitting it flat.

For books this week, I just completed Farmer Boy (not pictured) and The Long Winter from the Little House series.  Oh how I love these books!  I read little bits of Farmer Boy outloud to W and he loved hearing new stories about " 'Manzo" besides the ones in his My First Little House books.  It's certainly not a book I would read to him in its entirety, but I was surprised by how much he enjoyed me reading a chapter book to him.  My other book that I am currently reading in School as a journey by Torin M Finser.  I ordered a used copy of this one from Amazon and imagine my surprise when I opened it up and found that it was a signed copy!  Kind of cool!  In any case, I've read the chapters on first and second grades and I'm working my way through the 3rd grade chapter now.  It's a fantastic book and is really inspiring me right now.  

Okay, hopefully I can be back here a little more regularly in the coming weeks.  I'm also hoping to get a few minutes in the next day or so to see what all of you are working on!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Yarn Along

Okay, finally, I am getting to my Yarn Along post today joining with Ginny of Small Things

 I am still knitting away on W's hoodie sweater and I have started the second of his socks.  I have had several big housekeeping projects come up this week, so my knitting time has been a little less than I would have preferred  still, the leg of the sock is well under way and I'm over halfway through the front of the sweater so that is some progress!

As for the books, my copy of Homemaking As A Social Art was misplaced (with the help of a certain little boy) after I took a picture of it last week so I haven't gotten too much further, but I must say I found and picked it up again this morning and really love it!    The description of the importance of rhythm and how it is developed is one of my favorite ones that I have read.    It felt like light bulbs were turning on in my head while I read it.

For my bedtime reading I've been continuing with the Little House on The Prairie books, moving on to On The Shores of Silver Lake.  I'm not sure why, but when I think back to the Little House books and reading them with my mom as a child, this is the one I think about and that I remember most clearly.  I loved reading about Laura and her cousin Leena riding ponies bareback and about the Ingalls family living in the shanty town.  It has been like visiting with a dear old friend and recalling stories of the past.

I'm looking forward to reading about what you are knitting and reading over the next couple days.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

My Wild Colonial Boy

I've been working on this post for three days, but keep getting interrupted, but with no further ado, here's the post about my Wild Colonial Boy.  

W was dubbed the "Wild Colonial Boy" by one of our fellow visitors to Mount Vernon a few visits back and it really seems to fit him. Of course, the song Wild Colonial Boy is about an Irish boy who goes to Australia, but at our house we've changed the words for W to make it about a little boy who lives in Virginia.  It works well for us and W loves his song!  I sing it to him whenever he puts on his tri-cornered hat.

So, with that in mind, here are some pictures of our latest trip to Mount Vernon.

W was able to help sift some of the threshed wheat. 

And then we saw how to remove the kernels from the chaff.  
I didn't get any pictures, but he also got to shell black eyed peas which he loved!

Checking on the much loved lambs.

Our favorite lamb.  He's appeared on the blog here before, but look how big he has gotten!

Visiting with the adult rams.  W loves them too!

W looking at....

...the mama pig and her sweet 1 week old piglet.  Not sure if she only had one survive, or if they are keeping the others cool somewhere...but this little guy is CUTE!

And of course we have to visit with the oxen!  To find out if they've been pulling...

....the plow we found down in the fields.

 We took a walk through the garden down at the farm area.

 And saw them growing broom corn....

...and sunflowers among other things.

Of course no trip there is complete, unless we stop to play in W's favorite tree.  

Look how huge these roots are!  It's like a little house in there! 

 A perfect place for imaginative play!

Okay, W has told me what he was doing in the following pictures.  I love the versatility of a good stick as an open ended toy!

Going fishing

Marching with the fifes and drums.

Waving the flag!


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