I think it’s time for a giveaway, don’t you? Would you like to get some support in your Waldorf-inspired home or homeschool? Check out the Global Waldorf Expo website to learn how you can register to participate in this free online conference.
I’ve had the pleasure of listening to many Waldorf teachers and craftspeople in previous Expos, and I highly recommend it! This year’s lineup includes Rainbow Rosenbloom, Kristie Burns, Jennifer Tan, Janet Alison, Marsha Johnson, Reg Down, Sally Fallon Morell, and Eileen Straiton—just to name some of the presenters.
Here’s a bit from Donna Ashton, the Expo’s creator:
Join 14 of the Top Teachers & Experts in Waldorf Homeschooling for this No Cost Virtual Online Event presented by The Waldorf Connection.
We are bringing the information to YOU and giving you a “backstage” pass to the world of Waldorf. We have chosen speakers who are thought leaders on the front lines of this movement that will teach you their techniques and inspire you. These visionaries are here to help expand your thinking, deepen your perspective, with more ease and fun!
For FREE access to practical tips and inspiration, register today.
All who are registered receive a free mp3 recording of “Bringing Music to Your Day” by Waldorf teacher Anne Cleveland.
I’m delighted to host generous giveaway from Donna. The giveaway will be the Expo Option 1 package, which includes audio mp3 downloads and Call Highlights on PDF. To enter to win, please “Like” the Love in the Suburbs Facebook page and then leave a comment on this blog post! Spread the word! I’ll be choosing a winner on Monday, May 20, 2013. a Rafflecopter giveaway
Well, I’ve not been writing much here lately. Instead, there’s been a whole lot of living happening. The boys had two weeks of spring break and while sometimes a school vacation means I have more time for hobbies, such as blogging, sometimes it totally does not.
The boys have been reading and drawing like crazy. Both are completely captivated by all things Fantasy, all things Dragon, and all things Tolkien. Asher has a great fondness for Dwarves. Lucas fancies Elves. They write books, design games, draw pictures, and create “Game World” stories, which are “video games” that exist only in their heads and they act out the action. I like those video games!
We had one super great Mama & Boys Day; we went to a local miniature golf course and played minigolf and a few arcade games—a very rare treat indeed.
Asher played a killer game of Fast & Furious, a driving game where he spent most of the time flying off bridges and overpasses, but the old standbys were best—air hockey and skeeball. I let Lucas play the rifle-shooting game and he looked at me like he had just won the lottery. Arcade: $3. Minigolf for 3: $21. Lunch for 3: $25. Oh yeah, that’s why we don’t do all that many outings like this. Oh well.
Then we went to the library and the park. This is more my speed.
Lucas and Asher had a little time with grandma. They played a lot with the neighborhood boys. The fact that we now have some neighborhood kids is a great pleasure—we have lived in this neighborhood for almost 13 years and for 12 of them there were no children. Elderly neighbors. The housing bubble and then the crash. Finally some younger families are moving in.
Let’s see … Ian built me a raised garden bed, which is totally awesome.
Asher got to have a buddy come to play. They created a rock band. Asher played ukelele, N played the drum machine, Lucas was their manager. They rehearsed. They sang songs called “Alabama Shakes,” “Lightning Strike,” “Golden Wolf,” “Clutches,” and “Death Knife.” I kid you not. Lucas told them they had a kind of punkheavymetal sound and then convinced Asher and his friend to put on face paint. It. Was. Awesome.
And there was this. I love this boy.
On the last day of Spring Break, we went on a lovely hike with Mars and NoNo.
Mars showed us the game he is making. We picnicked. We got wet in the river. The dogs got to sniff a lot of things and meet other dogs. We walked the trails and spent time under the great big sky. I can’t really explain how refreshing and nourishing that is for me. It’s like medicine.
And now, the boys are back at school. Our normal rhythm has returned and I am happy about that, except I’m still not a morning person and never will be.
We had big Easter fun on both Saturday and Sunday. We visited Ian’s parents’ home on Saturday and celebrated with family.
The boys love hunting eggs at grandma and grandpa’s house because they have a very big yard; the egg hunt can last a long time while they range far and wide to look for eggs. They were really well hidden this year. The boys are growing up after all.
It was fun playing with our newest cousin, Jack. He is a very lucky baby indeed! So cherished. So loved.
Grandma fixed us a great lunch and the day was warm and beautiful.
That night Ian and I were up late preparing Easter baskets and baking. I make these fun bunny buns for breakfast. They turned out really well, and I recommend the recipe. That night we had an amazing thunderstorm, and two very sodden Easter bunnies visited our yard to hide eggs at 5:45 a.m in the dark. The bunnies had to, for the children around here wake exceptionally early on holidays.
On Sunday morning, bright and early, my parents, brother, and my brother’s girlfriend, Fabiana, and her children came to our home for an Easter breakfast. We had extra kids to hunt for eggs in our garden, and that was fun! (It made my boys a little extra competitive, it seemed.)
Aren’t they sweet? Unfortunately, I didn’t get a nice shot of Fabiana’s oldest daughter. They are such great kids; it was nice to have some girl energy around here! (And it was neat to collaborate with my brother and Fabiana about Easter basket goodies: sidewalk chalk and bubble wands and hair clips and Star Wars ring pops and more!)
Afterward, we enjoy a relaxing, low-key day. The kids played with neighbors and I tried to nap. (A neighbor’s dog kept barking.)
A few hours later, we received a surprise invitation and left home for a wonderful impromptu Easter party, complete with a feast and board games and Minecraft and an egg hunt. It was the perfect end to a perfect holiday weekend spent with loved ones.
Today is easy-breezy. Daddy has the day off work. A good friend of our boys is coming to play. I hope to do some writing and some gardening. Life is good. I hope you had a happy Easter, or Passover, or Holi, Ostara, or weekend! xo
I love St. Patrick’s Day. I love the rainbows and shamrocks, green foods, and stories of leprechauns and magic. Over the years, my kids and I have explored lots of St. Patrick’s Day books and this is a list of our favorites. Some are old, some, new. As usual, my fundamental recommendation is that you steer clear of licensed products. Believe me, although this list is long, lots of books didn’t make it onto this list.
Fiona’s Luck by Teresa Bateman and illustrated by Kelly Murphy is a fairly new treasure, published in 2009. This book is full of terrific art and a very clever lass who outwits the greedy King of the Leprechauns, who has stolen all the luck from the land and made the people suffer. Most leprechaun stories involve men or boys, and it’s great to have a heroine in the genre. The moral here is that you must depend on your wits, and not on your luck to be successful.
Clever Tom and the Leprechaun was published in 1988 by Linda Shute, who illustrated the book and adapted a traditional leprechaun story originally published in Legends and Traditions of South Ireland in 1825. Shute’s illustrations are watercolor and pencil and are quite lovely. Clever Tom, unfortunately for him, is not quite clever enough to get the sack of gold from the leprechaun shoemaker he captures one day.
To Sing a Song as Big as Ireland is by Nathan Zimelman and is illustrated by Jospeh Low. This is quite an old book, published in 1967, that we found at our library. The story is long and wonderful. A little boy named Terrence O’Flaherty O’Flynn wants more than anything to sing a song as big as Ireland, but he’s really quite small. He tries and tries to grow bigger so that he’ll have a strong voice, but none of his plans work out, not even standing on the dewy ground and beneath the warming sun, or carrying a goat on his shoulders like the strongest man in the county carries his horse. Finally the boy goes to ask his mother, who advises that he catch a leprechaun and get him to grant the boy his wish. The leprechaun gets it wrong several times before the boy can finally sing his song, and when he does “his song told of all of Ireland—its lakes and its hills and its green land, of every bird that rose on its air and every animal that grazed in its meadows and passed through its forests … it told of all of Ireland’s people, and so it was as big as Ireland itself.”
Too Many Leprechauns was published in 2007. Stephen Krensky wrote it and Dan Andreasen is the artist. I love the opening: “Finn O’Finnegan looked like a rogue and walked like a rascal, so it was widely thought that he was at least one or the other. And his shadow, which followed him closely and knew all of his secrets, might have said he was both.” The leprechauns have overrun the town of Dingle and they’re keeping everyone from sleeping with their endless tap-tap-tapping on their fairy shoes. Well, rascally Finn O’Finnegan will fix them. He finds flaws in the little shoemakers’ work, and they’re so insulted they show him their pile of gold coins earned from their shoe-making. Finn manages to hide their gold from them!
Leprechauns Never Lie, by Lorna and Lecia Balian, is a fun book about two women who are too lazy and old to do their daily work. The young woman, Ninny Nanny, sets out to find a leprechaun to change their fortune. She’s lucky enough to find one, and almost gets a great deal, but in the end, her laziness causes her to miss out on the biggest prize of all. Still, in the process, she and ailing Gram do get their chores done, and that’s a good thing after all. This book was originally published in two colors in 1980; in 2004 it came out again with beautiful full color illustrations by Lecia Balian.
Tim O’Toole and the Wee Folk: An Irish Tale Told and Illustrated by Gerald McDermott is worthy of a read. Tim and his wife Kathleen are very poor, and she suggests that maybe he should go and find a job; alas there are no jobs to be found. Although Tim gets lucky enough to stumble upon a group of reveling leprechauns, he gets tricked out of his worthy prizes by neighbors. It’s all because he didn’t do exactly what the wee folk told him to do, and that’s what you get by cutting corners. The wicked, swindling neighbors get their comeuppance in the end, though, and Tim and his bonny Kate do make their fortune through the beneficence of the leprechauns. In these bright illustrations the leprechauns are all cute and charming, wearing green and scarlet.
A Fine St. Patrick’s Day by Susan Wojciechowski with art by Tom Curry might be an outlyer on this list. The story is about two rival towns, Tralee and Tralah, that compete each year to see which one decorates best for St. Patrick’s Day. Six-year-old Fiona Riley comes up with the plan for Tralee to finally win the contest. A leprechaun arrives and asks for help at all the doors, for his cows are stuck in the mud. Citizens of Tralee go to the cows’ rescue, despite their need to finish decorating for the contest, and their generous spirit is rewarded.
St. Patrick’s Day in the Morning, by Eve Bunting features no leprechauns or magic, but it’s magical nonetheless. Little Jamie wakes very early on the morning of St. Patrick’s Day and feels sad that he is considered by his family too small to march in the village parade. But what do they know? He tiptoes out of the house and has a parade all his own with his sweet dog Nell and the slowly waking village. Jan Brett illustrated this sweet book using only three colors, and her pictures of the Irish countryside are charming and evocative. Bunting was born in Ireland and lived there for 30 years. She published this book in 1980.
A Pot o’ Gold is a wonderful anthology of Irish legends, poetry, songs, and even some recipes. It features a legend about St. Patrick, stories with the wee folk, mermaids, fairies, leprechauns, Finn McCool, and more. Works of authors such as Oscar Wilde, James Joyce, Katharine Tynan, Arthur O’Shaughnessy, William Butler Yeats, and Jonathan Swift grace this anthology. If you were to buy only one book of Irish stories for children, this might be the one.
The Irish Cinderlad was written by Shirley Climo and illustrated by Loretta Krupinski, and was published in 1996. This is a male, Irish version of the Cinderella story based on two old Irish tales: “The Bracket Bull” from 1898 and “Billy Beg and His Butt” from 1905. The lad, Becan, is banished to the cow pasture when his stepmother and stepsisters come to live with him and his father. This fairy story features a magical bull, a giant, and an opportunity to rescue a princess from a terrible sea-dragon (à la Andromeda). Becan has his faithful friend, his own courage, and his giant feet to thank for his change of fortune, for no one else can fit into his lost boot.
O’Sullivan Stew by Hudson Talbott is a great book. The heroine is Kate O’Sullivan and she is a clever one! When the townspeople anger the witch by refusing to help when her beautiful stallion is taken as payment for taxes by the king, the town suffers terribly: cows won’t give milk, fishing nets come up empty, gardens fail, and everyone goes hungry. Kate convinces her da and brothers, Fergus and Kelly, that they should steal back the horse to appease the witch. But they’re not good horse thieves. It’s up to Kate’s storytelling to save them from the hangman’s rope. There are four great stories within the witch-horse-theft story. Leprechauns appear in one of them. But the best part is the unexpected twist at the end.
The Leprechaun’s Gold is a sweet Irish legend about friendship and generosity. The king of Ireland calls for all the harpists in the land to come and play in a contest. Young Tom is a braggart who thinks he is sure to win, but still stoops to sabotage. Old Pat is a kind gentleman who shares his music and meager possessions freely. On their way to the harping contest, they encounter a leprechaun in a bind. Tom refuses to help, knowing leprechauns are meddlesome troublemakers. Pat comes to the leprechaun’s aid and is rewarded for his kindness. “He played the merriest music ever heard, so wonderful that the wind itself stopped to listen. A wild tune it was, which filled the people’s hearts with joy and their lips with laughter.”
S is for Shamrock: And Ireland Alphabet by Eve Bunting and illustrated by Matt Faulkner provides lots of great lore and information about Ireland, including the Blarney Stone, the Claddagh, The Book of Kells, leprechauns, viking raids, and more. This book includes more factual information about Ireland than the storybooks on this list.
The House Gobbaleen is by Lloyd Alexander, published in 1995. Tooley believes he has bad luck, and although his cat Gladsake knows Tooley’s luck is no better or worse than anyone’s, he thinks that a little help from the Friendly Folk is just what he needs. When a curious little man arrives on his doorstep, Tooley invites him in. It’s not long before the wicked little man has taken over Tooley’s favorite armchair, his bed, and is eating him out of house and home. Only Gladsake can save his master from his own foolishness and outsmart the little man.
Patrick Patron Saint of Ireland is by Tomie dePaola, a much beloved creator of children’s books. I’m actually not crazy about her books, but this book offers a comprehensive history of Patrick’s life and covers the miracles he is said to have performed. If you are looking for a kids’ book that covers the religious angle of this holiday, this might be the one for you.
This is a teaser mosaic of photos from our e-book. It covers St. Patrick’s Day, Spring Equinox, Ostara, and Easter, and is packed with Waldorf songs, stories, verses, crafting tutorials, caregiver meditations, fingerplays, and stories to inspire you and help you create fun and meaningful festival celebrations with children in your home or classroom.
Part One: Saint Patrick’s Day Leprechaun Poems and Finger Plays
The Four-Leaved Clover
Four-Leaf Clover Hunt
Caregiver Meditation: Luck
Saint Patrick’s Day Kid Craft
Make a Leprechaun House
Simple Shamrock Crown
St. Patrick’s Day Leprechaun Mobile
Shamrock Window Transparency
The Sunbeam’s Visit
Jolly Leprechaun Ring
St. Patrick’s Day Paper Ornaments
The Golden Purse and the Seeing Eyes
To Catch a Leprechaun
Dip a Rainbow
Part Two: Spring Equinox, Ostara To Spring
Seeds and Grateful Spring
The Story of the Two Seeds
Spring Equinox Wreath
Recycled Bird Feeder
The Feisty Fairy Story
Make a Fairy Pouch with Your Child
Build a Fairy House
Five Little Fairies Finger Play
Homemade Fairy Wings
Spring Bird Puppets
Spring Cleaning in the Home or Classroom
Natural Vinegar Cleaning Solution
Cherry Blossom Festival and Writing Haiku Poetry
Cherry Blossom Branches
Paint Cherry Blossoms
Loveliest of Trees, the Cherry
Pressed Flower Frame for Spring
Flower Pot Compost
Spring Zucchini Bread
Watercolor Flower Wreath
Simple Tissue Butterflies
Part Three: Easter The Easter Flower and Easter Week
Lent and Sacrifice
Five Little Easter Rabbits and other Rhymes
Creating Your Easter Nature Table
Easter from Calendar of the Soul
Caregiver Meditation: Awakening
Little Felted Chicks
Stewart’s A, B, C’s
Flood-Tide of Flowers
Easter Dish Garden
Dyeing Eggs with Natural Dyes
Dyeing Easter Wool
Easter Egg Rolling
Easter Glove Bunny
Paper Easter Bunnies Banner
Felt Easter Ornaments
Decoupage Easter Eggs
Needle-Felted Easter Egg
This volume is the fourth in our series of Festival E-Books designed to help you find a way into the natural and religious festivals that occur around the time of the Solstices and Equinoxes. We have endeavored to provide inspiration and celebration ideas that will help you create fulfilling and joyful holidays in your home or classroom.
Some of the craft projects in this e-book are geared for adults or older children (but everyone can enjoy them). We have written simple instructions and provided step-by-step photographs to assist you. Other projects are simple enough that even the youngest child can assist, for creating art is a fundamental human desire and an important part of learning and expressing ourselves.
Circle-time rhymes, fingerplays, and games are also an important part of learning about our bodies, our world, and our friends. Some of the classic poetry we included may speak especially to the adult caregiver or teacher, for we believe it is through maintaining a sense of wonder and a love of beauty that permits our souls to shine forth in our daily actions.
This volume contains both a nature-based religious perspective, honoring the Goddess of Spring, and a Christian perspective on the holy days of Lent and Easter, celebrating Christ’s resurrection. There is, in our opinion, significant overlap of symbols and traditions, and we feel they can coexist in the context of the spring festivals in peace.
My personal thanks go to my coauthor Eileen, for her can-do attitude, unflagging faith, endless creativity. I’d also like to say thank you to my husband and my children for their assistance, participation, and great tolerance of the many messes my creative projects produce in our home during book production.
May I present to you the thoughtful and funny writing of my dear husband, Ian, who describes a fairly typical activity in our home. This is only the second time I’ve talked Ian into letting me publish his writing on Love in the Suburbs. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did and welcome him as a guest blogger.
Note: I’m the one with the nasty Diet Coke habit. Sometimes I add whiskey.
At our house, like at many houses, recycling aluminum cans is a way for our boys to get a little pocket money. Of course, cans have to be stored, and it’s best to flatten them in order to store them.
How would an adult handle this problem? Take the cans, put them on the patio, smash them with your foot, put them in a bag, be done. 5 minutes, maximum.
But how do boys handle this?
The smaller brother stands in the wet-bar where the empty cans have piled up. He opens the back door wide and hurls the cans outside. His brother stands outside with a stick, whacking the cans out of the air like Babe Ruth. The cans fly erratically, dripping bits of flat, sticky Diet Coke. Some bounce off the house, some fly into the garden, one came straight back into the house, over the little brother, and careened off the TV hutch.
I could, at this point, interject some paternal guidance into this operation. However, that would take all of the fun out of it. Adult methods, I have come to realize, are quick, efficient, effective, but altogether too much of a drag.
Once the cans are outside they need to be gathered into one place for crushing. This is accomplished by taking whatever tool is handy and hitting the cans with maximum force a la ice hockey. Since the cans have been distributed a great distance an argument is necessary to determine who is responsible for gathering the most distant cans.
While the big brother continues to herd cans, the little brother comes in to find a bag into which the cans may be put. The bags are on top of the clothes dryer, but he can’t find them. They are on top of the clothes dryer, but he doesn’t see them. The clothes dryer! The laundry, they are on the—oh, he found them, good.
The presence of the bag necessitates another argument about who has to pick up the cans. While one can see both points of view, one really doesn’t care, just pick them up.
Finally, the bag of cans is stored in the middle of the walkway in the overcrowded garage, but at least the task is done. Or is it? Stray cans can be found under the rhododendrons, behind the hot tub, and on the lawn. Asking the boys to pick up these cans as well elicits a complaint: “But Dad, we’ve already done the cans!” as if these cans were not part of the original project.
My parents bought me this awesome sewing machine for Christmas. It’s my third machine. I am still learning and I’m kind of hard on them. (For the record, two of my sewing machines work and one of them is a perfect learning machine. I thought I might let Lucas take it for a spin.) But this new one—this Janome New Home—is all mine. (Besides, Mom gets nervous whenever I go near her Bernina.)
Back in December I conceived of giving Asher an Earthbender costume, inspired by one of our family’s favorite shows, Avatar the Last Airbender. Asher has always been fondest of the Earthbending skill, and when he plays at “bending,” he is always an Earthbender. Maybe it’s because green is his favorite color. At first, I thought this costume might be a Christmas gift, but then I realized it was more appropriate for his sixth birthday.
So I bought a mini gi. (Actually, I bought two. The first was too mini.) I know my limitations and I realized I could spiff-up a gi more efficiently than I could make one from scratch.
I spent a day last week dyeing the top green and the pants and belt a taupe color. Pale yellow would have been nicer, but that wasn’t an option when buying dye.
My mom and I carefully picked out some fancy trim, and last night I got my new sewing machine out and put it to use. I even changed the needle to a denim one, to go through all the layers of the gi edge! I read the manual and everything! Amazingly, my boys slept through my sewing.
I cut off the sleeves and sewed on this gold and green fringe. I wanted the costume to look like a cool martial arts gi, but not exactly like a karate uniform. I have one day left before Asher’s birthday gift will be presented to him. I’m presently debating about whether to use the sleeves I cut off to make wrist bands or a headband. I hope to decorate this final item(s) with the Earthbender symbol.
Today I spent the morning in Asher’s kindergarten class with him, to help celebrate his birthday at school. His teacher told me that yesterday she asked him what he wished for. He said he wished for infinite wishes, and for a closet full of costumes. A CLOSET FULL OF COSTUMES!
Maybe I actually have made him the right birthday gift. … Or maybe he won’t wear it at all. That’s also a possibility. If he does like it and wear it, I’ll be sure to get a photo.
Anyway, there’s just one hour left in this Circle of Moms Top 25 Creative Moms contest. Here’s the button to vote for me. My gratitude goes out to all the wonderful friends and readers who have voted for me daily over the last two weeks. Thank you for the support and for helping me get into and stay in the Top 25! Voting closes at 4 p.m. PST on 1/30.
“Kind hearts are the gardens, Kind thoughts are the roots, Kind words are the flowers, Kind deeds are the fruits, Take care of your garden And keep out the weeds, Fill it with sunshine, Kind words and kind deeds.” —Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Do you ever get crabby or short-tempered? I do. Sometimes I have to work hard to be my best self. Kindness in everyday interactions makes pretty much every situation better. We can make kindness even more reflexive by taking some time to work on it.
Day 1: Set Your Intention
“Constant kindness can accomplish much. As the sun makes ice melt, kindness causes misunderstanding, mistrust, and hostility to evaporate.” —Albert Schweitzer
First, you have to want to embrace kindness. Maybe kindness is already part of your spiritual beliefs or religious practice. Or perhaps no one has ever put it to you that living virtuously is largely a matter of being kind to others. If you’re ready to embark on this little seven-day experiment, sit for a moment with yourself and commit to it. Over the course of this week, you will endeavor to keep kindness in the forefront of your mind. You will do your best to notice kindness, engage in it, share it with others, and give thanks for it. Read ahead on this first day, if you wish. Know what you’re getting into. Really, you do this stuff already, so relax and set your intention. Making a mindful practice of kindness will be simple and rewarding.
Day 2: Plan Your Kindness
“My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness.” —Dalai Lama
Just as you write out the week’s grocery list or daily tasks, you can plan kindness into your life. I believe you already do this, but you’re perhaps not aware of it. Every time you agree to pick up your girlfriend’s kids from school, take your Mom to tea, pack your child’s lunch, or iron a shirt you are being kind. Those everyday kindnesses are wonderful and important. Chances are, they shape your days. With just a little more mindfulness, however, you can plan something extra—some out-of-the-ordinary kindness—into your week that could really mean the world to someone. So get out your calendar. What things have you been meaning to do lately? Who has been in your thoughts or your dreams? What can you say or do to touch their lives this week?
Day 3: Think Kind Thoughts
“Kindness in words creates confidence. Kindness in thinking creates profoundness. Kindness in giving creates love.” —Lao Tzu
Think for a few minutes today about your family members and pay attention to all the things you appreciate about them. Overlook failings or hurts and focus on the good stuff. What do you wish for these beloveds today, this week, or this year? What good do you hope for them? Now expand your kind thoughts to include friends, coworkers, students, acquaintances, etc. Think of the people who are facing challenges, ill health, or difficult change. Imagine all the kind things you would like to say to them or do to help them. Think about the wonderful communities to which you belong. This next part is harder: Think of people you usually do not like or with whom you have difficulty getting along. Think kind thoughts about them; find something you appreciate in the situation. There’s always something. You’ll find it.
Day 4: Say Kind Words
“Kind words do not cost much. Yet they accomplish much.” —Blaise Pascal
Some days pass by without our paying much attention to what we say, especially when we are busy. We show our love and concern for others (or lack of it) in our choice of words and our tone of voice. All people deserve respectful, kind words. You might be surprised to observe you’re always polite to the restaurant server, but sometimes are snappish or dismissive to those you love most in the world. Take a deep breath and allow the kindness of your heart to ride forth on your words. Here are some ideas for cultivating kindness in what you say: Greet your family after sleeping or an absence. Smile. Tell them how happy you are to be with them again. Call a friend or elderly person on the phone. Say that you were thinking of them and wanted to hear their voice. Ask them how they are. Give compliments as often as possible. Write a letter or an email. A handwritten letter these days can have a tremendous impact, so take out your stationary and write. Show your appreciation for the help you receive by saying thank you. You’ll melt when you see your child’s smile after you say those blessed words.
Day 5: Do Kind Deeds
“The best portion of a good man’s life is his little, nameless, unremembered acts of kindness and of love.” —William Wordsworth
This one is easy. You do kind deeds every day! And now that you’ve been thinking a lot about kindness you probably have many new ideas of kind things you can do for others. Pay for someone’s food or toll. Help someone with a chore. Make a favorite meal. Volunteer. Teach someone something they need to know. Save someone some time or effort by taking on a task and lightening their load. Share what you have with someone who has none. Give a gentle, healing touch or a hug. Make something especially for someone, personalizing it and pouring your kindness into the gift. The possibilities are endless, and the joy that results from kind deeds is sublime.
Day 6: Make Kind Wishes
“If you want a love message to be heard, it has got to be sent out. To keep a lamp burning, we have to keep putting oil in it.” —Mother Teresa
You may be accustomed to meditation or prayer in which you send out your love to others. You may already say blessings at mealtimes that express your care and concern for humanity and the health of our planet. This is your kindness spreading to all beings, to all corners of the earth. Even if this feels alien or uncomfortable, try it. Think of all the good you’d like to exist in the world: peace, sufficient food and resources, sustainable living, the end of human rights abuses, the end of horrible violence and murder, love and support for the world’s children, education for all. Wish it for all our sakes. Let your kindness radiate from your heart into the universe. Let your kindness waft on the breeze to all beings everywhere.
Day 7: Reflect on Kindness
“How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving and tolerant of the weak and strong. Because someday in your life you will have been all of these.” —George Washington Carver
You are here because of the kindness of others. In your life, you have received a million small acts of kindness, gifts, boons, words of encouragement, and good wishes. Adopting a reflective attitude about this can lead to a deep sense of gratitude. When you truly appreciate the gifts of your life, you will give to others in turn with intention and generosity. So, make a list. Take a few minutes and start writing down the names of people who have been kind to you. You will most likely immediately write the names of your partner, your parents, and your children. After you get through all of the obvious ones, you will expand your awareness of all the people who do or say kind things for you: your boss, your coworkers, your child’s teacher, your grocery clerk, the librarian at your elementary school when you were a child. Before long, you’ll have a list of names a mile long. Now, don’t you feel supported and cherished? How have you benefited from these kindnesses? I’m sure that’s a long list, too.
Finally, reflect on your week of increasing kindness and know that others noticed and benefited. You touched lives with your many kindnesses. How do you feel? Now notice how you yourself have benefited from your kindness experiment. Know also that you have modeled a beautiful way of being to your children and others.
“A single act of kindness throws out roots in all directions, and the roots spring up and make new trees. The greatest work that kindness does to others is that it makes them kind themselves.” —Amelia Earhart
This is the beautiful Auburn Recreation Area, which is just 25 to 30 minutes’ drive up the hill from where we live.
We went hiking there with the boys in early January. It was a beautiful day and we all had lots of fun.
We found some glorious rock formations right at the river’s edge that looked like a huge castle. The children naturally climbed to the top immediately.
We were reminded that we all feel good when we go on nature walks together; we get out of our house and routine, we leave the argued-over toys and housework behind, we get to bring our fluffy friend Solstice along, and we can be together with a little buffering space between us. The boys like to roam out far ahead and that’s so good for them. Ian and I can have a conversation. It’s inexpensive. Overall, it’s really a great solution for family fun.
We tossed stones, looked for dragons’ eggs, found great sticks, climbed, and explored. Perfect.
We have been having really nice weather (if a little cold for my taste), and that inspired me to ask my dear friend Nicole to go on a local hike with me on the American River parkway while the kids were at school. As much as it is good for my kids to be out in nature, so it is also good for me!
We went on a Thursday in the middle of the day. We walked for two hours, got just a bit happily lost, and then found our way back again. This is an amazing pond area we found right near my kids’ school, isolated from the running river. I don’t think this body of water is there during the summer, but I could be wrong. I’m hoping I can find it again.
This is the iconic Fair Oaks footbridge.
Such a pleasant way to spend a few hours! We are going out again this Thursday—grown-ups and no kids. But you can bet Ian and I will be doing another winter hike with our kiddos soon enough!
How are you enjoying nature this winter? Are you skiing? Snow-shoeing? Playing on the beach?
Winter days can be long and dreary if you don’t find happy ways to pass the time together indoors. When weather is especially inclement, take the opportunity to sit down with your children and draw. Even if you don’t consider yourself to be artistic, your children will most likely be delighted to have you by their side, making art. The impulse to create is so very strong in children. As parents and caregivers, we can nurture their creative impulse by modeling creative behavior.
block crayons and stick crayons
inspiration photos from books or Internet
a story about animals in wintertime, perhaps
Take a little time to play with the crayons. Experiment how you can make different kinds of strokes and lines. Block crayons are beautifully suited for shading, blending, and giving dimension to your pictures.
Donna Simmons, author of Drawing with your Four to Eleven Year Old, says “By pressing firmly or lightly, you can achieve both depth and movement in clouds or sea, for example. Wavering strokes of red, yellow and orange can bring fire to life. Direction of stroke can also emphasize muscling or roundness in animals, depth in caves, or distance of, say, mountains in the background.” Her book holds specific tips for drawing in Kindergarten through Fifth grade Waldorf curriculum.
Picture books or books with lots of inspiring photographs are always nice to have around. We found this fox photo online and drew using it as our example.
My 9-year-old’s drawing of the fox in the snow
My drawing of the fox in the snow
Here are some general drawing tips for children:
Aim to capture the mood or movement of your subject, not the superfine detail.
Young children need not worry about eyes, whiskers, nose, etc.
Try to find your subject’s major shapes: where are the circles, ovals, triangles, and rectangles? Use these instead of outlining to avoid adding too much detail too soon.
Block out where the figures will fit on the page to help make them large and bold. Some children resist using the whole page.
Finish your picture with a decorative border.
My son’s drawing of an owl at night
You may find that you need to lead by example. After story time, try drawing an animal in your story. Or while your child is having free time, try drawing beside him or her. Encourage your child if he or she chooses to draw with you. “I like to be with you like this.”
Avoid saying things that imply a judgment of the child’s work (“good drawing,” “sloppy drawing,” etc.). Instead try to find something that you can comment on that feels neutral. “I wonder if that fox has cold feet.” or “What a fluffy coat it has!” Nor should you say that your own drawing is “bad” or “didn’t turn out right.”
Practice and your own drawings will improve. We are all learning as we go.
Display drawings made by your child. A wooden “card stand” works well for displaying small drawings. A cork board works nicely for larger ones. Refrigerators are a good standby, too, for showcasing family art. And never underestimate the delight a child will feel if you should put his or her artwork in a real frame.
Hello! Thanks for visiting! I'm Sara, a freelance editor and writer, wife to Ian, and mother of two precious boys. I am living each day to the fullest and with as much grace, creativity, and patience as I can muster. This is where I write about living, loving, and engaging fully in family life and the world around me. I let my hair down here. I learn new skills here. I strive to be a better human being here. And I tell the truth.
Our children attend Waldorf school and we are enriching our home and family life with plenty of Waldorf-inspired festivals, crafts, and stories.