Welcome to Wood Nymph Way! I have created this blog with two intentions: (A) keeping our family and friends, many of whom live in lands Far Far Away, up to date with what we've been doing, and (B) as a tool to document and learn from our journey as a Waldorf homeschooling family. Enjoy! And don't forget to check out my resource pages on the right!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


What?!  It's Advent already?! An early foot of snow along with an eight day power outage at the end of October seemed to put my kids in a holiday mood early this year.  Requests of listening to Christmas music came right after our power came back on, while there was still snow on the ground.  The crazy weather seemed to put a huge damper on most people's Halloween, but not ours!  I dressed the kids up as snowmen and they paraded up and down the street to our neighbors' delight.  They even managed to collect enough candy from amused neighbors to leave out for the Sugar Sprite Fairy, who left them this lovely book in return. 

Trick or Treat?  The snow was definitely a treat for my kids!
Anyhow, I digress.  Back to Advent.  If you look back at my posts from last year, you can get a good idea of how we got started with our Advent celebration.  This year we're keeping much of it the same, with a few things added.

The first light of Advent is the light of Stones
Stones that live in crystals, seashells, and bones.

This verse is our guide for the first week.  We have set out our empty creche, to be filled over the course of the next few weeks.  We have made our Advent wreath with the four candles.  On our big blackboard, we have the week's verse.

We have also set up our Nature Table as a gnomes' crystal garden.  S wove some yarn onto a neat tree branch we found and we thought that we'd use that as a backdrop to make it look like the gnomes were under the roots of a tree.  The gnomes seem to enjoy gathering around their winter fire, too.

Some of the stories we are reading this week include "The Festival of Stones" by Reg Down, particularly the chapter with the same title, as it starts the characters' own Advent celebration.  As a longer chapter-type book, we are reading "The Winter Child" by Wendy Froud and Terri Windling.  The story is perfect for this week as the main characters, two fairies, are on a quest to find the fairy king's amethyst goblet.  The illustrations, which are actually photographed scenes featuring Wendy's amazing fantasy creatures, (remember the movie "The Dark Crystal"?)are absolutely enchanting.

As a little gift to put in the kids Advent calendar, I have made a Rainbow Rock.  You can make this sweet little gift in no time by following this tutorial on the Living Crafts website.  There is a sweet little story that goes along with it.

Lastly, I think we'll end our week by having-what else?-Stone Soup for dinner. 

For those of you who are new to Advent, as I was last year, here are some great resources to help get you started!  Click and enjoy!

(scroll down to the bottom for the first one)

Saturday, October 1, 2011

October Nature Table

Golden, you are,
Golden sovereigns on your trees.
Golden guineas on your floor,
golden coins of leaves
that fall
for us to scuffle through
and rustle
and rattle
and hustle
and scrabble
and dabble
and paddle
as they fall
into an October carpet
which hides
our shoes.

~Elsa Beskow,
Around the Year

October is my favorite month, and in my opinion, the best month for a nature table.  Our little table could barely contain all the treasures we have been finding in the forest and around our neighborhood.  Dried corn, pumpkins, seed pods, nuts, and berries; we had so many special things we just had to let them overflow onto the shelf our table sits on.  And we couldn't resist including the little wooden mushroom house for the pumpkin fairies to live in.

While we were at it, we moved all our favorite books about Autumn and other seasonal favorites to the bookshelf.  Two dried and painted gourds from South America seemed to fit nicely with the harvest theme, so we included those as well.  The baskets below contain all of our little nature table figures for throughout the year.

Have a plentiful Autumn!

Monday, September 12, 2011

September Nature Table

Toadstools, toadstools
Beneath the trees
Turn your painted caps to me
My tower is tall
But still I see
Toadstools, toadstools
Beneath the trees.

~borrowed from Live Ed.

September is here, finally!  I am not a fan of summer and hot weather, so I always anxious to get going with Autumn.  And although the Autumn Equinox is not until the 21st, it is starting to feel fall-ish already.  Cooler, drier weather is settling in along with much cooler nights, perfect for snuggling under flannel sheets and puffy blankets.

Nature walks inevitably end with pockets full of treasures gleaned from the forest floor.  Mushrooms, seed pods of infinite varieties, and pretty leaves are always plentiful and bright with warm Autumn colors.

Our last walk yeilded an astounding variety of colorful mushrooms that, while not edible, were irresistable for collecting for our nature table.  It was also time to prune our little espaliered apple trees, so we had lots of leafy branches for our Apple Blossom Fairy to sit upon.

A word to the wise though!  Make sure to keep mushrooms out of reach of small children and animals.  Also, they only keep about a day or so indoors, so discard them once they begin to rot.  Otherwise you'll have a soggy mess, and possibly uninvited guests, such as worms or bugs that were on the mushrooms.  We found an army of little white worms that must have hatched from eggs laid on one of our mushrooms.  It was....umm....interesting.  Gross....but interesting.

Our September Nature Table

Our felted acorns on the top tier.
We made these last year, but will
be making more soon.

Our Apple Blossom Fairy in her little
nest of apple branches.  (We recycled her
from our May nature table!)

The gnome in his garden.  So many colorful
mushrooms!  I've never seen such a bright
purple one before!

For those of you who have never felted acorns before, here's the link to a nice little tutorial. 

Monday, August 22, 2011

The Summer of "I Can!"

This has been one eventful summer.  When School was winding down in June, I had (mostly at my husband's request) made plans to extend our schooling by having little "summer practice" lessons every day.  Yes, I know this is not Waldorf, by the two of us are educators, and are aware of that daunting statistic that over the summer, students lose about 30% of what they learned during the school year.  Supposedly.  Personally, I don't put too much stock in that one, especially for Waldorf students who learn things in such an organic and complete way.

As fate would have it, I dropped my plans completely.  Not intentionally at first, but after realizing how important S's physical development was, during this summer before she turns six, I just let the whole thing go and decided to see what she could accomplish otherwise.  I knew we would spend lots of time outside, as we always do, gardening and playing, and taking day trips here and there.  (Nothing elaborate or costly.  And avoiding the usual summer vacation things like amusement parks.  The very words "amusement park" make me cringe on so many levels.)  I thought we'd take a step back, for the kids' sanity, and my own, and just enjoy the summer without any big goals or expectations.

Well, was I in for a surprise!  S spent a week at an amazing Farm Camp at a Waldorf school.  This was her first time away from both parents, and her first time in a group setting with other kids.  I was a nervous wreck the first day; wondering if she would speak up for herself if she needed something, engage with the other kids, or end up in a puddle of tears at the end of the day.  I am happy to report that she had a great time! 

The girls in her small group were several years older, but were friendly.  So while she didn't come out of the experience with a new best buddy, she did participate appropriately and happily, and fully enjoyed all the activities.  By the end of the week, she walked around like she owned the place!  Over five days, she had matured measurably in the areas of self-confidence, independence, and social skills.  And I am so grateful for that.  I'm sure many of us worry about our kid being "that weird home-schooled kid with no social skills" that mainstream society seems to fear so much.  Not the case. 

I think that new found independence also contributed to her determination to master things that she had been working on. This summer, she was finally able to ditch those training wheels on her bike!

No training wheels!
This was such a thrill for her, and she couldn't wipe that smile of her face for days.  I was so proud of her, and she even said how proud of herself she was.  It was amazing to watch her determination to practice...and practice...and practice until she accomplished her goal.  Just the mindset she needs entering into her year of six year old Kindergarten/sort-of-first-Grade mix.

Swimming has been a challenge too, as we have limited access to swimming spots, but given a few opportunities to swim this summer, S made the most of it.  She opted to forego her "floaty suit" and just use those good old water wings.  Again, shear determination, some practice, and voila!  she's a swimmer!  Next year she vowed, she will ditch the water wings as well.  :)

A little ride on a boogey-board is a nice break from
swimming practice.

During our time indoors we have practiced string games together, such as Cat's Cradle, started some embroidery projects, and even made some potholders with those loops on one of those metal looms (remember those?).  In other areas of our home life, S has exhibited her maturity by learning to take on some small responsibilities, such as doing her own hair in a pony tail, and helping to let our new chickens out in the morning, feeding them, and helping to get them back in their coop at night.

All the physical changes, such as loss of teeth (five so far!  It put quite a damper on corn on the cob season), changes in movement, posture, and curve of the spine, among others, are  right in line with the Six Year Old Change.  There's a good article about that change here.

Everything I've learned about child development, and especially from a Waldorf perspective, is right on target.  I'm learning to let go of how I had taught (previously in public schools) and really embrace this philosophy.  All of the Steiner I have read (and it's been a lot this year) is reflected in what I have observed, in both of my children, since the beginning of our Waldorf journey a year ago.  I always suspected this was the right path for us.  Now I know.

Friday, August 19, 2011

What Gnomes Do During Summer Vacation

Apparently we are not the only ones who have been busy this summer!  While we have been outside gardening, playing, and taking day trips to the beach, our tree house gnomes have been enjoying themselves immensely. 

After a recent rainy day of playing indoors, I discovered what they have been up to.  I thought it was so cute, I just had to share. :)

Papa Gnome has been busy taking inventory of his crystals.
He found a basketful of small pieces to bring home to his children.

Mama Gnome has been busy organizing the kitchen.

Fortunately she found time later to rest by a
cozy fire with Baby Gnome.

The kids have spent long afternoons reading on their
little boat in the river.
Have a relaxing rest of your own summer vacation!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Sweet Dreams


Sometimes when I get into bed
And cannot go to sleep,
And after all my prayers are said,
And I have counted sheep,
I call to Mother, and I say,
"A drink of water, please."
She knows that I'm not thirsty, and
I only want to tease.
And so I laugh when she comes in
And opens wide the door,
She knows I only want to kiss
And hug her just once more.

~Kate Cox Goddard

I'm sure this situation sounds familiar to all of us.  Despite the never ending urgency children exhibit during the day, they sure do know how to drag out the bedtime routine!

And perhaps we should take our cue from them on this one.  It takes quite a bit for children to settle their bodies and minds down at the end of the day.  You can't just expect then to plop into bed and go to sleep.  So make bedtime a time of slowing down.  Of course, it helps a great deal to have a predictable daily rhythm to every day.  Then bedtime won't come as such a sudden surprise.  ("What?  Bedtime already?)
A bedtime ritual can ease the transition from busy day to peaceful night.  The book, Seven Times the Sun has lovely rituals for bedtime and any other time of day.  If your bedtimes (or days in general) are hectic, than I strongly recommend reading this.  It's inspiring.

Here's how bedtime goes at our house:

~after dinner, wash up and brush teeth (we put some quiet "bedtime" music on at this point)
~story time (about 20 minutes.  One story for my 3 YO son, and one chapter from a book for my 5 YO daughter)  I'm firm about limiting the number of stories here.  Too many can counteract the settling effect.
~bathroom visit

Now, the bedtime rituals for my 3 year old son are different from my 5 year old daughter's.  But both are simple and pretty quick, so I don't mind having different routines.  Each child will have different needs at bedtime.

My son, being three, is one who has more trouble physically slowing down, so his routine incorporates a more tactile approach.

~after bathroom visit, hop into bed
~turn off lights and light bedtime candle
~while I recite a poem, I give him a firm back rub (or scratch!) Sometimes a firm leg rub if he's feeling wiggly.  This can help a lot.
~Blow out candle (he likes to make a wish)
~Kisses and hugs
~Blow kisses while I'm at his door

My daughter, being five, knows when she's ready for bed, and almost never resists bedtime.  I take a different approach with her since she's one to lie there thinking about all sorts of things once she's in bed.  (Just like me!)

~after bathroom visit, turn on night-light and hop into bed
~turn out bedside lamp and light candle
~I read her a poem from her Sweet Dreams cards (more about those later) and tuck it under her pillow
~blow out candle
~hugs and kisses
~wind up the musical bear (which was mine when I was little.  Very special for her)
~blow kisses at the door

Both routines are simple, meet each child's needs, and are done in under five minutes.

So often I hear other parents complain about bedtime and the three big things that I notice when they describe their days are:

~The child is not getting enough physical activity.  OutsideFor at least three hours a day.  Yes, really.  Indoor play is not enough.  Children need to run, jump, climb, and really move around.  Sitting inside with toys, while it is valuable play, is not physical play.

~too much media.  Especially at night.  I could site a bazillion studies on the effects of TV on a child's brain here, but I'll let you Google that on your own.  Let's just say it is counter-productive to a child's brain development, and watching TV will not help your child truly settle down.

~there is a lack of structure/rhythm during the child's day.  Daily rhythms are so important for a child, and adhering to one will help you tenfold in getting through the day with minimal transition issues with your child.

Bedtime can be a peaceful and reassuring time for bonding with your child.  It can be something special that your children will remember fondly as they grow.  For me, it's a time to spend a few minutes alone with each child, treasuring them and truly seeing who they are.  Children are so peaceful at sleep, and watching them sleep can be a reminder of just how little they still are, despite the fact that they're growing, in my opinion, way too fast!

Here are some bedtime related items that we love:

Sweet Dreams:  36 Bedtime Wishes  These are beautiful little cards.  Each one has a vintage children's book illustration one one side, and a lovely poem on the other.  I've been using these since my daughter was two, and you wouldn't believe how many poems, some quite long, that she's memorized from hearing these every night.  These make a great stocking stuffer, tooth fairy gift, or Easter basket treat.

All these books offer valuable suggestions for simplifying your (and your child's) life and providing a strong daily rhythm that will benefit the entire family.

These are our favorite three cds for bedtime.  The kids will often request one of the Dreamland cds during the day, just for some quiet time.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

August Nature Table

maggie and milly and molly and may
~E.E. Cummings

maggie and milly and molly and may
went down to the beach (to play one day)

and maggie discovered a shell that sang
so sweetly she couldn't remember her troubles, and

milly befriended a stranded star
whose rays five languid fingers were

and molly was chased be a horrible thing
which raced sideways while blowing bubbles; and

may came home with a smooth round stone
as small as a world and as large as alone.

For whatever we lose (like a you or a me)
it's always ourselves we find in the sea

I haven't had time for much blogging this summer, but I did manage to get together our August nature table after a recent trip to the beach.  August is usually a month of beach trips for us, and probably the busiest month of the summer.  We're trying to enjoy the summer one day at a time, although thoughts and plans for the upcoming school year are bubbling up to the surface of my mind each day. 

I hope you are all enjoying the last few weeks of summer vacation before commencing another fabulous and creative school year!

Our sea themed nature table.

I made little sailboats with shells and twigs. 
The twigs are stuck on with modelling wax
and I sewed on the little sails.

The squid, turtle, and jellyfish are happily
drifting along in the current.

And on the sea floor rests a little mermaid among
her  treasures.

Monday, June 13, 2011

June Nature Table

There are fairies
at the bottom of our garden!
They often have a dance
on summer nights:
the butterflies and bees
make a lovely little breeze.
and the rabbits stand about
and hold the lights.
Did you know that they could sit
upon the moonbeams
And pick a little star to make a fan,
and dance away up there
in the middle of the air?

Well they can.

~Rose Fyleman

 First, I must apologize for the timing of this post!  The month's half over!  At any rate, we decided that this poem would be a great inspiration for our June nature table as this is the month of the Summer Solstice.  We could just imagine such goings on under the moonlight our little yard, perhaps near the apple trees where S is always busy building fairy houses and leaving special things for the fairies and gnomes.  Enjoy, and Happy Summer!

The whole nature table, with the
poem written on a little card below.

...the butterflies and bees make a
lovely little breeze...

...and the rabbits stand about
and hold the lights...

...did you know that they can sit upon
the moonbeams, and pick a little
star to make a fan...

Friday, May 6, 2011

May Nature Table


May's a month of happy sounds-
the hum of buzzing bees,
The chirp of little baby birds,
and the song of a gentle breeze.

~Holly Hobbie

I finally finished our May nature table last night.  A few days late, I know, but it's such a busy time of year with garden planting, yardwork, and spring cleaning!

I needle-felted the little Maypole maidens and the little busy bugs.  The flowers came from our yard:  Muscari (grape hyacinth), geraniums, and blossoms from one of our apple trees.

Happy May!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Now I Know My ABCs

As some of you may know, I teach my 5 1/2 year old with a mix of kindergarten and first grade curriculum.  At age four, she was an early reader and writer, and I didn't really see any point in holding her back until she was seven before introducing letter instruction.  While this goes against the typical Waldorf timeline, I made a judgement call and decided she was ready.  We took a gentle approach though, and she enjoyed her work immensely.

We began instruction after our Christmas break.  A few days before we started work in her Main Lesson Book, we started reading The Wise Enchanter: A Journey Through the Alphabet.  Here's a brief description of the book from Amazon.

  "Words are disappearing from the world. Something is lurking in the deepest waters, devouring all the words that are no longer used. No one has noticed, but the world is slowly growing darker. For many years no children have come to the Enchanted Islands in search of Wisdom, and the Wise Enchanter is growing old. Four children from the corners of the earth have been sent on a quest to rediscover each letter, unlock the treasure of language, and thereby grow wise. Time is running out; if the children do not reach the castle of the Wise Enchanter in time, Wisdom and light may vanish from the world altogether."

I should also mention that during the story, as the children rediscover each letter, they make a visual record of it in their "magic book."  These drawings are living images of the letters found in their surroundings over the course of their journey.  I'm sure you can see how this would fit in so well with creating our own "magic book" as our Main Lesson Book.  This proved to be such a great way to introduce this six week lesson block.  We read one chapter each day during story time, after lunch.  Each chapter is based around a letter of the alphabet.  Even though our lessons didn't always match up with the letter of the day in the story, it didn't seem to cause any kind of confusion at all. 

Our first lesson went as follows:

-During circle time, introduce a letter (for example here we'll say "B"; vowels come much later)
-Recite a tongue twister to go with the letter [e.g. "A big, black bee bit a big, brown bear.  The big, brown bear bled blood"]
-Read a story, usually one of Grimm's, containing an image to go with the letter [We read Snow White and Rose Red, which has a bear in it]

Day two and the following days would proceed as follows:

-During circle, review previous day's tongue twister and story.
-Introduce a new letter and corresponding tongue twister.
-Read story to go with the new letter.
-In main lesson book draw a picture for the previous day's (in this case, the letter "B" story.  We drew a big, brown bear inside a letter "B.")
-I also integrated some handwriting practice into this since S was already writing.  We also included lowercase letters, which are normally introduced much later in a true Waldorf setting.

When the book was complete, we hand bound it together.  Fortunately, I had taken a book making class in college, and was able to bind it in a reasonably proficient manner.  S was very excited to go to the art store to pick out some beautiful handmade paper for the cover and end papers.  It really made her feel so proud of her six weeks of hard work to see the book beautifully bound.  She sat in her rocking chair for quite a while reading through it and reciting all the tongue twisters again.

And here's how it turned out!

The front cover of the book.  S wanted her book to
look magical too, so she just had to go for some paper
with a little gold on it!  The end papers inside are
plain metallic gold as well.  Magical, indeed!

A big, black bee bit a big, brown bear.
The big, brown bear bled blood.
The image is also suitable for the story we
read for the letter "B", which was Snow White
and Rose Red.
This was the first picture she drew for her book.

This is the handwriting practice page which follows the picture
in the book.

Here is the "U" page.  I had a hard time coming up
with a fairy tale for this one so I told
The Pied Piper of Hamlin.  I was surprised that
I remembered the story from my own childhood!
Both kids had fun following me around the house
as I told the story and pretended to play my flute
to the children who follow him at the end of the story.

You're right, "flute" doesn't begin with "U."  But the (oo)
sound conveys the feeling and mood of the letter, as well
as capturing the musical quality of it when spoken or heard.
Like when someone plays the flute, for example.

We are currently in the midst of our introduction to numbers as a quality, and are creating a similar, although somewhat smaller, Main Lesson Book.  I'll post the results of that endeavor when it has been completed!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Easter is Coming!

Easter is coming!  Are you ready?  Time to start growing that Easter grass for your baskets, if you haven't already.  It's a great eco-friendly alternative to that awful plastic traditional "grass."  Plus, it's fun to watch it grow, and it only takes two weeks for a nice full basket!

Here's how we did ours:

Get yourself some baskets, potting soil, wheat berries,
plastic (we used garbage bags), and some kids who
like to get dirty.  Line the baskets with plastic so
you don't ruin the baskets and so they won't leak
when you water them.  Fill with soil and sprinkle a generous
amount of wheat berries in a nice layer on top.

Cover with about 1/4"  or 1 cm soil and pat done lightly. Water until soil is damp.

Trim plastic liner to about 1/2" above soil line.  You won't even
see it once the grass starts growing.

Spray with water twice a day until seeds sprout.
Here they are just four days after we planted them.
Once they've sprouted just water them enough
to keep the soil moist.

It grows fast!  Here it is at only six days!

And here we have our baskets at two weeks.  I actually had
to give the grass a trim by then!  In the bigger basket, I
stuck in some twigs from the yard to hang our egg

If I had had some foresight, I would have popped in a few flower seeds or crocus bulbs, too.  Maybe next year...

If growing your own grass isn't an option for whatever reason, here are still some great alternatives for filling your baskets:
-green cotton or wool yarn
-green or natural wool roving or fairy wool
-shredded green or multi-colored paper (run some construction paper through a shredder!)

Does the Easter Bunny hide eggs at your house?  He does at ours, but they're not filled with candy (who needs a sugar rush/crash at 7am?).  This year he'll be hiding eggs filled with polished crystals and stones.  And they won't be plastic eggs either.  This year they'll be in real eggs, which have been blown out, dyed, had a hole trimmed in them, filled with treats and sealed back up with tissue paper.  This is a bit of an experiment on my part, so I'll let you know how it goes.  If it goes well, I'll post a how-to.  

We have added some bunny stories to the kids' bookshelf in addition to the other spring books.  Marshmallow, The Easter Egg, and The Golden Egg are some of our favorites, and are not all specifically Easter books.  I heard a rumor that the Easter bunny will also be dropping off Reg Down's new Tiptoes book, The Starry Bird, which is an Easter story.

Have a warm, renewing, and fun Easter!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

April Nature Table

We change our Nature Table pretty frequently, but not as often as I'd like during each season.  So to keep it fresh and interesting, I've decided to become a little more diligent about changing it at the beginning of every month.  This has become part of our Circle Time on the first day of each month. 

We use the circular Grimm's calendar (really the best calendar for kids, such a great visual of the circle of days/weeks/months) and light a candle on the first day of the month while we recite a little poem about that particular month.

So for April, I took a poem from a book I've had since I was a little girl, Holly Hobbie's Through the Year Book.  Here is the poem:

April is a rainbow month
of sudden springtime showers,
Bright with golden daffodils
and lots of pretty flowers,

Our Nature Table reflects the feeling of that poem, but was also influenced by actual events in nature, of course, like the emergence of flowering bulbs and spring grass.  We have only three little flower children right now, but we'll be adding to them over the course of the month.  The following is a picture of the table thus far.  Enjoy, and I hope this inspires you with some ideas for your own Nature Table!

Our April Nature Table
with King Sun up on his cloud up top,
rainbow and sheep in the middle with
modelling wax swans in the stream,
and flower children sprouting from the soil below.
The postcard is from a set, one for each month.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Catch Another Butterfly

The other day while I was cleaning the house, I was listening to an old John Denver CD and the song "Catch Another Butterfly" came on.  I had forgotten all about this song, but immediately recognized it from my childhood.  My father used to listen to J.D. all the time, and this song, among some of his others and songs of other artists, marked certain points in my childhood.  You know how a song can take you right back to a certain place and time?  I immediately had flashbacks of long hikes up through New England mountain ranges to admire the fall foliage or to go swimming in cold mountain streams in my cut-off jean shorts.

It's funny though, as I listened to the song again as an adult, it held even more meaning for me in respect to the childhoods of my own children.

I should back up here a minute.  The song itself is a reflection of the artist's childhood spent outdoors, looking at rocks and stars, catching butterflies, and listening to the songs of birds.  It is also a lament of those times that have passed, of innocence lost, and a dulling of those childhood senses.  It happens to all of us.  We grow up and in many senses, lose that wonder we once had.

In our day to day lives here, I strive to build upon that wonder my children-and all children-have.  The reverence for nature and its gifts, a sense of responsibility in caring for our natural world, and respect for its power and fragility are all values I want my children to carry with them.

Spring is here-finally-and the kids are rediscovering all the treasures nature has to offer.  Crocuses peeking out from the still cold soil, worms coming up to the top layer in the garden, robins subsequently eating said worms (such is life, huh?), and the first sighting of our friend the Garter Snake who lives under the back porch.  I want them to always remember those small, but significant, experiences and treasure the wonder that they bring so when they have their own children they can experience it again and again.

Catch Another Butterfly
by John Denver

Do you remember days not so very long ago
When the world was run by people twice your size?
And the days were full of laughter
And the nights were full of stars
And when you grew tired you could close your eyes

Yes the stars were there for wishing
And the wind was there for kites
And the morning sun was there for rise and shine
And even if the sniffles kept you
Home from school in bed
You couldn't hardly stay there after nine

And I wonder if the smell of morning's faded
What happened to the robin's song
That sparkled in the sky?
Where's all the water gone
That tumbled down a stream?
Will I ever catch another butterfly?

Do you remember camp outs right in your own backyard?
Wondering how airplanes could fly
And the hours spent just playin'
With a funny rock you found
With crystal specks as blue as all the sky

And I wonder if the smell of morning's faded
What happened to the robin's song
That sparkled in the sky?
Where's all the water gone
That tumbled down a stream?
Will I ever catch another butterfly?

Now I watch my son, he's playin' with his toys
He's happy, I give him all I can
But I can't help feelin'
Just a little tingly inside
When I hear him say he wants to be a man

And I wonder if the smell of morning's faded
What happened to the robin's song
That sparkled in the sky?
Where's all the water gone
That tumbled down a stream?
Will I ever catch another butterfly?
Will I ever catch another butterfly?

I have also added a music page to the blog.  It's listed as "This Is What We Listen To" under the "Pages" heading.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Spring Cleaning

As a follow up to yesterday's post, I have finished making some spring cleaning changes on the site.  All my resource links are now available on their own separate category pages under the heading of "Pages" on the right hand side. 

And on a totally unrelated topic, here are my kids sewing today.  As you can see, F was very serious about his new "sewing sock" that he got to sew up with a real metal (but somewhat dull) needle!  It's just a wool filled old sock.  Very easy for a young child to poke through with a needle and some embroidery floss. :)

My daughter did some sewing too.  Here she's making a daisy rug for her gnome home.  It's a little Spring present for them. :)

She was so excited that she wanted another project so she started a little sachet for my mom.  Here's the front piece.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Don't Panic!

I just wanted to send out a quick note to let you know that the resource lists have not disappeared from the bottom of my page.  They are getting too long to keep there, so I'm doing a little tidying up for the spring.  Each one will soon have its own page, all located under the new "Pages" heading at the bottom of my home page.  Hopefully this will make it just as easy to find what you need, and a lot easier for me to update each one.  Less clutter is always good.

In the meantime, I leave you with these pictures of some furniture I have been making for the kids' gnome home.  Yay, power tools!  I love my new scroll saw! :)
A little shelf for the kitchen.  The small items
on it were from my own childhood dollhouse!
That little clay pot is about 1/4" tall.  Seriously.

Comfy gnome beds.

And a little gnome chair.  The table is just one of the kids'
tree blocks.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

I see the moon, and the moon sees me!

View of a full perigee moon over Manila, Philippines

If you are lucky enough, you were able to catch a glimpse of tonight's "Super Moon."  The last time this phenomenon happened was approximately eighteen years ago.  The moon happens to be at its closest in orbit and it is a full moon, making it appear about thirty percent larger! 

We let the kids stay up a little late to observe this lovely sight.  And it really did look bigger than usual as it climbed up into the clear night sky.  We got the telescope out of the closet and were able to get a really close look at the craters and surface features of the moon.

When we came in for bed time stories, we read from In The Light of  the Moon, which has thirteen stories of the moon from around the world, all arranged by the moon's current state; full, waxing, waning, etc.  Some other great stories for a night like this, or any night of moon gazing, are Papa, Please Get the Moon for Me, and Little Moon Dog.

So, enjoy this special night, just like the Owl and the Pussycat from the classic Edward Lear Poem.

And hand in hand, on the edge of the sand,
    They danced by the light of the moon,
          The moon,
          The moon,
They danced by the light of the moon.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Chinese New Year

Happy New Year!

It has been an insanely busy week full of celebrations, and today was no exception.  Sort of at the last minute (which for me was several days ago, but that doesn't leave much time for making good plans) I decided to go ahead and celebrate Chinese New Year with the kids.  No, we are not Chinese, but it's always fun to borrow traditions.

It is the year of the Rabbit, hence the Happy New Year message my kids found on the blackboard this morning (quickly scribbled before breakfast).  After breakfast, we started the day by hanging strings of little rice paper kites around the dining room, which tends to be the central place for celebrations.  Not exactly New Year's decorations, but a friend of my Dad's brought them back form Hong Kong and the kids were excited to see them strung up.

Then we moved right into making lanterns.  Super easy to make.

Choose two colors of paper.  Fold one in half, and along
the folded edge mark some lines about 3/4" apart.  Cut along
the lines, but be sure to stop where the line does.  This
is great cutting practice for young children.

Roll the second sheet into a cylinder.  Hold the paper
horizontally for this.  Staple, glue, or tape it to keep it closed.
This is the inside of the lantern.

Now staple, glue, or tape the second sheet around the first,
about 3/4" from the top and bottom edges. 

Punch three holes around the top, string it, tie a knot
at the ends of the strings, and parade it around!  It's fun
to make lots of little lanterns and hang them all around, too.

After we finished the lanterns, we read a story from Moonbeams,Dumplings, & Dragon Boats, a wonderful resource for several Chinese holidays.  It's full of stories, activities, and recipes.

We made fresh spring rolls for lunch, which are always a favorite.  It is tradition to eat long noodles on the New Year to ensure a long life.  We just decided to put ours inside yummy, little rolls.  I learned how to make these while working during graduate school at a little restaurant that served food from all over Asia.  Now, I make them for parties or even just as a snack or lunch.  You can put pretty much anything in them you like; tofu, any thinly sliced veggie, noodles, lettuce, herbs.  Here's how we made ours.

Get your fillings ready first.  Veggies should be julliened, noodles cooked,
and herbs washed and chopped.  We use rice vermicelli, cilantro,
scallions, lettuce, and cucumbers in ours.  I usually stick in some tofu,
but we were all out.

Here's teh rice wrapper going into a bowl of warm water.  It
only needs to be in there for a few seconds, just until if softens up,
or it will easily tear.  As you can see, it's really thin and delicate. 
Once you get it back out of the bowl, spread it on a clean dish towel,
gently pat it, flip it over, and pat it again.  If it's too wet, it'll be slippery
and won't stick to itself once it's filled.

Make a small pile near the edge of the roll.  My rolls are cone shaped
and open at one end.  For some, it's easier to dump the filling in
the middle and roll it burrito-style, with both ends closed.

Roll it firmly, but gently, around itself to make a cone.  Make
sure it's tight enough that the filing doesn't just fall out.  This
takes some practice.

It should look something like this. 

We served them with tamari and a yummy sesame/almond
dipping sauce, for which the recipe follows.  So good!

For the dipping sauce, I used the sauce from the Karen's Sesame Noodles recipe in Feeding the Whole Family.  It is as follows:

3 Tablespoons tahini
1 Tablespoon almond or chashew butter
1 Teaspoon maple syrup
2 Tablespoons brown rice vinegar
2 Tablespoons tamari or shoyu (or soy sauce if that's what you    have)
1 Teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1 Tablespoon water

Whisk it all together in a bowl until it's creamy.  That's it!