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

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Happy Midsummer!

We had a truly lovely Midsummer celebration this past week.  I love the Waldorf festivals so much!  I love how they allow us to celebrate the season and challenge me to do different crafts and handwork that are out of my usual routine.  I love how they have already set a rhythm to our year.  Our family chose to celebrate Midsummer on June 24th incorporating St. John the Baptist's feast day into our celebration as well.

In preparation, I started needle felting some little bees a few weeks ago to hang on on our nature table tree.  I made four of them so far and they are very cute.  W and I colored some wood cutouts from the craft store with our beeswax crayons and hung them on the tree too. W especially likes the frog, the turtle and the dragonflies!  He has already pulled down the nature table tree a couple of times trying to get to them.  It's quite a mess and it really upsets him when it falls, but I'm glad he likes it.  W and I also made some bright yellow suns out of pearly soda clay which is really neat fun stuff.  We rolled it out and then cut the suns out with a cookie cutter and let them dry.  I poked little holes in the top with a large needle so that we could hang them on the tree too.  We also made paper stars in shades of red orange and yellow, including my first 16 point star which is just beautiful when the sun shines through.

  On the morning of midsummer I also cut out paper suns and taped them to our china cabinet doors.  They really helped make things festive!

We used the other items to help decorate the nature table and also brought out all of our shells and other summer items to reflect the season.

My other Midsummer handwork was to make floating beeswax candles from these directions.  I made a sun and a duck to float in our table centerpiece. I did have some difficulty unmolding the sun, but I was eventually able to.   While I had the wax melted  I also  made some tea lights and refilled/re-wicked our meal candle that we made at Candlemas.  I love candle-making and love using our homemade candles even more!

For our centerpiece, I used my punch bowl, placing various seashells in the bottom, then filling it with water.  On top of the water I floated my two candles, rose petals, a few sunflower petals, a zinnia blossom, I had accidentally plucked from my plant and some lavender blossoms. It was so pretty.  Behind this I placed a pitcher of sunflowers and roses.  Underneath, I placed more of the soda clay stars and set out W's tea set for a fairy tea party.

For food, Daddy grilled chicken burgers  and hot dogs and we had  fresh green beans, a salad with tomatoes from our garden and potato salad.  We also had my basil/pineapple sage lemonade to drink.  A fairly simple seasonal menu that was very yummy!

The real treat was the summer berries pudding that W and I made.  It was so fun to have him help me with this and he loved it!  We started working from the recipe in All Year Round but altered it a good bit for our family's produce availability, tastes and dietary needs.  This is our recipe (one we will make often, I have a feeling).

Summer Berries Bread Pudding

1 loaf of Italian bread, sliced, crusts trimmed off but reserved.
fresh raspberries, blueberries, blackberries and strawberries (1-2 pints each)
1 can of light coconut milk
1/4 cup local honey

Line the bottom of a dish with slices of bread, then top with the fresh raspberries, a second layer of bread, the blueberries, more bread, the blackberries, more bread, then sliced strawberries. and more bread (I ended up using the crusts when I ran out of  the bread slices).

Mis the coconut milk and honey and pour over the bread and fruit evenly (you may not need all of the milk and be careful not to overflow your dish like I did-what a mess!) Place a plate on top of this and weight it down in the refrigerator (I use a large jar filled with basil and pineapple sage lemonade for this).

I tried unmolding this, but it started to fall apart so I turned it back into it's dish and we dipped it out.  It was really really good and we all love it!  We have also been eating the leftovers with breakfast which has been lovely.

We also tried to make giant bubbles like these from Childhood Magic but it was getting late for W and it had started to sprinkle so we came back inside.  W and I did manage to do this in the days leading up to Midsummer though and he really enjoyed them.

For W we recited the verse shown here on Ancient Hearth's blog.  We then put some "fairy food" otherwise known as raisins in W's tea set cups and told him the fairies might leave him something there in the morning.  The kind and generous fairies left him some little red gems that he has been enjoying since he found them the following morning.

For the adults, we read  Luke 3:1- 18 and reflected on how we can prepare ourselves for relationship with God.  Daddy then had to play a couple songs from Godspell because it reminded him of it and the whole family sang and dance along...a fun impromptu way to our end our evening!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Our Rhythm

I really feel that our rhythm is a constant work in progress and it is something with which I really struggle.  I have  a daily/weekly rhythm down on paper for our family.  I made two charts, one with the basic outline for what happens after W wakes up in the AM for each day of the week.  The other is a list of tasks that I try to accomplish during my "house work time" for each day of the week. I have it posted on the outside door or our computer armoire so that we can refer to it during the day. We don't always stick to what we have posted, but at least having it down on paper helps us a little.  At the very least, if we skip some things one week, the next week we are not left trying to figure out what we are supposed to be doing that day and when.

There are not set times for most things in our rhythm.  We simply flow from one activity into the next as we complete our tasks.   I have set a few anchors in our day however, which are at set times.  These revolve around eating and sleeping.  For example breakfast is at 7:45 AM, lunch is 12:00 noon and dinner is 6:00 PM.  We start the bedtime routine at 8:00 PM and bedtime is 8:30 PM.  This keeps us on track, strengthens our rhythm and generally helps keep peace in our house since I tend to be more sanguine (and therefore loose track of time as I get involved in various activities) and my husband is more phlegmatic (and therefore needs more structure and to know what time certain things are happening).

In creating our rhythm I also tried to take the idea of alternating  "inhale" activities with "exhale" activities which gives our day a wonderful sense of flow.  Inhale activities are things like meals, our circle time, nap time, reading books and more structured activities that we do as a family .  On the other hand "exhale" activities involve more free time and less structure for W and are generally when I do tasks, such as cleaning up after meals, or my housework at this point. Our exhales might also involve going to a park, or playing in the sand box or in the pool together.  For example, most days, W wakes up, we eat breakfast with Daddy before he goes to work (inhale).  After breakfast, W plays independently (as much as he is able to at 18 months) while I clear the table and do the dishes (exhale).  After that, we  have a short circle time where we do some singing, rhymes and finger plays along with a short prayer (inhale).  I then busy  myself with some household tasks while W again plays independently (exhale).  At some point during that time we will come back together for a snack (inhale) and then resume our work/play (exhale) till lunch time (inhale). It took me a long time to fully grasp the idea of alternating inhale/exhale activities and even longer to really implement it.  Now that I have though, our rhythm is much smoother and ebbs and flows nicely.  It also seems to be the way W naturally functions best at this age.  Some independent time or time to release some energy followed by some quiet restorative activities.    Days where we keep to this sort of structured rhythm, are smooth and there are fewer tantrums on his part.  It follows his own energy level and basic needs and he has a general idea of what comes next as we move from one activity to the next.

Other parts of the rhythm, involve rituals that accompany our activities.  I find these rituals to be especially important moving from exhale activities to inhale activities.  For example we like to use, prayer verses, songs and other verses as well as lighting candles at various points during the day to help with transitions.  We have short prayer verses we say upon waking, and before nap and bed time.  When we sit at the table for breakfast or lunch we light a special meal candle and sing  Johnny Appleseed to give thanks before we eat.  At dinner, we again light our meal candle and say a special grace verse at that meal.  We always start and end our circle time with the same two songs as well to signify the transitions.  I change the remainder of the verses and songs monthly however to reflect the the season and any festivals that are occurring that month.

This week I have also paid close attention to my own rhythm and how it affects our family.  Personally, I have a couple of very specific needs that I need to meet each day.  The first is that I need some time on my own in the morning for personal devotions, meditation, prayer, reading and journaling/drawing.  This week I have gotten up between 5:00 and 5:30 AM each morning to have this time alone for these activities.  I found that I am much more centered, patient and an all around better parent when I have this time.  The one morning W decided to get up shortly after I did and my time devotion time was interrupted was a much more difficult day all the way around.

My other significant need is to have time for creative expression.  I love to knit and needle felt and have recently also begun to do some sewing.    I have built time into many of our afternoons and the evenings for this.  Without, some creative outlet every day, I feel stifled.  Like my morning meditations, my  creative time helps me to keep my energy up and  is a soul soothingly productive time.

One final thought on rhythm, is that I strive to see time as cyclical rather than linear as our society and culture would like us to believe.  We do not run out of time, instead, it cycles back around.  Our daily, weekly, monthly rhythm repeats. If I don't finish a project or get some bit of housework done today, it's generally not that big of deal, as the time to work on that task will come again, tomorrow, next week, next month, or next year.  To me this is wonderfully freeing and is key to keeping a rhythm that is both strong and flexible.


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