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

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

September Circle Time and Babysitting Rhythm

I'm not sure if I have mentioned it before in my blog, but I now babysit a little girl, A, who is a few months older than W two mornings and one afternoon a week.  She lives in our neighborhood and they were already playmates, when I offered to watch her so that she wouldn't have to go to a large daycare center anymore.  This situation has been a true blessing for everyone in our family.  W now has a very dear little best friend who he loves very much, and who in some ways acts almost as a sibling for him when she is here.  We love having A stay with us.  She is sweet, but a little bossy at times and has no problems with putting W in his place.  I love seeing them work together to figure things out whether it be settling a disagreement and compromising (with a little gentle guidance) or working for a common goal.  She also has helped him vastly expand his vocabulary and is teaching him some Spanish words too (she's bilingual).  A couple of the other benefits to having her stay with us are that 1) my house is clean at least three days a week and 2) when she is with us we fall into a lovely natural rhythm with different activities on different days and a set order to our day.  Ideally we will get to a point where W and I maintain this rhythm on most days when A is not with us as well.

This blackboard is the background for one of our nature tables.  Each month I try to illustrate it with a drawing and verse from our circle time.  the only problem is that my handwriting was horrible this time (trying not to smear the drawing) but I didn't have the heart to erase the whole thing and start over.

One element I try to maintain with W each day is circle time.  It works a little better on days that A is with us as W wants to participate more because he wants to hold A's hand and because he doesn't want to feel left out.  I try to revise our circle time monthly to keep it seasonal, and some items carry over from one month to the next.  It is also one of the ways that I prepare our family for festivals and celebrations during the month.

Here is our circle time for September:

Call to Circle Song:
                Come Follow
                Come follow, follow, follow,
                 follow, follow, follow me
                Whither shall I follow, follow, follow,
                Whither shall I follow, follow thee?
                To the greenwood, to the greenwood,           
greenwood tree (repeat)
From Come Follow Me

Sit Down Song:
                Ring around the rosie
A pocket full of posy
Ashes, ashes we all fall down

Nursery Rhyme:
                To Makret, To Market
                To market to market to buy a fat pig;
                Home again, home again, jiggety-jig.
                To market, to market to buy a fat hog;
                Home again, home again, jiggety-jog

Finger Play:
Signs of Autumn
                When the birds fly south (flap arms)
                And the wind blows cool (shiver)
And the green (hold up hands)
on the trees turns red (Flip palms over)
And the days grow shorter
(Bring hands close together from far apart)
And the nights grow long
(separate hands from close together)
And Jack Frost freezes grass dead
 (point fingers straight up, then slowly curl)
Then summer has done (Wave as if goodbye)
And autumn has come
(Turn to opposite direction; hold arms out)
From Finger Frolics

Leaves are Floating Down
Leaves are floating softly down; (flutter fingers)
They make a carpet on the ground
Then, swish!  The wind comes whirling by
(bring hand around rapidly)
And sends them dancing to the sky
(flutter fingers upward)
From Finger Frolics
Songs:    Come Little Leaves
Come little leaves said the Wind one day.
Come over the meadow with me and play.
Put on your dresses of red and gold.
For summer is gone and the days grow cold.
Grow cold, Grow cold (repeat)
From Come Follow Me

                A knight and a lady went ridding one day
                Far into the forest , away, away
                Dear knight said the lady, I pray have a care
                This forest is evil, beware, beware
                A fiery red dragon they spied on the grass
                The lady wept sorely alas, alas
                The night slew the dragon, the lady was gay,
                They rode on together away, away, away
From Come Follow Me

…Apples, Apples  everywhere,
please let me have just one,
and just two more please tree,
then September Will be done.
From September-Around the Year

…By all these lovely tokens
September days are here,
With summer's best of weather,
And autumn's best of cheer.
From September by Helen Hunt Jackson

"The goldenrod is yellow
The corn is turning brown

The trees in apple orchards
With fruit are bending down."
-  Children’s song

Religious Verse:
                You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
-Matthew 22:39

Thank You, dear God, for autumn,
With all the colors bright.
The reds and browns and yellows
Make such a pretty sight.
(from My First Read and Learn book of Prayers)

Closing Song:       
This Is The Day--Psalm 118:24
                This is the day, this is the day
                That the Lord hath made, that the Lord hath made
                We will rejoice,    we will rejoice
                And be glad in it, and be glad in it.
                This is the day that the Lord hath made
                We will rejoice and be glad in it
                This is the day, this is the day
                That the Lord hath made.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Christmas is coming...

We havedecided on a handmade holiday this year, inspired by Plain and Joyful Living's Handmade Holiday 2010.  In 2009, I did make many of our gifts, however, we also bought quite a few as well.    This year the goal is that all our gifts are either made by us, or, they are purchased directly from the person who made them, with a goal of having most of them made in our home using our own special talents.  I started planning our Christmas gifts in July, but have not made too many items yet, but I am working on it!

Here's what I have been working on...

A tree branch disk memory game for W.
A branch fell in my parent's neighbors' yard and  my mom was able to salvage this branch, cut it into thin pieces and
I then used rubber stamps to make the pictures and finished the pieces with beeswax polish.

The first of hopefully six hand knit cotton dishcloths for my mother.

These are mittens I recently knit for W.  They were my first attempt at mittens and they came out fairly well.  I also plan on attaching them to some I-cord that I will string through W's coat so that he does not loose them.  They should fit him okay for this year, but I hope he can get two years of wear out of them as they are a bit roomy.  They are made from Cascade 220 and I used the pattern from the book The Children's Year.  It's one of my favorite resources for cute little projects to do around the year.  I especially like some of the knitting patterns in the autumn section.

My current work in progress is this gnome's hat for W, also from the book,  The Children's Year.
I'm using Cascade 220 in red, blue, yellow and green stripes.
Several friends made these hats for their children last winter and they are just too cute!
Still lots more to do on the handmade gift front.  I am still looking for inspiration for several guys on my list including, my hubby, father,  father in law, brother in law, and my husband's cousin.  Somehow, these guys are the hardest in the bunch to make presents for!

Recently I was also reading Rockin' Granola's blog and discovered Organized Christmas.  I LOVE this website.  There are several different plans available on the website with lots of downloadable/printable tools to use to get organized and ready for the holidays.  I am starting with the Holiday Grand Plan this week. This is List Week and the plan involves focusing on the from porch, creating a holiday binder and making several lists in order to prepare. I have already made my Christmas binder, and have printed out and tabbed many of the available resources.  I will take care of the lists and the front porch over the course of the week.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Rhythm Thursday-Our Baking Day is Saturday

After a crazy July that included three nights in a hotel because of fumes in our apartment from renovations being done next door, a week of Vacation Bible School, a trip to visit family in NJ and a longer trip down the Blue Ridge Parkway, through the Great Smokey Mountains , to Norris Damn in Tennessee and side trips to Cumberland Gap and Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge TN, we are back home and slowly settling in and getting back into our family rhythm.  Bed times are getting earlier, I’m babysitting again after a three week break and things are going more smoothly.  While most of our July activities were pretty fun, they did leave our whole family feeling really unbalanced and out of sync and I think we have all welcomed our return to rhythm. 
One big thing that I had been wanting to implement in terms of rhythm, but  had not been completely successful with was establishing a baking day.  I decided that our baking day should be on Saturday so that we can have some fresh baked cinnamon rolls for breakfast on Sunday mornings as we are heading off to church.  This also is an effort to get us to eat a little healthier on Sunday mornings.  Cinnamon rolls made with xylitol and whole wheat bread seem a bit healthier to me than the doughnuts we are otherwise tempted to grab at church.  They also make a quick easy breakfast for the one day of the week that we tend to sleep in a little.  This week W and I made pumpkin pie brioche dough from Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day.  I also used their recipe for cream cheese and honey frosting, but used maple syrup instead.  For the cinnamon roll filling I used a mixture of xylitol, cinnamon and coconut oil.  Because the dough needs to set, I ended up making the bread (for French toast) and the cinnamon rolls out and baking them in the evening after W was in bed.  W and I did however also make a queens cake which is a type of pound cake that is flavored with citrus and has currants mixed all though the batter.  The recipe comes from a little cookbook sold at Colonial Williamsburg.  It’s a special cake to me since the favors at my wedding included a little package of mini queen’s cakes.
W loves  “baking day” and I realized it was really the first time I’d done very much baking with him.  He thought the mixing and stirring was so much fun and he is such a little helper in the kitchen.  Ultimately my goal is to make up the bread dough for sandwich bread and brioche the evening before so that W can help shape and bake our bread and treats, and then to make one other item that he can help me to mix up on baking day.  I think this stands to be a really wonderful part of our family’s weekly rhythm!

Oh, and the cinnamon rolls were sooooo good!!!


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