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Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas

The Light of the World has come.

Wishing you and yours a very merry Christmas.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Giveaway by Jessica @ Bohemian Bowmans

Do you have a wild child? I do and love him dearly for it. Today Jessica at Bohemian Bowmans is giving away her ebook Parenting Wild Things, encouraging gentle parenting. A must read for this mom.

Friday, December 16, 2011

This Moment

A Friday ritual inspired by Soulemama. A single photo. A moment to treasure.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Fostering Reverence

With the holidays approaching, I have tried to be more purposeful in how we respond to the season. We naturally withdraw from distractions outside our home as we seek to establish traditions and memories within our family. My eldest son, Aidan, talk excitedly about family being important during this season and even that Christmas isn't all about presents, but that it is Jesus' birthday. He is growing in understanding about ideas and qualities such a courage and hope, so quickly. (In Waldorf education, child development is viewed in 3 distinct cycles and Aidan is entering what is often called the Seven Year Change. Here is an excellent explanation of the 3 cycles.)

In a hurried world that seeks instant gratification, I want to teach my sons to hold reverence for the sacred. When they are grown, I do not want reverence to be new to them, but to be familiar. As I write, I am reminded of my older sister who has 4 sons and a daughter and lovingly reminds me that I am raising future husbands and fathers.

To help me foster reverence for Christmas with both boys, 6 and 3 years old, I have used a 24-day countdown tree my mother made for my sister and I when we were young. It is a simple and clever design in which we as children reached into the pocket of the corresponding day, pulled out a little felt ornament and hung it on the felt tree. What a delight to know Christmas is getting closer. This year, I added a little slip of paper in each pocket. On one side of the paper is a Biblical truth or verse, i.e. "God loves you" or "Let your light shine" and on the other is a clue to a waiting surprise. Every evening, after the boys blow out the dinner candles, young Shane puts the felt ornament on the tree and Aidan reads the paper and off they go to hunt for their surprise which ranges from a tasty treat to a shiny rock for the nature table.

Later in the evening, Aidan and I read from Family Devotions for the Advent Season, further encouraging both of us to look inward at how we will respond to the sacred season, now and in the future.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Just had to laugh...

I am trying to teach my children the reverence of the season. However, I couldn't help but laugh when my three year-old said, "Mama, isn't this funny?"

*sigh* I will soon share some of our more succcesful ways to encourage the Spirit of the Season.

Friday, December 2, 2011

This Moment

A Friday ritual inspired by Soulemama. A single photo. A moment to treasure.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

'Tis the gift to be simple...

'Tis the gift to be simple,
'tis the gift to be free,
'tis the gift to come down where you ought to be,
And when we find ourselves in the place just right,
It will be in the valley of love and delight.

When true simplicity is gained,
To bow and to bend we shan't be ashamed.
To turn, turn will be our delight,
'Til by turning, turning we come round right.

(Shaker hymn)

Wishing you and yours a simply blessed Thanksgiving.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Tell a story, mama! (Story Dice)

Today at work I sat in on web-based training, facilitated by the American Association of State and Local History, about storytelling. Although it was directed to those of us who work in historic places, it made me think of my efforts to begin a tradition of storytelling, both fiction and nonfiction, in my own family.

My sons, and myself for that matter, are almost always ready to hear a good story and are thrilled with the adventures found at
Sparkle Stories, which are great for long car rides. For shorter stories, we turn to Usborne's Farmyard Tales.

In a
previous post, I wrote about using moving pictures as visual aids in tellng stories. This summer while sitting around a campfire, I found that my boys want to hear a story and help create the story itself. My oldest is learning that there is a beginning, middle, and end to each story and I am working on being more observant so I can add more "color" to my stories. Sometimes this just involves stopping to simply feel, hear and see my surroundings and take it all in so I can use it in a story that my children can get lost in.

To help them get involved in the storytelling, I make story dice. I begin the story, setting up the plot then the children roll the dice and I change the story according to what the roll brings, or they take over the story. Story dice are great inspiration when I find myself searching for direction on spontaneous stories.

Want to make your own story dice? It is a simple project that can encourage hours of storytelling fun.

First, find several wood blocks. (I found 5 to be a good number that is not overwelming for the storyteller.) If your child already has a wood block set, just use some of the small square ones or you can purchase them at a craft store. Since little hands will be playing with them, use sandpaper to smooth out rough edges or possible splinters.

Next, list one theme for each block and 6 subthemes to decorate your blocks:

Here are some ideas:

Weather: sun, rain, rainbow, clouds, moon, wind (a cloud blowing swirls)

Landscapes: mountain, cave, pond, rainbow, forest, flower field

Animals: bird, deer, dog, cat, bear, rabbit

People: boy, girl, adult man, adult woman, fairy, gnome

Fairy Tales: castle, prince, princess, unicorn, knight, dragon

Transportation: car, boat, train, hot air baloon, bicycle, horse

Structures: barn, highrise building, bridge, famous landmark, tent, house

There are several ways to put the image on the dice. I drew mine with colored pencils, but you can also use stamps, rub-on transfers, or stickers.

Now, off to spin a good story...

Friday, November 4, 2011

This Moment

A Friday ritual inspired by Soulemama. A single photo. A moment to treasure.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Rhythm of the Season - Autumn

Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.

~John Muir

Autumn has found its way to Pennsylvania this week. The brisk wind blows colorful leaves off the limb and in swirls before touching the ground as we gaze in wonder on our weekend hikes. Summertime with two young boys is a fun outgoing season, kind of like a big long party of outdoor play, boisterous and energetic. Now, with the onset of autumn our rhythm changes to one in which we draw close, contract if you will, prepare for colder days ahead, and we move more slowly and purposefully. Even our times outdoors are more quiet as we hush our voices to listen to the leaves crunch beneath our feet.

In our home we bring the outdoors in with harvest decorations, thanks to my mother who has always encouraged our family to celebrate the change of the season.

We prepare for our Tree of Thanksgiving found at Rhythm of the Home. And make a leaf-matching game of native trees and how their leaves look in spring and autumn.

The harvest is collected.

The pumpkins are picked.

Now it is time to enjoy the grand finale of nature's colorful show of leaves before we settle in for winter's beauty.

Friday, October 7, 2011

This Moment

A Friday ritual inspired by Soulemama. A single photo. A moment to treasure.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Wandering in the Woods

One mile from our home is a park with extensive, unmarked, rarely-traveled wooded trails that we love to explore. Typically, we go on the main path, then cut off on one or two more trails. Any more divergence off the main trail and I am convinced we would be lost. With the three year old in tow, "lost" is not a feeling I want to experience!

One day a few weeks ago, I saw a card from the game/book
The Dangerous Book For Boys. It had a drawing of an arrow made out of 3 sticks, and it struck me... that is our ticket to hiking freedom... stick arrows. Now when we take a turn off a path we mark the path we are leaving with a stick arrow so we can find it on our way back. (Hansel and Gretel's fate will not be our own.)

The children can lead the hike wherever they chose. Unlimited adventure is around every bend. The return trip has turned into a game for little Shane... "Who can spot the arrow first & which way do we go?"

Sometimes they are big and easy to spot on a main trail.

Some tell us which way to turn at a Y.

Others are small and lead to a barely noticeable trail.

I have a feeling the boys will hear, "Get your hiking shoes on!" a lot this autumn...

Friday, September 30, 2011

This Moment

A Friday ritual inspired by Soulemama. A single photo. A moment to treasure.

Michaelmas: A Time For Bravery and Growth

Like many other Waldorf-inspired families, we celebrated Michaelmas yesterday, and throughout the week building up to the day.

There are many ways to teach and commemorate the day.

A popular tradition is to make "Dragon Bread." We used a recipe found in The Waldorf Kindergarten Snack Book.

Because the boys are still quite young, we focused on the theme of bravery by simply talking about times that call for bravery and, with Aidan, who is 6 year-old, reading about Saint George who slew the dragon in: Saint George and the Dragon by Margaret Hodges.

In the book, Princess Una prays for St. George the knight to heal from the dragon's fiery assault, which he does. Aidan and I discussed the power of prayer and why it is important to pray for other people.

Shane, who is just 3, played and slept with his toy dragons, one of which resides at our nature table.

While he claims dragons are "bad" he is ready to offer them love in the same breath. Forgiveness comes so easily to my little squire. (Later he defeated many dragons with his sword.)

Throughout the next week we will talk about archangel Michael (Revelation chapter 12), explore the Armor of God (Ephesians 13), and read The Squire and the Scroll by Jennie Bishop. A tale of the rewards of a pure heart.

And hopefully attend a Michaelmas play hosted by the Corps de Michael.

While "slaying dragons" is a metaphor for bravery and Spirit-filled boldness in every-day life for my children, it is also true for me. As I look to the upcoming Autumn, nature is moving toward a state of decay with the promise of a new day and new growth in the spring. In a way, that is how life is. As the weather cools and we are drawn indoors, I will take time in to wrestle with my own challenges, dragon's if you will, and look forward to a time of renewal and growth. Just as Rudolph Steiner said of Autumn, "Nature-consciousness must be transformed into self-consciousness." so the rhythm of the seasons encourage me to look inward and then outward.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Three Times Around the Sun

(In the Waldorf community, young children hear a unique birthday story every year often involving the rainbow bridge. It grounds them and provides a special sense of security, belonging, and abiding love.)

Today my youngest son, Shane, turns three. After a fun filled day, he will settle down and hear his birthday story.

Shane's Birthday Story

Once upon a time there was a little child named Shane who was still with the angels in heaven and he was very happy there. He looked at the beautiful colors and danced to the lovely music, and that was where he belonged. One day the clouds parted in heaven and Shane saw the beautiful green earth below with all the people happily playing and working. He saw all the colors of the rainbow on the earth. He saw lambs frolicking and birds flying in the air. He saw fish swimming in the sea and all the different plants that covered the earth. He saw children climbing trees running and jumping in the meadows and walking through sand and leaves. It was all so beautiful and seemed to beckon him to come and he longed to go there and see what it was like.

So he said to his angel, "Please, may I go down to earth now?" But his angel looked at him and said, "No, God says it is too soon. You must wait a little while yet." So the child went and was content to wait his time. Then one day again he saw a glimpse of the earth through the clouds again. He saw people doing their work. He saw train conductors, teachers, and farmers. He saw mothers and fathers loving their children. Then he saw a beautiful woman, strong man, a little boy and a grandma who loved each other and longed for another child to come into their family.

He went to the angels and told them of all he had seen. He told them of the woman and the man and the grandparents. He told the angels of the love he was feeling for the Earth family and of his deep desire to be with them. The angels smiled with joy... "This is your family! Now is the perfect time for you to join them" they told him. "We will take you down the Rainbow Bridge to Earth so that you may live with them and be their son."

Late that night, a beautiful rainbow bridge stretched from heaven to earth and on it came the child as a tiny baby. He came right into his mother's loving arms. As the mother and father looked at their precious son, they smiled and whispered, "We will call him Shane Joseph."

In Shane's first year, he spent much time with his mama. He often hugged his father and played peek-a-boo with his big brother. He also learned to call his grandma, Yaya. That year, he met many people who were glad he arrived.

In Shane's second year, his family all traveled to a Magical Kingdom. Shane loved to chase bubbles, run and his brother became his best friend.

In Shane's third year, he traveled across the country by train with his family and was amazed at the beauty as far as the eye could see. He learned to love nature and supplied the nature table with sticks, stones, leaves and feathers. His favorite songs include "Jesus Loves Me" and "Hush Be Still."

Now he begins his fourth year. Surely many adventures await.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Geocaching For the Whole Family - guest blogger

For some time I have wanted to post about how much fun it is to geocache with children. We have found them in many states from Hawaii to Florida to Ne wYork City and in between and even in Ireland. Countless times geocaching has led us to lovely hidden natural places we now treasure and often when we are in small and large cities geocaching has taken us to places only the locals know. For our children, and honestly ourselves as well, geocaching encourages our sense of adventure while fine tuning our observation skills.

Want to learn about geocaching? Visit the geocaching website, and read on.

To tell us more about geocaching, I have my first guest blogger, and my brother who introduced us to geocaching, Paul Tannahill.


When a father or mother of young children first starts geocaching, one of the first thoughts they often have involves how much fun their kids will have finding hidden treasure. When you consider the number of hours most kids play video games and watch TV, it is definitely cool to see youngsters enthusiastic about outdoor exploration and adventure.

Like any other new outdoor activity, a certain amount of physical and mental preparedness is required. Adding kids into the mix increases the importance of that preparedness exponentially.

One of my favorite aspects of geocaching is that it is what I call a “lifestyle activity.” The only equipment you need is a modern GPS receiver or a smartphone with a geocaching app. Anything beyond that is just icing on the cake. I like to compare it to golf: no need to spend hundreds of dollars on clubs, greens fees, etc., and you can play this game any time, anywhere. That type of capability allows for incidental opportunities to find a geocache. Have a half-hour to kill before the movie starts? There’s probably a geocache within easy walking distance. Most kids love that kind of spontaneity! Along with that spontaneity, though, comes the responsibility to make sure the kid(s) you are responsible for are safe every step of the way.

A large number of geocaches contain “swag” (Stuff We All Get), usually cheap McDonald’s toys, etc., and kids really love to hunt for those types of caches. In their eagerness to discover the cool treasure inside, they will often find a cache before you will. The general understanding is: if you take something from a geocache, leave something of equal or greater value. Of course, that eagerness can have a downside, and it’s up to you to be extra observant against tripping hazards, as well as watching where the youngsters stick their hands, faces, etc.

As fun as incidental geocaching is, a lot of us enjoy geocache-centric day trips. There probably a number of geocaches in your region that would make for a time of exploration and sight-seeing. I have devoted and entire day to find just one geocache on a remote mountain top . Long road trips (like one my family and I took from Oregon to Oklahoma) offers an opportunity to find caches in places you will probably never again visit now we’re talking high adventure!

When you plan and prepare to take kids on a geocaching trip, you’ve got to go beyond the basics of food and water, sunscreen and insect repellant. Is the terrain potentially uneven? Nothing beats a pair of hiking boots to make sure everyone’s feet are ready for anything. Could the weather change on you? Dress in layers. Don’t know how to use your GPS beyond finding an occasional geocache? Learn the features that could save your life and theirs: marking a waypoint for your car, using topo maps, knowing the value of a track log, among many others. Learn and practice using your GPS in the comfort of your own stomping grounds before needing that knowledge in unfamiliar territory.Is there any potential for dangerous animals (or people) to be concerned about? When you are focused on keeping one eye on your kids and one eye on your GPS, it’s easy to become less aware of your non-immediate surroundings than you would otherwise be.

Geocaching has taken me to some of the most interesting places of my life, and sharing those places with my family is something I very much enjoy doing. As the saying goes in geocaching: “Stay safe, and keep on cachin’!”

--Paul Tannahill, known as “Pablo Mac” in the geocaching community has been geocaching for a little over 7 years, having found over 2300 geocaches during that time. Some of his family & friends have accused him of being addicted to the sport/hobby/obsession. To that, Pablo Mac calmly replies: “I can quit any time I want… “See Pablo Mac’s Geocaching videos here: http://tinyurl.com/yebucth

Saturday, August 27, 2011

A World Within a World - A Fairy Garden

During our frequent walks this summer, the boys gathered enough sticks, stones, feathers, leaves, and acorns to fill many nature tables. By August we needed a new venue for our found treasures and one of my favorite blogs, The Magic Onions, provided just the inspiration we needed: A Fairy Garden.

Truth be told, I have always been fascinated with fairies. Growing up learning fairy tales then discovering the flower fairies by Cecily Mary Barker encouraged my fancy for them, so making a special place for the fairies sounded fun to me. And I had just the place for it...

Our front flower garden...

Look close and you will find a world within a world! Complete with a colorful pebble path and a tiny spinning wheel.

Nestled among the flowering White Phlox and Irish Moss is a shelter made from the bark of a London Plane Tree. A tiny lantern hangs at the entrance and a flickering light deep within beckons fairy friends.

Here the fairies build pebble monuments and leave flowers and special stones as tokens of affection.

A few steps away, near the lavender bush, they had a dance under a shimmering crystal.

An abandon nest makes a comfy bed.

Under the hastas they keep their walnut shell boats safe...

waiting for nightfall and fun in a nearby waterfall.

Tokens of esteem and affection abound for those who will look closely.

At dusk, lights welcome a host of fairies,

and two little boys who wonder...

"Are fairies real?"

My response is always the same...

"What do you think?"

The contents of this blog, including text, original photos and ideas are the sole property of the author. If you intend to use my text or images, please link back to this blog and give credit to How the Sun Rose. Please do not republish an entire post or post photos of my family. A notification email would be greatly appreciated too!