Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Elfing Crayons





Tonight will be a quick blog. Craig and I are giving each other an early Christmas gift tonight. We are going out to dinner, kid free, in Colonial WilliamsburgWe both prefer the gift of time together, with good food, so this is perfect. 


Today however I did a bit of elfing (aka making our own handmade gifts) for the kids. I re-batched some broken crayons for Jonas, into circle crayons. At his age, he still needs large bulky crayons- so these are perfect! I also cringe when any of our beeswax crayons bite the dust, since the cost so much more. This is a nice way to re-use the broken pieces you have lying around (plus they still are just as vibrant re-batched). 

It is a very simple process too. 


-Just take your broken crayon bits and sort them into color groups (greens and yellows, red and oranges, & blues and purples). 




-Then put then in a oven safe silicone muffin pan. I bake mine at 350 for 7 minutes. 
-Once they come out I mix the melted wax together and let then set for 20 minutes outside. 
-Then pop them out and enjoy. If you use a silicone mold, and I highly suggest you do, then they will come out no problem!





Enjoy and have a great night! We will! 

Monday, December 12, 2011

St. Lucia Week at Co-op

Daily Verse or Quote: 

Lucy Light,
The Shortest day &
The Longest Night









I am so excited to blog tonight. Today at co-op began our St. Lucia, aka Lucy, week. St. Lucia is another Waldorf saint day holiday that they celebrate in their schools. It is a first celebration for me and my family as well as my partner. 


St. Lucia Day is a popular Scandinavian holiday. Neither I or my husband however have any Scandinavian background (that we know of). Craig is pretty German on both sides- thus the lovely Kleemann last name. I however am primarily Irish, with a dash of German and Native American. Go figure on the Native American part of me. If you know me, then you can plainly see that I am as white and fair as Casper! I digress however. (I happen to be a bit bitter about being very very fair


In order to celebrate St. Lucia I have had to do a bit of research. Obviously I like to make holidays our own and adapt them to fit into our rhythm. But I also don't want to lose the integrity of the holiday's original traditions either. I also want to make sure that any holiday which we bring into our home has a good message. We happen to be non-denominational Protestants, so in our church we do not have or celebrate any saints (so I am basically clueless when it comes to saints)!


For my family however this doesn't mean that we can not teach the children about the saints. When teaching the children I just make sure to highlight the underlying values that holds true for all Christians, regardless of our denominations. Craig and I really don't see any conflicts there, especially since all the saint's stories lead back to Christ (the most important element). Truly we all have more in common than I believe we all think we do. 


So today we decided to bake St. Lucia buns or Lussekatt. It was a fun experience. My partner and I had to improvise with the dough a bit because despite following the recipe we had to the T, our dough did not rise much. But in the end they were very tasty and cute. Which is most important, right? We also were a bit barbaric and used chocolate instead of raisins. I mean I come about it honestly, I am pregnant- the baby needed the chocolate!


In our circle time today, I read to the children about winter and how it is a dark, restful, and sleepy time for most animals as well as people (to tie into how St. Lucia brings light in the winter). Then we spoke about how St. Lucia showed Christ's love and kindness to people (by bringing them food in the catacombs as her legend goes). I also asked the children ways in which they could show people Christ's love and kindness specifically, as St. Lucia and St. Nicholas did. Their answers were very sweet and heartfelt. I believe they are beginning to realize the heart behind the holiday. Which is refreshing for me since I get so jaded with familial stress right at times. 


So on Friday this is how we will be topping off our celebration! 
-We are making, in order to show Christ's kindness and love to all of God's creation, winter bird/chicken feeders (for my farm animals) and dog biscuits for our co-op mascot Penny. 
-We also are going to color pictures for send to the Elderly through a non-profit called  Color a Smile
-The girls will dress in white- I have red ribbons for them and a candled wreath crown to share. 
-The boys will also be included and dressed in green as tomtnissar! 
-Not to mention I also have some fun stories and St. Lucia songs to sing with them. 


Needless to say it will be a busy but fun day! Phew. But in the end it it worth it. Deirdre has not stopped talked about St. Lucia today. It is the first female saint we have covered and she is a fan. I think it gives her a tangible and relatable figure to emulate.  









Some nice Waldorf sources I used for stories, recipes, and themes on St. Lucia:

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Thursday, December 8, 2011

A Little Bit of Advent and Crafty Advice

Daily Verse or Quote: 
“The soul should always stand ajar. Ready to welcome the ecstatic experience.” 
- Emily Dickinson

Our Winter Nature Table 

My Glass Nativity


Things are really beginning to look a lot like Christmas around here! We've had most of our decorations up since the day after Thanksgiving but much fine tuning has been going on this week. 

We do have a nice advent tradition- going on three years strong! I have a small pocket calendar for each day of this month that I fill with candy and a slip of paper for either a present, craft, or trip each day. We also read a different story each day as well. I do not use the same crafts each year but the trips have been staying the same. I have a good mix in there. 

Today we made clay ornaments. You can find the directions on how to make them here. I love that you can pick your own shapes and paint them as well. My kids loved this craft. We used acrylic paint and a mod podge shimmer  seal to make sure that they last. I also suggest using lots of corn starch to roll them on. Another bonus is that these are totally non toxic. Jonas ate a bunch and well the corn starch and baking soda won't hurt him in the least. 

Someone asked me about this recently. In order to get extra crafts done during the holidays, or really any day with young kids, I have a few suggestions-

1. Plan ahead. Pre assemble during nap time all the needed supplies, pre-measured if necessary. I store my supplies in a plastic tub so that once we are done it all goes in the tub and away. This prevents them from getting into it and I then don't stress over not having a clear table. If you need to re-organize your supplies, wait until later. It will wait for you safely in the tub until then. 

2. Make clean up easy. Use a drop cloth and then just bundle up the mess for clean up after dinner. I use an old plastic table cloth for this. Keep baby wipes handy for cleaning up quick messes. Oh and just strip your kids down or use and old t-shirt. We have designated paint shirts here. 

3. Make a crock pot dinner. I tend to craft after naptime with my kids on non co-op days. My husband works nights, so it is just me and them. In order to have time to eat I make an easy crock pot meal that night. I put it in in the morning or during nap so that it will be ready about the time we finish crafting. This book is awesome for dinner ideas: Fix it and Forget it

4. Make the craft with them. I always enjoy myself more and engage better if I paint along with them. I have no big expectation for what I do but it keeps me from being tempted to do something else instead of spending time with them and their craft. 

5. Let go. Since we crafted tonight, I have yet to do my dishes and fold my laundry. Oh well. It can wait. We had a great time. We made memories, and tomorrow when we won't be crafting so I can catch up. 
If being creative with your kids is a priority, and I believe it should be in what ever form you choose, then you need to put it first and make time for it. If you don't then it probably won't happen.

6. Forgive yourself.  Please remember, it is also fine if something unexpected comes up and you need to postpone the project. Life happens too. Mother guilt is evil and totally self inflicted. Rise above it. You will get around to doing something fun once life calms down. Your kids will be fine in the meantime.  Just remember this extra preparation that you need to do when they're little, will end. Once they're older- they can and will want to do this on their own. Embrace and enjoy the craziness! 


So there you have it! Enjoy and I hope you get some crafting done. Pleas feel free to comment and share a link to some of your crafts you all have been doing. I love to see them and get new ideas!!! 


Advent Calendar 

My Noels! 

More table 

Ostheimer 

Co-op Christmas tree, soon to be decorated!  
Winter seasonal ring 

My hearth 

More Noels 

Crafting!!! 


Mid-sentence talking about her green ornament. 

Jonas is intense about painting. I love it! 

Ta-da!



Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Saint Nicholas' Day


Today and over the past two weeks we have been preparing and celebrating St. Nicholas at home and in our Waldorf homeschool co-op. When I began this Waldorf journey, the saints days that they celebrate in their schools really intrigued me. A few of them I had heard of (St. Patrick and St. Valentine) however many were totally new to me! I love new traditions and holidays, especially when they have a religious background that syncs with my beliefs. 

In this first semester of our co-op, we have celebrated Michaelmas, Martinmas, and now St. Nicholas' Day- followed by St. Lucia's Day next week. Each celebration has been totally new for me and exciting. Delving into the stories of these saints and using them as vehicles for imparting biblical truths to my children have been truly joyous for me and them. 

The neat thing for Craig and I concerning St. Nicholas' day is that Craig actually knew about it and celebrated it as a little boy when he lived in Germany! He also celebrated Martinmas! So needless to say being able to include him in our celebration, and even letting him take the lead with St. Nick's day was so much fun. 

Tonight we celebrated and had hot cocoa with cookies. Of course we left some for St. Nick and his horse. We also read stories about him and sang his hymns. I think most importantly for Deirdre was our conversation  on specific ways we could show God's love and kindness to our friends and family this Christmas, like St. Nick shows us. She had some good ideas and we also have some planned opportunities. This year at our church on Christmas Eve, instead of a traditional service we will be packing meals to send to school children in North Africa. Our goal is to pack 40,000 meals. Deirdre will be with me that night helping as much as she can. 

So I will leave you with our photos of tonight and some resources that we've used this year to help us celebrate! 

Always, Nicole 










Resources: 
This entire site is chock full of songs and crafts. You really need not look any further. 

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Weekending

Is it already Sunday? Please pinch me then because it feels like Friday!


This weekend we celebrated our firstborn's, Deirdre Cosette, fourth birthday. Her actual birthday is December 18th, one week exactly from Christmas day. So for the past 3 years now we've celebrated it at the beginning of the month to not crowd Christmas- and the other way around. 


Her party this year was a gnome party. It is what she wanted and I was happy to oblige! I think gnome are precious and I tend to shy away from marketed characters. It was a fun day, followed also today by her good friend's birthday party too! In our group of friends we all seem to have winter babies, so it can get crowded! We're happy to share though. 


I will blog more on Monday about the party specifics, how we did it, and why we celebrate birthdays the way we do. I did not have to take pictures at the party either, thanks to my Mother in law. So once I get those photos I will pass them along.


In the meantime I will leave you with a special photo of Deirdre and I on our first day home from the hospital back in 2007 when I was 21 and a newlywed. It is a special photo to me because after I had Deirdre I was in terrible pain for 6 weeks and could not walk. I was eventually diagnosed with pubic symphysis diastasis and the pain did go away, but it still to this day haunts me. 


However despite the pain, I was blessedly totally smitten and in love with my baby. I still wish I could have enjoyed her newborn moments more and been pain free, but this is what I have and they're still precious memories to me. 


So hug your little ones extra close tonight for me. They sure do grow quickly. 


Daily verse or quote: 

A son is a son till he takes him a wife, a daughter is a daughter all of her life.  
~An Irish Proverb

Thursday, December 1, 2011

::right now::

Lovely and happy co-play- it warms my soul. 

Co-op Martinmas- minus Jonas who was running around like a crazy man! 

Fake snow courtesy of the Yankee Candle store! 

::right now:: a tradition birthed by Soulemama 

Right now, I am...
:: surrounded by signs of the holidays in my home, city, and daily rhythm. And I love it!
:: sewing up a store. I have two Christmas quilts to finish (see below photos), and a birthday gnome quilt to bind by Saturday! 
:: thinking up last minute ways to decorate for Deirdre's 4th birthday party this Saturday. She is having a gnome party and well if you hadn't noticed stores don't carry gnome party supplies. While this usually is not a problem for me, being sick and pregnant for the greater part of the past three months has taken a HUGE toll on my productivity! 
:: wondering if it will snow on this Saturday like it did last year on Deirdre's birthday. I sure hope so! 
:: letting go of my grand plan of hand making all my Christmas gifts. I had to outsource some of my gift-making to other sweet Etsy mothers. But, as I wanted, all my children's gifts and most of my immediate family gifts were handmade- and fair trade. A few were also made by yours truly! (By the way check out three places I bought from on Etsy: Natural Earth Farm and Fiber Studio , Christina Guenther Artisan JewelryWyoming Rose!)
:: praying my family and I remain cold free this winter. When I am pregnant my colds linger much longer than I prefer. 
:: planning the rest of my co-op curriculum this month. My partner and I decided to not buy one this month and make our own since we don't really need extra help coming up with stories and crafts. Here's hoping the kids love it! 
:: dreaming about my new baby as my body continues to gently remind that indeed there is a baby coming this Spring. 
:: reading the winter edition of Rhythm of the Home magazine. My new article on handmade holiday soaps is posted in it as well in their 'Warmth' section, so check it out!  
:: listening to Paradise by Coldplay and letting it take me to a nice melancholy place that I sometimes like to visit. 
:: treasuring the fourth year of marriage Craig and I will celebrate tomorrow. My degree, research, awards, scholarships, publications-basically any achievement I have- pales in comparison to the amount of work a happy and healthy marriage takes. And I am proud to say I consider our marriage my (and our) greatest achievement. Even more so than the effort we put into parenting. I just love Craig so! 
:: backtracking a lot past co-op adventures that in my hyperemesis haze forgot to tell you all about- see our Martinmas photo above! But rest assured I will get there. We are still loving every moment of co-op! 


:: and finally wishing you and yours a blessed week!