Thursday, June 6, 2013

Chippy the Cherry Gnome (and some cherry picking!)










This week the kids and I have been continuing our summer theme as well as beginning to talk about cherries. One thing that we love about this season is all the u-pick fruit. Last year we desperately tried to go pick cherries. However due to the frost, the season was only one week long. This year though, we made it up to the mountains just in time. I did not want to go home it was so gorgeous.

In order to make our circle time complete, I whipped up a felt cherry gnome. The kids promptly named him Chippy. I am not sure why but at any rate, it's his name now! 




I even got to make a cherry pie from scratch last night. Oh, how I love being close to where my food comes from. The store bought cherries to not hold a candle to the ones we picked. Let's just say I am a convert. Enjoy the photos of our crafts and Chippy. If you're in Virginia and would like to go pick cherries, then you can find the orchard here!






Also Our $75 Nova Natural giveaway is still going on until 7/19!
Don't forget to enter!
Until next time, 
Nicole

Please check out my blog hops tab, I am linking up with some amazing bloggers this week! 

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Summer Circle Time




We're closing in on the end of the traditional school year. My son goes to speech therapy at our local elementary school and it is buzzing with testing and the end of the school year jitters.

For us however we really do schooling year round. After spending some time thinking about what to do this summer I finally realized that we'll just keep doing what we do every summer and every season.

Even before we began home-schooling somewhat formally this year- and as in formally I mean really just making what we have been doing official and being a bit more intentional- we always read books, went on outings, and did crafts geared around the seasons.

I can remember when I first began this blog back in summer 2009 how Deirdre was just old enough to do crafts and we tried our hand a pudding painting. We'd visit the library weekly and as we'd go in I'd ask, "what do you want to learn about this week?" We'd always leave with a stack of books on that subject she answered and that's what we'd do that week.

So as summer makes it's way towards us, we're continuing doing what we have always been doing. Living and learning as we go about our daily and weekly rhythm. The kids have become so used to circle time that I hardly can go without doing it every morning. We do a daily art activity and the books that we read in circle time are the same ones we read at bed. The song and verse we're learning over the next few weeks, is sung all through-out our day. Our play takes on the theme we're learning about. It just all flows so well together.

So I thought I'd share with you what our circle time looked like today. A week before the season changes, I begin telling the kids about what is coming as a way to transition. So today summer came to introduce herself. I introduced our summer verse, book, and song. We did a caterpillar finger play and read our poem about May for one of the last times before we did our calendar. Then to end our school day we packed a picnic and went to the lagoon- one of our favorite summer pastimes. Needless to say the kids are excited for summer.







 As I begin planning next year I will come back and share a bit of what we've done over the past 9 months. I hope it might serve as a encouragement to you if this is your first jaunt into home-schooling or Waldorf. Many things we idd were lovely and then there were things that did not quite fit. There was lots of unlearning I needed to do this year as well. My very type A public schooled and rigid brain had a HARD time trusting my heart on what was right for my children versus what the world around me was saying.


Also Our $75 Nova Natural giveaway is still going on until 7/19!
Don't forget to enter!





At any rate, I hope you're enjoying this lovely May day!

Until next time,
Nicole

Friday, May 24, 2013

Pure Play and Our Knitted Farm Mat



The Sun with loving light
Makes bright for me each day,
The soul with spirit power
Gives strength unto my limbs,
In sunlight shining clear
I revere, Oh God,
The strength of humankind,
Which Thou so graciously
Has planted in my soul,
That I with all my might,
May love to work and learn.
From Thee stream light and strength
To Thee rise love and thanks.
~ A Waldorf Morning Verse~



We've been busy here since our last post. Homeschooling is quite consuming, in a good way. Interesting I feel as if our days flow more easily now that we have a stronger rhythm. Even on days when I have no special crafts or stories to do, the children still crave our school rhythm. We also have gone totally TV free at home for the past 3 weeks. It has been a long time coming here. A gradual wean of sorts. While we've never been big on TV here, I have come to realize that we really have no need or place for it when it comes to the children. Apart from the occasional family movie night, they haven't watched a drop. A say this not as a combination for anyone who is not there yet or doesn't want to be there, rather as an encouragement to those whom want to reduce. It is possible. 

On that note however it means that we all have had more time. With that time I have used it to simplify our play space a bit and rework it. Since they kids are playing much more, it made sense. I also have been reading a lot more on how children learn and play- which inspired a few changes of my own. 

I reworked our playroom so that there was more open space to play in. We moved out our black play bench, play kitchen, and cleaning set. We set the kitchen and leaning supplies up in the dining room- near our own kitchen- so that they could be playing kitchen while I was cooking. They also can then easily clean up after their meals. I was worried at first that if I moved it out of the play stand, which they use primarily as their house, then it might hamper their house play. Rather, they just moved it. Now their house is under the table. We also set up our nature table in the dining room again after having it up high in the playroom. It did not work out well there since it was not as interactive. 






In place to the kitchen in the play stand, Craig and I made a play bookshelf. I have to say it was a super fun project- one of my first wood working ones. I have been admiring the palumba simple bookshelf for age. However the price was a bit high for me. Instead of $169, all it cost us was $40 in wood, stains, and brushes. It looks nice, right? On the book shelf we set up of gnomes house and all their furniture. 












In the now free corner we put the children's school table there. They kids love it so much more there. It is not as cramped. It's light and clear near the window. 





I moved the sling book case to where the table used to be and added our old rug. It's a nice little reading homeshcool corner. Many many times I have come in there now and have seen the kids laying down there skimming our books. 






In the far corner of the room we now have our baby doll corner, castle, and our new farm! We are farm people at heart. I have been skimping and saving up for the farm for years now. We also added a baby doll changing table. What really tipped the scale sin being able to add these treasures to our playroom was EBAY. I went through all our toys and purged. And then purged some more. And then went through the garage and even their old clothes. Not only were we able to get these goodies but we also were able to make a bunch more which went to other things (like bills!). 



















With it I finally sat down and finished our knitted farm mat. Back almost a year ago I participated in a knitted farm swap hosted by Carrie over at Crafty Moms Share. Those lovely squares sat and sat. I just did not know who to bring them all together. Some of the sizes ended up not being 12x12, while others were. So after playing young with it in my mind for a bit I decided I would just sew it together like a quilt. That's right, I used my machine. I joined up each row and then stitched them all together. Then I basted, backed, and binded them! I used the sweetest vintage flower fabric for the backing that make sit look like a field of flowers. I am so pleased with the finished product. (By the way I knitted the dark green cable fields- you can even tuck veggies and chicks into the cables!)

So that's our new playroom, dining room, and farm mat. It is really just the tip of the what we've been doing. More fluff and fun that substance. However I have been reading more Steiner and some other great books and my love of Waldorf has been deepening. If you haven't dug into Steiner yet but are intimidated. Please don't be! I promise to be back soon to share some of what I am learning.

Blessings and Light, 
Nicole


Saturday, March 9, 2013

Willow Oaks :: Our New Home




Hello Dear Friends!

We've been busy around here. It seems that the rumor of Spring is tempting our lazy winter bodies into bustling about a bit more than we're used to. With Spring on the horizon, let's just say that we're all in a better mood. This Winter has been hard, gray, cold and with little snow once again to show for it. Boo. I am not sure about you but it's only worth enduring the cold if there is a chance of snow in my mind at least. It also hasn't been the easiest year for me personally either. There is still a lot of healing that my soul has to do and well when everything around seems cold and dark literally- it's hard to shake the bad memories. Thankfully I am not alone on this journey physically or spiritually. I have tried to be more intentional about surrounding myself with uplifting friends and bright surroundings. We also changed our diets a bit and have been religious about at least 15 minutes outside everyday, no matter the weather (mama included).

With all of that in mind, I thought it was about time that I introduced you to our new home. You see back in December we moved from Blount Point- near the James River to our new home at Willow Oaks- near the York River! With that move came a few changes. We had to part with our poultry and most of our bunnies. It is a sore sore subject for me and I can't quite talk about it yet without tearing up. You see my poultry- my ladies- we're MY pets. When everything came tumbling down this Autumn, not only did I find myself totally overwhelmed but we also found out that we had to move due to an overlooked tax issue on our landlords part- both very unexpected and ill-timed. But amid that chaos- and let me just say for the record- the worst time in my life EVER- I found a sweet home for my ladies with a kindred chicken mother Christina (who goes to our church and lives close by!).

On a happier note, our new home is a blessing. It is just the right size with a nice little yard in a nice little neighborhood with a pool, pond, and willow trees. We also are a stone throw away from our secret lagoon. I can't wait for summer so we can visit that special place again. There are also some woods behind our yard and we spend lots of time exploring back there and finding new gnome hide-outs. We did get to keep two bunnies- Thomas and Unicorn- who have taken up residence in our backyard and garage. I am growing to love them quite a bit despite the fact that they don't lay eggs. (I'll forgive them) However they do follow me around begging for scraps just like my ladies.

Now on to the house. Remember my comment above about bright surroundings? Well our sweet home is bright for sure. Between the vaulted ceilings and big windows, we are not lacking in the warmth department. We also have a fireplace again too. I tried to simplify our possessions as much as possible so we thankfully had a huge purge before the move- and just recently donated another truck load to the thrift store last week from the garage. I highly recommend Organized Simplicity by Tsh Oxenreider if you're feeling boxed in by all the 'stuff' we accumulate.














My room and the children's room are still works in progress. But I feel happy with all the other rooms in the house and the yard. So here are a few photos of my favorite spots in the new house. I tried incorporate little bits of Waldorf into all of our rooms. Over the next few weeks, I will be more intentional about taking more photos. It also might help me clean more too!


Until next time- 
Cheers!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Rhythm of the Home is Live! (and our Lenten Garden is in it!)


***Update: 1/2015***

Rhythm of the Home magazine is intermittently not working. Here is the link on my blog to the full article I did for them on Lenten Gardens! 

http://dotingondeirdre.blogspot.com/2012/02/lenten-garden-journey.html

***********


Hello friends!

I hope this finds you well. Here in Virginia our weather has been a mixed bag. I am happy o write that as I am typing here the sun is streaming through my window after many days of cold drizzly weather. We're working on our garden at the new house and things are coming along well. 

I thought I'd pop in and share with you the article I wrote for Rhythm of the Home's Spring edition on our Lenten Garden. I have come to look forward to writing a piece to share with ROTh readers every season or so. ROTH was one of the first resources I stumbled across on my Waldorf journey and it's sorta surreal to me now to think I have the privilege of writing for them.  

So enjoy the artier and all the other lovely pieces over there. I hope you all  get to have some Spring weather soon. I am all but too ready for it!

Cheers, 
Nicole



A gnome door- Deirdre is sure of it!



Friday, February 22, 2013

{this moment}

Jonas loving on his 3rd birthday present- his Waldorf balance board

{this moment} - A Friday ritual birthed by SouleMama. A *few* photos - a *few* words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.
. . . . . . . . . .

PS: If you want your own balance board- I highly recommend them- you can get one here from the lovely Sarah Baldwin at Bella Luna Toys. Also to boot the crafters of the board sent me a hand written thank you note for supporting them. Wow. You definitely don't get that care these days. It warms my heart knowing that we're supporting family business and people who put love into their work. 







Thursday, February 14, 2013

A 'Real' Hello





I can't believe two things. One, that it's already Valentine's Day and Winter is almost gone. And two, that I haven't blogged in almost five months. Wow. That has been the longest break I've taken since 2008. 

So where do I start? What has happened in five months? Well first let me explain a little bit about why exactly I took a break. The short of it is that life got intense. And intense in a bad way. This Autumn I found myself abruptly faced with the dissolution of my marriage to put it bluntly. It was a dark and heavy time. Honestly as I am writing this I can feel waves of pain wash over me as I think back to the end of September when things came unhinged. I can say with absolute certainty that I am not the same person as I am now before September 27th. In all sincerity, if it wasn't for my faith, my friends Chris and Anya, as well as my church family and other close friends, I don't think I would have made it- or we. Period. But as time has passed and things have come more into perspective so I feel like I can return back to this place and begin to open up my life again. 

My husband and I are still together and strong. I truly love him to the moon and back. I look back on both our lives and our marriage and I am quite convinced that there is nothing we cannot weather as long as we keep our eyes on God. However, please do not misunderstand me, I wish a thousand times over that I could erase this Autumn from my life story.  I wish I could erase the struggles and deep seated issues that my husband is dealing with. I wish I could erase my own- because let's face it- we all have them. And if I've learned anything over the past five months it's that I am not alone and that there is a larger purpose to this event in my life, my husband's life, my children's lives, and my friends' lives. Really in the end it is not about me. It's about God and the story that he is writing through us. (Thank you PCC WM for that nice line!)

I have always come to this place with the purpose of being real with you all. I feel that I can't do so without sharing this dark part of my Fall. However one of the other small things that helped me live and keep breathing were the little pockets of light I saw in my daily life around me. I am so thankful that God opened my heart and eyes to his love and joy around me. If anything thing, in the darkest moments, he gave me joy and a love of life I never thought possible. Who knew painting with my children or apple picking could bring my soul so much peace? I found him gently reminding me that his fields were still ripe for harvest and that he is not quite done with me or Craig yet. 

Over and over again I felt him come near to me. The further away I get from that time the more and more I see his provision so acutely. Also the further I get from it, the more I feel I can share. And through sharing I have found that literally I am not the only one whose marriage is struggling in the same terrible way. The shame that I carry and still continue to carry at times has helped keep me silent. Over and over again however instead of being met with condemnation, I have been met with love and close friends sharing stories of how they too are struggling in the same way. 

So dear reader- please do not feel like you are the only one struggling in life or in your marriage- or your parenting. I am convinced that there is a power at work in this fallen world that desires to keep us alone, isolated, and ashamed. One that whispers that there is something wrong with us, because why else would this happen to me or you? But that is not truth. Because Jesus came to seek and save the lost. And we're all lost on this side of heaven. 

With that I'll leave you with some sweet pictures and some hope if you're struggling. I try to keep some privacy online but in real life I'm an open book. If you have a question about what has happened specifically, you need some love or help- PLEASE email me. Please, please, please- even if you're not a Christian. While my beliefs and church helped me through this please do not think that I am not just as here for you if we happen to have different beliefs. When it comes down to the nitty gritty of life struggles, the hurt runs just as deep and stings just as much regardless of who we are. 

Much Love, 
Nicole