Monthly Archives: February 2013

Wordless Wednesday–My Garden Agrees With Punxsutawney Phil, Spring Is On the Way!

Snow Drop

Cherry Blossom Buds

First Crocus

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Labels: Gardening, Spring
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

Making Rolled Beeswax Candles

Making Rolled Beeswax Candles 3

We continued to explore beeswax this week, by making rolled beeswax candles. To do this, simply wrap a sheet of honeycomb beeswax around a piece of wick that is long as the wax candle will be, plus 1/2” – 1”, which will be the beginning wick. As this was Dora’s first time working with this material, we did not try anything to complicated, like trying to make tapered candles. Just rolling the candles challenged her fine-motor skills and I had to reroll them some, as she rolled them so loosely, they would just shoot up in flames when lit. We did a bit of decorating, but it is harder to cut out the honeycomb sheets that the decorating wax. The honeycomb pieces tend to crack very easily and also don’t stick to each other as well as the decorating wax.

Making rolled Beeswax Candles 1

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Labels: Arts and Crafts, Beeswax
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

Our Waldorf Rhythm, Or Lack There Of…

Justin12In the fall of 1994, we had just moved to Washington, Primo had just turned three, and I had finally sought out services for his speech delays (our previous pediatrician in California had been vehemently opposed to our seeking services). Primo was diagnosed with a Language Processing Disorder. Autism was never even thought about. Overall, his behavior was good, but there were times when he would he’d go off into his own little world or just become irrationally angry. Though the speech therapist ensured me that this was caused by his frustration with people not being able to understand him, I wasn’t so sure. I noticed that he really liked to have things stay the same. For instance, when summer came, he really fought switching to shorts and short-sleeved shirts. I began to notice that he was much happier when he had a predictable routine and when he knew exactly what was going to happen when. Fortunately, he was a very early reader, so I was able to establish and intricate calendar system with stickers and colored markers, so he knew what was going to happen to who and where and when every day. We very rarely waivered from that calendar. I also started keeping a very predictable routine, each and every day. He became so calm and enjoyable, it was like day and night. A Chaotic PlayroomOver the years, Primo lost the need for such extreme structure (yes that is what our playroom did look like some days when I had four kids aged 2-9, though obviously this must have been a bit extreme as I named the photo “chaotic playroom”), though he still, to this day, has problems with things being rearranged or changed much. Still, with five children, of various ages and stages, I have been hard-pressed to stick to any routine. Then I began looking into Waldorf for Dora and the one thing that has been emphasized over and over again in my studies is that children need rhythm in their day. In all honesty, I like daily rhythm, myself.Ladybug Girl Costume 2As I set about trying to establish a rhythm to our day, I needed to take into account that Dora turns into a really, really, really, grouchy ladybug in the evenings. In addition, with my health issues, my energy deteriorates as the day goes on, such that by the afternoon, I no longer have the energy to do my household chores. So I am left with two conflicting agendas in the morning, I either do my household chores while Dora and I are still rested and then do “circle time” with Dora, or I do “circle time” with Dora and then do my chores. The problem lies in that, more often than not, something interrupts us and whichever is the second task, gets pushed to the wayside and is left until the afternoon to do. Kubota Gardens 1I’m working on trying to find balance and prioritizing, but I suspect that things will continue to be a bit out of equilibrium until the summer, as we just have too many commitments that occur in the middle of the day (we are homeschoolers, after all). I have decided that next year, we will not do anything in the middle of the day, except for our once-a-week co-op.Marymoor Park 10At this point in time, these are the routines that I have been able to establish:

  • Our days-of-the-week and weather gnomes – Dora doesn’t know the names of the days of the week, but she sure knows the colors and she sure knows her weather gnomes! If I don’t get to it early enough, she has been known to set out the appropriate gnomes herself.
  • Circle time occurs every weekday, preferably before lunch, and includes a few songs, poems, finger plays, and/or action rhymes, followed by reading a book that ties into our theme of the week. The same songs, poems, finger plays, and/or action rhymes are repeated daily for one week.
  • Ideally, we get some sort of “outdoors time” in every day, but it is hard during these short winter days
  • My “yoga time”  occurs in the afternoon and involves Dora lighting a candle for me to do 20 minutes of uninterrupted yoga/stretching. Sometimes she joins me, sometimes she doesn’t. My “yoga” also happens to include 15 minutes of Choroi flute practice, which I consider to be my “mental yoga”.
  • We do one “enrichment” activity a day (in addition to our “circle time”) – painting, drawing, baking, crafting, or modeling. These extras occur on set days, so that Dora knows what to expect. For instance, Mondays are “painting days”.
  • We have one outside activity most days. For instance, Mondays are “music class day” and Thursdays are usually “field trip day”.
  • Dora’s evening routine has gotten pretty set in stone and this has really helped with her sleep habits.

Finger KnittingI would love to say that I always do chores before or after circle time and that I always go over Gohan’s bookwork in the early afternoon, but our days are highly unpredictable. My three grown children through wrenches into my system at times, I have far too many doctor appointments to work around, a cat will crawl in one of our laps and refuse to leave (or more likely throw up a hairball on my just-mopped floor), Gohan will suddenly decide he needs me to drive him somewhere, we’ll have guests in town, we might have play or symphony tickets, etc. None of these are things that I want to give up. I had a large family, mostly because I wanted a family that was always “present”, in a house that was never empty, where there was always someone to talk to, where there was a constant hustle and a bustle, where my kids always knew they belonged and never felt lonely in their own home. I have achieved this and have never regretted it, even for a minute, but it does have it’s drawbacks, at times. Trying to Do School Work With a Cat in His Lap 1One day, when it is only Gohan, Dora, and I in the house every day, I’ll have plenty of time to focus on a daily rhythm,, until then, I can say that we have achieved a weekly rhythm, which is what I am going to have to be content with for the time being. Waldorf Style Doll House

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Labels: Rhythm, Waldorf
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

Homeschool Mother’s Journal–Still No Snow

In my life this week… I watched the entire third season of Downton Abbey. I even ordered some Downton Abbey fan shirts, one of which reads, “Free John Bates”. This is all very unusual for me. I think the last show I was obsessed with was Star Trek: Next Generation (in the late 80’sand early 90’s), and I never bought a fan shirt for that! I am happy that I don’t need to worry about reading anymore Downton spoilers! I won’t spoil anything for all of you though, so I won’t say anything more about the show, other than I am eager for season four.

It looks like Tertia did not have tonsil stones after all, she went back to urgent care and they diagnosed her with mono. I had no idea about this, since everyone I knew growing up, had their tonsils removed, but mono can cause horrible tonsillitis. The doctor gave Tertia some prednisone and it seemed to help some with her tonsils. Plus, her boss forbid her to come in to work all week, so she has been able to sleep a lot. So she is doing some better. The silver lining in this cloud is that Dora may have been exposed to mono and I guess young children don’t get mono as badly as teens and adults do, so she may never have to deal with full-blown mono when she is older. In fact, this might explain some of Dora’s recent “less than ideal” behavior. I know that some people bring their kids to “pox parties” to expose their children to chicken pox while they are still young, but it seems like they should also add “mono parties” to their social repertoire while they are at it.

Imagine Children's Museum 1

Places we’re going and people we’re seeing… My mother-in-law left on Wednesday. Her visit was rather non-eventful, other than she was miserable with our weather and didn’t want to go many places, as a result. So, we did not make it to the Chihuly Garden and Glass, which is partially outside. I did take Dora to the Imagine Children’s Museum yesterday. We stayed for several hours, during which Dora spent the whole time stressed out, because other kids kept “milking” the pretend cow and Dora felt it should be her cow. I had no idea that she was so obsessed with cows, but now she wants us to buy a cow (not happening)! We finally had to leave when our paid parking was about to expire and Dora threw the worst tantrum in her life. She was so exhausted by the end of it! Waldorf educators warn about exposing young children to too much stimulation and I am not sure if that was not the case for her. The museum is always crowded when we go and many of the kids are out of control. It has tons of visual and aural stimulation and overall, I wonder if it is just not too much for Dora’s delicate sensory system.

Fall Gnomes

Things I’m working on… I’m still trying to finish Dora’s scarf. I also added acorn caps to the fall monthly gnomes that I made for Dora and I’ve cut out some felt to make flower hats for the spring gnomes. I still needed to settle on what I am going to do for the summer and winter gnomes.

A photo, video, link, or quote to share… This is the song that I read with Dora this week. We are still trying to read poems and sing songs about snow, in hopes of encouraging some snow to appear, but still no luck. In fact, we’re about to give up. This poem comes from an anthology from Wynstones Press, entitled, Winter: A Collection of Poems, Songs and Stories for Young Children.

Where the country's deep with snow,
carts and coaches cannot go.
Now's the time to take the sleigh,
down the hills and far away.

Down the slipp'ry slope we slide
Bumping swaying side to side.
If you tumble now and then-
Climb the hill and start again.

-G. Russell-Smith

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Labels: Things To Do Around Seattle, Wrapping Up Our Week
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff