Serenity writes: This year Hanukkah falls on Thanksgiving for the first time since 1888. It won't happen again until 70,000 + years from now. So this Thanksgivakkuh is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Hanukkah is a minor Jewish holiday. Although it is often compared to Christmas, the meaning is actually much more complementary to the meaning of Thanksgiving. Hanukkah commemorates the Maccabees who fought for religious freedom, and the miracle of the oil that burned in the temple for eight nights, when there was only oil enough for one. Thanksgiving commemorating the pilgrims who arrived on the Mayflower in pursuit of religious freedom and the gratitude for that first bountiful harvest.
With an average of ten toddlers from the ages of 18 months to 3 years in an indoor space, there are times during the children’s free play when they need additional quiet rest times, that supplement the traditional afternoon nap. These “rest times” generally do not involve sleep, but allow children who have been hurt, anxious, overtired or overwhelmed to settle back into their bodies and gather themselves. These framed rest times positively affect the quality of the day not only for the individual who receives them, but for the other children and teachers as well. This allows for a more peaceful and fluid day all around.
It’s a puzzle to me how and why so many of the Waldorf and LifeWays early childhood programs I have visited turn on some kind of mechanical device to make “white noise” when it’s time for nap. These teachers have heard and believe Rudolf Steiner’s indication that “the young child is all sense organ,” and they apply this understanding in a wide range of other activities. They wouldn’t think of putting a lullaby on a CD player before leaving the nap room, or playing recorded music during the morning. They go to great lengths to try to create a harmonious environment that surrounds the children with living sounds and are even likely to use a broom or carpet sweeper rather than whipping out the vacuum cleaner after snack, to avoid the noise. Yet they don’t hesitate to turn on a fan or the clothes dryer or a machine with recordings of static or nature sounds, all in the name of lulling the children to sleep and keeping them there.
Jennifer writes: I don’t know when I became so judgmental. Was it in grade school when I realized there was such a thing as competition? Or was it junior high when I became so insecure after being judged by others? No matter when I decided that Judgment was necessary in my life, I thought I had worked really hard since then on getting rid of it. It turns out, that Judgment had partnered with Cunning and stayed hidden from my introspective inquiries, until I became… a mom.
Jenyng writes: Recently, Noah, my two-and-a-half-year-old can be heard shouting, "BABY BROTHER, BABY BROTHER! NO, BABY BROTHER!" Somehow, baby brother (Thomas, nine months old) has crawled his way to a toy that Noah does not want him to have or play with. As I am preparing lunch in the kitchen when this happens, I wonder why the sudden outburst while Noah is hovering right over his little brother. It isn't until the evening, when I am reflecting on the day's events, that I realize and shudder: Noah is imitating me!
Serenity writes: When I had my first son, Noah, I had to return to work quickly. I was lucky that as a private-duty nurse I was able to bring my baby to work with me and have him looked after by the wonderful loving family of my patients. I planned to practice attachment parenting and was a co-sleeping, baby-wearing, exclusively breastfeeding new mother. I was a happy new mom, but I always felt rushed through my day, trying to get everything done and be good at every role I played. I thought at the time that I should offer my son every educational gimmick on the market. I purchased programs that claimed to make my baby an Einstein and teach him to read as early as humanly possible, as well as other books and videos that are promoted throughout parenting magazines and baby registries.
For the first time, my house is feeling a bit empty. We were blessed with the opportunity to send our two older children, Ellia (newly 5) and Lincoln (my almost-4 Michaelmas babe), to the school of our dreams – Prairie Hill Waldorf School. Though this entails more financial cutbacks in our home and a lengthy drive to and from school daily, it is worth that and more to us. We fell in love with this school many years ago and now feel so humbled that our children are among those who attend. That said, it has not been an easy transition for any of us.
Words from an old campfire song (with third verse revised by Cynthia):
I’ve got that joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart
Down in my heart
Down in my heart
I’ve got that joy, joy, joy, joy, down in my heart
Down in my heart to stay
I’ve got the peace that passeth understanding down in my heart
(Repeat above refrain)
I’ve got the love of all the little children down in my heart
So, we ask the question – from where does joy come? Down in my heart.
Kerry writes: I grew up on the East Coast, lived for eleven years in a tiny ski town in Colorado and five years ago moved to the North Bay area of California. My westward migration opened my mind more and more, the closer I got to the Pacific. We settled in a small progressive town about an hour north of San Francisco in Sonoma County. The weather, beautiful coast, foods, and free-spirited lifestyle still feel like I'm on a long vacation. The biggest change is that all of the things in my life that were once considered "different" or "alternative," were very much the norm here. There are three Waldorf schools in town and, for a Waldorf teacher, this is really nice. Yes, for the job opportunities and to send my own child to one of these fine schools--but also because I was tired of being asked, "A Waldorf teacher? Like the salad?" Yes, like the salad.
During the first seven years or so of life the child's main tasks are to come to terms with physical reality, to develop the organs of his or her physical body, and to learn to relate socially. The main learning paradigm for young children is imitation, so how the adults around them manage conflict is particularly influential - the work of developing communication skills and resolving conflicts in a healthy way is a life-long learning. Because young children are so imitative, it is so important for them to experience our working on ourselves in these areas and how we guide the children toward resolving their own conflicts. Here is an example from life:
Summer has officially arrived here in Wisconsin and along with hot sun, cool pools, and longer days, a new rhythm has evolved. This rhythm has us savoring moments and desiring more outward activities. It seems our rhythm has slowed and elongated. Instead of trying to think of activities to busy ourselves as we check the clock on cold, wintry days, we are glancing at the clock wondering how it is so late and worrying that the kids will get to bed late yet again.
The seventh birthday of my oldest child is just around the corner. As that milestone approaches, the end of his first seven year cycle in this lifetime, I find myself pondering the significance of those repetitive seven year cycles in each of our lives. It has dawned on me that this has been a transitional year in my own journey, the end of my own first seven years as a parent. While certainly one can look at any journey in a continuous fashion, year after year with a linear progression of growth and understanding, it is also worthwhile to see how things come full circle.
A lovely post submitted by Mary, who owns Paradise Farm in West Bend, WI:
My nineteen-year-old son joined me in the garden after spending a few hours helping his dad clear brush at the farm a few weekends ago. Since I had a group of people there for a Family Garden Work Morning, I promptly assigned him a task and he went to work sowing tiny little lettuce seeds in rows.
I began this blog post on Friday, May 17th, my youngest child’s 2nd birthday. I was on my way to California to celebrate and learn with some amazing women at the first-ever LifeWays conference. I was excited, nervous, and already missing daily life with my family--that I am often eager to get a break from. Why is it that it takes a leave of absence to remind oneself how blessed we are to have the life we’ve been granted?
Spring has arrived in Milwaukee, or at least it has officially begun according to the calendar. You can see buds popping up all over, as long as you have warm layers and a slicker on for it is raining and raining and raining some more. Actually, today it is flurrying! I know, I know, spring equals precipitation, right? In our household, it also currently involves taking care of sick kids. It began with sniffly noses and sore throats in my girls. No biggie – I could handle this. Then last Monday, I was woken up early by my son for some snuggling. This is not too unusual, especially since we just swapped the older two children’s toddler beds for twin beds, and they are still adjusting. Right after Lincoln whispered, “Mama…I love you,” he vomited, all over himself and his bed. Oh brother.
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